Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bennet. Elizabeth Bennet.

Broke down and made the Regency gown. I used Simplicity pattern #4055, view A for myself, and I made it a size - hah - 18 to fit my bust. I'm not an 18. I'm a US 14. I read somewhere a mother lamenting that patterns ran big, which thoroughly surprised me. My friend and I have sewn dresses together for years and it has been our rule of thumb to size up a pattern. Amanda is tiny compared to me, I mean tiny, and she usually sizes up, not down when sewing from a pattern. Like most Simplicity patterns I've encountered, I sized up. And to my chagrin, after hours of labor, discovered this baby still didn't fit. Unless I wore my stays. Which are totally the wrong foundation garment for this time period. Stays = French and Indian war and the Revolutionary War. Stays don't = Jane Austin. Fail.

Also disconcerting about this dress - total lack of placket to cover the back. The instructions were to create a drawstring casing around the neck line and the bottom of the bodice to draw the dress in. I will certainly be doing a little aftermarket adding to this garment, because no where, in the history of Regency clothing, was it socially acceptable to have what you wore under your dress on display to the public. I was pretty well covered but mollified nonetheless to discover that the back gaped if I did anything other than stand stock still. I realize Simplicity patterns aren't completely historically accurate. They've got the general shape going for them and the bit about tying in the back. But I'm pretty sure there should have been a placket here. I wore a similar gown to a dinner party once that buttoned in the back instead of tying - my friend had to adjust the internal drawstring on the bodice and replace the buttons so that it would fit me, but my friend's back would have been sufficiently covered by a placket had she been wearing it.

I did also make one to fit doll, out of the scraps from the dress for me. I used American Girl's Josephina's Christmas dress from the Pretty Clothes patterns, and omitted the long sleeves. Have I mentioned something about patterns running small? Oh, right, because it seems the pattern drafters at Pleasant Company had difficulty with this concept as well - the dress doesn't fit the doll! I made some bias tape to bind off the sleeves on the doll dress instead of making the sleeves long, and will have to use additional bias tape to make a Velcro placket for the back, and to bind off the hem so that the dress is the proper length. Details. Details I shouldn't have to worry about, because I followed the directions to a T and they still don't fit.

I used Halloween as a road test for the dress, wearing it at work before I wore it to a party I was invited to. I was invited to a birthday tea party, and the instructions were to bring along a doll or bear, so I brought along doll in her dress (mine was packed so I wore something else). Huge, huge hit. :)

steppy-stool. and The Hobbit

A. Love "The Hobbit". And LOTR.
B. YAY Peter Jackson!!!
C.1 Alas, however epic awesome this is for Benedict Cumberbatch (our old pal Smaug the dragon) and Martin Freeman (ahem, Bilbo) GUYS!!! Both of you?! SHERLOCK!!!
C.2 I need a steppy-stool
D. I want Bilbo's
E. But I think I'll have to make it myself, because this isn't going to be one of the "officially licensed" objects from the movie.

I was drawing up sketches last night, knowing I had seen this little guy somewhere, but unsure of the where part. And then I remembered -  The Hobbit!! My knowledge of seating and step construction being minimal compared to tables, I wasn't entirely sure how it would bear weight. Didn't look up the finer points of wood seating and steps because it was late and I really should have been asleep.

(sketches - bottom right in box is Bilbo's. roughly.)

I figured the steps would have to constructed in some sort of tongue and groove fashion. I'm not so terribly concerned with making and exact copy as I am with just liking the design of the piece. And being in need of a steppy stool for reaching the high places in my kitchen and climbing into bed. I'd probably make it out of poplar or maple. Poplar if I decided to paint, and maple because I really don't like the look of oak.

Who do I know with a router or dado blade on their table saw.....

kaleidoscope batik project

still in pieces
This project has been in the works for quite a while. I picked up the first bit of batik at Calico Corner in Erie, PA... which I'm not sure is even open any more, or if they moved (I hope they just moved).
Some of the dark blue came from the remnant bin of a fabric shop in Canterbury, England. The majority of the beige-ish fabric came from Creative Reuse Pittsburgh during their fabric and yarn sale - 70" for $2. I almost went into cardiac arrest. I knew I needed something - and a lot of that something - to give harmony to this project, and this muted mustard yellow/olive green was just the thing. The blues weren't cutting it. I'm not a huge fan of blue in the first place, but most of these reminded me of the color of water.

There are three obvious spheres in the photograph that draw attention to themselves, two sort of halvesies in the opposite corners.  I had seen a kaleidoscope quilt at a show in Erie two summers ago that had less contrast  in the overall design and a  few spheres that stood out, which I liked a lot better than a clipping of a Kaffe Fassat kaleidoscope I had saved for reference purposes. 

Free associations include

 oil on water.
opposites attract.
star cluster.
when worlds collide

I don't remember the dimensions, but its about a twin. I don't like it in it's current state. It needs something to encapsulate and contain it. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Habitat, pt. III

All moved in. All painted. So not unpacked. Or organized, but organized is overrated... right?

Some improvements I've made:
Bygel pot rack

Quite possibly the best addition I installed myself. The wall was empty and I was out of cupboard space for my frying and sauce pans. I probably have too many. Frying pans, that is. Two cast iron, and three Revereware. One is nonstick. The bar and hooks came from IKEA, their Bygel series. My only complaint is that it didn't come with screws or drywall anchors. But given the weight this is bearing, it's better to sink the screws into a stud anyway.

A pot lid rack near the stove. Less in the arena of awesome installation, but space saving and convenient. It's a decorate plate display rack being cleverly re-purposed. Admittedly, I didn't want to get rid of it, but had no where to put it and display a plate or three, and the idea came to me when the lids tumbled out of the cupboard.

Quick and dirty [okay, very clean] cupboard cover. Clearly not a door, it's a curtain on a pressure rod. But it's pretty, and pretty handy at covering up my pile of Tupperware. And yes, the red shelving unit in there is actually a milk crate.

Also handy: this shelving unit of two separate pieces, a Barrister bookcase and a hutch. It works. The Barrister is mine, the hutch was here, and the Barrister happens to fit on top of the hutch, glory be to the Father. But I look at it and think I should get some semi-opaque frosted contact paper for the glass. Like the stuff people put on bathroom windows after the fact.

Also not installed, the computer monitor in the fireplace. The fireplace isn't safe to use for multitudinous reasons, and I looked at it as a wasted opportunity for storage... until I discovered that my desktop computer got the best wireless reception in this part of the room, and I didn't want to clutter up the table with the monitor. I have bits of fabric and books and lesson plans to accomplish that task. I did see a clever bookshelf made to fit inside an unusable fireplace. But I'm not that handy.

I'm still trying to be creative with storage solutions and organization tailor made for the space.

Oh, and cat, in her natural habitat.

Monday, June 20, 2011

K Basement, 1st installment

The fun and excitement... painting walls and trim, assembling furniture, discovering a corroded pipe under the utility sink, arranging the room, hanging curtains, rearranging the room to accommodate a neurotic desktop computer, discovering a corroded pipe under the kitchen sink, dangling by a bit of PVC, hauling three neurotic cats to church for half the day while the house is flea bombed, discovering that the plumbing under the bathroom sink is also corroded, installing a curtain wire for a faux Dutch bed, discovering the measurements were slightly off and there's a bend in the one point bracket. Fantastic.

Place looks like a bomb dropped and class was canceled for the week due to lack of enrollment. Huzzah, that means the doors can be painted. Again. 

the truth is stranger than fiction. I couldn't make this up. The pilot light will be re-lit tomorrow sometime - we had to turn it off to set off the bombs - and the plumber comes Wednesday to fix the faucets in the bathroom sink so that there's hot and cold water, the mechanism to stop up the tub works, replace the pipes under the kitchen sink, and have a look at aforementioned leaky plumbing under the aforementioned bathroom sink. Pictures to come later.

Monday, June 6, 2011

habitat, pt.II

The cart was before the horse on this one - I love furniture. Old furniture. I appreciate Ikea's modern sensibilities and streamlines but the part of me that screams to recycle and reuse says buy old. And yeah. Old can mean a lot of things; many people equate old with things like decrepit. Pshaw.

I found this on Craig's List for a whopping $25. The pain was peeling and cracking, the drop leaves were gone, the wheel on the gate leg is missing, and it looks like the top was used for a chop block. Ouch. But it was $25 and smallish. I needed a smallish table for my smallish apartment. I went out to look at it and about died. This thing is solid. SOLID. The legs and the apron weren't bolted together, they're joined, and you'd think it had been glued up yesterday. Worth the $25? Yes. Despite the peeling paint. Bonus, what I didn't know was that this table takes leaves - up to 5 leaves, in point of fact. And I picked up two for an additional $20.

what spray on stripper looks like after sitting five minutes. gross.

Frightening. But that's oak under there, not poplar. Solid. Stripping is serious business, and I've known more than a few people to get partway through a stripping job and then quit because it was more than they could handle. I didn't get all the paint off before I had to move the table, but I got most of it. The legs pose a challenge. Do I have delusions of grandeur about this project? Yep. I'm using it as my desk right now, but I imagine clearing it off and having a few friends over for dinner. Putting the leaves in it when I move on and have a bigger kitchen, or - gasp! - a dining room. Finding more leaves to accommodate my own family. Cleaning off dried bits of cereal left there by the kids. Yep. Delusions of grandeur.

upcycling 2.3

I really need to stay out of Goodwill.

Aside from buying my whole spring wardrobe there yesterday - which hopefully in 6-8 weeks will be running big instead of fitting :) - I'm in the habit of checking housewares. Because you never know what you're going to find.

Like a very sad, sad twin sized, obviously home made duvet in need of... erm... something. Sad waste of a really nice twin sheet by Nautica. Dunno if the blue baby stuff was sheeting or yardage. I suspect the yellow was a Target RE sheet... similar to the one I made into a duvet, into baby blankets. So I did what any self respecting up-cycler would: I cut it into pieces. Rolled up the blue circus animals for more baby blanket fun times later [and you know they're coming later when three of your friends get married with in 6 months of each other, starting Memorial Day weekend]