Monthly Archives: August 2011

Alice Cooper 101 and Other Things You Should Know

Lately, I’ve been hanging around Noa of Oh, Noa fame and we discovered there is a serious dearth of Alice Cooper information out there.  As in, we both had the experience of making a reference to Alice Cooper, and the person we were speaking to assumed A.C. was a girl.

Hmm.  This does not bode well for the future of humanity.

So, a quick Alice Cooper primer:

1. Alice Cooper is not a girl.

2. He is a shock metal rocker who started out as a band in the 70s, went solo in ’75 and has pretty much performed and recorded incessantly since then. He’s known as the person who brought horror imagery to rock music (bet you thought it was Ozzy Osbourne — nope).  Without his influence, there would be no Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, or the Sex Pistols.  The original Alice Cooper band was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

3. Best known songs are I’m Eighteen (from the original Alice Cooper band) and School’s Out.

4. He’s had a small film career, including a number of cameos in horror movies and an appearance as himself in Wayne’s World. He has also DJ’d for a popular classic rock station.

There ya go. Now when old farts such as myself refer to Alice Cooper, you can contribute to the conversation. Don’t all fall over yourselves thanking me now, it’s a pleasure to help you out.

Other things you should know:

1) There is a Michael Kors look-alike who works out next to me at the gym. When we’re both on the treadmill, I like to picture him berating me the way he does the designers on Project Runway. “I’ve seen mannequins that work harder….is that your best effort?…..pathetic, just pathetic….I’m appalled, I really am.” I have no idea why this amuses me so much.

2) Actually, that’s it. I need to go to bed.

Nighty-night chickadees!  Remember Alice Cooper!

New Look 6859 — Assembly Line Sewing

My pajama bottom situation has reached critical mass.  I wear pjs a LOT around the house, so I always need at least 3-4 pairs but buying them is an exercise in frustration.  I’m in between a medium and a large in most brands, medium being too small and large being big enough to fall off.  The obvious solution was New Look 6859, which I selected mostly on the basis of the male model looking like an evil Michael Shanks.

See what I mean?

Just for a bit of comparison, here’s the real Michael Shanks:

ANYWAY.  There’s something very wrong going on in that model’s head, but I’m not going to dwell.  I decided to make View D, the shorts, in a medium.  They came out adorable.

I made my own bias tape from complementary fabric, and matching ties.

Also, they are quite large.  The amount of ease in these things is RIDICULOUS.  I like baggy as far as pajamas go, so that isn’t a major problem but I decided to make two more pairs in a small (the pattern sheets go XS-M-XL and S-L so I could cut out both sizes with no problem).  Here’s how far I got today:

Still need binding and waist ties.

I actually kind of wish the Small was a bit wider — just a tiny bit — so maybe I’ll end up morphing the two sizes eventually.

Oh well.  At least I got to look at almost-Michael Shanks for most of the afternoon.

Sci Fi Sunday

You won’t usually find me promoting a book I got for free on the Kindle. Primarily because most things are worth what you pay for them. However, I’m gonna make an exception in this case:

Product Details

Moon Dance by J.R. Rain is far better than its humble price would suggest. Yes, the vampire-as-protagonist trope is getting old — really, really old. But Moon Dance attracted me for one main reason — the main character is a happily married mother of two who is attacked, becomes a vampire, and has to deal with the crumbling of her fantasy life. It was refreshing to read a depiction of vampires that didn’t suggest that being bitten by one is the fast track to a long and happy afterlife. In fact, Samantha Moon has to deal with some very practical and serious problems — how do you pick up your kids from school when you’re allergic to sunlight, for instance? How to deal with a spouse who is creeped out by your deadly cold body? How to hide your condition from a world that still doesn’t recognize vampirism? All these strong ties to reality make Moon Dance and its sequels a worthy addition to the vampire canon.

In other news, I just discovered I’ve been wearing my underpants inside out for the second time in two days.  I’m not sure what this signifies, aside from I should probably stop getting dressed in the dark…..


Summer Playlist — Hurricane Season

Every year, there’s a point where summer becomes oppressive.  The heat index spirals up, tempers fray and the air conditioning stops working.  Often, this coincides with the start of hurricane season.  No profound insights here, just positive thoughts for those who are hunkering down for Irene on the East Coast, and driving beats for the rest of us who are stuck in the doldrums.

Simplicity 2364 — The Little Top That Could

I finished something! Even more impressive, this is my first successful top in a knit fabric. Oh, I’ve sewn with knits before and I’ve made shirts before, but I always had problems — largely with the neckline. I picked this pattern partly because it doesn’t require you to bind or otherwise finish the neckline.

Headless due to bad hair day. Month. Year, really.

I promise the collar does not normally look this wonky; the Hubs took this photo and is rubbish at posing.  This was a very, very easy pattern to complete — I did view B and it came out looking pretty much like the pattern cover:

Misses' Knit Tops  The only problem I ran into was that the sleeves are drafted with WAY too much cap room. They want you to ease the sleeves (on a knit? hah) but even with gathers, there is too much ease. I got exasperated and just sewed over the gathers to make a puff at the sleeve top. It worked fine, but I think next time I’ll redraw the sleeves to take out part of the sleeve cap. Also, this material? Is ridiculously stretchy and limp. Suggesting this fabric has no body is like saying Tiger Woods has a slight problem with fidelity. I sewed the whole shirt on my machine with a stretch stitch because I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much time wrestling with my serger. I buy most of my fabric from little holes in the wall that specialize in mill ends, so I like to try to picture the garments that would have been made with it originally. The only thing I can come up with here is leggings? Or maybe underpants? Anyway, it worked ok for this shirt but something a bit less droopy would have been even better. I’m definitely making this pattern again as soon as I pick up some appropriate knit.

They’re BAAAACK…….

Ok, it’s just me that’s back, but I really wanted to use this picture.  Hah.  I’m on an interim laptop until I can get a new hard drive for my old one — not the perfect scenario, but it beats being without a computer.

We don’t have poltergeists here — at least, I assume we don’t, as nothing has levitated yet — but we’re definitely in the dog days of summer.  These are the times that try moms’ souls.  The kids have been camped, enriched and entertained within an inch of their lives.  School doesn’t start for another two weeks.  Even TV is getting boring.  And it’s just way too hot.

Also, I have sewist’s block.

What to make next?

Misses' Knit Tops

I like this pattern and I have the materials to make View B with the short sleeves.


McCall 6410.  I especially like the backpack.

Or I could start my fall sewing — denim and camo bottoms.  That’s kind of where I’m leaning at the moment.  It’s just….I did mention the heat, right?  I enjoy hot and heavy but not in my sewing.

Tomorrow, we set off to finish (well, mostly) back-to-school shopping.  Oldest has outgrown absolutely everything he owns and will be naked in short order.  I’d try sewing for him, but I’m pretty sure he’s growing faster than I can complete anything.

Excuse me while I go stick my entire upper torso out of the window and see if I can catch a stray breeze.


Sorry peeps, I’m having computer issues.  Hope to be back online shortly.

Back in Black

Actual conversation in my house this evening:

Me:  I need you to come upstairs to take pictures for my blog.

The Hubs: NAKED?!?

Me: WOULD I post naked pictures on my blog?  You know, never mind, don’t answer that….

Usual bathroom shot, except this time you get to see my head. Poor you.

Finally finished Butterick 6085 and my third version of New Look 6083. I had these red buttons in my stash from back when I made doll clothes and they were a perfect match for this blouse, so I didn’t have to run out and buy anything. Also, I find it really weird when blouse/dress patterns ask for 5/8″ buttons. The industry standard is 3/8″ like the ones I’m sporting here. The blouse pulls a bit, but I’m calling it a good day and looking for a different pattern for next time.

I also realized that while I was not planning to wear these two items together, they actually coordinate wonderfully. Because I had shirting material at hand when I was making the skirt and grabbed it for my pocket lining. Not like anyone can see it, but it’s kind of fun.

Lots of new projects in the pipeline and exciting things afoot! As my 80-year-old grandmother said when I told her that I couldn’t wait to get older so life would slow down, “Shoot, I’m still waiting.”

The Tyranny of Sexy

I’ve had sexy on the brain today.

You see, Peter Lappin posted on his blog about the sad demise of ladies’ hats (go read him at — even if you don’t sew, the discussions on fashion history are always great fun). I wrote a response wherein I suggested that hats went out of style when it became desirable for women to look sexy rather than sophisticated — likely in the youthquake of the late 60s. The thought has stuck with me, not because I wish to wear hats — my tendency to fling myself about makes over-accessorizing a safety risk — but because I suddenly want long hair.

Something like this, only a bit shorter at the ends. I want it to sway in the breeze. I want to forego blow-drying. I want to put it up in a swingy ponytail. Never mind that I have the hair styling ability of a Lego minifig. Never mind that hair past my shoulders gets lank and stringy and tangles quickly. Never mind that I have enough cowlicks to pasture an entire herd.

I want long hair, and I’m not entirely sure why.

I belong to a gym in which I’m often the youngest or second-youngest person in the room (I live in an area with a lot of retirees). I’m the only woman under 65 with hair above her shoulders. Everyone else has long locks, dyed to cover gray. Dry, frizzy, unhealthy hair sometimes — but long and a socially appropriate color, often blond.

At the moment, I have a longish bob which screams “Mom hair!” at me every time I look in the mirror. It’s not that I wish to avoid looking like a Mom — I’d have to stop hanging around with the three people who address me that way, for one thing. Nor do I wish to be desirable to random passing guys — I have trouble fending them off even with Mom hair. It’s more that I don’t look the way I feel in my head. I dyed my hair dark so often that I let my hairdresser put in highlights because my color was starting to look decidedly weird. I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on my hair color, which is a very appropriate caramel brown with blonde highlights. It’s flattering to my skin tone.

I hate it.

My favorite hair was a purple bob I had a couple of years ago (think Hit Girl from Kick-Ass).

The trouble with this look is, purple dye is VERY high maintenance. It tends to dye everything around you. Forget about wearing a white t-shirt. Expect to wake up with a purple pillow. Understand that you’ll have purple on your skin for a few days after a dye session. Your shower will look like you murdered the California Raisins in it. I know I want to go back to purple, yet every time I think about it, I hesitate.

Because there’s a part of me that likes to blend in, sometimes. You can’t blend in with purple hair. Senior citizens and small children will ask questions (usually because they like it, but still). People will give you startled looks. Other responsible adults may be horrified. So, there’s a part of me that’s tempted to keep my current boring color and grow my hair long. To be “sexy” and conventional, even though I know it doesn’t suit me. And even more troubling, I don’t know if this is because there’s a certain way society tells us we should look in order to be attractive as a woman over 30. How do I separate being someone whose preferences change and grow from being someone who buys into social conditioning?

What do you think? Do you ever feel burdened by the obligation to look the way people expect? To be sexy, or to fit in in some other way?

Know Thyself

I still need to put buttonholes and buttons on Butterick 6085.  I had a moment of thinking that it wasn’t worthwhile because of all the fit issues, so I decided to sew a black jean skirt instead.  I used New Look 6083, which is becoming a TNT for me.

I finished the back and front today.

Then I decided to take the blouse off the mannequin and try it on one more time.  Admittedly, you can’t see much due to the flash but here was the result:

Just pretend that flash is me radiating AWESOME.

Seriously, fit issues?  WHAT fit issues?  This was a good lesson in letting a project sit when you’re too exasperated to see it clearly anymore.  Granted, there’s some pulling but I would expect that on a shirt made out of relatively stiff stretch cotton.

I’m making a fist here because I’m trying not to move and expose my chest. Not because of any latent violent tendencies or anything….

Anyhoo, there’s a lot of talk in the blogiverse about fall sewing.  I live in the Southwest, where we have two seasons — rain and road construction.  I’m not big on changing my sewing style come fall because our hot weather actually extends into November.  However, this week has been an object lesson in what I actually wear.  My denim version of New Look 6083, the black McCalls 6328 shorts with pleats, and the New Look 6975 pajama pants all made the cut.  I wear a lot of black, which goes with the subcultural preference.  This is leading me to the conclusion that I need to be doing a lot more sewing with an eye to what’s NOT in my closet.  I’m also considering doing some sewing challenges and/or competitions to push my own boundaries.

Why, yes, I’m competitive.  It comes with the gangsta mojo.