Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mail Call!

So look what I got in the mail a few days ago:


It’s an assortment of off-cuts from Japan, courtesy of Big In Japan.  Some are rayon, some are cotton, some are silk.  There are dragons and mums and cranes and just all sorts of traditional motifs.  The Evil Monkeys and I are going to plan a wall hanging using most of these, some small purses (or similar) using the others and then the Evil Monkeys can have the remaining bits to make something else of their choosing in the future.  Whew!  That’s alotta projects.  Aren’t we lucky?!

And in the mail I also received a lovely gift from G.Marie, in the form of two issues of BurdaStyle that I did not own.  Yay!  I wasn’t even sure where to start with that one, so I picked this duster:

BS 01-2011BS 01-2011 model

I’ve been wanting a drapey duster pattern forever.  Despite having five or six on hand, not one was exactly what I wanted.  This one is!  Awesome.  I’m working it up now in a reeeeeally cheap heather-grey pucker-knit that I must have bought on sale at Hancock’s… there’s no other explanation for having five yards of it.  Which is fortunate, because this pattern calls for three!  Yikes, that’s alotta fabric, right?  Even I don’t have very many lengths of fabric that would cover that.  If it comes out well, I’m going to buy something prettier and make it up again.

In the meantime, I have multiple projects in the planning stages (as usual) and not a lot in the almost-finished stages (as usual).  I have to make TLo a spring dress and also of course some western shirts.  I have a ridiculous collection of gingham I could use (that’s ten different ginghams!):


but I’ve decided to start with these fabrics from the stash for the western shirts (I already used the bottom fabric to make this skirt):westernwear-fabric

and this fabric for the spring dress, also from the stash (no pattern chosen as of yet, but something basic to show off the gynormous print – note the seam gauge at the left side of the image):


My mom bought the Evil Monkeys each one of this sweater:

garnet hill sweater

which hopefully will match both their dresses.  We’ll see.  (And no, we don’t normally dress them alike, but both Monkeys insisted they wanted the turquoise… we explained to The Big One that, because she gets hand-me-ups and TLo’s is three sizes bigger than hers, she would probably be wearing this sweater for the next four years.  She didn’t care.  We’ll see how that goes four years from now when she’s still wearing it to school.  I guess you can’t say we don’t get our money’s worth out of a $50 kids’ sweater.)


And thus concludes this episode of “What I’m Pretending To Have Accomplished When In Fact I have Accomplished Very Little… Now With Added Gifts!”  Maybe next time I’ll have a wall hanging or a duster or a western shirt or a spring dress to show you.  We can dream.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Which Aaron Copland Finally Gets His Revenge On Me

In a surprising twist of fate, TLo has become the horse rider in the family and The Big One (initially the only one in the family to express any interest whatsoever in equine species) has pretty much given it up.  It had gotten to the point that The Big One's lack of focus was holding TLo back and TLo now does riding lessons on her own.  She's up to "loping" and is doing the cloverleaf and the poles by herself.  Her teacher thinks she'll place if she competes in shows and she now has started training in how to saddle and care for the horses.

Which means only one thing.


You heard me.

Wear.  For rodeos.


The mind boggles.

Guess what I just discovered?  There is a surprising dearth of western-wear patterns for children.  Especially girl children. 

I do already have this out of print pattern from KwikSew, which only goes up to a size 7. 


I’m pretty sure TLo the Barrel-chested Barrel Rider wears something larger than a 7.  Even a KwikSew 7.  I could up-grade it.  Or I could take another basic shirt pattern and draft a yoke and add some pointy pockets.


“Pointy pockets”.

I did just buy pearl button snaps.  And I have some satin to make piping. 

I drew the line at fringe.

I'm betting TLo would go for this rose-print-ric-rac-and-pink-pearl-button combo.  Right?  It’s pretty cute (you’ll have to click over to see it close up).

Rodeowear, people.

And in case you’re wondering about Aaron Copland: I had to play “Hoedown” from Rodeo once and neglected to practice.  It’s a finger-twister, people, and I mangled it but good.  Copland was surely spinning in his grave.  Well.  If he hadn’t still been alive at the time. But regardless.  I walked away from the scene of destruction no worse for wear and breathed a sigh of relief. I was Unscathed.


Karma.  It’s a killer.


Friday, February 18, 2011

A Cup Half Full

Tonight we had two choices at the movies: The King’s Speech or The Eagle.

I suppose the advantage to watching a Hollywood movie about a famous Roman-British historical event with an obsessive-compulsive student of Roman-British history is… if you see it in the movie theater, you won’t have to listen to screams of outrage and watch things like your popcorn being thrown at the tv screen.  Even obsessive-compulsive Roman-British history students feel obliged to maintain some semblance of public courtesy in a movie theater.  The same can not be said of one’s home.

On a completely unrelated note: Channing Tatum.  He’s kinda hot.  For a total doofus.  It’s disturbing. 

Unfortunately, I feel almost exactly the same way about Colin Firth.

Monday, February 14, 2011

He seyde he lovede, and was biloved no thyng

As we all know, so many aspects of our lives are molded by... medieval English poetry.  Right?

Saint Valentine's Day is one of them.  So take an opportunity to say "I yow love" to all your loved ones, whomever they may be.  Extra points if you do it wearing a wimple.


Here’s Jackie.  He’s not wearing a wimple.  He is wearing a red lammé jumpsuit.  And moccasins.

Ahhh, the 70’s.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What You Do When You’re Supposed To Be Doing Something Else.

Sometimes, there are advantages to having the job I have.

Full size Burda pattern insert scan

Burda pattern insert blue trace lines


This is one.

Sadly, this is pretty much the only one.  Unless you count soul-crushing despair and bone-wearying toil.  I don’t, usually. 

Good thing I have my full-scale scanned-and-outputted Burda patterns to comfort me.  I guess.


edit: To be honest, I don’t do this very often because I usually end up having to trace off of this if I want to tissue fit.  I don’t generally like to waste fabric on muslins without at least seeing if the tissue will get around my body.  And it is pretty much impossible to tissue fit with copier paper (which is the weight of the paper my 36” plotters put out).

Here’s the pattern shown above.  I didn’t really plan on tracing it, but since I had the pattern sheet scanned and had already made a print for the pattern I did want to trace, I figured I see if there was anything else on the sheet worth taking off.  But of course, I didn’t have the magazine with me.  So it was going on pure guesswork based on the pattern pieces; this pattern looked like it might interesting.  Turns out it is interesting:

Туника 1-2008-119

119  Туника

The pattern is BS 1-2008 #119.  Sorry, the image necessarily has to link to the Russian BurdaStyle site.  You know why.  Burda Style.  We say, “Da!”  I think I’m going to have to brush up on my Russian.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oh Joy.

Some bright spark suddenly had the clever idea to put rugby on American TV all day Saturday.

I don’t like this person.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Studio Is Drafty


Drafting table.  Drafty.  Get it?  Huh?  Huh?  -snort-

(Sorry for the mess, I’m still waiting for warmer weather so I can cover my banker boxes using spray glue… which means I haven’t really been jumping up to deal with the rest of the junk under the table either.)

Anyway, here's a little info on my pressing table, a.k.a. the Poor Neglected Drafting Table.  For many years I used it for both drawing and sewing. Once I started spending significantly more time sewing than drawing, I decided to convert it to a pressing table.  But I felt sort of guilty about it.  I mean, Poor Neglected Drafting Table and I go back, way back, and it seemed sort of heartless to just throw it over like that.  So I decided to make a cutting table that I could (sort of) easily convert back to a drawing table.  You know, in case I suddenly had the urge to, uh, draw something.  (I don't.  If you think I'm barely capable of completing something in the sewing arena with the Evil Monkeys on my back, you can well imagine my trying to do something that requires concentration... like drawing.  It's not gonna happen.)

The biggest feature of this project, then, was impermanence.

To that purpose, I decided that a piece of plywood 37.5" x 72" would be a totally and completely permanent fixture in any room I happened to be in.  Ain't no way that kind of weight would be moving under my power.  But what to do?  Cut it into two pieces of plywood, of course.  I can manage a 3'x3' piece of plywood moderately well.  I know this, because I fairly routinely have to take the outer covers off the boards to wash them.  CURSE YOU, EVIL HAIRY CAT OF, uh, EVILNESS.


But let's not jump ahead of ourselves.  To make this pressing table system you will need:

  • a table
  • 1/2" plywood, cut by your friendly hardware store employee to whatever shape and size is suitable, i.e. the size of your table (you might be able to substitute 1/4” masonite, if you can find any)
  • wool blankets, preferably of the Army Surplus variety and a minimum content of 80% wool
  • material for the outer cover, preferably something sturdy but with not a lot of texture (like duck or bull denim)
  • staple gun (and staples)
  • duct tape (because frankly, any project that doesn't require duct tape isn't a project I want to participate in and I'm sure you feel the same way.  Right?)

First cut your blankets the size of your board plus about 4"-5" extra width all the way around.  You should have two layers of wool if at all possible, so purchase accordingly.  For a 3'x3' board I got two layers out of one blanket.  Just.


Next, miter the corners (cut them) and then staple evenly around the entire width of the board.  This is just like canvas stretching, but requiring significantly less tension.  It just needs to be smooth and somewhat taut.


Once the wool layers are attached, cut your cover fabric slightly wider than the wool, but don't cut out the miters.  You just want a square. Otherwise it won't be washable and will fray and will generally be a total pain in the patootie to deal with.  Just sayin'.  I serged the edges of mine but I'll be honest, I only did this last night and I've had this particular set of covers for over a year and washed them several times already.  I just was lazy and never serged before. It's probably worth the extra five minutes of effort.

To attach the cover, I use Duct Tape: Tool Of Champions.  You could staple, but again that will make it really hard to take the covers off and wash them.  And you'll want to wash them a lot, trust me.  I had the idea last night that you could use a huge piece of elastic and make a snugged up cover that way, but really the duct tape works perfectly fine and is easy to replace.  So duct tape it is. Anyway, fold your corners into miters and tape everything down, pulling the fabric as evenly taut as possible.

CutTab4The goal is to have a perfectly smooth, very taut cover on the top and no bumps on the bottom (so the board sits flatly on the table).  This can take some practice and (in my case, at least) much swearing and cursing.  But persevere, because you'll be happy once it's done. 

Once everything is taped up, voila!  Removable pressing table!


I couldn't work without this thing.  Despite the slight gap in the middle, it’s highly useful.  It presses like a dream and provides tons of cutting and laying-out space.   However, I should note that this is not a cheap sewing accessory.  The Alvin Workmaster 6' drafting table retails for $550. alvin workmaster 5' table I got mine for significantly less (12 years ago), but $550 is the SRP.  Even at a discount, you're still looking at several hundred dollars.  Of course, you can use this system on any sturdy table (it has to be sturdy, however, because those plywood things are hea-vy).  Beyond the table expense, the 80% wool army blankets are pretty pricey as well.  Or they were when I bought them.  It used to be army blankets were dirt cheap, but either they're a lot more popular now or they're a lot harder to come by.  Regardless, they're not inexpensive when you need two or three.  Plus you have the cost of the plywood and of the cover fabric, which is probably the cheapest part of the whole thing.  Well, besides the duct tape, of course.

It is, however, TOTALLY WORTH IT.  Totally.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011!

Ok, fine.  I stole that from The Colbert Report and The Onion.  It’s still funny.  We have a “snow day” here today, which probably would be more accurately called a “snow-on-top-of-inches-of-ice day”.  The news reports that all non-essential personnel at the city offices, the local state offices and the Air Force Base are to stay home today.  Everyone is asked to stay off the roads unless it’s essential, i.e. an emergency.  There’s a good inch of base ice under the four inches of snow we got last night. 

So of course, my boss decided that we should all go in today.

I stayed home.

So now while I ignore the Evil Monkeys whining about “going outsiiiiide”, I thought I’d post a photo of them in their jammies.  I made these before Christmas but never got around to taking pictures.  The Evil Monkeys love these nightgowns.  L-O-V-E love.  I like the graphic prints, which TLo picked out (mostly) by herself.  TLo has quite the visual sense.


The pattern is McCall’s M6189.
Total bedhead.  And I think The Big One has taken it into her bedhead that she can fly.  I’m not sure.  There seems little other explanation for this.
M6189-TBO-front M6189-TBO-back

M6189-TLO-front M6189-TLO-back

I also made these again using licensed flannels:


The pants and arms are bound with knit interlock, so they’re stretchy.  Because I bought small pieces of the flannel (do you know how much flippin’ Disney fabric costs, even on sale??) I had to piece in a sort of odd way.  But the Evil Monkeys love these too and should be able to wear them into spring.  They’re cuter on than they are on the floor.  So a winner.  (Sorry for the wrinkles, I don’t generally iron our jammies.  Well, let’s be honest.  I don’t generally iron anything.  So jammies are certainly at the bottom of the list.)


I altered the sleeve pattern to be more like a cap sleeve and obviously I made the pants into shorts instead of, you know, pants.  Besides slicing the pattern into pieced backs I think I followed the instructions for the most part because they were utterly basic, but I used a variety of bindings.  They called for bias tape and I only used that on the first nightgown (The Big One’s in black).  On TLo’s nightgown I used some lavender-colored FOE from the stash and on the nightie sets I used the white interlock on both.  I found, after doing The Big One’s first, that the bias tape didn’t really pull in the surplice fronts enough and they flopped around.  Using the FOE on TLo’s, I was able to stretch it so that the top snugs in a little and doesn’t flop.  Nice!


Great.  The Evil Monkeys are now Dressed To Go Outside.  That took about twenty minutes to accomplish.  So, about 10 times the actual length of time they’re likely to be outside. Any bets on when they’ll be back in complaining it’s too cold---?

Well.  If you had “twenty-five seconds”, you won.