Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The nicest summer ever, a.k.a. "Autumn in Northern California."

As you can see, we are trying to squeeze every last drop of sunshine out of this summer.

These photos are from this past weekend, which we spent by Lake Tahoe. Wow. Saturday was just ... glittering.

Here's what Mark Twain said about Lake Tahoe in 1861 (according to the plaque I read at King's Beach):

"At last the lake burst upon us--a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft three thousand feet higher still! As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords."

What he said. Or, as we Californians say, "Whoa, dude."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


  1. My Etsy shop has been everything I feared and hoped for. Which is to say, (1) I'm actually selling stuff!; and (2) It's a lot of work! But I am already feeling invigorated by my smaller, more precious stash, and of course, a little extra money is wonderful. It's funny, though: As soon as someone makes an offer on a piece of fabric, I feel immediate resistance to selling it and imagine all of the great things I could do with it. "No way! That's my favorite piece!" It turns out that Joe and I are not that different after all - the toy that your friend is playing with is always the best one. So far I have overcome these feelings by reminding myself that I will use the money to buy new fabric, which will hopefully not sit in my stash for a decade.
  2. Joe's favorite words are currently "yellow" and "no." This means that if you ask him if his favorite color is yellow, he'll say "No!" but don't believe that for a second. The rest of time, when he's not saying "no!,"  it's "yellow flower!" "yellow truck!" and "yellow train!" all. day. long.
  3. It's hot! This is a big deal. Yes, our house really heats up on hot days, but we don't care, because the feeling of being warm is so novel. I've spent this summer in my shearling slippers.
  4. We have fresh ripe garden tomatoes (see above re: heat)! Too many of them! I spend 11 months of the year longing for fresh homegrown tomatoes and the other month trying to pawn them off on my friends because I'm sick of them. And yes, I see the irony in this. Have you listened to the Garrison Keillor skit, "Tomato Butt"? No? You should. He says it so much better than I do.
  5. My brother has been staying with us for the past couple weeks, and he's awesome. I am blessed with incredibly intelligent family members who constantly challenge me. In a good way!
  6. I have sewn something! Two boring pairs of PJ shorts for Joe with recycled thrift store knits. I don't have a photo, because they are constantly in rotation, and thus, constantly dirty. I used the Sleeping Johns pattern from Growing Up Sew Liberated but shortened them. Joe doesn't need many PJ shorts, because it's rarely hot here, but he has gotten a lot of use out of these two pairs in this past week. 
  7.  I am, right this minute, making spaghetti with homemade sauce with fresh tomatoes. I ... ahem ... added some half and half, making it creamy tomato sauce. It is so simple to do, and let me tell you, amazing. (It turns out the secret to great cooking is to add more fat. Don't tell anyone you heard that from me.)
  8. Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Golden Girls.

I haven't been sewing much lately. Instead, I've been spending my evenings watching reruns of "The Golden Girls." Yeah, probably not the most productive occupation, but everyone needs to relax and do nothing sometimes, right? And you know what? That show is unique. I mean, can you think of any other show that centers around a friendship between four independent and lively older women? I'm not saying there are no bad or tasteless jokes, because that would be stupid, but even twenty-five years later, the idea that older women might have active lives (even sex lives!) outside of their families is still radical, isn't it?

And it's funny!

But of course, the best/worst part is the clothes, right?

These are really sedate compared to the clothes on the actual show.
The clothes! Dorothy's outfits are the best/worst. At least once per episode, I find myself exclaiming, "What is she wearing?" Not simply as in, "Wow, that's ugly." No, actually, what is that? A shirt? A caftan? A dress? What? And the shoulder pads! Let's try not to think about the shoulder pads.

Again, a sedate example. You have to watch the show.
The Golden Girls aesthetic must be having a subconscious effect on me, though, because I find myself more drawn to 1980s fashions of late. Not the punk-influenced fashions. Not neon colors, pointy toed pumps, gothic lace, or plastic jewelry. Rather, soft and drapey (often ethnically-inspired) pieces. Like this pattern, which is currently for sale on Etsy*:

FYI: It's a two piece.
Okay, people, talk to me. Am I suffering from an overdose of Dorothy Zbornak (i.e., "Compared to Dorothy's clothes, this looks practically normal!") or is this actually a really lovely pattern? I'm loving the stripes, the play on fabric grain (stripe direction), and really loving the big skirt pockets. I even kind of like the top?! (Of course I would ditch the shoulder pads, earrings, and - *shudder* - hair spray.)

Or what about this simple wrap dress:

Kind of pretty, huh? I like the way that the skirt is softly gathered into the bodice. I see so many possibilities with this pattern. Rose Nylund would totally wear this, and look lovely and breezy (and yes, sweetly dumb).

What do you think? Should I buy these patterns and try to bring them up to date, or should I just turn off the television and try to forget that this "inspiration" ever happened?

* I would beg you not to go on Etsy and buy these patterns out from under me, but I realize this is probably not necessary.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


What is all this talk in blog-land about being excited for the arrival of autumn? Fall colors, brisk fall breezes, wool, cardigans, boots, yada yada yada. My feed reader is practically exploding with posts written by folks who are yearning for cooler days and warmer, earth-toned clothing. These posts are often accompanied by photos of colorful foliage, chic camel coats, or cozy slippers.

What is wrong with you people?

Oh, wait, you probably got a real summer, huh? Possibly with record-breaking heat and drought, or humidity and mosquitoes? Well, okay.

But some of us only emerged from the fog last week. Some of us wear wool cardigans, boots (and hey, earth-tones) all year 'round. Some of us only noticed last month on a trip to Denver that we don't own a single tank top. Because, seriously, why bother.

Some of us are still hoping against hope for some glorious warm days and ripe garden tomatoes.

All of this autumn-talk may be preventing "some of us" (cough cough) from maintaining the proper level of denial.

So, shush.

View from my office. Not too shabby.
View from my office conference room on a gorgeous day last November. There is hope!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Etsy shop & blog friends.

I've started a little Etsy shop to sell some stash fabrics that I love, but overbought. My goal is to sell some of my cutesy, girly floral prints, and purchase more solids, linens, stripes, and plaids. I have a habit of buying a certain type of fabric and using another type: I can't resist kitchy designer prints, but I am more likely to actually sew with basics. Am I the only one who suffers from this problem? Anyway, check out my new shop! Once I've finished listing my stash offerings, I may list some vintage patterns and sewing notions too.

My thoughts today are with my bloggy friend Jeannie, of Life on the (Clothes) Line, who has lost her house in the Texas fires. I only made Jeannie's acquaintance in mid-August, when I was inspired by her blog to share my Nanny's recipes. We have been exchanging emails since, delighted to find how much we have in common - crafty urges, vintage recipes, cute kids, and a love of aprons. I am thankful that she and her family are safe, and that she is surrounded by supportive friends and family, but my heart hurts to think of her traumatic loss and the work that lies ahead as she rebuilds her life. There are no words. It's just rotten.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Selling Sewing Stuff.*

*Aliteration is awesome, right?

Anyway, we're trying to purge over here. It's an ongoing project. I have posted a few things on eBay, and I'm working on setting up an Etsy shop to sell off some of my fabric stash.

It's a lot of work taking photos and posting descriptions of everything - how do you Etsy sellers manage it?

The biggest thing I've posted today is a bona-fide vintage copy of the world-famous "Walkaway Dress," Butterick 6015, in a 36 Bust, in its FACTORY FOLDS. This is quite the collector's item. I have no intention of ever actually sewing this dress (which is good news for the future buyer of this pattern, because, did I mention, the tissue is still in its factory folds?). But it's super cool.

This is supposedly one of the best-selling patterns of all time! According to the Vintage Pattern Wiki:
During the 1950's, Butterick experienced a phenomenon it had not known since the 'Garibaldi Suit' of the late 1860's. It was pattern 6015, and it was dubbed the 'walk-away' dress, because it was so easy you could "Start it after breakfast... walk-away in it for luncheon!".

It's simple yet flattering wrap design and easy construction were what made it so popular. Sales of the pattern were so great, that at one point manufacturing of all other patterns ceased, and only the 'walk-away' dress was produced until all back-orders for this dress could be filled. 

So cool, right? Unfortunately, I have no room for super cool "collectible patterns" that I don't plan to sew. I need to let some things go before someone calls Hoarding: Buried Alive, on me. Hopefully this lovely pattern will go to a good home.

Next up: It turns out I didn't need FIVE YARDS of designer Amy Butler fabric. What was I thinking?

P.S. I have finally joined Pinterest. As I feared, it has already consumed several hours of my life that I will never get back (but ooh, pretty!). You can find my pins here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First project on the New Sewing Machine!

Yes, yes, yes, folks! I have a new sewing machine! It's a new Singer, the "Sew & Go." (And yes, Steve bought it on HSN.) It has many bells and whistles that I may never use, but it also has many, many features that I have been wanting and will actually use. And, it fits in my sewing table! Wow! Thanks, honey!

New Singer!
It fits in my vintage table?!!

Why is it loaded up with pink thread, you ask?

Ice Cream dress.
First project with the new machine, on the clothesline!

Because I decided to break it in with a fun, tried-and-true, pattern: the Ice Cream Dress, from Oliver + s. Believe it or not, although I have made the blouse several times, I had never tried the dress. This is view A, with pockets. Omigosh. The Pockets. So cute, right?

Ice Cream dress detail.
Seriously can't get over those pockets.

This little dress is destined for my niece Helen. My sister Krishna loves to see her in pink, and I just happened to have some pink fabric, and it matched this blue floral vintage fabric, and ... yeah, super cuteness. It's too bad that everything for girls is pink these days, because pink is a perfectly lovely color, but it's hard not to get tired of it when that's all you see. (My resistance to making pink things for girls is especially silly since I have a huge amount of pink and girly florals in my fabric stash, I am certainly not going to wear them, and I gave birth to a little boy.)

Ice cream dress back.
Here's the back.

It was really fun. I'm still getting a feel for the new machine, but so far, so good. I'm totally going to lose my vintage-machine-cred, huh? Ah, well, I think I'll survive.