Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another Sew-A-Long

That's right boys and girls, I'm doing another sew-a-long. But not to make it a crazy thing, I'm working on one of the projects I had chosen for my Spring Palette Challenge. Since Spring in the Western Hemisphere is not technically over until June 21rst, I'm going to say that the Spring Challenge is still ON.

So I've signed up for Pattern~Scissors~Cloth RTW Tailoring Sew-A-Long. My chosen project will be Newlook 6564. Though I haven't quite decided WHICH view I want to do. I have plenty of my "wearable muslin" fabric in black (pictured above) for View C, but my floral linen I may only have enough for View D. I'm not doing ruffles. No, instead I am going to be making piping out of the green crepe pictured to the far right.

I'm leaning toward View C due to the fact that, given my shape and size, it will be much more flattering for my figure. Any thoughts or comments from the peanut gallery(I mean that in the most loving way possible)?

Stay tuned for my silk tank top (almost done!) and my Vintage Sewalong (I can see the light at the end of the tunnel).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sew Cool Inventions

I have mentioned that I work in the telecommunications industry right? And that History of Science and Technology is sort of my thing? I should also mention that I have really awesome friends that will send me links to fascinating things. In particular, this site:

I will tell you, I already own one thing this site features. Conductive thread!
I have already used it in a jacket project for my son (small closeup here). I have a much more grand idea for a bomber jacket with a big light-up skull and crossbones embroidery on the back of it. The actual birthing of such a project still being in the larval stage.

I do have to say there's loads of other cools stuff here too. Things that could make this jacket from Tron Legacy possible (D*CON costume for the husband). Like the Illuminating Polymer Ribbon.
Let's see, then there's the shape retaining plastic. Wouldn't that be awesome for creating some neat silhouettes for hem lines on skirts, or sleeves, or collars? Oh oh oh, and glow in the dark thread! Which also means it will fluoresce under a blacklight! Oh man, if this is sturdy enough to be used in the sewing machine, use it for some border embroidery and you've got some serious clubbing gear going on!

So take a look at the site and tell me what cool ideas you have. What kinds of sewing projects would you use new technology on? (Just pretend you have unlimited budget here, its more fun that way.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Off Topic Bragging (sorta)

So exciting news here in Katza Land! I now am the proud owner of a digital SLR and a new computer that can actually run photoshop! Excited, I am, yes. I now have to do research on how to utilize all these tools but I'm hoping in the near future I will be able to bring you better quality pictures, maybe even some tutorials?

I do have some posts coming up, couple about tech stuff, but I swear it also involves sewing. And I have a few projects I'm making a bit of headway on and ALSO a dress idea. I will be using the antique lace pictured in my header and vintage silk acquired from my mother's stash. After having discussed with her the idea she is looking forward to seeing it. I will probably wear it for Beltaine (and Easter, we sort of celebrate both... its complicated).

So in the mean time, please enjoy the above photo my children. They were most willing to be test subjects for trial and error of new tech.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I Do Solemnly Swear...

the wedding bouquet

That I'm up to no good! No wait, wrong book. Though a Marauder's Map would be awesome too. NO, this is about something more personal. Its about color. Having been a part of the goth/geek culture in Atlanta for as long as I have it comes as a shock to me that I'm planning not one, not two, but SEVERAL garments that range into that the pastels.

Peach, pink, cream, and already you've seen the baby blue. Oh, and lavender, but that one I've done well for some time. I once wore an ivory colored cheongsam dress to a Vampire LARP. So maybe this isn't such a surprise after all. But I will say that I have thumbed my nose at the rosy side of the color palette for some years. It almost feels like I'm betraying my own morals. Then again, the whole point of sewing for myself is to range into things I've never before been able to wear.

So here it is; I, Elizabeth, do solemnly swear not to be afraid of color. If it looks good and I like it, I shall not be afraid to wear it!

What colors have you shied away from?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Washing Machines

How often do you think about your washing machine? I mean really give it some thought. I bet most people don't until it breaks or they move out of their parents' place and have to haul everything to the laundry mat. Or back to Mom and Dad's for the monthly visit. And maybe we even give it a bit of thought when we have to wash our dedicates by hand in the sink.

It was a couple things that made me start thinking about this history of the washing machine. One was a box of OLD cotton thread Mom gave me. All these bits are on wooden spools and on the stickers it says "boil safe". Boil safe? What? I asked about it and was told "Well, that used to be the only sure way to get your clothes clean. You had to boil the water and then stir them with soap, wring them out by hand".

Oh. My. God. The sheer amount of work involved JUST TO DO LAUNDRY? Just the thought made me cringe and I'm sitting here on my fourth load in to the seven that piled up from handling numerous crises the past few weeks. Could you imagine having to do all that by hand. Uhg. Excuse me while I go hug my washer and dryer for a moment. *HUGS*

So what's the second thing that made me think about our modern washing machines? An old story my Dad told me about when he was a kid growing up on a farm in the late 30's, early 40's. See, it was around this era that the "rural electrification project" was going on. They had offered my great-grandpa $100 to build the power lines through his cow fields. He was no slouch, that man, and instead bargained to have them wire his farm house up for electricity and have it be provided FOR FREE for as long as the family owned the farm. This means they had electric lights but no running water.

This also meant that great-grandma was the first to own an electric washing machine in the entire state of Maryland. It most likely looked something akin to the above contraption. The lack of running water meant that on laundry day all the kids were hauling buckets of water up and down the hill from the well, but they had to steer clear of the machine as it had no safeties. This means anything caught in the gears was likely to be taken clean off, including fingers and limbs. And this was still considered less manual labor than doing it by hand.

When the next generation of washing machines came out wanna guess what one of the major selling points was?


That's right. Safety precautions are being built in, and soon you have the "double tank" machines. You could even boil the water right in the machine. How's that for progress? Makes you really appreciate your washer and dryer, or even the laundry mat, that much more doesn't it?

I highly recommend clicking on the above link and reading through the articles. Among some of the more interesting tidbits was the fact that there is no clear inventor of the original washing machine. I've tried to contact the author of the website and those papers with little luck. Even still, it was obvious the gentleman had put many hours of research and labor to bring us the history of this very under-appreciated invention.

Can you think of any more under-appreciated labor saving inventions in your house?

Addendum: After a little more digging I also discovered there is a big link between the electric sewing and washing machines and the Women's Liberation movement.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Hospital Skirt

I started on this skirt from V8679 about five days before all of the craziness happened. I actually finished all the hand stitching during the 36 hours I spent in the emergency room. I wanted a red linen maxi skirt for the 'Spring' here in Georgia. Which is to say, something that will not make me die in the heat outside and still keep me warm in the freezing cold office. This also looks very good with my trippy cowl neck. But when I paired this old knit blouse with the skirt I had an AHA! moment on how to make something work with my new shoes. Aren't they awesome?

That's about it for now. We're just trying to get back to routine here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Testing the Waters

Hello Sewing Blogger World! I think things have settled enough in my life I might get a stitch or two in soon. But first, an update.

First off, my Mother is still alive. As a bit of background she contracted polio at 23 months and has had many accidents that required back surgery during the barbaric years of the 50's and 60's. Her entire spine is fused in the shape of an upside down question mark. And then a car accident broke her neck August 1rst, 1994. She relearned to walk after all that but now she is fighting post polio syndrome. A very severe case of it. Her last attack has left her unable to even move herself from bed to wheelchair and back. We have had to put her in a skilled nursing facility as the amount of care goes well beyond what our family can give her. And she is still considered a hospice patient. In amongst all this we have had to move my father and 20 years of their lives into the ground floor apartment of my mother-in-law's house.

I've spent a total of 42 hours in emergency rooms over two separate visits (One was 36 hours total). I know more about the medicaid system than I EVER thought I would and I will tell you I despise our bureaucracy with every fiber of my being. And before anyone tries to pin this on "Obamacare" let me point out that that bill has made it EASIER, not harder, according to the social workers I have been dealing with.

Mom is unhappy about being in an institution but we haven't been able to come up with any alternative that works. Particularly since we can't legally administer the amount of pain medication she needs at home. NONE of this has been easy to deal with, its been very hard and long and lots of tears have been shed. Lots of angry ranting. I have no idea what I would do without my amazing friends and family.

Mom told me to take most of her sewing stuff and now I have no idea where to put it. In amongst all this was two yards of a honeysuckle color silk dupioni and 6 yards of peach colored crepe-de-china. These have made their way into my spring/summer sewing plans.

The nursing home does not have phones in the rooms so I put her on my family plan and gave her a cell phone. This way she can contact us whenever she wants and that bit of connection helps a lot on both sides. She has told me she's proud of my sewing and wants me to keep at it. And of course still be a mother and wife and all those hats that I wear in my life.