Friday, December 30, 2011




I made this little tabletop quilt for my mom for Christmas.  I don’t think she was very impressed.  Which to be honest I’m not totally surprised.  It’s sort of ugly.  It’s the only present I made this year, which is a good thing since it took me waaay longer than I planned.  And that was doing a really sloppy job with it.  I hate to think how long it would have taken if I’d actually used some precision.


You can see my truly awful hand quilting and poorly matched piecing in the photo above.  In case you can’t tell, this is a very small kaleidoscope quilt à la Paula Nadlestern.  I own these two books.

Paula Nadelstern Books @

While I find most of her quilts visually jarring, I think her piecing concept is a little bit of design genius.  Her process suits me because you “design as you go”.  I find this a much more enjoyable type of piecing than “regular” quiltmaking where most of the designing is done at the beginning and then the rest is just production.

Unfortunately, you get pretty sketchy results when you scale the whole thing down to 8”x10” and don’t have hours and hours to spend searching through your piles and piles of stash for the perfect combinations.   Despite, you know, what would at first glance seem like a lot of choices.


I have crazy stash.

I did rediscover just how much blue and white fabric I had purchased six years ago with the idea of making a full-size kaleidoscope/snowflake quilt.  We’re talking dozens of yards.   I collected the fabric and then I put it aside for a “better time” to start working.  Then I got distracted by making clothes. 

Once while I was shopping in the now-defunct local quilt shop one of the women there asked me why I didn’t take a machine quilting class that I’d expressed interest in. 

“I don’t have time,” I said. 

“Why not?  What are you doing?” 

“I make a lot of clothes.” 

She literally “tsked” and shook her head in disgust.  “Why are you wasting your time on clothes?” she asked.  It was pretty funny.

Although she had a point.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cashing In My CDs.

Ha.  You didn’t think I meant money, did you?  Like I have money.  Psssht.

No, I have something much richer and more meaningful: used CDs.  I have literally dozens of these things.  My employer send me files on them and once I’ve downloaded them, they’re useless.

Totally and utterly useless.

Unless you want to make one of these:


Or one of these:


Or even these:



Hahha.  I didn’t put in any photos.  You noticed that, right?  To be honest, I did not find one single solitary “CD craft” that I would even remotely consider making.  And I didn’t really feel like poking fun at the crafts that other people did (in some bizarre way feel compelled to) make.


CD crafts.  Suggestions?

Monday, December 12, 2011

En Vogue. Not.

So the big kerfuffle lately is, of course, the super-hush-hush digital Vogue Archive.  Which is, essentially, a digital copy of every single solitary issue of Vogue ever printed.  From cover to cover.  And you can subscribe to it.

© Vogue Archive

Oooooo.  Ahhhhhh.  Ooooooooh.


Um.  For $1,575.  A year.


Yeeeaaaah…. I’ll just get right on that….


On the other hand, there is free access to the Vogue Encyclopedia (rather irritatingly called the “Voguelepedia” or something stupid like that).  At least you can look up some basic fashion facts if you’d like.  Sort of.

© Voguepedia


“But wait!” you shout.  “There must be something for me!  Yes, me!  What about me?!”

Fine.  I give you this: the Valentino Virtual Museum

You heard me.

© Valentino Virtual Museum

You have to download the app to your computer.  Then you can just wander around in here, looking at dresses, watching videos… click on a dress and you get this:

© Valentino Virtual Museum

Sketches.  Photos.  History.  Zoom in.  Wow.

I love this thing.  I love that it’s free.  I love the attitude…. I mean, come on.  Their graphics quality setting button is labeled “good”, “beautiful” and “fantastic”.  That’s a little bit awesome.

You’ve probably already seen this or heard about it.  But if not, you should check it out.  I definitely wish all the couture houses would do this.  Right?


There.  I’ve done my Good Fashion Deed for the week.

You’re welcome.  Again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Best. Comic. Ever.


I had absolutely nothing to say today so I thought I’d just share my absolutely most favoritest ever comic strip.  Ever. 

It goes with me wherever I am.  And now, it can go with you.


You’re welcome.


(P.S.  It’s from Calvin and Hobbes.  I think he stopped writing them about 20 years ago.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Had A Bad Feeling About This...

And I wasn’t wrong.  But eventually it worked out.  I won't bore you with the gory, painful details.  Suffice it to say, after nearly two months (you heard me, two months) and multiple phone calls to Official Agencies (don't ask) I finally –finally– got my Star Wars Purse Of Awesomeness. 

On the up-side, I actually had occasion to say to a faceless Customer Service Drone -- er... Representative, "Yes. This is the Star Wars purse I was looking for."


While this Star Wars Purse of Awesomeness is, well, awesome, it does have a minor (minor) flaw.  Namely, being a bowling-style bag it only has one inner pocket.  Which is actually one more pocket than I was expecting, but not sufficient pocketness to hold, you know, My Stuff.

But I have Stuff!  What to do, what to do?  Make Stuff Holders, of course.

I used this tutorial from FlossieTeacakes, simply because it was the first tutorial I found online that met my stringent criteria of being roughly the appropriate shape and size and having lots of pretty pictures to look at.  I'm super picky like that. 

In fact, it turned out to be a reasonable tutorial and I can recommend it. 


The only change I made to this first pouch was to add a little strip of ribbon for a zipper-pullifier type thing... um... you know, one of those little tabs that you can grab at the top of the zipper so as to get a little leverage on it when opening it.  I don't know if it's necessary with this particular pouch, I just like those so I added it.  Otherwise I made the pouch exactly as instructed (which as you well know is pretty unusual of me, the following of instructions and whatnot).  The basic concept is pretty simple and I could have figured it out without the tutorial if I felt like putting in the effort, but well... right?  "Effort". 


You can totally take this basic pattern and do lots of different shapes and variations, which I plan on doing this weekend.  I need Stuff Holders, remember?  Meantime, this is the first one and it's about the right size for my small hairbrush and sundry grooming and hygiene products that I keep in my purse.  My next variation will be about half this size for my Ridiculous Collection of Jump Drives and Flash Cards and then I’ll probably make another this size for Pens And Junk.


And why am I telling you all this, you ask?  I'm telling you this because this is a very simple pouch pattern that makes a nicely finished product that can be adjusted in size to fit a variety of uses.  It’s great for using up scraps and if you interface, it’s nice and sturdy.  Aaaaand, if you made up three in various sizes using fabulous silk remnants that you got from your friend in Japan last year (er... just as an example) and tied them up in a ribbon or something, you'd have yourself a nice little holiday gift package.  Now wouldn't you?


(Ok.  Fine.  It wasn’t two months.  It was five weeks.  That’s still way too long to wait for a Star Wars Purse of Awesomeness.  I am only human, people.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sorry, Jake.

I have absolutely nothing interesting to say about this.

Fortunately, it pretty much speaks for itself.  Because I’m too tired from all the tryptophan to really do anything.  Other than loll around and listen to music from the 70’s.

Which frankly is pretty much what I do all day anyway.

On the upside, I just bought a whole Roxy Music album that we apparently didn’t own. 

I know.  The horror.  I really have no idea how we survived this long without it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Famous Engineering Disasters Throughout History

In 1889 the Northern-Pacific railway company proposed the building of a trestle bridge to span the Tacoma Narrows.  They didn't get one.   However, in 1940 the world's third-longest suspension bridge was opened spanning the Tacoma Narrows.  It was an engineering marvel.

The moral of this story?  Sometimes a good plan just doesn't end well.

The entire third grade is generously being treated with a field trip next week. They're all going to the annual production of The Nutcracker and to lunch at Texas Roadhouse.  The permission slip instructs that they should wear "holiday dress clothes" or "good everyday clothes".
Apparently all the boys wanted to wear tuxedos.   They were vetoed.

The Big One doesn't really have anything fancy to wear, because she has a bad mother.  So her bad mother, in a fit of rare guilt, agreed to make her a dress out of The Big One's most favorite fabric ever: polyester black stretch panné velvet.

The Big One is, in fact, the reincarnation of Stevie Nicks.  If Stevie Nicks is dead.  Is Stevie Nicks still alive?

Anyway, this was the plan:

Ottobre 4-2010-10

This is what she got:



And of course, this is now The Big One's most favorite dress ever.  She wore it to school today for "free dress day".  She was desperate to know if I could get it washed by Thursday so she can wear it again for Thanksgiving.  She'll probably wear it every weekend for the next six months.

It looks like a bad cassock.

I have total and complete sympathy with the engineers of the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Friday, November 18, 2011



You know what I love about neutrinos?

No, not that they defy the laws of physics as we currently define them.  No, not that they are so super-fast that we question their very existence.  No, not even that this existence will allow us to see into the center of the galaxy.

Psshhht.  Whatever.

I like them because they make this pretty pattern.

Photograph: Cern/Science Photo LibraryPhotograph: Cern/Science Photo Library

I am all about the pretty patterns.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Fabric Hog. No, I’m Not Talking About Myself. Sheesh.

I made TLo two more dress/top/tunic thingies.  For once I was rather clever in my planning (and by "planning" I mean I actually thought about what I was going to do for more than five seconds before I started doing it).  TLo really needs some winter "weekend" clothes, but she could use a few warmer school uniform items as well so... I cleverly decided to make the first tunic in a solid knit, with the theory that she could both wear it to school and on the weekend and if it fit I could use a more interesting knit for other versions.

I know.  Shocking concept.  I like to think outside the box like that.  I am a rebel.

I was so excited to be making weekend clothes that doubled as school clothes that I got all giddy and didn't really think about how that would effect my fabric usage.  I’ve really been wanting to make the girls some weekend knit clothes because I have heaps of end-bits and odd-pieces of knits in bright florals and stripes and such that I am desperate to get out of the sewing room (so as to facilitate the guilt-free purchasing of new knits, of course... I'm willing to admit that my motives aren't in any way selfless). 

I had to pick through all the many many many cute knit patterns I have (curse you, Ottobre Design!).  And so of course I chose this pattern because I thought it would be flattering on TLo... which it is.  It’s the right proportion in the body, the right length of skirt and the extra-wide collar lets her wear a turtleneck despite her no-neck situation (sadly, she takes after her mother in this).

6-2011-18Ottobre Design 6-2011 #18

All good so far.   Famous last words because, Lo!  Due to  the shape of the skirt, in size 122 length/146 width the pattern takes one-and-a-half yards of knit.  With a lot of waste. Of all those piles of odd-ball knits, I hardly had anything that was long enough for this.  Instead of using up half-yards and odd bits, I ended up creating even more.


Anyway, here's the first version:


Here's TLo "posing":


And here she is doing… the merengue!  Ole!


I made a cute second version in a black mini-floral knit with a slightly less-puffy sleeve, but I didn't get a photo of it yet.   They're both a little big in the shoulder, but I figure that's better than too small.  In person this is very cute on TLo, so we're going with a "win" on this one.  Despite the fabric-hogginess of it all. 

Because I’ll probably have to buy some more solid knits in longer lengths. 

You know.  To make a few more versions for school.


Don’t judge me!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Since Angie A. Beat Me To It…

…and already snagged AC/DC, I’m going with “Shake Rattle And Roll”.  I always did have sort of a soft spot for that psychotic pedophile anyway.  No wait.  That was Jerry Lee Lewis. 

I love Bill Haley.

This is an awesome clip, apparently from a Mexican movie.  Check out the clothes, Daddy-O!


Last night we had a 5.6 earthquake, apparently centered directly between me and Angie A.    The house was a-rockin’ people. (Oooo, could have gone with Stevie Ray Vaughn on that one too…) 

Angie agrees that it was probably caused by my blasphemously trash-talking Daniel Craig earlier that evening.

Fine.  She hasn’t agreed with me on that yet.  But I’m confident she will.

Just in case, I take back all the mean things I said about Daniel Craig and I promise to never, ever think bad thoughts about him again.


You know. 

Some bad thoughts, of a certain sort, might slip through.  

I am not a nun, people.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Skirts. Yep. Skirts.

I made TLo a couple of skirts last week.  I used a pattern I've used at least three or four times in the past four years or so.

Ottobre 4-2006 #27Ottobre 4-2006 #27

You'd think, wouldn't you, that if I've made this skirt at least four or five times that I'd have something interesting to say about it... right?  Something enlightening or dramatic or at least just witty.

I'm having trouble coming up with anything.

So here's what I have to say about this skirt: I made this in about 2 hours.  Including tracing.  Which means a normal person (like you... yes, you!) could make this in about... 25 minutes.

That's pretty awesome.

Here's the school-appropriate version I made first:


It’s khaki twill.  And khaki twill.  With khaki topstitching.  You’re seeing a theme here, right?

Here's the weekend-appropriate version I made next:


It’s green and green-and-floral twill.   I forgot to sew ribbon around the bottom of this one (which I had to skip on the first one anyway because I simply couldn't find any that matched... er... in my closet.  That was about as much effort as I wanted to put into that.)  I'll maybe get some ribbon this weekend and add it around the hemline, it's a nice little detail.

This is what a zombie baby looks like after a night of wild binging on Halloween candy.


I tried to get a picture of the other one, but when I turned the light on she hissed and flung her arms over her arms and ran skulking into the closet to hide.  Awesome.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cookies For Halloween. Waaaay Better Than Candy.




…or Treat.


Decisions, decisions…..  I’d have to go with… trick. 

And treat.   I’m greedy.

Ok, mostly that was for Angie A’s benefit.  I was just going to email it to her.  But I figured, “Why not share the wealth?”  I’m super-generous like that.

No.  Really.  I am.

Ok, fine.  Here’s something else:


TLo was beside herself with pride about her Hermione Granger costume (she once asked me with deep concern if I would let her go to Hogwarts when her letter came--- I’m all like, “Yep.  Sure.  Off you go!  Have fun!!”)

Unfortunately, Mean Kids suck.  She was very unhappy at the end of school today because “everyone” said her costume was “the worst one”.  Although you could take that with a pretty good chunk of sodium chloride.  It’s entirely possible only one kid (who shall remain nameless) said that.   He’s like that.  They’ve gotten into serious and heated ideological Harry Potter debates before.

And then there’s the other one.  Apparently the consensus on Facebook is that The Big One is wearing a “devilrina” costume.   You know.  A devil?  And a ballerina?  That’s totally normal, right?

Well, at least it’s highly appropriate.


Next time I’ll show you pictures of the two little skirts I made for TLo.  Honest.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Uniformity. It’s Still So… Uniform.

So, should I be disturbed that my post about a random celebrity I've never met (or am likely to meet) has engendered more commentary, email and excitable conversation than... anything I actually contributed to the world?  I mean, contributed other than bringing the amazing hawtness of Jason Isaacs to your attention.  I didn't make Jason Isaacs.  I didn't offer any useful addition to the world at large or even the small cosmos of our little sewing circle (again, other than perhaps my bringing the amazing hawtness of Jason Isaacs to your attention... which I supposed is worth something...).

-sigh-  Sadly, I feel this might be the story of my life. The generating of random useless pieces of entertainment is my contribution to the world.

Jonas Salk I am not.

Saying that, I have now heard three or four interesting stories about meeting super-hot celebrities-- some random and fleeting, some... not so random or fleeting.  This is pretty cool (for me).  But... useful?  Contributing to the Greater Good?  Hmmm.

To make myself feel better, I'm posting up pictures of the latest addition to TLo's school uniform.


Ottobre 1-2007 #19.  I made this in Angelina Ballerina fabric for The Big One when she was four.  It was keeeyute-cute. It suddenly sprang back to mind this past week as a more interesting option than a plain A-line jumper.  I had to grade it up in width, as TLo is now a 116/122 in length but a 134/146 in width and this pattern only goes up to 128.  Still that wasn't very tricky, I just added some width to everything down the center front and back based on the difference between the body measurements for a 128 and a 146.  Easy-peasy.

No, the big problem was the ruffles.  This pattern calls for a full back in fashion fabric and then attaching the ruffles to that.  Which when I made it in light-weight cotton wasn't a problem.  However, not so good when using bottom-weight twill.  I was worried the dress would weigh forty pounds and possibly I'd get a phone call from school saying my child was stuck on her back like an overturned turtle, arms and legs waving frantically in the air because of her ridiculously overbalanced dress.  I had visions of all the other kids solemnly stepping over her on the playground or a swarm of crazed seven-year-olds howling in panic about "that kid who's stuck on her back under the jungle gym".

Obviously the solution was to make the ruffles in something light-weight.  Except it had to match the base fabric exactly, lest I get a nasty phone call from the school informing me my child's uniform was not uniform.  (OK fine, I've never once received such a call but still... I don't want to chance it.)

Here’s an over-exposed image to show you the ruffles better:


I have thirty-three pieces of light brown, dark brown and navy blue fabric.  Not one of them matches another one.  Not. One.  Much cursing was to be heard.  And I just downright refuse to buy one more piece of light brown, dark brown or navy blue fabric until I get rid of some of that other stuff.  Even I have fabric-buying limits.

Stop laughing.

Despite the fact that I didn't think red-headed TLo would really rock a black dress, blacks are slightly easier to match.  I finally managed to match up a black twill with a black knit close enough to get by.  In the photos it looks like the knit is much darker, but that's a trick of the lighting.  It's not nearly so noticeable in person.


I also used a black-and-white cotton print to do the pockets and the little decorative bar on the front of the bodice.  Despite the above avowal of trying to avoid a distraught phone call from school about non-uniform uniforms, I feel compelled to include a small detail of pattern or color in these dumb things.


Yes.  I'm a rebel like that.

One note if you're going to make this yourself, something I realized the last time I made this and forgot about this time: the straps are crazy long.  I put TLo's buttons about 4-5 inches up the length of the straps and they really need to come up another 2 inches at least.  In fact, I had to pin up the straps this morning before she went to school because they were just not snug enough.  It's almost as if Ottobre designed the straps to use adjustable overall buckles and then forgot and did buttons-and-buttonholes instead.  Which if you want to do overall buckles would be handy.  If I make this again (I probably will, it's just too cute not to), I think I'll do that.

I like to avoid buttonholes whenever possible.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Cookie For A Cookie… it’s like Hammurabi. You know… Hammurabi.

So y’know how sometimes you think to yourself, “Self, that there actor is interesting.  And sort of… interesting.  In an… interesting sort of way…”  And then you don’t ever really think about that particular actor much ever again?

Did you watch Masterpiece Mystery this past week?  They’re running BBC’s “Case Histories”.  You should check it out.  ‘Cause seriously:


lucius malfoy

Lucius Malfoy?



Michael Caffee?


that guy from the patriot

That scary guy from The Patriot?

I mean, fine.  Jason Isaacs is a good lookin’ dude.   But….  evil villains… not really my type.


(Government-sanctioned psychopathic killers?  Totally my type.


But I digress.

You’re welcome.)


Annnnyway…. Jason Isaacs.  Case Histories.  The good guy.

case histories


I want one for Christmas.

We leave cookies for Santa.  I think Santa should, y’know, reciprocate.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Angie A: I See Your Bet And Raise You…


Marlena - Red Plaid

I had these shoes in my cart.  Almost.  I went to do something else and when I came back… they were out of my size!  Seriously.  My head hurt.   I had to lie down. 

It was traumatic.



So I had to buy these instead.  They were half price. 

Had to.

Daniele - silver and black

Darcie - Red Plaid

It was also worth it to watch TLo and The Big One gleefully tottering around the living room in them this evening.  I don’t know why, but they liked these. A lot.


Hmmmmm…. more trouble…..

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Hate Linen.

No, really.  I hate it.

In case you suffered from the misapprehension that I haven’t sewn anything in the past three months, I can assure you I have.  At least one thing. 

This thing, to be precise:


No wait.  There’s more:



These, in case you were wondering, are photos of the linen jumper I made for TLo’s school uniform.  Which I took after I washed it.  For the fourth time. 

Yes.  You heard me.  I’ve only washed this garment four times.  And I’ll probably have to throw it in the trash.


I even piped the flippin’ pockets, people. 


(It’s extra-wrinkly because it’s still wet from the washer.  Also, I took a picture of my toes.  Neato.)



This is what I used to make the Evil Self-Destructionator 2000:  Ottobre 3/2011 #18.  Cotton gingham.  Outrageously poor-quality linen.

Ottobre Design 3/2011 #18


This is what a child looks like, frolicking and blithely making a mess, when she is blissfully aware that her dress has not self-destructed.

3-11-18 photo


I’m not even going to bother to show you what a child in our house looks like when her dress self-destructs.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

World. World, World, World….

World, you fail me.

Not only did you not make me a Tintin purse, but you have also failed to make me these shoes.  In a Tintin version, of course.


I’m disappointed, world.  Deeply disappointed.



Note to self: find a pair of cheap red leather wedges.  Post haste.

Note to other people: Awesome ideas for making comic book purses.  Especially the leather-and-tshirt-print idea.  Thanks!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Open Letter To The World

Dear World,

I need a purse made out of comic books.


Preferably Tintin comic books.


Go forth, world.  Make it happen.





Why are you still here, world?  Shouldn’t you be making my Tintin purse happen?

Go FORTH, I say!!

Friday, September 16, 2011


I don’t have heroes.  I’m pretty firm on that.  Always have been.  When I was a little kid I used to get in trouble at school because I always put “none” on papers when they asked, “Who is your hero?”   And then usually proceeded to argue about why I wasn’t going to put an answer.  One teacher actually told me to just “make something up”.   (Apparently it is beyond the scope of third grade teachers to deal with extremely cynical eight-year-olds…. finally at one point I just started putting down “President Carter”, despite having not one clue of any particular action on Mr. Carter’s part that might merit this judgment.  Which is sort of ironic actually.  If forced to pick a hero today, I’d probably say “President Carter”.)

Still, heroes or no, I’m perfectly happy to acknowledge people who have had a deep, fundamental influence on my thought-processes, whether directly or indirectly:

fashion-plate (cosmetic study x)fashion-plate (cosmetic study x) ~ 1969-1970

Richard Hamilton

24 February 1922  ~  13 September 2011