quick feel-good winter sassy-arsed sewing

Yes, dear ones, I have been sewing. Of course! Yesterday saw a trip to Joann’s and a purchase of, me shits ye not, two dollars and seventy-one cents (that’s including tax) which I promptly returned home to make these beauties (Kwik Sew 3208, my pattern review here):

No, I am not drunk. I am naturally red-cheeked and shiny.

Mrrroww! The one on the left will eviscerate you, ten seconds flat. Note my favorite shirt ever, nerdily recon’d from a man’s XL to a titsy girlie tee.

My online penpal M. writes the following in response to my rants from the other day:

“The litany of peeves on your sewing blog at the moment really touched a nerve with me. How has it happened that ‘you could [or should!] SELL these!’ has become the highest compliment people think they can offer someone who sews? I know the comment is usually very well intended, but most people I know who make things for themselves and their friends do it in order to avoid buying and selling. I was nodding vigorously the whole time I was reading that entry.

I find that it’s often in regards to sewing that I just have to practice tuning people out. Last year, for a special occasion, I had made each of my little nieces a fairly elaborate dress (smocking, beading, embroidery–the works), and when they showed these dresses to a woman they knew (a stranger to me), she sniffed a little and said, ‘What did you do, spend three months on these?’ (Um, yes.) I was kind of surprised by the undertone of disdain because what’s it to her?


So, yes, I completely understand your list of sewing-related grievances, and I’d add this one too: I can’t stand it when people assume that anything that involves the operation of a sewing machine will be fun and interesting to me. Just because it is easy to hem something, alter something, repair something or make some basic item doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m chomping on the bit to do it. I always feel so guilty when I say no to a sewing favour, but I also don’t want to keep the person waiting for months while I work up the motivation to do it. Gotta be realistic.”

Thanks, M.

"what stops you in your tracks?"

My sewing life evolves, fluctuates, frustrates, and inspires me. I now know there will never be a time in my life I won’t be sewing. Or if that occurs, I will be very alienated from myself and I shudder to think. As much as sewing is my passion, there are those aspects of being an ardent and devoted seamstress that just trip me up enough to temporarily forget the many rewards. Here are my top four:

1. UFOs.* UFOs! If I have something unfinished, I feel like a jerk. And then I put my sewing off because I don’t want to finish the project.

2. MENDING. I am seriously considering bagging up my mending and giving it to our local Free Store (like a thrift store but, um, everything’s free) because I HATE mending and I notice I’m not getting to it anytime soon.

3. When my sewing room is grungy I find myself disgruntled with sewing in general. Now I don’t mean messy – I have no problem putting stuff away and my items are very well-organized. But when the carpet feels dingy and it just has that LOOK to it I can feel rather dispirited. I usually ask my husband to sweep it out, then I do some reorg. and dusting and I feel refreshed.

4. Expensive fabric can halt me in my tracks as well (I don’t buy it often; and by “expensive” I mean anything over $10 / yd). I will end up “saving it” instead of using it (usually because I have not also bought the accoutrement / notions for the project – like the lining fabric, buttons, etc. Reminder to self: but EVERYTHING at once and just dive in!). Alternatively, when I do “cheap” sewing with some remnant or whatever and I am just being frugal but not in love with what I sew. I will lose interest in the project which then puts me back to #1!

So what about you, dear reader? What are the aspects of your craft that trip you up? P.S. Yes I know only three people read this blog EVER, but I am always happy to hear your comments.

* “Unfinished Objects”, in nerdy sewer’s parlance.

today at the fabric store…

Well, it’s not much of a fabric store. Kind of an all-purpose merchantile. They have sewing notions, McCall’s patterns, and some fabrics and I go there in a pinch. The service there is ickly – employees at the cutting counter always show up late to the page, are often surly, and rarely (never, from what I’ve seen) have any sewing knowledge. Well, the lack of sewing knowledge is OK – I am just happy to have a fabric store in town with good prices, needles, thread, etc. and I consider it a bonus when I’m in a store that does have knowledgable staff.

To this morning I was looking for a sheer-ish curtain fabric so I can put up new curtains in my kitchen (which is freshly painted) without darkening it too much (I have a very small kitchen and one small window therein). I found this peach 100% poly sheer and I brought it up to the counter along with a cotton print I’m going to use for class tonight. When the woman came to the cutting counter and unwrapped the bolt I saw how filmy and slippery the fabric was and I started to believe it wouldn’t make a nice curtain, so I said “You know what? I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m going to get that. It looks like a nightmare to sew on.” Silently the woman wraps the bolt again. “I need to find a similar sheer in cotton,” I mused aloud. “They don’t make any such thing!” she rejoined sourly.

I just stood there. I didn’t know if I should tell her yes, in fact they DO make what I’m talking about (Ralph suggested I should have said, “First, they do make what I’m speaking of. Secondly, you’re being a cunt.”). I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised at the woman’s dour demeanor – after all, this was one of the ladies who behaved so horridly last year when my son fell ill in their store (Letter #2). I let her cut my other piece of fabric, thanked her, and left.

Sheesh. Luckily last night I had stellar customer service at the video store, so I feel balanced out. 🙂

we interrupt this program

A Few Excerpts of a Disgruntled Seamstress:

Today I think I came off as rude to a Mama who was complimenting Sophie’s costume from last year – she wore it to preschool today. “You should sell these!” she said, after fondling my girl’s dress and pinafore. “Oh… thank you. I just keep them around year after year for my friends to borrow,” I replied. “No really, you should make a line of these clothes and sell them!”

Urf. I shudder to think how much time it would take for me to make a full line of clothes – even a limited spread of specialized costumes for children – to sell them. Not to mention that by doing that I would be stifling my artistic expression in sewing in order to make it my money-earner. Nor do I want the heartache of starting a serious business. Nor would very many want to pay for my sewing, which I charge a good hourly rate AS WELL as use fine materials. But I get the weirdest comments in regards to my craft – and I’m going to share some of the comments that irritate:

1. People who admire my work briefly then tell me they’d “like to sew, but don’t have the time.” First off, in general people who complain about being so busy bore the tits off me (who isn’t “busy”?). But would someone say this in response to a beautiful oil panting? No, because apparently painting is an art – it requires talent and you don’t know how good you’ll be until you try – while sewing on the other hand is some half-assed hobby that anyone could master if they just threw a few minutes at it every now and then. The garment you’re admiring took years of sewing for me to make it as well as it is made. Oh, fuck off. P.S. I can sew and knit but not crotchet; I can barely struggle through making something that involves pipe cleaners or glue. To each his / her own talents.

2. On the other hand, people who say “I could never do that!” Well, maybe you could. I had to slug through and work my ass off; I had to learn to love a seam-ripper. Maybe if you put the time in you’d be rewarded as well. But I’m not a Magic Elf that was born with the ability.

3. Acquaintances who, if I mention wanting a new tablecloth or whatever, say “Oh you could sew that for cheaper!” Holy shit. Yes, I suppose I could sew every cloth item in my goddamn home! (which would include diapers, covers, and wipes; tablecloths and napkins, because we don’t use paper products short of TP). Secondly, it WOULDN’T be much cheaper, unless my time counts for nothing (time I use to clean, to read, to write, to wipe my kid’s ass, to hang with girlfriends, to make out with my husband) and I buy bottom-rate fabrics and employ shoddy construction methods – like most things you find at Target, Pier One, etc.

4. People who actually roll their eyes like I’m weird for tailoring my t-shirt or making my pants. WTF? Are they jealous? Do they think I’m some weirdo for not doing the easy thing and buying it? I love sewing. I would do it all day long if I didn’t have bills to pay and people in my life who would strenuously object to being ignored all day.

5. People who ask me to sew something, then when they find out how much it costs, act shocked or offended. Now, I am not disgruntled about this because I know why it happens. And for those would-be customers there are plenty of sweatshops that can afford them their fiber-arts for scandalously low prices at the expense of many wee Chinese pre-teens. Fun!

I have a list of very NICE things about sewing and my admirers, but I’ll just put the bitchy stuff out there for now.

Halloween, now and then

For the two people who read my sew blog – here is Nels’ costume for this Halloween:

Ice Bat!

The wing of Ice Bat!

Ice Bat’s bum and tail!

Tonight Ralph sweetly insisted we get the kids in my costumes and take some pictures – so that’s what we did. Here’s a montage of our kids’ Halloweens so far – some pictures from then, others from tonight.

Sophie, Nels, and I. Where’s Nels? YOU know. I am about four months pregnant here and holding my wee little bat. Yes, Ralph was Frankenstein’s monster.

Well, this is the little guy a year later. Gee, could he be cuter? Nope. Sadly, I don’t have a good picture of my Sophie as a geisha so here (to confuse you) is Nels *this* year, wearing Sophie’s costume of ’03:

Nels has a chubbier tummy than his sister did in this outfit.

OK, this wasn’t a costume but a bear bunting for Nels when he was about a year old. Still, I maintain it was one of the cutest things ever sewn for a baby. Warm, too!

Another non-costume – as in, she didn’t wear this on Halloween per se. But do you recognize it? Yes, Japanime dorks, that is Kiki.

Sophie’s prairie girl dress from last year. This was quite elaborate. My picture isn’t that great. Oh well.

Showing her “Prairie Girl Action”, Sophie rolls out – a pumpkin.

yes, i too can be a Good Mama

Yes, I’m going to get back to posting about sewing. But I wanted to say – proudly – that today my children and I did crafts that I thought up and enacted!

I have yet to see Halloween spiders with googley-eyes that demonstrate the correct number of ocular organs on said arachnid-form. Casa Del Hogaboom corrected that error today. Styrofoam balls w/tempura paint (hung to dry), rolled in lime-green and black glitter, pipe cleaner legs and yes, an octet of google-eyes (Yes Craig, and I know spiders have eight legs as well – and apparently, according to Nels, one of them sticks off the top of the head).

Our ghosts were so awesome they even looked in the same direction while swaying. Styrofoam ball, cheesecloth (1 yard makes four ghosties); the tiny black pompoms (eyes) and white head-ribbon are attached by straight pins.

Next: punkins with A B C features. You’ll see.

behold ye salvage bag!

You: “My, what a sedate, well-crafted messenger bag you have there. Where-ever did you buy it? How much did you pay for such a lovely piece of work – nay, art?”

Me: “Check it out, bitch! This is no boring store-bought bag! I made this UP, all by myself. From stuff I found around my sewing room and by hacking the hardware off an old canvas Target purse.”

(material salvaged from leftover fabric – my husband’s gusset-crotch pants – and Sophie’s Drive-In dress).

Note Essential Pocket #1: notebook outer pocket. And my topstitchin’ – it’s always bitchin’.

Note Essential Pocket #2: cigarette welt pocket. Welt pockets are awesome. My picture of this one is assy. Who cares. Too bad I’m not smoking at the moment. I’ll take it up though, to warrant my cool pocket.

Other essential pockets include: pen and pencil sleeves, Secret Tampon Pocket, bound zippered pocket for makeup etc.

Closeup of the delightfully garish inner fabric.

craftin’ the light fantastic

This year’s school backpack for Sophie:

Made from a pair of brown corduroy pants my mom gave me for recon. I also got a pair of 70’s style slacks for Sophie out of this donation too. See, I can be frugal when I wanna!

Nerdily wearing a dress and pants I also sewed for her. Too young to know it isn’t cool to wear handsewn stuff from Mama.

Here was last year’s backpack (which she still uses):

Look at how little she is! And her chubby little arms! And that little booty in the overalls!

A closeup of the Jack patch, which I got from LoriV’s shop at Etsy (so cute, so fast, amazing packaging – I am going to Etsy-stalk her until she’s tired of me!).

This is my first knitting project of the season. A stripey Halloween-esque hat for the girl. Yes, I do in fact know I have another child, and yes I am going to sew for him. Sheesh!

I know I’m biased, but my daughter is beautiful.

from Kelly’s weekend of exhaustive sewing enterprises

Last Sunday we attended our friends Pete and Brenda’s birthday party for their son, Archer (more pictures from the party here). Here’s the backpack I sewed for the boy (sadly, the backpack pictures are only so-so – the embroidery says “Archer”, duh):

Sophie not only loves my sewing, she helps me with a lot of it (in this case, she sat on my lap for some of the stitches and picked out the buttons). Then she is thrilled to gift it. Just look at her expression and body language. I know in my heart of hearts I may not always have a child who shares my passion, but for now I do, and I love it.

Embroidery is not my forte – not yet, anyway – so I had Abbi do this for me – she is speedy and talented. In return I am tracing her a pattern for my lurvely custom-made boxer shorts. P.S. check out my friend Brenda’s truly amazing rack!

a pumpkin king for my li’l punkin queen

What can I say about Etsy? It’s kind of like having one’s own custom sweatshop! Just don’t tell the lovely artisans I buy from that I think so. The prices are reasonable and the items are diverse, cute, and creative! You find someone’s shop or style you like and you can usually get a custom item. Today these are winging their way to me, thanks to a $10 Paypal investment:

Jack + Sophie, a match made in heaven. This will go on Sophie’s new school backpack which I am currently cutting out.

I couldn’t resist this spider patch, either. Not sure where I’m gonna put it.

These were custom-made by LoriV, who does collages and custom patches, the latter of which have a wonderful style all their own.

Thanks, lovely Lori!