Archive for April, 2007


April 26, 2007

Since my pinstriped skirt requires a zipper, I thought this might be a good time to do a quick post on zipper installation. There are two basic ways to sew in a zipper: a lapped installation, and a centered installation. A lapped installation is usually found on pants fronts — it means that one edge of the fabric laps over the other, hiding the zipper tape. In a centered installation, which is what I’m doing, the zipper is installed between two equal folds of fabric which meet in the center of the zipper.

This isn’t a typical installation, since I’m not installing the zipper directly to the fabric pieces, but rather to the backing tape that my bound fashion fabric will be attached to.



Penn State Hoodie

April 19, 2007


Penn State Hoodie Back

Work in progress posts for this item: For the Younger Set

Construction details & more pics below the fold.


Storm in a D cup

April 19, 2007

via Feministe

About two dozen young women in Louisiana were refused entry to their prom on the grounds that their dresses were “too revealing”. The young women and their parents are outraged, suggesting that the girls who were refused entry happened to be larger-busted than their peers, but that their dresses were no more revealing.

I can’t link directly to the images, but you can see a slideshow of the dresses here . I think they are quite appropriate for young women at a formal event — they look exactly like the kinds of dresses I see younger women wearing at weddings, for instance. It’s also worth noting that the majority of the young women who are photographed are black, although according to Feministe commenters, only 62% of the population of the school is black.

There is a very sweet comment from a young man whose date was turned away, reported in the Times-Picayune:

“I find it’s wrong, because you can’t help what the girl has. You’re born with that,” the senior said. “I think it was discrimination toward a woman who has features.”

The wording is a little clumsy (I don’t generally refer to my breasts as “features”!) — but I think what we have here is a young man who realizes exactly what is going on, but is trying to to show some respect to these young women and not engage in public discourse about what their bodies look like. Which is more than can be said for school personnel, one of whom apparently said of one of the women “No, her chest is too big and it (the dress) reveals too much”.

Well, hell. Her chest is too big. I guess you can get all dressed up for your prom and feel like a million bucks, but if your chest is too big, someone is going to decide you aren’t really fit for polite company.

Tiny Bubbles

April 16, 2007

tiny bubbles

Space Lace

April 16, 2007

I was somewhat groggily listening to NPR this morning, when I caught bits of a story about some sort of “space tether” that was analogous in form to “underwear lace like you would find in Victoria’s Secret”.

At this point in the morning, I hadn’t yet received adequate levels of caffeine, so I figured I’d go check out the story later on the internets.

New Scientist Space gives us the gist of the story. NASA is experimenting with technologies which will reduce the amount of fuel that rockets have to carry with them. A spacecraft requires a huge amount of thrust to escape the earth’s atmosphere, and traditionally, in order to generate that amount of thrust, it requires a huge amount of fuel. One way to reduce the amount of fuel that a rocket needs to carry is to have waystations in space that will provide additional thrust — and that’s what the space tethers are for.

Researchers believe that long tethers, rotating lengthwise, could one day catch satellites in space and fling them to higher orbits. This could allow rockets to use less fuel if they launched satellites to relatively low altitudes before having the tether take over, boosting the satellites into higher orbits – or out of Earth’s orbit altogether.

The tether works a little bit like a slingshot and a little bit like a jumprope. It’s basically a long piece of string, anchored at each end by a satellite, that spins around like a jumprope. In the middle will be a slingshot mitt that’s designed to catch an incoming rocket. The mitt catches the rocket, the tether swings around on its jumprope trajectory, the mitt releases the rocket and the rocket is flung into space.

The weave of the tether is what caught my attention in the first place. It sounds to me less like lace per se, and more like fishnet — it’s constructed with inbuilt redundancy so that it can withstand small tears without compromising the entire line.

The MAST [Multi-Application Survivable Tether] tether is expected to be more durable than those previous experiments, since it uses three, interwoven lines, each 0.5 mm wide, rather than just one. “It’s kind of like a long, thin net, so if you get a piece cut somewhere, there are other parallel lines that can take over the load.”

The technology is still in its infancy — there are prototype tethers, but no mitts. Tomorrow will see the launch of a new prototype system — a tether around 1km in length, with a “thermos sized” inspector robot (called “Inspector Gadget”) which will crawl along the length of the tether to check for damage. The New Scientist article (linked above) reports that the inspector robot should be visible with binoculars, if not with the naked eye. The experiment has a blog, so stay tuned for the best places to watch for robots crawling along lines of fishnet in the sky.

For the Younger Set

April 13, 2007

There is a young man in my life about to have his first birthday, and I happen to know that he is a die-hard Penn State football fan. It’s a little difficult to get tricked out in all the team gear when you are so short of stature, so I figured I’d send some love his way.

I’m planning on making the toddler’s hoodie from McCalls 4624 from a Penn State fleece panel. Here’s the pattern envelope:

McCalls Toddlers' Tops & Pants Pattern #4642

Some views have a hood and some have a funnel collar — there’s also an optional applique pocket for the front.

All the views have a v-neck zipper closure.

I’m going with a hood, and I’m modifying the closure so that there’s a full length separating zipper all the way down the center front. Info on how I did this modification is after the fold.


The Right Tool For The Job

April 10, 2007

So I haven’t been doing too much work lately on my current project — my trip intervened (and I did manage to whip up a skirt with the Malaysian fabric I picked up at the State Department book sale; photos to come).

I brought it back out today, and I have two comments about tools.

The first is that making bias strips out of satin is a complete pain. The fabric is slippery, it doesn’t like to hold a crease, and I managed to singe both it and my fingers. What I need for this is a bias tape maker:

bias tape maker

With this little gizmo, you feed the flat fabric in one end, and it comes out the other end folded around — you just have to press the creases in.

The second comment regards presser feet. For the longest time, I’d had my zigzag presser foot attached to the machine for any kind of regular straight stitch sewing. I mean, no reason you can’t stitch a straight line with the zipper foot, right? Well, but I’d always had trouble with very tiny seams and topstitching. If I was stitching close to the edge, the edge would creep up into the little well of the zigzag foot.

I pulled out the regular straight stitch foot the other day, and it was a revelation. Perfect topstitched seams, less than 1/16 inch from the edge.

Um. Well. D’uh. That’s why they give you a different foot for straight stitching.

Ethnic Costume

April 5, 2007

I’ve been away for a week or so, attending my brother’s wedding in Australia.

Here’s my brother, resplendent in kilt, sporran, and skean dhu.

My brother in his kilt

The skean dhu is the traditional knife worn with the kilt — you can see it just protruding from his right sock.