The most elaborate supper I could muster


It was a productive day with a few wrinkles.

Vehicle related, one incident per vehicle in our household, but not catastrophic or costly. That’s something, but still unexpected time and effort spent. When I got home from my busy day, nearly seven hours of running around with a stop at the gym in the middle, the path to our apartment was blocked by a fire truck, an ambulance, plus two police cruisers. Ugh. I don’t know what the situation is but twice in the last couple weeks, I’ve noted flashing lights outside the window in the later hours of the evening. I wish our neighbors nothing but good, but I don’t know them well enough to know what goes on. I was simply grateful first responder party broke up quickly enough for me to avoid dragging my spoils from Costco down the length of the apartment complex. Either way, a small inconvenience in the wait or the lugging of groceries. I am mindful as I was when I lived across the street from a volunteer fire station and was so often awoken by sirens in the wee hours that whatever annoyance I’m feeling is nothing compared to the problems of whoever called for assistance. Still, after spending over 20 minutes getting from the Costco parking lot to the highway which Google maps tells me is a five mile journey, I was ready for the errands to over. Even more ready having discovered my headlight bulbs need replacing after getting on the highway. I drove home with the still-working brights on feeling like an ass-hole for blinding people.

It was a day, too, of pleasantness.

When I got head to our building from a parking spot by the complex office, I got the closest spot. I don’t usually mind, but unloading from Costco it’s a grand prize. Costco had Dark Chocolate almond milk, a new item for them, and so good. Creamy with just the right amount of chocolate and not too sweet. The peanut butter is natural, just peanuts and salt, and does perfectly with a sliced apple. Tonight, it was my version of “breakfast for dinner” as it is my go-to morning meal. I went to the fabric store and only bought what I intended and need for a project on a quick deadline. Having a gym two doors down from Hancock Fabric could not be more ideal. Yes, I went to the gym. I haven’t been super steady with it but it’s helped to put my gym bag in the car every time I leave the house. Plus, as hard as it is for me to act on, I know full well I feel a zillion times better with those sweet endorphins pulsing though my veins. Before the gym, I’d backtracked to my originally planned first task of getting a library card. Our Simpsonville library is rather nice and happily bustling on a Saturday afternoon. I got my card mostly for online access to Greenville County’s e-book lending collection, but also printed up the pattern pieces I need for my current project. Naturally, too, I checked out a couple books. I love my Kindle but how could a girl resist taking a couple new friends home from the library?

Best of all, my sweet husband was so grateful I came to his rescue on his way to work. Ironic, I think, when he is gracious in the extreme rescuing me from all types of trouble. Not to mention the fact I’m the one two decades newer car. These are things one would do for even a friend let alone the person who pledged to be by your side throughout life. Yet appreciation is no small thing especially in the small things. It’s a trait I noted early and often in Chris and one I would recommend cultivating for those seeking relationships. I didn’t mean to end this post waxing poetic about how special my husband is, really, but it’s only the truth.

Betting he’s going to appreciate the dark chocolate almond milk, too.

One Year, Part One

Greer Park Wedding

For a girl who never cared about weddings, it’s turned out Chris and I got married on three separate occasions. A year ago today, we had a quick and legally binding ceremony preformed by a family friend before heading to ConCarolinas where we had a Klingon ceremony we’d originally hoped would also be the “real” one. This is, of course, after our original Klingon wedding at Trek Trax Atlanta 2011 which as we explained it was only legal in the Empire.

It turned out getting married in another state wasn’t worth the hassle, so we got an extra wedding complete with the PA system built into the fountain turning on just as our officiant started speaking. In the evening, it plays classical. In the daylight hours starting just after 10 am, we were treated to Born in the USA during our ceremony. Afterwards, we stopped at Costco before heading to Charlotte for the weekend’s events. Not the most elegant, but memorable. None of the pictures were great because the sun was in our eyes. The details wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

Chris is a little disappointed, half jokingly I think, we’re not getting married in 2014. Maybe next year, but it would have to be a Brony convention.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I have spent a lot of time thinking about Ender’s Game since I finished it, yet in some ways I am at a loss to articulate exactly why I enjoyed the book. Clearly, I did as I am currently reading the fourth book in the series, but more on that a little later as this post is about Ender’s Game alone. I want to write something about this very important science fiction novel, so I am endeavoring so set down some thoughts. I’ve even gone so far as to read some negative reviews on Amazon in an attempt to solidify my opinions.

I can count at least three reasons Ender and the universe he lives in have occupied such a prominent place in my mind beyond continuing the series. First, I started reading Ender after Chris downloaded and started reading it. Sharing a Kindle account, we can read the same book at the same time. I love that. Having someone to talk to about a book while reading it is a new experience and delightful. Secondly, Ender’s Game is so filled with the themes and devices of science fiction literature. Comparing and contrasting with other science fiction universes is inevitable and never ending fun.

Third – most important – is how I can’t get over how revolutionary Card’s vision of the future was at the time the book was published in 1985. Earth hasn’t been attacked by aliens, but the ubiquity of portable devices with internet access is dead on. Card has characters on the “net” discussing and influencing world events on a global scale. I remember computers in 1985 and it is hard to imagine those machines being used in such an operation. As I ended up pointed out in response to one of those negative Amazon reviews, that portion of the book seems like no big deal because we live in a world where such a thing is believable and commonplace.

The other major criticism some readers have seems to be the center of it’s plot: Earth is under treat from alien forces and is training super-intelligent children to command humanity’s defense forces. Ender is one of those children. He is taken from his family at the tender age of six for Battle School. These children are organized into armies to fight mock battles in a zero gravity chamber. Adult supervision is minimal. These kids do not act like kids or even view themselves as children. Had I not read others criticism of how the children behave and talk, I would have not thought it unusual. Gifted children don’t talk like children, after all, nor view themselves as less than adults, however they do lack emotional control as high IQ does not advance them in other areas. These children are frighteningly smart and their whole world is built around a military structure. I found them quite believable.

My only criticism of the novel is how it ended. First published as a novella, Ender’s Game was expanded to novel length and to allow for a connection to the next three books. I somewhat regret reading the forward to my Kindle additions of both Ender’s Game and, the second book, Speaker for the Dead, as hearing the back story impacted by view of both books including seeing the end as a little “tacked on” as Card revealed the idea for Speaker didn’t originally feature Ender at all. As I do highly recommend the book and not wish to spoil it for others, I will only say I consider the end to be a “bridge” between the original and Speaker to be separate from Ender’s Game itself, but a necessary inclusion to allow the story to continue in the same universe and including Ender himself. I do agree Ender’s universe fits the story, but I would have divided things up a little different had it been my choice to make. Explaining where I would have made a change is a spoiler of the highest order, so I will not share here. Of course, I have talked about my preference for “companion books” over “series” and this preference informs my opinion in this case. While I see it as a flaw in the single novel, when taken together as a series, it is less of a problem.

The biggest strength in the book is, beside the prediction of internet impacting culture, the way Card asks philosophical questions about how the human race should conduct itself without drawing a conclusion for the reader. Wrapping the whole discussion up in a story about a boy who spends years fighting mock battles on a space station is impressive and, I have no doubt, influenced many readers who saw themselves in Ender. It bring to my mind a quote most dear to my heart, Issac Asimov quoted at the end of episode 200 of Stargate: SG1: “Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinded critics and philosophers of today, but the core of science fiction, its essence, has become crucial to our salvation, if we are to be saved at all.” Ender’s Game lives up to those high ideals of science fiction.

Dragon*Con 2012

Dragon*Con 2012 will go down, for Chris and I, as the protracted Dragon*Con. We were able to make it down to Atlanta for only Thursday and Friday, leaving around 10:30 Friday night. It was hard to leave, however, it was almost the Dragon*Con we didn’t get to go, so all in all, it was good enough to achieve our primary objectives and pry ourselves away just as the party was getting started.

One side effect, I found, from the urgency of our short time at the con was an increase in spending on various souvenirs and toys. But who could blame me for picking up this little fellow from the Dragon*Con store?

Last year, the little fellow appeared on t-shirts. I love how he looks to be letting out a terrible roar, yet any con-goer can plainly see he’s yawning after a night of parties followed by an early morning panel.

Dragon*Con is a fan driven convention and as much as I loved Emerald City Comic Con, it just can’t compare to a con where what you see in the lobbies and food court is enough to justify the trip. Costumes are diverse, impressive and plentiful. I am especially impressed with folks who costume up on Thursday. These Spaceballs were among the first costumes we saw on Thursday in the food court. Classics never go out of style.

If we’d had our choice of which two days to attend, Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday would have gotten us the most Con for our time. Thursday is a slow night with only a handful of events. Naturally, we hit up the drum circle, because it’s a Dragon*Con tradition, held every night until the hotel kicks them out of the room. I wish I’d thought to bring the real camera, but a few cell phone pictures give enough of an idea of how it goes. People wander in, do their thing, leave, stay, whatever. Most watch, some bring or borrow drums, some dance. I even observed a limbo contest in the middle of the circle.

Always remember, what happens at Dragon*Con is posted all over the internet within a matter of days, if not hours. Chris was left in charge of his brother Eric’s Blade Runner umbrella while observing at the drum circle. In his – shall we say – relaxed state, it seemed best to open it up.

I never feel like I taken enough pictures at conventions. Our short amount of time at Dragon*Con left me with hardly any photos. Only eight on the camera and a few on my phone. One of my favorite things to see and photograph are costumed folks doing everyday things, carrying mundane objects and the like. We had to stop to take these girl’s picture, notable to see a full complement of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eating something other than pizza.

Our primary objective for Friday was hitting up the Walk of Fame for autographs. In truth, it is the moment with the actor in question that is truly meaningful. The glossy 8×10 a souvenir of the moment. Rob Paulsen was only second on our “must meet” list, but he was kind and enthusiastic about taking a picture with us, coming around to the front of the table like I’ve never seen anyone else do. We told him how much we enjoy his podcast and his recent hilarious bit of voice over for Regretsy.

Nichelle Nichols was, naturally, our first priority. She was lovely and gracious. I will never, ever forget her telling Chris she loved his hair and beard. What a complement from one of the most beautiful women – and legs – ever to grace television and film.

We also met Michael Dorn, Tony Amendola and Billy West. Dorn was all business and didn’t seem to be enjoying himself any more than Worf would in a similar position. We picked Worf and Dax’s wedding picture and had he been more friendly, I would have told him why, but still I consider a meeting like that as interesting and as much of a story as meeting those actors who seem as happy to be at the convention as we are. It’s all about – for me – seeing what someone is like off-screen and the story to take away. Tony Amendola was important to us for his role as Master Bra’tac on Stargate: SG1, but there is little to say beyond “pleasure to meet you” and “I enjoyed your work on Stargate.” Billy West would have sat there talking as long as we stood by listening, all about how the fans saved Futurama and how we may be needed to do it again. After careful deliberation, we selected his “head in a jar” picture. I sort of wish I could get all my autographs like that from now on.

Also notable, non-Walk of Fame celebrity encounters. On Thursday, we waited for the elevator at our hotel with Richard Horvitz, voice actor best known for being Invader Zim. Surprised the heck out of him that we recognized him. Later, we’d gone to the garage to assist our friends and roommates, Alex and Lucy, with retrieving their luggage and Richard stopped Chris outside the hotel to ask directions to the food court. First occasion of being recognized by a celebrity. We also waited by the elevators Friday morning with Colin Ferguson and Niall Matter of Eureka, but didn’t talk to them. Some big guy of a con-goer picked up Colin which may just qualify as the weirdest thing I saw at the con.

Before I go, more cosplay pictures. I love these My Little Pony Gala Dresses, but I didn’t get a shot with all six ponies clearly visible. Safe to assume Rarity did the sewing.

I wouldn’t have stopped to take this picture of Zander from Drawn Together had he not had Ling Ling with him. I love that wildly offensive little critter.

Last, but not least, Alex helped us take our bags down to the car when it was time to go. He posed with the awesome bag I got with my purchase from WeLoveFine. We’ll let him think he’s not a Brony even though he’ll watch with us or with his daughter. That’s a lot of pony for a man who isn’t a Brony, don’t you think?

Upon Turning Thrity-Two

As is my habit, I am composing a post to commentate my birthday and to reflect upon the last year of my life and making plans for the coming year. Once upon a time, I did a similar thing in my paper journals for my eyes only, but as spiral notebooks have given way to WordPress, I publish the results for the world to read if it chooses. I have skipped years under both methods and, with the exception of last year, my words are gone, but here I am having lived one more year.

And a what a wonderful year it has been. Never have I been so busy. Just a few days ago, I told Chris how I often wish I could move up time from all those years I didn’t have much going on to now when every moment of every day seems packed to the gills.

We went from my birthday last year to Dragon*Con Labor Day weekend in the blink of an eye, then on to the holiday season. It was my second in a row working retail and hopefully my last for the rest of my days. Going from sixteen or twenty hours to thirty or more for the holiday season was rough on my body more than the rest of me. In large part, my recent return to working in a call center was based on the need to stop abusing my feet, knees and hips on those concrete floors. But I am getting ahead of myself as I didn’t start the new job until June. In fact, only a few weeks came between my decision to find something and accepting the new position.

The New Year brought one thing and one thing only: sewing. We thought we planned plenty of time for the work we’d committed to in preparation to be the Klingon wedding at Trex Trax Atlanta in late April. We spent almost as many hours telling friends and co-workers it would not be a legal and binding wedding, or at least not on this planet.

In March, I took Chris to Seattle to meet my family and George Takei at Emerald City Comic Con. I cannot speak for Mr. Takei, but my family was very impressed with Chris and thrilled he chose to propose at the convention while they could be a part of it. I was surprised at the timing, not the question itself, as it should be. The setting was perfectly us and couldn’t have been more geek-romantic including a video of the moment I innocently thought was to tease our con-going friends who couldn’t be with us.

Being engaged leads to the inevitable question: “When are you getting married?”

We put off those questions for a while with the urgency over getting every detail ready for our Klingon ceremony. Outfitting ourselves from head to (in my case) toe was no small undertaking. I was at the sewing machine until 2 AM the night before the convention and stitched a detail or two on the car ride to Atlanta, not to mention a few missed seams I didn’t find until ironing everything in the hours before the big event. Don’t let me fool you, though, it was better to be busy than to worry about the performance itself.

For better or worse, too, I’d agreed to compete in the Miss Klingon pageant that weekend. And I did. I was awful, but I entered to round out the number of contestants to a robust three Klingon ladies. I certainly hope enough warriors step up next time that I will not be needed next year. I’ve made it clear I never, ever want to see video of the event, but I’m glad I had the guts to do it.

I am far more proud of the costume I tossed together in the last 48 hours before the convention than I am my time on the stage, but admittedly, I am extremely proud to have fulfilled the dream I’d had as a little kid to learn to sew. Chris was instrumental in teaching me how to use a sewing machine and encouraging both my costuming projects and general craftiness. While there aren’t enough hours in the day for all the ideas in my head, for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m allowed to have hobbies even if they require the twin resources of time and money. It doesn’t sound like a big deal for most people, but it’s huge for me.

About that wedding stuff: While it’s very important to us to have a marriage legal here on Earth, not just in the Klingon Empire, I’m not concerned in the least about the details of a wedding. It’s just not something that ever mattered to me for a variety of reasons. We do intend to figure out a time when, at the very least, my parents will be able to fly out for the event. Early next year seems likely, but at present other factors keep us from setting a firm date. Truth be told, the main thing I’m looking forward to is changing my name. It will be the main practical change marriage will bring as it is with so many couples who live together beforehand, but it is of special concern to me. I elected to keep my married name when I got divorced, both because it did not seem worth the effort in paperwork to change twice within a couple years knowing Chris and I were intending to marry eventually and because my ties to my maiden name never went as deep as most since I’d used my step-dad’s name growing up. While I don’t regret that choice, I think it’s understandable I’m ready to shed the last day-to-day reminder of my previous relationship. It’s weird sometimes to think nearly everyone I interact with on a daily basis doesn’t consider the association and after nearly eleven years, I don’t think about it every day either.

As mentioned above, I took a new job in a call center. Chris and I managed to end up in the same training class and we are both working a weird late night shift. It is my personal policy not to discuss work on the interwebs, except to say, work is work and it pays the bills.
I’m grateful to have always been extremely employable. I still, and likely always will, consider the possibility of college, but this fall is not in the cards and likely not spring either, and I’m not sold on my desire to do it like I was a few years ago.

Worth mentioning is the one frustration I can’t seem to get past: Despite efforts – my own and others – I’ve reached yet another birthday without a driver’s license. I was 18 or 19 when I first got a learner’s permit in Washington State, but never actually drove there. Sometime after I moved to Western New York in 2001, I again got a permit and this time actually drove, but I hadn’t driven at all since I left there in 2005. I’ve had more than a few road blocks since I’ve moved here, too. First, my eyesight is now bad enough I couldn’t pass the DMV’s vision test without glasses like I could when I was younger. Now, I have a permit, but I seldom have access to a car I can drive as I’m limited by my height. Plenty of short people are going to see that and claim they can drive anything, but I assure you, the difference between being 5’0 or 5’2 tall and 4’9 makes that not the case for me. Our friend Alex has taken me out driving a few times. I can drive his van, but our schedules, the restriction on permits to driving between 6 am and midnight, plus various other responsibilities on both sides make it tricky to rack up the necessary amount of practice time. It was, however, a relief to find I hadn’t lost the knack entirely in all the years since I was last behind the wheel, but I am not even close to ready to pass a driver’s exam. We are, slowly but surely, saving for another car and hoping Chris’ car (which I can’t drive) will remain on the road long enough to allow us to have two cars while saving for it’s replacement.

Truth be told, I feel defeated by the whole situation and I don’t really see myself ever having the independence nearly every adult in our country takes for granted. Most adults who aren’t licensed drivers have done something to be striped of the privilege, but that is not my situation. No one thought to make it a priority when I was a teenager and, as an adult, it’s been one struggle after another and I just haven’t been able to make it work. It would be one thing to live in an area with mass transit, but living where I do, I am effectively trapped and totally dependent on other people to get around. My choices are limited in so many ways. I can’t take just any job. I can’t make a doctor’s appointment without figuring out who is going to take me. I can’t go to the store by myself unless I want to spend an hour, round trip, walking route with no sidewalks or street lights which only gets me to the closest places. If I really need something, of course, I have more than I few people who would be willing to come get me and I am thankful for that, but the difference between needing something and being able to go somewhere because I feel like going is a large gap. I try really hard not to let it get me down, but it’s hard not to dwell on it when I’m stuck at home on my days off.

Not to leave my post on a downer, though I’ve past my midnight Eastern standard time birthday deadline for publication, I should share my more hopeful plans for the coming year. It is good to remember I have control in a handful of areas of my life when I don’t always feel like I do.

After a too long period of slacking off on proper eating and fitness, I’ve been back on track the last month or so. I bought myself a Wii Fit and while my goal of logging an hour of workout time every single day has proved a bit lofty, I have at least stepped on the balance board every single day. I try to divide my time primarily between yoga and aerobic games. Food-wise, it’s as simple as keeping the house free of problem foods. My big one is bread. I would eat toast all day and often would when I was stuck home alone. Sticking with simple to cook proteins, veggies and fruits and limiting meals out to a few times a week is easy enough, really. I don’t think of it as a “diet” and it only takes a few weeks to remember how much better I feel when I’m taking care of myself. I’ve also started (as of today) a joint supplement which comes highly recommended and I hope to get relief from the aches which keep me from working out as hard and as much as I’d like.

The other area I am looking to make some headway in is various creative pursuits. As always, I’m going to maintain a blog in some form or fashion. You’ll notice, I’ve been more regular lately than I have been in the life of this site. As I always say, blog hosting is cheaper than therapy. I may or may not make an effort to monetize. Certainly, it’s not my main goal with being here or I would worry about SEO and the like.

I’ve toyed with the idea of participating in National Novel Writing Month and even read No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. I don’t know if November is the best month for me to make the attempt and the idea of joining the big group of people who make the attempt every year doesn’t appeal to me. I am too much an individualist to desire that sort of thing. Now, a few well placed friends would be another matter. I still don’t know if fiction is something I’m suited to write, but I do feel I ought to try if for no other reason than to prove to myself I don’t want to pursue it further.

One thing I know for sure having spent many, many hours over the cutting table (okay, actually, the bed with a cardboard cutting mat on it) and the sewing machine is that writing alone is not enough creative outlet. I need pleasure of making something with my hands. Inspiration and gathering supplies followed by the frustrations and triumphs of developing new skills or the calming tedium of tasks like cutting patterns or sewing straight lines all contribute to a sense of accomplishment like I’ve not found in other tasks. I think it is having something concrete to show for my labor, something both attractive and practical, which not just anyone can recreate without some level of skill. I also find a certain pleasure in a project which can be accomplished in a few hours, especially between more time intensive projects. To that end, and because I am a cold blooded capitalist, I’ve decided to open an Etsy store with some small projects. My inventory is still under development, but I’ve had good feedback so far on the items I’ve been working on. You’ll be able to search me under “Nerdbliss” and once I have everything set up, I’ll have a widget on the blog and will bore my few but precious readers with pictures and links. I have no illusions about quitting my day (night?) job, but I wouldn’t mind if it paid for the additions to my stash. I’ve carefully compared prices on supplies so even if my sales are modest, my profit margins will make it possible to invest in more variety of materials with the goal of a modest but steady income.

Before, I write past midnight on the West coast, I should call it a year. It’s been an overwhelmingly good one. Even on the hardest days, I am content with the most important parts of my life. I am happy, but still driven to make my life and the lives of those I care for a little better as we go along. I have opportunities to express myself and be productive. I am well loved and cared for by a diverse network of family and friends. I am both lucky and blessed.

Klingon Wedding

After many months preparing, Chris and I finally got Klingon-married at Trek Trax Atlanta. It was an unforgettable experience. I do not know how to express how much fun we had and how meaningful, though not our legal and binding Earth wedding, it was to have so many people work so hard to make our wedding an exciting event for everyone in attendance.

A few important people must be thanked before I get on to the pictures and descriptions for those who did not attend. If the content of the ceremony is unfamiliar, please see Worf and Dax’s wedding from Deep Space Nine. For more pictures of our wedding and Trek Trax in general, see the galleries on the House Koloth website.

Thank you to everyone who came out for the wedding and the reception, but especially the following:

Trek Trax founder Eric Watts and his staff without whom there would be no convention.

Our Tawi’yan Alex who is an ever faithful friend. My lovely human parents-in-law Marion & Sandi – not Trek fans – and brother-in-law Eric for making the trip to be with us on our big day.

Theresa Parker aka Mistress Koloth, Klingon wedding planner.

Our convention guests who participated in the ceremony: Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen officiated, David Orange aka “The Sleepy Klingon” from Star Trek VI gave a toast in Klingon, il Troubadore played blood-stirring Klingon music, Jillanna Babb and her belly dancers done up in their best Orion slave girl green.

All those warriors who made up the bat’leth arch, and those who vouched for our honor. Connie and Illya Allman for the Romulan Ale. It was much enjoyed. All those who enjoyed the Romulan Ale and other refreshments at the reception.

If I have failed to mention anyone who played a role in the event, I apologize. It was all a blur of utter happiness to have so many people involved. I love our fandom friends and family so very much. While this wedding is only legal in the Empire, nothing we could plan for our Earth wedding and reception will compare.

Now, a selection of photos:

Happy Birthday, Chris!

Today is my wonderful boyfriend Chris‘s fortieth birthday. Tomorrow, we’ll fly to Seattle where he’ll meet my parents, along with my brother and sis-in-law, and a few other important people, for the first time and go to Emerald City Comicon.

I’ve been thinking on how to celebrate Chris here on the blog. How do I sum up in words how much he means to me, how much I love him and all those things I see everyday which illustrate what a good man he is? Can’t be done.

So, instead of struggling with words, I’ve selected a handful of photos which make me smile when I look at them.

After a Warhammer 40K victory:

The button bin at All About Fabrics:

Dragon*Con TOS Klingon with a frat boy and a furry:

At my birthday dinner last year:

At Dragon*Con:

And, my personal favorite, holding up my Klingon wedding dress:

Chris, my love, you are amazing. Funny, smart, creative and talented. Kind, generous, thoughtful and loyal. You have no idea, either, how wonderful you are and how much you are loved. You have brought so much joy into my life, so much fun and contentment. I love your laugh and your smile, and so much more. I love talking with you, about the silly or serious. I’m the luckiest girl in the world because you love me. Happy Birthday!

Mockup in Muslin

Both here and on Facebook, I’ve been talking about little else beside my work on this dress. Between the modifications required and my lack of experience, it was necessary to do a test run. The fabric – muslin – is cheap and coarse, but it’s priceless for checking fit before cutting into the good materials.

I had a heck of a time with the sleeves. In the end, I decided to omit the big over sleeve piece. Even shortened proportionate to the total length of the dress, it looked silly on someone as short as me.

I finished the mockup on Thursday, down to adding the eyelet laces on the back. On Friday, I made the small changes to the pattern and started cutting out the pieces for the real deal Klingon wedding dress. Finally cutting into the red satin felt great.

As you can see, I was super excited that my first garment for a human being (rather than a doll) with modifications worked. The trick, however, is staying motivated rather than feeling the satisfaction of finishing a project. We are far from finished.

One thing that has helped me stay fired up are the flaws. My arm holes were too small because I didn’t understand where to cut the pattern. Easy fix.

Early on in the construction process, I suspected I would need to add a few inches to… ah… cover my bosom. Once it all came together, it became obvious the problem wasn’t really the bodice front being too low but the shoulders being too long. I had Chris pin up the shoulder and removed two whole inches from the pattern shoulders. It pulled up the bodice in front and tighten it in back along with making the sleeves fit so much better. I felt a little silly for not having thought about that measurement when I often have trouble with bathing suit shoulder straps being too long. Of course, with my newly acquired sewing skills, I’ll be modifying those rather than just dealing with the annoyance of ill-fitting clothes. Happy thought, indeed.

Now, just for fun, I have to share a picture of Chris working on the mockup of his wedding shirt. The final version will be the same red satin as mine and, assuming we don’t run out of time, we’ll be making matching red pants. Here he’s ripping the collar seam after between the two of us didn’t get it pinned on the right way. In the end, Chris sewed it on correctly. His next step is sleeves with gathers. Definitely a challenging project for a beginner.

On Modifying Patterns

I am taking a break from working on my dress for our upcoming Klingon wedding (performance, not the legal and binding sort) to take place at Trek Trax Atlanta in April to chronicle our adventures in pattern modification. Mind you, I’ve never made clothes for a human being, only dolls, and Chris has made Klingon armor out of vinyl strips sewn together.

Neither of us had tackled a project as ambitious as a the historical patterns we selected to emulate though not match the costumes worn by Worf and Dax at their wedding on Deep Space Nine. Like any wedding tradition, couples interpenetrate the basics within a wide range, so in no way did we set out to copy Worf and Dax as featured in the episode “You are Cordially Invited” but to use it as a guide to Klingon wedding tradition. I love the red and many of the details. The picture below is the portrait often seen in the show after the occasion. And aren’t good photos one of the most important things in any wedding?

We picked out patterns a while ago, knowing it would be necessary to modify them to fit us. We bought over twenty yards of satin counting the red and a gold contrast for my dress. Our red is a little less fire engine and more burgundy than Worf and Dax’s outfits, but will be far more flattering.

So the mission to first make the above patterns, made for standard sized folk. For those of you who don’t know us in person, I believe the following picture clearly illustrates why out of the packet pattens won’t work for either of us. It was taken on Thursday at Dragon*Con and, yes, I packed us matching shirts from another convention. We are adorable, no question, however, pattern modification is a necessary skill if we want costumes.

You can see exactly why I put How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns on my Christmas list and why Chris got it for me. While I would call the book a starting point for anyone looking to sew from patterns for the first time even if modifications aren’t necessary, I still felt like we had to improvise and puzzle out many of the details. Still, a starting place is better than nothing. I made a shopping list of tools and materials from suggestions in the book. Some of those items have been invaluable.

I wouldn’t have known what body measurements to take if not for the book. The list of about twenty odd measurements seems excessive until you begin studying the pattern and comparing it back to our bodies. For example, I took ten inches off the bottom of my shirt and three from the bodice. If I had taken it all off the skirt, of course, the dress wouldn’t fit properly at all. Sort of like most clothes, especially tailored or dress clothes, which simply make me look like I’m playing dress up in a larger persons clothes. I have a hunch I’ll be hooked on well fitting garments as my skills develop.

The pattern directions give some of the measurements for the body the pattern is made to fit. In those places, it is simple to add or subtract the difference in the pattern and the body. Some of the measurements aren’t given. In those cases, careful measuring and allowing for seams is necessary. My biggest challenge was the over sleeve on the dress. I’m still not entirely sure the four inches I took off and the remaining shape are going to work, but in a worse case, I can omit them without detracting from the overall look of the gown.

We took a few pictures of the pattens with our modifications.

Both the front and back of Chris’ shirt followed the same process. Adding to the length where the pattern says “lengthen or shorten here” is pretty simple. We also added some width, as you can see. The most complex part of the process was adding to the shoulder to connect with the new edge of the armhole by extending the original curve. It is the part I most suspect will require some tweaking in the final product, but that is why we are making muslin mock-ups before we cut into all that satin.

My dress has a ton more pieces than the shirt. The bodice and sleeves are fully lined, so double for everything. And every piece was both shortened and widened. Below is the upper sleeve and the side bodice. With the side bodice, I used the same method as extending the shoulders.

I am glad to be done with the pattern part and on the the sewing. Much less thinking and more direction following. For the most part, I can handle that. For when I can’t, there is always the seam ripper.

It is a most mathematical process. Applied geometry with a side of algebra. If it worked, and I’ll report back once the mock ups are complete, all those hours working hard to understand both those subjects wasn’t a purely academic exercise.

Irons are for Crafts

Who knew I could iron?

Wash and wear fabrics populate my wardrobe for a reason.

Laziness or efficiency? Could go either way

The iron, however, has gotten a workout lately with all the sewing projects going down in our house. Yesterday, Chris snapped a few “action shots” for my Sunday Self Portrait while we worked on our costumes for the Klingon wedding. I didn’t know until I began research for this project – first people-sized clothes I’ve made – that it is necessary to iron the pattern pieces. With doll clothes, especially Barbie sized, smoothing by hand works just fine. For anything larger, wrinkles mean measurements come out wrong in the final product. The ironing of pattern pieces and, of course, fabric wouldn’t be so tedious with a dedicated work table. As it is, we’re working on a cardboard measuring board on our bed. No matter how careful, something manages to get wrinkled in the break down and set up process for each work session.

We’ve completed the pattern modifications for both his shirt and my dress except for one element of the dress I’m still working out in my head. I think, as of last night, muslin mock-up shirt is cut out and ready to sew. Once the muslin versions are sewn up, we’ll make any modifications to the patterns before working with the satin. It’s hard being a girl. I still have the lining for the bodice and sleeves to cut, plus the skirt. Maybe it’s fair my project will take longer because I have more time to work on it. So, it’s not terribly hard being me.

With any luck, next week, I’ll be able to post a picture of me in the mock up dress, either in a fully or partially completed state.

%d bloggers like this: