Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Tab- Lowe #1871 City Girl Sally, 1964

Back when you could still get paper doll deals on eBay, I bought about 10 of these Lowe Little Girl books for about $1@. I don't think I'll find any bargains like that now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AI- Top 5 Elimination

Ryan says that there were 47 million votes last night. For what it’s worth, I tried to vote for Allison on and off, and could not get a single call through until 90 minutes after the end of the show. It’s nice to know that she has a determined fan base.

Randy’s going luau in fuchsia paisley. Kara is wearing one of my mom’s maternity tops from the 50's. Paula looks very 40’s with a brooch in her hair and boobs pushed up to her chin. Simon has on yet another flimsy t-shirt. White this time. And nearly transparent. Probably silk.

The Fordmercial is not only cheesy, it’s boring. The Group sing isn’t much better, though this bunch does harmonize well. Not that they’re actually singing, which is good because Allison does not seem to be able to sing and navigate stairs at the same time.

We’re treated to a clip of the kids at home in the mansion, baking a cake. They break into a totally unrehearsed, spontaneous, spur of the moment, absolutely unscripted food fight. With no prompting from the camera crew or director, they toss all those finished cakes that just happen to be sitting around the kitchen as they break eggs to bake more. Those wacky kids. What hi jinks will they get into next?

Ryan lines them up, and then sends Matt (is that another stupid hat, or the same one from last night? The rosary around the neck is new, however) to the right, and Danny (in Leisure Suit epaulets) to the left, and Allison (purple stretch pants, leather jacket, black strappy top) to the left with Danny, and Kris (plaid farmer shirt) to the right with Matt. Oh no, they’re doing the Top 7 Choose The Group You Belong With tonight, and Adam drew the short straw.

Adam chooses Danny and Allison, which is logical. But… whoa… an actual surprise. Adam joins Matt and Kris in the Bottom 3 (which is the majority of the group, when you think about it). This show makes it a policy never to reveal who is the biggest vote-getter, but I assumed all season, that it was Adam. So much for assumptions, as Ryan makes it clear that this is not just a trick to garner more votes next week- Adam really is B3.

Allison and Danny are both in shock. Kara is up in arms. Adam seems to be taking it well enough.

But before we find out if Adam will be Daughtry’d , we have business to take care of, in the form of Natalie Cole, who continues to trade on her dead father (Still Unforgettable? Seriously?). Natalie is wearing a gold satin swimsuit coverup with slippery shoulders. Her voice is as thin and shrill as ever, and I’ll tell you what’s gotta give. Me, that’s what.

And now, it’s Taylor! Looking good all in black and guitars. I still maintain that Taylor would have been viewed differently on the show if he’d been allowed to play an instrument. He’s singing Seven Mile Breakdown, from his new album. It’s a hard rocking song, and he’s playing the hell out of it, but I’d rather have heard What’s Right is Right (I’m a ballad kind of girl). It was nice of the judges to give him a Standing O. They didn’t mean it, but I appreciate the gesture.

Okay, back to the reason for the show. Whoa again. Kris is safe. Which means that Adam is B2, which I never expected to happen.

And now, we have to listen to Jamie Foxx sing his number one song (where is it number one? We’re not told). I have no idea what it sounds like because I muted the TV (okay, I turned the sound back on for a moment, in the middle, just to make sure that the song was as awful as I expected. It was). Number Ones notwithstanding, Jamie might want to keep his day job. Or his night job. Or even that side-gig insulting Miley Cyrus.

Finally- Adam is safe- not something I ever thought I’d feel relieved to write. He’s not just Constantine Maroulis warmed over- he has the chops to back up the posing, and when he’s not posing, he seems like a genuinely nice kid (whereas Constantine just seemed greasy). I think Adam might want to concentrate on the vocals from now on- the voting public may be bored with staircase/lighting/pouting/shouting/tongue moves. Or at least they’re no longer surprised enough by them, to vote in overwhelming numbers.

Matt’s montage is mostly one stupid hat after another, along with a forehead mole that he might want to have looked at. His singout is, if anything, pitchier and runnier than the performance.

For the first time this season, the show finishes under time, so they hand the mike over to Paula, who has been remarkably lucid so far. Unfortunately, lucid and sensible are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

Next week, it’s rock ‘n roll, which may give Allison one more shot at Top 3. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

AI-Top 5 Performance

So tonight we’re doing the most classic songs of all time, whatever they are (I assume it’s not Beethoven’s Greatest Hits).

Randy is back to Golf Togs in a gray cardigan. Kara’s armpit has five o’clock shadow. Paula has gorgeous hair and red ruffles that defy description. Simon’s black t-shirt has a very saggy neckline.

Oh, so we’re doing Rat Pack music, which almost excuses Matt’s stupid hat. And we have a surprise mentor who arrives in a black stretch limo, accompanied by Pink Panther music. Suppose it’s Henry Mancini?

Nope. It’s that great classic singer, Jamie Foxx.

First up is Kris, in a neat gray suit with a loosened tie. I just noticed that Kris is shorter than Ryan, which is pretty darn short. He’s singing The Way You Look Tonight, and I think he started out a bit too slow, though I was mostly noticing the way Kris looked tonight. Aha, he did speed up nicely toward the end. I think Kris is the most improved performer this season.

When I realized which genre was being featured, I worried about Allison, who is looking pretty in dark raspberry hair, good makeup, a black bustier, and a skirt made from Dalmatian feathers. Yesterday was her birthday- Allison is now 17, going on 56. She’s singing Someone To Watch Over Me, and I need not have worried. It is flat-out awesome. I have to remember to vote for her tonight.

Mr. Stupid Hat is singing My Funny Valentine, which should have been retired after Melinda Doolittle killed it. I don’t like Matt much, and I liked Melinda a whole lot, so I don’t know if his beginning really was as wobbly as it seemed (I’m with Randy on this one). But he pulled it out by the end.

Danny is natty in a black suit. He’s singing Come Rain or Come Shine. The arrangement is cool, opening with a trombone solo. Danny is very soulful tonight, and I like the growl in his voice, and the new swagger, I especially like the great finish.

As always, Adam is the polar opposite of everyone else- he’s in a satin ice cream suit and black shirt with a white tie, and the pointiest white boots I’ve ever seen. He enters from the staircase, and it’s theatrical and over the top and just plain silly, and yet he pulls it off- the swagger, the theater, the smoldering look at the camera (not to mention the red Devil Lighting at the end) all work. And of course the vocals, with the longest Glory Note since Clay Aiken, are spot on. The performance moves Kara to Paula Levels of incoherence. I still don’t love Adam, but I can see what she sees.

I don’t think I can rank them tonight-I liked Matt the least, but that may be because I like Matt the least. The rest were good to flat out amazing, with not a lot separating the two distinctions. I think this is the most solidly talented Top 5 in the history of this show. I expect Adam to win, but they’re all good enough, and someone has to go home tomorrow. I just hope it’s Matt.

Did Ryan actually say Taylor Hicks was going to be on tomorrow? Give me a moment to pick my jaw back up off the floor. I hope he sings What’s Right is Right.

So as not to tire of the empty wire-song traits

Gotta love translation engines.
The pictures of silk production on this eBay auction are fascinating, but the riveting thing about this listing is the text. Be sure to read the text in the green box at the bottom (Sample: *Storage silk was to be stored in ventilated and dry place, storage time should not be subject to heavy pressure of the home so as not to tire of the empty wire-song traits be adversely affected. )

Quilt Accompli

Outside of the very amateur machine quilting (I wonder if using quilting thread in the machine will help with the thread breakage... hmmmm), I think this Pinwheel Baby Quilt turned out very well indeed. I love the primary colors (Moda Summer Fun Charm Packs) set against the white. The border fabric was purchased locally but it matches very well (only missing some orange in the mix). This quilt is going to my good friend Melanie's first grandchild.

All I need to do is put a label on, but I've run into a snag.My sewing machine is a Viking 6690, which was state of the art amazing when I bought it back in the early '80s. It was one of the first computerized sewing machines- you could program in words and letters, and do fancy sewing and everything with it. I sort of outgrew the thread letter writing excitement, but it occurred to me that would be a great way to make quilt labels. Problem is, I can't find the manual, and I can't remember how to program the words into the machine. I tried for over an hour last night, but could only get it to sew 1 letter, repeatedly, not sequences of letters (and it's only letters, no numbers, so I'm going to have to date it in Roman Numerals). I did an extensive search online last night for 6690 manuals but they only seem to be available for money, and I don't want to spend money if I can help it (well, I love to spend money, but not $10 for a paragraph on how to get the machine to write words). Any of you have this machine and remember how to program it? I would be eternally grateful for any hints.

I'm not quite ready to tackle the Figgy Pudding quilt yet (though I do have the fabrics- fall tree colors, rather than Christmas shades, with a lighter background), and I need more practice with the machine quilting, so I used both the Moda Hannah and Simplicity charm packs to assemble another pinwheel baby quilt. The Hannah and Simplicity color lines are very similar, with the Hannah being a bit more muted, so I was able to blend squares from both packs. I wanted to experiment further with Bunny's triangle sewing method- and boy is that slick. I put the whole quilt top together last night. This one is much more pastel and girly and the pinwheel effect is more subtle than the first, and it would have been a bit more effective with a solid color border, but I wanted to use up some fabrics that I had in the stash (for about 5 years). I do like it the way it is, even knowing that it could have been more striking.

My problem with this quilt is that I would like to hand quilt it, but I need more practice with the machine quilting, so I will probably do that (and put together another bag for hand quilting- I have a long Christmas list, I'll wear through my fingers before I run out of recipients).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Better late than never

Bunny, in the comments to yesterday's post, told me something that my friend Lorah tried to explain to me last week, something that I should have known regardless, but was too dense to figure out on my own: that you can sew triangles from squares without cutting them into triangles first. Truly a duh moment, which came well after I'd already cut out all of the triangles for the Pinwheel Baby Quilt.

Speaking of which- ta da! I got the top pieced together yesterday, with nearly all of my corners matching and the little pointy jobbers placed and stitched in neat rows (they're just folded and ironed- sort of free-floating, not patchwork), and the borders on. I pin basted the top to the batting and lining last night, before collapsing (note to self: buy some bigger, better, sharper pins).

This morning, I free-form quilted it on the machine. I still had some trouble with thread breakage, but I did learn that tentative quilting leads to problems. It went far more smoothly when I just put the pedal to the metal and zipped along. My lines and curlicues are decidedly amateur, uneven and not particularly attractive. It's obviously a first effort, but for all that, I think it looks pretty good.

I have the binding sewn on, and I'll stitch it down while I watch Chuck and Heroes tonight. The binding isn't a Moda fabric (the pinwheels and pointy jobbers are all from a Moda Summer Fun Charm Pak, 2 of them actually, though I only used 40 squares total).

In the meantime, I'm making some mish-mash pinwheel blocks, using the Lorah/Bunny Quick and Easy Triangle Block method. Damn, that works slick. And this is my next formal quilt project:

My muse is one whacked out chick

I have no idea why I wrote this parody of The Windmills of Your Mind a few years ago, but she told me that you all wanted to read it...

The Jackets That You Find

Flat, like a placket in a jacket, like a seam within a seam.
Hemmed and topstitched, overlapping, bearing cuffs whose buttons gleam.
Like a bobbin that’s unwinding through a scratched and dented plate,
Like a selvedge torn and ragged, bulging seams you’ve come to hate,
Like some bargain basement fabric, fiber content still unknown,
With the dye-lots all unmatching, colors, patterns overblown,
Like the sleeves that are not lined
In the jackets that you find.

Like the stripes off grain and crooked, running lines diagonally
Down the left front to the pocket where the zipper ought to be,
Like a zig-zag set too narrow, with the tension out of whack,
Like the five eights seam allowance sewing past a tailor tack,
Like a needle that’s unthreaded, breaking off before the seam,
And the spools of thread are falling off the table in my dream,
Like the sleeves that are not lined
In the jackets that you find.

Scissors sharper than remembered
Thimbles tumbling in a sieve.
Were the pattern notches matching
On the patch sewn to the sleeve?
Bits and pieces, scraps and garbage
Litter round the sewing scene.
Have the screws been freshly oiled?
Is the foot-feet nice and clean?
With extension cord now plugged in
And the light already on,
Are you ready to start sewing?
For our time is nearly gone.
With the iron hot and steaming
Are you finally aware
That the garment you are making
Isn’t something that you’d wear?

Like a placket in a jacket,
Like a seam within a seam,
With the nap laid out the wrong way
Pieces never as they seem
For the stitches do not bind
On the sleeves that are not lined
In the jackets that you find.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Like a circle in a spiral

The title refers to windmills, not pinwheels, but it's as close as I could get to a musical reference. (Did I ever tell you all that I wrote a parody of Windmills of Your Mind, called Jackets that You Find... seriously)

I experimented a bit with free-form machine quilting yesterday and didn't have much success. I mean, I finished quilting a small bag (about 12" x 12", used up the last of the Moda Portugal precut squares) and it turned out just fine. But I also broke the thread 4 bazillion times and almost threw the sewing machine across the room. Of course, much later in the day, I remembered that you have to lower the feed dogs in order to do free-form sewing... which made a rather large difference in the thread-breakage machine-throwing bad-word area.

So, I'm willing to give it another shot, with this adorable Pinwheel Baby Quilt (pattern here: , free courtesy of Moda Bakeshop). I have all of the pieces cut. Tell me, quilting mavens: is there a trick to cutting triangles with a rotary cutter? The points shift on me, and I found it almost easier and quicker to cut them with scissors. I'm using white muslin, and Moda Summer Fun Charm Pack squares. It only takes 1 charm pack for the quilt, but I used squares from 2 because I wanted to keep the Ladybug themed squares for another quilt, and I set the flag ones aside as well). I need to buy backing and binding, but otherwise, I have everything on hand (I love stash diving, even if the stash is only a couple of days old).

Anyway, I'll be working on that today. Tomorrow, I have to go back to work, so I won't get as much sewing done.

I'll leave you with this real conversation, and a reason why I am usually rumpled:

Me: (grumble, mumble, bad words as I rummage through the coat closet)
Him: What?
Me: Where the hell is my ironing board?
Him: Isn't it up in your office?
Me: Of course not. It's supposed to be in this closet. Right here.
Him: Are you sure it isn't up there?
Me: I don't iron upstairs, why would it be there?
Him: (resisting the urge to point out that I don't iron anywhere) Maybe you should check. I think it's behind your desk chair.
Me (shaking my head, but heading upstairs, and then a minute later): oh

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Measure twice, sew once

Or even: measure once.
I got the purple/red/yellow hand-quilted bag put together, with a lining and topstitched and everything, before I actually picked it up by the handles and learned that they were spaced too far apart, which made the bag sag weirdly. So I had to dig out the seam ripper, take the handles off, and reposition them.

Outside of that, the bag went together smoothly. I really like this patchwork pattern, and may use it on a larger piece. This one is about 14" square with 4" sides and bottom.

Speaking of larger pieces, I finished putting my granddaughter's froggy quilt top together. There are 3 spots where like colors touch (not counting the green border), but otherwise, it looks smashing (and truly, the kid isn't going to notice those 3 spots anyway)(nor will anyone else). It's about 60" x 80" which is a tinch smaller than the *standard* twin quilt measurement I found, but it'll fit her bed just fine. I just have to buy backing fabric and batting, and then send it out to be quilted.

I have 10 more blocks done for the mish-mash quilt top, and a bunch more Moda Charm Packs to play with (3 Maypole, 2 Summer Fun, 1 Fresh Air, 1 Hannah, 1 Simplicity)(ebay is my love and master), and I'm going to start piecing another bag today. Of course, since I made one Christmas quilt, I have to make four more, and surely my enthusiasm will wane long before I finish, but for the moment, I'm having fun, which means we won't be eating at the dining room table for awhile.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Freebie Next Friday, and quilting quilting quilting

The wonderful Joan Wilson has given me permission to upload her American Girl Doll knitting patterns (adorable sweaters and other items) as Freebie Friday patterns. I thought I was going to be ready to feature them today, but things got away from me (again)(still). But... next Friday, I promise. Freebie! Knitting! American Girl!!!!!

In the meantime, I have been sewing. My friend Lorah, who is a Quilting Maven, gave me a whole sack full of precut quilting squares- 6", 5", 4", 2 1/2", 2", triangles. Hundreds of them. So I have been playing. I mentioned in an earlier post, amassing 8 1/2" random squares for an eventual quilt, and these pieces are perfect for that project. I have 26 blocks done (20 shown in the pictures), and need probably 100 for a King Size quilt (though I don't know if I'll actually make one that big- can the pro quilters handle pieces that big? I'm going to send it out). There is a great freedom in allowing myself to be asymmetrical. And in not hewing to a specific color scheme. I am having a marvelous time just putting squares together and then adding borders, or cutting them on odd angles.
Also, Lorah gave me one of those little sticky dots that quilters put on their fingers, in lieu of a thimble. Pure genius! No more bandaids!

The froggie prints arrived for my granddaughter's Christmas present. I realized rather late in the game, that 4" squares aren't very big (duh...) and that 12o of them aren't enough for even a small quilt (again, duh...). So I trekked to the Alco store and was most delighted to find 5 coordinating fabrics. I made 4-square patches (2 frog prints, 2 coordinates) and alternated them with solid coordinating squares. It's all arranged (sort of randomly, but also trying not to have like fabrics touching anywhere)(and not succeeding, as I see in the photo), stacked and numbered, and waiting for me to assemble it. I'll put a couple of borders around the whole, and then this twin size quilt will be ready for the quilter. Wahoo! (especially since I'll have 4 more to make, in time for The Holiday)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Tab- Lowe #4508 Ms. Dolls, 1976

Because all girls in 1976 aspired to be Geishas, Belly Dancers, or walking Peppermint Sticks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

AI- Top 7&6 Elimination

I’m happy to report that the audio and video behaved for the double elimination show.

Randy is wearing a black shirt. Kara is still sporting those sleek extensions, and has on a heavily underwired purple strapless dress. Paula continues to select outfits from her Sparkle Closet. Simon’s gray sweater looks very soft and expensive.

After 8 seasons, Paula finally got to do something she’s really good at- choreography. Her arrangement of the disco medley group sing is most enjoyable- it’s more about the dancing than the singing, but the dancing is totally passable. Even Danny looks coordinated. They’re all in Qiana and big lapels and sunglasses (except for Adam), and they finish with a superlative Pointy Pose. Brava, Paula!

By comparison, the Fordmercial sucks. But the Season 8 Fordmercial sucks every week, so the suckitude is not exactly a surprise.

After the real commercial, we go to the chairs. The kids un-70’d themselves as much as possible in the interim. Lil stands in a white ruffly shirt and cute gray vest over the same black tights and white go-go boots she had on for the group sing. Ryan drones on for awhile and… whoa.. Lil is going home. Not that I didn’t expect it, but I didn’t think we’d get the announcement with so little manufactured drama.

Lil sings, and sure enough- she’s shouty. Lil peaked in the semis, which is sad. So much talent and so little artistry. Is Lil officially #7?

Frieda Payne takes the stage, to sing her one and only hit, Band of Gold (an upbeat ditty about the misery of wedding night impotence). Frieda has had a lot of work done, and her voice is a little weak, but she’s having a great time.

Frieda introduces Thelma Huston, who is wearing a floaty canary yellow dress with an uneven hem, and George Clinton hair. She belts Don’t Leave Me This Way as her breasts try to make a run for it.

Speaking of breasts, K.C (without The Sunshine Band), gets down tonight with his Backup Strippers (seriously- did you spot the one on the far right?).

We return to the reason for the show (besides generating ad revenue). Kris, who started out as pretty cannon fodder but has grown tremendously through the season, is safe. Adam is safe. Danny, without glasses but with facial hair, is safe. Anoop is in The Bottom 2. Allison, dressed like Great Aunt Gert on Casino Night, and Matt stand. And… damn… Allison joins Anoop.

If anything, David Archuletta looks younger than he did last year. The song doesn’t show off his vocals very well (which makes me a little more resigned to Allison getting the boot- if she goes early, maybe she won’t have to record crap like this).

But, much to my relief, Anoop is going home. I do like Anoop, and the stylists have done very well by him, but I’m glad that Allison here for at least one more week (my best hope is for her to make it to 3rd place, but I don’t think that’s going to happen).

Next week, we’re back to single elimination, with no Deus ex Machina. It’ll be interesting.

More Bagging

I'm in patchwork bag mode, so I started another. Inspired by the Moda Sultry Quilt (free pattern here: ), I assembled 5 different purple/yellow/red fat quarters, and a yard of coordinating stripe (picked up at my local Alco store- no specific brand) and cut them into 2 1/2" wide strips and went to work. This construction is super easy- see the pattern for the specifics. There is a lot of precise trimming involved, but I was still able to put it together in an afternoon. I have the bag basted to the batting and am ready to begin quilting. It will be around 14" square, with 4" sides and bottom, which will be a nice size, I think.
I couldn't bring myself to throw away the pieced end trimmings, so I put them together for a miscellaneous square. I already had a leftover square from the Portugal bag, and I decided that I would just continue to make 8 1/2" squares here and there from leftovers (whatever pattern intrigues me, or crazy quilt style) as the spirit moves me. When I have enough, I'll put them together into a quilt. I don't expect to amass enough squares any time soon.

And yes, I have more Moda fabrics on the way. And some froggie print for a granddaughter who collects frogs... yeah, I'm obsessed.