Monday Mayhem

Well, well, well...

Let's recap the last few weeks, shall we? Hmmm... There was supposed to be the jumper class? Well that fell through. Although, the Wilton Fondant & Gumpaste class was pretty good. I think the first two classes were a waste, though, since I'd already taken Course 3 and most of it was already covered then.

Then, I was sick for two straight weeks. Boy howdy did that take it out of me. And it wasn't the Dread Pig Disease. It was a case of getting a snootful of dust straight from the serger and sewing machine. And no, I didn't have AFLAC.

But, I was able to get not only my kids' halloween costumes made, but also a full on nursery set for a client done and out the door by November 2. You know you want to see the nursery set. I plastered it all over my facebook... So here they are:

The crib bumper

The crib quilt

The valance

The crib skirt (which you can't see all that well)

The curtains with back tabs.

Now I'm in the process of repainting about... oh... half? my house... I've done the shelves and hallway already. The china cabinet is reincarnated as well. I'm working on the dining room window seat tomorrow and then the dining room itself. After that will be the living room accent walls. From there, I have a couple of sewing projects: the dining room window seat cushions (something I've been "working on" for oh... 6 years?) and curtains for the girls' room.

After I've done all THAT, I still have some Christmas sewing to do: some kids' doll clothes and some nightgowns for the girls.... A jacket for the hubs and one for my cousin. Her brother gets a dress shirt and tie made by me. Their parents will get a tablecloth for their dining area. Beyond that... I dunno. My brain is starting to shut down with all the stuff I'm processing.

I had a very dear friend pass away unexpectedly last week and I'm coming down with something AGAIN *and* there were parent/teacher conferences today and well... As Shelly's favorite band The Beatles (or really John Lennon) would say... "Life's what happens when you're busy making other plans".

On a more upbeat note, though, I forgot to tell you about my pattern score! This week is $1 Simplicity patterns at Joann's. Amazingly enough, I found myself there 2 times in as many days, so I scored EIGHTEEN patterns. Yup. Less than $20 for a slew of amazing patterns. And the bonus? Lots of vintage re-releases! Wanna see what I got? You know you do! So here they are:

And last but not least... The one that got away... They didn't have this in the larger sizes and so I'm bummed...

Happy Eat-Way-To-Much-Candy Day!

Also known as "Dress up in a cool costume mom made you" day.

This year's costumes are

Silvermist (a Disney Fairy)

Snow White

Mister Sulu (oh the irony!)

Portraits courtesy of Portrait Innovations.

Silvermist & Snow White are Simplicity patterns.

Silvermist is a current year pattern and the Snow White is an OOP one. However, Simplicity did re-release Snow White with Cinderella and it's available here.

I made some changes to both patterns for a couple of reasons. One, Simplicity is an oxymoron. Simplicity patterns are some of the MOST difficult patterns I've ever had the pleasure to sew with. I'll take a a vintage pattern that is unprinted with sketchy instructions over a Simplicity. I promise!

For Silvermist, I completely omitted the "tulle interfacing" because I wanted it to have a more drapey feel. I also omitted the pantalettes because the dress is so long when made in my child's size (7/8). I used horsehair braid in the underskirt hem to give it some lift and movement. I feel like my rendition is actually closer in feel to the actual Disney Fairy. Also, rather than make myself crazy trying to *make* wings, I bought some for 50% off at my local JoAnn's. Her shoes were panne' velvet fairy slippers from the Dollar Tree. For $1. I added some leftover ballet shoe elastic to keep them on her feet for the photo shoot. For tomorrow night, she'll wear her regular shoes inside them for walking down 1st Street to Spooky Hollow. As an aside, the peanut gallery is telling me I could've sold this or Snow White on ebay for at least $70. What say you?

As for Snow White... While the costume is probably the most accurate as far as the original film costume (even compared to licensed product available), it had some really confusing bits with regard to the slashes on the sleeves. It called for two pieces of blue sewn together as sleeve and facing and then a red piece sewn to that then trimmed, THEN an additional lining. If I were to make this dress again, I'd make the lining in red, and then just make the teardrops open so the red shows through. That would be more historically accurate anyway. I made this in a 4, thinking it would fit my 5.5 year old fairly well. WRONG! It runs a little low in the bodice. Another thing that I didn't do was make the "dickey" and "collar". Technically speaking, the collar belongs to the dress, not an underpiece that snaps into the dress. If I were to make it again, I'd make the collar as one with the dress and not as BIG as shown. the huge-ass collar is NOT accurate to the film. I think the newer pattern is more accurate in that respect. I didn't "hem" the dress. I added red cord/bias thingy trim after serging the hem. It adds a little "punch" to the hemline and saves me having to hand hem the almost 3 yards of skirt at the bottom edge. I also did not hand make the cord trim in the bodice. I used purchased trim instead. Why reinvent the wheel?

Now Mister Sulu. This one is a plain white t-shirt from Dharma Trading Co. that I dyed using... iDye. Yeah, I know. Cheesy. The thing is, from a costuming purist standpoint, the Original Series of Star Trek's shirts weren't gold at all. They only looked that way on TV. And if this shirt were to be hit with the mega-lighting for TV or film, it too would look more yellow. On this shirt, the insgnia is sewn down. Normally I'd attach with velcro for laundering purposes. I also would have made the shirt long sleeve for accuracy's sake, but the shirt was free. And who am I to quibble over details when I don't have to spend anything? You know you'd do the same. I used regular gold rick-rack instead of the super-expensive more-accurate style braid since it's for a 3.5 year old boy. You know you'd do the same. Think of the life expentancy of more fragile braid when it's being worn by a boy who is... well... ALL BOY. And considering that I have to pry this shirt off his dirty little body forcefully... Well, it NEEDS to be extremely sturdy.

Cue soundtrack and...

Boldly go... yada yada yada.

Hats off to William Ware Theiss. The man was a genius.

Now here's the deal. The Annual Halloween Brouhaha at my better half's employer has been on hiatus for two years. You know what that means? A Bigger, Better, Badder Brouhaha. Oh, yes. And the theme this year? If you haven't figured it out yet...

Does that help? Okay!

My better half was cast as Sulu. People who know me in meat life will know precisely WHY this is so hysterical. According to my dad, I'm such a Trekkie that I married one of the characters. Har har har. Thanks dad! I resemble that...

Now, I'm a Trekkie. I freely admit it. And so the thought that my better half would go on stage and perform in something less than a (fairly) authentic costume is abhorrent to me. Thus, I began my trek to the stars... And a tutorial will follow eventually. I'm documenting each step, so be patient. It will be worth it.

The best part of DIY is that you can save money. So far I'm up to about $20 or so worth of materials. This will get me:
2 custom dyed shirts
the dye
the trim
the insignia (handmade by me)
the knowledge that both my better half and the captain will be dressed appropriately and not in some kind of weird cobbled together thing while the guy playing Spock will be wearing an authentic (pricey) costume.
a bonus shirt for The Boy.
See? It's win/win. Where else can you get THREE Star Trek costume shirts for less than a fortune?

What's Happening Wednesday

This week we look forward to sewing class at our local Joann's. It's "Sewing 202: Kid's Jumper" which for me is not a challenge. I'm taking the class more for the cameraderie and to get out of the house and have something to do The class runs for two weeks on Sundays from 10-1. This will give me some much needed "down time". We're working with New Look 6639:

I've got some amazing corduroy in turquoise/green/grey and fuscia/purple/grey for the Elder Princess Ella and Younger Princess Ella respectively.

And that's What's Happening

A new look

I suppose that it's a bit surprising to see over 50 posts on a blog where there had been no activity for a couple of years! Well, as life goes on and focus changes and so on, so the need for a definite separation of blog attemps becomes necessary. Please enjoy the new format and stuff. You might notice that some of the posts now date from *before* this blog was started. Don't let that freak you out. The material should have been here anyhow, lol.

Featured Blog Post: Aux Belles Choses

And the "Alice Apron".

Once upon a time a girl had so much vintage fabric
she didn't know what to do.
So she cut it all out and stitched it together
and said to herself, "Now that is MUCH better".
But still she was blue for she had no more room
to keep her creations.
So she packed it up and mailed it forthwith
from Florida to Texas as a surprise gift.
Little did she know that that little thing
would be one tiny spark and from it a business would spring.

Stephanie was the recipient of the apron in the "poem". I took pictures of it and here they are:

I've been so thrilled to watch her progress as an entrepreneur and sewist. The Alice Apron is - in my opinion - one of her best works. From concept to creation, she's really captured the feeling of Alice in Wonderland but with a mature twist.

You had it coming!

And not the "Cell Block Tango".

I've been working furiously to get my cruise wardrobe finished. Flu?! BAH! Bronchitis that makes me cough so hard I pee myself? Piffle!

I've got the luttlerloh blouse (155) on the dressform. It needs two MORE buttons at $3.25 for two buttons. GAH! By the time I'm done, I'll have $8 worth of buttons on it. A casual blouse to wear with capris (154)!!! RAWR.

The coordinating capris are done (but for the hem). May I just say how awful the sketches are for the luttlerloh patterns? Especially when you're used to vintage pattern envelop illustrations.

The luttlerloh skirt is finished and has some nifty crystal fringe on the hem. It also goes well with the blouse, but is much more dressy.

I've got the Butterick 3052 pattern graded up (fingers crossed it works).

This will be made in two different views (A lower left & B) in two different fabrics. One is butterflies/flowers to go with the above skirt. The other is in yellow/black/grey to go with the skirt (yellow) and slacks (grey) from the Simplicity 4044.

Speaking of which, I'm headed out today to get that pattern copied at my local blueprint copy store. It will run me about half what Kinko's would charge. Once I've got my pattern copied, it can be graded up a bit and then ONWARD!

The Golden Rule?

OK, so I made my first Lutterloh outfit last night. Well, mostly made. Not sure what I think of it. It went together easily enough and my invisible zipper rocks, but for some reason, using the correct measurements, I have to make my seam allowance 3/5" instead of the 5/8" that I measured out from the pattern. Once I'm finished with it I'll post pics. Hopefully. ;-)
Hah. Proof that nearly anything can be found on the interwebz! The skirt part of the picture below is what I'm making.

Image courtesy of

Oh The Huge Manatee

You'd think I have enough on my plate with regard to sewing, right? Obviously my childrens' new school thought I had plenty of spare time on my hands...

Yesterday, I registered the girls for school and got the news that uniforms were being required this year for the first time ever (thanks! I just spent all my clothes budget buying my oldest clothes for school because nothing fit her already yet) and I could conveniently array them in polo shirts (for GIRLS??? WTH??? Say it ain't so!!!) and either khaki, navy or black bottoms (pants, shorts, skirts or skorts). Oh yes and by the way, mom, you can get those polos at The Evil Empire.

Now let me go on record as saying I despise Wal-Mart. I understand that for many, many folks, that place is the ONLY place they have to shop and I'm sorry that is the case. Aside from that, I'm unimpressed with their so-called "everyday low prices" because at my last comparison shop, they weren't any cheaper for the same items I buy at my local Super Target. So here I am, trapped in a no-win situation. I have to give Big Box Mart my hard earned cash because it's the ONLY place to get the shirts required for school at anything resembling a *reasonable* price in the correct colors. ORANGE??? NO ONE sells them except BBM. No one. Unless I want to spend $35 for an already embroidered "eurostyle" shirt. For a child. Oh hell no. So BBM got $50 (that's ten shirts) + 7% sales tax.

And on top of that, I'm going to have to alter each and every shirt to get them to fit my children. because obviously size XS (4/5) means Muy Gordo in BMM-ese. I'm not kidding when I say that my 5yo would be able to wear these shirts well into high school. Heck, *I* could have worn them in high school. She's such a TINY little thing. She still wears size 1-3 dance tights and can wear some 18-24 months pants. When I sew for her, it's around a size 2-3 and those still have room to grow. So yeah, mommy is going to have to de-sleeve, take in and re-sleeve and then hem all ten of these mother-lovin' shirts. Because the 7yo swims in them, too.

Add to that the necessity of britches. I *could* send my kids to school in the unaltered shirts and call them dresses, but I'm pretty sure that isn't what the school admins had in mind. So britches it is. And I'll be doggoned if I am going to spend $10 to $Infinity on school bottoms. No Way No How. $5 and they might have had me. So off I go to Joann's because the rules say "khaki, black or navy" and there's NO restriction on what kind of fabric I can use. OR the style. Heh. I'm obeying the letter of the law, I promise! It's not my fault I conviently have
Simplicity 4384

Simplicity 5540

in both of my girls' sizes... ($1 each a couple of weeks ago on sale!!! WOOT!!!) AND that Joann's had all their bottom weights and suitings (except Sew Classic) on 60% off sale. How could I resist that? For $51 & change, I was able to get enough fabric to sew each girl at LEAST half a dozen bottoms (if not more) which will last them at least 2 years each. That breaks down to ($51/12)/2. Or $2.13 per item per year. Now tell me, is there ANYWHERE you can manage that (inlcuding sales tax?) For custom tailored pants/skirts/shorts? In really AWESOME fabric that has spandex for better ease? I.Don't.Think.So. Heh.
And I don't mind ironing on a few school patches. Not at all. Really. Because it's not as if I've nothing better to do with my time.

3 down, 9 to go...

So here I am, done - all but for the hem - with Vintage Vogue 2636. I like it and I'll probably make it again... After my tummy tuck. It really needs a nice slim waist to make it look right. Otherwise it looks more like a feed sack than anything else. But I'm happy with it. Mostly because I did my first *successful* invisible zipper.


Some details about this project:

1. I serged all the raw edges. I'm very happy with this as it makes everything lay smoothly and the bonus is that it looks like a "store bought" dress. SCORE! Since the fabric has a tendency to shed small bits of fluff, this is also a good thing.


2. The invisible zipper. I had to frankenstine two sewing machines to make it work, but work it did. Basically, I had to take the whole shank thingy from my White machine and attach it to my Athena. This was done with many prayers and crossed fingers, but it held on long enough to use the zipper foot from the White machine.


3. The hem. I used flexi-lace hem tape and sewed it to the serged edge so that when I sew the hem, it will be an invisible hem and not bulky. Bulky isn't good with this fabric since it's so smooth and hangs so nice.


For a Vogue pattern (supposedly the complicated brand) it went together with no hiccups at all. I've had worse trouble with Simplicity for directions/pattern piece mismatches/etc. Of course there was one weird thing with the instruction sheet. There were basically no instructions for putting in the sleeves other than "easestich between circles" and "match notches on armhole". No instructions at all for how to construct the sleeves, hem the sleeves, etc. I'm betting it's because it's a vintage reprint and some things were just taken for granted.

I'm going to rate this one 4 out of 5 scissors.

There's nothing like the smell...

of devil's food cake cupcakes baking in the afternoon. I haven't baked a thing since March and I was going through baking withdrawal. It's amazing just how *soothing* the smell of chocolate is to the savage beast menstrual female psyche. Even if I can't *eat* them myself, it's taking me to my happy place.

Unfortunately, I missed entering ICE: Savory. I had the ccakes made but didn't follow through. Too much going on. And I'm not entering June's because I just am Way Too Busy. Maybe July or August, but definitely in September depending on the challenge ingredient.

Tomorrow is the last day of Pre-K for the middle child and I volunteered to make treats for the class. It's also "water day" which means bathing suit, towel & spare clothes. Water day is fun day for sure.

Well, the timer is about to run out on the second batch of cupcakes. Can you smell them from where you're sitting? Maybe I'll even post a picture. ;-) But then I'm evil like that.

Progress Update

Vogue 2636 is about 70% complete. Bodice needs to be attached to skirt, sleeves to bodice and zipper to side. Hem also needed but that means yet another run to the fabric store to get the appropriate hem tape. I'm thinking that happens on Saturday...

Round Three

Of my sewing-capades is in full effect. I cut the pattern on the largest size because my measurements differ anywhere from 2" to half an inch from the [cough]size 22[cough] on the pattern envelope. Talk about demoralizing. Anyhoo, the pattern is kick-a$$ awesome. I never thought I'd like it as much as I do. And this fabric that my MIL gave my nana who didn't want it and gave it to me because it was "too expensive" to have it made up is to DIE for. The picture just doesn't do it justice...

Here's the project in progress...

Sew Say We All...

Today I finished the two piece vintage skirt/midriff top (except for buttons). I'm saving the buttons for TV time. See? I can multi-task. One thing though... Simplicity 9978 only calls for FOUR buttons for that outfit. For the top. It's plain to see that the skirt buttons, but I guess we're just supposed to *guess* how many we need for the skirt. Meh. I bought some lovely sand infused ones that are semi-transluscent and they totally go with this better than the mere FOUR buttons I purchased earlier that there were no more of today. I guess it was meant to be since I wasn't really keen on the first set anyhow.

I also started on the Vintage Vogue 2636 I posted about earlier. Because I've got a weird shape, of necessity I must pin-baste the thing together FIRST and then go back and sew it. Which is PITA but oh well. I'm 98% done with that step and tweaking the fit. I will say that it looks very nice on the dress form. Better than I anticipated. The backing of the fabric is super silky polyester knit. No slip necessary, yay! The skirt on it isn't nearly as full as some of the others, but it's got plenty of ease.

And in other news, I bought a new pair of scissors. But this time, instead of buying the "chipper chicken" (name the movie this references & win a prize), I sprung for the spring action knife edge Gingher scissors. Sure they were a mere $44 & change. But I was SICK TO DEATH of having to find the doggone "sweet spot" on my POS spring loaded scissors so as not to mangle whatever I was working on. And did I mention I got 40% off? WOOHOO. So they only ended up being $26 + tax. Not too bad, really.

Also, I've begun conceptualising my oldest's First Holy Communion Dress. That's for Easter 2010. I've already got the fabric and the pattern and the thread. I've had those for years now. Today I scored (on my button run) a pearl headband for the veil. Tissues out... I'm going to use the pearl enhanced netting from my wedding veil for hers. Sniff sniff. My baby is getting so big. And I got 40% off the headband, too. I had a dream about it last night actually. And there it was.

Last week I got the most adorable cuddle fleece for oldest daughter's winter coat. Again 40% off. Which since it was already $13/yard was VEEERY helpful. It will be lined with cotton interlock fabric that is super soft so it has a little extra warmth and body. I found the perfect pattern for ONLY $1 folks. A BUCK!!!! Crazy, no?

I'll post pictures of all this madness later on. Right now, I'm too pooped to pop, so I'll sign off and check you on the flip side.

Hidden Treasures

It's funny how the Universe gives you little surprises.

I've been cleaning out my pattern stash. Not the "good" ones that I keep in acid-free envelopes and protected from wind, rain, sleet, snow, fire-breathing monsters from outer space and small children... You know the ones. The ones that you have no idea how you got them, where they came from, or maybe even they were the ones from when you were a kid and now they're missing pieces and parts.

I realized as I was cleaning out my last bin - hacking, coughing and wheezing all the way - that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had NOT intentionally bought them. Nope. Because if it's a vintage pattern, I'd have all the bits-n-bobs that go 'long with. Then it came to me... There was ONE pattern envelope that didn't contain what it was supposed to. I only paid a quarter for it, so no big, BUT! Goldmine!!! THREE vintage patterns in varying stages of completeness... All Simplicity...

Simplicity 3335 which is either from 1940 or 1950. My money is on '50 based on the style. See?

Next is Simplicity 1790 which again could go either 1946 or 1956. Since S3335 has more stuff printed on the pattern paper, I'm going to say that S1790 is from '46. It also has these AMAZING little transfers for embroidery. I wish I had a picture of this one....

The next one is from 1972 - Simplicity 5214. Again with the "no envelope/cutting directions" stuff. This one is an easy pattern to figure out though. I've got 6 out of 7 pieces which means it's definitely functional.

Strictly speaking, ALL of these patterns are functional because I can always redraft what I'm missing. I can't wait to make these up. Except for one small problem... None of my kids are small enough anymore. I guess I'm going to have to wait for grandchildren. Which had better not happen ANY TIME SOON. Otherwise I'll have to kill someone. And then it will end up as an episode of Law & Order: SVU...

Armchair Archaelogist

I always wanted to be an archaeologist in the grand style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and dig up ancient cultures. Alas, I was born about 150 years too late and with too much of a love of air conditioning. However, I still love to seek out new worlds and new civilizations and boldly go where no man has gone before: vintage sewing patterns.

I've been archiving my collection in Silver Comic Book sleeves with acid free cardboard backers. $3.99 for 100 sleeves and $7.99 for the backboards. I've been labelling away and had a little trouble with a couple of patterns' dates. I knew from the styles that they were without a doubt from the 30s, but other than a decade, I couldn't get much farther. One was a Ladies' Home Journal pattern sold by Ed. Sarrazin of Fayetteville, TX at his general store and the other was a New York Pattern. Both LHJ and NY Patterns' information are hard to come by since not much detail is known about them.

However, both of these patterns had something in common... A strange little symbol of an eagle holding something and the initials "NRA". Now in modern parlance, NRA means the National Rifle Association. But in the 30s, notsomuch. In 1933, FDRs New Deal was supposed to help ease the effects of the Great Depression through the creation of numerous federal entities that would oversee different aspects of industry and commerce. There's a little blurb on this at History Matters. I'd say history is repeating itself right now...

But aside from current politics, the symbol intrigued me. I looked up the slogan "We Do Our Part" in Google and was led to Wikipedia's entry. Basically, that little emblem and slogan narrows down my patterns' ages to between July of 1933 and Spetember of 1935. That's less than a two year spread!

Once I'm done archiving these patterns, I'll be scanning them and fixing them to upload to the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

I meant to post this on Tuesday

but I got to feeling ill and then forgot...

So better late than never...

As I promised earlier, Simplicity 9978:

I'm actually a bit farther along than the pictures attest. I've got the sleeves sewn and pinned to the bodice and the skirt is complete except for... BUTTONHOLES. I figured I'd better quite while I'm ahead. I was afraid to manage buttonholes while I'm sick with the flu. I mean, I'm good, but I'm not THAT good...

The hem of the skirt and the lower edge of the bodice and sleeves are finished with bias tape in a nice "bright pink". Who comes up with those names anyway? Shouldn't it be called "Hibiscus" or something? "Bright Pink" is just so... ordinary... Henceforth, "bright pink" shall be called "Hibiscus".

Anyways, I'm just about done with this one and then on to the next project...

Vintage Vogue 2636

But not the jacket part. This dress will be an actual challenge for me because of my body shape. And I'm up for the challenge. I got this pattern like a million years ago from Lanetz Living.

I have made buttonholes!!!!

To some people that may seem like no big deal. Prior to completing this dress, though, I had gone 35.75 years (granted not all of them sewing years) without ever having to make a button hole. I don't know why they were so scary. Maybe it was my defective sewing machines that didn't like me. Who knows. Here is my "bumblebee" dress in all it's buttonholed (6) glory:

Now all I need is a WIDE black belt so I don't look so WEIRD....

I will say that it's got a LOT of ease. I'm finding that to be the case with most patterns even though I'm substantially larger than the patterns...

I've also started on the two piece retro Simplicity number (bottom left)...

From Musings from the throne room

I'll post pics of it soon, I promise!