Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Sometimes I love being a DINK (dual income, no kids). I can buy toys for me! So I bought myself a Barbie. Well, actually two and it's all because of monkeys. My husband likes monkeys so he was naturally drawn to the Julius monkey that's popped up on hip clothing and accessories over the last few years. I happened to snag a few yards of the actual Julius-printed flannel fabric and made him a pair of sleep pants. He loves them. I had just enough extra to make a pillow case for a small travel pillow.

Then I saw a blurb in the newspaper about this new Barbie:

Tiny monkey pajamas! Posted by Hello

How could I not get this. I rationalized that I could make tiny clothes for her and then I decided if one was fun, two would be better. So I bought this:

Strike a pose! Posted by Hello

She's sort of a Barbie but not the garden variety toy for little girls. This one is made of something they call "Modelmuse" and she's apparently more poseable. She also has a bit of a different figure. I will have to alter the patterns for her. Great. I have a enough trouble altering my clothing patterns and now I'm going to alter tiny doll ones? At least I don't have to worry about her gaining weight and not being able to fit into the clothes I make.

Oh, and there's more. There was an additional offer of a tiny clothes rack with hangers when you spent $75 (ahem, I said these are not your garden variety little girl's dolls), which was another reason I thought "monkey Barbie" needed a girlfriend.

Such fun! I played Barbies for hours on end when I was growing up. I would spend all day setting up an elaborate house for Barbie on my bed only to have to dismantle it so I could go to sleep at night. Kleenex worked well as sheets. My transistor radio stood in as the Hi-Fi. I was always on the lookout for Barbie-sized items for her house and made many things out of paper, Play-Doh and other materials. And of course I sewed clothes for Barbie. Awful looking things, I have to admit. My sewing skills didn't go much beyond a running stitch on scraps of fabric. I didn't know the concept of a dart but clearly Barbie needed one. I just folded the fabric and stitched - the fold ended up on the outside but I didn't know any better.

At one point I had a huge family of dolls consisting of many Barbies, Kens, Francies, Skippers, Tuttis and "Little Kiddles." Unfortunately I didn't realize they weren't all "mine." One day, while I was in college, my older sister took back the ones that were hers. She later gave them away to a neighbor girl. Can you tell I'm still bitter? I was left with a Malibu Barbie whose hair I melted with the hair dryer, another Barbie with wirey blonde hair that you were supposed to be able to style, a 70's era Skipper (my sister took her much cooler Skipper and Ricky), a mod Ken doll with a waist that pivots (he's supposed to dance on a stage that got thrown out long ago when the batteries corroded inside), and a Tutti and some Kiddles with wild hair. All the dolls are well worn from being played with and bathed countless times. They also got a bit damaged after years of being packed away in my parent's attic. They melted. Not into a pile of molten plastic, but some of them have flattened spots where they melted to other plastic things or dolls stored with them or even to their own appendages (the legs to the butts). But there's no loss of potential eBay revenue, as it seems that the market is quite swamped and prices are not very high for ordinary dolls and certainly not for well-played with dolls. There are high priced dolls being auctioned but there are also a lot with no bids at all.

I had considered buying two Paul Frank dolls to sell one later on eBay, but I'm not interested in doing all that work (and not to mention storing the darn thing) for $20 profit. I'm not even going to check eBay to see if it ends up being a hot item. I'm just going to enjoy my new dolls and dress them up in little outfits (like I have time to sew for Barbie???). What about the old ones? They're packed away with what's left of their store bought and hand-sewn outfits and accessories. They're so play-worn that it would just be a reminder of my childhood and not a fashion doll for me to dress. They'll understand. AAARGH, they're inanimate dolls for goodness sakes. I shouldn't feel guilty that I bought new dolls! Besides, I'd much rather post a picture of a beautiful dress I've sewn on a doll with un-melted hair and limbs.

Can't wait for them to show up. It'll be like Christmas.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Expo time!

I didn't do any sewing over the weekend, but I did do some shopping. The Sew-Quilt-Embroidery Expo was in town! I looked forward to a few hours of seminars and shopping but was disappointed to see that they were charging for the seminars. Last spring when I went, the seminars were free. I only had a few hours and it was the last day of the show so I chose not to go to any seminars. I was interested in the 1:00 seminar on sewing lingerie, but I had just arrived and wanted to shop instead and I had just paid $7 parking and $6 entrance fee so another 10 bucks for a seminar I just heard about with someone I didn't know wasn't all that exciting. So I shopped.

My strategy for these kinds of vendor shows is to browse the whole thing first and then go back through more slowly and make purchases. The first time I went to a vendor show, it was the yarn and fiber show called Stitches. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of fiber in one place that I nearly hyperventilated! The show yesterday wasn't as fiber-rich but it still was a thrill for this fabric/notions/yarn shopaholic. Alas, there were no yarn vendors except for one who only brought a small inventory of fru-fru yarns for those who like embellish garments, not knit them. The show had a good turnout from sewing machine dealers, local quilt shops and some independent pattern makers like Birch Street, LJ Designs, and Unique Patterns. The Ott-light guy and the "miracle" ironing board cover vendors where also there. There were only a handful of non-sewing or quilting vendors selling scrapbook and stamping supplies and a large gift wrap and paper goods vendor who is always at the show. There were a few more jewelry sellers than last time (lots of costume jewelry bling bling), a nail polish vendor, and a few others that I forget because I passed them by. I don't think it was a great show but it was certainly better than past shows that seemed to be dominated by non-fiber crafty sellers.

So what did I buy? In past shows I tend to buy lots of fat quarters and quilt patterns I'll never get to. I did buy about 5 fat quarters for $1 each, a special foot to sew perfect tubes for my Fasturn tubes, some felted wool and a needle, and glass buttons from Czechoslovakia. But this time I also hit the big stuff. No, I didn't buy another sewing machine or serger (though I'm sure they have some good show-only deals). I bought this rolling case for my sewing machine at a pretty good deal and it came with a free bag for my serger:

Tutto bag (see Posted by Hello
Yes, mine is the cool lime green color too!

And, after much thinking and pacing, I bought this from a local sewing machine dealer:

They simply had a show special I couldn't pass up. I never see these thread chests on sale and they are even excluded from the online sales and coupons at Nancy's Notions or Joann's. By 4:30 I was still undecided about the thread chest and wandered back over to the booth to think about it. Lo and behold they dropped the price another $8 for a "show closing" special. I caved. Good thing I bought the rolling cart too because the chest is heavy. The cart comes with a bungie cord so I used it to secure the box to the top and I was effortlessly on my way.

So I left the show happy with my good deals and my new toys. I also learned some things. I saw how to work with felted wool - my mother-in-law bought me felted wool from New Zealand a few years ago and I didn't know what to do with it. I think she didn't know what she was buying and thought it was for my knitting. When I saw the felted wool booth I asked about it and was shown how to make figurines. Apparently teddy bears and dragons are big with felted wool artisans. Not for me. But I did see a cute sheep and thought that I could at least make one or two or a whole flock of those. My wool is pretty vibrant colored so I bought a small ball of black for the legs, head and ears. The needle is barbed so what you do is move it in and out of the wool, which draws the fibers together. You can make it as tightly or as loosely packed as you want.

The other lesson I learned is how to use my Fasturn tubes more effectively. I can count on one hand minus a few fingers the number of times I've used them and I think I've only made drawstrings. Someone told me how you can use it to make cording (you put the cord at the end of the tube and when you pull the fabric through the tube, it "sucks up" the cord). The demonstrator also showed how to make piping. Simple. You sew the bias strip with wrong sides together and the width of the piping cord (I'd make it a bit wider to allow for a tighter seam when you sew it in place). Use the Fasturn to turn it inside out. Then use the Fasturn again to turn it right sides out but this time, "sucking up" the cord. And there you have it! Piping. You can also use the Fasturn to stuff a flat piece with fiberfill - bast the fiberfill to the strip and turn inside out with the tube.

So all in all, the Expo was a success for me. I had a good day, learned some things and bought some things.

Friday, September 24, 2004

TV Sewing

Not much going on. I've been rather lazy in the evenings and have just been watching TV and going to bed early. Boring, I know. Sometimes I remember to work on my knitting while I watch TV - the scarf is growing. I've also been trying to clean some "Sew Much More" episodes off the PVR. I record it every day and at 5x week it can add up fast. I think the show is helpful and so much better than the first year it came out. I do think Susan, the host, is a bit too rushed at times but at least she does mostly garment sewing. Whenever I see a cool technique or hear some good info I jot it down in my cute sewing-themed journal.

If it's a really good show I can watch it on the computer (we have it connected to the DISH receiver) and save it as an mpg to view later.

I browsed a bit in Macy's yesterday and I thought there was a tweed explosion. I have to say that if it weren't "in" right now quite a few of the tweed coats are reminiscent of things my grandmother wore - at 70 years old. Add a big 'ol brooch (and those are in also!), some white gloves, and oh my.

It's a cute coat, but I'm not a stick thin model. It reminds me that I need to visit the stores more often and try some things on - not to buy but to see how they look on me. I have a feeling that the tweedy coats and suits might just be a little too matronly looking on me. But I hate shopping. My browsing yesterday was very brief. It also confirmed that I have many of the right fabrics and patterns in my stash to create similar trendy garments - I just have to find the time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

New stuff

I didn't do any sewing last week or over the weekend, but I did do some shopping! Joann's had one of their fairly-often pattern sales last Thursday through Saturday (you're nuts if you pay the regular 50% pattern price at Joann's and just stupid if you pay full price somewhere else!). Butterick and McCalls were 99 cents each and Vogue was 75% off. Unfortunately they did not have the latest Vogue patterns out yet and this led me to an obsessive search of Joann stores in the area. I visited three and none had the new ones. Yeah, I know, Joann's is having yet another pattern sale on Sept 30 and Oct 1 but I really want this pattern. And this one too. I did finally find this one - it was sold out in stores #1 and #2. Does Joann's ever restock patterns? I doubt it. The patterns are probably discontinued before they'd have a chance to reorder. For a buck each, I decided I needed this and this but I goofed on the last one and picked up the wrong size. I misread the envelope where it says "size" in French as "Taille" and thought it said "size - Tall." And I took two semesters of French. Ha! I spent way too much time walking around the store(s). I couldn't decide what to use my 40% Joann's coupon on. Fabric? NO! Way too much of the stuff at home. But it was nice to look at and fondle. Thread? Don't need any right now. Buttons? Didn't go prepared with any swatches and I have enough projectless buttons at home. Small Rowenta iron? Coupon not good on it (rats). Decorative junk for the house? Not on your life. I refuse to support Joann's sale of non-sewing items. Notions? Probably have them all. I finally decided on an awl, which is about the one thing I don't have. I can use a sharp pointy thing every now and then but actually want to use it like a stiletto to help guide the little itty-bitty pieces of fabric when I sew my miniature quilt.

I ventured out of Joann's on Saturday to go to some other stores. I picked up a nice pair of wood knitting needles at a swanky yarn store with the hope that they'll be less slippery for my scarf. I tried them out and they are. They are beautiful needles. I got a few more rows of the scarf done while watching TV on Sunday. It was a rainy (and hailing) day - good for movies and knitting.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Happy Birthday to me!

Let’s see, it’s been a busy weekend. I went to a Creative Memories party Friday night. I ended up buying scrapbook stuff with the crazy notion that I would go back through my old albums and redo the photos. Apparently they are bad, photo disintegrating plastic albums. I’ve been taking photos since I was 8 and won a cheap plastic camera. My dad helped me develop the film and I guess he saw a budding photographer in me because he gave me a real camera (a Kodak Pocket 110) for my 9th birthday. Anyway, I have lots of photo albums but I’m having second thoughts about turning them into cutesy scrapbooks. I don’t have the time and I think it would take away from the history and feel of the photos. If I had kids and took lots of photos of them, then I could see making up scrapbook albums because it’s the “in thing.” But it wasn’t a fad in the 70’s and I think my photos will look out of place next to construction paper cutouts and stickers. Am I wrong? I think at the most I will remove them from the plastic albums, arrange them into the new album, and include some words. The old albums have no place to describe the photo, so this would at least be beneficial.

My birthday was yesterday. I was very depressed about it and the whole gift thing. I was hurt when it seemed like my husband wasn’t going to buy me a gift. Oh, he’d buy me something, but only if I’d pick it out. This is a problem because there’s not much that I want. I don’t wait for gift-giving times – if I see something I want, I get it (within reason of course). There was one thing I thought was extravagant and didn’t really need but kind of wanted: an expensive collection of embroidery threads in a 3-drawer wooden box. I think I was more excited about it because it came with a free tote bag for my sewing machine. Then hubby declared the tote bag ugly and questioned why I wanted it. So I convinced myself that I didn’t really need the thread after all (I really don’t). There went my husband’s “perfect” gift that he’d be sure I liked because I picked it out. Then on Saturday, my husband suggested that we buy a Japanese Maple for my present. Wow. My husband remembered that I liked them. Not exactly what I thought of for a birthday gift but since he came up with the idea all on his own, I decided that if I ever want another gift from him, I better accept it. So we bought a tree. My spirits lifted by the birthday gift, I suggested we go to an art and wine festival that just happened to be located where a quilt shop was that just happened to give 25% off on fabric on the day of, day before and day after your birthday. I never need an excuse to buy fabric but I felt like making one anyway. I bought about eight or so 1-yard pieces of various cottons just because I liked them. No plan in mind (except for one I thought would make a nice vest), I just bought them because I liked then.
On my birthday I gave myself another present. I stayed home from work. My husband encouraged me to do so and I’m so glad I did. I actually had a good day! I felt great even though I spent the morning shopping at Target (curtain rods, but also a nice suede jacket and some much-needed socks). I stopped at the sewing machine dealers to pick up vacuum cleaner bags and of course browse the embroidery goodies. I almost bought a design packet but decided I ought to instead use my digitizing software to make the one design I want. In the afternoon I watched some TV and did some sewing. I like the tweedy Chanel jacket look that’s in style this fall and decided that I should get moving or the fad will pass me buy. I have a nice raw silk suiting that I think would be nice as a lightweight jacket I could dress down with jeans. So I traced off Simplicity 4954 and made up a muslin. It almost fits well, but the princess seam isn’t quite right in front. There’s too much fabric above my bust and it seems a bit snug right at my bust. I tried pinning some out of the upper chest but that just created diagonal draglines to the side of my breast. After consulting some fitting books, I concluded that the princess seam silhouette of this pattern is not right for me. The bust apex is too high, which makes sense since it looks like they targeted this pattern at a younger crowd. There’s a Chanel jacket sew-along on right now and at least one other person has concluded the same thing about this pattern. She’s decided not to use it but I’m torn between altering the princess seam or starting over with a different pattern. This Vogue pattern looks promising, but I’m afraid that it won’t fit better and I’ll end up doing adjustments anyway. What to do, what to do. Meanwhile my blouse muslin sits and languishes, a victim of fitting woes too.

And more birthday presents arrived in the evening. My husband came home with some books and a DVD “wrapped” in the shopping bag. I also “opened” the non-wrapped wish list gifts from his sister. One gift was Borders, Bindings and Edges: The Art of Finishing Your Quilt by Sally Collins. I already knew I was getting it, which took away the surprise - besides the fact that I asked for it on my wish list. I’m bad. I peeked and looked at the “purchased items” a few weeks ago and saw it on that list.

So I really enjoyed my day off and wish I could have more. I wish I didn’t have to work. But then I wouldn’t have the money to buy fabric and patterns and I wouldn’t have anywhere to wear the clothes I’d make. So I guess I will keep working.

Oh yeah. Almost forgot. I changed my hairstyle. I decided I was bored with the old look and why not make a change for my birthday. I like the new cut but it does require more work in the morning. Along with some gel and spray and fussing. I didn't radially change it, I just got layers cut and am trying to grow my bangs out. Yeah, been there, done that and went back to bangs!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


I actually got out my knitting last night! I was going to sew, but overwhelmed with what to work on: miniature quilt, blouse muslin, xmas gift I need to finish..., I decided to knit instead. It's a scarf out of this yarn. Not the easiest to knit but it's just a simple garter stitch.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Fitting Frustrations!

I had hoped to do lots of sewing this holiday weekend but a variety of things got in the way.

  1. It's HOT! Over 100 yesterday and today and near 100 on Saturday. We don't have a/c, so we tried to do as little as possible.

  2. Doing as little as possible was all I could do Saturday. I somehow hurt my back and it started spasming so I spent most of the day on the couch with ice on my back. At least the ice kept me cool. Fortunately the combination of ice, rest, and some nice little white pills did the trick and by night I was almost back to normal. The only thing I can figure is that I moved a rib a bit when I watered plants Saturday morning. Good thing I have a chiropractor appointment on Wednesday.

  3. College football on TV. Had to watch Penn State start the season off with a win. Yippee. Colorado State didn't do so well. Bummer. But other teams I root for (Stanford, Michigan) also won. Also watched a few movies. Not an entirely bad way to spend a few days off.

I finally go to my sewing today, but the heat and some annoying fitting problems made at least my garment sewing short lived. I spent alittle time working on my miniature quilt. This quilt is a project that I will have to work on bit by bit over the next year.

So...the fitting. Ugh. Lets see, so far I have a size 14 muslin with the side seams let out 1/4 inch and a size 16 muslin with a narrow chest adjustment. Without sleeves, the 16 is kinda big and the 14 is fitted. But I forgot that this pattern has a tie in the back so the 16 looked like it might fit better. That is until I put the sleeves in. I hate set-in sleeves but I spent the time to do both sets on each muslin. I'm glad I did. The size 16 narrow chest adjustment that seemed fine without sleeves was awful once they were in! It definitely pulls and tells me I don't need the adjustment or I took too much out. The 14 actually fits better - nicely fitted across the upper chest and shoulders. But there are some drag lines coming from the bust. It could just be that this is the wrong time of the month to be fitting things in my chest, if you know what I mean. I fear that the size 16 without bust adjustment will be too big in the upper chest. To address the drag lines I think I need a bit more room in lower part of the armscye. But I'm not sure how much more time and effort I want to spend on this, let alone how to do such an adjustment. The fabric for the blouse is inexpensive cotton from Joann's but I was hoping to make more New Look blouses, so understanding the fit would be beneficial. But at this point I was too hot to deal with it...or any sewing. So I took a break and later on I worked on my quilt.

    Friday, September 03, 2004

    Fitting woes and art supplies

    Well, I tried going up a size on the New Look blouse and then doing the pattern adjustment for a small upper chest but the blouse was too big overall. Hmmm, I guess I'm between sizes. I tried on the smaller size to compare and think that I will now try to let out the side seams 1/4 inch and see if that helps. The blouse has front and back vertical darts and should be fitted. Too large and it will just emphasize the "homemadeness." Too small and the buttons in front will pull and I definitely won't be comfortable wearing it.

    That reminds me of an incident I witnessed at work a few weeks ago. I work in a predominantly male field so women are scarce and due to the nature of the field (science and engineering), usually not fashionable (sad, but true). I was at an all-day review and noticed one woman, who has a fairly boyish figure and was dressed rather plainly, was wearing a blouse that was too small across the front - even with her A-cup. As a result it gapped a bit. What shocked me though was the guy in the next row had casually turned around for something but his eyes locked on her. Not on her face, but the gap in her blouse! He was staring at the bit of bra or skin he could see! He didn't just do this once either! I was sitting in the row behind her and I saw him turn around again and stare. Blatently. What a perv! I'm glad I don't work with this guy.

    Anyway, back to sewing...

    Or art. I went out last night to a buy a frame but had an alterior motive - the 2-day pattern sale at Joann's. Since I'm trying my darndest to keep from buying more fabric, I'm indulging in patterns instead. I ordered eight at Wazoodle's Kwik Sew sale and picked up two last night at Joann's. Then I went to buy the frame but had to browse the art supplies. I love art supplies. I always loved art in school and try to dabble in it now and then. I recently bought a portable easel at Costco - it was a good price and even came with a blank canvas, brushes and acrylic paints. I have some watercolors at home and even took a watercolor class but I've not painted with acrylics. I can't even remember if I used them in school. So I bought a book to learn about the materials and methods of painting, some more blank canvases for practicing, and a sketch book for trying out ideas (I think I'll use colored pencils or even crayons). Yeah, I know, like I need more hobbies. There's just something about art suppies, fabric, patterns, etc. that makes me want to create. The problem is putting brush to canvas and scissor to fabric.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    What to work on next?

    Sooooo many projects and so little time. I have my evenings back now that the Olympics are over. I found it fun to watch but got a little obsessed trying to watch everything. The PVR was heavily used these last few weeks - it was filled with Olympics and the daily Sew Much More episodes. I'm currently whittling away at the sewing shows. My husband hooked up my computer to the output of the satellite receiver so I can watch TV in the sewing/computer room. The real benefit is that while he's engrossed in XBox and hogging the TV, I can still watch things we've saved on the PVR. And I can save them to the hard drive too! The quality is not the best, but it works.

    Anyway, back to sewing. Or knitting. I was inspired to start this blog after reading knitter blogs. Alas, sewing is not quite as "in" as knitting is these days and knitter blogs far outweigh sewing blogs. But still, it's a neat way to chronicle one's projects and can be a fun outlet for amateur writing. My interest in knitting was renewed when I read about and saw pictures of the wonderful sweaters these knitting bloggers were creating. I bought sock yarn. I bought frou-frou yarn to make scarves. I thought I would multi-task by spending my TV time knitting as well. Hasn't happened.

    However, I am sewing and that's a good thing. But whenever I finish a project I get overwhelmed by what to work on next. Should I work on something for this season or next? Should I try something new or use a pattern I've sewn already? Do I start with a pattern and find the fabric (it better be stash fabric) or pick a fabric and find a pattern? Easy or challenging? Or perhaps I should work on the drapes I've been meaning to make or quilts that I've started and not finished?

    I decided last night to work on a short sleeve blouse I started. The muslin didn't quite fit so I decided to look more closely into why it doesn't fit. The muslin fits fine in the upper chest and shoulders but is too small across the bust and waist. If I go up a size, it will be too big in the upper chest. This is a common problem for me. I consulted Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina and found that the breast apex on my pattern is about 1 inch too low and 1 inch toward my arm. The instructions for fixing it call for starting with a garment that fits everywhere except the upper chest, which means that I need to cut the bigger size and alter the pattern for my small upper chest. The alteration calls for adjusting the both the bodice and the sleeve patterns. I'm hoping to work on it tonight.