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 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!!