Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Mound of Patterns

I am digging out from under a mound of patterns for dolls, fabric for dolls, and accessories for dolls. I have almost found the surface of the bed that serves as a cutting table when a cardboard mat is placed on it. If I stack all the commercial doll clothing patterns in a closet, I might die from the avalanche when the door opened. We are not counting hand drawn patterns or indie patterns.

Once upon a time, a pair of denim pants tried to strangle me around the waist. These hybrid jeans had a waistband that was half elastic and came up too high. I tossed them into a To Do pile and ignored them for months. A couple of months ago I chopped off the waistband and a bit more, and the pants fell off. Today I took in the waist and gave the pants a band cut on the bias. Better. Not great, but better. They neither fall off nor strangle.

When sweatpants the same color as some I own and love turned up at a 2nd hand store, I couldn't leave them there, even though they were much too small. Enlarging sweatpants takes time, fabric,  and a seam ripper. The stash spat out a cotton knit that does not scream too loudly with the lavender of the sweatpants, and I was able to piece in a stripe at each side. I had to remove elastic at waist and ankles, add strips, and put in more elastic. This is not worth the bother until you look at how much all-cotton sweatpants cost compared to acrylic and polyester sweatpants. Costly and comfy vs. cheap and itchy. The pants will never be lovely, but will always be comfy, unlike clothing with more than 20 percent polyester. I tried to take a picture, but the pants refused to cooperate.

Yes, it is possible to find 2nd hand pants that fit pretty well for a good deal less than it costs to buy the fabric to make my own, provided I search through several thrift stores and am not terribly picky about color. On the other hand, once I have the fabric (and I have a basement full of copier paper boxes of fabric), there is nothing to stop me from using a tried-and-true pattern to make pants day or night. I want corduroy pants, but I have a box of velveteen. I now have a pattern that fits tolerably well but cannot be considered tried and true. Progress has been made.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Traditions of the Season

Dashing through the malls? No.

Candy canes? No.

Staying up all night to finish sewing or baking something? Yes.

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, eighty dolls in sizes from 6 to 18 inches left my house and were delivered to Catholic Social Services. Why do I redress dolls? I can turn junk dolls into nice toys. My nieces and nephews aged out on me, so I do it for kids I don't know and will never meet. The idea of children without toys in the darkest days of the year worries me. This is romantic and naive. I saw a parent walk away from CSS with two trash bags of gifts he'd chosen for his family. Next time I will close my eyes and preserve my illusion that each parent is choosing one or two things for each child. 

One would think I'd be tired of making doll clothes, but a few dolls missed the cutoff. I'll save them for another year. The nude vinyl Madeline with 2 books needs a dress and red tie to go with her shoes, socks, and hat. A one-legged doll needs mending, as does a doll with bad hair. Vampire Ken's 1980's clothing is obscenely tight and his cape won't stay on. Generic Male Action Figure requires a chef's apron and barbecue mitt to go with his chef's hat. He can transform into Dentist Guy with a change of shirt. Camo Max is still fussing about his shirt and demands mossy green socks as well. I'd like to give him a mossy green gag.

I'm not the consumer the ads are aimed at. Years ago I went into a mall pre-Christmas and was scarred for life: the interminable caroling, the cloying odors, the hordes of people, the same merchandise at all 240 stores! The only stores I go into between Thanksgiving and Christmas any more are grocery and 2nd hand stores. I shop in my basement for fabric to turn into tote bags; nearly all of us take our own bags into stores, and even fabric totes eventually wear out. And I make cookies, because this allows me to sample several kinds. They get given away and do not stick around to tempt me into sugar shock and worse. 

My family is on the odd/eccentric side of Christmas as well. My mother says that anything that cannot be thrown away after a reasonable amount of time, or eaten, is not a good gift. My brother claims that anything he really wants is so specialized and expensive that he can't ask for it as a gift, so he gives it to himself and lets the rest of us supply what he really needs: new socks. A cousin believes we can never have too many refrigerator magnets. What do they want and expect? Christmas cards.

I haven't mailed Christmas cards I wrote out 2 years ago. It's the last week before Christmas, and I have not started to construct a good many things that I had thought I'd get around to. I avoid the entire Christmas mail-by rush and mail presents after Christmas. Think of it as my New Year's celebration. Who knows, I might get it done by April 1.

What do I want for Christmas? Space. I'd like to see the floors in my basement and garage. I'd like to move the car into the garage and not have to dig it out after the rare Dayton snows. Oh, I know! I'd like an e-mail mailbox with more mail than spam. Send me emailed greetings and a silly joke, and I'll be happier than if you spent hours searching out the quintessential wonderfulness. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Sewing at Clutter Haven

Note: if the pants you need to alter are black and you live with cats, you will not get them altered fast enough to prevent them from turning gray with cat hair. I pieced in waist adjustments at the side seams with wide grosgrain the precise same shade of black. If you think that is not an accomplishment, think again. There are greenish blacks, brownish blacks, gray blacks and navy blacks as well as coal black. By the time I had marked the hems, the pants were fuzzy. By the time the hems were done, the new and unworn pants looked like dust rags.

I try to be organized so that I can do my sewing in short spurts, but it may be a lost cause. All the in-between times allow me to lose  pieces. Why do I have 3 bodices and 2 skirts for 3 dolls? Why do I have 10 pairs of pants and 3/4 of a shirt?

Putting the pre-Christmas sewing in the sunniest room in the house was a tactical error. My mother came for a visit. That's the room she sleeps in. When she's out of the room, we are together. I'm frustrated. I have stacks of boy doll pants cut out. They've been moved. When I find them, I can't use the sewing machine. The stack gets lost again. 

I borrowed back a machine I had lent, but forgot to get its box of accessories. Half the stuff I can do with the newer machine is not possible with the one I borrowed, and I've had to set it up in a room that has lousy lighting at night, a room that I've never before used at night. I managed to sew hook & loop fasteners to a lot of things. The older machine refuses to sew knits. Just eats them into the hole in the faceplate and growls at me. Half the shirts are knits, and itty bitty garments at that. Argh.  I can't bear to think of what it did to tiny necklines.

There are recycled 4x9 envelopes into which I've stuffed every pattern for dolls I developed over far too many years. Many are dupes, because I take patterns out to use and some never find their way back to the original envelopes. Commercial patterns have pictures on the fronts as reminders. All I wrote is doll sizes: toddler 10 inch, skinny 8 inch, Lady 18 inch. I think I need subcategories and sub envelopes. The last time I tried that, I had to recreate the entire series of patterns.

I am suffering from TMS: Too Much Stuff. I keep thinking that I ought to organize it and give some away, but when I spend time sorting, acquisitive lust takes over. My clutter is much better organized, though.