I originally finished this project in January, uploaded the pictures, and created the draft for this post. I intended to post. Something about January and August that makes me think of blogging. January is the “clean slate” effect the New Year brings. August 17th is my birthday so I’m contemplating the existential things in the dog days of summer. Who am I? What progress have I made? Where am I headed? And the biggest question of all: Why have I paid hosting for a blog and not published in eight months?

I am always torn between by impulse for privacy and the desire to be known and understood with a generous side of not feeling like I or my work is ever good enough. I don’t say this as a play for pity or bait for complements. I am not unique in my feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty. I know my strengths and my stumbling blocks. I struggle with physical and mental health with sometimes nothing left after doing what has to be done vis-à-vis the requirements work and life. Yet I feel like I should push myself harder.

I’m sure it’s difficult for most people to understand why the pictures of my little sewing project musings on my well being. Yet my brain makes the connection between a perceived failure (both in quality of what I made and not posting sooner) and every single unsolved problem in my life, past, present and future. Not useful, but welcome to depression/anxiety thinking.

So as a small symbol of defiance, I’m posting. I’m not happy with how the pictures turned out on this project. I didn’t iron it again before putting it back on my dressmakers dummy. I didn’t take the time to get a good shot of myself wearing it. Funny thing is this garment is only a mock-up for a version of it made from a small piece of fabric left over from a skirt made from thrift store pants. I finally finished the “real” project a few weeks ago, but that is a post for another day.

Retro Robots

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We leave for Dragon*Con in the morning. I’m so excited to get away for four geek-tastic days in downtown Atlanta. In many ways, con-going feels like I’ve finally found my natural habitat.

I find there are two kinds of reactions when you tell someone you are going to a convention. A typical reaction along the lines of “what is it?” Upon answering, the follow up questions run to “why?” and “what do you do there?” There’s little use in explaining to most of these folks. They won’t understand.

The second group says, “What costume are you wearing?”

It is little use to explain not everyone cosplays.

I have before and I surely will again. This year, rather than make costumes I’ve planned a couple outfits befitting the occasion.

The new creation is a bit of serendipity, really. First, a picture and then explanation.

Several years ago when I was working at Target, a pair of men’s pajamas were returned. As an online only item, they were heavily discounted. Who was I to pass up the opportunity?

I hung onto the pajamas with the intention to make something to wear in more visible situations. Turning pants into skirts is one of my favorite modifications. As is my usual creative process, I hung onto the material and idea for a long time. I picked up the red fabric to fill in the gaps several months back, but didn’t get started on the project until Teefury offered the Asimov University tee.

How much do I love Asimov’s Robot novels?

Enough to make darn sure I completed my whimsical robot shirt and matching peter pan collar before DragonCon. I’d been saving this Burda pattern for an appropriate occasion for a while.


I rather like how it turned out. It was no small task to line up the robots so their little heads didn’t get cut off.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I made this batch of doll clothes in May.

I took pictures with the intent of documenting them on the blog, but as so often happens, I didn’t do it right away. If I were all smooth and slick, I wouldn’t have mentioned how old these pictures are, but, hey, we’re all about honesty that makes me look like a slacker here at NerdBliss.

The important part is that I promptly mailed them to Sabrina, my BFF Kate’s daughter, my niece and owner of an American Girl doll. Since her birthday is close to Christmas, I thought it might be nice to send a summer vacation care package, plus any reason to both use my stash of remnant fabrics and shop for additional pieces or patterns.

Enough with the chit-chat and on to the pictures:


Black Bathing Suit from McCall’s M4896


Hounds tooth skirt, navy leggings, camisole.


I had to make the cami to bridge the weird gap in the ruffle shirt. Not sure why the pattern was designed this way.


With the vest. Despite the weird gap, I like the trendy look of McCall’s M6480


I made the vest reversible since the lining – made from Klingon wedding scraps – was too pretty to waste.


The reversible part wasn’t part of the pattern, but it was simple enough to tuck in the seams where the front and back connect under the arms.


The hat sells the look. Sadly, I didn’t get a better picture.


Real leather boots. They were a hassle to sew.


I winged it on these, but they came out well enough. I was on a mission to make shoes since learning Sabrina’s doll only had one pair. Unacceptable even for a plastic girl.


Here is yet another Self Portrait Sunday featuring a sewing project. This one isn’t for the Klingon wedding and took around an hour, start to finish. I’ve got one item left to make before the big event, but I’m taking a break since I wouldn’t finish before our trip to Seattle. Plus, I need some things I can wear to work and buying another pair of khaki pants which don’t last isn’t on my agenda. Frankly, anyone who’s thighs rub together knows what I’m talking about: it doesn’t take long to get holes on the inner part of the pants. Plus, I’m happier in skirts.

I spent some time this week searching for revamp and refashion ideas to turn existing items into something new, then hit the clearance section of Goodwill yesterday for cheap pieces to cut, seam rip and resew.

On this one, I skipped the “before” shot. It was a basic men’s Nike sweatshirt and I got it for a buck. I used an idea I found for a 30 second shirt and it worked like a charm. I added elastic at the waist since I’m going to wear it at work, but with the costume cut to fit waist hole, you don’t have to add elastic.

Please ignore the fact I didn’t publish my “Sunday” portrait until Monday. I’d typed it up and planned to come back and publish before bed, yeah, not so much.


Forgive any formating weirdness on today’s SPS. I’ve just now downloaded the WordPress app for my spiffy new Andriod phone. I’m hoping having easy access to my blog on the go will allow me to use those little moments of down time to post or at least open drafts when I have a brillant post idea.

Today, I’m at work earlier than I have to be. Such is life without a car of my own. It doesn’t happen often and if I use the time to read or write, I’m perfectly happy to spend a few hours in the breakroom, drinking coffee.

My portrait is yet another Klingon wedding project photo. This time, the sash is for our friend Alex, who’ll be serving as a sort of best man. There is a Klingon word for it, but as I’m not at the computer, I won’t trouble with looking it up now. Maybe blogging from my phone is the best idea ever. Fewer distractions and more typing away.

The sash took more effort and thought than it looked like. I’ve got a layer of interfacing and a layer of muslin between the satin front and cotton liner. I first sewed the interfacing to the lining and the muslin to the satin so I only had two pieces of fabric to handle. Then I sewed the wrong sides together, creating tubes, turned them right side out, before sewing the front and back together. In writing that out, I wish I’d taken pictures of the process. Ah, well. There will be other sashes, no doubt. Klingons are big on honor sashs.


This week’s musing asks… What is the last book that you learned something from? What book was it, and what did it teach you?


It is entirely likely friends and readers are sick to death of hearing about my sewing adventures. I sympathize. I can’t wait to be less focused on sewing for a bit, but I trudge on.

The success I’ve had in modifying a pattern and completing a muslin mockup of my dress for our Klingon wedding performance in April is in large part thanks to How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns: From store-bought patterns to drafting your own: a complete guide to fashion sewing with confidence by Lee Hollanhan. The copy Chris got me for Christmas is destined to be dog-eared.

I’ve mentioned it in a couple posts, but I cannot say enough good things about it.

One thing I’ve found in learning crafts in general and sewing specifically is most instructions assume a certain level of familiarity with the basic skills and terminology. This book starts at the beginning of it’s subject matter assuming no knowledge and even includes a section in the back with basic sewing techniques.

Now, I didn’t go into this a total novice, but I being primarily self taught, I would not have known to iron my pattern pieces (who would think you could iron paper?) or how serrated scissors are the best option for silky fabrics. Clear illustrations and color photography show things I’d always thought I’d need an experienced sewer to teach me in person. Like laying out patterns on stripped or patterned fabric. Now, I haven’t tried it yet, but I feel like I could do it referencing the pictures in the book.

Hands down, the most useful part of the book for my needs is the chart with all the body parts to be measured for comparison to the pattern measurements complete with explanation and diagrams. I wouldn’t have known where to start without those seventeen points of reference. Add the section showing how to modify store bought patterns made my project possible. Now, I will say, the part on modifying pattern pieces was only the start of what I ended up having to do. Both the shape of the dress and my body shape differ substantially from the examples, but apply the principles I learned in the book, some common sense and geometry got me where I needed to go.


I’ve mailed out my niece’s birthday package today. It won’t make it in time for her birthday on the 19th, but I’m hopeful it might arrive for her birthday party on Saturday. If not, well, it’s like an extra present after the fact. I feel a little better than it’s handmade goodness I’m tarty with rather than a store bought gift. I shared pictures of the tote bag and coat here last week. They are made to fit 18 inch dolls, specifically in this case, Sabrina’s new-at-Christmas American Girl doll.

I planned to mail yesterday morning, but I had a few struggles. More experience with the seam ripper. The dress was a little tricky. I haven’t figured out how to best handle gathers and the whole bottom is gathered. I also ended up ripping out a bit of one of the sleeve where I bunched the body of the top up under while stitching. I’m hoping such complications won’t be as hard to avoid in people sized garments. I am planning, assuming Sabrina continues to be interested in the doll, to get myself a “fit model” in the form of a cheap doll in the right size. It nothing else, I’d be able to use it for taking pictures of my projects.

I took a picture of the underside of the dress because it shows how the gathers create the “bubble” effect in the skirt. Actually rather fashionable right now. I have mixed feelings about the look on full grown women, but on little girls and dolls, it’s adorable.

It’s perfect in the striped fabric from my remnant stash. By the way, I’ve found the best prices on remnants at Hancock Fabric. Buying gobs of them at 70, 80 and 90 percent off regular price makes it really fun to match up with appropriate patterns. The other thing I’ve used for doll stuff is fat quarters marketed for quilting.

The fabric for the sleeping bag came from All About Fabrics in Williamston, South Carolina. They’re outlet open one weekend a month in the warehouse end of a textile mill. It’s epic, folks. Huge bolts of fabric, much of it upholstery fabric, and lots of odds and ends. Totally worth a day trip for anyone who’s interested in costuming, for sure, but I digress.

The sleeping bag represents two sewing milestones. I’d never worked with any stretch fabrics on the sewing machine before and avoided them for the most part while hand stitching Barbie clothes. I bought the end of a bolt of this stuff because I love it. The pictures don’t do it justice. In person, what looks like pink is red and the whole thing is far more bold. I have plans for something… maybe a couple somethings… out of the stuff for my wardrobe, but it seemed just right for this project. Zigzag stitch is pretty awesome. After sewing the “batting” to the stretchy stuff, it was much easier to handle.

I even used the zigzag for the zipper and sewed it in without a zipper foot. Proud to say, no seam ripping was required and it actually zipped.

I hope Sabrina enjoys playing with it all as much as I enjoyed making it with none of the frustration I experienced in their creation.