Thursday, October 31, 2013

IKEA Light Saves Halloween

As darkness fell, I turned on the orange lights strung on my house and the pumpkin lights lining my walkway.Then I flipped the switch for the all-important porch light... and got nothing. It wasn't the bulb; the light was not working.

Any other day of the year, it wouldn't be a big deal. But on Halloween, the official welcome to trick-or-treaters is the porch light. Even with lights on the house and the walkway, trick-or-treaters might skip my house... leaving me with pounds of candy. Although the thought of keeping all the candy for myself made me momentarily gleeful, sense took over.

IKEA Hemma to the rescue! I ran the light-bulb-on-a-string style cord out through the living room window and placed the bulb inside the broken light fixture. It looked a bit ridiculous, but it served the purpose of luring trick-or-treaters to my lair.
Bane's lair
Bulb sitting inside the broken light; cord running in through the window. Classy! :P
Alas, the weather was about as cooperative as the porch light. It's 45F (7C) and very windy, and not many trick-or-treaters ventured out into the cold night. I have quite a bit of candy left over after all.

The obvious solution is to get a job so I can give the candy to my new co-workers. :)

A Quiet Halloween... Even with a Dog

Around Halloween last year, I was extremely stressed out with my job. I was trying my best to make it work but finally beginning to accept that I was not going to be successful. About three weeks later, I threw in the towel and resigned.

This year, I'm at the other end of the employment cycle, looking for a new job. After many less-than-thrilling opportunities, I'm actually pretty excited about two particular positions. I have interviews for both tomorrow. One is nearly at the offer stage, so perhaps I will soon return to the ranks of the employed.

Tonight should be pretty quiet. I'll just be giving out candy to the trick-or-treaters. I haven't decided yet whether I'll don a costume. I might reuse one from a previous year, or I could easily pull something out of my closet that the candy seekers would interpret as a witch costume. ;)

As in previous years, I made treat bags out of fabric scraps. They are filled with candy and ready to go.

Yesterday in a Petco store, I overheard a woman complaining that her dogs are a huge nuisance on Halloween. If the dogs are in the yard, they bark constantly at the kids walking by. If they're in the house, they freak out every time the doorbell rings.

My dog Bean Sidhe feels compelled to protect me when little masked intruders appear at the front door. To keep her calm and out of the way, I simply put her in the car. With the car in the garage, she can't see or be upset by the costumed interlopers roaming the neighborhood. She likes being in the car ("Yay, we're going for a ride!") and will wait quietly for me. I give her warm blankets and check on her every so often, and the trick-or-treat time passes with no fuss.

Do your pets cause trouble on Halloween? How do you handle it?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dress Success 2: Purple Spiders

After finally achieving dress success with a heavily altered McCall's 6027, I immediately set about making dress number 2. I used a purple spider-print cotton from Hancock Fabrics.

I am really pleased with the fabric. It's higher quality than many novelty cottons, and I love the shade of purple. It's the same color as my bedroom. :D

I've never really worn dresses because of all the fit issues, so wearing a dress is a novel experience for me. The trouble is I don't know how to accessorize. Necklaces? A belt? Boots or shoes?

How would you accessorize this dress?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Snow and Glow

This morning, I awoke to a lovely autumn snowscape. My pumpkin lights were topped with snow. Cute!
I amused myself with possible captions for this photo:
"My snow beret is tres jaunty, non?"
"Brain freeze!"
"If pumpkin pie can wear whipped cream, so can I!"
"The elusive Jack O'Poodle"
"This Halloween, I'm going as Marie Antoinette's head."
Or perhaps simply "Happy Halloween from Colorado!"

In other news, I treated myself to one more t-shirt. This one glows in the dark.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

At Last, Dress Success!

I've tried several times to make a dress with a fitted bodice (usually with princess seams), and I've failed each time. With every pattern I've tried, the resulting dress gaped open at the neckline, with lots of excess fabric across the upper chest.. The fundamental issue is that my upper chest is very narrow -- a problem that the usual adjustments for a smaller or larger bust do not solve.

Other adjustments are challenging because of the way princess seam dresses are constructed. On most of them, the shoulder straps are part of the bodice front. Thus I couldn't alter the bodice front to accommodate my narrow upper chest without skewing the shoulder straps and armholes.

I finally found the solution in McCall's 6027. In this pattern, the shoulder straps are part of the bodice side front, leaving me free to alter the bodice front without skewing the shoulder straps.

Even better, the bodice front has a seam down the center, giving me an easy reference for narrowing the bodice.

After making a muslin and using myself as a human pincushion dress form to go through several iterations, I finally ended up with a bodice that fit. The trick was to alter it along the center seam, narrowing it 1.25" at the top, tapering down to .5" at the waistline. I also added 2.5" to the length to accommodate my longer torso.

The photos below show a comparison of the original front pattern piece and my front pattern piece. Luckily, I did not have to change the curve of the bust seam, which meant I didn't have to alter the side front pattern piece. I was able to get the proper fit by making changes only along the center seam.

There is one big drawback to McCall's 6027 -- it's too low-cut for me. The easy solution is to wear it as a jumper (a sleeveless dress worn over a shirt). It's very comfortable, but I suspect it makes me look like a schoolteacher.

This is especially true in the Halloween fabric I used for my first successful prototype.

I have since made three more jumpers, with some variations, which I will show in upcoming posts.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Many Thanks and an Update

I want to thank everyone who replied to my last post or wrote me on Facebook. Your kind words mean a lot to me. I really appreciate the support. :) Many thanks to all my readers!

Happily, I have been feeling much better the past couple of weeks. I've been working my way through my fabric stash, so I'll have some sewing projects to post about soon. I've pulled out the autumn decorations and I have been rejoicing in the cooler weather.

My main priority has been my job search. It was going very slowly because there weren't many good opportunities posted. Most employers are looking for 2-5 years of experience; I have 15, which means I find myself in the predicament of being "overqualified."

I finally made some progress this past week. Last Sunday, I applied online for six positions. By Tuesday evening, five of them had contacted me. I also got calls about two positions I'd applied for earlier. By the end of the week, I'd had seven phone interviews and three in-person interviews, with a fourth scheduled for this coming Tuesday. I'm now feeling better about my chances of finding a decent position within a reasonable amount of time.

In the midst of this, I've been dealing with a pet health issue. About a month ago, I took my dog Bean Sidhe to the vet because a lump on her shoulder previously diagnosed as a lipoma (a benign fatty tumor) had suddenly grown much larger. The vet checked it and said there was no need for concern. Then last Tuesday, it was suddenly obvious that there was a problem. It turned out to be a cyst which was badly infected.

Bean Sidhe's now on a course of antibiotics and seems to be healing well. Luckily, the cyst isn't painful, so I'm able to tend to it easily.

I can't help but wonder about the vet's diagnosis that the lipoma grew larger a month ago and then became infected this past week. In my mind, it seems more likely that the lump grew larger because it was infected. If that's the case, the infection raged on for a month before being discovered. I feel guilty because I was concerned about the way the lump looked -- not just larger but bare of hair -- but I didn't press the point hard enough with the vet. And now I have this nagging concern about whether I can trust the vet 100%... which is too bad because he's been Bean Sidhe's vet for three years and I've always liked him.

On a happier note, my favorite season of the year has arrived. Of course, it's the worst possible timing to be unemployed in October, when all the fun Halloween and autumn goodies are for sale. :P But I have allowed myself to buy a few things. To no one's surprise, I couldn't resist buying some fabric, which I'll post about later. I also bought some T-shirts and a set of bat salt & pepper shakers.