Friday, December 25, 2015

I Heart You

The Boyfriend and I don't generally exchange gifts for the winter holiday.  We do birthdays, and we'll do something for our anniversary, but that's about it.  This year, I did want to make something for him, but with my free time being what it is these days (pretty much non-existent), it needed to be pretty easy.  So I decided to make us a couple's glove.

They go by a couple of names, the most common being Smitten (which is apparently also used for mittens made out of old sweaters).  This one satisfies both of those.  I went thirfting with a friend and found an ugly red sweater.  I should have taken a picture before I applied my magic to it, but just trust me that it was hideous.

It shrank more than I expected it to when I felted it.  I had actually been hoping to make matching mittens for the other hands, but no dice.  In fact, getting just this out of the body of the sweater was closer than I would have liked.

I kind of winged the pattern.  I should have  made the heart fatter on top and it's overall bigger than it needs to be. The ribbing for the wrists is just the bottom ribbing from the sweater.

Not that the weather is cooperating with using this. The forecast for today is 70!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Secret Santa Can Suck It 2015

It's time for Shadow Manor's Secret Santa Can Suck It!  My assignee this year is Cobwebs, who I actually know in real life.  Her house is a menagerie, so let's first start by spoiling her canine companions.

 I actually own this Martha Stewart pet bed, and my cats love it.  (Of course they would; they're my cats.)  Her doggies can curl up and sleep in style.

And these lovely treats look up their alley. Almost look good enough for human consumption.  Maybe they'll lay off of Santa's cookies.

And this variety of toys should keep them busy while they wait up for Santa.  (So they can chase his reindeer.)

I didn't leave her ratties out!  They get this new redecorated cage.

For Cobwebs herself, she gets a comfy new study, where she can read up on demon summoning or whatever else her dark heart desires.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's Curtains for You!

Last week, I decided on a whim that I need Halloween curtains for my living room.  I ran out to JoAnn's and picked up the only kind of fabric that had eight yards on the bolt, which was this pumpkin print.

Simple curtains, I just hemmed the edges and sewed down a pocket at the top for the curtain rod.  Still took two hours to make.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pictures from Germany

As requested, I've written up a post of my trip to Germany.  It's very picture-heavy.  It was very hard to limit it to just these few, because I quite literally took hundreds of photos.

(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

We headed to Karlsruhe our second day in Germany.  (We landed in Frankfurt, but I didn't get any pictures.  We went to the Goethe house there though.)  This is from the Baden State Museuem in the Karlsruhe Palace.

Lots of stuff from the ancient world to the modern in this museum.  I went ga-ga over the Egyptian stuff, as expected, but I thought this would be appealing to my readers.  Death-themed imagery was everywhere, which kind of makes sense when you face years of The Black Death.

The next stop for us was Stuttgart.  We only spent an afternoon here, mainly walking around town.  This is the Wurttemberg State Museum, which was closed (unfortunately).

After Stuttgart, we headed to Ulm.  We went to the Bread Museum in the morning, which was more interesting than it sounds.  Einstein was born here, but his house was destroyed.  This memory stands in its former place, which is very close to the main train station.

We took the train to Munich and immediately changed into our trachten.  I had planned ahead for the weather (it was miserably cold) and wore a wool shirt under my dirndl blouse.  I also wore the heavy socks I purchased there, along with my sweater.  I was still glad of the coffee house at Oktoberfest, with some pretty decent hot chocolate.  That was the highlight of this event.

From the Deutsches Technology Museum in Munich, a gondola from Italy.  I called it a goth-dola.

An Enigma Device from the same museum!  One of my Master's degrees is in crypto, so I really geeked out over this.  I even gave an impromptu lecture on the subject to a couple of tourists who were interested in how it worked.  I'm not ashamed.

The Munich Glockenspiel.  We stopped by the on the way to the train station.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to see it in action.  The size of it was overwhelming.

We spent the next night in Fussen and then rented a car to head to Schwangau.  It was very tourist-y and well-polished.  We took a hiking trail up to Frauenstein, which was a memorial to a former castle.

Neuschwannstein was built by the sorta-loony Ludwig II.  Supposedly Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland is based on this one; doesn't seem like a stretch at all to me.

No pictures of the inside were allowed.

I got a sunburn here.  Only I could get sunburned in autumn while wearing sunscreen.

Ettal Monastery is nearly 700 years old.  We went here mostly because my boyfriend wanted to buy some of their blueberry liqueur.

Our hotel in Ettal was across the street from a cemetery, right next to the monastery.  This was the view from our window.

More death imagery, from inside of the monastery.

We had lunch here in Oberammergau.  No joke, there was garlic hanging in the window.

Werdenfels Castle dates from 11-something.  It lies in ruins near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, overlooking the Alps.  And you can just crawl all over it, no safety ropes or guards or anything.  I wish we had taken a picnic up here.  It was just so beautiful and peaceful.

Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany.  This was one of our main destinations on the trip.  Unfortunately, we started too late to make a serious summit attempt, but we had a nice hike and a lovely day.

More Zugspitze.

We didn't stay there long, but from what I saw and experience, I really liked Nuremburg.  After our breakfast (I swear I ate half a pound of cheese), we headed to the Germanisches National Museum.  We didn't get to stay long, because we had a train to catch, but there was all sorts of wonderful medieval exhibits.

These doors reminded me of Labyrinth.

This was near a fountain in town square.  The poem basically amounts to "sometimes, love stinks".

Of course we went to visit Nefertiti in Berlin!  We weren't allowed pictures (again).  So this is a bust of her and Akhenaten in the next room.

The staff here was really cranky.

The next stop was Hamburg.  This shot is the medicine chest of a ship in the International Maritime Museum.

We stopped briefly in Bruhl to see the Tim Burton exhibit at the Max Ernst Museum.  Yeah, no pictures allowed.

So that was my whirlwind two weeks in Germany.  I am happy to be home, just because it means I get to sit still for five minutes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dirndl mit Fledermäuse

I initially started writing this post on my phone while on a train from Frankfurt, and I finished it on my computer, so I apologize for any weird layout issues.

I used Burda 7057 as the pattern for my dirndl.  Burda is a German pattern company, though they're owned by Simplicity.  A couple of other pattern companies had dirndls, but they weren't nearly as good.  I wasn't really concerned about being perfectly authentic since I was using bat fabric, but I didn't want it be poorly fitted and look like a cheap costume.  Burda actually has their dirndl patterns with the regular dresses, since it's perfectly acceptable to wear them to weddings and such things in Bavaria (sort of like a kilt).

This pattern is labelled "young", which I'm guessing means it's marketed towards juniors, though it seems to use standard adult sizing.  I checked and double checked the measurements to make sure they were comparable.

The first things I made were the blouse and apron.  I had only two yards of fabric and the pattern calls for nearly 4.  I mostly made it work, though the ties for the apron aren't solid pieces.  I started off making the pieces perfectly matched, but I was using three or four pieces per tie.  So by the end, I didn't care as long as they were the same grain (and I can't guarantee they were).

I didn't alter the blouse except to add the bat lace around the end of the sleeves.  It had been sitting in the stash for years.  Seemed like a perfect occasion to use it.  I only changed the apron by adding lace and pockets.  I should have made them a bit deeper (I have a GIANT cell phone), but they did the job.

I didn't bother with my usual alterations on the dress (shorten the straps and lengthen the skirt).  This was mostly due to indifference on my part.  No alterations were made here, except that my hooks weren't too traditional.  It was a bit snug in my apparently voluminous rib cage (a problem I have experienced more than once), but I expected this and didn't sew in the lining until I'd checked the fit, to give me room to let out the seams, if need be.  The bodice was supposed to be interfaced, but I skipped it, due to not needing more bulk on my middle; I would have under-stitched the lining, but this was when I had reached the indifference phase of the sewing.  And of course, this didn't fit on the dummy.

The crowning piece here is the shawl.  I've been crocheting on and off for about six years.  I've never been very good, and mostly made the little amigurumi toys for my niblings and friends' kids, but most of them are past the age where such things are appealing.  In the past year, I've spent a lot of the time I would have been sewing doing crochet instead.  It was hard to motivate myself to get off the couch, but having my crochet bag sitting right next to the couch meant I didn't have to.  So I wrapped myself in a blanket, put on some Netflix, and got to work.  By my count, I've made five scarves in the last year, one of which was fifteen feet long (it was a Tom Baker scarf).

Anyway, not a very good crocheter.  I started this shawl in March, before we had even seriously discussed going to Germany.  I wanted to try my hand a filet crochet and had a pattern for a bat curtain in my crochet book (The Happy Hooker).  I kind of threw the shawl pattern together without really knowing what I was doing, but it worked.  It took me five months to finish the damn thing, but I spent two of those months with my arm in a cast, and it is over six feet long.

In Germany, I ended up buying the traditional thick knit socks to wear with it, which came with a cute little stein on a ribbon.  It got lost at Oktoberfest, so I plan on redoing it with leftover ribbon from the lacing on the dirndl and a bat charm.

So how was the pattern?  Burda's intended audience is people who know what they're doing, not beginners.  A lot of the instructions are given in one step, with no picture, whereas it would be three or four steps in Simplicity, each with an illustration.  I've only ever done one Burda patern before, and that was a tuxedo, and likely far beyond my skill set at the time.  This pattern is rated at 2 out of 4, and I would agree with the caveat that if you aren't accustomed to reading Burda patterns, you're going to spend a lot of time figuring out what to do.  So it isn't hard, it just takes some time to learn how to read the pattern.

I should probably mention how Oktoberfest was.  It pains me to say it, but it wasn't so fun.  I wouldn't go back.  The people who worked at our hotel in Munich said that it has become all for tourists in the last few years, and more of a frat party than a celebration of Bavarian culture.  Additionally, apparently my dirndl wasn't seen as fun and quirky, but confusing and weird in a bad way.

Overall, I did have a great time in Germany and would be happy to go back when it isn't Oktoberfest.  Would my readers be interested in my vacation pictures?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Germany Update

Heading to Germany today.  The dirndl is finished, but I haven't had a moment to breathe, yet alone write a blog post about it.  I'll try to do one during my long train rides.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sew What?!

Sew What?! was originally what I wanted to name this blog, but the name was already taken on Blogspot.  Harrumph.

Shortly after I so thoroughly broke myself, I had a weekend alone so I wanted to see how well I could sew.  My left wrist is the broken one, and I'm right-handed, so I thought I could probably do most things.  But my right ankle, the one that operates the machine, is the one that is injured.  Still, I wanted to try.

I picked a simple pattern, one I've done multiple times before: McCall's 6071.  It showed up as View B in the Haunted mansion dress and View B/C in the pie dress.  This is a shortened version of B.  Yeah, there is already a shorter version (A), but that was too short for me.  I wanted a long dress here (I was wearing the air cast on my ankle at the time, and long dresses were preferable to cover that up; sleeveless dresses were absolutely necessary because I couldn't get anything with sleeves over the fiberglass cast on my arm), but I had less fabric than I thought I did.  This ended up being just past my knees.

The fabric here is called Purrfect Notions Pin Cushion by RJR Fabrics.  The little tea cups have kitties on them.  I'm sure no one is surprised that I would have fabric with sewing items and cats on it.  I really am turning into a crazy cat lady.

Although I was able to cut pretty well with my functional hand, using fabric weights in place of the nonfunctional hand, pinning was hard.  I managed to pin and sew the seams of the skirt, and hem it, but I couldn't get much of the bodice done.  The turning of the straps and gathering on the front was just too much for my broken self.

So with the dress half-done, I abandoned it until last Saturday morning.  Another weekend to myself, and I decided it was time to start cracking.  I need to start working on my dirndl, but I didn't want to leave this sitting until that was completed.  My arm is in a brace and my ankle is still swollen, but I managed to finish, though it took longer than it should have.  The gathering was still really hard.

 In other news, as I said, my left arm is in a brace right now.  I'm going through physical therapy, but it's pretty stiff.  I finally got back to running last week after a two month hiatus.  I can't tell you how much I missed it.  I can tell you, but I won't, about how much weight I've gained from two months of not running.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Deutschland Bound!

The Boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Germany in the fall, which will include a day or two at Oktoberfest.  (Yes, the non-drinking vegetarian is going to Oktoberfest.)  Never one to miss an opportunity to make and wear a costume, I decided I need to make a dirndl.

My first thought was linen, in black and a deep royal purple.  I figured linen would be the right weight that I'd be comfortable anywhere in temperatures from 60 to 80.  And then I'd do subtle bat embroidery along the hems.  So it'd be mostly traditional, with just a touch of my insanity.

And then I went to the fabric store with a friend and saw both bright orange and hot pink linen, but no deep purple.  Of course, my mind started racing.  Pumpkins on orange!  Spiders on pink!  Lace!  Ribbons!  Buttons and trim and embroidery!  Mwah ha ha!  Which then led me to thinking I should just out and out make the dirndl in Halloween fabric.  Which is completely the opposite of "mostly traditional, with just a touch of my insanity."

So, what do you think?  Traditional?  Completely off the wall?  Somewhere in between?

Of course, I still have two broken bones, so sewing anything right now is difficult to impossible.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Secret Pumpkin 2015

As part of the Secret Pumpkin 2015 gift exchange, I decided to make an Edgar Allan Poe rag doll.  I actually started It last year, for the 2014 exchange, but if you recall, Lydia the Wonder Brat went missing and I spent every waking moment searching for her.  (She hasn't learned her lesson at all and still tries to make a run for the door.)

The pattern is Simplicity 9447.  I had purchased this to make matching Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for my (ex) niece and nephew.  When I decided to make the Poe doll last year, I figured this was the perfect way to use a pattern that would probably not get used otherwise.

All the items came from my stash.  The muslin I had around for obvious reasons, the black was from last year's elf dress, the red was from the Ms Pac-Man dress, and the green buttons were from my ex-husband's grandmother's button collection.  Before I took up sewing, I was really into cross-stitch, so the face is embroidery floss leftover from those days.  I can't remember what I had the black fleece for, but the green was from the lining of a purse.

More chibi than I intended
Since this is a rag doll, I intentionally left it a little rough.  The exposed seems are finished with zig zags to stop the fraying.

The vest and coat were modified from the pattern's shirt.  The bottle of absinthe and the raven were freehanded.  I intended to do the hair as black yarn, but opted for fleece since I needed such thick coverage.

I really enjoy doing Secret Pumpkin.  If you'd like to participate next year, be sure to visit the web site and sign up.

And not like I was producing a lot for the blog, but I broke my wrist over the weekend (celebrating my birthday!), so I'll be out of commission for a while.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Piece of the Pi

Happy Pi Day of the Century!  Today is 3/14/15, which is a close approximation of the number pi.  While Pi Day is celebrated every year, it's only once a century that the approximation comes this close.  As a giant nerd, I have a party planned for tonight, with pies, quiche, and pizzas on the menu, along with pi-shaped cookies.

Regular readers might remember that I seem to have a thing for making dresses with food on them (I guess I'm the Weird Al of the sewing world?).  It makes me feel a bit juvenile, but obviously not enough to stop me.  So it's no surprise I had this fabric in my stash.  I had purchased it with the intention of making a dress for Pi Day, but with my sewing mojo being what it is these days (or rather, what it isn't these days), it just sat in the stash until Friday of last week.  I decided I must pull out all the stops and see if I could make a dress in a week.

I went with a dress I had already made (McCall's 6071, in the Haunted Mansion fabric), since I could save a bit of time by having the pattern already cut, and I would know anything tricky that went along with it.  I did the bodice of view C and the long skirt of view A.  I spent maybe 90 minutes on Friday night cutting the dress and sewing the bodice.  I did the skirt sides and the hem on Saturday, finishing up the rest on Sunday afternoon.  All in all, I probably only spent four or five hours on this in total.  It's a very easy dress, but I am still quite surprised at how fast this came together.

The only modification I made was my usual shortening of the straps.  The dress could have stood to be lengthened a bit, but it would have been tough in the fabric allotment I had (the pattern calls for 3 1/8 yards and I had only 3).  (Side note: I moved my sewing room to the larger spare bedroom - now that it's empty of my ex-husband's stuff - and must have screwed up Azzurra's measurements in the move.  Her bust was a bit too small and she seems to be several inches shorter than she was.  So when I say the dress could have stood to be lengthened, it wouldn't end up dragging on the floor like it is in these pictures.)

So, as I said previously, this is a very easy dress.  This would be a good project for an absolute beginner.  The only challenges in this version are the darts in the bodice and inserting the zipper.

 So go have a piece (or several pieces) of pie, contemplate transcendental numbers, and happy Pi Day!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Halloween 2014: WW Accessories

Lasso: Many yards of metallic gold trim from Joann's; I simply Fray-Checked the ends and then used this tutorial to learn how to tie a Honda knot (I also tied a stopper knot in it so it wouldn't slide around too much).  Knowing that I wouldn't want to carry it around all night, I did a loop of skirt fabric at my waist, and used one of the star buttons (the same at the straps) to close it.  It was rather fun to sneak up (or boldly approach) The Boyfriend, throw the lasso around him, and pull him in for a kiss.

Earrings: Dangly stars from ClassicallyRomantic and two pairs of metallic star studs from Claire's (which no longer seem to be on the site).

Tiara and cuffs: CapeandCloak

Boots: Super sexy PVC vinyl boots by Funtasma, purchased from SuperHeroStuff.  Surprisingly comfortable.

Tights: layered red and blue fishnets from WeLoveColors.

Hair: long hair and sequins DO NOT MIX, so I wore it up in a bun.  You can't see it in this picture, but I'm wear a hair flower over it, made with scraps from my costume, but my friend Reeb from REEBelliously Crafty.