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.  :)

And a Very Good Time Was Had By All

Happy Birthday, Love!

More tomorrow, I'm tired!