I need your help!

Several of you who subscribed via Bloglovin’ told me you weren’t getting updates and people who wanted to sign up couldn’t. After we opened a case via Bloglovin’ this is what they said:

“Sorry for the confusion! It seems that our moderation team had blacklisted your site. I’ve reversed this for you….

I certainly didn’t notice any valid reason for your blog to be blacklisted, so it’s quite likely that this was a result of human error.”

Since then I’ve received no emails from Bloglovin’ with updates, mine or anyone else’s. Can a couple of you comment and let me know if you’re getting the Bloglovin’ daily updates and if my blog is listed?

Or tell me what other methods you use and like for letting people know you’ve put up a new post? I’m feeling a little jittery here….

Here is a pretty for you – homemade chocolate chip cookies on a vintage french transferware plate 🙂

Here’s the whole setting, although WordPress keeps flipping the pic on its side. Sigh.

img_20161128_162811

I give up. Let me know if you see my posts and have a cookie for me.

 

A new project

By now everyone has seen the results of our horrendous divisive political election. There aren’t enough sighs in the WORLD for me right now. I held my daughter as the election results came in and got worse and worse and worse. She sobbed for an hour, fearful for her future and those of her friends. I had no words. Frankly, if it weren’t for the awesomeness of people like Vicki (Another Sewing Scientist), Meg (Meg the Grand) and a couple of other good friends I would have lost all hope. We’re going to take a break, regroup and fight the good fight to make sure we don’t end up back in the 1700’s.

There are a couple of things I want to say before I move on. The sewing community is a wonderful place, full of diverse and lovely people. You are ALL my friends. I stand with ALL of you. What is happening in this country right now is AWFUL.  This quote, from Nate Black, sums things up nicely:

“Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal breaker. End of story. “

Or this from Patton Oswalt:

What I’ve learned so far tonight: America is WAAAAAAAAY more sexist than it is racist. And it’s pretty fucking racist.  “

And I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it, just check this out.

And go give our friend Tasha some love as well.

So…. (deep breathe) ….

To that end, we need a DIVERSION! Well, maybe just I need a diversion but that’s what is about to happen.

I an effort to escape the news I *might* have watched a whole lot of movies….and I *might* have seen “Julie and Julia” a dozen one too many times….and I *might* have pulled out my copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and I *might* have said “Well, what if I did something like this but no animals died in the process?”

So I’m cooking my way through “Mastering” by doing it vegetarian/vegan. I haven’t eaten meat, other than some salmon at my parents house (because in their world that IS vegetarian), in years. Dairy and I are NOT friends so that’s not hard. I’m well aware that she uses a TON of butter, and that she’s using the chemistry of butter and dairy to make many of her dishes work. I’m going to give it a shot and see what I can come up with.

Things I will do – translate recipes into a vegetarian version as best as I can. I made onion soup the other night, a classic dish that I grew up with, and used vegetable stock instead of beef. Yummy!! If a recipe calls for cream then the creativity starts.

Things I will not do – not going to even try replicating a whole chicken/lamb/roast/whatever. You really want me to sculpt tofu into an animal shape?? SO not the point! A friend asked what I was going to do about Lobster Thermadore? I have no idea. I may ignore it. I don’t know yet.

There are a number of restaurants in my neck of the woods that use meat substitutes that I’m going to consult with. I ASSURE you this isn’t going to be 300 recipes using tofu instead of meat. How dull would THAT be? And so NOT diversionary! There will be pretty pictures and maybe some new tablesettings, and there might be a new dress or two in amongst everything else because DIVERSIONS!!

I invite you to join me as I cook, sew and photograph my way through a project of what appears to be epic proportions 😉 Instant updates happen on Instagram (follow me!), more complete blog posts will happen on this very station.

UPDATE:

Because we ALL need a laugh, go here and read the reviews 🙂

Halloween – Hmmmmm…

Let’s talk about Halloween a bit, shall we?

As a costume designer I can tell you the last time I got excited about Halloween was for my daughter’s benefit, back in the 80’s and 90’s. We NEVER, ever shopped, because why? I could make anything she wanted, and so I did.

Now that she is grown I wander through the aisles at Target looking only for decorative items, but I happened to wander into a Spirit store the other day in search of a pair of tights and HOLY MOLY.

First of all, just let me say this – the staff were VERY friendly and from the answers given to other customers they seemed to know their stock. I had nothing but a positive experience, partly due to the amount of gore that was NOT present in this particular store. A few years ago, when I was doing the Sew Weekly challenges I needed a hat for a western outfit so I ran into the Spirit store in Walnut Creek and the biggest display inside the door was dismembered body parts. Hundreds of them; arms, legs, feet, hands, they even had a head in a mock-up refrigerator. Trying to explain to the staff how offensive that was was an exercise in futility and I’ve steered clear of these stores for a reason. The store I was in the other night had a few bags of fingers and ears discreetly hidden in amongst the bugs and hair clips. <shrug>

Lest we think I’m a spoil sport here, I’m not. I’m not trying to tell you how to celebrate, I personally don’t think setting up a display that even hints at victims of a notorious serial killer is either cool, fun or tasteful. There was a controversy a couple of years ago about a bloody skinned corpse dog that you could “drag around by a chain” and a Cecil the Lion killer costume last year. People think they’re funny because we’ve blurred the lines of funny/ghastly to include all that is ‘gory’ and there are still lines, people. Lines that ought not be crossed. Only click on those links if you have a strong stomach.

So that begs the question – what is up?

Others have written about why we like to be scared. I’m going to go a different direction, to me the day has always been about being able to dress up as something we fantasize about. Maybe try something out we normally can’t get away with (for many years the number one rental was men wanting to be women, some caricatures, but many just vampy. Don’t know why, don’t care, it’s all supposed to be about having fun and I support that).

And since we’re less than 2 weeks away from a very contentious election, where we have the first female candidate running for President against a man that can best be described as racist, misogynistic, homophobic and just a plain old asshat, what is it about our culture that, in many small ways, has been saying that kind of behavior is OK?

So let’s see what I found at this store the other night and why it promotes the kind of environment where women are treated as objects and see what kind of legacy we’re leaving for our kids, m’k?

(All photos of bagged costumes were taken by me in the store, the ones with the white background were downloaded from the Spirit site. My phone ran out of battery part way through 🙁 )

 Right here. This.

Boys get serious outfits.

img_20161026_191034 Girls get cleavage.

These are a couple of the choices for men’s Police uniforms. There is NO female equivalent of the men’s outfit.img_20161026_190951The other interesting thing to note – sizes. The men’s costumes go all the way up to X-Large 48/50 chest. The woman’s version goes up to M/L 8-12.

Size 12. THAT’S their version of a Large.

Here’s an example of two outfits done RIGHT:

img_20161026_191106 img_20161026_191131Her skirt is short but covers her crotch (Hallelujah!) and it isn’t overly sexual. It’s cute, they’d be cute together.

NOTE: I’m not saying it’s not OK to have fun at Halloween, and if that version of it means you dress up in a more overt manner than the rest of the year then go for it! I’m saying that having NO OTHER CHOICES than the overtly sexual is limiting and debasing.

Moving on:

If you want to be a surgeon or doctor then the guys have choices:

img_20161026_192256 img_20161026_192247 The women do not.download-2I can’t even begin a conversation about the shoes.

Again, if you want to be a sexy doctor then GO FOR IT. But if you want to emulate an actual doctor you’ll have to buy the men’s version.

Try selling this idea to an 11 year old.

And then there are these:

download-3 Just so you don’t lose the full impact of this ensemble, it is denoted as “Dr. Howie Feltersnatch, Gynecologist”. Is this a Simpson’s character? I’m out of the loop on this so if someone could fill me in that would be great. Otherwise its just Ewww and I’m old.download-4Dr. Seymour Bush.

No. Just no.

I’m trying to find SOME justification for this but no. And I keep trying to figure out WHAT KIND OF GUY wants to go to a party as a gynecologist? Does he REALLY think some woman is going to let him ‘examine’ her? And ladies….never mind. I can’t even ask.

What if you want to be a nurse?

img_20161026_192239Because it comes with TWO syringes… And we also have –img_20161026_192235Ummm…

img_20161026_192302I’m sure every nurse wishes she had a pair of these!

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun but THESE ARE YOUR ONLY CHOICES if you want to dress up as a nurse!

(Caveat – when I went to their website I found a few other options but all are form fitting and all have considerable cleavage showing. This is the only outfit that doesn’t show everything)

download-12And the hits just keep on coming:

img_20161026_191343 As far as ‘couples costumes’ go this isn’t bad on the surface – he’s wine, she’s cheese, it’s cheesy. But look at the label on the wine bottle – “4 Play Have a little, get a lot”.
img_20161026_191355<shaking my head>

Rape culture alive and well.

img_20161029_121552It’s electrifying. Or not…

And there is THIS:

img_20161026_191320Need I say more?
But there IS more:

img_20161026_191406“Includes: Skeleton Jumpsuit, Mask with Attached Hood, Gloves, Faux Phallus and Air Pump.”

So you can be disgusting and no one knows who you are?

If you’re going to an adult party or doing adult things with a consensual partner, Huzzah! But would you really want to bump into this guy on the street?

Then, just because we can’t leave the women out of the Super Tacky WTH category, we have this:

img_20161026_191524“One size fits most – fits up to a size 10”, complete with fake felt boobs with nipples, super short skirt, tacky sash and a ‘t-shirt’.img_20161026_191552Sigh.

There are only 4 categories of “Occupations” being sold currently – Cops & Convicts, Doctors, Firefighters & Military. Let’s go back to Law Enforcement.

img_20161026_191829Nice copy, one size fits most, not bad. If you’re a man…img_20161026_191716Not terrible but seriously, BOOBS. And small sizes.

Wait for it….img_20161026_191726Because EVERYTHING HAS TO BE SEXUALIZED.

Once again, I’m not saying don’t be sexy, don’t have fun. I’m asking for female equality when it comes to costumes! If these companies can do decent male versions they ought to be able to produce a decent female version. I’m guessing their arguments are 1) they don’t sell and 2) why not buy the male version?

Here are my answers:

  1. They’ve conditioned the market, via the culture, to make everything sexual. We’ve been so inured to being objects that when a Presidential candidate says things like “I grabbed her by her …..” there are thousands of men AND women who THINK THAT’S OK and spend countless hours defending those remarks! (And yes, there are thousands/millions of people who called him and everyone like him out on crap like that but the fact that this country is STILL having that conversation is sad. And more than I want to go into here so please leave your remarks on the political pages and let’s just talk about clothing here, ok?)
  2. Buying the male version is fine. Why not take a picture of the same outfit on a woman and market it as such? They could have done that with the doctor and surgeon outfits but didn’t.

And what if you’re a kid? Shopping with your parent? And you ask for a police costume? How do the teenagers working at Spirit explain all THIS?? ESPECIALLY if you’re a girl.

If you’re a kid and want to be a cop check out Target’s version:

img_20161019_081143Target gets ALL THE POINTS for their version of a Police Officer. Yay Target!!!

Now let’s talk about Firefighters:img_20161026_191747It’s not <so> bad. The fingerless gloves seem weird to me but whatever.

img_20161026_191953Ummmm….Sigh.

Interestingly, THIS is the men’s version of ANYTHING Firefighter-like:

download-13Note when they mean to show ACTUAL skin they’re using a painted t-shirt to denote physique. Not like the girls stuff which has real skin out for all to see.

If you’re a guy and want to dress anything close to a real firefighter you’re going to have to go to Party City for this version:

_ml_p2p_pc_badge_tallest15Let’s move on to the Military.

Want to be a fighter pilot? Cool. Here’s a decent version of the jackets worn in “Top Gun”:

img_20161026_191848But if you’re a girl…

img_20161029_121440You even get a choice between being Maverick or Goose. Did they pay royalties for that?

If you want to do Camo you can do this…

img_20161026_192010Or this…

img_20161026_191836I’m not sure how many Paratroopers wear three inch heeled boots but OK, this is Halloween and we’re supposed to be having fun. At least you can zip the jumpsuit up higher if you choose. Again, a size large is considered a 12/14 so we’re telling women that “LARGE” is a 14. No. But I’d like to know what real female paratroopers have to say about this.

SERIOUSLY??download-19It’s called “Desert Dolly Costume”. The fishnets are prime. Might as well call this the “Bundy Wet Dream” outfit or give it to a Trumpette.

Sailors?

img_20161026_191913Not bad. But the female equivalents aren’t remotely close.

This was the least offensive thing I could find.

img_20161026_191921You can go a whole other direction, go to the Rockabilly side:

download-15She’s adorable.

And here is where my eyebrows shot nearly off my face:

img_20161026_191842She’s a “Thing”. And is “Shore” a riff on “Sure”?

Let’s separate out the words and the picture. The words are HIDEOUS. She’s not even a person, she’s a THING. The outfit itself is kind of cute, in a musical theater sort of way. It’s short, it shows cleavage but if you’re going for cutesy and bringing out a side of you you only trot out once a year then go for it. The naming of this is a clear Marketing Failure. #Failure

Moving on to Astronauts – somehow this didn’t get a nod in “Occupations” but here we are:

img_20161026_191926Not bad. but then there’s this –

download-20The make-up, the cleavage, the SHOES, the make-up! Sigh.

But once again, Target gets it right:

img_20161019_081210How hard would it be to make a big version of this and take a pic with a girl or woman wearing it? Seriously, I want to know.

Now we’re going to move on to the stuff that shouldn’t even exist.

01262922-a It’s a culture, not a costume. #appropriation

download-23Are you kidding me? No. Just no.

download-22The boobs and the strapless and short skirt and Ugh.

download-24White guy wearing a ceremonial headdress and  WTF??download-10Another white dude in a hideous knock-off.

download-11 Blonde hair, high heels and bright pink. I think I threw up in my mouth a little as I typed this.download-6And then there’s this guy, in a white t-shirt under a red shirt.

“Hey Greg, the model didn’t show up today, you’ve got a nice red shirt there. Put this on and smile for us, we’re on a tight schedule….”

How about NO? Or even HELL NO?

And let’s not leave the kids out –

img_20161029_121028And then there’s THIS:

img_20161026_191436I can’t even….sexy-takeout-order-girl-costumeWho in the HELL thought THIS was a good idea?? ESPECIALLY the placement of the “Thank You” and the “Enjoy” on each boob?? @realDonaldTrump
I don’t have enough UGGGHHH’S for this ^ or the next one:

download-21And we’ll wrap it up with this. Because OH HELL NO.

So this is the message we’re putting out there for everyone. Boys get realistic, girls get sexy. Most of our choices are ‘sexy’ when given the opportunity they could give us equal efforts.

This is what the average consumer is being fed as “cool” and “now”.

Adults can tell the difference and make choices, but what we can show the kids around us is a confusing message that we think doesn’t matter because “it’s only one day a year’. Is it any wonder that the war on women goes on?

Update

While out running errands today I drove by the Spirit store in Walnut Creek so I popped in. Much larger store, larger selection and low and behold these:

img_20161029_120956Impressive.

img_20161029_121000Nice.

img_20161029_121007Yes!

img_20161029_121012Ummm…

img_20161029_120939Well, that was too good to last.

Ironically I spotted this the same time two girls, who looked to be about 11, found it as well:

img_20161029_121343“Anita Bribe, that’s funny.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I-need-a-bribe, get it now?”

“Oh! That IS funny! Does it come in my size?”

Sigh. But this suit made me smile, I wish I knew someone who would wear a complete suit WITH tie in this print 🙂

img_20161029_121826So what are your favorite hits and misses? One of my friends said her idol growing up was Marie Curie and wondered how she would make a ‘costume’ that portrayed her. I’m kicking around the idea of doing a line of “costumes” that portray real heros, since they don’t (usually) wear a cape. Like a star printed vest for a Neil deGrasse Tyson, or a pretty floral skirt with headdress for Frida Khalo, you get the idea. There is THIS website, that shows you numerous historical female outfits and gives you a history lesson.

Chime in with what you’d like to see and you never know…

Part 3 of the Polka Dot dress: Skirt and hem

Side dress shot

When I drafted the skirt pieces I used a 6″ drop from the bust measurement for a waist measurement. If you’ve got the 36″ bust pattern then the skirt will be approximately 30″ in the waist. (You can adjust that easily by where you place the pattern piece in relation to the fold.)

If you get it cut out and it’s a little too big then you can add a row of stitching 1/2″ in from the edge and use a basting stitch. GENTLY pull up the excess to fit, it should still be smooth. Any more than an inch or two extra will give you slight gathers, and try to pull it up on the bias parts, it will be MUCH easier to manipulate there!

Pin the front/back top piece to the skirt. There is an approximate 2″ self facing on the skirt, the ‘dog ear’ part of the skirt edge. I cut my pieces out using the selvage as the hem edge, which you can kind of see at the very bottom of the photo below. Turn back 1/2″ each bottom corner on both the front and back top, as seen below. Then it’s decision time – which part will be the ‘under’ and which will be the ‘over’. On the original dress the under was the white with red polka dots, as seen here. This half has ties, the red has a button closure.White skirt

White skirt A

For the ties I used the same bias tape, just edge stitched it to form a tape and then used two 16″ piece for the ties, one on the front and one on the back of the top.

TiesThey go right on top of the folded edge piece. Stitch top to skirt using a 5/8″ seam allowance. Done:

Ties done

And done:

Ties complete

For the other half of the dress, if you want to do it like the original, you need to make a button loop. My button was 1″ across so I cut a 3 1/2″ piece of bias tape, edge stitched it and folded it in half to make a loop. (I’m using the white half to demonstrate how its done because you can see it better than if I’d used the red half. In actuality the button loop went on my red half).

Button loop

I stitched everything else just like the ties part (folding over the skirt facing bit etc.). This is what it looks like finished:

Button loop done

Now I’m switching to the red half the dress only because its easier to see the next steps in that fabric.

Once the top is on the skirt it’s time to finish the sides of the skirt. The pic below shows the edge turned back BEFORE I made the dog ear change to the skirt pattern. When you turn yours back the top edges *should* be even, not offset like this shows.

Side pinnedIn any case just stitch that across the top like you sewed the top to the skirt.

Skirt to top sewnThen finish off that seam.

Overlocked top to skirtTurn the facing to the outside, press. PRESS. 🙂

Side turned

(Leave it un-stitched for now)

So now we have two dress halves, done. Just need to get this baby hemmed and we’re ready to party!

Because you’ve got ONE GREAT BIG CIRCLE here you’re going to get a little bit of growth in the hemline so IF YOU CAN, hang the dress on a hanger or mannequin for a few days. I used a stable cotton so the amount mine grew was minor.

Let’s just pretend that you let it hang, that you didn’t want to wear this RIGHT NOW, and I’ll show you my preferred way to hemming circles:

Using a seam gauge, cut off 1 1/2″ of your hemline.

HemBefore you separate the two pieces mark the center of each, I made a tiny clip:

Side hem pieceThis way you get the grain lines in about the same place.

Pin the facing piece that you just cut off BACK ONTO the skirt, right sides together, matching up those little marks –

hem pinned

pin hem piece in placeYes, you’ll have some extra. Now stitch that piece using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Hem sewnFULL DISCLOSURE: As I was making the prototype I hemmed the red skirt BEFORE I attached it. Then I thought “Ooops, if this thing grows then it will be harder to hem and I’ll have sadness. Let’s wait to see what happens. Nothing happened and three days later I hemmed the white half. That’s why you see the skirt unattached in one pic 🙂

Now that its stitched, turn…

Hem ironedPRESS. Have I said that too often? PRESS!

hemironedAPress band up towards waist. Once turned and pressed then press the raw edge under 1/2″:

hem ironed1

And then turn under and press those corner edges at each end.hem ironedupTop stitch hem and voila!

The side edges on each end of the skirt just need to be pinned and top stitched down.

Side pinned1

This way you have a piece of binding that matches the grain lines of the skirt itself, you can make it wider or narrower AND it’s the right color. Yes, you can use bias tape if you like, even make it a contrasting color, or overlock the edge and fold it up and stitch. I like this way because it’s smooth and has a good weight to it.

What’s left? A button.

Button completeSew your button on to the opposite side to the loop and You. Are. DONE.

So here’s what I like about mine: Everything. It’s breezy, it’s adjustable and I never, ever feel exposed. I didn’t wear a slip, and my white fabric is pretty sheer, but I felt fine.

What I might change in the future: I might actually sew the button to the white top at the waist and add another button loop to the other side of the red top. That way I can loop both sides around the button and won’t have the slight dip in the hem that you can see in my pictures. That’s how this fits a body with lots of round parts 🙂

Let me know what I’ve left out! I’m HAPPY to add/change things to make them easier to understand. I tend to “assume” stuff so don’t be afraid to say “HEY! I don’t get it”. It’s fine 🙂

Polka Dot dress Sewalong Part 2 – Sewing the top

IMG_20160419_175943

Now that you’ve got the pieces cut out (did you make SURE you have RIGHT front and back in red and LEFT front and back in white – or whatever your combination is? Good!)

Darts markedBodice front – let’s mark the darts. I’ll be honest, I HATE sewing darts but I like how things fit with them, so I get through them as quickly as possible. I mark the end points with pins (see above) and clip the bottom edge where the stitching lines are.

Darts pinned2

If you’re really concerned about stitching them correctly then pin them, like this:

Darts pinned3

Isn’t this pretty?

Darts sewn2

Darts front sewn

I cannot say this enough – Press, press, press. Press the underbust darts towards the center front, press the bust dart down towards the waist. PRESS! This is the number two thing that will make your dress/outfit looking professionally done.

I will say that this fabric doesn’t press out as nicely as I’d like because it has some polyester in it. I tried. Do your best, then move on.

Inside darts sewn3

Do the same for the back dart. Mark….

Darts pinned

IMG_20160414_184659

Stitch & press….

IMG_20160414_184906 (2)

And done.

Join front to back. Pin side seams together –

IMG_20160414_185451 (3)

And stitch.

Now comes decision time. Finish the seams – you can either bind with Hug Snug, use pinking shears or overlock. I’m not fancy like Laura Mae (who does beautiful seam finishes with Hug Snug!), I’ve never been a fan of pinking shears (although those of you who like using period techniques when making period garments are welcome to do so!) so I overlock. I overlock EVERYTHING.

Side seam overlocked

See? Overlocked. Do what you like, it’s only a few inches 🙂 And remember to PRESS! Press side seam towards back.

Now for a very key part – edge stitch. Edge stitch around the entire top, you don’t need to do the waist edge but do everything else. Edge stitch about 1/8″ in from the edge. The entire point to this is to keep from pulling those long diagonal pieces out of shape, keep the armholes from getting stretched out etc. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

YOU WILL BE SAD IF YOU DO.

IMG_20160414_184345 (3)

Edge stitchin

When you’re done, if you’ve gone a little farther inward you can trim. The idea is to give you a base for sewing on the bias tape and that will cover up all the pretty stitching you just did.

Again, PRESS everything.

Side seam pressed

All that stuff you just did to the one side? Do it again for the other.

Again:

PRO Note: Make sure you cut out a RIGHT front and back of one fabric and a LEFT front and back of the other. I mention this because, in my exuberance to get this done, I cut out the wrong pieces from the wrong fabrics. Twice.

Twice. Sigh.

Red front

So here’s the other side front…

Red back

And the other side back. And then you join them at the side seam, finish off that seam and edge stitch. Got it? Yeah! Almost half way there.

Now the fun part – the Bias Tape. Dun dun dun…

Pro Tip – don’t try to use the Extra Wide Double Fold tape. It’s large, bulky and unnecessarily cumbersome. If you REALLY like the look of it then go for it but technique-wise you’re not doing yourself any favors. Use the Double Fold, it’s about 1/4″ wide, double fold and looks like the original.

(Note: Lyric used the Extra Wide double fold tape on her dress and it worked out just fine, you can check her process out here)

Is it hard? NO! You can pin it if you like, you can use those binder clips we love so or you can use nothing. I use nothing so I can ease as I go. You will need to ease as you go around the tops of the ties and around the armhole but GO SLOW and it will all work out great.

IMG_20160417_212522

You’ll go up the diagonal of one side, around the top of the tie, around the armhole, around the other tie and back down the other diagonal side in one fell swoop. One package is 3 yards, you’ll need most of it. Save the leftovers.

PRESS!

PRO Tip: Make sure your packages of tape are the same color. I managed to buy one of each red. Everyone I asked said they couldn’t see the difference but I KNOW. And it bugs me. I’ll get over it, but seriously…

Do the other side. Now you’ve got the bodices done! Skirts up in next blog post. You can always email me with “oh, you left this out” or “What did you mean here?” and “Are you KIDDING me??” 🙂

And I’m totally serious about cutting out the wrong color sides twice. Check this THREE times if you have to but don’t do what I did.

SEWALONG!!!! The Polka Dot wrap dress Part 1 – Cutting

Polkadress7-

Welcome to the Sewalong on the Polka Dot wrap dress! It’s one of the prettiest and EASIEST vintage dress patterns so if you just have basic sewing skills you should be able to make this 🙂  You will need the following materials:

  • 3 – 3 1/4 yards of EACH fabric (depending on size pattern)
  • 2 packages double fold bias tape (preferably NOT the extra wide)
  • threads to match bias tape(s)
  • 1 button
  • cat(s) (optional but they CAN act as pattern weights and stress/comic relief)

The dress is two equal halves. I found some images of one of the originals from the 50’s:

Polka dot dress

Red half8 whitehalf

I did not do the pocket on the red half but if anyone is interested I can draft a quick pattern of it and email that to you. Yes, I love a pocket but just didn’t like it on ME.

Two things to note of the original pattern: it has no darts (and mine has 6) and it gathers around the boobs in a way that I just didn’t like. You can see it on the mannequin in the white half (^in pic above). If it looks like that on a smaller size can you imagine what us bustier girls may have to deal with?!

The skirt is a circle skirt with each color a full half of that circle. It is full, it flows and I never, ever felt like I was going to show something I didn’t want to. It’s all good.

Here we go!!

First up – the pattern. Here is the general layout, how it will tape together once you print the pieces:Pattern-2-Edited (2)

You will note the upper right hand corner and lower left corner are blank pieces, they are marked thus when you download everything but included so that when you tape everything together things line up.

And here is the cutting layout:

IMG_20160701_131410

This is your first MAKE SURE moment! MAKE SURE your fabric is at least 44″ wide BECAUSE some fabrics, while the total width is 44/45″ the PRINTED area is coming in at 42/43″ and you can’t shove your pieces all the way to the edge to get the best use from your goods! We found this out the hard way during testing when a couple of people had to go buy another length for a top piece. Sadness 🙁  I also discovered the white fabric I used was 48″ wide which explains the unexpected extra piece I had that a cat has since claimed as hers and can’t be used for something like a cute headband…

Grainline: Normally you fold your fabric in half lengthwise and cut. In THIS case you can either open it completely up OR fold it in half WIDTH-WISE, putting the one edge of the circle on the fold and then cut each top piece individually. What you see in the pic above is the entire piece flat and the selvages are running horizontally.

Pro tip: We *almost* always want to cut patterns out with the warp threads of the fabric the up and down threads on our body. What does this mean? It means that when they set up a loom the threads that are called the warp threads are the long, strong threads. The threads that are on the shuttle are the less strong, weft threads (the ones that go back and forth). You want those warp threads to hold your pieces in shape. I’ve always told my students that there are rules for a reason and the reason here is longevity. Can you rotate your pieces 45 degrees, because they fit on the fabric easier? Yes, but you may pay the price of a sagging garment in the long run.

[Here is a VERY SIMPLE demonstration in weaving: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0aFlG7294w  And if you really want to see some weaving you can check her out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29yW-hL4NfI

Why am I telling you this? This isn’t about weaving, we’re sewing!! BUT it’s nice to know how the fabrics we so blithely use are made and why we cut the way we do.]

SO….the hemmed edges of the skirt can be the selvages of the fabric and then you can fit the top pieces onto the triangular sections left.

BIG NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU GET FRONT AND BACKS OF EACH COLOR CUT OUT CORRECTLY.

Pro Tip: Mark your pattern with an “R” for the Red side and “W” for the white side. Or whatever fits your fabric or makes sense to you. Just mark it. Otherwise you’ll have two extra bodices of the same color and same side floating around your sewing room like someone you know right here….

Just sayin’.

Seam allowances: I did the standard 5/8″ American ones. There are NO SEAM ALLOWANCES around the neck/armhole edges. I just edgestitched them at 1/8″ and then used the bias tape wrapped around the raw edges.

Sizing: Standard American sizing allows for a 6″ drop from bust to waist measurements. In other words, if you have the pattern for the 36″ bust then the waist will measure approximately 30″. Need to take in? I’ll post pics when we get to that step.

Fitting notes: The skirt length for all sizes is the same and there are 2 inches that will be cut off to use as hem tape later on. If you’re very short and decide to cut the skirt shorter to save on fabric keep this in mind. If you’re very tall, or like very long skirts and need to lengthen keep this in mind as well.

One other thing to keep in mind – there is no length adjustment for the bodice. You will adjust the length using the straps BUT you need to be mindful of the armhole! If you’re worried about fit then do a muslin of the top. I know, I know, it seems like a lot of extra work but TRUST ME, just do it. It will save you SO much time and frustration later on!

Now go get your dress cut out, PAYING ATTENTION to the fact that you need a RIGHT front in RED and a LEFT front in WHITE, and the corresponding back pieces in red/white as well. CHECK YOUR LAYOUT TWO OR THREE TIMES before you cut 🙂

Up next: Sewing the top

 

Another year, another Gatsby picnic!

Line

The line, oh, the line…

So here we are, another year, another Gatsby picnic 🙂

After last years win we decided to do things ‘easy’ this year. And for us that means we don’t have to load everything into a truck, get up super early to finish loading and food, race to the Dunsmuir house, get in line early, unpack, race to set up, get dressed and collapse in a heap for a while before we get BACK in line after the event is over, load the surviving stuff up and head home to unpack before it gets dark and you’re supersuperexhausted. Ack!

In a moment of blissful “we don’t have to race around this year” I forgot to buy an early entry pass. By the time I remembered they were sold out 🙁  The upside of that is it FORCED us to be super economical with all plans because we would have to get in line with the masses and walk everything in. Lest you think I exaggerate the ‘stroll’ in let me just say it’s a little over a quarter of mile once you’re on the grounds, but getting TO the gate is an adventure. See the pic above? We’re standing on a hill, about halfway down, waiting. We had two wagons that should have won some sort of prize for our expert level tetris packing skills 🙂

Now picture this – we dressed at home, we had our makeup on as well as our party shoes. Now imagine unloading two cars worth of stuff, packing it into wagons (and we’re talking a table, four chairs, an umbrella WITH stand, the food and drink and flowers AND all the things that make picnicking fun…) NOW imagine that those wagons probably have 40-50 pounds of stuff in each and you’re trying to pull them UP a hill while wearing cha-cha shoes…

In the end, all the sweat and groans are worth it.

In the end, all the sweat and groans are worth it.

The linens, the china, yep, all worth it. We broke NOTHING!

table1If you look at the silver thing the flowers are in you’ll note that it is the prize from last years win. Because flaunt it if you got it 🙂

And just because nothing is as easy as it should be….

TablelegAngie went to a great deal of trouble (ha!) ordering a camping table so that we’d have something lightweight and easily transportable. It came with a leg that would NOT click into place, and therefore wanted to dump all picnic supplies on the ground, so we improvised with a board and cable ties. I mean, really, can’t things just go right?

sideboardWe packed most of the food and all of the dishes needed into my lovely vintage picnic basket and then used the basket for a ‘sideboard’ for tea sandwiches.

cartOne of the wagons became another spot for food set-up and held our bar supplies etc. We were truly picnicking this year!

leslieThis is Leslie and her delightful boyfriend. She re-worked her dress from last year, changing all the blue bits to black and accessorizing in her own unique way 🙂 For instance, you can see all of us reading books:

books2But are we REALLY reading?

book1Yep. But not the book…

Can’t have anachronisms lying about, now can we? So to keep up with what others were posting and doing our own Instagram posts she hollowed out a book for each of us. Even the judges thought it was brilliant. And speaking of judges, did we win? No. Were we trying to? Not even close. But they did spend a good amount of time asking me about the chairs AGAIN (what is it with those chairs? I bought them at TARGET a few years ago!), the china (sorry, not a family heirloom of mine but stuff I bought at the flea market) and food (almost all vegan).

petitefoursLeslie even made ‘traditional’ petitefours, coated with a lemon icing. We really kept things simple compared to previous years and for once we sat, we ate, we walked around and relaxed. Because we weren’t constrained by the rules of an early entry pass we could leave early enough to miss the mass exodus and late enough to feel like we had a truly lovely day.

angieFinally, Angie got to wear the dress she made last year, the yellow representing the yellow ring in the Olympic symbol. It was cooler too, so she didn’t die wearing a sweater 🙂

meI hated my dress up until I got dressed. Then it was ok. Angie wanted me to wear something in the blue/yellow theme, she decided to decorate around the idea that we were a book club reading “The Great Gatsby” and the cover is blue and gold. I know, I know…could also be the Warriors or UC Berkeley so we kept it subtle. My dress is essentially a tank top elongated and then side insert panels and some fancy lace. Up close it was pretty but it’s one of my least favorite makes in a really long time. I’ll either recycle it or sell it. Sigh.

crowdIt’s always amazing to just walk around and be surrounded by EVERYONE dressed up! Notice the guy in the swimming togs…

beachOne group not only came in swimming gear but brought the whole beach with them!

adorableAren’t they adorable??!!

smallThis was the winning “Small Picnic” set up. Small meaning a table for up to 4 people. The judges raved about (can you guess??)…the CHAIRS!

I was finally able to meet Tanya and her husband (she of the Mrs. Hughes blog) and you can see her entire write-up here of the picnic. We didn’t get any pics of us together, because by that part of the day we were all a little tired and a little disheveled 🙂 I did snap a pic of a thrift store find of hers that made me wish I could get back to Australia soon:

aussieI’m not sure if I’m going to make it to the next picnic or not, it really IS like giving birth and some years we need a break. We’ll see. I’m thinking I may need to go just to wear a different dress so I can forget about this one…

 

The Rosie Rally

selfieWell, hello again! Yes, it’s been a while and I’ve got SO MUCH STUFF to share!

*I actually wrote that sentence THREE months ago and have yet to publish this. SO much has changed and all of it for the better but seriously….THREE MONTHS?? OK, let’s get this show on the road, clean up and move on.*

This lovely selfie is from the Rosie Rally, held August 15, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The organizers asked for 1,000 women to show up dressed like the Rosie from the poster to set a new world record for the Most Rosies In One Place (previously set in Michigan). I pulled out MY Rosie outfit, met up with friends and hiked over to the Rosie the Riveter Park in Richmond.

This was an official Guinness World Record event, so they had seats set up for us in a special sectioned off area so we could be counted. By drone. Slightly creepy 🙂

field

There were PLENTY of Rosies on hand –

IMG_20150815_143924Entire families showed up –

fanilyI LOVED these little girls –

kidsBut by far the most exciting part of the day was meeting REAL Rosies! This is my friend Thena talking to Priscilla –

thenaI was able to sit with her for a few minutes, and she signed our brochures because her original badge is featured in it!

brochureCheck out her badge at the top center of the page ^

priscillaShe told me she took the train out here from her family home in the mid-west after the war started. Her son was an infant so she put him in day care and went to work every day. The pride in her voice was quite evident. She did something many did but few believed could be done, she did it with an infant son and a husband away. And she did it WELL. Yes, I had to fight back tears.

There were commemorative flowers.

flowersActual soldiers in their original uniforms –

sodlierAnd a 95 year old Rosie that, until last November, was still working at an airplane plant in Long Beach. She retired in November, not because it was time, but because the plant CLOSED DOWN! She was a HOOT!! As she started seeing friends in the audience she looked at all the polka dotted head scarves and said “We never wore anything like that, did YOU wear something like that? I never did.” Lots of head shaking.

96rosieHer grandson finally said “Grandma, we have to go. We have a plane to catch”. Lol 🙂

SO many scarves –

headscarvesSpeaking of which, if you remember my original outfit you’ll see that my polka dots were much smaller than these. When I checked in they looked me over and said “Those aren’t the right sized dots, take one of these”

scarfSo I did. Along with the requisite pairs of red socks.

seaofrosiesAnd then we sat in the sun. And the heat, it was about 90 degrees that day because of course. And we sweat, and fanned and we squinted. And we set the record! This is the aftermath –

aftermathAnd to add a little flavor to the day, look!

kissAll these guys did was wander around, kissing 🙂

Our official count was 1084 Rosies. We beat out the ‘old’ record of 776, and a few weeks later the gang in Michigan took the record ‘back’, challenging us next year to BRING IT ON!

More importantly over a thousand women came together that day to honor the women who moved mountains before them. No one wanted individual attention, they just wanted to be remembered that they were here and they made a difference. The fact that moms brought young daughters, some even infants, to soak up the living history lesson means those women will have a little bit of Rosie in their soul forever 🙂

Radio Free Richmond did a lovely little video of the event, which you can see here.

There is a list of all the interviews from that day on youtube here.

And here is KQED’s post.

I’m still trying to get several rooms in my house photographed. In the last four months I’ve left my previous job, started a new one, designed a show, started dating a lovely man and started ripping apart the acres of bricks and concrete in my back yard. Exhausted? Yeah, me too 🙂

I’m baaaaack….

tray2AHello world, I’m baaack…:)

After several months of unpacking, organizing, painting and general life busy-ness I am BACK, and believe me, there ought to be a cocktail or two involved!

My main occupation these days is de-browning my house. If you saw the photo of the front exterior (post previous to this one) you’ll notice the lovely Swiss Coffee color. My whole house, inside and out, is Swiss Coffee. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t particularly like coffee and to look at brown walls EVERYWHERE each and every day of my life is certainly not the style of a person who considers red a neutral! SO. Lots of painting. And priming because you can’t put anything over Swiss Coffee and not have it affect the final color. Except maybe Licorice. Another food I’m not a fan of. Yeah, you could paint the walls Licorice and the Swiss Coffee wouldn’t show through…

The first room I tackled was the guest room. Not because we were going to be inundated with guests but because it had the least number of boxes in it 🙂 And because my mother kept bugging me to come get the bed my grandmother left when she moved into an assisted living facility and it seemed silly to go to all the trouble to rent a truck, move the furniture, drag said furniture upstairs and THEN paint.

roomA,So I painted. And it’s bright and cheery and most importantly, it’s not BROWN. Excuse me, Swiss Coffee. It is definitely NOT Swiss Coffee. The morning after I finished I woke up and the whole end of the house was glowing. Glowing nicely into Swiss Coffeeland. Mocking the coffee, as it were 😛 Let me give you a tour of what went into this room lovingly called the Grandma John room.

trayAI’m sure my grandmother, whose name is Lola, would be mildly confused as to why the name John is connected to “Grandma”. John is one of our former neighbors who was getting ready to move to Florida the same time we were leaving Walnut Creek, and as he packed he kept giving me stuff he didn’t want any more and thought I would appreciate. For instance, the dust ruffle, the cover on the bench that the guest tray is sitting on, and the two very back pillows on the bed are made from a chenille bedspread he gifted me. I love chenille and would have gladly used it as a bedspread but alas, it had a huge stain on one side and was starting to rot on another. I carefully cut off the bottom edge of the spread, the part with the fringe, and attached that to a fitted sheet (that had issues in the center and was no longer usable for sleeping). Voila! Custom fit dust ruffle, re-purposing things I had. I cut around the holes and the stains to make the back pillows and finally covered up the former outdoor bench that I build with scraps so everything coordinates nicely.

The paint-by-numbers pics on the back wall were a flea market find years ago. Frames and all I think I paid $5 for them, maybe $5 a piece but a mere pittance for all that graphic awesomeness. The mask was made by my daughter in the late 90’s, and was meant to be an African-inspired art piece of our quail at the time, Shelby the Fierce. Now it has a home other than a box in the closet. There are two fabulous IKEA items on that bed – three cotton velveteen pink pillows and THE most adorable bird print pillow. I made the mistake took the opportunity when we were living in Berkeley to visit IKEA weekly for necessary and fabulous items for the new house. I saw the pillows but at that time had no use for them so when I decided on pink for this room the lightbulb went on over my head and a quick trip in to buy one (“just to compare because….”) became an OMG THEY’RE A PERFECT MATCH TO THE PAINT moment. And because that worked out so well I picked up one of the pink gingham covers for the easy chair.

chairAThe two prints on the wall were from John, and the goose on the chair is hiding behind the pillow in a vain attempt to not be seen by one of the dogs (who have a fondness and talent for de-stuffing any stuffed animal in less than 10 seconds). That goose is one of the cutest animals IKEA has come out with yet. I’m a sucker for cute stuffed animals so let’s just be amazed I only have about 6….

(Oh yeah, the little black and white stuffed dog on the bed is the Gund Jonny Justice)

sidetableAThis table was in my grandmother’s front hall for years. I don’t think it’s a family heirloom but it’s pretty and very “her”. I’m not generally a fan of furniture like this BUT it was hers so I will take good care of it. The “B” is a nifty metal letter that has had lights added on a battery pack. B is for Brittany, my daughter, and she now has a place to stay that is clean and sewing-stuff free should she choose. Indeed, sewing bloggers and friends, if you’re in town let me know and as long as no one else has claimed the space, I have a place for you to crash while you visit our lovely area. The guest tray will be stocked  for you, film put in the vintage camera and that white basket under the table is loaded with magazines. Put up your feet, pick a cat to curl up with and relax 🙂

My favorite re-make so far:

dresser4AI bought this dresser in 2003 for $49 at Salvation Army. I know this not because I have a fabulous memory (it’s pretty good but not THAT good) but because the original receipt was still in a drawer. I distinctly remember being drawn to the waterfall front and the fact that it still had 6 original handles. I figured I’d re-do it for my daughter but she hated it so it lived in the garage all these years. At one point the garage flooded so it was water damaged at the bottom, the veneer on one side was starting to peel off and it was missing 2 handles. I stored all manner of crap in it and when it came time to move every single one of my friends questioned my sanity when I emphatically stated I was keeping it. I’m sure at least two of them looked up the contact info for the producers of “Hoarders – Buried Alive”. ALL of them made me promise that if it wasn’t re-done within a few months that I’d kick it to the curb. ALL OF THEM. That’s how reviled this poor piece was! HA!!

Secret – my new favoritest (yes, that’s a word) product in the world of furniture re-doing stuff is Chalk Paint. Keep that in mind. Chalk Paint. Easiest stuff to use. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many hours of videos on furniture restoration I’ve watched to see how the pros handle the issues of veneered furniture. MANY. I’ve even taken several field trips to MacBeath Hardwood in Berkeley, where they have an entire ROOM of veneers to ogle. I’ve talked to real wood workers, experimented briefly on a piece of furniture I DID leave behind and you’ll see that all that research yielded…the piece sitting in the garage for over a decade. I needed to prove to my friends that I had a vision and could carry it out, and show them that my hoard stuff has value, dammit!

Other secret – you don’t have to do any of that time consuming, smelly, dirty prep work when you use chalk paint. Because this piece had sat for so long I did take my orbital sander to it to get off the major dirt and grease, then I cleaned it with some Simple Green and crossed my fingers. I did NOT prime this piece, I hear that priming can be useful for some projects but I was on a schedule and didn’t have time for any priming. And I couldn’t find the primer so there’s that…

I glued down the parts of the veneer that were peeling up, and used wood putty to fill in the bits that were missing. I painted a first coat of chalk paint. And then I painted a second coat. And then a cat walked across the top so I did a light sanding and painted a third coat on the bigger parts like top and sides. There was still quite a bit of original decoration in place so I sanded the edges lightly to highlight the details and give it that “shabby chic” character. While I like the idea of shabby chic more often than not the finishes trigger my OCD painting gene and I just want to paint everything clean and pretty again. In this case I kept the sanding to a minimum and like how it has turned out.

The final, and very important, step in chalk painting is to wax it. This gives a super smooth and fairly water-resistant finish. None of this is rocket science! Paint. Sand. Paint. Wax on. Mr. Miyagi would be proud. And I can attest to the water-resistant part. In between finishing this and taking pics we ‘acquired’ (as in walked in and decided this was good) a new cat. He proceeded to stake out his territory in the guest room (he is a guest after all…) by peeing on the chair and one side of this dresser. I spritzed the side with homemade Urine-off (SO much better and cheaper than that Nature’s Miracle stuff) and wiped everything right off. If he continues we will A) have a serious talk with Mr. Man Cat and B) have the option of putting on more wax. It’s all good. You should try this stuff. NO sanding. You can go over ANY finish! I’m telling you this stuff is a dream to work with. I used the Annie Sloan brand and am currently working on another project (free chair on the streets of Berkeley, you can’t MISS that one!) using the chalk paint that Ohmega Salvage carries by Old Town paints. Home Depot has a version, as does Lowe’s and Joann’s (yeah, the fabric store. I’m going to have to try some). I’m going to guess that you get what you pay for, to a point, but have to check it out to see how the $8 version Joann’s carries stacks up to the more expensive stuff at either Ohmega or the Annie Sloans. Seriously, my friends, find yourselves a piece of furniture that needs some love and jump in!

dresser2AThe two top handles were from another piece of furniture that we had to trash BUT the plastic part of the handle is the same color as the original handles so I’m delighted with the mash up.

dresser3AThe tri-fold mirror on top was a John gift, the green Hall vase a birthday present from my youngest sister years ago, the bunny glass dish a very early Martha Stewart reproduction (the mid-90’s I think).

silk-spindleAThis is my favorite and newest piece – it’s an old spindle from a silk loom with the silk thread still attached. One of my favorite vendors at the flea market, Elsie Green,  has a shop in Walnut Creek (though I’ve never been) and does THE most incredible set-ups at the flea market. I go just to take photos but every now and again find some gem that must come home with me. They do a lot of shopping in France and more than once I make it back to their booth only to find the PERFECT set of purple transferware just sold out. Or I fall in love with yet another set of glasses that I seriously don’t need at ALL and have to walk away from just to prove that I don’t have to OWN ALL THE THINGS. Who am I kidding? You can drool over their stuff here. Hide your credit card first.

I’m so happy with this piece I’ve entered it into a twitter/instagram #dyi contest. NO expectations but to everyone who helped me move – I DID IT!

A couple other things of note – each room in this house as a ceiling fixture and the previous owner replaced whatever was up there with all the same contractors special. Nipples on the ceiling, I call them. So from friend John, I replaced the fixture in THIS room with this:

lightAIt’s vintage, it’s pink. Go big or go home. Yes, it’s a little nipple-y <shrug>.

chairAA quick mention of the chair – it is slipcovered with a blanket and a duvet cover. The arms and seat cushion are covered with a hand embroidered quilt I picked up in the sale section at IKEA 15 years ago. It was so cheap I used it as a picnic blanket and dog blanket at one point. It is beautifully hand quilted and a king size so I had enough fabric to do the chair and used the rest for the bedspread on the bed. The skirt and back of the chair is an old Battenburg lace duvet that had plenty of holes in the lace and back but I was able to cut around those and recycle it. This is one of THE comfiest chairs in my house.

And the final addition to the room:

room2AHenry, Le Chat Nouveau. He’s been in our yard off and on since we moved in. A couple of months ago he finally landed on my radar when I got a good look at his head. He has two large gashes behind each ear, had a eyeball that was so swollen I was afraid he was going to lose the eye, and an attitude of take-no-shit, give-no-fucks. He’s one hissy, snappy dude in that way that cool cats are. He came in the house a few weeks ago, demanded food and head rubs and then would hiss and smack me. We set a trap one night and caught him in about 20 seconds. He’s been fixed, ear tipped and shot up with anti-biotics. The morning after his vet experience he decided I’m the BEST thing in his world and has become my shadow. He was fascinated with the process of setting up and shooting this room and finally crawled UNDER the bed (because I kept moving him off of it) and fell asleep. Once the food came out and I sat down for more than 7 seconds he hopped up and made himself at home.

henry3AHe’s resting on the 1940’s, maybe 50’s, crazy quilt that I bought on my birthday a few years ago on the Longest Yard Sale. The seller was cranky, the quilt was moist because the van they loaded everything in leaked and she wasn’t about to negotiate (did I mention how cranky she was at 9am?) It was a whopping $25. I paid her and walked off grinning. Everyone loves that quilt, and now Henry has claimed it.

chair2AAnd there we are. One room done, a long-standing project complete, two people who gifted me with lovely things honored. The rest of the house is coming along, wait until you see the breakfast nook 🙂

Until then, follow me on Instagram for as-they-happen projects. I’m going to be making my own cleaning products to get rid of the chemicals in my house, make some cheese and pickles, not to mention more peach jam, as well as document the sad, cement back yard before we start ripping things out to make it our personal oasis. Woo Hoo!

To top everything off – we finally caught Max! He’s home, he’s happy and regaining the weight he lost. It took a small army of volunteers but he’s BACK. My family is complete.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

P.S. Apologies to anyone who visited my page and saw a slightly off colored phrase at the top of it. I was hacked because my version of wordpress was slightly outdated. It was rectified quickly and easily but boy o boy, don’t those people have better things to do? Once again, sorry and thanks to the Jolittletime on Instagram for the heads up!

Updates!

ColorTouch

(exhale)….

Ok, breathing again….

We are alive. We are doing pretty well all things considered. And I never, ever, once imagined that life would take the route it did.

Three months and three mortgage brokers later, I bought a house. Yay! I had about two and a half weeks to find something and then I had to figure out how to move 21 years of accumulation.

I rented a pod. I rented a storage unit. Friends came and helped pack. The chickens went to my daughters house, the cats were split up to several fosters, the bun is up in Napa having the time of his life with a new doggy sister…

And we are ‘homeless’. Technically, even though I own a house, we are homeless. The sellers are still in the house, they won’t be leaving until the first part of April so we have no address we can get mail delivered to (other than my parents), have no utility bills, nothing to “prove” where we live because we’re couch surfing.

Now, don’t cry for us Argentina, it’s not that bad 😛 But it’s definitely not the best way to live. We are renting a room from a lovely woman in Berkeley who accepted us with two dogs, originally four cats (more on that in a minute) and the proverbial partridge in a pear tree (the rabbit). Thankfully Karen (blinkysews.com) was able to foster the bunny for us so we literally arrived in the middle of the night with a small Noah’s ark of creatures and 2 very tired humans. We’re here for another 2-3 weeks and THEN we finally get to move into the 1937 house that you see above.

This has been the roughest 5 months since Jim was diagnosed with cancer. The whole house buying process was RIDICULOUS in the amount and types of paperwork needed. By FAR more intrusive than giving birth! At one point I told the mortgage broker (after yet another absurd request for documentation that demanded a level of transparency that the industry demanding it NEVER itself uses) seemed puzzled and mildly offended when I said “I’d rather give birth to twins naturally and raise them myself than go through this lunacy ever, ever, ever again.” Yep, seriously. Ugh.

I’m hoping that once we’re down to unpacking boxes, finding homes for all the ‘stuff’ I’ve dragged along with me and are doing mundane things like picking paint colors that this will all be worth it. The feral cat colony that I’ve taken care of for 15 years is still an issue. I can’t move them until I move and the purchaser of our former home is…of a different culture that sees animals as disposable and repugnant (just going by the comments that he’s made). The last evening we were in the house we had everything out and I was getting the cats into carriers. BIG MISTAKE. I ‘should’ have gotten the cats before the bed left and just taken them to our temporary home. But I didn’t and I regret it. Ashton fought me but I hung on and shoved him into a crate. Max fought me harder and still I hung on and shoved him into a crate. I moved Ashton to the car and went back for Max and the blanket we left on the floor. Holding Max’s crate by the handle with the blanket under my arm, I made my way to the car at 3am. Max struggled so hard he managed to break the damn crate and ran away, as I held the blanket under my arm. I haven’t seen him since.

I’ve been back to our old house many times. A neighbor stepped up to help me feed the cats and has gone toe to toe with the new owners, explaining that this is a protected colony that will be moved once we get into our new home.

And why are we waiting? Here’s the fun part of the whole story – originally I was told we had until the end of March to move. When I entered into the contract on my new house the sellers asked to have until the beginning of April to find a new place and move. I figured, at that time, that we might have to stay somewhere for a few days, at most a week or so, so I agreed. THEN the landlord served me papers that said we had to be out on 2/26, not even 2/28 because of reasons that it turns out they lied about. The last week in the old house we had no gas service because PG&E showed up on the wrong date to shut service off, smelled gas and shut things down. They sent someone out later that day who determined we had a ‘substantial’ leak (yeah, and we’d know about it for more than 2 years but the landlord chose to do NOTHING) and they ended up completely removing the meter. REMOVING. We had no heat, no hot water and no way to cook. No recourse either since it was 4 days before we were to be out and standard procedure is to tell your landlord they f*&%$d up and make them fix it. Sigh….It was 38 degrees every night until we left. It was uncomfortable.

And now we’re missing Max. I’ve got signs up, I’ve got all the neighbors keeping an eye out, and there is food and water at the station for the ferals. I’m hoping he’s somewhere close and we can trap him when we get the ferals and get everyone moved. Once we’re in the new house and all our family members are there then I’ll be able to take a deep breath and move on. Until then I remind myself to breathe, put one foot in front of the other and keep saying “it will all get better soon, it will all get better soon…”

I’m hoping the next update will be SOON and I’ll be able to include LOTS of pictures of my pretty new house! And that I can SEW again soon!!

Thank you to EVERYONE that has shared their nightmare stories of buying a house with me. To everyone that offered to help us out, that has fostered an animal for us, that has been there when I’ve been in tears, THANK YOU. Especial thanks to Angie, who was responsible for several crucial puzzle pieces. THANK YOU!