Sunday, August 5, 2007

Cooling My Jets

After my frenetic sewing of the past few weekends, I needed a break this weekend. Even though it was a three day weekend for me, I still wasn't quite ready to face up to a big project.

Not that I did nothing, of course.

I made the cloth pads in the previous post.

I finally turned a dress that didn't fit into a skirt. I couldn't bear to take a before pic of the dress because it looked *so* bad on me. I got it from a discount store that was going out of business somewhere between 7 and 9 years ago. It was in Austin where I went to law school, and my sister still lived in Austin because she was with me when she bought it. I'm pretty sure it was before she had kids so that makes it 9 years ago, but she moved away from Austin 7 years ago so that's the most recent it could have been.

It was a beautiful dress; the top was very simple sleeveless (but not spaghetti straps). For that reason it took me many years to decide to make it a skirt. It was such a pretty dress that I didn't want to "ruin" and knew I should give it away so somebody could enjoy it. But finally I realized that in order to fit into that dress, "somebody" would (1) need to be at least 4 inches taller than me for the torso scale to be right; this one isn't hard as I am only 5'1", but (2) have a 25 inch waist at the outside, preferably 24 inch, *and* (3) have a 34-36 inch bust, with a B cup minimum. There are very few somebodies like that out there, and the odds that one of those somebodies would be shopping at the thrift store rather than, say, being plied with drinks at the nearest bar seem very slim and so I decided I could keep the dress and make it into a skirt. When I bought it, there were lines of embroidery floss across the bottom but in the front only and they were gaudy and hideous (I expect the reason why the dress did not sell at the original price of $78). I took those out when I first bought it. The gray is actually silk organza, though the underskirt is acetate.

I also turned a bunch of Fashion Fabrics Club swatches into a trivet.

I am not a quilter, but it seemed a waste to throw away all those precut little pieces. I didn't have any batting or old towels or thick fabric to pad it with, so it's a trivet rather than a potholder. After visiting the Gee's Bend quilt exhibit with Cidell, I was a little inspired. I don't like the rigidity of the patterns (no big surprise), but there were some beautiful free form quilts with just a bunch of pieces sewn together that I really loved. So I've been toying with turning some of my natural fiber scraps into free form quilt-ish items. I think I may part with a towel to make potholders.

I was supposed to be cleaning, so naturally my eye was attracted to unfinished projects. Finishing projects is cleaning, right? It's a slow way to clean, but slow and steady wins the race. I enjoyed Sarah's article on sweater reconstruction on PR a while back (December? I think--I would link to it, but only PR members can read back articles. I am a member so I can look it up if you are too and are curious.) One of the suggestions was to turn a sweater into a cardigan by cutting up the center and crocheting the cut edges to finish them. I have some nice sweaters I'd like to alter, but I wanted to start with a cheap one.

This sweater is from the girl's department of WalMart. Girls' tops fit me well across the chest (le sigh), but the sleeves are a little too short and the tops can be a tad too short. This one was just too short to wear as a sweater. I carefully cut up the center and crocheted the sides with embroidery floss (all six strands). I did three rows of crochet. It was unfinished because I ran out of floss on the third row of the last side. I had bought more, but hadn't picked it up again until yesterday. It will be held together with a button (from my FM 4 lb bag, natch) glued to a bar pin. So it will look buttoned, but it's actually pinned. Quel clever, no? This project took me only about 6 months to complete. I'm sure the rest of those sweaters will be altered in plenty of time for winter. ::rollseyes::

All this crocheting put me in mind of a type of bracelet I make, so while I was on the phone with a friend I worked this one up.

The stones are from a friend, whose aunt sent them to her. I *believe* they are very low grade Peruvian opal. The pic is a bit dark, but in person they are whitish green, with some darker and some lighter. It's a very organic bracelet and because I did so many stones on it I think it might be too much for my somewhat freakishly small wrist. But since I made it to fit me I don't know if it will fit anyone else. My source for 28 ga sterling silver wire is From these two projects you might believe that I can crochet. I cannot. To call my crochet skills "elementary" would be an untenable social promotion like putting the football player who can't read into the 11th grade so he can stay on the team. I can do chain stitch and then single crochet or whatever it means to do chain stitch while catching the previous chain stitch. That is all. My mom is an amazing crocheter. Maybe someday I will have her teach me. She has tried in the past, though, and it never took. I learned my crochet "skills" from the internet.

Today I met up with a friend at the Renwick Gallery, part of the Smithsonian (and therefore free admission!). It's part of the Museum of American Art, though located near the White House, and specializes in craft. I can't believe I had never been there before! I think a lot of the exhibits are closed, but I liked what I saw. There is a large gallery called George Catlin's Indian Gallery. The artist traveled through the American West just before the Trail of Tears to try to document Native dress and culture. The paintings were much more sensitive than I would have expected--the artist did not seem to be after novelty value or caricature. There was not much by way of craft, unfortch, but there are some a-mazing glass pieces and some trompe l'oeil furniture that was really incredible.

Anyway, I took watercolor classes for a couple of years with some girlfriends, and near the end of our classes our teacher suggested I incorporate fabric into my art. I did a piece in class that I really loved and then started saving fabric scraps. Which grew and grew into a monstrous collection and it had been two years since I was supposed to make them into a collage so I decided it was time for them to go in the trash. But first, I figured I would give myself one last chance to do a collage, hoping to be inspired by my visit to the Renwick. I convinced my friend to do it with me and so I finally made a fabric collage. My theme was textures. You can see why I am a crafter, and *not* an artist. Those years of classes were a bit torturous to me (I did them with girlfriends because we wanted to make sure we'd all get together at least once a week). I can't do art, never could, never will be. By this I don't mean that I am not artistic or cannot appreciate or create beauty. But not on paper, canvas, wood, or any other flat surface. The tomato soup I made from farmer's market tomatoes came out much better than the collage, so at least the afternoon was not wasted! I also made some white bean, quinoa, shiitake, and spinach soup to bring for my lunch this week.

I feel pretty relaxed, but I won't be able to sew next weekend. Saturday will be an all-day bachelorette winery canoe trip (don't ask), and Sunday will be recovering from the all-day bachelorette winery canoe trip. I am saddened by the upcoming loss of my weekend.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Menstrual Madness!

So, there's a thread over on PR on the Miscellaneous board right now about "alternative, reusable menstrual products." This is a topic near and dear to my heart, so I'm going to go ahead and get all TMI on your ass.

I <3 cloth pads. That's right, I said it. I am not a hippie dippie (well, i am a vegetarian who uses cloth pads) armpit-non-shaving pagan moon goddess. I'm a bougie yuppie (except for the vegetarianism, cloth pads, walking everywhere, etc. etc.) with a cute wardrobe and conventional grooming habits. What I'm saying is, there's room for cloth pads in every woman's life. It doesn't have to be a political or a feminist statement (though for me it is both), it can just be because they are so much freaking more comfortable than plastic disposable pads. They are more absorbent, too, believe it or not. Three layers of cotton flannel lasts three times as long as a disposable pad before it needs to be changed. And, hello! So much cuter! Check out the adorable ones above, made for a friend who is curious to try them.

I didn't start using them until I had a washer/dryer in my own home. I will exempt anyone who doesn't have that luxury from my request that you just consider it for even a split second. I will also exempt you if you have a really heavy flow; mine is light enough that I don't have to change during the workday so I don't have to carry a used pad around with me. Everyone else: just think about it.

I rinse them out and let them dry after use, and then wash them whenever I'm doing laundry. They don't smell bad or do anything scary while they're waiting for the wash.

They're really easy to make and so much more comfortable than disposables. No chafing! No inadvertent bikini wax when the adhesive catches you! No crackly embarrassing sound when you walk! No landfill-filling! (Ok, that last reason is kind of hippie dippie, but that's ok by me.)

If your first reaction is: Ick, I get that. When pads are being demonstrated on television they use blue liquid because OMG MY PERIOD IS SO GROSS!!!!!!! I WANT TO DIEEEEE!!!!!! But try to have a second reaction. Why is your menstrual blood soooooo disgusting that it has to be mummified and hidden at the bottom of the trash can and thrown to the unspeakable depths of the landfill? Do you take that much care with the tissue you use to sop up the blood when you stick yourself with a pin when sewing? Probably not. Blood is blood. Menstruation is normal, not shameful or embarrassing or gross or a terrible, horrible thing that happens to you every month (easy for me to say, I don't get cramps when I'm on the pill--if you get cramps I'll give you the terrible horrible bit).

To make, just trace around your favorite brand of pads, cut out three layers of flannel, make wings, zigzag, flip over and zigzag from the other side, add velcro, and voila! In wearing and making them for a couple of years I have learned that (1) the wings need to be long compared to the length of the pad to keep them from riding to the back of your underwear when you walk, and they need to fasten at the front and the back of the wing, not just in the middle. Someone on PR suggested using corduroy for the bottom layer to stick them more in place, and for people with a heavier flow you can use PUL for the bottom layer. (2) When fastened, the wings need to be slightly narrower than the pad to keep it from crumpling up inside your underwear. (3) You can use velcro if you round the edges of it and overlap the two velcro pieces *exactly* when you put it on.