Spring Cleaning and Other Good Things

After pretty much freezing my business, and everything associated with it, in a last ditch effort to survive the semester, I have decided to just bite the bullet and get started up again.

For firstly, this store represents the culmination of my life’s dream (the dream to be a fashion designer, not the other dreams!!), and it’s been absolutely heart breaking and neurosis inducing to not be able to sew, or to sketch. So I’m cleaning of the poor neglected sewing machine and getting her fired up!

For secondly, First Friday season is here, and my brain has been overflowing with new ideas for that. So I’ve recruited two assistants to help me with the folding and the glazing.

Today, unfortunately, doesn’t look like it’s going to have much sewing in it. My house is absolutely trashed, and the weather is so nice that I thought I might do a Spring cleaning. If there’s any time left over to the day after that, then I can get started on a cute little sun dress I’ve been sizing hour. It’s going to be made from absolutely the most fun fabric ever!

Although, I must say, I have learned an important lesson from sizing it out- don’t cut your nice pretty fabric first before testing the pattern….

Confessions of an Unapologetic Caffiene Freak

The facts were these-

Three months ago, I RSVP’ed to my cousins wedding. Of course, I had to come up with something stunning to wear, and any old clothing store wouldn’t work- I have an IMAGE to maintain; a standard of (neurotic) excellence to uphold in the eyes of my family. So I decided I was going to make a dress. I had three months. No problem.

I settled on a stunning 1930’s evening gown pattern (not one of my own, shockingly enough, although I did have to size it up from a size 6 to a size 18), and with two months left, I picked out my fabric. I had two months to get it done. No worries.

And then school came along like a rider of the Apocalypse, and gobbled up all my time. When I wasn’t desperately cramming in as much Japanese and Chinese vocab as I could before a test (a test every week??!! That’s pure sadism!!), or maniacally hammering away on my laptop to crank out ANOTHER anthropology essay, I was either folding origami for First Friday until my fingers were numb, or was flopped out in the house in a state very similar to that of a human vegetable. I was exhausted every day, and felt like I’d been run over by a truck. A big rig truck. Multiple times.

Well, my cousin’s wedding is tomorrow.

I started the dress on Tuesday.

For four hours, I sized out the pattern, sewed together a muslin sample, and with a quick prayer, cut into the fabric.

On Wednesday I had a nervous melt down.

On Thursday I worked on the dress for six hours, around a full day of classes and two tests.

On Saturday, I finished the dress, jumped into the car, and scampered off to the wedding.

Is it 100% perfect? Well, to me, no, it’s not. I always struggle with satin, because I don’t actually have a good workspace for laying it out and cutting it. And I skipped the very necessary French seams completely in deference to my limited time.

But that’s not really the point. The point is that with the assistance of seven energy drinks, I managed to put together a stunning evening gown in four days.

Working around five classes, three language exams, and two anthropology assignments.

The moral of the story is this: Caffeine makes the world go around. When you’re at the eleventh hour, line up a few cups of coffee, and get to work! 🙂

The Right to Bear Scissors

Sometimes you come across people who really drive you up a wall. I met one such person at the local fabric store.

The facts were these; I absolutely destroyed the bodice of the dress I’ve been working on, so I went to go pick up another yard of the fabric to redo it. There was a scrap of the fabric left on the bolt, maybe 3/4 yd if I squinted. But I needed the fabric. And it was all they had left in the store. So I took it up to the counter to measure.

I handed the fabric to the cutter, and she unfolded the fabric. And folded it so the two cut edges were together.

“A yard and a quarter,” she informed me

I stared.

“I’m really sorry but you miss measured,” I said. “You should be measuring the length of the fabric, not the width”

She looked at me like I was mentally handicapped.

“Along the selvedge,” I explained.

“Who taught you to measure fabric?” She snapped. “It’s a yard and a quarter.”

I argued with her for half an hour. There were a whole bunch of problems in the store that day, and no manager in sight. If I hadn’t needed the fabric so badly I would have just gone home. But I DID need it. So before my very eyes, she cut a quarter of a yard off the selvedge.

Okay. Maybe she was new, and sometimes people make mistakes.

But then I bought an entire bolt of fabric, and asked her to measure it for me. She was displeased. On e she was done, I asked if she could just roll it back on to the bolt.

“No,” she snarled.

I persisted in getting a bolt for the fabric to be rolled on to. So she grabbed an empty bolt from a fabric hat was 20$ a yard, and scanned that bolt end. So my ten yards of 6$/yd fabric was suddenly 20$/yd. I couldn’t take it.

“Excuse me, but you scanned the wrong bolt,” I said, maybe a little more hostile than I intended.

What followed was another half our argument over who was right.

I won. Because she was wrong.

The moral of this story is that some people shouldn’t be allowed to wield scissors. Or to reign over the cutting counter. Or even touch fabric. Ever.

Beware the fabric store gremlins!!!!

Of Ancient Egyptians and Bias Tape

First, let me introduce you to Hatshepsut!!

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She is my brand new industrial sewi g machine that I bought for 50$. No joke.

She needs some living care, like some oil, and a new cord, and maybe a new lamp, since the old one got smashed in the moving process.

But other than that, she runs like a dream!! I can’t wait until I have her back in ship shape, so I can put her to work… And let my moms sewing machine take s vacation. That poor little Viking has really been a trooper for me!

So what I have for you today is a rant about bias tape.

I just spent two days making 5 yards of shantung bias tape from 1/8 of a yard of fabric. “Why?!” You ask.

Because the fabric stores near me only sell decently priced cotton bias tape, and for this new panty design, I needed cherry red shantung bias tape like this.

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I’m going to cry blood when I run out of this bias tape!

The Fine Art of Frolicking

There is something magical about a full skirt with a flouncy petticoat underneath it. It evokes the fairy tale princess, dreams of Cinderella and Prince Charming, and the delicate femininity of the 1950’s fashions.

I have been working on a 1950’s style dress for this Sunday, and, as luck would have it, unearthed a black net petticoat from the maelstrom that is my costume shop. I pressed it, tried it on, and swirled through the shop in a tee-shirt, beat up jeans, my petticoat and sandals, like a little girl at the holidays.

Having finally finished my dress (by finished I mean that it’s not held together with pins, and has a functioning zipper, but still requires hemming and a few fitting alterations), I was determined to try it on with the petticoat underneath.

The result was fantastic. it added just the right amount of body to the skirt, and gave a wonderful twirly effect when I turned around to show my patient mother. I jumped up and down, and swirled the skirt.

“That’s not how you frolic!” my mother admonished.  “Stop looking down at the skirt! Stand up straight! Now you can frolic!”

I followed her directions, and frolic, I did, through the living room, and the dining room. And then, having entirely too much fun, I careened into a table in the kitchen and knocked over a bowl full of fruit.

The moral of this story is that as much fun as it is to prance and dance around in a full petticoat and skirt, it is important to keep one’s surroundings in mind. you must be graceful and princess-like… and princesses DO NOT slam into tables! 🙂 Also, remember that a full skirt can knock things off coffee tables… like your coffee mugs! BEWARE,  and, most importantly, have fun!! 🙂

The Story of the Living Dolly

Yesterday I got all dressed up in my FINALLY finished and perfected “Lil Munster” dress, a pair of lime green-and-black striped stocking, and bright red lipstick, and tromped off to work.

Lil' Munster dress

On the bus I was immediately confronted by a little girl, maybe five or six years old, who was with her mother. The girl took in my outfit for a moment.

“What happened to YOU?” she asked, in that tone of incredulity that is usually only found in an adult.

I stopped, thrown. I looked at her mother for help. Her mother looked like she had surrender for today.

“Nothing HAPPENED to me,” I informed her, unloading a huge sewing/first aid/make-up/emergency kit, a large hat box stuffed full of unfinished hats and a laptop bag crammed full to bursting with laptop, paper work, daily planner, power cords for more electronics than NASA, a journal, and a reading book, all onto the luggage rack.

“But why do you dress like that?” insisted the girl. I thought about all of the smart ass remarks I would normally give an adult. But she was five.

“Because I can,” I said honestly. The girl thought about this. When she was all grown up, could SHE dress like this strange woman?

“You look like the other girl,” she decided.

“Other girl?” I asked. I looked at her mother. Her mother was just as confused as me.

“The other girl. The one under the house.” Her face informed me that I should know EXACTLY who this was. Now is a good time to admit that I adore children. I don’t have any, and because I dress bizarrely, most parents don’t let me near them. I’ve had parents with small children actually CROSS THE STREET. You get used to it.  Some people have small minds.

The fact that this precocious kid’s mother wasn’t running for the hills in fear encouraged me. True, for the first few minutes, she watched me like a hawk, but she didn’t see anything in me to be afraid of.

After a few seconds of contemplation (trying to think like I was twenty years younger) I put two and two together.

“The wicked witch of the West? from the Wizard of Oz?” I asked.

“Of course!” Her mother sucked in a breath. Was I offended? The girl grinned at the joke. I started laughing.

“You’re a sweet kid,” I chortled, well aware that sarcasm was lost on a little kid.

Encouraged by this, she began to interrogate me. Did I always dress like this? Only in October. But why? Because it’s Halloween Month. But it isn’t Halloween!!! It might as well be.

And then she said absolutely the cutest thing in the world.

“Do you turn into a dolly when people aren’t around? Because then I could take you home and keep you and play with you all day long!”

“She’s not a DOLL!! You can’t just take her home! Stop being ridiculous!” her mother admonished. I assured her that I wasn’t a doll. She didn’t believe me.

“What’s under your skirt?” she asked.

“What do you think is under my skirt. Legs! What’s under your pants? Legs!”

She tugged at my skirt. then she grabbed the hem and yanked it up to my thigh.

“Whoah! Kid! I’ve got a real body under there! And I’d like it to STAY under the dress!” I tugged the skirt away from her.

“I’m sorry,” her mother said helplessly. “She wanted to see if you were wearing stocking or knee socks. I’m really sorry.”

She still thought I was a doll. And she informed me that her mother was really a big puppet. Then she wanted me to show her everything in my kit. And then she wanted to see the hats. She was disappointed by the hats.

“You lied! There are no KITTIES in there!” (your guess is as good as mine on that one).

The entire ride, she bombarded me with millions of questions, trying to prove to every one that I REALLY WAS A DOLL. And she planned on keeping me. Apparently she hadn’t heard about human trafficking laws, but I’m sure she will when she is older.

A few minutes before they got off the bus, I handed her mom my business card.

“I usually make adult clothing. But if she really wants a rag doll that has this outfit, I could make one.”

‘Will it talk?” demanded the girl.

“No, ” I informed her. “Dolls can’t talk.”

I doubt that I actually will ever hear about the doll. But the little girl and her mother gave me a really wonderful present – one of acceptance. The little girl wasn’t afraid of me because of how I looked, and her mother wasn’t worried about the affect speaking with me would have. By now they will have forgotten about the woman in the funny dress. But for years to come, I will remember the young girl who swore with all her heart and soul that I would turn into a dolly after work.

 

A Case of Auto-Pilot and a Missing Key

Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen- adults seem to busy to pay attention to the world around them.  We run through our lives spending half the time on autopilot while we think of other, more important things.  You know it’s true.  Maybe you came home from a really rough day at work. You walked through the door, you took off your coat. Then the next thing you know,  your on the sofa with some hot chocolate, or what ever always makes you feel better. You don’t remember getting it. You don’t remember  going to the sofa.

Or maybe you’re driving to work. you get into the car, you pull out of the drive way, and the next thing you know, you’re merging for the exit ramp. You don’t remember any of the drive. You don’t even remember changing lanes the first time.  (this brings up a question on whether or not adults should be permitted to drive, unsupervised. but I leave that to you to ponder today).

In both cases, you were on autopilot. You’re brain just didn’t care enough to pay attention. Besides, your body clearly could do everything all on it’s own, with out YOU to bother it.

I am often guilty of not paying attention. I search for my workshop keys for at least half an hour everyday. I can never find my glasses when I wake up in the morning. To find my cell phone when I’ve put it down, I have to call it and follow the ringtone like a bloodhound. I found it in the refridgerator once.

This week, however, I had the most amazing memory lapse in the history of my life. I lost the key to my work shop. Not as in  “oh, silly me, I put it in the icecream box!”, or “oh! It fell under the sofa!” I mean REALLY lost it. I ripped apart my house. And it was NOWHERE. SO then I spent a day prowling the streets of my neighborhood, examining sidewalks. No luck.

I should probably explain why I was so worried about this key. If you wanted to get VERY technical, I wasn’t supposed to have it. Sure, I worked for the school, and so obviously needed to be able to get into the costume workshop to do my job.  The administration felt differently. I wasn’t a full fledged teacher, so I was not, in their eyes, worthy of possessing the mystical magical key that let me in to a 10×20 ft windowless box that was tiled with asbestos. Because I might STEAL something.

Never mind the thousands of hours I log working on the productions. Never mind the fact that I was the one who restocked the first aid kit in the shop out of my own pocket because the school was too cheap.  And never mind the countless fundraisers I’d organized to get supplies and money for the costume shop. In their eyes, I was nothing more than a 5’10”, 160 lb., well corseted FELON.

The moral is that they didn’t want me to have this key.

So it would be no far stretch to think that the administration would dance a jig over me losing my illegitimate, bastard key. “Lost it, dearie? oh GOOD! Replace it, dearie? Oh, sweetheart, I don’t think we could!” So I started thinking up more and more far fetched plans for getting in and out of my workshop. How much did a lock pick set cost? Could a lock pick turn a dead bolt? Maybe I could borrow my boss’s key, and then get a copy made? All horrible ideas, especially the last one, since the key said DO NOT DUPLICATE, and it would have involved fraud, bribery and the cunning use of a micro mini skirt and a push up bra to get a new copy made.

As it got closer and closer to me having to tell my boss that I had lost the key, I became more and more panicked. I couldn’t sleep. I was too nauseous to eat.

And then, last night, my mother came home. She dropped her purse and her coat next to the phone, and looked over at the computer desk.

“Isn’t that the key you were looking for?” she asked me.

It had been sitting on the computer desk. Not hidden. It was placed neatly in front of the keyboard. I had spent three days looking for it, and yet had managed not to see it.

Was it simply a case of autopilot? Had I taken the key to the computer to use the USB attached to it, and gotten side tracked? Or had I realized in the middle of the act, that I was trying to use the WRONG USB, and so had gone to get the other, forgetting the first? Had I run out of coffee and needed to refill my cup, and then decided that coffee and brownies were perfect together, and so had decided to make brownies?

I may never know.

Personally, I am maintaining that my house is haunted by a poltergeist, that decided it was bored with my key, and was kind enough to return it.

The conclusion you draw from this tale is up to you. However, once you have finished reading this, I suggest you take a moment to look around you, and really look. other wise, next time it might be you, searching in vain for a missing object that is right in front of you!

Until next time… ::sinister laugh and creepy organ music::