Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Year In Review! Also, Music!

Never let it be said that I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon. Actually, I’m so late in picking up trends I tend to jump after the wagon has already left the yard. Whatever, everybody is doing a year-end wrap-up and so am I. More accurately, it’s an April-to-December wrap-up since that’s how long this blog has been in existence. Whoa. I had no idea what I was starting here.

On the sewing front, I made almost 35 garments. I haven’t quite finished this one:

Pirate dress!

A hem and a zipper are needed still; hopefully I’ll get it done over the weekend.

Out of the other garments, I had 5 that didn’t work out — and I blogged about them anyway because who wants to hear about some perfect person who never makes mistakes? BOR-ING. On the flip side, I had quite a few items that became regulars in my closet. My favorite makes this year were:

Black shorts

Back in Black skirt

Vippy Bunny shirt

Army skirt

Skull purse/backpack

Goth fly-front skirt

I’m quite proud that I mostly accomplished my goals of sewing at least one new thing per week, learning to work with knits, perfecting fly fronts and waistbands, and working through some of my fitting issues.

I also posted 29 music videos, covering everything from rock to pop to folk and managing to squeeze in some Animaniacs and classical along the way. On Sci Fi Sunday (and occasionally, Monday) I reviewed 22 books, 1 movie and 12 TV shows — as well as recommending a few other TV shows in the Eye Candy and Girls, Girls, Girls posts. So I guess we know I watch way too much TV.

I wrote posts about running, dental work, and cleaning things. I terrorized an old lady for a sweater, explored the upper limits of fatigue, categorized the ways my cat wakes me up, and explained Alice Cooper. I listed the top ten things I’ve learned about the future from watching Star Trek, as well as pondering Playgirl, Storage Wars and the expression, “colder than a witch’s tit.”  I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve made some truly awesome friends. Thanks for coming with me on this journey, guys. I think of you everyday and none of this would be the same without you. I’ll be adding some of you newer commentators to the blogroll this weekend!

Since it’s Friday and I’ve had this song stuck in my head for the past two days, let me infect you with this:

How much do I love her hair and makeup? SO MUCH.

Here She Is…Dum Da Dum

It should be obvious, I have no idea how the Miss America song goes. Feel free to hum in the comments, if you’re so inclined! Never mind, here’s the proud owner of that pressure foot knob:

Brother Pacesetter 2340CV Cover Hem Stitch Machine

This was my big gift for Christmas, the only thing I asked for (with pictures)! I was still pretty shocked to get it, given the price. It does professional hems, chain hems and those fancy serged seams on casual knits. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to get it set up yet, given that the youngsters have been home and underfoot all week. People who calculate the cost of Christmas always forget to include entertaining in their equations.

Total cost of taking three people to the movies: $55

Total cost of taking four people ice skating with friends: $44

Total cost of all the resulting memories: priceless.

Now I have to go flop my middle-aged carcass into bed because ice skating for two hours is a SERIOUS WORKOUT, peeps. I feel like I’ve been beaten with bamboo by a particularly cranky Russian masseuse.

Christmas Was Extra Ridiculous This Year

At least, at my house….

First off, proof that Mrs. Claus needs to pay a little more attention while buying stocking stuffers:

I want my kids to have comprehensive sex ed, but this? Is absurd.

Of course, I choked on my eggnog laughing — then stuffed it in the stocking anyway. What the hey, it isn’t Christmas without at least one awkward moment.

You know those cheap executive desk toys? They make awesome gifts for teenagers.

I'm pretty sure this is the best entertainment you can get anywhere for $10.

The survival techniques book was a gift from my mom. For Oldest, because he does a lot of camping and outdoor stuff — I don’t think it’s a commentary on our parenting.

Finally, Santa was VERY good to me this year — but I’m gonna write a longer post about that so you just get a few tidbits to whet your appetite:

What I'm working on right now.

And something special:

Points if you can guess what this is from the picture!

More to come soon….

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Here’s wishing you and yours a very merry holiday season! Whatever you celebrate, may you do it in the warm glow of family and friends. Whatever your burdens, may they be lightened and whatever your joys, may they be increased tenfold.

The blog will be on hold until Monday. And in case you think I’ve become irredeemably sappy:

This is how we do gingerbread in our house. Rudolph + hunting bow = macabre reindeer.

Colder Than A Witch’s….

Tit. Of course. Happy Solstice! It’s the shortest, darkest day of the year. It was so cold this morning, when I went out for my jog, my legs turned blue and red under my running tights (quite patriotic, depending on your country).

I never really understood the witch’s tit thing, though. Seriously, who goes around feeling up witches? Is there a spreadsheet somewhere that indicates a median temperature for a witch’s tit? Whose job was it to gather that information and isn’t that a good way to get hexed — assuming there IS a good way to get hexed? So many questions…

Thanks to the weather, I’m in the mood for layers, so I dashed off a quick test of McCall’s 6360. Here is the pattern:

I made View C, in the upper right corner.

I usually measure as a 14 but cut a 12; this time around I was using a stretch woven so I cut a 14. I also added 7/8″ to the back crotch seam, to allow for my derriere. The pants came out pretty comfortable, but if I needed evidence that I have big calves, I got it. It’s a bit tight at the bottom hem (might loosen up with wash and wear, though). The hem comes down a little further than just below the knee, but I have short thighs so that’s probably to be expected. I took a picture on the hanger because the Hubs is out late and my curves do not *ahem* look like the model’s. The picture looks dumb.

Stretch pants, looking dumb on a hanger.

The fabric is some truly horrific substance that I picked up not once but TWICE on a trip to the Fabric District. It’s a stretch woven, with a lot of stretch and some sheen? It reminds me a bit of ponte roma and a bit of stretch gabardine, doesn’t press worth a crap and slides around a bit. I think this fabric is where bad petroleum is sent to die. It does make for pretty comfy stretch pants, though. I’ll probably wear them with a long sweater, or under a dress.

I have bought the roast beast (I feel like I should say, “killed” but all I did was jump in the car and drive to Albertsons). So far we are having either white/wild rice or mashed potatoes and brown sugar carrots or green beans amandine. For dessert, gingerbread or cheesecake. I’m nothing if not decisive. Tomorrow, I’ll make more sugar cookies since we seem to be running short. I have some black and red decors left over from Halloween so I’m thinking bloody trees and macabre candy canes. Tis the season!

Blonde Ambition

Over the weekend, I decided to make like Madonna on a farewell tour and dye my hair blonde. Really, really blonde. It’s dried my hair out and made it sort of fluffy actually, not so much Madonna but more Debbie Harry.

Oldest took this picture. He enjoys the photographer role as much as the Hubs, can't you tell?

I think I like it. I’m not much of a blonde personality, so I’m looking forward to the dark roots coming in. I might even put in streaks after Christmas. Hmm….purple, pink or blue?

The skirt is a tried-n-true pattern for me, Simplicity 4963. I have a reissue of it that marks it as Simplicity 0699, but the pattern tissue says 4963. I made it earlier this year but have not worn it on the blog yet. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll recognize this fabric as the twill I used for New Look 6083. I got a lot of mileage out of two yards.

This is one of the best pleated skirt patterns I have found, and the length is a reasonable 16″.

I made the view on the bottom right, minus the buttons. It has a pleated front and straight a-line back.

This is one of my go-to goth patterns — you can easily add buckles, D-rings, belt loops or what have you.

I haven’t gotten any actual sewing done due to the holidays. I haven’t gotten anything done. In fact, I’ve been trying to come up with a Christmas menu for two days. Anybody know which side dishes go best with roast beast?

Sci Fi Sunday — Oops, Monday. Again.

Owing to our annual holiday cookie party, I managed not to get this post up (or indeed, anything done) yesterday. Our last set of guests left after 9 pm. Whew! On to the review:

Currently reading:

Cherie Priest’s steampunk novel, Boneshaker. Steampunk stories tend to have a lot of similar, recognizable elements: airships, zombies (why so many zombies?), dashing men and gorgeous women in goggles, ridiculous numbers of landed gentry — aka, the “Everybody’s a Duke” problem — and recognizable famous settings like New York, London or Paris. Boneshaker is different. For starters, it takes place in Seattle and although Priest admits in the book’s postscript to taking liberties with the history of Seattle, it’s an interesting look at the background of the people who settled the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s. Priest doesn’t shy away from addressing the issue of racism as it relates to the Chinese who were brought over to work on the railroad or the American Indians who were displaced by Gold Rushers and other settlers. In fact, that may be one of the most distinctive features about Boneshaker — nobody in it is wealthy or important. The two main characters are Briar Wilkes and her son Zeke, a 35-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy. Wilkes is important only because her late husband was the person who created the Boneshaker machine, which destroyed part of Seattle and caused the fog which has sickened many of the inhabitants and turned them into packs of roving zombies (yeah, you’re getting zombies here too). When Zeke takes off into the heart of the ruined city to find the truth about his father, Briar goes in to rescue her son and meets the people who’ve chosen to eke out a desperate existence among the poisonous fog. Most steampunk novels have a secondary plot that involves romance or mystery, but Boneshaker is steampunk as thriller. From the pacing to the characters to the intense plot twists, this book has more in common with a spy novel or Grisham’s The Firm than a historical romance. The world Priest has created stays with you; she revisits it via different characters in Dreadnought and Ganymede, which I am also eager to read.

Allow Me to Completely Scramble Your Nutcracker

I’m currently watching Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker on the Ovation channel (DirectTV) and OH MY GAWD. Everybody knows the Nutcracker, right? Clara, the Nutcracker, the Prince, Herr Drosselmeyer, et cetera? It was such a big part of my childhood that for years, I named all of my Christmas gift dolls Clara (I used middle names to tell them apart. I was a strange child. Not the point, back to the point). This is…not THAT Nutcracker. Picture the love child of Lemony Snicket and Willy Wonka. Now picture it as a ballet. Now picture it even better than that.

Just WATCH — the video is long but worth it! This is the opening and I think, the entire first scene:

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas….

I sent my kid to school with:

Two yards of fabric cut in 8″ x 2″ rectangles with pinking shears, one wire hanger, two tubs of white frosting, one bag of mini marshmallows, one ornament for the gift exchange, four book orders, $20 for the teacher’s gift, and a gift card for Adopt-a-Family.

That’s not including the two gag gifts, one donation to Toys-for-Tots, and two packages of treats sent earlier in the week.

Dear Teachers: We get it. We even appreciate that you want our children to have a lovely holiday. NOW PLEASE STOP. Kaithanxbai, The Parents.

She Blinded Me With Sweats

For some reason, I seem to have acquired a lot of foil-stamped French terry. I don’t really know why I allow this fabric to follow me home. It’s not like I buy a lot of ghetto fantastic things in ready-to-wear. I mean, French terry is not goth. It is not punk. It is certainly not (insert hysterical laughter here) industrial. The only fashion niche it fills is the one called “Jersey Shore,” which most of us are usually trying to avoid.

Be that as it may, I decided to test Burda 8042 in a particularly painful black print. Here is the pattern:

Burda 8042. I made View A, on the left.

And the eye-searing result:

It doesn't look half bad on my dress form.

Trust me, the low light in that corner is hiding the brilliance that comes out when the foil print flashes. It’s…stunning. I mean that literally, I might stun someone if I wore this outside.

A couple of notes about the pattern:

1) I measure as a 12 but after comparing this to my favorite t-shirt pattern, I cut a 14. I’m really glad I did, as French terry does not have a lot of give and this hoodie is slim-fitting.

2) The bottom hem is supposed to be two inches deep. I changed it to a scant 5/8″ to get a better fit (no surprise on my long torso), but that was also the only way I could get the 20″ zipper to fit on this hoodie. So if you sewed the hem as recommended, the zipper would be too long. The buckling and bad position of the zip is entirely my fault, not that of the pattern. When I make this again, I’ll lengthen the body to allow for both a better fit and a deeper hem.

This is a pretty comfortable hoodie, and even with it’s blinding properties I might wear it out and about. In case you’re wondering what the print looks like close up:

Mini silver foil crowns on black

I promise to draw the line at Bump-its and orangey fake tan.