Monday, December 31, 2007

On the Seventh Day of Christmas....

We have finally returned. It wasn't such very long trip, actually, but a stomach virus hit us on the last half of our trip to visit the grandparents for Christmas and it SEEMED like we were gone forever. Hopefully everyone is on the upswing now and we can enjoy the rest of the week...

We are bucking the whole culture, I know, but we've still got Christmas presents to open around here. When we travel for Christmas, instead of rushing to open our gifts to each other before we leave, or the even more crazy idea of carrying them to the grandparents' home to open and carry back home (we did that when DD the elder was just a baby. It took us two years to figure out that was ludicrous), we just do Christmas all over on New Year's Day...stockings and everything. It works great, except that everyone else is DONE with Christmas. Ah, well, we tend to buck the culture in many ways around here; I guess that's just part of who we are.

I've been kind of catching up on all the blogs I missed while I was gone; I've noticed LOTS of people are waxing philosophical about what they accomplished in 2007 and what they hope to do in 2008. I'm not there yet; I'm still trying to get my brain around the idea that this is the LAST day of 2007. Maybe I'll get my perspective back and do some appropriate New Year musings before the week is over.

Meantime, Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Hiatus

The Christmas Holiday starts today; Sew Random will be on hiatus for a few days.

The last fabric purchase of the year arrived last night; I ordered 6 yards, but found generous cuts that added up to 7 yards in. But I'd been busy, and after the costume sewing and the Last Project sewing, I'm still a yard and a half ahead of parity. So long as I don't purchase anything in the next week (and it's not likely)...I've made it!!!

But perhaps the Last Projects were spurred by laziness, rather than foresight. I didn't want to put away the remnants from the flannel sheets, so I made sleep pants for DD and I. Then I decided we needed tops to go with them, and I found some ANCIENT cotton interlock in the stash and made some tops, trimmed with the flannel on the bias, and we have two new pairs of jammies:

I would write up what I did, but the plain truth is, aside from the Burda No-Side Seam pants that are my PJ pants, they're basically various Kwik Sew patterns all altered up and finegled...and I made it up as I went (literally). But they turned out nice, and DD loves hers (even though they're too's that making it up as I went thing...)

Anyway from all of us here at Sew Random (LOL) to all of you wonderful folks who've plodded along with me in this adventure, Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Just Say No

Or, how do YOU keep your family away from the Good Shears?

My good, super-sharp, wonderful Kai shears, purchased at last year's Expo, were AWOL for a couple of days, then turned up ON THE COMPUTER DESK. Where PAPER IS CUT.

DD the Elder (Life Philosophy: It's easier to get forgiveness than permission) was, of course, the culprit. She'd needed some scissors (she HAS scissors! EVERY ONE got utility scissors in their Christmas stocking last year) and maintained that these were the only ones she could find (well, they were right out on my cutting table. Imagine that).

I determined that she probably hadn't done any damage to the shears (as opposed to the time she borrowed my Fiskars to cut floral wire...but that was when she was in, oh, middle school?), then gave her a severe injunction to keep her hands OFF my good shears.

The resulting eye rolling prompted me to use a Sharpie to remind anyone looking for scissors that SOME are Off Limits.

And promptly got me labeled 'Control Freak'....oh, the injustice...

Perhaps another pair of utility scissors should show up in her stocking this year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Gift of Imagination

I've got the sewing part of the dress-up clothes for my niece finished; I used a couple of different patterns and got something, um, unique:. The cape pattern is Simplicity 5512, made without the hood in a size 5. That wild fabric didn't come from *my* stash; DD the elder actually has a box or two of obscure fabric, most of it obtained when the drama department cleaned out a closet her senior year of high school. This was one of the drama discards and DD said I could use it. It's pretty and sparkly but feels really icky...bristly like my Tailor Velvet board. It'll work for play, though.
The dress and belt are from an OOP pattern, Simplicity 9698. I actually made dress-up clothes for my brother's girls about 10 years ago with this pattern, so I dug around and found it...and realized that it is basically a glammed up Bible costume! You can really do a lot with a good basic Bible costume...and I need to remember that I have this one around, just in case I need to make some little kids' sized Bible-wear.

I'm also making a floaty tutu, following Angie's excellent Tied Tu-Tu Tute. It's about 2/3 tied off. I thought it could be an overskirt for the dress, but it's coming out much poofier than I expected. Oh, well, a 4-year-old will still have fun with it, even if it's not worn with the princess dress.

A trip to Claire's or Libby Lu's for a little tiara and that's my last Christmas project done and ready for wrapping.

Which is a very good thing; I have laundry to do and suitcases to pack ;)

ETA: Here's the finished tutu (I'm going to need a big box)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nothing's Committed Until It's Cut

One of my revelations during the reach for parity is that I have way too many fabrics in the stash that I have consciously or subconsciously assigned to a particular garment; I'm realizing I don't consider them to be available resources, but projects in backlog.

This is a very stressful way to view a stash. It puts the emphasis on the production, not the creativity. Clawing my way back to parity after a big purchase also put the emphasis on production, and, between you, me and the fencepost, sewing just to be producing ain't the reason I sew, and that's going to be a big deterrent to future parity-busting purchases.

Now, I believe in purchasing fabric with at least a general idea ('this will be a jacket'), or even a specific idea ('I'll make that Today's Fit jacket and use the selvedge for trim'), but if that idea actually keeps the fabric from being sewn over time, it might be a good idea to Let It Go. It's time for a paradigm shift.

So...if that silk is not made into that slotted-seam suit by the time the appropriate season rolls around and gone, I need to quit thinking of it as a slotted seam suit and start thinking of it as a wonderful piece of raw silk available for whatever I decide it needs to be. Maybe a dress with a jacket? Maybe a tunic top?

What would suit the wardrobe? What garments do I need now, and what's in the stash that could be used to make them? Styles change, needs change...the stash needs to go with the flow, not back up behind an idea that may be past its prime.

I need to release some old visions, and see what new ones arise to replace them.

And I really, really need to realize that nothing's committed until it's cut!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

That Love/Hate Thing

There are several discussions going around on the boards and on blogs... 'What do you love about sewing?' or 'What do you hate about sewing?' that have kind of made me remember...and think.

I remember my sister (who used to be a fairly accomplished seamstress; she made a leisure suit for Dad when she was in high school, but has gotten away from it) and I discussing 'What do we hate about sewing' once upon a time many, many moons ago.

Back and forth between us, we listed all the things that we found tedious and uninspiring. Keep in mind, this was back in the day before either of us needed (or realized we needed, anyway) any fitting changes made to a pattern. As well as I can remember, here's what we listed:
cutting out the pattern
laying out the fabric (we used a chest freezer for a cutting table; access only from one side made it, um, challenging)
Cutting interfacing
Fusing interfacing (it was cheap pellon then!)
tailor's tacks
finishing the edges (no sergers then! Everything was zig-zagged around)
stay stitching
sewing darts (how could anyone get those points smooth and even?)
gathering anything
putting in zippers
turning collar points
top stitching
sleeve plackets
trimming/clipping/grading seams
marking/trimming hems
hand sewing (buttons, hooks/eyes, hemming...)

In short, just about every single operation involved in the construction of a garment (except buying the fabric!) was on the 'Ick List'. But we both agreed that we 'loved to sew!' I remember pointing that out and we both laughed. It didn't make sense.

But realistically, any of those things is very tedious and not-fun when done as an isolated task. But constructing a garment is so much more than the sum result of a bunch of isolated tasks. It all works together. For instance, making a dart isn't fun...but watching fabric take shape as the darts are completed is.

And that's what we all love about home sewing...watching that garment move from a concept and flat yard goods into a three-dimensional garment that reflects the individual's style. When each of the elements are integrated into the whole, it does become greater than the sum of the parts. (Of course, improved equipment and techniques have probably improved my attitude somewhat in the interim also).

But to me, though, sewing is freedom. Freedom from the dressing room, freedom from the fashion cycle, freedom from poor quality/inflated prices, freedom from manipulative marketing strategies. (Well, sort of. I have been known to be suckered by enticing pattern envelope art...).

And I *love* freedom! ;)

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Purpose of Parity

Y'know, I really do not believe a stash is an Evil Thing to Be Avoided. A fabric stash is a wonderful asset...a place to play, a place to dream, a source of inspiration. I would never, ever want to be without a stash.

But I have limited storage space and a limited budget. When I found I could buy wonderful fabric from the internet, the likes of which I could NEVER find in a local brick-and-mortar store, and often at discounted prices to boot, the stash ballooned and the budget creaked. I cannot go on buying fabric like there's an unlimited availability of either one.

Plus,my stash needs to change. I've got waaaayyyy too much cheap stuff, which seemed like a good idea at the time but really doesn't reflect my sewing goals anymore, and just enough Really Nice Fabric that I find myself hesitant to use it ('Oh, I'll wait till I lose 10 pounds' or 'Must...Find...Perfect...Pattern') Some of the fabric may end up dontated, but most of it just needs to be used.

And I really don't like the idea of having a Dead Sea into which fabric flows, but doesn't leave. I remember talking to Michael Bearman about stashing once, and he told me it actually saddens him when his beautiful fabrics end up just in a stash somewhere. He sells them for the lowest prices he can, just so folks like me will buy them and ACTUALLY SEW THEM (I am recollecting my moth-chewed Armani with great regret at this point). Fabric coming in is fine, so long as it's also going out...and hopefully the time between in and out is not excessive.

So I've decided I need to practice Parity as much as possible. This is the third year now that I've had the Parity goal, and the first year I was serious enough to actually do it. Not that a stash is bad; I don't want to outlaw purchasing new fabric or give myself a guilt trip for having a stash...I just want to be aware of how much I can reasonably sew and make an effort to not purchase more than I can make. Which should mean that the storage space and the budget should both be able to handle the fabric acquisitions...because there is also fabric moving out of the stash and into the closet.

So I need to find my Parity Point. Every home sewing enthusiast will have a different point at which s/he feels the stash is Big Enough. I'll be honest...I think mine is a little too big. It's not at a healthy point yet. The first goal to a healthy Parity Point was simply to achieve parity; I did that this year and I learned some things about my buying and sewing patterns that I can hopefully apply over the next two or three years to finally get to the point where I DO feel like I have a healthy rotating fabric stash.

Which will be a wonderful place to play, to dream, to be inspired...a resource that will allow the creative urges to find fulfillment.

Not to mention a place where I can find fabric in colors I love in order to make garments that suit me and my lifestyle when the fashion cycle denies me that option in RTW. ;)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Choir Sundays #16

This month's colors: Black with red
Jacket: Silhouette Patterns 'Robin's Jacket', from red/silver/black/white mini-plaid wool crepe;
Sweater: black RTW rayon blend fine gauge turtleneck sweater;
Pants:The new black wool gabardine Loes Hinse Oxford Pant. We were in the 20's this morning, so it was cold enough to wear them! I did add a little to the pants (middle-age spread, I'm afraid), so the legs are fuller than the pattern design.

No weird socks this week!

This will be the last choir post this month; we won't be dressing for choir for the next two weeks (hm. Perhaps a better way to put that would be 'we won't be wearing specific colors for a choir wardrobe for the next two weeks'...).
If you enjoyed the choir posts, let me know; I may just go ahead and do it a while longer least through January; I hope to get some nice royal blue stuff made up after the 1st!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's PARITY, Baby!!!!!


Once I changed the thread in the serger to the pink needed for the upcoming dress-up clothes, I knew I was going to make it. I had two fabric-consuming garments in the queue, both done to the point that they needed pink thread. And I finished 'em both.

Behold, the five-yard skirt and the almost-nine yards pants:

The skirt has two layers of fabric; it's Butterick 4803, reviewed HERE, but the pants are something different. It's the same ol' Burda No-Side-Seam Pants, made in four layers of chiffon...a royal blue layer, on top of a fuschia layer, on top of two black layers. The black is definitely polyester; I think the blue and the pink are, too, but they're much silkier than the black (I haven't done a burn test). It came from Sir's, for about a buck and a half a yard. The topmost (blue) layer is sewn w/French seams; the rest are serged. I'm not completely decided about the hem; right now they're just rolled but the inseam has drawn up a bit. I might see if a small hem would even it out; plus,then I wouldn't have to wear heels. But it's not highly noticeable, and they are dressy pants...
for now, I'm calling them done.

I did two things to celebrate: First, I whipped out a frivolous top from glittery slinky purchased at the Atlanta Expo (it's Butterick 4347). I bought the fabric because I loved the colors, but after I got home with it I realized print placement would be a HUGE issue. I tried really, really hard to keep the flower centers away from, um, personal apexes, but was only sort of successful. I had barely enough fabric for the top, and I had very little room to shift things around. I thought My Sweet Baboo would think it was wild, but he actually liked it and said the print placement was ok... with so many flowers, he said, it didn't really matter. Well, it's not as bad as the original Salvaged Wadder, so I'll probably wear least, when I want to please My Sweet Baboo. (On a side note, I assure you I have not lost 10 pounds since yesterday's Not the Holy Grail photo...amazing how much difference drapey vs. crisp can make, eh?)

The other thing I did fabric!!! 6 yards of fabric from the Oo-la-la section at Gorgeous Fabrics (specifically, 4 yards of deep royal blue stretch velvet and 2 yards of 'Well, Hello Gorgeous' slinky) will be heading my way next week. I said I'd like a stretch velvet Cityscapes dress...and royal blue is the choir color for next month!

I think I can even be six yards up before it gets here. Parity is MINE!!!

Woo-hoo! :D

Friday, December 14, 2007

Not the Holy Grail

I finished the Neue Mode blouse last night (Review Here)and I have two thoughts: 1) I'm glad I didn't use pricey fabric and 2) I'm glad this will get worn under sweaters. It's a mess...the front pulls and the back bags and the sleeves are too long. The collar, however, is just about perfect. So maybe I've got one good element from it. I could, I think, with a muslin or two and a lot of patience, get a fitted blouse out of this. I might even learn something along the way...but I'm not sure I've got that much patience.

I've got another, very similarly styled shirt cut from this fabric in a Kwik Sew pattern..I'll see how they compare once the KS shirt is done.

Today I'm changing thread colors and forging on; I've got just a hair over 12 yards to go to get to parity and some dress-up clothes to make for a Christmas gift. I can do this, I can, I can... ;)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Mom, I had an idea..."

When DD the Elder utters this phrase, carrying a bag from Wal-Mart containing fabric and a pattern, my knees tend to get just a little wobbly.

Turns out she and some girlfriends are going to the swanky new movie theater in town this weekend, and they want to all dress in psuedo-40's glam (to suit the swankiness of the theater). So she wanted a glam wrap. Hence the pattern, Simplicity 3921, and 5/8 yard of fake fur. ('You do have some brown lining I can use, right?' Um, yeah, probably.)

She wanted view I, only with a wider neckline so that it looked less like a capelet and more like a wrap. Well, I was feeling too punky to go to church last night anyway, so I traced the pattern and altered it for her. I will offer great advice along the way. But she will cut the stuff out and sew it up. "Oh, this will be easy," she said, looking at the pattern guide.

Spoken with the optimism ignorance can afford.

I looked at the pattern guide last night, and made a couple of marks on the pattern tracing for her to leave open in the shoulder/side seam of the lining to turn the work; I'm thinking turning it through an opening in the bottom in the lining/jacket seam probably won't work so good. And I redrew all her seams at 5/8" (the front and bottom seam were 3/8") She can trim them after sewing them...the fur is bulky and I think she'd have a hard time sewing a narrow seam.

This will be interesting.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday Inspiration

It's Wednesday and I've got a really, really bad cold. Or sinus infection.
And there's a week and a half left before we head out of town; I've got a couple of Christmas gifts I've got to get cracking on and a white shirt that's only about 1/3 done (the collar's on it now); it had spent the last week lying on the sewing machine bed waiting on the final dart when I sat down to work on it yesterday.

So I'm not inspiring nobody this week; I'm just drinking liquids and taking decongestants and hoping this goes away without a trip to the doctor.

But that's not to say there isn't inspiring stuff going on. Go look at what Laura made last week (scroll down a bit; her week of sewing photos start with the coat). She didn't even take time off of work!

Amazing. If there was such a thing as a 'Fabulous Flying Needle' award, I'd give it to Laura this week! Go enjoy her work!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Weather Weirdness

Ok, I'm looking at all these photos of ice storms and wintery weather and feeling kinda surreal; we're setting record highs (76 yesterday) down here.

In March I'd think that was great; in December, not so much. We actually slept with a wide-open window and the ceiling fan going last night. The Christmas trees just don't even feel right. It feels really, really weird.

And kinda scary...with weather like this here, and weather like THAT north of us, I shudder to think what could happen when those cold fronts do make it down here. It could be ugly.

But this is just a weird weather year! We had bitter cold w/a hard freeze at Easter and now balmy warmth at Christmas time. And very little rain.

I'd love a good cold snap with a couple inches of snow! If we could just get there without any severe weather.

Monday, December 10, 2007


But unlike Marley and Marley, it's a good thing. (Ok, that link did originally go to a photo of Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge with Statler and Waldorf as Jacob and Robert Marley, from A Muppet Christmas Carol, but Disney apparently doesn't allow direct image links; the URL is right but it only goes to the Disney homepage. Bummer.) I had never sewn the recommended chain onto the hems of my Vogue 8043 jackets, mostly because I couldn't find suitable chain. I'd checked at Hancock's several times, even looking in the home dec department for drapery chain but no go. Then I happened to be walking by the jewelry making section of Hobby Lobby last week and noticed that they had metal jewelry findings...including plain chain half price. There were only two chains of any weight and length (I think it was 18") there and I bought both of them. A little twisting with needle-nosed pliers and the clasps were gone and I had one long chain.

Then, while we watched our traditional Christmas movies (Rankin/Bass's Rudolf, Chuck Jones' Grinch, A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Muppet Christmas Carol)last night I stitched the chain into my blue/grey SWAP '06 jacket.

Erica B. is right...that chain makes a great improvement in the way the jacket hangs. I'm just going to have to start watching for those Hobby Lobby sales and stock up on some necklaces...unless someone can tell me where to find the real chain!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Choir Sundays #15

This month's colors: Red and black
Vest: RTW embroidered cotton velveteen; it's been around for, oh, a minimum of 6 years.
Blouse: OOP Kwik Sew that I haven't even reviewed yet. I think the blouse is older than the vest. It's a poly peachskin; pretty color, but, well, polyester....
Pants: Black cotton twill Vogue 7881 again. I wanted to wear the new black gab Oxfords, but it was 67 degrees F when we left for church this morning; I didn't feel quite like roasting in wool pants w/a liner. That was a good call; I was *plenty* warm in the velveteen vest! Maybe next week....

Too bad you can't see my 'red w/white and glittery gold poinsettias' socks! LOL

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Passing along Thanks

D'you remember my friends who went to China this summer and adopted...and whose older daughter, Sophie, was in the Chick-fil-A 'cow picture' contest?

Well, Buffi posted that Sophie was one of the winners!.

She didn't win the big prize savings bond, but, wow, what will she do with that clock?

Anyway, passing along Buffi's thanks to anyone that followed the links and voted for her!

Friday, December 07, 2007

On the Mend

Now if I were mending blue jeans today, that would be a great pun...

Thanks for the well-wishes! In the long run, I think I was more embarrassed than hurt. Fortunately, I *didn't* hit my tail bone...I cracked that when I was in high school and know how long that agony can last. My glutes *are* achy, especially when sitting down and rising, but it's not that tail bone pain that can make me my ears ring; it'll heal.

I was afraid I'd have double shiners, too; I could just see myself in choir Sunday with raccoon eyes. But bruising has been minimal, so that won't be a problem. The little scrape on my nose broke open and bled sometime overnight and now I have this lovely little scab right between my eyes. I've got to put my contacts in because my glasses sit right on the sore place, so I'm going to go out looking a little dog

I did put yesterday to some productive, non-physical work; I printed out 120 copies of the Christmas Epistle so that we can get those in envelopes over the weekend and out in the mail. I had to babysit the printer the whole time; it did NOT want to play nice yesterday, having a penchant for jam (paper or carriage; we had both). I also went through two cartridges each of both color and black ink. Amazing how fast that goes. But, it would've cost us $240 to get it printed at Kinko's, so it was worth it.

The only thing I did that was sewing pertinent yesterday was nearly break my fabric moratorium. One of my favorite internet vendors sent out an email about a sale, and included in the sale was some fabric that I'd been eyeing since she posted it. I'm telling you, I had an email ordering some all ready to go...and I hit 'delete' instead of send (Note to self: Make sure you're about 20 yards AHEAD of parity by December 1 next year so you can take advantage of such sales). If she's still got any when I reach parity, I'm buying some. Period.

But the sinus-headachey feeling is pretty much gone today so I took My Sweet Baboo to work so I could have a car to go out and shop. Gotta get another whack on it; I really want to be done (or close to done) by the end of next week.

Then I can sew without distractions ;)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Me Fall Down, Go BOOM!

I probably should've known better.

Last night was our Christmas skating party for the kids' classes (Royal Rangers and M-pact) that meet on Wednesday nights at church. And, despite the back muscle spasm-type problems I've been having lately, I put on skates and skated.

I skated quite a bit when I was younger and was reasonably good; falling is a rare thing for me. But I had some problems with the tracking on the rental skates; the trucks felt kind of loose. I tightened the laces up after a couple of turns and then worked at figuring out the best way to handle them. I had two close calls, which made my back twinge, but I figured as long as I was careful I was ok.

I still don't really know why I fell. I was coming around the far corner, no one was close to me, I didn't trip or misstep, I didn't feel the skates do anything funny. I didn't even really have time to register that I was losing my balance and fight for it. Just suddenly my feet were going up in front of me and I landed so hard on my backside that I went full out flat on the floor for just a minute. It felt like all my innards were jarred. Unbelievably, no one really saw me fall. Slowly, I kinda rolled over to hands and knees and managed to stand up and skate off to the side, step up onto the carpet. I was heading generally towards the bathroom, because, well, the innard jarring made me feel like I might really want to be in the bathroom before something really embarrassing happened.I made it about 8 feet to the lockers and suddenly got so dizzy that I had to stop and lean against the lockers.

Sounds got distant, my pulse raced and I kind of remember thinking 'I really should sit down,' and I think I started to. Again, I'm not sure what happened, but I fell my knees, and my face hit the floor nose first. Ow. When I sat up, my eyes were watering and my nose was running and I dug through my little fanny pack and pulled out a wad of kleenex, having a bad feeling about the volume of nose-running that was going on. Sure enough, my nose was bleeding profusely. I managed to prop myself leaning against the lockers, holding first one and then another kleenex up to my nose and pinching it hard to try and stop the bleeding. When I was down to one kleenex left, My Sweet Baboo happened to come around the far corner of the rink and I managed to get his attention and he came over. In all that time (maybe 5 minutes?) no one had noticed my distress (One of the other adults commented ironically later, 'Well, I guess we were all really watching those kids well, huh?').

Well, My Sweet Baboo happened to have some cotton balls in his pocket (in case the music had been turned up excessively loud), so I stuffed cotton up my nose and he took off my skates and fetched my shoes. By this time a couple of the kids had noticed that I was behaving abnormally and had asked if I was ok. My head had cleared and I no longer felt in imminent danger of, well, seriously embarrassing myself and others so I felt more foolish than anything. I had My Sweet Baboo walk me down to the other end of the rink where the tables and snack area were so I could sit properly with some back support. I was still holding paper napkins (I'd run out of Kleenex) under my much to hide the cotton balls in my nose as to staunch any blood that leaked through. I sat there for the last 15 minutes or so, explaining to the folks who now realized there was something wrong that I'd fallen on my nose. When my kids came over after they'd put their shoes on, I got much hugging and sympathetic, 'I love you, Mommy!'s.

I'd worn a black t-shirt over a long-sleeved white t-shirt; there's some blood on the black t but you have to look very closely to see it. Miraculously, there was no blood on the white shirt. I put a ratty pillowcase on my pillow last night so I wouldn't get any blood on the nice new flannel one I'd just finished. I didn't sleep too badly, considering I had cotton up my nose on one side (the left side was the one that was really bleeding so badly). I have a small scrape on the bridge of my nose that apparently was caused by my glasses, some pretty bad bruises on my right hand from catching myself on the first fall, the joint between the bone and cartilage on my nose is sore and swollen, but I don't think anything's broken and there's no visible bruising (yet, anyway). My nose is still seeping just a teeny bit of blood so I'm going to have to be very careful about not blowing it for the next couple of days. And my seat's a bit sore.

So, all in all I'm shook up but ok. However, having a stopped up nose that I can't blow means I'm breathing through my mouth, so I'm going to have to reschedule this morning's dentist appointment. I had planned to work some more on the Christmas shopping today; I think I'll go out tomorrow instead.

Now...can I stand to sit at the sewing machine today? Hm...maybe I'll do some tracing/cutting instead...or, maybe I'll just lie around and forget about trying to be the least bit productive ;).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Gift Giving and Kids

Yes, I'm sewing this a snail's pace. Interfacing and one dart on the Neue Mode white shirt on Monday. Two more darts yesterday. I just haven't had a chunk of time to sit down and sew...

So I'm still musing about Christmas traditions. One of the hot discussions...both in the boards and on blogs...has to do with Santa. Do you do Santa with your kids? How and when do you tell them the truth? What do you do if the truth really shatters them? I've mentioned what we did with our kids in some of those discussions, but didn't really go into the 'why' behind it.

My Story:
I was a very, very believable child. I believed pretty much anything anyone told me; when my folks (mostly Dad) told me Santa brought the presents, I believed them.

I remember the first Christmas of the magic presents, although I didn't realize it was Christmas at the time; with two very young children, Mom didn't bother with a tree that year. We lived in a very small house w/only one bedroom. I was 3, my sister was about 18 months old. I remember my dad carrying me on his shoulders from the bedroom to the living room, saying 'Let's see what (here he said a name that I did not recognize and so it didn't register. It wasn't until I was an adult that I heard Dad use that same tone with my own kids and the echo in my memory recollected that what he said was 'Santy') brought last night!' And, to our wonder, the coffee table in the living room was covered with toys. I remember getting white, burgundy and gold plastic play dishes, a set of bongo drums (of which I have no other memory), and lollipops. I woke up the next day expecting to do it all over again; when we didn't, I decided someone in our extended family --and I suspected my great-aunt Tillie, although that would've been ludicrous-- must've come over after my sister and I went to sleep and left the toys for us. I'm sure we had Christmas celebrations at our grandparents' houses that year; we always did, but I didn't put it together. Nonetheless, by the next year I was a firm believer in Santa Claus. My dad got a real kick out of doing the whole Santa thing and I bought it.

Even my mother's Christmas Eve Sewing didn't tip me off. I believed. Even though it disturbed me that we didn't have a chimney for Santa to come down, I still believed. There was a radio tower on a hill not too far from us that had a blinking red light; I never paid any attention to the red light at any other time, but on Christmas Eve I was sure it was Rudolph's nose. I really believed...

By the time I was in fourth grade, though, I was the last in my class who still believed. Other kids laughed at me, telling me that my folks just bought those presents and hid 'em in the car or something. I staunchly defended my faith...not only in Santa, but in my parents. They wouldn't tell me if it wasn't true! I didn't even doubt.

But then I stumbled across a carom board stashed...not even hidden, really...beside the furnace in the porch/utility room. I asked Mom what it was; she said it was for our cousins. When it was under our tree, designated as a gift for my sister and me, I knew. I'd been had. And, as disappointed as I was that there was no jolly fellow coming to my house to bring me gifts, I was devastated that my classmates were right and I was wrong. I felt publicly humiliated. I think I subconsciously decided right then that I was not going to do that to my kids. Christmas lost its sparkle for me for about three years...until I found out how much fun it was to surprise somebody with a gift they really liked.

Now, at that time in my life, my family did not regularly attend church. When we did go, we went to the community church that basically went through the worship ritual, did some charitable work and some fellowship suppers and stressed being good, moral people. But it was shortly after that truth-baring holiday that Mom (Dad rarely went to church) took us (by then my sister and I had two little brothers) to the new Baptist church in town, which became the church of my coming-of-age years. That church taught from the Bible in a way the old church didn't...and the faith that has carried me through my entire life was born and nurtured there. Jesus became real...and I didn't confuse Him with Santa. It wasn't my parents who told me to believe in was the Bible, a different authority altogether. And my parents didn't tell me to believe the Bible; the witness in my spirit was what led me to believe. And I came to understand that the wonder of Christmas wasn't about the Santa story, but about God who took on humanity so that He could reconcile humanity back to Himself. And that, as Linus says, is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

So I never struggled with the idea of 'So, if my parents lied about Santa, what about Jesus?' thing. I didn't even see the parallel there, because it wasn't a parallel for me. But after My Sweet Baboo and I got married and moved into our first house, our neighbor kids told us that they didn't do a Christmas tree, because their parents didn't want them to believe in Santa. Oh, they celebrated Christmas and traveled out of state to spend it with family, but the idea was that our neighbors wanted to make sure that their kids didn't put their faith in something that wasn't true. No Christmas tree seemed a little extreme to me, but I saw the point behind what they did and when DD # 1 was born, My Sweet Baboo and I decided that we would make Santa a game; tell her and any siblings that she might have the truth about St. Nicholas, and how people give gifts and pretend that Santa brings them so that there's a surprise on Christmas morning. We wanted them to have fun with Christmas, but not confuse the fun with the truth. And we wanted them to know they could always trust us.

Well, you would've thought we were teaching our kids to stomp on bunnies from the reaction that got from various family members and friends. We were robbing our children of one of the joys of childhood! How could we do that! Scroogish, that's what it was! Well-meaning older ladies would see my kids in Wal-Mart and ask them what Santa was going to bring them for Christmas. It was a definite counter-culture attitude, but we stuck with it. And when the mall hired the portly gentleman with the white beard who lived around the corner from us to play Santa every year, we didn't have a problem explaining it to the kids. We have one Santa youngest DD wanted to talk to Mr Bob as Santa when she was three, so we went early in December and let her. It's a cute picture...and it's kind of neat to point to it and say, 'He lived just around the corner.'

Also, we didn't have to fulfill massive wish lists. We gave each kid five things for Christmas: something to read, something to wear, something to play with by themselves (toy), something to play with with others (game) and a craft or hobby item. It made shopping relatively easy; we had a limited, specific list and we knew when we were done.

We usually traveled for the holidays and didn't have to explain to kids how Santa knew where they were...or how Santa knew they wouldn't be home on Christmas and so would bring their presents on New Year's Day instead.

And you know what? Our kids do not seem to have suffered therapy-inducing trauma from having never been told that Santa brings gifts. And we still have fun with Christmas. And I have no doubts that we did what was, for us and our convictions, anyway, the right thing.

Which is the best anybody can do.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Christmas Letter

Instead of following my plan yesterday, I spent the day working on the annual exercise in creative writing: the Christmas Epistle. It's an exercise because, like most exercising, the goal is to slim down. In this case, it's to fit the year onto one sheet of paper, printed on both sides, in a font that's big enough for over-40 eyes to read. I did finally come up with something that has been approved by everyone in the family except DS the Elder; he's not been home to see it yet. Assuming it's ok with him...and, if it made it by his sister, he shouldn't have any issues... I just need everyone's signatures and it's ready to replicate and send off.

But I have been reading 'round the boards, and there are some interesting topics pertaining to the holidays...what does your tree look like? How do you handle the stress? What traditions do you keep? Things like that.

It's a weeks worth of blogging material, easy! But since I'm still letter-oriented, I thought I'd post a bit about the much-maligned Christmas Letter.

I work pretty hard to make our letter chatty and informal and low-key (a lot like the blog, actually) and I do have folks tell me that they enjoy it, so I hope I'm on the right track. Like everyone else, I've gotten those letters that drip syrup right out of the envelope and those letters that get on the LAST nerve because NOBODY has a life that perfect and those letters that leave the reader with a little black cloud for the rest of the day because, well, how could anyone have so many disasters in one year, with not a single bright spot? But, overall, I like getting letters from people.

Because, despite the internet and email and blogs and cell phones, we don't communicate with people we love. And, to use a Southern term, that's just sad. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I regularly go MONTHS without speaking to any of my siblings (ETA: they are all a minimum of 400 miles away from us). Oh, there will be the occasional email, but even that is rare. And it's not that we don't get along (well, maybe we don't see eye-to-eye on all things and we do know how to push each other's buttons, but overall we're reasonable adults. Mostly. ;) ) Anyway, if I'm that poor about communicating to my blood kin, you can imagine how poorly I've been doing with friends. And I'm not going on a guilt trip; the phone/computer goes both ways...we're all just so focused on the day that the weeks and months get by without notice.

And before anyone knows it, it's December again and we haven't talked to anyone since the last Christmas Letter went out.

So basically I'm just grateful that the Christmas Letter tradition exists at time a year when people stop and sit down and at least tell folks what the Big Deals in their lives have been in the past year. Because if it weren't for that Christmas letter, we'd lose touch completely with many of our friends. I can put up with the Awful letters-- they're really more a reflection of writing skills than superior attitudes, anyway--because they keep me in touch with folks that have somehow been a blessing to me or my family in the past.

And every year I make an Album. I put in a copy of our letter and every card, letter, photo, etc. that we receive in the holiday season. It's our record book of friends and family. And they do get looked at again. Sometimes not for a couple of years, but every once in a while I'll pull out an album (what year did they buy that house? Oh, here it is...) and enjoy the old greetings all over again. It's the only scrapbooking I do; and it's getting more difficult because the big,cheap scrapbooks I like to use have pretty much all been replaced by Memory Albums with acid-free paper and Sheet Protectors, which are useless for an album of cards and letters. I still haven't found a suitable book for this year's cards, but I'm looking! the Christmas Letter really as hated as its reputation implies? Or are there folks like me who are happy for news in whatever form it comes? Do you do a Letter? And...does it take a whole day (a day plus, actually; I made a good start on it Saturday night) to write it?

Or does the very idea of a Christmas Letter make you think 'Bah Humbug'? ;)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Laundry and PJs

The sheets are done and will be in their place'll be nice to have a set to switch out on laundry day.

And, while I've got white thread in the machine, and the remnants of the flannel out, I think I'll go ahead and make the pajama/lounge pants...once I decide which two of the three of us I'll make them for.

Or...maybe I'll just make a whole set of PJ's for my niece for Christmas....hmm, there's a thought...

But there's laundry to be done today, and white shirts that I can make w/the white thread that's in the machines, and some patterns to adjust.

It won't matter that I won't have a car ;)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Choir Sundays #14

This month's choir colors: Black and red

Jacket: Silhouette Patterns Robin's Jacket, made last fall from a red sparkley plaid from Fashion Sewing Group

Dress: The original version of The Sewing Workshop's Cityscapes Dress, made in 2005 from black poly/lycra slinky. We had a Christmas luncheon after church today...I'm still avoiding the waistbands ;). ( The head tilt is an effort to avoid glasses glare. It sort of worked...minimal glare...but I'm not sure I think the resulting goofy pose is any better)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Love those sales...

Ok, I'm on a fabric moratorium...but that has no bearing on pattern purchases, as you've seen over the last few months! I still can't find quite all the hardware I need for the LaRue bags; I don't know if I'll get those done for this Christmas or not.

But I did look for both the Hobby Lobby and the Hancock's on the other side of town. The Hancock's had completely remodeled since the last time I was there; I couldn't find much (it was a recent remodel; one of the clerks had some merchandise she was trying to put back in its place and she finally had to ask a co-worker where it went). But I did find the patterns; Vogues were on sale for 3.88 each, limit 5, so I picked up some that were on my ongoing list:

Vogue 8333; one of Claire Shaeffer's Couture's a double-princess seamed jacket with an interesting little pocket-in-the-pleat detail. I'll blame that one on the overwhelming inspiration of everyone's fabulous jackets. ;)

Don't laugh...Vogue 1017. That one's been discussed on the boards, and, while the sample and illustration look like a hot mess, that shirt actually has some nice details, and I think it'll look cool once it's made without the front frou-frou.

Vogue 2882. The skirts are great, ok? And, you never know, I might get inspired to work hard and lose 25 pounds ...

Vintage Vogue 1019. I'm a sucker for anything from the 40's.

And, finally, a pattern for a Romona Coat (think of Tom Baker as Dr Who...)Vogue 1266. Oldest DD gave me a mile-long black and white mottled fringed scarf for Christmas about 5 years ago that's been waiting on a long princess seamed coat in red or royal blue or purple or grey or black so I could throw the scarf around my neck and be Romona...

And, Hobby Lobby had Simplicity patterns on sale for $1. Their stock is pretty thin; I almost think they just get the patterns when they're released and then don't restock them, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I got:
Simplicity 3557, which is reminiscent of a dress I had in the mid 90's that I loved. Those vertical lines...

Simplicity 4273. Should I do SWAP, this is a contender for the wardrobe pattern required. I'd have to add a lining to the jacket, though, and pockets to the skirt and pants, but it could be done.

AND, last night I tore the waterbed sheets down to size. I misremembered how much to order, so I had a chunk of extra fabric. I can get some NSS pants (i.e., sleep pants) for two out of what's left, since it's 108" wide. Maybe both DDs? Maybe a pair for me? Hmmmm.....