on being a tailor: #realness

Three sisters doing needlework on the verandah of their Toowong home, ca. 1918

The fiber arts are here to stay. I don’t want to hear one more blessed word about how “sewing is a dying art” and, “it’s too expensive to make clothes” when our entire retail and internetz worlds are scrote-deep in knitting, crochet and quilting books, blogs, magazines, craft fairs, and meetups.

I make garments. I mean – I can, and do, mess with that abovementioned stuff occasionally. But clothing is my forte. My beginning, middle and end. My alpha and omega. I don’t make clothing via mass-production or support my habit through any other social-media-saturated hustle, and it chaps my arse when people tell me I should.

Me? I am like many struggling tailors before me: educated first as a child in a lineage of home sewing, emboldened via experts and tuition for classes, and – most importantly – forged in the crucible of a whole, whole lotta trial and error, groping through books and other printed material, and mashing my way through acres of fabrics. And, it must be said: failing many, many times! #theStrugglesIsReal

In my world, sewing ain’t all that cute!

First, and foremost, you need to know I can obsess on garment design and construction like you might not understand. At any given moment I am probably creating at least one item, and planning about five more. In fact if you’ve ever spoken to me in person and you can tell I’m listening, you are speaking to me in a rare state where Kelly’s home. Enough said.

silence of the lambs

This drive has resulted in sometimes regrettable, epic battles at my machines. Where I sometimes lose.

zoolander

I am only not sewing out of a barely-maintained modicum of social courtesy. There sure are an awful lot of meetings and gatherings where it would not be mindful or courteous participation if I brought my hand-sewing, so I don’t. Yes, I cry a little on the inside. But I try to focus on the task at hand.

happyness
And hey – what is all this shit about scissors? You’ll see this in a lot of “things to know about people who sew” top ten lists: don’t cut paper with our fabric scissors! tee hee!

But – really? My family doesn’t mess with my scissors. Maybe they know when it comes down to it, I will spend their grocery money on new ones!

Also: AS IF I don’t always have a set out being sharpened, and one or two pair at home ready to rock!

scissorhands

Stitcher’s kryptonite… it’s real. You know, something that I should avoid, but will lure me to my doom, every time. In my specific case, I have to make rules about when I allow myself to shop for wool tweeds. And I can’t pass by a vintage sewing machine selling for practically nothing at a local thrift store.

propane

Yeah, I can get a little obsessive. Certain large-chain stores coupon schemes-I-mean-programs are an organizing factor in life. 

crazy eye

“Sew your own wardrobe!” is flippantly hailed (by non-sewists) as a way for plus-size women to finally have decent clothes. But: 

sewing didn’t solve my self-esteem issues… 

Thing is, I used to fly up my own rear end obsessing on fit. But the endless tweaking of pattern blocks can be a real red herring when what we’re often dealing with are body image problems and aspirational thinness-fantasy, which plague women mercilessly. I know a lot of sewists who make garment after garment for themselves – only to never be satisfied: making tweaks and adjustments and endlessly looking for “the right pattern”.

zoolander

… except when it did!

The good news is, I stuck to it. I stopped kidding myself I liked styles that I didn’t like. I found some mentors built like me who love how they look and love to sew for themselves. And I think I got so tired of obsessing on my body’s supposed flaws and supportive undergarments and “flattering” patterns and stripes and shit that I just moved on.

tuscan

Sewing is so much fun I want to share it – with everyone! After a while I got pretty good. And I found along the way that there are totally mean, snarky people out there who are forever talking trash about beginners and bloggers…

h8rs

… but I don’t have to be one of them!

sunshine

I’ve sewn for over thirty years. My experience in the craft has been full of successes, sure – but also so many, many mistakes, and regrettable choices…

sideways

that at a certain point, I started getting fearless.

reno

I am no longer a perfectionist (although my pieces are often perfect – hey-oh!). I can take risks. I can cut into that fabulous yardage instead of saving it for a rainy day. If I’m not happy with the end result – I gift it to someone who will be. And for my pains, I have made a lot of garments which are either rockin’ it on my hot bod – or out there somewhere, making someone happy!

So yeah. Sewing as a Life Choice isn’t for the faint of heart. But I’ve stuck to it long enough that these days I sew exactly what I want, when I want

and I love it!

the dude

HAVE YOU OR HAVE YOU NOT

noticed I’ve been watching all these old films so YOU can be convinced to watch them TOO!

So like … Christopher Lee? Sneering his way around the place as a bony, condescending professor. OMG I think I’m in love!
City of the Dead (1960)

Um, a Japanese zombie/karaoke/claymation/horror/sweet family epic?

And an actually beautiful, romantic, stylish not-so-horror film:

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Some more Japanese nuttiness but I promise, way lowkey compared to Katikuris:

The Golden Bat (1966)

Then there’s a man in a big rubbery suit. HOW DARE U JUDGE ME

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

It is lonely being a woman, in B-movieland. Not even kidding. Join meeeeee

“grow[ing] through a crack in the concrete”

From an essay Phoenix penned this year:

What is a hero? A hero is a girl or boy, straight or gay, who has done something good for themselves or others. No doubt heroes are all over the planet. Heroes range from a fearless gladiator to bees who bake Japanese Sparrow Wasps to death. A lone wasp first visits the honeybee’s hive and attacks a few bees, then smears the hive with a chemical stored in the Sparrow Wasp’s body. That signals the wasps to attack. Almost all of them come at once and prepare to slaughter the honeybees, but the bees come out and start flapping their wings to create an intense heat. A couple degrees more and the bees can die. In fact, some bees die in the process but the others just push them aside and keep going.

***

Our next paycheck arrives paid Monday, the 10th. I am so close to meeting my somewhat ambitious goal: to enter the next pay period without debts (this means: bad checks floating around out there, or bills we were supposed to pay last pay cycle but pushed up to the present one).

I am so close. About $100 off. But, who knows? It might happen. I am patient. Ralph is owed reimbursement for some services; perhaps that money will come in before Monday. Donations come in here and there from readers and friends online. Sometimes I get an Etsy sale or some goofy thing.

I’ve learned that managing the family’s money is exciting – it really is.

These last two weeks I have been exacting and working very hard to accomplish my goal – employing some goofy and some practical measures (we decreased our energy bill by $75 this month), selling a thing or two, performing the kind of small but meaningful money-saving operations that are my calling as the at-home worker [Queen] bee – and lastly, benefitting from a few donations from readers. Bless you, readers.

Our dog’s medical expenses – severe salmon poisoning and hospitalization last summer – have been significant in this last six months’ 20-30% shortfall. Hutch’s standing debt is intense, equal to that of the four human Hogabooms. But his debt, unlike ours, could be catastrophic. As of the end of this month, if we don’t pay the remaining $1600 balance, we will receive the sum total of deferred interest in one fell swoop and then begin getting charges on that amount – the typical Damoclean-assery of credit card companies.

This is distressing – but, what can I do? Hell, I am impressed we’ve paid down the additional $900 that was involved in the experience. I don’t regret caring for our dog and keeping him from a grisly death. I am proud of how we care for our animals, even if the learning curve can be a bit distressing at times!

I took over our family’s accounting and finances a few months ago. It turns out, I love it. It is difficult to do the family thing on one income; it seems it is harder even than it was predicted to be, twelve years ago when we made our decision to live as a single-income family (I even remember where I was when Ralph and I did decide!). Not only do I have no regrets, but it seems the experience keeps teaching me more about gratitude, about planning – and about laughing a little when plans go awry (as they usually do!)

Today, life is exciting. It’s not scary, it’s an adventure. Now and then anxiety gets the better of me; but there again, too, I am patient. Patience pays off where almost nothing else does.

I think that’s a bit heroic – don’t you?

root-toot peeping my own horn

Hi peeps. Just a reminder, if you’re enjoying my blog, I do accept donations as they make a large difference to our family’s living experience. I am happy to accept Paypal, check, or hidden cash in a large box of tasteful and seasonal fruit mailed to my residence.* Every little bit goes a long way. Several $25-and-under donations this last week have kept us fed and in wonderful spirits.


Feeding and caring for our family is an adventure! As of this week, I have leads on two good jobs. But, I live in a county with the highest unemployment rate of the state – almost twice the state average. A job may be on the horizon but who knows how long ’til I get there!

And now, back to our regular scheduled programming. Thank you for your patience with this post, and thank you also for your many, many kinds of support! As I’ve said before, in ten years’ blogging I’ve received and appreciated comments, calls, texts, emails, tweets, snail mail, and even anonymous mailbox-stuffing (which I am bound to report now, is a Federal Crime). All of these are firmly in the “support” category – usually – and they keep me inspired to keep writing.

Have a wonderful February.

*I was going to post a picture of a vintage seasonal fruit label but a bunch of them were horrifically racist so I got discouraged and left off.

tying cherry knots, smiling, doing party favors

Today at the orthodontist my son got perfect marks for his brushing and flossing. I am definitely in that “sky is falling” headspace because when the staff called me back to talk to me about his braces (they’re being removed here in a couple months) I had all these thoughts of some new horror to face, but instead it was all good news.

So you should know I’m going to straight-up bitch and complain for a few paragraphs. You may not want to watch. I’m serious. Just a lot of complaining. Yarp.

So. Life is feeling cold and inhospitable. I’m tired of having an old, broken, dog hair-infused coat. And either wearing that or being cold. I’m sad AF that I’ve only managed to put $300 aside for Christmas. I had this whole excellent plan about a specific special thing to buy Ralph and instead we had to eat a bunch of the money I put by. I’m tired of not having a car, because the fella I paid a lot to fix my car fucked it up. And I’m tired of riding in my husband’s car that has no heater. My days mostly consist of moving small bits of cash here and there and borrowing different vehicles to do the things I need to do for my family. And some of those things are things that give me a great deal of anxiety.

I spoke to someone close to me recently and requested they not speak to my children a certain way. This person responded by un-friending me online and, now, giving me the silent treatment. I’m not angry, and I don’t regret making the request I did. But I am right on that verge of being angry. So then I’m worried I won’t forgive this person for not being there, while we’re going through the shit. My hurt is reasonable; my anger, is not. Did you know – I am more terrified of forming resentments than almost anything! Luckily I know it is in my power to not stand idly by. I have a choice in how I accept my life’s circumstances.

Some people are giving my family “privacy” while we go through the ish with sexual assault. This is kind of annoying. I wouldn’t write about it publicly if I didn’t want to share it. I am excruciatingly careful what and how much I share, for a variety of reasons. But it’s like – I’m putting myself out there precisely because I’m not going to pretend this shit doesn’t happen.

There are these “little” things that matter to me that I can’t shake. It bothers me my son orders the cheapest hamburger at the fast food place because he knows where we’re at. It hurts that I’ve been too distracted to be a good schooling mum for my daughter. I haven’t been able to pick up my shrine flowers and that is like… something I haven’t skipped since I started. I am willing to have hunger pangs and pick up those flowers. But it’s just: no, because I wouldn’t be the only one having hunger pangs if I picked them up. The fact I skipped the flowers, it weighs on me.

Life is really good and I know it is. I don’t want a rescue, either. I am not asking for someone to make me feel better. I am not longing for anything specific.

I just want that tiny bit of space to say, “Ouch.” I’ll bitch a little more, then I’ll stop.

As I read last night, “[I] no longer live in a completely hostile world.” I really don’t, and I know I don’t. The money stuff is beyond depressing, today anyway – but yet we keep getting fed, and I keep paying the bills. (Most of them.) Other people pay some bills, too. Last night a friend bought the Underbellie domain for the next year so I could keep writing there. Today we received a blog donation of $8 and – I am not kidding, $8 goes a long way so I am grateful! Donations can be hard, because it can fell like I’m supposed to “prove” I deserve it. I have to put that thought aside a time or two a day.

So: I’m struggling. The worst thing of all is, I look at my kids and I don’t feel the joy I used to. What we are going through as a family, it has taken a lot of my joy away – temporarily, yes, I know this. It’s a damn good thing I don’t live just for feeling good. Holy shit.

It’s hard on me to be the joyless Mama. Sometimes I think it’s my duty to be happy and to be loving. This isn’t a smart thought, it’s just something I can’t easily shake. When my joy is just robbed out of me I feel sad, and I think I’m letting people down. What I know is I have to sit down at my computer and admit a few things that don’t make me look all that great, but at least they’re honest. I can’t move through any of this if I don’t acknowledge it’s happening.

I lived many years not being honest, publicly or privately.

I’m not gonna roll that way again.

And, okay. I’m done complaining. Thank you for listening.

small stone #18
wet cat along the side of the highway;
second day we’ve seen her.
Driving past, my son & I both stiffen, the same thought:
we should bring her home.

JCS

linkage on friday!

JCS
dance, you filthy, taut-buttock’d hippies, dance!

***

First: after some sewing-room time listening to JCS, which is kind of one of my favorite things, I went online and found the ultimate Bob Bingham thread – Bingham also known as Caiaphas, who wore a novelty calculator on his sexy bare chest and a spray-painted acorn squash on his head. ZOMG so many great memories of singing the entire rock opera word-for-word with my HS girlfriends!

Second: I need any great pictures, video snippets, or factoids re: Billy Zane. Don’t ask why. Hush, child. Just: Trust. And post anything good in the comments.

Today: attempting to catch up on my writing commitments, I wrote a piece on Underbellie. I hope it helps someone.

Finally: you have a few days left to pre-order my zine and save a little funds. I have to be honest, my zine is in desperate need of help. I make about $1 to $2 per issue, and I think last issue (in February) I had fewer than ten subscribers. You can grab archive zines gratis; please do so to consider if this is a project you’d like to support or pass on.

Additionally, in zine news: I am offering up a sponsorship program. If you’d like to know more details, email me at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. I am aware I just told you my zine is not enjoying widespread circulation; however, I do have a business plan for increasing viewership and response. So please do contact me if you’d like to support the zine in this way.

TTFN!