Thursday, October 30, 2008

A quick thanks to my mom

Without getting into it, I'm a little tired of hearing people tell me how much I apparently want kids. My poor repressed subconcious must be absolutely dying without a little squishy baby around but I, of course, am too callous and insensitive to hear this so others must be picking up on that vibration. Sigh. Ok, yes, we probably wouldn't mess up the kid too badly. We might even be good parents. I think you'd be a great doggie parent. Your point? Are we so low on people in this world that we need another?

I try to take it as a compliment, I really do. It beats people saying "by all that's holy, no kids, promise me!!" But... yeah. It seems like every conversation with the in-laws contains "when you have kids" ... not if. When. Because kids happen.

Good friends are mixed - some (surprisingly, mostly parents) are fine it and don't get why it would ever be an issue. Others have professed neutrality but then either ask excitedly about babies or, in the case of one, go on a lecture about how kids are special gifts designed to bring us to full maturity and selflessness. Ok, yes, they can teach you that but lots of things can. The vast majority of canonized saints, even those noted for their selflessness, were childless. Name notable mature, selfless people and notice that many of them don't have kids. And for heavens sakes, don't put yourself up on some romantic pedestal just because you want them. Admit that you like the idea of a cute, crazy little kid in your life and enjoy it. No shame in that. Kids are wonderful and challenging and a massive, massive responsibility. And?

So anyway, this goes out to my mom who's never, ever pressured me about this. Who has said that while she wouldn't mind trying on the grandma hat, actually prefers grandmothering the little 5-year-olds at her school. Who thinks I'm a great person no matter what I'm doing and is super-supportive whether I decide to have kids or not. Who's actually joined in on the "what's the big deal" rant with me and confessed that if she hears one more of her friends get stuck on the topic of grandkids she's going to ram the photo album down their throat. Or pull out her album of 30 little kindergardeners and start going on about each and every one. I've got a great mom. :)

And, in fairness, my little brother finally came around to the realization my morality is not tied in with my childbearing and has, since, decided that I get to be "that" aunt. The cool one that his kids get shipped off to for vacations, the one that gives crazy gifts and takes them to museums and Disney World and makes them stand up a little straighter. Works for me, I believe every kid needs one of those relatives in their lives. Besides, he's my little brother, if he hadn't realized that I'm in full rights to brain him. :-D

My not-so-little brother. But I can still beat him up.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Vampire hunter costume - update 2

Nearly done!

Still need to hem the skirt and slip, take out the zipper in the right side and just make it a high slit (good idea but the fabric's just too light and the zipper's messing up the lines), and sew on the buckles for the corset. Also add a few dangling straps to hook on various accessories like garlic, holy water squirt gun, flashlight, silver knife, powdered wolfsbane (well, powdered something since real wolfsbane is poisonous and powdered random tree leaves are cheaper), another knife on a garter, and whatever else one uses to kill a vampire and any other baddies one might run across.

Also need to see where we can get a toy crossbow - I really, really want one. It'd just be such a great extra for the costume and, well, fun to play with. DH's parents were going to send his old "toy" one but it's actually a real one made for squirrel hunting. Not what I want to be playing with in a crowded party.

Fabulous boots from Target. Heart!

Showing off the overall line. And, yes, that's an unhemmed skirt that bothers me each time I look at the pic. Sigh. In other news, this is the first time I've used eyeliner to outline all of my eye, rather than just a thin line on the top lid. I kinda like it. Very dramatic.

Buckles! I feel so steampunk-y.

Friday, October 24, 2008

First Free-Style Friday sewing group!

We had our first bi-weekly Friday sewing group tonight and I think it was a success! Four sew-ers total, including myself, though I know others who wanted to come but had prior commitments. So it's a growing group. My little living room holds four machines, one cutting table, one ironing board, and two hand-sew-ers on the couch before feeling overly cramped so hopefully this'll work for us for a while. If we grow beyond that I might actually have to clean up the office/sewing room to make more space. And that's a scary, scary thought.

But back to tonight, it was really great to have time to just sit and craft without worrying about homework or housework or other things I "should" be doing. The others felt the same - especially the one with a two year old! She managed to get a baby blanket cut out, pinned up, and sewn up in the time here. Another got a baby hat partially knitted, another worked on a small ... something ... and I got my vampire hunter skirt cut out and I'm still sewing up the darts. Unfortunately I marked the darts on the wrong side so it's slow going. I really need to put it down for the night as I'm just plain beat. But it's a good beat after a good day with good sewing friends! :)

In the Dallas area? Comment and I can give you info about the next Friday Free Style sewing get-together!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


So I decided to take the leap and try out Twitter. Other sellers on Etsy swear by it ... what they don't say is how to move from talking to yourself in little sound bytes to actually getting followers and sales. Apparently followers magically appear. Hm.

Maybe if I put out twitter entries for the cleaning fairies ....


Anyway, just in case this magical gathering of fans beings with a blog, my new twitter is And yes, it's mostly about my little shop so if you don't want to be marketed at then stay here and I'll try to be good and not let my two sewing lives (self and shop) bleed into each other too much. Will you mind if I do just a bit of showing off here, though? There's parts of my sewing shop life that're just more fun to share with other seamstresses than with potential buyers.

Off to do homework so I can justify sewing all day tomorrow..

Oh, and maybe cut out some felt for the first Free-Style Sewing Night I'm hosting on Friday. Partway through the evening I'm giving a demo on hand-embroidering little coasters and right now most of my would-be coasters are still one large piece of felt.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vampire hunter skirt (In Progress)

Pattern used: McCall's 5590

The lining done! Er, nearly - I don't want to hem it until it's in place. That's why it's uneven with the front panel 1" longer than the back. But besides that, doing a fitting muslin really paid off - the fit is PERFECT! And, I think, very, very flattering.

I used a heavier lining-weight poly I had in my stash from who knows where. I'll add sew-in boning to the sides to ensure it stays up. Hopefully tonight or, at the latest, Wednesday, I can get the fashion fabric cut out and start sewing it up. Like any basic skirt pattern, this is a breeze to put together. I did increase the work by dividing out the given two back darts into four. I have a sway back and that always means a lot of fabric to dart in.

The actual skirt will have a zipper-slit on the side and so you can see the lining's matching slit. The zipper slit won't be quite that high. At least, I don't think it will. :) I found a 22" invisible zipper in my stash so we'll see how racy it can be!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Visions of Grace - aka, my new tunic pattern

Introducing the Grace Tunic!

The last picture is my friend MT modeling. She's a size 10 with a great figure and the Grace Tunic fits her better than it does me. I think it's the fabric, because in a knit with less stretch the pattern fits me perfectly. I'll have to do some tweaking because I WANT one of these for myself! It's terrifically comfortable, perfect for Dallas fall days. Plus it's great as maternity or nursing wear without (hopefully) feeling like maternity. I'll be putting this up for sale on my etsy shop soon, for now I'm content just showing it off. :)

I'm also in the very first steps of thinking about possibly maybe if it's possible making and selling this and the brianna cardigan wrap as patterns. Maybe. It's probably too expensive and then there's copyright stuff [by which I mean GETTING a copyright, not infringing on someone else's - that's bad] ... but is it worth looking into? Maybe? Maybe not?

Friday, October 17, 2008

SWAP Thoughts I - The Plan (duh duh DUH!)

This year I'm in a very good position to actually participate in Sewing Guild's SWAP- what with sewing as a business and teaching sewing classes my machines are far more accessible than they've ever been before and I finally have a nice cutting table. Also sewing consistently has really helped me as a seamstress - I'm becoming better at eyeballing things, sewing quickly, serging, and even just cutting out. Additionally I should have the time, what with Christmas and winter break.

On top of that, my closet's hitting a point where I either need to spend time sewing or spend time shopping. Sewing is far more fun.

I don't have a 100% set plan yet, though I spent a good part of last night drawing and cutting out paper-doll clothes to figure out good shapes and I'm feeling fairly good about what I have. For whatever reason I find I'm drawn to empire waist tops with narrow bottoms. Paper-doll time convinced me that this is not a good look for me unless I like the baby-bump look. And while that's a recent trend, it's not one I really want to deal with right now, not here where everyone around us are testing just how many small kids can squeeze into a two-bedroom apartment. Current record holder was, I think, four with a fifth on the way. Yeow.

Anyway, no baby-bump clothing. Narrow tops. Narrow tops are good.

So figured that much out.

Beyond that I'm still playing around. One SWAPer brilliantly divided her weekly life into percentages and built her SWAP around that.

So what's my life look like?

Charted it out by dividing each day into thirds - Morning, Afternoon, and Evening.

I spend...
40% of my waking life at home either doing homework or working (building inventory, mending, or teaching classes).
35% of my waking life in class or the library
10% of my waking life at church (though 5% of that time is evening service so less formal)
10% of my waking life out and about, ranging from date night (what are those again? we need to get back in that habit) to shopping.
5% of my time working out (ok, that's a bit generous - but I'm an optimist).

Worked out that means I need ...
40% Business Casual (A)
45% Nice Casual (for design studio time, evening service, and errands) (B)
5% Sunday Morning Nice (C)
5% Date-worthy (D)
5% Work-out wear (E)

Right now I'm seeing that working out as...

- Pair of brown corduroy pants (A, B)
- Corduroy skirt (A, B, C, D)
- Yoga pants (B, E)
- Black (brown?) jumper (A, B, C, D)

- Scoop neck knit shirt (A, B, E)
- Cowl-neck sweater (A, B, C)
- Button-up blouse (A, B, C)
- Big shirt, tunic length (A, B, C)
- Pretty camisole (B, C, others when mixed with wrap
- Brianna tunic/wrap (can stand alone as top when wrapped) (B, C, D)

- Fun mid-weight coat (A, B, C, D, maybe E though I don't work out outside)

Playing with all the different combos, minus coat, that works out to pretty close to the right percentages. Yay!

Now to start looking for colors. I love the idea of Winery colors and have around here somewhere a great little collection of paint chips just the right shades. Somewhere. Sigh. Until then, think dark browns, blacks, berry red, wine purple, and olive greens with some California Blue skies. That's the broad idea, I'll narrow as I find the fabric. :)

A few of the pieces that didn't make the cut -

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Items for my Etsy Shop!

More pretties! I also made a new sewing friend while riding the elevator down to take pictures - carrying a dressform is apparently a giveaway that you know your way around fabric.

Cherry Lime Studios

I've been Treasured!

A huge thanks to reVision Designs for adding my coasters to her absolutely lovely Treasury!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Exorcist Costume

We all have heros. Some people admire those who work for world peace, like Gandi. Others idolize a particular sports hero who worked hard and overcame all odds to win. There's others who look up to a great scientist, artist, or religious figure.

My husband? He idolizes the Ghostbusters.

Yes, those Ghostbusters. Proton packs, grey jumpsuits, hearse-like car - those guys.

And now he's training for the priesthood. In a denomination where "Exorcist" is an actual position.

I'm going to be visiting a lot of strange places and people in my married life.

Good thing I have a psych background. It's hard to find people much weirder than psych profs. So I'm slightly prepared. Maybe.

Anyway, so with a Halloween Party theme like "Monster Slayer," DH is, of course, going to be some sort of exorcist/ghost hunter. And since he already has most everything he needs for exorcist... well, it was an easy choice.

Does it say anything about the friends we keep that he's going to be one of like five exorcists at the party? Sigh.

Anyway, he had the clothes and he had the props (rosary, crucifix with imbedded holy items, holy oil, holy water, prayer book) but he didn't have any sort of case to carry them in. He's been wanting something for a while but those things are expensive, especially when you want custom-cut foam to hold the items. Or so he thought. Of course, he married someone who believes nothing is too hard to DIYODS (do it your own damn self - thank you Craftster).

I found an old cassette tape carrier in the closet and pulled my collection of history lecture tapes out of it (hey, I might listen to them someday!). It was a particularly ugly light brown faux leather passed down from my grandfather. I think he got it back in the 70s for his collection of Baptist sermon tapes. I hope he's not doing any grave-rolling, I really love my grandpa. DH got some black fabric paint and went to work redoing the outside. I think it turned out quite nice.

It's actually looking nicer now since DH cleaned off the paint that got on the silver trim.

To get the inside ready, DH got foam from Michaels and, using a little saw, carved out shapes for the various items. I wasn't watching so I'm not sure how he did it but it was messy. I'm still finding little bits of foam in corners of the living room. With the foam cut I raided my stash to find some good lining. A dress I attempted to make at the beginning of my sewing career came in handy here. That was back when I hadn't quite figured out RTW size isn't sewing size. Yeah. So the pieces of black satin got shoved in a plastic bag until I found a use for them. Like, say, lining an exorcist kit.

I seriously wouldn't have foreseen that.

But it worked! Dh glued and pinned the lining into place and, voila, an exorcist kit for the price of the foam!
And I just realized these pictures are all from before he lined the bottom part and finished the detail painting. Just imagine, please.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Red velvet shirt - how to

So ... how'd that red velvet shirt come together? It was easier than it looked. The original plan was for a tunic style woven shirt but then DH found this great panne velvet and it was too perfect. So new plan. Found this (moderately NSFW) drawing and really liked the neckline. Unfortunately none of my patterns quite fit the bill. So time to frankenpatten!

Pulled out these two patterns. The first is a knit pattern and has the body, rounded bottom of the neckline I want, and the sleeves. The second has the high neck bit. Unfortunately it's a woven, too narrow in the front (an outfit like this needs to show skin!) and has darts at the neckline. Darts, knits, and me don't mix.

Here you can see how I traced out the back. The top quarter is a tracing of the coat pattern, the rest is the knit shirt. To match up the two patterns I used the shoulder line and back center to line everything up. I pinched out the dart (it's the line down the back at a 45* angle) and raised the neckline to compensate. It was a lot of trial and error and hanging up on the dressform to get it roughly right. Good thing is it doesn't have to be perfect. Lesson learned from days working backstage - it just has to look right. It doesn't have to BE right. Sometimes those two things are actually contradictory. That's life.

Here's the front. Again, top bit is the jacket pattern, bottom is the knit shirt. And again the center line and shoulder line were very helpful in merging the two patterns. The mandarin collar came forwards too much so I measured out just where I wanted to to be and then started drawing. I really liked how it looked so plopped it down on the red velvet and started cutting! I had plenty of extra fabric (at $2.50 a yard, it was worth getting extra!) so no reason to not go forwards with it.

A closer look at how I pinched out the front dart and increased the angle of the high neck bit. In retrospect I really need to remember about seamlines - I just drew where I wanted the finished line to be rather than 3/8" (my favorite serger seam) away. Oh well. It worked out in the end.

I sewed up the body of the red velvet, then cut up and sewed it up again in a heavy black knit. Serged the necklines together. Flipped the lining inside. Serged in the sleeves (in the round - ick) which also secured the lining. Right now I'm leaving the hems raw but I might serge them together along the bottom. We'll see.

Anyway, there's the making of one vampire hunter shirt!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vampire hunter costume part 1b

It just occurred to me that I should give you pictures and an explanation about that shirt pattern since it's certainly different and was fun to figure out. I'll do that first thing tomorrow.

Until then, a question that's keeping me stalled for the skirt - front slit or side?

See, I want a straight, high waist skirt for the costume on the theory that my "athletic" thighs, larger bum, and small waist present a pants fitting triathlon that's simply not in this month's to-do list. So skirt it is. And what's sexier than a pencil skirt? A high waisted pencil skirt!* And what's sexier than a high-waist pencil skirt? A high waist pencil skirt with a thigh-high zipper slit!

At least that's the theory. But now I'm stuck on just where the slit should be. I first thought of putting it in the front left princess seam but that would require adding that seam to the basic skirt garment. I don't mind drafting a new seam (heck, it'd hardly be my garment if I didn't do SOME new seams), it's the look. I tend to look broader in skirts with two front seams. But then the skirt I'm wearing right now has princess seams and it looks fine ... but it's the exception. And who's to say this new skirt will be another exception? Maybe it'll ruin the whole look. Nooooo!

So side zipper? Think that would work? Would it be too inconspicuous? Would the skirt look too office-worthy? Would the slit on just the one side throw off the skirt balance?

So many questions!!! And I'm so horrid with visualizing these things. I really need to find some fabric for a test garment but my tiny stash hasn't yielded up any volunteers. Sigh. I might just have to guess and go. Any ideas?

* Though, in truth, the high waist is mostly to keep the lines clean since it'll be hidden under the corset. But I'll FEEL sexy and that's what matters.

Vampire slayer: in progress

My vampire slayer costume is coming together fairly nicely. I spent most of yesterday tracing, cutting, and sewing (and making a huge, huge mess) and it's starting to look like a real outfit.

The shirt is some basic butterick knit shirt pattern with that fun semi-mandarin collar drafted on. It's Joann's fabulous panne velvet which remains one of my favorite fabrics for costumes. It looks so much richer than it really is and it's fantastic to sew with. Since panne velvet is pretty drapey, I underlined it with a nice workout wear weight black knit, bought years ago at Golden D'or. The collar still doesn't stand up like I want it to so I need to experiment with some interfacing. More excuses to play with fabric!

The overvest is from Simplicity 3618 and a flat measuring of the tissue pieces showed me that Simplicity, as per usual, decided the pattern needed four or five inches of ease. Because a corset is all about being loose and unsupportive. Sigh. I cut out size 6 for the back and 8 for the front and it looks just about right. I need to finish feather-stitching the seams (my machine started giving me trouble at 10 last night so I took that as a cue to put things down for the evening) and then I can sew on the lining and figure out what I want to do for the closures. The pattern calls for lacing but putting grommets in this heavy of fabric seems like a special form of torture. I was thinking about getting some buckles, ala Anna from Van Helsing. I'm a little worried about the fit of those straps. They seem alright on me but it's not exactly easy to check the fit on oneself without seams or closures and no way to pin the garment without leaving holes. Oh well. Worst case my seamripper will get a good workout.

So anyway, finishing up the corset is this afternoon's and tomorrow's task and then it's on to the pencil skirt! I'm dragging my feet on that because the fabric I'm using is just so lovely and irreplaceable that I'm having trouble cutting into it. Yes, the skirt will be wearable in my daily life and yes, I've made sure the pattern is as perfect as possible, but it's still hard to commit. Sigh.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Halloween Coasters!

Today I spent the morning embroidering these fun little coasters for my etsy shop.

They're orange thread on a dark gray felt and were a lot of fun to make, though now I wish I had a thimble. My needle-pushing finger is sore! Still, I enjoy the tactileness of hand embroidery and really enjoyed whipping these up. Since it's a little late to sell many more of these this October, I'll probably pack away the patterns and start working on some winter themes. Maybe snowflakes, an advent series, and some Christmas ones? Hm.

I nearly finished another robe but it's waiting until I get the last few threads clipped for it's photo shoot. Two other robes are just a few little details away from being ready as well so expect my inventory to increase this weekend!

Until then, more pictures of my halloween coasters -

And yes, I plan on taking better pictures tomorrow, after a trip to the store for AA batteries. This camera is such a glutton!

And, just in case: Click here to buy!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New Shirt - Butterick 5218

I have a new shirt! Or rather new - I finished it two and a half weeks ago. But when most of my wardrobe is older than the kids I work with, a two-week-old shirt still, comparatively, has that new garment feel to it. You know the feeling, where you're still getting used to fitting it into your wardrobe line up and it still feels a little strange (yet wonderful!) when you put it on. And the other tops look a little dingy and out of date next to it. And your black skirt that works so well with it suddenly feels new as well.

It's a great feeling.

I don't want to do the copy-paste bit from my PR review since I figure you can just click here to see it if you want to and ignore the link if you don't want. The long and short - I actually used three sizes smaller than recommended and it's still a moderately big shirt so keep that in mind. Construction and drafting were both excellent and while the pattern needs some tweaks to look high-end RTW (a standard shirt hem with the curving side vents, cuffs on the sleeves), it's a great starter piece and easy enough for a first tailored shirt project. I really had a great time with all the (added) topstitching. It's just so instant-gratification that you've gotta love it.

This was my first time doing buttonholes so that was a good bit of anxiety right there. After all, you mess up on that front placket and suddenly you're in salvage mode to save the whole thing. After, of course, you've put at least ten hours into it. Pressure? Yeah. But my new little machine did a great job! After I fiddled with it, that is. It's got some strange quirks. But I'm not sure how to explain them so I won't. It just makes me wonder what it is about me that can't have a NORMAL machine for once? Oh well. Someday. :) Until then I should be able to stay nicely dressed with the machines I have!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wrap + front seam = Dress?

I was experimenting with my new wrap/cardigan pattern and made it up in a really stretchy poly/lycra knit from Joann's and wasn't pleased with it. The front folds just didn't have the fantastic definition of my stiffer cotton knit. So I put it on Elanor and started to play with it and ... hm.

Imagine this just a little longer and hemmed ...

I like it. I like it a lot.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

New Pattern (Squee!!)

So ecstatic! I had this image in my mind of what my basic robe pattern could be and so last night I skipped a game night at church, pulled out the pattern, some tracing paper, and some old black knit I had and went at it and look what came out!!

This may be the most flattering item in my closet. The v-neck is so fabulous, the gathering just does the most amazing things for my figure, and the length makes my hips and thighs smaller and legs longer. Seriously, I think there's some magic happening. Hopefully tonight and tomorrow I can get a couple more of these cut out and posted on my Etsy shop. If I can bear to part with them!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Opening Day!

Cherry Lime Studios opened for business today! And I'm heading down to the apartment green space to get some more pictures of coasters - they just don't photograph well indoors, even with our south-facing window's blinds open so I haven't listed them yet. Plus I've got another robe to put up, again, just need to get photographic evidence that it exists.

Unfortunately the part of my day that wasn't taken up by setting up shop didn't go very well. I had plans to make another couple sets of coasters and a robe. Well, one coaster came together well... the others kept having just about any trouble they could. I still have red ink all over my fingers. Blech.

So moved on to some little eye masks. Wow, those turned out terribly. Really terribly. Ok, cross those of the list of products.

On to robe. Those are easy, I can whip one up in my sleep.

Or maybe not.

First I serged one shoulder seam wrong - right side to wrong side. Grr. Seam rip, which, btw, is seriously annoying when it's a serged seam. Finish that, serge second shoulder seam, everything's going well, then -arg- the serger decides to do something and attempt to eat the fabric. Save fabric but must rethread serger. Three times. And no, I don't have air-threading. I have fingers. That's it.


So get serger working and finish shoulder seam. No problems. Move on to armcyc. Sew it up, everything looking fine ... OH NO! Sewed right sides to right sides. This is SO the last time I'm making a solid-color robe, from now all all right and wrong sides will be visible from 100 yards.

So now I've seamripped the serged armcyc and I'm putting this away for the evening. No more chances to mess up! Some days I just shouldn't bother!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Scarily true

My school requires you to have some sort of health insurance (and apparently "my father in law is a GP, I'll fly home for any treatment I need because the last-minute plane flight is cheaper than health insurance and, unlike the health insurance, I'll actually get treated" doesn't count) so this story hits very close to home. I love the Onion (spoof news source, for those across the pond) but decidedly in a "ha-ha-owch" sort of way.

Man Succumbs to Seven Year Battle with Health Insurance