Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snow Day

I forgot about this until just now.   We love to do these every year. 

Need a Snow Day? 

It’s been really slow at work this week.   The construction industry is, by my reckoning, officially dead.  Good thing I have random internet papercutting to save me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Caution: Danger to Those Easily Bored

So here's the thing about being really sick during the holidays: instead of gaining the usual 5 pounds, you actually lose 5 pounds instead! This is totally awesome (other than the unquenchable fevers, unbearable pain and unmitigated wretchedness casting a shadow of darkness across the face of the entire universe-- um. You know, your basic illness).

And so because I'm starting the New Year in a much better place (mass-wise) than I expected, I feel inspired to really really really, no really, make a weight loss effort this year. Now, I will say that I really really really, kind of really, had that very intention last year. But of course, typically, my effort didn't last long. This is due to several factors, but the end result is that I was not successful. I weigh exactly the same as I did this time last year. Hmmph.

What will make this year different, you ask? Well. Realistically? Probably nothing. But I have decided that to spur myself along I am going to post a little tracker thingy here on my blog, much like Sherril's. That way I have some accountability, even if it is illusory and self-imposed. (Apparently accountability to my husband, who is my "diet buddy", is pretty non-motivational. His complete lack of interest in my being skinny or fat- while totally and completely sweet and one of the many reasons he's my husband- is not really a great spur in the direction of weight loss.)

My goal is to lose a pound a week. Aha! Seems so reasonable and easy, doesn't it? It's not. However, if I'm successful it means in less than a year I will have reached my goal weight. Awesomeness.

Why am I telling you all this? Ah, because it's "sewing relevant". Some people tell themselves and each other that they want to lose weight because it's "good for their health". Some people probably even mean it. I am not one of those people. I know it's good for my health, I just don't care.

No, what I'm interested in is entirely more "shallow" than this (although if you want me to explain to you why it's really not shallow at all, I can. I won't, but I can.). Because the truth is, I want to lose that weight so I can make better clothes. It's totally depressing to make myself clothes that I don't want to wear because I don't want to wear anything in the first place. It’s totally ridiculous to hoard fabric that’s “too good to use for fat clothes because I could make something so much cuter if it was a style for five sizes smaller”. This is going to stop. I can tell myself, "Well if it's custom fit, it will look good and you'll want to wear it" but this is just not true. Seriously, there is only so much a custom fit can do. So by June I will be selfishly making my own clothes, cute clothes, clothes that I want to wear or... or else! So there.

Ugh. This could get really really ugly.

All of which is to say, if you happen to be browsing at the side of my blog page and wonder what the heck that slider-bar thing is, that's what it is. And if you happen to notice that it's not sliding the way it should be, feel free to email me pictures of really really cute clothes. I need the motivation.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In Which I Can’t Sew, So Here’s Something Else

You know that outdated medieval belief that if goodness is beautiful, beauty must reflect goodness?  I don’t give it much credence (not being beautiful myself) but on the other hand:

 penicillium slide from

The miracle of penicillin.  It makes me happy. 

I guess those crazy medieval people were on to something with their moldy bread too.  I clearly don’t give enough credit to medieval people.

And while you’re here, check this out. 

go to Nikon Small World Gallery online

It is, as AngieA. would say, “the DOG”. 

There are two things in this world I love:  really really really close-up photos of things and really really really far-away photos of things.  Of course, they’re the same thing when you come down to it.

go to gallery online

Maybe those medieval nuts were right.  All the world is a beautiful place.  Or it could be the codeine talking.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why Do People Keep Saying “White Christmas” Like It’s A Good Thing?

Seriously.  “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”?  Please stop singing that.

December-24-2009-001the view out our front door at 10 a.m. December 24, 2009

December-24-2009-002 the view to the right of our front porch, 10 a.m. December 24, 2009

This is what it looked like when it started snowing.   It snowed until 5:00 p.m.

Now, it is true that I grew up in Minnesota and North Dakota and I have seen my fair share of snow.  But the thing is, when you live in Minnesota and North Dakota you own stuff.  Stuff like snow shovels and snow suits and winter-friggin’-boots.  When you live in Texas you own sandals.  (OK fine, we have other shoes besides sandals, but they are hardly any  more snow-appropriate and might as well be sandals for all they keep your feet snow-free.) 

It is so not fun to live in Texas when Mother Nature suddenly decides it would be hilariously funny to dump 10 inches (TEN INCHES) of snow on you.  Trust me.  Not fun.

Saying that, the girls did have fun playing in the snow…  in between the bouts of hysterically screaming “MY HANDS ARE FREEZING MY TOES ARE FREEZING MY LEGS ARE FREEZING WAAAHHH”.  They even managed to go out on Christmas Day and play.snow-day-photomontage In a sort of loop of irony, because the girls have so few long pants we have definitely contributed to the greenhouse effect by drying and drying and drying loads of snow-soaked clothes.  We probably retroactively caused this snowstorm in the first place.   No really.  I firmly believe in that sort of circular time.  See, when I was high-school I devised this theory of time as being a sort of helix and… no wait.  Come back! Don’t leave!  (Actually, the real irony is that I off-the-cuff developed this theory to explain something or other that was totally stupid and then about ten years later read some article in a quasi-scientific magazine -because I don’t read real scientific magazines-  that some fancy-dancy physicist or other had hypothesized just this theory about time being a helix.  I really just don’t ever get the credit I deserve.)

So, the girls got to see their first “real” snow which made them extremely happy.  They also got “the best presents EVER!” from Santa (that Santa, he’s clever) so all-in-all their Christmas was pretty darn good. 

Mrs. Santa got several nice presents herself, especially when you consider that Grandma and Grandpa Claus are underwriting the Claus household next year while Santa goes back to nursing school, so Mrs. Claus was pleasantly surprised to receive the Threads “Every Edition Ever Created (until 2009)” DVD, which because she’s got the plague (again) she has not had a chance to crack open yet.  But still, neato!  She also got several books she’d put off buying (like Sarah Vowel’s “The Wordy Shipmates”) plus some iTunes and Amazon gift cards and several other nice things.  And to top it off, her sister-in-law (The Anti-Pam) supposedly bought her a '’gift card for fabric” and although this gift card hasn’t actually arrived yet (and Mrs. Claus does not count her chickens before they hatch), this does firmly put The Anti-Pam pretty high up on the Relatives We Like list.


I still think the constant singing of “White Christmas” and “Let It Snow” is annoying.  But then, I would.  I’m just like that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Revelations and Resolutions… auf Deutsch, even!

So today several things came together for me, mentally speaking, in a culmination of... well, I suppose you could say of mental coming-togetherness.

See, lately I have made several resolutions that I haven't really been even trying to keep up with (barring the one I posted here last week about being nice to my kids so they live in a happy cheerful world of color and pixie dust yadda-yadda-yadda). 

Here, I'll break it down for you, my resolutions so far:

1) Loose some weight.  No really.  Some weight.  A pound.  Three ounces.  Something.

2) "Be cute everyday" (as mentioned recently, I took this from The Slapdash Sewist's lovely post of the same topic).

3) Use up some of my ridiculously, nay obnoxiously large fabric stash.

4) Stop buying patterns that I won't ever, no not ever, use... and that includes Burda World of Fashion (or whatever it's called now).  Use the patterns you already have, for Pete's sake!  Or at least don't buy a new pattern until two patterns have been used in the stash.

You're smart, gentle readers.  You can see where this is all heading.  Yes.  Clothes-making.

I haven't really made a garment for myself (that I wear) in almost two years.  I also haven't purchased any garments intended for the bottom half of my body in at least two years and probably more like three.  If you'll refer to Resolution #1 above, you'll also note that I am not what you would call a Slim Person.  Which makes wear-and-tear on my clothing an issue. To put it bluntly, the inner thighs on all my bottom-half clothes (because I really only own jeans) are completely worn to shreds.  In some cases literally shreds, as in there are now holes that show places to the general public that I don't really want to them to see.  Shreds.  Tatters. Rags.  I'd say I look like a homeless person, but actually that's kind of insulting to the homeless people I see around here (who obviously all make good use of the mission's used-clothing supply-- and good for them!).

I've been putting it off, for lots of reasons, but I really just can't go on much longer with the clothes I have.  Which means one of two things: I either buy some more clothes, which is depressing and difficult, or I make some more clothes which is depressing and difficult but in a different way.  Basically, I have to choose which depressing-and-difficult I want to endure.  That's where Resolution #3 and #4 come in.  If I make my own clothes at least I'll get rid of fabric that I already paid for and achieve one or two of my resolutions.  Which would be a first, let me tell you.

Ok, so that's the long and somewhat boring back story to my "today several things came together for me" revelation (see above).  Because today I was sort of shopping around on the new German-language BurdaStyle website, as the English-language one is all bajiggity.  If they ever get their acts together (see The Selfish Seamstress' nicely coherent rant on this subject here), I think the new English site will be nice too.  I like the updated slideshow feature that allows you to see all the photos, all the line drawings and all the model shots at once.  Neato!

Now I’ll be the first to tell you, I don't speak or read German well.  Unless the good people at BurdaStyle have decided to make a fashion section about Emil and his sick dog, I'm pretty much out of the loop.  (Word up to Big In Japan, whose mom taught me how to say way too much about Emil and his sick dog.  And that yellow pencil that seemed to get around an awful lot.)

So with a definite lack of sick dogs or yellow pencils to be found, I was able to navigate my way to the Plus Fashion section (by virtue of it being labeled "Plus Fashion").  And then I saw this.

BWOF 1-2010 136 hose

Now, I know I just spent ten minutes boring you to tears regarding my inner-thigh issues.  But really, do they have to rub it in?

On the other hand, this would in fact be pretty practical for me, right?


I guess I have to get this issue too.  Or just start sewing weird thigh-rubbing-prevention patches on my clothes.  Apparently I can now say it’s “witty”.  Which is I’m sure what the BurdaStyle people will say.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The “F” Word



I’ve decided to skip The Airing of the Grievances because I think it will just cause me to get hate-mail and frankly I just don’t have the time to delete such crap.   I have too many Festivus presents to not get.

So let The Feats of Strength begin!


Fesitvus.  It’s my kind of holiday.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Uniforms. They're just so... the same.

Uniforms. They're just so... the same.

So today my husband was herding the girls towards getting ready to go to school. This is always a frustrating and shouting-laden time and TLo in particular has taken it into her head that she Does Not Wear Sweaters. Actually, this isn't really a new thing. Even as an infant she would fuss if I put a sweater on her. Long sleeve shirt? No problem. Swaddle in a blanket? Easy. Add a sweater or jacket? All hell broke loose. Which was highly annoying since she was born in winter and we didn't have any central heating in our house (and just don't get me started on the whole "we don't need central heating in New Zealand because we're icicle people who can not feel the cold" thing). TLo. She started out annoying, she'll probably end annoying. Good thing we love her.

Anyway, the girls were being herded (rather unsuccessfully) towards getting ready to go to school. Despite the fact that I verbally told TLo and The Big One and my husband that The Big One's new school jacket was on the couch, my husband managed to stomp around for five minutes mumbling about not finding her pink sweater.

"Which pink sweater?" I ask.

"Her pink one," he grumbles.

"But I gave her the pink one, I don't understand which sweater you're looking for," I respond.

"The pink one," he mutters.

"They have about five pink sweaters," I reply. "That's not a helpful description."

"You know, the PINK one," he growls as he wanders into their bedroom.


"The pink one with the grey diamonds on it!" he snarls.

"But she can't wear that to school! They have to wear a solid colored sweater, it's part of their uniform."

It is at this point, gentle readers, that my husband is lucky I was late for work or possibly he wouldn't be my husband any more. Because it was at this point that he expressed complete disbelief and astonishment that the school does, in fact, have a sweater component to their uniform policy. The fact that I have explained this to him verbally and (I think) in writing is apparently not sufficient. The fact that I spent the past three weekends saying "I really really really have to make the girls some more solid-colored sweaters so they can wear them to school as per the uniform policy that I explained to you three months ago when school started" apparently did not penetrate my husband's consciousness at all. Nor did the fact that last weekend I spent much valuable time cursing, at volume, the inventor of Minky Fleece whilst making a new solid pink jacket that was way too small for me to wear and so could only reasonably be assumed to belong to the children, all while my husband was seated about four feet away from said voluble-cursing-and pink-jacket-making.

So off stomped my husband to find the missing jacket. And after all that drama, TLo had decided to wear it instead. The Big One was already wearing the green jacket I made last winter.

Seriously, if I don't need to be hospitalized in the next year I will be completely astounded.

So here is the new pink jacket that I made for The Big One.

I used Ottobre 3-2009-19, a pattern I've been eager to try since it came out even though I suspected (and was totally vindicated in believing) that the gathered yoke would be a disaster. I seem to have trouble with Ottobre patterns that require a gathered neckline to be held in place by stay-tape before applying a binding that is cut to a specific size. That particular sequence of events has never gone well for me and this case was no different. However, I managed to cheat (rather ingeniously, if I do say so myself) and re-gather the stretched-out back neckline by inserted some elastic ruching thread into the binding after it was sewn. It looks a little puckery on the table, but when it's worn you can't really see the extra gathering. Plus at this point, do I care? Exactly.

3-2009-19 front-view-wearing-2

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ah, the Beanie-ness of it all

To answer a question:

I do not really like beans.  Well.  I like green beans, quite a bit actually.   But I don't care much for other beans.   I have been known, on occasion, to eat a small portion of baked beans.   If the mood takes me.   Which it doesn't very often.

I am also not from Boston.   The last and only time I've been to Boston was the Christmas I was 5 years old.   I do have some distant relatives in Boston because, quite frankly, I defy you to find an Irish-American who doesn't.   I have only met two of these relatives and that was about 20 years ago.   We are not what you would call "close".

I do not grow soy beans.   I don't generally eat them either.   I do eat quite a bit of soy sauce.

So.  Beangirl.

We must go back, baaack, faaaaar back into the mists of the diiiisssssstant paaaaasssttttt…...

And here we are in the past:  We have a family friend whom I’ve known all my life.  He's the kind of guy who likes to make people laugh and likes to tease people.   Especially little girls (both make them laugh and tease them).  For some reason, known only to himself, he one day took it into his head to create this rhyme when I was about five years old:

“Kristine, Kristine, the Boston baked bean.”

Exactly.   A poetic genius he is not.

However, as you can imagine, this little phrase stuck.

Jump forward to the not-quite-so-distant-past (relatively speaking):   When I first got a computer at home it was a gift from my Dad.   He set it up and then set up my online account (the irony of this is pretty entertaining, since I know a lot more about computers than he does now).   Because he labors under the delusion that he is a funny guy, he labeled my Messenger account "Beangirl".   I was too lazy to change it.  Plus, it amused my dad to get IMs from “Beangirl” and I was indulging him.   I’m not totally heartless.  Just mostly.

And careening forward to the even-less-distant-past: when I needed a DBA for my work I liked the sentimentality of "Beangirl" so I kept it.  This is also pretty ironic since I am not a sentimental person in any way.  At all.   (Ask The Husband.  I only know what my wedding anniversary is because it falls on a major holiday.  And even then I forget about half the time until the day before.) 

But there you go.  "Beangirl Design".  Not the most brilliant of names.  But at least it usually sticks in people’s minds.  I did draw the line at making "Kristine, Kristine, the Boston baked bean" my slogan.  Although there was a bean in my logo. 

Well come on, what else would it be?


Thursday, December 17, 2009

In Which I Remember That I Actually Have Two Children

OK, so some of you may be thinking to yourselves "Doesn't that woman have two children? Wasn't she sewing some sort of uniform S.W.A.P.? Did she just sell that other kid or what?" To which I say "Yes, yes and ha!"
It occurs to me that most of my posts recently have been about TLo. So today we will take another epic excursion into the world of Uniforms. Actually, this is more like a day trip to the land of Blouses. But whatever. Ottobre 1-2008 #6.
The Big One wore this blouse today, which meant that I had to take it to the cutting table to iron it and so I figured "Hey, what the heck. Let's get a photo." (My children are probably going to be warped and require years of therapy as adults because every morning before school I insist on taking their picture. Or at least, this is what I'm telling myself will be the cause of their years of therapy.)
Someone, somewhere recently said they hate it when people post up photos of wrinkled garments. To which I say "If you think I actually iron my children's clothing on a routine basis, you are living in a fantasy world." This garment is no different.
Saying that, this first photo was taken before I ironed it. Goofball Girl there is "twirling".
Then I actually made a half-hearted attempt to press it on the pressing table and this was the result.
I don't actually own an ironing board so most of my ironing attempts are half-hearted. Actually, I lie. I own two ironing boards, neither of which lasted more than two months before breaking in such a way that they became terrifying death traps whereby they suddenly take it into their heads to fling themselves to the ground, usually just after I've set the iron on them but before I've moved my feet away from underneath. I outright refuse to buy a third ironing board and so I am consigned to using my pressing table for all our ironing needs. Which isn’t highly successful. It's a good thing we're slobs.
And finally here is Goofball Girl dressed for the day and ready to get up and at 'em (that is something my grandfather says and it cracks me up).
I wish I could remember what the heck I did with this pattern, but I can't. I think I cut a 98 and lengthened it to a 110 (because I made this in August and The Big One was shorter then). I do know I shortened the sleeves. Otherwise I suspect I made this as directed (but then, who knows?). I recall that it went together pretty easily and I had intended to use this pattern quite a bit. But after making two versions I decided that the flared body of the shirt was a little too, well, flared and by then I was on to the horrors of polo. Shirts, that is. The Big One gets compliments on this blouse though, so go figure.
And honestly, we really do groom our children. I have no idea why The Big One's hair always looks so ghastly in photos lately. Clearly she needs... help. Maybe some mousse? Yikes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Post #29: In Which I Meet My Expectations and Expound Philosophic

Today I realized I am heading towards Post #30. I would like to say I'm astonished to find I have so much to say, but that would be disingenuous. Because really I already knew that given a topic, any topic, I am perfectly able to talk for several minutes (if not hours) without pause. My mother was once asked while testifying in court "What makes you qualified to give your opinion on this case?" to which she replied without hesitation, "Well, I can give my opinion on anything." Exactly.

So today my almost-thirtieth post has inspired me to reflection. On what, you ask? Huh. Good question. Apparently on my not-so-surprising-after-all ability to reflect. And since that is a rather overwhelmingly vague topic even for me, I will instead reflect on the ever-changing face of reality that we call life. Or in other words, my kids.

Here's what I did on my own when I was six: Cross an eight-lane highway to visit the Walker Art Center.

Here's what my six-year-old does on her own: Go to the bathroom. Sometimes.

The world has changed so dramatically in the past 35 years. Today I wouldn't let a six-year-old walk two blocks by herself let alone wander around alone in a public museum for several hours. But wander I did, aimlessly drifting from gallery to gallery to see what I could see. Sometimes I would get lost in the museum but I always knew that when I saw this piece I had found my way again.

Frank Stella Protractor - Damascus Gate Stretch Variation 1968

Then I would amble down to the main entrance and wander on back home again.

Today I'm making an Early-New-Year-Almost-My-Thirtieth-Blog-Post Resolution: I will strive to make my kids' world as safe and full of color as my world was when I was six. Frank Stella and all.

Monday, December 14, 2009

In Which TLo Wears Some Weird Shoes

Thanks for all the well-wishes. I am feeling much better today. Today I am blithely coasting along life's happy little highway, swerving carefree around the oil slicks of boredom and ignoring the orange traffic cones of irritation and annoyance. La la lala! See? That's me chirping away with the happy little birds like Snow White.

No, I am not tripping on acid.

So on Sunday I decided that TLo really really really needed something to wear with the Christmas leggings that my mother insisted on buying her. She had absolutely nothing in her wardrobe to go with these leggings but despite my telling her, my mother insisted on getting them. And then proceeded to quiz me every day about why wasn't she wearing them there are only twentyfour twenty fifteen days until Christmas and then what will she do with them?

Maybe TLo gets her irritating personality from my mother after all.

So, Christmas top to go with Christmas leggings. Aha! I decided to make it easy on myself.

1) I had pattern Ottobre 3-2008 #12 already cut and fitted.
2) I had two yards of black poly knit panne velvet from when the girls were still taking ballet and gymnastics and then decided to switch exclusively to soccer about two weeks after I bought six yards of panne velvet for dance-and-gymnastic uniforms.
3) I had some totally awesome fold-over elastic binding that I got in Portland on my totally awesome Palmer/Pletsch vacation two years ago and I hadn't ever (to my knowledge) used it.

3-2008-12 front-view

Ta da! This actually came out really well, I only had to rip out one thing and for once I actually selected the correct stitch to do something new THE FIRST TIME I TRIED IT. Unheard of.

3-2008-12 front-view-wearing

So chirp away little Disney birds. I'll just chirp along with you. I will not be daunted by the fact that TLo refused to wear her very cute black MaryJanes and instead insisted on wearing her saddle shoes. It’s still a happy chirpy outfit. So there.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In Which I Make Some T-shirts. Woo. Hoo.

The Story:

Ok, so I can not think of one single solitary thing to write about that is remotely entertaining. I am… bored. Bored with sewing, bored with writing, bored with… everything. The long bleak insignificance of it all looms up across the never ending darkness…

OK, so I’m not in the greatest of moods today. I am in a state of general irritation. This is probably due to several things, like Christmas (yuck), winter darkness (yuck yuck) and the fact that this house makes my feet perpetually cold (yuck yuck brrrr). It’s also almost certainly due to the fact that yesterday was the fifth, the FIFTH time I have taken a day off only to have my dear darling beloved husband be home all day too. If he is home the next time I take a day off he is very likely to become my late beloved husband. Seriously. I’m only 41. I’m sure I can get remarried. Widows are appealing. People feel sorry for them and set them up with handsome widowers. No really. They do.

The last time I was completely alone for more than 90 minutes was over two years ago. I kid you not.

So on my last day off of the year I got virtually nothing accomplished (hence my general state of irritation). The only thing I finished were two of the long-sleeve t-shirts that I had already cut out for TLo. Here they are:

version-1-flat version-2-flat

The Boring Details:

I used Ottobre 6-2008-20, which is the shirt version of the Bubble Dress I made earlier this week.

6-2008-20 linedrawing

This shirt comes with or without the shirred front panel, but I decided that if I was going to convince TLo to wear it I would have to add something “fancy” or there was just no hope. I also made a change to the sleeves. The original has a gathered bell-shaped sleeve, but I want The Big One to be able to wear these next year which means right now the sleeves are too long for TLo and she has to be able to roll them up.

Instead of the bell sleeve pattern I overlaid the sleeve from Ottobre 1-2009-18, which has a narrow straight sleeve. Fortunately, the two sleeves must have been drafted from the same block because despite one being a raglan and the other a set-in sleeve, the slope of the cap is identical. I just overlaid the raglan part and folded under the bell part to make one straight raglan sleeve. I pinned them together and cut the fabric that way.


That picture is especially ugly but you can see the line-up of the two caps. I could have just drafted a straight portion to the existing sleeve but this was easier since I’m making the Ottobre 1-2009-18 this week too. I already had both these sleeve patterns traced and cut out, so by overlaying them I avoided having to trace another one. I’m just that lazy. It took me roughly triple the time to type out this description as it did for me to overlay the patterns and cut the sleeves.

The Conclusion:

The shirt is a little snug on TLo but that was my intention since sometimes she’ll be wearing these under her short-sleeved tunics.

Ottobre 6-2008-20 wearing

So there you go.

Ta da.


Go Bears.

(And that, gentle readers, was a “Fargo” reference. Now we know I’m crabby because I almost never quote “Fargo” unless I’m grumpy. “That there is what you’d call a ‘defensive wound’.” See? Crabby. Of course, this makes more sense when you can hear my lovely Minnesota accent. You’ll just have to imagine.)

Friday, December 11, 2009


I have to say right off the bat that bubble dresses are not my favorite thing. In fact, until about three days ago I would have said that I was somewhat dogmatic about the evils of The Bubble Skirt. I mean, do we really want to wear something that looks like it was baked in a patisserie? It doesn’t work for brides, who could be reasonably given some allowance for wearing the ridiculous on a day when they have agreed to stand up in front of 250 people and declare their undying love like some kind of Disney character amid giant floral sprays and cooing doves. It definitely won't work for a day at the office. The fact that the word "bubble" is fundamental to this style of clothing should tip us off that it is too cute. Too stylized. Just plain trying too hard to be a Look. The same could be said for "Pixie Stix dresses" and "Kuddly Kitten shoes". Or whatever.

Now granted, part of my hatred of bubble skirts comes from a bad sort of acid-trip flashback to my youth in the mid-80s, when music was made by computers, underwear was considered a valid form of blouse and skirts were all bubbled. Give me a minute. I have to clear my head from the horror-filled memories. Ack. Who ever told Prince that he should wear a purple jumpsuit and jerry-curl his hair within a inch of it's life should be shot.

However. Last week I received a catalog from Chasing Fireflies. I like this catalog because it's filled with the most outrageously-priced children's clothes that are things that I could (if I got around to it) make myself. I usually take a quick look through the catalog to see what crazy $150 tulle skirts they have this month.

Enter The Bubble Dress. Now, you may or may not have picked up by now that TLo is quite the little princess. If it's pink and fluffy and totally over-the-top it's hers. She's also quite the little catalog shopper and so in the interest of keeping her occupied while I do something more fun than entertaining her, I let her peruse the catalogs when they come in. Last week she found The Bubble Dress in the Chasing Fireflies catalog.

(note: clicking on the photo will take you to


Fine. I happen to own several bubble-dress patterns courtesy of the good people at Burda World of Fashion and Ottobre. I decided I could put aside my bubble dress convictions for a while and make a few cutesy dresses for The Princess while she still young enough to get away with them. But because I was in a hurry (I still have lots of practical long-sleeve t-shirts to make for her), I decided to use this pattern: Ottobre 6-2008-19.


It looked like something she could probably wear to school (in place of one of the t-shirts that making it would stop me from completing). I thought, “It’s not too much bubble, so it should be ok for everyday wear.”


Apparently I was right. It's not remotely "too much " bubble. In fact, I defy you to figure out that it's a bubble at all.

I'm not sure what the deal is, but this is the second velour knitwear item that I've made from Ottobre that hasn't gone well for me. I find this overly disappointing because generally I've come to expect great things from each and every Ottobre pattern I use. But this dress is a bit of a stretchy mess, to be blunt. It's entirely possible that I'm just not very good at sewing knit velour.

Plus, it’s not very full so I personally think the hem looks odd. It does actually look quite a bit like the photo in the magazine, I was just sort of hoping that their photo didn’t show the bubble-ness to best advantage. Apparently it actually just looks like that.

Don't get me wrong, TLo was over the moon with this and asked me four times while I was sewing it if it was ready yet. She did not one time, not once, argue about her clothes this morning which is virtually unheard of. So all in all this was successful from the point of view that TLo loves it. It's even teal, not pink, which despite being one of her really good red-head "autumn" colors, she doesn't normally like to wear. However, I'm disappointed enough with it that I feel obligated to make another bubble skirt (from another pattern) that's a bit more... well... bubbly.

I can’t believe I just said that.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Big One and The Little One

Ok, so here's the scoop on TBo and TLo (which now totally sounds like they were on American Gladiators). 

We tend to call them "The Big One" and "The Little One" because quite frankly we just can't be bothered to keep track of their real names.   Particularly when screeching things at them like "DO NOT PUT THAT IN THE TOILET DO YOU HEAR ME DO NOT" and "STOP LICKING YOUR SISTER NO STOP LICKING THAT CHAIR JUST STOP LICKING THINGS NO I MEAN IT RIGHT THIS MINUTE".  We tend to pick them out based on size.  Which seems like a reasonable proposal.  Except that it's not so much, anymore.  Because used to be, back in the day, that The Big One being a year older was, well, bigger.  Taller.  Larger around in every capacity.  The Little One being a year younger was smaller, shorter, littler.  You're catching my drift. 

But at the beginning of the year The Little One suddenly had a rather dramatic metabolism change.  Precipitated by remission of her arthritis or getting her tonsils out or just plain bad genetic luck… we're not sure.  She's still shorter, no doubt about it, but she's also a lot wider.  Broader.  Uh -ahem- rounder.  The Big One on the other hand seems determined to just get taller and taller without actually gaining any weight, which means she just gets narrower and narrower and narrower.  So now The Big One, whilst being taller, actually wears several sizes smaller than The Little One who is, of course, shorter.

I just don't understand why my husband finds it so difficult to keep track of their clothes.

So to keep the cast list in order:

The Big One: she's the 6-year-old blonde.  She wears about a RTW size 4 lengthened to a RTW size 6 (i.e. about a 98 cm width pattern cut at a 116 cm length).


The Little One (TLo): she's the 5-year-old redhead.  She wears about a RTW 7 shortened to a RTW 4-5 (i.e. about a 116 cm width pattern at about a 98 cm length).


Put them together, you'd have one average-sized child who could purchase her clothes from an actual store.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Actual Finished Garment


Ha. And you thought it couldn’t be done. Now I know it looks like I’ve finished garments before. But no! It’s all a clever deception. They are astonishing feats of illusion, whereby the outside looks finished and the inside… well, isn’t. But now I have vindicated myself. I have completed a garment with a perfect interior. No. You don’t understand. The interior is PERFECT.

I basted. I catch-stitched. I spent hours, HOURS, hand stitching the lining and hem. And of course, TLo won’t wear it.

TLo is lucky she’s cute. It’s clearly the only thing that is going to keep her alive until she’s 18.

You see, she has completely outgrown her old leopard-print fleece winter coat, which was in fact a hand-me-down that I made three years ago (yes, three years ago) for The Big One . Last year Santa brought the Big One a leopard fur coat (which was what she asked for. Along with a doughnut. That kid is weird).

Actually, technically speaking Mrs. Santa made the fur coat. At the cost of great personal pain. To the point that Mrs. Santa swore, volubly, that she would never ever no not ever work with faux fur again because who the @*#@$!! ever thought faux fur was a good thing to invent and everyone at the North Pole had better just step off if they know what’s good for them.

Faux fur did not bring out the best in Mrs. Santa.

And so we come to this winter. By now there is a long history (well, “long” if you’re 5 years old) of having leopard print for winter coats. In the minds of The Big One and TLo, nothing will do but a leopard print coat for winter weather. TLo needs a knew one and Mrs. Santa has made it pretty clear she is not working with faux fur any more. What to do, what to do? The solution: a leopard non-fur home dec print from Hancock’s. Mrs. Santa agreed to throw in a faux fur collar because even her hardened heart felt slightly bad when poor little TLo said in her sad little voice that she “wanted a soft furry collar by her face too”.

Clearly Mrs. Santa is too soft-hearted. She should have known better than to fall for that.

Here’s the coat:

I decided to use Ottobre 6-2009 #22, which was designed for shearling fleece. Which of course meant it wasn’t lined and had exposed unfinished seams. The home dec fabric I picked is very lightweight and definitely needed lining and maybe even underlining. So I adapted the pattern to be lined.

line drawing

This basically involved drafting a back facing so the collar could be attached without seams showing.

drafted-back-facing drafted-back-facing-2

And all the rest I finished using the most amazing technique that I learned from Shannon Gifford’s ( online class called “Stitch and Flip Jacket”. To sum it up in a nutshell, you attach the lining in such a way that all the vertical seams are completely enclosed while you work. The advantage of this (besides being totally cool and easy) is that you don’t need a lining pattern, you cut the lining from the exact same pieces as the fashion fabric. Ta da! Perfect for this project. (This class isn’t currently on the class list at Pattern Review and I don’t know how many times it’s been offered, but I highly recommend you petition Deepika to add it again sometime soon because it was totally money well-spent.)

I still had to do those hours (HOURS) of hand sewing to attach the hem and the front facing to the lining, but with this technique everything is stitched to the lining on the inside (similar to if you had an underlining) and no stitching shows on the outside anywhere.

This is a kick-ass coat.


Despite her Sears and Roebuck model pose, TLo is not happy with it and wouldn’t wear it today. She is a real pain in the butt. I think she gets that from her dad.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Night Of The Living Dead School Girl

OK, I think this child needs therapy of some sort.  When asked to pose for a picture of her uniform this morning, this is what she came up with:


Seriously?  It looks like those Victorian death portraits.  Yay.  That’s exactly what I was going for.

This is a great skirt, which I've made twice so far and plan to make several more times in larger sizes for TLo.  (Yes, it is very confusing that the Big One wears smaller sizes than the Little One- or at least this seems to completely baffle my husband.  The Little One could, technically, be called The Wide One.  But that's just mean.  Plus we're really trying to avoid actively instilling eating disorders in our kids-- unlike several of The Big One's first-grade schoolmates, who shall remain anonymous, and oh man don't even get me started on that one.)

This is BWOF 10-2006-140.  For some reason the new skirt from BWOF 12-2009 (as shown by Angie A. on her blog today) reminded me of this skirt.  In fact, they're not really all that similar, but I like the flippy skirt idea as a general concept.  It's particularly nice for more tailored school uniform looks.  I find the oversized A-line jumpers get a little boring after a while.

Anyway, I made this in a navy twill and a khaki twill as per the Great Uniform SWAP rules.  Both are Docker remnants from someplace or other (can't remember where exactly, might be Fabric Mart, might be someplace else). 


The only real change I made to the pattern was to add buttonhole elastic to the waistband.    Or at least, I think that was a change.  Anyway, it’s a change that I usually make if it’s not already included in the pattern.  I am a devout believer in Buttonhole Elastic. 

Because The Big One is so slender at the waist and basically has no butt (she gets that from her dad), I have to pull in the waistline quite a bit or else her skirt falls off. 


I think in this picture you can still see how nice a hip curve it has though.


This style must have been really popular in Germany in 2006.  In 2007 I met no fewer than 5 German women who pretty much had this exact skirt in denim.  I can see why they liked it, it's pretty darn cute.


This was the best pose I could get out of The Big One.  Plus, she’s looking particularly lovely with her giant missing-tooth gap and her hair uncombed.   I’m such a good mom to post these photos for everyone in the world to see.  I’ll be sure to save them to show her prom date too.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some Honest Thanks.

Katie has given me the Honest Scrap award. Actually, she did this last week but I’m just a little slow in following through.


“Scrap means left over, fragments, discarded material. Many times truth and honesty are discarded material, considered fragments and left over. People like us need to tell it like it is and let the scraps fall where they will.”

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave the award and list their blog and link it.

2. Share "10 Honest Things" about yourself.

3. Present this award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.

4. Tell those 7 people they've been awarded Honest Scrap and inform them of these guidelines in receiving the award.

1. Thanks:

Katie at Kadiddlehopper nominated me for this award. She has more energy than any one person should have and gets an astonishing number of projects completed every month. Plus, they look good (because I suppose you could say my kids get astonishing numbers of "projects" completed every month too, but could you wear them?? Exactly.) Thanks Katie, for sharing all your wonderful work and for passing this award on to me.

2. I Hereby and Forthwith Nominate These People:

1) Everything Just Sew (Judy)

Judy designs gorgeous baby clothes. Plain and simple. I always love to see what she posts next.

2) The Stitchery (MaryBeth)

MaryBeth is a wise person who I don't speak with often enough. She also happens to make lovely clothes and she's extremely thoughtful about her work. Lucky for us, she shares her thoughts out loud.

3) Quality Time (Angie A.)

Angie is a happy person. I like that. She also makes clothes. Or at least, she discusses making clothes. She seems to actually create clothes about as often as I do. But she has very good ideas and really, isn't that what counts?

4) Is Sewing A Sport (The Other Judy)

Judy also makes cute kids' clothes and I like her attitude (she's another happy person... I like this in other people since I'm such a miserable pessimist myself).

5) The Slapdash Sewist

This is the girlie whose name I can't ever remember. I'm going to make up for that by saying she is really funny, very insightful and makes some cool stuff to boot. Plus, she is my new hero for giving me my new motto: "As long as you're not afraid to get cute clothes dirty, you can wear them every day." Awesomeness.

6) The Pink Place

I have no idea who this woman is, but she sure does make pretty things. She hasn't been blogging long, but everything she's posted has been lovely. Quality over quantity, I always say.

7) Location: Eurasian (Katharine)

Katharine is a great sewing buddy. She hasn't done lots of posting lately, but she has a darn good reason. I'm happy to see what she does post and hopeful that we'll be able to see lots more soon.

(There are so many many blogs out there and I know I only read a fraction of them. It’s really hard to pick just 7 blogs!)

10 Truthful Things About Moi:

1) I try to feel otherwise, but I don't really like dogs. Actually, I'm not discriminating against dogs per se. I don't really like domesticated animals of any kind. Except cats. And that's mostly because they persist in really liking me, which makes it seem uncharitable to dislike them in return. This Christmas, Santa is bringing The Big One a cat. I have some serious qualms about what this will do to my fabric stash.

2) I have a small problem with collecting and, rather more importantly, never using fabric. I do try to control this addiction, however. Mostly because I'm poor. Wait. Is that two truthful things?

3) I'm pretty poor. According to the government statistics on poorness. However, I think I'm really quite well-off in the scheme of things, so this just proves that government statistics can be very misleading. Don't believe everything the Man tells you, man!

4) My parents were hippies. Sort of. Enough that I'm lucky my name isn't Starflower or Nirvana or something. Not that Nirvana is a bad name. I used to know a lovely woman with that name. Of course, she was Indian. Which makes much more sense than calling some Irish kid from North Dakota “Nirvana”.

5) I think I'm smarter than most people in any given room. Actually, technically speaking I am smarter than most people in any given room, unless the room happens to be full of nuclear physicists. However, I'm not as smart as I like to think I am.

6) Being smart has gotten me absolutely nothing in this world. Unless you count a sense of smugness about being smart. Which is pretty much useless and almost never pays the rent or makes you popular.

7) I have hardly any friends. I doubt this has anything to do with #5 or #6. No, really. I don't think it does.

8) I think sarcasm is really entertaining.

9) I wish I had more time in the day to do all the things I want to do. Actually, I just wish I wasn't so lazy. But not enough to become less lazy. It's easier to wish for more time.

10) I hate washing dishes.