Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Winner and quick notes

And our winner is LuckyLibbet ... and I'll do the email, find addy, mail out thing soon. Now's time for sleep. Got work done on SWAP coat and bonded wonderfully with my "new" Singer 503 Rocketeer, Jane. And her buttonhole attachment. Must post pictures. Finished (sorta) my sweater tunic/mini dress though my serger did it's best to keep me from it. Seriously, can it not serge one stinkin' seam without a huge drama fest? On that note, can we got TEN MINUTES without a siren here? The traffic can NOT be that bad at three in the morning. Seriously. Oh, well, happy with new sweater top, DH totally enjoyed his presents (we opened them early due to coming travel) and I thoroughly enjoyed mine. Especially the chocolate. :) Now just wondering if I can take the Rocketeer to the in-laws via carry on.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pattern give-away

Trying to thin out my collection so I can fit what I have in my small sewing space. Just leave a comment in the comment area with your email address (" AT gmail" is a good form to keep spam-bots from grabbing it) and this coming Monday I'll having a little drawing and email the winner, work out shipping info, and send out your patterns!

And I'll ship anywhere in the world - it's not hard, surprisingly inexpensive, and I really like the idea of my patterns visiting far-off exotic locals. :)

Both patterns are uncut and for sizes 6-12. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Laundry and dreams of big fluffy dresses

Laundry day! So can't wait to have our own washer and dryer. Not such a fan of having to fight my neighbors for laundry time. Or having to continually recharge the laundry card.

But anyway, in between loads I've been working on stuff for my shop and watching youtube videos and ran across this MYSTed jem. It's a short put together by Bell Telephone featuring their booth at the 1962 World Fair. It includes an early pager, touch-pad dialing, auto dialing ... all things that so part of life today. And the dress! The teen girl is wearing a wonderfully fluffy, poofy dress that looks so very, very fun.

Since I don't have nearly enough on my sewing plate (wow, couldn't even type that with a straight face) I suddenly want to make a similar dress for my 2010 Easter dress. Never mind that I've NEVER had a special easter dress ... usually it's whatever's clean that morning. But I want a fluffy dress to sashay around in. Actually what I REALLY want to do is wear it to Disneyland since, for me, early 60 fashion and music are indelibly tied with The Mouse's original home. This is what happens when you raise your kid on old Disney specials. Just warning you parents. But we're not going to be anywhere near southern CA anytime soon (or Florida, for that matter) so church and school are second best. I guess I can wear it when working from home but I'd be afraid of mistaking the skirt for part of the fabric I'm supposed to cut.

Anyway, I've already got a great pattern to use, so no excuses for not at least dreaming a bit!

This was from a box in my friend's mom's neighbor's home ... apparently when the neighbor died I was the first person in that chain that sewed so I got a small collection of these patterns. And they're close to my size so all the better! It even came with a petticoat pattern so I can get the full fluffiness effect. :)

So what do you think? Fun post Christmas project or totally insane? Or (my person vote) a little of both? :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rocketeer #2 is home (temporarily)

So the second Singer 503a arrived yesterday and she's just as beautiful as her sister. Fantastic shape, great packaging, and all the same fun feet with the addition of a bunch of screwdrivers. I really wish I could keep her but I can't justify it at this point with tuition fees and a tiny apartment. And I know there's many people out there without a single working sewing machine in their life so, all things considered, finding someone to adopt her seems the best course of action. So that's this weekend's tasks.

Until then, a preview of all this baby has to offer (in addition to the top tens posted earlier):

- Nine decorative stitch cams, making the stitches shown here:

- Straight stitch plate for ... well, straight stitching. They aren't very creative with these names. But it keeps fabric, especially fine fabric, from getting pulled down into the bobbin area. Very helpful.

- Drop in bobbin. Very easy to insert. This does mean it doesn't have a free arm but it does have a large, flat stitching area. In my opinion it's an even trade.

- Three are pretty standard: A "special" foot with extra clearance for satin stitches, a zipper foot, and a standard foot. There's also a rolled hem foot (very helpful) and two extra fun ones: a gathering foot and a binding foot. I can give a tutorial on using the gathering foot (which is, btw, indespensable for some home dec and most little girl's dresses) and the binding foot, if you'd like.

- Random extras - a few screwdrivers, a brush for cleaning out the machine, and ... more screwdrivers. And (not shown) a couple extra bobbins.

- Foot pedal (not shown) and a clean bill of health from the sewing repair guy.

All in all it's a very dependable and solid machine. It's all metal inside and really designed to last through just about anything. Most repairs can be done at home and parts are still readily available, just in case something happens. If it has a weakness it's in the lack of decorative stitches and buttonholes, though that second one can be fixed by purchasing a nice buttonhole attachment from ebay for less than $10, including shipping and handling. And the buttonholes that attachment makes are supposed to be absolutely gorgeous and nearly foolproof (good for me).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Heads up on patterns for sale

Just a heads up - I've come to the sad realization that my pattern stash is simply too, too big. It can no longer fit into the boxes I'm storing it in, even after I added an extra two boxes. And I'm out of room for more boxes so (sigh) it's time to find some of these little ones new homes.

To that end I'm sorting. Some of those patterns in need of homes will get sold in my Etsy shop. Mostly the independents, Vogues, and any others that are just a little too valuable to justify giving away at this point in my student life. Others will go in a free pattern box for my students to pick through during classes and Friday sewing nights.

And some will go up here as free give-aways. :) Admittedly I've never done a giveaway before so if you have any tips or ideas on how to make them fun, tell me, please!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

And there was rejoicing

So I've been wondering for a while now what to do with Etsy. My sewing teaching job is ... well, taking off isn't the right word, but at least picking up some speed on the runway. Here's hoping this is a looooong runway or else the metaphor will turn gruesome. But anyway, with the teaching stuff keeping me moderately busy I've been seriously considering just how much time, money, and effort I want to sink into a tiny shop located in the online version of the mall of america. To continue that metaphor, I feel a bit like a kiosk stuck down a back hallway on a fairly dead wing of the mall. So for a while I've just been letting it sit. No new listings, no relistings to push things to the top, no chatting or advertising or anything else.

And, oddities of oddities, today I sold two robes. My first two robes. And I sold them. Two different people. Just a few minutes apart from each other. And (just to continue the oddities) one lives close to my hometown, the other is right near DH's hometown. Both also appear to be men buying for their wives which, IMHO, makes them very, very good husbands. :)

So this doesn't make it definitive that I'll keep up the shop but it does give me the money to sink just a bit more into stock and try out more sizes. Maybe take the time to investigate turning the basic pieces into a well written first sewing pattern. Hey, if nothing else, my sudden popularity has given me new energy for the store!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tour of the Rocketeer

Loving my new machine so much!

Haven't had a chance to sew too much on her yet, but what I've done so far has been utterly beautiful.

Things I love:

1. Two spool locations. You can perch a spool on a removable pin on top, like in the picture above. Or you can open up the top and two more pins pop up just waiting for spools. The removable pin stores neatly to the left of those two pins - you can just see it in this picture. Little details like that just make my day.

2. Adjustable presser foot. Very, very helpful. My old machine lacks this feature and believe me, I've felt that lack. Plus hidden inside that flip panel is a very clear threading diagram. Great little extra.

3. Lots of room under the presser foot. This picture taken with the presser foot dial on 0 - and see how much room there is under there? And yes, it can (just barely) sew through that large a stack of denim. Not sure how, but it can.

4. Beautiful stitch length lever. It actually twists so that the little metal "wings" clamp onto the machine, keeping the lever from moving as you stitch. Or at least that's how it works in theory. I haven't had any trouble with it slipping without the clamping so not sure how useful it is, but it's a good though. And you can do some very fine adjustments with it. To backstitch? Just move the lever up to above the fine stitching area! Very, very simple.

5. The left/right/middle needle position option. Yes, I know that most people can get through a lifetime of sewing without this option. I, however, learned on a machine with it so I've come to use it in all sorts of ways. Fantastic for edge stitching, flatfelling, and a lot of other things that I'm not remembering right now but I'm sure I've done. :) It's just one of those features I really, really like. I did discover that, when there's no cam in the machine, the stitch width lever moves the needle over to the far right so that's good if I want a bit finer adjusting as an option. Still very happy that the needle position is an option.

7. Feet! From left to right, the feet this machine came with: Binding foot (never used on of those!), zipper foot, mystery foot (i.d. anyone?). rolled hem foot, button foot, and gathering foot. I'm really looking forwards to playing with all of these (and the many others that I'm sure I'll collect over the years). Not shown is the standard zig-zag foot - it's on the machine.

8. The other little extras! Little brush, straight stitch needle plate, and needles. Ok, admittedly I'm NOT loving that this takes different needles from my other machines but those can't be TOO hard to find - after all, there's lots of people who use these older Singers, right?

9. The decorative cams. I love the idea of having a bunch of decorative stitches that you can switch in and out like disks. There's something so wonderfully tactile about it. This machine came with 9 - standard zig-zag, three step zig-zag, icicles, blind hem, arrows, jagged line, swags, sound-waves, and ribbon. And yes, those are my names for them, not the technical names. I need to get a nice sampler made with the different stitches ... I had the beginnings of one and it got thrown out in the race to clean up for company last night. Oops.

10. The sleek, sleek looks!

Some of her features I'm still adjusting to, like her drop-in bobbin (I've always had vertical before this), her lack of a free arm (but that's what the other two machines are for), and the odd foot pedal with it's heal button for speed control. So far I'm proficient at off and full speed. Getting between the two is hard with a foot that's more used to precision control with the toe-end. Oh, well, just gives me a little room to grow with this new machine!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rocketeer: preliminary report

Rocketeer #1 (code name Judy) arrived today! Beautifully packaged - actually there was enough of those staticy, get-everywhere little foam chips to make a small beanbag chair out of. And bubble wrap. DH is seriously happy.

I still have two more chapters to read in my book (due tomorrow - dratted schoolwork getting in the way of life!) before I can do the pictures thing and play with her as fully as I'd like but did test her out a little - really, how could I resist?

And, for the record, 12 layers of denim without slowing down. :) 16 (!!!) was a little much for it - every few stitches it would jam a little until coaxed along with the handwheel. The biggest problem, though, is that the stack of denim was so high the needle bar kept hitting the top. Seriously. That's the sort of stuff this machine can sew through without problems. Mental note- be extra careful about where I put fingers while sewing!

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's mine! Singer Rocketeer

Mine! Mine! Mine!!

So my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Well, that's easy. A sewing machine that works consistantly, can be easily tuned here at home, makes a beautiful stitch, and has a few specific perks like an adjustable presser foot, three needle positions, and the ability to sew a beautiful buttonhole either on it's own or with an attachment.

So any of the Singer slant-o-matics (besides the straight-stitch-only ones) would make me happy. But, if I could ask Santa (or, more specifically, my mom) for just one more thing, it would be that that Singer not be any old slant-o-matic but that it'd be a Rocketeer. I like the artistry of an old black treadle-era machine, the bubbly cuteness of many modern machines, but in my book they can't hold a candle to the chic steampunkishness of the rocketeer.

So mom gave me a price limit and told me to go forth and buy my own present to make sure it was exactly what I wanted. I love my mom. :) So I bid on a machine, nearly have it, then out of nowhere another bidder emerged. Oh nos! A fierce bidding war errupted but, in the end, I lost.


So I turned to another machine. It had a hidden reserve price and a buy-it-now of $275. Worth it, but well above the limit I had. So I passed it by. Found another machine and bid on it. But then, on a hunch, put a lower bid on the machine with a reserve. And, amazingly enough, it was just enough! A few hours of nervous refreshing no other bidders had emerged and I now own a beautiful Singer 503 Rocketeer and a small box of cams, feet, and straight-stitch needle plate. So very, very exciting!

Pretty goodies...

The one mistake I made? Remember that I said I went over and bid on another machine before bidding on this one? Well, that action ends in four hours. And I'm still the highest bidder. For a machine I really don't need any longer.

Oops. See, this is why I don't Ebay. Stupid beginner mistake. So, say, if anyone wants a singer rocketeer can I just hint that any machine with a listing ending right around 6pm eastern time today will sell with only a very slight contest? Unfortunately my max bid is just a couple dollars higher than the current so there will be a bit of bidding ... but very little. Just, you know, in case you're interested.

Fingers crossed that another buyer will show up. But, well, not crossed too tightly. We could just barely afford the second machine (DH's christmas present to me? Mine to him?) and worst case I can always pick out the best feet, cams, and all from the two and resell the other. So we'll see.

Until then I'll be dreaming up projects for my new little wonder machine!

I'm so not a gambler

I'm being forcefully reminded why I don't Ebay. Forget the fact that Ebay seems to be run by a bunch of soulless indivduals that don't mind earning their pay over the bodies of cheated sellers or that they've done very little to crack down on scams and such. No, I don't Ebay because I simply can't handle the uncertainty. I'd very happily pay more for a buy-now item just to know that I've bought it and not find myself compulsively refreshing every five minutes to see if I've been outbid when I SHOULD be working on homework. Sigh.

Oh, well. One more hour and it's over for item #1. Eight and it's over for item #2. Hopefully one will work out and I can put this whole ebayish thing behind me for a long, long while, sticking with feet being sold through buy-now and forgoing any more auctions.

Friday, November 28, 2008

One photo five ways

I'm visiting family this long weekend so I have limited access to my sewing stuff ... so more photo fun! I promise, after this it's back to sewing and patterns and my dreams of a Rocketeer.

But until then, I've been having fun with photobucket's photo editor.

Here's the original photo. Nothing special, though a little cock-eyed. It's a mailbox slot at Animal Kingdom lodge that amused me enough to snap a quick picture of it and it's simple enough to really work with many of the photobucket filters.

Now here's the same picture with a Drawing filter -

Stamp filter (I like lots, personally)

Pop art - another favorite for this photo. I really want to pop-art a mickey photo but wouldn't you know it, I took over 400 pictures and not ONE of the Mouse!

And here's the hippo cartoon-ized.

So that was a fun half hour spent with the computer. I need to go through my photos and see if I have a more recognizable landmark and see what I can do with it. I THINK my mom would love some customized postcards so that's an easy yet heartfelt present. I'll get on that and share with y'all whatever I come up with. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Playing with Photos - Old photos

So photobucket has this fun "old photo" filter that I love. I think because it blurs the photo just enough that it hides my mistakes. :) And I grew up watching Disney Channel specials about Disneyland in the 50s so Disney + old photo really makes this 80s child oddly nostalgic. Anyway, enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fun with pictures - Black and White

For my aunt's Christmas present I'm giving her a small collection of pictures from our trip to Disney World. We had a terrific time and I especially enjoyed the challenge of finding photo ops of little treasures scattered around that really make the place special. It's the care they put into the little details that really make you feel like you're in another world and that's what I tried to capture. Also I wanted to prove that WDW is a lot more than giant mice and gift stores. I think I succeeded, at least in part - I've got eight of these pictures on my living room wall and a fun game for new comers is to try and guess where the pictures were taken. Usually they think I'm some ultra-cultured world-traveler. World, yes, but only the world found in mid Florida. :) So anyway, hope you enjoy these sample pictures! I enjoyed taking them and playing with them!

PS for Mom - see any pics you like? :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Swap Item 2 - Done!

Burda WOF 02-2005-117

Finished (?) my first bottom for the SWAP - a nice denim skirt I can wear to class or out and about! The question mark is due to a couple things - first, it needs something to fasten the waistband closed. As you can see from the technical drawing, it's supposed to have ties but I think it'd clash with the belts I've been collecting. Shoes and belts are such my weakness. So I'm thinking about putting in a couple of hooks and eyes and seeing if those work nearly as well. Also I'm still considering putting in a front slit for walking room (the original intent was a kickpleat but I was tired while cutting out and SO messed that up) though I don't like front slits (a little tarty, IMHO) so unless I find the skirt binding (haven't so far) then I'll leave it alone. Also, in keeping with my epic-basics I'd intended to add some hand embroidery but I also really like it as is. So I'm letting that sit and perculate.

But until then I'm wearing the skirt and really loving it. Yay for SWAPs and new clothes!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Looking over machines for sale and find a serger going for $20 in part because it "doesn't go in reverse."


If only I lived close enough to adopt the machine.

All I want for Christmas ... or my need for needy machines

Picture from

All I want for Christmas is a Singer 500a Rocketeer with all accessories. I dream of boxes of little cams (which, unlike my accessories for my Bernette and White ATS2000 I will NOT loose within the first month), a dozen precious little feet, and a buttonhole attachment that makes perfect buttonholes each and every time. A girl can dream, right?

So I've been scouring ebay, craigslist, and various other sites for ones to suggest to my parents as my possible Christmas present. So I've been looking. And looking.

And realizing something rather disturbing about myself. You know how some women seem to pick disfunctional guys over and over again? I'm like that with sewing machines. Inevitably I'll find a listing for a machine, fall a little bit in love with it, and momentarily ignore things like "this machine doesn't actually have a motor" or "the needle doesn't move" or, well, little things like that. I think "oh, I can fix that!" and flag the machine (which is never a Singer Rocketeer - probably the only thing that's saved me from buying them outright) as a possibility. While, yes, I do actually need a machine, I don't need one with any issues of any sort. I already have three sewing machines and one serger, each with issues. That's why I need another machine. The Bernette has bobbin case issues that I can't fix and needs a visit to the "local" dealer 45 minutes away. The Viking has motor issues that probably require a new motor despite the last repair guy saying that that particular model has such fatal flaws with the cams that I should just put her out of her misery. The Kenmore, which was aparently a lemon of a model, is out of time and takes almost a complete disassembly to fix. Which I've done. Four times. And it's still off. Same repair person said not to bother, the machine isn't worth the repair cost.

So you see why I need a new machine, one that actually works and DOESN'T come with it's own subscription of issues. So why, as I shop, am I so drawn to machines missing fairly important parts or that "only need some oil and a little work done" (i.e. they don't form a stitch and I have no idea why so someone else deal with this thing) or that need a complete and total overhaul? Why can't I fall in love with a fully functioning machine? Sigh.

Back to look at the listings. And if you know another good place to look for machines (besides local SM repair places - I'm on that) I'd love to hear!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Revising the SWAP plan

I'm thinking of changing the game plan slightly from the west-coast winery theme to an epic-basics one. Or something like that. It would be focused on making up eleven basics but each with a twist or new technique or something else to take them from just a general tee to something a little special. With the first piece, that tee, it's both a slightly nicer, more fitted tee than your normal Hanes version and it was my first repurposed garment. Anyway, it's a thought.

Right now I'm working on piece #2, a denim skirt. It LOOKS like a really easy design but the trick here is that it's my first Burda WOF pattern. And it's in German.

I don't even know how to ask for directions to the bathroom in German.

Babelfish is really no help. The last instructions I got were to, and I quote, "Federation: at the federal parts the side seams quilt outside federation to the upper skirt edge quilt." I'm thinking federation has something to do with the waistband but I'm so not sure. Though I guess it makes sense ... Waistband: at the waist parts sew the side seams, sew outside waistband to the upper skirt edge. Which would be better if I hadn't already figured out I need to do that. Sigh.

So this basic skirt is not-so basic in that aspect, especially since it has a neat front zipper detail that I've never done before. So we'll see how it works out. At least I got the pattern fitted and partially figured out with a muslin last week. So we'll see how this attempt goes!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SWAP Item 1 - DONE!

(me at 12:30 at night after camera difficulties. Really need better pic)

And there was much rejoicing.

So my first SWAP item, a t-shirt, wasn't exactly in my original plan. But as the idea is to sew for a week in your life and I've discovered I love a nice, fitted, tee, it made sense to incorporate one in. Then, on Sunday, I gave blood and as a thanks I got a small bottle of gatorade and a one-size-fits-none XXL t-shirt ... well, it seemed like a good time to pull Vogue 2925 out of storage and finally test out that nice shirt pattern. After all, the donor shirt was actually quite nice, black with a surprisingly non-ugly logo on it, and since it was free it made for a good test.

And it worked!

The pattern is absolutely fab, insanely quick to put together and seriously flattering. It's two pieces with four lines of gathering and I kinda cheated and put in just one line of gathering stitches at each. The less than perfect gathering really seems to fit with the slightly-off-kilter logo printed on the front. I basted the side seams together to make the next step easier, then serged those same seams. My two machines are right next to each other and already kitted in black thread so the extra step took hardly any time at all. I then fitted my sewing machine with the double needle and an extra spool of black thread and used that for the neckline, armcycs, and hem. They totally look like coverstitch hems for the price of a double needle. Heart! The armcyc was a bit hard to do this way, especially with the underarm seam. It's a lot higher and tighter than expected, probably because I couldn't do the however-big hem they wanted on it. Note for next time: cut out 1/2" deeper armcyc. Fortunately fabric rubbing off my deoderant doesn't bother me all that much but I know many people absolutely hate it so FYI.

Oh, I cut a size 10 whilst being a 14 in Vogue sizing. I like things more fitted and, since I bought the 6-8-10 sized pattern, it was the largest option I had. It's exactly as fitted as I wanted it to be (what're the chances? No complaint, though), just about form fitting but not at all binding. Just like you want an all-purpose t to be. Or I like an all-purpose t to be ... I guess I'm not all people. But there it is, a new life for a huge t-shirt! And a new shirt for me! Today, after some work, I want to get my denim skirt cut out to go with this shirt. We'll see how that goes, for now I'm just very happy to have gotten the first of the 12 items done!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Belated rejoicing

So this is a bit overdue but thought I'd share my happiness at how well both my intro to sewing class and my free-style sewing nights are going.

Last intro class we worked on making seams and figuring out where the seam guides were on the machine plates. In a previous class with a couple careful crafters this one bit took most of the time. This time, with more experienced and adventurous students that took up ... five minutes. Maybe less. Fortunately that left extra time for picking fabrics for the little bags we made, reviewing pin safety and working with machine quirks (like thread-eating at the beginning of seams - greedy machine!), and even sewing a basic machine hem. And we had a lot of fun doing it! I love making little cloth bags since they're SO easy and yet look so posh and impressive. Students seem to love them just as much so it's a great second-class project. Build confidence, build skills!

Also last Friday I opened my apartment for what I'm calling a "Free Style Friday Sewing Night" (better name when one shows up) where, in theory, anyone who wants to come over and sew or embroider or knit or crochet or anything else fiber related can. I set up a cutting table, put out snacks, and part way through have a little demo or whatnot. At least that's the theory. The first night I had two experienced seamstresses who wanted to cut, sew, and chat and we wound up skipping the demo. That turned out to be for the best because THIS time I had two utter newbies who didn't really have anything to work on and so I pulled out the demo and showed them how to form the two most basic embroidery stitches, running and back stitch, to make embroidered coasters.

It was fabulous.

Attendee #1 is a tween who lives in the building and is in the difficult position of being the oldest kid in the building and sharing a bedroom and tiny apartment with two younger sisters. She's a fantastic young lady and I hope giving her individual time and a skill all her own helps her during what can't be a very fun period of life. I'm probably projecting since at that age we moved to a one-bedroom apartment and I shared a living room with my brother. Who was going through a Barney phase. I had the space under the side table as "my" room. I think I'm still traumatized. So, while trying to not shove all my childhood PTSD on her I do really enjoy the chance to spend time with her and give her a quieter place to spend some time. She'll be taking sewing lessons soon so expect to hear more! She sewed a very good first-time snowflake and the next day dropped by to show me her two newest creations. I wish I'd gotten pictures because she's got some serious talent.

The other drop-by had just come from Joann's to get material to make a pillow for her grandmother and wanted to embroider a monogram. Great timing! She's so encouraging, after I showed her the steps and she practiced for a bit she did a sample letter and was just so excited that it just made the whole night feel like a success. I saw her husband today and apparently she's telling everyone about her new l33t skillz and how they've changed her life. I didn't realize embroidery was so powerful but, hey, not going to argue! So it's been a good, warm-fuzzy time in the sewing studio. And smelly. I made up some aromatherapy heat bags yesterday and I think I overdid it on the essential oil. I just added 10 drops to the bag of rice, just like some suggestion somewhere said ... or so I thought. I think I'll go with two, maybe three drops next time. Until then, anyone have any tips on de-scenting some already sewn up bags? :)

I'm a member of Sew Craft Group #3

I feel like I just started girl scouts or something. :)

Shanon over at mentioned this new blog group named Sew Craft Blog that was creating little subgroups of bloggers and it sounded like fun so I joined. Because, really, you can't have too many crafting friends! I made it into group #3 which is, by the way, still forming so if this sounds like the group for you then, hey, jump on in!

And more coming later... I'm so behind on -
- Review of BWOF skirt muslin
- Review of the parts for my Halloween costume
- Pics of some more stuff I've made for my little shop (hey, I'm proud of them!)
- Squees of delight over how well my intro to sewing class and free style sewing nights have been going

Fortunately next week my schedule's really light so hopefully I'll get caught up!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Listening to fabric

For creative writing I did a poem on the rhythm of embroidery (full text below - warning, very rough draft) and got back the comment that I was very good at "listening to the fabric."

No kidding.

Listening to fabric ain't the problem for me.

Walking into a fabric store is like walking into a frickin' bazaar with each piece calling out, promising great things, telling me all of its hopes and dreams and just about pulling out patterns it wants to be. Look at me! I'm the skirt you've always wanted, I'm that perfect shirt, I'm a red-carpet dress just waiting for your magic touch! Don't leave without me!

And my stash? Forget a bazaar, these fabrics, now home, turn into a chorus of third-world orphans with big pleading eyes and hands outstretched. Each one crying for me to give them some love and attention. I shift them around and even throw the occasional pattern their way to give them hope and shut them up but the next day they're at it again. And then, when I give in and start cutting the cry turns into complaints. Why THIS pattern? Won't you regret not saving me for a better one? Are you sure about the placement? Is everything on grain? You know, if you spent more time you could waste less fabric, maybe get another skirt out of me. Or a pillow. I'm really a pillow. No, what are you doing, don't cut, you haven't tested out that pattern yet! Yes, I know you're using me as a wearable muslin but why me? Why not THAT fabric? What if I'm not wearable? Guilt! Guilt!


I don't have any trouble listening to fabric. It's NOT listening that's so darn hard.

Poem, based on (I kid you not) a wrought iron elevator door at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Rhythms on Fabric

In, out
Cross a stitch
Skip a beat
Pull tight, loop
Cross again
Running stitch
Thread a bead


Black thread slipping
Silver needle weaving
raised shadows creeping on the
flat cotton moss

In, out
cross a stitch

Pattern growing spreading
Counted web catching
Shining beads, blackbirds eyes

Skip a beat,
Pull tight, loop

Bass notes blending
Sax squares brightening
Thin trumpet threads and
thick drum beads

Cross again
Running stitch

Winter branches reaching
Spring's first morning
Skeletal leaves catching
Last crystal snowflakes
Melt, blend

Thread a bead

Weave the thread
Pull tight
Lift and


Pattern formed
Full, finished
Spread like sketch work
On its canvas
Fingers trace
The silent beat
And set aside
For tomorrow's dance.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

In search of a pot...

I love the idea of a windowsill herb garden, with fresh basil, lavender, and thyme spilling out, ready to pick and use. Unfortunately a windowsill herb garden does not love me. I'll admit I really know nothing about gardening - my mom's idea of gardening was to stick something in the ground and then ignore it. It works. Her garden, once you separate the plants from the weeds, always has enough to feed the neighborhood. My dad's idea of gardening is to call in the professionals and then, when they're gone, go after the plants with a pair of dull, rusty hedge trimmers. This does not work. Go figure.

So, yeah, meticulous gardening is not in my genes. But I keep trying. A couple years ago I tried mom's technique. I bought a window box, dirt, and two lavenders and a basil plant. Within a week my lavender was attempting suicide and my basil had a new colony of spider mites, which are, apparently, designed to withstand a direct nuclear attack. Nothing kills them. Every gardening site I looked at said to just hose down the plant with a high-power spray of water on a regular basis to knock off the mites and encourage them to find something else to munch. Right. Lots of high-powered hoses in this apartment. I could drag the window box to my shower but not sure that's quite the same.

So finally gave up and put my aloe plants (which, being cacti, were actually surviving my black thumb, though they've morphed into the strangest looking aloe plants I've ever seen) in the window box, along with a random green plant that I was sold after I walked into a gardening center and asked for a plant I couldn't kill. It came close to death once but survived. Fingers crossed.

This Saturday I was at Central Market and they had a display of beautiful 4" herbs for just $2.50 each. Now how can I pass that up? They called out to me, promising that this time, THIS TIME, they'd actually grow and flourish. And I hadn't had my morning coffee yet so I believed them. Two lavenders, one rosemary, and one basil later, I left, with grand plans of replanting them in my window box.

One problem. Remember that "cannot be killed" green plant and two aloes? They already had claim to the window box.

No problem, I'll just replant them in new pots. Really, the aloe were needing a larger pot anyway and the random green plant needs a shadier spot. So I could just swing by target and pick up a couple of those cheap plastic pots. No problem. No problem at all.

Until I went to target.

Did you know that, on November 1st, a full eighth of the store becomes Tacky Christmas Wonderland? I didn't. And did you know that TCW is put right in the place the gardening section used to be? Nope, me neither. So I was faced with a sea of shiny green glitter and not a single pot in sight. Maybe they moved them one aisle over? Nope, old halloween stuff. Maybe the other way? Four aisles of pampered pets stuff, twelve of pampered child stuff, nothing for the would-be-pampered plants. Maybe home repair? Nope. Nada. Sporting goods? Uh uh. Home dec? Sorry. Candles and fake plants section? Not a chance.

I wandered ALL OVER that stupid store with ice cream melting in my car without spotting a single pot. I even considered a little trash can but even those were too big. Arg!

So I'm stuck. I transfered my aloes over to an old dishwasher detergent container but the random green plant has no place to go. This evening I'll drop DH off at church and run up to Home Depot and THEY should have SOMETHING for my poor plant. But seriously now. This is a major, heavily populated urban area. You'd think that I could get a pot without driving 20 minutes. Oh well, it's worth it in the end if my little lavenders blossom and light up the room.

You hear that little lavenders? See what I go through for you?

Oh, gotta go. One's trying to die already. Sigh.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What do I have here?

I made up a few therapy bags today and was left with a number of scraps. What to do with all these little pieces? Well, make something. So I pieced and sewed the larger scraps and sliced up the smaller ones to use as stuffing and, well, this is what came out -

Just one question - what IS it?

It's 3" square, soft, and tightly stuffed. Maybe a pincushion? A small pincushion. Or, with the addition of a ribbon, an ornament. Or a pillow for Barbie. A few drops of essential oil and it's a sachet ... maybe.

Any other ideas what I have here?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Vampire Hunter Costume - Finished!

With some frantic last minute sewing, my vampire hunter costume got finished right on time.

Die, undead thing!

My armament - silver bullets, wooden stakes (on sash, green), little knife just in case, gun, and (not shown) night vision binoculars.

Silver edged sword and holy water squirt bottle.

Put it all together and you have one well-armed vampire hunter.  :)  Review for individual pieces coming, just wanted to show off the whole.  And yes, I won the costume contest.  :)