Monday, July 30, 2012


These days, I don't see much of M because he is working the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. He goes to work early in the morning and comes home late at night, just in time for me to sleepily greet him and for him to tuck me back in bed. We see each other about fifteen minutes a day. That's why I call myself a "festival widow" when he's on staff. Good thing this isn't our regular schedule!

M's absence makes Friday mornings even more special to me. He has that day off, so we try to sleep in, catch up on all the things we wanted to tell each other during the week, and make epic weekend breakfast. It's one of my very favorite times, even when M isn't away so much.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sartoriality: Green and Gold

This is what I wore to work the orther day. I've had this dress for quite a while now, and I wear it very frequently. It has some elastic shirring in the back, which makes it super comfy! I paired it with my lime green cardigan, tartan tights my Mummy bought me in Scotland, and some vintage gold accessories. 

This was the first time I've worn that gold belt. I found it in a box of items from my grandmother. These beauties are so special to me; it's so much fun to find vintage treasures I didn't know I had. 

The watch necklace is also from my grandmother's jewelry box. It no longer keeps time, but I like its vague breath of steampunk. 

Just in case you were wondering:
Dress: Ross
Cardigan: Target
Tights: gift, from Scotland
Flats: Payless
Belt & Watch: Vintage, Grandmother's box

P.S. OfficeBear insists on being photographed all the time. He thinks he's the prettiest thing alive.
P.P.S. The picture on the far right is what happens when M takes my photo. I believe he was making the flash move up and down on my camera. It reminded me of a little robot friend. That's my squealie-laugh face.

I've come round again

I've decided to fire up the ol' blog again. I haven't stopped sewing, cooking, or doing awesome things; I've just stopped taking pictures and writing about it. Some little part of me has been tugging at the hem of my skirt lately, urging me to put myself out there. I've learned to listen to that little part. So here we begin, again. I have so much to tell you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Squealfest 2011: Nerdle the Turtle

I couldn’t stop squealing for days after I made him. He makes me so happy!

In my quest to make a total of 4 stuffies this month, I began with an idea I found scrawled in my day planner from a very long time ago. All it said was “Nerdle!” And then I remembered the afternoon when M and I were talking nonsense (probably about how much I love turtles and tortoises!) and somehow the idea of a Nerdle was born. I’ve wanted to make him ever since.

So I began with some preliminary sketches and tried to think about how I was going to make the basic shape of his body, how I would shape his glasses, how they would stay on his head, etc. For Nerdle, I knew it would be important for his shell to be rounded and not flat as if I were making a “sandwich” style stuffie. This was achieved by darts running along the four “corners” of his shell. It was so easy to create that shape! I must do more with darts…I can see them having all kinds of applications, from rounded bodies to a little bulk to the top of the head.

After my sketch was done, I scoured my fabric stash for just the right materials. I found an old vest my grandpa made for me when I was probably 12 years old. It doesn’t fit right anymore, but the fabric was perfect! It even has a tactile texture. For the under-shell, I knew I wanted to use some corduroy to create that sort of “lined” look.

Since the shell was made of stiff fabrics, I thought it pertinent to use a softer, squishier fabric for the legs, head, and tail. I always like that distinction between the hard shell and the vulnerable inside-bits. I could go on and on about turtles and tortoises, but one of my favorite things about them is their little neck-folds. They look like old people and it’s so cute! I also love watching them eat. They have pink tongues!

Case in point:

You have to squeal at that!

Anyway, the design process was relatively easy, but I still came across some snags. Mostly, I’m still learning by trial and error how gussets work. I knew I wanted a specific shape for the head that required a gusset (a strip of fabric sewn in between a seam to give the piece dimension). At first, I was very tempted to skip this and make an easier “sandwich style” head with only two pieces. But the theme of this project, it seems, was to be patient and make the best product possible. And it was worth it!

I had to re-make his head three times to get it right, and I sewed his shell/legs/tail on twice. This is a big step for me. I am not the editing type. I want to do something and have it be over. Even with my writing, it is difficult for me to go back and make major edits because once I get it out there, I am on to the next thing.

However, I’ve found that taking the time and care to go back and edit your work makes such a big difference! There was a time in the process when I almost decided to just press on without fixing my obvious mistake (his legs were sticking out longer than I wanted them to be). I thought to myself, “well, I’ll just use this one as a learning tool and then make another one later.” But something within me in that moment said not to settle for less than the best. I suppose I was so in love with the idea of Nerdle that I wanted him to be the best he could be! So I got out the seam ripper and got to work.

And here he is! Not bad for the first stuffie of 2011. As with all of my stuffies, I love him a lot. A lot!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Already here

I don’t believe in resolutions. The word has this air of failure oozing from it. To make a resolution means you resolve to do something: “This year, I’m gonna get it together. This time, I’m gonna do it!”

Despite my aversion to resolutions, I very much enjoy goals. I’ve always been one to thrive off of setting my sights on something and making my way toward it. I enjoy it so much, in fact, that I can get obsessive about my goals. I focus on that one thing without fully living the life that this goal is supposed to improve. So for the past several years, I’ve shied away from goals. I might drift toward something I might think I want, but I’ve never put the kind of effort in which a goal would require.

I think I’ve learned enough by now to balance my sense of determination with my sense of presence in my life. So, it’s time. I made one resolution this year: set goals for yourself each month.

Setting a few goals each month is much less intimidating than looking far ahead at what the entire year will bring. I’m not committed to anything but a few small gestures toward what I think I want in my life at this time. It feels right.

One of my goals for January is to make a total of 4 stuffies (one per week average). I noticed that during the holiday season, when I was making gifts for people, I was so much happier in general. I’d look forward to coming home from work because I knew that I would be able to make progress on my projects. This January goal is to get me in the habit of creating on a regular basis.

And it’s working! I’m so happy to have projects for myself again! And I’m squealing like I’ve never squealed before!

The best part about this? I’m not striving toward some vague idea of what I want to be; I’m already here.

Check back soon for a post about my first stuffie of 2011!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happily misshapen

I’m back from my unplanned blogging hiatus with splendid news! I am now employed as a stuffie-maker! I’m still kind of in shock about the whole thing…here I am, chilling out at home, doing one of the things I most love to do, not wearing pants, and earning money while I’m at it! I’m super excited about making stuffies from this artist’s sketches. He seems to love stuffies as much as I do and has an eye for the strange but cute…exactly what I like!

So this week, I’ve been working on a little owlie for my job, and I’m pretty happy with him. I decided to employ some new techniques for little details that I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to try, and I think he’s definitely just well made if nothing else. I will show some peeks of him on here if I get permission first.

Other work has been letting up a little bit from the past month or so, but I’m finding myself with less free time than I have in the past. I attempt to make the most of what I’ve got, though, and OfficeBear and I are trying to make the most of the predictable and gentle rhythms of a typical day at the office. I’ve noticed my favorite times of day are the simplest: The quiet and thoughtful drive to work, dripping oatmeal on OfficeBear mid-morning, tea and snack time in the afternoon, a shower after I run. I can count on these happy moments daily; they are so satisfying to me.

Last week, I made my final prototype for the first AnchorsAflight managerie: Yellie-phant.

Yellie takes pride in bringing a bit of sunshine into the greyest of days. He is sleepy most of the time, but when he’s hungry, he’ll sniff around for a snack, tasting this and that and whatever comes his way.

I left Yellie to be my last in the menagerie as I could tell he would be challenging. He was, but not as much as I had originally thought. I built up my skills making all of the rest of my friends, and my new knowledge helped greatly in the construction of this pachyderm.

I began by sketching ideas of what the pattern pieces might look like and how I wanted the finished product to look and feel. Then I did my usual process of sketching the pieces on packing paper, cutting them out, and making revisions as I went. When choosing the fabric, I knew I wanted a cute bit of vintage accent fabric for the ears, so I went through my (not big enough yet) vintage scrap fabric stash and found an adorable yellow/orange/green/white 1960s print. The problem was I only had a very small square of it, but I figured I could eek out two ear-insides from that bit. To make the body, I found an old yellow t-shirt of Taty’s and a white t-shirt scrap from my stash for the belly.

I then cut the fabric into my pattern pieces, pinned them all together, and started sewing. I was surprised at how seemingly easy it was to sew everything and the flat version of Yellie looked great:
But I also knew that the only way to determine his real shape was to stuff him. The problem with more complicated patterns (like this one) is that there is more of a chance for warping or just general misshapenness. I was sort of doing this on the fly, just guessing at general shapes and sizes, so I figured I’d have to make some adjustments. Sure enough, when I stuffed him, I could tell his trunk was a little warped off to the side. This was because when I was pinning it, no matter how careful I was, I couldn’t get the pieces to match up exactly. But everything else turned out pretty well…a couple sewing mistakes here and there where my machine was being uncooperative, but overall, not bad for such a complicated project.

Once I put his ears and eyes on and he was all stuffed and squishy, I knew I had a cute one on my hands. His misshapen face has even grown on me; I think it gives him character…like a permanently quizzical look. My last task was to make his tail and sew up his butt. I realized that poor Yellie was having a difficult time standing on his legs because his head was pushed downward a little and he was resting on his trunk, so I pulled the fabric on his back and tucked it so that he would not be resting on his face. This didn’t create the cleanest line, but for the next one I make, I’ll know what pattern revisions to do to avoid that. Plus, who can resist a wrinkly elephant butt, right?
I found this
great tutorial via CRAFT magazine on how to make twisted cord, so I had to try it with orange embroidery thread for his tail. Sure beats braiding!

Yellie is now a permanent fixture around these parts, napping in whatever cozy spot he can find in pillow-crevaces or comforter swirls. He is baby-soft and I under-stuffed him for super squishiness! He's also a great listener:
I hope you like him as much as I do!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An extraordinary penguin indeed

A month or two ago, when I was sketching up a bunch of stuffie ideas, I of course had to include a penguin, as they are obviously some of the most cuddly and happy animals to stuff-ify. Naturally, I excitedly showed m my newest sketches. When he got to the penguin page, he busted up laughing. I asked him what was so funny, and he read aloud to me the notes I had written:

“Maybe make him an extraordinary penguin like dressed up as another animal (dinosaur?) or with different accessories like cape/mask, etc.”

We both had a good laugh and decided that the extraordinary penguin must come into being. Here he is:

The pengiesaurus may look fearsome at first glance, but all he wants to do is run around flapping his wings, nibbling on goldfish crackers and drinking juice boxes all day. All of this play tires him out quickly, though, so he’s a great napping buddy too.

Making a naked penguin was quite simple, as he is a basic “sandwich” pattern, like the first stuffie I ever made adapted from this pattern from Amber Dusick (perhaps I’ll do a post on him later). I had also made an owl for my mom that had the same concept: one piece for body/head with attached wings and feet. Simple!

The more challenging part was making his little dino costume. I’m finally getting confident with making clothes from scratch rather than hacking thrift store clothes, so I just sort of jumped in and made a pattern, figuring I’d have to make some adjustments as I went along. I couldn’t figure out the shape of the hood, so I searched the internet for hoodie patterns and found the basic outline. Once I cut all of the pattern pieces, I pinned them on my pengie and trimmed the excess fabric to create the perfect fit. I then sewed it all together, installed a zipper in the front a la Gir, and cut wing and foot holes.

Pengiesaurus remained in his baby blue onesie for quite a while…I loved him so much just like that, and I started in on other projects, but eventually I knew he needed his dino-spikes. I had at first thought I might use the same technique of rolling up felt to make his spikes like Whally’s horn, but when I tried that, it was a lot of work and the spikes were too skinny, even when using quite a bit of felt. So I tried plan B, which was to make them kind of like the hearts for my Love Nimbus: I cut out 2 triangles, then blanket stitched them together with contrasting embroidery thread, stuffed them, and sewed them onto the onesie.

I learned the hard way that Pengie should probably take his dino outfit off before I stitched on the spikes. When I sewed on his tail, I accidentally sewed it to his butt! Even though not having a substantial thing to sew onto was a little fiddly, the spikes turned out great and now he is a fierce looking extraordinary dino-penguin indeed! Grawr!