Category Archives: Uncategorized

Not Much Sewing — Or Anything Else — Going On Here

Guys and gals, it’s been a tough week. I finished my backpack, but then was at a loss for a new project. An easy skirt tutorial turned out not to work for me (the Starboard skirt — anyone tried it?), and I couldn’t get motivated to make anything else.

On top of which, I’m sick. Nothing serious or tragic, but I have a chronic condition which flares up occasionally. The biggest side effect is that the pain has a severe negative impact on my ability to get to sleep and stay asleep. I’ve been a chronic insomniac almost since birth, and my body seems to insist that I shouldn’t need more than 6 or 7 hours per night. I’m currently functioning on 4.

I know why I’m sick, and part of it is a lack of self-care plus huge amounts of stress. I’ve been ignoring my diet and consuming a lot of crap, plus my exercise routine has dropped off. We’ve begun this school year with activities almost every single day after school and on the weekends. Managing the schedules of five people is NOT easy. On top of which, I will be gone Friday morning into Sunday, visiting my mother.

My mother and I have a complicated relationship. I used to call her “Mommie Dearest” to her face (while I was still in single digits, which makes me either a very dumb kid or very ballsy). She is not the most stable person and my upbringing was erratic, at best. Visiting with her is always a bit fraught.

I’m unlikely to have a chance to blog again before the weekend is out, so I’ll see you all on the other side!

Sometimes Life Just Kicks You in the Teeth

In the midst of preparing for school tomorrow, I came downstairs to start dinner and Oldest was on the kitchen phone. I knew immediately that something had happened.

What does it say about the difference between my generation and our parents that bad news is almost always delivered by landline?

My uncle passed away on Monday. He had melanoma, and fought it as long as he could, but it overtook him in the end. He leaves behind two beautiful girls who are still in college, and a wife who is one of my funniest, sanest relatives. My heart breaks for them, and for my grandmother who is burying her second son in two years.

This is so miserably unfair.


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

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?

Summer Playlist — Don’t Mess With Me

A lot of songs express very well the emotions of being in love. Quite a few of them successfully convey the feelings of having loved and lost, being sad or angry about it, possibly even plotting vengeance. It’s very seldom that you run across a song that captures perfectly the ambivalence of getting involved with someone — that moment before you plunge into a relationship where you wonder if this is actually a good idea. I haven’t been in that position for years, yet I find myself singing this at random moments when I don’t know what the Hades I’m doing.  It’s a good tune for that up-in-the-air feeling.

When in Doubt, Go Off on a Tangent

Always good advice. I haven’t been able to get my sewing mojo back, so I’ve opted to start something else entirely.

Not bad for a first timer.

I bought the 3 Stitch ‘n Bitch books and I’m attempting for the second or third time to teach myself knitting. I started the Skully sweater, since I learn better with a project. This probably won’t be finished for a year or more, since I only work on it when I’m watching TV but oh well…. Currently watching: Batman Forever. The star power in this movie is off the hook, and everybody looks so young…remember when Chris O’Donnell played teenagers? Yeah, me too.

My God, I Need Sleep

I’m back from San Fran with one night of sleep in my own bed under my belt. You would think that would be enough. You would be wrong — I now need a nap to recover from my vacation. It would probably help if Lila didn’t insist on rubbing her cat love-drool on me at 4:30 am but it’s such a part of home, I didn’t mind too terribly. Here, while I doze off, I’ll show you a few pics of the spoils of war:

Kera, Fudge and Female magazines

Kera, Fudge and Female magazines from Japantown’s bookstore. Kera showcases punk, goth and Lolita fashion with a section of street style snaps. Fudge is basically high fashion as done by your very chic, preppy teenage neighbor. Female is a sewing magazine with patterns included — very basic patterns, but a lot of potential for customization, assuming I can understand the pattern sheet enough to trace them out.

Images from Kera.



I would totally wear these clothes.  I’m not sure what that says about me, other than I have no style and I’m stuck at age five.





Marine style from Fudge.




Fudge is probably closer to what I’d wear assuming I had any fashion sense whatsoever. I already have the dark short-shorts, just need a striped tee to pair with them. Also, I’m in love with this skirt:

I need to figure out how to knock off this skirt. 'Tis awesome.









I bought Female mainly for the sailor collar blouse on the left:










I also picked up 2 yards of this awesome fabric from Mendel’s in the Haight.  I’ve seen this print before but not in the black/white/pink/gray colorway:


Then I got these steampunk buttons, also from Mendel’s.  I only bought 2 of each because I don’t really know what I’ll do with them.








From Cheap Thrills in the Haight, I picked up a bunch of patches:




I’m gonna slap these on anything that holds still long enough.  I know, they’re so cliche but who cares?




I forgot the best part of the whole trip….getting to see friends we don’t see nearly often enough.

Yay for hanging with my peeps!

How to Win Friends and Shank People, and NOT Sew Knit Skirts

I had a post all planned for yesterday.  It was Youngest’s birthday party, and I figured I’d do a quick post before everyone arrived on How to Shank a Skank or a Douche.  This is part of a discussion I was having last week with Elizabeth of Flourish in Progress (, seriously, go visit her.  The girl oozes awesome).  Anyway, we agreed that this was a sorely needed skill set and that I should do a Monday Dare on how to shank people.  Because I’m clearly an expert — not on shanking,  but on my ego writing checks my body can’t cash.  So an hour before the itty bitty guests and their various parental units showed up, I was googling How to Shank Someone.  You know, like you do.

It turns out Google does not know how to shank people either.  There are the usual Youtube videos of teenagers goofing around, but the videos are so blurry, you’re more likely to get seasick than learn anything.  I did learn the definition of “shank” — to stab someone with a homemade knife as they do in prison.  I also learned the difference between shiv and shank.  A shiv is the homemade knife you shank someone with.  Good to know, I’d hate to get the usage wrong.

So this is my advice on how to shank someone: quickly, and not with anything that can identify you.  Shanking with a generic plastic comb, good.  Shanking with a letter opener with a carved ivory handle featuring the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil monkeys?  Bad.  Also likely to get you in trouble with customs, due to the ban on ivory.  Any questions?

The other thing I learned in the last 24 hours: it is better to sew a pattern you are excited about than to attempt to churn out a quick version of something you really can’t be arsed with.  I tried to sew two knit skirts this morning.  I now have two wadders, one of which was Simplicity 2368.  Another thing I learned?  Patterns for wovens that you don’t like are generally not improved by being done in knits.  2368 is the classic example of a pattern that is easy, that works on other people, and that looks like ass on me.  I am clearly not an easy person, and my pattern successes and failures prove the point, again and again.  So I opted to sew the pattern I REALLY wanted to sew:  McCalls 6328, View F.

This is how far I got today:

I pinned it on my dress form and the pleats are making it hang weird. I promise these shorts are not that pouchy.

I’m actually very pleased with View F so far, they seem like very practical shorts.  I did have some trouble with the pocket curve, even after trimming a lot and topstitching twice.  The curve is almost too steep to lay well, but I might use pinking shears to notch it next time and see how that works.  I cut a 14 because I wanted the extra room in the rise — I like my shorts baggy — but will need to take in the usual inch at the sides.  I’m also going to do a deep hem instead of turn up cuffs because I can’t stand the way cuffs bunch up around my legs.  Will I wear them in San Francisco?  Who knows and who cares.  I’ve learned my lesson…..don’t anger the sewing mojo.  It just might shank you.

(As an aside, Youngest had a fabulous party that lasted for 8 hours and Oldest fell down the stairs and got a nasty rug burn.  It’s not a real party unless someone gets hurt, ya know.)

Only in America

I had the BEST Fourth of July holiday yesterday.  We drove down to a friend’s town to start off the day with a community parade, complete with high school marching band, military veterans, rotary club, Boy and Girl Scouts, approximately 32,487 beauty pageant winners riding on the back of convertibles, and somewhat improbably, a group of Klingons.

Sadly, I did not get a photo of the Klingons.  I did however, get some of the beauty pageant winners:

Just multiply this by 40 and you have 2/3 of the parade.

Then we spent the rest of the day by the pool, eating and drinking, diving in when it got too hot, and developing strange tan lines.  After dark, the entire crew decamped to the main throughfare to watch fireworks.  Just to give you some perspective, the main street is about four lanes wide with a divider.  It’s a little odd to see people camped out in lawn chairs next to Red Lobster, but what the hey.

Pics or it didn't happen.

The younger members of our crew experienced the fireworks the way their generation experiences everything — through their cell phone video cameras.  I’m happy to know they will have a record of all the things they missed seeing the first time around.

And what of my sewing?  Well, I did a bunch of shopping at JoAnn’s 4th of July sale on Friday and came away with this:

I also got interfacing and thread, but that stuff is boring.

I’m excited to start sewing, particularly McCalls 6328 and 6289.  The heart fabric is a really soft lightweight twill, which I think will make a nice summer skirt.  I have no idea what to do with the other one — it’s also twill, but heavier like a bottomweight — but I fell in love with the graffiti style print.  I got two yards each of both.

Going back to our regular schedule today has been like moving through molasses.  Ugh.  Need more sleep.

Memorial Day

It seems inappropriate to say “Happy” when Memorial Day is the day we honor our fallen soldiers.  So….have a peaceful day and even if you don’t know anyone in the armed services, send a kind thought or note their way.

We’ll be back to our regular posting tomorrow with the usual muslins and bird sh*t.