December 30, 2010

New Clothes!

I went post-Christmas sale shopping with my mom today and scored big time :)

Awesome wool jacket,
a gift from my mom.


I also got a sheer black silk blouse with embroidery, a blue cardigan, a black sweater with a small ruffle around the neck, a blue cowl neck tee, and navy chinos.  For less than $200!  I have all these great sweaters now and am totally ready for winter :)  Winter 2010, 2011, 2012...
Replaces my decade-old pencil skirt ;)

December 27, 2010

Christmas Baking

Fancy Christmas Trees
 My mom and I didn't get to do our usual pre-Christmas cookie baking this year, since I was sick.  Instead we made some cookies on Christmas afternoon :)  It was fun--she mixed the dough in advance so we just rolled, cut, baked and decorated.  Then it was time for dinner.

My next baking adventure will be a birthday cheesecake for a good friend.  Yum!  Don't forget the raspberry sauce :)

                                          Don't let anyone tell you the star tip isn't multipurpose ;)

Maximizing the dough!

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a Very Happy Christmas, surrounded by people you love.
It's definitely feeling Christmasy around here: lights are hung, decorations are out, dinners and parties to attend.  My mom and I are even fitting in some cookie baking tomorrow, just for fun.  Then there's a New Year's party to attend, and many friends to see, in my new red lace vintage dress.

 "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
                                                           Luke 2:10-14

December 21, 2010

New Wall Art

Dining area flanked by fabric panel
I finished another project: a large panel covered in fabric.  It's ~20"x6' and adds color while creating a separation between the living room and dining area.  It was pretty inexpensive and looks great, I think :)

The fabric
I saw this fabric online and loved it immediately.  Decorating with fabric is a great way to add color and texture on a budget.  With the leftover material I'll make covers for my sewing machine and serger.

The frame was constructed from engineered lumber I had on hand.  I created a mitered frame and glued and stapled it together (wood screws didn't work in the engineered lumber).  Two straight pieces were added to brace the long sides.  In the photo below you can see one of the cross braces.

The frame
After the frame is complete staple the selvedge edge straight along one side, pulling the fabric taught along the selvedge as you go.  Then stretch and staple the fabric on the opposite side center, and top and bottom.  Continue stretching and stapling the fabric on the second long side from the middle out.  Then staple the two shorter ends in the same way.  The corners were folded under neatly and stapled.

December 17, 2010

New Socks

I finished knitting a new pair of socks for myself :)  I used a cotton/wool/nylon blend for the first time and am curious to see how it feels and wears.  The yarn was nice to work with.

New socks
The yarn pooled rather than being self striping.  It looks ok, even though the two legs pooled differently.  I used the same number of stitches, same gauge, same ball of yarn, so they should have been identical.  I think they'll look great with jeans.

One thing I always do is reinforce the heels and soles with heel stitch.  It looks pretty cool, too, in patterned yarns.

December 16, 2010

Little Better

Well, my mom redeemed herself by saying she's upset whenever something hurts me.  That I've had enough hurt for one life and don't need any more (very, very true).  So I'm glad we've moved on, if not actually addressing issues.  It's family, what can ya do.

The horrible bronchitis that's dogged me for over a week seems to be finally improving.  Thank God for prednisone, and Fisherman's Friend cough drops (10mg menthol each!).  Now I can hopefully get some energy back and start to get in the Christmas spirit.

December 14, 2010


Growing up my name was always something I noticed.  I'm from a blended family so had a different last name than my immediate family.  It was not a negative, just another detail to complicate life.  As an adult I wanted to take my mother's maiden name, since I'm very close to her family, but it wasn't worth the emotional and legal hassle.  I've since gotten married and changed my name, then got divorced and changed it to my mother's maiden :)  That's it, enough names, I'm done!

It's fascinating how much a name can impact how you see someone.  Everyone has met a person who's turned them off from anyone else with that name.  I think in words and if I meet someone and am not able to spell their name I cannot remember it.  However, if I can write a name down or envision the letters in my mind it sticks.  Also I think of people by the spellings of their names, which I have to keep to myself since it  makes no sense to anyone else.

*I'm just finishing a pair of socks and a sweater so soon I'll have photos to share!

December 12, 2010


The one thing I really miss, being single and living alone, is having that one person to talk to about anything.  It's not the same telling bits and pieces to various friends--I'm largely invisible.  When someone else is witness to your daily existence it lends meaning.  The interesting things I see, or funny thoughts I have, are left to rattle around in my brain, unshared.  Not that life is awful, just lonely.  And I've had more than enough loneliness for one lifetime.

Btw, there's such a huge cultural bias against admitting to loneliness.  We're supposed to be happy with our own company, self sufficient, able to cope.  What is that about, I wonder?  Part of the do-it-all-yourself, by the bootstraps American image?  Examining cultural precepts is fascinating.  But then I'm weird that way ;)

December 9, 2010

A Conversation

I talked to my mom after breaking up with my guy.  I called a friend first but she was sleeping, so ended up with my mom.  Somewhere in the conversation my mom said--at least it sounded this way to me--that I shouldn't expect a man to ever want me because I'm ill.  She never talks this way normally and it was very hurtful, and the worst possible timing.  In the same conversation she mentioned how compassionate I am.  I don't get it.  I brought this up a few days later and she got upset with me.  We didn't resolve things but did state our points of view.

She decided to talk about it with someone else and try to figure out why she says these things.  I'm just so glad that she's trying to figure it out, and not with me!  Hopefully she'll have a better understanding of how much it hurt.  Cause I make an awesome girlfriend ;)

It's interesting how friends just accept me as I am, with no stigma, but maybe my mom still has her hopes from before I got sick.  I don't know what it is that's wrong or disappointing in her eyes.  With what I had to work with and the troubles along the way I've made a really good life.

Edit: I wanted to reiterate that what my mom actually said was not what I heard.  I still have no idea what exactly she was trying to say, but I'm sure it was supportive.  Or meant to be.

Sewing...or at least thinking about it

Birds!  in cross stitch
Initially I meant this to be primarily a sewing blog with some knitting and life thrown in.  However I have had so little energy due to chronic pain that almost no sewing has happened.  Plus it's winter and my task lighting sucks.

I did finish a cross stitch piece that I'd started in high school!  I gave it to my mom for her birthday and she loved it :)  I wanted to post a photo once it was framed but she's choosing the frame.

Maybe I'll put the sewing machine on the dining table since there's better light there.  I never actually eat at the table anyway.  I have a quilt to finish quilting, a jacket to sew and I'm sure other things I'm forgetting.

I had started making a wrist pin cushion but kept making stupid mistakes.  After bumping my head last week I've had headaches and migraines (worse than usual) and now bronchitis.  I may undo the mistake and try again tomorrow.  It would be very handy to have and I don't care for the store bought ones.

December 6, 2010


I thought I'd found a nice man to share my life with.  Instead...I don't know.  He's no longer kind to me, doesn't think of me, just takes me for granted.  Many friends were checking in and making sure I was ok after hitting my head.  Not him.

I know people have difficult times in life but that doesn't have to make for an unkind person.  It should bring out one's empathy.  I'm tired of men becoming hard and insensitive to me, ending whatever relationship we had.  I'm an open-hearted person and feel deceived when this happens.

We live in a world full of evil but I'd hoped that my little corner of it was safer.  Obviously I was wrong.  Again.

December 4, 2010


I'm working on a jeans hemming tutorial but got interrupted.  I walked into the corner of the wall, really hard.  Thankfully my mom was at the door and took care of me.

The swelling got worse overnight and I think I'll end up with a black eye.  

Wishing everyone else a safe weekend!

November 27, 2010


Is there a worrier in your life?  I am not a worrier, not any longer.  I think I blew out my worry chip back in my early 20s, when chronic pain and disability became my destiny.  But my Handsome Man is a marathon worrier!  You name it and he'll worry about it.  He knows it doesn't help but he can't stop himself :(

I think a large part of my lack of worries is that almost none of the issues in my life are under my control.  My income is fixed, my schedule is regular, I live alone, I kick drama to the curb.  Even visits with HM are based more on his availability than mine.  I made the life I wanted, such as I was able, and it's as much to my liking as possible.  Even my feral tabby turned out to be a lap cat :D

Do you have a good way of coping with worrying?  I tell HM that he can always talk to me but he usually doesn't (he worries about that, too).  He reads this so maybe someone's advice can help him relax.

Duvet Cover

Ticking side
I finished a reversible duvet cover, started in a fit of nesting a few years ago.  The lump in the bed is my cat ;)

One side is wide red ticking with a red cotton twill border, the other side darker red with gold fleur de lis and a gold border.  The gold lamé is quite thin so I flatlined it with muslin.  Unfortunately it already has a few pulls in the fabric.  I may have to keep an eye out for a suitable replacement :/

Red and gold side

On the red and gold side I couched rayon boucle yarn down with matching sewing thread and a zig zag stitch.  This breaks up the bright gold border.  I will stitch another line along the outside edge, but wanted this on the bed asap during a recent cold snap.  

There are still buttons and buttonholes to make, and perhaps a flap so the bottom end can be tucked under the mattress.  I dislike an untucked comforter.

Couching detail

November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I had a lovely day yesterday, spent with my 2 favorite people.  My Handsome Man was here all day, just hanging out together--a rare treat.  My mom stopped by on the way to the big family dinner and brought food.  With what I made we had an amazing assortment of tasty things :)

Dinner was roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, spicy roast squash, fancy green salad, and pie for dessert.  I set the table with an heirloom crocheted tablecloth and ruby glass dishes, hemstitched napkins and of course candles.  It was beautiful.  Earlier we munched on ham, puff pastry and cheese bites and mashed potatoes as dinner cooked.  My guy did the dishes while I got to relax :)

I was very thankful to spend the day with people I love, in a warm and safe home.  I didn't get a whopping migraine (that was Wed night) so hooray!  It was a nice, relaxing day spent watching the snow melt, petting the lap cat and enjoying each others' company.

November 23, 2010

Our Very Own Thanksgiving

For various reasons my fella and I are celebrating Thanksgiving together.  Immediate family may stop by but mostly it's just us :)  I have a frozen chicken thawing.  With the roads so icy and one of my tires half flat I'm in no mood to drive to buy a turkey.  I have enough food for a full turkey-day dinner, stuffing included!

I may make a cheesecake, or lemon bars--yum!  Those are our two favorites.  If anyone has a Lemon Bar recipe they recommend please let me know.  I'll try the Joy of Cooking Lemon Curd Bars, but this will be my first attempt.  Puff pastry, angel food cake, buttercream, fudge, meringue, you name it and I've made it, but no lemon bars.

All this is energy dependent, so wishes for luck and stamina are gratefully appreciated.  Wishing everyone else a happy, healthy day filled with people you love.

November 22, 2010

Snow Day

We're having freakishly cold weather, for here, which means snow!  The temp dropped this morning and snow stuck just in time for the morning commute.  It's kept snowing all day--inconceivable!


←The view from my window just as big fat flakes started falling.

The entire sky has gone white, and snow keeps falling.  Usually the sky is gray in Seattle.


Winter City View
Summer City View

I got a super warm winter coat, rated -30 to 0F by Lands' End (shows what a chilly girl I am! it's ~30F).  They won't let me show an image of it, so a description: it's knee length down with diamond-shaped channels and a faux fur trimmed hood.  Nice and warm :)  At least when worn with silk long johns, lined gloves, scarf, and my ever-dependable waterproof Timberlands.

November 21, 2010

Pattern Drafting Book

Metric Pattern Cutting by W Aldrich
Just in this week...Metric Pattern Cutting!  

I gave up on inches and feet about a year ago, after a few drafting attempts.  Imagine my excitement when I heard about this metric drafting book, and found an affordable copy.  It came from UK via boat, so I had to put on big girl pants and be patient.  Now it's here :)

This edition was published in 1982 and shows its age mainly in the hairstyles.  There are basic block instructions and examples, shown in size 12 (88, 66, 93cm).  Then how to take the necessary measurements, and directions for drafting custom blocks plus fitting help.  Once you have created the basic blocks there are directions for drafting patterns for skirts, tops, pants, sleeves, collars, jackets, you name it.  There's even a short chapter on grading.  I haven't had a chance to try the blocks but the reviews are positive.

Table of Contents, a la Star Wars

Bodice Block

The bodice and sleeve basic blocks.  
You can see that the sleeve head is drafted from the bodice armscye.  It's an anatomically shaped sleeve as well, such as Kathleen Fasanella advocates.

There are written directions on the facing pages.  The directions are well laid out and easy to follow.
Sleeve Block

Fitted Coats Illustration

An example of the illustrations, this one for fitted coats and jackets.  Instructions are given to draft all illustrated patterns.
The basic dress blocks

November 19, 2010


I've been trying to sew a robe for my guy for over a year.  I'm on the fourth pattern, a vintage men's robe, after 3 miserable failures.  Apparently a man with broad shoulders is unknown to most modern pattern companies.  So I've ventured back to the 60s.

Simplicity 6756
Men's robe w/ raglan sleeves

The vintage pattern fits well but is a size too small for his chest and shoulders.  Funny, I never have to do a full bust adjustment for myself but am learning it for him ;)  I made a mock up with some scrap knit.  I've let out the sleeve seams and am ready for another fitting.  It needs underarm gussets though, not included in the pattern.  I've unsewn the basting to make a nice hole but am having trouble getting the gusset in!  And this is basting by hand, mind.  I'm going to fit the mockup again with a hole, see whether I need to tweak the gusset, and go from there.

I'm working with french terry with a soft brushed outside.  It's nice fabric and I hope to get the pattern sorted so I can cut into it.  He's excited to have a robe that fits, for once, and that's long enough.  The perils of being tall and broad shouldered!

The failed patterns:
New Look 6858: Fail One
New Look 6657: Fail Two

Simplicity 7030: Fail Three
Planned to fit shirt and use to alter pattern

November 17, 2010


Two people have told me that I should write a book.  About my life, how I've dealt with problems, I suppose my point of view.  But people don't want to hear me rambling when they haven't asked for help or opinions.  Replaying the crappy parts of life is far from edifying either, and something I prefer not to do.

So I'm stuck wondering what to write about.  I have a few almost finished projects, but nothing finished.  I did get some pictures hung around my house.  Mostly it's life as usual which involves having little energy, migraines, neck pain and staying home with the kitties.  Not very exciting.

November 15, 2010


Everyone gets lonely at times.  We live in a society where closeness is unusual, whether touching or sharing.  Privacy has been carried so far that it takes extreme effort to make a friend!  We don't have a network of friends and family living close by.  We spend most of our time at work, with colleagues (or me, home alone).  A couple hours in the evening are left for socializing and relaxing.  It's not enough.

Imagine a pioneer family, living and working together.  They work all day but spend that time together.  The work is hard but necessary and with obvious immediate benefits--the firewood you cut keeps you warm that night.  Family is all around; they are your best friends.

That same couple today rarely see each other: each is at work all day, the kids are in school.  They may meet at dinner but scatter to separate rooms for the evening.  Work is not a joint effort, there are no obvious personal benefits from it and children are not taught at their parent's knee the tasks they'll need in life.

We have lost community and are surprised that families are strained and depression and anxiety have skyrocketed.  Everyone is too busy with modern life to stop and say hello.  Instead we sit home, alone, at a computer and search for community.

November 10, 2010

Skirt Issues

I bought two skirts online, a black wool A-line and Pendleton plaid with pleats.  The black one was supposed to be my size (28"w), the plaid I would either wear on my hips or somehow alter (I really really like the plaid!)
Desired shape L, original silhouette R

Unfortunately the A-line didn't fit.  The waist was too big, by over an inch.  The shape was weird: instead of curving over the hip them gently flaring it jutted straight out from the waist.  Very not flattering. ----->

I set about altering it.  I removed the waistband from the back, unpicked the side seams and the darts.  This was a home sewn number with tiny stitches, black on black, so it took a while to dismember.  Then I fit it on my newly customized dress form.

Currently one side is basted to fit and I just need to copy the changes to the other side.  Then I'll double check fit, sew it back together and voila! nice winter skirt.  At least that's the plan ;)

PS: I saw a good warm coat for sale and bought it.  I may still sew a wool coat in the future.

November 9, 2010

Me, Only Foamier

Here's my dress form, her cover newly adjusted to be my size :)  Dressform striptease here

This Uniquely You form is foam, which you squish to your size and shape with a custom fitted cover.  This was a great choice for me since I have a long torso, sway back and my weight fluctuates.  

She's not a perfect match to me but close enough for fitting and a huge help with tissue fitting!  Fitting the cover skewed most of the vertical seams.  I'm considering sewing another cover, to go over this one, from slippery stretch knit with key lines marked.
Waist stay closure

For some reason everywhere except the bust pushes the cover out.  Her breasts needed some help, hence an old bra stuck on top.  It also helps with bust point location and strap placement.  I added a grosgrain waist stay, since that's been the area of greatest strain.  

Wonky breasts :/

The finishing touches were a jacket (for modesty) and a self-esteem boosting Sexy mask.  Anyone stuck wearing khaki 24/7 needs a little pick me up ;)

I'd love some help naming her!  Comments in general are a highlight of my day.  Thanks to everyone who reads this!

November 6, 2010

Cute Pincushion

Inspired by Johanna at The Last Stitch, how I store my sewing machine needles:

Backstitch numbers and various stitches for the lines.

I'm altering a skirt, this was handy to hold the bar.
Misc is meant for needles that don't fit elsewhere.

I had an extra tomato pincushion so embroidered yellow labels and lines, to hold my machine needles.  There's a section for each size, plus room for stretch needles, misc, P for paper (to mark seam allowances) and a section for hand sewing needles.  A glass head pin holds the place of the needle currently being used.  Unused needles stay in the original holder.

This is new, and already much better than the old system of trying to read stamped numbers on needle shanks, not knowing whether the needle is new, and too many needle cases in my machine's accessory case.

November 5, 2010

New Toy!

It was my birthday recently and I bought myself this:

I'd been wanting a larger rotary cutting mat and this seems perfect for me.  I can use one or two sections on my sewing table.  I can also stick them all together and cut on the floor or a large table in my building's community room.

I have a knit dress to cut, as soon as my neck pain subsides.  Imagine cutting an entire garment at once!

Only issue: they stink.  The cure is soaking them in a tub in vinegar water.  Except I don't have a tub, only a shower.  Hmmm...

November 4, 2010

The Best Coat Ever!

Once upon a time, when I was in college, I bought a winter coat.  This was no ordinary coat: a US Navy Bridge coat, an unbelievable deal at a surplus store (~$90 for coat and boots and tax).  Now they run $200+.

Please forgive the surly man; he can't find the perfect winter coat either.

The coat is 32oz black wool (more than double the thickest civilian wool coats), nice sturdy lining, a buttoned walking flap, and was so warm and dry!  I switched to black nut buttons, flaring them out a little to give room for my hips.  I also narrowed the back belt for waist definition.  I wore this coat for years--my last year of college, seven years after that, and it was just showing signs of wear.  Then I gave it away...

I could still buy another, but I'd prefer to leave the perfect memory intact.  Instead I'm thinking of sewing a new winter coat.  Perhaps for next year?  This time in red!  Or I may be lazy and buy another country's military cast-offs ;)

Making Progress

Instead of reading other blogs and thinking how little I've done this week I'm listing what I have accomplished:

1) Finished knitting a super-top-secret project.  More to come when it's completely done and delivered.

2) Finished knitting and blocking the Sweater Without End.  Now to sew it up and crochet the button bands.  Or I may knit on button bands...we'll see whether I need extra bosoms room ;)

3) Photographed a large box of sewing patterns, added them to my computer catalog and uploaded them to Flickr and Picasa.  They are all titled and most have been appropriately tagged.  I noticed a few patterns are missing from the photo catalog so will remedy that soon.  Still need to organize and store them with the other patterns.

4) Mended two moth holes in Handsome Man's grey cashmere sweater.  It was its first outing this year and the mends are barely visible.  Repairs on my own black sweater are going slowly, due to lack of good lighting and the size of the mend.

5) Designed and knit a cowl/collar for myself.  I'll post when it's finished; first need to shorten it a little and add buttons.

Not bad!  Perhaps I should do this weekly to remind myself how much I get done.

November 1, 2010

Teh Halloween

I made part of my costume this year...the vest.  I was a Lady Explorer.  Initially I was thinking Adventuress then realized that has very different connotations, lol.

I got no good shots of the whole costume.  It had brown knee-high boots w/ brass buckles, khaki pants, Edwardian-ish embellished blouse, awesome vest I sewed, and a large brimmed hat with blue shawl.  People guessed what I was right away :D

The vest was finished for an August Steampunk wedding and I seem to have shrunk since then.  So the vest is loose and heaving bosoms not so much :/  It still looks good though.  And I was comfy!

October 31, 2010

Vintage Sewing Patterns!

I bought a box of 1950s-60s patterns on eBay with the plan of using one or more for my plaid dress.  Most of the patterns are 32 bust, I'm 34/36.  Several others are half sizes (petite).  I think I can alter my dress block with good results.  Hope you enjoy the pattern pron!

I can't decide whether this is "sexy date night" or flight attendant.

If I run across some winter white dupioni or suiting I might have to make it up, with 3/4 sleeves.

One of my favorite pictures, not sure it would work on me.  Maybe wool doubleknit in version 1?

I immediately saw Jacki of Modern Twist in this dress.  She wears vintage so well!

I like view B for myself.

I don't normally like the angled darts of the 60s but I might try this dress, sans bow.  Assuming I don't have trouble grading up a size.

The lone 40s pattern of the bunch, with nice button detail down the front.

I'm not sure what I think of this pattern.  The a-line skirt is nice...

I really like the tie neckline, though the skirt looks too full for my everyday wear.  Bearing in mind that I almost always wear jeans ;)

Simple, straight fit, kimono sleeves, though how flattering is it on women without giraffe necks?

Love these pleats!  Plus the pattern is proportioned, so theoretically I wouldn't have to fuss with the bodice length (I'm 5'8").

(Am I the only one picturing an infinite line of ever-smaller women?)

I'm considering using this bodice pattern and the pleated skirt above for the plaid dress.  Especially if I can match the bodice darts with the skirt pleats.

I have four Mail Order patterns now and really like their flattering lines and architectural feel.

And a couple later patterns that I found at Goodwill.  I can see myself wearing these...if I ever get the time and energy to make them!

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