Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I swear, it's like being attacked with things you don't wanna deal with...

After wasting three yards of fold-over elastic in yesterday’s disaster-a-thon and not having anything to show for it besides an overflowing scraps box, I decided to put it down and back away for a few days. I was too upset and frustrated to learn, and it’d be better for me and Chez Insanity to come back to it in a better frame of mind.

Besides, I had an 8am and a 10 am appointment at the VA Medical center – sleep apnea consult and pulmonary breathing evaluation. Whee. The apnea appointment turned out to be getting my very own CPAP device, which scares the heck out of me. You may remember my last sleep clinic appointment, which was an even bigger disaster than fold-over elastic. I got no sleep at all because the CRAP device blasted my face with cold air every time I moved the slightest amount. Even blinking set it off. By the end of the test, I was beyond cranky and annoyed and well into irrational, and vowed I’d rather die in my sleep than go through that again.

Well, here it was again. But now, the CPAP thing wasn’t so bad. It didn’t  make me feel like Darth Vader, for one thing, and in some ways, it was easier to tolerate than the cannula. It still forces air to keep the passages open, but now, it’s just my nose, and it’s not really bad at all. The consultant even ordered a smaller nose piece for me when I muttered that the one I was trying out seemed rather large.

Even better, the consultant understood. Her husband had similar issues, lots of people do. And it took him nearly a year to get used to his. All she was asking is that I try. Maybe while watching TV, or taking a nap. If it bothered me after an hour, take it off and see if I can do an hour the next day. Well, shoot. If I’d have known that, I would have given it more of a chance back then. I didn’t know I could adjust at my own pace, it was presented to me as ‘take it or leave it’, and because it was so awful, I left it. Plus, the long-ago device was a lot more unwieldy. The one three feet from my ankles will allow me to move, to sleep on my side, you name it. It still feels weird, but I think I can deal.

My pulmonary evaluation took place mostly in a clear box with a breathing tube and several other odd-looking wires, hoses, and diaphragms plugged into it. If it hadn’t been for all that equipment, I’d have thought I was backstage before going on a game show, in a sound-proof booth. My tech explained what I’d have to do – mostly breathe in unusual ways – before I had to do it, then coached and encouraged me through. May I say right now that both of them were superlative, understanding and professional, but not detached or impatient. While I can’t truly say I enjoyed my appointments, neither of them were the trials they could easily have been, and it was because of them.

Of course, once home, I took a two-hour nap. My medical anxiety messes up more sleep…plus, we got to eat at the VA cafeteria between appointments. My bacon biscuit was good, and so was the hash brown plank, but I ate waaay more than my usual allotment of grease and salt. And fats put me right on to sleep. It’s amazing I’m conscious as much as I am !

Monday, August 25, 2014

My FOE...

Calm before the screech. 
My fold-over elastic arrived ! Both packages, a day early. I want to celebrate that, because actually sewing the stuff was a huge pain and a real letdown. With so many colors and designs, I figured FOE (ha-ha) had to be something spectacular, awesome, great… it may just re-shape my sewing ! I had pictures in my imagination of effortless skirts, magically gathered with but a few inches of this magical stuff becoming a gorgeous waistband in one easy step.

Turns out, there’s really not a lot of uses for it. Even the folks who love it can’t come up with a lot of ways to use it. Headbands and ponytail loops, mostly, and people enamored of diapers (ran into these folk when Dearest Son was still within) adore this stuff, but otherwise, it may as well be regular ole bias tape. Remember the first time you tried to use that ? Now imagine it’s stretchy, and so’s what you’re sewing it to. PITA of the first magnitude. I barely got it to sew straight, and if I wanted to ‘gently stretch’ it, I more or less had to pull it through the sewing machine. So much for even, uniform stitches.

Truth be told, aside from some lingerie, about the only other use for it is what I bought mine for, swimwear. I’m glad I bought the big 21+ yard pack, because I used three yards tonight just putzing around. And once it was sewn, that was it. Even when I sewed on maximum stitch length with minimal tension, picking the stitches out of it left the FOE in a snarled, tufted mess. And if the fabric shifted and some of it escaped the fold, I have no idea how you’d fix that. All the videos and websites I watched, of people easily stitching lovely things, hailing the FOE miracle, somehow don’t mention that.

So, in short, I don’t think I’ll buy much more of it. I certainly won’t be getting the printed grab bag of the stuff I was eyeing. I may get another 21+ yard pack, so I can get used to sewing it without worry I’ll run out, but I think that’s my limit with this frustrating mess.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Belle didn't often wear fur... it made Adam a bit touchy.

What a fun morning we had at the thrift ! Beloved Hubby scored several new shirts and two new pair of pants, which is what we went for. I found a bedspread-bag full of fabric on the 25¢ table, along with a smaller bag of bandannas. Also got a cheapie DVD set of ‘Romantic Movies’ – so we now own two copies of Anna Karenina. We didn’t have one before, the set is so cheap, it has AK on it twice ! Since the kid swimsuit I didn’t get last week was on sale for a quarter, I got it and a pretty butterfly sundress I’ll cut down for fabric, too.

Once home, I ripped into the sealed bags. Big one first. I now have at least two yards of a deep black double-knit, about three yards of a denim print knit, two chunks (maybe a yard total) of a rust-colored eyelet fabric that may be textured cotton, but feels like ultra suede, a home-sewn school-print curtain, four yards of purple and pink striped fleece,  three yards of leopard print upholstery fabric, and at least four yards each of some random print knits, one pink/purple predominant, the other blue/green. Nearly all the fabrics are thick and heavy, so it may be a while before I sew any of ‘em, it’s too hot right now to !

It wasn’t until later I noticed some fake fur material in the smaller bandana bag. But first, there was a pretty pink and white pattern on black, a batty Halloween print, a headband scarf made from a black and white one…and the furry thing turned out to be a winter headband, to protect ears from vicious winds. Nice, but I thought it made a better stole for Belle, what do you think ?  (+1 if you’re humming ‘Material Girl’ too.) All that richness for a quarter a bag !

We also went grocery shopping and got the few last things Beloved needs for school. Then we enjoyed the rest of the day by watching Netflix, taking naps, and chompin’ on chips. What a great Sunday. Hope you found some fun, too !

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Though she be but little, she is fierce.

Huh. Labor Day is September 1st. Barely a week away. It seems so early, especially when it’s still 98° and hotter most days. Here’s hoping the climate gets a clue and starts cooling down soon !

See what Beloved Hubby bought for me today ? He was at BestTech for a new mouse and fun treat or two, and got me Elsa ! He said he’d seen me look and put her back several times, so here she was. He snagged Dearest Son a game controller for Windows – the one we bought earlier this month didn’t work, so we sent it back. I’m thinking Elsa can be used in the online Infinity game – I’ll let you know when it finishes downloading updates  and I try !

(grin) My review on Pixie Faire for the BFC Trendy Tee pattern got two thumbs up, even though it was buried on the second page, because I’m a verified reviewer, not a verified buyer. Yeah, seemed petty to me, too, but at least I’m not the only one they did that to. What’s funny is, I’m the only one out of eight reviews that got up-thumbs at all. None of the buyers got one. Heh.

Wow. Disney Infinity is amazing, but it heats my laptop right up. I may have to save this game for cooler days. At least I won’t have to buy a $60. Wii game to use my Elsa figurine – there’s a code on her card that unlocks her character in-game. Too bad I haven’t gotten far enough to see her yet. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Proto-Swimwear ! And other failures...

'I'm glad this doesn't fit,' thought Merri. 'Otherwise,
she'd sew matching bunny ears and
put a tail on this thing !'
I’m nearly ready – now that summer’s slowly steaming to an end – to make swimsuits ! De-tagged the Lycra ® kiddie suits I bought at the thrift, printed out the pattern and enjoyed placing the pieces, and figuring out which doll gets which color / pattern. Ordered the fold-over elastic I need, just waiting for it to arrive. I shopped and hunted and looked, and ended up going with an Etsy seller, who let me pick ten one-yard pieces out of sixteen colors, for $5.45, shipping and all. There’s so much from which to choose, from so many sellers ! I’d love to get one of those 25 or 50 (!) yard grab bags, but that’s way more than I’m likely to use for a while, and I just don’t have the fundage. To tell the truth, my current order pretty much wiped out all but my Pinecone funds for a couple weeks. No regrets !

I tell ya, you can lose a day just looking at all the varieties of FOE. Solids, shinies, glittery, prints, designs… I had to be careful. Many of the designs were very appealing, but I really would be folding them in half. So only the bottom part of the fleur de lis would show, half the in-a-row flowers, or only the necks of Monster High or Disney Princesses would be visible on the final item. And a lot of the big grab bags were actually more expensive per yard than the small assortment I bought. Many of the glittery elastic lengths weren’t really fold-over, it didn’t have that telling ‘trough’ in the middle, which would again be hard to use the way my patterns dictate. It was a hard choice, between buying a mystery lot and enjoying the surprise, or choosing  what I know I’d use, even if it was kind of boring classics like black, white, blue, pink, navy… Still, at 54¢ a yard delivered, I got a great deal, with lots to experiment with. If I find that I like to use it, I’m sure to buy more.

I actually already have some FOE – headbands I bought from Dollar Tree months ago. I just untied the knots. When I went back for more, of course, they’d sold out. It’d take at least two former headbands to make one doll swimsuit, and if I get wired up enough and don’t wanna wait for my order, I might try.

OK, so I did. Just didn’t use the elastic. First one, from purple t-shirt fabric, had some stretch side to side and up and down, but nowhere near as much as the swimsuit stuff. So it didn’t close in back all the way, and didn’t go up quite high enough, but gave some indication of how it might work. Not too bad.

'At least yours doesn't cry out for fishnet
hosiery,' Belle chimed. 
Second try used that super-stretchy side to side metallic knit stuff. It easily fit all around, but came nowhere near fitting height-wise. So I added a hemmed strip to the past-the-waist panty fit of the trial, and ended up with a swimsuit that was long enough, it just wouldn’t stay up. Good thing the pattern has straps ! I added ribbon here, and if the finished ones fit that well, I’ll be happy.

And I feel a lot more confident about sewing up swimsuits now. My elastic has shipped, so there’ll be more to come soon !

(Glad I have some confidence somewhere - 
I fell in the driveway today after my feet found a divot between lawn and driveway. My hands still feel raw, but it was mostly my pride that stung !)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Aurora draws the short stick in clothes modeling rotation again...

"But I'm the elegant princess," Aurora thought. "Why does
she keep making me wear silly costumes and sportswear ?"
Finally got off my big ole butt – I think the walking encouraged me ! – and sewed up the playsuit I’ve had cut out and ready to go since Tuesday. It’s a free pattern, made for Sasha and similar dolls, available from Susan Kramer, here. She’s also got it for everybody from Barbie to American Girls on her Home page, all free, with lots of other dress patterns, even some for kids. I had no idea if the Sasha one would fit Aurora and the Disney girls, but I was willing to try ! Can always alter as I go, and I figured it’d be necessary, as the correct size printout looked huge.

Turns out it fit, if quite baggy. If I’d have been going for falling-off-the-shoulder, it would have been perfect ! Since it was fairly close otherwise, and was fine when the doll was seated, I adjusted the actual outfit, took a quarter inch off each shoulder, then a quarter inch down the center front and back seams. The original opened at the front and back, which I didn’t like, so I closed the front and expanded the back opening a bit further. Still a bit off the shoulders, so I may need to alter that later. But it looked good on Aurora, so I called it a success, cut the pattern printout to reflect my alterations, scanned and cleaned the new original for future use, and was happy.

Sewing it the first time – without all the changes – only took one Law & Order episode. Fitting it took a second one. Goes fast and I like it ? I’ll probably make several. Lengthen sleeves and legs, alter the neckline. That’ll be easy, the whole thing is four identical pieces, so I can make it open to the front without any changes to the pattern at all. Add collars and zippers… no end to how I can twist this poor, innocent Sasha pattern to meet my fiendish designs and desires ! (maniacal laugh goes on just a bit too long)

(ahem) Spent a good chunk of the rest of the day that didn’t involve Law & Order trying to fit my new Ariel doll on the LDP shelf. Now it can be told – the maximum occupancy for that space is six LDPs and maybe a scattering of MLPs. And my old Sailor Moon Molly (aka Naru) UFO Catcher doll. After Princess Leia, she may be next doll I’ve owned the longest in the bookshelf ! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hurricane Hair Ariel ! Or maybe she's cosplaying Merida...

Crashed hard on the sofa shortly after Dearest Son hit the hay, so no sewing last night. When I read the weather forecast this morning, I learned that it was cooler outside (80°) than inside (82°), so I went for my walk. Surprisingly, Ginger-kitty walked with me, all the way to the end of OurStreet and back. She meandered the softer, shaded green lawns while I was relegated to the black, slightly steaming pavement, but we both got some solid exercise. Did it again this evening, then next week, I’ll expand the distance a bit. It felt good to get some sun, sweat just a little, let my legs move beyond being tucked under a chair.

Watched both of the Sewing with Nancy videos on doll clothes. Nothing really new, techniques I’ve been doing for years, taught by Simplicity patterns - mostly sticking to flat construction and basic shapes. To me, it’s more of an ad for Joan Hinds’ 30 Minute Doll Clothes books. The 30 minutes claim is kind of a cheat, since she does a lot of steps ‘off the clock’, like serging all the edges, ironing, and gathering, or uses expensive tools to turn garments right side out, or iroining on trims instead of stitching them, also not ‘counted’. Plus, most of her dresses are actually blouses and skirts, at a half hour each. Yes, even I can make doll pants in 30 minutes, but only with a proven pattern. If I’m gonna hafta fuss with fit – and let’s face it, no two AG or clone dolls seem to have the same measurements no matter when they were made or by who  – it’s gonna take longer than a half hour, even with using elastic and wide Velcro ® closures. First time with an untried pattern will always take longer than expected. That said, the clothes are nice, but unless you’re sewing for an AG, the books aren’t very helpful. The videos are somewhat useful if you’ve never seen the techniques before, so you may wanna hit the link above when you have some time.

As for me, I’ve gotta quit hitting the thrift just after muttering, “I’m broke.” Because after I leave, I really am broke ! Thanks to a discount, I was able to get all the goodies, but… (sigh) As you can see, I found the LDP Ariel today, and also scored three girls’ swimsuits. Between the four fabrics on them, there should be more than enough for DP&M swimsuits – free pattern on PixieFaire ! – and various effects to make them each unique. May have to score some fold-over elastic, which isn’t expensive. Lycra swimsuit fabric is, recycling is much cheaper. I was gonna get a women’s suit, but then I’d have them all the same fabric and it was 50¢ more expensive that way.

Dearest Son scored a 1996 Wild West town playset that routinely brings $30. on eBay in worse shape ! His MLP ponies will have a great time there – maybe they can pretend it’s Appleloosa. We got everything for $9., less than half the price of a brand-new LDP, so I’m pretty happy.

Speaking of Ariel, she cleaned up very nicely ! She still had the original clear elastic in her hair, along with some hairspray, and three red stitches from where her hair was sewn to her dress. Gosh, I hate it when toy companies do that !

Not sure if I’m gonna sew tonight, I’m nearly as wiped out as I was last night, and I’ve barely done anything all day. I hope I’m not getting sick or anything. Here’s hoping it’s just the heat !