Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Coma of the Zodiac Clutch

When last we spoke, dear readers, I was engaged in an apparently ambitious plan to sew a clutch out of wonderful Zodiac glitter vinyl. I was having a bit of trouble with the printed directions, but my mom deciphered at least the first hurdle. Okay, good to go. Or so I thought?

Have you ever sewn this kind of fabric before?
No. But it’s okay, I switched to a heavy-duty needle.
That’s good, but you should know that the vinyl may stick to your needle plate. If that happens, you put a scrap of pattern tissue in between, and sew through it. You can tear it out when you’re finished.
Oh, thanks! That’s good to know. Woo, go Mom, with the handy hints!

And, as I begin sewing, I keep that tidbit in mind. As long as I’m sewing right-sides-together, everything is fine. Then it’s time to turn out the flap, and stitch down the edges… stick. Stick stick stick. Not only to the needle plate, but also to the presser foot. I don’t have “spare” pattern tissue, but I do have plain ol’ white gift-wrapping tissue. And voila, no more sticking.

Except, now I can’t see what I’m doing. I try my best to stitch down the flap edges by feel. Um, yeah no. Not straight. And, when I pull away the tissue, a Large Quantity remains caught under the thread. White tissue on a red clutch. Yeah, that’s kinda conspicuous. Okay, well, at least it’s vinyl. When I’m done with all of the sewing, I’ll run it under some water if I have to. The crooked stitch isn’t good, but I’ll do better on the next one. And this bad one will eventually have a big, industrial snap going over it, so noone will even notice. Moving along…

Here is where I have to do the first of the “Huh?” maneuvers. I need to take the two raw edges of this flap, move one edge 1/4″ down in the center, and do a zigzag stitch to keep in in place. Then trim away the excess. The stiffness of the vinyl makes this difficult. I squinch it down, I pin as best I can, I zigzag, I trim. The tissue tears away from the zigzag with great lack of success. As bad as the crooked stitch looked, I have now made it Much Worse. I am losing my will to see this through, but also very much want to have this fabulous new clutch for the weekend. I begin to read ahead in the directions but can no longer make heads or tails out of anything.

It is now two weeks later, and my equipment is still spread all over the sewing dining room table. Every time I look over at it, I am disenheartened. I’m still using my fabulous pinstriped purse every day, but it’s like driving a car that badly needs an oil change. The pinstriped purse really needs to visit a leather shop to have the handle restitched, and the bottom reinforced. If I wait too long, the wear will be too great to repair.

Suddenly, Revamp purses are looking… well, still too expensive. But yeah, I now understand how difficult this damn fabric is to work with. Le sigh.



Filed under family, fashion, life-threatening clutter, sewing


(To be screamed quietly, in a pitch that only dogs can hear.)

I don’t believe that anyone who reads my blog has actually met my mysterious friend Jason, but you all kindly take my word for it that he and I go Way Back. (He and I do indeed go Way Back. The only person I’ve known longer is Mandy.)

I think I’ve written about Jason before. I hope I have, anyway. He has been impressing me with his creativity since the day I met him. Which I believe I have just established was A Long Time Ago. It seems to me that there is nothing that man can’t paint/sculpt/build/illustrate. I’ve been a fan since the days of his dorm room Fome-Cor™ ceiling fly. I have three of his shirts, one of his prints, and photos of him from when he was 19 (no, you can’t see those). My iPhone’s Gelaskin will be ordered soon.

Jason’s bio, as lifted entirely from ToyCyte‘s interview with him:

Armed with a youthful, overactive imagination, Jason Freeny creates smart, intricate illustrations that tickle the deviant intellect through a hard graphic, pop iconography and wit. Jason has worked with LEGO, MTV and Nickelodeon and has been featured in the pages of Hi-Fructose, Juxtapoz and Heavy Metal. His anatomy illustrations have circulated the Web from BoingBoing to Nerdcore. You can pick up one of his print pieces here, some wearable art here, and convenient exoskeletons for all your gadgets here. He has, on the horizon, several magazine pieces, a couple top secret product projects and a collaboration with the United Arab Emirates.

This morning, it was officially announced: He has his sticky fingerprints all over Toy2R at ToyFair 2009. Article here. Photos here:

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Filed under amusement, friends

In Progress

Hey, you know what I need? A new handbag. Because, um, I don’t have enough? (Note: That link is to the flickr set of my vintage and vintage-inspired bags. I have more purses, but they’re not “special” enough to warrant photographing.) (Second Note: Mandelion, I’m sorry but now that I see these all laid out in front of me, I just can’t instruct you to not buy any more bags. The word “hypocrite” will bounce loudly around my skull, even though you’ve asked me to stop you.)

Yeah, so. Every time I wander through JoAnn Fabrics, I give a glance to the two bolts of Zodiac upholstery vinyl that live along the back wall. Zodiac is manufactured in perhaps a dozen colors, although JoAnn only stocks two: burgundy and charcoal. I glance, sometimes I even stop and run my fingers over the vinyl, and then I walk away. I already have two clutches made of Zodiac (or a Zodiac-like fabric) and while it’s true, they are of a poor design and don’t hold much, I simply don’t need another bag. Besides, every handbag project I’ve started in the past has fallen into the storage tub of Maybe I’ll Finish This Eventually.

And then one day last week, I realized that my beloved Pantone ID card holder was perhaps looking a bit haggard. I’ve been using it as my primary wallet for a few years now, and it’s served me well, but it’s showing signs of age. And I suppose I should start shopping around for a new one. Orrrrrrrrrrrrr… hmm. I could MAKE one. Out of Zodiac! And since I doubt JoAnn will have small, remnant-size pieces, I’ll have some left over. So I’ll make a matching checkbook cover. Yes! Cool! I decide to get a half-yard of vinyl, and maybe I’ll stitch up a mini tote or something out of whatever is left over. And so I skip over to JoAnn.

The bolt is heavy. Lucky for me, nobody is ahead of me at the cutting table, and I can drop it off (literally) for the cutting attendant right away. While she’s unrolling it, I spot a handbag pattern over in the Green Pepper rack where I don’t usually look, because their stuff is a little “Boulder” for me. But this pattern looks like… well, exactly what I could use to make a bag from the extra vinyl! Yay!

I get home, and unroll the vinyl, face-down, so I can see in which direction the backing fabric’s grain runs. I open the pattern sheet, so I can get a vague idea of the layout. Hmmm, as long as they’re unfolded, why don’t I grab my rotary cutter and rough-cut the pieces so I can really lay them on the vinyl…


The vinyl was already unrolled! On top of my table-size cutting mat, on which I just rough cut the pieces! I HAVE JUST ROUGH-CUT THE VINYL! AAAAAAARRRRRRGH! I still have enough for all of my planned projects, but WHAT A DUMBASS! I do stupid stuff from time to time, but this is waaaaay up there on the list.

Okay, fine, back to work. I cut out the pieces for the handbag, trying my best to leave large areas left untouched for an ID holder, a checkbook cover, and the wallet that Nick asked that I make him when I mentioned my plans. I cut out the lining fabric. I read the pattern instructions.

I read the pattern instructions.

I read the pattern instructions. No, I’m sorry, what? I still don’t understand. Turn the open end under… taper… zigzag… I know the words, but the picture on the pattern is just as abstract as the construction I’m picturing in my head. I hold the pieces in my hands, and go through the steps again.

No, this just isn’t coming together.

I decide that I’ll just start sewing, and it will (hopefully) become clear as I go through. I swap out the needle on my machine, and I thread it. I go grab dinner with Scott and decide to come back to it in the morning.

Mom, an accomplished sewer herself, stops by in the morning, and I thrust the pattern instructions at her. She sits with them for a while, and is also a bit perplexed. But I think she’s figured it out, and she’s now waiting for me so she can show me what I’m supposed to do. Wish me luck!



Filed under collections, family, sewing


To make up for the previous long-winded posts, here’s a very brief one.

I collect a lot of things. Today’s post shows you, my sewing- and cooking-interested readers, my collection of aprons. As an added bonus to a frequently-overlapping segment of my readers, most of them are vintage. Click on the image to be magically transported to the flickr set that describes them all.


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Filed under collections, kitchen, nostalgia, sewing, vintage

Groundhog Day

My morning went a little something like this:

Me: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning.

Nick: Who the hell is Punxsutawney Phil???

Me: The official groundhog of Groundhog Day! :)

Nick: Oh!
I was wondering if that is who you were talking about.
Didn’t know he had an actual “name”.
Now I’m wondering what crack-head named the poor guy!

Me: Punxsutawney is the name of the town, Phil is the name of the groundhog. ’Cept he’s called “Punxsutawney Phil” so nobody confuses him with any of the other groundhogs. ;)

Nick: All of the other groundhogs???
How many other groundhogs participate in this event?
Are they Union Groundhogs?
Has there ever been a groundhog labor dispute?
Did they have to bring in non-union groundhogs to pull off Groundhog Day?
What would groundhog picket signs look like?
How much does a Union groundhog have to pay in dues?
Do they have a Local?
United Brotherhood of Groundhogs and Shadow Casters.
Westminster, CO
Local 247

So…. are they all named Phil?

Don’t trust your Spring to a scab shadow!


Filed under Shoot, I forgot to add tags again