Friday, September 30, 2005


So, earlier this week we stop at a Target to check out this year's Halloween stuff (they've had better offerings but there's some cute stuff) and in the candy aisle we notice some soda cans with Halloween graphics on them. "Hey, look!" I say. "Someone made soda you can give to trick-or-treaters!" "Mmm, yeah," says Evan (or something like that, actually I don't remember). Both of us thinking it's going to be some crappy house brand orange and grape sodas, we keep walking. So imagine my dismay when I find out we passed up this year's limited edition Halloween Jones Sodas!! And we won't be near a Target again for months, most likely! And you all know how we like trying out ridiculous sodas....feh.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

tie one on - September

toosept-thumb.jpg This month's tie one on assignment was to make an apron from a tea towel (or dish towel, kitchen towel, bar towel, etc.) Easy as pie, and after one false start (okay, maybe not as easy as pie) I had this cute pink apron made from a vintage kitchen towel.

the apron

side view, showing panels

close-up of the embroidery

the original bar towels I bought

the apron-that-wasn't!

The ends of the towel had different motifs, which worked perfectly for my idea, which was: to cut the towel in half off-center, making one longer panel for the main part of the apron, and then make two shorter side panels from the shorter half. You can see the side panels in the second photo. (The apron fits me a bit better than it fits my skinnier dressmaker's dummy -- skinnier because my dummy didn't give birth 9 months ago!) I serged the raw edges of the side panels, stitched them to the front panel, gathered the whole thing and then just used a length of some leftover black bias tape for the waistband/ties.
I'm much happier with this apron, actually (than the last one) because it's very usable. The side panels protect without getting in the way, and the fabric is a textured and very absorbent cotton (I think). See detail photo for the texture -- also for a close-up of the embroidery. I know there is a name for this style of embroidery but I cannot remember it and I don't have any of my needlework books handy to check. And it's totally washable. The fabric is a bit thicker and stiffer as well, which also helps. Definitely will be avoiding the potentially limp fabrics in the future, no matter how much I like the color!
Now, for the false start! The day this month's theme was announced I thought, "this will be so easy! And perfect! Now, to find some cool vintage towel or two on ebay"...and I immediately found an auction that was about to end, for a set of vintage bar towels (well, I'm assuming they're "bar towels" by the motifs, but they're kind of bigger and linen so they may really be "kitchen" towels). No-one bid against me, I won them a few hours later for just a few dollars, and then I waited excitedly to get them in the mail.
My plan was to take the two towels and match up the designs, making a big color-blocked towel, then cutting it down to a good length and just using bias tape to make the waistband/ties (see photo for a mock-up of the apron that didn't happen). I thought it would look really neat, and I think it would have except...when I got the towels I thought "this will be the coolest apron", but I just couldn't do it. I hung them over a chair in the dining room for a couple days and thought about it, and when Evan asked "where did we get these really cool towels" I decided I just couldn't cut them up!! So, they became our new cool vintage bar towels, and I began searching for another vintage towel. Luckily I found the pink and black one and it was shipped quickly so I had plenty of time to make the apron.
Update: see more photos in my flickr apron set!

Monday, September 26, 2005


Who knew? All this time, I had a theme song!! (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go here.) Of course, I have no idea what they're actually saying but still, it's pretty funny and actually a really good song. I wish I'd found it years ago!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

ninja stealth apron.

Now that's an apron! From I only wish they'd say where these pictures came from.

UPDATE: mystery solved!! Thanks to Popgadget, I found out that it is (as we suspected) an artwork, by Japanese artist Aya Tsukioka, and is part of a series.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Instant baby bibs!

Well, practically instant, anyway, and depending on the materials you use, they may even be free!








It's true that you really cannot have too many baby bibs while you are in the really messy stages of feeding a baby. And through trial and error, I figured out that the best bib (for me) has a few important features.
It involves no velcro -- velcro inevitably opens up and snags something in the laundry, plus Emily can pull them off pretty easily.
No plastic -- I know people like those Baby Bjorn-type vinyl bibs but Emily hates them, and they look uncomfortable to me.
A textured surface -- those bibs you can wipe off sound great -- until you realize that the smooth, wipeable surface means that everything that hits the bib will slide off into baby's lap!
And preferably, it will be made of something soft and absorbent so it can pull double duty and be used for clean-up afterwards.
So what's the best bib, then? A simple bib of cotton terrycloth with good coverage and comfortable neckties. And how can you get one? Like this!
photo 1: All you need (besides the obvious scissors, thread and sewing machine) is a washcloth and a 32" length of some sort of folded (or foldable) binding. The washcloth I'm using here is from a pack of a dozen I bought for maybe $5 at Costco, but was technically free for this project since it's about two years old and I just went and got it our of the bathroom. I would say you need a washcloth that's around 11"x11" or 12"x12". Any bigger and it'll be covering up baby's arms. Any smaller and it won't be covering much of baby! The binding is also technically free as it was leftover from another project. This is definitely one of those projects where you can spend anywhere from nothing to a lot, depending on what you decide to use -- free leftover as I've done here, or super-plush new washcloths and pretty ribbons!
photo 2: fold the washcloth in half down the center, and choose which edge will be the top (my washcloth only had one band woven in, so I put that at the bottom). Measure 3" down the fold from the top, and 2" across the edge from the center. You might want to use a washable marker for this, but I was lazy and used a sharpie.
photo 3: draw a curve between your two marks.
photo 4: cut along the curve to make the neck opening. Take your binding and fold it in half, lining the center of the binding up with the center of the neck opening.
photo 5: enclose the cut edge of the washcloth inside the folded binding and line up the centers, pin in place. You may want to pin the binding closed around the neck opening to the edges to be on the safe side. Me, I like to live dangerously. (Okay, I'm lazy.) Starting from either end of the binding, sew the open edges of the binding together to make the ties. As you approach the neck opening, slow down and make sure the cut edge of the washcloth is well enclosed. Sew around the neck opening, then sew closed the rest of the length of binding. Trim threads and...
photo 6: ta-da!! Instant bib!! And perfect for my needs -- no plastic, no velcro, a surface that'll catch those slimy bits of banana and spilled yogurt; and best of all, when she's done eating, I can run it under a little warm water and wash that kid down!
photo 7: here's an optional step -- binding the outside edge of the washcloth as well. This will give the bib a little more stability and it looks darn cute. Although, I have to confess, that isn't really a washcloth there. It's an 11"x11" piece of hemp/cotton brushed terry I had left over from another project. Using a square scrap of something works great (remember to round off the corners!) but you will have to bind the raw edges by either serging them or using binding like I did here. It really is quite the swanky bib though!
I can think of lots of alternatives for this bib -- big satin ribbon ties; adding appliques or trim; using something that will function as well as the terry but look nicer, like a soft cotton velour; using washcloths with embroidery, texture, stripes , prints or patterns; the possibilities are endless! This kid's going to end up in bib heaven....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

the comic shop magnet

So recently we've discovered that one of Evan's superpowers is the ability to find a comic shop anytime, anyplace. It all started about a month and a half ago, when we went on a short day trip to have lunch and do some book shopping. On the way home, we decided to get back on the highway in a different direction, and what did we see? A comic shop!! A few weeks later, another day trip, and on the way we take the wrong exit off the highway (different highway). We're trying to turn around to get back on track and pull into a shopping center to do so and, you guessed it, we found another comic shop. We get to our destination, pull into a parking place randomly, literally look up through the front windshield and what do we see? Uh huh, comic shop. And finally, just a week or so ago, we take Emily to her cousin's birthday party and take an alternate route home....and pass a comic shop! It's uncanny!

And the two questions are: When and how did he develop this eerie power? and: If there are so few comic shops left, how are we finding them everywhere we go?

(In case you're wondering: Shop 1 -- we went in. Your standard large, mostly empty, all mainstream stripmall shop. Shop 2 -- didn't go in, looked like it might be decent. Shop 3 -- went in. They were just moving in, so it was very messy, but they had a huge selection that included manga, indie books, toys, magazine, etc. It was the first comic shop I've actually seen Shojo Beat for sale in! Shop 3 -- didn't go in but looked good from the road.)

Monday, September 19, 2005

illustrators on tv

Looking for something watch for 10 or 15 minutes the other day, I discovered that new channels have been added to our lineup again. So far I've found Logo and Current, and who knows what else they've added. Anyway, I sat and watched Current, which I found pretty interesting and about 10 minutes into having it on a "gig" segment started about illustrator Tara McPherson. I didn't recognize her name, but I realized who she was when they showed a few of the covers she's done for DC Comics (although the segment doesn't mention that she works in comics at all, just that she's a poster artist) -- Evan is a big fan of her stuff and had shown me her work a while back. Her work is really fantastic and while I wish it had covered more of her process, the segment is really interesting and well-produced, and heck, how often are illustrators or cartoonists featured like that? Especially in a non-genre context. Very cool. Anyway, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to find out when something's airing next on the channel other than scrolling through the current schedule (they appear to be involved with Google but their site has no search function...huh?!) but if you happen to have gotten the channel, look for the Gigs segment called "Siren of Art". And check out the channel in general, I'm not too keen on the hosts but so far a lot of the content I've seen is really worthwhile.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

aprons, aprons, everywhere!

In honor of the tie one on project, there's a massive set of links to apron images over at red current. Some pretty neat stuff to look at! I have to add two of my all-time favorites though, the catbus and totoro aprons (officially licensed) that you cannot get anymore.Which is sad because I need that totoro apron!! I bet I could make one someday... (there was also an apron of Jiji from Kiki's Delivery Service but I guess I didn't save the link)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

notable quotables II

Another quote I'm very fond of is this one:

"All you ever need is to be nice and friendly" -- Prince Fleaswallow

But he also said "I can sell a bottle cap like this" so, you know, you have to take what he says with a grain of salt.

Friday, September 2, 2005

the apron!

Sarah's apron on flickr

Originally uploaded by angry chicken.

So, here's the apron. Obviously, the full-size one is on the left. It's based on a vintage "hostess apron" pattern that I have. Unfortunately, the photo is not so good and Crushy slept on the apron for a few hours before I took the photo, making things worse. (Cats and fabric -- argh!!) The mini apron is for a Gene-sized doll, and fared much better -- no sleepy cat laying all over it, for one thing. The scale of the smaller one makes the fabric much stiffer, and makes me want to redo the pattern in a taffeta or something, I think it looks much better. I also like the bows better on the smaller one -- I did them that way because it was easier but they turned out nicer. It's a nice size and the pockets are great, if a bit deep. So I think I'll definitely rework this pattern in the future. Still, even though I'm not 100% happy with the results here, it was just pretty exciting to participate in something for the first time since that BABY arrived. ^_^

Thursday, September 1, 2005

a project!

OMG! Like, a project! Very little in the way of projecty stuff has been going on around here since the arrival of the E.M.I.L.Y. cyborg. But, a friend of mine came across the very cool tie one on site and since I love sewing, love aprons (but, oddly, never remember to actually wear them) and have recently actually started two pretty major apron projects it seemed like a perfect thing to try. I've submitted my very badly photographed results and hopefully they'll make it into the August gallery. Sheesh, some people can pull off a gorgeous illustration every week in their spare time, me, I'm excited about a simple apron once a month. Or less.

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