I may end up buying the authentic Thundershirt for Myrtle (or one of the smorgasbord of other brands now available on Amazon, such as this one called Mellow Shirt“).
But first I want to see if Myrtle needs it and if it will calm her during fireworks season. We’ve had three nights of fireworks in the neighborhood so far. The first night, she was visibly agitated, even in the house when I was with her, trying to comfort her. She was startled and barked at every boom.
So, I’ve mocked up a DIY compression vest for her. The first mock up is made of terry cloth, to be soft and cool.
The next mock up will be all or part netting, and stretchier:
While wearing the terrycloth vest, she immediately began sitting and laying down more, while not showing signs that the vest bothers her.
However, the real test hasn’t occurred yet. The fireworks have been quiet in our ‘hood since that first night.
I’ll be watching and tweaking the vests all week, hoping that by July 4th, we’ll have something that keeps her from being frightened.
The vest has not taken away her energy, and by that I mean her desire to play with the baby robins in the neighbor’s tree.
The fantastic Victoria and Albert Museum in London is hosting a Mary Quant exhibit this year. With it they’re putting on workshops and special events. If like me, you can’t get to London this year, there’s this! The museum has commissioned a dress pattern to be designed in the style of Mary Quant. It’s now available here, with written and video instructions and tutorial:
This easy-to-use sewing pattern has been designed exclusively for us by Alice & CoPatterns. The design includes two neckline options, two pocket options, three collar finishes, and two sleeve finishes – all inspired by Mary Quant’s iconic designs. It’s a classic A-line mini which sits just above the knee – you can shorten it if you want to show a bit more thigh, or lengthen to turn it into a more 70s style maxi-dress.
Yay, the season of outdoor get-togethers and yard games is upon us! (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and more.) For my family, it started with Mother’s Day, when all of us sibs converged on Mom’s house for the weekend. One of my jobs was to bring bean bags for the Cornhole game. My brother made nice wood Cornhole boards, and I made a new set of bean bags.
Cornhole is a totally awesome game for tailgaters, festival goers, and family get-togethers. It is a bean bag toss where you try to toss the bag through the hole in a board 20+ feet away.
The boards can be purchased or custom made. Boards can have really lovely designs. Here is a monogrammed set available on Amazon.
The popularity of the game is evident from the range of products available on Amazon.
Freeze the corn for 24-48 hours, to kill any little bugs and things that might be waiting to come out.
Before weighing, sift the corn through a colander to eliminate as much of the corn dust and other ‘stuff’ as you can. Then measure out 15 – 15.5 ounces of corn for each bag. The other .5 oz or so will come from the weight of the fabric.
With a funnel, load the measured corn into the bag.
A funnel made from a plastic gallon container works well because it has a big enough opening for the corn to pass through. A standard kitchen funnel doesn’t have a big enough opening.
To close off the bag, push the corn down in the bag as far as it will go, and then secure it there with pins or a long needle. For this, I prefer to use a long ‘doll needle’. The 5″ needle is easy to insert, and the one long needle holds everything in place. (Actually, a doll needle comes in handy for so many things, that I recommend keeping one in the sewing kit.)
The picture below shows how the doll needle holds the corn back from the stitching area, to give you room to maneuver the open end of the bag under the presser foot.
That little bit of extra room in the top of the bag is important not just for room to sew, but also for the finished bag. Bags stuffed too tight with corn can potentially burst on impact.
⇒Remember to reinforcetheclosure with a second row of stitching, and maybe even a third row.
Get creative with the bags! Try patterns and fabric paints.
Then, you are ready to play!
The bags (and extra corn) should be stored in a rodent-proof container.
Additional tips on bags and peace brought to you by John Lennon of Bag.
Last month I ordered a new phone and case. When they arrived, the case didn’t fit the phone. Dollar Store to the rescue. At the Dollar Store, I found some cases that were the correct width, but too short. They were flexible material, so I decided to try cutting one to make it fit. I bought two, in case I messed one up. Here’s how the process went.
Cut the case in two, to increase the length. The case is a rubbery material, so strong shears are needed. I used kitchen shears. (The picture below shows the finished black case on the right, and next to it the turquoise one in progress.)
This shows the additional length needed to fit over the phone. Next I punched holes in both pieces, to stitch in a piece of fabric to bridge the gap.
Marking and punching the holes:
The locations of the holes were first measured and marked, using a simple ruler and gel pen.
A leather punch worked great for punching the holes. My leather punch isn’t the exact one pictured, but is substantially similar. It was $7 well spent. I use the punch all the time for making belts fit, and numerous other ‘hacks’. Click the picture to go to the punch on Amazon.
When one side was punched…
I used those holes to mark where to punch on the corresponding piece.
Then, using cotton yarn and a darning needle, I stitched a scrap of woven belting to each side, to bridge the gap. Almost any durable fabric could be used. Think denim, duck canvas, vinyl, etc. Just make sure the edges are bound to prevent raveling.
Using the kitchen shears again, I adapted the back holes for the photo lens and sensor. This first attempted adaptation wasn’t very pretty, but it did its job.
On the other case, I omitted the fabric, and simply laced the two pieces together with elastic cord.
The cord lacing fits as well as the fabric piece. It was easier to do, and came out looking a lot nicer than the fabric, I think.
Here’s a side view. With the kitchen shears, I modified the side cutouts to match the control buttons on the phone.
From the front, the cases look like this.
The DIY cases worked out great. They never came loose from the phone, and they did their job of protecting the phone while I ordered another case that was supposed to fit the phone. When that case didn’t fit, I ordered a third case. After three failed attempts to get a proper case, I gave up. There were other issues with the phone too, so the phone was returned, and I ordered a different phone and case. The DIY Dollar Store cases got me through while waiting for the ‘right’ phone and case to arrive, and they would have lasted a long time, if I’d kept that phone.
Have a lovely Easter. We sang this in church on Easter morning when I was little.
For people located in the US, like me, there are limited viewing options for this awesome BBC series, The Great British Sewing Bee. But I put up with those annoyances because I love this show so much. For a quick intro, here is the trailer for the past season–Season 4:
After an excruciatingly long wait, Season 5 premiered this month! Here is the entire hour-long Episode 1 of Season 5 on Youtube. My advice is to watch it now, because like other GBSB episodes, this quality upload will likely disappear soon from Youtube. Which also means, parts of this post will disappear.
The sewing contestants who have appeared on the GBSB are from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages. Many are self-taught. Some of the older participants have spent their lives sewing for themselves and their children.
While I’d love to have the show’s workshop and haberdashery, I would be crippled by the time pressures! How do they do it with a show host yelling at them that they are almost out of time???
As the screenshots below indicate, the contestants design and produce amazing garments in just 2 or 3 hours; sometimes less time than that.
What happens to the contestants? After their stint on the show, my impression is that most of the contestants go back to their regular lives. But at least one, Tilly Walnes, has parlayed her skill and participation on the show into a successful business. She has an inspiring website for beginners and experts alike. The patterns Tilly has designed for sale in her shop are great. I purchased her “Coco” dress pattern, and now [almost] three Coco dresses later, I’ve purchased three more of her patterns. Hopefully the new patterns will all soon become fun garments in my closet.
Coco #3 in Progress
When to watch: The GBSB episodes are broadcast weekly on BBC, on Tuesdays at 9pm UK time, which is 3pm Central time in the US. Soon after that, start checking Youtube for an uploaded episode. It may take a few hours, or days before one appears. Warning: Choose carefully among the Youtube offerings, and by that I mean steer clear of the dodgy videos that require you to click a link outside of Youtube to watch the episode.
We really need to be able to watch The Great British Sewing Bee on TV in the US! I’ve inquired with our local PBS station, and they made inquiries, and were told succinctly that it is not available in the US and may never be available here. Commence temper tantrum.
UPDATE! Here is Season 5 Episode 3, aired Tuesday, February 26, 2019.
They are doing vintage 60s-70s garments, using vintage machines and playing great background music from the period. There’s my sewing machine!
And they ventured into Punk! “Anarchy in the sewing bee!”
It was a Big Brothers Big Sisters group sleepover at the zoo. The conversation between me and a younger mentor went like this:
Her: Haven’t seen that pant style in awhile. Me: Yes, they were a favorite in a prior decade. They’ve been too comfy to get rid of. Her: Um, I’m pretty sure it was more than one decade ago. Me: I did say “a” prior decade; not “the” prior decade.
To give you the right visual, they were black stirrup pants. Super comfortable for a sleepover, but admittedly…
…they haven’t been in style for decade(s). Actually, it was the prior millennium. And, they aren’t warm. So, when I needed a pattern for some insulated warm pants, I broke down and cut the stirrup pants apart to make the pattern. Turns out it was a good choice for a pattern, because:
It was only two pattern pieces, which made an easy-to-sew pattern.
The fit was loose (unlike leggings or skinny pants), which accommodated the bulk of the insulated layers.
The fit came out right on the first try, except for the lower legs, which had too much taper for the thickness of the fabric layers. To fix the lower leg issue, I opened each side seam below the knee and inserted a long triangle. This worked fine.
For the fly closure, I used a strip of velcro, which was not strong enough by itself, but worked fine when I added a waistband and fastener.
(View before adding the waistband.)
Tips and notes:
Reducing unnecessary bulk. For the fly and waistband facing side, I removed the pile from between the layers. Those spots don’t need double insulation, or bulk.
Walking foot recommended. The lazy, impatient me didn’t use the walking foot on the sewing machine, because it is slow, and I wanted to sew this first pair up quickly. I got by, and the pants came together quickly and easily. But with these layers and pile, a walking foot would be the better way to go.
The fabric was a surprise purchase from Joann. While shopping for something else, I spotted this at 60% off, which made it $8/yd. It appears to be an in-store only item, so I can’t provide a link to it. But if you have a Joann store nearby, go check the bargain fabric section with the color-coded discount dots.
Why insulated pants? For comfort and productivity. I’m cold all winter. Besides how miserable that is, I feel like it takes much time out of my planned day to warm up, whether by situating myself near a space heater, or having a heated throw at my desk. It slows my productivity and energy level, just getting and staying warm. I want to try designing and making some simple, practical garments that I can wear any day, every day, all day, at home, and just feel warm. The ultimate plan is to make garments I can wear wherever I go during the day–from the office to grocery shopping.
This is the first of the attempts. Not bad for $8 in materials. To be honest though, they look like simple insulated pants that don’t cost much to buy ready-to-wear. Must try harder to make them look more stylish for every day wear.
The polar vortex of last week was my inspiration to make these warm pants a priority. But as luck goes, on the day I finished the pants there was a drastic warmup. It was a 60s-70sF weekend with sun. Crocuses bloomed!
Alas, the winter temperatures have made a rude return, with 30+mph wind gusts, a windchill temp of -11F, and an icy coating on everything. The pants are doing their job of keeping me comfortable.
The entrance to our 84-year old ballpark looked like this in September, when they announced it would be torn down.
They first tore the grandstand down. Here is the site in November, when only the box office and entry gate remained. Now those are gone too, and it’s a big flat dirt field.
In 2020, we are supposed to have a new ballpark in its place.
I finished reading “Sticky Fingers”.
After my blog post about the book, it took a couple of renewals from the public library, but eventually I finished the book. It is a well written book about a repulsive character. It was a repulsive read to the end. It made me want all of those hours back that I’d spent over the years reading Rolling Stone magazine.
The soiling of Page 393.
As I was pushing on to finish the book, a bad thing happened. I took the book with me to the movie theater to read while waiting for the movie to start. I bought a little bag of popcorn. Too late, I realized the bag was leaking butter. I soiled the library book on possibly the most important page, and maybe the only important page of the entire book.
When I returned it to the library, I confessed and showed them the page. I’m waiting to find out if they are going to bill me for the book. They certainly are within their rights to ask me to pay for it. Because I was up front with them, and the stain was confined to a couple of pages (it bled through to the next page), they will not ask me to pay for a replacement book. Lesson learned! Have I mentioned how much I ❤ our library? Well, this is just the latest reason.
The Poblano pepper plant that I’d planted and tended outdoors all summer, is now in a pot on the enclosed porch in the south sun. It gets cold on the porch but has stayed above freezing. When the sun is shining, the room can get above 70°. Three peppers are growing on the plant, albeit very slowly. I may be waiting all winter for a harvest of three peppers.
Aaand another holiday season is in the books. One of my favorite holiday songs goes from reflective to angry to a call for hopefulness. It sums up the end of the holiday season the way I feel it–looking back on the joyous gatherings of family and friends, and looking forward to the new year.
“And so I skate, across the Thames, hand in hand, with all my friends. And all the things that we planned…
“Goddamn this government, will they ever tell me where the money went? Protesters march out on the street, as young men sleep amongst the feet.”
“The end of Christmas day, when there is nothing left to say, the years go by so fast, let’s hope the next beats the last.”
If you loved the original Mary Poppins movie like I did, then Mary Poppins Returns is a must-see. It is not a remake of the 1964 movie. It is a continuation of the story, 20 years later. The music and actors are different from the original, but it feels completely connected. I got emotional several times during the movie, not because it was sad (it isn’t), but because it was wonderful to have more of the Mary Poppins story. Put the two movies together, and it’s a captivating miniseries.
There’s the familiar London steeples and rooftops,
and the familiar Cherry Tree Lane.
I don’t want to give away any surprises or spoilers, so no more details about the film. But as always, I came away with sewing inspiration, too. I’ll have to wait for better views when the movie is available for streaming, but for now here’s what I’ll be looking at:
Mary’s carpet bag, blue striped coat and striped skirt.
Jane Banks/Emily Mortimer’s pants-vest outfit. The pants in particular. They are pleated and baggy, and the hem hits where the ankle meets the foot.