Monday, March 30, 2009

A lot of sewing and a weekend trip

I spent a tremendous amount of time at my sewing machine last week.

I got quite a bit done but I know that there are some time saving techniques that I need to utilize and that's what I'll work on this week.

On Friday Hans and I headed down to Maryland to open up Miss Kitty. Here she is with a cute little zippered door installed into her winter shrink wrap.

We spent the next morning freeing her of her winter coat and I'm glad to report that the plastic is recycled into highway barriers.

We had to use the opening to load all of our stuff on board and for some of us it was a tight fit.

This wasn't a weekend of sailing though, it was a weekend of getting the boat ready for the season. Even after scraping our knuckles, grinding our knees on unforgiving fiberglass, Hans whacking his head multiple times in cabin doorways, and my suffering a vicious assault from Miss Kitty who unfolded and dropped her salon table across the top of my foot (in addition to my foot, my feelings were hurt too, as I had praised her all weekend long!), we had a good time anyway.

And I lost two games of Scrabble so when Hans asked why I didn't take a picture for my blog I told him that some of his words were too questionable (I hate losing!).

Before landing on this piling, this little fellow spent a good deal of time at the top of the mast issuing instructions to us while we stripped Miss Kitty of her thick and unwieldy plastic covering.

I don't think Hans heard him because he was busy trying not to toss me overboard while I issued my own shrill instructions.

Sometimes I can be bossy.

We also had to clean up Miss Kitty for charter season and after last year we made sure we thoroughly cleaned her interior.

We swept, dusted, and even vacuumed out drawers.

But the most fun was after scrubbing both heads (on my hands and knees!) and I found that I had to crawl into the refrigerator to clean it's drain.

The refrigerator is in the hinged double door in the counter top as seen in this picture.
Believe it or not once that top is removed I can sit down in there.

And since I'm claustrophobic I didn't find Hans' comment, about putting me in there the next time I act up, very funny!!

Anyway, here are some of the things I've been working on (not a good picture as my wine bags are way in the back, but I was in a hurry).

While we were in Maryland we stopped at a wine store and the manager commented on my purse (My 3 in 1 purse, the one with the wine cask and cork fabric above) and when he found out that I made it he asked if it were possible to make some for him to sell in his store!

Now what do you think?

I said "sure", but for some reason I felt kind of silly and I think my face turned red.
So I'll get a few made and take them on our next trip down to the boat.

We'll see how it goes from there. I have a feeling that friends and family may be receiving wine themed purses for birthdays and Christmas if these don't sell!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Holy Cow I Made a Dress!

But not without some issues (read: gritted teeth, stomping feet, and a near tantrum!).

Here is Simplicity 2694, a simple Project Runway dress.

Simple? Yes.

Flattering? I don't think so!

Let's face it, I'm not the greatest sewist in the world when it comes to clothing.

I know that and I accept it.

But, I want to know how someone who can insert an invisible zipper with no pins (ME!!) can manage to screw up a stinking EASY dress pattern!!!!

I had to calm down (and managed to keep my language at a PG rating) before I added this to Pattern Review.

So what was the issue?

The back pleat that's what.

It's an exact replica of the front pleat.

Now the front pleat works just fine. But then, why wouldn't it when it falls down a basically flat surface.

But put the same pleat in the back. Guess what happens when it has to go over a butt, because gee whiz I think most of us have one (a butt that is!)?

That damned pleat opened up all the way and then curved over my butt like a swag curtain. I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture, it was that bad. It didn't slide down my back and then flow outward in a sexy curvaceous way, NO! it went in a straight line from my shoulder blades to way out over my behind and I swear it looked liked I'd stuffed a sofa pillow in there.

I had checked pattern review previous to this, and the one review that was written looked ok, although she did mention that she wasn't real sure about that stupid pleat.

So I ripped my pleat out and made 3 small ones.

Same ugly results.

Had the brainstorm to gather the skirt instead, and since I have many cute little sundresses with gathers I knew it would work.


It was at this point that I nearly had a tantrum. I bought this fabric when I was in Paris and not only was it not cheap it was just too pretty to ruin.

I threw it down and went for a run.

It was during my run that I had an idea (I get many of my ideas during my runs) to try darts.

What the hell, I didn't have much to lose (except my mind!).

I dug out favorite Burda dress and checked out the darts which were about 10 inches long, down either side of the center back.

I added the darts, tried it on, and when it seemed like it might be ok, I put in the zipper (invisible, side seam).

Well folks, it will work but I will never make this dress again.

Here is the infamous back view with darts.

Ignore Sally Stitch's bra and adjustment openings.

Sally wants everyone to know that she doesn't have a butt and that the dress looked just fine on her.


And she wonders why her new 'home' is right beside the litter box.

Just in case you think I'm a total idiot when it comes to sewing, here is my invisible zipper.

I used the Islander method and was thrilled to pieces when I found it in Sew News Magazine (my library carries it!). You can bet I copied it for future reference and by the way, who the hell names their child 'Rosebud' (that's the lady that demonstrates this method)?

I added the front overlay option to the bodice as I thought it dressed it up.

It called for the overlay to have a 3/8th inch hem but that would mean that when it was knotted, you'd see the hem and the wrong side of the fabric.

I just lined it in the same fabric (cheap JoAnn satin) as the bodice and it really does make a difference.

This is just a close up of the front 'pleat'.

Imagine that, spread out over your butt!

I don't think so!

What's kind of funny about this is the fact that I used a stretchy jersey for this dress and in the past I couldn't sew more than a few inches without my thread breaking.
But now that I used a 'stretch' needle (and why on earth does everything I read say I should use a ball point needle???) I didn't have any of those problems.
It just goes to show; It's always something!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm sewing, really I am!

Actually, I've been sewing up a storm, but I don't have any pictures yet!

I have finally come up with a really great wine bag pattern and I have to say that I'm very happy with it. I ran it past Hans, who is a very honest critiquer (sp??) and he likes it too. Anyway, it's my original design and each bag I've made has my 'Knotty Cat Designs' label on it.

I also have my '3 bags in one' purse concept that needs to be made in some more fun fabric patterns, but I'll get there!

I had to take a generic printer cartridge back to an Office Depot store today because it wouldn't work in my Dell printer (go figure) and I nearly fainted with delight when the lady who waited on me went on and on over my '3 in one purse' that I mentioned above. And yesterday two ladies commented on my St. Patrick's Day purse!!!

I kid you not!

I love that lime green. That purse will look so cute with either a white summer dress, or some jeans, or even the shirt that Sally Stitch is wearing in this picture.

I also got a message from Boody Babies, and she wanted to let me know that she'd received some inquiries about her labels, after I posted about the labels that I had her design for me. So whoever contacted her, I hope you have the same success that I did. I'm very happy with my labels and I'll try to post some pictures of them in use soon!

So here is a picture of my Chlorox kitty in her basket, in the SUV, for the hour and a half trip to The Big City.

Just checking things out.

Taking a small break between gutteral screams and moans.

Once I let her loose in the apartment, she disappeared. If I didn't know any better I would have thought that somehow she'd actually escaped.

But like I said, I knew better.

Look closely at this picture of my sewing area.

Like down in the very lower left corner.

That white thing is my sewing machine cover.

And right now it's a cat cover.

See the cat tail sticking out from underneath?

It took me about a half hour to discover this.

Here she is under the buffet.

But while it may have taken her a month to get used to Baby Girl's apartment, it only took her a day to get used to our apartment.

Chlorox enjoys the futon with her book (and a cup of coffee)

Chlorox enjoys the dining room kitchen entryway.

This king size bed is very comfy, according to Chlorox and her friends.

And doesn't someone look ever so decorative, sitting next to Laura's sewing machine.

And just in case we were really worried that Chlorox wasn't adjusting to apartment life, it was brought home to us in a very real way that Chlorox was indeed adjusting to apartment life, when in the middle of dinner in our very tiny kitchen, we could hear her thoroughly scratching and covering her business in her litter box.

Because unfortunately the kitchen is the only place where there is room for a litter box!

Oh, life in The Big City with Hans and Chlorox.

I'm sure it will only get more interesting!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Happy St Patrick's Day Purse

St. Patrick's Day is a big deal here in the Big City and we have friends who observe this holiday with wild abandon, starting with the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.
We've only been to two of these parades and I've always felt a little disloyal and totally underdressed as everyone shows up with green hair, green clothes, green food, and in some cases green babies. I nearly fainted the first time I saw this practice and always hope they've used harmless makeup on their little ones.

So this year I decided to jump on that green bandwagon and Friday night found me frantically cutting and sewing a green purse.
Saturday morning Hans and I set out, and with my green t-shirt, green beads, and green purse, I felt like a true Big City native.

Our friends always stake out their place on an upper floor of a parking garage (along with hundreds of other celebrators!) and we went in search of them.

But we couldn't find them.

Up and down five levels of the garage we trekked all the while stepping over big puddles and streams of what I've come to realize over the past couple of years are not water, but urine. Yes urine, because there are no porta potties to be found here and since some of the revelers have been here since 6 AM, they have to go somewhere!
Every now and then we thought we recognized someone and we would carefully step past portable bars and banquet tables loaded with food and drink so that we could take a closer look.

But we had no luck and then finally Hans started calling them on his cell phone (Let me state for the record that I'd told Hans to check with them the night before to verify exactly where they'd be).

Well we found out where they were all right.

Not at the parade, that's where.
For the first time in years most of them had to work and couldn't attend the parade. So we wandered around dodging drunks, and puddles of pee for nothing because we literally saw almost nothing of the parade as it was just ending as we finally realized we were on our own.

A day late and a dollar short seems to be the story of my life.

But I did end up with a lovely green purse (based on Nicolle Mallallieu's Day Bag).
I found the handles on sale at JoAnn's and now I wished I'd picked up the pink and blue ones too.

And as I've mentioned in the past, I'm very cheap so I went one better with this bag. I decided to make the handles detachable so I put button holes in each strip that holds the handle to the bag and then I put buttons inside on the facing. You could put cute buttons on the outside of the bag instead but I wasn't thrilled with my button holes and just went the safe route. Now If I want to use these handles on another bag, I can.

I believe I'll be doing a lot more of that.

Here's a pretty kitty on her ride to the Big City. I opted to put her in a basket as she seems to have huge issues with being put in a box.
She did surprisingly well and I only had a problem with her once.
I had to answer my cell phone (I know I shouldn't have but I did) and Chlorox took immediate advantage. I will have to phone my handyman back and apologize to him for cutting our conversation short, as my cat oozed out of her basket and was quickly approaching me with a look on her face that suggested she had a strong desire to drive my car.

She is my Knotty Cat!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I love my new labels!!

Here they are.

My new labels, and I think they're too cute!

Somehow I stumbled upon Boody Babies over at Etsy and I liked the site. Anyway after I explained to her that I'm completely ignorant of all things to do with graphic design and very timidly asked her if she could come up with something, she did.

I wanted the words to look like they were made of rope, a kitty face in place of the letter O in Knotty, and some of the letters to look, well, knotted. This label has several meanings for me. I like cats and we have a catamaran boat. The ropey look represents all the different ropes (although they're referred to as sheets and halyards etc...) on a boat, and you can take the word knotty in any way you wish. I thought these could still serve me well if we actually end up on our boat and I'm actually able to sew while on it.

By the way, these labels were in the mail to me within a day and they were also very reasonable.

On Sunday I signed papers with my realtor so my house is now officially on the market. On Monday I emptied out medicine cabinets, cleared out everything from under the sinks, then swept out every drawer and cupboard, swept the garage and the whole downstairs, scrubbed toilets and mopped kitchen and bathroom floors. By the time I got to the Big City that night I was was stinking tired!But I had to drive back to my house today so I could put out the last of the garbage, and I need to empty out the refrigerator, and last but not least Chlorox, my timid kitty, needs to be picked up from Baby Girl's apartment and taken back to the Big City.

This should be fun.

That poor cat was taken to Baby Girl's apartment in the beginning of January and she spent her first month under the bed before she progressed to the closet. Only a couple of weeks ago did she venture forth long enough to go downstairs and smack the other resident cat in the face before she went back upstairs and crawled back under the bed. I had hoped that Baby Girl would forget that this was a temporary arrangement but my hopes were shattered last weekend when in the middle of her soccer banquet she leaned over and whispered in my ear, "When are you taking that damned cat back?"


Don't be fooled, tomorrow this will turn into a screaming banshee for the whole hour and a half trip back to the Big City.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A great find

I was so excited to have a book arrive in the mail today.

It's called Nancy and Plum, it's a children's book, and it was written by my favorite author Betty MacDonald.

Now you have to understand that Betty was a best selling author back in the 1940's and yet today her work still holds up. Her first book The Egg and I sold over one million copies in less than a year and besides being phenomenal it was even more shocking because the author was a woman. Her humor and ability to describe people and situations will never (in my opinion) be surpassed by any one else.

Today there are Betty MacDonald fan clubs on the Internet and I will scan them now and again to see if there is some information on Betty that I haven't already learned. She only wrote a few books yet each one was a gem and I selfishly wish she'd lived longer (she died in 1959 at the age of 49) because I can't imagine what else she would have come up with.

How can someone write about their year long stint in a Tuberculosis Sanatorium and cause the reader to snort with laughter (The Plague and I) ?

Or describe, with great humor, living with her mother and sisters during the depression, as a divorced mother of two? (Anybody Can Do Anything). One of my favorite passages in this book is her description of a blind date with a German man named Hans who left his fingerprints all over her as well as every other woman in the room. My Hans denies ever having had any family living in the United States back then, but I wonder!

Onions in the Stew is about living on Vashon Island in Washington as a new wife, and the mother of two teenage girls (who bleached their hair with peroxide, and had plans to drop out of school and tour with the USO!) during World War II and the days of food rationing.

And of course the book that started it all, The Egg and I, an unbelievably funny tale of life on a remote chicken farm in the mountains sans running water or electricity. And this book introduced the hilarious Ma and Pa Kettle to the world. Apparently some people up in the mountains didn't find it to be so funny because Betty was (unsuccessfully) sued by a family who said they were the Kettle family portrayed in the book and they were thoroughly insulted.

To this day they still are.

Betty also wrote the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books and while over the years I'd managed via garage sales and E-Bay to find most of her works, Nancy and Plum was just a little too expensive for me. But I just bought it for $17.00 through Powells Books on the Internet and now I can rest easy.

As I mentioned before, Betty died at 49 but she had six grandchildren by then and what better fodder for books than grandchildren, inlaws, etc...

Anyone who could make people laugh about TB really could have done anything!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Finally some sewing!

My house is almost empty and I'm now at that stage where every time I reach for something I realize it's not here but in Hans' apartment.

While I was in the Big City last week I did manage to get some sewing done. This purse is from a pattern but I can't remember which one (and of course I'm at my house right now and the pattern is in the apartment!). It's made from polished cotton and I have yards and yards of this fabric. Actually I'd love to make a summer dress from it but I'm half a afraid I'd end up looking like an upholstered couch!

Here is Sally Stitch modeling it for me.

It's a pretty purse but it needs some serious tweaking and by the time I'm done monkeying with the pattern it will be a lot different.

I bought a new cardboard cutting board because the old one was such a mess.

This is the dining room in Hans' apartment and I have my board on two card tables.

Here's the ugly old board which is now history!

Now this is something I'm very happy with.

This is truly my own design and I put a lot of thought into it.

I love things to be versatile. Most likely because I'm so cheap. This is two bags in one.

Actually it's not quite done yet because I ran out of covered buttons. So when I came back to my house this week I brought the bag with me, along with the fabric to cover the buttons, and I was even far thinking enough to bring the little covered button tool that's needed to do the job. I ran into JoAnn's last night, bought 2 packs of covered buttons (those little buggers are expensive!) but when I got home I realized I have no needles or thread!

I'm very glad to say that by next Monday I will be in the Big City for good (or at least until reality kicks in and Hans wonders what the hell he was thinking!).

The lower part of the purse is completely separate from the main bag and is held in place with covered buttons. This creates very generous pockets on the outside of the bag.
The main bag sports a fun little cork print and has a small flap with a magnetic snap closure. You can't really see them but there are covered buttons on the front and back that hold the lower portion of the purse in place.

You can just see them on the above picture.
If you just want a simple and plain bag then you can take the bottom off. The covered buttons remain in place and take nothing away from the look of the bag.

So here's the fun part.

The button holes that have been sewn into the outer/lower part of the bag (that hold it to the upper bag) now allow handles to be buttoned into place so you now have a very cute little bag. As you can see this is where I need my covered buttons and I have only pinned these handles in place. When not in use these handles lie perfectly flat in the bottom of the bag and can be sandwiched between it and the main bag when using both of them as one unit.

I also added a snap closure on the inside of this bag (between the button holes) so that it can close. When it's used with the main bag the snap is not used and it isn't seen either!!!!
Here is the inside zippered pocket with a zipper pull I made out of a wine cork.

And I've finally decided that even though I love to sew purses it's getting a little out of hand so I'm going to start selling on Etsy. I ordered labels today and I'll post a picture of them as soon as I get them. I know that tons of people offer their items on Etsy and I don't have high expectations but it's something I'd like to try and I have a lot of ideas.
Even though it was bitter cold this weekend Hans cooked steaks on the grill. Here is our tiny table in our tiny kitchen and I'm using my grandmother's table cloth. I have several of those old vintage cotton table cloths that women used in the 40's and I like to use them when possible.
Tomorrow my carpets are getting cleaned (and boy do they need it!), my hair is getting cut and colored (and boy do I need it!), and I have to finish cleaning the garage (don't even ask!!).