Monthly Archives: January 2012

Who Made ME The Boss Around Here?

The Hubs is on a business trip. I know I spend too much time around schoolchildren because I almost typed “field trip.” But whatever, he’s been away since Sunday and I have been busy Being an Adult.

Funny Take Kids To Work Ecard: Good luck convincing your kids you do anything.

Something happens to me when I’m left on my own. It’s like a voice in my brain that says, “If something goes wrong, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT.” In order to ignore that little voice and not have a complete nervous breakdown, I fall into this manic habit of Doing Stuff. I run errands. I go to the store and the bank. I Clean All The Things. It’s a disease. I even cleaned the gecko cages, filled up the water tanks and bought them fresh crickets. It was probably a monumental day in what I imagine is the gecko religion: “The sun turned off, the heavens opened up and it rained down food! We are truly blessed!” They got luckier than Youngest, who actually DID have a field trip this week for which I forgot to pack him a sack lunch. You can relax — he did have a lunch, just that it wasn’t in a sack. So his teacher put it in a sack for him because I suck at remembering field trip days. I don’t know who these children are and why I’m in charge of them.

Needless to say, there has been no sewing around here. No exercising either — after going to the bank and Cleaning All The Things, I have no willpower or energy left. I’m also supposed to be heading up to Monterey on Thursday to join the Hubs, which is great but it means I need to leave a laundry list of instructions for my mother-in-law. How to pick up the kids from school without getting rammed in the carpool lane. Oh, and the birthday party Middlest has been invited to on Friday? Here are the directions, the time, and the pre-wrapped gift. GAH.

Yes, I know I shouldn’t complain — first world problems and all that. However, this whole “meet me on my business trip” thing? These are the only vacations we’ve taken for the last three or four years. On the one hand, it saves money…on the other hand, at least one of us is usually stressed out. Him, because he’s still working. Me, because I have to drop things midweek. The only way this would be relaxing is if I could spend the whole week sewing…right up to leaving on a jet plane Thursday morning. Yeah, right. Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Sci Fi Sunday

Currently Watching:

Being Human, Syfy channel, Mondays at 9 pm. Quick! What happens when a vampire and a werewolf buy a house that’s haunted by a fledgling ghost? No, this isn’t the set-up for a joke. That’s the premise of Syfy’s Being Human, which starts off sounding like a gimmick but is redeemed by engaging and believable characters, as well as a plot line that veers promptly into semiserious territory and stays there. Aidan and Josh (vampire and werewolf) work together at the local hospital. The house buy happens because they’re trying to set down roots that will differentiate them from their more wild peers — essentially, they’re trying “being human.” This is complicated by Josh’s intense romance with a fellow medical student and Aidan’s run-ins with local vampire politics. Rounding out the trio is Sally, a ghost with serious ex issues and a desperate case of loneliness. Their attempts to define humanity, and carve out a life that feels normal to their human sides, are part of what makes this series such an interesting watch. The first season is available on Netflix, while the second season is currently showing on Syfy. Be aware that this is the American, rather than British version of Being Human — apparently the two shows are quite different. Mature content and violence mean this show is better for the over 13 age group. Fans of Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica will recognize the vampire Aidan as Sam Witwer, who played Crashdown.

Lost Girl, Syfy Channel, Mondays at 10 pm. Lost Girl is an import from Canada that has had the sci fi community buzzing for a while. It makes a worthy follow-up to Being Human, as it has the same quality of treating fantastical subjects very seriously. In fact, the urban fantasy feel of this show reminds me of a cross between Grimm and Blood Ties. In the pilot, a young woman named Bo discovers she is part of the fae — not fairies, but a generic name for all magical creatures. Who the fae are and what they want with Bo is an ongoing mystery. It’s difficult to describe Lost Girl without giving away too much, but if you like urban or hard-edged fantasy, you’ll probably like this. Content is once again very much for 13+.

Naughty, Naughty

I always wanted to be a bad girl. I wanted to wear tight clothes, smoke cigarettes and grind them out with my heel, and attract boys in black leather who drove Harleys. I still wear tight clothes on occasion, but mostly to jog. I never did take to either smoking or staggering around in heels, and those boys in black leather? Turned out to be terrible conversationalists. I tried to be moody, but it got in the way of other things like slumber parties and Mel Brooks movies. As a result, I am completely fascinated by bad girls — over the top, rockabilly, tattooed bad girls. And by this woman’s pulp fiction collection. And by this Kirsty MacColl song, which I wound up playing on repeat for an entire summer when I first discovered it:

Every Day It’s A-getting Closer

Going faster than a roller coaster…oh sorry, I was just singing to myself here for a minute.

Ok, the jeans I showed you yesterday? They’re done. They’re not what I wanted but I think I know how to fix that…so here’s the pic:

Butterick 5682, View B

Observant people will notice that they are somewhat large. Guys, I measure as a size 14. I normally sew a size 12, but that can change with pants so I sewed an actual 14. I compared the pattern measurements not only to my body but to measurements I had taken of my RTW jeans. Nonetheless, I had to take in the side seams ONE AND AN EIGHTH of an inch on each side. And they’re still far too large. I also added a wedge to both the back and front pieces, 1 inch at the center back seam tapering to 3/8″ at the sides then another wedge in the front pattern piece, tapering from 3/8″ at the sides to nothing at the front seam. Hopefully a picture will make it clearer:

This is a picture of the back piece; the front looks similar but with a much smaller wedge.

This fixed my swayback, put the front and back of the waistband at the same level, and made the entire rise far too long. On the plus side, it doesn’t pull at the back center seam (yippee)! So I think I need to do the same adjustment, but on a much smaller level. In fact, I think I need to make these jeans in a size 10. The sizing on this is RIDICULOUS. On the very good side? I made NO adjustments to the pattern other than the rise adjustment, and they’re the right general shape. I plan to buy another copy of Butterick 5682, as I think this is going to end up being my TNT pattern, if I can just get the sizing right. I might even be able to sew a 10 straight out of the package.

A few other observations: the fly piece and fly shield are really short on this. I actually thought they were weirdly short — I had to attach the waistband at 3/8″ to accommodate the usual 4″ metal fly zip I prefer on my pants. I also have to wiggle a bit to get the waistband over my butt, even though everything else about these pants is large and in charge. I have a note on the pattern to extend both pieces by 3/8″ next time around. Also, I didn’t bother reading the instructions so I have no idea if they suggested stay-stitching, but my yoke ended up a teensy bit ripply because I didn’t stay-stitch the top back piece or the top yoke. Definitely stay-stitch everything on this pattern, especially if you are using a stretch denim.

The last time I made it all the way through a pair of jeans, it took me two weeks (no kidding). This time around, it took me three days. Not bad, not bad….I might get the hang of this denim sewing thing after all.

Stuck in the Closet With You

I had that song going through my head all day, but I couldn’t remember the lyrics so I googled it. Turns out that 1) It’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” and 2) I hate it. It’s all Crystal’s fault. She looks really repentant, doesn’t she?

That's her normal expression. Annoyed.

Yesterday, Middlest was looking all over the house for something — under the bed, in my closet, etc. I finally asked him what he was looking for and he said, “Crystal.” I told him, “She’s hiding from you,” which is often true because Middlest likes to pick her up and hug her and love her and squeeze her… Anyhow, he was still looking for her at bedtime when the Hubs started yelling at him to GO TO BED ALREADY and I interjected, “Actually, I haven’t seen her all day….” Now, as much as Crystal may be the Antichrist in cat form, we do adore her and this led to a house-wide cat hunt. We were starting to worry that she had somehow escaped outside, when the Hubs finally found her in the downstairs hall closet. Apparently the kids grabbed their coats in the morning, on their way to school, and she had slipped in there and gotten stuck. She’s not much of a meower (too grumpy — all communication is in the form of growls, hisses and lashing tail), so there she stayed. Fortunately, neither she nor the closet seem any the worse for wear.

I’ve been working on a new project:

Denim, my nemesis...

It is kicking my ass six ways from Sunday. More updates to come.

By the way, my computer has developed issues and I’m currently unable to comment on some blogs that have word verification or OpenId. I’m working on the problem (by which I mean, I’m hoping to bully the Hubs into working on the problem for me) but in the meantime, rest assured I’m not ignoring you….I just can’t comment!

The Exits are Here, Here, and Here But Don’t Worry…We’ll All Be Out Before You!

That’s a Robin Williams quote, regarding airline stewardesses, from an old comedy special where he also mocked the seat cushion floatation devices. “So there you are…floating on your seat cushion. Two sharks go by and one of them says, ‘Oh look, isn’t that nice, Tom? Canapes.'”

Long story short, I was going for a punk vibe with this skirt. The twill has subtle pinstripes. I now think the effect is more “stewardess” instead of “Johnny Rotten’s girlfriend,” probably thanks to the midnight navy color. By the way, I didn’t know what to call this shade of blue until I found the thread that matched it perfectly — and now I need to buy more because apparently I purchase a lot of denim in a shade darker than just plain “navy.” The things you learn.

By the way, the two buttons do match but the flash from the camera made them look different. This was a challenging project; all in all,  I’m happy with how it turned out. At least, I can wear it out of the house. I can’t give you a true pattern number because this is a “Frankenstein” — a combination of two different patterns, one of which is out of print. I can tell you that the waistband is from New Look 6873, the shorts/pants version. I was going for a denim skirt look, but I think this general pattern is too A-line in shape and there are problems with how the back fits:

I went up two sizes in the back, and it still doesn’t quite accommodate my derriere, largely because there are no darts.  The waistband was originally straight, but swapping in the curved waist from the New Look pattern prevented a huge gap at the lower back. I’m still searching for the perfect denim skirt pattern, and this is definitely not it but I might use some elements of this design if I ever get frustrated enough to draft my own.

The Mojo Is Back!

Supplies = mess = impetus

I HAVE BEEN SEWING! After a week of shoving supplies around in a huge pile and becoming more frustrated by the minute, I got some momentum going and started a project. And even better — I have IDEAS. Inspiration. Concepts whizzing through my brain like the light cycles on Tron. I can’t wait!

I’ve been pondering this week on the best avenue to take when your creativity is tapped out. Is it better to push forward even if you’re not feeling a project, or to take a break? I know that my sewing suffers when I’m forcing it, but sometimes it feels necessary to force a failure or two, in order to not get completely bogged down. I hate to waste — fabric and patterns certainly, but the time spent on bad projects grates even more. The Hubs says that the time is never wasted; creativity is a process and screw-ups are part of the process. Whenever I get frustrated, his question is, “Did you learn something?” and since the answer is always yes, the obvious conclusion is that the time/fabric/whatever was not wasted.

Instead of giving you gloom or headbanging (or gloomy headbanging) today, I’m sharing a completely ridiculous video because it made me laugh…and one can never have enough childhood nostalgia. Although, in this case it would be nostalgia for Oldest’s childhood since Sesame Street didn’t have Elmo when I was a kid.


Kinda Sorta on Strike

Anyone familiar with the SOPA/PIPA debacle? A lot of blogs and information websites have gone dark today in protest. I’m nominally dark at the moment too, but it’s mostly because I’m trying to help Youngest do a report on Norway without Wikipedia. These are challenging times, my friends, in which we must take a stand for our personal freedom. And by that I mean the freedom I would have if I wasn’t searching for information on Norway for a !@#$%! second grade report.


After the disaster that was last week, I wanted a quick and easy project that would also let me mess around with my new coverstitch machine. Enter the dragon — no wait, that’s Bruce Lee. Enter the nightshirt!

My colors are Nightfall and Drizzle.

I used this Butterick pattern, B5432:


I made the tank top nightie, view B. My measurements put me at a 12, Medium, which is what I sewed because the finished bust measurement indicated negative ease. I knew my fabric wouldn’t stretch that much and I wanted something loose, but I’m not sure I like the fit around the neckline and shoulders. I have broad shoulders and the total effect is a little too linebacker. I also wasn’t wild about the “turn under and stitch” construction of the neckline and armholes. I had a hard time getting a smooth finish at the curved seams on the coverstitch machine — of course, I had trouble with the differential feed so that might be user error. There’s a learning curve for this machine and I’m definitely still getting the hang of it. The hems look nice but we’ll see how they hold up in the wash.

Overall, this is a pretty good basic pattern and I got a decent sleep shirt out of it. Next time, I’ll probably make view D in a shortened length because I prefer sleeves, and it has a different neckline construction. But hey, new jammies! And they’re the same color as my cold, shriveled heart.

Sci Fi Sunday — Teen Fiction Edition

Anybody noticed that we’re experiencing a new boom in Young Adult fiction? They have their own section at Barnes and Noble now. So much for all the oldsters complaining that books are going out of style.  Ha!

Currently Reading:

The Hunger Games


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Oldest read this series last year and really liked it (he bought Mockingjay in hardback because he couldn’t wait to get it from the library). However, he said he wasn’t satisfied with the ending so I was discouraged from beginning the books myself. Enter my book club who voted on this book for January.  Let me just say here…I love my book group and have been introduced to much good literature through them, but they also made me read Twilight. I spend as much time annoyed by their choices as I do reading.

The Hunger Games is dystopian fiction at its finest. From the first chapter, I was drawn into the book and couldn’t put it down. Never mind the YA label, this is futuristic fiction worth reading. Collins goes for the jugular; she never shies away from violence, her characters are multi-dimensional and she avoids overly optimistic conclusions. Katniss is a young teen in a post-apocalyptic world who becomes a candidate for her district in the Hunger Games. Winners get a house and prizes, as well as acclaim for their district, while losers die. There were many moments in the book where I thought I could tell what would happen next, but Collins surprised me every time. For those of you who like movie tie-ins, the movie will be coming out in March and there are trailers online if you’ve read the book and are curious about the film. I strongly recommend The Hunger Games for eleven and up, although I will add a warning that you will want to continue the series. I’m now reading Catching Fire, to be followed by Mockingjay. DO NOT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS, or I will throw a knife at you. May the odds be ever in your favor!