Snake skin

This weekend, I dug up a loom I had found a few years ago in a garage sale for $2.  I had been meaning to try weaving for some time.  The trouble is, I can never get past the idea of what I’d actually make.  I’d weave a chunk of fabric and then what?  What would I use that chunk of fabric for.  And since I couldn’t come up with a plan, the loom sat.

I decided, the first thing is just going to be a sample.  What ever came off that loom would be a hot mess as any textile skill involves mastering technique and tension before you make anything worth while.  I told myself, use crap scraps of wool and just work on skills.

Setting the loom up was a challenge.  I ended up cutting everything off once because I had made a big mistake in the wrapping of the warp threads.  I had to restring the heddles (the strings that raise and lower the warp strings so that the weft threads can slide in between).  After I was all set up, I had a piece of the loom left over that I didn’t immediately know what it was for.  But as I started weaving, the answer came to me.  I had set up the warp strings incorrectly. If I had done it correctly, I would have used the extra peice and I would be able to make the finished product longer. But the goal was not a longer piece and since I was still able to weave I carried on.  Next time I will know better.

As you can see, tension is definitely a problem but it is recognizable as a chunk of fabric.


It kind of makes me think of snake skin! Anyway, it will likely not get any longer.  I think it will get cut off the loom and my next attempt will be wider and longer.  I’ll make more of an attempt to even out that tension!


I tried my hand a nalbinding, the viking form of “knitting”.  My first attempt was a fail.  The wool was too fine for my skill level and it was too “holey”.  My second attempt was better in terms of the holes but the technique uses several shorter lengths of wool that you attach as you run short.  The knots were too bulky for my tastes.

I’ll use it as a bag to hold my hair ribbons but other than that, I am not thrilled.

If ever I get the desire to try it again, I will use the same thickness of wool but I won’t use a cotton again.  It isn’t fuzzy enough for the technique of rubbing the two ends together to form a joint solid enough to hold two lengths together.  I ended up having to tie the ends and that is not the correct method in nalbinding and it made it far to lumpy.


Mildly sucky vacation equals interesting stories

Before I left for vacation, I did a little reading program with the seniors where I work.  I found some amusing stories about vacation mishaps.  I used my announcement that I was going on vacation as my lead into the program.  Next year, I can use this blog post instead.

My vacation started out fine.  We had an afternoon flight to Cuba so we had plenty of time to pack and leave instructions for the boys (aka dog sitters) in the morning.

The boys drove us to the airport and we arrived with plenty of time.  Good thing too.  The hubby borrowed the older boy’s suitcase and did not properly heed the warning that the zipper was somewhat damaged.  He unzipped it to far when packing so by the time we unloaded it from the trunk of the car, it had begun to fall apart.  We thought we could fix it but by the time the boys had driven away, the suitcase has completely ruptured and was never going to make it to Cuba.  So we had to buy new luggage at the airport and try to get rid of the old one without getting detained for leaving suspicious bags behind.


Hubby is in the check in line with the new suit case. He is texting our boy, telling him we had to pitch the one he lent us.

Ten seconds after repacking his luggage, the hubby remembered that he forgot his sunglasses.  Back to the airport shop for sunglasses.  Luckily, there was a sale in the store so it wasn’t a total robbery.

But just wait…a half hour into the flight the hubby remembered that he forgot his bathing suit.  I think next year I will have to check his bag before he zips it.

So we arrive in Cuba, get through Customs and wait with all the other folks on our flight for our luggage.  An hour later, everyone from our flight is gone but no sign of our luggage.  There is luggage from the next flight on the belt but no sign of ours.  I was convinced our airport screwed up but the hubby was convinced we had been robbed-he always assumes the worst.  We are just about resigned to the idea of going to the hotel with no luggage when we decided to look one more time.  The hubby picked up a bag that was similar to our new one and low an behold it was ours.  It was just so beat up that it no longer looked new.  Yippy! He had his bag.  There now was nearly no one left in the baggage claim area. I turned around to look for the lost and found office and there was my bag standing in the middle of the room.  Someone must have taken it off the belt and then realized it wasn’t theirs and left it where it stood.  I only saw it after the room emptied out.  We had our luggage but missed our shuttle to the hotel.  Luckily, the next shuttle was able to accommodate us.

It was late when we were finally in our hotel but hubby had to do a midnight walk on the beach.  And thus I started my collection of sand flea bites.  Lucky me.  I am one of the chosen few who has a rather nasty reaction to the bites. I learned about this tendency of mine last year and had been taking allergy pills to combat this.  They didn’t prevent the reaction but did make me horribly tired.  Near the end of the trip and several bites later a beautiful angel/staff person told me about putting vinegar on the bites.  I grabbed a cup of balsamic vinegar at the near by restaurant and dabbed it on the bites.  I have never felt such quick relief!  The itching stopped instantly and the redness and swelling was visibly better with in hours.  I slathered it on a few more times but I really didn’t need too!  I don’t know if it works with white vinegar but guess who is now travelling with her own personal bottle of balsamic vinegar.


Some of my bites and a glass of balsamic vinegar.

Anyway, back to the forgotten bathing suit.  It was raining our first day in Cuba so we decided that it was a good day to go shopping for a new suit for the hubby and to play ALL of the games we brought with us.

The following day was reasonable so hubby trotted off to the beach in his new suit and sun glasses and I hung out by the pool….fewer bugs.  We did this for a day or two and one day hubby comes back.  No sunglasses.  The new ones he bought at the airport got swept off his face by an ocean wave.  Sigh. We didn’t replace those because the price in Cuba for cheap glasses worked out to be $150 Canadian dollars.  Nope.  Not gonna do it.

At least we had our lovely 5th floor view.  img_20170203_103617374

At least it was lovely until 5 out of the 6 elevators stopped working (one by one over the week) and the one that was working opened up on the wrong side of a locked 5th floor gate.  Five flights of stairs with crappy knees are not a great pleasure.


Some good moments in Cuba but as you can see on my face, I wasn’t feeling like it was the trip of a lifetime.

The long dress in the above photo, was my final attempt to fend off the sand fleas.  All the while I was thinking I might have to make myself a pair of 1950’s beach pants.

My next post will be a vacation post but of some of the more positive moments.

Oh no she di’n’t!

Actually, “she” did make several silly mistakes! The sleeves were a little bit evil.  I took great care to keep all the pieces organized so that left stayed with left and right with right.  But, alas, I spent too much time keeping that straight and I made a dumb mistake that was only caught after I joined the inner and outer sleeves together.  It seems I put the piping on the wrong side for both sleeves.img_20160905_133936851.jpg

I discovered my error when I sewed the layers together and flipped them right way out…the piping was not visible…it was totally hidden inside the sleeve.

I took them apart and reattached the piping to the correct side and proceeded forward- making another big mistake.  Oh, the piping showed just fine but I couldn’t get the top lined up for basting together.img_20160905_132454141.jpg

That would be because the inner and outer layer were bending in opposite directions!  More stitch ripping.  My stitch ripper got a good work out!

Once I got past this nonsense I made good progress.img_20160905_143808762.jpg

The sleeves are attached.  The neck line has been piped and tacked down.  The bottom edge is piped and the boning is in.  Nothing left to do with the bodice except the closure and I wont do that until the skirt is attached.

During this process, I have learned that I still hate boning but I actually like piping.  (I went a bit crazy with the piping on this bodice!) Boning is a necessary evil.  I find it a time consuming bore.  I have avoided piping in past projects because I thought it would be a time consuming bore as well, and an unnecessary one at that.  But, this time I made a mile of the stuff before I started sewing and I found that having it there when it was time to put it in made me enjoy the process.  I didn’t feel like I was stopping progress to make it.  And I really like the effect of piping.  I wish pre-making boning would have the same effect.

Coco Sunday 2016

Are you sick of these posts yet? I’m almost done.  This one is about the last day, the next will be about shopping and what I plan to do with my haul.

So, Sunday I was up early enough to catch Breakfast with the Artists.  This is my first real wearing of the Ugly Bag of Tea Gown and its final incarnation, with accessories is passably good looking and is exceptionally comfy.

It was comfortable enough to sit through Luca Costigliolo’s class on getting the correct shape for your gowns.191

The word of the day is “padding”.  We should not alter the pattern to fit the body (because we then loose the silhouette the designer was aiming for), we alter the body to fit the pattern.  You size up the pattern to fit the corseted body.  Those baggy bits in the mock up, should not be altered to make them go away.  They should be padded out.  As a busty girl, I end up with loose fabric on my upper chest near my arm pit.  Apparently, this is a common thing.  The corset causes the bust to create a hollow near the arm pit and that is filled in with padding.  Smaller busted ladies would use bust enhancers.  If sloped shoulders were in then padding was added to help give that illusion. 192

Luca did make a caveat, that this practice of padding was very common in all social classes in places like France and Italy , but not as common in England and North America, but wealthy folks who shopped in France did have padding.  He thought it was a more conservative option to not pad.

Once the class was done (and I was done taking photographs of this fabulous hand beaded number)193

I headed off to the bargain basement and did some more shopping.  Funny story that…  While in Luca’s class, I heard/felt a popping sound and thought it might be my corset, which was first attempt at corset making, settling or shifting, so I ignored it.  When I was shopping, I came to the conclusion that it was actually my petticoat hook that was the popping sound and that the petticoat was now neatly wrapped around my ankles.  Suzi Clark (the speaker I saw on Friday) happened to be standing there and saw my dilemma (how embarrassing!) and asked if she could help me.  So sweet, but having recently injured herself and needing help to get around I thought it might be best if I manage on my own.  I thanked her and said I thought I’d just let it drop and step out of it.  Turns out it was neatly trapped by the corset strings on one side…loose enough to trip and kill me but not loose enough to actually drop.  So in front of Suzi, I jacked up my dress and tucked that petticoat deeper into the strings so I’d be able to walk again.  And off I elegantly glided to the till with my hoard of goods in my arms, my petticoat in my strings and my ego slightly dented.189

In the afternoon, I went to the steam punk tea.  Not my scene.  I probably horrified the true Steam Punks by opting for the “just stick gears on it and shorten the skirt” version of the genre.

I ran into this lovely girl (who’s name I’ve lost from my head…it wasn’t a common name so I couldn’t hang onto it…sorry about that).  We shared a dinner table and chatted at a few events and I really enjoyed her company.201

The remainder of the weekend was spent in the hospitality suite.  A few of us found a brighter lit room for doing hand work and playing card games and we chatted together until it was time to head back to my room for some packing and down time.

Okay, once we get past the shopping post, you will be done with all these Coco posts!  0


Ah, life

I wish I could say my life is solely what I write here but, alas, it is not.  In between my volunteer work at the museum, family parties, sewing, knitting,collecting cabinet cards and romping around in pretty dresses, there is the rest of my life and it can get in the way of “blog life”.  I wonder how many bloggers wish that blog life was the only life they have?  Most of us put a pleasant shine on it.  The only negative is a little self depreciation, “oh, look how I screwed that sleeve up….”

But in reality there is drama that I don’t bore you with.  There are stresses that need dealing with, changes that I’m opting to make and changes that are foisted upon me, and there is work.  So sometimes there is no time or inner oomph to crank out another post (that 14 people will read).

I try to have a post go up Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with pictures to break up the print and help you figure out if you actually want to read the print.  If I miss a day, it is likely due to real life.   Forgive me?

Well…it is better…I guess…or may be not…

That title is definitely not said with a lot of conviction.  I have been working on this tea gown for nearly 3 years.  First incarnation: so ugly it wouldn’t photograph.  It hung like an ugly sack. The second incarnation fit better but was still ugly. I don’t think the third time is working out either.


Can you see the doubt in my eyes?

I do like the tassels on the tie.  And the lace on the sleeves is better.  Stupid lace on the bodice does break up the pattern-which was a goal, but it seems a bit….I don’t know….fluffy bordering on clownish?  Is breaking up pattern with more texture and pattern really helpful?

May be if I take off the bottom row of lace and iron it flatter….Or rip it all off and do something else….

The neck line is actually a high neck but it was nearly strangling me.  (I had moved the button too far over.) For the photographs, I tried turning the neck line down.  I do think my neck looks better in a lower neck line but it is far to much work to change that now.  I’m going to move the button back where it belongs and go with the high neck line with a brooch at the throat.  Question is…will there still be all that lace….  I’m thinking not….

Honestly, this dang thing gets worked on until this weekend and if I still can’t make it look nice I’m going to give up on it – AGAIN.IMG_20160712_202836793

I think facial expression says, “Lord help me.”

Welcome to the reality of costuming.  Not every piece “wants to be made” and not every project is glorious.



A little steampunk

Gads, I hate trying to get anything done when I have a headache.  I had 4 projects I hoped to put some time into today and my success rate was minimal.

One project was changing some hooks and eyes into real buttons and button holes on an older project.  Nah.  Didn’t feel like it.

dawn stairs

I want the buttons to be functional, not just decorative

One was getting some knitting done on my Canadian cloud which will be my offering for this months HSF challenge.  It may still happen but don’t hold your breath…the wool is too fine and my eyes are sore…especially the right one.img_20160619_181345106.jpg

I did get some work done on last months really late offering for HSF but I probably should have stayed away.  I corded and attached a ruffle on a skirt but I had to take the ruffle off and reapply because the base skirt was wadded, bunched and pleated under the needle and I essentially shortened the skirt by 1/4 to 2 inches in a very random fashion.  I blame the migraine.  It alters my reality.  tv242colorfin

The second ruffle from the bottom was the devil that got me. It is on now but the whole skirt will sit idle until next weekend.

I had more success on the project I wanted to complete for Costume College.  They are having a Steampunk event and I am basically going to take an existing outfit and punk it up.


I will shorten (temporarily) the skirt, petticoat and bustle.

You will be able to see my feet so I will finally have a use for these things.

photo 2

I will use the “book bag” from my son’s old costume as the purse.


I bought a “bag o’ gears” from the craft store and tacked them onto the hat I will use.img_20160619_134817522.jpg

They will come off easy and not mess up my Victorian hat much.  There were a few gears left over so I made a down and dirty set of earrings to go with it.img_20160619_163512.jpg

My headache day wasn’t a complete bust.


I’ve done some shopping around for laptops, in case my worst fears come to pass. Yikes! Expensive! And they don’t come with burners any more! They do come with the worst program ever… Windows 10. Come
on! I am old and I don’t like change just for the sake of change. Sigh. And my car is no longer leaking oil… It is hemorrhaging. It is off to the extortionists… I mean mechanics tomorrow. And for the icing to my cake… I dumped half a bottle of nail polish on my carpet. (The combo of rubbing alcohol, hair spray, nail polish remover and elbow grease almost fixed
that. It didn’t help the shirt, pants, and bed skirt though.) Computer, car, carpet… I see a pattern here. I will be avoiding the coffee maker and the curling iron for the next few days….