Friday, August 31, 2012

Hello Sweetie

So here is a sneak peak at my dress. I ended up using an entirely different pair of shoes (Seychelles I'd been drooling over and saving  pennies for that went on sale like... 87% off!!).  The fabric was a lovely reciprocal gift from Miss Oona. I'm off to D*CON the rest of the weekend and may be updating leh facebook page. Other than that... SPOILERS!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Making Tried and True: Trousers

Hello Everyone! You know what I spent my weekend doing?  Well, I finished up my circle skirt class and now I have Dragon*Con looming ahead.  Yes, yes, i DID get my 70's dress cut out, i even got it mostly sewn together.  The bad part? Its too big.

How do I do that? Why do I keep making things too big for me?  well, I mean it would probably be the right size if it was in a woven, but I didn't need the FBA with the fabric I used (Graciously sent by Oona and is made of sparkle and light, even if its dammed slippery). Arrg. So I think I can fix it before Thursday. We'll see.  The kids' costumes are, for the most part, done. Just a few minor repairs necessary and we're good.  Felicity's all about the make-up.  But I digress.

All this has me thinking about practical sewing. WHAT?! I know, right? Its crazy. I want to sew some work stuff. Like trousers.  I need to turn a pair of trousers into a TNT pattern.  And it has to have pockets or its a no-go. I did make up Colette's Clover, which was nice enough but I'm not keen on the pocket treatments.  And adding them to the side or back just doesn't seem to go with the look.

Then I have this Simplicity 2700. Its one of their "amazing fit" lines, and its very similar to a pair I own and love.  They just seem plain on the pattern illustration. Its a "one inch" below waist pattern.

Burda Style
Then there is this Burda Style high-waist trouser that Sunni over at "A Fashionable Stitch" made (with sew-a-long!).  They are for tall women, but I'm long in the waist so that might work for me.  I love the band, the pockets, the side zip.  Its pretty much a perfect pair of work trousers.

So those are options already in my pattern arsenal. I have more, some without pockets, some for a more casual look. I'm even eyeing Sew-a-Holic's Thurlow Trousers, but the waist looks like its more suited for Mrs. Isis than me.  Other things that are important is the ability to wear it with shirts tucked or un-tucked, belted or no.

What say you, oh wise internet people?  Do you have a favorite?  Have you sewn any of these patters?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

So, What is this Dragon*Con Thing You Speak Of?

I go on about it just about every year, its a bigger deal in terms of costuming than Halloween for me, but it spills over.  And I realize that there are many who read this blog that may not know what it is.  So here's the official blurb:

Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe! With over thirty-five fan based tracks, 3500 hours of panels, workshops, gaming, a parade down Peachtree, film festivals, art show, comics and pop art, nightly concerts and parties, bands and DJs, tons of costume contests, dealers, and exhibitors, all squeezed into four short days, Dragon*Con is non-stop FUN!
They don't mention that there is also fan tracks for Science, Space, and Robotics, not to mention the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a presence there. This is how I got to meet several people from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and  other professional scientists that do a lot of educational outreach. And about 85% of everyone I know will be there. For serious. It used to be a big party but lately its more for us to catch up with old friends and watch the younger generation of geeks and nerds go "hey look, other people are as into stuff as I am!".

But lets get back to the costumes.  This is absolutely the best video I have ever seen that captures what goes on.  Watch in High Def if at all possible. Its long, but seriously worth the watch.  Let me know when you find Waldo.

So if you are going to be at this event and want to meet me "In the Flesh", follow me on Twitter .  I will occasionally park myself in one spot. Usually its the board game area in of the Hilton (lowest level).  I would love to play a match of "Give Me the Brain".

Also this year I am working for a friend on Friday and Saturday at "Wolfhome Adventuring Outfitters" and probably modeling in a show for her.  And I have a preparty to go to... that I still need to finish that dress for...

So I should get on that, huh?  Cheers!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Decor With Elder Gods

Remember my going nuts over the "Picnic Cthulhu" fabric on Spoonflower?  Well I totally ordered some... and made placemats for my table.  Hee!  They make me stupidly happy because I get to be Susie Home Maker and subversive. Its win/win.  

Craigslist Table
We bought this table years ago when my husband had been out of work for over a year and we desperately needed a family dining table. Its huge and scratched up like mad (one day I'll refinish it), so I like to keep a tablecloth over it to hide its fugliness. Its a majorly sturdy table out of real hardwood, so I'm loathe to give it up.   Given the messiness of my family, placemats were in order.

Outside of the actual Cthulhu fabric, this was a exercise in stash busting.  I used store bought bias tape (I inherited tons from Mom), and also used up some of the quilting cotton I bought prior to understanding fabric.  I'm probably going to try and bust the rest of those uninformed choices out sometime between now and February (the time I actually get Christmas presents done).

This quilting cotton looks like dragon scales. 

Cthulhu is thinking about pie. Tasty tasty pie. 

They aren't the prettiest things in the world in terms of accuracy.  I'm hoping people will be too busy rolling sanity checks to notice wonky stitching. That and they were smaller than the average placemat for reasons of frugality, or eeking out as much as I could with what I had.  I do need one more package of the brighter blue double fold bias tape for the two I have left to finish. I have a navy blue, but my husband pointed out that two different shades of blue would trigger my OCD tendencies.  When he's right, he's right. *sighs*

Soo... that's one less thing off of my UFO pile.  Now to make a few minor adjustments to the 70's pattern and get ready to cut it out tonight,  after the second half of my circle skirt class. WOO!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


So. Lets talk about shoes for a minutes. See these shoes that I'm wearing up above?  They are my ABSOLUTE favorite shoes and, much like Gertie and her green clogs, I am totally convinced they go with everything.  Well... almost. Anyway.  These shoes were not cheap, even though I got them 60% off the original price I still paid $90 plus shipping.

But you know what? I'm ok with that. Why? Because I plan on passing these down to my grand-kids, they are just that awesome.  They are by American shoe designer Jeffrey Campbell, and made with great quality materials here in the U.S. of A.  Which is somewhat of a white buffalo these days. And you may wonder why I'm posting about this? Well, part of is that I never in my life would have believed I'd become as much of a shoe addict as I have.  For a while there I was even smitten with ShoeDazzle.  But then I realized they wanted you to buy a pair a month.  I was sucked in for a bit before realizing that their products do not stand the test of time. In fact, they fall right under the "fast fashion" umbrella. And if you've read "Overdressed" then you know this is not a good thing.  Also,  WTF am I going to do with 12 pairs of shoes a year???  Editing ones wardrobe is much more sensible in this case.

Also, if there's anything that having a serious back injury has taught me, its never buy cheap shoes. Never. Don't do it.  The last pair of shoes I bought that I paid less than $40 for were the ones I was wearing when I slipped and busted my ass in the restaurant.  Those suckers were in the trash faster than you can say H&M.

So what's going on in my life, other than a shoe obsession? Well, my first sewing class went well even though I was pretty disorganized.  Teaching is hard, yo!  But hey, we learn by doing, right?  At least I always have. The second half is next Friday and I even managed to send out a little tutorial for "homework". Oh! AND! Our new HVAC system is finally in after the two guys worked THIRTEEN HOURS to get it in.  I felt so bad for them, I brought them drinks and food and generally tried to be supportive.  Also, the younger of the two was a total cutie pie.

So, that's that.  Now here's the fabric for the 70's dress and the two shoes I was considering.  It looks like the red ones are getting the vote, though.

And one last thing, I totally got the name of this post from the video.  It contains (bad) cross-dressing and swearing so don't click if those things offend you. I think its pretty hysterical, but my sense of humor is questionable.

Monday, August 13, 2012

OH Hey, Guess What?

Hey guys, it looks like Mood has rolled out their revamped website.  Or at least updated it because it seems waaaay more user friendly than it did before.  Go check it out here.

In other news, we've got financing lined up for my new HVAC system.  Talk about NOT CHEAP!  My husband convinced me to go with full upgrade that was an extra 2 grand because, as he so wisely pointed out, we're not planning on moving anytime before we finish paying the mortgage (15 years, after refinancing and STILL paying less. SCORE! We apparently qualified for the 'underwater' refinance terms laid out by the current administration).  Not to mention its got humidity control and that will help protect all my vintage patterns and expensive fabrics. And we found someone to do the yard.  My entire household loathes yard work (except me, but I can't do any), so my compromise was pay for monthly work and everyone doubles efforts INSIDE the house.

And if they don't I start changing the wi-fi password and not telling them what it is until its done. And password protecting all the computers.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Keep Looking Up


Despite all the insanity of my last few weeks, or maybe because of it, I was able to share a wonderful experience with my husband and the kids.  My brother-in-law invited us out on his boat in the wee house of the morning to watch the Perseid meteor shower. For me it was kinda like the middle of my "day".  I must admit I was tense at first, as I'm out of my element on a boat, and adding dark to that increased my unease.  But eventually I got over it.

We got pretty far out from shore, cut the lights and engine and all snuggled up in blankets* and stared up at the sky.  The kids wondered at all the stars they hadn't seen before and it still wasn't as brilliant as it is in the mountains with even less light pollution.  Pretty soon we were counting up the shooting stars.  Five, ten, fifteen and then we lost count.  Felicity asked me where all those rocks had come from and I told her it was the tail of a comet.  That led to more questions of "how is it everything is moving outward so fast".  So I explained the Big Bang Theory,  and about super massive black holes, and even the more debated theories.  Both children found this fascinating and wonderful.

After a while we all fell into a comfortable silence. As I watched the play of the light of the moon on water, and an occasional meteor reflected as well I was reminded just how tiny we are in the grand scheme of the universe.  It is so vast it is almost incomprehensible. It reminded me that my problems were trifling in the grand scheme and to enjoy life whenever I can.

Don't forget we live in an amazing world and that sometimes we have to remind ourselves to look at it in a child-like way.  Last night I made lots of wishes as I watched the stars fall from the sky.

*Ah, lake weather.  At 4am in the morning with a breeze it was pretty chilly.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Plan B

When I set out to try and make a couture dress before Dragon*Con I should have started months ago.  Problem being I needed supplies for which I had to save up money.  So now its August and I'm hit by several things at once.  The kids need to get ready to go back to school, I'm teaching classes starting next Friday, and several family members have to have surgery or die (ok,only my  Grandfather has died in the last two months, which has left me really sad. My mother-in-law, however, has lost two family members to cancer since January).  Which in and of itself is stressful.

And now my air conditioning breaks in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record (people are dying in this heat). More specifically, the fan under the house that blows the air through the central system is dead.  I heard it go KACHUNK under the house when I got up.  Of course the boys looked at me like I was hearing things but then I realized it was getting HOT in the house and there was nothing coming out of the vents.  I went out with the flashlight to flip the breaker on the A/C unit and its running.  Finally my husband is convinced enough to check under the house. Yup. Fan broke.  Shit. All this resulted in my having a complete sobbing break down which ended with me having chocolate cake and Xanax for lunch after my husband prevented me from putting my hand through a glass window when trying to pry its swollen wood frame open.    He's a good man, really.  I'm a long term planner and he kind of lives in the moment. Eventually it balances everything out.

So tomorrow we go to the bank and see about refinancing the house, which we've been talking about doing for a while.  All things considered, its a modest house for the area but our interest rate was gotten 8 years ago when our credit sucked but they were handing out no-money-down loans anyway. I had done my research and got a house with a fixed interest rate that we could afford on a single income. This has saved our ass on more than one occasion from losing the place. But you probably don't want to hear about all that. This is a sewing blog.  I want to keep it that way.  Long story short, I have to go deal with banks and insurance companies tomorrow and if all else fails we get a window unit with our Home Depot card and use that until we can save up for getting the system fixed.

What this means is there is no way in a Hot Georgia Summer I'm going to get this couture dress done in time for Dragon*Con.  Its just not going to happen. Sometimes you just have to re-evaluate priorities.  So, that being said, I'm looking at doing a vintage 70's dress I've had in my stash for a while.


The view on the left.  While the pattern calls for a woven I'm going to do this in a burnout knit.  Since its from after the Big Four standardized their measurements and its my usually starting size of 18, the only major modification is the bust and turning the darts into gathers instead.  Though dealing with that amount of slippery fabric is always a PITA but I think I'll deal.  Now I just gotta figure out the shoes.

I also have some comic book fabric I want to use for another wrap dress.

And on that note, I want to bake bread but the thought of turning on the oven is making me wince. Hell, I don't even want to turn on the lights.

**Looking at the forecast the next few days should be in the mid 80's during the day dipping into the 60's at night (that's 30 high/18 low Celsius which is better than the 40/25 C we were getting. UG)  , albeit with a lot of humidity. So that's a tiny bit of a relief.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Because Science is Awesome

I woke my son up so we could watch it live. We both stood up and cheered, just like these guys:

TOUCHDOWN MARS!  Beat that varsity jockeys.

P.S. Best quote so far on the nets  "Do not play darts with these people. They can hit a bulls eye from 36 million miles away"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Striking Similarities: Vintage vs. Modern

Whenever one discusses fashion the term "cyclical" comes up a lot.  And I'm sure we could come up with any number of other idioms.  Honestly, designers will often go back in time for inspiration.  And here I have an example of just how uncannily similar it sometimes gets.

Take this 1930's DuBarry pattern available on Etsy here. Its a pretty nice design with princess seams and butterfly sleeves that are sewn into those princess seams.  When I saw it however, I remembered another pattern in my stash.

Laura Ashley from McCall's M6277.  The similarities are striking. The princess seams, the inseam butterfly sleeves.  With a bit of creativity and experience it wouldn't be hard to add length and flare to the skirt, not to mention drafting the bow. And lets also mention this is one of those multi-cup size patterns which makes the fitting that much easier.

I found the vintage DuBarry while combing through all the 1930's patterns available out there for my own inspiration.  I really wanted my gown to fit into the era that DieselPunk takes place in.  If you haven't heard of DieselPunk, that's ok, its not a huge draw yet and is mostly popular with the men-folk.  Its that Era from WWI to the end of WWII and often associated with "alternate history" or "Weird War II" fiction.  Given my love of Science and Technology History I have a bit of a love affair with this sub-genre of cyberpunk.

Have you stumbled upon strikingly similar vintage and modern patterns?

Promballoona: The Payback Edition

I hopped in the stretch limo to Kalkatroona land and shared what every nerdy outcast dreams about doing, paying back those bullies!  Head on over and share in the fun and cocktails. I'm drinking wine.


In other news, I had hoped to get the skirt portion traced and cut this evening but I received news that my last living grandparent, my Grandfather, just passed away. My apologies for the happy* and sad in the same post but I didn't really feel like separating out the two. As you can imagine, I just wasn't feeling the sewing bug tonight.  I did a bunch of cooking instead, test run some ideas I had using what my farm share has provided. If its turns out well I'll share, k?

In the meantime do me a favor and go give everyone you love a hug. Or send them a card in the mail with warm thoughts.  Its sucks to regret not corresponding with them more often.

*I have many other reasons to count my blessings and find happy things in life.  My Grandfather was in his 90's and had a long full life.  I was not terribly close but this is one of those things that marks how time passes.  His passing was quick and peaceful and he was happy up until the end.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Productive Procrastination

The hitch I ran into yesterday with the dress design kinda threw me into a melancholy state.  Then yesterday was Simon's birthday and we went out boating again. So far this week I've walked, did pilates, and swam.  Then I rearranged my sewing/craft area to open up the room and make all the things more accessible. Now I'm considering going to the flea market down the road in a bit.  In any case, no sewing.  So here's a photo of a sleeping kitty in my lap.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Week 2: Tweaking the Fit (post one)

I'm doing more than one post this week, as I've already spent about five hours just tweaking fit on the bodice.  Changing design plans and then changing it back again.  How the frak do they do things so quickly on Project Runway?  In any case I think its just easier if I upload and type out my thoughts as I go instead of trying to do it all at the end of the week.  These are going to be photo heavy posts. (Also, I know this is technically two posts in one day but the other one was a serious quickie)

Back Bodice

Here's the thread traced pieces that I have started to pin together.  Thread tracing is where you machine stitch over all the marked lines so that when fitting you can 'see' with your fingers. Again, the stitching line is the most important element here, not the seam allowances.

 I decided to go ahead and use my doppleganger to start some of the initial fitting details.  While the waist is not quite my size right now, it is closer to what it will be with the copious amounts of shape wear that I will have on underneath the dress.  The shoulders could be more rounded but I'll tweak that later.  As you can see the first thing I had to do was re-draw the under bust stitching lines to accommodate the girls.  

The next thing I did was to pinch out "dead darts" where the v-neck was gaping open.  Yes, it is a very deep neckline and I want to keep it that way. We're talking about a dress that shows off the things I like most.  ;) The question marks are for posting the photo in my Craftsy Course for feedback, cause I'm not sure this is the 'right' way to do it.  Though sometimes you gotta know the rules to break them.  

 The back bodice is looking pretty good, I think.  The center puckering was where I didn't iron out the grainline stitching very well. Its usually cut on a fold but I'll be doing this as one open piece.

Ah, now here is a trick I learned about recently.  When you make changes to the back bodice, such as a rounded shoulder adjustment, you'll often get these weird drag lines up to the shoulder from the waist. This is caused by a shift in where they arm scythe is suppose to be.  The pin (and later a sharpie) marks where the arm scythe stitching lines will be. Since I'm drafting my own sleeves, changing this now is not a problem.  I also re-drew the side seams to where I will actually sew for my first on-me fitting.   On to my next design hitch. The midriff.  

 As you can see, the stitching lines on the midriff are significantly smaller than the lace I plan to use.  I thought "uh oh" and went and retraced the pieces and widened them.

back midriff widening

Front midriff widening

However, as I was doing this and then mentally putting it together in my head I realized that 5 1/4 inches was pretty damn wide, even for my long torso.  It suddenly didn't fit right in my head.  So I did what any good designer should do and pinned the lace under the bust portion, stood back and had a Tim Gunn moment.

Why does the midriff have to be the same size as the lace?  In retrospect, it really doesn't.  The lace is flexible enough that I would be organically attaching it to the mid-riff section anyway.

In fact, after writing all this and looking at the photos I'm seriously considering doing away with the midriff all together and just have the skirt fall from just under the bust.  Hmmm... That treatment would certainly be much more in keeping with the 30's styling I'm going for anyway.

What say you, oh wise sewing people of the internet?


I've caved to the pressure and separated out my personal and sewing Facebook.  Go here and click on the like button!  You know you want to.

If you have a Social Facebook Page for your blog, please link me so I can like it back. Its all about helping each other out!