Monday, December 31, 2007

The shirt off his back

Okay, last project for 2007: the shirt is finished. I should probably have ironed it before taking its picture, but if I waited to do that, we'd be into January.

This was the easiest one yet. Even the sewing machine cooperated, only grumbling over one final buttonhole (on the sleeve placket, for some reason). I think the machine knew I was bidding on a Viking 770 on Ebay and it might soon be replaced (it didn't realize I didn't win).
How well this shirt turned out stems partly from the fact that it's my fourth one, but also from several other factors: my new toys, a point turner and a buttonhole gauge, two inexpensive items that for some reason I put off buying and which made the whole process much easier. Sometimes it really is the little things that count. Also, David Page Coffin's book on shirtmaking. If you don't have it, you really need to get it. 'Nuff said.

This was a nice change from all the gift sewing I did this year. It got my head back where I needed it to be - thinking about fit, precision, details like top-stitching. The boy says it's time I made something for myself; he didn't realize this was as much about me making a shirt as it was about him getting one, and he doesn't need to realize that.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


I don't make New Year’s resolutions because I don't keep them. I don't want in advance a list of all the things I'm not going to keep up for the following year. I have a better chance of working out, eating right and not taking in any more cats if I don't make any promises. (Not taking in any more cats has been on the list for 2 years, and the minute I let my guard down, Stanley moved into the guest room and is being slowly introduced to the herd).

I'll chance making sewing resolutions because if I don't keep them, it won't be for lack of trying – and trying is usually one of my resolutions. This year, I'd like to:

1. Conquer welt pockets. I love the look, and I promised a certain someone that I would make him a pair of dress pants. Which require welt pockets. And the fabric for these pants is already aging on the shelf. (I'm hoping this works the same way conquering invisible zippers worked – I avoided them until I had a dress that couldn't possibly be made any other way.) Now that I finally invested in the Reader's Digest sewing book, I have diagrams that make sense to me. The Vogue sewing book was almost as unintelligible (at least to my brain) as BWOF instructions!

2. Take my time. This is a hard one for me. I know – I know! – that everything turns out better when I read the instructions, make a muslin, and visualize what I'm doing before I dive in head first and then get all bollixed up. Things like thread-marking, inter-lining, basting and using the right interfacing should not depend on mood. They are integral to making clothing that I am willing to wear in public, as opposed to garments that look good on Evelyn but aren't comfortable on me.

3. Work on linings. I'm getting better at this. I've actually lined a few things in the past year that didn't require linings – mostly skirts, one jacket. And they looked and wore better, even though the linings weren't perfect. The goal for 2008 is a great jacket with an even greater lining, probably Vogue 8368 in the moss-green eyelet corduroy I bought in Paris last March, lined in something interesting that will show through the eyelets. Maybe a caramel color? Anyway, Patternreview is doing a lined jacket contest in September, so I'm going to practice before then. Maybe it'll even be a lined jacket with welt pockets.

4. Quality over quantity. I'm also getting better at this, but there are times when I just can't resist a sale or the $2.95 bin at my local store. Just because it’s a poly blend that I will probably never use, does that make it un-buyable? It should, but it doesn't. Which leads to:

5. Reduce the stash. The proportions of my stash have become embarrassing, even to me. In 2008, the stash will go down. I don't care if I sew it, donate it, swap it for fabric I will use or scrub the floor with it, but it's outta here! I would like to be at least 150 yards down by this time next year, hopefully with minimal new purchases.

6. Make new curtains for the dining room. This isn't a big deal except I did so much home dec sewing when I bought my house that I stopped garment sewing for almost 5 years. I know that won't happen again, and the complete overhaul of the dining room requires excessive new draperies and re-covering all the seat cushions, for which I have already bought many, many yards of fabric. (I also need new curtains for the kitchen, but those are a quickie job that won't disrupt my regular sewing).

So those are my hopeful sewing resolutions. Anyone have any to add to the list?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Getting back to normal

I feel better. I've been working on the shirt off and on (more off than on, unless you count sewing in my head on Friday at work), and it just feels good to get back to normal sewing, the kind without holiday deadlines or the inability to fit on the wearer.

Of course, I look at the picture of the shirt yoke here and while I'm pleased with how neatly I got the chevron to look, now I realize that I should have made it so that the pink stripes run right into the pink stripe down the CB of the shirt. But each project is a learning experience, and I'll know better next time. On the plus side, it's coming out really well, and the sewing machine has decided to behave her spiteful self (probably because she knows I have a bid on a Viking machine on Ebay right now and she could be replaced).

This is my fourth man's shirt, and I really feel like I've got it down now without pulling my hair out. The first two times I was completely mystified about how to sandwich the yokes together without any visible seams. Even though Kwik Sew's instructions are good, and clearly illustrated, it just would. not. compute. Last time, it went pretty well. This time, I didn't even realize it was usually a problem until I'd reached the topstitching. So it does sink in eventually. Nice to know.

I really should try another pattern one of these days, but I almost hate to. The KS pattern fits so well, and I know what to expect from it - and me - by now. I have drafted variations on the cuffs and pocket, which of course I forgot to use this time in my haste to make a non-Christmas project, but again, I say next time.

Last time I gave myself a break and made a short-sleeved shirt (it was Hawaiian), because I had it in mind that cuffs and sleeve plackets were a pain in the butt. I've got the cuffs sewn together and pressed, and if they go on as neatly as the plackete did, I'll be a happy girl.

Amazing that all the holiday sewing gremlins are off sitting on their hands somewhere now that the pressure's off. Good riddance to them!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

You say tomato, I say tomato . . .

I've been looking forward to getting back to "real" sewing. You know, not the stuff we make for other people, but the stuff we make for ourselves - even if it ends up being worn by other people. Next project up is a new shirt for the boy, partly because I bought shirting at PR Weekend and want to use it before it ages, partly because constructing a man's shirt will get my head back into the kind of sewing I want to do right now, and partly because he bought me a gift certificate to Mood for Christmas, and he deserves a thank you for that.

We slept in on Christmas Day and were just hanging around at the house, waiting to cook dinner. He can do that, but I started twitching, and decided to cut out the fabric. Cutting is never my favorite part of sewing, so I thought I'd get it over with while I had something else to look forward to. I showed him the pieces when I finished, and he said, "I like this fabric. I don't have any light blue shirts."

Hmmm, funny, I thought it was gray.

Turns out I like the reverse of the fabric, and he likes the right side. We each like what we like for the same reason: we think our chosen background color makes the pink and purple stripes stand out more. He likes the light color, I think the dark gray works best. But it's his shirt, so it's going to be blue. I'm pleasing myself by doing the yoke in a chevron pattern, something he thinks is kind of excessive. You say excessive, I say interesting.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I'm finished. And I'm so freaking glad to be finished that there are almost no words for it.

A lot of what I'm giving this year is purchased, but I always like to make something for the women in Mario's family. They appreciate handmade, which doesn't happen as often as it should.

This kimono robe is for his sister Debbie. The pattern is Advance 8723, which I bought with the gift certificate to Lanetz Living I got for winning Patternreview's UFO contest. I had planned to make it for myself, but then I realized I'm not much of a robe-wearer, and she is.

I probably had a good fabric for this in stash, but when I was in my local store two weeks ago while buying thread for another project, I saw this mystery blend on the $2.95 table. They never have decent stuff on that table, so I grabbed this simply because it wasn't scary/ugly. It washed up really well, lost what little stiffness it had and it actually seems a bit more lingerie-glossy. And sometimes mystery blends are good for garments that are going to be coffee-stained or frequently laundered. This stuff will definitely take abuse.

This was a great fast pattern. It's all squares and straight lines, so it was a breeze to put together. I bought it in a vintage 14, which is more or less my size, and graded it down for Debbie because she's a good bit smaller than I am. Then again, it's a robe, so there's only so much worry about fit. I like making things for people where precise fit isn't an issue, since it ruins the surprise if you have to corner them for fittings.

Usually the default female gift is a bag. Last year for Mario's mom's birthday, I made her the Lazy Girl Gracie bag. It was my first handmade gift for her and I wasn't sure if she'd like it. When I saw her at Thanksgiving, the bag was almost worn out! I've never made something for someone that they actually used it so much it looked ratty. So she and his aunt both got these Miranda Day Bags, which are finally finished. I still like the pattern, and I still want to make it for myself one of these days, but not too soon.

And best of all on the Christmas horizon, my own personal Santa dropped off a bag of gifts downstairs a while ago. A big bag. I only shook them a little bit, but one of them feels like a gift certificate to Mood. Okay, so I looked. But only at that one. (I was worse as a kid, trust me.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Wine in the Gray Flannel Suit

I took a break from annoying and ambitious Christmas presents tonight and stopped for a drink with a friend who will be away over the holidays. When I got home, I started putting together my gifts for work tomorrow and realized that I had 3 bottles of wine for my 3 lawyers, but no gift bags to put them in.

Went upstairs, rummaged in the stash and the trim drawer and came up with some elderly gray wool suiting, a swatch of dark green dupioni silk and some old hair ribbons. 2 hours later I had 3 gift bags that certainly won't look like any other gift bags the boys will get this year.

These were really simple - I just cut squares of the wool in the approximate shape of the bottles, added a band of green across the top (most of which would be tucked down inside the bag), and then sewed 6 buttonholes across the bag while it was still flat. Then I pinned it, tried it around a bottle which I just happened to have in the workroom, and sewed the side seam. I cut a circle for the bottom and added it, not particularly evenly, I'll admit. Then I threaded the ribbon through the buttonholes, folded the green band down inside the bag, and pressed the whole thing. Added the wine bottle, tied the bow and the boys are done. Maybe they'll even share the contents.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Down

So much for being a sewing machine. I feel more like a sewing tortoise. Came home, had a quick coffee with the boy and then locked myself in with the Miranda bags until I was done. Or almost done. The first bag (which is actually the second bag, unless you count the layers of fabric, in which case it's the fourth bag) is finished. The second bag just needs some hand stitching and another pressing.

As I said back when I first started these bags, I like this pattern. I want to make it for myself in leather. I will qualify that by saying I don't want to make it too soon. I've put myself through too much angst over these bags. It's not a difficult pattern, especially if you pay attention to the very clear instructions, color-coded drawings and stop thinking you know everything. Which, it turns out, I don't.

What this project drove home for me is something they mentioned on last week's episode of Project Runway - even though the designers were sewing for someone else, with that someone else's clothing, the end result still had to have something of their own design aesthetic about it. That's where I went sideways on this project.

Both ladies are older, like bright colors and think the original Vera Bradley bags are adorable but ridiculously expensive. I went for Amy Butler fabrics (the pattern calls for 4 different fabrics) in 2 different coordinating colorways. I was a little iffy when I unpacked the fabric, but I didn't listen to that little voice. You know the voice. Yeah, that one. The one saying, "Ummm, this might be a mistake?"

I didn't listen until I quilted both exterior fabrics, cut them up, re-sewed them, sewed them together, attached the lining fabric and sewed on the pocket. Then I listened, because working with those patterns and those colors was making my eyes go wonky. Then I did what I should have done to begin with, shopped my stash, and since I didn't have any more batting and I really liked the Craft Bond I had ironed on to make the bag sturdier (didn't have any more of that either), I cut the new fabrics to size and basted them right on top of the existing pieces. Then I channel quilted the stripes in the brown/red bag and the diamonds in the blue/pink bag.

I got a little overconfident on the red/brown bag. The hand sewing I have to do is to camouflage the seams between the bottom and top exterior fabrics, which are slightly off on one side. If it wasn't 5 days to Christmas, I would pick them out, I swear to all the sewing gods I would. But Gladys won't notice, and though I will, it won't be as bad as going to the house and seeing that horrifying chrysanthemum fabric. (Okay, it's not horrifying in and of itself, but it's damn scary when combined with morning glory vines, stripes and dots. What was I thinking? I was trying to think like a 75 year old woman with colorful, suburban grandma taste, that's what I was doing).

Bag 2 will be finished tomorrow, and hopefully the third gift along with it. Except I'm not happy with that either, but I don't have time to remake it. I don't think I do . . .

So Tired

And so not finished. I came home from work today swearing to do nothing but sew. Not to stir out of the workroom until those two bags were reconstructed and the robe was finished. Yep, I was going to be a sewing machine.

Uh huh. So, I came home from work, took a little nap, had a bowl of pasta, and kicked off my evening at around 8:00. Complete revamping of the first Miranda bag took place over the next 2 hours. I think it would have been easier to start from scratch than to quilt over top of the existing bag, but lack of time/supplies did me in. It worked, in the end. All I have left is to attach the handles and the closure, and iron it. Bag #2 is still in the flat stage, but on the other hand that saves me from making the mistake with the faux binding that I did on bag #1 (which will be covered in the review). Didn't work on the robe at all.

Even though shopping season is almost over, the catalogs are still trickling in. I got the latest J. Peterman today - can I tell you how glad I am that they started publishing again? I love their catalogs. This is one of my favorites from the new issue:
Even more do I like the way they describe it, in true sewing porn style: "satin-lined, with angled hacking pockets. Center back vent. Buttoning velvet collar and functional button cuffs. Made of pure-wool English tweed, itself a work of art, from a Yorkshire mill that’s been at it since 1837. Color: Olive Green enriched with flickerings of Brown, Blue, Taupe, and exuberant Rust." Give me a writer who can describe fabric like that.

By the way, it's $249. I'm not good at lining jackets yet, but I think I could buy 2 yards of pure wool English tweed, some velvet, good buttons, satin lining and all the interior hidden goodies for . . . somewhat less than that.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A few small changes

at the last minute. Still working on those Miranda bags, except work as we know it came to an abrupt, screeching halt the other night when I decided that I absolutely hated the fabrics. Nothing against Amy Butler fabrics per se, but they're not me. They're so not me that no combination of them I could come up with worked for me, and I was growing to dislike the bags so much that I was afraid I wouldn't finish in time for Christmas.

Do you ever get to that point with a project, where you just dislike it so much that you're afraid to give it to someone? I don't like giving a gift I can't stand behind, and I just didn't want to see these bags every time I visited for the next year.

So I did what I should have done in the beginning - shopped my stash, found a nice dark neutral and few coordinating home dec fabrics, and prepared to start over. Except of course it was after midnight and I had no more batting and I just couldn't face re-quilting, so . . . I cheated. I cut the new fabrics and pieced them on top of the existing already-quilted Amy Butler fabrics. I hated seeing $25 per bag in AB fabrics get buried, but you know what? It's less than 10 days to Christmas, and I want to be done. So in one night I managed to duplicate all the work I had done previously on the two bags, and I have the rest of the pieces ready to go for tomorrow when I have an evening to myself. (Tonight was dinner and present-wrapping).

Since it was colder than #%&*! today, I stayed in at lunch and finished all the hand-sewn details on the kimono robe (3rd and last gift, and probably the first to be completed). All I need to do there is some last minute pressing, fold it up and wrap.

It. Will. Be. Over. Soon.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What goes around

I ran into an old friend this evening (old, old boyfriend actually - from so long ago that it's barely interesting even to us anymore) and we were sitting around catching up. He's always been an avid fisherman, and he was telling me how he's been spending money on Ebay on vintage silk sewing thread for tying fishing flies. Now I happen to have, among all the other rubble inherited from a tribe of packrattish women, a basket of vintage thread that's been more or less gathering dust in the workroom. Occasionally I'll grab a spool ifI have some hand sewing to do, but I'd never use it in the machine and I tend to forget it's there. I took him up to the workroom and showed him this:

Let's just say I've never seen that reaction from a man about thread. "Silk buttonhole twist! You have silk buttonhole twist!" in a tone I would expect to hear from a fellow sewist at PR Weekend, not from a 40-something blues musician/UPS driver/fly fisherman. "Even the mercerized cotton looks like silk!" In the end, he only took 5 spools , but it was nice to see someone made so happy by something I had never placed any value on. According to him, I could be making a bundle on Ebay selling this to fly fishermen, but I can't be bothered. It will probably continue to sit in its basket on the cabinet in my workroom until he asks for more.

As an actual sewing update, as I said before, I'm making two Lazy Girl Miranda Day Bags for Christmas. I chose to use Amy Butler fabrics for a sort of faux-Vera Bradley effect (one in a blue/brown and one in a pink/maroon). I like Amy Butler fabrics in the abstract, but when faced with them in reality, they're just way too cutesy/colorful for me. The bags are not turning out to my taste at all, but I think the recipients will like them. I hope. I'm a little iffy on the blue/brown one, but I have backup fabric squirreled away – all I need is another yard of batting and I could knock out a replacement bag if necessary.

While I sat sewing the pockets onto the lining last night – 10 of them! – I realized this is a really good, useful bag, and I'm just being prejudiced against it because I'm not liking my fabrics. Then, when I attached the lining to the bag and did the fold at the top where the lining becomes a visible edge on the exterior, I realized that this bag would look great in leather. I would have to change the closure – can't do iron-on Velcro on leather – but I have a bunch of interesting buttons and buckles, so something could be worked out easily enough. I'd also add an exterior pocket, for interest, since I wouldn't have to do all the quilting or topstitch the seams. I'm using purchased handles for the two bags I'm making, but I would sew leather straps for my own bag unless I could find something interesting and vintage.

Hmm, this is going to be a nice post-holiday project. Now if I can just find enough leather, and keep myself from using that nice black lambskin I bought at PR Weekend for a jacket. I have a decent stash of leather from various thrift store purchases; this might be an interesting bag to make out of mismatched leathers – not too "patchy," maybe just alternating brown/black since the top and bottom are each made up of 2 squares. I'll think about that while I'm sewing all this shrill pink cotton.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'm not supposed to be here . . .

I said no computer tonight. I said I was going to come home from work, scavenge a little food and start in on the holiday sewing. Which I did, but various things have derailed my train, and here I am, catching up on blogs, wandering through Patternreview. Not sewing.

I'm making 2 Lazy Girl Miranda Day Bags, and a robe for Christmas. How hard is that? Well, funny you should ask. I ordered 8 half-yard cuts of Amy Butler fabrics from a well-known (and formerly well-regarded by me) internet fabric store. They came several days beyond the famous "next day shipping" guarantee, and when I spread them out, 6 out of the 8 cuts were crooked. Not just wavy-along-the-edges crooked, but I'm-cutting-fabric-while-drunk crooked. (It was especially noticeable with the stripes.) Out of those 18" cuts, I was lucky to get 15" usable inches. Thankfully, that was enough, but I still got a few new gray hairs when I rotary-cut the pieces last night.

Tonight I got the front pieces quilted, sewn together and topstitched, and then I ironed on all the interfacing. I should have finished sewing the neck on the robe, and doing what little handwork is left, but I couldn't. I could have started the lining and pockets on the bags, but I couldn't. I'm feeling cranky and disgusted by what passes for quality control out there, and all the well-meaning messages from customer service offering replacement fabrics (in what, another week?) mean diddly and squat when all I want to do is finish the damn projects. Did they happen to notice it's only two weeks until Christmas???

A silly little something from a local shop that brightened my day.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Cookies

I heard somewhere that the average person gains something like 7 pounds in the space between Thanksgiving and New Year's. No wonder we all head frantically to the gym on January 1! Here's my contribution to that weight gain (and trust me, if you eat the whole batch, you can probably gain it all in one sitting).

This recipe for zuccarini is from Mario's aunt (who is getting a Lazy Girl Miranda Day Bag for giving this to me). Keeping myself in cookies wasn't the only reason I decided he was a keeper, but I have to admit it was on the list. This fall she finally handed over the recipe.

For the cookies:
1/2 lb. butter
2 cups of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
15 oz. ricotta cheese

Cream the butter and sugar, add vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time until mixture is light and fluffy. Sift flour and baking soda, add to cream mixture alternately with ricotta (this because the mixture gets unbearably hard to stir otherwise - don't use a mixer unless you've got a standing one; I burned out the motor in my handmixer on my first batch of these). Drop by teaspoons onto baking sheet. Aunt Cathie recommends scraping the dough off one teaspoon with another because it's so sticky that using your hands is impossible. Use only a small amount for each cookie because they spread in the oven. Because the cookies will be iced later, you might want to cover the baking sheet in foil. Bake at 350 for 11-15 minutes (depending on oven temp - his aunt's are done at 12, mine took the full 15). The cookies may get a little dark on the bottom, but don't worry, they won't taste burnt. Makes an obscene amount of cookies (in the 100 range) that will disappear before they're cool.

For the icing:
1 box confectioner's sugar (1 lb).
1 stick butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbs. milk

Mix ingredients together. Consistency of icing will be almost as sticky as the cookie dough. Spread on cookies when still warm, so the butter in the icing will melt into the cookies. Jimmies, sprinkles or colored sugar are optional, but tasty. Refrigerate until the icing sets. The icing recipe is generous, so you'll probably have some left over. Oh, the hardships of leftover butter icing.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

A little retail therapy

I turned down a trip to Reading yesterday to go outlet shopping with a friend because, I said, I didn't have that much shopping to do and going to the outlets would only tempt me to spend money I didn't need to spend. So, instead, I did it closer to home.

We got the car for a few hours and went over to NJ to do a Sam's Club run (the kitties were running low on necessities), and while I bought the cat stuff, I also got the boy a sweater for Christmas, some munchies for the kitchen, picked out a cute top for his sister and added 3 bottles of wine to the stash.

I asked if he'd mind going to Jomar, which is a clothing/housewares/fabric outlet in South Philly. I hadn't been there in about 5 years, but I've just finished repainting the dining room and am in dire need of curtain fabric. It's a 3-window bay, so lots of curtain fabric. And I remembered Jomar as being inexpensive and slightly tacky, but I don't require garment-quality from curtain fabric, so I thought it would be an okay place.

Jomar's not easy to find. The address is 22 Jackson Street, but along the river most of the street numbers start at 100, at Front Street. So this was below Front Street and the river, in and amongst all these old factory buildings, some of which have been converted to outlets for sneakers and ethnic foods and scary clothing. One of the streets to get into the parking lot has been so neglected by the streets department that it still had cobblestones. He just kept looking at me, hoping I knew where we were going. I knew. I could smell fabric.

In less than an hour, I got 15 yards of a really pretty poly-blend lace for the sheers, 5 yards of burgundy, 5 yards of gold, one pre-made curtain packet with the exact same 2 colors, 8 yards of chenille fringe, 5 yards of gold/white/burgundy piping, a 2 yard chunk of burgundy velvet, oh, and about 10 yards of assorted fabric for me, including a charcoal gray with light blue windowpane plaid pant-weight wool. All for $99 and change.

So I feel better. Even though I probably spent more than if I had gone outlet shopping with Dianne, it was (mostly) all stuff that I did actually need. More on the fabrics later, after they've been washed and done up in some kind of curtain configuration.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lay Your Head on My Shoulder

How many of the outdated trends on last night's episode of Project Runway have we all been guilty of? Personally, there are more than a few baggy sweaters in my past, a smidgen of neon (but only a smidgen), some dancewear, but only in the gym, and one outfit with visible underwear. My biggest crime was shoulder pads, but I think we're all guilty of that one.

In the 1980s, there was a discount clothing store in Philadelphia called Artie's. Their slogan was "Artie's is for Smarties," but I think they were the smart ones considering how much of my meager clothing budget they relieved me of during that tragic decade. But they sold cheap Norma Kamali, and I loved me my Norma, even though her dresses had football pads in the shoulders in those days. My Normas are long gone, but I found an example online of one that I had (sans shoulder pads), and which I now believe wore me proudly (I'm way too short for that dress, but you couldn't tell me that then. Besides, 3" heels can cure almost all image problems).

The only item left in my closet that has survived many years of cleanouts and this year's drastic, Tim-Gunn-inspired purge, is my Dynasty Suit. This was fashion on a large scale - big floral, puffed sleeves, 5-button cuffs, a gathered waistband on the skirt, textured fabric and . . . did I mention, the biggest shoulder pads I've ever seen.

It was dramatic, it was fabulous, and it made me feel like a Carrington female who wasn't saccharine or evil enough to make it onto the show.

In retrospect, and looking at it on my dressform, it's frightening and completely unwearable, but I can't let it go.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

And inside my 100-year-old house, it's almost as cold. I ventured into the workroom this evening, turned on my trusty spaceheater (which blows ever so considerately right at my chair), and it was 57 freaking degrees in there. I gave up and retreated to the computer to read sewing blogs and think about sewing.

For some reason, I've been thinking about stripes. I'm not much of a stripe wearer, but that doesn't stop me from thinking. I loved Gorgeous Things' article in Threads a while back about playing with stripes, and doing unusual things with something as basic as stripe is part of what I enjoy most about sewing - the freedom to go sideways with an idea, do something that you'd never see in a store (and wear it).

These were taken back in March when I went to Paris. I didn't think until the last day to take pictures of store windows, but both these striped jackets really impressed me because (a) they were both examples of flawless workmanship, and (b) while they were serious garments, there was nothing stuffy about them, even the jacket that could have wandered off a shoot for Brideshead Revisited.

What I particulaly like about these (aside from a facility for stripe-matching that makes my eyes cross) is that they're beautiful, classic, classy garments that still manage to be just the slightest bit off. In a good way.

Okay, all this meandering has been fun, but if I'm not going to get any work done on the holiday gifts, I should try sleeping. I worked on a robe for Mario's sister last night until past 1 a.m. and this morning I looked and felt like something my cats wouldn't even bother to bring in.

Monday, December 3, 2007

And now for something

completely un-sewing-related.

This is Stanley. Stanley has taken up residence on my porch over the last few days and is selling himself harder than a presidential candidate in Iowa. He wants to be my cat. He'll be the best cat for the job, bar none, all I need to do is take him in and he'll show me that he's got the experience and the charm and the Bill Clinton-esque strength of personality to be the best cat for the job.

Which would be fine, except how exactly do I explain that to the other eleven best cats? There are already too many of them, but saying no to this little guy is difficult. I'm trying hard to find someone to take him, but I've already suckered - I mean convinced - most of my friends to take a stray or two over the years, so the campaign isn't going well.

Best reason to take him in: we were coming home the other night and I was cuddling Stanley on the porch, and the other man in my life, who claims to be somewhat allergic to cats (though I've never noticed a sniffle when he's asleep on the couch with two or three on his chest), says, "You wouldn't take in another one. You're just wouldn't."

Oh, wouldn't I?