Friday, January 28, 2011

People Have Too Much Time… I Oughta Know

If you live in the United States of America, today is National Fun At Work Day.

I don't think my boss got that memo.

It's also, in case you were wondering, National Handwriting Analysis Week, National Nurse-Anesthetist Week and, rather bizarrely, National Thank A Plug-In Developer Day.  Uh.  Right.  That's at the top of my list.

I have a great love of strangely-rhymed lyrics. (Yes, this is totally apropos of nothing in the previous paragraph. Apparently it's also National Non Sequitur Week.  Fine.  I made that up.  But it should be, don't you think? I like peanut-butter sandwiches.)

This is one of my all-time favorite lyrical rhymes, from the inimitable Rickie Lee Jones:

"Downstairs at Danny's All-Star joint
They got a juke box that goes doyt-doyt..."

"Doyt-doyt"?  Totally, sister.   I hear ya.

Ok, so that is a classic.  But then, there's this:

"Hey Judy, get Trudy
You said to call you up
If I was feeling moody.
Hey little Donna
I still want to.
You said to ring you up
When I was in Toronto."

Seriously.  Anyone who can rhyme "Donna" and "want to" and "Toronto"... that's just genius.   Also, y'know, Canadian… but still—genius.


Thank you, Plug-In Developer!

Next week is National Catholic School Week, National Meat Week and National Intimate Apparel Week. Really? Why didn't they just go with "National Fetish Week" and get it over with? Yuck.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pantsy: Some Blatant Advertising

OK.  So I don't think it will surprise any of you to hear that I'm not really all about the advertising.  I don't like it.  I don't promote it.  I don't partake of it on other blogs.  ADVERTIZING IS EVIL!


However, I will forgo this dogmatic attitude towards advertising to provide (what I hope is) useful information.

Now just a little back-story: around 2006-2007 everyone was going all bajiggity on Pattern Review about pants fitting.  There was a mad slash-and-burn attitude in the air towards pattern adjusting and it seemed like everyone, just everyone, was doing all sort of tortuous and complicated adjustments in the search for The Perfectly Fitted Pair of Pants.

Enter the very first ETA Dallas Expo (circa 2007).  This was started by Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns.  She had a pants fitting course.

I don't even make pants.  But when the pants-fitting course came up it was on a day I could get away from work, I had never had an opportunity to meet other garment sewists in person, the workshop was an hour's drive from my house and I thought to myself, "Self, maybe you don't make pants because they're so hard to fit."  Right, like I'm passing up that combo.

People.  Eye-opening.  After reading and observing all this Pants Trauma online, Ms. Sagers' instruction was... astonishing.  So simple.  So logical.  So... achievable.

Because of my solitary excursion into the periphery of ETA five years ago, I still get newsletter emails from Silhouette Patterns.  Peggy has started an online video series (to promote her DVD series, as far as I can tell).  I'll state right up front that I haven't watched them yet and they seem to have obligatory ads, but last week she did a pants fitting demonstration.

video link

If you learn a quarter of what she taught in her ETA workshop, it would be worth watching.

This week's upcoming demo is going to be T-shirts.  I believe the one before the pants fitting was

I learned a lot at that workshop.  Mostly, I learned that "hard to fit" is not why I don't make pants.  Not at all.  The truth is, I don't make pants because I don’t like making pants.  That's a valuable lesson.  I hope my sharing this link helps you learn something valuable too.


(I was joking about the advertizing thing.  In case you plan on sending me hate mail about how wonderful your advertizing is and how very very wrong I am to denegrate it in this way.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This Just In…


Get it?  It’s a bulletin board.  A bulletin… “Just in”… get it? 

I am so funny.

This is actually my old bulletin board (as seen in this photo). 


All I did was cover it with some genuine Marimekko Unikko fabric that I purchased (at genuine exorbitant cost) from… uh… somewhere or other.  Actually I think from  My original plan for it was to make it into a shower curtain.  Or rather, a part of a shower curtain.  Don’t ask.  It was a long and complicated design idea involving three fabrics, clear plastic, jumbo curtain rings and a blowtorch and that’s why I never did it.  The clear plastic was kicking my butt.  Meantime, it’s been sitting in my stash for three years.

I heart Marimekko.  When I was a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ apartment.  It basically looked like this:

My grandparents were all about the Danish Modern.  Danskware, Bertoia chairs and teak featured heavily in the formative years of my childhood.  Also Marimekko.  Remember in the early 70’s when imported Scandinavian fabric stretched on canvas stretchers and hung on the wall was the height of home decorating?  I do.

As a child, it took me several years to realize that when people spoke disparagingly of “grandma furniture”, what they probably meant was this:

and not this:

(Which probably explains my bewilderment at the disparaging tone, as well.)

Look!  There I am in their apartment, all bohemian and whatnot.  Well.  As bohemian as you can be with saddle shoes on.  Note the lovely rosewood credenza-and-mirror, circa 1970.  Ok, fine.  It’s a little hard to see in black-and-white.  It was 1970.  Kodachrome was expensive.


Annnnnnnyway, I attached the fabric whole-piece with thumbtacks (seven, to be precise, because seven was all I could find).  I hang things on it with quilting pins (you know, the huge pins that you can’t possibly use for garment sewing), so they don’t really cause much damage to the fabric (should I ever get over my fear of clear plastic and decide to make a shower curtain).  Easy-peasy.  Make one in an hour!  It will only cost you about $90.  Pssht.  You can’t afford not to, right? 

(Good grief.  Who has an ninety-dollar bulletin board??)


So that’s the bulletin board story.  I totally plan on dragging out this studio revamp. And no, not because I haven’t sewn anything.  Because I haven’t photographed anything. 

Yes, there is too a difference.


Thursday, January 20, 2011


cut rectangular strip


press, right side facing


chain piece, cut apart


press, wrong side facing


insert hair elastic


serge with rolled hem


quilting cotton


RPL knit






more quilting cotton




Many, many schrunchies.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Robot

We keep our iPod set to "shuffle".  We have 3974 songs on it.  According to iTunes, this is 11.2 days worth of music.  We have 6 albums that feature, in some way, Chris Cornell (3 Soundgarden albums, 2 Audioslave albums and 2 Chris Cornell albums).  This totals 94 songs.

And yet we hear Chris Cornell on average, I kid you not, every fifth song.

Even I am aware that 3974 divided by 94 does not equal 5.

Our iPod is obsessed with Chris Cornell.   I fully expect it to subscribe to a fan club any day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cubes of Doom

Trena very kindly pointed out that she was culprit... er, I mean, the interested blog reader looking for this tutorial on berets posted by the lovely  Despite the beret trauma inflicted on me as a child, I have to admit that this is pretty dang cute.  It's a nice tutorial too, so hop on over and check it out if you're looking for beret patterns.

Whew.  Mystery solved.  Now I can sleep at night.

But that leaves me with the need to find something else to write about... oh dear.

Let's draw out the studio remodel a bit, shall we?

Storage Cubes: Brilliant Design Concept or Build-Your-Own Nightmare?

I did purchase two new storage cubes to facilitate the rearranging and creating of new storage space:

storage-cubes  I wish I could say that this is all of my stash, but I have this much (or, um, maybe a bit more) in the closet.

The taller stack of cubes next to the closet doors are the new purchase, which went on sale at Lowe's on the very day I had my epiphany about remodeling.  I decided I needed two.  And when I got there, they only had two left.  Yay, verily.  It was a sign.  So, despite not really having the extra cash, I dug out my Christmas Visa gift card and  home I came with two spankin' new storage cubes.  This meant that I could remove the dreaded Fabric Cover on the old storage cube.


It had been a necessity because that corner gets some sun and the fabric was suffering.  But, like Mushy, I prefer to see my fabric out in the open (I mean, gazing adoringly at it is mostly the only reason I even own it in the first place).  So I moved the fabric to the (mostly) sunless wall and therefore had a whole big storage cube free for... uh... for… hmm..... for what exactly?   Good question.

new-cubes-of-goodnessI decided it was the perfect place for Notions.  And that's what's there now. 


I'm still in the process of covering and labeling cigar boxes and collecting prettier containers and whatnot, but that will take some time because I don't have lots of funds right now to blow on totally unnecessary junk.  Plus, I want things I really like, not just whatever I find right then and there.

I’ve discovered that despite never seeming to have the tool or notion I need, I have a lot of notions and tools.  That ArtBin is full of stuff like scissors and marking tools and needles and such.  And all these boxes have stuff in them too.  Plus there are more things that I don’t use often in the closet.   Sheesh.

By the way, my walls aren’t fluorescent mustard yellow and I didn’t repaint the walls.  Our entire house is painted this color, which is actually quite a lovely shade of soft gold.  Being yellow, however, it reacts dramatically to lighting changes and also photographs unpredictably.  It’s roughly this color:


And yes, I did ban the Evil Monkeys from the studio Forever and Ever In Perpetuity Never To Return For As Long As-- um.  Right.  Well, I bought them a new industrial-strength (read "cheap-ass junk from Walmart") rug for their bedroom (so as to protect their existing cream-colored carpet) and did a storage-and-table-rearranging number on their room as well.  They have the biggest of the bedrooms by far and now have lots of room to play and draw and watch DVDs and listen to music and, uh, sleep and stuff.  It's pretty slick in there, if I do say so myself.  Plus, now all we have to do is shove some food in through the door every once in a while and they never have to come out.

Which would be fine if we could ever get them in there in the first place.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Usually, It’s Just Better Not To Know

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved to write stories.  These stories were typically sad, sorry affairs about her inability to make anything useful.  Sometimes they were about the things she did manage to make, usually not well.  Sometimes they were simply about songs she had stuck in her sorry little head. 

Despite all this, the little girl was terribly full of herself and kept a secret tracking device on her stories, so as to be able to see which stories people liked reading the most.  Coincidentally, the secret tracking device allowed her to see what people searched for when reading her stories.  Usually it was "patterns" or "uniforms" or "music", because she usually wrote about patterns and uniforms and music.

To the best of her knowledge she had never (no, not ever) written about... berets.

And yet.

stat search 1-2011The little girl was more than a smidgen puzzled by this.  Had she written about her grandfather's lifelong penchant for hats, and berets in particular?  Had she written about her grandmother's insistence that she wear a pompommed wool beret for Saturday Boutique Shopping every week when she was seven?  Had she written about how five years ago her mother had purchased eleven (eleven) authentic red French berets towards the (rather hopeless) purpose of making everyone in the family wear one for the Family Christmas Photo?  Um.  No.  She hadn't.


Seriously?  If this is you and you came back, I so want to know what you were looking for.  Honest.  Because if there's one thing in this world I hate, it's a beret (you wouldn't be expected to know that, I'm just saying).  And so it's funny to me that you were looking for berets on my blog.  And intriguing. 

Honest.  This has just been puzzling me for six hours now.  Curse you, Stat Counters, and your mysterious tantalizing tidbits!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Today is 011111. Or I suppose if you live anywhere else in the world, it's 110111.  If we fell through a swirling vortex of time and landed in the Middle Ages, it could be 11011011.  Which means "Û" in binary. 


This thing with the month/day/year and day/month/year is hard for me to switch back and forth on.  The Husband's birthday, according to our marriage certificate, has been irrevocably changed from August to December.  We applied for a license in Texas and the girl at the County Clerk's desk interpreted the "12/8/1970" on his New Zealand driver's license to mean December 8th.  The Husband wasn't thrilled to find out he's been downgraded (his word) from a Leo to a Sagittarius.  Frankly, as a Taurus I find both to be inferior so I don't know what he's fussing about.

Since we're already swirling through a vortex of time, I thought I'd show you what my studio used to look like:



And how it looked this morning:


The picture’s not really doing it justice.  It is spacious and streamlined and pleasantly clutter-free.  In fact, I was so zealous in my reorganization attempts that I actually achieved something of a miracle (two more and I get to be a saint):  I have excess storage space.

This is unheard of.  Seriously.  Throw in two more tricks like that and I'm Saint Beangirl.  Um.   Which doesn't quite have the ring of Saint Catherine or Saint Scholastica or even (a personal favorite) Saint Hilaria.  But still.  I'm impressed with myself (which clearly isn't very saintly behavior).

Did you know that Saint Clare of Assisi is the patron saint of needlework?  Actually, she's the patron saint of poor eyesight.  But I'm guessing you can see the connection.  I mention this because my mostly-finished studio needs better lighting.  I have not one clue how I will achieve this.

Friday, January 7, 2011



Do you 12-Step?  I don't.  It goes against several fundamental aspects of my nature.  Still, it seems like not 12-Stepping can make turning over a new leaf more difficult.  I mean, it’s hard to form a Help Group for the Fundamentally Anti-social and Smugly Superior.   Sort of, y’know, oxymoronic.

Mrs. Little Hunting Creek recently wrote a stirring testimonial about her addiction.  This made me laugh (because I always laugh at addicts-- I'm cruel that way).  Just the day before, I'd been in the midst of sorting and refolding my fabric, towards the goal of rearranging the studio (see Resolution #2, 2011).  I was quite proud of myself for having divested several yards of (perfectly good) fabric and making quite a bit of space in the storage cubes.  I said as much to the Husband. 

Then I informed him that very afternoon my mother had told me a good friend of hers was cleaning out stash and wanted to know if I would be interested in her "vintage fabric".  The Husband was visibly derisive and snorted, "Pssht. Yeah. Ask the addict if they want more heroin." 

Sadly, I came to the conclusion that there was little I could say in response.  Except, "Uh. Yeah."

More heroin, please.

I don't 12-Step.  I can 2-Step... if held at gunpoint... and forced to drink a whole bunch of tequila.

I didn't say it was pretty.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Year In Review, Part Two: Resolved.



Resolution: Lose 46 pounds
Result: Lost 36 pounds
Conclusion: Sufficient

Resolution: Stop Buying Fabric
Result: Bought A Small Amount of Fabric, Used Most Fabric Purchased
Conclusion: Sufficient


Resolution: Lose 25 pounds
Result: pending
Conclusion: pending

Resolution: Organize and Reduce Possessions/Make Living Space More Visually Appealing
Result: pending
Conclusion: pending

Inspirational Motifs:


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Executive Punch

A few days ago we were sitting around in my parents' kitchen waiting for the inevitable pokey shoe-putting-on-and-coat-denying by TLo.  This year my mom had put all her holiday cards in a big basket on the kitchen table and as TLo began to whine from the living room, "But it's not cooooold..." I decided to spend a little time picking through all the cards.  I was looking for photos, of course.  Cards without photos are totally useless.  (I know this is true, because I pored for a good thirty seconds over the photo of one of our congressmen and his family -whom I didn't recognize by sight and have never met- while I barely glanced at the written card from my cousin -whom I haven't seen in six years but visited every year for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter until I was 22.  Clearly photos are better than words when it comes to Christmas cards.)

As I flipped through the cards, derisively discarding the handmade snowman and the vintage santa in order to pounce like a vulture on the glimmer of glossy photo paper, I made my pronouncements:

"I have no idea who these people are.  Weird hair."

"Oooo, look.  The Gustafsons.  I met them once. When I was 12.  Pretty sweaters."

"Oh, look at all the little blondies!"  (I said this quite a few times, as many of the cards were from friends or family in Minnesota or North Dakota and virtually all small children there are blond.  Regardless of their adult hair color.  I was a notable exception.  When I was a baby, people would ask my mother if I was an adopted Indian.  Seriously.  It really upset her at the time.)

Then I came across a cheerful picture of some guy sitting on a brick wall.  "N. Esquivez*.  I have no idea who that is.  Nice leather jacket."

My mom and dad -perhaps eager to avoid the grating cries of, "But I don't have to wear a hat, I have LONG HAIR!" emanating from the living room- both perked up immediately. 

"N. Esquivez!  You know!" gushed my mother.
"You don't know N. Esquivez!?" admonished my father. "YOU know..."

I had never in my life heard of N. Esquivez.  My father opened his mouth to say more, presumably about this mysterious person I most certainly did not know, when my mother suddenly stopped short.  Sort of... quizzically.

"You know... " she said, hesitating.  We all raised our eyebrows, ignoring the screams of "It is NOT too cold for flip-flops!  Yes you CAN TOO wear a miniskirt to Texas Roadhouse in the winter..." that poured from the living room.  My mother sort of... giggled.  "Well, you know, a few years ago I met up with N. Esquivez in Austin for SDEC**.  We went out for drinks and he had this friend with him.  A tall skinny black guy.  He was a lawyer.  From Chicago.  Getting into politics."

We all sat and stared. 

"I think it was Obama."

We all sat and stared.

"But I'm not sure.”

We all sat and stared.

“They're really good friends.  So it's possible.  I think it might have been."

"But you don't remember?" I asked.

"We all got drunk as skunks.”  She shrugged.

TLo chose this moment to grace us with her poorly-dressed presence and in the ensuing chaotic shuffle to get everyone into the truck I never heard any more about N. Esquivez.



We’re all going with “My mom got drunk with the President!  Of the UNITED STATES!”  



*This is not this man's real name.  Not to protect his anonymity.  Because I can't remember it.
**State Democratic Executive Committee (Texas), of which my mother was a member for several years.