Sunday, August 31, 2008

Elizabeth's Meet Dress

I was inspired by another dress out of the American Girl catalog. Elizabeth is Felicity's best friend. The "Meet Dress" usually refers to the dress worn by the main character in her Meet book. Here is Elizabeth's. 

As you can see, mine has some differences. I used the pattern for Felicity's Christmas dress. The pink color is not the same, though I prefer my lighter pink to the rosy mauve of the Mattel dress. I also made a complete underskirt instead of just having a panel in the middle. 

Most of the material came from the stash that Mama Wiebenga sent me. The fabric, the lace, the trim on the sleeves and around the front, as well as the flowers on this stomacher were al from her. The thread and the lace on the sleeves was mine. 

I decided this time that I wasn't going to pleat ten feet of ribbon. Instead, I ungathered the trim and used it as a ribbon instead of a lace. That saved a lot of time, and I think it ended up well. 

I prefer my version over the inspiration. 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another Doll Dress

I made the following today from McCall's Crafts 3275. The fabric I used came from Mama Wiebenga. 

The pattern was very easy, and I didn't make any adjustments to this one, like I have the others. 

While the pattern fits American Girl dolls, I think McCall's patterns fit better on dolls that represent younger girls, like 4-5 year olds. The American Girl dolls represent eight and nine year olds, so the body is slimmer than it would be on an 18 inch doll representing a younger child. As a result, the dress is baggy on this doll. 

More Changes at Hancock

I have a Hancock's Fabric right down the road for me. I love how convenient it is and the great sales they have on patterns. 99 cents for a pattern? That's freakin' awesome! At that price, I'm able to pick up two, one for me and one for my mom. 

Recently I noticed that Hancock switched their cross-stitch thread from DMC to Sullivan's. I didn't like this change because I have an extensive DMC inventory, not to mention the fact that all my patterns are in DMC. I know DMC. 

Recently I noticed another change in the store, this time at the Coats  & Clark display. The spools changed! Now, I understand that this is no longer a Hancock issue, but a Coats & Clark issue. The spools have become more stream-lined and smaller. Not only are the spools smaller, but the amount of thread has been decreased. No longer 300 yards, the new spools hold 205 yards. That's a difference of 95 yards, or  285 feet. That's a LOT of thread. 

Of course, the prices haven't changed. The spools are giving less thread for the same amount of money.  I suppose this is the manufacturers way of what is essentially the equivalent of puffing potato chip bags full of air. 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

After the Kiss by Suzanne Enoch.

I admit that I haven't read one of Suzanne Enoch's books in a long while. I have this horrible habit of glomming books once I like an author, and this can be tragic. I get tired of the books. And there were quite a few title of hers that I did like. I loved A Matter of Scandal, The Rake, and London's Perfect Scoundrel. Then came England's Perfect Hero and although I loved the story of the soldier suffering from war fatigue (shell-shock, post-traumatic stress...), I didn't buy the romance angle of the story as much. 

So I took a break. I haven't read any of her contemporaries or the entire Griffin Family series. I may have read Sin and Sensibility, but by that point I was so glommed out that I don't remember too much of it. 

So, it was with much trepidation that I read review on Enoch's After the Kiss, the first book in a trilogy. Oh, the romance trilogy! But I found that people actually read it. And the more I read what they wrote, the more intrigued I became. 

Sullivan Waring is a well-respected horse breeder who also happens to be the illegitimate son of a marquis--and the Mayfair Marauder. His mother's legacy, left to him after her death, had been stolen from him by her landlord, who is also the father who won't recognize him. Sullivan wants his items back, and is willing to steal to get back what is rightfully his. One night he comes across Lady Isabel Chalsey. In an effort to get away, he kisses her. 

This moment changes both of their lives. Lady Isabel recognizes him, but instead of turning him in she chooses to find out why he stole from her house. She buys a horse from him and demands that he train the mare and teach her to ride the horse. 

I loved this book. It brought me back to the With This Ring series I first read. Waring is not bitter that his father won't recognize him, and he doesn't want a thing from his father but the items that were stolen from his mother's home. He is proud of his own accomplishments while accepting of his place in society. 

Isabel is young, still 19, and she makes reckless decisions. She takes responsibility for them, though, and all she wants is to be with Sullivan. I loved how her family had not one evil member among them, but was rather supportive over all. 

I'm not sure if I'll read the rest of the books in the series, I enjoyed this one so much. I'll wait to read the reviews. :)  A-. 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kirsten's School Dress

This weekend I made Kirsten's School Dress, from the Pleasant Company patterns for dolls that have since been retired. The material I used was from Mama Wiebenga, who sent me a lot of stuff over the summer. In order to use every scrap possible, the pattern is vertical on the top but horizontal on the skirt. I have no problem with it and think it adds to the charm of a pioneer dress. 

I also used the wrong side of the material because it looked more homespun and less perfect. I also liked the way it looked better than the right side, which was too "neat". 

The back and wrists are closed by Velcro, another contribution by Mama Wiebenga! 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Project Runway Season 5: Episode 6

The designers are eating breakfast, getting ready for the next challenge. Korto wonders how Daniel keeps coming up safe, and Joe does not think Keith should have won. "Swatches and strips" are Keith's style. 

On the runway, Heidi comes out and says there is a very special guest. What, no models? No, it's a hug monster! No, it's Chris March! With disco-ball boobs! He's dressed like a space-age Viking goddess. The next challenge? Designing an outfit for a drag queen. "Too much drama." 

The "models" come out. Each lady has her own persona, from Marilyn Monroe to flamenco dancer to Southern belle. Farrah Moans, Hedda Lettuce, and Sharon Needles are my favorite names. The designers are encouraged to be theatrical and over-the-top, which allows for a lot of freedom. 

Keith chooses Sherry Vine, who has a great set of legs. Heidi agrees, and Keith says, "Hell yeah." I know he's gay, but the way he said it was still really creepy. 

They all go up to the workroom to get to know each other. Tim reminds the designers that it is the designer's responsibility to be true to the persona and to be theatrical. And the looks will be auctioned off to help those affected by HIV/AIDS. Miss Understood tells Blayne that drag is smoke and mirrors. Hedda Lettuce wants everything in one outfit but be tasteful as well. And yes, she wears green. Stella, of course, wants to grommet everything on Luisa Verde's outfit. Joe seems to be completely out of his element. 

At Mood, they buy feathers and shiney and sequiny and fabulous. Keith did not get immunity last time he won and feels that he deserves it. Whatever. Joe's queen left him the bra to put on the male mannequin form. Daniel tries to borrow Kenley's bra, but she refuses. Blayne's drag name would be dragalicious. Everything is -licious. 

Terri's making a kimono and legging outfit. Joe's making a catsuit. Suede is making a green outfit with gloves that have tiny heads of lettuce on them. Hedda Lettuce asks if he's just too lazy to make a sleeve, which hurts Suede's feelings. Keith is making a fringed, tiling piece. It's mostly swatches of black, gray, and white, with nothing theatrical about it. 

Tim walks in. The clients walk in, but they are not in drag. Blayne seems almost shocked that his client is actually a boy under all that outfit. Korto has this huge flame outfit, fire everywhere. Jarrell's client wishes that the collar wasn't covering so much of his face. 

Tim makes his comments on the outfits. Blayne's looks like a "a pteradactyl from a gay Jurassic Park." Tim is worried about Daniel's outfit, as it isn't really drag enough. Daniel is still talking about his taste level, how his outfit is more couture, blah blah. 

The fashion show is fabulous! It's so over-the-top, so much fun, probably the best runway of the season. Ru Paul is the guest judge. So awesome! They're sashying, dancing, and hamming it up for the camera. 

The bottom three are Daniel, Jarrell, and Keith. 

The top three are Joe, Korto, and Terri. 

The winner of immunity? Joe! 

Auf'ed? Daniel. 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Not Quite a Lady by Loretta Chase

Not Quite a Lady by Loretta Chase is the fourth book in the Carsington brothers series. The best part of the series by far is the ability to read each book without having had read the others. Characters from previous books do make their appearances, but Chase keeps them brief and free from the main plot. 

Lady Charlotte Hayward has made a science out of Not Marrying. Despite having had eight seasons and fielded many proposals of marriage, she has accepted none of them. She could write a book for any young lady attempting to get out of a relationship. She becomes frantic when her father decides, in her best interest, to invite eligible bachelors to a house party in a few weeks. 

Darius Carsington is the youngest son of the Earl of Hargate. He has devoted his life to scientific studies, especially those relating to animal husbandry and mating. Darius has written many pamphlets on farming practices and has long been admired by his new neighbor the Marquis of Lithby--and Charlotte's father. 

The two are thrown into contact early in the book, and both Charlotte and Darius attempt to deny their growing feelings for one another. The book may have been merely a romance of ignoring attraction, but Chase throws in one of Lady Charlotte's secrets to stir things up, and a "villain" in the form of another suitor, Colonel Morrell. 

The "secret" that Charlotte holds was the biggest obstacle of the book for me. It's one of those romance cliches that make me grind my teeth and roll my eyes. I was disappointed in this especially after having read Lord Perfect, which was, well, perfect. Missing from this book was the witty dialog that is characteristic for Chase, and as a result the pacing was slower. Putting down this book was not a problem for me. 

The characterization of Darius was also problematic for me. He is referred to as a rake, and the most incorrigible rake of all of Lord Hargate's sons. I had a problem seeing this. Sure, I was told that he was a rake, but apart from Darius thinking about bedding a maid (thinking, mind you) early in the book, I didn't see it. I saw how he was logical and methodical, but that was it. Also early in the book he constantly referenced to his "reproductive organs" any time Charlotte aroused him by her presence. 

One redeeming factor of this book was the fact that Chase's villains are not the typical romance villain, like the counter-spy, or the French officer, or the horrid ex-mistress. No, the villain in this piece was Colonel Morrell, who has good intentions regarding his feelings for Charlotte. I understood exactly why he was motivated to "help" her. I hope that one day Chase writes his story. 

Because of my reservations, I can't give this one an A like the previous book. Despite it's drawbacks, the quality of the writing was still high. B. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Project Runway Season 5: Episode 5

Season 5 of Project Runway has been bringing in the big-name stars for some of the competitions. Natalie Portman, Sandra Bernhard, and Apolo Ohno have already made an appearance, and this week is Brooke Shields's turn. 

Daniel and Keith are working out, which I find hilarious in Daniel's case. He's so skinny, and I'm thinking those dumbbells are hollow. 

Moving on the model pick, Korto gets first pick as winner of the last challenge. Korto keeps her model, Katarina, and Alex is out. Everyone else has the same models. Heidi says that they will be designing for a high-powered and glamorous professional woman. Blayne hopes it's not Hillary Clinton, because there's no way he's going to design a neon pantsuit. I'd love to see Hillary in neon! 

The speculation includes Nancy Grace, Heidi Klum, and even Sharon Osbourne (from Stella, natch). Tim comes in the workroom and introduces--Brooke Shields! The challenge is to create an outfit for her Lipstick Jungle character Wendy Healy. She's a high-powered studio executive and mother of two. Her look is bohemian, and each designer gets looks from Season One of the show, and the other criteria is that it be a day-to-night look. The designers will be working in teams of two. After sketching, each will pitch their design to Brooke, who will pick six of the twelve to bring their design to life. And the winning look will be worn by Brooke during season two! 

Brooke's picks are Korto, Terri, Kellie, Keith, Jerrell, and Blayne. The teams are: Keith & Kenley; Korto & Joe; Terri & Suede; Jerrell & Stella; Kellie & Daniel; and Blayne & Leanne. 

At mood, Kenley goes for these wild prints, but Tim says, "Can I be honest with you? Look around." Daniel felt that his choices were more "high-end", because Kellie chose too much leopard and lace. Back at the workroom, the designers have ten hours. Tim comes in and announces their is NO immunity! 

Kellie likes to do things herself, and this belief is cemented when Daniel's skirt ends up crooked with a "swobbly" zipper. She makes him re-cut it. Tim is dubious about the look. 

Suede doesn't want to cut the top because he's worried about the amount of fabric, and Terri tells him to cut it. Suede is "really uncomfortable", and the look of concern on his face is stressing her out. Tim likes the look and thinks the neckline is gorgeous, making Terri's day. 

Jerrell and Stella seem to be working well together--Stella is in her element with a leather belt. Of all the teams, they seem to have the least angst working with each other, which is really great since Jerrell didn't have a choice but to pick Stella. She was the last one. Tim loves the color and the waistband and says it looks like a true collabo. 

Joe says that he loves the sleeves and loves the top Korto designed. But when Tim comes in to offer his opinion, Joe is less than positive about it. Tim says it looks like a "big sweet potato", and Joe agrees with him, saying it's baggy pouffy. Korto says he never mentioned it before, and Joe says that it's her vision. 

Terri is not happy with her garment, the shirt being "jacked up". Kenley asks how his shirt is, and Terri goes, "it's horrible." 

Blayne's bermuda shorts look  too sporty, too casual. 

Tim asks where Kenley's floral print is, and  Kenley pulls it out. Tim was right! The bottom of the dress is brown "fringe" with a different floral print top. 

After the designs are scored on the runway, the following teams are safe: Terri & Suede, Korto & Joe. The rest are either the winning teams or the losing teams. 

Heidi loves Jerrell's design. Michael says it is well-made, sexy without being cheap, and good-looking. On Kellie's outfit, Brooke didn't like the shape, saying it looked "so much cheaper than I thought it could look." Michael's take? "Hello! Slutty slutty slutty." Daniel should have said something. Daniel says his taste is impeccable, and Kenley starts laughing. Brooke likes Keith's outfit, saying it looks rich and expensive. Nina isn't sure if it's "day enough", but says it's beautiful. Blayne and Leanne's outfit is just too sporty and not night enough. Nina doesn't think Blayne listened and is surprised Leanne let it go. 

The winner? Keith and his swatchy dress. Kenley is safe. 

Blayne and Leanne are also safe along with Jarrell and Stella. 

Out? Kellie. Daniel is safe, and Kellie is auf'ed. 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More Knitting Accessories

I made the following items from McCall's Craft pattern M4728. I used the same material that I used for the knitting bag and circular needle case. 

The crochet needle case has been monogrammed as well. The outside: 

The inside: 

And the knitting needle case: 

The inside: 

Sewing and Knitting Accessories

The following items were made using McCall's Crafts pattern M5722. All material was bought from Hancock Fabrics. 

I absolutely love this knitting bag. I had the front pocket monogrammed with my initials. It sits open by itself and the directions were easy to follow. 

The best part of the bag? The roomy interior! Inside I have two projects, one a knitting project and the other a crochet project. 

Also part of the pattern was a circular needle case. I also had the outside of the case monogrammed. 

This case took a little more care than the bag due to the use of vinyl and small strips of material to bind the tops of the vinyl. I love it. I love the material and I love the pattern. I only have two sets of circular needles so far, but I have no doubt that the rest of it will be filled some day! 

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase

Loretta Chase's Lord Perfect is the third installment in her Carsington Brothers series. I didn't even realize there was a series until after I read the first two books, because there's no tedious set-up for the next book, and each book easily stands alone. 

The story is of two people unsuited for each other. Bathsheba Wingate is Notorious, and her daughter is Trouble. Benedict Carsington, the Lord Perfect of the title, is a paragon among Society. But when her daughter and his nephew run off to find an old family treasure, Bathsheba and Benedict find themselves chasing the children across southern England, from London towards Bath. 

This book is at its heart is a road trip romance. Most of the action among the characters occurs on the journey to the fabled treasure. The action goes very fast and present in this book is Chase's familiar wit. I loved the interactions between the characters, and the children by far stole the show of the book. Olivia Wingate was a delightful con artist, while Peregrine, Lord Lisle, knew his role as an aristocrat. 

I have been a fan of Chase's since Lord of Scoundrels. I love this book as well, and hope she keeps up the good work. A+. 

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Opening Ceremonies

Here are my thoughts so far on the OPening Ceremonies. I won't watch all of them because I'll get tired and they'll get boring, and I won't tape them because I won't ever go back and watch them.

I think NBC did a much better job this time. I like the partnership of Bob Costas and Matt Lauer. Bob and Katie Couric reminded me too much of gnome twins. I thought the coverage was very good of the Parade of Nations. They caught us up quickly from the commercial breaks and talked about pretty much every nation in some way. I did think they lingered on the US too long, but hello, it's a US broadcast. Wouldn't the Australians be doing the same thing with their athletes?

I was very very disappointed with the 2006 Winter Games because the graphics on the bottom of the screen did not always match up with the flags. That irritated me A LOT. I even went so far as to e-mail NBC, and wrote up a beautiful e-mail, but there was an ERROR. Whatever, they didn't want to hear any complaints.

I love looking at the traditional dress, the folk dress of the various nations. I though the US team looked too much like they were going to the Hamptons, and what is with the hats? In the winter it was those hated wool berets, and now they have the white flat caps that make them look like they're going to the Hamptons by way of Yorkshire.


The highlight of the Olympics for me has to be swimmer Pieter van den Hoogenband. Just saying the name is fun. Try it really fast: pietervandenhooganband.

Great fun for the family.

Oh, and if you wonder why the Netherlands athletes wear Orange--one of their provinces is Orange. William of Orange later became King of England back in the 1600s. Orange NJ and Orangeburg SC are both named for the Dutch settlers that came over in the 1600s.

A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander

A Poisoned Season is the second book Tasha Alexander has written about the crime-solving London lady, Lady Emily Ashton. The first book was And Only to Deceive, which I also reviewed on this blog. 

A Poisoned Season starts a few months after the end of And Only to Deceive. Lady Emily has returned from her Greek retreat on Santorini left to her by her late husband. Her romance with Mr. Colin Hargreaves has also blossomed in this time. The great news about London is Mr. Charles Berry, claimant to the throne of France through direct descendency from Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Also at this time many items of value, claimed to have once belonged to the beheaded Queen herself, have been stolen from London homes. Lady Emily is asked by a friend to look into one of the thefts, but murders begin to occur almost as soon as she starts. Emily is also worried about notes left to her by a secret admirer--notes written in Greek and referring to her as "Kallista". 

I enjoyed this book for most of the same reasons I enjoyed its predecessor. Alexander describes the scenes while at the same time not resorting to wallpapering the novel to hide weak writing. The dialogue rings very true to the time period, not resorting to modern slang or references. 

What I really liked was how close Lady Emily came to scandal with her modern ideas on women having an education beyond how to be a good wife and mother. She was cut by members of Society a few times, and one of the more delightful parts of the book was when her mother--a Society proud shrew--comes to her rescue. Alexander explores the social rules of the time, the double standards between men and women, and the role of women during this time. Emily's opposite to her modern ideas is her friend Ivy, who is recently married and experience growing pains in her marriage. Their friendship often makes things difficult for Ivy and her politician husband. 

But we shall read about that in A Fatal Waltz, Alexander's next book. 

Grade: A

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Project Runway Season 5: Episode 4

Heidi welcomes everyone and brings out the winning and losing designers models, and Kenley has the option to stay with Shannon or swap with another designer. She decides to stay with Shannon, meaning Leslie is out. 

No explanation from Heidi for the challenge; instead, Tim is taking them on another field trip. This will be the third one for them. They all hop into vans and contemplate what their next assignment will be. Blayne talks about how much he wants to go tanning. Suede still talks in third person. 

They arrive at the Armory Track, where they are greeted by Apolo Ohno, who is racing around the track on in-line skates. Apolo tells the designers about the challenge. They get to create a look for the US team for the Opening Ceremonies. They will be designing women's wear only. Armani designed for the Italy team, and Ralph Lauren designed the 2008 uniforms. Ohno is the judge for this challenge. 

They all head over to the Armory Track's museum of all things Olympics and sketch. There are varying levels of knowledge about the Olympics. Daniel has never seen the Olympics, while Joe and Terri have both seen the Games. 

Stella drops a bomb-shell by saying she likes fur and leather. 

Drama comes when Keith picks up the fabric Terri chose and placed on the table, but he has already cut a piece out of it. Drama? Please... 

Back at Parson's, they have until 1 am and the winner has immunity. Joe is going to make a skort. I hate skorts. Daniel is leaning towards a modern 40s cocktail-type dress. Blayne's getting paler and paler and weaker and weaker. Terri is making a bustier and pants. Jennifer is making a skirt, camisole, and sweater jacket. Keith is mixing silk with fleece. 

Tim comes in to see how they're doing. He says Blayne's is looking Sergeant Pepper's, and Blayne looks absolutely confused about that reference. He doesn't get it at all, which cracks me up. He has seen Across the Universe, though, so I guess that counts for... nothing. It counts for nothing. Tim questions Jerrel's horizontal stripes on athletic women combined with the stripes and patterns on the top. Tim says that Jennifer's looks matronly again, especially with the sweater. 

Joe and Daniel get snippy with each other over who uses which machine. Joe has been using one machine for three challenges, and Daniel has rethreaded his machine, which Joe has threaded with white. "Is he for real? Is he psycho? What a baby, honestly." Joe's response? "There's too much drama with all these queens around." Terri says it's too high school and she wants to go to college. 

The next day, Tim sends in the models. They all get ready, tug the zippers up, button buttons, and hope that all goes well. 

Heidi comes out and gives her usual spiel of being in or out and recapping the challenge. Then she introduces the judges, including Apolo Ohno. Then the show starts. 

Suede, Kellie, Leanne, Stella, Keith, Blayne, and Kenley have made it on to the next level. That leaves Jennifer, Terri, Joe, Korto, Daniel, and Jerrell. The models are brought back out and the Inquisition has begun! Everyone likes Terri's, with Nina calling it versatile, smart, and sharp. Jennifer used inspiration from the 1920s, but Heidi doesn't seem "Olympic" or "modern" or even "American." Nina feels that Jennifer has a problem separating the challenge and her design inspiration. Joe's turn is next. Nina likes that he incorporated sports into the design. Daniel used a 1940s inspired cocktail dress, and Ohno did not see Olympics in it. Ohno! Then he gets called on the color of the dress, which looks purple, but Michael Kors biggest problem is the lack of America in the design. Korto's is more athletic as well, and both Nina and Heidi like the outfit. Ohno agreed with Korto that it is very '08. Jerrel's outfit was like a 1920s outfit, but it didn't look anything athletic. Nina is puzzled and said it "looks like Mary had a little lamb." 

So, the "Out" group is Jerrell, Jennifer, and Daniel. 

The "In" group is Joe, Korto, and Terri. 

After the judges discuss, they bring the designers back out. 

Joe is in, and I thought he'd be the one that would win. The winner is.... Korto! How great! She was in the bottom three during the cocktail dress challenge and was so defeated, and now she has immunity for next week. 

Jerrell is in. We're down to Jennifer and Daniel. I'm thinking it's Jennifer at this point. 

And Jennifer is out...