bethzylla: (FFD2012)
In looking back over my event photos, it seems that 2014 was a year of new accessories but only one new outfit for me.  I did manage to sew a couple outfits for a friend though, which I'm counting as a win!  Here we go:

Read more... )
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
I'm still here!  I just haven't done much that worthy of picture posts or even chatting about, really.  This time of year is always tough for me in terms of being motivated to sew.  Holiday prep, fall yardwork, and the urge to just cuddle up with my animals when the temps cool off wreak havoc with all my good intentions!

Sewing: I made a quickie cap, 18th century chemise, and faux quilted petticoat for the Georgian Picnic.  My chemise did its job, but it was sewed at the 11th hour and has some issues.  What is it with the 'simple' stuff actually being such a hassle?  I'll have to do some extensive fixing of sleeve and underarm seams before I wear it next.  Or maybe start over, I haven't decided yet.  I need to adjust some of the pleating on the petticoat now that I've seen photos but that's an easy fix.  The cap came out cute so I'll try to get some photos and make a post soon.

Sewing Plans: I have grand plans to make a new bustle dress this week.  It's for the guild's Candlelight event on Saturday.  Since it's a Christmas-y event, I'm going a little more literal than I normally would and using a jacquard cotton that has tiny pine trees woven into its pattern.  I need to get some solid cotton as an accent for the dress (as well as to help break up the pattern a little) but in my head it looks so cute!  I'll probably cobble together a new hat too.

My friend Chris is interested in coming to the guild meetup at the Kimball art museum for the Impressionist art exhibit.  Bustle dresses are encouraged (yay!)  Chris currently has absolutely nothing to wear for it, so I'll hopefully be making her an outfit from the skin out plus some accessories.

Holiday Stuff: I flew up to Indianapolis to visit my mom for Thanksgiving.  When I got there, she was recovering from a very nasty stomach flu.  On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up with a stomach bug of my own.  Talk about the worst timing ever!!!  So I missed out on the two holiday feasts I'd been planning to attend.  :(  I finally felt like myself again for the last couple days of my visit so flying back home was no problem.  Just super disappointing.

Next week is Ben's company Christmas dinner.  It's usually a small affair at a nicer restaurant, which is great since there are usually 10 people or less attending and we're all friends.  I don't know what restaurant they've chosen this year, but I'm looking forward to it!

I'm also attending a Holiday Cookie Swap that my friend Chris is throwing.  Everyone brings 3 dozen cookies, which are sampled and swapped at the party.  Then everyone goes home with at least 2 dozen cookies made by other attendees.  I've never been to a party like that before, but it sounds like fun!

Ben and I are planning to stay in town for Christmas this year.  We typically choose to go home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but not both.  I really need to take down my fall decor and put up my Christmas decor.  Actually, my Halloween decor is still sitting on the guest bed waiting to be packed up for next year.  Heh, whoops!

Looking Forward: I'm going job hunting soon.  I've really loved my time as a homemaker, but with Ben's work being slow this past year it just isn't a sustainable situation anymore.  I'm hoping to find something I like that isn't retail and doesn't involve too many evening or weekend hours.  I know that's sort of a tall order in this day and age, but I'm still hoping for it!

Ben has been thinking about going to college or a trade/vocational school.  He's interested in a mechanical engineering degree if he decides on college, or a large engine diesel mechanic certification (think train engines or mining/construction equipment) if he decides on trade school.  Neither option is possible at the moment since he's our breadwinner, which is another reason I'm going job hunting.

I still really want to throw a costumed dinner party in my backyard.  I've been planning this for over a year now (not to mention collecting all the dinnerware, glassware, seating, etc.)  I hit a snarl this spring when my neighbor's granddaughter came to live with him and brought her ill-behaved pit bull mix.  That dog never stopped barking at me when I was outside, which set off the other dog that lives there as well as most of the other dogs in the neighborhood.  I mentioned it several times to my neighbor but it never changed anything.  I figured if I was uncomfortable outside, then certainly my dinner guests would be too!  Well, the granddaughter has moved to Colorado and took the dog with her, which now leaves just one slightly-better behaved dog there.  I think the dog could stay in his crate for the evening if I asked my neighbor nicely.  So finally, I can start the planning in earnest!

Caturday

Nov. 15th, 2014 07:04 pm
bethzylla: (Default)


I came home from the Georgian Picnic and shed my petticoats...which Jesus immediately occupied. I missed getting a shot of him almost completely covered, including his head. He's such a ham!
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
So, the Georgian Picnic is tomorrow.  Naturally, I'm doing some last-minute sewing today.  I've run into a potential stumbling block and I'd like your opinion.  My plan is to finish up a matelasse petticoat (the quick and easy way to fake a quilted look without all the quilting.)  That's definitely happening, no matter what else I decide.  My intention was to make a striped jacket to go with it, but now I'm second guessing whether the colors even go together, or if it all looks too drab.

In the middle is the petticoat fabric.  On the left is the striped fabric I was planning to use for the jacket.  On the right is fabric leftover from my en forreau gown, which I could polonaise with the new petticoat.  What do you think?  The lack of bright colors is really throwing me for a loop because it's not what I usually make.  Is it silly to even worry about it since I'm also making a short cloak which will cover a lot of the jacket anyway?  Ugh, decisions.
20141113_163200

ETA: The jacket will just have to wait.  Less last-minute sewing/stressing means more fun at the event.  This-old-thing dress it is!
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
I should really have a handler when it comes to fabric shopping.

My stash is extensive, but it's really hard for me to pass up a good deal on fabric.  In my defense, everything that you see here was carefully selected after waiting a day (more, in some cases.)  Since no one else claimed them and they're already telling me what they want to be, I grabbed them up!

Fabric... )
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
Yesterday was the DFWCG's Mourning Tea.  There was a spectacular turnout!  One of our members extended the invitation to the local Lolita group as well as a local heritage museum.  Many of them accepted, and there must have been 50 attendees.  Wow!

We had a choice of hot black tea with orange and cranberry or iced mango tea.  I chose the hot tea, even though it was almost 90 degrees outside.  It's still fall, and I want those seasonal flavors!
Tea and Food

More pictures! )
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
So this is an insta-share.

Last year at the guild's Candlelight (outdoor in December) event, [livejournal.com profile] jenthompson and I bemoaned the fact that our awesome and otherwise perfect gloves wouldn't operate our touch screen phones.  Kinda cramps your style when you want to be warm AND take all the pictures.  We both agreed there must be an easy way to add a little pad of that fabric that modern gloves come with, but after the event I promptly back-burnered the idea.

Fast forward to today.  A cold front blew in last night and it's feeling like fall all of a sudden.  Since I'm totally procrastinating on getting my sewing room tidied up, I figured I could do something at least a little productive and research that fabric.  Turns out it's called 'conductive fabric' or, as in the case of the Instructable tutorial above, 'conductive thread.'  I ordered a small spool from SparkFun that should be enough to do all my gloves and then some.  I love simple solutions!
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
I'm here and alive!  Sorry for the radio silence for the past...oh geez, the past month!  Yikes.  Well, I can honestly say it's been a bumpy transition from OMG-get-the-house-in-order to holy-crap-amazing-vacation to blah-back-to-real-life.  My ability to just roll with the changing situations reached its limit and some stuff (like posting here) fell by the wayside despite any intentions I had otherwise.  Allow me to remedy that now!

Hawaii! )
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
As promised, some before and after photos.

Read more... )

Next up for me is a vacation with Ben and his parents!  They drove down from Indiana and we'll be flying out to Hawaii on Monday to visit Ben's sister.  I'm so excited!  We get to stay for 10 days.  Woo-hoo!!!

When we get back, I need to clean up my sewing space (currently the only messy place in this house) and get going on a mourning outfit for the DFWCG's Mourning Tea in October.  Right now, I honestly have no idea what I want to make.  I don't think I'll feel up to entering a new era (and the full set of undergarments it would entail) so that means sticking to 18th Century, Regency, 1870-1890, or fantasy.  I'm guess I'm kinda leaning toward 18th century, but we'll see what happens.
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
The kitchen-facelift-project-that-never-ends just keeps on rolling.  The walls are fully painted now and I've moved on to the cabinets.  I decided I wanted to dip my toe in the water before I jumped, so I started with a base cabinet that has three drawers and is separated from the other cabinets by the dishwasher.  I did it the 'right' way - I removed the awful wooden handle pulls, sanded the drawer faces smooth with a belt sander (which removed at least two layers of paint in the process), laid down two coats of primer, lightly sanded again, then laid down two coats of paint with a foam roller.  I have some seriously white drawers now!

Check this out! )
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
So, this is what's going on at my house:
10428384_799691720064121_962023240318659350_o
10562505_799691730064120_59526308932237915_o
No, those aren't moose.  They're gigantic dogs who think they can still fit in a person's lap like they did when they were puppies.  When they both tried it together, I really did have a moment when I couldn't breathe.  Eep!

Adventures in Dog-sitting... )
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
Thinking back on my early costume exploits, it's clear to me that my biggest challenge (and deficiency) was appropriately styled hair.  I had big ideas, but no clue how to execute them.  At that time, the internet was still a baby and the vast amount of resources available to today's costumers was nothing but a whisper of a dream.  So I stumbled along, doing the best I could with my own hair (which really left a lot to be desired.)  Fast forward a decade and some, and I've got my hands on Kendra's 18th Century Hair and Wig Styling book, not to mention an entire plastic tub of false hair, wigs, and styling accessories.  Oh, how far things have come!

At the party last weekend, I did something that might border on taboo (it's debatable.)  I took off my hat and wig while I was still at the event.  I've got lots of excuses...it was getting late, I was tired from a full day of fun that was preceded by not enough sleep, and I think all my bobby pins and my hat pin had conspired to shift just enough that they were all poking my scalp.  So...I just took them off!  There's even photographic evidence of my breach of conduct:

A little while before, just for reference:
14776641445_ed570026d1_o
14774280444_e89338b9f7_o
14590143547_35c7e64535_o

Luckily I was surrounded by friends who found it all very amusing (or at least tolerable.)  A few new acquaintances were shocked that the whole thing was a wig.  My own hair, which is pretty finely textured and waist length, would never behave long enough to do anything remotely like this!  I once wore just the wig itself without the long curls and tried to do those curls with my hair.  Nope!  It was sad and stringy before I even got to the event.  Having people think the wig was my real hair made me feel like I must be doing something right.  And really, it's about time!  This particular wig has gone through at least 4 transformations/tweaks to get to this point.  Kendra's book should make my next one go a LOT smoother!

Looking at those pics just makes me chuckle.  It's a reminder that no matter how great your costume is, the hair and hat that you wear (or don't wear) with it can make ALL the difference.
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
I had so much fun at CoLoW!  It was really wonderful seeing friends, meeting new ones, and taking in all the great information the Saturday panelists shared.  Since I was up so late Friday night, I didn't get there as early as I would have liked and therefore missed the Bustles in Detail panel (darn it!) but I thoroughly enjoyed all the afternoon panels.  I got to fondle some really expensive fabrics, learn all about constructing new covers for antique parasols, ooh and ahh over super soft leather gloves, get way too many ideas for historical shoe hacks using modern footwear (there will be so much eBay and Etsy stalking in my future thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jenthompson!) and purge some pattern stash while adding to my trim stash.  What a great way to spend the afternoon!

The evening party's theme was By the Book, and attendees were encouraged to come dressed as a book character or author.  There were some great costumes!
Just a few of many... )
I didn't sew anything new for the party, but I did bring cool accessories and add a few new touches to an old dress.  I think I made a passable Miss Muffet!
Along came a spider... )
This event was just the kind of pick-me-up I needed!  Next year, I hope to have my act together a little more and attend all the Sunday festivities too.
bethzylla: (Default)
Everyone, thank you so much for your sympathy. I haven't had a chance to go back and comment individually yet, but thanks for being there and offering support and comfort. It means a lot to me.

I'm on a little bit of an internet diet because my laptop is out for repair. Its power jack has probably come unsoldered from the board, which means that charging it required some power cord origami to get the right amount of pressure in the right place to make the connection. Yesterday that stopped working, so to the repair shop it went! This particular issue is probably just a design flaw of that model. Ben had the same one and had the same issue. He tried to fix it himself, but his eyes are bad enough that doing such small-scale solder work is just too hard. Well, that and not really having all the tools and gadgets that would have made it much easier. During the second repair (yep, he went through it twice!) he shorted something on the board and effectively ruined it. He couldn't find the replacement board he needed so we ended up just getting him a new laptop. He needs a laptop for work and for his own sanity, but suddenly having to drop a boatload of money on it was not fun!

We've been slowly working on a cosmetic remodel of our kitchen. Ultimately it started a couple years ago when Ben surprised me by replacing the awful 70's era carpet with vinyl tiles. That made a huge difference both in looks and ease of cleaning, and for a long time that was good enough. Our landlord has made it pretty clear that he doesn't view this place as an investment property, so he's pretty resistant to putting money into it that isn't a necessary repair. Since that places the financial burden on us, I've been pretty resistant to making any big changes (like replacing the 50's flat door cabinets.) Instead, we decided to paint EVERYTHING in that room, cabinets included. We're a little over halfway done with it now and it's looking so much cleaner and fresher! Ben has the 'before' pics on his phone, and I promise I'll post them when we have 'after' pics to share.

Anyway, what I'm really getting at is that all my kitchen gadgets that lived on the counter or on the wall shelves had to go somewhere else for a while, and that ended up being my sewing room. I haven't had access to my cutting table for about a month now. That means I haven't got anything new to wear for the CoLoW evening party. My tentative plan was to make a simple and quick Game of Thrones dress from the Simplicity pattern, but that's out now. Even if I was able to clear my table today, the stress of last-minute sewing would suck all the enjoyment out of it. So my backup plan is...

Miss Muffet, 18th century style. Nursery rhymes count as literature, right? I've already got an 18th century dress and hat that will work well, so I'd just need a container of curds and whey (cottage cheese, no problem!) and a prop spider. I hope this isn't too goofy, because it's all I've thought of so far!

I've decided I'll just be daytripping to CoLoW this year. Last year I got a room and it was nice to have somewhere to store all my stuff and a place to just relax when I needed it, but it's hard to justify spending $100 on that. I'm not attending the Sunday brunch, and I think I've decided to skip the workshops that afternoon too. So a room is definitely an extravagance that's just not necessary. It's likely I won't be there Saturday until the 11am panel, since I'll be out late on Friday night. I'm helping my bar-owner friend collect cover charges at the door, and that usually runs until 2am. I'll be one tuckered gal by the end of the party on Saturday!
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
Those of you who are on my Facebook have probably seen this already, and if so sorry for the delayed double post.  I just didn't have it in me to make two posts at the time.  Last week we made the decision to take Jack to the vet for the last time.  His tumor had invaded some of his lung space and it was making breathing hard sometimes.  He wasn't eating much either so it's possible it had affected his digestive system too.  While it was pretty painful to make the decision to have him euthanized, it would have been absolutely brutal to watch nature take its course.  The vet and staff were so kind and compassionate about everything, I got to stay with him and pet him the whole time, and I was allowed to bring his remains home for burial.  It's not really legal to bury animals within Arlington city limits, but we did it anyway.

This has been a tough week.  Even though I had months to prepare for this eventuality, it's been hard on me.  I didn't realize it until he was gone, but I spent a lot of time making sure he was comfortable and well cared for during his final weeks.  He had a comfy spot in my sewing room (which my nosy dogs can't access) and he did most of his sleeping there.  It's also where I brought him canned food in an attempt to get him to eat a little more.  We did a lot of cuddling, and even after his skin got too sensitive for the usual amount of petting he still liked his chin rubs.  On a few of the cooler mornings I took him outside so he could enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and feel the breeze.  It may sound weird, but it's a big adjustment not doing those things.  Walking into my sewing room and not seeing him there is still a little jarring.

Really, I'd rather try to focus on the 12 years we got to spend with him before all this.  We adopted him when we still lived in our first apartment in Indianapolis.  He was loose in our building but heard Micah, my first cat (who is still with us) meowing at me.  He meowed at her through the door all day until we let him in.  He was all sleek, glossy fur and firm muscles, very healthy.  I put up Found posters but no one claimed him, which was fine with me.  He was a very friendly and social cat, sort of the perfect balance to Micah's stereotypical prissy-cat mindset.  He moved with us to our first house, welcomed (or at least tolerated) new members of our animal family (even the dogs!), won the hearts of our friends and family with his easy nature, and eventually moved with us to Texas.  He enjoyed the sunny windowsill in my sewing room, and often hopped into my lap while I was sitting at the sewing machine.  When he wanted your attention he'd sprawl on his back, roll around,  and look up at you, waiting for you to succumb to his cuteness.  He did have the (slightly annoying) habit of hopping into your lap when it was most inconvenient.  Even if you shooed him away, he'd come creeping back, moving very slowly, apparently hoping you didn't notice him until it was too late.  Sometimes that actually worked!  He was an absolute purr machine which was perfect for those times when you needed some cat-comfort.  He even knew his name and came when you called him.  He was a wonderful cat, and a great companion.  I miss him a lot.

Cuddling with one of our other cats, Jesus:
IMG_20131124_174849_677

Sitting in my lap while I worked on a bodiced petticoat:
IMG_20140314_183403_454
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
I know a few of you are fellow gardeners, or at least garden enthusiasts, so I thought I'd take a little time to show you around mine (virtually, that is.)  A lot of this is already posted on my facebook, so it may be a little on the boring side for some of you.  Sorry about that!  I'll try to add in extra tidbits and random thoughts to keep it fresh.  :)

Lots of garden pictures... )
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
Last Saturday the DFWCG met up at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad station and rode the train to the Fort Worth Stockyards.  We had an excellent turnout in spite of the hot (90ish) day.  Everyone seemed to have a good time in spite of the less-than-ideal weather, and I loved seeing all my friends dressed to the nines!  Very special thanks go out to [livejournal.com profile] jenthompson for taking pictures and sharing them.  I brought my phone, but as it gets older it takes crappier pics and loads verrrrry sloooooowly.  As a result, all these are taken by Jen!

Many, many pictures... )
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
After my back-breaking first day of stump removal, I decided taking it slow was the best course.  I also had a little luck on my side, seeing many of the remaining stumps were significantly smaller (and less rooty) than the first few.  I've still got a few more big ones to get out, but they're lower on the priority list because they're in a shadier area which won't support my tomatoes.

Speaking of those tomatoes, I have 18 plants in the ground now!
IMG_20140420_173004_749
Yes, there is a chicken photobombing in the corner.  Also, I need to get the fence put up so that the dogs and chickens can't get in there and wreak havoc.  I burned the crap out of my arms and chest got some sun during the planting, so I've been playing it safe in the house these past few days.  I may work on it tomorrow morning before it gets too sunny.  I've got a few more plants to find room for and a little more tweaking to do to the irrigation setup, and then it'll just be maintaining what I've got.

On the sewing front, I need to get something together for our Fantasy picnic this Saturday.  I had an amazing idea for a fire sprite costume, complete with ombre fire-tone wig, but it got too expensive and complicated for the time I had.  Maybe next year for that one.  So now I'm torn...do I go as a lady hobbit, with portions of the outfit possibly doubling as Ren faire garb?  Or do I visit the costume shop up the road from me, get prosthetic elf ears (if they have them) and make an elf dress?  Or, do I go with the crazy plan I thought of earlier today and try to make fairy wings from heavy wire and cellophane, plus a fairy outfit to match?  I've been trying to mentally engineer the wings to attach to a corset (or maybe tuck into it) instead of the typical harness so they're less likely to shift around and get wonky.  Three and a half days isn't much time, but I think I could probably do it...
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
I've decided this is the year to expand my vegetable garden.  The spot it's in right now just won't hold all the plants I want to grow.  So over the last couple years, I've been slowly working toward clearing an area at the end of the yard for additional growing space.  Due to some trees in the neighbor's yard, it won't get quite as much sun as my original space but that might come in handy during the worst heat of the growing season.  Anyway, this basically means one entire edge of the backyard will be garden and chicken coop - a suburban homestead!

Yesterday I started raking the last of the trimmed weeds (the kind that have actual bark, and become legit trees if you're not diligent about trimming/eradication) and counted at least 10 stumps that need digging up.  I managed one by myself:
First Stump
It's a long, hot, physically intense process to get even a smallish one like this dug out solo, but I figure manual labor is good cardio and I could sure use some of that.  Plus this success let me know that I'm physically capable of doing the needed work, which I wasn't entirely sure of until it was over.  I'm OK with being slow as long as I get results!

After lunch, I started on the biggest stump.  It turned out to be two tree-weeds intertwined.  Luckily for me, Ben got home from work and was wiling to help me.  Between the two of us we got it dealt with, but in the process I strained something in my back...again.  I have a spot in the middle that's been injured before, and it's the first place to get injured again whenever I lift something wrong.  Totally my fault - I know to avoid certain positions, to lift with my legs, etc.  But sometimes I'm in too much of a hurry and I forget, and I feel that dreaded pop.

So I'm taking it easy now.  It's supposed to rain, so I doubt I would have been digging stumps today anyway.  The two biggest stumps are out and everything else should be somewhat easier.  When my back is less tender I can get back to it slowly and carefully.  This getting older and more easily injured stuff really sucks!
bethzylla: (FFD2012)
It's difficult to photograph hats.  We costumers don't really have too many options for stands or models.  In the past, I've tried the white styrofoam heads you can get at Hobby Lobby.  The female style head is way smaller than the average woman's head, so the proportions are just a little off:
Mourning Hat 1
I've seen other costumers use mannequin heads, but I find the typical head has very modern makeup and that's jarring on my eye.  Most recently, I've made do with a Pringles container covered in white printer paper (look closely):
Dave's Elizabethan Hat
I decided I could make something better. )

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