Oh the humanity.

I just finished up a croquis of myself based on the tutorial at Polka Dot Overload. Since I don't have any full-frontal pictures of me (nor are the going to BE any), I had to fill in the blanks from the closest thing to it. If my body image needed ANY more hits to the ego, this just about filled the bill. Don't get me wrong, I love who *I* am. I just really don't like the container I'm in.

And I'm entitled not to like the container very much. It's defective. And before you ALL jump down my throat about how I should "love the skin I'm in" and yada yada yada, let me explain. I have a couple of hereditary conditions that make living in my skin a bit difficult. I may have talked about them before, but if I haven't, here goes:

1. Multiple hereditary osteochondromatosis. Read: Bone spurs all over your body in very unfortunate places syndrome. I have a REALLY lovely example *right* by my femoral artery in my leg rendering it inoperable. It ALSO makes sitting with my left bent for any length of time very uncomfortable because it's shaped like a tiger tooth. Unfortunately, my oldest child also has the condition. It is EXTREMELY painful.
Ye Olde Inoperable Bone Spur
2. Short stature. Not entirely attributable to the above. Since my oldest child ALSO has growth-hormone deficiency, the doctor's believe I suffered from this as a child. I won't bore you with the intimate (aka TMI) details. Let's just say that the genetic deck was stacked against me from birth. My biological parents and relatives are all taller than me. By inches.

Unfortuntely, the medical conditions I have also have the unfortunate side effect of all of my torso being squashed down and out of proportion with the rest of me. My lowest ribs rest just above my hips. It's excruciatingly painful to have people hug my "waist" because in the process, they compress my floating ribs. For years I was accused of being "standoffish" because I didn't "like" being "hugged". To quote a high school buddy "No [bleep], Sherlock!" I do NOT like being hugged around my waist. It hurts like a mofo.

Because of my body composition/proportion issues, pants are a PITA - literally - to wear. They are generally 6-8 inches too long. Yes, you read that right. EIGHT inches. If I buy a size large enough to go around my distended middle section (thanks a lot Mother Nature!), they are going to be so long I could make pants for my kids out of them. Not literally, but you get my meaning. They are also going to be too big in the thighs. The odd exception to this is Old Navy's "sweetheart" jeans in bootcut/short length. For SOME reason, these fit every time. With no gap/sag/whatever. I buy them whenever they go on sale because I live in them since they are the ONLY pants that are comfortable.

The funny thing is, my bust and under-bust and top of my ribcage are a NORMAL size. But it all goes to hell the further south you go. I look Perpetually Pregnant™. In fact, since I was around 12, I've had a "baby belly". I've given birth and been asked 2 days later when I was due. Yeah. THAT went over well. I was carrying the fricking baby in the bucket seat with me and just STARED the Hell-Mart cashier down. Apparently she'd NEVER seen a lady who had given birth a few days earlier. When I was in high school, it was especially traumatic because people continually started rumours about me being knocked up. It didn't help that I changed schools often either. It only lent credence to the assumption. Let me state FOR THE RECORD that I first fell pregnant in 2001. I was TWENTY EIGHT. So for over a decade I had to field the "Are you pregnant?" questions before it was even a possibility. There's no phrase that makes me want to hurt people more than hearing THAT question. Just because I'm of child-bearing age (please GOD let menopause come soon), does NOT mean that my BIG FAT BELLY has a baby inside.

It might just mean I'm fat.

3. I have arthritis in some of my more important joints due to injury and pregnancy. Specifically my sacro-iliac joints and lumbar spine/facet joints. It is what it is. I've done as much surgery to those as I and my doctors are comfortable with (read KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!!!) and now it's just heating pads, ibuprofen and not heavy lifting/bending/twisting.

I'm really not bitter about this at all, actually. I've come to the realization that NO amount of "dieting" or "lifestyle change" is going to undo the damage done by heredity. I am in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in. All my "numbers" are excellent. Cholesterols, blood sugar, triglycerides blah blah blah. All GREAT. I eat a fairly healthy diet all things considered. When you're gluten free, you don't have a whole lot of choice. My ADD is finally being managed and I'm better able to focus, less anxious and better able to cope with life in general.

I am not my size. 

I am not my measurements. 

I am a creative individual.

I am a daughter, granddaughter, wife, mother.

I am what I am.

Shirley Bassey - 1983

Gloria Gaynor - 2012

It was a major weight off me (hah!) to come to the realization that I will not ever be a size 2 or 4 or 6 again. And there's NOTHING whatsoever wrong with it. It was cathartic to realize that all this time I've been fighting genetics and when you fight your genes, YOU WILL LOSE. DNA FTW! I don't LIKE looking at pictures of myself. Because I remember being a size 0. And a 2. And a 4. And a 6. My latest purchase ( a mere $8.98 on clearance) was a size **16**.
It was SO HUGE under the arms I had to take out almost 3" on either side tapering down to nothing at the waist band. I heart this dress so much. I want it in other colors, too. It fits amazingly well after my one alteration, even though it's probably "only" about a size 12 in "real" sizing. It makes me feel like a million bucks. So I don't give a [wha?!wha?!] what size the label says. Especially when I wear it with my RED shoes.

But it still stings when you look back and see yourself as a svelte 6 and KNOW that without MAJOR plastic surgery, your body will not look like that again. Now it's more bittersweet than hurtful. And that is the beauty of it. As you move from one stage of life to another, you celebrate where you are. Live in the right now. Not the 10 pounds ago. Not in the "when I get back into my college jeans".

My challenge for you is to THROW OUT everything that doesn't fit. Obvious exceptions are pregnant/lactating women. You get a pass. ;-D Seriously. Live in the size/shape you are. You don't have to like it. You just have to live with it. Cross the bridge of "My pants are so BIIIIIG" **when you get there**. Otherwise you'll just make yourself crazy. Take it from the crazy lady. I should know. I wrote the book on keeping crap that doesn't fit. I still have my senior prom dress in a bin somewhere. I think it's in the garage (whoops!). But at least it isn't in my closet mocking me.

If you MUST do something about your eating habits, then cut the *crap* out of your diet. Real foods are not crap. Stuff that comes in boxes with a shelf life of 15 years (Twinkies, I'm lookin' at you!) are crap. High Fructose Corn Syrup is crap. Don't eat it. Just DON'T. I'm not a nutrition guru, just a Regular Jane™ who has learned from experience that HFCS makes me sick as a dog that it's just no good. If you don't believe me, just sit back and listen to Linda Ronstadt. She lays it all out for you.

Yes, I sing that song to foodstuffs with HFCS in it. In the grocery store. I admit it. I should probably let you see the croquis that started this rant...

Yes, I am a sucky illustrator.

Looking back at 2012

or not!

I'm not interested in recapping '12. Instead, I'll point you in the direction of The New Yorker's "100 Best Lists of All Time". Have fun! And party like it's 1999... Or something...

The babe with the power

Or a testament to the power of social media and bloggers and their readers. Just yesterday, Jen Yates (facebook & twitter) of Epbot & Cake Wrecks fame blogged about Redbook Magazine appropriating some of her blog content without attribution. Her readership (and by extension all their Twitter followers and Facebook friends) were incensed on her behalf and let the world know just how unhappy they were.
A Modest Example - click to embiggen and read.
Names and faces have been obscured/changed to protect my friends' privacy.
By this morning, Jen was able to post that Redbook was making it right. Jen, you are officially the Babe With The Power™.

Who's on first?

This bit of comedy gold just cracks me up every time I hear it. So of course when I'm about to post about plans for the upcoming year it comes to mind. Click play before reading. Then try to read this post with a straight face. I dare ya. I double-dog dare ya.

First up the sewing projects:

1. Formal gown in emerald green and gold.
Formal Wear - my own design

2. Formal kebaya in citrus colors.
Inspiration - Source
These I have but a few days to work on. They need to be finished completely by January 29th (exactly 1 month from today). I have the fabric all ready to go, but the pattern pieces aren't even drafted yet. Fun times.

The "Next Big Thing" up is to completely de-holiday the house which shouldn't be a problem. Except for the fact that the sewing projects will consume all my time and then we're into pageant season which will last from February to March. So much for taking the decorations down right after the Octave of Christmas.

Sometime before Chinese New Year (2/10/13) I need to clear out the old and de-clutter. I'm really bad at multi-tasking. REALLY bad. So this can only end badly.

The kids go back to school January 10th, so I can start sewing in earnest then. Before then, I'm playing a waiting game trying to get all my supplies together, get measurements settled and put away all the stuff that has been inhabiting my dining room sewing table for the last few months. My poor children have been relegated to eating dinner sitting tailor-style in front of the TV watching Mythbusters since the late fall while I attempted to finish Halloween costumes, pageant costumes, holiday costumes and various and sundry baking/decorating projects.

In the midst of all this, I have to plan birthdays for an 11 year old, 9 year old and 7 year old. I can't believe my "babies" are getting so old... We won't talk about how old that makes ME. Let's just say that 2013 is a "decade" year for me.

I'm thinking about spending some of my Christmas money on a quilting class in the new year. It's one thing I've never done before. What say ye?

It's that time again!

It's time for the new pattern books to be hitting the tables at your local fabric mega mart. The Christmas Season isn't even over yet and frothy chiffon and pastel confections are staring up at me from the pages of the Big 4's pattern books.

As of tonight, I was able to browse the "Early Spring" collections of Butterick, Simplicity, McCall's & Vogue. Butterick & Simplicity are paying an homage to patterns of days gone by since they are having landmark anniversaries this year.

Butterick is turning 150. And is looking well preserved, I might add. Of note is Butterick 5859, a sportswear collection that is reminiscent of the 40s without being costumey. It's definitely wearable today.
Butterick 5859
 Honorable mentions go to a child's companion to the above - Butterick 5844 - and a lovely little formalwear pattern for little girls, Butterick 5845.
Butterick 5844
Butterick 5845
I appreciate the simplicity of the styling as well as the use of the mauve/lilac and ivory backgrounds. They give a little dimension to the photos and make it feel like a portrait rather than a really bad eBay auction photograph.

Simplicity has re-released a 1940s vintage blouse pattern in honor of their 80-something-eth anniversary.
Simplicity 1692
The styling on this one is also very pleasing to the eye. Here's hoping 2013 is better than 2012 for pattern catalog styling, eh?

Vogue has three dresses of note for early Spring. One in the 2013 color of the year - Emerald Green - which reminds me of "the" dress from Atonement:
"The" Dress - Source
Vogue 8814
With some great accessories and the right fabric, the Vogue version could be spectacular. I'm not thrilled with what they used for the sample, but it definitely has possibilities. There are two more Vogue patterns I'd like to feature, 8850 & 8851, from the Vintage Vogue collection.

Vogue 8850
Vogue 8851
Again, the styling is impeccable and they manage to make vintage work in today's reality.

Unfortunately, McCall's catalog seems to be largely a regurgitation of designs from the last few seasons, just photographed differently. Color blocking? Check. Little girls outfits made from 16 different fabrics stitched together to look like a crazy quilt? Check. Totally derivative work that I've seen a million times before? Check and check.

So there you have it folks, your preview of early spring pattern catalogs (without pity). Enjoy!

I'm a total slacker

I meant to post an "end of the world" post for 12/21/12. Whoops. Since we're all still here - we ARE all still here, right? - I figure it's moot, but I'll share it anyways.

I mean, really. The Mayans TOTALLY opened the door for this one. I had this on vinyl and wore it out in college on my roommate's stereo. I'm pretty sure I still have it - LEONARD BERNSTEIN!!!! - somewhere in my collection of vintage vinyl.

Now that we've got that all out of the way...

I haven't been as visible online as I'd like to have been. Funny thing is, since my last post, a crap-ton* of stuff has happened. I've sewn a lot of stuff including some of the MOST complicated stuff I've ever made in the history of ever. Which I've posted on facebook and instagram, but not here. Mea culpa. *That's the PG-rated version. And yes, that's an official unit of measurement defined as a container your own height + 16".

My oldest child has had some serious health issues which resulted in her being homebound (not in school) since the first week of November. She'll be headed back to school in January which will be a very good thing for my mental health. I love my kids, but being "on" 24/7 with an "exceptional" kid can be extremely stressful.

As I write this, my grandmother who is in her 92nd year is in ICU and isn't expected to live very much longer. My prayer is that she passes quickly and painlessly and celebrates Christmas in Heaven. She deserves it. She had a hard life but a full life. If you don't mind sending up a prayer or good thought for her, I'd certainly appreciate it.

In closing, I'd like to wish everyone a very happy and blessed holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate and I'll see you in 2013. I'll leave you with a song my grandmother *might* have sung (she of the "I took a walk in the garden of love, but I got poison ivy at cherry-pickin' time" song). Enjoy!

There's nothing like a tree with balls...

Sewing Patterns & My Happy Place

To appropriate a line from "30 Rock", there are two things I love in this world: Starbucks and Sewing Patterns.

Starbucks is and always will be my "Happy Place". My days are measured in how many shots of espresso I need to make it through. Sewing Patterns are my hobby. Yes, I sew. I love it. But I love Sewing Patterns more. And by "Sewing Patterns", I mean the collecting of and mooning over the actual pattern envelope and pieces therein.

When I need a pick-me-up or some "me" time or just to decompress, I head over to the local Fabric Mega Mart and plop down with my Starbucks Beverage Du Jour and contemplate. Sometimes I contemplate the styling of the photos. Like I did here. Sometimes I snap pictures of patterns I want to buy when they go on sale. Because there is NO WAY I'm paying full retail price for a Vogue pattern. No WAY. Other times I look for inspiration. Hello, Road to the Runway! And sometimes I just sit there and flip pages mindlessly.

Today, I wanted to see what was cooking for Winter. I'd already seen Simplicity, McCall's & Butterick's offerings. Burda I ignored because, well, they don't change much from year to year and it sort of frustrates me. Vogue's newest books weren't out yet. I'll let Iago say what I'm thinking about THAT.

Since I couldn't peruse Vogue's winter offerings, I had to placate myself with KwikSew's. I wasn't sure I'd really reviewed KwikSew's pattern books/styling before, so I thought to myself as I was flipping through the pages "You know... These are actually pretty good". So here's the low-down on KwikSew's pattern book.

Pattern Books are the first way we get to know a pattern company. So when we look inside the cover, we need to see well styled looks, well executed samples and believable models. Why? Because we are the ones who will be making this stuff. If we can't envision what it's going to look like on US, the "real" people, then what's the point??? I'll pause for a moment to insert a Tim Gunn Takeaway...

Tim is spot on, by the way. Sewing for one's self is like having a mini-makeover every time you finish a garment.

I was heartily impressed with KwikSew.

The styling of each photo was impeccable. Not fussy, no contorted model poses, no stupid accessories that didn't make sense, no pretense or hauteur. Which is sort of an oxymoron in the fashion industry. In fact, the backgrounds *and* models were well chosen to show off the garments.

The samples presented in the photos were well executed. When patterned fabrics were used, they were manipulated in such a way that it didn't frustrate the perfectionist in me. I will go postal on a pattern company that can't manage to match plaids in the sample. That's totally unacceptable.

The designs themselves were not pretentious or making failed attempts at haute couture. Which is nice because most women* who sew for their families aren't into avant garde runway chic for their day-to-day wear, ya know?

Many of the patterns looked to be very easy to sew. Which is great for those who want to spend time actually WEARING the clothes rather than figuring out how to make them.

KwikSew doesn't have a 2" thick book like everyone else on the pattern desk. Their book is a scanty 1/2" thick or so, but what it DOES have is worth looking at and worth sewing. Their patterns are pricier than everyone else's on sale, but I suspect that the adage "You get what you pay for" is going to be true for KwikSew patterns.

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't sewn one yet. In fact, the only KwikSew patterns I have are ANCIENT ones that have to be traced and as such have never yet been made up. But I'd LOVE the opportunity to try one some day.

*I know, I know, it's not just women (in binders) who sew. Dudes sew too, but let's be real, the majority of home sew-ers are women. So please don't shoot the messenger.

Road To...

The Runway, not Zanzibar!

I've watched every season of Project Runway and have wanted SO badly to audition for it myself. With the support of my friends, I've decided to work on a collection to present. Who knows whether or not I'll make it, but the opportunity to work with Tim Gunn is too much to pass up. That and the chance to be given $$$ to shop at Mood.

I only hope that my Road To The Runway is less slapstick than Bing & Bob's travels. Wish me luck and hopefully you'll see me on the Runway!

Truly Outrageous

or truly CRAZY. You decide.

When I was about 12 years old, there was this like totally awesome, radical cartoon on TV. I never did get to see all the episodes because it aired on Sunday mornings and it revolved around a "new wave" girl band and if you remember anything about the 80s and fundamentalist Christianity, you'll remember that the two were diametrically opposed. I remember being allowed to purchase certain Jem & The Holograms items from my own money by my parents but only under duress.

Looking back, there's nothing "outrageous" about Jem other than the hair colors (I've had blue and pink hair!) & makeup (!) and by today's standards it's quite benign if a little "retro". I miss my Jem/Jerrica and Rio dolls with the Rock Backstager speaker case. If only I'd kept them... I can't believe how they kept their value. I'd love to have a complete set for my girls but I don't have the lettuce to make that happen with original dolls, so I'm turning to Hasbro's nemesis in the fashion doll world... Barbie.

Barbie is ubiquitous and you can pick them up at yard sales and thrift stores on the cheap. I'll also take donations of any that people want to get rid of! I plan on repainting and re-rooting their hair to make them into the entire cohort of Jem & the Holograms dolls. It's something I've never done before but it's along the same lines as Gundam modeling, so hey, it's worth a shot.

My girls are "over" regular Barbies, but my middle child LOVES collectible ones. So this should be a fun project to take on in between other more important things. Stay tuned for more fun posts on this topic.

Cinderella's slippers


I'm not entirely thrilled with them, but for a first attempt, they are quite passable. They look a wee bit strange in the toes, but she who will be wearing them pronounces them "SOFTIE INSIDE". Win?

On to the how to...

I followed the instructions in the book as closely as possible, all things considered. Some of the instructions didn't make ANY sense at all, so I had to wing it. I think my biggest issue was lack of a decent last. When I make a different pair, I will definitely make a better last.

The patterns cut out on card stock

The guts cut out

The guts sewn together

The uppers sewn together

The uppers on the last

The finished product

I didn't have a heel counter, so the heels are a liiiiitle soft but I can remedy that by using the fabric stiffener. I used craft foam for the soles instead of leather or suede since these are costume and not to be worn outside. The toes could have been smoother and I think it's becuase the fabric wasn't long enough in the toe area.

Mama needs a new pair of shoes!

Actually, middle child needed a new pair of shoes to go with a "denim-wear" outfit. And as these things normally go, we don't have a "spare" pair of shoes for me to cover in denim and I'm not going to the store to buy a NEW pair to cover(!) and the realization came at midnight and nothing was open.... What's a mom to do?

Crafty moms cover shoes. Crazy moms MAKE shoes. Yes. Make. Shoes. [cue ominous music]

Theoretically, it is NOT hard. I had all the supplies on hand because I wanted to make me a pair of shoes and never got around to it. So how does it work this shoe-making thing? When I first got it into my head about 18 months ago to make shoes for myself, I googled and found this book:
Image Courtesy of Amazon.com
Click on the picture to go to the author's website
and Craig Corvin's blog. For the record, I have received no compensation from anyone related to either the blog or the book.

To start making shoes you need a last (foot-shaped thingy). This is the foundation that you will build the upper (fabric part of shoe) on. Since it was in the middle of the night and I didn't want to cast my kid's foot in plaster while she slept, I used the next best thing... A pair of shoes she pronounced "a smidge too small". This turned out to be excellent because by building the last around the shoes, I was able to make them a smidge larger. Win/Win as far as I'm concerned.

To make the lasts, I used a product called "Rigid Wrap" plaster cloth. Basically it's like what they use to put a cast on these days, only plaster instead of fiberglass. Cut it, get it wet, apply to form, VOILA! Since I didn't want to ruin the shoes forever, I wrapped them in cling film (aka saran wrap) and plastered only the uppers, leaving the sole free. Once the plaster stuff had dried pretty well, I cut the cling film off the shoes and popped them out. I had to stuff them with plastic grocery sacks and then plaster over that to make them solid enough to build on. I let them dry overnight and then wrapped the plaster casts in cling film because I'll be working with water and fabric stiffener later and water + plaster = mess.

Here is the result of my progress so far:
size 12 shoes, size 12+ lasts.


Or that moment when I looked at my daughter's chore chart and channeled my inner George Takei...
The chore chart in question:
Wait for it. And while you're waiting, look at her sister's...
Can you guess what is missing from the first chart? Let's just say that what's missing makes the chart all the more ironic...

Poly/Spandex Nation

There's a time and place for Polyester and Spandex. But not MOST of the time. During my latest foray into the fabric forest at the local Fabric Mega Mart, I was astounded to see that roughly 90% of the apparel fabrics contained Polyester. And not even "nice" Polyester. At prices that were shocking considering the quality of fabric on the racks. Even with a 40% off (or more!) coupon I still wouldn't WEAR it. It's itchy & scratchy and not in a Simpsons-esque manner.

Frankly, I'm not surprised since my latest trip to a Mall produced much the same results in the department stores. The fabrics were better than 70s Polyester Double-Knit, but not by much. I swear I saw a PDK jacket in the window of a store that is known for being "fashion forward".

Now I might be missing something, but since when is going back 35 years to a time we all wished we could forget fashion-wise "fashion *forward*"?

Burda, I'm talking to you.
Burda Collection 2012/2013
Let's all party like it's 1969. At least they matched the plaid so I didn't have to gouge my eyes out.

Now back to my rant on Polyester. If you subtract the fleece & flannel from what's on the shelves, you're left with knit. Knits galore. Ponte knit = scratchy, Swimsuit knit = can't go outside in that even in our Year Round Summer in Florida, Jersey knit = great for tshirts and an occasional dress, but a royal PITN (pain in the neck) to sew. And various and sundry other knits that I wouldn't be caught dead in. Ribknits are for undershirts or cuffs/collars on tshirts/sweatshirts.

I found exactly ONE bolt of fabric that had a lovely feel to it. I wanted to wrap myself in it and rub it all over me. It was a Poly/Rayon/Spandex blend. For $20/yard. It was a coat-weight fabric which would look amazing as a suit jacket or overcoat.

What I want to know is WHAT HAPPENED TO VISCOSE???? The woven kind? It's SOFT and it drapes beautifully. Rayon was such a popular fabric in the 30s/40s. Why has it dropped out of fashion? It's not near as much of a pain to care for as cotton or linen. Sure it wrinkles a bit if you leave it in the dryer for a while after it's done drying, but is that a reason to avoid it?

Have we gone so far into the Valley of the Shadow of Spandex that we can't wear wovens any more? Or is it just that where I am there's not that great of a selection of fashion fabric?

I'm insanely jealous of those lucky folks who have access to places like Mood. To be able to lose myself in their bolts of fabrics of so much variety. How much does a round trip ticket to NYC cost these days? I know you CAN order online from lots of places, but I have to SEE it and TOUCH it to be able to decide whether or not it works for me.

Here she is... Miss America...

Or rather, our middle child as a National American Miss Jr. Preteen State Finalist.
Pretty Princess & Proud Papa
While she didn't make the Top 15 in her division, she did have a ton of fun and is determined to come back next year and really bring it. This was her very first "big" competition and she learned a lot. We'll be receiving her scores sometime between September & October so we'll have some guidance for how to improve.

Next week, she and I will be heading off to Royal Galaxy Pageant's National/International combined event while her siblings are at camp. This was truly serendipitous because she won her entry paid to Royal Galaxy via a contest on The Pageant Planet. I had been worried about how we'd spend the week since her brother and sister had all day camp. As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried at all.

Her dress & shoes are courtesy of The Aventura Bridal. The dress was designed especially for her by the owner of the shop and it's a great honor to have The Aventura Bridal as a sponsor.

Playing the catch-up game

Since I've neglected my own blogs for almost a year, the side effect was that I neglected to keep up with the blogs I was following as well. The Blogger/Google Reader app for my Android phone quite frankly sucked. It was SO much of a pain that I eventually threw in the towel and said "When I get some spare time..."

And we ALL know how that goes. Some things that happened in the last 12 months:

I was diagnosed with ADD. Which means better living through Big Pharma for me to be able to cope with life. That's fine, though, because I've never been MORE productive and MORE focused in my life. So YAY DRUGS!

My oldest daughter was diagnosed with ADD. Actually, SHE was diagnosed first and then I got my diagnosis. But this is my blog, so I come first. MUAHAHAHAHAH See "Better living through Big Pharma" for her too. Her issues are different than mine so she gets more/different meds than me. All I can say is that they WORK and she's actually acting like a normal 10 year old. Most of the time.

My oldest daughter was diagnosed with "pituitary dwarfism", that is, lack of growth hormone. So she gets injections every night for her condition. She's getting so TALL now.

My younger daughter started participating in pageants. She's done really well all things considered. She's won quite a few titles and this weekend we're off to our state's National American Miss finals. She's wearing a suit I made from a vintage pattern for her interview suit. She'll also be representing our state at the Royal Galaxy National/International Pageant at the end of this month, thanks to the help and votes of my family and online community.
Interview Suit, not quite finished here
Incidentally, her formal wear and theme wear both took first place at a local competition. Her sister got best theme wear too.
She designed this herself

I designed this. The tree lights up as do the wings.

Beware of big presents...

My oldest daughter had her tonsils out a couple of weeks ago. She's finally back to normal.
Sayonara Tonsils!

My oldest daughter ALSO got her feet issue sorted out. She suffered from Siever's which is basically an issue with the Achilles Tendon pulling on the heel plate and causing inflammation. Poor kid suffered for two years from painful feet. Couldn't do stairs, run, jump or otherwise be highly active like every OTHER 7-9 year old. Thanks to the fabulous Ortho at Nemour's, she got physical therapy and shoe inserts which actually FIXED her issues. Now my klutzy wonder, oft called "Grace", has better balance and is able to run, jump and play. Apparently her ankles rolled so far in that it was causing balance issues. She's only able to wear sneakers most days (we have one pair for outside and one "nice" pair for church) but she's happy with that. It makes MY life easier when I tell her to find her shoes and put them on.

My son recently brought the plague to our house and everyone but ME(for once!) got sick. My better half missed two days of work, we all missed the 4th of July frolic downtown and poor Oldest Daughter was less than a week post-op and coughing up a lung. Thankfully she recovered just fine. We think it was a flu virus. How I did not get sick is beyond me. Maybe it was all those kids' gummy echinacea & vitamin C supplements.

Everyone passed the school year and matriculated to the next grade. So in about 4 weeks, I'm going to have a 1st, 3rd & 5th grader. This is Oldest Daughter's last year of elementary school. Next year I'm shipping her off to my mother-in-law... JUST KIDDING! I don't have much use for the typical "middle school" thing. I missed out on all the drama that was middle school because I was homeschooled from 4th-9th grades. I'm glad. To this day I'm just SO not into the drama of who did what to whom and how it's like so totally whatever and stuff. Funny thing is, Oldest Daughter is just like me. She says she doesn't get along that well with the girls in her class because "all they do is sit around and talk about boys and gossip". She'd rather be playing Beyblades with the guys or building Gundam models. Frankly, so would I.
Gaza C Gundam Model

I thought I was TOTALLY DONE with sewing for a while. I closed my Etsy shop for the summer because the orders were actually coming too close together and I couldn't keep up AND take care of my family. I know, I know, what a terrible problem to have...

Now that I'm done with pageant clothes, including embellishing the store-boughten ones, I've got to focus on UNIFORMS. I have a love/hate relationship with uniforms.

I LOVE that they make it so easy to decide what to wear each day. It cuts down on morning drama when we're already running behind to make it before the tardy bell rings.

I HATE that they have to have Polo shirts. Those things are terrible. They trap stains like Ursula trapped those "poor unfortunate souls" in The Little Mermaid. What's wrong with woven cotton shirts? Yes, they need to be ironed, but SO DO THE POLO SHIRTS. Because if you don't they look like [potty word].

I HATE the quality of mass-market uniforms. Especially JC Penney's. Yes, I'm calling you out Penney's. And because this isn't Etsy, I CAN. Those skirts didn't even last the year before they looked like [potty word]. In contrast, The Children's Place uniforms last long past the time my kids grow out of them. But they are pricy. And they HAVE TO BE IRONED. Even though they say "Wrinkle Free" don't you believe it for a minute. If it's cotton it has to be ironed. I'm seriously thinking about sending their uniforms OUT. Target makes some decent twill pants that are pretty OK. But still.

I HATE the fact that Younger Daughter is SO SMALL that she wears a size 4/5 in the waist but a 7 in length of pants. She's 8 and built with a very tiny bone structure. You'd *think* she was super-fragile, but she can kick both her sister AND brother's collective butts. She's pretty much ALL muscle. So for her, I usually end up putting her in shorts or skirts or making her jumpers.

So uniforms. Earlier this year I was stalking Etsy's vintage patterns and came across two identical patterns in sizes 8 & 14. Neither of them exactly fit my girls, but it's something to work from. Oldest Daughter wears a 10-ish in vintage sizes. Younger Daughter wears a 4. Her interview suit was a size 6 that I took no less than 4" out of the jacket and 3"+ out of the skirt. She's SO small that my child size dress form at it's smallest setting is TOO BIG. Ugh.
The Pattern (Source)
Anyhoo, I'm going to make the shorts and skirt for my girls for their school sartorial splendor. The Boy is on his own. He's already got plenty of pants and shorts from last year that still fit.

Sew ya later!

#backtoschool #schooluniforms


It's funny how a word will always have a connection to a certain song, place or memory. For me, "Summertime" means song Old Skool DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.

Back in '91, I was a sophomore in college and lived for summer vacation. 21 years later... I've got three kids who wish summer would never end and I'm counting the days until school is back in session. That's exactly one month from now as school starts on August 13th.

I know that the next month is going to go by so fast that I'll wonder where the time went and how my kids grew up so fast and all that other stuff that goes along with it. But at least I got a jump on the school supplies. Yes, we have all the supplies on the list except uniforms. Those will wait until just before school starts because, well, there's still a month of summer left and have you seen how fast kids grow in the summer?

#target #schoolsuppliesrock

Facebook, what have you done to me?

Dear Readers,

The reason I haven't blogged lately is that Facebook has consumed my online time.

The various 'Villes, social quizzes and ANGRY BIRDS have become a time-suck. I ignored my favorite bloggers. I'm sorry.

Speaking of Angry Birds, I can't exactly blame Facebook entirely. No. I got a smartphone just about a year ago, too. And it, too has consumed my time. I ignored my favorite bloggers some more. But for good reason: the app for that sucked. Still does actually. I've yet to have a decent Blogger Reader for my Android device. And you'd think what with Google being the Big Brother behind Blogger, YouTube and practically everything else on the web.

But that's no excuse for abandoning my blog and you, all twelve followers. I know what a good excuse is! It's starting up a non-profit org that runs beauty pageants to help benefit abused children. No really. Seriously. I did that. Between September of last year and March of this year, my life was consumed with pageant prep. Well, that and major back problems. My back is better now.

If you're interested in my pageant program, please feel free to click here. I'm in the process of redesigning and moving the website to another host, so bear with me.

I promise I'll do better about blogging. I've done a bit of sewing and crafting and stuff, so I'd like to share it with you.

Sew ya later!


Sewing Patterns Without Pity

Or, where I wonder WHO is doing the art direction & styling for McCall's pattern books.

First up, Baby Daddy. This picture had me so flabbergasted I had to take pictures. Thus was born the inspiration for this post. See what I did there?
In our first game of "What's Wrong With This Picture", we have the OBVIOUSLY pregnant man. Either that or he's had one too many beers. Then there's the Rebel Without A Cause leather jacket coupled with Maverick's sunglasses from Top Gun. But the real gem is the COWBOY-themed diaper bag. Because every hipster-dad I know rocks that cowboy quilter's fabric style. Uh huh.

Moving on, we have McCall's 6027:
While there's nothing inherently "wrong" with the picture, her shoes are ALL WRONG for that dress. Royal Blue suede shoes would've been more fashion forward than peach strappy sandals with her foot hanging far enough off the back to wonder HOW she manages to stand at all. This is a case of taking that "shoes have to match the hemline of the dress" just a wee bit too far. It's joined by it's friend McCall's 6278:
Now this one is DEAD wrong as far as styling. I'd go so far as to slap the person who chose the fabrics for this abomination. If anything the loud/busy fabric should have been the contrast with the darker fabric in the middle. However they didn't ask me. The strappy sandals (what IS it with strappy sandals?) lack the proper proportion & color to complement this one. The proper footwear would have been some sort of black shoe to complete the look. As it stands here, the dress feels unfinished at the hemline because there's nothing to anchor it.

Speaking of anchors... McCall's 6346 has given me the WTH? reaction every time I've seen it. If it were possible to make her look more like an oompah loompah, I don't know WHAT they could've done.
First off, the hem line is WAY low on the longer dress. It's out of proportion with her height and the shoes aren't helping. Switch the shoes! Put the taller shoes on the long dress and the flats with the short dress!

McCall's 6342 just makes me say Oh MYYYYY!
George Takei & Quattron technology couldn't save this. It's just all kinds of wrong.

McCall's: The 70s called. They want their shoes, floppy hat & high-waisted with charmeuse blouse with neck tie back.
And it's a "Fashion Star" pattern no less. I'm almost 40 and I KNOW my mom had an outfit or three like this when I was growing up. The 70s were great when it was, you know, the actual 70s.
But wait! There's more! Just like those Ginsu knives we all remember, so McCall's & Fashion Star are going to give us MORE 70s Redux Greatness.

You'd think they'd have a bigger budget for shoes & accessories though. At least the model was different...

Which brings us to McCall's 6612.
Let's spot all the things WRONG with this one, shall we?

1. "Easy" and "Knits" do NOT go together. I've been sewing for going on 30 years now. Knits aren't straightforward like a woven. They have special notions, presser feet and techniquest to keep them from rolling, bunching and otherwise being a nuisance.

2. Skin tight hoochie showing dress and "Plus Size" do not go together. As a member of the "Plus Size" crowd, I wouldn't be caught dead in a dress cut up to my lady business and have it be spandex. I've got a little more dignity.

Way to go McCall's for making a dress in a plus size that would most likely never be made AND worn by a truly plus size woman. But thanks for thinking of us! At least there's McCall's 6127.
If we can't pull off the t-shirt masquerading as a dress, we can always layer on flowy, voluminous pieces that totally hit in all the right spots to de-emphasize our plus sizedness.

What's that McCall's? We should be grateful? Or what? You'll give us a muu muu pattern? Oh wait...
I kid you not. This ... uhhhh ... is in the current (Fall 2012) pattern catalog. My great-grandmother wore dresses like this in the 60s. They were called "housedresses" or "muu-muus" back then. Nothing says "svelte" like a tent hanging from your shoulders that just gets wider as it goes below your lovely lady lumps.

Speaking of the 60s, did you see Nurse Nancy McCall's 5895? You didn't? Well here it is!
I haven't seen a nurse in a dress since I was kid. Or when I was hospitalized in Jakarta two summers ago. Again with the tent-with-a-neckhole style. I'm guessing THIS one is maternity scrubs. It has to be.

If you've stuck with me this far, THANKS! Now let's look at the Bumblebee dress and the scrubs dress. They look awfully alike. Maybe THAT is why I get asked all the freaking time "when are you due?" I'm not pregnant, I'm FAT.

Another thing I've NEVER seen in all my sojourns in medical establishments is a "fashion foward" scrubs top. But they do exist. Thus seweth McCall's 6473.

I've also never seen a medical professional armed with a bottle of hand sanitizer as if it were some sort of weapon. And I've seen a LOT of medical professionals over the last few years. I've logged so many hours in so many medical facilities that I've started asking them for "frequent flyer" cards.

Lest you think I'm full of pattern catalog hate, let me leave you with two really good examples:

I can't post individual pictures because the entire catalog is really, really well done. The children were photographed in settings where one would expect to see them. Even the studio shots had some real thought put into them with props and so on. Made me want to buy them all. The models inside looked like actual models who actually modeled for a living as models. Maybe that's why the patterns are all $11.99 and never go on sale for $1.99 or $.99 like McCall's, Simplicity or Butterick.

Speaking of Butterick, I want to point out that this offering in plus size was actually something a real human being might wear and look GOOD in.
It is the right proportion and fit, is modeled by an actual plus size model and is styled quite nicely. Shoes that look good and model position that isn't unnatural and forced-looking. Butterick uses a lot more pattern illustrations than McCall's. Maybe the reason why the photos look so much better is because they are interested in quality of photo, not quantity.

Sew ya later!