Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ramble On


ram·bling v. ramb(ə)liNG

1) to move aimlessly from place to place; to explore idly
2)to talk or write in a desultory or long-winded wandering fashion
3)to grow or extend irregularly


Hey, I was just reading Heather's blog and she nominated me for an award.  Awwww....  And this one doesn't require you to say anything about yourself except what you like about your own blog.  Awesomeness.

But you know what?  I have a complaint.  Not about Heather or her award, of course.  No, this is a complaint about Blogger.  Because you know how in WordPress, you have the option of replying to comments?  Why doesn't Blogger have this?  It is soooo annoying to have to post new comments on your own blog, just to answer someone's question.  Seriously.  It disturbs my deeply entrenched sense of hierarchical order.

For instance, someone called "Anonymous" asked, "So, your faolks not from Minnesota then? Or is all that 'expletive deleted' from the Drak Side of Minnesota?"  To which I had a clever and witty reply (long since forgotten in the hazy mess I like to call my brain).  But which I would still just like to answer by saying, "No. My parents were actually from South Dakota, which not only isn't quite as Nice as Minnesota, but also my mother is not one little bit Scandinavian (which is something of which she is inordinately proud).  My mother is ½ Irish which is a whole nuther ball of wax, people.  The Niceness mostly comes from being, y'know, Nordic.  Also, my mother takes after her dad, who swore like a sailor.  Literally since he was, in fact, a sailor during WWII.  Sadly, I take after my mother in this respect. Amongst others."   (And just to keep it all in sync, “Nordic” makes me think of my all-time favorite Mad Men quote in which Betsy is told, “You are so profoundly sad.” To which she replies, “No.  My people are Nordic.”  That almost made me choke on my tea.)

And several people commented about Mad Men Peggy possibly making her own clothes in the first season, and I was going to reply that after I posted I started mulling it over and decided that it was entirely likely (as stated or alluded to by several people) that Peggy’s mom or sister made her clothes for her, which would be totally in keeping with the time and the characters.  But it would be nice to see.

And Kathryn commented the other day, “Your blog is so funny I tend to forget that you can actually really sew....”  To which I reply, “Aha!  My clever deception is working!  Because of course, I don’t sew so very often and I have to keep you all from figuring that out somehow---"  Er.  Oops.  You did not hear that.  These are not the droids you’re looking for.

And so forth and so on...

So to answer the question, "What do you like about your own blog?" I will have to say, "I like that I can blather on like this with no apparent purpose or reason.  Now, why you all like that is not 100% clear to me.  I guess you're gluttons for punishment."

Oh and I'm supposed to make a list of ten blogs to nominate.  But really, if it's on that list over there on the side, then you can be pretty assured that I like to read it.  And so, I hereby nominate everyone.  I'm egalitarian like that.

No, I am not lazy.  I'm egalitarian!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Even Gooder Value. “Gooder.” It’s A Word.


So remember last week I showed you the very cute and highly flattering “Good Value skirt” that I made for TLo?  That is one brilliant skirt, I’ll tell you now.  The cotton gabardine washes amazingly well and the whole thing just looks great on TLo (which sadly, can’t be said for all of her school clothes).

Well, I made another one.  You may not be aware, but apparently these days grade-schools have Casual Fridays.  Honest.  I guess they all wear jeans and wander around pretending to do work for most of the day in the hopes that they can go home an hour early and have accomplished nothing whatsoever.  Or maybe I’m confusing that with Casual Fridays at places I used to work. (And doesn’t “Casual Fridays” sound like the worst generic-american-food-served-with-obnoxious-themes franchise ever?  It’s like T.G.I.Friday’s only you know, with crappier, more casual service.)

Anyhoo, poor TLo only had one pair of sad sad sad denim shorts to wear on Fridays.  Oh yeah, you know them as the Smoke On The Water Shorts (a.k.a. Ottobre 1/2009 #23).  Those ones.  I finally felt sorry for her and made her another Good Value skirt out of denim.  Um.  That same free denim that we’ve been flaunting for the past year (oh man, you just have no idea how far 24 yards of ugly denim will go).

Here it is, Good Value Skirt #2.

frontI drafted a coin pocket.backSame back.

interiorSame interior.


I did use the rivets I bought last winter (I’m a little slow).

I didn’t use elastic in the waistband of the first version and it’s a little loose.  So I put in buttonhole elastic in this one, which bunches up the back a little but does make it fit better.

back-wearing tantrumfront-wearing

Although it’s hard to tell from Tantrum Girl’s poses.  She had a fit about being scolded for not getting ready on time, which inevitably caused her to be even more Not Ready.  Stomping and screaming ensued.  Eventually, she was overcome by her own temper and had to get a tissue half-way through to comfort herself (since she wasn’t getting any sympathy from me).  All this before 7:45 am.  And I wonder why the day seemed so long?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Mad Mentality


First off, Gentle Reader, I'll just tell you now that I'm a season behind on Mad Men.  We're slow like that.  So this commentary is only valid up to Season 2, Episode 6.  If there is something relevant that has happened since then DO NOT TELL ME.  Or I will hunt you down.  With vengeance.   I have access to stat counters.  I can find out where you live (uh... within, you know, 150 miles--- BUT THAT'S ALL IT TAKES FOR SOMEONE WITH A GRUDGE TO BEAR.  Remember this.)   If you haven’t watched Mad Men, then this may be really boring.  But I (being a good person) won’t tell you anything that will ruin it for you if you do start watching it.  Just saying.

I mention all this because I just spent fifteen minutes scouring the interwebs for a specific screen shot from Season 2, Episode 1.  I actually thought about taking a picture off my own TV.  (Seriously.  How pathetic is that?)  Because I saw something in it that made me think, "Aha!!  SEWING."  To be honest, this isn't my reaction very often when I watch TV.  So it was memorable.

"And what did you see?” you ask.  Well, Gentle Reader, it was a shot of Peggy sitting in church with her sister.  The sister is holding a toddler and when she stands up to go to communion, she hands him to Peggy.  And I realize, the sister and the baby have on matching clothes.  He's wearing pants made out of the same fabric as the sister's dress.

"And your point being?" you ask in a sardonic voice.  (You, Gentle Reader, can be somewhat snide.  Or at least, that’s how it comes across in my head.) 

My point is simply that despite my habitual lack of thinking about sewing while watching TV, I have once or twice mulled over the fact that so far none of the women in the show seem to sew.  Which is interesting, given the period and context.  Is it that none of the women are in a position to need to sew, so they don't?  Joan is not the sewing type, granted.  Betsy could be, but she's wealthy.  Peggy is relatively poor, she could certainly do well to sew for herself but doesn't seem to.  Is it because she's a working girl (not in the, you know, prostitutional sense... unless you count copywriting, which in fact I think you could be forgiven for doing)?  She maybe doesn't have time to sew.

But clearly the sister does.  That makes me happy.  Because I think sewing is a pretty substantial part of being a woman in 1962.  Take the following story, as related to me by my mother last week:

In the summer 1968 my parents - 18 years old, freshly married and toting a 6 week old baby (that's me) -  moved from South Dakota to Minneapolis.  They possessed virtually nothing, just enough to fit into a tiny little U-Haul trailer that could be pulled behind their crappy old car.  Shortly after moving into their new apartment, my dad announced to my mom than his work pants needed hemming (at this point I could already see where this story was headed, but then I know my mother).

Dad: "My work pants need hemming."

Mom: "And..."

Dad: "Uh."

Mom: "----"

Dad: "Well, get out your sewing machine...."

Mom: "What the (deleted expletive-deleted expletive)?  I do not own a sewing machine!"

Dad: "-----"

Mom: "You helped pack up everything we own in a 4 foot by 4 foot trailer.  Did you see a (deleted expletive) sewing machine?!"

Dad: "----"

I may have paraphrased.  My point is, in 1968 my dad could not conceive of a girl who did not own a sewing machine.  Or at least know how to hem up pants.  (Now granted, my mom probably did know how to hem up pants, but she would not have volunteered that piece of information willingly and probably didn't own a needle or thread.  I do know my mother.)

To my mind his assumption isn't so surprising, as every other woman around me from that time period did know how to sew and my mom’s mother and several of my parents' aunts made their own clothes.  It was what you did if you didn't have a lot of money or you had a difficult body-type to fit (or possibly, although it wasn't readily apparent to me in any of these instances, if you just enjoyed it).

So while my view of Mad Men is skewed by my own personal recollection of people who wandered around in the 60's, I'm glad to see that somewhere buried in there amongst the stylish clothes and drama are some sewing women. 

Props to Peggy's Sister and the Matching Toddler Pants.

Singer 1965 Touch-and-Sew

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Suppose Your House Could Use A Little Paint, Dontcha Know?


Recently Joy at 21 Wale mentioned that someone had made a "Minnesota Nice" comment.  This sort of made me homesick.  One of the hardest parts of moving away from Minnesota (and her up-tight, even-more-nice sister, North Dakota) is the lack of Minnesota Nice that seems to pervade the rest of the world.

The wiki article linked above made me laugh:

“Sometimes area residents who move away, or otherwise come in contact with others who don't subscribe to the ideal, say that they have to shed their ‘Minnesota nice’ in order to interact properly with others or get out of troublesome situations.”

I do have trouble in other cultures (for example New Zealand or Texas) getting my point across sometimes.  Apparently people there don't perceive a gently spoken, "Well, I suppose the lawn could use a little trimming..." to mean "Your lawn is a disaster.  Don't you ever mow that thing?  Your neighbors must hang their heads in shame. As should you."

People in other places also apparently don't take three hours standing on the front driveway to say goodbye to people they're going to see again in four days (this, by the way, is known as the "Minnesota Goodbye").

And people in other places (at least the ones I've been to, which is quite a few) don't seem to be quite so obsessively concerned with The Greater Good (theeee grreeeeaater goood....).



You have got to watch "Hot Fuzz" if you've never seen it.  GOT to.  It is hilarious.  It’s for the Greater Good.


I heart Simon Pegg (and-to-a-lesser-extent-Nick-Frost). 


Annnyway…. Sorry I'm waxing nostalgic and random.  Autumn always makes me homesick here, with it's 90 degree heat and utter lack of frosty mornings or cozy sweaters or colorful leaves. 

Huh.  My husband is a British citizen.  We could still emigrate to Canada, right?  They totally get Minnesota Nice (although I’m sure they’d tell you they invented it and it’s called “Canadian Nice”… if they weren’t too nice to say so.)


Bonus Joke: 
Q:  How do you know when you step on a Minnesotan's* foot?
A:  She apologizes.

*You can put “Canadian” in there if you prefer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Old Timey Goodness Or Progressive Modernity? Neither, I’m afraid.

Did I ever mention that I'm a genius?  I've mentioned that once or twice, right?  I'm sure I must have.  Well, just in case: I'm a genius.

Um.  Sort of.

We live in north Texas.  Which is basically to say, "We live in a high-plains, desert-like hell the likes of which could inspire Dante to further greatness."  Er.  Or something.  My point being, in summer it is hot.  Really really hot.  And windy.  Really really windy.  It's also, not coincidentally, sunny 342 days of the year (I made that up, but it's fairly accurate). This perpetual sunshine is, in fact, one of the reasons we have the only joint NATO air training base in the country.  Lots of flying days.  Which is great if you're a Turkish pilot.  Or my laundry.

See, when we moved here from New Zealand, I swore as God as my witness, I would never dry laundry outside again!  (You have to imagine, y’know, big sweeping music and me ripping laundry off the line like so many curtains from the decrepit home of Scarlett O'Hara.)  And of course in Texas, nobody expects you to hang your laundry outside so it was oh-so-easy to comply with this heart-rending goal.

Except, there's all that fabric.  Soooo much fabric.  And it's been sitting in yard bags while I get around to washing it all.  You remember the whole my-cat-has-fleas-from-our-neighbor-kid scenario, right?  Well, when I realized the cat was sleeping in my fabric closet, out it all came into yard bags.   And there it all sat until I could get around to washing it.

Because that's allotta fabric to dry, people.

Enter the Husband, a power drill and three retractable clothes lines.  Up go the yards of fabric as they come out of the washer.  And, people!  Do you know how fast laundry dries in hell??  Super fast!  Like, if it's sunny and breezy, in about 15 minutes (as opposed to, oh let's say, six days in NZ). 

Good grief!  Why didn't I ever think of this before?!   Of course, new fabric I still have to machine-dry, because there’s always the possibility that I’ll machine-dry a garment I make from it.  And we don’t wash in hot water.  Although, if we’re going to start hanging the laundry, I guess we could start washing in hot water… hmm… so many laundry conundrums…  hot or cold water?…  To bleach or not to bleach?… What about the liquid fabric softener?!  Oh, the pressure.

Anyway.  Hanging the laundry.  I like it.

And here's a bonus: It makes an awesome design board.  This is what I pulled out of the bag randomly and yet look how pretty all that looks together.


A total fluke that it all coordinates (that floral has orange and purple in it exactly the colors of the knit and denim hanging next to it).  You get such a better overall picture when the fabric's extended full-length, don't you?   Of course, if I had my way, the entire world would just be one backyard strung with clothes lines and hung with pretty fabric.

I should get my way more often.

I know, it's really dumb to be proud of thinking to hang up the laundry.  But honestly I don't know one person in this town who would even consider such a thing.  And in all fairness, hanging laundry here can pose some difficulties.  For one thing, all that sunshine and wind does produce a lot of dust and dirt blowing around.  So you wouldn't want to leave your clean clothes out for too long or they wouldn't be clean anymore.  But for 20 minutes?  Brilliant.

The Big One "posing"

TLo doing... uh... something

It also makes a great backdrop for backyard silliness.

Friday, September 10, 2010

“Contritionem praecedit superbia.”

If you're an avid blog reader like me (by which I mean you spend endless hours avoiding the cleaning of bathrooms and kitchens through the reading of blogs), then you'll probably remember this post by the Slapdash Sewist, in which she gushed (quite understandably) about her recent FabricMart purchases.

Ahhhh FabricMart. Your bounty knows no bounds.

After reading said gushy post by TSS, here is what I said:


And here is what I found ten minutes ago when I opened my long-awaited box from FabricMart, eagerly anticipating my Anna Sui Harses Harses Harses print:


Hubris, thy name is Beangirl.


(I did also get the Anna Sui print… and, uh, some other stuff.)

edit: To dash hopes (I’m mean-spirited like that) – No, it did not just appear magically.  Apparently after taking it out of my cart two times in as many weeks, I then put it back in again.  And promptly forgot that I did.  It wasn’t until I opened up the box that I realized I must have ordered it to make up the 10 yards needed for that category.  Doh!  I haven’t taken it out of the dryer yet, but it seems like it’s going to wash up nicely.  So, you know, just what I need.  Three more yards of lovely lawn.

Oh.  And the Latin was just to give you a chance to use your Google translator.  I’m helpful like that.  Always thinking of others.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The New Phone Books Are Here!

The new phone books are here!

Or maybe not.

Yes folks, it’s that time of year again.  Spring Fashion Week. But have you seen the new Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week website? If you’re like me (and I know you are), you’ve been waiting breathlessly for days on end for 9:00 AM Thursday September 9, 2001.  The start of the First Show.  Because they’ll have pictures, lovely lovely pictures of everything that walks down the runway.  Right?


As of this moment they have the first two shows up.  And that’s it.

Aw, man. Work faster, evil minions of fashion.  FASTER!



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Good Value

The Evil Monkeys attend one of three schools in our entire school district which require a uniform.  Three.  We are just that kind of lucky.

Now, those of you who've been around for a while may remember that last year I wasn't particularly unenthusiastic about the whole uniform concept.  I mean, sure, making polo shirts like an under-aged sweat-shop employee has it's ups and downs.  But considering how flexible our particular policy was, overall I was pretty ok with the requirement of A School Uniform.



How cute is all this stuff?  Cute, right?  Admit it.  It's cute.  And not one thing can be worn to school.  Except the brown leggings.

So now I'm wondering how we managed to get stuck with the one principal who is downright dogmatic about the uniform policy (and there's a reason why all but three schools, and likely next year all but one school, have dropped the uniform policy... namely, that it doesn't work).

The real kicker is that I have patterns and fabric that I could use to make all of that cute stuff.  But since the girls can't wear it to school and they spend most of their day (not surprisingly) at this very same school... is it worth it to make a bunch a clothes that they'll wear for two hours at a time, if at all?  Hmmph.  Not really.

It’s annoying, people.

However, in pondering the many, many, many unusable patterns that I own and the many many many unusable patterns I’m likely to acquire in the next five years or so, I realized that there is one set of patterns that I've gotten true value for money from.

Ottobre Design, issue 4-2006.  I love this issue.

cover 4-2006

I'll bet I've made at least a ¼ of the patterns in this issue, which is quite a lot for me.

And here's the latest:

4-2006-36 lineOttobre 4-2006 #36




At a rock-bottom price of $4.00/yard, FashionFabricClub declared this fabric was “twill”.  Which I guess technically speaking is accurate.  But in fact it is, of all things, a cotton gabardine.  Honest.   Unfortunately, as can be seen from the photo of the back, it still presses poorly like wool gabardine and left shiny press marks on all the seams.  They came out with washing, thank goodness.

I pretty much made this straight out of the box with no changes (a rarity around here, I can tell you).  I cut a 128 and added 1" to the width at the front for some extra hip room.  I was fervently hoping that a "miniskirt" for a child 128 cm tall would work as a "normalskirt" for a cubical midget.  And look!! I was (for once) right!

Cheerleader pleats in the back?  Check!


Good fit in the front?  Check!


(Relatively) flattering fit and conforms to School Uniform Policy?  Check!


Of course, TLo immediately declared her favorite feature was…. pockets.


And the “Chinese button”.  TLo is all about the Chinese stuff.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Harses, harses, harses…


Anna Sui cotton border print @ www.fabricmartfabrics.com

Lookie-look what was on sale at Fabric Mart for $2.50/yard!  After much musing and debating and waffling, I bought 3 yards.  Aren't you excited?  Of course you are!

Now I just have to mull over what I'm going to make with it.  As we all know, my secret fashion girlfriend made a strapless minidress.  But as we also all know, I'm not about to wear any such thing.  So I'll just wait until I have it in my grubby little paws before I decide.  Probably some sort of tunic.  I'm boring like that.

The weird thing is that I was looking for this green-and-blue colorway a few weeks ago and it was nowhere to be found on the website.  Then all of the sudden -poof!- they have it for $2.50/yard.  Clearly a sign.  Better not miss the opportunity, right?  Right. 

You’d better get some too, right?  Hurry, while supplies last!


(PS.  No, I am not losing my mind… or swearing at you in my post title.  It’s from Sleepless In Seattle “harses… harses… harses…”.  When Meg Ryan is singing to Jingle Bells in the car.  I get that stuck in my head a lot.

No that does not mean I am losing my mind.)