Better than the History Channel…

For a synthetic adrenaline rush (read: real adrenaline, but no real threat to you, the viewer), watch the following video.  It’s 27 minutes long, and incredibly charming.  Just a warning though; it’s stressful.

UNDERCITY

Anyone who’s owned a pet rat will be reminded of it when they watch this man effortlessly scaling walls and girders, and stealing lithely down into the dark, unknown to so many of us.  This video is sick.

Kinda makes me relieved I just moved to Wisconsin–knowing all that was below me in NYC (and was missing out on) would make me sick with curiosity, and it would only be a matter of time until I tried this myself…

Thank you, Andrew Wonder, for this fantastic video.  And thank you, Steve Duncan, for being the lunatic to show us the way.  🙂

::Gasp:: The horror!

Crocodilia: How to know what you’re buying

So you bought an "Alligator" Victorian bag on Ebay... What is it, really?

Just a little update for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of crocodilian skins…  I found this great mini-guide and had to share it:

\”Distinguishing Features of Crocodilian Leathers\”

Note these features on the head, especially:

Gator= 2-2-2 pattern of bumps

Caiman (often sold as alligator--don't be fooled!): 4-4-2 pattern of bumps

Croc= 4-2 pattern of bumps

There is often much confusion between alligator and caiman (as they are very closely related).  It’s important to remember that caiman is often sold as gator.  It’s dishonest, but very common.  Educate yourself and know what you’re buying.

Alligator is much more expensive, due to a few factors.  One, it is quite scarce in comparison to caiman.  Alligators can be farmed or caught wild (though there are only 30 days each year that they can be hunted legally).

Alligator hide is MUCH more supple than caiman–you can fold gator in half and there should not be any cracking along the fold (unless you suspect it’s a really old piece of skin and then you should maybe think about identifying it a different way–just a thought).  Caiman is more brittle, and little cracks will appear when you fold it.

Then there are the differences in belly tiles.  The photos on AlligatorFur.com are great references!

As always, look for the DPRs (or ISOs: different names/theories, but each amounting to the fact that you’re only gonna find those little holes on a croc).

For more help with other reptilians, you can find my exotic leathers study guide here.

Grosgrain’s “Embellish Knit Month”

Thanks to \”What Would Emma Pillsbury Wear?\”, I came across yet another fantastic blog today:  Grosgrain!

No bad puns here, don't worry.

For those of us obsessed with Anthropologie’s killer cardigans, this is the site!  And score–for one month straight this woman is re-doing low-priced (or shop-your-closet) knits to look like their higher-priced counterparts.  She takes you through the process of re-sewing/embellishing each look, step by step.  Just look at this adorable Kate Spade look-alike!  Of course, copying designs for production is very, very wrong.  Personal use?  Bring it.

Thank you, Grosgrain, for the lovely inspiration!

New Tool Demos, Hooray!!

Very interested in checking this out… I really want one of these…

Sign up for emails/invites to interesting webinars like this at BerninaUSA.com.

Or click HERE for the 11-20-10, 10:00am CST (remember this is CENTRAL time)

HERE for the 11-20-10, 4:00pm CST webinar (remember this is CENTRAL time)

I have done one webinar before this.  It was about apparel-sewing shortcuts.  It was pretty good!  I learned a couple new things, and it would be excellent for people who are light sewers hoping to make more professional-looking garments.  I think the video archive is available somewhere on the website.  Don’t be dissuaded by the old-lady pattern looks they’re trying to market throughout the video–the techniques remain practical whether you’re interested in home sewing or high fashion.

Carbonara Homage to Buffalo

Today I came home hungry to a virtually empty fridge.  The only residents were some eggs, a carton of 1% milk, bacon, some leftover cheese (jarlsburg and gorgonzola), apple cider, and one of the saddest-looking onions I’ve ever seen.  Luckily, my hoarding tendencies have left me with a large amount of whole grain pasta, so I won’t actually starve anytime soon–I just run the risk of eating really boring dinners.

Not tonight, however…

Tonight?  I give you… (dun-da-da-DAH!!!)

Buffalo Carbonara!! (HOORAY!!!)

Ingredients:
1 package organic whole wheat spiral pasta
3 pieces bacon, cut into thirds
1/2 cup 1% milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup gorgonzola (crumbled)
salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large skillet, cook the bacon on medium heat until crispy (or not so crispy, I don’t care). In another pot, cook up the pasta according to directions. When bacon is cooked, transfer to a paper towel.  Do not empty the skillet of its lovely drippings.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, milk, gorgonzola and salt and pepper.  Beat ’em all together.

Once the pasta is done, drain it.  Add just a little water to the skillet. Transfer as much as you can into the skillet and start stirring.  Slowly add the egg/milk mixture and fold into the pasta, keeping it moving so you don’t get glorified scrambled eggs at the bottom of the skillet.  Put the bacon back in too.  Once they’re well mixed, pour the whole thing back into the pasta pot and mix some more.

DONE!  Well, actually, I ended up microwaving a half-package of frozen peas for two minutes and adding that too… I feel guilty if I don’t have any veggies with it.

Very easy, and pretty darn good for a desperate dinner!  Could only be conceived by a Buffalonian.  🙂

The power to do this at home?! SHUT. UP!!!!

So… I like to keep up on the newest creative technologies out there.  I pride myself on being a human encyclopedia for knowing how to make a project from the ground up.  For awhile I did a lot of research on laser cutters, thinking that sooner or later, I’d be investing in one.  Then along came Ponoko, and I didn’t need to have my own anymore.

Then I saw this.

… Hel—loooo, NURSE!  I think I’m in love.  Just imagine the possibilities!  So many beautiful things… so little time!!!

I’m turning into my father–only I acquire sewing equipment while he hoards power tools.  I just can’t seem to get enough to be satisfied.  How could I when they keep coming out with stuff like this?!  I keep thinking, every time I see a new thing, “If I had this machine I could rule the world!”  … and then I get totally distracted by the next big thing only moments after the nice red-bearded FedEx guy has left the previous thing at my door.  ::Sigh::  Such is life.

Another White Rotary: the carving reminds me of my Grandfather's cuckoo clock. I couldn't love it any more!

It’s that very pathology that drove my most recent acquisition–and I must say,if it was not the best, then it was one of the best purchases I have ever made.  I got myself a 1917 White Rotary treadle foot machine.  Yessir, when this country goes to Martial Law (and you. mark. my. words. it. will.) and we lose all electricity… I can still make perfectly beautiful handbags.  And trench coats… and tents… and whatever else might need to be sewn in a post-apocalyptic world.

Neuroses aside, I’m very glad I bought it–and for $80, it was an absolute steal!!  Never have I seen one in such beautiful condition–cycles like butter, oooh, how I LOVE her!  Sadly, I had to leave her home when I came back to NYC, and before I could even make anything!!  Sometimes I dream of her… tread-ling softly…

Sorry.  She’s quite distracting.  Anyway, I’m curious…  what’s your next dream tool?  Can be anything, any discipline… just curious… I’d be interested to see what everyone else is lusting after…

I hate this place.

Today I microwaved a cockroach for two minutes… and it DIDN’T DIE.

Professional Wardrobe Tips: Laundry

I did about 8 years worth of costuming and wardrobe for a professional theatre while I was trying to figure out who I am/what I want to do with myself.  Truthfully, I wish I could’ve stuck with it, but I’m too chicken to stay in an industry that has a very low glass ceiling.  I like the security of a retirement fund, and non-profit theatre does not a nest egg make.

Never once did I wake up in the morning and think, “Guh, I don’t wanna go to work today.”  Not once.  I worked with an amazing set of people, learned more about fabrics and materials than I could have just about anywhere else, and got a primo education in clothing maintenance, couture sewing techniques and tailoring… and I got paid for it.  Then I went back to school and paid them to get a piece of paper that says I know how to do all that I learned while working.  Ha.  Amazing how this world works, eh?

Anyway, I learned quite a bit about how to launder/take care of clothes, and I wanted to share just a few tips for keeping your lovelies, well… lovely.

1. Wash anything that isn’t a towel or a  sheet in cold water (this may be labeled the “Bright Colors” cycle on some machines).  Cold water keeps stray particles (such as stray dye or dirt) from sticking to your clothing–it also helps stains let go.  Alternatively, hot water opens up the fibers in many fabrics, making them more susceptible to absorbing unwanted particles (but it kills the bacteria in sheets and towels).

For goodness sake, zip up your zippers and un-button your buttons. Wanna know why all your favorite softy rayon and cotton tees get those strange constellations of little holes??  Cuz you washed your jeans in one big, unsorted load (for shame!) with the zippers all hungry for soft rayon-y goodness and they ate them!  Unbuttoned buttons won’t stretch the fabric where they button (this makes even the skinniest of us look rotund–the “bursting button” look is never attractive, ladies).  It also keeps the buttons from falling off.  Sorting is never a bad idea, but if you have to crowd everything into one load (hey, I do it too!), make sure that your zippers are at least closed.

Don’t shirk on the hand-washing.  Lingerie, fine silks and anything else that’s fragile means you need to take a little extra time.  It’s not so bad.  Keep a separate hamper for these items and do them all at once.  Many will tell you Woolite is the way to go–I was taught that Woolite is not so gentle as many would have you believe.  We used Dawn dish detergent (a little dab’ll do ya) for all flimsy unmentionables.  Don’t try to cut corners by throwing them all in your machine on delicate with a bit of dish soap, either, or you’ll have something akin to the time my boyfriend loaded the dishwasher with hand-washing detergent: a big-ol’ soapy mess (or your very own impromptu suds party, if you’re the “glass full” kind of person).

Swish your silkies in a cold soapy basin–do not wring them or twist them.  Any make-up or other stains should be pre-treated before washing.  When you’re done swishing them in the cold soapy water, move them into another basin full of water (coldish, please) and rinse.  Again, do not wring or twist the silkies.  Once they are rinsed properly and are free of soapiness, squeeze them gently to remove as much water as possible.  Then lay them out on a large bath towel.  Cover with another bath towel and roll the whole thing up like sushi.  Use your body weight to lean on the roll and squish out any remaining water into the towels.  Unroll and hang somewhere private.  🙂

2.  Some things cannot or should not be washed at all (such as fragile vintage items).  To keep these items fresh between dry cleanings, spray them with a mixture of 2 parts cheap rot-gut vodka (the kind you wouldn’t even serve at a frat party) to one part water (distilled if you have it, but no big deal if you don’t).  If you wanna get extra fancy, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (2-4, don’t go crazy).  The alcohol kills any bacteria it hits (concentrate on pits and extra-sweaty areas), and there is no smell because it all evaporates as it dries.  This ONLY WORKS WITH VODKA–don’t go tryin’ this with gin or whiskey or anything else because you run the risk of smelling like a total lush or worse, staining your beloved clothes.  There you have it: your very own wardrobe spray for pennies-on-the-dollar compared to buying Febreze, etc.  It works better, too.  I taught that trick to Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath’s road crews.  This works well for anything else you might wear more than once between washings, too (like those jeans you need to wear three times before they look perfect).

3. Stain Removal:

Blood:  use your own saliva (it has enzymes that break down your own blood better than anyone else’s).  Any saliva will do,  but your saliva is best if it’s your own blood.  Chew on a piece of scrap muslin and get it saturated, then use it to remove the stain (this saved my butt when I had a nosebleed on a one-of-a-kind vintage silk floral dress I was tailoring).  I know, I know, gross.  But it works!!  The sooner, the better.

Make-up:  pre-treat using a degreasing agent, such as dish soap with a toothbrush.  Lipstick needs a bit more finesse–a chalk pen (such as “Janie On The Spot Dry Chalk Stick”) works well for this sort of thing.

In general, Ivory soap is a gentle pre-treatment for lingerie.

Toothpaste (plain white paste, NOT gel) has a mild abrasive and works nicely for stubborn stains with a tooth or nail brush.  Use a whitening paste where just a touch of bleach may be needed.

Always use cold water on stains.

Always read the label (even if you don’t follow it exactly).

Sweet Land

“Let us hope we are all preceded in this world by a love story.”  -Don Snyder, Of Time and Memory


…Thus begins what is possibly the single most romantic film I have ever seen.  ::Sigh::  I don’t mean to get all moony-eyed and waxy on you, but forgive my swooning and watch “Sweet Land.”  It’s available to watch instantly on Netflix.  The soundtrack is phenomenal; the story, perfection… the trailer is here.

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Email Me at StarsAndGartersWP@gmail.com