Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mas Pantalons por El Nino

I made these pull-on pants for Harlan last week using some dyed quilting muslin and some cute Japanese fabric for the pockets. My sewing skills leave a lot to be desired (including mastering machine tension as you can see from the back pocket, and sewing in a straight line) and each of you is a witness to my journey. The pattern doesn't have any pockets but Harlan has a Lucky Wang pair that look similar to these with pockets I like so I traced them and cut out the ones you see on the front. I put one square pocket on the back for Harlan to keep his wallet in. Or maybe a pack of Kleenex considering he's been miserably sick for the past week. Again with the high fever and runny nose and drooling (Joe calls him Rudy Drooliani).

These are some lovely cream-filled easter eggs from my favorite NYC chocolatier, Li-lac. My mother used to take me there each Easter when I was little and although they have been sold to a new ownership and moved location they are still finger-lickin' good. Joe picked these up for me one night when he was near their store at Central Market in Grand Central Station. It was a great surprise. They are filled with chocolate mousse, chocolate fudge (their least good filling in my opinion), marzipan (the best marzipan around), maple-walnut butter cream (SFG or, So Fucking Good) and chocolate butter cream.

Speaking of easter candy, have you seen Mariko's recipe for easter candy cake? I think I may need to make it after easter when the goods go on sale.

Also, my four-month pledge to not buy any new clothes but to make or re-fashion old ones begins tomorrow. Check out the Wardrobe Refashion blog to see what people are doing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Looking Like Busey but sewing like Martha

Pants! Pants! Get 'em while they're hot.
I wanted to warm up my sewing skills (it's been a little while since I've sewn an entire garment) with something for Harlan so I made him a quick pair of elastic waist pants with this stretch corduroy houndstooth fabric. I like the way they turned out except that they are HUGE no matter how you dice it. Harlan is a tall and lanky baby, he is not one of the ones you may see with the chunked-out thighs that roll over the knees and the squooshy tushy. I am therefore putting these pants away for next fall, which I think is a more appropriate time to sport this fabric anyhow. Perhaps I'll knit him a brown sweater to go with them. Next I'm going to make him some pull-on pants using a different pattern and some cotton broadcloth since the warm weather is upon us. Afterwards I will go straight into sewing that blouse for myself that I posted about doing a while back. The New Vintage Wardrobe dress will come next, when my skills are good and heated up.

Today we went out in search of sneakers for Harlan over in the Fulton Mall. Fulton Mall is an outdoor strip of Fulton Street that runs maybe a mile and is completely filled with "urban" brands of clothing and jewelry, cheap household goods, and of course a few fast-food stores thrown in in case one gets hungry. If you are like I am and always thought that urban meant city, then you have not worked in advertising. It was there that I discovered that urban actually means inner-city, and not all of a city. In this urban mecca we strolled into Jimmy Jazz which I love because it gets The Clash song stuck in my head day. Harlan ended up with an adorable pair of Adidas white leather sneakers with olive green Velcro tabs across the front. Good stuff. I may go back to get him a giant down parka for next winter since they are selling them for only $29. They have giant fake fur edges on the hoods too. No one will mess with Harlan at the playground if he has that one, believe you me.

As we left and wandered towards Atlantic Ave to buy some middle eastern food I passed a store that for some insane reason I have never noticed before. Sav-A-Thon was right there, tucked in a side street, just waiting for me to discover it. There it was, just what I thought Brooklyn and all of lower Manhattan had lost to gentrification, a giant old-fashioned sewing and craft supply store. They had cotton muslin in white and all colors of the spectrum for only $2.99 a yard, as well as everything else a girl could want. I picked up some elastic, buttons, bobbins and a new pattern as well. I have been wanting to buy cheap muslin to try sewing my vintage dress with before using the fancy fabric I bought at Purl, but I didn't want to wait until going up to the garment district to have to buy any. What a great find!

The last couple of days have been pretty good around here as far as mail goes. I got packages from Bitter Betty and Future Girl in exchange for a couple of little craft supplies I sent them (see old post about getting rid of craft supplies). Here's what I got:
From Future Girl, some lovely vintage trim (I'm especially fond of the German stuff) and yarn for me to make some amigurumi critters with eventually. Hooray! And look how romantic the people on the yarn package are. You know it's good stuff when lovers use it.

Next I got some ric rac and a zipper and more German looking vintage trim from Bitter Betty. But what else is in the picture you ask? It's one of her amazing decoupaged embroidery hoops. I'm so excited to use it as a frame for an embroidery (or a photo transfered onto fabric, I can't decide what to put in it right now). Thanks ladies!

As I mentioned in a comment on someone else's blog last night, I have been walking around lately looking at my reflection in store windows to see if Gary Busey's mug shot is looking back at me. If you don't remember that picture, perhaps you can recall the recent mug shot of the diaper-wearing astronaut? Same feeling. Last week I ended up with a shiner after falling down a flight of steps in my friend's lobby. I had Harlan in the sling and was carrying a ton of bags so I couldn't see my own feet and they were slippery from the melting snow outside. I flew down and landed on my butt-bone. Harlan had a bump on his forehead and I could not figure out what he had bumped it on. The next morning I woke up and had a giant black and purple bruise over the bone above my right eye, the same side of my body that I carry Harlan on. I guess my back hurt so much that I didn't even notice the slam to my face. Add to this my hair which had a month's worth of white roots that gradually turned pale orange to dark orange to reddish brown, and I was a sight for sore eyes . It's amazing how much it affects my mood when I look crappy. You would think that considering I am not single, nor do I go to work each day that it wouldn't matter, but it actually really does. Just like when it's dark and rainy outside, if I look like Gary Busey I am not in a good mood. Well, luckily today everything has changed. My eye bruise is minimal, I dyed my hair (and therefore it is also clean), and it's seventy degrees and sunny out. Life is good.

You know why else it is good? Today on Martha, Jenn Docherty was the special guest crafter and she demonstrated how she felts little birds. I have been dying to make one of these but was not quite sure if there was more to it than I thought there was (there isn't, just make a shape with roving and poke with felting needle). That Martha may come across on screen like a real pill, but she has great taste as well as her finger on the pulse. Thank goodness for my Tivo (so I don't have to sit through the entire program) although now that The O.C. is no more, and The Office seems to have disappeared I'm not sure what I can veg out to when I'm just too pooped to do anything else. Even my Showtime favorite The L Word ended this weekend (anyone else hoping Jenny dies out at sea and doesn't get picked up by some hot lesbian boat of Coast Guard babes?)
More time to read I suppose.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

First day of spring

I finished embroidering Joe's valentine. I'm not sure if I'll frame it as it is or combine with other things into a collage-like shadow box.

The two felt pears are going up on Etsy for a measly $12 a pop. I am still making the new samples with the acrylic felt (these are wool felt) so that I can go around to stores to see if there will be any takers. I've been slacking off due to indulging in making stuff for myself and my family lately.

I had to show this photo from last night. We made pizza for dinner and I was too tired to wrap up the left overs (usually I do this while Joe does dishes) so Joe offered to do it for me. When I saw how much tin foil he set out I couldn't stop laughing and had to grab my camera. As you can see on the side of the photo he was trying to block the camera.

It was a great release to end the day in laughter. In the morning I found out that my father's best friend and photo assistant was found dead in his apartment. He had been like a member of the family since I was twelve years old and I still don't really believe it is real. I just saw him a few weeks ago. It's a difficult to death to deal with not only because Joseph was only in his mid-forties, vibrant, handsome, and talented, but because we had spent the last year being angry with him. He claimed to have developed manic-depression and he was not taking care of himself. He would not answer his phone for days and then show up at my father's loft and stay for weeks on end, talking incessantly and not doing what needed to be done to keep the business going. He lost long-time clients of my father's by forgetting important tasks, and no matter how many times my father asked him if he was using drugs he denied, denied, and denied. When I last saw him he was so gaunt that I was almost afraid that Harlan would be frightened of him. His eyes were sunken and his teeth looked rotten. I wanted to pull him aside and ask him if I could do anything to help but I didn't want to hurt his feelings by making any assumptions. The friend who found his body told my father that Joseph had been taking crystal meth for a while now but didn't want anyone to know. It's a mystery to me why anyone who had so much going for him would take up something so self-destructive in their forties.
I apologize for writing such a bummer post in what is supposed to be a craft-blog, but I keep this blog for myself primarily, so please forgive me if this is just too much.

Monday, March 19, 2007

One step closer

I had an impromptu trip today to Purl in Soho. I had taken Harlan to the village to visit Grandma and as we left I decided to make a detour to pick up some pierogi. Got to get back to my Ukranian roots.
As we walked out of the store I saw my baby's head slumped over. He never sleeps in the stroller. Never. My heart raced as I saw a golden opportunity to go shopping!!!!! We plowed down second ave. at record speed, dodging hordes of German tourists out on a freezing day (footnote: They are probably not all German but they may as well be). Over the piles of black snow and through the slush we zipped, stopping only to pet a baby border terrier pup. Into Purl we went, and BOOM! Harlan awoke. I knew my time was limited. I tired to remember the yardage for my upcoming pattern projects and ended up coming close, although I may need to go back if I don't cut conservatively. It was so awesome to see all the great designer fabrics in person that I've been drooling over online for months now. So, here's what we have:

I bought a patterned fabric for this dress after all. If I attempt to embroider it I'll never get it done in time for warm weather. I am using this blue ric rack for the trim, but I'm a bit short, so please let me know if any of you have some extra. Check out more "new vintage wardrobe" projects over on Bitter Betty's flickr group:

Here are two types of fabric I bought to make this blouse with. I like the green so much that I may go back for more and make Harlan a summer jon jon from it:

I also applied for a four month stint with nikki-shell's wardrobe refashion project. This is the the pledge for those of you who haven't seen it yet:

The Pledge

  • I __________________ pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 / 4 / 6 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoated, recylcled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings! Signed__________________.
This experiment shouldn't be too much a problem for me since I'm not doing much clothing shopping P.B (post baby). If I can lose that last damn ten pounds I'll instantly have a whole new wardrobe, courtesy of my overflowing and unopened closet.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Old & Pretty Things to See

I have been working this weekend on my embroidered valentine (a bit late) for Joe. In the meantime, I went through more of my stuff to weed out what I want to sell/give away and keep. These are mostly keepers, a couple are up for trade (here or on flickr).

First, this autograph book from the late 1800s that my father got for me at a yard sale on the north fork of Long Island a few years back.

I love how people used to write. When did the horrible bubble writing trend begin? I wish so badly that I could master an old fashioned style of penmanship, but my handwriting has always suffered from a bad case of sloppyitis. My second grade teacher would leave the room and come back in with a stethoscope around her neck and speak in a German accent, calling herself "Doctor Handwriting." She claimed to be Amy's (our regular teacher) identical twin sister. We all totally fell for it by the way. Doctor Handwriting taught us how to write our letters in upper case, lower case and cursive. When your writing looked good she would scribble, "You have a case of beautifulitis" on the top of your paper. More often than not my comment included the word sloppyitis no matter how hard I tried. Some things never change unfortunately.

The newspaper clipping below is carefully tucked into the book. I love it because it advertises a sale for clothing on 14th St. off of 5th Ave. When I grew up a few blocks south of there in the seventies my mother used to walk me up to 14th St. for cheap clothes too. Now Union Square is a trendy strip in NYC, completely overrun with so many tourists and NYU students that I can barely push my stroller up the street en route to visit my mother. The cheapy stores have been replaced by Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Diesel, and a few other stores that I'm actually not so unhappy to see (Anthropolgie is a few blocks up at 17th).

Some of the features include long ostrich feathers for $2.79, hot water bottles for .39 cents, coutil corsets for .50 cents, women's lace petticoats .65 cents, and spring suitings ("Natty wool, finish dress fabrics that look like all wool and are in similar designs of checks and plaids- black and white, tan-and-white, and other blendings- 27 inches wide instead of 14.") These suitings are priced at 7 3/4. I can't figure out if that means $7.75 or if they had 3/4 of a cent back then.

The following patterns are up for grabs. I'll swap with anyone who wants, or give them to anyone who feels they must have them:
A cute dress for anyone who can actually go bra less.
Anyone brave enough to make a cowgirl shirt?
Cute things I will never ever make for myself.

The following patterns have been collected over the years when I dreamed of having a little girl. I don't think I will, but one never knows for sure.

These are for me to make eventually:
My dream shirt!
Can you see me and Lucy and Ethel in this one?
Not sure how this would actually look on me. It could end up looking like a grown woman stuffing herself into a little girl's dress. Maybe I could skip the ruffled hem.

Next on my to-do list is buying fabric for the wrap dress with embroidered trim that I'm making (posted a couple of posts below). At first I thought it could be cool to go to the African fabric store a few blocks away on Livingston St. and use some lovely African pattern with a white or black yoke on the dress. My friend Sarah lived in Ghana for a year and came back with so many beautiful dresses that she had made over there. They are all cut just like forties dresses with covered buttons and everything, but they are made in the coolest local fabrics. One is a tan background with weird Coke cans all over it. Now I'm not so sure I want to use any type of patterned fabric for this dress. I might just use a solid colored cotton and focus on embroidering the yoke and sewing ric rack on the edges like in the picture on the pattern cover.

Finally, here are a couple of photos of the neighborhood taken this week. I started posting my neighborhood pics in a Ft. Greene flickr group recently and on Friday I came home to an e-mail from someone at the Brooklyn Paper asking if they could buy one of my photos for the next week's issue. I was really flattered. It turned out that the woman who e-mailed me was on a deadline and I didn't get back to her in time, but she said she'd like to keep looking at my photos to use on in the future. Woo hoo!

Fulton and S. Oxford. I was trying to get a shot juxtaposing the old signs on the corner with the giant condo skyscraper going up in the background. You can't really see the skyscraper in progress, but it's a nice shot anyhow.

These two are out of Harlan's bedroom window. Snow and sleet were upon us.

I have to throw in these pictures of Harlan eating a waffle:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Missions accomplished

I sewed the bird I had been wanting to make. I used one of my dumpster-dived Tiffany & Co. felt bags and a vintage nightie of mine which I foolishly tried to sleep in years ago (it ripped all over). I was going to give the birdie to our neighbor Mattie who is Harlan's girlfriend. Today is her first birthday and they're having a party. Well, I'm not bringing the bird. After I finished making it I realized how fragile it is and had second thoughts. The nightie fabric is very thin and the head could easily be ripped off the little birdie body by a strong-willed and curious toddler. Plus, I want to keep it. I think I mentioned a while ago that I seem to only make things that I sell or that are gifts and the cobbler's son needs some shoes (OK, this cobbler's son isn't going to get the bird either, but at least he can have it in his room for now). Instead I whipped up a cashmere sweater owl for Mattie to hug and bug with:

This owl is a total Chet and Dot rip off. Chet and Dot makes the cutest animals just like this one that she sells on Etsy. I apologize for borrowing her design but I had to make something in under an hour and I panicked! Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery as long as you're not trying to sell it right?

The lovely sweater is a super expensive and luxurious one that belonged to my good friend's mother. When we used to live together Ellen's mom would send boxes of clothes that she no longer wanted, and whatever Ellen didn't want, she'd offer me. It was always such nice clothing that I never turned it down even if it wasn't my style. Once there was a box containing several suits including two Armanis and a Calvin Klein. At the time I was still working as an executive secretary at good old T & Co. and had to wear coordinating suits so this was a huge coup for me. The only problem was they were all size six. I was an eight (notice the past-tense in that statement), but I could get into the navy wool gabardine Calvin Klein as long I used a safety pin to hold the pants closed. I just kept the jacket buttoned over the pants even if the heat was blasting. The Armani suits were too short so I brought them in and gave them to a co-worker from Guyana who had worked her way up into the offices from the back of the sales floor where she had tied little white bows for eight hours a day. We took the suits into the bathroom and she tried the first one on. It fit her perfectly and she started crying when she looked in the mirror, saying she had never owned anything so nice before. I remember wanting to tell Ellen's mom because it would make her happy but at the same time I didn't want Ellen to get in trouble for passing on the suits. The funny part is, I had asked Ellen why her mom even owned so many suits since she didn't work. The reason? She wore them to go suit shopping with her friends.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Available crafting supplies

In my ongoing quest to downsize I am getting rid of some crafting supplies that I know I will never use. I posted them on a flickr group for swapping such booty, but figure I'll post it here too in case any of you want to swap. I'm looking for worsted weight yarn in solid colors, vintage embroidery transfers (or copies of transfers), vintage cotton or wool fabric, vintage notions (ric rack, lace, ribbon) See's candy, interesting copies of patterns of stuff I might like, etc.

For details on each pictured item see here.

I'm also willing to just send any of this to anyone who sees something they want.

Friday, March 9, 2007

P.S. Look, I'm famous!

I am on Design Sponge next to Jeni. I'm in the lower right corner of the photo with the sleeveless black dress and reddish ponytail. Feeling so famous right now. I wonder if people will want my autograph.

WIPs and Da Hood Hospital

I'll begin by diving right into fun and crafty stuff. I'll get to the kavetching afterwards.

My Work in Progress list of personal projects as well as business related projects is totally out of control. It's so long that I feel like I am never going to accomplish anything until I can get a handle on it, and that's part of the point of a crafting blog isn't it? So here goes, a complete list of Personal (not work related) WIPs which I will keep in the sidebar until they are complete and then I'll have a new sidebar category of finished projects. That'll keep me crackin' the whip on myself won't it?

1. Harlan's embroidered nautical/pirate/mermaid theme quilt
2. Joe's embroidered valentine's day card
3. Aranzi Aranzo cat made from pink cashmere sweater
4. Felt and cotton chick
5. Pear fabric pillow:

6. Amy Butler fancy pillow:

7. Log cabin pot holders with superbuzzy fabric
8. Robot fabric shortalls for Harlan:

9. Other superbuzzy fabric shortalls for Harlan
10. Matching sun hat for Harlan
11. Crochet amigurmi dog:

12. Zakka purse with clear plastic handles
13. Clothes for myself using the following vintage patterns. Bitter Betty's post about sewing a garment every other week from vintage patterns has inspired me to light a flame under my own vintage loving ass:
This wrap dress first:

Then this dress which isn't vintage but could be:

Then this awesomely cute romper (I do a lot of romping you know);

Then this sleeveless top:

And maybe even one of these elegant thirties dresses to wear the next time I haul the stroller down the stairs and over to Target for some tin foil and diapers:

That will definitely keep me busy for a while.

Now, on to the kavetching. After the barfolicious plane ride to Austin and a week of feeling feverish and struck with The Naush, poor Harlan became quite feverish himself. This was last Friday. By Sunday he was still crying relentlessly and began trembling. I took him to the local emergency room (at what Jennifer rightfully calls Da Hood Hospital) two blocks away. My sweet boy was burning up with a temp of 104.9. To make a long story as short as possible we spent a little over 24 hours in the pediatric wing of Brooklyn Hospital which had very nice and competent doctors and nurses. I won't torture anyone by describing some of the tests my 16 month old had to endure, but needless to say he is feeling much better. The doctor thinks it was a bacterial infection in his blood (how the hell does one get this?) But the test results still are not back. When I got up to Harlan's room I was immediately struck by the bright overhead lights and the blaring noise. My roommate and her husband were simultaneously listening to music on their laptop and watching TV at full volume while holding their 1 month old daughter and bottle feeding her. I asked meekly if they could please turn the volumes "down or off" and they reluctantly turned the volumes down. Harlan kept crying. I burst into tears. A nurse came in and told me to stop crying because it would scare the baby even more than he already was. I did as I was told. Luckily Joe came by soon after and asked the couple nicely to turn off the music and television so that Harlan could get some rest. They did. He asked if we could turn off the overhead lights too so that Harlan could go to sleep. My roommate said, "Well, I'm not ready to go sleep." I started crying again and caught myself. All night long TVs were playing in adjoining rooms. All day the next day TVs blasted. At one point most of them were literally playing an episode of Jerry Springer featuring people who were having their babies DNA tested to prove paternity. It was a bad stereotype come to life. I went next door to ask the person if he could turn it down so Harlan could try to take a nap. It was a very young man with a newborn baby in his lap (who knows where the poor mother was), holding a bottle and watching Jerry and his guests hoot and holler at full volume. He was happy to turn down the volume but the whole scene made me feel a bit numb to be honest. The one saving grace of our stay at Da Hood Hospital was the playroom which was open for two hours. There were a ton of toys and a guitarist named Bill who sang songs for the kids and handed out shakers for them to keep. We found out about the playroom earlier in the day from a young girl named Wroed who was there with her 17 month old baby sister Muzma and their mother. Muzma had asthma as did the majority of the children at the hospital. Wroed was about eight years old and super sweet and smiley. She helped her little sister play with Harlan in the hosptial hallway while their mother tried to get some rest. She told us about the playroom and how it was her favorite place in the hospital and she never wanted to leave it and go back to their room. Joe drew a wonderful portrait of Wroed for her using crayons while Bill sang songs about ducks and Dora the Explorer and for a little while we all forgot we were in the pediatric wing of Da Hood Hospital. Hopefully we won't have to return.