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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Making Friends Fat

Everyone has that one friend that has the ideal figure...the friend that's always skinny, always looks good, with the perfectly proportioned body.  We love that friend for who she is, of course.  And we get a lot of good out of being friends with her. 

But secretly we hate her, don't we?  I have a skinny friend.  Her name is Grace.  Doesn't her perfect figure make you sick? 

Yea, Grace is my dressmaker model.  I always wanted one but they are pri-cee!  By dumb luck, I was just bumming around one day and stumbled upon a thrift store and she just happened to be in the window at $40.  She's not too shabby....but she is definately way too skinny. 

I use her a lot for sewing and of course, things look great on her skinny self.  All the items on the floor behind her are HER clothes, 'cuz Lord knows they wouldn't fit me.  Some friend, hey? 

Well, I can't get too mad at her.  The thing about sewing is, it forces you to admit your natural shape.  It is absolutely frustrating to spend all day sewing something only to put it on and have it fit poorly. 

It's madness to try and use a model that's skinnier than you...or doesn't have your shape issues (swayback, dowager's hump, saddlebags, whatever).  So, to make clothes that fit, you need a model that's shaped like you.  I decided it's high time to fatten up my friend.  I used this awesome and easy tutorial from Threads magazine.  And my equally awesome sister, Caroline, helped me out. 

You basically put on an old shirt then have your helper wrap you up in duct tape all around your curves and other issues.  Honestly is required - no sucking in your tummy, padding your bra, or standing funny to hide your true shape. 

After spending about an hour getting high on duct tape fumes in my bathroom, this is what we ended up with:

See what I mean - no lying about your true shape. 

But the form is cool.  The shirt and tape combo gives it stability, yet is flexible.  I'm scuking in my tummy below, and you can see that I can poke into it.  This is great because you can push into a real person....therefore, I need to be able to push into Grace's new shape. 

Once you're all taped up, your partner slices you out of it with a cut down the back, leaving the form ready to slip out of.

And there's the new Grace.  Laying on my sewing table like a dead slug, which is identical to how I look after The Conductor and I eat dinner.  Sadly, this is the body shape that comes when the one you love loves to eat as much as you do.  ~Sigh~   

I was so pleased with how this turned out that I asked my sister to tape my upper arm which, next to my bust and belly, is probably the third toughest part of my body to fit properly.  If you make a model of your arm or thighs, you should either squeeze your arm muscles as you're taped or sit down for your leg - you want the model to reflect your shape at it's widest so your clothes have enough ease in the fit. 

Once you're sliced out of it, drape the new form over your model.  Make sure you tape over all of gaps in the original model.    Shove batting or fiberfill inside to pad any areas that don't lay exactly on the old model. 
Because you sliced out of the back, it's easy to line up the original cut and tape it closed.  And there's your new friend. 

I am SO SO SO thrilled with Grace's new look.  So thanks to my sister for inhaling duct tape fumes with me.  Can you even tell which one's Grace and which one is me?  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where Did it Go?

Wow.  How did a whole year manage to get by me?  I had only about 22 posts - this whole year!

It's not that I haven't had anything to blog's just that I'm so busy getting things DONE that I don't have time to write about them!

I'm off for a Christmas break and I thought I'd share all the goodies I got this year.  I was really blessed this year which gives me a lot of hope.  We're in a crappy economy.  Several people I know are dealing with being un- or under employed.  So it was really encouraging to see that no one around me let that stop them from sharing a nice holiday season.  Here's my haul:

First was a goodie basket from the Conductor's mom.  I got it when I visited her with him for Thanksgiving.  She always puts together fun baskets.    This one included some candies, hot chocolate a dip mix, a holiday plate, some pretty soap, a pin, socks, a bun warming cloth, napkins, Michigan made salad dressing and a cookbook magazine. 
The best part of all was the basket itself though. 

She gave me..drumroll please: ^V^V^V^V^V^V^V:

A real....honest to goodness....Longaberger basket!!

I didn't think I could ever own one of them but there it is.  She also sent me home with an oblong shaped one that has a lid for the plastic liner.  Happy dance, happy dance!  (Dana and his brother looked bored when we were discussing baskets.  Boys just don't understand these things).

It even has a removable liner.  So guess what this seamstress will be doing?  Yuh-huh.  Taking it out and making a pattern to make changeable liners.  Happy dance!

I also got a pretty good assortment from my coworkers:

It includes a mug of chocolate treats, a sugar scented candle, an angel note holder, an ornanmental J, and my boss...who has been described by the press as "a fastidious follower of the rules" gave us each a wine glass and a set of cocktail mixers.  No booze, but still, not like her at all.

My favorite from this group is the set of towels and coasters that Gene's wife, Marie made.  She cross-stitched them.  Aren't they cute?

I admire stitchers. I know how to do it but I don't like to.  My free time is rare and in the amount of time it took her to do this, I could have made a skirt and a top.  It's like you do so much work for such a small amount of "doneness".  Which is why I admire people that have the tenacity to do work like this.  Sr. Nancy taught me to cross stitch in high school and told us that the mark of a good stitcher is when the back looks just as good as the front.  Let's check Marie's work:

Yep.  Girl's got it goin' on!

Also at work, I got a political gift.  We've had some government issues here in Wisconsin.  Namely, our arsehole governor and some of our state representatives have turned teachers into a political football.  One local company, Penzy's Spices, didn't like that and wanted to say thank you teachers for their hard work.  They gave out these gift boxes to teachers at the start of school - - but sent a box to ALL of us public school employees for Christmas.  How awesome is that? 

The box includes a bumper sticker and pin. Since I'm not a teacher, I'll give these my brother who teaches.  It also had a bottle of their salt-free seasoning mix, a cookbook, and a little jar of cinnamon. 

I got a kick out of the cinnamon.  Here's MY jar of cinnamon.   

Look how cute the Penzy's jar is next to my jar.  :)

I also met up with my friend, The Gardener, for dinner and we exchanged gifts.  She gave me a talking pedometer which I'm looking forward to using at the gym.  I sure hope it says something other than, "Boy Jill, are you getting fat!"  She also gave me a jar of honey.  Coincidentally, I included a chocolate bar with honeycombs in her gift.  (We both daydream about beekeeping someday).

She also gave me a spoonrest.  As if through ESP, The Gardener, who hasn't been in my house since I first moved in, chose for me a spoonrest that perfectly matches the color of my walls.

She actually gets hummingbirds in her yard, the lucky duck!

Gifts from family included;

A Carraba's gift card from sister Betsy, a mini sewing machine and purse holder from sister Sarah...

This handmade apron from step-mom Kathy, compate with a criss-cross back, a towel loop and

a little bit 'o' bling on the pockets (the buttons shimmer like the snowflakes - which you can't really see in this crummy picture)

And a pajama set from sister Betsy.

And of course I got some presents from The Conductor:

A new CD burner to replace the one that konked out, a set of flashlights, some scented oil (in lavender, he was watching me experiment and make my sister some homemade eucaluptus scented oil that turned out awesome!), and a Shiva Rea yoga DVD because I mentioned I was looking for some good morning workout ideas. 

See what else is in the array?  Not one, but two kinds of candy.  The Conductor is forever teasing me about my sweet tooth yet he goes and buys me TWO kinds of candy - chocolate covered cherries and a fun dark chocolate with citrus and ginger. 

The cutest part of the array?    
Babushka nail files - a nod to our Polish roots.

The best part of the array, though, was the card:

Now everybody, together say:    Awwwww!

Happy Holidays - now I'm going back to the sewing room to finish my New Year's dress and I am SO SO SO pleased with it so far!