we interrupt this cray cray

OH HAI.  guess who screwed the pooch on the "toolin' around tuesdays" series.  rather than throw the next giveaway up all hasty like, i'll just announce le winner of tool number two, the crystal glass nail file.  out of 52 comments, 47 wanted in on this jammy.  counting down to random lucky number 39...

haaaaaaaay vanessa, new zealand in the house!! holler at me via email (just check my profile for my address) and we'll get those evil talons tamed.  if you didn't win, come on back tuesday march 4th for a new plaything.  no, seriously, i won't slack this time.  and if you're in desperate need of your own file, head over to sephora or ricky's (no compensation, just enabling your retail therapy needs.)

thanks for all your shout outs on blogger woes, by the way.  i had to disallow anonymous commenters, unfortunately, as waking to an inbox full of spam is ever.  so.  BORING.  i'd really love to hear more from the wordpress camp...what's better in your end of the blogisphere?  anyone care to convince me to jump ship?  


annoying anonymous A.M.

y'all.  anonymous spammer commenters have passed the level of minor annoyance and vaulted themselves into carrot topdom.  i went to sleep to 20 bouts of spam and woke up to 25 more.  no bueno.  rather than spending my free hour this morning responding to your lovely comments on my last post, i've spent sixty minutes researching the extermination of computer generated nonsense. 

i don't mind real peeps who post anonymously.  but i do hate spam.  it's so...unclean.  so, it seems i'll have to go back to some form of moderation.  which do i hate more?  making someone type an illegible phrase, or making someone sign into an account in order to comment?  well, almost everyone is signed into some account or another, it would seem the better choice.  BUT WAIT Y'ALL, BLOGGER DONE BROUGHT BACK WORD VERIFICATION.

do you remember word verification of yore?  the simple, pretty, nonsensical word that would often seem to hold some hidden meaning totally relevant to the conversation?  captcha in all its squint-inducing-swirliness should die like the hellspawn it is, but i actually used to like word verification.  we used to play games with it, 'member?  right before blogger switched to captcha, i had a mind to hold a giveaway based on the best definition of one of those wacko jumbles.  then they pulled the rug out.

i guess the carpet has been cleaned and taken out of storage.  let's see if its a charming throwback, or just itchy underfoot.  suggestions and opinions welcome!

UPDATE: HEY GUESS WHAT IGNORE EVERYTHING I JUST SAID.  turning on word verification just brought that pisser captcha back.  i refuse to use captcha.  it's off again.  suggestions and opinions on a happier spam free comments section still welcome.

i'll be back around cocktail hour with the winner of the second tooly giveaway (which you still have time to enter, thanks to the spammers!  this tool will save your silks,yo).  prize number three will also be revealed...


black and white but not so much "read"

this creation had a very quiet opening over at MSN a couple days ago, which tells me it might not be everyone's cup of tea...but here on planet kalkatroona the natives are digging it, even ruggy!!!   i LOVE it when ruggy likes something i've made!

que moody shots, eh?  i had no idea we could get such extraterrestrial light in our bedroom in the middle of the day.   weird, man.  the alien landscape must have affected me, think i could crack a smile?  inside i'm positively gleeful, i love this crazy dress tunic top thingamajig!

let me start at the beginning.  i was in the far left end of mood by the windows, in the back corner.  it seems to be inhabited by many designer bolts, and by denis, a much sought after, soft spoken breath of a gentleman.  i was hugging this bolt of caroline herrera wool & silk organza cacophony when he caught my eye.  ah, isn't it beautiful?  a pair of women tittered and fluttered behind him like groupies seeking attention.  YES.  how did they make that???  how would you WORK with it?  i whispered.  denis nodded sagely.  many have walked away from this bolt. 

i should have been one of the many, as i did my level best to destroy the two yards i walked away with.  i spent more time UNmaking it than making it.  my first thought was: maxi length skirt, which morphed into a circle skirt, which was poorly drafted and ended badly (truly, y'all, circle skirts are my achilles heel).  leave aside the fact that i underlined silk organza with two layers of polyester organza i had in my stash.   dude.  don't use margarine to cook a grass fed steak.  i looked like a holly hobby doll trying desperately to play designer dress up.

i amputated the herrera from the poly, and was left with bits and bobs, and two fairly large bias portions in the shape of drunken skirt panels. sadly, i said to ruggy i don't think i can save this without a dress form

let me remind you, i have only the very basic idea of how to drape.  as in, i know my ABCs up to about D.  but there were too many puzzle pieces in amoebic shapes to use for a pattern, and i thought if i could lay these pieces out on another (pinnable) body, i could save it.

again, here's where i ought to wish out loud for things more often, as a wolf form landed in my lap that very weekend (more on that to come...and possibly even another dress form landing today.  EGADS!).  the two skirt panels were turned upside down, becoming the main bodice piece and collar, and the other remnants became the long triangular sections at the sides. i repeated this equation on the back, and sliced up the middle for a zip.

note to self: get a cami that doesn't wrinkle. that's the cami fabric you see wrinkling like a pug puppy, the sheer organza, she lays nice and flat.

i also used up the remnants of my wool skirt to enclose all of the seams, that stuff doesn't fray, not one little bit! (oh, yeah, i'm in the process of refitting said skirt and haven't put it up in kalkatroona yet, but you can see it here on the MSN blog.)  the seams are on the outside, i placed a 5/8ths inch strip of black wool along all of the seams, and topstitched it down to enclose the raw edges.

a lot of careful surgery was performed on those seam allowances, i picked out every little bit of wool to make a flat edge.  lemme tell ya, this fabric was made by magical elves or something...

happy sunday, y'all.  i'm off to throw some lace and silk chiffon at a dress form.

this alien life form was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the Mood Sewing Network.


maddie and maps

this week i had the pleasure of stomping around the garment district for the second time in months with maddie, and later that day with christine.  before miss fish arrived, we had giant portions of espresso, and stumbled into the most blinged out store in town: hai trimmings.  i wouldn't be surprised if you haven't been there.  at the moment it's under scaffolding, and you can't see much from the window, but this long narrow store is the technicolor side of oz.  i was able to snap this one lonely shot before catching the sign NO PHOTOGRAPHS PLEASE.

maddie somehow walked out of the joint with the most romantic and classic piece they had to offer. i walked out with 24 sew on gold pointy studs.

by now, you've heard about THE MAP, yes?  this is why we need it, yo!  i keep slapping myself a la i coulda had a V8 when i see the sewasaurus rexes i've missed while on the lam.  and a joint like this needs a pin too.  a sparkly, twirling, flashy pin.

a few tips if you haven't mapped yourself yet: first, read mastermind vicki's post.  then, if you had trouble like i did, don't go trying to pin yourself via tablet/iphone/gadget.  it won't work.  use le computer, and you'll also need the least fancified of your browsers.  for me, that's safari (chrome and firefox wouldn't let me edit the map). now...some enterprising soul needs to add colors to those pins, like blue for sewists and red for stores...vicki, you've got oodles of time, no?


toolin' around tuesdays: get yo nails did

here we go y'all, giveaway the second!

last summer, my sis in law gave me, apropos of nothing, this little crystal nail file.  the women on ruggy's side of the family tree never seem to be without a file.  once, i had to get a manicure for a photo shoot of a show i was in, and we happened to be visiting down south at the time.  aunt ruggy and i trekked to the salon together, and the ladies veritably cackled at the state of my hands.  if you know about southern women, you know they do not cackle.  they smile sweetly and say things like bless your heart.  that's how bad my nails were.  and that's before i ever started sewing.

how do all these sewing bloggers have perfectly painted nails in photos?  i just can't seem to be bothered-- though they grow like nobody's business, a pristine canvas for paint.  i give the phrase "tough as nails" a whole new meaning.  BUT, when a rogue unpolished nail snags a piece of yardage, them's fightin words.  mais!  steel nail files and clippers, they catch on pretty fabric just as easily!  

no such worry with this little crystal gem.  it's smooth as glass on one side, and the other is a washable filing surface that never grows dull. YES I SAID WASHABLE.  just run it under water, and your file is clean and ready to go.  cause let's face it, that's what trips my germaphobic ass out about regular nail files, keeps me away from them like the plague.  dead nail dust is gross.

i knew instantly when i thought up this little giveaway brainstorm for my fifth bloggy birthday, this tool had to be one of the five gifties.  but i'll tell you what.  sephora NEVER has them in stock.  not in person, at least, and since i want to include oona oddities in each giveaway package, ordering a prize online and then reshipping it is so not happening.

enter ricky's of new york.  this is a small chain store, a carnival for hair supplies, halloween costumes, trinkets, they even have a 21-and-over section in the back.  AND CRYSTAL NAIL FILES.  waaaaay better than the one at sephora, too!  lookit the size of that jammy!  i must admit, when i saw this beauty, i considered keeping it for myself.  everyone knows that bigger is better.  

but no, it is virgin and untouched, it is just for you.  to enter giveaway number two, just shout out in the comments: has sewing wrecked your hands?  are they manicured, or massacred?

and now, for last week's giveaway winner...there were 140 comments for the clover chaco pen, with 5 of those comments being additional/don't include me.  and all of the comments being highly enjoyable.  i wasn't my usual responsive self because i wanted to make life easier when it came time to tally up, but y'all had me rolling.  

behold, a screenshot of the fancy random number generator app i found!  (peeps.  i HATE the regular random number generator.  it is so...fugly...my eyes...they tear up when i see it...)

i will admit to photoshopping the colors on this screenshot.  it's black and orange in the app.  houses are not safe from my amateur PS skillz, why should screenshots be?  next time i'm switching that blue up too.

julie!  holler at me with your info, girl, we got to get you out of horse n' buggy era!  you can find my contact info on my "about me" page.  if it's too confusing, ask albert, he was always handy. 

if you didn't win, and you'd like to do some retail therapy, here's the link to clover's marking tools, (chacopens at the bottom of the page) for your research.  nope, no compensation, just aiding and abetting...and you can always throw your hat in the ring for today's tool! and ps: i will indeed ship anywhere, for you new zealanders who might be worried about postage.  y'all new zealanders is CA-RAY-ZAY!  i can't leave y'all out!

update: closed...winner announced in mere moments, and come back tuesday march 4 for a chance to win tool number three...


the king's speech

a couple weeks ago, puu ("the ringleader") sent a shout out to me ("the drunk") and clio ("the one with the husband that likes to judge people and give them snappy titles") about another new york hang out.  the debonair and ever entertaining kenneth king shared his knowledge of working with leather and suede with a group of sewists in a class at Mood's NY locale, and we we happy to listen.  what.  a.  TREAT.  leave aside the fact that i could listen to this man talk about cardboard for ninety minutes.  he covered enough about this enormous topic to make us all feel like paying dmitry in leathers a visit straight after. 

i had no idea leather was so...manipulable.  is that a word?  i don't feel i should call it manipulative, as i don't think it's trying to control my actions behind my back.  unless you count the fact that the mantra I MUST HAZ LEATHER is now on repeat in my head, that could possibly be considered thought control.  there are so many ways to mold and shape this material.  for example, the dart.  you can slice that jammy open and slide it over rather than folding it.  besides making up samples right there and then, kenneth had a glorious handful of leather samples with different seam finishes--just look at that slot seam.  i want a full length leather duster, slot seamed from shoulder to floor.  how cool would that be?!  

several times, kenneth suggested using an acid green contrast leather, peeking out of a white bodice.  and how about a blood red leather paint on the edges of the seam?


you can hammer this stuff.  glue it.  tape it.  shave it.  (seriously... with a callus shaver.  hello tools!)  and oh, so many new notions to play with...my sewing desk would be like a mechanic shop!  mechanics, they hold a special place in my heart.  my dad owned a gas station, and taught me, to the point where i could diagram it, how a combustible engine worked.  i floored my 7th grade english teacher by presenting this information in a paper, and then lecturing the class on it without looking at said paper.   ah, mr. schultz.  he knew how to push my feminist buttons, and i knew how to wreck his chauvinist view of the world.  but i digress. 

he brought his droolworthy vintage bernina, and his hyper organized kit.  this is where the magic of the rolling chalk pen was brought to my attention!  (and if you want in on the giveaway, jump on that, yo.  tomorrow's the day.)  as my cohorts noted, every time he pulled out a tool, it went back in exactly as it was.  i can only imagine the order of his studio.  one brave attendee asked to borrow a pencil from his kit to make notes.  i almost fell over as i watched her grab a red waxy pencil with which to scribble, before the words of permission were barely (and haltingly) out of kenneth's mouth.  i have to wonder what would have happened if she'd asked to touch his bernina... 

now that coat, i DID touch.  that's the lining you're looking at.  THE LINING.  the outer shell is made from... wait for it... hair weave.  the leather collar is handstitched with great big thick diagonal swaths.  it's glorious.  clio was wholly unsurprised at my lust.

i've worked with leather before, in fact i had a successful etsy shop where i sold a bunch of very wacky, free form leather obis and belts like the one below, with weird descriptions having to do with the music i listened to whilst hammering them out.  i say successful; if you count success as selling all the wares you had in said shop (which was 18), then call me trump.  awoohoo!  i don't know what possessed me to make them; they weren't my style. but that helped me sell them--i liked them, yet didn't mind seeing them leave when they were scooped up. 

i've gone back and forth over the use of leather.  those belts were made with remnants (which i've since learned, via kenneth, are truly the discards of the hides.  but so cool!)  somehow i felt that since they were scraps, it was okay.  but look.  the shoes in my closet, at least the quality pairs, are leather.   as are several jackets.  and they weren't made from remnants.  i probably won't go gung ho and sew up a leather wardrobe, but, i'm okay with using it for a chic tank top or a skirt.  hell, i'm not vegan in the kitchen, why start in the closet?  and, i do very much believe in using every part of your source.  so i guess even back when i was feeling mildly guilty, i was sticking to my principles.

what say you?  would you work in leather?

i was Mood's guest at this class, with no expectation of review or mention. obviously i had a great time!


special delivery

did you get a valentine yesterday?  i got chocolate treats everywhere and we decided on an impromptu night out at the new indian joint.  for some reason no one thinks indian for valentine's.  (at least not in new york. sorry karen.  i would have airmailed you some had i known the birthday girl desired it.)

mais, i didn't get a thing for my guy.  well, unless you count incredibly bitter yet absurdly weak coffee.  how i managed to make that combo cup is beyond me.  ruggy is always the first to rise and make us a delicious pot of chemex.  i snuck out of bed yesterday morning, deciding it would make a nice treat if i did the grinding.  (WHAT.) unfortunately, my grind was too fine.  (WHAT.)  he loved it anyways.  (WHAT.)

if your valentine was as lackluster as me, i present to you, through the magic of teh interwebz,  some vintage love. hop in the limo, mr. mouse is waiting.

papa ruggy understands my obsession over vintage goods.  well, maybe not understands, but he realizes it's there and he's tickled to support it.  last christmas he presented me with a box of greeting cards, sent by his parents and their parents and so on and so forth.  as always, it struck me that people paid more attention to detail then.  real feathers!  cotton batting!  i rifled through the box with pleasure.

did someone say rifle?  take the young lad above.  that's an actual bar of metal inserted into the front.  oh yes. nothing says i love you like cupid coming to find you avec shotgun.

the inside of this card is even sweeter than the front.  to robert, from john poe.  pretty certain this is first grader range.  i remember hoping desperately for valentines in school, and i remember girls giving girls cards, but i never saw little boys exchange them.  in fact, at my extremely diverse, forward thinking east coast school, somebody would've been decked.  but here, decades ago, in a little southern town...well there you have it. 

i'll be sending one of you a sewist's valentine soon.  MAN do y'all like chalk markers! and crayola crayons, apparently.  who knew.


toolin' around tuesdays: mark it up

i almost flaked on my first toolin around tuesday giveaway!  mais non.  it is not possible.  i love y'all so much, as soon as i got home today, i cranked up the levels on my canon and poured a glass of wine.

if we're talking marking tools, i am a slut.  THERE.  i said tool and slut in the same post.  let's see my traffic NOW.

(seriously?  adult cream?  how disappointed do you think they were to find a post about sharpened shears?  hrm. maybe not that disappointed.  i am, however, liking "how to keep a southern boy happy."  i likes it very much.)

oh so many choices.  the sixth pen in isn't even meant for fabric; i think it is in fact a white-out pen.  je ne sais quoi, the label is japanese.  the stubby yellow chunk of chalk next to it is portugese.  it's the united nations up in here, baby.  

at the far end of the line, please spy the disgraced red barrel.  peeps, i know you loved the chalk pop up pen of many colors.  i don't blame you.  i loved it too.  it's bright and happy and screamed I WILL MAKE YOUR WORLD RIGHT.  but it lied.  it breaks into little pieces like the sham of a tool it is, leaving you with fragments of candy colored chalk everywhere, a curse upon your breath and technicolor swaths of dust on your cat's feet. 

but this little baby, introduced into my marking obsession by kenneth king, this chunky thing DELIVERS.  he whipped one out-- well, the cousin to this baby, his looked different-- at a class he recently taught at mood.  i whispered to classmate clio: i have to have that.

devra wanted it too.  it made the most delicious snickety clickety sound with each efficient swipe across fabric. can you see the teeny spikes on the tip?  the picture is a bit blurry, as stated, today was crazyface and nighttime is meant for cocktails, not pictures. 

but those teeny spikes make the sharpest sweetest mark, y'all.  although we were supposed to be focusing on the leather, i found it hard not to fixate on the swift, deft lines kenneth produced with that NEW TOOL MUST HAVE NEW TOOL

on a recent trip to SIL for serger thread, i combed the aisles and found my treasure.  just look at the precision compared to a regular chalk pencil!  IT IS ABSURD!  yes, yes, i know, you can get a nice thin line from a chalk pencil.  if you sharpen it every thirty friggin seconds, hoping during the ten seconds of sharpening the tip doesn't break off in the sharpener, causing you to resharpen ALL OVER AGAIN.  that's like eighty seven thousand seconds of sharpening per dart, yo. with this bad boy, roll away to your heart's content, then refill the chalk dust cartridge.  

i picked up a pretty pink one for you, too!  you want?  just leave a comment telling me about your favorite method of marking fabric (the one that will assuredly be usurped by this chunky clover) and you're in!  expect your prize package to come with a pattern picked out just for you.  and probably some candy.  maybe a mix tape. if you can't get your mind off the carnival colored deceiver of a chalk pen, i'll prolly throw that in too.

the winner will be announced next tuesday, and a whole new giveaway announced that day as well. 

my glass of cotes du rhone, she is empty!  i am off for refills!

update tuesday 02/19: giveaway is now closed, the winner will be announced later today, along with a brand new tool for you to win!


maddie's got a brand new bag

when i think of maddie and her blog madalynne, i think of a spun sugar shell with crystal rock candy insides. probably a bit of sparkle on it.  i believe she'd like that description.  it certainly makes me grin, and i smiled all the wider this weekend when i awoke to an email announcing her first pattern.  i'm happy as a kid in a candy store to spread the news here!  (i'm going with the analogy. please replace kid with bigger kid and candy with liquor.)

and, along with her sweet tart style, i do believe miss maddie has the skillz to pull this new venture off beautifully, as her posts on pattern making and drafting prove.  however, she wants our feedback and constructive criticism on her first offering: the amerson undies.  so, the (gorgeous) pdf is a free download.  now, listen, envelope gals, this is only 8 teeny pages.  the perfect number to dip your toes into the dark waters of the PDF pond (i'm looking at you, rachel).   the pattern ranges from a 35 to a 40 hip, which puts me right at the edge of said pond.  but, as to her request for constructive critique, curvier ladies can and should raise your hand at maddie's if you fancy a pair!

i love it when bloggers take their personal style and translate it into their very own pattern.  it's like your good friend with that enviable closet of goodies is letting you borrow her favorite piece, forever.


see you next tuesday: toolin around


for the fifth time in five years, to be exact.  my bloggy birthday.  bumped by boxing, booze, and a beautiful lady's birthday.  five years old.  (the blog, not the beauty.)  ruggy and i both have to count aloud on our fingers every time i say that.  my blog is a small child, crashing around and knocking into things, probably not very well behaved, but tries to be respectful in other people's homes.  (let's just forget the fact that it's underage.)

speaking of underage!  i thought the best way to mark this occasion would be to giveaway a bottle of my favorite rye (high west double) or perhaps some tequila (chamucos) but i really don't want to go to jail.  so!  i've had a little idea brewing for some time about tools...my favorite tools.  we all have them, and i'd like to share mine with you.  get your mind out of the gutter.

had i planned ahead, i would have combined my bloggy birthday with debi's sew grateful in a five day marathon of giveaways.  like i said, boxing and booze.   oh   s o    m  u  c  h     b   o   o   z   e.
(edit: details here, at beauty's blog.  go right now, i'm serious.  i'll wait.)

instead, i'll be introducing a new tool every tuesday (for as long as i have wares to write about), and for the next five weeks, i'll be giving away the gizmos i pipe about.  one for each missed year!  currently, my favorite device is the bell you see above, a christmas gift from parental balloonas.  THEY KNOW ME SO WELL.  perhaps you'll hear about it some tuesday...perhaps i'll holler about that sa-weet tape dispenser in the background...maybe the fanciest seam rippers you've ever seen...you'll just have to come back on tuesdays and see!


toulouse! don't stare!


i see bathing suits in my future.

in honor of debi's sew grateful week, i received this uber cool surprise package from lisette!  THANKS GIRL! how wonderful!  this makes two sew gratefuls in a row that were sponsored by your hand.  (oddly enough, i pulled my fashion blogger face last time around.)

speaking of benefactors, is our debi not a love enabler, or what? it's been so nice to see all the gratefulness going round the blogs this week.  i have a special sew-grateful-with-a-twist post of my own due tomorrow. i still haven't figured out the with-a-twist part of it, which is for you... but i will.  probably tonight over sazeracs with-a-lemon-twist.


save room for some meat

this is the face i make when i think i'm going to act like a fashion blogger.  not that i think fashion bloggers are like, weird faced or anything.  they usually look pretty hot.  but to give you an idea of my over-expressive facial activity, this is my hot fashion blogger face.

it's a problem, really, ruggy will ask me something completely mundane like why don't you carry your cell phone charger in your purse today and, in thinking of my response (but there's already SO MUCH STUFF IN MY PURSE) my face will contort into such drastic proportions, you'd think he'd asked me to go on an all tofu alcohol free diet.

speaking of diet, we kicked off the weekend at quality meats with parental balloonas.  i daresay we were the most entertaining and entertained table there.  and WELL FED, YO.  steak tartare.  beef cheeks.  hanger steak with brandied cherry sauce.  big daddy may have licked the bowl.  i like to wear me mades to these outings, and ran outside at the end of our luncheon adventure to snap some pics in some seriously frigid air.  blogger photo tip: if you are of drinking age, you don't need a coat to get good shots in winter.

oh yeah hey guess what!  i made this skirt.  it's not a circle skirt.  it was meant to be.  somewhere along the way, my math was reaaaaaalllllly off, well, just looky here, i snapped a picture while i was cutting, thinking my pattern weights looked pretty frigging cool:


i was too enamored of this print to leave it be, so i swung the skirt around till it behaved.  seems the side seam zipper wants to sit just off center front.  see that pink highway just under the belt buckle?  OKAY BY ME. especially since i went to the trouble to actually line this baby in burgundy georgette from paron's.  the lining is a far, far better fabric than the the print, some mystery grab from 21st century fabrics...you see, i bought myself a new pair of boots, and every fabric i held up to myself that day seemed to go with my new kicks.

shoe shopping is hard.  especially when daffy's goes bankrupt and your source for four dollar shoes goes poof. another reason i could not be a fashion blogger. 

necklace: vintage (thanks momballoona!)
sweater: zara
belt: h&m
earrings: flea market
socks: free people
boots: miz mooz
skirt: crazyface
crazyface: me