Wednesday, December 19, 2012

read: the oracles: my filipino grandparents in america

The Oracles: My Filipino Grandparents in AmericaThe Oracles: My Filipino Grandparents in America by Pati Navalta Poblete
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

although i enjoyed the book and related to the story (being a fil-am who also lived in a multi-generational home), i didn't love it. and i really wanted to love it...

but i've read other coming of age books with a similar immigrant theme, and i didn't find this one very original. there wasn't enough there - language, characters, dialogue, the pacing - to compel me to read or feel empathy for the narrator or her grandparents. sadly, i almost felt the urge to read it just to get it over with... :(

i'm always glad to read & support the works of fil-am authors. although this wasn't a hit for me, i think this would make a good intro into the genre for my daughter when she's a little older.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 10, 2012

read: stories: all new tales

Stories: All-New TalesStories: All-New Tales by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

All in all, I thought this was a solid anthology of short scifi/fantasy stories. I was really looking for something to read that didn't require too much thought or commitment, but was still entertaining and compelling. This definitely fit the bill. I didn't LOVE every story, but there were definitely stories that I enjoyed and others that are sure to haunt me. Also, I always like being introduced to authors I haven't read yet.

My favorite stories:

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman - It's Gaiman. That is all.

The Stars are Falling by Joe R Lansdale - Loved the dark atmosphere of this story.

Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult - I'm not a fan of Picoult's work, but I loved this story.

Catch and Release by Lawrence Block - By far the most unnerving story in the collection for me..... *shivers*

Samantha's Diary by Dianna Wynne Jones - Considering what time of year it is, this story was timely, funny and slightly frightening.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy scifi/fantasy and are inbetween novels. :)

View all my reviews

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Secret Town by Ogden Nash

"There is a town within a town,
Where my true love walks alone,
And green, oh, meadow green, is her gown,
And daffodil gold her shoon.

Unto that silent secret place,
No street, no alley, leads.
A town without a market place,
No huckster crowd it feeds.

The wagon wheels without the wall,
They are not heard within.
The angry bells that clash and call,
They may not enter in.

And thunderheads their thunder lose;
Such is stillness there,
That in the grassy avenues
The deer feeds, and the hare.

And there the hot sun softlier sifts,
And the harsh wind softlier blows,
And the frost melts, and the fog lifts,  
And earlier springs the rose.

Within that town a lady walks
In dear serenity,
And lilies on their slender stalks
Less stately are than she.

Less delicate the violets are,
Less light of foot of deer,
Less lovely is the evening star,
Than she who walketh here.

I built that greedy outer town,
And she the town within.
When my own creature howls me down,
She bids me enter in.

Oh meadow, meadow green is her gown,
And daffodil gold her shoon.
God keep the town within the town,
Where my true love walks alone."

Thinking of you, Andra and Erika.

Friday, August 10, 2012

friday dance - shake your body

i saw this:

and said "1:11 minutes?! hell naw..."  and found this:

happy friday.  shake your body.  that is all.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Lindy Hop Challenge - Day 4

your favorite live band...

ok...  NOW, i'm getting frustrated with the narrow focus of these questions....  can my favorite live band be a band that doesn't focus on swing music?  can my favorite live band be a band that is now defunct?  can i have favorite bands in different cities?  can my favorite live band be a band i've never seen live?


i'm just going to post videos of some of my favorite bands, who i have seen live, in alphabetical order...  so. there.  :p

bill elliot

george gee

indigo swing

lavay smith and her red hot skillet lickers

Friday, August 03, 2012

Lindy hop Challenge - Day 3

"...a description of your favorite partner (and why they're your favorite)...."

i don't think  i have an actual favorite partner although usually the people i most enjoy dancing with have a few things in common - in no particular order:

*  they're teachers who have heavily inspired groove era dancers (hey, what can i say - i'm a creature of groove habit), they are groove era dancers or they have learned from and elaborate on their roots from groove era dance teachers.

*  they are avid interpreters of music - one of the things i love most about partner dancing is the conversation you have with your partner.  i'm always curious about creative process and fascinated by what a lead hears in music and am instantly inspired to respond creatively - hoping to reciprocate the spark...

*  they ask me to dance because they genuinely want to dance with me - not as a test to see if i can keep up with them.  i'm always humbled and excited when i'm asked to dance - but there's nothing that deflates my outlook more than that realization...  and it's so easy to tell the difference between a genuine dance request and a fake one within the first few bars/swingouts, etc...  so take note, leads & follows - you're only with your partner for 4 minutesish - make. it. count.

*  they're f*cking hilarious.  they're the butt of their own jokes.  they go above and beyond the call of duty to encourage you to forget your troubles... and smile.  :)

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Lindy hop Challenge - Day 2

my favorite place to dance....

i'm not sure how to answer this question - my favorite place to dance now? or like EVAR!?  i hate to sound wishy washy but i really do have many favorite places to dance.

currently, i have two favorite places to dance in chicago -

1) swing dancing at fizz (full disclosure, i work there part time) - i feel the most at home here...  almost too homey though...  i often find i chatty face here more than dance sometimes.  :)

2)  black rock -  i enjoy going to black rock because it's a lovely space, very comfortable and very familiar in that old chicago bar sense...  the crew of staff & regulars are really laid back and casual.  i feel a certain amount of duty/responsibility at swing at fizz because i'm also staff.  so, it's nice to have black rock to run to if i didn't get my dance on at fizz....

in san francisco,  my favorite place to dance has always been -

1) lindy in the park - it's moved from it's original location at the bandshell (see below), but it's still hella fun.  :)

however, when they were still open - The Doghouse - where i also taught with chad kubo and jason christodoulou.

and spencer's joint at dna lounge - we're also considered my homes away from home.

last but certainly not least...  the casino ballroom on catalina island....  where all kinds of magic happen...  not to mention - OLAFS!!!

which reminds me...  have you pinned your "best spot to lindy hop in the US" yet?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

30 Day Lindy Hop Challenge

I saw this 30 day blog challenge on the vernacular jazz dance blog - it's 30 days of lindy hop blogging.  I'm going to *try* this challenge even though i've failed miserably at so many challenges...  it may not seem like it, but i do enjoy blogging so this is my meager effort to keep trying to blog...  :)  I like the questions on this challenge and  I think it can be edited to fit other hobbies...  ok, wish me luck, here goes nothing...  :)

1)  What got you started in lindy hop?

The desire to meet new people in a new city.

When I moved to San Francisco in 1995, I only knew three people - a dear friend and former fashion dept classmate of mine - Steven, his roomate - Sam and a close friend (of my former boyfriend) - Christian.  I was so lucky to have those three yahoos in my life - they were my family away from family...

Most of my daily life was spent with my roomates, Steven & Sam and their three cats - Monster, Buttons & Frisbee.  Christian and I bonded early on by our love of vintage clothing, music, furnishings, ephemera, etc...  We often walked over to Club Deluxe in the upper haight to drink, listen to music, drink more and street swing:

at one point, I was in between garment industry jobs and met another temp who was a student of paul and sharon's at the metronome ballroom. we decided to meet after work at a new club that opened called the hi-ball:


 when i watched my co-worker endlessly lindy hop with many leads, i was equal amounts jealous and inspired - and i wanted to take classes from paul and sharon too.

 so thanks, angela for leading me to paul and sharon... and thanks, paul & sharon for teaching and guiding me all those many years ago.... :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

adventures with tessa at vintage bazaar!

over the weekend, i hung with my homie, tessa, at the vintage bazaar's new home & chicago landmark - the aragon ballroom.

i ain't gonna lie.  the first thing we did at the vintage clothing, furniture & ephemera bazaar was STUFF. OUR. MUGS.

i was hongry... borderline hangry...

luckily, brown bag lunch truck, meatloaf a gogo, duck and roll truck, bridgeport pasty and beavers donuts.  and being the (un)conscientious health fanatics that we are, we started with half a dozen nutella dream (strawberry sauce + nutella) donuts:

seriously peoples, that stuff was so good, i'm sure it was also biblically wrong...  that's the stuff you go to confession for...  if you're catholic....  if you're a GOOD catholic.  tessa introduced me to amy le of duck and roll truck who made these insanely delicious bao tacos. i had the pork and tessa had the tofu:

*not pictured. see: inhaled. 

then, we meandered over to brown bag lunch truck, where we met joaquin, the angel (or apocalyptic horseman) who bringeth forth "The Meat"...  not that tessa had any because she is being very good & joining Nora's challenge of not eating meat this June...  (liar, liar, pants on fire...haha!)  we had the kim jong mmmm, some beer soaked chicken (someone dub this the drunken master!!!) and elotes w/ spicy mayo:

*not pictured.  see: inhaled.

ok, so.... we spent the rest of our food induced haze strolling the overflowing and overwhelming booths of the outdoor and indoor vintage bazaar...  although i used to be an avid vintage hunter, i've mellowed with age (and my moth eaten pocketbook) and only hunt for vintage sewing & crafting stuff, namely - vintage sewing patterns.

i gotta say i was a little disappointed in the pricing at the bazaar....  there weren't that many vendors with the stuff i was looking for, but it when i did see machines, books or patterns they were all kinda pricey.  i was especially disappointed that the vendors couldn't tell me for certain if their patterns were cut or complete, were asking $5-$10 per pattern. FTW?! one of the vendors had some modern - still in print - patterns in her stash and was selling them for $7.  SEVEN DOLLARS for a pattern i can get on sale - NEW - for $1.

i did find (overpaid, prolly) a handful that i liked.  i haven't had a chance to look them over yet though....  O_o

there were some really great booths, overflowing with vintage eye candy...  i loved the recycled bottle lights at vintage edison.  we also scored some coupons & gift certificates from AKIRA.  there was also an AWESOME popup barbershop from joe's barbershop

at one point, tessa and i took a break upstairs in the aragon's balcony seats....  & it occurred to me that i hadn't really taken any pictures at the bazaar...  :(  then, as we were making our way out of the bazaar, we found the smilebooth photo booth and took some silly pics:

i'm really looking forward to attending the next vintage bazaar, July 8th.

i also picked up a postcards for another local vintage event - vintage garage, july 15th, august 19th, sept 16th & oct 21st.

ennyhoo...  thanks for coming by and reading!

Friday, May 18, 2012

friday dance - love me or leave me

it's still may, so it's still APAHM... :)

i give you probably my favorite lindy hop team routine of all time by the california rolls (whose members look to be all asian american):


 and a short choreographed by anthony lee... josie say mentioned to me that she used to be in a dance crew with one of these dancers.... not surprised. :)


 happy friday y'all!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

happy mother's day!

i'm heading out to las 'burbs to hang with my mom & extended family, celebrate the day and the arrival of the newest member of our family, a new niece, olivia, born very early today!!!  but before i leave, i just wanted to wish all the moms a HAPPY MAMA'S DAY!  i lurves youse, laydees...

...and coz you know i gotta get my laugh fix...


lastly, if you haven't already checked out jonathan yi's East of Main series on HBO... do EEEEET!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

new day, new laptop sleeve

today, i start my new job working with a local designer of custom made shoes...  i will need to bring my laptop with me, so i made a new sleeve...  i used this tutorial & pattern from sew mama sew.  it was very easy to make, only took a couple of hours.  i really like how it turned out.  i especially like the fabric designed by tim coffey.

thanks for coming by & reading! hope you have a productive tuesday! :)

Saturday, May 05, 2012


check out this interview with paul overton (of dudecraft & everyday is awesome)  re: dancing & relationships over on swungover!  as i mentioned earlier, paul and sharon were my first and bestest lindy hop teachers... :)  paul as per usual has some great advice to impart...  :)

me & paul on the ferry to long beach from catalina 1999 :)

Friday, May 04, 2012

apahm friday dance -

so... i think imma try to highlight some apa folks for upcoming friday dances since it's APAHM...  :)

first up, fil am drummer, danny barcelona...


lastly, the funniest crew i've ever seen on abdc just exited this week...  BOO!  :(

Stepboys - they're amazian! i will miss them the rest of the season....  :(

whatever you do today, i hope you take some time out to dance! :)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


so...  i bit the bullet and went to one of those not so expensive chain haircut places....

i was hoping to look like this when i came out: slowly realizing that i may or may not look more like this:

ooooooh yeeeeaaaaah....


if there was any story i desperately needed to see/hear last night...  it was this one:


God bless you and your family Steelo!  Whenever I lose patience with my slow healing, I will watch you!  Best wishes for a complete recovery!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Flounce Skirt in Action!

soooo happy to find that lindyfest FINALLY posted the instructor jam - where virginie is wearing the gored flounce skirt i made!

when i was in san francisco in march, i saw her try it on, and she swiveled a bit in it, but i didn't see it like in the video below!

BESTEST MATCH UP OF SWIVEL & SKIRT - LIKE EVAAAAAARRR!!!  :) (if you don't have time to watch the entire video, you can fwd to the 6:03 mark...  but, really?  you can't watch the entire video??!! what are you doing??!!)


hope your tuesday is progressing quickly and without incident...  :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

conversations with paloma

saturday -


today -

paloma: mom, do you know what ewoks are?

me: animals that live on the forest moon of endor (*geekhighfive*)

paloma: no.  they're reanimated teddy bears.

me:  do you even know what reanimated means?

paloma:  yes.  yes i do.

me:  O_o

*mental note: buy that surveillance camera...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

on climbing trees for creative fruit...

(me and chad kubo in san francisco magazine march 1999)

i think i mentioned that i injured my back (somehow) recently...  well, it's been a few weeks now and sadly, i haven't been dancing at all...  neither social swing dancing nor hip hop classes...  per my chiropractor's orders.  :)  i'm healing at glacier speed...  and i'm not handling it very well emotionally - vacillating between despair and rage....  *sigh*  (ohemgee... what if i forget HOW TO FOLLOW...)

the upside (?) of this is that i have been able to catch up on some blog and book reading...  i picked up a copy of austin kleon's steal like an artist at the library.  i was hoping that reading it would help me with my writing & blogging lapses, maybe even my clothing design/sewing, etc...  however, when i read the following passages, i thought immediately about dancing...

"Just as you have a familial genealogy, you also have a genealogy of ideas.  You don't get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers.... You are in fact a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.  You are the sum of your influences."

"Instead chew on one thinker - writer, artist, activist, role model - you really love....Then find three people that thinker loved....Climb up the tree as far as you can go.  Once you build your tree, it's time to start your own branch."

"Seeing yourself as part of a creative lineage will help you feel less alone....The great thing about dead or remote masters is that they can't refuse you as an apprentice.  You can learn what ever you want from them.  They left their lesson plans in their work."

i don't like to admit it, but often i feel very alone as a dancer....  I learned how to lindy hop & started dancing in 1997 in san francisco. i'm a very shy person so it's very hard for me to open up to new people ( i still can't ask anyone to dance) and although i've been living in chicago for 11 years now - the dance community here is not as familiar as my (now somewhat internationally scattered) san francisco dance family.

additionally, because i started dancing earlier than most current chicago dancers.  my style (often dismissed as groove lindy) doesn't look like the current, more popular & historically authentic style.  it is wonderful to see how the dance community has survived & evolved, but it's almost as if i'm a beginner again....  for example, the speed of the music is much faster than what i'm used to (lindy 101 all over again!) and although i enjoy listening to today's more popular genre of music, i'm not as inclined to dance to it...  there i said it...  my bad.  :(

all of this becomes a challenge for me when i go out dancing...  i'm usually in my living room, dressed up & ready to go & very conflicted and anxious about it...  thankfully, i end up quieting my inner fears (of mediocrity).  i'm SO immensely thankful to all the (old & new school) leads who give this old groovy lady a turn on the floor...  :)  the best thing about the younger dancers is how much of my younger, spirited & eager self i recognize in them...  and every once in a while, i will even meet young'un dancers who actually PREFER groove lindy - always a treat...  :)

just like younger dancers, i still want to exercise my creative process when i dance, but it's difficult for me, oldie mcoldster that i am, to find inspiration as easily as they do, given the same motivations.  additionally, now that i'm 40 and a stay at home mom, i don't have extra spending money on workshops or travel - if i did, i wouldn't have enough time to spare.

it's SO hard to reconcile all these things so i sometimes surrender to my dimming creative vision & contemplate moving on, hanging up my well loved chromed keds & two tone oxfords...

this book however shifts that paradigm for me...  and i really think about my lindyhop tree...  it's not a traditional tree, rather a beautiful and intricately grafted plant....  because although all lindyhoppers learn very similar basics, we come to the dance with a set of skills/experience and then those same skills/experiences translate & mature into something else...  but i gotta say...  i have the bestest & strongest roots like EVAR...  and although i love & respect them deeply, it didn't occur to me to look to them and notice how their lives blossomed for some encouragement & reawakening...

frankie manning - i think it goes without saying that frankie inspires every dancer...  i shouldn't assume that every lindy hopper knows who frankie is, but they should. i constantly remind myself not to complain about "being old" because frankie danced pretty much his entire life... a portion of it on replaced knees & hips... and after a dance hiatus of 20+ years or so.... i'll never forget when i taught with him, being completely surprised at how youthful, strong and solid he was at the age of 85. i miss seeing his smiling face and hearing about what he's doing from the grapevine...  i never tire reading about him or watching interviews & footage of him dancing...  or of others dancing inspired by him...  & clearly, if frankie liked the electric slide & the running man, i should have an open mind to whatever new & questionable dances show up on the horizon... ;)  i'm also buoyed by chazz young, frankie's son, who continues to spread the love of the dance, i'm hopeful that my children will also love the dance as much as i do...  most of all, i remember frankie's comic timing & his infectious laugh... if there's one thing that keeps me dancing, it's laughter - if laughter weren't a part of lindy hop, i really would quit doing it...

dawn hampton - i mentioned in an earlier post of my first encounter with dawn hampton. my admiration of dawn is pretty deep. :) thru the magic of facebook stalking, i know she makes appearances and teaches at the bigger events/camps. i'm pretty sure she still dances at swing 46 when she's not travelling.  recently, her family was featured in a documentary and she published a book, two penny soap opera with her sister.  like frankie, dawn reminds me to keep on sassy dancing, LISTEN to the music, to reinvent my wheel and to indulge my unique & inner diva/ham.  really, the only evidence i need that she consistently does something right - she's always got some AMAZEBALLS leads asking her to dance...

steven mitchell - i remember after an intensive advanced weekend workshop with steven, i almost gave up dancing completely.  he had drilled us relentlessly (basics & choreography) and his critiques of my dancing were challenging but not demeaning.  steven's advice still grounds me.  he reminds me to exercise my creativity but NOT fix something that isn't broken.... to build on the foundations i have...  he was the first teacher to encourage me to try other forms of dance to put my approach to lindy hop into perspective...  the only other form i tried was argentine tango, but i know steven was pushing me to try jazz and ballet classes...  which i realize i am more open to trying now, then i was in my late 20s.  :)  now that steven has moved to the other side of the world, trying to set up a private with him will be even more impossible than it was when we were on the same continent...  so, in the meantime, i'll have to do some research into local jazz/ballet classes...  and fb & youtube stalking him never fails to introduce me to a new workshop or camp to follow and stalk...

sylvia sykes - the extent of my study with sylvia has been in lindy hop only.  i have always wanted to emulate her smooth style and precision following.  sylvia sykes is another one of those follows who always has some freaking amazeball lead following her around... so of course, i want to know all her secrets!!! is it her west coast experience?  maybe i should dip my foot in that pool?  i should probably take her balboa classes too.  it never ceases to amaze me that in all these years, i just never got around to it...  luckily, chicago has it's fair share of talented bal dancers and teachers so, this too will have to change.  :)

david dalmo - so, finally...  10+ years later...  i *think* i could keep up in a david dalmo hip hop class.... i think. back in the day, there was nothing so humiliating as getting brain SPANKED by david in his hip hop class...  *facepalm*  but it's because of him and josie say that i still attend hip hop classes, follow hip hop dancers, choreographers & bloggers, etc... they seamlessly connected lindy hop and hip hop as the street dances they both are...  again, they used a vocabulary that i was familiar with growing up in chicago surrounded by house music.  david and josie always make lindy hop look effortless (one of these days, someone will actually post a video of josie dancing...)   they both encouraged their students to take tap classes...  and again, i kinda ignored (hid from) that advice... so, i have only myself to blame if i don't explore that corner of the world...  something else to aspire to...

paul overton and sharon ashe - there aren't enough words to describe/express my gratitude to paul and sharon for teaching me to dance...  for fostering & encouraging a curiosity and respect for dancing and music...  for introducing me to & learning from everyone i listed above.... and for their friendship....  as dancers, i have always viewed their style as fluid, inviting, cosmopolitan & unconventional.  as teachers, they were knowledgeable, supportive, comedic and above all benevolent...  i hope that when someone dances with me that my dancing imparts/exhibits even a tenth of that goodwill & passion, not just a solid connection and shared dance vocabulary....  :)  it's a shame that there really isn't enough video of them showcasing their dancing or teaching...  i hope that more camps/ workshops invite them to teach more - it would only enhance the dance & the community to have them & their experience present & involved...  like kleon's book, i read paul's two blogs dudecraft & everyday is awesome and i always gain a new perspective that always resonates with me and informs my creative process...

ennyhoo...  i. CANNOT. wait. to dance again...  it's great to sit on the sidelines and cheer all you yahoooos on, but maaaaaan it is also equal amounts maddening! :) in the meantime, i guess i'll spend more time harvesting the fruit of my lindy hop plant to share with some unsuspecting peep on the dance floor - when i finally get there...   i suggest you take a minute to do the same...  :)

i'm kinda curious...  whose roots are you grafted to?

thanks for coming by and reading but go dance now... i'm living vicariously thru you! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

on eco-friendly ethical fashion...

not too long ago, the image above made the boards of my pinterest friends...  i thought it appropriate to repost today since it's Earth Day - the PURRFECT day to invite you to my friend's (tessa) clothing swap .

as someone who worked in the garment (design & production) industry for 10+ years and an avid thrifter/sewist, i can heartily say that a clothing swap is an INGENIOUS alternative to fast fashion consuming, better than just donating (see video below) and a lasting reminder of how one can be more ethical/green/eco-friendly and still enable one's inner stylephile.  :)  it's a great time to gather with new and old friends and swap (& re-swap) the clothes you don't want/need for gently used or new clothes you do want/need!  :)

i will be at the swap (with business cards and an alteration price list) to chat, sip, nibble, swap and consult re: any refashioning, knock off or altering questions you may have.  so please come! and if we've not met yet IRL - please say hi to me!  (i'm really shy...)  :)

Upstairs at Fizz Bar & Grill
3220 N Lincoln
Chicago IL
2-6 pm
April 29, 2012

there is a $15 suggested donation benefitting the LUNGevity Foundation

if you've never been to a swap, tessa has written up some rules for swap newbies and pros alike.

if you're not familiar with refashioning, here are some of my favorite refashioning/upcycling blogs:

charity shop chic
refashion co-op
i still love you
trash to couture
upcycle fashion (this uk blogger just attended a swap - where it's also called a swish!)
how joyful

and lastly, here are some of my fave ethical and eco-fashion centric/friendly blogs and sites:

fashioning change
iou project
awakened aesthetic

please feel free to add your favorite eco-friendly/ethical fashion blog to the comments below - i'm always eager to add to my blog/site reading!  :)

thank you for stopping by and reading!  hope you had a great weekend & maybe i'll see you at the swap!

Friday, April 20, 2012

that which we call a rose...

i just finished this beautiful communion dress for a dear friend of mine who i met many years ago via the chicago forums on ye olde urbanbaby. we haven't seen each other in a long time, as she moved an inconvenient 800+ miles away.... even though i made the dress with measurements, i still see her daughter in my mind as a baby busily eating breakfast at bongo room next to my (now 9 yo) baby... :')

boy. howdy. this was probably the most challenging dress i've made since... i dunno... final projects/critiques in college? i almost titled this post, "war of the roses". :)

despite how difficult this rose ribbon fabric was to work with...i'm SO glad my friend asked me to make it and that i finished it! it really is a beautiful dress (if i may say so myself...) paloma tried it on and said, "it feels like i'm wearing milk". she clarified and assured me that was a good thing... (so glad she not upset that i didn't make her communion dress...  i didn't make my wedding dress either...  way too emotional/stressful... :) )

this all started at the end of february when my friend asked me if i could make this dress. and i replied that i could probably make something like it if i could find the fabric or something similar... i couldn't find roses that i liked to go around the neckline. and the fabric roses on the skirt aren't organza like the ones in inspiration dress, they're satin. but i think the same idea comes across. after getting her measurements, i modified simplicity pattern 3943 and made a muslin. by the end of march, the muslin was returned to me with a v-neck back and some measurement adjustments...

finally, i got to work on the actual dress... :) i was reaaaally scared about this (and most embellished) fabric. i wasn't sure how it was going to react after being cut. to my surprise, it was fine - the raveling of the ribbons wasn't too bad... i had a bottle of fray check on standby. just from sitting on the shelf at the fabric store, there were some spots that needed touch ups... at one point a pin went astray while sewing and snarled up a ribbon - so, it is very high maintenance...

 i'm SO glad that she gave me such a huge window to make this dress because i did have to sew much slower to ensure all the layers of lining and tulle and fabric were caught in the seams and to check that the ribbons weren't caught in the feed dogs and especially the zipper foot... i prefer to install invisible zippers in my garments... but, i HATE the coats and clark foot... it's so flimsy and awkward and it doesn't allow for thicker fabrics to easily feed thru.... the ykk zippers and zipper foot were SO. MUCH. BETTER. but they no longer sell retail... yet another reason for me, to go into business for myself! ;)

again, i can't thank my friend, suzanne, enough for asking me to make this dress...  it really was a personal challenge/accomplishment for me!  i can't wait to see pics from the big day!!!!

to add to the drama of this dress, my back injury is proving to be worse than i had thought making it painful to do pretty much anything, especially sitting down!  :(  i'm progressing/healing very slowly, but it's amazing to me what little i can do... sadly, my chiropractor has advised me not to dance...  :(  so, i've been out about three weeks now...

so i won't be dancing for dance friday but that shouldn't stop you...  :)  i've been listening to a lot of the ladies 90s hip hop...  this seemed somewhat appropriate...  :)

thanks for coming by and reading!  have a great weekend!  :)


Friday, April 13, 2012

finished projects & a thankful friday dance

december is usually my "no blogging humanly possible" month... between porkchop's birthday and the handful of december family birthday's and christmas, the inspiration and content to blog is there, the energy and time are not...

now it seems that march - my & paloma's birthday month & again, a handful of family members' birthday month - will be my spring "no blogging humanly possible" month...

to briefly recap march - i turned 40! :) paloma turned 9. i celebrated in san francisco by dancing my butt off (and hurting my back). paloma spent a day window shopping on magnificent mile and also got her & her american girl doll's ears' pierced. (finally... YAY!)

i had a wonderful time reconnecting with my dear friends - adopted family really - dancing, reminiscing, catching up and laughing.... waaaaaaay too much laughing... :)

and just like that... it was time to fly home... it's almost fitting that the first two songs that i heard in flight:

"Cause I got days and days of love...
And I don’t wanna have to rush
But 24/7 ain’t enough
Cause I got so much love...
I need another hour and a day
So I can love you 25/8, 25/8...."

so thankful and blessed to have a bounty of inspiring & supportive friends who remind me of how far i've come and how good life is despite its ups and downs... special thanks to mah homegurl, tessa, who came out to "wang chung" with me & helped me calm my ugly crying... ;)

i was keeping busy with some sewing... mostly alterations...

and i finished my friend virginie's gored flounce skirt:

more pics at david homes photography... here and here.

i actually made four different skirts so that she could decide from a selection and could see the skirt made into different fabrics. she picked the black gabardine... :) i'm planning on a new post about the other three skirts later...

and am working on my friend suzanne's daughter's communion dress...

i also (finally) finished a new braided scarf for my friend, katie - who i cannot thank enough for being soooooo patient. :)

ennyhoo.... thank you for taking time to stop by & read... best wishes for a happy friday & relaxing weekend....

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Monday, February 27, 2012

tessa's braided scarf

i made another scarf for my dear friend, tessa. however this one was made with a woven fabric instead of a knit jersey so i made a few changes re: the sizing and construction...

the tube is still the same size - 22" x 60"
*** please remember to sew the long side first!*** :) (i didn't!)

the size of the strips are as follows:

3 strips - 2" wide x 30" long

3 strips - 4" wide x 40" long

3 strips - 6" wide x 60" long

re: construction - because the strips didn't roll up i folded them right sides together and sewed... turned them inside out.... and then braided... they still braided to about the same width as the jersey braids... :)

i have to make two more braided knit scarves... i will post pics of them as soon as possible. thanks for stopping by and reading! hope you're having a productive monday! :)

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Monday, February 20, 2012

yellow - a refashion...

next up in a long line of refashions.... :) i have two dkny rib knit tees... they were samples i had made overseas when i used to work on the dkny account at a multinational t-shirt maker....

i love the fabric, but the cut of the tees was always too boxy for me... enter my favorite tee... one that i thrifted. it's from arden b (i know, i'm NOT their target demographic) & it's a size L (of course). it's a flattering fit on me and i will cry and cry and cry the day it sprouts a hole that can neither be mended or hidden.... and then i will make a pattern from it... >:)

ennyhoo... i started with the grey one.... i turned it inside out & traced the shape of the arden b tee (sideseams & neckline) onto the grey tee (adding a 1/2" seam allowance). pictured below is the blk tee which isn't as big as the grey tee...

then i cut and resewed the sideseams... and staystitched the neckline....

i made some bias tape out of this checkered yellow remnant i had... this is exactly why i shop the remnant bin at joanns - even little bits of a complicated or simple print can boost something plain... and i chose the yellow because really, what is the opposite of grey? :)

the length of the tee was also an issue for me... i like tees slightly longer than most - almost to my hip...

and then, i made the applique balloons... i have no idea why... they just seemed so cheerful at the time... :) the embroidery is by my machine... although i may consider doing it over by hand in the future... the thread doesn't seem "heavy" enough to me... :) i'll be playing around with the black tee sometime soon, will post updates re: that one as well... :)

the final product:

it just occurred to me that i was listening to some coldplay when i was sewing... it's more than likely, i was under the influence of this song:

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thanks for stopping by & reading! hope you are carpe-ing this diem!!! :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

new pillows! & friday dance!

a few months ago, a friend of a friend (this is chicago, mind you...) was giving away all these home dec fabric remnants (and i mean remnants, random shaped pieces really) that she was given by an interior designer friend who was retiring.... i scored pretty hard.... bags and bags of fabric & trim - of course, i had no idea what i'd do with this stuff... (i ended up making my spring coat with some of the pieces...)

ennyhoo... the other day, i was sitting on my very plain couch:

and it occurred to me that it was, in fact, a very plain couch.... and it was clearly causing a disturbance in my creative force... so i made pillows... welll, pillow shams really... lotsa pillow shams... :)

it turned out that some of the random pieces were large enough for sham fronts or that they were graphic enough that i could piece a front/back together w/o it looking too odd/off... and i'd picked enough neutral colors that they actually worked together despite being very different stylewise... :)

ergo.... my creative force is satisfied... for now... :) i have a whole pile of remnants awaiting me! i sincerely hope you're having a lovely lovely friday!

on that note, i dunno why (maybe because they just had their baby) but this song has been stuck in my head:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the knock off - gored flounce skirt

a few months ago, a dear friend of mine asked me to knock off a skirt she purchased in paris. from her description of it, it sounded like a new species of animal from the amazon... i was really curious, so i agreed...

here she is dancing (beautifully) in it at the 5:12 mark:

so it's a gored skirt, made of a stretch denim, but it has this flouncy hem:

she wasn't sure if the length of the skirt was flattering or not... personally, i loooove the movement of the skirt, but i think it should be shorter. so, my job was to knock off a shorter version of the skirt to see if she would prefer one or the other and if she did like it, she may make more...

so, i know there are other and probably more accurate ways of knocking off garments, but here's mine:

* first off, you need muslin and a tailor's wax (i lost mine, so i used a crayon aka poor mans tailoring wax. lol!) pin the muslin over the piece of the garment that you want to copy. with a little pressure, swipe the wax over the seam so that you see it transferred onto the muslin. click on pic to enlarge:

* after you transfer the piece, you can fold the garment up and put it away... place a piece of pattern paper (i use packing paper. you can use newspaper, butcher paper, etc...) on top of a self healing cutting mat & place the muslin on top of the pattern paper. using a pattern wheel (i have a blunt one, but it would be best to use a professional one, trace the seam transferred marks you made with the tailor's wax.

* after tracing with a pattern wheel, you can put the muslin and the cutting mat away. you will need a french curve and a see thru ruler at this point. pencil in the marks the pattern wheel made and add your desired seam allowance. i used a 1/2".

* right about here, i took a step back and geeked out.... and did a patternmaker dance. and yes, it is in fact imperative and for your good health that you dance at this point. i'll wait.... :)

* when i was done dancing, i cut out eight gores from some cotton/poly shirting i had. and sewed them up. i also drafted a facing for the inside top part of the skirt and bias tape strips for the hem. however, you could finish both top and bottom with (store bought or handmade) bias tape strips. i put in on gladys just to see... i was so curious...

* i also installed a 7" invisible zipper on the left side. here's the finished *test* skirt. i'm very happy with it. i hope she likes it...

as you can see, the skirt fits me too!!! double bonus points!!!! i'm totally making me some skirtage... stripes & border fabrics here i come!!! :)

UPDATE 4/16/12:

here's a pic of virginie dancing at lindyfest 2012 in her new gored flounce skirt:

more pics at david homes photography... here and here.

Update 5/7:  Lindyfest finally posted a video of the instructor jam!  Steven & Virginie dance at the 6:02 mark:

if you have any questions about this knock off, please let me know via comments or email.... :) hope you had a productive wednesday! thanks for coming by & reading! :)

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

i mustache you this question....

will you be our valentine?! :)

happy valentines day everybody!!!

(thanks for the blonde designs blog for the mustache pop idea!)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

to patch or not to patch...

sometimes, i'm very conflicted about patches... i mean really, the reason why you have to patch something in the first place is because it's usually something so well loved that you wear it too much... and in a sense, that's something i don't mind showing off... with pride. :)

however, as a mom, i wonder what other moms must think of my children running & screaming willy nilly on the playground with their wonderfully scabby knees poking out of their well loved & holey jeans... (click on pics to enlarge)

most times, i err on the safe side (& maybe to ensure a playdate invite) and make patches... so i thought i'd share my method... just in case you want to try it out....

it's near valentines day so, i made a heart patch for paloma's pants. and for the porkchop... what else? a train. :)

first off, i don't throw old jeans away for this very purpose... the thin man has offered up many of his *holey* (a hole the size of a pencil eraser) jeans to the fabric stash... which i am eternally grateful... personally, i don't mind when the blues don't match... well, it IS a patch, so it's not going to be invisible... :)

i start by cutting out the shape of the patches... i used a plastic lid to cut out the circle for porkchop's train... and ye olde "fold, eyeball & cut" for the heart shape:

for paloma's patch, i decided i'd embellish it with a small daisy chain machine embroidery... you'll see the pic later...

for the porkchop's train patch, i googled & printed out a silhouette of a train... you may or may not have to size it up or down... using a lightbox or just taping it to the window, trace/transfer the image onto a contrasting fabric using a water soluble marking pen... (as a side note, the *proper* way to do this would also require you to add some interfacing to the back of your contrast fabric BEFORE you trace/cut... i was too lazy to do so... :) but it does help with any future fraying...)

after you trace the image, cut it out...

at this point, i started to embellish the patches. i machine embroidered the daisy chain around the heart. and i zigzagged the train image to the patch and also added a stitch that looked like a monorail track around the outside.

to attach the patch to the pant, you will need to use a seam ripper and rip out the OUTSIDE seam & merrowing/overlock stitch of the legs... only about 3" from the midpoint of each hole. this should give you enough room to maneuver around...

i pin the patch on top of the hole and attach it with a zig zag stitch all around the outside of the shape... when the patches are in place, resew the outside seam and re-overlock/merrow it if you have a machine - you can also just zig zag over it too... and before you know it, you're done! :)

when the kids get home, i'll make sure to update this post with a pic of them wearing their patch improved jeans! :)

thanks for coming by & reading!

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