Category Archives: Halloween

Week In Review

I finally went to my first 2008 Rockies game, which happened to be the last home game of the season. Shout out to Megan and Joe for giving me a ticket. I had a great time, even though the Dbacks spanked us. Opening Day for 2009 is April 10, and I plan to be there after missing the last two years because of Stupid Work Stuff.

After mentioning on Twitter that I’d sold a couple more bracelets before even getting around to posting them in my shop, an acquaintance/follower commissioned me to make a manly-looking mala bracelet for him. Cool beans! Not that malas are generally very girlie-looking, but I chose paint-brush jasper for it’s grey/black tones. The hard part was/is finding an affordable “guru” bead. This is the 3-hole-drilled bead that is used as the counting point on a mala, to mark the beginning and end of the circle. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I’m going to attempt to drill my own. As for the other bracelets: Still not photographed and posted.

My last contract day with my prior employer was Tuesday. I slipped out with a complete lack of fanfare, because I’m not very good with good-byes. Also, I was RACING to a FedEx drop box, and didn’t have time for chit-chat. I realize that the reorg put into place by upper management, under pressure from the Board and stockholders, was short-sighted. Heck, it was BLIND. But I don’t work (much) with upper management, the Board, or the stockholders. The folks with whom I worked are my friends, and in some cases feel like family. I will be happy to return to the office for more work whenever I’m needed. At twice my old pay, of course. :)

I took my mom in for a preventative maintenance ’scope, and she gets a clean bill of health. The family genes are pretty good at shielding themselves from everything we throw at them. Yes, yes, mom’s side of the family battles diabetes, and her sweet tooth (which I thankfully did not inherit) keeps me worried, but she has managed to escape that particular complication for YEARS longer than her mom or brother did. Still, I’m keeping my eye on her.

Two former colleagues and I met up for lunch, to discuss the possibility of joining forces into one design company. After speaking to our individual strengths and weaknesses, I’m not sure that we’d be any better off than we are as independent contractors, but I still want to see what the initial business plan looks like before I bow out (or shake hands on the deal).

With my new, limited income, I’m trying to stay close to home and keep as much money in the bank as possible. I went to the thrift store ONLY to do a quick check for a dress that could affordably be used for Costume Two. I didn’t find one, but I did find a vintage, self-belt dress for the ridiculous price of $2.95, so I bought it. It looks to be home-made, but by someone who really knew what she was doing. I considered buying the new-but-retro-styled wedding dress that needed a dry cleaning but was priced somehow at $4.95, but it was a size 4 and there was NO WAY that I was ever going to be able to use that for anything. The sad, sad part of that trek was finding a mid-century-looking buffet-style chest of drawers for $60, and not knowing anyone with a pickup truck to help me get it home. Regardless of provenance, I liked the shape. It doesn’t go with ANYTHING in my house, outside of the kidney coffee table in the basement, so I should just put it out of my head.

I came up with the brilliant plan of using Very Long Tweezers to remove the offending thread from my comatose sewing machine. Except that I didn’t know where to buy Very Long Tweezers. Mandelion came to my rescue, and suggested the local fabric store. Of course! One trip to JoAnn later, and I was holding in my hands tweezers that are specifically advertised for reaching tight spots in sewing machines. Perfect! Alas, they don’t fit into this particular tight spot. Oh, for fuck’s sake. In frustration, with the aid of the tweezers, a metal barbecue skewer, and scissors, I wrestled most of the thread out. I am skipping the last camping trip of the season this weekend, but hope to make good use of my time at home by getting some of these sewing/beading/photographing projects out of the way.


Filed under camping, collections, doctors and dentists, family, friends, Halloween, jewelry, sewing, shopping, vintage

The Ol’ College Try

I refuse to give up.

I sat the Singer down on the dining room table, with the Interrogation Room-bright overhead light on. I got out the manual. I flipped toward the back, where troubleshooting and maintenance can usually be found. The manual did not disappoint in that regard. I troubleshot. I maintained. I officially cannot reach the dealio that controls the thread arm. Is it really time to raise the white flag and call a shop? I hate to do that, to spend good money on such a goofy little issue. But Halloween is rapidly approaching, and my costume* isn’t sewing itself.

Grumble, grumble.

*Yes, my children. Singular. I am disappointed, but the current economic situation has my hands tied. I am going ahead with the one that was further along when my job was “eliminated.” Unfortunately, it is not the one that best fit this year’s theme. Still, in my head, it looks great, and if I can ever get this machine fixed (and remember to get my dressform back from the friend who borrowed it), it is so close to being finished. It still needs shoes, however, and I am torn between $37-but-will-likely-never-wear-again and $13-and-will-definitely-never-wear-again-if-they-even-last-the-night. I am leaning toward the disposable option. Heck, I can probably make my own! I do love a project. :)


Filed under Halloween, sewing

Sew What?


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might recall Butterick 4790. It’s a reprint of a 1952 pattern, 6015, often referred to as the “walk-away” dress, nicknamed because it was claimed that you could start the pattern after breakfast, and walk away in it by lunch.

Unless, after stitching down the first dart, your thread snaps and winds itself around an internal component, bringing the whole enterprise to a halt.

I have had a sewing machine for 15+ years (currently a Singer 5160), and this has never happened before. I mean, sure, thread snaps all the time, but to see it wound around the doohickey that controls the take-up lever; well, that’s new to me. There’s no thread in my way, and I could ignore it and rethread the machine, but when I turn the hand-wheel, the tension feels off. I’m afraid of it either seizing, or snapping the snapped thread further and winding it around even more internal components.

The screws that hold the machine together are recessed. Recessed farther than my screwdrivers will reach. So, in lieu of paying a shop take apart the machine simply to unwind a piece of thread, I went to Home Depot and bought a longer screwdriver. I undid the five screws on the back of the machine. The screw on the right, near the power supply. The screw on the left, near the needle/presser foot. After all that, I was able to remove one small piece of the housing, but still couldn’t reach the offending thread. I don’t want to cause any further damage, so I guess I’ll call around and see if I can find a shop that will cut me a deal on what I know is a quick “repair.” (One local shop has a $95 diagnostic charge!)

In the meantime, I am unable to “walk-away” in my dress. And the sewing portion of my Halloween costuming is on brief hiatus (public thanks to Big Red for offering up her machine while mine is under the weather).


Filed under fashion, Halloween, sewing

Halloween Checkpoint

Costume One
Total spent to date: $81 (!)
Still need to buy: footwear
Remaining work: finish sewing costume; practice makeup; build/practice headwear

Costume Two
Total spent to date: $13
Still need to buy: fabric for costume, fabric for accessories, trim for accessories, spray paint
Remaining work: sew costume, sew accessories, cast/sculpt/paint jewelry


Filed under Halloween, holidays, sewing

Icebox Cake! Calder, shoes, etc.

It’s another scattered, icebox cake post, kids. Without further ado:

August’s masthead is a tight crop of a photo I took of a Calder mobile (Red, Black, and Blue, 1968) which hangs in the Milwaukee Art Museum. Alexander Calder and Jasper Johns have been among my favorite artists since I was a little kid. I would have loved to have been in the room when Sandy Calder was doing a “Circus” performance. I’ll settle for having seen it on film numerous times, because it plays in a loop at the Whitney, where my mom used to take me every year for my birthday. To be fair, though, I wasn’t watching the loop as much as I was staring at the circus itself. I finally watched the film from beginning to end with my friend Mandy as we toured a traveling Calder show a couple of summers ago at the Walker.

I have, by my standards, a lot of credit at DSW. I spent an hour roaming the store yesterday, and managed to find one pair of shoes to take home. Maybe I’m sick? I’ll have to peruse their much larger online collection, and see if I can’t shake this bug. ;)

I have been busy, part I. I have (partially) reorganized my finished basement, in an attempt to uncover the living space that’s down there. I put together three sets of 3’x5′ shelves for all of the stuff that’s stored down there, and managed to unearth the sofa and carve out an area for my sewing table. I think I’ll get two more sets of shelves (open invite to strong, helpful people here: the shelving boxes are too heavy for me to lift) and finish out that wall. I still need to rummage through all the stuff that’s still scattered around, and take a lot of empty boxes to the recycling center. I have a tendency to keep every box that any appliance came in, just in case. (In the case of my rarely-used espresso machine, that box comes in handy as it actually stores the machine!) I am itching to get the basement guest room set up, but I am about to have three different people storing some personal belongings in there. The extra guest space can wait. Note to Scott, if you’re reading this: Maybe you can help me toss out my mom’s seemingly abandonded stuff to create more space for your stuff?

I have been busy, part II. Some squares might be 10 weeks away from planning their Halloween costumes, but my crowd has already been on it for a month. Hooray, hooray, my bestest costume buddy is flying in from Oklahoma just to party down with the Halloweeniest crowd around! Because there are always two parties, there will once again be two costumes. One costume is something that I have attempted over and over, but always bagged at the last minute because I have trouble getting one particularly important prop just to my liking. Lots of people offer suggestions, but it’s difficult to get any of them to actually work. This year, I am determined. Besides, the costume itself is almost done! Just a little more sewing, and the right shoes… and of course, that damned prop. The other costume is still being tossed around, but needs to fall into the theme of Heroes & Villains. I wanted to do Wonder Woman, just so I could get the boots (and, who am I kidding here, those rad wrist cuffs), but her outfit is skimpy and has been since her first appearance back in 1941. Yes, I checked. The metaphorical drawing board has lots of crumpled sketches right now.

Coming up: Soon, I hope to photograph and post my growing collection of handbags. Because they’re finally getting interesting. :) Also, the 2008 Olympics are about to begin! I’m having a few peeps over on Friday to watch the pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremony. Veggie pot stickers, Chinese beer, and whatever my pals deem to bring on their own. And a globe, so we can find all of the guest countries! Fun times. I may have to ruin my progress in the basement in order to clear out the “public” areas for my party. Such is my life of clutter.


Filed under collections, friends, Halloween, life-threatening clutter, sewing