28 April 2012

Late to the PJ Party!

Despite the racket you are all making at Karen's Pyjama Party I managed to sleep until almost noon--in my defense, I as up when the party started still wrestling my PJs into being. But I'm here now enjoying the festivities and trying to catch up. Thanks for inviting me, Karen!

1. The jammies as of this time yesterday:
IMG 0412

I'm using Butterick 6837 because I own it, OK? The fabric is quilting cotton that must have been $1.99/yard at FabricMart, otherwise I can't account for it being in my stash. Close up it's fairly pretty but back up a few feet and it's a kind of muddy brown. A dead simple make, complicated only by my propensity to pick up essential tools (scissors, tweezers, elastic) and drop them into some other dimension where they hide for hours at a time then reappear when I've given up looking for them. Oh, and I took Karen's advice to achieve crotch awesomeness by stitching from the seam intersection, but failed to give any thought to how this might work on a serger. But here they are, already broken in with a night's (and morning's) sleep.

IMG 0414

Pay no attention to the hobbity woman in the middle of the picture--look at my beautiful bougainvillea and plumbago!

As for reading material, my bedside is littered with crossword puzzles, sewing books, London Reviews of Books, Ulysses (still and probably forever), and law school textbooks. Plus this:
My history with Dorothy Dunnett goes way, way back--I read the first three (of six) books of The Lymond Chronicles while Dorothy Dunnett was still working on the fourth and had to wait, haunting bookstores and libraries through high school and college, for her to finish the story in 1975. Now Lady Dunnett has a huge international following, but then I was all alone in my obsession. I waited impatiently for her to write some more historical fiction but after several years I gave up. I graduated from law school and had my second child in 1986 and was far to preoccupied to notice that The House of Niccoló, a prequel to my beloved Lymond Chronicles, had begun to appear. I didn't learn about this series until all eight volumes were published, Lady Dunnett had died, and an idle search on the World Wide Web brought it all back to me. These books are wonderful but extremely dense with historical detail and literary allusion, complicated plots tightly woven into fifteenth-century politics and trade, demanding (and rewarding) intense concentration that I seem to have in much shorter supply today than I did forty years ago.

What was the question?

23 April 2012

No comment.

In the past two days I have had my comments rejected by both a blogger and a wordpress blog. So to make up for that, and to reduce my frustration, and to let off steam because I'm sitting in a faculty meeting instead of buying fabric by the pound with Elizabeth I hereby announce the following:

Oh, I'm so sorry.
That must be really annoying!
What a beautiful dress!
Sign me up!
I have one just like that!

15 April 2012

Worth Its Featherweight in Gold and Other Delusions

There's an ad running on Craigslist locally offering to sell a 1937 Featherweight for $1000! According to the ad:
Singer 221 has the distinct honor or perhaps there has never been a better sewing machine ever made than the singer 221. As Singer's finest models of sewing machines, 221 was built to last a lifetime…. It was Singer's top of the line in this class for years and one of their most expensive sewing machine.
A pretty good deal, provided the "CARRING CASE" is stuffed with hundred dollar bills.

I passed on the solid gold featherweight but bought myself a used 5'x3' cutting mat. Nice to be able to lay out more than one pattern piece before cutting and shifting the fabric! I gave it a test run cutting the Vogue 8499 Marcy Tilton pants out of purple moleskin.
MVI 0406
I have vowed to go slow and be careful with these pants, enjoy the sewing, and avoid frustrating stupid mistakes. Hah! First, even with all my new cutting territory I somehow managed to turn pieces around so I think I've got the (very visible) nap going every which way. Design element. And piece 12 of the pattern has disappeared into thin air. I can find neither the traced version nor the original--it has simply vanished. Fortunately it is just the front facing and I can sort of figure it out, but where did it go? I used to be very good at finding things, but now it's a wonder I can even walk around without tripping over all the bits and bobs I've lost over the years. My house isn't large enough to hold all the things I can't find!

Oh well. I made a trial version of McCall's 6031 but forgot to take a picture before I mailed it to DD in Washington DC to try on for fit.M6031
She got it! She likes it! She wants me to finish this one and make another! I'm excited to sew for someone who looks cute in clothing.

11 April 2012

Joining Up and Squealing With Delight!

First, following fearless leader Zoe of 'So, Zo … What Do You Know?': I, KC of The Sewcratic Method, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '12. I endeavour to wear one or more hand-stitched garments each day for the duration of May 2012. And to up my style game a smidge.

Second, I have also signed on to The Pyjama Party hosted by Karen of Did You Make That? You can never have too many pajamas, no matter how you spell them.

As for the squealing with delight, the generous Magpie Mimi has bestowed upon me the Liebster Blog award!

Evidently it is awards season here in blog land. The terms of this award are:

Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
Thank you very muchly, Mimi!
Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you. Done!
Copy/paste the blog award on your blog.
Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs (with 200 followers or less).
1. Quiet And Small Adventures in Ph.D. Land.
2. As I Said.
3. Pretty Grievances (I have no idea how many "followers" prttynpnk has.)
4. Lucky Sew and Sew
5. It's A Sewing Life.

Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment.

I'm on it. I hope Kristin, LSASpacey, prttynpnk, Jane M and Elle aren't already exhausted from accepting awards.

05 April 2012

I Got All Dirty Today

As I've said before, I can't help myself. I pore over Craigslist at least once a day looking at sewing machines. Mid-20th Century or earlier. Shiny. Heavy. Mostly black. I've only bought 2, my 1953 Singer 15-91 and my 1901 Singer 27 Treadle, for a total investment still under $100, and none in the past 9 months. Clearly, I'm due. So to induce labor--that is, to make myself work on grading a pile of student papers--I promised me I could buy a new old machine when I was dome.

I'm waiting for a Craigslist poster to get back to me about this Elna Supermatic, which supposedly has all its parts but no price listed:

Source: Craigslist

Yummy, right? But in the meantime I thought I'd check out Larry's Levis and Collectibles on Lankershim Boulevard here in North Hollywood.

395725 371215712893550 283374031677719 1792028 1290206882 n
Source: Larry's Levis

Larry's was formerly the site of J.S. Kahn Sewing Machines. When Mr Kahn died Larry moved into his space and acquired his inventory of over 800 sewing machines in various states of disrepair.

Source: Larry's Levis
Source: Larry's Levis

Hundreds of the more plausible machines have been reconditioned and sold, but hundreds of others remain, covered in decades of dust. Some have post-it notes on them saying things like "Needs Help" and "Might work", indicating that Larry et al. have looked them over, but some still have old J.S. Kahn work orders on them. Judging from the photo above, which I swiped from Larry's facebook page, J.S. Kahn's inventory included many more old Singers than are there today. I suppose there is more demand for Singers among collectors (and movie set dressers) and they are easier to resurrect. The black Singers left on the shelves were a sad lot, apparently having served as organ donors for more promising machines. Not that their sacrifices made them so different from the Elnas and Brothers and Kenmores around them, however; apparently Larry's standard procedure was to strip each machine of any parts that might be sold separately--power cords, cams, feet, bobbins, etc., and then to throw those orphaned parts into boxes labeled "accessories" which are now stacked against a back wall.

So actually buying a J.S. Kahn machine from Larry's Levis (which I did not do today) may involve paying separately for machine head, case, power cord and foot pedal, bobbins, feet and stitch cams, provided they can be coaxed out of their various hiding places around the store. But shopping there was a dusty and dirty delight.