otter pants

My beloved husband just had a birthday. And I faced the same problem I've faced for a few years now: when you've been married for a very long time, you run out of unique-and-heartfelt-and-just-right gifts to give. What he most wants, I suspect, is a trip where he can golf someplace new.* But circumstances being what they are ....

Said beloved husband also loves otters, which is a much longer story but, seriously, who doesn't love otters? Otters are the best. When I spotted this fabric** at Hart's, I knew I needed to make something for him out of it. My sewing skills are decent enough to make big rectangles and the occasional sleeveless top. He does not need a sleeveless top. I did briefly ponder a pillowcase but, I mean, does a pillowcase really say "I love you. Please have more birthdays?" NO. No, it does not.

Then the light bulb when off: we are entering prime comfy pants season in a year of wearing comfy pants three-quarters of the time. Beloved husband needs otter pants. And, lo. Otter pants would be made.

So I found a pattern on the internet -- please don't tell me lounge pants are super easy and no one should ever buy a pattern for them because I cannot just freestyle sewing -- and ordered it. Only I didn't absorb all of the details of it before I started to cut the fabric. It was way more complicated than I'd anticipated.


It had a real button-fly with drawstrings and elastic -- and I'd never before sewn two of those things.


And a new-to-me type of pocket. 

But it all seems to have ended well enough:


(Beloved husband had just come in from mowing the grass*** and wasn't prepared for a photo shoot)

Hopefully, he'll be able to go away for his birthday next year. The upside of this year, however, is that I had the time to spend stretching my brain to learn some new skills. Are these particularly useful skills? Not really, given that I spent twice as much time and money than I would have had I just bought comfy pants for him. However, it's good to test the old gray cells every now and again. 


* (not code)

** now if I can find an otters-and-golf fabric, I'll have Christmas sorted.

*** (still not code)

pants is pants

On Monday, I took a sewing class from the Scientific Seamstress, who lives just over the hill from me in Delhi. We made pajama pants.* Given that I'm a relatively new sewer (sewstress?), I decided to start small and scale up from there.


Snapped (and stolen from) Melany, owner (and all-around wonder) of Project Anthologies.**

Here they are on their intended:


I made the hat, too. She's taken to wearing it as a nightcap. I don't know, either.

I'm wishing that I made the pants about an inch longer. Ah, well. Next time.


*which could theoretically be done in different fabric to make leaving-the-house type pants but I prefer my pants to have as much structure to them as is possible if other people will see me. So I stuck with the pajama idea.

** Yes, I need a haircut.

zip it

Last night, I took yet another sewing class at Project Anthologies. As you do.*

We made zippered bags, which means I got to learn a more effective and attractive way to install a zipper.** My results: 



Would that I had world enough and time, I'd sew all the things. Instead, I'm thinking about sewing a shirt. I've given up on the idea of a proper button down (for now) - but does anyone have another pattern to recommend?


* I convince the Pie Goddess to come with me this time. 

** My old method was just to pin that bad boy in and sew the shit out of it. 

toads and zombie cats

On Saturday, the Diva and I made a Trevor.  Which is to say, I pinned, cut, sewed, cut again, sewed again, held open for her to stuff, and sewed shut a toad. The Diva distracted herself by spilling the plastic bead stuffing -- chosen because it will hold up to weather better than the suggested beans -- into all of the heating vents. One must have a hobby.


The pattern is from the Purl Bee. The only mods I made was to line it with some medium weight interfacing, which I did mostly because the velour-like fabric was too slippery for my machine to handle smoothly. Oh - and it's not stuffed with organic matter because it will be an outdoor toad. Even with my "help," the whole project took less than two hours. That does include the sweeping up. And there was a lot of sweeping up.

As I once again discovered, I'm never going to be a happy sew-er. Yet I find myself inexplicably drawn to fabric that I haven't any use for. Like these five fat quarters:


Something about the witches and the sleepwalking cats just spoke to me. Plus, pumpkins. I'm developing a thing for pumpkins.

Any thoughts on what to make with this with my limited skills and patience? It'd be nice to incorporate the buttons in some manner, too, since are thematically related and I do so love a good theme. Anyone?

project runway and other fashions

As much as I'd like to have completed a top for the latest Sew I Knit, it ain't gonna happen. After my frenzy of sewing yesterday I realized two things: Thing the First -- I cut out the wrong freaking size and Thing the Second -- I don't have the patience for sewing right now. The top and all of its pieces has now been banished to the yarn closet, where it can spend the rest of its days thinking about what it has done. If I find someone who I think it'll fit, I'll make it a present for them. Barring that, it can just sit there and stew.

My big problem with sewing is the sheer amount of space it requires and its non-portability. Given how wee our house is, I keep having to set up and take down the machine and ironing board and assorted crap each time I want to sew, which is more of a pain in the ass than I want to deal with. So -- back to knitting (the Icarus Shawl is zipping along) and cross-stitch (the Christmas gifts are also zipping along).

The latest SIK project is "to make something quilted." Is it sick and sad that I find myself eyeballing fabric and patterns, despite my realization that I need a break from sewing? And then there is the Patchwork Party 2006. Surely this is a cry for help.

Project Runway is partly to blame for enabling me with the illusion that I, too, can make stuff out of fabric. And as much as I adore the show itself -- as does The Boy, who is fascinated by Heidi Klum and will come running when he hears her voice -- it's all of the other ancillary stuff that keeps me completely enthralled. Like all of Bravo's PR blogs, which now includes a witty one by producer Rucker in addition to those by Daniel V and the almighty Tim Gunn. All hail Tim Gunn.

The end-all blog is, of course, Blogging Project Runway. While BPR is a treasure trove of info, for sheer snark, Dan Renzi's blog is a must read. Course, there's lots of other good stuff there, too. As it turns out I have the same taste in pop culture as a gay former reality tv star. Color me unsurprised.

In other news, it's hot. Like Texas hot. My plan is to move as little as possible today.

Tomorrow, we go to the Bing for the biopsy. Woo.

(An Aside: If anyone can tell me the official name for the verb tense of that first sentence, I'd be much obliged.)

the bag

And so finally I finished the darn thing. I'll be the first to admit that I had doubts, both about my ability to get r done and about the sheer amount of pattern busyness involved here. But I am glad that I forged ahead, trusted my instincts and all of that rot because I am quite pleased about how it turned out.


Eventually, this will hold one of the many knitting projects. Right now, tho, I'm going to hang it on the yarn closet's door where I can admire it.

The Specs: The pattern was from Butterick. No mods. The fabric, which I love, is an Amy Butler Charm Fat Quarter bundle in Chocolate Mint (maybe?) from the Fat Quarter Shop. (And, just as an aside, I don't think I can stop myself from getting the Belle Earth and Sky Bundle even though I haven't the slightest idea what I'd do with it.)

Learning-wise: I cut the lining a little too small so there's a weird little pucker at one seam and I managed to reverse one of the straps. I can live with all of this.

Now on to finding a shirt pattern...

crafts today, something else tomorrow

By this time Tuesday, I will have finished up all of the grading for Spring 2006 for my gig at SUCO. This does not include the inevitable round of griping by students about same -- but they've made their beds and I'm disinclined to acquiesce to their requests. Unless I can't do math, which is different than the usual "because of this class my GPA is a .07" rubbish.

What will remain is closing the books on my Spring 2006 at Hartwick because they are on a different schedule entirely. But by Memorial Day, if not much, much before, this madness, too, shall end.

Because of this and the fact that I'm a goober, I still haven't completed my bag for the Sew? I Knit! challenge of the month, even though we were all given a lovely deadline. The pieces I've cut are still on the table next to the sewing machine. Nothing has changed in any substantial way. It will -- just not now.

I have been admiring the bag folks have gotten done and must, must, must get me one of these Weekender bags. Like Yaiann's. Or Steph's. Or Elli's.

First I should finish what I've started, tho, eh?

That doesn't stop me from eyeballing this:


And starting that subtle thought process where I convince myself that I could get it done in my lifetime. It's a sickness.

In knitting news, I totally stole this link from Whip-up -- but I am in love with Felieke van der Leest's work.

Like this hat:


And this sweater:


And this, um, giraffe:


'til Tuesday.

hybrid vigor

In an ideal world, I'd have a bunch of great pictures of a great little bag to show off. This is not an ideal world. Newsflash, I know.

Instead of sitting inside and sewing, I have been taking advantage of the springlike weather, which is a rareity in these parts, and hauling my heinie outdoors. The yard is starting to look less like a vacant lot occupied only by particularly large and messy squirrels and more like a yard. There will be a new sitting area this year because I still labor under the delusion that I may have time to actually sit in the yard with a cold beverage. No, denial ain't just ... well, you know the refrain.

The bag will probably not get done this week either (despite the fact that I have all of the pieces cut out and ready) because we are now into week three of tech hell and I am playing single parent until the weekend. And, no, it hasn't been one show with three weeks of tech. Everyone wants to get their crap in before the semester ends, however, which means that the last month is always an adventure.

(And, parenthetically, this past weekend's production of Urinetown: The Musical was mostly good and damned amusing. Even one of my dates, Snarkapuss, liked it. I had weird dreams, too. Odd, that.)

Also, since, as mentioned, this is the end of the term, I have a bunch of real work-like products to get done. I can ignore my stack of papers no longer. Too bad I can't charge 'em rent.

Excuses, excuses. Still, the yard is looking fabulous. The bag? Not so much.


The next Sew? I Knit project has been announced and it is "a bag."

I've already picked a pattern. It's this one (Butterick B4248):

Except mine will be done in colors that aren't so ... pastel. My current plan is to use some Amy Butler Fat Quarters because I love them. You may not. But it is my bag. So there.

Um...moving on...

I chose the bag I did because I have been inspired to try quilting by Ms Shelley, whose baby quilt for Maddy is now in Cory's room. I stare at it every night as I convince him to sleep. I still love it.

This bag seems like a low-committment way to give it a try.

One day, when I know what things like "Heavy Duty Template Plastic" and "wide extra-heavy stabilizer" are, I want to make this. Right now, tho, the very idea scares me. I'll have to live vicariously through SAL Cyndi.

Oh -- and another quick note that is completely unrelated to bags. Other kids of the '80s will be thrilled to learn that the greatest piece of film about rollerskates will be coming to an off-Broadway theatre soon. I lack proper words to describe my feelings.

the skirt? she is done.

Given that my hair and make-up support team were nowhere to be found, you just get a picture of the skirt. Rest assured that I do have a head, torso and feet. And while you can't tell from this shot, I even shaved my legs for this.


Some thoughts on sewing: It's not as challenging as I had believed. And you get a finished product more quickly than knitting -- even with my ability to misread even the simplest of directions. I fairly certain I sewed each seam in this skirt twice. I refuse to show you what the zipper area looks like. Let's just say that I always plan to wear a long shirt with this.

Because I was feeling so flush with success, I even made two pairs of pants for the Diva, who seems to be built like her dad, which means that I can find pants that are either long enough or fit her waist -- but not both.


The other pair is the same pattern, but in a solid pink.

I'm more pleased with these than I am with my skirt. We'll see how they hold up, however. I did leave enough extra fabric in the hem to give them another inch or two when the need arises. In theory, I can also let out the waist, but I doubt I'll need to before she is 7 or 8.

I can't wait to see what the next project is -- but I plan to let the sewing machine sit unused for a couple of weeks. While I have enjoyed the sewing, it requires soooooo much concentration that I'm ready to simply knit for a bit.