Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Here's the tree, with lights so beautiful that Lucas cannot have them covered up (I think that was just a line to keep from having to help me decorate, honestly).

And here are just some funny pictures from Anchorman 2, which I took the boys to see after an hour of Pure Barre (go me!). It was what you'd expect if you saw the first one - very silly, juvenile humor, with some hilarious moments and lots of awesome 70's music. I don't remember seeing this scene in the movie at all, but it made me laugh.

And here they all got perms, which my dad and and brother also did at one point. Funny story: my brother Scott went to my hair salon one time, and thought the hairdresser was cute, so when she said he'd look good with a permed mullet (it was 1990, people, don't judge), he went for it...then asked her out...then found out she didn't date customers...so he went next door to the grocery store and bought hair relaxer for Tracey and me to remove his perm - HA!

And this one was also funny - he was advertising underwear...I guess you get that, huh.

So now I'm REALLY signing off for Christmas, and I'll see you people later!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dress Progress and Some Nice Memories of 2013

Well I'm right on schedule with the back "bodice" totally beaded and I'm about halfway through the right front. I'm just itching to sew the center back seam together, though - whaddaya think? Good idea? Bad idea? My only hesitation is that it would be a little more cumbersome to bead, but it's already too large to carry around. I have to sit at the kitchen table to do it. Anyway, here's how it's looking just roughly pinned together.

I think it's going to be gorgeous! What should I do with that little blank area at the waist where my stenciling skills lagged? Maybe I should just see how weird it looks when it's fully beaded - you may not notice it so much.

So that's all the sewing, but I wanted to keep a couple of pictures up for when I look back. (Do you ever go back and read your old stuff? Very Clark-Griswold-in-the-attic-watching-home-movies, if you know what I mean..sniff.) Jake starts the night with Lucas, standing by his bed for some reason till he falls asleep, then he sneaks out and goes to Drew's room to sleep under the bed or next to the closet. This morning, though, he was IN the bed, which was a surprise. Poor Drew had to sleep diagonally all night.

And then Jake wouldn't leave. Lucas went back in with my phone while Drew was in the shower, and Jake looks kind of PO'd and guilty about the whole thing. ("Lucas, you snap one more picture of me and I'll bite your hand off...")

And how great (or sad, depending on your weather preferences) is it that in the middle of December, the kid can lay barefooted on the dock without a coat and fly a kite? The Gulf Coast really is a paradise...when there are no hurricanes around.

This one came out blurry, but I was trying to capture the pink sky reflecting off the water, and the phone color-adjusted if I focused too long, so I snapped it really quick. I love pink skies!

I totally forgot to get a picture of the Christmas tree - guess that'll wait till tomorrow. Lucas decided the lights were so pretty that he didn't want to cover them up with ornaments, and Dean pointed out that means less clean-up later, so we went with it. Luckily it's a pretty tree, so she don't need no bling! If I don't see you tomorrow, you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

An Alabama Chanin Scarf

I had lunch in Foley today with my sewing buddy, Robbie, and look what she's been working on!

She hand-stitched this - isn't it gorgeous? I love the smooshiness of the rose petals, and that's a stem stitch for the stem - gorgeous.

She also made me something for Christmas! I think I'll call it a scarf-lace (scarf and necklace, get it?).

She told me she cut a rectangle, stitched it together, then cut it into these strips and pulled them to make them curl. I'll let her explain it better in the comments. It's fashionable, and WARM!

Plus, she told me my dress looks different in person than it does on here (better, not worse), so I'll search for some better lighting next time I take a pic.

Hooray for sewing buddies! Have you hugged your sewing buddy today? (Virtual hugs to Becky and Katrina too!)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Flashback

Okay, so I took the kids and Jake for a walk through the nature trail Dean and I discovered behind the local university. Dean had to work today, but last weekend he and I were kind of surprised that there's a gorgeous new "Laboratory of Infectious Diseases" building stuck back there at the edge of the woods. I mean, there's a medical school on that side of campus, but this building is stuck behind everything else at the back of a parking lot. Who works in there? What do they do?

I had to peek in the front windows. I expected a nice lobby, but there was just a small anteroom with a glass window like in a bank, and a metal box that said "Specimen Drop-off." Ominous! Well that made me think of the movie Coma. So, of course, I told the kids about it, and would you believe that Comcast actually had it On Demand?! Remember this scene?

But imagine my surprise when I realized that Ed Harris (just one of my favorite actors of all time) was in it. And he used to be blonde!

I'm glad Dean wasn't here to witness my squeals of delight at this movie. I didn't remember how awesome it was, with all the medical jargon and X-rays that are actually put up correctly. I knew that Robin Cook wrote the book, but I didn't know that Michael Crichton (who went to medical school with one of our local neurosurgeons) wrote the screenplay and directed it too. Here's the IMDB link for any other movie-obsessed people who want to read about how they could only suspend the actors for 6 minutes at a time in that creepy scene...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Alabama Chanin Beading Minus Fur

So here's what I started with Thursday, and I set about cutting all the knots and taking out the embroidery - piece of cake.

This is where I am now - it's all totally beaded and trimmed. I love it now! It's cohesive and has a single purpose, even though I left the knots from the button and craft thread. (There's no way I'm re-beading all those just to get the knots on the wrong side!)

Drew pointed out that I have a natural break between the bodice and the skirt stenciling (oops - it does take practice to reposition the stencil, you know), and suggested I stop there if I don't think I'll finish the dress. He's pretty smart for a boy, because that was also one of Bianca's suggestions from the get-go!

I think I'll move on to the other 3 pieces and at least get those bodices beaded, then see how much time is left to decide how to fill in the skirt. I can always do partial beading, sew it together, wear it, then bead the rest of it later. The ball is March 1st, so this can work! It's a race between Bianca and me now, to see who can finish their dress first - ready, set, SEW! (No, no, just kidding, Bianca, you're way ahead of me...hey, look over there! Is that a new Alabama Chanin pattern?!)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mixed Reviews on Fur

Well, the meh-ness continues. I held the panel up for Drew's opinion, and he said, "Well, you've got to clean all those strings up." Dean thought it would be cool on a denim jacket, but not a Mardi Gras dress. My nurses thought I should go back and bead everything I've embroidered, and one said, "Of course, you'll trim all those threads anyway." Alabama Fur is so misunderstood! But maybe it's because my fur is sparse. Look at this beautiful wrap that isn't even finished yet - the fur is the main design element. My other nurse said there was too much going on with the dress, so I should stick with just beading - sounds very Project Runway!

Anyway, here's more beading before trimming away the inside, and I haven't removed the straight embroidery yet (which will be quick and painless with all these huge knots - it's not like ripping out machine stitching).

and here it is with the stencil trimmed away. The beads are really sparkly when I hold it up, so it's got THAT going for it.

So maybe the next picture I'll have is with some "strings" gone and more beads...like Becky said the first time!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Florabama Yacht Club and Dress Progress

In between sewing on my dress, I did have to watch the SEC Championship (War Eagle!), so we stopped in the Florabama Yacht Club for a late lunch and were happy to get a front row table for one of their big screen hi-def TV's. It's kind of dwarfed by the water and beach view - too bad it was 45 degrees outside.

You have GOT to stop here if you're in the area - the food is fantastic (the chef of Eat! in Orange Beach is here now, I'm told), the service is friendly, and the atmosphere is awesome. Even though it was freezing outside, we were toasty warm with these very cool heaters around - can you see the huge flame inside it?

Oh, yeah, and I worked on my dress some more. I realized this stencil is of flowers, so I should pick a whole flower to bead probably, instead of just random shapes, so I'm giving that a shot. At this point it looks kind of inconsistent, but I think it'll get better.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Alabama Fur and Beads

Important caveats about this Mardi Gras dress: This is not for Mobile, where I could be blackballed for wearing a heretical dress; this is New Orleans, and almost anything goes. Remember the crocheted dress with all kinds of skin showing that I saw a couple of years ago? And there will be thousands of people imbibing all manner of drinks, so I'm not going to bring a hush to the room (Superdome) when I enter. Thus, I have opted for outside knots, referred to as "Alabama Fur."

Of course, I hope it doesn't look like I just walked through a dust storm!

Like I told Bianca, if I'm going to go crazy, I may as well go all the way!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ooh, to Reverse Applique, or Just to Bead?

I love the look of the purple stencil on the navy, so I was thinking of just beading it and embroidering it as is - what do you think? Here' the outer layer with stencil...

And here's one shape I beaded lightly around and cut as usual. With beading, you're supposed to use one strand of button craft thread so it doesn't tangle, but it looks kind of thin to me - I like the look of a double strand.

And I probably need way more beads per shape, but I was just testing to see how it looked. I don't know if I like the lighter color showing through - does it look more "homemade?" (Louise Cutting calls that "made by loving hands at home" to describe something really pitiful looking - funny!) Maybe I should've used black fabric underneath - argh!

I'm thinking it looks more refined with the stencil intact, and I just should do beading....and maybe have my knots on the outside? HELP! I can't decide!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Behold the Alabama Chanin Mardi Gras Dress!

My palette awaits...

I mean my 2 rotten sawhorses and rained-on plywood covered in 2 old sheets awaits, ahem.

The worst part was arranging the dress pieces and getting the edges to lay flat - they curled endlessly!

The best part was airbrushing - so much more refined than spraypainting.

The $90 Alabama Chanin stencil was SO worth it - it's mylar and doesn't soak up the paint, which my little posterboard stencil would've done. Props to Drew for venturing out to take some action shots for me, and major props to Dean, who graciously taught me how to use his manly-man air compressor last night (PSI of 40? No problem!). I took the other one back to Michael's - it's tiny PSI would've been no match for this dress.

And now, please feast your eyes on the most beautiful thing I've ever made:

I will be quitting my day job. I will look for a nice storefront with adequate studio space where I can airbrush and sew to my heart's content. You can call me....The Artist Formerly Known as Dr. Fun. (Wonder if Natalie Chanin needs a partner in South Alabama...)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fabric Has Been Cut!

Oh boy, I'm getting close to actually doing something with my Alabama Chanin Mardi Gras dress - I cut the outer layer last night! (Yes, I use rulers, scissors, mirrors, my phone sometimes, whatever's handy as a pattern weight, but I prefer the term "inventive" to "cheap.") This sucker's LONG - one end hung off my cutting table and I had to carefully skooch everything together so the cotton didn't stretch. In her Craftsy class, she cuts the inner and outer layers together, but can you imagine making sure all that fabric is flat and smooth? I cut the top layer first so I can start stenciling. Oh, and I used this tutorial for doing the swayback adjustment, which is pretty much what I was doing anyway - you can see the little wedge I took out at center back.

Today I went to Michael's to look at airbrushes and such, and you can't look at them - you have to take a card to the cashier to buy them. Plus they were quite expensive. Next I went to Joann's to see if they had anything, and picked up a marine blue paint to try with some sponges, in case the airbrush thing doesn't work out.

Then I did some research on airbrushes (shout-out to Bianca for being an airbrushing queen) and realized I don't know squat about what all is needed, but we do have an art store that carries them, so I went there (trying to support local small business, you know, and Hobby Lobby is clear across town). Turns out they have many actual airbrushes, but only 2 air compressors - "very" expensive and "holy crap" expensive, with minimal PSI (the lady helping me didn't know what that meant, so I immediately lost confidence). I figured Home Depot must carry more air compressors than this, but it turns out those are only for big manly men inflating tractor tires, not nervous nellies stenciling dresses. Finally, I went back to Michael's with my 50% off coupon downloaded to my phone (technology rocks!) and bought the smallest, cheapest compressor, which still gets more PSI than the one at the art store.

This one is the "Breeze" for "decorating cakes and applying makeup," so we'll see if it's good enough for a whole dress. Of course, that's only after I tarp the whole garage so our bikes don't get contaminated...oh crap, what am I even going to hang the dress on while I'm painting?! (The sponges are looking like a good start right now.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

So here's a GIF of the guy sewing from sbnation.com:

And here's a picture where you can see his foot pedal - how quaint! Wish I knew what kind of machine it was. Hey Pam, is this a position a student could volunteer for?

And now, look what came in the mail right before Thanksgiving. Two big packages...

The box has my fabric, nicely tied with recycled cotton...

and the tube has my stencil!

I spent a few minutes in Hancock on Saturday studying embroidery thread colors (there're only about 200!), and I decided on understated, elegant gray instead of Mardi Gras, wacky purple. I figure this dress will be wacky enough since it'll be the only one there made of cotton.

I just bought a few of these things to try a little sample and see how it looks. But first, I've got to look into that swayback adjustment and get my pieces cut out...