Friday, October 12, 2012

Land Ho! It’s October 12!

Um.  No, that is not a gangsta instruction for a woman flying a hang-glider.

Although it could be.

I don’t know why but even though it’s been going around for a while, this card just gives me the giggles.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012



Avast, ye landlubbering scum buckets!  It be the best holiday of the year!

September 19.



Monday, June 4, 2012








1461 a


1460 a





satchel 3


Yeah.  And that’s a Strawberry Thief satchel.

Dr. Martens is pure, horrific evil. 


Oops.   See?  Evil.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Charity Begins At Home… Sort Of.

So Angie A. has decided to do this big huge ridiculously awesome project.  No really, ridiculously awesome.  She's making 1000 (that's one thousand) dresses for Little Dresses For Africa.

I'm pretty sure she does this stuff just to make me look bad.

See, here's the thing:  Last week I downloaded a free printable pattern for a cute little racerback knit dress.  The entire purpose of this pattern's very existence is to provide cute little racerback knit dresses for little girls in need in Africa (and elsewhere).

crafterhours racerback

So of course, I made three.   For my own children.  Yep.  My own children. 







I traced out two sizes (having two sizes of Monkeys).  They are insanely easy to make.  Even I managed to do one in about an hour (and that included raising the armscyes on both patterns I cut out because they were gapping a bit at the sides and "showing our business" as TLo says).

In the meantime, I'm scoping out simpler pillowcase dress methods.  This summer the Evil Monkeys are going to try their hand at sewing a dress each and if that goes well, we'll try a dress each for donation.

I hope the little girls in Africa aren't holding their breaths on that one.  Because it could be a looooong wait.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May The Force Be With You…r Hair.

So this year, as I may have mentioned, TLo has given up her Harry Potter obsession in favor of a StarWars obsession.  A much, much deeper StarWars obsession.

It’s super-annoying.

On the other hand, she now gets a whole bunch of jokes in her favorite TV shows that she didn’t get before (i.e. Phineas and Ferb, Wizards of Waverly Place,  That’s pretty…. super-annoying, actually.

Annnnyway, The Big One is also moderately entertained by the whole StarWars concept and here’s what she got for her birthday:


Note the pile of (mostly) StarWars junk on the floor.  That would be Legos and PlayStation games and Wii games and such. 


TLo got one of these too (because we’re Mean Parents, but we’re not so mean as to give The Big One her own light saber and make TLo wait another month to get hers on her birthday).

Of course, TLo has decided that for Halloween she’s going to be Princess Leia (she at least has shown true taste and culture by preferring the first three movies… although we still can’t quite get her to deal with the concept that they are the first three movies and not “Number 4” and “Number 5” and “Number 6”).  So I decided I’d do a little research on costumes, figuring anything we got they could use for dress-up as well.

Seriously people.  You would not believe the poor choices of Princess Leia hair out there.

So…. I made some.  Yes.  You heard me.  I made Princess Leia hair.  Basically it cost me $7.95 in polar fleece, a couple of hours of thought and work and the despair of telling not one, not two, but three Hancock’s employees what I was making with a yard of light brown fleece.

They are really nosy, those Hancock’s people.

Anyway, voilà!  Princess Leia Headbands.  They also double as earmuffs in the winter (and they’re concave so “real” hair can be tucked up into them, for an authentic look….  Fortunately, my clients aren’t very, uh, picky about the realism of their hair).


And, yes. You should be impressed.

Although I totally can not get either one of them to say, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  You’re my only hope!”

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stabbed In The Back Seam.

So remember my new French friend?  And how I was so excited to meet her?  And my big plans to corrupt her?  And how she was going to help me fit my clothes better and stuff?

Yeah.  Know what?  She is not my friend.  Oh, no.  She is not.

Because, really.  She insisted on messing up my intentions to corrupt her into gaining a size or four.  She had an annoying tendency to collapse in a faint at the slightest bump or knock.  She absolutely refused to be my height and seemed to enjoy towering over me.  And she would persist with Gallic perversity in having an upper chest measurement that was 3" wider than my own.  Three inches, people.  And she's a size 4.

(insert much cursing and maligning of the French here)

Most of it I was willing to overlook or accept.  All I asked was that she meet me halfway, that she compromise just a little.  But I just could not convince her to have a smaller upper chest.  I begged.  I pleaded.  She would not listen.  So after many days fraught with tears of anger and a deep sense of betrayal, I finally succumbed to the inevitable. I dumped her. 

Au revoir, bi-atch.

Distraught and dismayed, I searched for solace. And impulsively reattached my affections on my new best friend.  

She was on sale.

Prym-Dritz SP Small dress form

At first I was a little nervous about her.  Would she be sturdy enough to not fall over every time I walked past her?  How would she take to corruption?  Was she short?  And most importantly, what size was her upper chest?

Because that's the question you always want to know about your new best friend.  Right?

Well, I can tell you: she's perfect.  She is sturdy enough to hold her own in a fight to the death with things like denim and linen.  She corrupts really well with a little padding.  With a simple adjustment, her shoulders are at the same height as my shoulders.  And best of all, her upper chest is a nice dainty 33".  She's my soul mate.

Because check it out!  I totally padded her out under my custom-fit sloper and voilà!  She's just. like. me.



It's like a sweet potato with a neck.

There is a possible chance that I may just hate my new best friend a tiny little bit.  We may have to be frenemies.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Edgy June Cleaver posted this video on Facebook a few months ago.  I believe at the time she called it “the gayest video ever”.  I’d say that’s probably pretty accurate.  It’s riotously OTT and sort of entertainingly all over the place in it’s references (and I mean, any song that rhymes “hoochie coochie” with “Susan Lucci” and then has a cameo of Susan Lucci in it… well, sign me up!  That’s just fabulous with a capital FAB).  And how amazing is Gloria looking these days??  Good grief.

While she’s not -much to her ongoing chagrin- allowed to watch the video, TLo is totally and completely enamored with the song and has to date (according to iTunes) played it 23 times on her iPod. 

She can sing the whole thing, of course.  That’s sort of entertainingly OTT in itself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Little Pitchers Have… Little Ears

So The Evil Monkeys apparently take after their mother.  They have really little ears.

“And?” you ask.

Well, for one thing, I can’t get “regular” earbuds into my bitty little ears.  You can imagine that there’s no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks they’re going in the Monkey Ears.  We have six (count them six) useless pairs of "regular" earbuds that came with various iDevices.  But no, I have to buy the in-your-ears kind with the interchangeable large-medium-small gel inserts.  And I use the small.  And sometimes they still fall out. 

The Evil Monkeys, until this point, have been stuck with the traditional over-your-head headphones, which are bulky, break easily, have to be bought special in a size that will fit tiny monkey heads (at three times the normal price) and are generally a pain in the B-U-T-T.

This week they were selling earbuds with interchangeable gel inserts in the checkout line at Walgreens.  For $5.  "Aha!" I crowed. "Evil Monkey Special."

Yep.  I am that mom.  I buy my kids cheap C-R-A-P from the check out line at Walgreens.

After much groaning and cringing and flinching and general whining, The Evil Monkeys have finally figured out how to put in their very own earbuds (I never said they were the sharpest tacks in the box).  Goodbye yucky over-your-head headphones.  Hello.... totally lost iPods.

It hadn't occurred to me, but the giant over-your-head headphones were pretty much the only thing keeping their itty bitty teeny tiny Shuffles from getting lost all over the house.  Plus, earbuds are sort of a pain to haul around loose, because there's just nothing to them and they’re floppy and whatnot.

My point being, I can't win.

Aha!  But I can.  Enter this guy:

I have no idea who this freak of nature is, but he seems to be a little bit of awesome.  He made his own collapsible knitting needles, people.  Why?  Who the flip knows!?  But he did it.  It's geektastic.

He also made a little template (after several trial-and-error efforts) of an earbud winder to be cut from an old credit card.  Now, I totally have a plastic winder that I bought online (with money, people) but I'm not going to go so far as to buy two more for The Monkeys.  Unless there are some in the checkout line at Walgreens.  Which there aren't.  I looked.

What I did do was print some nice little Hiroshige images on the laser printer, laminate them with some high-gloss laminate, mount them to some illustration board (front and back), and cut them out.  (Well, I also modified the design first because the holes were too big for our particular type of earbuds.)

earbuds front

earbuds back

Aren't they cute? 

Here’s one with my iPhone tether.  I don't have any earbuds here to try it out to be sure it will actually work.  But I figure it's an hour of otherwise-useless work time well spent.

earbuds tether

What?   I have commercial lamination and mounting equipment, people.  I have to do something with it.


These are AWESOME.  They work great.  I suspect that A) they won’t hold up forever, being basically paper and B) one or both will get lost within the next 24 hours.   But they work really well.  It would be worth investigating a more durable solution.

Sorry for all the bad photos, I used my iPhone.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Proof That The People At Ottobre Hate Me.

Because just when I decide that The Evil Monkeys have plenty (and by “plenty” I mean “a ludicrous quantity”) of clothes for the summer…. the wicked people at Ottobre Design come out with the Summer 2012 issue.

It looks like this:

Ottobre 3-3012 all files

There are some cute items, people. 

This dress positively hollers “TLo!”:


And this pair of shorts absolutely screams “The Big One!”:


Plus all that other stuff that looks so interesting.

Any bets on how many totally and completely superfluous items of clothing The Evil Monkeys wind up with this summer?

Of course, that would require that I actually sew them.  Hmph.  Those Ottobre people really know how to be cruel.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Here’s What Happens When I Can’t Be Bothered To Fix The Camera

…or in other words, I don’t have any photos of what I’ve been working on.

Point A)  I believe that the introduction and wide-spread adoption of ready-made, standardized-fit clothing has altered our attitudes towards clothing.  We now feel the need to change our bodies to fit our clothes rather than change our clothes to fit our bodies. Obviously, this isn’t a revolutionary thought.  For example there’s that touted anecdotal statistic that’s been flying around for years about how many women say they want to have plastic surgery so their clothes will fit better.  It’s possibly not true but still… I think there’s a point to that anecdote.

Point B) I notice how well or poorly people's clothes fit.  I notice it at the grocery store.  I notice it at work.  I notice it when I'm watching TV.  Good fit.  Poor fit… mostly poor fit.  You do that too, right? I'm guessing many of you do.  I think those of us who spend a significant part of our sewing time trying to achieve good fit start to notice when others' clothes don’t fit.  Even if it's on TV or in the movies or whatnot.

I’ve been mulling over point A and point B for a long time.  Many of you have been too.  Here's what I've noticed: when my clothes are custom fit and fit well (as opposed to the many many examples of custom fit clothing that I own which do not fit well), someone invariably comments on how "good" I look.   Trust me.  I don't look good.  But I do look like my clothes fit.  And I always assumed  that I look “good” because my well-fitting clothes are flattering in some way.

But here's the thing: are we in fact just unconsciously assuming that a person in well-fitting clothes must look good because they fit their clothes?

What I mean is, ready-to-wear clothes are not designed to fit my body.   They're just not.  They are designed to fit someone who has the "ideal" body.  So if we see a person in clothes that fit them properly, are we subconsciously assuming for a moment that they must have an ideal body to be able to fit into those clothes in the first place?  Obviously that assumption won’t last past an actual assessment of the person’s figure, but as a first impression…?




Thesis: Are we conditioned through the almost exclusive purchase of ready-to-wear clothing to assume that if a person’s clothes fit, they must have the “ideal” figure to fit into them? 

Maybe we do.  Maybe we don't.  I don't know.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Girlfriend, That Is SO Camp.

I’m on a sort of roll for making stuff for myself.  Here’s my next project. 

Turn this:


Into this:

Camp shirt into tunic.  Because despite my absolute loathing of camp shirts, I have a fitted camp shirt pattern.  And because this particular camp shirt pattern fits me perfectly.  And I mean,  Um.  Because Marta Alto fitted it for me.  That’s pretty much the only reason why.

But still.  Camp shirt.  Into tunic.  I can totally do it!  You just watch.

No.  Really.  I can.

Quit looking at me like that.

Seriously, don’t believe me?  This tunic is actually a camp shirt with gathers instead of darts.  Right?  Right.  Rotate the darts and convert them to gathers and add some width to the front and back bodice for flowiness, remove the collar and draft a facing instead, change the button placket to a center-seamed opening with ties, extend and add some flair to the sleeves… do some smocking…. 

Easy-peasy mac-and-cheesy.  As TLo says.

Quit looking at me like that.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Now You Can Play Along At Home!

The Husband has suddenly out of the blue decided to become a US citizen.  This means, should he be granted citizenship, that he can’t be deported.  And that he can vote.  This also means that we now get to spend vast quantities of time and money on yet another round of Bureaucratic Bingo.  It's super fun.  I'll give you an example.  Here's how you play:

1) The Husband was required, when he applied for and was granted status as a Resident Alien, to provide his fingerprints. 

2) These fingerprints are embedded in the "green card" he is required to carry with him at all times.

3) Homeland Security, in processing his application for citizenship, requires a set of fingerprints.  They also require a copy of his green card.  (The one with the fingerprints on it.  'Member that one?)

4)  We had to drive two hours to Ft Worth for him to have his fingerprints taken by Homeland Security.  This process took 6.3 minutes.  Literally.   I timed it.  With a timer.  Those Homeland Security people were both friendly and efficient.  The bastards. 

5) Then we had to drive two hours back home.  This process cost us $168.  Plus $80 in gas.  Plus $25 for lunch.  For some fingerprints they already had on file.

Bingo!!  What did we win?

If, at the end, the answer is not "The right to vote and not be summarily deported" I'm going to be really irritated.  We haven't even gotten to The Taking Of The Test part or the fact that The Husband forgot one item in his application packet and when he immediately called to rectify the problem they informed him that they might allow him to continue with the process.  Or they might deny his application.  They can't say.  It's up to the individual processor.  That one cost us $780.

Bureaucratic Bingo is the dog people.  You should all play!

(I was going to say, "it's the bomb" but then it occurred to me that I probably shouldn't write a post with both "Homeland Security" and "the bomb" in it. 

Uh.  Son of a—!!!)

And yes, I'm pretty sure that when they say "Resident Alien", in The Husband's case they mean an actual extraterrestrial.   It’s the only explanation.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I’m Really This Blurry. It’s Been A Life-long Trial.

Now I’m just posting bad photos to annoy Oonaballoona.  Honest.


It’s not because I can’t figure out why my camera keeps not focusing correctly.  Or because I don’t have the patience to take more photos.

No.  Really.

Anyway, that’s my second version of Ottobre 5-2011 #9.  As previously seen here.  I extended the sleeves and added a 2” cuff.  It’s super-comfortable, if nothing else.  The fabric nice too, although I have not one clue where I got it.  Probably either FabricMart or Emma One Sock.  Or maybe Golden D’Or.


Speaking of which, The Husband and I had to go to DFW yesterday and had some time to kill.  So I thought I’d swing by Golden D’Or and see what goodies I could come out with.  I was expecting to spend maybe $100. 

I spent $32.  Including tax.  It was a disappointing trip.  Whoever buys their fabric must be a Spring or Autumn because I literally could not wear about 90% of the colors in that warehouse.  If I wanted to look, you know, still alive.  (If you’re a Spring or Autumn and you live near DFW you should head on over to Golden D’Or.  Beaucoup oranges and light browns and weird yellowy greens.)

Basically I bought some black knit tulle and some white knit tulle (which is hard to buy online because you never quite know what people are calling “tulle”).  That’s a nice staple for making future knit tops with mesh overlays and whatnot.

I also bought 3/4 yard of this knit:


Look familiar?  I’ve been infected with Lemonade Mouth Disease.  (That’s silver/grey, by the way, not green or blue.  It doesn’t photograph well.)

I’m planning on making another knit top with some kind of mesh overlay on the yoke and sleeves.  Of some sort.  I have the tulles to do it.


-snort-  get it?  I “have the tulles”?


Just shoot me now.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lemondrop? Lemon Pie? Lemonade… Mouth? Really?

I set the goal on The Evil Monkeys’ wall hanging of making one block per day .  So far I’m only two days behind, which I think you’ll agree is astonishingly good if you know me at all.  I’d forgotten how much fun it is to sew something colorful that doesn’t require, you know, the ability to think coherently for more than ten minutes at a time.  Saying that, I haven’t really been thinking very hard about the fabric combinations, other than to sort of generally have an even mixture of lights and darks… It’s possible the lack of thought used in this project could show badly when I’m done.

I have worked out the setting I want to do (I think) and it only requires 24 blocks… so I’m more than a third of the way there.  Of course, then there are the border blocks… but they’re just straight lines, I should be able to whip up two or three in the time it takes to do one of these curved blocks.

It’s a theory.  Go with it.

Blocks 2-9.  This is going to be one busy quilt:



TLo has decided that this is the “Lemonade Mouth Quilt”, because the (slightly nauseating) Disney movie “Lemonade Mouth” is her current favorite highschool-kids-dancing-around-and-singing-for-the-purpose-of-overcoming-injustice-and-unpopularity movie. 

As opposed to Star Wars… which is just her OBSESSION.  (On the plus side, we no longer have to worry about what will happen when she doesn’t get her letter to Hogwarts in 3 years.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

100 Years Old. That’s Right. Born In 1912.

I look pretty good for my age, right?

Don’t answer that.

So check out this fascinating little piece of photographic history that was running on BBC News online today:

Prokudin-Gorskii 1

Prokudin-Gorskii 2

Prokudin-Gorskii 3

Prokudin-Gorskii 4

These color photographs are 100 years old.  I’m completely fascinated by this.  Not only do they bring to life a past that is frequently difficult to imagine from grainy black and white photographs, but the actual process invented to create them is brilliant.

A coffee table book was produced in 1980 with Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs.  I wonder if the print quality was any good.  I may have to check into it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

This Is The Reason Why…

…I never wear short sleeves.

‘K, so in typical fashion, once I had decided I was taking a break from garment sewing, I immediately felt a compelling need to make a shirt.  Although to be fair, I do need some shirts.  Definitely.

So taking into consideration several suggestions (one of them really persistently vociferous… I’m looking at you, Angie A.) to give short sleeves a chance, I decided to make Ottobre 5-2011 #9. 

5-2011 #9

Mostly because other than the short sleeves, it’s basically the perfect style for me and really only the sleeve issue had kept me from making it before.

And I was pretty much right.  Even with the sleeves jacked up (which they definitely are-- the hems stretched waaaay out).

Here’s the front view:


Here’s even a close up side view, wacky hems and bad hair and bared arms and all:


Reasonable, right?


Then I pulled an Oonaballona:


ARRRRRRRRGH.  My eyes!  My eyes!  The horror!


This is why I will never ever no not ever wear short sleeves.


The End.


(vital stats: Ottobre Design 5-2011 #9, size 38 +1.5” FBA, lengthened sleeves 1”, reduced hem to .5”)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Bad Patch. Bad, Bad Patch.

So I started working on the Evil Monkeys' wall quilt.  And promptly remembered why I hadn't ever used this pattern before.  It is Evil.  Pure pure evil.  Which I suppose at least is appropriate.

But O.M.flippin' G.  Eeeeevilll.

Now, the points of Lady Liberty's "crown" are paper-pieced.  The first one took me... oh... about fifteen minutes.  Paper piecing is really, really easy.  And fast.

The rest of the block is patch pieced.  I spent roughly two more hours trying to get three patches sewn.  Well really, one patch.  I am not exaggerating.  Two hours.  Earth hours, not Jupiter hours.

Did I mention that the entire block is only 7" wide?  Yeah.  Seven.  Inches.  Those patches are small.  And curvy. And totally impossible.  Ha.  Like me. Sadly, unlike me they do not redeem themselves with witty repartee.  At all.

I should have known things were bad when the author of the pattern says in the instructions that it's "difficult".  But she also insists (and I'm talking INSISTS, IN BIG CAPITAL LETTERS) that the paper not be removed from the points before piecing the curved patches.

She's a flippin' lunatic.

I tried five times to do it with the paper still on and had to rip it apart each time.  Finally I just threw caution to the wind (figuring how much worse could it really get at that point?) and removed the paper.  It went much better and after two tries I was finally successful.

Although I use that term loosely.


It’s supposed to be, you know, a square.

Only about thirty more to go.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Liberty. A Good Word For So Many Things.

No, today I’m not talking about Liberty of London, although clearly it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

aw02libe1040080d aw02libe1040046s ss06libe1040123a

I’m also not talking about Liberty Valance.  Or the man who shot him.


I’m not even talking about actual “liberty”, the concept of which I’d have to write a doctoral dissertation (or five) to adequately consider.  Apparently.  Good grief.

I’m talking about a quilt pattern.  One that I’ve owned for about 17 years.  That I’m just getting around to trying out.  This week.

And you thought my garment sewing was glacial.

The pattern is “Lady Liberty Goes To Hawaii” by Karen Stone. 

Lady Liberty pattern

She re-released this pattern when ElectricQuilt put out a digital edition of eleven of her foundation-piece patterns, but my version is the original paper-printed one that was going ‘round the quilt shops before... y’know… there were personal computers.

Seriously.  Before personal computers. Oy veys mir.

You see, a series of unrelated circumstances occurred:

1) the lovely Stephanie at Venus DeHilo made a fabulous version a few weeks ago. 

2) I just spent two weekends completely rearranging, refurnishing and reorganizing the Evil Monkeys’ bedroom, replete with new bedding.  It’s pretty funky and looks fabulous with their new double bed:

dwell duvet @

But they now have a very large wall over the headboard that is no longer hidden by a bunk bed. 

3) While rearranging/organizing/sandblasting the Evil Monkey Lair, I discovered that the Monkeys can wear all their spring and summer clothes from last year.  All of them.  Not one piece of clothing needs to be sewn. Not even Easter Dresses.  My mind fairly boggled at the prospect, let me tell you.


Three seemingly unrelated incidences.  Mulling around in my brain.  What to do, what to do?

Go fabric shopping.  Obviously.

That was obvious, right?



Truth be told, I’m feelin’ the liberty of a totally new, non-clothing related project. 

Now, if I can just finish it.  Cleaning out the closets this week pointed out in glaring technicolor just how many UFO quilt tops I have.   What an oppressive thought.