Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quick Alteration

I own a pair of lightweight denim capri style pants that I love to wear. The downside is that that they are quite large at the waist... especially since I lost a lot of weight this past year. I had three options n what to do with them - Take them apart and put them back to gether agin, only smaller; Alter them without completely re-doing them or Use them as fabric for other projects. The first option is way beyond me and the third just made me sad. I really like the way these pants fit in the legs and did not want to give them up. I altered them just enough so that they fit at the waist but not enough that it became a huge sewing project.

Here is what I did:

I slit open the waist band on the inside of the pants about half way between the center front and the side seams. The slit is only on the interior and went the width of the waist band without cutting into the original stitching or through to the outside.

I then took some sport elastic that is about 1.25" wide. I pinned one end at one slit and threaded the rest throught the waist band to the other slit. This was a little tricky as I used a huge safety pin to thread it though the waist band. As it was a tight fit I did sweat a little over it and, in the end, the pin opened up about six inches from the end... when I really began to sweat.

At this point I re-pinned the starting end within the first slit and used a three-step zig-zag stitch to secure it into the waist band. I went over that first end about six times and was surprised that it was almost invisible from the right side. It took a while to make sure that the elastic was flat in the waistband but it finally worked. For the loose end I pinned it as tight as I thought it should be, about four inches shorter that the length of the waistband it was it was inserted into. I did about four try-ons before they fit at the waist without too much fullness in the body of the pant.

I then cut off the excess and zig-zagged the second end within the slit about six times. I contemplated sewing over the elastic for the whole length but that would have meant removing and reattaching the belt loops which seemed like too much trouble for an inexpensive rescue mission.

The whole thing took only about an hour though it seemed like many hours of untwisting elastic and try-ons.

They fit much better now BUT, since I pretty much hate the look of elastic waist pants, I only wear them with my shirt out instead of tucked in. When the weather cools down I will be able to wear them with my shirt tucked in with a sweater to cover the elastisized portion of the waist band.

I'm very happy with the results and so-o-o-o happy that I don't have to move these pants out of my wardrobe. I also see this as a good solution for thrift store finds that are a tad large at the waist but fine elsewhere.

Let me know if you try this. I think it would work for a less drastic makeover, like when you just need to add a little shape at the waist.

PS - no pictures as the pants are in the wash, again. I have worn them a ton of times since I did this and the elastic has not stretched out so this is really a successful alteration. I am now looking at some of my other too big pants to see if any others might benefit from an elastic insertion.

Monday, July 28, 2008

And so it begins...

I have often wondered how I have built my stash of fabrics. Sometimes its because something just screams to be purchased. Sometimes I buy some fabric because someone else has bought it. Most of the time, I buy fabric because I think I need it. Herein follows the story behind a recent purchase of about 12 yards of fabric.

This saga begins with the KAQG Auction that was held back in April. I bid on a couple of the silent auction items and one of them included a beautiful red and white padded box. Its pretty large and now hold all of my beading and jewellry making stuff.

That got me to thinking how nice it would be to have other containers made with red and white fabric. Things like magazine holders, notion baskets, tote bags, wallets, quilts and other accessories. While at Laura's Fabric and gifts I saw this fabric and the wheels began to turn.

There wasn't much of the red and white fabric there so I googled the fabric and ended up at J. Caroline's Creatives. Interestingly enough this company is in Houston and someday I'm going to track them down . Until then I have started using up the red and white fabric. My first project was a hobo bag for the Bag Ladies Swap. I sent it off to Potugal without taking a picture. The fabric worked out well for it and the recipient said that it was quite functional.
Next I tried a magazine bin for my bookshelf. The pattern was on J. Caroline's web site. I think it needs a little more stiffening on the sides but all in all I like the way it looks. I will make a few more for the rest of the magazines I store and I think several will look good on my book shelves.
Next I decided to try out a tote bag. The pattern I used was in the summer Threads issue. I wanted to try making the end pockets based on their instructions and I think they are very functional. I did not make and use the bias the pattern requires because it seemed that more red and white stripes, on the bias, would cause headaches. While I was playing around with the tote I also made a large zippered pocket for the interior and a small case to corral the bits and pieces that tend to get lost in the bottom of a tote like candy and lip gloss. The bag is about eight inches tall, twelve inches wide and four inches deep.
Next up will be a quilted wallet then more bins then... who knows. From the twelve yards of fabric I originally purchased I have about nine yards left. I better get cracking on some more projects or this fabric might begin to breed on me.
So that is how stashes get built ... you see something great, buy it, then, eventually, use it up. I hope I can move on this soon as I really am out of space to store it for long periods.
Wish me luck!

Charity Dog Bed

Finally, a picture of the bed in use:
Note that I have the inside (fuzzy side) of the sweatshirt on the outside of the bed. I'm not sure if that is correct but Alex likes it.

Also, note that this picture shows that Alex is completely healed and that his fur has grown back. His coat was fairly smooth before he was attacked and, except for a couple of scarred areas, is smooth again. The only residual impact of the dog attack is that he is still a little nervous when he hears other dogs barking when we are on walks. When that happens he just turns around and starts power walking back home. Although I am saddened by his being scared, his power walking is a little funny as he tries to pee on every bush and mail box without stopping.
Have a good week!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fabric Organization

Those of us who sew have a constant battle on our hands - how to deal with our fabric leftovers. After buying and storing precious yardage we all hate to actually throw some of it away. A friend came up with the answer the other day and I have moved her idea into the path all fabric takes in this household. Here then is the life and death of fabric in my home.

Step One - usually yardage or at least fat quarters. Yardage is kept on wooden hangers, fat quarters folded neatly in drawers with other bits up to one yard in length. There it ages until ready to be used.

Step Two - something is made from the suitably aged fabric. The bits that are left over after the project is done get sorted into five subsets. Those are:
  • bits big enough for more projects are put back on the hangers or into the drawers.
  • bits big enough for other projects but I can't stand any more are sorted into a shopping bag for giving away to a charitable project that sends fabric to a sewing initiative in Mexico.
  • bits big enough to use but not even a quarter of a yard are sorted into one of two bins - one for quilting weight cottons and the other for everything else.
  • bits too small for re-use plus all the trimmings from a project are placed in an old sweatshirt for the making of a dog bed for a local animal shelter.

Step Three - fabric is used until it make its to the dog bed stage when I am finally done with it.

In the end, nothing is actually tossed out. Even bits of batting are saved for dog beds. The dog bed idea came from my friend who has been saving stuffing for months. I decided I could make my own dog beds and pass them on already completed. The dog beds are made out of old sweat shirts of which I have several. The neck and arm holes are sewn up. The bed stuffed through the waist opening and the whole thing sewn up. Alex and the girls have vetted the one I have completed as quite comfortable and, as yet, they have not destroyed it. I think its a little lumpy but the doxies don't mind. And, before you go looking for a cute picture, I have tried many times today to get one of them on the bed I have completed but they have thwarted my efforts.

Another time.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sashiko e-book Cover

I took one of the sashiko experiments and made it into a book cover for my Sony e-book. Although the reader has a very nice leather cover I find that I am not the neatest person and spend a lot of time cleaning various foods off the cover. I guess that's what I get when I eat and read at the same time!
The details are that I used the grey twill sashiko stitch-out, cotton batting as the filler, a cord I made several years ago from leftover embroidery threads and a big, old grey button. The button has peices of 'Crystalette' (pink in reality, white in the photo) on it as an experiment in how this product works. I found it in a sale bin in Canada but it is distributed by Kandi Corp. in Clearwater, Florida. The website can be accessed here. The trim is some old dupioni from a failed project. I left the edges raw, which may have been a mistake as it seems to shed more every time I pick up the book.

This project worked and I think I will add it to my repetoire of things to make with leftovers ... besides zipper pouches and little dog toys.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dog Tales

Back in another era, my son used to watch a great Disney Cartoon called Duck Tales. I loved it as well, especially the opening sequence of three little duck bottoms marching on the screen. Watching the three little Doxie butts talking me on a walk the other day brought it all back to me. I recently found the sequence on You Tube and, even though the quality is not good, I think you might enjoy this .

BTW - I guess that makes me Scrooge McDuck!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

300 Posts!

This is my 300th post since beginning this blog. In one sense, it feels like a lot of work ... 300 mini essays on stuff... while, in another sense, it feels very ordinary... just another part of my day. When I started this I said that a day with creativity is a day worth documenting. In so many ways that remains true today. Without this record I could never have imagined that I had a creative bone in my body and, the revelation to me, is that I LOVE sharing my ideas and inpsiring others to try out new things.

I see that my readership has gone up to about 35 people a day. I have no idea who most of you are but I seem to have regulars from every continent. I expected to have readership from friends and family in the US and Canada but imagine my surprise when I discovered that I also seem to have people regularly stopping by from Norway, South Africa, Austrailia, Great Britain, Argentina and many points in between. Do I say anything interesting to the person up on Hudson's Bay or was that just a random hit? Will the person in Turkey be inspired to try some of my experiments in doll quilt making? Is my use of the English language too complex for the person in Norway or too simplistic for the person India?

I don't know. (comments are always welcome!)

I do know that I love the technology that allows all of us to share our thoughts and projects. I know we may not solve world hunger or bring world peace but, in a small way, this technology brings us all a little bit closer. If this blog can bring a little beauty or laughter into your world then that is a good start.

So here's to you, faithful reader. Go make something and bring a smile to someone's world.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Time Waster

..... but worth it! I got this from Angry Chicken and had a good time playing with this on-line photo manipulation site, photofunia. You do not need to log-in or buy anything and you can load the picture to a disk or your hard drive. Way too much fun! Here is what I came up with - I wonder if Alex would enjoy having his portrait at MOMA?

Digitized Sashiko

While I was at the ASG Conference I saw Penny Muncaster-Jewel. She is an extremely talented sewer who has won numerous awrds for her wearable arts and is an expert digitizer of machine embroidery designs. I saw a wondeful garment at her booth that included some sashiko designs. I bought the disk and have been playing with it. Here is Penny's website. Although it is under construction you can see some of her garments and get a sense of her joy in all things. Congratulations Penny!

Here are three different stitch-outs of the Hollyhock sashiko design in a hexagon border.
The first thing I tried was a pink rayon Sulky thread on some hand dyed fabric that was waiting to be stored. I'm not sure that it was an effective use but it was fun to watch it stitch.
The second try was with some variegated Sulky blendables thread on some grey twill. I have no idea where the fabric came from but Alex was making a nest out of it so I thought it would be fine for an experiment.
The third try was on the same grey twill but with a solid Sulky thread. I think this is the most successful use but my heart always goes to the varigated threads.

The stitch-outs were done on two layers of fabric around some Warm 'n' Natural cotton batting. I did not use any stabilizer and don't think these required it anyway.

I intend to use at least one of these on a new case for my Sony e-reader. My old one had a cover with a velcroed closure. I think this one will use a button like the Zakka book covers I saw in one of the Japanese craft books I received a month or so ago. I will post it once I get it done.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Silk Purse/Sow's Ear

A while ago I mentioned that I had left a silk purse in a dye bath for way longer than recommended. I played with it for a week or so. Not sure if the product is great or not but it has been fun to try a bunch of techniques. I do not have a picture of how it started but the purse was at the Heartway International booth at the Houston International Quilt Festival. Here is a picture of the bag in black. I started with a cream purse so you will need to use your imagination a little see how it all started. All in all I dyed it, over dyed it, stamped it with bugs, silk screened some leaves, wrote on it, glittered it and drew on it. After heat setting it and washing it, this is how it turned out:



Side two had most of the embellishments on it and, as you can see, most of them washed off/out of the fabric. I have used this bag quite a bit in the last month or so and it is a very usable purse. One large inside zippered pocked and three other interior pockets (two with elastic) make this a wonderful hand bag. It also has a secret packet in the bottom of the bag to hold things you would rather hot have exposed when the bag is open. I had originally purchased this bag to try out some machine embroidery and the secret pocket was supposed to facilitate that use. I couldn't figure put how to get it hooped correctly for embroidering. I might just add some later on but I don't think it really needs any more embellishing time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

In the Mail

Last week I finished up the Bag Ladies swap for June. I sent out the Tot Pack I finished in January of this year. Since I did not make it for this swap, I felt a little guilty so I filled it with stuff from the local independent toy store. I understand that the four year-old who is now using it was thrilled with the results. I was also thrilled as I have not had an opportunity to spend some quality toy shopping time in quite a while and it was nce to see all the new stuff available for creative kids.

In return I received the following from Sylvie's Creations in Denmark. It is approximately 13" x 14" with thin leather cords that can be used to sling it over your shoulder or as back pack straps. I used it the other day while running a bunch of errands and it worked great. I might experiment with this design a little and make the straps wider as the thin cords did tend to cut into my shoulder when the bag was fully loaded. The theme for the month was a child centered bag. This bag works well for both children and adults alike so it was a good choice for me. Thanks Sylvie!

Into the Mail

As part of the Interfaith Quilting Bee a special block is suggested each year for the groups to concentrate on making. Last year it was a rail fence variation. It was a good choice as a simple block but it did require some precision sewing to get it all to line up correctly. This year, a member of the KAQG taught something called a Crazy Nine Patch. It does require that you keep organized while you are sewing it but it has the added advantage that when you finish sewing it you square up the blocks to the largest size you can get your blocks to all match. For instance, if you start with twelve inch squares and, after slicing and piecing, you could get a ten and a half inch block out of each of them, them your blocks wil be ten and a half inches. If you really ended up with raggedty edges you might end up with nine inch blocks. Good for those of us that are not as precise as we should be. The original block block appears to have been taught at a Bernina workshop. A great tutorial on how to do this block is here.

I decided that I would use this block for my Doll Quilt Swap IV submission. Here is what I came up with:
I started with some of those five inch charm squares that are sold in quilt stores. I love working with this size but I thought it would be tricky for this block. It was a little tricky. In the end I ended up with twelve, three and a half inch unfunished blocks which ended up in a twelve by fifteen inch quilt. One thing I would do over is to follow the instructions. I went my own way and the last cut turned out to be a little tricky. Also, you can press your seams to one side as instructed in the Allsorts tutorial or you can press them open. Open means you will have fewer layers to struggle through with your rotary cutter.

BTW - I can't tell you where this quilt is going but its a very long way. I hope it makes it in time!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Sharing

I had the priveliedge of particiating in the 8th annual Interfaith Quilting Bee in Kingwood today. It was originally sponsored by the Interfaith Hospitality Network here. The network was a consortium of churches that assisted specific families in times of need. The Network was disolved but the day remains. Today the Bee is hosted by the local Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints and what a great job they did.

The idea is that quilting groups from many faith and non-faith based organizations gather once a year to finish off quilts made throughout the year. Most of the quilts were already completed when we gathered at 9:00 AM . By noon there were about about 500 quilts ready to be given to half a dozen local organizations. Some were simple quilts made from two pieces of fabric surrounding a piece of batting. Others were complex pieced quilts that probably took many many hours to complete. Participants ranged from young girls to great-grandmothers, from people who had never quilted before to those who can quilt in their sleep. The organizations represented included local quilt guilds and many churches. There was even a group of Hindu women participating!

The neatest thing was that as quilts were completed they were draped over the seats in the assembly hall. What a wonderful site! Here is a link to a blog talking about this year's Bee and pictures of last year's. One question came up among some of the women. What if you did not agree with the organization that was getting the quilts? My response is that I am not supporting the organization but the people that get the quilts.

If your area has a similar function, please make some time to participate. You will have a great time, meet new people and come away with a real sense of inclusion in a good cause.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Meet Kelis

This blog has primarily concentrated on Alex and his antics so today I have decided to introduce you to the little Queen of our pack - Kelis.

Kelis is the biological sister of Kemora and her fur is classic Dachshund black with red accents. At just under ten pounds she is a real light weight. She is very, very smart and tries every trick in the book to avoid doing what is required by the humans in her life. Her favorite is to roll on her back and show her tummy for a rub. She knows its a long way down to her and hopes I won't force the issue. I love the way she demands attention from me by jumping up on my chest when I am sitting somewhere and sticking her nose in my face until I give her the attention she wants. She eats like a real lady ... slowly and with small bites. That means that I always feed her first in the feeding rotation hoping she might scomplete her bowl of food before Alex comes looking for more. It rarely happens but I try.

She has had a few physical problems. When she went to get spayed she was missing most of the usual female equipment and what she had was deformed. It was tested for cancer and was cleared but it made for a few anxious days. It means that her scar from the incision is longer and more noticeable than Kemora's. She also has a spot on her right hip where one of her hip muscles has been destroyed and the skin has no fur. Its not that noticable but it definitely means that she will not be entering any dog shows.

Kelis, while Queen of my backyard, can be terrified by new situations or when she is not in control. Once, when I took all of them to get their nails clipped she slipped her collar, bolted for the door and ended up peeing all over the tech in fear. When we are on our walks she barks furiously at anyone we meet while backing up behind me. Other dogs and humans terrify her ... even those who she has met before. My next door neighbor, Joe, has to win her affection every time we meet up with him. Even then she is pretty standoffish.

Her favorite place to sleep is on top of Kemora or squeezed between me and the back of the couch if I am taking a nap. She is always the first one to notice that something is going on at the back of the house and leads the dash to bark at whatever is intruding into her domain... a squirrel, the meter reader, someone walking by outside the fence, a bird flying by. She will sometimes stand in the yard, four paws planted, tail in the air and just assertively bark to let the neighborhood know that this is her place and to stay out!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ASG Conference 2008 - Part 2

To continue from the previous post...

Saturday lunch was a wonderful sit down meal and the winners of the Creativity Contest were presented. Every year ASG and Simplicity choose several Simplicity patterns and challenge ASG members to use these patterns as the basis for a special garment or even a whole wardrobe. I must admit that the criteria for winning this contest are completely opaque to me. What makes a grand prize winning garment 'better' than the runners-up garments was not apparent to me from the runway show. I know several individuals that have entered garments that seemed to be very creative and wonderfully constructed but never made it to the final judging stage. For a look at last year's winners, click here. The winners from this year have not been posted as yet. One amusing thing that happened was that our chapter's past president had created a beautiful white outfit from this year's patterns. She then proceeded to spill and drop every thing that could stain on it during lunch. Maybe not amusing to her, but I certainly enjoyed the fact that I was not the one with chocolate sauce up my sleeve... as per usual!

After a short nap, I next went to a lecture/trunk show by Mary Ray on matching fabrics to a design. I love her work and have taken a class with her on making a vest using her rectangle vest pattern. I always have trouble taking a fabric and finding the perfect design for it or visa versa. The room was packed and I think we all came away with some ideas how to do this match better in future. Basically it all comes to drape and weight and I will try to do better next time. The evening was devoted to a gala dinner with everyone dressed to the nines. Patti Palmer was inducted into the ASG Sewing Hall of Fame and Deon Maas, the creator of the anti-ouch pouch, received a special gold star award. The final count of pouches made has not been disclosed but an estimate I heard put the minimum at 5,000.

Sunday was a completely different day for me. I got up so late that I never even made it to the buffet breakfast. I went directly to a class on creating a handbag with some lovely embroidery on it. The class was basically a commercial for the new Viking embroidery machines. The machines are fabulous and have a ton of built-in stitches. One good thing about the organization of this class was that the instructor gave everyone a small packet of different fabrics so we could try out the machine before beginning, and possibly destroying, the project. The bad thing about the class is that only five of the machines were set-up for embroidery. This meant that only five people could embroider at a time while the rest of the class moved on to other construction steps, or strived to catch-up. By the time I got my embroidery done I realized that the materials needed to construct the handle had run out. I packed up at that point and brought the whole thing home to finish here. These machines practically walk, talk and do the dishes and if you have a spare seven grand or so, it would be worth a look.

Lunch on Sunday was basically a farewell meal. We were treated to some wonderful information about next year's venue - Albequerque, New Mexico - and 2010's location - Altanta, Georgia - was announced. I am looking forward to next year as Albequerque is apparently within driving distance from here. I envision a caravan of cans, vans and SUVs driving from here to there carrying many well dressed women and the reverse a few days later with many sleeping ladies and tons of new sewing supplies... especially fabric!

Sunday afternoon I got to play with Lyla Messinger and create a necklace out of an expensive zipper and a large bead. Isn't it great!
I wore it home on the plane and it didn't set off the metal detector. Being a very cheap soul I wonder if you could use metal dyes and a regular metallic separating zipper? The possibilities are endless.

The rest of my stay in Chicago was pretty unstructured. I walked down the road from the hotel until I found a fast food place for dinner on Sunday. Monday morning I availed myself of the wonderfully expensive breakfast buffet in the hotel dining room. By the time I made it back downtown for some well deserved museum hopping, I realised I could not do justice to any of them so I spent a couple of hours in the Millenium Park. This is a wonderful resource for the whole city and I love the concept of cutting edge public constructions in the middle of Chicago's lakeshore. Here are a couple of examples:

And why are little boy's shorts so long on them?

By the time I made it home on Monday night I was thoroughly exhausted and my lungs had decided that they hated Houston allergens even more than Chicago allergens. I went to the doctor today and, after a scolding, she prescribed massive amounts of drugs to get everyhting under control. I think I got off lucky as she was pleased as punch with the navy silk fabric I brought her from Vogue Fabrics. Must remember that for the next time I want drugs from her.

If you have the opportunity to go an ASG conference or other crafty guild annual event, please try to go. I was inspired by some of the wonderful garments I saw that were for every day wear and not just for grand events. The other attendees were fascinating and I made an effort to sit with different people at every meal. Do try to go healthy so you can really enjoy yourself, but even ill I had a really good time.

On a final note, I really want to go back to Chicago and find a certain second hand store open for business so I can get this chair and its twin. Wishful thinking... maybe, but I could squeeze in another visit to Vogue Fabrcs to make the trip really worthwhile... now for the planning wheels to start turning......

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ASG Conference 2008 - Part 1

The conference this year was in Chicago and was probably one of the best ever. I got into very few of my first choice classes but that did not stop me from enjoying those classes I did get to attend. The conference started Thursday evenng with the opening of the vendor area. After a full day poking around Chicago I was unprepared to spend much time fighting the crowd to really see what was being offered. There is always an elcelctic mix of vendors, from the Toronto based Wool House to a small booth for Melissa Brown's 'Fitting it all Together' Newsletter. I lasted about 10 minutes but others spent the whole two hour preview time shopping until they dropped. I did hear that there was some excitement at Louise Cutting's booth of wonderful fabrics when a couple of shoppers argued over who would get a particular piece of fabric. Chill pills were distributed and shopping continued uninterupted.

The next day the real business of the conference began. One thing about ASG, the food is usually fabulous and is included in the price of admission. Friday morning's breakfast included presentations for things like Chapter and Member of the Year. I missed most of the presentations as I slept in a little but I heard that niether the Houston Chapter nor its members received awards. My first class was with Melissa Brown on 'Embellishments to Flatter Your Figure". I left class early as it didn't seem that she was saying anything more than 'don't put bullseyes on your boobs'. I was still recovering from a bad bout of allergies so that may have colored my view a little. Tammy O'Connell taught my next class. It was called 'Leather Logic' and we spent most of the time learning about natural and synthetic leathers and their uses. We also made a little suede flower just to get a little feel of working with suede. I first ran across Tammy at the International Quilt Festival a few years ago and I was amazed how her business has grown. Lunch included a speech by Patti Palmer as the Keynote Address. It seemd like it was one big advertisement for her work and her daughter's new venture. I bailed on this one as well so I could take a little nap.

After lunch I attended a lecture/trunk show by Linda Macphee of the Macphee Workshop. I love Linda and have followed her for about 15 years. Unfortunately, most of what she showed and talked about I have seen and heard before so the whole thing sounded like one big commercial for her products. Also, although Linda does have a loud voice, I became exhausted just trying to hear her asides to other members of the audience. Note to self: the next time a teacher rejects a mic, bail immeadiately before your head bursts from straining to catch every word. Dinner was on our own and the day ended with the member style show. Several Houston Chapter members showed some terrific garments. I left a little early as I couldn't calm my cough but I understand that all the garments were photographed. When they get posted I will direct you to some of the best garments.

Saturday began with a wonderful breakfast buffet and I pigged out on eggs, bacon, home fries and croissants.YUM! My first class that morning was with Marla Kazell. The title of the talk was 'Fabric Collage Jacket' and I have no memory of it. I must have been dozing after that huge breakfast. The next lecture was by Londa Rolfing on Design Principles. I loved this class as she presented a lot of information we should know in an entertaining and insightful manner. We had a professional make-up artist in the audience who added a lot of good information as well. One tidbit I remember is that you can't go wrong wearing a garment that matches your original hair color ... who knew! Most of her garments use sweatshirts as the base for incredible embellishment and they all should be in my closet!

Well, that's all for now. Tomorrow I will try to sum up the rest of the conference.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Vogue Fabrics

While in Chicago it is mandatory that sewers visit Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. I made the trecl there by train/subway the other day and the destination was well worth the trip. I approached Vogue along Main Street and was disappointed to see that it had a brand spanking new red brick facade. My heartsunk a little as I thought the outside represented a modern chrome and plastic interior. I was happy to see that as soon a I stepped in that there were some folding chairs by the front door, the floors creaked and the building was way bigger on the inside than on the outside. There were literally four different, large rooms of fabric and notions, more than enough for even the most inexperienced sewer to find fabric for a project.

I picked up five different pieces of fabric plus some discounted varigated embroidery thread (at $2.00 a spool) and pre-packaged woven ribbons (on sale for ten packages for $2.00). I even know what I will do with most of my purchases.

This navy blue peice is for my doctor. It is navy silk with a bunch of medical stuff printed on it. Might make a good scarf.

This piece is a stretch cotton twill that I think will make a great puzzle blouse as the stretch will be enhanced by the bias cut of the blouse.

This piece is a large tropical print of unknown content that I think was originally meant for curtains. I really don't know what to do with it but I love the lushness of the design.

This piece is a heavy weight canvas. I love the cartoonish print. I think I will need to use my dye pens on it before it goes into a great tote bag or other application that needs a strong fabric. Green eyes, red hair? There are lots of possbilities.

Not pictured is a four yard piece of some light weight pink striped cotton that I need for a night gown I have been planning for many years.

This is a must see destination if your are in the Chicago area. The staff really knows its stuff and were very attentve to my needs. Some of my collegues took a taxi to Vogue and it cost $45.00 each way. I think taking the train is a better option. I got to stop off at Dinkel's Bakery and Willie and Slim's pet store on Lincoln. Afterwards I went to International Bead and Novelty in a downtown office building with stock, I am sure, that was in their original 1918 inventory as well as more recent acquisitions. Their prices were excellent and I could have stayed all day poking into the old stocking boxes for unique beads and findings.

Another place I went to was Gino's East. I had read about their wonderful deep dish pizza but was thoroughly disappointed. Many of you know that I allergic to tomatoes but I was willing to put up with significant intestinal distress for legendary pizza. The presentation looked good but the sauce was tasteless crushed tomotoes straight out of a can... at least it tasted that way to me. I ate a quarter of the small size and intended to bring the balance back with me to the hotel. I ditched it in a garbage can outside the subway station as it was becoming too irritating to carry any longer.

Except for this misstep, my time exploring Chicago has been well spent. I need to make it to the Art Institue to pay tribute to the Thorne miniatures, a favorite with me for many years. Even if I miss this stop I wll still be well satisfied with this trip.

Next up - The ASG annual conference.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why I Hate Flying

I used to love to fly. I would dress in a special outfit, sometimes especially purchased just for flying. You could have friends come rght to the gate with you and it was not unusual to go to the airport just to watch the planes take off while sipping a beverage in the airport bar. While taking off and landing stewardesses would pass out chewing gum so passengers could chew it and relieve the pressure on their ears. Meals required the use of a knife and fork and desert came separately. It was a special time

Times have really changed. Now, you practically need to strip down to your skivvies to get to the gate. Loud mouthed TSA employees order you to do incomprehensible things like separate your laptop from your briefcase or to remove your shoes for the x-ray machine. A couple of times ago I was instructed to remove a fleece jacket because it had a zipper... the zipper was plastic but the TSA guy insisted so the whole world got to see the coffee I had thrown down my front that morning. My last trip started with a three hour delay in taking off. Fortunately the international lounge had seats you could actually stretch out on for a nap.

The flights are fuller and the seats are closer together - both trends are applauded by the airline industry as money making ideas. A glass of ice with a drop of soda is a standard beverage service. If you want more you have to bring it on board with you... however, youcan only buy it within the security cordon and not from home. Pilots have been neglecting to turn off the seal belt sign so the beverage service will not be interrupted. Great if you have a huge bladder, not if you don't. And what's the deal with turning off phones and other electronic devices? There has never been an incident where a consumer electronic has interferred with the safe operation of an airplane.

The recent changes in the baggage rules are just about the worst idea yet. A friends always travels with two mid-size bags as she is too small to haul one big bag. Now she will need to either pay an additional fee to check both bags or figure out how to get the second bag into an overhead compartment with is about a foot above her reach. I much prefer to check as much as I can so this change is a real pain to me... with bursitis in both shoulders I really do mean pain!

What to do?

I know one family that has stopped flying entirely. They have two young sons and although the boys love flying , they both freaked out over the security screening the last time they flew. They are planning cruises from a local port or a motorhome vacation as alternatives. I can't stop flying unless I want to spent days on the road each time I go to visit Dad. I may be spacing out my trips so I have less time opportunity to encounter either TSA or all the new airline rules.

Just when I wanted to stop being a home body!

Before You Travel

I am away on a trip and have discovered that most of us have various rituals that we go through before we head out on a long trip. Some people close all the curtains and blinds so that the bad guys can't see into their homes. Others set up timers for the lights or take in the potted plants or cancel the newspapers or put the mail on hold at the post office or put the animals in a kennel on other house keeping tasks. Many of us do most of these things but I have also discovered that some of us have more off-beat rituals. Here are several I have heard about during this trip.

One person gives her kids an updated lisiting of where all all her assets are located ... just in case something does wrong. This seems like a good idea except that the location of my assets hasn't changed in many, many months. Maybe when I become a big investor in the stock market I will need to update that listing from years ago, until then Paul will have to wing it.

Another disposes of all old magazines and newspapers. This is to reduce the amount of stuff she will need to go through when she gets home as it all be new to the house. I should try this as I hate the amount of paper clutter I have in the house.

Another puts clean sheets on the bed so she will come home to a clean bed. I myself, have tried to do this for many years as I do love fresh clean sheets at night. I also clean all the dishes and laundry so I do not have to face these tasks when I get home.

I have a habit that I have had since I moved to Texas. The water here is so very full of mineral content that standing water left in the toilets will grow mold at the drop of a hat. I try to clean all the toilets before I leave home for any length of time and hope that no mold will grow in them while I am gone. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Do you do anything special before you leave home for a while?

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Glorious Fourth

It truly is a Glorious fourth around here - It rained for most of the day and the puppies and I spent most of the day watching movies, napping and planning a run to the grocery store. My allergies have been killing me so a lazy day at home was a relief. I did have a lot of plans to be productive but being draped in puppies fells better.

I hope your Foruth was dry and ended with wonderful fireworks.

I promise I will get back to showing you what I've been doing soon... actually, once I stop sneezing and coughing!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oh Canada!

Today is Canada Day and I hope all my Canadaian friends are having a good time today. I was up there last week and the news was full of odd patriotic angst.

For instance - Bracebridge, a small city, has Canadian flags on many of its bridges. The flags are hung horizonitally and contained within stainless steel frames. Apparently this has been going on for years but now someone has decided that this evidence of patriotism is illegal. The rules on displaying the flag say that it must be hung from a flag pole and not on bridges or from light standards. There were lots of references to the way Americans display the flag and how the rules are very strict. No where in the debate did anyone say that it was a good thing to display the flag as long as it is done with respect.


On the radio one commentator said that hearing the national anthem made him 'all tingly'. Heck, almost every national anthem makes me a little tingly. The folks calling in on the show thought he was a little weird so I guess I'm a lot weird.


Some people were writing letters to the editor because they wanted Canada Day to be celebrated on a long weekend every year. Makes no sense to me but for some reason the writers thought that Independence Day was set up for a long weekend every year. Does anyone have a calendar up there?

How to reconcile these three separate incidents is impossible but I felt I was at home. Canadian wackiness is a lot like American wackiness and I love it all.

Happy Canada Day... even if its on a Tuesday!