Thursday, March 31, 2011

In which the cosplaying boy finishes the damn thing.

Yay, the Costume of Much Stressing is done, and Tekkoshocon is this weekend (starts this afternoon). I get some peace and quiet and can work on my own stuff until Sam starts fussing about costumes for the Rocky Horror shadow cast he's part of. And when did they start calling it "shadow cast"? It was called, and rightly so!, the floor show when I was a feckless youth throwing toilet paper and rice in disreputable theaters. These kids, thinkin' they invented this stuff...

Oh, wait, no, I still have to finish the Dragon Ball costume for Isaac, Sam's bjd. Isaac's a Resin Soul Bao that I got for Sam about 5 minutes after he said "These dolls are cool, maybe I'll get a boy one sometime." The costume's easy, I'm just altering a suit from a larger doll action figure, and adding a blue shirt and socks.

Sam does his own costumes, much to his annoyance that at no point did I volunteer to do it for him, but I end up talking and guiding him through it anyway. Isaac, however, I'm costuming. I like sewing for dolls, and Isaac doesn't freak out in frustration or bitch about fittings and how long it takes to do something right.

I finally did get a Janome Sew Mini, though, because I'm never going to get anything done and saleable at the rate hand sewing takes. If I had to charge for the time, no one would be able to afford a simple t-shirt, as long as it takes me by hand. The decorative stuff will still be by hand, but I think inside seams can take machine stitching with little quibbling. We won't discuss the advancing arthritis in my fingers. Cleopatra, Queen of DeNial!

In Responsive to an Officialmost Requestiment from Da Rightmost Officer Tiggy









All totally hand sewn!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cosplayers are a pain in my dupa.

Well....the one living in my house is. Tekkoshocon is tomorrow, he wants to wear his cosplay (when I started in scifi fandom when I was but a dust mite, we called them "hall costumes"), and he's losing his rakkin-frakkin mind over special-order hair dye that didn't work, and bending a coat hanger to fit over his head properly. He got all the clothes and parts done, with his own two hands and my experienced advice, and it's what I'd consider incidental bits that he's stressing over. I, however, am not a costumer, so his priorities are a bit different, as the incidentals are what distinguishes Character A from Character B. Or so he tells me. I can't tell one anime character from another.

I have worn costumes myself, but they don't last long. As soon as I can, I find a reason to go back to my regular clothes. I seriously don't like people looking at me in that level of close observation, no matter if it's admiration. Don't be eyeballing me! The last time I wore a costume, I was a hobbit lad, going to see LotR in San Jose with friends also in costume (one was Capn Jack Sparrow, and just dead-on perfect in dress and demeanor), in January, and I was overwarm--San Jose in January, and Pittsburgh in January, are two utterly different weather systems, and I overheated with wool pants and a velour cape. By the time we got into the theater, I was down to my undershirt, my trousers were rolled up, and I was sweating. I was more than happy to let the cute hobbit lass to my right take all the attention.

Everyone may admire my doll things in as much detail as they want. The dolls love the attention a lot more than I do.

Monday, March 28, 2011

R&D--Research & Dolls

I've been reading more than stitching the last few days. I've decided I'm doing research and idea icubation, which is vital to the creative process. Otherwise I'd have to admit to being lazy, and I'm not ready to concede that point.

I got a huge lot of old doll magazines on eBay (Dolls, Doll Reader, Doll Collector, Costuming and Crafting...), and I've had the greatest time going through them. The issues prior to ~1999-2000, especially the ads, seemed ancient, because there's no internet info--no websites or emails, just mailing addresses, and coupons to fill out and send in, and phone #s. OMG HOW DID WE LIVE LIKE THAT?!?

The biggest difference, though, is in the dolls: they're primarily porcelain, elaborately costumed cabinet dolls. Vinyl is seldom seen, and resin is absolutely nowhere in sight. The creative explosion that occurred a few years later isn't in evidence. I have yet to find patterns or how-tos or creative encouragement in anything other than Soft Dolls & Animals and Doll Crafter. I found a couple of articles in older Dolls that almost apologize for changing any doll in any way.

Doll Reader used to be massive, comparatively speaking, three to four times thicker than today's issues, but a lot of the bulk is in print ads that are 4 or 5 pages in some spreads--no websites meant that the stores had to get most of their stock in print. There's a lot more discussion of antique dolls, though, which is fascinating. I just got a resin Bleuette, am trying to get my hands on a good Hitty, and have four or five compo play dolls that belonged to Ann--these last aren't exactly antique, but I want to take good care of them.

I'm getting a lot of great ideas for doll outfits, though, esp. older styles. I'm resolutely a casual dresser, in extremis for myself (I live in sweatpants. Anyone surprised?), and for my dolls--I dress them in everyday clothes that are well-made (usually by me) and would be comfortable on them if they were alive. Really elaborate costuming doesn't do much for me, and I'll probably never bother to design a wedding gown. Unless it's denim. Or feedsack. Burlap?

Saturday, March 26, 2011



Two of the domestic activities I dislike most (and believe me, it's quite the list) are cleaning house and washing dishes. I dislike cooking, but I'll do it. Not crazy about laundry, but I'll do it. Vacuuming/sweeping, enh, but I'll do them. Cleaning? Hells, no. Pick up your own damn crap. YOU dust it, if it bothers you that much. Here's the windex, knock y'self out. And find a way to make disposable pots and pans.

This is by way of saying, working or not working, my house is a swamp.

Insurance guy wrote in my occupation on a form as "housewife." I refused to sign it until he changed it to "self-employed." Join the 20th century, awready.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hitty, Without Fail.

I've been working on my sequel to EM Forster's "Maurice" off and on; hand-stitching is a really good writing method for me. Hands busy, brain in Warp One--Engage! I've just realized that I hadn't given Auntie Morgan enough credit for his cleverness with the language. I just ran across the word "scud" used as a nautical term in "Hitty, Her First Hundred Years" by Rachel Field--recommended by the inimitable Tiggy (ha, Tiggs, that word's bigger than you!). I turned to the dictionary:

intr.v. scud·ded, scud·ding, scuds
1. To run or skim along swiftly and easily: dark clouds scudding by.
2. Nautical: To run before a gale with little or no sail set.


Now why in the nine worlds I hadn't thought to look the word up years ago is a complete mystery to me (Bad Reference Librarian! No NYT Book Review for you!). But--wow, Auntie Morgan: Alec Scudder, Maurice claiming his name is Scudder just as his fear of who he is and who Alec is to him disappears. @_@ Auntie Morgan FTW! Now I love him more than ever.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I guess it counts.

I helped my son Sam work on his costume for Tekkoshocon, so it wasn't a totally stitchless day. Still. *grumble* Dinner's already done, though, so the evening has promise. I'm in total denial about the dishes, tho, so sssshhhh.

I'm working on a flouncy yellow summer dress for Heather (Lasher Simply Alice), and I ended up with two Littlefee Bisous, a boy and a girl, so that size wardrobe needs major expansion, not to mention the Pukifees. AND I have teddies to finish to sell...oooh, and the purple cuddly bear for the trade with a knitting friend (she knits, I don't, hence the trade).

I'm actually busier at home than I was when I was a wage slave, and a lot more productive. Maybe my soul is growing back, after 16 years in Pitt Purgatory. I know I have a lot fewer headaches, and I don't grind my jaw in my sleep as much. My natural body clock is back on the 3:00 am to 10:00 am sleep schedule, which is A Good Thing, as I no longer need half a bottle of No-Doz just to make it to lunchtime. Kevin's staying up later as I do, which is a problem for him, as he needs to be at work by 8:30, and I don't want him dozing off in the Liberty Tubes. Or resenting me for sleeping later...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bureacracy is a major buzzkill.

I've been dealing with estate stuff (my mother died in January, for those who don't know) for most of the last week, and I have gotten *zip* stitching done. This frustrates the hell out of me! RRaaaRR!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My own fingers work better than Singers!

Okay, I don't have a Singer machine, I have a Kenmore. But still.

My son, who's into cosplay and anime, is working on a costume for Tekkoshocon (large-ish anime convention here in Da Burgh, in 2 weeks). He asked to use my sewing machine. I set it up, showed him a couple things, and off he goes. Only, not so much. He spent more time swearing and using a seam ripper, then decided he was so angry he had to leave it for a while. I finally figured out what he was doing wrong--involving the ever-contentious relationship between bobbin and top thread--but he was too frustrated to go back to it last night.

My workhorse Kenmore is a bit older, but computerized, and it does some pretty fancy stuff. I bought it because it has the power to go through 6 layers of denim (I make handbags). All he needed, however, was a basic straight stitch on a basic white cotton shirt, and the setup for the machine was too involved for his patience level.

I may buy a Janome Sew Mini for stuff like that, for my sake as well as his. I don't use the Kenmore for doll clothes because those sturdy serious feed dogs eat those little pieces like *NOM*NOM*NOM* *FEEDMEMOAR*! I love hand sewing, but for things like longer seams and hems it takes too long to finish any pieces to make them saleable: no one would pay what my handsewn work is worth, and I don't get many pieces done in a week.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why does morning come so early?

My daily sleep/wake cycle is completely jacked up. I was up until 3:00 am, which is natural for me. I woke up at 7:30 am. Grrmphh. My body needs to settle into a better rhythm. Make it so!

Re: yesterday's post: I do know exactly why touching museum items is bad news. Breathing near these things isn't a good idea, either, and light is a problem, and humidity, and don't get me started on the damage that tobacco smoke has wrought over the years.

But but but...*touchy*!

I haven't done it since the Rubens, but I have been asked to "step back a bit" by museum guards. *whistles innocently*

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I have a blog with no posts.

I've used this blog for comments and following some fine folks, but I just realized I've never posted here. And I have such a great blog title, too. ;D

I have actually said it: "This thread is behaving badly." Tangles, slubs, refusal to go where I want it, breaking, knotting, not going in the needle's eye. I sew for dolls, I sew dolls!, I make bears, I embroider, virtually all of it by hand.

Yes, I have a sewing machine, and I do know how to use it. Sometimes I actually do use it. But I don't enjoy it. Sewing machines make me grind my jaw and swear. Hand sewing makes me happy and calm.

I have a deep love of hand work, really good craftsmanship, artisanal one-of-a-kind hand-of-the-maker raw beautiful artistic workmanship. "Sunday on the Isle of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat is one of the most amazing pieces of art in the world, not least because, waaaaay close up (I'm one of the reasons there's glass over these things; I'm a tactile observer and I have to hold my hands behind my back to keep from touching things), the real work that went into that enormous picture is awe-inspiring.(Yes, I've seen Ferris Bueller, shut up.)("American Gothic," on the other hand, is weirdly anti-climactic.) (Also, a very very long time ago, on my first-ever art museum visit, I saw a Rubens I'd only seen in a b&w book plate, just hanging on a wall at my eye level. No glass, no guard. Yes, I did. One of the biggest thrills of my life.)