Simplicity 2317

I finally got my NEW sewing room in some kind of working order and I was able to pump out some pants.

I got a sweet mobster back alley deal on some fabric. Pulled up and popped the trunk and everything. Drove off with (literally) a trunk full of fabric and only a few dollars lighter.

One of the more interesting fabrics was this:

Green velveteen? It's not really velvet I can tell you that. And well now I owned like 6 yards of it. Soooo I pulled out my trusty pajama pattern packet, turned the velvet inside out and made some track pants for Steve Sleeves. 


I added piping and pockets.

Oh and this tag.

I had worked on them most of Friday night then went out and left only the waistband to complete on Saturday morning. Long story short I made a HUGE mistake/learned a valuable lesson = NEVER SEW HUNGOVER.

Things were going well when I put in the back of the waistband...

Then shit hit the fan. I didn't notice the major twist that happened. I then thought that the wide elastic would even it all out... When it didn't, I was too dehydrated to rip anything out and start over. Whatever. Men shouldn't be showing their waist band off anyway right?

Either way the inside is turbo soft. Even the pockets are made so the soft side is always facing in.

I'm not going to lie to you, it's been a rough couple of days. First of all I'm moving my sewing room, which should be super exciting. However Steve Sleeves and I have to swap it with our guestroom/storage room next door, which leaves a lot of stuff in the hall.

I am trying to take this opportunity to implement a basket system. In my new room I will have a cutting table(!) with storage underneath. 

The second reason the last few days have been rough is I am helping my sister clean out my grandparents' house. My grandmother had passed 10+ years ago and my grandfather left all her things untouched. The house is like a time capsule.

Meet my Grandmother Maxine.(left) Real name Mildred.(Yuk) This was taken sometime in 1940's, and to me it looks like they are in San Francisco.

She was never much of a looker so I thought what they wrote on the back was super cute. It was in a dresser drawer all by itself and not with all the others, so I would like to think it was extra special to her.

I never got the opportunity to get to know her that well but sorting through her things has made me realize how much we had in common. She had a love for sewing, make-up and high heels. Her closet was filled (and now mine) with colorful plaid shirts. She seemed to like to spend her time in her craft room or drinking. I mean come on!

I hope to get my new sewing room in a usable stage very soon. Then time for a drink. 

V8670 Version 2

Yes, this looks pretty much like the last one. But it's different I swear! 

See look, a pocket! I just cut out a piece of fabric that looked like a hoodie pocket and it surprisingly worked out wonderfully. I also made it have 3/4 sleeves because I ran out of fabric.

Here is Charlie pointing out the stripes and wondering who moved the lamp.

Bias tape stripes are easy: measure and pin

Sew two lines down each stripe

This is quickly becoming my favorite pattern ever. I did notice this time around that I have been omitting a side dart. It fits so well without them I will continue leave them out. Maybe next time I will make it in a different color. Maybe.

Pot Holder Apron

Celebrating a late father's day, I was requested to make an apron for my father in law, after he loved the one I had made for my mother in law so much. (What a great feeling!)

I had made the mother's day one with large straps to look like ribbons and large pockets. This one needed to be "masculine" and I figured having the pockets be pot holders would rule. After a fabric buying mishap the pockets were quickly nixed. 

BTW Steve took these photos for me in a race to get ready in time, so no, those are not my hairy toes.

I made it reversible. Plaid on one side, plain thick brown on the other. Turns out the heat resistant batting only "resists" on one side, so I made it so the plaid should always be touching the heat.

The shiny side is the side that should be touching the heat.

This is the product that I found. It was in a section of the fabric store called "utility fabrics" right around by the upholstery fabrics and the interfacing.

It turned out great. Who wouldn't want their apron to double as a pot holder? Only downside is the heat resistant batting makes a cat toy crinkle noise that is not very masculine.

Mrs. Iowa Pageant day 3.1

So there I was, getting ready to walk across a stage almost naked. While I was merely trying to get all my ties on my swim suit centered, one of the super glamour girls wondered in our side of the dressing room and fired up her airbrush machine. She walked in in her underwear and she couldn't have been larger than a size 0, abs of steal with a twist of inflatables as boobs. Someone whispered to me "can you believe she has 6 kids?" I couldn't. Maybe I was too hard on these ladies. I had to give it to her, she must have to do a lot of family juggling to hit the gym often enough to have a body like that. Almost with TV timing she starts talking about how she airbrushes herself every day with this spray tanner. She was obsessing with her painted on abs and fished for compliments like her confidence depended on it. It soon became clear why she had wandered over to our side, she just wanted to feel better about herself. She also told the stories of how she had competed last year and the reason why she lost was her nose. That is why she had gotten a nose job, tummy tuck and lip injections. I couldn't help but feel bad for her. She had spent the last year believing that these judges were a real authority on anything. She had taken losing to heart; and mine started to break for her. 

When it was time to go on stage in my swimwear I wasn't worried as much as I thought I was going to be. The show was dragging on and since I was first, people started cheering out of excitement that the show was finally moving on. I walked, I turned. All four Iowa girls then went back out and all stood next to each other. The crowd went wild. I don't know how you could feel embarrassed, you might feel naked, but everyone is clapping and cheering. Totally a once in a life time feeling.

By the time I got back to the dressing room my heart sank. I had hung my dress on a rack to fluff out. Now there was a 6 inch rip at the bottom front. There were also a number of holes along the bottom hem. I didn't have time to wonder what happened. (my guess now is someone moved the rack and caught my dress up in the wheels, ripped the dress out of the wheels and walked away)

My only option was to cut the tulle shorter. I was pissed. Not because I was going to get a bad score, or that it would look bad. This part of the pageant was the whole allure of doing it. I dropped out of high school and never had a real prom. My wedding dress had to be something I could dance all night in. This was supposed to be my princess moment. I heard someone say to someone else "now she's cutting her dress!" and I watched the gossip spread to the next room. I had been on my best behavior all weekend so I don't know what I had done that was so appalling before to get the "now".

You can kinda see the bad hem in this photo :/

But really who was I kidding? I'm not a princess. It bugged me more that I couldn't re-sell the dress back to the second hand store it came from. I made my way through the hall and could only laugh watching girls freak out over wrinkles no one can see, or if a gem was duller than the rest.

At this point it's like 10pm. Being there since 11am with no lunch break, no dinner break, I was getting grumpy. I had been in heels since 5 and my dogs were barking. We were all gathering in the hall and I just sat flat on the floor, feet out. I watched girls lean/slide down the wall to kneel a bit. Who's jealous of who now bitches!

I was so sick of taking photos with people. (not that that many people were really asking) I suggested that we all take a silly one and then this happened:

It was time for questions, mine seriously didn't make sense. I've heard the saying "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result" but not this one. So this was my question:
"There is a saying that you shouldn't do the same thing and expect the same result, do you think that applies to pageants?"

I have no idea what I said. I know it ended with "then scrap it and start over"

I zoned out while I figured out what the fuck I can to do with this piece of paper the question was written on. I tried stuffing it in my bracelets. I tried my waist band. I glanced around to see what everyone else was doing with theirs. Most had folded it neatly and were holding it like a bribe they were about to slip a door man. With my crumbled ball, that was no longer an option. Some had to have thrown it on the floor. (to me that just seemed rude to the clean up crew)

I zoned back in just in time to hear a girl answer her question with "I'm perfect" which couldn't be true because to say that, you lack modesty. Another girl got asked "If you were given $1,000 to spend on the pageant how would you spend it?" and had some great answer about a charity she started, but that's not really spending it ON the pageant but no one seemed to notice but me.

(Btw my photo was taken 10 min before I went out for St. Patrick's day on a cellphone and Steve had to Photoshop out an outlet)

It was FINALLY crowing time. I could see my friends in the crowd with large beers and I was so jealous. Iowa took our steps forward, all held hands, and the official papers were passed up to the front. The judges only listed first and second and we had to just stand there, holding hands, while everyone scrambled. I got third runner up (fourth out of four). The blonde with short hair got second runner up, the girl in the red dress got first runner up and the red head won Iowa.

While we walked back to our spots I was going to implement my escape. From where I was placed it would only take 4 backwards steps to be off stage. I glanced at my best friend and she knew what was up. I had planned that if anyone tried to stop me backstage I would just yell "I'm going to shit my pants" and just keep walking. I had a fool proof plan. While I took my third step the blonde next to me, for the first time, was concerned about me and and grabbed my arm and ushered me back into place. I no longer regretted steeping on her train. I stood in one place for an hour while all the awards got passed out. It was all bullshit. They handed out a "best complexion award". This was the only thing I really thought I had shot at at this point. I have porcelain skin and when it went to a leather skinned orange hag I knew the scores really have no base in reality. 

The only girls that won were girls who live, breathe and eat (or lack of eating) pageants. They have personality coaches, modeling coaches, lip injections... I bonded with the girls that have a rich life and wanted this to just be the icing on their cakes, rather than make their lives. 

Fun facts about the girls that won:

Iowa- she farted on stage
Minnesota- She changed clothes on day one. For no real reason, just wanted an outfit change like Mariah Carey on Cribs.
Wisconsin- She was the spray tan girl who hated her self. When she won, she didn't have the "you like me, you really like me" look I thought she would have. She craved this validation so bad, but her thank you kisses looked so fake. I bet her mind was really thinking "You idiots, I only fooled you into thinking I'm pretty".

I knew the whole thing was pointless. No one else did. Everyone took it so hard. I felt bad for the girls that have a life outside this racket but still took it hard. I really think it takes a damaged girl to do a pageant. Some girls needed to feel better than others. Some just finally thought they could be accepted by the popular girls. Some were bored rich wives that couldn't have kids and were spending the funds that would have gone to college on their faces. (I guess I was there to squeeze out some missed childhood, and to play dress up) 

When everyone had been crowned and it was time to hug everyone, I dipped out. I felt bad I didn't say goodbye to a few girls, but waiting another hour for booze was not an option. I had a long awaited vodka martini with my buddies at the hotel bar and we laughed at stories that I'm sure we will laugh at for a lifetime. 

They will be e-mailing me my scores soon, which I'm sure will add a few more. 

Now back to sewing! I'm about to finish a new shirt if I ever go out and buy more green bias tape.

Mrs. Iowa Pageant Day 3.0

Day 2 ended with me trying to get cell reception and call my best friend. Day 3 started at the theater at 11 and went until midnight. Steve of course wasn't allowed in the dressing room and I desperately needed reinforcements. I had found a few other outcasts who either thought I was cool or didn't want to stand alone either, but it wasn't the same. I still felt like a blue dot in a red petri dish and I was just bored with these people.

I showered and left for the theater. Girls walked in with their make up artists with Louis Vuitton wheelie suitcases. I walked in with my dead guy's train case. The outcasts set up shop in one dressing room, and the super glam girls in another. I joked that we should start a gang war, and no one laughed. 

I was the only one not wearing heels. We all decided we should practice the dance since no one was directing anyone. I think I cracked after hearing a j-lo song for the thousandth time.

My bestie FINALLY made it, I picked her up and didn't want to put her down. I wanted to wear her like a backpack so she could live through this with me. They had to run some errands and Steve went to grab me a sandwich. By 3 I was able to sneak off stage and grab a few bites. One of the barbies who had never talked to me before, comes into the room and goes "You can eat anytime, the choreographer is here." I'd like to think she was rude just because she was jealous of eating. I joined back just in time to wait in the wings while the choreographer was adding in a real dance studio and was showing them the moves. I was so over everything at this point. I wanted to go sit with my peeps and make jokes like they were, or eat my sandwich.

One of the girls reminded the directors that we needed to vote for Mrs. Congeniality. I voted for myself. It was almost show time! I couldn't get this over with...

These are all the Iowa ladies that I was competing against in our opening dance outfits. It was so stupid.

Also, with the real dance crew or whatever, the contestants dancing was pointless.  

Then costume time. They handed out the award right after so the audience would remember who wore what. I, of course wore this: 

(the lady next to me is holding a chicken, I made a cock joke and she looked at me like I stabbed her) The girl that won best costume wore this:

After seeing the costumes I shouldn't have won, but this girl shouldn't have either. I think you have to either be dressed as a show girl or a native american to win best costume. 

Before swimwear I caught a girl topless in all the mirrors. Then I saw her before she went on stage. HOLY PADDING BATMAN! Now, I knew all these ladies were packing, but I figured no more than a push up bra and a few chicken cutlets. This girl went from a tiny A cup to a pornstar DD.

I'm going to have to split this into two parts. Too much to tell!

Mrs. Iowa Pageant Day 2

After day one (and my breakdown) Steve Sleeves and I ordered a pizza and I got the real scoop on these Mrs. America ladies. All the guys seemed to get along well, all bored as shit, empty wallets and all went out for a few beers. (while I learned that I can't "dance to anything" in opening number practice)

One girl spent 4 thousand dollars on her gown. The girls that are getting their hair/make up done are dropping 500 bucks. I super glued on my press on nails as I felt better about my pageant choices.

Going in I knew I was going to be the discount queen, that is just how I roll, but the degree that these women spend on themselves would continue to shock me over the next few days.

Day 2 morning is here. The directors of the pageant said over and over be downstairs at the hotel at 11 for interviews. I went. I waited.

I photo bombed. 

While waiting (2 hours) the only half wit that almost knew what was going on regaled us with past pageant horror stories. In the early 90's there used to be "work out wear" and as they were waiting to go on, one ladies had taken a laxative...and shit her work out wear. This half wit had to then help her wash out her shit pants in a sink. I'm not sure which is worse: having a stranger wash your shit or that the outfit probably looked like this.

One good thing that happened waiting was there were two little girls about 9 and 7 who were super interested in my sewing. They found out through pageant gossip that I had made my own stuff and from then on every time they saw me they asked "DID YOU MAKE THIS TOO!?!". The night before I told the one girl that was obviously going for congeniality that I had made my skirt, and now some how everyone else had already talked about it without me. But these girls were hooked.

Then it was line up for costume time.

I love my dress. Those little girls loved my shoes. I got to talk shop for a while and frankly it made my day. Swimwear was next and we got a break. I hit the bar in my dress, for a beer and some lunch.

I changed into my suit and the hotel bathrobe and headed downstairs again. Me and the few girls that also were wearing bathrobes bonded. If there weren't clear lines between us and them before, there were clear now. They told us to line up-we were going in. I took off my bathrobe and lined up. And waited. And waited. Thank god I was first. To top it all off the hotel was set up like this:

Two main doors on either side. People walking by with their luggage. Old people asking what is going on. Bell hops loving their jobs. Husbands finally glad they got roped into this. Some girls took this time to do crunches in the hallway. I took this time to dance and make jokes. When it was time to face the judges my heart did sink a little. Not that they wouldn't think I'm pretty but that I'm subjecting myself to this. It was however part of the experience so game on. This is when my "most I've ever felt like a hooker" happened. All four Iowa ladies were in front of 8 judges. We stood, we turned. So there I was standing in a swimsuit having my ass scored. I couldn't help but laugh to myself a little. As I just kinda stood there waiting for the queue to turn around I noticed the other girls straining to hold their legs at just the right angle. When we turned around my smile was genuine. I liked myself. Girls in line talked about covering their tattoos. I have none, but thought, I bet I was supposed to cover up the scar on my stomach from crashing a moped as a kid. It never even dawned on me that it was a flaw. 

Mrs. Iowa peageant Day 1

(I might take a few days to get out all the stories I've been dying to tell you, so sewing projects will take a back seat, but don't worry, my mind was still thinking about sewing the whole time, and found a lot of inspiration and construction details I will be sharing. Oh and after day 1 there will be a bunch of photos, so hang in there!)

I didn't think a beauty pageant would impact my life other than all the funny stories it would add. I know who I am and where I fit in the world, and I didn't think a couple of snobby girls could make me reflect on it as much as they did.

At the first meeting, within minutes I knew this was going to poorly run and I didn't fit in. I had thought we had all gotten the same information packet and were told to arrive and 4, with our husbands, and to dress "sharp casual". I took this as an opportunity to wear what I wore to my grandfather's funeral. Before I had left I wondered if it was too dressy. We arrived at a the meeting place, a gym. I couldn't help but be embarrassed walking into a gym in heels and a wool skirt. I arrived with the hubs about 10 min early, along with two other ladies. 

People SLOWLY trickled in as we watched people work out, all of us dressed to the nines. As some of the prettiest girls I've ever seen in real life walk in solo, it's clear some of us got different information. Turns out the husbands didn't need to be at this meeting until 6. The directer didn't show up until after 5.  

In that hour I tried my best to find a reason to talk to these people. I was here, in a pageant, I should play the game right? I put on my best waitress face and mingled. I knew I was fucked when most of these girls were wearing their hair in the same bun I was going to wear with a ball gown, but it was their casual hair. I slowly became more and more intimidated. I don't think most of these girls know how to be in a conversation without the other person worshiping them or complementing them. Everyone else was using ice breakers like "omg I love your shoes" it soon became clear that no one loved my killer black patent heels from Pay-Less for 10 bucks as much as I did. Since I didn't like their stripper glitter bomb shoes I tried to talk about where they were from and if they had done pageants before. I tried to make jokes and wouldn't even get a pageant smile back.

We got split off from the husbands and got put in a tiny dance studio room. We lined up by state, in alphabetical order. Some how with the last name starting with an O, I was first in line. This also meant I would go on stage first. The director told us we would start to practice swim wear, ok go. I took a deep breath and walked out to the middle of the crowded room, all eyes on me. I  posed and walked in the dumb circle like I've seen on TV. The director tried to be constructive I guess, and told me I forgot my pivot turn. I plainly told her I didn't know what that was, and I could instantly see the looks everyone was giving each other in the mirrors. The now former Mrs. Minnesota gave me a  crash course and made me do it over and over. That's when the whispers started. I think they got sick of watching me and just moved on to the next person. I watched as everyone else moved across the room like pros. This happened for swimwear, costume and ball gown practice. Always first, always wrong.

Then it was time for the pot luck dinner. I didn't bring anything because, fuck you I just drove 4 hours and I'm not going to get lost trying to find a store to buy some potato salad. As we waited in line I heard someone say "Oh look someone brought wings for the guys!". I loaded up on those wings and ranch, and filled my plate with a pretty good spread. I weigh about 130 pounds give or take, and have never considered myself fat. Looking and the other girls' plates of lettuce scraps I felt 1000 pounds. I tried telling myself the same things I do when I see a super skinny pretty girl at the bar or pool or something. "Lora, would you rather have a few beers, or be super skinny" and I always take comfort in my choices to be fun in life rather then be "ideally" skinny. Only it didn't comfort me this time. I put myself here. I entered a skinny girl contest. I was now in the land of being unhappy just to be 2% prettier. No one else was here to have fun, or a life experience. They were here to win. 

We were held captive until 10. Somehow they stretched 2 hours of needed information into 6 hours. I danced, I walked, my feet hurt. I hauled my misfit self back to the hotel room and had an unexpected break down. 

My mind raced with all the money I had spent on this shit show. How this was my husband's and my vacation. I cried in a deluxe bathtub that on any other day I would have been over the moon to be in. I just felt stupid for knowing how I am and putting myself here. Mrs. Iowa hasn't spit on more than one person. She hasn't gotten into more fights than men she has slept with. What was I doing here? I just couldn't stop asking myself that, and crying. Which at this crazy stage made me think about how that crying will cause bags under my eyes, the fact I noticed that made me cry more. The pageant got to me. I hadn't felt so out of place since high school. I felt like everyone could see through me, how I was just a dirt ball from the wrong side of the tracks trying to fake her way into being invisible. I couldn't even blend in, and I wasn't sure why I wanted to.

Luggage Love

Well today is packing day for my trip to compete in the Mrs. Iowa pageant. I started dragging out my luggage and realized how much sentimental value I have in a few bags.

This was my grandfather's who had pasted away when I was 9. I lived with him at the time, and when it was time to clean out his things, this is the one thing I kept. Looking back I wished I had saved so much more, but even at 9 I loved the retro flare. My grandfather served in World War II and I like to think that he took this with him to boot camp or wonder where it went with him.

He kept it in like-new condition and I feel like I've added more dents and stains than he ever did.

This was from an auction house that I had worked at. A single forever alone man died, and all his things went to the auction house because he was 90 something and had no family left. He had owned about 15 of these train cases, each one filled to the brim with brochures and photos of country musical acts he had seen over the years. He also had owned binders FILLED with pin up girls and their autographs. He had a love for rhinestone cowboys and the glamour girls of the 50's. This is the first time I get to fill it up with my makeup and hit the road. I'd like to think, somewhere, Virgil is glad it gets to go on another trip filled with sequins and rhinestones.

This is my newest bag. My best friend bought this for me for my birthday this past year. Due to childhood trauma I'm not a good traveler/vacationer. Over the last year I have been tackling these issues and now feel like I can travel and have some fun and relax. That's why she bought this for me, because she knew I didn't own a cute weekend get away bag.

Since she is my best friend she knows I'm a sucker for anything mustard yellow or hounds-tooth. 

I'd take my luggage over a Louis Vuitton any day. Vintage Chanel? We'll talk.

Black Wool Skirt

Today was my 95 year old grandfather's funeral. Frankly I never know to dress for a funeral, you don't want to be too casual and look disrespectful. On the other hand you should be comfortable, dealing with death and all. I dug out 2 yards of black wool I had found at a garage sale (for 2 dollars!!) and set out to make something for today. This is what I came up with.

A high-waisted,side zip,snap banded skirt.

I had originally fit it so it was an empire waist, but it stretched out a bit, but I like it better now anyway.

BTW The bugs are soooo bad this year due to all the Iowa flooding. We are in just one big swarm of gnats at all times.

I'm pretty much in love with this waist band. I used every inch of this fabric. I had to sew 4 pieces together and hide a big old center seam with a front flap. Those are not only decorative snaps my friend, those are full fledged holding-my-skirt-up heavy duty snaps.

Also something funny about this outfit is...the tank on backwards! It's one of those high-low mullet hemmed tank tops. It's a great way to look classy but feel ridiculous at the same time. 

I leave for the pageant on Thursday and have an endless list of things to squeeze in before I leave. My costume is done and I will do my best to upload them as soon as I can.


For the first time ever a pattern has fit me like a glove right out of the box. I found this pattern at goodwill for 88 cents. Really I just wanted to try out,what I call, baseball sleeves.

I used some blue sweatshirt fabric that has a two way stretch. I have enough left to make at least 2 more variations of this shirt. (Hello pockets!) On this test run I just left the collar and the bottom hem raw, and just stay stitched it so it won't unravel.

It is pretty much my favorite shirt ever and this will be the third day in a row I have found a reason to wear it. (hence the cat hair) 

The only thing I need to change is maybe take a little off the bottom. I like to be able to get into my pockets with ease.

This shirt is so quick to make I might spend my night pumping out a a few more, pockets! plaids! strips! I'm going to keep this one plain for all my killer necklaces.

How to Make a Purse gif

Have you ever read some sewing instructions that read something like this?

When I found the pattern to my corn dress I was pleased that it came with a purse pattern. A nice little quick project that only had three steps. Step two was make the rest of the owl. After I took longer than I would like to admit trying to figure out step two, I got it. I would love to show you these three steps but as you will see from the gif my sewing room is a MESS and I can't find it. The purse still seemed like a quick project so I figured I could make a quick little gif out of it. 50 photos later(with big ups to Steve Sleeves) here it is! 

Here is this if it doesn't load or you want to look at one frame longer.(sorry about the weird lighting changes)

Corn Shoes

Leave it to me to start a new project! (I think I have three going right now.) My original plan was to hand sew sequins on my corn printed dress, but after it was complete it looked so cute that I didn't want to add too much. I then I wondered what shoes am I going to wear with a corn dress? Like a lighting bolt it hit me: corn shoes!

They were tan ballroom dancing shoes that I had worn for my wedding. They are they most comfortable shoes ever, but have never been the prettiest. I have been hot gluing each sequin on one by one. They are turning out great but it takes forever!