Monday, April 30, 2012

Pickin' up the many pieces...

Current Mood : Pressurized.

Aarrrgh. Things started out today well enough – I finally put the new and newly-washed fabric in the way enough so that I got it put away, with the ‘rag’ pieces getting cut up and distributed and the good stuff getting a new home, mostly in the tin doll house  (which is getting pretty crammed). That done, I got the rest of the Arena area cleaned up, which made me wanna sew.

Since I have two redone patterns to test, I grabbed Gloom Beach Frankie, the doll of the day, and got to work. Poor thing. I’ve neglected her so badly, she still had her sunglasses on from the factory ! Got those removed and made the thrice reworked Pucchi Collective blouse stitched up from fabric I’m undecided about keeping. It’s the same stuff I made that ‘hospital dress’ from last year. Well, it fit, but the new version is much too tight, so I gotta redo it, and I’m definitely dumping the fabric. It’s just too thin and fragile to work with. At least I got the sleeves right.

From there, I redrew the ‘pants’ pattern to actually be pants instead of shorts, figuring that just lengthening the difficult part of the shape  would be easy-peasy. Stupid me. I know these pants have always had that weird kinda  ‘keyhole’ in the front, but I couldn’t figure out where the fit was off. Crotch curve too shallow ? Too deep ? Pulling at the front ? Pulling in the back ? I confess, I’m new and fumbling at pattern creation, so I have no idea how to fix issues – and frankly, I like my doll clothes to, you know, actually fit my doll. And look good, if possible. So where and how was I screwing this up ?

Lengthened the front a bit, and sewed more. The second go-round is what you see on Rochelle. That laid down some of the ‘crotch smile’ wrinkles from Frankie’s go-round, but the ‘keyhole’ remains. I am at a loss.

So I looked up ‘teen girl pants’ online, to see how ‘real’ pants fit people whose legs don’t rub together like a cricket concert. Again, stupid me. Evidently ‘real’ teenagers either don’t exist, or they only like to take photos of their butts. Nearly every photo that came up was either some digital avatar somewhere, or a butt shot, half the time in a bathroom mirror, always so charming. Even catalogs were much the same. But I did see enough ‘keyholing’ and ‘crotch smiling’ to think that’s just par for the course with pants. I still want mine to be better, but I’ve quit beating m’self up about it.

So I’m gonna take a break – just for a day or two – on my pattern, and work some of the ones I have from other authors. Maybe they’ll give me the insight I’m missing. One thing’s for sure, of the four patterns I have (including mine) for Monster High doll pants, not one of them looks at all  like the others. Even the lengths are different. So this should be fun !

Oh, and once I redo Frankie’s pants, you’ll get to see the outfit I made her. I had to redo one spot so many times, the fabric tore, so I wanna do them again before I submit photographic evidence of yet another fail !

Original Temporary Entry : 

 Catch this entry up tomorrow, I promise. Spent so much time futzing and sewing, I gotta major headache, and it’s raining. Until then, enjoy another pants fail with Rochelle ! This pair might look like the set I made for Cupid, but they’re entirely different, and completely merde.

How do I fix that weird buckle/shape thing at the crotch front…? 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What a day !

Current Mood : Wary of lightning...

Current Image Notes : Well, it does say in one of the novels that Cleo is wearing a ‘bandage dress’ by Herve Leger… This Cleo gets to wear a *real* former-bandage dress by me !

Oh, how amazing and wonderful it is, to wake up to no pain at all ! I still have a bit of a twinge in the deep down of my right ear, but it’s nothing I can fix or reach, so I’m simply gonna leave it alone, but keep an occasional mental eye on it. Just in case.

You’re gonna laugh at me, but I realized something yesterday. For who knows how long, I’ve had Cupid’s shoes on wrong ! You can even see it in the last photo I took – the decorative hearts are on the inside. I had ‘em on the wrong feet, then couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t stand up. That’s one of the fantastic bits about Monster High dolls, when they’re wearing their issue or other made-for-them Mattel shoes, they’ll stand unassisted. Guys and girls. Kinda like Barbie. They still need their stands, true, but if they’re shoes are on correctly, they can complete some photo-shoots without stands. Heck, I think it’s great engineering that their shoes are specifically right-  and left-footed. But for the shoes to actually be off-balance if they’re on the wrong feet…it sounds odd, but that’s really amazing !

I also discovered that another limitation is actually improving my skills a bit. Vision, my new laptop, doesn’t have a card reader – or, more accurately, one that will read my camera’s SD cards. So when I want to edit photos, I have to plug the camera into a USB port and turn it on to download images. This eats through the rechargeable batteries we use, so I’ve been looking into getting a cheap card reader. Having to reset the time/date every two weeks is really annoying. In the meanwhile, I’ve improved my no-flash still hold, and can tell much better than before if the last photo’s worth keeping, or I need to retake it. I know some of the angles that’ll give me a better image, and I’ve learned how to position paper to limit light-bounce just off the central character. I can now go about three to four weeks before I have to change batteries. Even if my composition skills haven’t improved, some of my other photography skills have !

Still, today’s photo was a study in comedic error. It was Dawn of the Dance Cleo’s turn to get the royal treatment, and she did – a cool rinse-off, hair-comb, redressing, the works. I like to think the dress I made for her, out of a former bandage I wore as therapy, looked pretty good on her. Too bad I knocked over a full glass of soda, Cleo refused to stand up (of course, I’d just written a paragraph on how much I liked that !), the camera batteries died, the push-pin I use to keep the recharger mounted on the wall and out of the laundry hamper has vanished, and then the battery to my mouse died, too.

Now, when the mouse battery died, I had it and the camera hooked up to Vision. It was about then that Domino-kitty decided he wasn’t getting enough attention from me, so he leapt on my chair – and missed, claws-out. What he got, instead of chair, was my back. I jumped up from surprise and claw-drag pain and pulled the camera USB cord out of the laptop so hard, the computer locked up. Now I’m scared the computer is broken, so I restart it – ten seconds before I realize I forgot to install the new battery in the mouse. (sigh) And of the 15+ photos I took, only four were even in focus. Arrrgh. There’s the best of the lot. I’m done.

I’m gonna lie down before I get struck down !

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Looks like 'Boys' Town' in this photo !

Current Mood : Better, with Beloved Hubby, Stephen King, and Clawd

Woke with my throat screaming again, but Beloved Hubby had prepared. I had ginger ale chilled at my elbow, with a container of pudding and a spoon waiting. Two generic Tylenol lounged next to the first morning prescription, along with a generous sampling of hard candies. My dearest love…

I croaked out my thanks, then put the pills and pudding to work, and savored the spicy sparkle of the ginger ale. Re-read the knockoff Chloraseptic spray-bottle – unlike the stuff I’ve had to choke down during my once-every-two-or-three-years ear infection, this stuff wanted to be spit out after 15 seconds. So I prepared a gargle of the recommended dosage. It never got down to where the pain lived, but an hour or so later, I’d finished two Nightmares and Dreamscapes stories and noticed I had far less pain than I’d met on awakening. I tried to figure out why this swallow hurt and that one didn’t, but I wasn’t clever enough to get a bead on it, or my fine sensory detection just isn’t that good.

Three hours after that, I’d had a nap and awoke again, this time in far less pain. It was almost lunchtime, and I got to enjoy a pork chop sandwich that my FIL had prepared, with almost no pain at all. I also got Morning Adoration in – but with Domino-kitty this time. Very rare for him to want the attention, especially from me, as he triggers my allergies (Oliver doesn’t, which is odd since he’s a longhair), but I was glad to give him what he wanted.

So how did I use the balance of my sparkling day ? Goofed around, watched Face/Off with Beloved, thanked FIL for a great lunch, although I couldn’t eat all of it, listened to a verbal Cars 2 fanfic from Dearest Son, scanned the latest Pucchi Collective blouse alterations, and re-watched Creepfast Club, the newest Monster High episode.

And I realized – I have 32 MH dolls, not counting the four I have reserved for Deborah. That means I can spend a day with each doll, making sure their hair is nice, and changing their clothes, forcing them to model whatever monstrosity has escaped my sewing machine this time, giving them a nice ‘bath’ of sorts, and posing them anew. Things get boring when they don’t get shuffled around and used, so that’s what I’m gonna do, set aside a little time each day to play with one specific doll. I’d enjoyed doing this before I got so ill last year, so I’m happy to start it up again.

Last night, during one of several times pain woke me up, I got to feeling a bit bad about Clawd. Mister Sweet 1600 was still rockin’ most of his issue gear, and his hair was still shellacked. Even if I just took off his suit jacket and brushed his hair out a bit, we’d both feel better about things. So I did. I’d heard so many tales of how his sideburns would come off if you were too vigorous about de-gluing his hair, so I took it gently, with a spray bottle of water and a fine comb. Also scissors. Once it was mostly free of the packaging hairspray, there were lots of stray hairs and too-long ones. But it looked a lot better. And honestly, he’s quite a bit hotter when he’s outta that jacket. Black really is  his color !  And I wondered – do his turquoise streaks match Nefera’s hair color ? It would make sense for Mattel to buy hair colors in bulk. Anyone with both dolls compared them ?

Got a little bored as studies drove Beloved to more isolated, less noisy areas, and decided to try a quick-and-dirty project before I restarted watching the MST’ed Daddy-O
online. Last year, one effort to restore my health involved wrapping my legs with long, wide Ace-type elastic bandages. I had six of ‘em, and it seemed like two were always in the wash. Months later, they weren’t needed anymore, and Beloved started to throw them out. I saved four – two for future medical maladies, two for sewing projects. I just knew I could use them for something…

So tonight, I did. Pulled out a slightly altered printout I had of Tarja’s tube dress – available for free here – and cut it from the first still-stretchy, not-pilled, unstained length I came to. I’d used this pattern on those four tube dresses from the Dollar Tree kids’ hat. Worked out OK, but it was so tight against her hips, you could almost see the joint outlines. Printed out a fresh, unaltered version, and that was much better. You’ll see it on tomorrow’s doll, DotD Cleo.

Tube dresses are so much fun – it’s great to have ‘em around just to slip a doll into when you’re doing fittings, they’re awesome for experiments, and they’re just the right ‘boom, done !’ fix when you wanna make something that doesn’t take forever, fussing, or frustration. Sure, I like sleeves, but I can always make a simple shrug out of another tube ! I’m surprised more dolls aren’t rockin’ the tube look for spring.

Mine probably will be ! (grin)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pain can be a focusing tool...if you can ignore it just enough. I can't.

Current Mood : Pain

Current Image Notes : Kinda wish the doll had this 'devil may care' grin. At least I have it on the box art ! Click to embiggen !

Woke with one heck of a sore throat – the kind that hurts alla time, but gets sharp and owchie when ya swallow. Seriously, it felt like part of my windpipe had been removed in the night, rolled around in a box of sandpaper, broken glass, Lego, and beach sand, then reinstalled. And then anything I swallowed had the same astringent power of lemon juice.  As the day progressed, the pain moved from the back of my throat to the bridge between it and my inner ear, which was more fun for everyone. And then the headache started. I told Beloved Hubby that, between the ear, throat, heart, head, thyroid, glucose, and anemia issues, if just one more physical thing went wrong with me, I’d be awarded either the ‘Plagues of Egypt’ or ‘God Hates You’ card, suitable for framing. I tried to distract m’self with houseworks.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, at least where my family’s concerned, idle hands are not the debbil’s workshop. Flat surfaces provided by little folding tables are. If there’s the slightest possible way a folding ‘TV tray’ table can fit, Beloved Hubby and Dearest Son will unfold one, pile it high with books, plates, cups, food packaging, and even socks, then leave it there, untouched for months. About six weeks in, I’ll get tired of having no space to move or clean in, or need access to whatever the piled up table is blocking, and it’s up to me to redistribute everything, throw the piled up trash away, return crusty dishes to the kitchen, find space for the books. Then I’ll fold up the annoying little table and shove it somewhere. Two days will pass before the whole business starts all over again. We just don’t have space for the darn things, so I’m gonna take matters into my own tentacles. Hmpft.

It wouldn’t bug me so much if the socks on the table weren’t three feet from the hamper. Or all the litter wasn’t a brisk six feet away from a very large trash can. Even though they may not mean it, it just screams, ‘Leave it there, someone else will take care of it’ to me, and guess who ‘someone else’ invariably is ? And yes, I know, ‘First World Problem’ and all that, but it still bugs me.

When that failed to make my throat pain give up out of boredom, I decided to lose m’self in Nightmares and Dreamscapes for a while. My throat, ear, and head took turns spiking at me, but the book was a good distraction – heck, compared to what’s usually going on in the text, I’m getting off light. And you can kinda expect some discomfort when you’re in the middle of a Stephen King story.

Didn’t have much of an appetite – hot salt-water gargles and generic Chloraseptic didn’t even touch what I had goin’ on – but Beloved and Dearest made me some beef brick ramen, my favorite, and I was able to eat it. I’m just hoping tomorrow’s better.

Believe it or not, I kinda miss sewing, now that I have the alterations to that Pucchi Collective blouse – version 3 ! – done. I’m also wishing good on that one.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fun with fringe !

Current Mood : Still tired. 

Interesting day. Dearest Son’s appointment went well, and he really spoke up about his concerns and health issues this time. Part of it was the great doctors – heck, I wanted to hang out with ‘em. But for once, I shut up and let him talk. I’m so used to being his advocate and voice, it’s an adjustment, but I can make it. As usual, though, when it was all over, I crashed for two straight hours.  

With everything going on, I missed a day of the Monster High LiveJournal group, so the first message I saw was headed “Discontinue Dolls ?”. I wondered if I’d missed an announcement from Mattel deciding to stop production of the entire line or something. Yeah, it seems silly to drop anything that must be making them money, but who knows what’s really going on. Could be they’re getting pressure, or the dolls are harder to manufacture than expected, they’re not making the money they projected, the return rate is too high, distribution is too badly borked to continue, any one or a dozen out of a hundred facets could go wrong, and could lead to a ‘heck with it’ decision at any time. Sales could be the least of the issues surrounding this line.

Thing is, I wasn’t upset. I thought that it’d be great if they’d at least get the classroom playset distributed, but even without it, I had plenty of dolls and lots of fun ahead with them – truth be told, I really didn’t need more. I can sew, I can craft, I can learn, I can save up and buy from other craftspeople. Not a tragedy.

Turns out, the writer was simply wondering if production on the earliest 2010 dolls had ceased – the first six Basics and Wave 1 of ‘Dawn of the Dance’. Nobody knew the answer to that one, either. I kinda figure Mattel has – ya can’t keep making the old stuff when you’re constantly distributing new – but I don’t know for sure. Kinda ranks for new fans, and I can be smug about it since I was waiting to pounce back in that Summer of 2010, but I’ve also had to deal with ‘But I was waiting for them to go on markdown !’ comments. Um, a line the retailers can’t put out on shelves fast enough, or even keep on shelves for longer than two weeks, is unlikely to go on markdown, unless there’s a chain-wide sale or the dolls are damaged. I don’t even know what led anyone to begin to think that way.

Got some sewing done – the new version of the blouse works, but kind of bags in the back, and the sleeves are a bit long. Can fix the latter easily, not sure about the former. I mean, I kinda like for a blouse to be big enough to wear over a skirt’s waistband sometimes. I think I’ll trim down the back just an eighth of an inch on one side, see of that’ll work better. For now, I can always fold in a bit of extra fabric on the back for a closer fit showing at the front.

I then noticed that I had just a strip of that faux-denim fabric left from the shorts I made. It was already fraying pretty badly, but I liked the way it looked. Experimented with a section of cutaway and figured how to ‘hem’ the edge without getting rid of the fringed fraying. It was just long enough for a simple skirt, too. So, that’s what I made. I’m also tweaking closures these days, making the ‘rough’ side of the Velcro ™ narrower than the soft side. That way, I can adjust the fit a bit, depending on the look I want or the shirt she’s wearing. Plus, for some reason, I have a lot more ‘soft’ half than I do of ‘rough’. So this lets me use more of the surplus.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It took *forever* to edit out that box fold on this one.

Current Mood : Yawny, for some reason. 

Had to scramble around a bit today – my air supplier came by and had to check the equipment, and we’d already semi-trashed the bedroom since I cleaned it Monday. Having the Wii in our room has its disadvantages, especially when a twelve-year-old is involved. And I never did get to sweeping. At least I finally got the washed new fabric – and washed recycled fabric – by the Arena, instead of piling it up yet again at the foot of the bed.

A little down today. Despite all the sweaty Wii Fit sessions, choosing water more often than soda, taking all my meds no matter how late, and going for an apple instead of a cupcake when both are available, I’ve gained nearly two pounds this week. Makes me wonder what I’m doing all this for. I feel better, and that’s good, but the weight gain has seriously quashed my enjoyment of it all. I did 36 minutes today, and it was easier and better than any session so far, but it feels like I might as well be playing  ‘Watch TV : The Game !’ instead of forcing m’self through exercises that 90% of the time, I don’t really wanna do.

Ah, I’m just whining. Never mind me, I’m sure I’ll be a bit more bouncy tomorrow. Well, maybe Friday. Dearest Son has a medical appointment of his own Thursday, and I have no idea what to expect. And if you think my insomnia is bad before one of my appointments, you can imagine what it’s like the night prior to one of his. At least I’ll have time to fill out all that paperwork they sent us. That I just now remembered.  

One of the good things about having limits on yer space is that, for you to still have it, ya gotta love and want it more than a lot of other stuff. Finding that damp box of books right on the heels of getting bookcase storage for all my volumes made me go through them yet again. I’ve donated three so far, and started re-reading some that I wasn’t sure why I still had ‘em.

Stephen King’s Nightmares and  Dreamscapes  is under the pillow this week. Yes, I am an unrepentant bedtime reader. While I loved Night Shift, thought Needful Things was darn near a treatise on the importance of face-to-face communication, was half-convinced that my Christine loved me back, too, and you’ll get my copies of The Stand and Different Seasons only when my chilling body releases its grip on them, I had no idea why I had Nightmares. Not a single story in the lot had wound its way into my psyche. I was reminded of some that had when someone on LiveJournal mentioned characters in ‘The Long Years’ and I instantly recalled it in my head and heart from The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. I can still smell that cheap pulp paper my third-hand pocket paperback was printed on. My very first science-fiction book, and a gateway to so many more. Chuck Jones once declared that  Mark Twain was his hero. Ray Bradbury and Stephen King are two of mine. When it comes to brain space and hard drives, I don’t limit m’self. I got lotsa memories and lotsa heroes.

Anyway, I’m really enjoying the read. Maybe none of the stories really stand out. But if I enjoy them every year or three, all over again, they don’t have to. Harry Potter’s just gonna hafta wait ! I’m with King.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Box art - still a great bonus to the Monster High line.

Current Mood : Hausfrau-dy.

I know, it seems so silly to document things like laundry and dishes, but that’s a good chunk of my days. Today was no different. Except that the microwave is once-and-for-all, borked. That’s the third one that’s gone belly-up since October, and while all were used, none were decades old. In fact, the one that just kicked the appliance bucket was not even two years old – we’d bought it brand-new maybe a year before we moved to the CapitalCity place.

But actually, it’s for the best. Since it’s been only partially working for some time, we quit buying made-to-wave food months ago. While we all love ‘em, TV dinners are really heavy on fat and salt, both of which I’m supposed to avoid whenever possible. And as disposables, they’re a bit pricey. Plus food that’s quick to prepare is also fast to eat, and it’s often hard to remember that you even ate it. So ya eat more. Not good either.

We have a super-nice toaster oven, big enough for a rotisserie chicken, when we don’t wanna use the full-size oven or stove, and that’s working well so far. While funds are few and far right now, and used microwaves are pretty cheap – even new ones aren’t that much – I don’t think we’ll replace it when we have the fundage. Both Beloved Hubby and I both see it as a potential for a lifestyle change, and I wanna take it. I’m ready to. Six months ago, I wasn’t. I’d have considered returning a doll (if I hadn’t cut the box to ribbons) if I had to for one.

And if I really want that TV dinner splurge, well, I can still have it. It’ll just be an hour before I can eat it, and you know what they say – ‘Hunger makes the beans taste better !’ I’m exceedingly fortunate that it’s a choice instead of a necessity.

While I’m well-acquainted with the stovetop method, I’m hoping to find an air-pop popcorn machine one day soon. In the meanwhile, I’ve wondered if you can open a bag of microwave popcorn, scoop out the contents, and pop it on a stove. Since I have half a box of the stuff, I’ll have to try it soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I am the scanning queen !

Current Mood : Dead tired ! (giggle)

Another quiet day. I’m slowly increasing my Wii Fit time by adding ‘Strength’ exercises and keeping my usual ‘Yoga’, ‘Aerobic’ and ‘Balance’ times going. I can’t do many of the Strengths, and some of the Yogas, but the more I do, the easier and better it gets. A month ago, I dreaded having to sit on the floor or bend way down to clean or organize, or even hunt for dolls on low store shelving – now it’s just something I do.

Oliver-kitty showed up for Morning Adoration, something he hasn’t done in weeks. He put up with about ten minutes of petting and brushing, until I found the matted-up wad in his fur.  While he ate, I grabbed the small scissors, and when he wanted a pre-nap head scritch, I pounced. I survived the attempt with only minor scratches and the prize – a shooter-marble size fur wad. Just the one. He was furious as he groomed the general area of my pruning, if his tail was accurately portraying his mood, but I was soon forgiven when I loaded my palm with special treats. He perched on my pillow, to reestablish who was boss around here, and went to sleep.

Dearest Son wanted to trade a half-size bookcase in  his room for the quarter-size one we had in The Study. The smaller one fit right next to his recliner, perfectly. And Beloved Hubby needed more book space. So I got both cleaned and made the transfer today. Kinda sad – those bookcases were both purchased and used by the same people, and on both, all the shelves had dried soda stains. I clean ‘em when I see ‘em, so the one Dearest was gaining was just dusty, not dirty. Either way, all the stains came right off with a bit of water and a rag. I have no idea how long those drips and splotches have been there. It’s just sad that lazy me cleaned ‘em, instead of being mopped up when they happened.

I enlarged the too-tight Pucchi Collective pattern that made Cupid’s blouse  yesterday by 20%. Working on the theory that the pattern I stitched yesterday was for a stretchy knit, I kept both versions. I even have a new blouse cut out of the pretty daisy fabric. But I wanted to do something else today.

So I scanned the boxes of the last four Monster High dolls I got. It was easy, they were all still underfoot at my desk. I also went out and got the Dead Tired Ghoulia box that’s been rollin’ around Starlight’s trunk since last year, and got it cut up and scanned, too. I wanted to keep the art, but don’t have space for the boxes, so I cut the boxes to better fit in the scanner, then trimmed ‘em to get rid of the bulk. Now I have sharp, clear scans of all five, and the good bits and pieces of the boxes themselves in a file folder. The rest, a Mal-Wart bagload of scraps, is out with the trash for tomorrow’s pick up. If nothing else, Beloved’s proud of me.

I also finally got off my lazy butt and turned in every library book and DVD I could find. Took two bags. And I had a third, full of books and magazines for donation. What a relief. We still have three books out – two are Dearest’s – but the fines aren’t too bad. I also found that they have a ‘Free’ box of books, and I helped m’self to two, I Heard That Song Before, by Mary Higgins Clark and Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. While both authors’ works are widely known, I’ve never read any of their books, not one of either. Both volumes are well-worn, but they’re intact and readable, so I’m sure I’ll get to enjoy them soon. I’m kinda still enjoying having all my old books back out ! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring and Cupid...they just go together !

Current Mood : Hungry

Not a lot to talk about today, except for today’s image. So, let’s !

We slept in today, but I awoke with a two-point headache so bad, I felt as though my head had been stapled to an index card like a new specimen of bug. Went back to sleep and it was still there when I woke again. Rats. Had to wait a half-hour after meds to take some pain pills, but it eventually went away.

Did a bit more organizing, and cleaned up from yesterday’s sewing. It was such a bright, beautiful day – as my stuffed-up nose could tell you – that I wanted to make something ‘springy’. Decided I’d fold the pants pattern prototype and make some shorts out of a denim square I cut wrong for another project, then accidentally used to mop up a small spill. It got washed with the new fabrics, and after all it’d been through, I figured I owed it one. And I wanted to experiment with sewing a fake fly line of stitches, too, so that’d be perfect.

Almost. I knew enough to sew the fake fly before I sewed the fronts together, and I knew to allow for the seam…but I still stitched it too close to the seam. Had to rip the fake fly out and sew it again, after the seam. And it went OK, but sewing it before is much easier. And I had tension issues over and over. I need to give ole KJ a good cleaning. I’d do a test line of stitching and half the time it was fine, but soon as I put the ‘real’ stuff in there, it went all wonky. I think I about have it cleared up.

Shorts worked OK, but one leg hangs a bit shorter than the other. They match perfectly off the doll, though. (sigh) Decided I wanted to sew a t-shirt kinda blouse, so I pulled up a pattern I altered from the Pucchi Collective – they mostly sew for Blythe dolls, but since Blythe has a Skipper-type body, some of their clothes kinda-sorta fit the Monster High body. I thought I had the blouse altered OK, but the sleeves were much too tight, and the back was a tight fit. So I’ve altered it again, and hopefully the next one will be a bit more loose.

I was really happy with the fabric, too. Tabitha – of Me Love Gangrels fame on Flickr – sent it to me. It’s a gorgeous light seersucker, which doesn’t really show in the photo. But it just sings ‘spring !’ to me. Frays easily, and is a bit fragile, but sewed like a good cotton, so I was happy. Just not with the fit. I think maybe I had it sized for stretchy knits, and while the pretty green fabric has some stretch, it’s a woven, so it was tight. We’ll see how the next one goes.

The ‘Barbie Quick Curl Boutique’ case is one of those I won’t ever let go. Didn’t have it as a kid or anything, but I love it – you’ve seen it before, as Shinobu’s sewing room. It folds down small, so I kept it, but I didn’t have anywhere really to keep it, so it’s on my embroidery thread Treasure Chest, in the arena. I brushed Cupid’s hair today, as it was getting a little flyaway, and thought her super-tight curls fit right in with the ‘quick curl’ style.

But you know me, I gotta tweak. So, when I posted the image on Flickr, I wrote ‘While the entire Eros family is notoriously close-mouthed about their clients, an interview crew got daughter C. A. Cupid to sit down for a chat to appear on a 'Barbie' anniversary special.
"Daddy was not too impressed with her, " she said of the 53-year old icon. "No matter how many arrows he shot at her, she just would not stay with Ken for long, and he was, quite literally, made for her !"
Ms. Cupid did acknowledge that several other guys believed they were made for her, too, but she dismissed them with a hand-wave. "Nope. Not according to our orders," she replied.’ 

Well, I thought it was funny….

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sing the praises of pants ! (old MST3K joke)

Current Mood : Pleased with me.

Kind of a quiet Saturday. After my usual routine, I pretty much had all day to do as I pleased. So I read and napped, and went out for a soda with Beloved Hubby and Dearest Son. Beloved found a tiny blue translucent plastic frog in the parking lot, and since Dearest didn’t want it, I claimed it for Lagoona. Cleaned of the road dust, he’s quite adorable. I’m sure Lagoona loves him, even if he only has two eyes.

It was kinda Lagoona’s day while I was out and about. After the soda run, we stopped in the nearby Salvation Army – Beloved’s looking for office chairs. Nothing this time, but he found a pair of 70s-vintage glass ashtrays, huge and familiar, in amber and emerald. Too bad the emerald one had a noticeable chip. He got the amber one, and I found a neon lightbulb in a star-shaped base. The bulb was in the shape of a dolphin, and it worked ! I looked it up later, it’s by Sunbeam, and retailed for about twenny bucks. I paid $3. It’ll be perfect for lighting up the bookcase photo studio, even after the dolphin part is blown. Can use the star base with a regular screw-in bulb, long as it’s a 25w or less one. I hope to get a good photo with Lagoona and the dolphin light in the next few days.

Of course, I needed an extension cord to run it to the bookcase, so I had to hunt in the Garage for one. What a mess. I got about half our stuff out before more stuff got moved in, and I have no idea what’s where anymore. I’m just glad I got my doll stuff out of the scrum, where I can get to it.

Once we were back, I tripped over my old binder, the one filled with images of all the Barbie patterns I own. OK, time to get that over with. Four books outta the wet box o’ books the other day were ‘mine’, the rest were Beloved’s (although we share all of ‘em, some are more ‘his’, some are more ‘mine’), but I had no idea where they’d go. All my bookshelves were packed. I ended up redoing a cubby and using it to store all my binders – there’s three, including the pattern one – which freed up enough space for the now-dry books. Whew. Even got all the recent Monster High doll boxes picked up. Once the box backs are scanned, they’re outta here. Got zero space.

After all that and lunch, I got bored. So I sewed. Since I’d abandoned the pants project before I got them right, I decided to start that up again. By sewing the pattern just where I left it. Since the last effort was done with those too-stretchy paper towels, it could be that they’d work…and they did ! They even passed the ‘sit’ test – no ‘two moon junction’ like I get even with some Mattel outfits. I thought they looked pretty good on Rochelle, although I just did a hem for the waistband, and not very well. So I covered the mis-sized stitches with some black ribbon as a belt. Not bad at all. Even took a series of good photos of it…before I realized that Rochelle’s issue blouse would probably look better than the matching lace-collar blouse you’ve already seen paired with the skirt. Oh, yeah ! And just for giggles, I tried Jackson Jekyll’s glasses on her. Cute !

Made sure the new pattern was safely scanned and ready. I’m gonna try two more tests, just to make sure, and then write down the directions as I’m sewing. Then, it’s a free bird. Yup, it’ll show up everywhere I can shove it, free for whoever wants to use it. I’m sure lotsa people will use it to make stuff to sell, but what the heck. Maybe the karma points will do me good, health and doll wise. You’ll get it first, of course.

I figure, if I charge, people will screech at me if they have the least issue with it. If it’s free, they can screech all they want, it’s up to me if I answer. After all, it’s not like they got any investment in it. And I’m sure someone will do something so amazing with it, that it’ll all come back to me, in the form of new inspiration and better ideas.

Now all I gotta do is make a buncha pants…

Friday, April 20, 2012

My first MH guy and my most recent. Kodachrome.

Current Mood : Happily playin' 

I tell ya, I get a lot of ‘craft’ e-mails every day. Most I’m subscribed to, but even those are frequently lacking in anything usable. I've been methodically checking the few that remain, waiting for a week in a row that I didn't get anything useful - that's a lotta e-mails to delete, and I really am that lazy. The one from now-defunct Craft magazine was one I was considering dumping – so of course I found something really good in it yesterday.

This is the Straight Stitch Society Manifesto. I’ve decided to adopt it and follow it as best I can. And I wanna share it with you, in case you can use it, too. Here goes –

1.                Life is hard. Sewing is easy.

2.              When the going gets tough, the tough get sewing.

3.              Sewing is cheaper than therapy and easier on your waistline than chocolate.

4.              Don’t make it if it’s not supercute.

5.              Don’t let anyone talk trash about your sewing skills. Especially your mother.

6.              Sometimes a glass of wine really does improve your sewing. Or at least your attitude. Same difference.

7.               A strategically used curse word can make you feel better when you need to get out the seam ripper. But only the first time. After that you’re a potty mouth.

8.             No matter what happens, remember that it’s only fabric.

9.              If someone asks “Did you make that?” say “Yes” proudly and leave it at that, no matter how much you fudged along the way.

10.     Sewing Straight Stitch Society projects will make you thinner, younger, and richer. You’ll see.

While I don’t know about #10 just yet, and I'm replacing 'wine' on #6 with 'Dr. Pepper', I’m gonna go with ‘em all, even though #9 will be especially difficult to me. Seems I have ‘modesty’ and ‘truthfullness’ mixed up with ‘acceptance’ and ‘self worth’, but I think I can work on it. Especially when I sew up all those supercute things I know are in me !  Just today I gave Beloved those super-nice but too stretchy paper towels, ‘cause from now on, it’s me and fabric, baby ! Goss knows I got plenny of the stuff to experiment with…

You’re welcome to go hit their site, but there’s not much there besides a few patterns for sale, some definitions, and that. But I like the Manifesto. Gonna print it out later, post it under the diagram of a sewing machine that’s so naughty !

Flickr friend Andrew_S. wondered how far apart the skin tones were between Deuce and new Jackson. Hrmf. I kinda figured the guys were like Barbie – mostly the same tone unless they’re unique creatures. Turned out, I was very wrong. Deuce is nearly sunburned compared to Jackson’s pallor. With the new Jackson’s bending wrists, the question many fans had was whether or not Jackson’s lower arm would 1) fit Deuce, since there’ve been many changes in the dolls since 2010 and 2) would be a close enough match for Jackson to give a wrist upgrade to their Deuce dolls. To me, no, the skin tones darn near glared at each other, but maybe with long sleeves, it wouldn’t be such an issue. But they did fit. So I posted a buncha photos.

It was a busy day ! Glad I got my work and Wii Fit over with early !

Thursday, April 19, 2012

If it ever stops raining, expect more photos of Jackson soon !

Current Mood : Itchy

Yess ! Jackson is finally mine ! Well, he’s already been mine since I got him and Rochelle last week, but I decided to wait to ‘claim’ him. Dearest Son’s been working for some time on a report, and I said I wouldn’t get to open Jackson until that report was done. It was kind of a solidarity thing with Dearest, since he’d had to wait on his last pirate ship until he got to a certain point with it. Finishing it would take at least three hours, just for my part of it, so I felt that I’d earned Jackson, just like he earned his pirate ship. And it’s done, and I am soooo happy.

And let’s face it, once you have the doll in your hot little hands, it’s not so hard to wait to debox. I’d say 95% of wanting a new Monster High doll is finding him/her, sometimes it’s darn near anticlimactic when you have the doll out of the box.

Concentrated today’s cleaning on our bedroom, and cleared out two milk crates of miscellaneous stuff that’d been shoved in there. Files, important papers, empty boxes, dirty laundry, and a My Little Pony coloring book Beloved Hubby got me as a joke. I’ve barely touched it, but I’m giving serious thought to using it for a Pinkie Pie embroidery design, he loves that character.

The crates got emptied and moved to Dearest’s room for toy storage. Now I have a little more room for the yoga part of Wii Fit. Been meaning to do that for weeks. Took out trash, did some dishes, made dinner. The usual. I’d try to sew tonight, but I’m hoping to start going to bed sooner. I’ve been staying up with Dearest until ridiculous hours, and it’s starting to affect my mood, so it’s time to knock it off. If there’s a single person in the universe who needs beauty sleep – inside and out ! – it’s me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When Cupid met Rochelle...

Current Mood : Wii good. 

Didn’t sew. Instead, Beloved Hubby and I had one of those late-night romantic rendezvous…to do a couple loads of laundry. But we had the Laundromat all to ourselves, so we made fun of the diet recipe infomercial and played Angry Birds on our cell phones. He trounced me ! I’ve never been good with video games, despite having one of the first games of Pong in our neighborhood. Well, truth be told, that was my father’s Pong, not mine. I got so many lectures about it, I never touched the faux-woodgrained thing.

Anyway. As a result, I was so tired today, I literally had to shove myself at the Wii Fit this morning. Last thing on the planet I wanted to do, but I did it, and I feel better. I have far less of an appetite on Wii days. Next week, I hope to be up to four a week. Helped Dearest Son with his latest report for a couple hours, cleaned up our trashed bedroom, moved some Garage boxes, emptied one. Found a few missing books, and my old Barbie pattern file book. (sigh) Spent so much time indexing and printing that thing, and now I don’t touch it. Put away laundry, got the cats fed and loved, and took a bit of a nap.

I’ve learned that, if I take the lead with dinner, Beloved and Dearest will eat it. It may not be what they exactly wanted, but it’ll be a favorite, and it’ll be hot and ready long before we get tired of waiting to decide what we want and end up going out for a burger at 9pm. It also helps matters if I thaw ingredients out the night before. Sooner or later, they’ll start telling me what they want instead of giving me a shrug and a head-shake. Maybe after a week or so. Much as I love going out, we just don’t have the cash for it – but maybe this weekend, we can splurge on some budget Chinese !

Tomorrow, I get to take Dearest and FIL back to PetCoMart for more fish. I also plan on hitting at least the library drop box. We have so many so overdue books, I’m halfway expecting a police visit ! No real excuse for it but laziness and distraction.

I was thinking about it the other day. I’ve gone through both Sew Subversive and Subversive Seamster thanks to the library. The first book actually taught me a few things, the second was all about turning clothing rags into redone clothing and housewares rags. Any of these authors ever heard of a little thing called a hem ?  Moving on…Sew Subversive was a fun read, and it mentioned always making sure you start a line of machine sewing with the thread take up (that silver thing that the thread goes through between the tension discs and the needle, you can see it move as you sew) is at the very top of the machine, at its zenith. This is the kind of information you normally learn from a mentor or Home Ec. teacher, but mine ranked, and I didn’t have a mentor when I took it up again in ’02.

Very few of us who sew learned with a mentor, preferably an older, skilled family member or family friend. Kinda sad. Luckily there’s books and YouTube, but I’d rather have the personal human element, even though that seems to be growing more scarce by the day.

Ah, well. I kinda want to sew after talking about it so much. Think I might be able to get those pants done since I had a nap today…