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Achieving Stuff II: The Search for Perspective

5 Dec

I have a ton of things on my to-do list today, and none of them are “write a blog post.” Then again, none of them are “organize pictures in downloads folder,” either, and I’m definitely doing that, so what’s a to-do list in the grand scheme of things, really?

I’ve been thinking about accomplishments.

A friend of mine graduated this summer, and I gave her a sketchbook with a little note that said something like “Your productivity does not define your worth.” I don’t remember the exact wording, but that was the sentiment, and it’s one that I’ve often expressed to her and to other friends. Of course that’s easier said than believed, and what’s sauce for the goose you like is not necessarily sauce for yourself when you don’t like yourself (that got away from me a bit), but I stand by it. Even for myself. Mostly. Sometimes.

Ok, though, maybe I don’t? Not really. I’ve spent most of my life believing I am lazy and  the worst. I’m 90% sure I have some kind of attention disorder, and who knows? Maybe in 2019 I’ll finally talk to someone about getting that checked out. Have I suspected this for several years? Sure. Have I been putting off seeking diagnosis because I’m secretly terrified that they will say “no, you’re just a lazy bitch and your inability to focus is a moral failing”? Yes, obviously, but that’s not the point. The point is: to combat this feeling of “you accomplish nothing, you are worthless” I’ve started keeping lists of what I’ve done every day, because otherwise I am likely to forget it. Come on: if a woman cleans the bathroom but doesn’t write “cleaned bathroom” down on the back of a crumbled envelope, did it even happen? So in the spirit of “I forget things,” what have I accomplished in 2018?

Well, I co-created four really great Dragon Age costumes. This blog started as a costume blog, and one might think I would have discussed that process here, but I was busy freaking the fuck out all the time and never got around to it. Anyway, my friend E and I put these together over several months this spring and summer. She made the armor, and I made the clothes, which means I custom dyed (it’s a mix! of two! different! dyes! and it took me! four! weeks! to arrive at this particular! shade! of video game blue!) and patterned all this fabric shit.  These costumes were hard as fuck. They took hundreds of hours. We cried a lot and wound up hurting and exhausted and deliriously happy. I’m enormously proud of both of us, as well as these pictures by YouAreRaven.

 

I finished a short-novel-length piece of Dragon Age fanfiction. It’s just under 75k words, mostly original characters, and yes it’s fanfiction but you know what? I finished it. I started and finished a goddamned long-form piece of fiction for the first time in my life. Like, I finally learned how to do that. Do you understand how big an accomplishment this is for me? Do I understand that? I’ve been scribbling away at stories for 20something years and can count the number of Beginning-Middle-End Finished Pieces on two hands. What’s more, I posted it. Like, for strangers to read. And it’s pretty goddamned good, if you like that sort of thing.

At some point I finished the rough (very rough) draft of a female-driven fantasy novel I’ve been working on since late 2013. There’s still a long way to go on this one, but the skeleton and the muscles are there and we’re moving steadily towards the tendons and skin and…nerves? what other pieces of a body fit into this metaphor? I’m working on what could be called the second draft now. It’s slow going, but it gets better with every change, whether big or little. I’m learning how to organize and work through this process. It’s sitting right around 100k words. It has a title. It has a beginning and an end and most of a middle. And it’s pretty goddamned good.

Around Memorial Day weekend I started a female-driven urban fantasy novel that I’m about 61k words into. It’s pretty goddamned good so far. It’s looking like a trilogy. And I wrote some more short stories and creative nonfiction, some original and some fanfiction (Mass Effect and Rogue One and more Dragon Age, because this is who I am), some for public consumption and some for practice. I started referring to little throwaway snippets as “practice” rather than “a waste of time, God biscuit what is wrong with you” and I stopped thinking of writing as a chore and started treating it as a thing that gives me joy, because that’s what it is. I have started seeing a future in it–a for real future, an honest to God path forward. I have started doing research for What Comes Next. I have started making tentative plans.

I did an entire season playing music on stage in a duo at the Georgia ren faire, and then I did an entire season playing music on a stage solo at the Carolina ren faire. Not every set was perfect. I was nervous as hell. I forgot words, I forgot chords, I chickened out of some of the harder stuff, I cried after some sets, but I smiled and I sang and I kept going and I persevered. I never missed a set. I practiced all the time. I challenged myself and learned new things. I am infinitely better at the guitar than I was this time last year. I got roped into performing in a last-minute show at the fringe festival a week after the Georgia faire closed, and despite a laundry list of obstacles, I pulled it off. I performed several other places. I’m looking for more. I entered some contests. I’m entering some more.

I dealt with constant pain in my back, knees, and elbows, and intermittent pain in my left ovary for almost the entire year. I forgave myself for that pain, I let myself get treatment, and I forgave myself for getting treatment. I forgave myself for a lot things that shouldn’t need forgiveness. I started wearing knee braces and using my inhaler when I need them, not just when I need need them. I kept up with my hair color. I flossed. I spent a lot of time strengthening my marriage and friendships. I promoted my friends. I promited myself a little. I voted. I protested. The world is a garbage fire, but I’m doing stuff.

This time last year I had no idea where I was going, except that it would have to be better than where I was. This year I have almost stopped telling myself that I am a worthless procrastinater who never finishes anything.

So that’s what I’ve accomplished in 2018. In 2019 I’m going to really work on that “getting my hair trimmed regularly” thing.

Because WordPress won’t let iframes work unless you pay them, this year’s Intention Playlist can be found here.

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Fairy Fail Update

15 May

First of all, I love you guys. I woke up this morning to a flood of encouragement and warm fuzzies, here and on my Facebook, that I really needed to be able to get back on the horse. You are all the best.

heart is full of rainbows

Dramatic, but accurate

On the suggestion of many people, I showered, slept, went out for sushi and frozen yogurt, and then tried my hand at belting the faulty gown. You were all right; it looks much better with a belt. I just…still don’t like it. I spent quite a bit of time actively not thinking about it before I came back to try it again, the better to come to it with a clean slate, and I just…I don’t like it. It’s not what I thought it would be, and I don’t like how it fits anywhere, not just at the waist. Specifically I’m unhappy with the arm holes, the way the bodice crosses (badly. It crosses badly), and the just general bulkiness of it. Even with serious belting, the fabric pools and pulls and puffs weirdly and makes me look pregnant. I would have to construct a belt a LOT wider than what I had planned–what basically amounts to an underbust corset–to make it work about half of what I want it to work, and I don’t have the time or energy to make two of those.

Eventually, perhaps this summer, I will take it apart and see if I can figure out what went wrong. I don’t have the time to do that now, though, so I’m starting over, with a pattern I’ve proven I can use and alter accurately and quickly. I’ve got today, part of tomorrow, and part of Friday. I got a little more fabric this morning, and I’m going to make one costume at a time lest I mess up again. I’m starting with mine, the Fairy of Red Grapes. I’ll keep you up to date.

Fairy fail

15 May

I basically just finished the Red Grape Fairy, and it looks terrible.

I think I can say with certainty that the problem is not on my end, except that I bought a shitty pattern. My bad.

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I made a thing, and it turned out really well

10 Apr

I’ve wanted a collared bodice for a long time. I like the way collars frame my face, and the back of the neck is an enormously awkward place to put sunscreen.

I finally got around to making one.

I’m so proud of it I could poo.

esp 2013

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Finishing seams

21 Feb

So apparently finishing seams is a thing you need to do. I learned this the hard way, over the last year, when my shirts frayed so badly I felt like Oogie Boogie in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Except not filled with worms. Since I don’t like unraveling, I decided that this time! things will be different.

Unfortunately, birdseye cotton, my shirt fabric of choice, frays like a Walder. It seemed to me that simply pinking the edges wouldn’t be enough. With that in mind, I’m trying two different tacks, one on each shirt.

Tactic One: pre-finishing the seams
This was suggested by a user on the Renaissancefestival.com sewing forum. I cut out all the pieces, and basically roll-hemmed every edge that wasn’t the selvedge (or the bottom of the shirt, which will get hemmed once the shirt is constructed).

Behold! Ye olde tiny thongs.

Behold! Ye olde tiny thongs.

Was this epically fussy and time-consuming? Yes. Am I certain it will work? No. Am I concerned that I hemmed too much out of the seam allowance? Yes. Should I have accounted for that when cutting? Yes. Did I? No. Is all this worry and fuss worth it if it works? YES YES ONE THOUSAND TIMES YES.

Tactic Two: We’ll Fix It In Post
With my other shirt, I’m going go try a modified flat-felled seam. I say “modified” as a catch-all disclaimer.

I haven’t started the second shirt yet because I’m also modifying the pattern quite a bit and want to test it out before I do a bunch more cutting. I’m still using the Smock Pattern Generator. Modifications include making it significantly shorter–it’s going to be about hip-length, which necessitated making the side gores quite a bit less intense. With no real thought other than “let’s see how this works,” I basically chopped the prescribed in half; we’ll see how it goes. I’ve also modified the sleeves to make them a little puffier.

So there’s all that. I’m about to piece the first shirt together and see how it looks.

Sewing Supplies

11 Sep

Or,

Shit What I Need To Gather Before I Can Start Sewing

  • something to watch, because sewing is boring. Today it’s Bunheads on Hulu, which, as it turns out, has Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors in it
  • chapstick, so I don’t have to get up and go searching for it every time my lips start to feeling a little dry
  • iced tea in quantities some people might consider excessive
  • patterns. Many patterns, preferably with lots of directions and pictures that actually make sense
  • the interwebs, so I can look up all of the things I don’t understand and also browse TV Tropes
  • the Box of Sewing Supplies, which has tape measures and scissors and various pokey things
  • a lint roller, so when the cats deign to get off the fabric I can come behind and remove the fur they graciously left behind
  • Bandaids
  • a manicure set, so when I tire of staring at my hangnails I can pretend to do something about them when really I’m just digging around under my fingernails
  • my sewing machine, I guess
  • snackies
  • my phone, which serves the triple purpose of interweb browsing, texting, and a stopwatch so I can occasionally time myself
  • THEY ARE DOING BALLET ZOMG YOU GUYS I LOVE BALLET
  • tissues, because my head is constantly full of snot
  • like, five sweaters
  • oh God I hate sewing, I am going to go paint my fingernails

Building the Post-Apocalyptic Avengers

6 Sep

As promised, a post about the construction of the Post-Apocalyptic Avenger costumes which mr. biscuit and I constructed. This is long and wordy and boring and FULL OF PICTURES.

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