2012: Jan 11

It'd been so long since I'd been on the sewing machine that I couldn't remember what the Teflon foot was doing on there. Also, I know that in an ideal world, the needle would get changed out for every new project. I'd just be less embarassed if I could manage to switch it out more often then I get my hair cut.


If it weren't for Halloween, I'd probably never sew any apparel. Besides the occasional hat, of course. Setting in a sleeve is so much easier than it seems, I really ought to try it more often outside of October.


After a day filled with pancake-making, birthday-party-attending, Bear-sleeping (or not)-in-a-newly-converted-toddler-bed, and curry-simmering, it was nice to sit down and stitch a few plastic rings onto the curtain that is getting tantalizingly close to done. This step is particularly low-tech, with its needle-and-thread simplicity, and tape-measure distance-halving.


I don't buy too many craft books these days. Between our awesome local library system (hello, iPhone app), and the interwebs, there just isn't much in the craft books that I deem purchaseable. And maybe I've become a bit of a skinflint (well, not really). But even when my coworker, a pretty amazing person, released a pretty amazing book, I didn't even buy that. But I had some time to kill yesterday, and found myself at the bookstore in front of this book written by the drafter of super adorable patterns for wee ones. One of which was the hood that I adapted for Bear's Little Red Riding Hood costume last Halloween. And what's included in the book? A full-on sugar-and-spice sweet pattern for a red riding hood cape, tucked in among the most classic-cute designs I've ever seen. So, yeah, I bought it.


Lining pinned to curtain panel, while I slowly make my way around, slip-stitching with needle and thread.


I've been working on a roman shade for our bedroom going on four months now. Mostly, it'd been sitting as a heap of cut fabric panels in the corner while I attended to halloween capes and crowns and failed screen-printed scarves. But, now, I'm in full list-crossing-off mode. And all those WIPs have got to go. Had I gone through the instructions for this shade thoroughly before I started on it, all the hand stitching required might have scared me away. But now that I'm in it, just like the binding of a quilt, I'm finding it to be a nice reprieve from a day spent mollifying sick children.

Belated Halloween-ness


First off, some business. That littlest of persons, the one heretofore known as "The Girlie," shall from this point forward be known as "Bear". Not so feminine, I know, but certainly more befitting of a girl whose favorite utterance is a snarly arrrgh, and who wrestles up the furniture with pure mammalian gusto. The Boy shall keep his moniker, as he is quintessentially as his name suggests, having reached the critical stage where he weaponizes everything and waves, proudly, the pirate flag we purchased at our much-missed favorite dispensary for knick-knackery . That is all. Now, on to the other stuff I write about...

Halloween, as you may recall, was a pretty big damned deal in our Houston days. Like high school basketball gym big. Plan and provision-stock year-round big. More anticipation-building than Christmas big. Of course, we left true trick-or-treat insanity when we drove off that street for the last time in July. And even then we knew that what we'd miss most about living there, even more than that extra half-bath, was that exhilarating spectacle of thousands of candy-hoarders beating down our front porch. 

And, of course, we were well aware that the holiday in Seattle would be conspicuously unspectacled. For every time that The Boy jitterrily counted down the days advent-calendar-style to his favorite day of the year, we had to calmly bring him down, brace him for the disappointment that Halloween will never be as fun as it was when we lived in Texas. It's a cold-hard truth. 

But, while we may have left the revelry behind, we did take with us a deep appreciation for the holiday. Mr. New Media and I had never been ones for fantasy and dressing up and, in general, anything that might call attention to ourselves. We were both the sort of kids that were content to sit in the middling rows, dressed in nice, but inconspicuous attire, even when given the free-license that a day like Halloween could provide. We each came to our own brands of anti-socialness through our own peculiar set of circumstances, but we both got there nonetheless. And much of our parental careers have been spent trying to raise children who are not at all like us in that respect. 

It sometimes feels like some grand nature vs. nurture experiment, like Trading Places without the unfortunate foray into blackface. And at many times, we feel about as successful as alchemists attempting to forge gold out of the most timid kid in the room. Because, even after all the planning and constructing and excitement-building, The Boy, who clamored down from his nap every day for a week eager to see the progress I'd made on his wolf costume, nagging at me to finish the crown that would transform him from mere ordinary wolf to a Where the Wild Things Are fantasy, was afraid to show up at school in costume the Friday preceding Halloween. But — and I know it was a little mean of us to do — we made him do it. Because we knew that at the end of the day he would have enjoyed himself. And the true beauty of Halloween-on-a-Sunday is that you have all weekend to really get comfortable with your wolf-self, or Daphne-from-Scooby-Doo-self, or sexy watermelon, or whatever. And, yes, all it took was that day at school, and he eagerly wore the hell out of that costume for the rest of the weekend. 

But, I digress. Imagine that. This is a space about making things, and I had started out this post with the intention of discussing the minutiae of costume-building. Like how the wolf top was constructed using the same pattern used for last year's Peter Rabbit jacket. Or how Bear's Little Red Riding Hood cape, woolen with a rich cotton sateen lining and way more luxurious than the out-of-a-package acetate Little Red Riding Hoods we scrambled past on our trick-or-treating ventures, was mostly a make-it-up-as-I-went affair that turned out to be just about the cleanest, most tailored item ever sewn by my humble machine. My delighted score of a picnic basket at the thrift store. How I had to take in the tail I had originally sewn into the wolf-pants because The Boy refused to wear it at that length. But I'm running out of steam here, what with all that talk about feelings and anti-social tendencies. So I'll just highlight three moments of this year's costume preparations.


1) I've come to the conclusion that the my sewing machine's handy One-step buttonhole procedure is a poorly documented piece of crap. Doesn't work. Pisses me off every time I try to make it work. Four buttons needed installation for the Wolf and one for 'Lil Red. I tossed out the buttonhole attachment that came with the machine and I did what I imagine every Pioneer woman with a 7-year-old entry-level, Target-purchased, never-serviced Singer would have done to install a damned button hole. I just stitched in a crazy tight zigzag on either side of the hole and gouged it open with a seam ripper. By the way, have there been any technological improvements on that particular device? I keep thinking I need a better one, and I go to the accessory aisle hoping to be wowed with a top-of-the-line whizzbang of a seam ripper, and am faced, disappointedly, with an array of devices whose one-upmanship seem solely based on their ergonomic prowess (read: larger handles).

2) The Boy's crown was the final element to create, and the one item for which I couldn't just fake it with something from my stash. A last-minute trip to the fabric store found us a gold-latex-painted fabric type thing, which stood on end next to a red-latex-painted fabric type thing. The Boy, taken with what can only be described as sex on a bolt, insisted that, one, his favorite color was glossy latex red, and that, two, its inclusion in the crown was not up for debate. Compromise: made gold crown, with a red lining. Didn't hear any complaints.


3) Bear loved her cape. Until we tried putting the hood up over her head. At which point she'd tug and pull and squirm and grunt and eventually scream. So mostly she was a little girl in a red cape whose parents had to constantly explain her getup. The last time we had to explain a child's costume was The Boy's first Halloween when we pinned a handful of toy snakes to his shirt and called him "Snakes on a Baby" (this was 2006, mind you). I suppose when they're old enough to decide for themselves what they'll dress up as, they get to make the explanations. And I'll be there to make them do it.