Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shinagawa dinner

And here we are outside Shinagawa Station getting hustled to a yakitori restaurant - can you see how tiny this street is? We battled the jet lag and powered through 3 hours at the airport of exchanging currency, shipping bags to Mihara (our next destination where Dean's aunt lives), and exchanging JR passes before riding 1 hour on a train to our hotel. Drew and I were amazed that Japan is so technologically advanced, but it still took an hour to get 5 train passes....the clerk did lots of hand-writing, stamping, stapling, signing, tearing and re-stapling, etc. Contrast that with the restaurant, where we rang a doorbell at the table and a waiter appeared with a tiny handheld computer to enter our order. Huh...

So I was up today at 4 am as expected, and we leave for Mihara at 9:30 to stay with Dean's family a couple of days. The Rosetta Stone was fantastic (I didn't quite finish the second disc - had a couple of hours left, dangit), but they talk WAY too fast for me to understand much of anything here. Lucas and I bought a drink and snack in the train station, and the lady had to show me the calculator before I could understand our total. Lucas saved the situation with a hearty "Arigato," though. Back to the Easy Japanese book till everybody else wakes up...

Crochet magazine

Howdy! I mean Konnichiwa! We made it to Japan without incident....well, just one little one. At the airport in Houston, Lucas had to go to the restroom while we were still waiting for gate-checked bags, so I pointed him in the right direction. A couple of minutes later my phone rings with a Texas number, and when I answer, Lucas says, "Uh, mom, they won't let me back in there, so can you come get me." When he realized it was a long distance to the restroom, he turned around to come back but the gate agent stopped him. They were nice enough to let him use the phone to call me.

So the pic is from a bookstore in the hotel building, and I did in fact find a craft section...lot of good that did me! One magazine I thought was about hats turned out to be about fingernails - huh? They just used ladies in hats to pose their fake fingernails on....hmmmm.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Last-minute Travel Shopping

Target has a special travel section - loved those Go-toobs, but too expensive. We did find some cool compression bags that vent air without a vacuum, though. Lucas and my MIL are in the floor comparing games on the iPad now, waiting to go to bed so we can get up at 4am - good times! More wine....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jake and Japan

This is the most patient dog in the world. Lucas built a contraption so Jake could carry things...yeah, I don't know either. The dog's attitude the whole time was, "Do I really have to do this? Yes, I do." (Seriously, I thought of that Bible verse where Jesus asked God to take the cup from him if possible, and if not...you know the one.)

He's even smiling while walking around with the thing. The dog's a saint.

That's why Drew and I are each sleeping in the same T-shirt all week to leave with him at the boarding kennel when we go to Japan. We also paid for the upgrade so he can watch TV. Seriously, did you know they have TV's now in kennels? What have our children and our pets come to?

Okay, and this is the pattern I printed out from Ravelry to knit on the plane. I think I can finish this thing in 26 hours (round-trip)....

And finally, I learned enough kanji, or katakana, whatever it's called, to recognize some things. My MIL gave the boys this book a long time ago for Christmas. It's a book of Christmas carols, and I tried to sound some out, thinking it would be in Japanese for the American words. So check out the first song there on the right. See there's a title, then some other info in small print. Now look at the second line of the stanza - see there are 2 different symbols, then that third is repeated the rest of the line. Guess what that says?

You guessed it, "Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra,ra-ra-ra-ra." I shit you not. I found another song and sounded it out, again expecting Japanese words that I might know, and guess what I got? Me-ri-ku-ri-su-ma-su! Get it? Also, Sa-n-ta ko-ra-su - Japanese is awesome! (And also devoid of L's, in case you didn't know...)

Friday, May 17, 2013

One Week to Japan!

Okay, technically a little over a week, but I've got to find a knitting pattern to keep me busy for 13 hours on the plane...plus some ibuprofen for my fingers - ha! No, seriously, this came today in the mail - WHAT?!

Have any of you ladies ever ordered anything from here? It's yarn AND patterns, and my burning question is, why do you pay for patterns when there are so many free ones on the internet and in magazines? Do you get more fit options, or do they seem to be nicer items? I don't get it. I really like this sweater...

but it's $18 to get the booklet, that also has 19 other designs, apparently. Hmmm...

So I stopped sewing my wardrobe after that last skirt, and went to Loft to buy up every pair of capri-ish pants they had on sale. I got white, seafoam, salmon, and sky blue, to be specific...and tan. And I got a couple of knit tops that were $8 each, so how could I resist that? See, we're in Japan 2 weeks, and it's all hotels after the first 4 days, when we're at Dean's aunt's house. Have you ever sent laundry to be done in a hotel? I haven't, and I'm a little weirded out by it.

And God bless my friend and sewing buddy, Robbie, because she lives here...

where the Hangout Music Fest is going on as we speak. (Hey Robbie, it's our anniversary - 3 years?) I blogged about the boys going to the Hangout Fest, and Robbie happened to read my post. She realized we lived near each other because it was in her backyard, and sewing buddies were born! You can go to that link and stream some live music if you like. Alrighty, off to study more Japanese...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day 2013!

Hope all you mothers had a great one too! My wonderful husband cooked a delicious breakfast with a plethora of breakfast meats, and the kids gave me some nice gifts. Drew presented me with a Hancock gift card, with which I purchased these 2 patterns on sale. (Now don't judge, I was just looking for long shorts with pockets for Japan.)

Honestly, I really wanted a bias tape maker, but who knew that dang thing cost over $100?! That's the Simplicity model that irons it for you, but it only makes a single fold, and I want a double fold one so I can do more of this:

That's the Colette Sorbetto neckline, and I cut this bias binding myself. Please ignore the little wrinkles, as I didn't press it yet. I would've done the armholes too, but I lost my energy, thus the need for a cute gadget to facilitate my bindings. I seriously want to do all my necklines like this now! I saved the rest of my gift card for a possible online purchase, but they don't seem to sell the Clover bias tape maker online either. Any of you ladies have suggestions on that front? Do you make them yourself? Is it worth $100 for one? Okay, moving on, Lucas made this for me.

He was worried it didn't have "enough pizzazz," so he threw a classic coupon in as well.

Wait, I just read that again. Does that mean he's going to do a pencil drawing of my feet? That crazy kid...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Two Garments in One Day?!

Well, technically I just FINISHED the skirt, and STARTED the top, but have you ever been so fired up that you wear the one you just finished while you start the next one?

I hemmed the skirt and put it on, saw that my lining was peeking out at the slit, and sat down to handstitch that (yes, while wearing it, no wonder I have back spasms), then went right back to the cutting table to cut out the Sorbetto top. Look - everything's done but hemming and binding!

It's a little blousy on me - wouldn't it be cute with a skinny belt? (Grabs nearest belt) WOW - talk about color blocking, but it's kind of peplum-y...

Okay, I'll nip that in at the sides and use a different fabric for the next version. Now to style this skirt, using my Lord and Taylor wall thoughtfully (that was for the Project Runway watchers).

Ready for golfing, and tucked to show details. Now this calls for facings instead of a waistband, but if you line a skirt, do you really still need the facings?

I think not!

I paid careful attention to the plaid when cutting and when sewing, but a lined skirt kind of floats around on your body, so I didn't know my zipper was off-kilter in the picture. It really is centered.

Just had to try it with my Pure Barre top since it matched. (Don't worry, Dean, this is NOT the look I'm going for...)

Don't forget the Target platforms!

Okay, this is more realistic. I think I'd love these shoes if they were some spring color, but they just look so...hippie in a broomstick skirt-ish...not that there's anything wrong with that! Given that the slit in the skirt makes Dean nervous when I sit on the floor (very modest in Japan, you know), I'll probably wear this out to dinner or while shopping, but not while hanging out with his relatives. Samui desu ka? (Cold?)

Hey knitting ladies - I washed my sweater and now the cute rolled up edge along the back hangs limp and stretchy...any way to get that curl back? Should I wash it again and block it....tighter?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Exposed Zipper Tutorial - For the Lazy Sewist

Yeah, so I read a Threads article on doing an exposed zipper after I attempted my first one on my own, and it seemed like tons of steps and was a little confusing to me, so I'm showing you how I do it myself. There are lots of Youtube videos and other tutorials about this, but I'd already taken all these pictures, so I'm posting it anyway. I remembered to interface the seam allowances for once, but I did it on the wrong side of the fabric as usual, while most other people seem to do it on the right side (which entails several steps to hide it under the zipper eventually, and I'm sure is superior for some reason, but I'm lazy). I basted the center back skirt seam down to the big circle, then sewed the rest of the seam below.

Now I've pressed my seam open. Note that I even finished my raw edges with the serger - I was in quite a good mood! You can't see the interfacing from inside the skirt now.

Next, I flipped it over so the right side was facing me, and I laid the zipper down, centering it over the seam.

I threw a couple of pins in there to hold it in place, but you could use double-sided tape or scotch tape...

Fold the bottom of the zipper up under the zipper stop if you like.

Now sew down the edges of the zipper. I didn't need a zipper foot for this. Be very careful at the bottom that your folded up tape is lined up nicely.

I turned at the very bottom and put 3 stitches in till I hit the zipper stop, then I started over on the other side.

To open up the basted seam, I pulled it apart at the top and ripped down the middle, since I couldn't get inside anymore to the actual seam.

Important note - be sure the basting stops before the end of the zipper! Mine went a little too far, so I had to throw some hand-stitching in there to close up this little gap. I'll also probably use a zipper foot and sew again right next to the zipper teeth.

Now at this point, I suffered some sort of back spasm, so I haven't finished the rest of the skirt yet. A hot bath, lots of time on a heating pad, and 1800 mg of ibuprofen daily for the past 3 days have me feeling better temporarily, so I shall get back up to the sewing room and finish this so I can get a nice final picture. In the meantime, here's what my first exposed zipper looked like.

And then I went nuts with the leftover zipper, and lined a seam on the front. This is still my favorite skirt because it's so obnoxious!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Zipper Boo-boos and Rednecks

Oh, I'm sick to death of pants, I tell ya'! Look at this beautiful invisible zipper I installed today....wait, are those the front pockets on either side of the zipper?

Yes, since there are no side seams yet, I got messed up and sewed the 2 front sides together. Took 25 minutes to unpick. Then I did it the right way...

And discovered that I've cut them a little off-grain, or twisted them when I was sewing the inner leg seams and princess seams.

Note that the princess seams are heading off to the side when they hit my knees. And again with the baggy rear-end, despite making that great alteration.

So in deep depression, as expected, I pulled out this fabric to make a skirt from Butterick 4399. Here's my previous one with contrasting zip. I'm opting for the tangerine zipper for this one.

I'll try to finish those pants as best I can when the depression lets up.

And in other news, did you hear that the Blue Collar Comedy guys are opening an amusement park right next door in Foley?! Bring the kids, drop 'em off, and let's get together for some sewin'. Now you've got an excuse to come to Alabama for Sandra Betzina's yearly class! (I'm feelin' better already.)