only – one day away from your arms!

I’ve been singing “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa” over the last day, to myself. The Dusty Springfield version, of course; there is no other version. While I’m sewing or working her voice pierces my heart. I can sing as dramatically as I like, in front of my children. In front of no one else, in fact. Maybe I’ll grow a little less shy, or perhaps my children are just the most special people in my heart, and who can know the unvarnished Me.

as a means of self-escape

Two years ago today I had my ureter stent removed, after nine days of the worst kidney ordeal I’d yet faced. The device was placed on the twelfth after a brutal procedure, and that evening we had to make a call to paramedics; a couple days later I was in the ER. The entire experience was a nightmare. Removing the stent was scary and hardly pain-free; I remember simply letting my husband be with me for the ordeal because I didn’t have the ability to say yes or no, and because I knew he wanted to be there.

Today I felt an odd bit of kidney pain, only a little, a ghostly reminder. I have mastered the ability not to worry much, to predict it will get worse. Several years of pain, taught me some discipline. But the truth is I’ve had no major events since moving to a vegan diet; an entirely surprising yet welcome side effect. Every day, week, and month that passes without medical intervention and minor surgical procedures, I am grateful. We are still paying off the procedures from years ago.

So this time of year, yes I am grateful, grateful for my health.

I have planned an August sabbatical from client work; I have also cut down on social media significantly. Over the last few months I kept having friends ask me how I’m doing, and – since I am honest when people ask me this question – I had to confess I was a bit overscheduled. And confess it again, and again. Having disclosed this repeatedly, I realized I was responsible to do something about it.

Overscheduling is the kind of problem that creeps up, and it isn’t always a quick job to extricate oneself from these circumstances. So – carefully, with as much sensitivity for others as possible – I’ve been restructuring my life to a more sustainable pace. And this week, I’m starting to feel better, and more mindful; my yoga sessions are more refreshing and focused. My performances as mother and partner, are improving. Time is slowing – if only a little.

Tomorrow is my volunteer day; the day I devote the most time to others in my community. I am consistent with my volunteer work but I am also thinking about cutting back, or at least re-organizing. Today I know I don’t have to make any rash decisions on that count. I can wait, and meditate, and consult friends. 

And live to fight another day!

 

that little gas powered fireplace insert, oddly comforting

Two days ago my left hip felt a bit stiff; yesterday it woke me in absolute shattering pain. Alarming, really – I’d never had hip trouble before and certainly no trouble with a weight-bearing joint. It was bad enough Ralph and Beeps took me to Urgent Care for an evaluation, and was sent home with crutches and instructions to take an Alleve every eight hours, stay off the offending leg, and ice like a sonofabitch.

The treatment seems to have helped as today I felt about five hundred percent better. I am a bit irritated, however: clearly I retained a sports injury from my daily yoga, and it came (seemingly) out of nowhere and after what I thought was exceedingly mindful practice. The whole episode has left me a little shifted off center. I don’t get too upset about an injury or a setback; I do, however, feel peevish at the thought of re-injuring myself, and not knowing how to avoid it.

I am trying to move through my studio work: a wedding dress (finishing tomorrow!), two tunics and trousers (also finishing tomorrow), alterations for a client, three sweaters, and a bomber jacket. These are the items I have to finish before I can move on to something fun – or a birthday gift for my son, who turns fourteen in four days. And in between this entry and the last, I built a whole fricken’ website for a client! I am a busy little beaver.

Our kitty Pip curls up at my left elbow; he’s waiting for Ralph to climb into bed, so he can cram his little face in my husband’s armpit. Our evenings are familiar and cozy. I am increasingly in less agonies that my children no longer sleep with me – one of the biggest adjustments I’ve made in years. Time races through my hands and I can’t grasp it but in moments I can slow it down just a little.

Tomorrow: a tulle skirt in satin, and Chinese takeout with a girlfriend while we watch a horrible slasher.

under bridges of what’s to come

My kids’ shoes end up: in my bedroom, on the bathroom floor. As relatively tidy and supremely well-behaved as my children are, they are nevertheless creatures of comfort: discarding clothes before taking a luxurious hot shower, or slipping off shoes before crawling in bed next to me to cuddle. They leave off on their errands to game – I hear shouts! of laughter from downstairs – and leave their clothes here and there. If they were adults I was forced to room with, I would find it all very irritating. As it is, these mundane remembrances are a comfort to me. I know when they leave my home I will miss them so.

“Are you okay?” my son says, at dinner. We are the only two left at the table and he is helping himself to a third serving of pasta. I tell him Yes, I am just tired and he says, “Put your hand here,” indicating the table between us. His long hand rests on mine – preternaturally beautiful fingers, and long nails. Then, shortly: “I need this to eat,” he smiles, removing his hand and crossing his right over so he can still comfort me.

I am okay, sure – but I am mentally very tired. I am meeting once a week with a small business consultant. I am in couples counseling every two weeks; I take one of my children to therapy every other week from that. It isn’t as if I’m particularly worried in all these concerns, but they very much require a special focus on my part. I am still reeling from the kids’ transition into their teenage years – which is absolutely nothing like the dour, cynical predictions would have had me believe, but is nevertheless a sea change – and I am experiencing the sadness of finally, finally no longer having a family bed. My husband’s car is once again tits-up – and mine is on the last legs for its brakes. My mother is selling her home, after five generations of lives passing through the old Victorian. A family friend dies young and this brings up, for me, horrible memories.

Challenging? Absolutely.

There are many glimmers of goodness in this time. My older child is happier, a brief calm sea. They hold and hug and kiss me several times a day. The younger is a bit more volatile – a surprise, given his sweet nature – but I am gentle with him and he is good at coming to his sense and apologizing. And so, for that matter, am I. I put no small amount of concentration onto helping their father connect with them. He is gone for hours each day, after all, and misses the many opportunities I have.

On the turn of the dime it is absolutely fall, no longer summer. Even the warm days have a dampness and chill in the air. It’s incredible to me, as it was so very hot just before the break. Ralph finished painting the house during our driest spell. In a week or so I’ll pull all the summer clothes for storage and bring out my winter coats in preparing for the long, dark winter to come. As it will, whether we are ready or no.

Super-Friendly Rainbow Puffer Vest

super-friendly rainbow puffer vest

For the winter!
Super-Friendly Rainbow Puffer Vest
This project was a teensy bit challenging – but when has that stopped me? My friend wanted a princess-seamed vest in outerwear fabrics – not too shiny, with rainbow motifs and a vintage feel. For the shell I chose a water-resistant nylon packcloth from the lovely RockyWoods, and underlined with two layers – a polyfleece, and a high-loft winter underlining medium.

Super-Friendly Rainbow Puffer Vest

The collar has only a one underlining fabric in fleece, to keep bulk down. Facings around hem, neckline, and front placket.

Super-Friendly Rainbow Puffer Vest
Snaps! Size 24, metal. And you get a tiny peek at the very cool corduroy-style Malden Mills fleece lining. I chose it for the “vintage” effect of a wale fabric.

Super-Friendly Rainbow Puffer Vest

The rainbow section of the vest was first carefully pressed (pressing a nylon fabric isn’t super fun), then crackstitched to a muslin underlay, before applying to the rest of the garment. If I hadn’t put this underlay in, you’d be able to see some of the seam allowances too starkly.

Super-Friendly Rainbow Puffer Vest
I’m a big fan of an underlap. You can make it from something cute if you like – a contrast fabric or even a pieced rainbow placket. Whatever you like. Here, I chose the burgundy for underlap, inner collar, hem facings, and placket facings.

xxx ooo

a place where my heart feels the safest

xxx ooo
Halloween sewing is over, and it’s time to make a bunch of wonderful things for little people!

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
Shown here: “Vesper”, a four-piece ensemble I was inspired to make based on the baby-blue eyes of this lovely little girl I know. I wanted something in winter colors – here, bluebird, deep cherry, periwinkle, and ivory.

Some sewing-pr0n pix:

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
I made little “fins” out of the interfaced jacket wool, just because. The shell of the hat is a novelty Halloween knit in olive, burnt sienna, bluebird, black, and fuschia. The hat’s cuff is in a jersey knit matching the sweater dress, and the hat is lined in the same periwinkle bamboo the leggings are made of.

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
The sweater dress was actually the inspiration piece for the whole outfit! Now, there is a time for using a serger, but… to be honest… I rarely use mine. I love the hand-finished look of (in this case) traditional zig-zag. The nubbly sweater knit is very light and semi-sheer. You definitely want a onesie under this gear!

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
The coat… a Christmas coat in a deep cherry 100% wool, flecked with ivory. Bright red snaps that match the rayon/linen pocket lining and the slipper satin jacket lining. Have I mentioned how much I love slipper satin? It is one of my favorite linings to work with – and it feels wonderful!

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
How tiny can I make double-welt pockets? PRETTY DERN TINY! Do babies use pockets? THAT IS NONE OF YOUR CONCERN! I am always improving my welt pocket prowess. These were made using grosgrain ribbon which allows for a very firm welt.

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
OOPS I lined the coat with faux fur! A minkee (I think) to be exact. I’m not sure where or when I got this fur – it was in the last year – but it is so very soft. It’s also very rugged as babies – let us be fair – are pretty messy!

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble
A very tiny bit of high-end sweater knit – I had hardly any left after making Phee a sweater last May – finishes the cuffs of these entirely-reversible bamboo leggings. No seams whatsoever to irritate baby’s skin. Finished at the waist with a three-step zig-zag:

"Vesper", A Winter Baby Ensemble

So… I was just wondering, was that baby cute? Maybe take another picture to see:

Smiling Babe!
Um – yup!

This ensemble is on Etsy, where a steady trickle of sales has helped us keep food in the fridge. And today I’m finishing my next baby ensemble, for a little boy. Stay tuned!

CLONES

clones (We’re all)

Bespoke tailoring: yes! I found this one pair of pants – they’re Canali – and brought them into a tailor and said, ‘Clone these, dammit.’ They just do all the right things. I’ve got eight pairs in different colors and I never have to think about pants again. – Douglas Coupland

Speaking of clones, I recently re-watched sci-fi drama Moon from 2009. It did not disappoint!

Marginally less exciting, this cloned pair of shorts from a client turned out a success, too. Unlike last year’s basketweave coat clone, this was a straight-shot: no resizing necessary. I also upped the construction methods quite a bit from the original, mass-produced pair, and sent the client the new shorts as well as a pattern so she could have another pair made any time:

CLONES
CLONES

CLONES

CLONES

A button closure: perfect buttonholes made on my grandmother’s 1950 Singer!

SQUATCHIN

“I know a thing or two about love. Well, maybe just a thing. A big, blurry thing, like Bigfoot.”

Ralph was out of town all weekend. I was so busy it is amazing I didn’t fall ill, or forget to feed some animal and child and find them a skeleton sporting a tuft of fur by week’s-end.

Friday I delivered a sasquatch costume to an Events concern that needed one for a handful of festivities during the year. So far a picture or two has popped up on Facebook, and everyone looks like they’re having a good time – including the first paid person to don the piece. Included with the costume: a few types of black makeup, and a few types of false teeth.

SQUATCHIN'

I know, I know. It would have been nice to get more of my trademark detailed pictures of the piece. Well, it was a miracle – in the entire pedestrian usage of the word – I got photos at all. It was quite a rush job.

SQUATCHIN'

 For the front closure: hidden snaps in a black canvas underlap. A great technique I’ll be using for more costumes!

SQUATCHIN'

Fully lined in a delicious, nubby black satin. The costume feels good on the inside. Ain’t gonna lie – probably a fairly hot experience to wear it!
SQUATCHIN'

Toes: sewn and glued to fur spats – a nice, long foot that can be worn out in weather. I even painted little purplish moons on the nails. Who is going to look this close? Well the point is – I do.

SQUATCHIN'

So that? Was my last week. Grateful to have the project finished according to my timeline.

Saturday I hadn’t recuperated before hustling my eldest to her soccer game adjacent to a mushroom farm in Olympia (the game ended a 2-2 tie). Came home and worked a bit on my vampire film project. I am getting into Halloween the way my rabbit is into eating slightly overripe bananas!

In the last two days I’ve had an audition, yoga classes, and two volunteer bits – as well as cooking for family and friends and a movie night.

An audition? Oh yes. Today I landed a part in the ensemble cast of a local production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Kind of a lifetime dream as I have adored the rock opera since I was a little girl – and I was really, really into it as a teen. (Ralph will still put it on when I’m sewing, and having trouble.

So yeah. This next week? A little respite might be nice.

 

Monster Hoodie For Megan

monsters, monsters, everywhere!

Look. Not all monsters are spooky, or creepy. Some are “cuddly”. In fact that was listed in the job description from this particular client!

Monster Hoodie For Megan

Athletic stripe at sleeve, and super-cool little silver horns!
Monster Hoodie For Megan

Fully-lined hood in a super-soft cotton stripe, machine-stitched eyelets, and hand-knit i-cord in poison-green cotton:
Monster Hoodie For Megan

The large front pocket is lined in the same stripe that lines the hood:Monster Hoodie For Megan

The 100% cotton “teeth” lining the pocket opening:

Monster Hoodie For Megan

A super-closeup!

Monster Hoodie For Megan

Phoenix, who at a size 6 doesn’t quite fill out this size 14. It is pinched at the back with clothespins but as you can see, the bust is still too large. Still – she was a willing and available model. She wants to be paid. Thoughts?

Monster Hoodie For Megan

I am so pleased with how this turned out – 100% accurate to the sketch I provided the client. It is not only gratifying I can sew what I can draw – it is practical.The client only pays once they’ve agreed to the garment’s sketch and price so at that point we are likely to both have a good experience. So far, the system has worked out well. I provide a 100% refund (no questions asked) and I am also pretty selective at which clients I take on.

As always, you can read a bit more about construction in the Flickr tagset.

Up next: a silk blouse, planning out a drover’s coat for a trade, and maybe even a project for my own family!

turtle sundae in rayon

Today I finished a rayon blouse for my mother, to her exact specifications (construction details in the Flickr tagset).

Rayon Blouse, For A Client

The rayon yardage was a bit spendy; it feels like a dream against the skin. Of course, it was rather tricky to work with and nearly impossible to iron (I did my best).

My mother bought the yardage at least a dozen years ago; I was with her, and I remember. The last decade she’d taken it out a few times and lovingly stroked it, and made plans, but then put it back in the closet. She recently asked me to make her a blouse from the yardage and I quoted her a price. Even though she’s my mother, she still gets my, 100% refund policy. It is important my clients are happy with my work!

Rayon Blouse, For A Client

Don’t even come at me about the pockets. They are not saggy but rather are built such the pockets drape properly over her bust – drafted to C/D cup. Women’s wear – especially for large or curvaceous women – definitely looks a lot better on a woman, than on a hanger!

So – she arrives home tomorrow and she will find it hanging in her armoire. I really hope she likes it – it has been my privilege to sew her a few garments that fit not only her personal sense of style, but her body. Which, and I thought this over quite a bit, is like a lovely lady badger-dowager with slender shoulders and careworn teats.

Buttons – cross-hatched coconut. Perfect buttonholes – created on my Singer 201-2 using stabilizer, sealed from the backside with Fray-check, then cut with a buttonhole chisel. BOOM

Rayon Blouse, For A Client

Collar:

Rayon Blouse, For A Client

The narrow hem (about 5/16″):

Rayon Blouse, For A Client

After she evaluates fit, I will make her another – this time, a gift. With a semi-sheer stretch silk – i.e. even more of a pain-in-the-ass fabric!

Ah, well.