Sunday, January 31, 2010

Knowing When to Stop

This refashion made me curse. A lot. The really naughty swears too. Not because it was p'tictly difficult but because I apparently don't know when to stop.

It made me rethink my most dearly held belief, "everything looks better with a ruffle or a bow" and I had to take TWO days of stepping away from it to realise that it was done. AFTER I'd made unnecessary meters of ruffle and after I'd drafted and cut out a Peter Pan collar (which actually was good practice but frustrating not to use).

Anyway. Here's the before, purchased for silly cheap in the Old Navy sale :

Blue dress before

It's, well... when my sweetie saw it on for the first time he said, completely earnestly,
"I like your new nightdress".
Which yup. Totally fair. I explained that it wasn't in fact a nightdress and he stammered about what a nice new dress it was (because he's awesome).

But I knew he was right the first time. Still, I actually wore it in all it's shapeless glory a few times with jeans and a cardi. And an extra 42 lbs of Erin chubs. It was not my bestest look ever.

But I turned it into this:

Blue dress after

It's now proper dress length instead of unflattering tunic length, it has slightly puffy sleeves and it has a drawstring waist. I'm actually really happy with it.

Here's what I did.

First I snipped the lining of the dress out. Which means that I'll need to wear a slip. But actually, turns out my granny was right, one really should always wear a slip. Avoiding cling and smoothing bumps AND not flashing your dainties is awesome. She was less right about the smoking and alcoholism, but you can't win em all.

Then I got rid of the STINKING pockets.
Those suckers sat exactly at my hips and puffed out. I'm plenty puffy on the hips already. So I sewed the gaps up and cut the pocket fabric out.

The length was just exactly wrong on me. . I used the hemmed bottom of the lining to add length (yay for LAZY!) but I added a bit of interfacing so it wasn't so flimsy.
I used the blue bias binding along the hem to tie together the two colours and (I hope) make the bit at the bottom look less random. I used it on the sleeves too.

Next, I unpicked the ruching from the back yoke and added a huge, practically-the-whole-length-of-the-dress dart, which made it a bit less sack like.

I was going to add darts at the front under the boobs but while I happened to be perusing Anthro (big surprise!) I spotted this little Orla Kiely number.

It's the Beanstalk dress and it's $229 Canadian.
I decided that a drawstring waist was the way to go, so I made a channel on the inside of the dress to run a drawstring through. Then I hand stitched two buttonholes to pull the ribbons out of. I can take pictures of what that looks like if you've a burning curiosity. I found it about a MILLION times easier to hand stitch the buttonholes than to machine them and pick them out 50 times.
I used a spot of grey ribbon as a drawstring but I might switch it out for the plain light blue. I tried it with the dark blue but it was a bit "HEY TUMMY! WHOOO" which, as previously discussed, is not cool.

And ta-da. Done. Well it would have been if I had the sense to leave it alone. But nope.
I made acres of ruffles out of the light blue. They looked... not awesome.
So, inspired by the Orla dress I made a collar which looked.... nightdressy. Also not awesome.

So I stalled. Hung the dress up and left it alone for two days.
And realised. Dude. That dress is done. So here it is.

While we've had a mild winter it hasn't been, strolling-around-in-shirtsleeves-warm; so I've shown it as I'll be wearing it now. But here's how I'll wear it when it warms up a bit. (um, but with a slip underneath. You can see my foundation garments a bit in this shot. Avert your eyes if you're easily offended!)

Blue dress summer1

As a weird aside, I look a bit like a picture of my mum in the '70's in this shot, only not as pretty (my ma, is a stone fox).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Missing history. A bit. Just a little. Like a half a cup maybe.

Today I had planned to write about my standing sushi lunchdates with my bear. Fish and toddlers is actually way more fun than it sounds.

But I got a bit of a homesick.

Firstly of all let me say that I love Toronto. I really love it. with hearts. and kisses. Moving here from London has been one of the best and healthiest changes in my life. It was like breaking up with Charlie Sheen (eew) and hooking up with Matthew Broderick. Which is not to say that London is Charlie Sheen (still eeew) just that the way we lived in London was harder.

But. I sometimes miss history.
Occasionally I will see a picture of London, or Paris or Rome, or a village in the home counties or even the font used on British street signs and get a jab of homesickness that's like being punched in the kitten.

Everything here is so new. Which in lots of ways is awesome. It means we can live in the center of town, means the public transport rocks, means the infrastructure works like a charm and on and on and on.
But I miss the buildings that I grew up with; the comfortable, self-assured decrepitude of an Early Edwardian Semi.
I miss having centuries of history RIGHT there, an eyeball flick(or the wave of a National Trust card) away.
The potential for being someplace COMPLETELY different and equally steeped in history in a few hours is something I miss too. My Dad lives in France, my mum in Ireland. My Brother lived in Barcelona before he came here. Racing around Europe was so easy, just a Eurostar/Easyjet/Ryan-stinking-Air jaunt away.

OK. Whining over. Because really... these are not the worst problems in the world...

But if you happen to be anywhere near a crumbling pile/Norman church/Victorian Semi this weekend could you blow it a kiss from me?
Oh hey lookit! Corfe Castle!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Now With 95% More PINK!

Notice anything different? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya?
I gave my blog a makeover. WITH PINK! And I did it ALL BY MYSELF. Which, kind of obvious maybe.
I was poking around with my HTML and you guys, I'm pretty sure I had the same expression on my face as a monkey trying to tie a bow.
But it was really fun. And I made all the little imagey things. And if you click on the twitter thing IT ACTUALLY WORKS!
So, what do you think? Too much pink? Weird? Hurt your eyeballs? Do let me know if there's anything you hate/love!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I heart Anthro

I love Anthropologie. But really, who doesn't?

In a super perfect world I would spend my days clad entirely in Anthro loveliness, and I would have expertly applied makeup and brushed hair. And I could fly. and I'd, say, fight crime?

In this world not so muchly. I haven't the cash. Or the superpowers.

But I can look and that's what I was doing this morning when I spotted this:

Anthro cardi.
It's the Field Game Cardigan and it's $140. Which at my house is say, the phone bill. Anyway. I loved the cardi and I was super excited because this seemed really doable for me. I happen to have this top. And it's stripey!

I also happen to have the bag o' crocheted lace trim. I scored it at a church sale last spring. The bag was a whole 50 cents and it was being sold with the crochet hooks that had been used to make it. There was a LOT of it. We're talking hours and hours and hours of work to make. It makes me feel kind of weirdly philosophical about all kinds of things, like the work that women do. And the things that are left behind, and their value to other people. Which is big stuff for a bag O' trim.

I was inspired to make this:

I sewed the trim down with a zig zag stitch and added occasional pleaty bits. And voila! Quick, simple, instant gratification.
Here it is on:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Great Escape, T-Bone Style

It must be tough to be 3 foot tall and have all your plans scuppered by the height of door handles and locks.
Teddy found Dilly's leash and decided that he and his best chum were OFF. He held the leash in his paw and told the bonester very firmly to COME.
Poor old T-bone hasn't any legs so he just sat there.
Teddy sighed heavily then went and tried to put the leash on t-bone's bow/collar.
Once the bonemeister was leashed Teddy dragged him along the floor to the door and commanded it "OPE", whilst giving it a few smart taps. Which really. In a fair world would totally work.
But not so much in this one.

He picked up the bonester. Jammed him in his mouth then had a think. And obviously a brainwave.
Next he went racing over to my desk and picked up our neighbor Heather's key (note to self... hide keys).

Which is where we join the story....

Friday, January 22, 2010

The World's Worst Lumberjack!

That would be me.
I'm afraid of heights. and chainsaws and bugs, and sometimes trees. But those Lumberjack fellows have it made when it comes to the brushed cotton flannel. It's all warm and softie and nice.
And cheap. Well the shirt that I picked up from the dollar store way back in December was.
It might be a bit cheaty but I bought it specifically because I knew I was taking The Wardrobe Refashion Pledge and figured it could be the not-a-tragedy-if-I-pooch-it-up prototype for future shirty refashioning.
Anyway here it is in all it's unaltered glory...

I p'ticly like the inadvertent froggy fashion commentary. Apparently he writes for Women's Wear Daily.

And here' it is refashioned.
(This picture was the best of about a bazillion, so imagine if you will, how THOSE ones must have looked. And yah. little bit awkward and NO. I haven't so much as brushed my hair.)

Ok. and here it is without the distracting forehead shine.

What I did was,
1. Unpick the collar and remove the top part. Then sewed it up again.
2. I cut out the arms and then made the armholes smaller. Not terribly sucessfully actually, but now I know what to do next time.
3. I reattached the sleeves giving them a bit of puff. Next time I would totally have them puffier. I like this sleeve length though andI added these little pleats at the cuff (I need a better picture of them).
4. I added darts front and back. Unpicking them a squillion times each, just for fun.
5. I made 2 box pleated ruffles with the spare bits of sleeve. (I think I got the idea from a tute on Burda style. Maybe the one with all the ruffle techniques that I am now completely unable to find? is right here. Thanks Wendy!)
Do hit me up in the comments if you've a wish for a tutorial. I'll be making at least one more of these fellas (with thrift store shirts naturally!)
Crumbs. I forgot to say that I was HUGELY inspired by clevergirl's First Men's Shirt Refashion and that her tutorial is super clear and easy to figure out.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

There's something about this time of year that makes me want to decorate, usually with a kind of scorched earth, "burn it down, burn it all down" fervor. This year I have my beady eyes on a few projects.
One is making new slip covers for our couch and reupholstering my new(to me) office chair. The other is reshaping our diningroom/office space to be more bear friendly without being an annex of ToysRus.
And the other was doing something to make our kitchen better.

So far I've gotten to the kitchen, I was helping my chum Sarah with her new kitchen and the clean lovely shininess excited a terrible case of the jealous in me. So I decided to do a bit of a something to ours.
You might not remember how our kitchen looked when we moved into this apartment three years ago. Let me refresh your memory:

Dark isn't it? Are you thinking "but Erin? why wouldn't you just turn the lights on?"
Bet you are.
Well folks. The lights ARE on. And perhaps you'd like a closer view of those charming yellow cabinets?

So three years ago I made it look different with a spot of contact paper and some uh, ingenuity?

I did this:
it's wasn't perfect but it was OK. You can read about how I did it here.
This last weekend I gave it a bit of a "freshen up". In the Joan Rivers sense. And now it looks like this:

You can read about what I did HERE 'fyou like.

So that's the kitchen. The slipcovers and Upholstery have to wait until next month on account of I spent the cash earmarked for them on The Red Cross Haiti appeal. Which really was a no brainer.
BUT next weekend is all about rearranging the dining room and the fun times with heavy lifting! I am SUPER excited, which may mean I need to get out more.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Breakfast, Hold the Tiffany's

When there is quiet and my Bear and pooch are hanging out in the same place there is almost always some kind of shenanigan going on.
Like this.
(Anybody with a healthy respect for hygiene might want to look away now or risk being traumatized.)

1. OK. It's too quiet over there.

2. Huh?


Well of course. Of course you're eating cheerios off of the floor in the grubbiest spot in the house. And naturally you would completely lose your wiggles when I try to return the cheerios to the bowl.


because leftover cheerios belong in mamma's boots.

Sammiches too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Brrr Bear necklace

Colbert might be right about bears being "soulless, godless, rampaging killing machines" but awww, the cute!
So look, I made an effigy! To wear about my person!
And it's not just ANY bear, it's a Polar Bear; and dude, Polar Bears really will give you a righteous killing soon as look at you. What can I say. I like to live dangerously.

This bear is made of craft foam, scored from the dollar store today and whipped up this evening whilst pretending not to watch CSI Miami. Oh Horatio, why you got to be so orange and creepy?

The idea is from Christine at Jane Avion who, you guys, does SUPER AWESOME STUFF. That you should go look at. Really. All I'm saying is Cardboard Moose Head Trophy, but you'll see.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Monkey Magic, Robot Wars


Confucius, Aristotle, Nietzsche. Luminaries throughout the ages have all pondered the same immortal question...

"DUDE? Would you rather have a MONKEY or a ROBOT?"

Now that question is the theme for Teddy's second birthday party. And you guys are, of course, all invited.

I whipped up these fellows to grace the invitations, once again reminding myself why graphic designers go to university to learn that stuff. I'm still not completely happy with the monkey's eyes but I think that they look OK ish overall. For a rank amateur using free software. I mean, you can tell what they are right?

I had to restrain myself from giving the robot scorching laser eyeballs and pointy, ripping/crushing teeth. As you might have gathered, I'm on Team Monkey (simian 'til I die bro). My sweetie is a robot guy. I'm pushing hard for Teddy to be a monkey guy, but it's not looking promising. He says "'BOT", I don't really know where he picked it up from, and my sweetie swears blind he hasn't been coaching him.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Horsies Are A Go!

Here they are. Softies for the sinister horsie army.
Softies to make the world more awesome. Yah that's better.
My sister and I shall be sewing up a batch of these fellows to sneakily give away to random strangers via The Toy Society.
If you don't know who they are you should race over and check them out. We'll wait here.
(The deal is, you make something squishy, then you leave it someplace it will be found with a label saying "TAKE ME HOME". You post your "drop" on The Toy Society flickr group and maybe, if you're lucky, the person who finds it lets you know that it has a good home.)
Which, really, what's not super lovely about that?
Want to join us? We'd love it if you would. You know, even if you happen to have a hankering for a sinister horsie army.

What you'll need is:
  • A spot O' felt. wool, acrylic, recycled plastic bottle, homemade felted sweater all are good.
  • Some embroidery floss (floss?) for details and a mane and tail. (I've used it for all the sewing on account of my lazy)
  • Stuffing/wadding stuff.

The first thing to do is print the pattern out. To make a horsie that's 3 and a half inches or so at the shoulder you need to open it with adobe (there's a button at the top leftish), then change the print setup to landscape, then when you hit print you need to select the page scaling option fit to printable area.
Ok, got your pattern?
Cut out your felt.
Now might be a good time to add embroidery details (like a super sinister face!) or an embroidery floss mane if that's what you're doing (details on that in a bit).

1. Sew the Leggies to the one side of the body "wrong" sides facing each other. Start dead center of the front leg panel and finish dead center of the back.

2. Use a blanket stitch. Or whatever you like really.

3. Once you have one side of the body done, flip down the "loose" leggies. Sew them onto the other side of the body in exactly the same way. You don't even have to change thread. This is what you're aiming for:

4. Next, continue to stitch up the neck and around the face. Stitch the ear panel into place the same way as the legs. Stop just behind the ears. It's stuffing time!

5. Poke stuffing down into the leggies. Use a pokey implement if you need too, as you're looking for quite a solid fill. Then poke stuffing into the face and head, but not the ears.
Sew and stuff from the neck down, through the body, poking and adjusting as you go; until you reach the horse's bottom.

6. If you're going with the embroidery floss tail then you need to cut your strands at twice the length you want your tail, then tie them tightly around the middle with a spot of thread like this:

then poke the folded, tied end into the horsie's uh, "tail area". Secure it with a few extra stitches as you're closing the hole. heh. "hole".

If your horse is looking a little splay legged then ad a few more stitched towards the feeties from the tops of the leggies at the bum and chest.

Now, about that mane. Here's my own "Mane-for-sinister-horsie-army stitch" But go crazy if you can think of another method. I think it's prolly easier to see than describe, so:

this is what it should look like:

you just repeat until you have the desired amount of equine hirsuteness. You could do double rows like for a puffier "do".

And there we have it. You guys, if this isn't clear enough then PLEASE do let me know. I'm hoping that my sister and I will coordinate our international Toy Society drop off dates, so if you'd like to get in on that too, then just give me a shout.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


QUICK something not related to bodily fluids... well mostly.

So I've mentioned in the past that my embroidery skills have a touch of the maximum security wing about them, but it turns out they also have a bit of CREEPY VOODOO ZOMBIE POWER. POWAAAAH!

See this guy?

He is one of the prototype horsies that I am working on for Sarah and Erin's Intercontinental Horsie Sew-Along/Stitchnbitch (might need a new name for that). The pattern is working out OK. The problem is, well, I accidentally made him the most sinister creature ever.
Look at his malevolent grin. And his evilly portentous squinty eye (only one eye squints, the other roves). He's evil I tell you. Evil.
Here's how it went:

Me: There. Now you have a mouth. *thinks* Kind of a sinister mouth, but whatever.

Horsie: Oh hey, yah I do. With teeth in here!

Me: Teeth? I didn't put any....

Horsie: But you should know, I have like, little to NO urge to eat your brains while you sleep.


Horsie: What? I'm trying to be reassuring. You and your delicious family are totally safe.

me: Yah, not that reassured here.

Horsie: Hey, you got any hot sauce? You know how everything tastes better with hot sauce...

Me: You my friend, are SO not getting legs.

Horsie : Awwwww What? Really?

So, there we have it. Come on back at some point (Saturday maybe?) and I'll have the tute/pdf ready to go. Or go HERE if you simply must have a head start on your sinister horsie army.

We STILL have barf...

Lots of it. The short fellow is recovering but really slowly. He was at the doc's on Tuesday, which was not a lot of fun; poor chap just wanted to sleep but OH NO, we dragged him to the Doctor's office and made him wait for an hour in a room with no toys, AND we wouldn't let him play with the jar of tongue depressors or lick the door frames AT ALL, because we are CRUEL CRUEL people.
When Doc Hui got to us he poked and prodded Teddy in the tummy and scrotum, checking for a hernia. It was a tough call as to who looked more horrified, Teddy or my sweetie, who was holding him. At any rate, the result of the poking was, "It's a virus, sucks to be you, go home" (I'm paraphrasing a tiny bit). So we came home.
Turns out the bear is contagious, and I spent Tuesday night in stomach virus hell; it was lousy and that's all I have to say about that.
Wednesday was a write off for me and my sweetie was off work looking after Teddy.
So today is what? Thursday I guess? The bear is still not up to full steam, I feel mostly better BUT as of about 7pm tonight my sweetie is riding the porcelain train to Nofunsville.

MAN, 2010 better get more awesome than this or you guys, I am SO building a time machine. Anyone know where I can get a Delorean and some uranium?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dispatches from the Laundry Room...

Well hey.
We have barf.
Bear barf.
Apologies if you've just become a follower and are now thinking "What the noodles...?! Lady, I did not sign up for puke updates".

My bear is not a barfer; even when he was tiny he wasn't ever even a spit-uppy baby. In fact, in his whole 22 months of being a person he has thrown up maybe 10 times. 6 of those were yesterday. Once was today. The tele-nurse folks (and my ma) patiently sat through my hypochondriacal hyperventilating and kindly instructed me to get a grip. That it's not actually PARVO, because you guys, apparently that's a DOG disease.

So, fluids, rest. He's actually a lot better now, and it looks like the barfing today was down to some genius (me) giving him wholewheat toast with butter instead of white toast with nutthin.
T-Bone is having yet another spa treatment. I've been "indulging" in a little laundry room Wu Wei and I think it has has given me what might be an idea.
I'll let you know, when there's less barf.

Until then, a gratuitous bear shot:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Pledge...

See the button thingy in the side bar? The two months wardrobe refashion one? Well MEEEEP!
I got my invite to the Wardrobe Refashion, and you guys, I feel like I've ARRIVED!

If you don't know what it's all about you should race over there right now and find out, and if you came here from there then HI!

I have a pile of stuff to make into other stuff and a bloggy kick in the pants to do it. Such a kick in the pants in fact, that I actually refashioned something; as opposed to poking it, prevaricating and putting back it in the closet to be unworn for another 6 months.

Here's what I did,
This is the before. One cheap, three sizes too large, Old Navy sweater, in bright turquoise.
Now I love that colour, that colour however, does not love me back. In fact that colour writes stuff about me in the girls' washrooms. And also kind of makes me look dead.

And see the pocket? That pocket is all
"HEY HEY HEY! Oh hey. Look at Erin's midsection. TA-DA! Whooo!"
Now, as I have what the inimitable Reachel Bagley refers to as a "soft delicious center" (read "chubs in the middle") this is not the super- superest look for me.

So here's what I turned it into:

minus pocket, plus bow ('cause what's not better with a bow?) and a totally different colour. it's still too big but I think now it looks more, sort of chicly louche? At least in my head it does.

Wondering how I got it to change colour? I bleached it.
With bleach.
The stuff that you toss down sinks to get rid of the funk.

I was actually inspired by the weirdest thing, Liv of A field Journal used bleach to change the colour of her teeny weeny Christmas trees in this post here. and in my head sweaters and teeny weeny Christmas trees are PRACTICALLY the same thing.

I was a bit wary on account of the giant dress ruin of '08*. But I plucked up some courage, unpicked the pocket and bleached it first. It turned a nice marled shade of Tiffany blue so we were ON.
I used about half a liter (maybe a touch more) of Clorox bleach in a bucket of tepid water, mixed it up, opened the windows and hoped for the best.
Twenty minutes later the sweater a was the colour you see above. I gave it a rinse in some clean water then tossed it into the washing machine on super hot with an extra, extra rinse.
When it came out of the drier I tried it on, then decided it needed something. So I made the pocket into a bow and tacked it on.
If you're thinking of doing this and are after some actual instructions/science stuff I found a bit about the process here (it's a PDF).

*Yours Truly dropped a laundry bag containing 5 (count'em) of her favorite dresses and a bottle of bleach on the laundry room floor. The bleach bottle cracked. ALL 5 dresses were total write offs. I sat on the floor and cried (yup, pathetic, I know).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Some Very Weird Things

Remember the gifties I mentioned? The ones I made whilst taking a mental health break from sewing Castle Awesome? Well, now they are safely in the paws of their (bemused, slightly disturbed?) recipients, I can show you what they were.

For my chum Ali (of zombie walk fame), who is a horror movie aficionado I made this happy couple
They're actually not finished in this picture, I popped them both on a key ring fixing, back to back. They're made of felt and have innards made of scraps of flexible chopping board plastic leftover from castle awesome.
I like that Doc Frank's Monster is rather punching out of his weight class, girlfriend-wise.

And for our chum James, a hand sewn leather mustache keyring. Of course!

I made a few of them for my favorite chaps, from a spot of recycled leather; but I didn't take pictures of any of them before giving them away, so here is James using his as a cunning disguise.

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life... and I'm feeeeeeeelin'...

tiny bit hung over 'acshully.*
Last night was SO much fun you guys! Chums and chocolate and cheese and a spot of very good champagne (thank you lovely Mark!) a super New Year's make.

I made heaps of truffles, something I love doing, coating little balls of yum in more yum is really satisfying.
Here's what was left of them this morning as I (as blooming always) forgot to take pictures of them when they were all artfully arrayed,

Our chum Ian is a vegan, so I whipped together some Reese's PB cups inspired truffles sans dairy. And some almond and dark chocolate ones too. If you've a hankering for the recipes just let me know and I'll post them.

Our chum Ali brought cheese aplenty and caused something of a feeding frenzy. Mmmm cheese. And while we had intended to play Monopoly, we didn't get around to it, on account of the riotously fun times.

I hope you guys had as awesome a time as we did and are feeling as all "HELLS YAH!" about 2010 as we are.
*apologies to Nina Simone!
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