Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dia De Los Muertos


Ever since I learned about this beautiful holiday, I've wanted to create an alter of my own to celebrate and honor my dead. But it never really happened. A lack of gumption perhaps, or a lack of space, or lack of inspiration. I never really knew or could imagine how to create those gorgeous altars that just seemed so jubilant and fun!

But this year is different. This year, I have finally cleared out space for my "spiritual things" and have a small altar of my own where I honor nature, the seasons, and my Jewish and Pagan beliefs. With the space already carved out, it was completely natural to decorate it--FINALLY-for DDLM.

I started by cleaning my altar--I had it set up for Sukkot/Mabon/general end of summer. So I changed the cloth, strung some orange LED lights and dusted everything.


My first task were the paper flowers. I had seen how to make them a GAZILLION times, but never did, because I never needed them-and had never really seen any that really looked cool. But I got out my tissue paper and gave it a shot. My first one looks like perhaps the first paper flower I ever made--because it was, but it was the learning piece I needed to figure out the tricks. The big trick I learned is that the online instructions to have 5 or 6 pieces of tissue paper is a crock. Once I started making them with 8+ they really started to come together. I also, once I had separated the flowers, I found that if I wrapped a piece of wire around the bottom, I got a prettier blossom. Kinda like I separated them, then squooshed them together all in one direction, wrapped a wire around the bottom of that like a ponytail holder, and then fluffed it out again. That made the flower more "flowery."

My next task were some skulls. With a toddler in the house and my altar at his level, I knew sugar skulls were out of the question. So I schlepped on down to Michael's and picked up a few Halloween skulls. They were unfortunately already painted to look like, well, dug up

skulls I guess, so I had to go over them with a few coats of craft paint to whiten them up. From there, I copied a few pictures of decorated skulls from the internet and busted out my paint, brushes and glitter. The first one is…ok. I'm not entirely happy with it, but it's fun. My second one came out better because I felt more confident and I just let the muse take me in

different directions. The third skull--the big one--scared me a little. But I took my time, penciled in my designs before I started, and just didn't worry about it. It's hardly perfect--but it looks awesome on my altar!


The third component of my altar were the papel picado. I had to do a long search for templates-and after a logn search through strange sites (search at your own risk!) i printed them, cut them out and prepared my tissue paper. I made @ 15 in all, and strung them willy-nilly over the altar. I wanted them to capture the festivity of it all, and they really have. I love the way they look!


And of course, my altar would not be complete without pictures of loved ones that have passed over. I have several of my grandparents, their families, Pete's dad, and a few baseball players for Pete. I think he was hoping their presence on the altar would help his team make it past the first round of playoffs (they were Red's players that passed) but no such luck. But it was a nice way for him to feel part of the process.


Paganally (I just made that a new word) this altar is also fitting for Samhein or Halloween. Symbolically, Samhein signifies the death of the God, and the opening up of the realm between the world of the living and the world of the dead. How better to show our love and devotion by building a beautiful and colorful altar?


Tonight, I plan to put out a glass of Maneschevitz for my grandmother (she LOVED the stuff) and a glass of whiskey for my grandad. It makes me smile to see my altar daily--colorful and bright instead of the dour traditions that surround death. I'm not saying death is an easy thing for the living to deal with, but it sure would change our dispositions a bit if we could celebrate lives well lived, instead of death and loss.


Take a few minutes this Dia de los Muertos and remember your loved ones that have passed over. Have a drink with them and tell them you love them. THAT'S what keeps them alive!

Blessed Samhein and Happy Dia de Los Muertos!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

economizing

Giving up chemicals and such doesn't just mean in our food. Since our boy is showing no hope of being potty trained any time soon, we've also have to switch brands on pull-ups to those more expensive, chlorine free ones that cost 0.57 per pull-up. And there's no night time version. Time to make some changes. It was time to make this boy some cloth pull-ups.

Now, i know--you'd think i'd already be doing this. Lemme 'splain our choices. First off--having done the research when he was a baby, we decided to use disposables because it really was a trade off between land waste and water waste. Since we are in drought conditions here in So Cal, i opted for land waste. I didn't think we'd still be using these things so deep into the third year. Secondly--my husband has a real problem with diapers in general--or rather the contents of them. Like, i know most guys can barely handle the whole excrement party that is a baby, but he's really got a problem. And god help us if any of that matter should decide to escape or leak! I waited around for this to change, and it never did, so we stuck with the plastic because it was that or i would never get a break from changing diapers/pull-ups. Selfish on my part? no doubt. But with selfishness comes sanity. But now that ben is no longer using tons of diapers per day, it was time to break out my pattern for diapers and pull-ups, buy some PUL (a vinyl coated material now available at my local JoAnn's) and start cutting.

I started with two large diapers. I made an All in One--with the absorbent padding already in the diaper, and a pocket diaper, where i can remove or add padding. Both worked "ok" but leakage and fit were an issue. So i moved on the training pants pattern.

I made the pattern according to his weight, which was the large. For these, having learned a lesson on the diapers, i lined the ENTIRE pant with the PUL (waterproof). But sizing was an issue on this pattern. Ben was walking around with the largest bubble butt I've ever seen, AND they still leaked (at the leg). I can't sew a seam around the leg elastic or it "pokes holes" in the PUL, which would defeat the purpose. But without the seam, the lining fabric will "roll out"and thus, the leak. A catch-22 really.

So back to my studio. I created six more the next size down and these seem to be working well. I still can't solve the leg problem--but the better fit seems to be helping. They aren't as "tight" as the plastic ones, but Ben doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he really likes these cloth ones. It helps that a few of them have items like planets and rockets to help.

I also tried a new fabric (for me) for the lining on three of these: hemp fleece. Alot of the diaper making mavens use it. I think it has anti microbial properties or some such--but it also wicks away moisture, leading to less diaper rash and such. It was a little tough on my needles--fleece & PUL made for a diffcult sewing barrier--but i managed to get through.

I've developed a washing schedule, and have the advantage of this fine weather to hang them out on the line. And since we're not dealing with "baby poop" i don't have to wash as many times as suggested for diapers (once in hot, once in cold) to keep the stink away. We still use the plastic pull-ups for going out and he'll use them for school. But at least here at home he can be comfortable with his bubble butt.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

sweets for the sweet

As many of you may know, my family and i have started a new diet--not for weight loss, but to help both my husband and son deal with their sensory issues. It's called the Feingold diet, and i discuss it a bit more here, on my other blog. Basically it's an elimination diet that gets rid of a bunch of chemicals as well as salicylates, which can then be re-introduced later after a baseline is reached. (@6 weeks if we're lucky). We're already starting to notice some subtle results, and i've already targeted some other items that my son, at least, may be sensitive to.

In the end, though, it means a bit more work for me in the kitchen as i begin to make A LOT of things from scratch. So I'll be interspersing my crafty entries with some foodie ones as i begin to experiment with new items.

This weekend, i dove into a granola bars project. My son likes them, and my husband will eat them from time to time. The ones in the store are usually full of high fructose corn syrup, as well as a bunch of other stuff i can't pronounce, so when i saw this recipe on the Feingold bulletin board, i decided to give it a shot.

The recipe itself is pretty simple:

Chewy Granola Bars

1 c. rolled oats

1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 t. EACH baking soda & baking powder

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. nutmeg

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. vanilla

1/4 c. honey

(I usually have to add a little bit of water 'cause they're a bit dry)

Combine all but vanilla & honey. Mix & then add vanilla & honey & water

if needed, mix well again. Press into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Bake at 325

for 18 -20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before cutting.


They baked up pretty easy, and my husband cut them up for me to cool on the rack. As they are here, they are @150calories--but i cut them in half again later so i could put them in the cookie jar. And because i find them to be SUPER sweet. My husband loves them--but he likes sweet stuff. I like sweets too--but only in that opiate combination of fat & sweet. I haven't given any to Benji yet, but I don't see myself snacking on them much. I may try another recipe i found that had a little more substance and a little less sweet.

Monday, August 2, 2010

the Bustline of reality

So a while back, I made myself a cute sundress out of some aloha material i had on hand. I loves me a long sundress, so i based my design on a pattern i had that was super cute--extending the hem and adding a ruffle along the bottom. It was a cute dress--one i failed to photograph--but it never felt right.

This is the pattern i based it on. I wanted something empire waisted and with pleats to "mix it
up." But take a good look at that model. What's she sporting? An A cup? B tops? Sure it looks cute on her--ANYTHING looks cute on those little girls!

This bodice, while cute, is NOT meant for anyone above a B cup. Especially if you extend into the doubly delightful DD range. This is for someone who rarely wears a bra and whoose boobs are in the state of constant perk. For the rest of us, the bottom hem of the bodice cuts right across the top of your breasts--creating this weird edge, strange pouf, and general uncomfortableness. This cute sundress hung in my closet, worn once, gathering dust. (i seem to have a problem closing my closet door...)

So a few months ago (projects for myself tend to range into the months long arena) i decided it was time to remake that dress or give it away. Since i have the love affair with long dresses, i was loathe to give it away (as well crafted as it may have been). So i ripped it apart, got rid of the old bodice, and created a new one.

This bodice is based in reality. The classic surplice neck line--forgiving, and downright sexy with the right bra! As i was out of the original material, I used the same black as the original bottom ruffle, but used some of the scrap material to create a "ribbon" for the neckline to tie it together.


I also used one of my patterns to create this bodice, and i find the sleeves a bit...grabby. Reminder to those who sew--patterns are created in general for a B cup--and even if the size is larger, the ratio of shoulder to bust isn't always as exact. I may fix this one with a shoulder dart to pull the sleeve in a touch. Or i might not. This is just a sundress after all--suitable for a trip to farmer's market or the grocery.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Dude Abides

So, i just finished another bowling shirt for one of my loyal customers.

As with previous shirt orders, I promptly caught a cold/plague after i started this shirt. So what would have taken a couple of days (i can only sew during nap time...) took a couple of weeks. Because then there was the trip down to San Diego, and then a general malaise, then the start of summer school--which led to unpredictable or non-existent nap times, and...well...i feel lucky to have even gotten this one done!

As shirts go, this one looks sweet, but it's not a favorite. I really dig the batiks, but i had a really tough time getting the collar facing to lay down--and spent too much "perfectionism time" on it. It lays down now--but still not in a way that i like. Not that anyone will see it, or care. But i can, and do.


I also put together this lil custom pillowcase for a friend's daughter. Frankly, i love using non-traditional materials for little girls' stuff! I see nothing wrong with skulls or tattoo
materials--it makes for awesome stuff! Her parents are pretty rock-n-roll as well, so it's the perfect item for them all!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Beauty

So me and the old man, along with Ben and my moms went to Vegas over Memorial Day weekend--also our anniversary weekend (highly convenient). My mother had never been to Vegas, and while Pete and I had, we hadn't had a chance to go and play cards together since Ben was born. Turns out they frown upon kids in the casino--go figure. Must figure them to be card sharps or something. All i know is that my kid is showing a strong aptitude for numbers--so it might be wise, for Vegas, i mean, to keep him away from the tables until he's old enough to drink...

Anyway, since we were heading to Vegas, and i knew playing cards that my hands were going to be on display, i decided to get my nails done for the weekend. And by getting my nails done, I mean a full acrylic set. Now, I know i have great nails--the classic wide nail bed that make other women direct backhanded comments my way. For my own wedding, i am proud to say i sported my own nails--which was quite a feat for me. Now, I'm not a nail biter or anything weird--i just work with my hands. Cleaning, childcare, cleaning, sewing, crafting, cleaning... you get the picture. I suppose i could channel one of those perfect housewives of the 50s and use palmolive and rubber gloves and my hands would remain pristine--but who are we kidding here? Palmolive is full of chemicals and frankly, i have a tough time finding a pair of rubber gloves to fit these monsters. I may have failed to mention--they're also kinda big. Not man hands mind you--but I've had more than one musician tell me i should have taken up strings simply because of my reach. (but then I'd have bad hands too!)

So, acrylic nails. I've worn them from time to time when my hands were trash, but i wanted them to look nice. They're not really good for your hands or nails, and as pretty as they look, in the end they just trash your nail bed and then you have to spend a few months growing out your nails to get rid of the damage. But I have to admit that wearing them does make me feel different--it's like a status symbol. The act of pure money waste--fake nails. It says i have disposable income and i choose to have beautiful hands. (i've already got the rack--so i can't spend it there...) But more than that, it shows a certain disdain for having "working" hands. It's an old argument, isn't it? "You can always tell a lady by her hands." I'll admit to a little shame that my nails tend to be very short, unkempt (but clean) and my hands are not soft as silk. It was that one thing i focused upon during "careers" class when we discussed job interviews--the appearance of your hands. (although, i must say, in my last job interview for Crenshaw High School--the strangest interview of my life--my nails were bright green)

It comes back to that old argument of what is considered "valuable" in our society. For some reason, our society really frowns on "labor"--the things we tend to hire "others" to do for us. Why is that? Why can't we take pride in keeping house, tending a beautiful garden, fixing our own stuff, or creating things from scratch? Why can't i show hands that are a little tough without some guilt or shame? Sometimes i feel like it's some sort of taboo--to work with your hands.

And yet, here i was, feeding that taboo--displaying a complete fraud (which is what the beauty industry would have us do, yeah?). My hands never look that nice. My nails are never that even. I wouldn't be able to get anything done with long nails all the time. Hell, I couldn't even pick up a quarter or a toothpick all weekend. And forget typing--i type on the tips of my fingers) I was able to do a little scrapbooking (i was making invitations) but that was with the assistance of an exacto knife.

Maybe I'll get over it someday. Maybe I'll proudly display my poor cuticles and say, yeah--but did you see that last dress i made? Gorgeous! Maybe. Or maybe I'll spend another week torturing myself with luxurious inability, and then another hour ripping the damn things off my nails so i can get back to work...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All that glitters

So, i finally finished the "gold" order. Four party dresses with sashes, three vests and three matching ties. It was certainly a challenge, but it was also a much needed victory in the "make my own pattern" department. Don't get me wrong--there are some rookie mistakes in there, but generally, the two bigger dresses, which were my greatest worry, fit (almost) like a glove. Minor alterations at best. I didn't get a chance to fit the littlest girls--but i made their dresses so that they would be easier to fit--empire waists, tied straps. I cursed and fussed at these dresses for a couple weeks, but in the end, i think they turned out quite pretty. They did remind me, though, how much i HATE making ruffles and how lucky i am to have had a boy. (not that having a girl would necessarily mean ruffles. I fought ruffles all throughout my youth, so there's no guarantee that any girl child of mine would actually WANT a ruffle in the end...)

So, now actually begins the hard part. Since i created a pattern from scratch, and that said patterns turned out cute--not only by my own opinion, but from those opinionated ladies from my sewing boards-it's time to create a "publishable" pattern. Which means recreating the dress, step by step with pictures, in a PDF format that is easily downloaded. Oh dear lord...

This is the direction i was ultimately headed, But I'd had such crappy luck creating patterns, that i guess i never thought it would happen. I mean, the only reason i created this pattern in the first place was because i could not find one that was already made. I suppose that means that there could be a market for a cute little dress like this...

I was pretty concerned with turning out a fantastic product on this last order that i didn't sit down and write down every step, so now i am preoccupied with how to best explain the construction of this dress. (ever the teacher--the substance almost doesn't matter, it's the way you deliver it that makes all the difference!) I was driving my son to preschool this morning and thinking of the order of ruffle, underskirt, second tier in a way that would make the seam lay neat and flat. Of course if you could get into the head of people driving on the morning commute, I am sure you would find stranger subjects than garment construction and PDF formatting. Better than getting angry at the moron in front of you at any rate.

I suppose I'll have to get some beta testers too...to see if my instructions actually make sense to someone else who doesn't think like me. Or to someone who doesn't feel as confident in his/her sewing skills--because anyone with skills doesn't really rely on instructions anyway, if they can figure out an easier way to do it.

As you can see, while the actual job may be done, I've still got a lot of work to do





Lessons learned these past weeks:

  • creativity is great if you don't have to explain it to anyone
  • my life feels more constructive without glitter
  • people cannot drive in this town
  • i need to learn to storyboard again

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Goldfinger

So, I've got no pics this week because I missed a couple days in studio due to the (hopefully) FINAL installment of this d&#! root canal, and because i am working on an order. I don't post pics of orders in progress because...well...that just seems weird. Like, it's not your order, so why would you care, right? But this order has challenged me a tad and has got my brain workin.

I'm making some party dresses and vest/tie combos for a friend's mom's birthday bash. All in gold. And the material choices were not mine. My client picked out a combo and separately looked questionable, but as i start to put them together, have begun to really sparkle--literally and figuratively. Let's just say there is gold lame' involved as well as an embroidered lace that has "sparklies" on it. and on me. And on my counter. And in my sewing machine...

Yeah, I'll be glad when this order is done and i can take a dustbuster to my studio.

The vest and tie are from a pattern--because i see no reason to draw my own pattern when there are gazillions out there. I mean really--there are very few men's patterns out there, but of them, a great many are vests. In fact menswear patterns fall into a five categories: shirts, pants, jackets, vests & other. I can see why fashion designers don't get into menswear--it can be a yawn. Anyway, as much as i am getting into drafting patterns and such, i also don't believe in reinventing the wheel. If i own two patterns for a boy's/men's vest, why would i spend over an hour drawing one?

I'm also making ties--which seem to scare people. I vaguely remember making a tie before for an ex, and i don't remember it being a pain. And yet i hear these horror stories about making ties--how difficult they are, etc. *cocks an eyebrow* I'm thinkin' someone made it more difficult than it looks. I'll have to get back to you on that because right now I'm working on the hardest part of this order, the dresses.

They are supposed to look like this. Searching my pattern catalog, and others, i did not find a suitable copy, so i got to practice those drafting skills and make my own pattern. Luckily they are for girls, and i don't really have to worry about darts or even a close fit-since they will have sashes to tie around the waist. One of the dresses is for a baby, and one a toddler--and i altered the pattern a little for them--making an empire waist and tie straps for easy fitting. why put a zipper on a toddler's dress if you don't have to? The two older girls' dresses though are waist length with a zipper. Both of the girls are skinny as rails, and drafting did have a few challenges--according to chest and waist, these girls were a size 6--but the length of their torso was not (they are 8&9 years old--or close to) so i had to create a bodice pattern that had the length of a size eight, but width of a size 6. I forsee some fitting issue with them (mostly taking in) but nothing too strenuous. The skirt is a basic tiered skirt--separate tiers. I hadn't made one before, but that was the easiest draft because it was just a basic A-line skirt , cut up into separate pieces, upon which ruffles will be placed.

If all goes well, I may be able to create a couple sized patterns to sell, which would be AWESOME. Women who sew LOVE to make little girls dresses, so I'm hoping this all works out without too much alteration and fuss.

ANd i'll be glad when i don't sparkle like a stripper when i come out of my studio...

Lessons learned this week:
  • dental work can be exhausting, physically and economically.
  • Challenge is good for the brain
  • i dislike glitter
  • Men should wear skirts



Sunday, April 25, 2010

uncomfortable yet?

Earth Day passed by last week, and alot of people spent the day acting as if they cared about the environment with FB posts and changing a light bulb. (as you might gather, I'm not one for Earth Day--the holiday. If you wanna be green, be green. You don't need a special day... But i'm the same way about Christmas and Valentine's day too) I know, I get it. Some people need a kick in the butt to change that light bulb or *try* local produce. And good for you if you tried something new this last week. One first step is important, and hopefully you stay on that path and keep expanding your "greenness".

So the passing of this day usually gets me thinkin as i watch people around me buy CF bulbs, or even organic bamboo material. (soooooooo soft!) There's always a missing suggestion on how to be greener. An important suggestion, but an uncomfortable one.

Yeah, ladies. We need to talk about Auntie Flo. Our monthly visitor. The Banks of the Nile running red. A little ketchup with your steak. (and five million other euphemisms you can see on this link--HILARIOUS! http://www.mum.org/words.html) Yes. I am talking about menstruation.

Ok. If any boys were reading this, they've probably left now. That's good. They might not like what's coming.

I use cloth pads. There. I've said it. I no longer purchase Always or Tampax or any other "disposable" item to handle my monthly flow. There are still a few in the house--I still have a supply from when i did use them, but I only use them in emergencies right now.

I came to this lifestyle choice not because of a "green" decision, but a health one. I cannot use the disposable stuff--my vajayjay won't have it. I haven't been able to use tampons for a few years now--don't know why, but they are painful for me unless my flow is "ohmigod, how can i bleed that much and not die?" And yes, I've tried all the varieties, etc etc. I'm not a pansy. I used them for years having this problem because I thought, as many women do, that this is what women do. You mature, you start using tampons and you deal with it until you hit menopause. But the pain got so intense that i had to go back to the old high school standard, the pad.

God. It just evokes memories, right? Sitting in class, cramps from hell, hoping you're not leaking, or that the outline of the pad is showing because you're wearing tight-ass jeans, or the SOUND of them as you walk that you SWEAR everyone can hear. They aren't fun. period. (no pun intended, i think)

Well, it turns out my vajayjay don't like them either. I mean REALLY doesn't. one word: Rash. Yes, rash. So not only are they just no fun, they are extremely uncomfortable for me--and for days after once my period has ended.

Those were my arguments against--and fairly solid ones too. But for those of you without a sensitive vajayjay, here are a few others that make very good sense.

  • Although most women think pads and tampons have been sterilized, they have not. In fact, no feminine hygiene product has been sterilized.
  • FDA does not require that the ingredients in tampons and pads be listed anywhere in or on the package.
  • Over 12 BILLION pads and tampons are USED ONCE and disposed of annually, adding to environmental pollution.
  • In a woman's lifetime, she is likely to use 15,000 sanitary pads or tampons.
  • An average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime. The great majority of these end up in landfills, or as something the sewage treatment plants must deal with.
  • Plastic tampon applicators from sewage outfalls are one of the most common forms of trash on beaches.
  • According to a 1998 article in Vegetarian Times, studies conducted by the sanitary products industry have found that lurking within tampons are trace amounts of dioxin, a chemical deemed a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from New York points out that there has been far more testing on the possible health effects of chlorine-bleached coffee filters than on chlorine-bleached tampons and related products.
And let us not forget the beauty of Toxic Shock Syndrome. It can, and does kill. I had a run-in with it once, long ago. Nothing like almost passing out on toilet to make you feel like a woman...

So now we hit alternatives--which in this world usually fall into two categories--cup or cloth.

For many women the cup is a great alternative. There are many brands out on the market that are free of whatever it is that makes your vajayjay unhappy. Just google "menstrual cup" and all sorts of links will pop up. But let me be clear here--this isn't for someone who is not comfortable with knowing the inside of her vajayjay. If you can't get past using an OB tampon because there is no applicator, then you will not like the cup, and you can just skip down to my discussion of cloth pads. If you've ever used a diaphragm, then this will be second nature to you. I recommend the Lunacup--it has a couple different models for women in different stages of life. Yeah--those vaginal muscles are not the same after childbirth, and your body's ability to hold that cup in place is different. (ask me how i know) The makers of the Lunacup understand that, and compensate.

I've tried the cup at various times in my life, but never stuck with it. For me there were a few cons: leaking and discomfort. No matter what brand i used, it never created a tight enough seal for me to not have to wear a pantyliner with it, which defeated the purpose. I also had a discomfort issue upon removal of the cup--but i think it was me and my weird vajayjay and not the cup. So they just aren't for me personally, but i know LOTS of women use them without complaint. You buy 2--one to wear and one that is being washed/sanitized. that's 2 for the year. Think about how many pads and tampons worn in a year. it takes 6 years for a tampon to decompose, and pads? It aint just diapers fillin' those landfills.

You can wear the cup for 12 hours at a time before you need to remove it and wash it. 12 hours. You get up, get ready for work, put in your cup, and have no worries until you come home. nice. Oh, and it makes for not so messy sex at the time too--another plus.

Since the cup wasn't for me, that left me to the more granola stand-by: cloth pads. This was more up my alley anyway since i have all this material--alot of it scraps--and a crafty notion. There are plenty of free patterns out there to make your own, so some women just trace the pad model they currently use so that it is a size they are used to. If you're not crafty, you can buy them. I've seen them in health food stores, and a few Whole Foods, and there are LOTS of women who sell them online or out of their homes. (And before you think this is a plug for me--I still dont' sell them. I'm still working on a design that is more efficient to make for the price i wanna sell, so I only make them for me at present.) Anywho, hit esty, or even google "cloth menstrual pads" and, yup, you guessed it, there is more than one page with sellers. Lots of WAHMs make these--usually the same women who make all-in-one cloth diapers (put it together), and it seems a lucrative business. (thus my other than personal interest) I've seen them called Glad Rags, Mama Cloths, Moon cloths, etc.

Ok, that's all about supply. I know what you're thinkin' though--HOW? Well, it's not as hard as you might imagine. You can also google this (*it's how i learned).

First, cleaning. It's the biggest part of this job. Personally, I have a bucket set aside to soak used pads in soap or Oxiclean solution. Changed daily. I just put the used one in there, let it soak, and then change the water the next day, keeping the soakers in there (unless they are stain-free, then i remove them and dry them on a rack that is hidden away...) once my period is over, I take all the ones soaking and/or drying and throw them in the wash for a good hot wash with soap. Out of the dryer I fold them up and put them in the bathroom to await my next visit from Auntie. Yeah, there's a little work there. But i have a happy vajayjay and I'm not filling the landfill with more plastic. It's less work than cloth diapering a baby. Or just caring for a baby, period.

Second--what about going out in public? Its not much different from using other items. You usually have a "wet bag" which could be anything from a ziploc bag to an embroidered, plastic-lined number. Just something to hold a used one if you need to. Yeah. You have to carry it around with you. That may be the number-one turn off for lots of women. If so, try the cup.

Third: leaking. Some of you may be thinking--but jeez, I bleed like Niagara Falls here--Cotton ain't gonna cut it! Well, you aren't the only one. Cotton pads are made with different parts. There is an absorbent middle (i used flannel, polar fleece, terry or microfiber) and some people make their's with PUL--a plastic lined material. I don't because I don't want plastic anywhere near my vajayjay. It also makes a crinkly noise that i don't want to hear. There are also models that have a place where you can put in another soaker (like for overnight or super heavy flow) to compensate. I can say with great confidence that in all the time I've been doing this--one leak. ONE. And here's a little known fact that i discovered when i was doing my reasearch. It isn't scientifically proven or anything, but when you use cloth or the cup, you begin to bleed less. yes. You read that right. YOU BLEED LESS. Not right off the bat, mind you. But a few cycles in, you begin to notice a difference. (cramps are still there though. sorry) Personally, when i was worried in the beginning, i would just put a pantyliner that i still had under the cloth pad. But now that's not even a necessity.

I know it ain't for everyone. And if the thought of any of this grosses you out, then you have your answer. But if you've thought about it, or any of the facts struck a nerve with you, then it might be time to make a change. And think about this. If you are willing to cloth diaper your kid--what is the difference? It's not as "granola" as you think it might be. Lots of women make this choice. Could be the woman sitting next to you. If you passed Earth day and wondered, how can i make my life "greener", the answer might be in your own drawers.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

haters

Yeah, it's been awhile. Turns out work catches up with life sometimes. Had a LARGE burp order to fill for a friend with lots of pregnant friends, and then the coolest diaper bag ever.

This was my first time using this pattern--although i had read about it a million times, and seen many examples on one of my online sewing forums/groups. So i finally bought the pattern earlier this year, and found this absolutely awesome material downtown. It was a time consuming pattern--LOTS of pieces, many of them that had to be interfaced with iron-on Decor-Bond interfacing. It took me an hour just to cut it out! i should have taken a picture of all the pieces with their little labels pinned to them! (There was actually only one pattern piece--the rest were just squares or rectangles cut by dimension with my rotary cutter) I also had to make one change because i didn't have any cord for the side pockets, so i improvised and used elastic instead. .
For anyone attempting to use this pattern, a few pieces of advice: read each instruction carefully, use the heavy duty denim needle the pattern suggests, and take your time. There are only a few places where the pattern gets "tricky", but if you just look at it, it makes sense.

Now, I will admit-one of the reasons i post to my sewing forums is to get some oohs and ahs. I'm a praise whore--no question. But in a bored world, it's nice to have something you make, with your own hands, be praised and admired. i really enjoy creating, and i also enjoy the praise that follows. glutton. guilty.

I will also admit to a little trouble with taking criticism. Even in my writing classes it was the hardest thing to grin and say--"i never thought of that, thank you." egotistical? If you must. None of us want to think of ourselves in that kind of light--but i just BRISTLE upon receiving criticism. If it comes from a source i respect, and has a modicum of truth to it, i generally come around, but the time from when i first hear it to acceptance it an ulcer-inducing episode.

(irony? I was often a sought after critic of other's written work. But i always assumed people were feeling what i felt, and i hated doing it. --unless the other writer was a jerk, then it was kinda fun. Guess i should have been an editor.)

So, most of the these online forums are manna for the prostitutes of praise. No one wants to be the dick and post what they are really thinking (or what sometimes comes out of my mouth): "wow, that looks like ass". Because these women will turn on you in a heartbeat. and honestly, most of the projects i see in one or two of my groups is professional quality. GORGEOUS. envy inducing--inspiring me to sew straighter seams, match prettier fabrics and pretty much perfect my own skills. So not only do you get some praise, you get to see some beautiful work.

So, imagine my shock when i post this gorgeous bag--a bag i have no desire to give away--and the response is sparse and a few actually negative. And not negative in the way of--hmm, those patterns don't quite work together or your seams are all messed up sista. no. They have to comment that the fabric seems "inappropriate" for a diaper bag. In fact they go out of my way to tell me what a great job i did in constructing it, but then dis the material.

????

Most of us go out of our way to say something positive about the...ahem...beginner projects that could benefit from a solid seam ripping and reconstruction, and keep our criticisms to ourselves--when we are prolly doing the seamstress a disservice by not telling her to practice sewing in a straight line. And these beeotchnits bag the material--and not even in a truly critical way?

(harrumph)

so, i've obviously been thinking about criticism and politeness. My mother raised me correctly--if you don't have anything nice to say, mutter it under your breath when they're out of earshot. (jk mom--i know to keep my mouth shut when i don't have anything nice to say--i just figured that one would make you laugh) And since many of these women pride themselves on being "brought up right" and have made more than one statement about "how rude people are today", i just can't help but wonder about the motives of this criticism.

To simplify, i call it a red state/blue state thing (but of course it isn't that simplistic) Many of the items posted by others on some of my forums are gorgeous, but old fashioned and conservative. You know--dress for their daughters because they HAVE to wear a dress to school due to the dress code? They don't like skulls because it represents something that makes them uncomfortable--and they don't like THESE skulls because of that and....(shhhh) *whispers* brown people. Lets just say that those who live in areas where Dia De Los Muertos is a visible part of October only had great things to say.

So yeah, I've been thinkin about this for a few days. I'd love to say I just ignored it and moved on--but people who say that never do--it still niggles into your everyday life and colors what you think. I plan to put it aside after this post, but it will definitely color how often i post in those sewing groups...

Lessons learned this week:

  • iron-on interfacing is convenient and tedious all at once
  • heavy-duty needles really do work
  • some people were NOT raised right, no matter their protestations
  • Yolie is gonna look like the hippest mom at playgroup with this awesome bag.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Old Friends

Well, my plans for a more productive week were laid waste by the plague. More like a snotty nose and subsequent sinus infection. It started with Ben (one week into preschool) who luckily only had the snotty nose, and then went on to Daddy who got the sinus infection and then to me with a sore throat. So I had that busy week of taking care of others before even contemplating getting into my studio. By the time the weekend rolled around, I was tired, either from a milder form of the cold both of these boys had, or just from exhaustion.

One thing I did get to experience though was a chance to get to JoAnn’s WITHOUT my son in tow. The store opens and hour and a half before I have to pick him up from preschool, so it is the perfect opportunity to go get the few things I need without a toddler trying to pick every notion off the wall, or screaming in protest during a fabric cut. And lord knows, I love nothing more than having little old ladies giving me “that look” when Ben is acting up. Don’t get me wrong, I find his high pitched scream as annoying—maybe more—than the next person, and if I had a magic wand, I would tell my child to please be quiet, and he would sit contentedly in the cart, daydreaming about butterflies and unicorns while I had yards and yards of calico cut to my convenience. But I choose NOT to dose him with Benadryl or beat him, so they will have to look on with their tsking glances and “when I was a mom” phraseology. Besides, it gives them something to gossip about with the other hags while sipping “Constant Comment” at the quilting circle.

I also took a moment this week to embroider a t-shirt for my son for St Patrick’s day. Seeing as he is in fact Irish (I am not) AND has a crafty mother, it seemed only appropriate that he have a fancy-schmancy shirt with awesome green embroidery on it to celebrate the 10% of Irish blood he may possess. (and yes, to show off my skills to his teacher and aides. I’ll admit—I’m a praise whore.There. I’ve said it. Look—A business like mine works word of mouth. If I get a couple of really chatty ladies to admire my work,AND my son looks cool in the process, well, that’s my advertising for the month…)The design I chose was pretty fly—a plaid shamrock (yes, that picture there--awesome right?). It was indeed sweet, but took FOREVER to stitch out. So while I was overseeing that, I took the opportunity to measure Gladys. That’s the name of my first dressform. I bought her when I was making my wedding dress. At that point in my sewing career I knew I needed to step it up. So I bought her online, making sure she could adjust to my measurements and brought her into my sewing room. And while she may not be top of the line, she has been one of the most important additions to my sewing arsenal.Without her, my wedding dress might have looked quite different. I used her to apply lace (a first for me) to the bodice, to test various trims at the waist, and to bustle it. I also believe my mother used her to help with the hem.

I haven’t used her in a while because my measurements and hers haven’t matched up. She is more…graduated... in the bust, and…well…I’m not. When I adjust her bust measurement, her back and ribcage measurement are much larger than mine. Most of us don’t graduate up to our busts—we have a ribcage that graduates up a tad, and then BOOBS. Ok, I guess an A cup will graduate a bit, but I don’t concern myself with their figure. Sizist, I know, but they get the option of going out in public WITHOUT a bra, wearing spaghetti straps without looking ridiculous, and the lions share of fancy-schmancy bras that push and pull and look awesome. Those of us in the…well…let’s just say heavily endowed arena do not get those options, and subsequently are not served well by this dress form (at least for fitted garments). So I’ve only really used her as a “holder” for items I’m making, since fitting doesn’t always work anymore.

But as I move forward in my pattern-making project, I’ve decided to bring her back into my arsenal. Sure, I’ve got a smaller, more high-end dressform now, that would prolly be easier to use, but it is a smaller and I just can’t bring myself to practice on a size 3. I bought the smaller one when I had to make a dress for a slimmer friend, (and got a fantastic deal on it with a 50% off coupon at JoAnns—seriously, pay attention to those coupons!) but haven’t used her since. I haven’t even named the smaller one. She’s below my radar. But Gladys has always been there, holding my aprons, or (sorry guys) to hang the bowling shirts I make to set the hem. And since I am committed to making clothes for the “real woman” it makes sense to use her as my fitting model when I am not fitting myself.

So I brought out the tape measure and jotted down her torso and hip measurements. I’ll only be able to use her for bodice, skirt and sleeveless dress applications since she has no arms, but she should be easier to fit than a fidgety friend for now. Better to learn to fit one symmetrical form before I move on to sloped shoulders or misaligned hips.

On another note—the root canal is not yet finished. Turns out there will be a third installment.Yay.

Lessons learned this week:

  • Children in school will bring home germs. Period
  • Again—fabric shopping without my progeny is efficient and wonderful
  • Schools are the perfect for free advertising, and my son is a beautiful model
  • Boobs present a fitting problem/learning experience
  • Old friends are best.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This was a big week. The little man started pre-school and I had a root canal. Craft/Sewing-wise, nothing really got done this week. But I did get to do some fabric shopping with a friend and picked up a few interesting books at the library.

Since I live in Los Angeles, I am not limited to the local JoAnn’s or Hancock fabrics—even though I feel like I give a donation to Our Lady of Quilting Cottons on a regular basis. I am luckily 20 minutes (if there’s no traffic on the 101 –riiiiiiight) from the Los Angeles Garment district. Not only can I buy a knock-off coach bag and ten skirts for under $50, but some fantastic fabric shops abide in that area. If you are brave enough to skirt past the people hawking corn and porkskins from carts and the inevitable “downtown smells”, then you can enter fabric paradise. I would imagine the only place better would be in New York…

As I often head downtown on a particular mission, I usually head to Michael Levine. They pretty much have everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. I haven’t yet found Mood Fabric, but I’m sure its comparable. Michael Levine has one store of fashion fabric, one store of decorator fabric, and my favorite—the Loft. The loft is where they dump their ends, seasonals and downright unpopulars in big boxes and you have to just brave it and dive in like a trash picker. Fabric over in the loft is sold by the pound, and if you are diligent, you can find some pretty fantastic stuff over there—especially knits. There are a number of my Loft finds in my fabric stash, just waiting for me to create some sort of magic.

This week, since I was bringing a friend/client—we headed to the fashion fabric store. Since I am making gifts for her, I cannot divulge the nature of our trip, only that the perfect colors needed to be found. (and were!) I was cool experiencing the store through new eyes—the absolute sensory overload of color & texture. As a child often dragged to fabric stores, they don’t overload me anymore, so it’s nice to be reminded of how much a fabric store can awe someone.

I should say this was also the first time I brought my little man downtown. He loooooved the elevator (urine smell and all) but was absolutely not interested in the fabric store. I think at one point we stopped and looked at some fish on fabric—a brief interlude—before he threw himself on the floor to lay there—mid traffic pattern—and sing his song. At least he wasn’t screaming—and I was able to get some fabric for a project as well.

The root canal was unplanned. And frankly, not as bad as I expected. The actualy procedure was just long and boring. 6 shots of novocaine—the only the first two hurt. It was the post-procedure that blew. You know it’s gonna be tough when the dentist prescribe Vicodin and gives you that “look”, as if to say—“sorry, but the rest of your week is shot to hell.” It hasn’t been horrible (well, the vicodin made that happen) but it hasn’t been fun either. I’ve been in that state where, I’m in enough pain to take a pill, but once I do, I can’t get anything done. Yesterday, I survived on Advil and was able to get a little crafting done with a good friend, so I’m beginning to get a grip on things. But unfortunately, my dentist isn’t done—she still has to finish the other root—so I get to go through this again in another week. At least this time I know what to expect, and will have enough “soft food” in the house to keep me going.

As far as library books, I was able to pick up Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones, missing the patterns (lame). It had some interesting ideas, especially for the diaper bags. I am so inspired by her fabrics--rich colors and textiles and a lack of fear to mix those fabulous patterns. This is my deepest challenge--mixing patterned fabric...

I picked up a few other books with simple patterns and ideas--i don't pick them up for the patterns as much as for inspiration. I also got a costuming book, which set me into fits of delight, imagining creating corsets and full skirts, and Elizabethan doublets...I think i was meant to be a costumer...

Imma try to get a grip this week. I need to finish a little dress I’ve been sitting on, I’ve got a bag order I need to start, this “gift” order that needs another consult before I start, and I need to do some re-measuring and pattern drafting to regain momentum on my fashion design project. I’m still getting used to Ben’s schedule, so I may actually be able to start using that time this week. And I need to get this all done BEFORE root canal part Deux next Monday.

And by the way, I hate the time change.

Lessons learned this week:

  • Don’t take fabric stores for granted—it is like a candy store!
  • Don’t force your son to go with you to said candy store—he just sees bolts of fabric
  • Root canals aren’t as horrible as you would imagine. But they can be.
  • Time management is key!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pinch Hitter

So, I was working out a fitting problem with my sloper while my mother was here, and I began to have this feeling I had early on in this project—this book (Armstrong) isn’t always the most…clear. It IS a textbook, and no doubt is meant to be used in conjunction with a classroom teacher, but there’s still just something missing. Well, first off, all the measurements are based on a dressform and not a real person, with no instructions for measuring a real person—which is just fine for a student I suppose, but not very effective for real-world application. The instructions for taking those measurements aren’t always clear either. And the size charts listed in the book are…well…not “plus size” friendly. This burns me a little—no, A LOT. I really detest the sizeism that exists in the fashion world, and the relegating of size 12 and above into the backseat. “Here are the fashions for this spring, maybe they’ll look good on your fat ass. Not my problem” (yeah, I’m talking to you Karl Lagerfeld) You never see an candidate on project runway designing for plus girls, do ya? And before anyone decides to get up on me about health and etc—I’m not talking about size 20, or morbidly obese women—hell, I’m not even talking about “obese” women. I’m talking SIZE 12—the size I was in high school and after, when the comments about my body were definitely NOT in the negative…)

I really have no desire to create a size 3 garment. Ever. Unless it is a 3T garment. Or I have a skinny friend.

And I’m not trying to say that Armstrong is sizist—I mean I KNOW this is a text book for young fashion students. I just find it disappointing that it is in no way connected with the real world.

Back to m fitting problem…there was a gap in the armscye, (that’s a fancy word for armhole for the rest of the world)both front and back. Front was easy—just add a dart. But the back involved opening the seam, moving fabric down, and other mysterious activites that didn’t fix the problem. We just kept trying to fix it and the book just had some strange diagrams and extremely vague instructions. In the end, we kinda took a wild stab at it and hoped it worked. I’m still not convinced it solved the problem…

There was also an issue when I was drafting the sleeve pattern. There was no explanation of where the arm cap measurement was—just some chart to follow (A chart I might mention that I was not on size-wise, so even more guessing) and the measurement for the armscye circumference and its corresponding sleeve measurement wouldn’t match unless I took 2 inches off my bicep. All I kept thinking was, this CAN’T be right.

I should mention my innate fear of sleeves. They still trip me up. Especially the set-in eased sleeve that is a part of most women’s garments.

For those of you who don’t sew, a brief primer: when a garment is made, you usually put the bodice (front and back) together first leaving a hole for the arm. Then you sew the sleeve together so that it is a tube with one curved/funky end. Then you “ease” the top of that sleeve a little—which are just little gathers to make the sleeve fit around your shoulder and allow movement. Then you match up that tube with the armhole, and after some fussing and sometimes cursing, you pin the two and sew them together. If you do it right, you can’t even see the gathers and you have the whole range of movement with the sleeve. If not…well, you rip it out and do it again. It has been said that the ease of a sleeve is the most difficult sewing you ever have to do—and I agree.

This fear I have of sleeves comes not only from my own lessons from my umpteen years of sewing, but from a job I had last year. The big job—the mu’u mu’u job. Yeah—those sleeves were just CRAP. I was working off a pattern drafting program that I no longer use, because it is crap, and the sleeves were just horrid. No movement, horrible ease, bad, bad, bad—and no doubt one of the many reasons I was not asked back to that particular Halau for another job. So, as you can see, sleeves just make me nervous.

So when I found this fitting problem in my own sloper, I was not happy with just guessing and hoping it was right. If someone puts on a garment and cannot move their arms naturally, you lose business. Period. I have thrown out more than one commercial pattern that was just a poor draft for the sleeve and armscye. I want answers on how to fit this properly—not vague diagrams. Remember—this set of patterns isn’t for the clothes one wears—they are the base for those clothes. You make these right, and the fit of the fashion garment will need little to no alteration.

So…for the time being, I am going to stray from Armstrong and move over to Don McCunn for the sloper production. a) he is measuring real people (and shows you tricks to measure yourself in tricky places—like that center back seam…) and b) he has videos. I am already a member of his Yahoo group (How-to-Make-Sewing-Patterns-subscribe@yahoogroups.com) and frankly find his methods clear and concise. I’ve checked out his book previously, and just ordered my own copy for a reference tool. I’m not too keen on his design asthetic(hello, the 80’s called), but his sloper instruction is the best I’ve come across. So, for now, while I am making these slopers, I’m gonna follow hi method, and once I’ve got a sloper with which I am comfortable and UNDERSTAND then I will turn back to the Armstrong to begin the design aspect of my learning.

Now, this is not to say the Armstrong is bad—the new edition might even address those things with which I take issue. But since I have no desire to fork out $150 for a new book, I’m gonna work out what I can.

When I was trying to explain this to my husband, he made a simple statement: that book was probably written by a seamstress. And while she was no doubt a good seamstress, she isn’t the best writer and or teacher. I know there are others who would VEHEMENTLY disagree with that statement, but I don’t. I have no doubt the author knows her stuff—she just doesn’t know how to explain it very well.

Lessons learned this week:

  • Fashion hates real women
  • Sleeves are not to be trifled with
  • Sometimes you just gotta watch someone do it to understand how
  • I’m not gonna make friends in the fashion world

Sunday, March 7, 2010

crafting ADD

well, i had a huge crafting weekend, but still haven't touched the Armstrong. In my defense however, i did finish the sleeve draft last weekend and am now waiting to measure my dressform for easier drafting/fitting issues down the road. Besides, i am happy to report that i am losing some weight, and some of the measurements i have are changing... :)

This weekend my mother came up to help me with some organizational issues. (and honey, trust me, i have issues) My latest goal is a business goal, and therefore trumps all personal goals at present. Turns out I have a large stash of material. Last year i bough another garment rack, and put all my material on hangers so that i have easy access to it, physically and visually. But I'm still not using it as I would like--i still keep buying material for projects instead of utilizing my stash. A few projects ago, i had to get some fabric that i knew didn't exist in my stash for a project. and since my customer was not local, i had to email her my choices--enter the scanner. a great way to get a pic of my fabric and voila! it's stored in my computer. hmmmmmm

If all my material were scanned and labeled, I could peruse my "catalog" (i had previously done something similar with all my commercial patterns) to see if i had the appropriate material, and enough for the job...I could put pics up on my business page and Etsy if i was offering a particular style. I could discuss fabric choices with clients even if I'm not in my studio...my brain began to explode.

So I waited for a visit from my mother to start this project. I'll be honest, I thought it would be a walk in the park--a couple hours of measuring and scanning. WRONG. oh we spent a couple hours--and we're maybe halfway done. I'm really glad she came up to help with this, or i would be further behind at this point.

(I should also mention here that we also took the opportunity to head out to Pomona for the sew/quilt/craft show, where i bought even more material... and also made the keen observation that quilting folk are...well...rude. I got poked and shoved more times at that show than i ever did at CHA--and this show wasn't even half as big)

It's also fun to take this visual trip through memory lane. Some fabrics I bought with a purpose--a shirt for Pete, jammies for Ben, and i was reminded of the level of sewing I used to employ for my own family. Some fo the fabrics were finds from the local Michael Levine loft--the warehouse where they send all their ends and unpopular fabrics that you have to sort through like a trash picker that they sell by the pound. If you are diligent, there are some incredible finds in that loft. I saw the funky challis print i found (brown, green & yellow wildness) that will make the perfect long sundress once i remember what it is to sew for myself! (gasp!) And of course, some of the material were large remnant peices from other projects--primarily my wedding gown. My mother and I, who put that gown together--with some cutting assistance from my BFF--were reminded of the process, the hunt for the right material--the heavy oyster colored satin--and the embroidered lace that we labored over--it was so expensive, but was sooooooooo perfect against the satin. There was a great deal of hemming and hawing that day, but in the end (with the assistance of my grandmother's spirit, according to my mother) the lace was purchased (too much i might add--now i have over a yard leftover!) and the perfect combination was created. Good memories. I'll admit, i was never 100% in love with the dress, but it was a thing of beauty!

So, now i have this pile of material, and a whole other garment rack of material, that i have to scan and label--but this time on my own. *sigh* But i do have another boon this week. My little man starts pre-school this week--just 2.5 hours a day/4 days a week--but that's 10 extra hours for studio time that i didn't have last week.

But trust me, I'm sure i'll figure out some way to avoid getting in there and getting this job done this week. Have i mentioned the root canal on Wednesday? One day gone...

Lessons learned this week:

If it's good for business, do it! *within reason*
Organization is fun, but time consuming
I have way too much fabric
My mother and i made an awesome wedding dress
root canals suck


Saturday, February 27, 2010

well, I did make the pattern...

Well, that sleeve pattern is still eluding me. But in my defense, have you seen this?


It's been a bit of an obsession this week. a) i wanted to get it done since my friend has been waiting for this and b) i wanted this *#@&))!* fur out of my studio. You know, two years ago i made a monkey costume for my son that was a similar fabric, and i vowed on all that was holy (that being kahlua and girl scout Thin Mints) that i would NEVER, EVER, NEVER, NOT IF THE DALAI LAMA ASKED ME DIRECTLY, work with this material again!

And then there it was. While searching for the right fabric, and failing, it gleamed and beckoned, like Excalibur being held by the Lady of the Lake. Ok, so strange women, lying in ponds distributing fabric is no system for baby blanket creation. But still, look at it! I mean, how perfect is perfect? (and it was on sale!)

This piece was work, don't doubt me on that. I used the Sew Baby pattern for Towel cover-ups, modifying the bear pattern. modifying...let me think...let's change that to completely altering and then creating from scratch. Ok, i used the eyes. And the method for attaching the hood. But the rest of it is mine all mine.

First was the fact that i was not using towels and washcloths as the pattern indicates. I had to create my own with the fur and flannel. I tried first, like a n00b to just sew the fur & flannel right sides together and then turn. WRONG. I must mention here that not only does this fur deposit little fuzzies EVERYWHERE, but it's a stretchy material with a heavy nap that will shift and stretch. That first piece sewn together and turned looked like a jr. high home ec. project. So i had to come at this different.

I cut a piece of flannel the size i wanted for the "towel" and then turned in and pressed the edges as if i were going to hem it. Then i cut a similar sized piece of the fur and laid in on top--wrong side to wrong side. Then i carefully turned the edge in and pinned it to the flannel. Little by little until it was all pinned and turned in. Then i brought it over to my economy model machine and sewed a straight line--slowly and methodically. Luckily the nap of the fur pretty much hid the seam.

I should mention here that i chose to use my economy machine because my machine that also does embroidery was otherwise occupied. I did try to bring in this machine later for the embroidery on the face but had to go back to the economy machine because my fancy schmancy machine couldn't handle the materials...friggin machines!

Anyway, as far as the hood goes, I tried to use the bear pattern and "modify" it to make it like a lion, but in the end, it looked like a rabbit. The cheeks were too big and round. So i have to look at some lions and figure out the whole snout/nose/cheeks layout. Once that happened though, it came together fairly easily. I did use the eyes for the pattern, and just made the ears smaller.

the mane. I tried three or four different methods until i realized that i would have to do this by hand. I need to mention here, i hate hand sewing. If there is a way to do it with my machine, i will find a way. I always feel like hand sewn stuff looks sloppy--probably because my hand-sewing is sloppy. But i sat down with the hood over my knee and wound the rayon ribbon back and forth, tacking it down on each turn. Then i covered that with some ric-rac to cover my ugly hand stitches.

Once that hood was done--which is what took up most of my week, the rest came together fairly easily.





This was definitely a challenging project. But it was good for my creativity. It forced me out of my box a little, and challenged my patience. But it was also good for me to get into my studio this week and quit wallowing in my own issues. I had just been discussing with a friend yesterday that it was a good thing i was a musician through high school because it served as an outlet for my anger/frustration/confusion/ISSUES. With all that is going on with Ben and the school district, i needed this project to force me to get back to work and get back to life.

Lessons learned this week:

  • I need to embrace my Monty Python sensibilities.
  • I never want to work with this material AGAIN.
  • Simpler sewing machines will always get the job done.
  • Creative outlets are more than just a hobby--they can be therapy as well.
  • I need to charge an exorbitant amount for this next time, so no one will want it...
  • I NEVER WANT TO WORK WITH THIS MATERIAL AGAIN.