Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chinchilla Shaming

Most of you know I have two male chinchillas.   Woodley II, the alpha male gray,  is healthy and somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 since we got him as a rescue in the summer of 2000.   He lived in my home office in Maryland and kept me company.   Woodley is a good boy and enjoys running across the top of this red couch.

Chinchillas can live as long as 20 years.   When we moved to the Asheville area in 2005, that fall our son bought a young male chinchilla, a white one with black ears and tail.   After keeping them in separate cages,  letting them out to get acquainted and play in the same room, going in and out of their cages (territory),  I put them together in a large, modified ferret cage and they got along just fine.   They never fought and became best buddies, sleeping together like peas in a pod.    That mutual friendship and respect went on for 7 years until we dog-sat Bernie weekend before last.

I was a BAD chinchilla because

The chins become defensive around dogs and will bite them so I kept the chinchillas' cage cordoned off from Bernie's sniffing and curiousity.   Bernie, AKA "the dog" was mostly upstairs, gated off from the stairs, but the chins knew he was in the house.    Snowball bit me hard on the wrist on Thursday.   It was painful for days, and if you look close, you can see the bandage on my right wrist.    What I didn't realize is that he was also attacking and biting his old friend, Woodley.   I heard them making their noises and DH even said they sounded like they were fighting.     I saw gray fur all over the cage and Woodley was inside his house, making clucking noises, keeping Snowball out.   I figured he was exibiting his alpha-male side because of the dog.   When I got Woodley out of his house and inspected him a couple days later,  he had bite wounds all over, some scabbed over and healing and some fresh and bleeding.    I immediately removed Snowball to the small cage and called the vet.    She said that if they were healing that was good and to watch for infection and his behavior - was he eating?  etc.     I cleaned and inspected the bites that were fairly superficial, no deep ones that might have injured an organ.    He obviously wasn't feeling well and needed to be able to heal without the other one biting him again.   The good news is that Woodley is now healed up and back to his old, mooching self.  But they remain separated.   
The perp with his slitty eyes is in the "pris" cage
I didn't realize it when I took the picture, but if you enlarge it, it looks like he's giving me the finger.   Hmmmmmm?

Saturday Update

Today I examined Woodley all over, and he's still got a big scab on his back behind his neck.   There are no abscesses or infection.   The boys are still separated.    I cleaned their cages and scrubbed the tile floor where they live downstairs - same room where the TV is.   They like watching baseball with DH.   I put another tube (cardboard cylinder that is used as a form for concrete) like the one in Snowball's cage there back into Woodley's cage.   They love their tubes because it's like being in a burrow, and he's been sleeping in it ever since.   Their favorite snack is apple branches and apple leaves.   It's a good thing we have an ancient apple tree that always needs trimming.

I've been walking to the end of our street where the mailboxes are and back every day.   It's hard but it's good to be able to do it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

TSW eDress

Size 1.5 before washing/drying
Too large
eDress after washing/drying
eDress has shrunk one size, the armholes are back to normal,
and the bindings curl nicely

While awaiting the arrival of Louise Cutting's newest pattern, Take Me Anywhere,  I ordered this download pattern and printed it out.   It looks great on each of the ladies on the TSW site.   I compared the sizing and measurements to similar styles I wear and decided to start with size 1.5 - better larger than smaller because this knit shrinks up after regular washing/drying.   Due to fabric limitations, for this first dress I folded up the dress portion ten inches, similar to what I did with the TSW Tosca dress pattern.  I left the band the same length.    

I used fabric that was left over from several previous projects including the eShrug.   It doesn't ravel and ruffles up at the cut edges, and you can work those stripes.    So I got to play with it again for this wearable muslin of the eDress.   You can see how I styled and executed the bindings at the neck and arm edges on the TSW eDress Flickr Set.   This knit does not have stretch so sewing on the armhole binding stretched the armholes out.   I then washed and dried the dress with a load of cotton clothes, even though the fabric was pre-washed in cold water.  The "after" are the headless photos above to emphasize the overall fit and changes that I anticipated.

My next iteration of this dress will be in the smallest size and in a meatier, stretchier knit.   In the right size the eDresses will work for me in longer or even shorter lengths, and I may make the eDress/skirt shorter than this dress.  The shape of the skirt is similar to the skirt I'm wearing with the Babette peplum top in a previous post.   Another dress and skirt are part of some transition coordinates I'm working on that include some TSW Ann's tops and the TMA  jacket.    The band allows you to pull together coordinating fabrics in interesting ways.

BTW the top of this dress is the same shape and sizing as the Ann's top so you could easily make a top out of it.    All in all,  I think the pattern will yield some wonderful casual coordinates and this first dress looks nice with this white ISCHIKO summer jacket.    

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Peplum top from dress

Here is the peplum top I made from the too-big, frumpy dress.   I separated the skirt from the top at the waist and used the already nicely rolled hem edge for the peplum.    Where the front had just been gathered below the cartridge pleats, I added cartridge pleats and stitched them down to mirror the stying on the bodice.  In the back I added darts at the waist, and instead of gathering the attached peplum,  I put two soft, inverted pleats just below the darts, and eased up any excess.   I still had to leave the waist a bit roomy or put in a zipper to get it over my head.   I'm wondering if it would look better if the peplum was shorter, but it's the same length of the current Vogue patterns peplum top, and the Peggy Sagers Giorgio top with a peplum effect.    Actually refashioning and altering isn't my favorite thing to do, so I'm done with this top for now.

So here it is with several different bottoms.   I created a Flickr set of proportions, pulling photos from my Flickr library.   It's interesting how certain combinations just look right and others, iffy or just frumpy and wrong.   I like the top with the short skirts and the cropped pants.   It's a boho look with the double layer georgette rayon skirt above.  Now my former dress is a comfortable casual top that I'll get a lot more wear out of.

With matching skirt - Yes
With bias short skirt - Yes
With cotton cropped pants -Yes
With jersey gored EF skirt - No

Friday, August 10, 2012

Refashioning and One Year Later

It's amazing how moving makes you take a new look at your wardrobe.  I bought a few pieces that were waaaay to big for me.  But big is better than small because you can always alter and refashion.   Then some things you don't wear as much because you don't have the right coordinate.    So I'm breaking in my sewing room arrangement by altering and re-styling things I like, warming up for fall sewing.

I like peplums and it's nice that the designers showed many variations for this spring/summer.   I bought this neat Babette SF peplum top made in her signature pleats to get more wear out of this charcoal/cream stretch cotton bubble skirt with shades of gray.

Then there was this Vera Wang dress in an interesting fabric that I loved.   I already owned the skirt and found the dress for less than I would have paid for the fabric.    Only problem was that it was huge, the waist was too high, it was too long and overall looked frumpy on me.   Then for two years it hung in the closet.    So I took another look at it and the lightbulb went on!    Peplum top ! waist a little high - no problem because that's the way they're styling the peplum tops.     Just figure out the best length to cut it off, hem it and take it in some in the back.   I'm going for a stylish summer top that works with different bottoms.

Before - frump city
Gathers below the cartridge pleats   

Next was this interesting summer ensemble from Doncaster.  The jacket is definitely Chanel quality and the fabrics are gorgeous but the only skirt they had at the clearance markdown was a size 14, too big and too long for me.   But you can always take bigger in so I bought it.   The skirt style is just like Loes Hinse Swing Skirt I've made a few times, so I measured and compared to those, and decided to use the same waistband technique Louise Cutting uses on her One-Seam pants and her skirt patterns.    It's a very pretty waistband technique, esp for soft fabrics, and would enable me to take the skirt up at the waist and not mess up those gorgeous flounces.   The silk georgette print and the solid lining were a bit wiggly to work with so I used a 2 1/4" template to press that made it a lot easier.

Before with waistband and darts

Removing waistband - these Kai scissors were wonderful to do this

After using Louise Cutting's signature technique

Before and detail of double flounce
After with coordinating cotton tweed jacket

This week we're dogsitting Bernie, our son's pomeranian.    He's a cutie and follows me around everywhere.    We walk down the driveway and down the road.    He likes to dig at the edge of the driveway in a certain spot.

It's hard to believe that it's been one year since I returned home from  Johns Hopkins hospital where they put that catheter into my chest and began the plasmepheresis treatments that continued until the end of October.   As I look back on those times, and the months since,  I remember all the special people who truly were my angels.    My physical therapist, Kathie who saw me when all this began and who happily discharged me on the 16th of July.    My sewing friends here in the US and around the world,  some who contacted me after following my disastrous journey prior to getting into Johns Hopkins with helpful advice and friendship.   The doctors and medical professionals at Johns Hopkins, and at Mission Hospital who attended me during my plamapheresis treatments.  I particularly want to thank Wendell and Susie, the RNs in the hemodialysis center and all the doctors at the Mountain Kidney and Hypertension Center who run that unit.    Wendell coordinated with the doctors and nurses at Johns Hopkins, assured them that their procedures mirrored those at JH, that allowed me to be treated here rather than stay in Baltimore for three months.    Those were tough times but the care they gave me enabled me to get through it.     And the good news is that the treatments worked.  Fast forward to this month when I was making reservations in Baltimore for my next check-up the end of September.      

I'm looking forward to October when I get to go to Louise Cutting and Linda Lee's workshop/sewing retreat in Florida.   For now,  I am happy to be able to do all the things I couldn't do a year ago.   I still don't have the endurance I used to and tire more easily.   I may not get that back but at least I can walk up and down my road and driveway and do anything I put my mind to.

To all those who took the time to write and comment and encourage me,  thank you.  Over the years I have met people with serious physical problems that were different and many times a lot worse than mine.   They never played the victim and inspired me with their courage and determination to live and not wallow in self pity.  Put your mind to it and create the life you want and do what you can do.  That's what I did even when I didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel.   I'm glad and fortunate to have found doctors who knew how to make me well.