I did it! Mad Men, here we come!!

What’s a girl to do when she feels down? She makes a pretty dress and takes photos with a pretty car : ) THAT is a 1966 Gold Cadillac. No, it’s not mine, it lives in the same garage as the 1940 Packard. What can I say? I have friends with cool toys…

What else can I say? I love Joan, so I decided to take a crack at this dress:

Lo and behold, look what pattern just happens to resemble Joan’s dress:

The Facts
: Silk from Bay Area Sewists fabric swap (free), lining ($7.43)
Pattern: Butterick 5814
Notions: Zipper, boning all from stash
Year: 60′s inspired
Time to complete
: 3 1/2 hours
First worn: March 2014
Wear again? Yes, to the right event, perhaps some fund raising dinner : )

A few weeks ago, at the Bay Area Sewists fabric swap, Meg from Made by Meg (who is seriously adorable so be sure to check out her blog!) brought this lucious piece of silk dupioni. I had to think about it a LOT since the whole POINT of the swap (to me!) was to get RID of stuff, not bring armloads back home. I caved and I’m glad I did.

I had been wanting to try Gertie’s retro pattern, especially after I saw the version that Laura Mae did last year, and since I waited until the last minute to really DO anything about the Mad Men challenge, this is it!

All in all the pattern was easy to understand, a decent fit and I’m about 80% happy with it. What I need to fix, and had my suspicions about up front, are those sleeves. They’re a little too big on me but I’d rather have too big than too tight. Since my height is in my legs most tops are a little long and while the body of the dress hits about right I feel like I’m swimming in the sleeves. The horizontal “pull lines” you see in the photo above are equal parts arm position and a last minute pinning of the bodice pieces my photographer did so you wouldn’t see the top of my spanx : ) Yes, it needs to be tacked or, in the next version, raise the whole front so my boobs aren’t so INYOURFACE. The darts are in the right places, but the day was cold and breezy so some things/parts are *showing* that otherwise shouldn’t be - we shot these photos in between some very necessary storms. Still…

I know, I know, my shoes aren’t very cha-cha. At least they’re pointy. And then John said “Wait! I’ve got this great Christian Dior hat you HAVE to try!” and he hobbled/skipped off (for a man who broke his hip a few weeks ago he did remarkably well helping me out but I think I exhausted him).

THIS is what he came back with:

I feel a little like Liz Taylor here.

He also lent me the BEST hat to wear with one of my Sew for Victory creations. Now that I’ve overcome my “Oh my god I just HAVE to do the Mad Men challenge” hurdle it’s time to make the half a dozen or so 40′s outfits I’ve got rattling around in my brain…

Thank you EVERYONE for your very kind comments last week. You are truly all the BEST : )



Check out this.

In case you didn’t click on the link let me sum up – it’s a list of “30 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself” and it’s really good.

In the spirit of this list I’m going to practice # 25.

#25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.

A couple of weeks ago I was able to participate in the rescue of a dog. To most she is just a “dog” but to her owner she was very special. The rescue went fine but in the afterward the people I had worked with had issues and ended up bullying me. It was an unpleasant end to an otherwise great story, the bulk of which was on facebook until things went south and then I deleted all traces of it. It may still be in my twitter feed, I don’t know.

What I DO know is I tried to handle it as best I could, take the high road, block the offending parties and move on. I talked with some of my other rescue friends because EVERYONE who does this goes through this at some point. EVERYONE. We all have different ways of dealing with garbage and I’m doing my best to move on.

The reality is I feel stuck. I may not be but I have nothing to measure this against. I do know that I hesitate to post ANYTHING on facebook or twitter, and while I don’t think the people who came after me on facebook-land have any clue about my blog I’m still nervous about coming here.

I don’t like making decisions out of fear or anger and that’s what life feels like right now. If it weren’t for my sewing/blogging friends posting happy photos of their latest creations, their dogs and cats, their kids…I seriously love you guys. There is a LOT of good in the world, I know that. I just have to get back to the place where the sun shines. I go read ALL your blogs for inspiration – Rochelle, Oona, Michelle, Vicki, Barbara, Kat, Trish, Wanette, Peter, Djamila, Lee, Bethany, Liz, Leila, Tempest, Tasha, Meg, Erin….and so many more that I can’t think of right now!

I don’t want to be afraid or sad. I have so many projects cut out and ready to go but am I going to make the deadline for the Mad Men challenge? I just don’t know. I have Tempest’s voice in the back of my head whispering “If it’s not fun don’t do it”. I’m hoping it will be fun, soon, because I spend most of my time working or commuting or doing homework. Good news is I’m almost done with my course work. Bad news is all I want to do right now is sit on the couch and watch “Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries” and eat Girl Scout cookes. I’ve even got three paper dresses in various stages of completion, just need to finish and take photos!

So I’ve cried some, I’ve talked to friends. One, a teacher, outlined what they do in schools to handle this sort of thing and it comes down to…not a lot. I’ve tried editing my post about  twitter to include dealing with trolls and have opened up a new and fascinating can of worms, so it will take a while longer for me to get everything pulled together. I have no patience. Hormones? Maybe…

Sigh….this is really the best I can do right now.


Djamila does a Mayhem dress!

LOOK what our friend Djamila did with some paper and tape!!

In the spirit of Mayhem and her mom, Djamila and HER mom made this amazing Rococo-inspired piece, right down (or up to) a wig!

I can’t say enough good things about this, and there are MORE pics of the process and views of her dress on her blog here!!!!!

Djamila was one of the Sew Weekly contributors and she lives in Berlin. She posted tons of photos of her gorgeous city when she’d do blog posts and we were fortunate enough to meet when she came out to my part of the country one Christmas. She has launched her own line of clothing and has just recently begun blogging so PLEASE stop by her blog, say Hi! and drool over her creations. Her store is Jaleyla and there is a jacket there that I have my eyes on…

She also met up with our friend Lee of the The Slow Steady blog who recently moved to Berlin. I’m just guessing from the photo on Instagram they had a good time together : )

So if you’re still reading here…STOP. Go check out Djamila’s blog, say Hi! to Lee and go make a paper dress. I’m still working on mine…


I left my (blue) heart in (South) San Francisco…

Did someone say something about a blue sewing challenge? Is THIS enough blue for you?!

This enormous blue heart was part of the Hearts of San Francisco project.

“Hearts in San Francisco began in 2004 as a fund raiser for the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. Like the famous painted cows, the painted hearts — created from uniform molds and painted by individual artists — decorate the city in areas like Union Square, until they are auctioned off at a benefit for the charity. New hearts are unveiled each year.”

This particular heart was sponsored by Genentech:

Now that the exhibit has run its course it is back ‘home’ for a bit, just up the hill from me. When I heard about the Blue February sewalong I KNEW that I had to do a photoshoot with this lovely!

(Hey, it was either this or IKEA! This, I thought, was infinitely more interesting.)

The heart is located in a breezeway that does a fabulous job of funneling the latest storm wind and rain…not that I’m complaining, we need the rain! BUT it is tough standing there as the elements are swirling, looking all calm and collected : ) I started out with a sweater on but my co-worker/photographer said we had too much white going so they sweater was thrown aside.

I made a new blouse using fabric in our “Polka dot and plaids” box. I have made a VOW that I’m NOT GOING TO BUY any fabric this year unless it is SO COOL that I will die without it! Seriously. One of my goals last year was to use an entire box of fabric to cut down on my stock. In the end I did but along the way I added more to the collection so really, one step forward, two steps back.

Rochelle recently talked about wishing she had a “go to” pattern to use when she needed a “happy pattern” to get back into the sewing groove. This blouse pattern is that for me. I think I have a dozen versions of this, you can see a couple here, and here, and here. I love each one, the only thing that keeps me from making MORE is time : )

The jeans are my go-to vintage jeans I originally made for the Rosie the Riveter challenge almost 2 years ago.

The heart all by itself.

And for Vicki:

I have no idea what we were doing, but this is the best outtake of the day. Tap dancing perhaps? Nothing like standing near the executive suites on campus to bring out the dork in you…

(I was hoping Ian Clark might photobomb our session but no)

I’ve had LOTS of interest in the paper dresses! Still figuring out the button thing and looking into getting a flickr page up and going so come on, people, let your inner 4 year old OUT!



This is Mayhem. She’s 4 years old and makes dresses out of paper and tape with her mother. They use whatever is laying around the house. The one above was created after a visit to the aquarium. She likes to look at photos of red carpet dresses and re-create them:Check out this one, made with a sheet:

And this is my favorite:

Recognize Jay McCarroll’s dress from the first season of Project Runway?

You can read the Huffington Post article about her here.

And you can check out her website here.

SO ladies and gentlemen, let’s make an outfit using whatever we have at home, in the spirit of Mayhem, and post it to her hashtag #fashionbymayhem.!!

Let’s take a few weeks to get something done and photographed. ‘Rules’ are easy.

1 – Use stuff you have at home, free is good. Paper & tape is ENCOURAGED.
2 – You can use fabric but the whole point is to NOT sew!
3 – If you have kids involve them!
4 – Take a pic and email it to me. If there is enough interest I can set up a flickr page.
5 – This should be FUN and EASY, do it in an hour or so!
6 – Due date is March 16th.
7 – This isn’t a competition, just a craft-along : )

The Oscars are this weekend, perhaps use that for inspiration, but anything else is good too. Use your imagination!! Channel your 4 year old self!

If you’re on Instagram post your creation using the hashtag #fashionbymayem. Her mom’s account, that she regularly posts to, is 2sisters_angie.

Because I don’t do html-like things I’m going to attempt to make a button so stay tuned. I’m ALSO in the process of setting up ONE AMAZING SEWALONG so DON’T MISS IT!!!! It’s going to be totally awesomesauce!

In the meantime I’m going to go make a paper dress or two, work on the sewalong details and think about finishing one of the other half dozen blog posts I’ve started and not finished.


A jacket for Dave

This is Dave. Dave is married to Ruth. Ruth is my friend. Ruth loves Dave : )

Ruth wanted sometime fun and super cool for her hubby for Christmas. So she called me : )

You can see he’s pretty happy.

The back is pretty special too….

One happy guy.

Here’s some details about the coat:

The Facts

Fabric: Custom printed cotton from Spoonflower
Pattern: Vogue 2836
Notions: LOTS of interfacing – goat hair canvas and woven cotton, twill tape, 8 unique buttons
Year: Modern
Time to complete: 10+ hours
First worn: Christmas day 2013
Wear again? Yes he has : )
Cost – Not sure, client paid for fabrics.

Ruth messaged me with the following “I’m searching for abstract art type print.” I told her that depending on the copyright she could get something printed on Spoonflower. She responded “Just looked at their site!! Yay!! This is so so so perfect. You are the best!!” And she was off…

She took a photo of a painting that Dave did and manipulated it into this:

Crazy huh?

And then she made this:

Apparently this is a repeat of the painted frame. It’s for the lining.

If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen the fabric just before I cut things out : ) It took several hours to get the piecing just right. I wanted to have it as symmetrical as possible but keep the basic flavor of the design in tact. Ruth had one request, that a certain part of the design be on the back:

There IS a center back seam there, so it was some pretty fancy sewing I managed to do!

A word about the pattern: for those of you wanting to make a men’s jacket and do it traditionally (with all that hand stitching) this is a GOOD pattern. The instructions are thorough and clear with the tailoring directions.  I really liked the way they pieced the front interfacing panels together:

But I didn’t do all that hand padding. Years ago I took a course in machine tailoring so this jacket is a hybrid mix of machine and hand tailoring. I was concerned at first that the color of the interfacing would show through the design but it was fine. You can’t really see it but I did do hand stitching on the chest pieces. This is the front collars with the roll complete:

Ruth had brought me a jacket of Dave’s that he liked and fit him well and the Vogue pattern matched the roll line of the collar on his jacket nearly perfectly. The changes I made to the interfacing pieces were:
Added upper back jacket interfacing.
Added underarm interfacing.
Used lighter weight woven cotton interfacing for sleeve hems.

Here’s a shot of the coat after I dropped the lining in:

Pretty cool, huh?

Ruth originally wanted pants to match!? I just didn’t have time BUT there is enough fabric left over to do a pretty dress for Ruth should she get sufficient encouragement : )

Ruth is special to me in several ways – First, she’s an awesome mom. I met her when her youngest son was in a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and he played Dill. That particular theater company had an agonizing tradition of letting audience members comment of aspects of the production during dress rehearsals. One older lady in the audience took issue with the Chuck Taylor shoes we put on the kids and said “I don’t think they had those shoes back then. I think you messed up there.” Before I could open my mouth to defend my position we hear this tiny little voice “Um, excuse me ma’m but I researched the history of these shoes. They were first produced in 1917 and quite popular by the 30′s.” I know he said some other stuff but I was so astonished by his certainty and spunk, and he was around 7 years old at that time,  that I don’t remember the rest. I just remember thinking “Who is this kids mother??? That must be one awesome family.” They are : )

Second – she has done a REALLY COOL THING. She hosts the Spontaneous Smiley blog. It’s funny, it’s silly and she’s met Oprah. Go check out her website. Subscribe. Smile.

Third – She got Oprah to jump with joy with her : )

This is a photo my friend Lucy took of a Spontaneous Smiley:

Those are caterpillars on the sunflower making that face. Totally natural, totally random and totally cool. Ruth has people from all over the world submitting photos like that. If you look at the bag she encased the Christmas Jacket in you’ll see it’s covered in smiley faces : )

This is Chunk kitty. We had to put him to sleep a couple of weeks ago. He seemed fine on Thursday, Friday morning he was in my sewing room just hanging out on the floor. Jim thought he was acting funny so he took him to the vet. Next thing you know we’re looking at advanced lymphoma and in a day and a half he’d deteriorated so much we had no choice but to say good-bye.

We miss him. He was sweet, not the brightest bulb in the box but just SO incredibly sweet that all you wanted to do was hold him tight. His mom gave birth to him on our property so we buried him at the top of the hill in the back yard. He used to LOVE to sit by the street edge and watch the world go by, now he can do it forever.

Life is rough. Some days it’s nice to have an extra smile or two to look at. And hey, look at that, a second blog post in a week. I’m on a roll!


I came, I saw, I knit

“Mom, you’re a dork.” Me “I know”. The daughter “It happens, it’s OK.”

I am now a knitter. At least I think I am : )

This journey started when Tasha of By Gum, By Golly published her very first knitting pattern, the Victory beret. That’s some serious cuteness right there, especially with the lovely Rochelle of Lucky Lucille as her model : ) How can you resist? I didn’t.

Isn’t that CUTE? AND I knit the red sweater, making the pattern up as I went. Yep. I haven’t picked up knitting needles in years and the last few things I made were scarves so NOTHING like figuring out how to shape the pieces, work in a design and finish it all off in the timeline. It might have gone a lot quicker if I didn’t have to take time out for therapy.

Seriously, knitting sent me back to therapy. Not because of the act of knitting but because how I learned to knit as a child.

When I was little it was expected that us girls would grow up to be mommies and housewives and we would cook and knit and sew and do the laundry blah blah blah. My grandmother started teaching me how to sew when I was three and as long as she was around we were constantly sewing. My mother learned how to knit from the neighbor that lived across the hall from us when we lived in San Francisco. I distinctly remember the Irish knit sweaters she made for me and my two sisters, I chose to have little popcorns knit into mine and loved it, most of the time.

Because the whole knitting thing looked like fun I asked if they would teach me. My mother really couldn’t so neighbor Evelyn, who was from Brazil and had been raised by nuns in a convent after being orphaned and could knit faster and better than anyone around, taught me. The only problem was she expected me to be up to an adult skill set right after she showed me something. I was six. She knit Continental style and for the life of me I couldn’t wrap my head around it so I imitated my mother (and the cartoon characters on TV. Ever see a chicken knit? yeah….) Evelyn didn’t like that but put up with it. I got the casting on thing down and the knitting part but when it came to purling she just said “You do the opposite of knitting” so I tried looping the yarn around the needle and THEN putting the needle through the loop…and I’m sure something else. I was never SHOWN, but I was taken to task because I didn’t do it. Let me repeat – I was SIX.

Most of the time when I wanted to knit I was given a skein of yarn and told to wind it in a ball, THEN I was ‘allowed’ to knit. I hate winding skeins into balls. To this day I’ll walk away from knitting if you tell me I MUST roll the skein into a ball. (Plus, when you’re knitting on a train and the ball rolls off your lap or out of your purse it’s an embarrassing dance to get it back.) After I nearly had a panic attack at the yarn store when one of the other customers (because yarn store customers are a particularly nosy bunch, which is mostly fine but not always) chided me for not knitting Continental style AND not winding my skein into a ball, I called my therapist. I clearly had “issues”.

I did manage to buy all the pretty colors for the hat AND four skeins of a cotton/wool blend in my favorite red for a sweater based on a pattern Liz at Zilredloh put on her blog for free. My train of thought went something like this “I’m a smart girl, I have friends who knit and there’s always youtube videos, I can figure this out.” The the train derailed and there I was, sitting in a familiar chair and crying to my therapist.

I will add, so I don’t sound like a complete lunatic, that the woman who “taught” me how to knit was married to the neighborhood pedophile, who tried luring me into his web for a couple of years when I was 5, 6 and 7. He never succeeded physically but emotionally I was damaged, and years later I put enough of the stories I heard together with my own history to figure out he needed HER to be able to do what he did. She was complicit in his sickness and as far as I know they’re still married. It wasn’t so much the act of knitting that sent me to therapy but the memories indelibly paired with knitting. Yes, I’ve had years of therapy previous to this to deal with all that happened, but every now and then some dusty corner of my brain is illuminated and needs to be swept out.

So for the last three months I’ve juggled the knitting of the beret with the knitting of the sweater. I wanted to make the Panelled Cardigan pattern that Liz posted. I had that with me when I went to the yarn store. First they sold me the wrong size needles : ) Apparently the young woman behind the counter didn’t realize that knitting needles changed sizes sometime between the 1940′s and today so she sold me MODERN size 10 needles, when what I really needed was size 2. Fortunately I swatched the yarn and discovered the error within an hour of purchasing the needles so back I went. The pattern also called for 9-10 ounces of yarn to make the sweater so I bought all four skeins of yarn they had in my red, or 14.5 ounces in total, just to make sure I had enough. (I didn’t)

The first thing I discovered about the pattern is they use the “wrong” side of the knitting as the “right” side, so the patterned panels show up. Then I couldn’t figure out the pattern/cabling so I thought “I’ll just knit a basic sweater and use their proportions.” I changed the ribbing to knit 2 purl 1 instead of knit 1 purl 1 since that stitch literally makes me dizzy, all that switching from front to back every other stitch. The right front panel took the ENTIRE skein of yarn, in the end I had 18 inches of yarn left. Hmmm….

At this point I’m looking at my other three skeins and thinking “It’s not going to be enough.” It was mid November at this point so I went back to the yarn store to see if I could get more. Nope. I asked if they’d order more for me and was told they were expecting a shipment within a week or two and it would probably be in that. Great, I’ll wait and in the meantime I was working on Tempest’s Dr. Who challenge and starting the beret.

Week after Thanksgiving I go back in but no yarn. I ask if they’ll now order it. Sure, the order will go in next week and be here mid December.  For some reason I had a brain fart and thought I had to finish by the end of December, so I completely rearranged my schedule, took a deep breath and said “fine”.

Then Rochelle posted “What should I knit?” and had the CUTEST “V for Victory” scarf pattern and I KNEW I had to incorporate that V into my sweater! So I DID!!!

It’s just above my left boob, a la Laverne on “Laverne and Shirley”. It was EASY : ) Every day, for the last three months, I hop on BART and pull out my knitting. First it was the two Dr. Who scarves (one of which I gave to one of my best friend’s daughter for Christmas who screamed so hard through the phone I thought she was hurt at first. No, she’s just 15 and excited), then it was the front panels and sleeves of this sweater. I decided to take a BIG chance and knit the front and sleeves out of the yarn I had and do the back out of the two skeins I ordered, praying the dye lots would be close enough that we wouldn’t notice.

Back to the yarn store I go mid December. Was my yarn in? They hadn’t even ORDERED it yet! Panic set in. I could finish the beret but my SWEATER??!! After all THAT, including therapy, and I wouldn’t finish! I bought some brown and white yarn to play with a faux fox stole pattern I found on a Pinterest page and went home a sad girl.

Then lightening struck. Wait….what about Amazon. They have EVERYTHING on Amazon, says Crystal. NO! They did NOT have my color, ACK!!! I tried calling the manufacturer, apparently they are in Oklahoma and were in the middle of the first Polar Vortex so things weren’t working well. They had no yarn in my color in stock but were dyeing some “next week”. It should be in by the end of the month.

I’m still thinking I have to have everything done by December 31 so then I ask who else might carry that yarn in the bay area. It took almost 10 minutes of searching to come up with several yarn stores so I called…and the universe smiled on me. A store in San Francisco had plenty of my red so they put two skeins into an envelope for me on Monday and Tuesday the package was waiting for me when I got home : ) And just to round the story out – it was cheaper, even with shipping, than my local store and the color was almost identical. SCORE!

Then I read ALL the words and realized I had a whole other month to get my Victory sweater done. Breathe…

I took a day or two off and made a Christmas dress for my family’s annual Christmas Eve party, buried our Pouff chicken and spent a frantic day getting vet assistance for two other animals. Life is like that.

To give myself some sense of accomplishment I threw this project into the mix. I thought it would be an adorable vintage-style accessory to wear with vintage dresses. I don’t like the real stuff, and now I’m sufficiently sensitive to all animal products that I just can’t wear them any more. I have a gorgeous cashmere overcoat with a very pretty fur collar that completely creeps me out. I know there has been much debate amongst vintage wearing animal lovers and most say “hey, I don’t buy new furs, I don’t support that industry and this was dead long before I was born so it’s ok.” That’s great, but that’s not me. This looked so EASY that I indulged.

It IS easy but there are things about the pattern that I would definitely change were I to do this again, and I think I will. I think the body proportions are off, I made the legs longer than the pattern called for and they’re still odd. The tail isn’t nearly as big and fluffy as a real tail would be so that will get fixed. All in all I like it and when I finally finish the dress its hanging on and do a proper photoshoot it will be great! I also have enough yarn to do at least two more so why not?

With that accomplishment under my belt I went back to my Victory sweater. The back went together a lot quicker than I thought it might. The original pattern called for no back neck shaping so I searched the internet for help. One set of three videos started out great and quickly evolved into a lesson that made first year calculus look super easy. My eyes rolled to the back of my head. I kept looking and finally found this book online (and free to view!) that really helped. I also found a pattern for doing Miss Lemon’s red sweater from Poirot so I psyched! But the point is I kept looking and digging when I had questions and eventually got my answers so if you’re stuck don’t give up, just keep looking until someone “speaks” to you

The pattern has you knit all pieces separately then put together. I knew trying to knit without side seams was a little past my comfort zone, and certainly trying to knit sleeves by picking up stitches around the armhole would be a challenge I didn’t need to tackle just yet. I did my very best stitching the whole thing together and am pretty happy with it. Yes, there are things I might change later, or just re knit a new sweater ( I know, crazy huh?!) but I feel like I’ve done one of those 100 mile super-marathons through the Sahara. (Yes, that’s a real event, I know someone who has done it.)

I did get sick right after Christmas, most likely food poisoning, so I was on the couch for a couple of days covered in cats and dogs, one of whom put her paw right through my ribbing. I picked up stitches as best I could until I realized I was probably too sick to keep knitting, and it shows.

I decided to leave this because its a true testament to what was going on as I knit. There are places where threads are separated (thanks to Stuart and his neediness), or threads pulled (Olivia liked the feel of the yarn). The sweater already has a history : )

In the end it really was all about the journey and I haven’t cleaned the house, any bit of it, since before Thanksgiving. People on BART want to see my completed projects so they’ll be in for a surprise next week. I’m still in school, have managed to get all my course projects and homework done on time and I’m loving it. The dogs get walked, the cats cuddled, Jim has been taking care of the basics but now that I slid into home plate JUST under the deadline I need to get a handle on life stuff again. I’ve done no gardening, no real sewing, nothing.

As for my associations of knitting to ‘bad’ people, I’ve replaced Evelyn’s face and voice with Tasha, Liz, Michelle at Tres Bien Ensemble, even Meg at Meg the Grand. I need a little break from the needles and I’ve got SO much stuff unblogged that it’s seriously not funny. Time to evolve.

See all the V’s for Victory? Super cute : )

One final project I started a few days ago – I couldn’t let the “left over” yarn from the hat just SIT, so I’m making a Victory scarf:

Thanks to Tasha and Rochelle for all their inspiration, as well as everyone else who participated in this, you ladies have made my life SO much better.

Next up – I made a blazer for a friend. You GOTTA see this! Post up soon!!


Dr. Who, a Tardis and a Chloe

Our friend Tempest Devyne, of Fanbloomingstastic, hosted a Dr. Who Sewalong for the last few weeks. Confession: I last watched “Dr. Who” in the 1970′s. I had to choose between “Dr. Who” and “The Prisoner” so I went with “The Prisoner” and then I got interested in boys and….yeah…

I had to work to get caught up on at least the major “stuff” that’s happened in the last few decades but Tempest graciously provided MANY, MANY links and videos and tidbits. Her enthusiasm was so infectious that I really, really liked this little journey : )

She started out with knitting a scarf for Mr. D. I LOVE the colors and since she and a the lovely Tara at wittylittleknitter took ALL of the guess work out of whatever Dr. Who scarf you have a hankering to knit, it was easy! I chose the Season 14 scarf mainly because it’s the shortest scarf and I had limited time. I liked the entire outfit Tom Baker wore and went so far as to buy brown tweed for pants, a burgundy linen for a jacket and even brown wool to do a hat. They’ll look GREAT when I get to them! Alas, that whole reality thing happened and since I don’t have a time machine to pick up extra hours something had to give.

Not only that, but I had a late afternoon inspiration. I was knitting on BART, looked down and saw this:

If you look at the skirt of my coat you’ll see all the colors of the scarf, in their approximate ratios:

The right side of the coat…

…and the left side.

The hood is a little rainbow-like, just in dusky tones as opposed to the brights.

To help me out Miss Chloe is my side kick : )

She has her own sweater AND scarf! Am I one of those crazy pet owners who feels like she must dress her animals up? Not really : ) Chloe is getting a coat because she has short hair and tends to shiver at night, even in the house. And the scarf?
Ahem…it was a goof.

PAY ATTENTION – especially when it comes to knitting directions. Read ALL the words, not just your favorites!
Here’s how I goofed – I was SO excited to start knitting that I printed out the directions, went to Joann’s and bought the yarn Tempest recommended, new needles and flew home. I followed Ms. Tara’s directions for casting on and started knitting (FABULOUS resource!!) I had the piece of paper folded and only read the words ABOVE the fold so hence did not see things like “Knit in garter stitch” and “To obtain row count, multiply numbers by two”. So the Chloe scarf is half the length it should be and is knit/purl instead of garter stitch. Just for the record, never knit a scarf in knit/purl. It curls : ) I do have a very experienced knitter friend who knew immediately what the issue was but I’m ok with it. For one, I can wear it while riding my bike and I won’t pull an Isadora Duncan. And two, it looks kinda cute on Chloe. PLUS I made most of my “goofs” on this one so the second and biggest one is pretty good.

Chloe didn’t seem to mind a goofy scarf.

 She mostly likes the kisses and cuddles she gets when we do photos.

I really like my version of a Dr. Who inspired coat – the basic bodice is a Brooks Brothers wool sweater (HUGE holes at the hem, which is why it was a dollar at Salvation Army). I carefully mapped out what I’d need color-wise and was able to pull everything from my own ‘small’ stock of sweaters expressly for this purpose. The red is cashmere, the orange, yellow and white cotton and the grey, purple and extra green are wool. It went together pretty quickly since I was following the same diagram as the scarf to piece this out. I gave the colors fancy names like eggplant, curry, pumpkin and tomato : )

I love that ear : )

And now for a Tardis or two…

Check out the hat : )

Do you know how HARD it is to find this particular shade of blue in a short period of time??? And do you know how much I DON’T like this color??? I call it Paint-Tape Blue after one of my least favorite items.

I can’t stand that blue painters tape, it sticks when you don’t want it to, it pulls off when you need it to stay and it almost always rips some paint off the surface you just finished. When I see paint tape in my house it makes me feel like I HAVE to hurry up and finish something. It creeps me out. Some people don’t like spiders, some don’t like big dogs, some don’t like messes; I can’t stand blue painters tape. Yet there I was, visiting every single thrift store I could possibly get to in a two week period, to see if I could make my late night inspiration a reality. I think I used 7 sweaters, maybe 8 if you count the almost-navy one. Almost all are cotton so the coat is remarkably light weight.

 I wanted to incorporate the windows of the Tardis in the coat design without making them literal. I didn’t want to use anything but the sweaters (for now) just to see what I could do with them. I also had limited time : ) I think I started this the day before Thanksgiving and finished it up just in time for photos on Saturday, since they needed to be up on flickr by midnight. It was a race but I finished!

 Because I had *just* enough of the blue sweaters left when I finished my coat, and because she was so cute in her other coat, I made a quick Tardis for Chloe as well.

The little Tardis on my hat is a model I found online, and I downloaded a Dalek for Chloe to wear/eat. She didn’t like it : ) If you follow me on Instagram you can see that photo.
I made a waist piece in the spirit of Tardis windows. It’s not all that successful and frankly if I were doing this as a customer order I’d make a cotton and boned piece that one person could take on/off. One of these days I’ll finish off the buttons, they’ll be the little St. John Ambulance symbol printed onto fabric like the Jonny Justice buttons.

The waist cincher was bugging me so I took it off. Lost some shape but was pretty comfy.

“Mom, are we done yet?”

“It’s OK, sweetie, we’re almost done.”

“I feel silly.”

“Will there be bacon?”

For all the color grief this gave me it turned out better than I expected. I’m thinking of putting these coats up on ebay or etsy for sale. I wonder if there’s a market for funky Katwise-inspired Dr. Who coats?

And have we all seen the announcement from our friend Kazz that she is going on an indefinite hiatus???  I’m sad but I get it. She has been a HUGE inspiration to me, and I’m going to MISS her influence! She is still on twitter and Instagram so we’re not completely bereft : )

Speaking of twitter – I was going through my notes from the conference this summer from my social media seminar. There’s a bunch of interesting “This is how you use twitter” stuff that isn’t like what we normally see in social media classes, I’m thinking of doing a short “check this out” post. Interested?


Vicki meets Jonny : )

Where to start….

I received an email from Vicki of Another Sewing Scientist back at the end of September – she was thinking of coming to town at the end of October to see Tom Waits perform at the Bridge School Benefit concert and would I like to get together with her? Would I?? Took me seconds to reply “YES!!!” and it was ON.

Since I was in the middle of some detailed dental work I made sure to make an appointment for the early morning of October 27 so I could spend the rest of the day with her, showing her our fair city and fabric stores. We met at Britex in San Francisco and shopped the morning away. No photos, alas, mainly because someone OTHER person was in the store taking photos without permission (they’re picky about that sort of thing) so I didn’t want to push my luck and get tossed for trying to get a snap of us. I did pause just outside Britex to grab a photo of the clothing store next door that had dozens of antique sewing machines in their windows:

After Britex we headed over the new Bay Bridge (I’m not impressed), had lunch at my daughter’s place of work and then I dragged Vicki to StoneMountain & Daughter and L’Acis.

Again, neither one of us managed to take a photo of anything except a fabulous piece of fabric that I think Vicki needs:

And that’s her hand : ) We did buy “stuff” before we ambled down the street to L’Acis. If you’ve never been in that store the amount of detail to take in can be OVERWHELMING. I was flagging and she was still on eastern time so I can only imagine…

However, we had made plans to meet up again on Saturday late afternoon for a VERY SPECIAL event (to me)! I called this the “quintessential California experience” as it was the BAD RAP fundraiser featuring a Zydeco band, crawfish boil and Ken Foster of “I’m a Good Dog” doing a reading and book singing. Art, culture and a little dancing weirdness, what could be better : )

*Jonny Justice is one of the rescued Vick dogs, now a therapy dog and, as his owners say, one third dog, one third cow and one third pig : ) I love him.

Did I get photos at the event? Only a couple, so before we get to those here are pics my daughter took of my SPECIAL Jonny Justice coat! The theme for the fundraiser this year was Gund-a-palooza “We’re doing the happy dance in honor of Jonny Justice and the release of the GUND doll created in his image.” I had bought 2 Jonny’s, just because…
So to honor him I decided to make a black/white Katwise-inspired coat to wear once the sun went down. Wow, last year it never got that cold but this year I was SO glad I had this!

We found these murals on the side of a vegan restaurant in Oakland. There were people eating inside that I’m sure wondered what the strange lady in a top hat was doing out front.

Here’s a close up of the Jonny purse : )

It took me months of searching to find a few black/white sweaters. You could search for YEARS if you got really OCD about wanting the “perfect” prints. The checkered parts on the hood and sleeves came from an enormous 80′s sweater that had huge blocks of red and mustard yellow around them. The sweater was actually on the floor at Goodwill and I snatched it up like I’d found some rare gem. You learn to stop caring when people look at you funny when you KNOW you’ve found a treasure : )

I felt like a tiny top hat was the perfect accessory in amongst everything else. I used one of my Jonny buttons to fasten the feathers down.
(Sunny out? It was so bright I could barely hold my eyes open. Modeling is HARD!)

As we walked back around the corner to the car look at the amazing tile job we passed! We were both tired but I INSISTED on doing some twirls in front of the circular goodness!!

Not quite dizzy yet…

Not quite…

Ok, now I’m done.

Then we turn around and there is the PERFECT car to go with my outfit!

 Details of purse:

I took the Jonny toy and sliced him down the top center back, pulled out the stuffing and filled his legs with those little plastic beads that come out of other stuffed animals your my dog chews on. Yeah for recycling : )

Once the legs were stabilized so he wouldn’t fall over like he’d had too many mojitos I hand stitched a zipper in there and added a pink lining. The handle I bought at Britex with Vicki and I whipstitched it onto Jonny’s back. It just fits a few business cards, my drivers license, the car key, some cash and a lipstick.

Time for custom buttons for the coat:

These are so ridiculously easy that if you tell your kids how you can do this you’ll end up making hundreds of these : )

1) Buy or dig out some Freezer paper. The real old fashioned stuff that is white and has a shiny side. Naturally I didn’t think to photograph THIS part of the process but I found a great link that has good instructions here. There is a link at the end of the instructions to a product you get at Dharma trading that helps keep these images permanent. I heat set mine but if they come off I’ll just make new buttons.

I will make on caveat to their instructions. On MY printer, which has a tray feed on the back side so the paper feeds in upside down, I trim the fabric down from one edge about 1/2 inch. Then I tape the fabric to the freezer paper so there is NO problem with the printer pulling the fabric through, separating and wrinkling. Print as usual.

I ended up with six Jonny faces on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of fabric (and some cat hair from Max who found this whole process fascinating). You need to remember to leave spaces between each face for maneuvering around the button form. Using the lovely covered button kit you can get at any fabric store, cover your buttons. I did cut a small circle of the same fabric to put in between the Jonny face and the silver button so I didn’t get weird silvery bleed through.

These buttons are 1 1/8″ so button holes for these would be a little gappy. I sewed snaps on under the buttons in the frantic 15 minutes before I ran out the door with mobile mojitos. I was literally running a little later than usual today because of this:

I promised a friend of mine, a two-time cancer survivor, that I’d do the Dirty Girl 5K run with her. She decided not to do the obstacle bits where you get REALLY dirty but I indulged. See my socks? They WERE white. And I’m covered with a pretty good layer of straw filled mud, including my shoes and places where sand or straw ought not go : )

Took me longer than I planned to get the mud out of my hair for the party. I had also promised my friend Aimee that I’d bring mojitos to go with the crawfish boil.

By the time the band started playing the sun had gone down and coats were pulled on. This is the Rescue Barn at BAD RAP’s facility, a very posh hotel for the dogs as they get acclimated to other dogs and learn some manners. Tim and Donna know how to throw a party and the dogs love the extra attention but like little kids at Christmas they crash pretty early : )

Because we spent so much time talking and laughing we got almost NO photos of the two of us, just this one at the very end of the evening:

I had a great time. I hope she did too : ) She’s just as fun and funny as you would hope from her blog. Be sure to check out the post up right now, she’s highlighting a dress one of the Project Runway challengers made out of pipette tips. As soon as I showed my co-workers that pic I started getting boxes of pipette tips donated to the cause… Seems that will be on my to-do list soon!

It was SO NICE to meet you Vicki, I had a great time! Come visit California again : )

For everyone who asked how the leaf dress is doing, here it is Thursday, 4 days after completion:


What I did this last weekend…

Because, you know, I had nothing else to do…

Back when I did the Magnolia dress I wondered half out loud about seasonal dresses, and Laura Mae of LauraMaeDesigns.com chimed in with suggesting I have a look at the J. Peterman catalog covers. Well! That did it : )

(And seriously, go look at her latest project. She BEADED her belt, jacket, pin… it just goes on and on..the girl loves her handwork and is amazing at it!)

I want to do one of those Christmas “dresses” with bark and branches but first up is Fall!! While out walking the dogs the leaves are falling this time of year and I just can’t help but LOVE those reds.

The back : )

I started this project on Saturday morning. I’d experimented with the leaves for a few days during the week to see if I could extend their ‘shelf’ life by refrigerating them, see if they’d stay moist. They did but, like a cloned sheep, they aged quickly to catch up to their “real” age once out in the world, that is to say they dried up and looked the same as if I’d gathered them a few days before. Not good.

So during Romera’s walk  first thing Saturday morning we stopped by the plaza in town which has MANY red leaf covered trees. Thought we’d save the city gardeners a little time with their leaf wrangling activities this week, dontcha know : ) Picture this – dog sniffing in one direction while owner is scrambling around on her hands and knees pulling leaves out of bushes, the gutter and behind the trash cans and stuffing them into a bag.

Leaves back home, sorted them by color and dug out my wire strands. I had to literally rip the old magnolia leaves off the skirt to start this project! The only leaves that had left the form were from the time the dogs were doing zoomies in the yard and knocked the mannequin over, otherwise every single leaf was staying on that frame forever. Lessons learned – If you want to make a dress out of magnolia leaves to really wear, as long as you don’t sit or fall down, it will hold up for your event; AND those suckers aren’t going into my compost heap. They’ll do as well as ivy which means they’ll take longer than the potato plastic silverwear we use at work to break down.

Once the magnolia leaves were off I started playing. I didn’t figure out until I was done with the yellow leaves that I needed to use TWO leaves for every one magnolia leaf. And I used at least quadruple the amount of leaves in this skirt as the magnolia skirt because I untwisted the wires that had held on the magnolia leaves and had enough to do one quarter of the skirt.

By Sunday afternoon my fingers were scratched and felt like I had sanded them. I had poked myself under my thumb nail so many times it was numb and throbbing at the same time. I KNEW that if I didn’t finish this up before 5pm on Sunday afternoon then all my effort would be wasted! Now that the sun goes down just after 5 I wouldn’t get home in time to take photos during the week and by Tuesday the leaves would be very sad and I’d have to start all over again.

 I worked most of the day on Saturday just matching colors and twisting pairs of leaves onto the chicken wire skirt base. It’s pretty soothing work and the weather right now is FABULOUS. 74 degrees, just a hint of a breeze, dogs snoozing in the sun, chickens clucking away…if I didn’t have a To Do list of 9 things that HAD to be done by Sunday evening it would have been down right meditative : )


I had to run up the street three times to various trees gathering more leaves. Sunday morning Romera and I were searching the plaza once again, this time she wouldn’t leave my side since a dog tried to attack her so it was shuffle/dog press butt to leg/shuffle/dog press butt to leg. Poor girl.

Here’s where the whole life thing fits in – I’m busy. We’re all busy I surmise. I recently had a lovely conversation with our friend Vicki of Another Sewing Scientist (more on that in the next blog post I swear!!)  about how we don’t post very often sometimes, or we’re tempted to post something like “our lives are SO busy!” which just sounds like we’re boasting but that’s not what we mean. We ARE busy, that’s just the way of things right now! So we read late into the night, or get sick, or make dresses out of leaves to hang onto our sanity…


It took literally thousands of leaves to complete this. The “belt” around the waist is grape leaves and those suckers dry out faster than the elm leaves! I don’t know why but somehow I got it into my head that doing any part of this project using a glue gun was “bad”.

In the end I glued the tips of the leaves on the top together so they’d hold the shape. I wanted to use these little red and orange spiky fruit balls I found on a tree along one of the paths but when Jim went to pick them they were very smushy and not going to work at all so no necklace : (

The underside : )

Other than being stupidly busy ALL the time I’ve got tons of stuff to post. I did finally get pictures of some of the latest projects, and school is going really well. And if you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed a picture I posted of me and the incomparable Vicki Muise. Oh yes, we had a fabric store play date and went to a party. More to come!!