Friday, December 13, 2013

Make a Holiday Decoration

 My December Sewing Goal (if you don't recall what they are, they're here.) was  to make a holiday decoration. I do this every year, and it's fun to see the different stockings I've made over the years

Stockings from last year

Crazy Quilt style stocking made this week
Elegant Gold Cotton stocking with Gold Braid trim made this week

Blue and White wool felt stocking with giant snowflake sequins and eyelet trim cuff made last weekend when my sewing machine came back from hospital
Cat about to scoop out the ornaments and use them like hockey pucks all over the house
Stockings are fun to make because they are fast, take very little fabric, and make great gifts and decorations.
You can use a pattern (there are many available) or draw your own - it's an easy shape.
I'm making more this weekend, just for fun.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The DIY Imperative

Anne Fadiman wrote an essay  in her lovely book Ex Libris, about how marketing in catalogs and advertising has changed over the years from polite "You can be beautiful using our Arsenic Makeup wafers!", to the imperative. Now everywhere we look, someone is telling us what to do; from our bras to our bosses, it's an endless stream of commands.

Pinterest has taken this to a whole new level. A recent visit has yielded the following DIY Imperatives:

"Make this easy vintage life preserver with things you probably already have around the house!"  Who among us has not had extraneous sailboat paraphernalia scattered about the house and garden'? ( Actually this is kind of clever, but anyone who puts this much effort into a child's first birthday is insane.
Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Wait, you say you have lots of time on your hands? You can: Funk up your denim using a lil’ something you have under your sink…,  or Make a colorful artwork out of paint chips circles. Super easy with lots of possibilities, (is it just me, or does this just look like paint chips on matting board? Yes ,yes it does. Carry on Pinterest DIYers! No hate from Mrs. Hunting Creek. If it makes you happy!)

I think this is the one that made me snap: Get a festive decoration with just an old light bulb and some glitter!
Pinterest again. Don't try this at home.

 This project can be dangerous around both children and adults. Light bulbs are very fragile and can easily break, exposing people and pets to sharp shards of this glass and the elements inside light bulbs. I speak from sad experience - my son accidentally broke a light bulb and sliced his palm open, requiring a trip the the emergency room, stitches and a long mental health recovery period for mom and dad and older sister (who was babysitting at the time). He made a complete recovery. We're all still leery of light bulbs. This crafty tip should have giant warning signs on it. (not just a little mention at the end that it is fragile. It isn't just fragile. It's dangerous.) Plus the glitter can come off on hands, and is horribly painful if it gets in your eyes.
It's a little crazy to glitter up light bulbs when there are perfectly nice, inexpensives sturdy glass and plastic ornaments at Michael's and other places which you can glitter up to your heart's content, if that's your thing.
I've written before how Art can be dangerous.  We can make it less dangerous by not doing dangerous stuff around kids and pets.

And stop bossing me around, Pinterest- you aren't the Boss of me! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Frontiers in Lingerie

The Press Release says:
researchers at Microsoft are developing a smart bra that will detect the stress levels of women. By detecting stress levels, this bra will help alert women of their increased levels of stress, which leads to helping them prevent `eating their emotions.` 

How sweet of Microsoft to be worried about our ladyfeelings and eating "issues'.

"This app will help `counsel` you to avoid going to the fridge because you`re just bored, extremely stressed or whatever the case may be."

Because your Bra knows what's best for you! It sends you a concerned text message:

Smart Bra: Step away from the Bourbon, Missy. That's for the Christmas Party.Put down the cheese and crackers. NOW!
Missy: But I have Feelings and Stress! Emotions, which while undetectable to human men, are completely measurable by sensors in my bra.!

What Microsoft is missing here: many women do not wear bras while they are in the privacy of their own kitchens, wearing pajamas and eating whatever the hell they want.What business is it of yours, Microsoft?
And why are they collecting data on women's stress eating?

Why not fix the real problem : women have unnatural levels of stress because they are still doing the lionesses' share of childcare and housework, while also holding down full time jobs. How about taking those research dollars and apply them instead  toward getting affordable universal childcare, better schools, flexible working conditions and more equitable wages?
That would reduce some stress.

And while they're at it: A suggestion: Men's boxers and briefs that measure their stress levels and send text messages to them:

Smart Briefs: Hey dude, fold the laundry.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Scary Patterns: Lizard Overlords

New and powerful hallucinogenic drugs very briefly available in the 90s led to the creation of this pattern, which revealed the real appearances of our New Lizard Overlords, (also known as Hedge Fund Managers).
This indiscretion was quickly hushed up. but a rare few clues remain.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Didn't Happen

Remember this lovely pattern?
This was on my schedule to work on over my Thanksgiving break. That did not happen.

See these partially sewn table runner pieces?
 These didn't get completed either.

These Christmas Stockings are still sitting on my work table, unfinished.
Why so much unfinished business?
Because my sewing machine is 'in hospital'. as my English friends say. If you ever want to know how much sewing you do on a weekly basis, just drop off your machine for a tune up, then discover your back up machine also needs a tune up. It's fortunate that there are no longer small, impressionable young children in the house, because there was strong language used. So I was forced to do the following, to fill my formerly industrious hours:

Watch super depressing movies with family. Seriously, do not watch this movie. Not only is it sad, about a topic that is very distressing, but the plot is full of holes and I had lots of questions. I even woke up thinking about it and worried. Just Don't, and your life will be happier.

Do Christmas shopping. Decorate (which means telling Mr.Hunting Creek to decorate, actually. Delegation, people!)
Clean stuff.(Usually this task is last on my list, and sewing fun stuff for ME is on top Desperate times lead to desperate measures.)

It is supposed to be ready tonight. If it isn't, I'm watching Elf tonight, instead. For Detox purposes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide For Grinches

Grinch Gifts: These are gifts that are clearly in the "Oh, you shouldn't have!" or Please Don't category.

For example, Scott Walker's suggestion that instead of giving gifts to your children for the Holidays, you donate to his campaign instead.  Unless children have changed considerably in the last few years, I'd be willing to bet that not very many children would like getting tax deductible receipts instead of an actual gift in their stockings. Imagine their sad little faces! I know I never liked getting an envelope that instead of cash, was filled with a note saying that they had donated to fill in the blank charity in my name. If you like throwing money around, just give the young person the cash and let them decide if they want to donate it. Or Grinchily donate to a cause that they hate and tell them about it. Mission Accomplished!

How about these Santa Stones?

I cannot improve on this description:
Lead-free pewter pocket stone hand-stamped with "Santa was here" is the perfect addition to your cookie plate on Christmas morning! 
Drop this in a stocking, place it on the tree skirt...sneak it next to the fireplace or front door.
This makes a great keepsake to pass on and adds to the children's excitement!
The stone is Santa's little signature ...a special treat for even
Your stone will come in a red draw string organza bag nestled in shredded ivory paper with a chocolate treat.
Hand crafted here is Washington state! :) 

I was unaware that Santa dropping signed stones about the land was an actual thing.  If true, this shows that Santa is kind of a jerk, yes?

Also in the Grinch Gift Category:
Improvement Gifts. I had a boss who would give self-help books as gifts. I'd open the lovely package and be faced with The Race to Excellence, or the 37 Habits of Outstanding Managers, or Change Your Work To WIN, You Cannot Love Your Work Too Much!  (an early version of Lean In, perhaps?) Worst of all, he would inscribe them. Don't be that person (unless you are a Grinch, in that case, carry on!)
My mother in law gave Mr Hunting Creek a Calligraphy Set, because he is a lefty, and on the actual card wrote that he could use it to "improve his handwriting". He did not appreciate this.
People generally don't appreciate gifts that make them feel imperfect. Best to refrain from the gym membership, Jenny Craig Gift card or or other passive aggressive gestures unless your intent is to spread ill will, as Grinches do.
I'm sure you can think of many Grinch appropriate Gift Opportunities if you put your mind to it. How about a box of chocolates for a diabetic person , or a Don't Blame ME, I voted for Romney T shirt  for a Ron Paul supporter?  
Or, if all else fails, steal all of their gifts, including the roast beast. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Gift List Round Up

Holy Family Finger Puppet Cards
Little Hunting Creek blog readers are an elite and highly discerning bunch, and therefore deserve an elite and specially curated Holiday Gift List:

The Holy Family Finger Puppet cards. Because nothing says True Meaning of Christmas like finger puppets.
Also in True Meaning of Christmas category:
Blue Octopus Ornament
Because octopuses figured prominently in the original Christmas story, but were edited out in the Middle Ages by anti-sea creature factions in the Church.

Sometimes a nice Hostess Gift is in order- a little something for the home. How about these super tasteful

Because nothing shows Christmas Spirit like Gold Gilded Showgirls.

Las Vegas Cocktail Glasses Gold Gilded with Showgirls

Are you feeling Christmas Spirit yet?
If not, you will after seeing these Winedeer Ornaments!
For your favorite wine connoisseur

These are a triple gift. They show that you appreciate their love of fine wines, that you also care about the environment by giving a gift made of recycled materials, plus reindeer, people! Or are they moose/ Christmooses? Either way, Gift Success!
To further increase your Christmas Spirit, here are the 42 Worst Nativity Sets, shared by my BFF from High School.
I think this one is my favorite, but it is so very difficult to choose:
Cats were totally there in the stable that Christmas night. Whoever heard of a stable without a cat?
 If I had one of these I  would definitely display it with pride. 

What are your favorite Holiday Gift Ideas? Or have you been lucky enough to receive an unusual gift?
Let the Shopping begin!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Finished! Tropical Colors Baby Quilt

Click to see larger picture

This is a quick shot my son took last night of my fabulous Tropical Colors Baby quilt. Last night was the gift-giving moment (of course I had just finished it a mere two hours before show time, a new record for me.)
It's my very own design, backed with lime green Minkee and so soft and cuddly I didn't want to give it away.
The sherbet-y pastels are from the Fairy Frost collection, and the center squares are fussy cut 6 inches squares of various tropically themed fabrics. No two blocks are alike, because I get bored making blocks that are alike. I like how my design worked so much I might even make another one (not exactly alike, because that would be boring), but enough so I can write down the process, make a pattern and save it so I can remember what I did.
Now that my "Obligation Sewing" is finished, I can do something fun. Not that this wasn't fun., but I hate deadlines and I am a perfectionist, so the stress of trying to be perfect can be a little wearing.
Have you ever made something you hated to give away? Did you keep it? Or give it away?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Finkbeiner Test For Everything

I have a modest proposal. Let's apply the Finkbeiner test for everything. Not just Science. You may remember the The New York Times' obituary for Yvonne Brill, a pioneering woman scientist. In the first paragraph the Times discussed how she was a good cook and mother. They didn't even discuss her achievements until later in the piece. After public shaming, they later went back and removed the good cook part, but left the good mom part in the first paragraph. The obituary originally said:  "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children".[10]  (Please note that we know next to nothing about whether or not Werner von Braun was a good dad, or if he could make a good stroganoff..)

The important info came in the middle of the article
"Mrs. Brill — she preferred to be called Mrs., her son said — is believed to have been the only woman in the United States who was actually doing rocket science in the mid-1940s, when she worked on the first designs for an American satellite.
It was a distinction she earned in the face of obstacles, beginning when the University of Manitoba in Canada refused to let her major in engineering because there were no accommodations for women at an outdoor engineering camp, which students were required to attend.
You just have to be cheerful about it and not get upset when you get insulted,” she once said.
Mrs. Brill’s development of a more efficient rocket thruster to keep orbiting satellites in place allowed satellites to carry less fuel and more equipment and to stay in space longer. The thrusters have the delicate task of maneuvering a weightless satellite that can tip the scales at up to 5,000 pounds on Earth."
Myself, I'd like to hear more about her achievements and less about her mothering skills. The Times did not explain WHY the satellite achievement was important, but if they had thought about that for ten seconds and stopped thinking about her casseroles, they would have realized that our entire modern global communications systems and weather predictions depend on these satellites. Wow, you're saying, that's important stuff. Yes, it is, and the Times just says: "Mrs. Brill patented her propulsion system for satellites in 1972, and the first communications satellite using it was launched in 1983. It is still being used by satellites that handle worldwide phone service, long-range television broadcasts and other tasks." So why did this woman not have a Nobel Prize? 

In related sexism news, Janet Yellen gave masterful testimony this week in Congress, and all some yahoo at Roll Call can say is that he's seen her suit before. It doesn't matter that she is a well-respected scholar, Professor and Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, one of the most powerful people in the world. No. What matters is that she wore the same suit twice. Now I myself think that shows good common sense. Why waste time and money on dumb boring suits when you have better things to do - say, saving the world economy? True confession time. I have worn the same suit to multiple interviews. 

So let's apply the Finkbeiner test. The test states:
To pass the test, an article about a female scientist must not mention:
  • The fact that she’s a woman
  • Her husband’s job
  • Her child care arrangements
  • How she nurtures her underlings
  • How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
  • How she’s such a role model for other women
  • How she’s the "first woman to..."[1]

Wow, it looks like Roll Call, the New York Times and the Washington Post all flunked.

Here's a simple way to remember what not to do: if you would not say it about a man, don't say it about a woman.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

WANTED: Federal Reserve Barbie

Somebody Spot Janet Yellen Some New Threads

Sometimes I read something so sexist I have to hand it to someone else and verify, that YES, this is the most sexist thing said today.
This article made me go into volcanic flamethrower sexist misandry overdrive. (also Google dictionary says that Misandry is not a word. Nice try, Google boys.)
So the Roll Call Neanderthal thinks that the Vice Chairman's clothes need a refresh?

Somebody Spot Janet Yellen Some New Threads

Maybe it hasn't occurred to him that not all women are here to dress for his entertainment? Don't make me show you 23 pictures of Ben Bernanke, Fashion Icon in his gray three piece suit. Also when is he going to Do Something with that beard?
If you need a definition of misogyny, it's in the link above. Professor Yellen, stay just the way you are.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Scary Recipes III: The Big Chestnut Lie

Anyone who grew up reading English Children’s literature might be forgiven for holding the chestnut in high culinary esteem, even though said child might never have actually eaten a chestnut. They are spoken of with reverence; they are part of the cuisine of Little Women, Mrs. Appleyard, and ancien regime France. There are recipes in Escoffier. They are in Dickens. They are the European nut of fairy tales. Imagine Mont Blanc puddings, and the elegant marron glaces. M.F.K. Fisher ate them . French courtesans ate them. They have gravitas, culinarily speaking.
Imagine a newish bride. This literary bride likes to cook fun stuff for her husband, who is equally glad to eat her experiments. She grew up reading all about the romantic chestnuts while living in the sunny beach towns of Southern California. There are no chestnuts in Southern California. California is the land of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios (all of which are delicious in stuffings). Chestnuts are Romantic!  This new bride finds a jar of shelled chestnuts at Wiliams-Sonoma. Imagine her innocent excitement. Notwithstanding the fact that they look like little dried shriveled brains, she buys them and decides that she will make Turkey with Chestnut Dressing. Just like Dickens! It’s Historical! Everyone will LOVE it!  
There are times, Patrick O’Brian once wrote, that hopes are raised only to be dashed.
The dressing is made, the turkey is roasted. The table is set, the eaters are ready to plunge into their fancy gourmet dressing. One after another, after a few bites, they politely start picking around the lumps of chestnut to eat the otherwise delicious dressing. Chestnuts, it turns out, are evil. They have an unfortunate texture and an unappealing flavor.  They taste like earthy moldy soggy lumps of yuckiness. It is decided by all that Europeans used to eat them because they had no other alternatives, (like pecans, for example.) They must have been desperate! They had no other choices! Ever afterward, the chestnut debacle  (they were both expensive and disgusting) is referred to in hushed tones whenever one of us wants to try something iffy - remember how those chestnuts turned out, we warn. It’s been thirty years and all of us who were at that dinner are still in agreement: the chestnut will never darken our kitchen door again.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Freestyle Fishing

We interrupt our Holiday Food Trolling to show you a pretty fish quilt I made, inspired by the fish in Susan Carlson's book, Freestyle Quilts.

Every single person who came in my office walked over to this piece and flipped it over to look at the back so here are some shots of the back, where you can see the quilting:

And some close ups:
See the daisy? See the artichoke?

Make sure you look at the quilts on Susan's website; they are amazing.
My kids love this fish quilt, because it's made out of flowers and vegetables.
They show it off, saying,: "Look, there's corn! There is an artichoke!"
Susan's method reminds me of Matisse, but with fabric scraps. Of course, doing these encourages my tendency of saving scraps too small to be saved.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Scary Recipes II: The Dreaded Sweet Potato Marshmallow Conspiracy

Sweet Potato Casserole II Recipe

Every Thanksgiving, I used to dread this dessert masquerading as a vegetable. I suspect the corporate chefs at Kraft Marshmallow World Domination Headquarters  dreamed this up as part of their plot to put marshmallows into every part of the meal. My parents, having grown up in Buffalo during the 40s and 50s thought this was a traditional dish. They always used canned sweet potatoes, lots of brown sugar and those teeny marshmallows. I never knew that sweet potatoes existed outside of the canned form until I went away to college. I thought I didn't like them, until I met some done in a Thai curry. It turns out what I didn't like was all that brown sugar syrup and marshmallows all over the sweet potatoes.
My parents were of the school that children had to eat some of everything and clean their plates. One was not allowed to decline certain dishes; that was considered "fussy". How happy I was when I was older and could strategically avoid them!
Are you a sweet potato and marshmallow fan? Is Thanksgiving not complete for you without a side of these? Or are you part of the Sweet Potato Liberation Army?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Scary Recipes: Vol I Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole Pie

While poking around on Pinterest, this horrifying vision appeared. Not just the horrible,no-good, very bad, awful, disgusting Green Bean Casserole that so many people inflict upon the innocent during the month of November. Oh NO.
That's not awful ENOUGH. Instead there has been invented: Green Bean Casserole Pie.

I still remember the awful day when I first sampled this atrocity. It was after we had moved to the the East Coast from California, (land of Fresh Vegetables.). It was at a work Potluck. I swore then that I would never eat it again, and I have kept my vow.
What Thanksgiving side dish do you hate the most?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This is just to say...

That I bought all of the fabric
That you wanted to use
for a Christmas Party dress
And had saved your money to buy
Forgive me

It was so silky 
and so smooth

Mr.Hunting Creek and I are having so much fun taking the Modern & Contemporary American Poetry 
at Coursera.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

You'll Understand

You'll understand why, even though I have hundreds of patterns, the majority of which I will never sew in ten lifetimes, I felt like I had to have this one.
Don't you love that vintage patterns show you the pattern pieces as well as a line drawing? And how they call zippers "slide fasteners"? That took me a minute to process, until I realized that zipper was like Kleenex, a brand name that had become the common name. I can't see what kind of fabric they suggest,but maybe back then they assumed  that everyone knew to use a drapey rayon or silk or fine cotton lawn or wool crepe. I'm just guessing,based on what was available then. Don't you love the details? The gathered princess bodice - the better to do an FBA with, my dear - and those sleeves--the French cuffs-- that gorgeous neckline--the beautiful collar! You understand why I had to have it. It was Meant To Be, It was MY SIZE. If that's not a message from the Sewing Goddess, I just don't know what is.  Obviously 1948 is my fashion year.               
I won't ask if you have ever bought a pattern on impulse, because if you are reading my blog I know you have. Instead I'll ask - What is your fashion decade? I'm beginning to think I'm a Forties person. The signs are pointing that way. What decade are you?      
P.S.I also NEED that hat.                                                             

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Scary Patterns:Pumpkinhead Edition

At first, Jennifer thought the B&B room was charming. "Oh! Look at the handmade dolls!", she said to her husband. But later, she woke up at 3 am with the distinct feeling that someone was watching her.

"What was that noise?" was her last conscious thought.

Actual scary pattern available here.Don't say we didn't warn you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Accidental Sewist

Butterick 5955
Sometimes you choose your next project, and sometimes the project chooses you. While virtuously trying to attain some semblance of order in Studio Hunting Creek, I happened to notice the the Japanese print above harmonized nicely with the black embroidered fabric on the same shelf.( Digression: Did you read the article that said that creative people had messy desks? )  When my new Butterick pattern arrived, I thought, "What do I have that will work for this?", looking at my options. While trying to pull out some jade green charmeuse, I saw the Japanese fabric again. It is from the deepest of Deep Stash: Mr. Hunting Creek brought it home to me from his mother's stash. It's definitely vintage. But is it too much like the picture?  I have an irrational dislike of making things that look like the pattern illustration. (The good student in me thinks this is akin to plagiarism.) I expressed this thought to Mr. Hunting Creek, while asking him if he liked the combination. He gave me the Are you Crazy look. "Because of the 7 people in the world that you never see who will notice that?" he commented, with that patient tone he reserves for my irrational moments. (You know, that tone that makes you want to smack people with your clear ruler. It is especially annoying when he is correct. I did not tell him this.) This will be my project for my Use a New Pattern monthly challenge.This Butterick is hot off the press, is super trendy (even though I am the least trendy person on earth besides Pope Francis, I do notice trends.) and it looks easy to sew. I hope saying that does not bring a curse upon my head, causing sewing machine tension problems, or thread breakage or some other exasperation.
Do you make things that look like the pattern picture? Or do you avoid doing that? (Or, in other words, am I alone in my No Copying obsession?)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Zinnias are My Favorite Flower

Zinnia Skirt with pleated pockets

This is the new Colette Patterns Zinnia Skirt Pattern.   I just decided to make this in a maxi length for the Holiday Season. (It's easy to do, just use lengthen/shorten lines, plus I have a cheater method - I measure the length on an existing maxi and go from there)
If you'd like to make one too, I have them in stock. For this week only, we'll give free shipping on all Colette Patterns. I'll take the shipping off in the cart. (Websites are tricky) Use the code ZINNIA.
So the only question is, what do I make my fabulous maxi skirt out of? The pattern says: 
  • Versatile. You can use a wide array of fabrics, from wool flannel to delicate chiffon.
This makes me think maybe washed dupioni or heavy silk would work too.
Off to cruise the stash. Happy Gardening!

Monday, August 19, 2013

UFO Sighting

Inside Out style Hawaiian Shirt

This shirt is older than my 22 year old son, yet I just finished it. How does one end up with 23 year old UFOs?
Way back in 1990,we lived in Southern California. I had a little sewing room and I would put my cut out projects in a little basket on my desk,to keep all of the pieces together until I was ready to sew them. In this basket I had a simple blouse, the Hawaiian shirt and a pink batik sundress for my daughter, then aged 5. But that Spring, Mr.Hunting Creek got a new job in Washington, DC, so we had to move. The mover people came and packed up everything, wrapping our items in copious layers of packing paper, and labeling each box with their own inscrutable codes. .They labeled boxes "Fragil" , "Dinning Room", "Book" and my favorite: "Things". When we arrived in Virginia, sewing was definitely not a priority. Also I had a new job, a five year old, and I was pregnant. The sewing projects box was neglected.
I didn't even have a sewing room. Then I had a new baby, a demanding job and there was no sewing for a while...but I missed it. I had Mr. Hunting Creek find my machine and supplies. I made Christmas Ornaments, sewing on the kitchen table. I made my daughter's First Communion Dress. The little basket of cut projects lay packed in a moving box, forgotten....for years. Fast forward to last year, when finally I had a new, improved sewing room of my own. Not in the basement, not in the kitchen, not sharing the TV Room downstairs but upstairs, next to my office. Mr. Hunting Creek found boxes in the garage full of my old patterns and my basket of projects from 1990. Just cut pattern pieces, no notes as to what pattern it was. At least I had marked the pieces. The 23 Years ago me assumed that I would remember what pattern the pieces were from and use those directions. The 23 years ago me didn't match the pocket. Could I put a shirt together without instructions? I assured Mr. Hunting Creek that when you've made one shirt, you've made them all. You know what? That's actually true.
This shirt, and the following one, count against my goals this year of both Sew a Hawaiian Shirt and Finish Something. A twofer! 
Surfer Girl Shirt

Surfer Girl Shirt sighting in the Wild
Here is a recap of my yearly goals so far:
January: Sew a scrap quilt - done!
February: Make something out of silk - done
March: Use a  border print - in progress, lost buttons, so need new ones
April: Sew a Hawaiian shirt - done - made THREE
May: Make something formal - totally flaked out on this due to lack of formal occasions
June: Make pajamas- done - made two for me, two for Mr.Hunting Creek July: Make T shirts - they are cut out but not sewn, got distracted by non-sewing life
August: Make a Baby quilt - in progress. The baby is born, so I have to finish the quilting part by the end of this month
September: Finish something -hooray! Two unfinished projects shown above, FINISHED
October: Use a Vintage pattern
November:Use a new pattern

December: Make a Holiday decoration

Seven out of nine isn't bad. I still have some August left and I already did September's. I'd like to finish the year having completed ALL of these.

What UFOs lurk in your sewing life? Does it feel like they will never be finished? Do you need to declare UFO bankruptcy and start over? Are you the kind of person who doesn't even have UFOs?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Perchance to Dream

Our friends at Simplicity think that we are either getting very sleepy or that all that we require for our fall wardrobe sewing projects are Pajamas. Twelve Pajama Patterns!
I blame myself. Earlier this year I made a list of sewing projects, and one of my projects was Make Pajamas Simplicity must have  misunderstood and thought that I wanted to make nothing BUT pajamas. Of course, with the world becoming much more casual, Simplicity might think that pajamas are all we need.
It is a little known fact among sewists that you do not really even need a pajama pattern at all. Anything can be pajamas. Basically they are nothing more than loosely fitting pants, a T shirt top or a basic shirt. My kids wear their pajamas all the time when they are home. I've seen teenagers wearing them to school, and my daughter reported seeing people, both men and women, wearing them around campus when she was in college.
I hate to buy pajamas because they are so easy to make, but I seldom make them because they are so simple that they are boring. Therefore my existing pajamas had become somewhat threadbare. I've made three pairs this summer, two for Mr. Hunting Creek ( I had to surreptitiously seize and destroy some of his old ones) and one for myself. I dd not use an official Pajama Pattern; instead, I used an elastic waist pants pattern that I designated Pajamas, by virtue of using classic car fabric for Mr. Hunting Creek and a pretty paisley cotton print for mine.They are are boring to make, yet so amazingly useful.Like the potholders, lap quilts and pillowcases I sometimes make, these get used all the time. (there's a message there somewhere about utilitarian sewing,but I am willfully ignoring it. I like to have fun in the sewing room. I like a challenge. Pajamas are not remotely challenging to make .Not even silk ones.)
So why did did Simplicity make the majority of their fall patterns "loungewear"?
Is it because many new sewists don't really know how to sew anything more complicated? Are they dumbing down their offerings? Do they think that all we want to make for fall is sleepwear?
If I could tell them what I'd like, my fantasy sewing list would include a chic winter coat, a stylish jacket, cute, different t shirts that remind me of the stuff at Anthropologie and J Crew, a dress or two and a nice men's shirt and pants pattern. Is that too much to ask?
Instead all I get is pajamas..Thank goodness for Independent Designers.
What would be on your fantasy sewing list, if you could have any pattern you wanted? I'm betting it's not pajamas.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Scary Patterns: Poncho Edition

Hooded Double Poncho for two(!!!)
With picnic kit pattern included (of course, because who doesn't go on a romantic picnic in their cool, double poncho?)
This might be the scariest pattern yet; most men I know would disapparate immediately if faced with the prospect of wearing this in public.
However, it would make a great Halloween ensemble.
If that's totally your thing, find it here. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Series of Unfortunate Events

FOUND: Large fish, evidently dropped from the sky by a large bird, maybe an eagle or an osprey. Is it a warning? An omen of impending doom? Last week Mr. Hunting Creek found a squirrel tail - the tail ONLY- on the sidewalk when he went to get the mail. Is someone trying to tell us something? Or, to paraphrase Freud, "Sometimes a fish is just a fish."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Are MOOCs the Answer? Depends on Your Question

My son has been reading since he was three, and he said last night that he feels that there is too much emphasis on reading and writing and not enough on math in American education. He thinks we’d do better with a more balanced approach. He got an almost perfect score on his SAT and was a National Merit Scholar Finalist (the only one from his high school), so he might know something about this subject.
I've been thinking about education a lot, since I’m a former teacher, and also since I started my edX class on The Greek Hero. I’d never taken an online course before. (I went to Berkeley when the internet was but an infant).
If you’re not familiar with this subject, Bad Mom, Good Mom had something to say about it earlier this week,and I strongly recommend that you read the links in her posts.
There are some people who think that online education is the future. These people may be right that there will be more of it in the future, but while I have been enjoying my class, I do not think it would be a good idea to move all of our education to this platform.
People are very much the same now as they were in Ancient Greece. We like to think that we've improved and grown and changed, but as I see it we haven’t changed much in the way that we learn things. The best way to teach a child to read is to read to him or her and discuss the reading. When I taught high school kids who had trouble reading, amazingly enough , that was still the best way. No one had done this when they were small, so we had to make up for lost time, and read slowly together. I got such a feeling of satisfaction when they would start to catch on and figure out the trick. Reading is more difficult than you think - if you don't learn it when you’re small, it’s as if you're trying to read a foreign language; which in a sense you are.
Which brings me to online learning: it’s the worst way to learn something if you know nothing about the subject. If you were learning a foreign language, or calculus, or anything that a little interpersonal interaction would be helpful, online learning is not the answer. It’s great for people who already know how to learn, but for anyone else, it’s the second best option.
The problem - the really smart people of Silicon Valley are trying to monetize education. Since they are Really Smart People, the kind of people who, like my son, got perfect scores on their SATs and started reading when they were three, and corrected the tests for their third grade teacher, they do not know how difficult it is for some people to learn. They might not know what it’s like to try to learn under trying circumstances: parents don’t speak English, their family is on food stamps, they have a part time job, there is no place to study...circumstances that the RSP might not consider when they make their grand educational plans. They see State educational budgets as a resource to harvest. They aren't considering the human costs of one size fits all education. If we have a permanent underclass of uneducated people in our country, we all lose. It isn't saving money to cut costs on education - it costs us all money. But money isn't the only thing to consider - we’re losing brilliant kids - kids that might have made a great contribution to our world. And you know the saying, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”.
Don’t let your State Representatives try to sell you this as a “better” way to learn. It’s just cheaper.I don't think MOOCs are the answer for education. For lectures  for enrichment, I can see their place, but they can't really replace one on one teaching
Devoting huge portions of our educational budgets to MOOCs is a mistake.
I can already see what will happen - small states will close satellite campuses, have those students do online learning and go to  secure monitored place to take tests. It's clear as day that some states are desperate to save money any way that they can, so they will sacrifice learning.
Our educational system will become even more unequal than it is now. This is the exact opposite way to solve the problem of inequality
There’s politics involved - some want to eliminate teachers, close schools, raise tuition, lower taxes. There's a lot riding on your voice in this matter.The future of all education, not just online, is up for debate. I've already written to my State Representatives. Don't wait - as the MOOC people say, the future is now.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Scary Patterns: Holly Hobbie

What's scarier than a child's Holly Hobbie Costume? An Adult Holly Hobbie Costume.Scare your friends and families here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Scary Patterns: I thought I Saw...

Imagine the therapy bills incurred as your children get older if forced to wear the Sylvester Puddy_Tat Costume...or is it a costume?

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Map to Ideas

People who are not actively creative always seem to treat creative types like they are some kind of mutant creating army. “Where do you get your ideas?” , they ask, sometimes a little snarkily or they will say, plaintively, “I’m just not artistic”. They’ll say, sometimes belligerently, “Where do you find the time?”, implying that if only they had a few extra minutes a day, they too would be doing artwork, but they are too busy and very important, thankyouverymuch, not lazy and lolling about paintingsewingcookingdreaminslacking like the somewhat suspect artistic types.
I used to actually try to explain where I got my ideas when asked, until I realized that this was a rhetorical question: they did not really want to know. Very rarely in those pre-internet days did I meet a kindred spirit who were really and truly interested. ( It’s no fun feeling like a mutant; in self-defense I’d say “From Target” or a museum, as if ideas weren’t everywhere available to everyone, if they would only look.)

One Sunday  I was looking at Karen’s blog and she had a link to this skirt.

It was Jean-Paul Gaultier's Spring 2013 Collection, and it was the Most Beautiful Skirt I had ever seen. I loved the colors the patchwork, the fabrics...I thought, "I could do something like that." That’s where ideas  come from. They come from other ideas. It’s like a chain reaction. That’s why you shouldn't hoard ideas, you should try them out, use them, do them, set them free. I realized that I could do something like this skirt, but it wouldn't be like his skirt, it would be mine, my view and my art, because my ideas would grow from his ideas and interpret them into my art language..

I totally love this jacket:

After studying it, I realized that is is a simple jacket and I could totally re-create a version of it.
And now you'll know where I got my idea.

P.S. I confessed previously to loving reader comments. I also love bad reviews. If you like them too, read this one. My favorite lines:

Maybe the overwrought Real Housewives "vibrancy" of this presentation was the latest manifestation of that impulse. Or maybe it was a canny acknowledgement of the fact that, right now, there is a couture client somewhere in the world who lives for a gold python trenchcoat.

I would like to note that I see  the python trench coat is a "statement " about Veblenesque goods, Mr. Cranky Reviewer. It's Art.