Sometimes, You Fail

cutting out the lining

I’ve had Butterick 5951 in my “Ooo! I want this!” pattern pile for a little while now. Last weekend, I finally pulled it out of the envelope, pulled some fabric out of my stash, and got to work. I cut the bodice of View A and the skirt of View C and have been sewing on it over the past couple of days – a little bit here, a little bit there. Usually, I want to get through a project SO FAST! because I’m anxious to try it on and see how it fits. While I admit I still wanted to know how this pattern would look, I really wanted to take my time, enjoying the process, spending a little more time getting to know my sewing machine, etc.

I love a clean finish to the lining

I was also really enjoying little things like delicately slip-stitching the lining along the zipper tape, and fixing a slight mistake that occurred while I was cutting out the pieces. Sometimes, it’s nice to take your time and not hurriedly rush through a project, with a deadline hanging over your head.

When I cut out the front bodice pieces, I realized that the fabric was uneven along the bottom side, which meant one side of the bodice needed a little patch.

Last night, I wrapped up all the finishing except the final hem. I went to my room to slip it on and check the fit…

…and I hated it.

It was just wrong, wrong, wrong. The wrong style, the wrong fabric…everything was just wrong.

the patched bodice corner, from the wrong side.

And, while there are often things you can do to tweak a pattern and make it work, I honestly don’t think I could tweak the whole thing enough to make me happy with it. It’s just not-right-for-me overall.

Which is frustrating, when I’ve spent so much time on it, and was excited to see how it turned out. But that’s, unfortunately, part and parcel of any great sewing adventure. Sometimes, you fail. Sometimes, you do everything right and it still doesn’t work. Even after 20+ years of sewing, it still happens to me. And probably on a more regular basis than I would like.

Not to worry, though. I plan to take the pieces back apart and use the different components in other projects. The skirt gives me the most material to work with, and I already have an idea about how I’m going to use it.

[I should note…the lining for this dress was already salvaged from a different failed pattern experiment. Sometimes, you fail repeatedly.]

Too Darn Hot!

The weekend passed and brought with it a brought with it a broken air conditioner. I’m still a little unclear as to what has happened – it was working just fine on Friday night and Saturday morning. When I returned to the house around 3:30 on Saturday, though, I was informed that not only had the air conditioner stopped cooling the house (the motor seems to still be working), but turning the thermostat off also kicks off the lights in the dining room and kitchen, and re-sets the microwave clock. In the 2.5 hours I was gone, the inside of the house had already grown stuffy and hot. We opened the windows (I’m still not sure whether that was an improvement or not) and I toddled out to Target to get some more fans so we could, at the very least, circulate the hot air.

As anyone who has helped to maintain a house can tell you, it’s always stressful when things break down. Naturally, these things happen to need fixing when its most inconvenient: the furnace breaks on the coldest nights of winter, a pipe will burst or leak when there’s no one home to monitor said leak, and the AC will conk out at the height of summer. Sadly, my primary de-stress activity is to work on a sewing project, and my current sewing project should NOT be attempted in the summer without the presence of air conditioning. So, I had to re-direct my worries about whether it would be an easy and affordable fix into another area of productivity. I made a call to our usual AC/heating/plumbing people, AA-Annandale, but knew the return call would have to wait until Monday morning. In the meantime, I knew I needed to clear out at least a portion of the basement, so that repair people could get in and out to fix things.

The basement (and, really, the whole house) has been in need of a serious cleaning/de-cluttering/renovation for some time. Maggie, Robert and I have done our best at getting the ball rolling with the renovation of the downstairs bathroom (with its as-yet-unfinished shower) and the installation of a door on my bedroom, but there is still a long way to go.

I have plans for the downstairs living area. Plans that may or may not include paint (not boring white, either), nice curtains, funky area rugs, and looking for a couch that won’t deform my spine like the current futon does. For the time being, though, the work in the basement is centered on clearing out junk. Sadly, my efforts last night mainly consisted of relocating materials from one corner of the basement to another, so the electrician can come in and actually access the fuse box (that’s right, kiddos. My house has a fuse box) and the AC people can get to the compressor and fan.

With luck, we’ll get the air conditioner back up and running soon and my dedication to clearing out and sprucing up the basement will not stagnate when I’m able to do something in the house other than sit in a pool of my own sweat (a lovely image, I know. I’m telling you, it’s hot!).

Serenity Now!

You know that movie where a normally mild-mannered, rather nerdy-looking Michael Douglas suddenly snaps and just starts running all over town, going ape-shit on everyone? Today, for the first time, I actually felt a little sense of kinship with him.

I think I might have just been soured on the whole JoAnn Fabrics experience today. Shock and horror on your part has no doubt followed this statement. After all, I’ve written more than one entry here professing my devotion and appreciation for JoAnn’s in the past. Believe me, I’m not happy about having to say that I had an extremely bad experience there. At the moment I’m willing to blame the whole thing on grand opening kinks and bad store location karma. We’ll see if, upon repeat visits, the service and experience improves.

I wasn’t all that happy about the prospect of the store moving in the first place. The location out at Burke was incredibly convenient to get to. The new store is out at Fairfax Towne Center, which is a bit trickier to get to. The traffic out that way is frequently maddening. It took me about 30 minutes to get there today. Compare that to the 15 minutes the old Burke route took.

Willing to give the store the benefit of the doubt, I pulled into the parking lot, locked up the van and headed inside. It was nice to move through the store with a brand new shopping cart whose wheels hadn’t yet become immovable due to random thread build-up, I’ll admit. The seasonal stuff is all located in the front of the store. Someone had turned on one of those little toys that plays music and shakes and there was a little girl there dancing like it was going out of style. It was rather cute.

I was actually kind of surprised by the new layout of the store. It didn’t feel like there was all that great a selection. At least, nothing like what was in the old store. There was a LOT of fleece, which seemed kind of odd – I’ve never seen such a large offering of fleece before. The plain broadcloth didn’t look as big as at the old store and there were some specialty fabric types that only had three or four offerings on the shelf. The red tag area was almost non-existant. Well, the red tag area for regular fabric is almost non-existant. The red-tag area for upholstery fabric was filled to the brim.

Now, the whole reason for my trek out to the fabric store was to get the stuff for my Kowl costume. I was hoping to find something fuzzy and lightweight in the right color for the body/head and the inner ears. I figured I’d wait a bit before getting the fabric I’ll need for the hands/feet/eyebrows and the neck fluff. I managed to find some felt that was a pretty close match to the color on the reference picture I had with me. I had hoped to find something a little more lightweight but the felt will have to do. I think I’m going to build some vents into parts of the costume so it doesn’t get as warm as I fear it might.

After I found the fabric for the body and the ears I headed off the cutting counter.

That’s where the big problem came up. There were a couple of employees puttering around in the general area. All but one made eye contact with me and immediately ignored me. I finally figured out that I needed to take a number. Like someone waiting at a deli.

Now, if there had been a huge crowd of people awaiting the cut-out counter I might consider this a good idea. After all, the counters aren’t arranged in an orderly way, as they are in most fabric stores, so the creation of a line might be problematic. However, when there isn’t a crowd of customers waiting the whole “take a number” thing doesn’t seem to be all that important. I went ahead and pulled a number anyway and kept pretty close to the counter. I didn’t need anything else in the store, so there was no reason to wander anywhere else while I waited. Again, everyone in the area looked at me but failed to acknowledge me. There was only one person actually cutting fabric for a customer. While I was standing around, waiting for my number to be called, another employee wandered by and asked if I was waiting for the cutting counter. I told her I was and she said to take a number and someone would be right with me, then she wandered off. I moved to the other side of the cutting counter to wait, just so I wasn’t blocking one of the aisles.

While I was standing there, waiting for my number to be called, about three customers came up to the counter. It sure seemed to me like they were being helped without a number. Especially since the number on the deli counter thing was still at “64,” like it had been when I pulled my number. Another 20 minutes went by. By this point I had moved over to the thread section. Yes, I was basically lurking around the cutting counter. Biding my time like some fabric store tiger, stalking a gazelle.

Wait. That analogy doesn’t work. Tigers don’t stalk gazelle.

Biding my time like some fabric store tiger, stalking whatever prey that tigers stalk.

I looked up at the counter again, assuring myself it was still on 64 (despite another person now talking to the woman behind the counter – the same woman who had told me to take a number in the first place). I looked down at my phone long enough to send Maggie a text that said “The new JoAnn’s is really starting to annoy me.” When I looked back up right after the counter said they were now serving ticket #69. My ticket number was #68.

In the time it took to type nine words they had somehow managed to help three other customers and skip over me. Riiiiiiiight. I’m sure that’s what happened. When I noticed that they had side-stepped my number I stopped lurking. I decided to stand in the middle of the way. By this point I’d already been waiting for more than half an hour, just to have fabric cut. One of the ladies who was standing at the counter looked straight at me, turned around, and walked off. Eventually a random employee, “Claire”, walked by and asked if I was waiting for fabric to be cut. When she suggested I take a number I told her I not only had one but that they were already serving the one after mine and that they hadn’t even called mine. She took a look at the next number in line and told me they’d call me next, and then wandered off again.
I wondered how they’d know to call me next, as she didn’t tell anyone behind the counter that they needed to call #68 next. And yes, there were still a couple of JoAnn’s employees milling about in the general area.
A few minutes later “Claire” wandered back over and said she’d cut my fabric. While she cut the three pastel fabrics that I had pulled for the ears she proceeded to shout into her little mic thingy, calling for back-up at the cutting counter. She set the three cut pieces to the side, tapped a random employee on the other side of the interfacing bin on the shoulder and told her to finish cutting my stuff. Then she walked off. Without scanning the fabric she’d already cut and without finishing helping me.
Really? I had one more piece to cut. It would’ve taken all of 30 seconds to flip the yardage out and cut it. And, honestly, “Claire” should’ve been scanning in the lengths and bar codes of the fabric she had already cut as soon as she had finished it. I know that much, after years of going to JoAnn’s.
The woman who took over the cutting went ahead and cut my felt and then went to scan things. Which took forever. She couldn’t get two of the bolts to scan. She fumbled with them for another ten minutes, occasionally looking around for help from the other people who were supposed to be working at the cutting counter. She wandered off around the corner for a moment, and when she came back she asked another employee where the fabric that I had picked up had come from. No surprise, the other employee hadn’t the foggiest idea. Of course, the woman could’ve just asked me.
After all, I was the one who had picked up the fabric to begin with.
I told her where it was and even told her the type of fabric (specialty cotton) and what the price on the sale sign said it would be. That’s right, it was for sale. 50% off. She toddled off and pulled two other fabrics from the same general area (but they weren’t really the same price) and tried to scan those instead. When they didn’t scan, she decided to just go ahead and scan the barcode of the third pastel bolt three times. “It’s cheaper than the other two,” she told me. The trouble was, it wasn’t. With the 50% factored in, the other fabric was much cheaper.
She wandered back off, in search of someone who could help her with the scanner. While she did this, another employee wandered over, presumably answering the earlier plea from Claire about more helpers needed at the cutting counter. He stood in the middle of the area, looking incredibly confused, for about a minute. Then he called the next number in the queue. And, by “called”, I mean he said “70” just barely loud enough for me to hear – and I was standing right next to him. It was the first time I had heard anyone actually call out a number. No one had called out any of the other numbers. Certainly not in anything resembling an audible volume. What if the customer had been blind? They can’t see that the number on the deli counter thingy has gotten to theirs and the employees certainly weren’t keeping up with calling out the numbers so people could hear them. If they had, I’d have heard them call mine.
The woman holding #70 had apparently been paying really close attention to the deli counter thingy because she immediately piped up and said, in a loud, clear voice “I’m #70! I’m #70, right here!” As she moved over to the section of the cutting area where the young man was standing, one of the other employees called, in a rather snotty tone, “#70? Is #70 here?”
The woman who came back with the lady who was “helping” me tried to scan the bolts, despite being told that the code was popping up saying that the fabric wasn’t in stock. I shook my head. How can the fabric not be in stock? It’s in the freaking store! Doesn’t it have to be recorded as being in the store to actually be in the store? They kept fumbling with things and I finally had enough.
“You know what?” I said. “Just scan the two that are going through. I’ll take the yellow and the felt.”
“You don’t want the other ones?” they asked.
“I’d love the other ones, but it’s not working, I’ve already been here a ridiculously long time and I need to go pick someone up for a meeting. So just scan the two that are working and I’ll be on my way.”
The woman who had been trying to scan everything through asked “There’s two yards of the yellow, right?”
No. You know that there was a yard of each. You had repeated the amount several times when you tried to scan the other things through. I didn’t say that, of course. I was good and kept as much snark out of my voice as possible. “No, it’s a yard of the yellow and four of the felt.”
She went ahead and scanned the two fabrics, printed out the receipt and I was finally able to head up to the register. The woman there asked if I found everything I was looking for. I kept myself from saying “Yes, but the store wouldn’t let me buy it.” It took maybe three minutes to go through the check-out. When I finally got out to the car, I took a look at the clock.
I had been in the store for an hour and 15 minutes, people. It took me ten minutes, at most, to find the fabric I wanted and, as I’ve already mentioned, it took less than 5 minutes to actually purchase everything. That means I waited at the cutting area for an hour. An HOUR! I’ve NEVER had to wait in a line at a fabric store for an hour. If there had been an extremely long line and they were in the middle of a major sale on a holiday weekend and they were horribly understaffed I might have understood the delay. But the delay this time was just incompetence, poor manners, and general ineptitude. And poor planning in terms of store layout.
Here’s a little tip for you, if you ever decide to go into the craft supply business: If you operate a store that has “fabric” in the name and that markets specifically to people wanting to buy said fabric then, for the love of all that is holy and for the sake of your customers’ and employees’ sanity, have a cutting area that is large enough and laid out in a manner that allows for people to actually cut the yardages. I would’ve thought that would be obvious when planning the store’s layout but I guess I’m wrong.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself “Wow, Meg. The experience couldn’t have been all that bad. Don’t you think you were just over-reacting a bit?”
I don’t think being upset at being stranded at the cutting counter for a solid hour is over-reacting, though. I like to think I’m a fairly patient person. I put up with a lot and I try to give folks working in retail the benefit of the doubt in most situations. After all, I’ve been in that kind of situation myself – understaffed, overworked, etc. However, when I’m left with the impression that the people working in the store had just been pulled in off the sidewalk that morning and told “Come work in our store” without any kind of training, I’m not likely to be as forgiving.
One of the quickest ways to annoy customer-me is to ignore me. It’s kind of related to the storytelling part of my life. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a storyteller. Want to know what’s the worst thing you can do to a storyteller? Ignore them. Disregard the things they say. Wander off when they’re trying to talk to you. Don’t even acknowledge that they’re worth your time. All of that happened at JoAnn’s today. Perhaps that’s why the whole experience has left such a foul taste in my mouth.
I was so terribly flustered and frustrated and just in general out of sorts when I finally left the store that I didn’t even want to go to the grocery store to pick up stuff for dinner, as I had originally planned. I had to sit in the car in the parking lot and meditate for a few minutes before I could even think of driving back home! That’s not normally something that I have to do, even when I’ve had a particularly bad day.
It’ll be at least a few months before I even attempt to go back to the JoAnn’s at Fairfax Towne Center. I don’t care if it is small and cramped and doesn’t usually have exactly what I’m looking for – I’d rather go to the JoAnn’s out at Seven Corners. I think, however, that my fabric store jaunts are going to be centered more around G Street Fabrics and WalMart. WalMart usually has a crappy selection and G Street tends to run a little more expensive, but at least the people there know what they’re doing.

Speed Bumps (or, “You hear that thumping sound coming from under the car? That’s the sound of me running over my brother”)

The month continues to be crazy. Well, I suppose I should say “last month was still crazy,” as a new month has now begun. That’s right, folks. It’s February now. I can hardly believe we’re already a full month into the new year.

I think my disconnect has come as a result of a massive amount of traveling. Even though I declared myself “back” a while ago I really haven’t been home all that much. I was gone to Florida for a week and then I was camped out on Maggie’s floor for another week. I wasn’t home for much of the following weekend (guilted into attending a party) and then it was time to go back to Maggie’s. My relationship with my bed is troubled at the moment. It’s complaining that we hardly ever see each other and I’m really beginning to agree. Originally, I had planned some quality time with my bed – burrowed under the covers, catching up on much needed sleep. Alas, it was not to be.

My parents, sister, nephew and I all hopped in the van on Friday after I got off work and hightailed it to Ohio to visit family. Most of my nights there were spent in uncomfortable bedding (a chair the first night and the floor the second). After a blissful final night in a lovely Hampton Inn bed we headed back to Virginia…

…where I came close to throttling my brother.

First off, the driveway, sidewalk and front steps hadn’t been shoveled. Now, keep in mind that the snow that fell on Saturday while we were out of town measured 1 1/2, maybe 2, inches. My brother was off work all day Saturday. When Mom asked him why he hadn’t shoveled his response was “It was snowing all day. I didn’t want to keep shoveling all day.”

Yes. Clearly the light, powdery snow fell so heavily on Saturday that it clearing it once around, say, 5pm, would have been unthinkable.

Okay, my mother continued, why didn’t you shovel at least this part today?

Because he was cleaning.

Now, anybody who has ever met my brother should, at this point, be doubled over in laughter. The boy never cleans. He leaves destruction in his wake wherever he goes, as you will clearly see in a moment.

Of course, he was giving this explanation while standing on the top step watching my mother and I, who were tired and had just finished an 8-hour trek from Ohio, clear as much snow and ice from the stairs and spread ice-melt on the stuff we couldn’t clear. Ordinarily we would have just walked up and down the stairs carefully and come back out to clear things but my father was still in the car. He recently had surgery to amputate a toe and is still dealing with complications from said surgery. He wears one of those open-toed bootie things when he’s walking about which means the snow can get all over his foot and cause additional problems.

My brother came out and watched my mom and I usher my father across the snowy driveway and up the still icy stairs and then disappeared when we started bringing in stuff from the car. He finally came back out when there were about three things to bring in.

When we came into the house it was clear the “cleaning” that went on didn’t occur out in the main part of the house, where everyone else lives. It wasn’t the messiest I’ve ever seen it but it wasn’t neat, either. I finished bringing in our travel stuff and took my bags downstairs.

If I had a soundtrack that played throughout my day, helping to narrate my emotional state, this is what you would have heard.

As always, my brother’s “cleaning” simply consisted of him taking all the crap he didn’t want in his room anymore and throwing it downstairs, stacked haphazardly on top of everything else that was already there, most of which is still there from the last time he “cleaned” his room.

Keep in mind the fact that I live in the basement. I’ve got a bedroom and an office, though most of the office is actually given over for storage for Christmas decorations, Mom’s craft buckets, etc. My sewing area is in a corner of the main room, beside the futon. There’s a little square table I occasionally use for cutting fabric off to the side, in another alcove. All my parents’ stuff from when they moved back from Nashville has been taking up most of the main rooms in the basement for a few years. I live amongst all this flotsam and jetsam. It’s aggravating sometimes but I try to put up with it as best I can. Although it’s crowded, at least there were paths and we knew where everything was.

And things weren’t getting broken.

That is no longer the case. Half of my fabric is missing (including the three yards of fuzzy blue that I need to finish my Popple costume). My Blink Angel wings are bent. I haven’t the slightest idea where the mask has been put and I can’t get to the bucket where the rest of my costumes are stored because it’s now buried under two feet of my brother’s crap and behind at least four feet of random boxes. I couldn’t even get into the dryer this evening, because he put tackle boxes in the way.

My original plan for tomorrow was a morning of THESIS, followed by finishing the Popple and perhaps getting started on re-making the Angel costume in preparation for Farpoint. At this point, the entire morning, afternoon and evening of tomorrow will be spent clearing out all the trash that the little poopoo head has thrown downstairs.

And, lest you think that it’s not actually trash, I will assure you that it is. He admitted as much to my mother. Why he decided it was best to take it all the way downstairs instead of just out the front door to the trash I’ll never know.

For now, I’m going to go make myself a cup of tea, perhaps meditate on a corner of my bed, and try to restrain myself from hurling my brother out the window.

I apologize for the rant. I promise I’ll be better soon.

Raising the ire of a sewing blogger, two years after the fact

Catchy title, no? I was thinking of “Defending JoAnn’s” but ultimately decided against it. This feels much more undergrad poetry class to me (in case you’re wondering, I was once involved in an exercise where we had to assign new titles to poems and most of them were as horribly contrived and just plain bad as my title here).

I hadn’t originally intended to write a new blog entry today, despite pleas (well, not a plea, really. More like a gentle request via text) from a friend. My excuse was that I still hadn’t remembered to grab my con report notes while flying out the door on the way to work. I had already written one non-con report blog entry. I couldn’t very well write another one after promising that the next one would cover all the happenings at Shore Leave 31, could I?

Apparently I could.

I decided to pop on to Blogger and check the dashboard on my account. I don’t know why they call it that. I don’t think of Blogger as a car, and that’s really the only thing that I can think of when I hear the word “dashboard.” But I digress. Although I like to peruse random sewing blogs I only subscribe to two at the moment: Newman’s Needle – which is updated much less often than the other one but I actually prefer to read – and The Sewing Divas. I looked up the post that had been put up on Sewing Divas about five days ago (“Hemming stitch by hand”). I perused the entry and then decided to click on a link to one of the other blogs that the writers of Sewing Divas suggested.

I was shunted over to a blog called Mondo Mode. ** little side note here…as you can tell, I’ve finally discovered how to enact links in the blog entries. I believe I warned you all that I’m crap with technology!**

Mondo Mode doesn’t appear to be posted to anymore, but the older posts are still up. I wasn’t terribly impressed with most of what I saw. I kind of got a “holier-than-thou” vibe from it. At least in regards to the world of sewing. The entry that really cemented this dated back to early February 2007 and referenced an article written by a woman who wrote for the New York Times.

Now, I can get behind the emotions and experiences of the New York Times writer, who was just then discovering the joys of sewing. I’ve had that type of experience myself and have seen it happen to other people who had previously not believed it would be something they enjoy doing. Clearly the world of sewing is something that interests me. I don’t know many people who would devote an entire blog to a topic they find boring or meaningless. The article describes, to a certain degree, some of what makes sewing such a fulfilling hobby. You end up with something that is uniquely yours. Even if it’s made from a pattern, you are the one who made it. There’s something wonderful about watching something go from a pattern and a pile of fabric to a completed project that you can use.

The thing that really bothered me about Mondo Mode’s response to the article was the following:

While some of us more sophisticated sewing enthusiasts can hardly argue with her mentions of Clotilde and Reprodepot, why on earth would she devote her last paragraph to Joanne’s?
We hope that Michelle’s path to sewing excellence will carry her quickly past Joanne’s and onward to Emmaonesock, Textile Studio, or Timmel Fabrics.

After reading the above quote I wanted to find something large, heavy and supposedly “sophisticated” to hurl at the writer’s head. Like a Bernina. That would do. Of course, my desire to commit heinous crimes with what is essentially the sportscar of sewing machines probably goes a long way towards proving that I am not one of the “sophisticated sewing enthusiasts” to which Ms. MondoMode refers. And I’m pretty okay with that.

I hopped over to the sites that the blogger suggested (I’ll have to spend longer than a few minutes over on Clotilde and Reprodepot than I did for this entry) and wasn’t much impressed with them. I’m sure most folks who visit Emmaonesock are suitably impressed, but I was more “eh” towards my findings. I prefer to see actual fabric, to run it over my hand and feel the drape and weave and so forth, in order to “see” it being used for a project. I’m definitely very much about the feel of a product, and that’s just not something you can gauge through an online store. Furthermore, the pictures on the site didn’t do a whole lot to push the lushness of the fabrics.

Textile Studio has since done away with their fabric selection and their patterns all look like something I swear I’ve seen people wearing in films made in the 80s (and I believe we all know by now what I think of most 80s fashion).

Timmel Fabrics isn’t even a functioning site anymore.

Joann’s, however, is ever expanding and, if you absolutely have to do your shopping online, rather than in an actual store, with actual people, you can order from them as well.

I think what irks me most about that statement is the italics she’s used when she types “Joann’s” the first time. You can almost hear the contempt and see the sneer as you read.

Now, I’m not saying that Joann’s is on par with something like, say, G Street Fabrics. It’s not. If you’re out there looking for huge rolls of fabric, like we’re so used to seeing in filler scenes of Project Runway, one would usually not opt for Joann’s. That’s not to say, however, that Joann’s has no redeeming qualities, especially when you take into account the context of the original article. The piece is being written by a woman who is returning anew to the world of sewing, after having had a disasterous initial entry during her youth. She is just now learning about all the tools and techniques that are out there. She hadn’t even though people used bodkins anymore! (Of course, I usually just use a bent piece of floral wire to pull elastic through — reaffirming my status as an unsophisticated sewing lout)

If this woman had wandered into the notions and tools section of my G Street Fabrics she would most likely have been so overwhelmed that she would turn right around and forget about her new obsession. Those walls and racks of missellanea can produce a bit of panic. How will you ever find what you’re looking for, amidst all the offerings? Plus, I’ve noticed that places like G Street and my local quilt shop offer a smaller selection of tools for a much higher price. If you are just getting started in sewing and don’t yet know if you really need or will use said tools, then the lower prices and bigger selections offered at Joann’s can definitely help.

Sometimes you just need a little piece of fabric for a lining, or maybe some fancy buttons to finish a coat. Instead of waiting around for at least a week for your hoity-toity box to arrive in the mail, you can hop in the car and head to a wonderland of fabric and doodads nearby. There are three Joann’s locations within a 20 minute drive of my house. When you’re just a half-step away from finishing another project, that’s a wonderful blessing.

Although it was the obviously higher-end G Street that initially affirmed my devotion to sewing, Joann’s has been the one that has nursed me through my early years. I’ve come to know a number of the people who work at the JoAnn’s over in Burke (my sewing home away from home). Some of them even keep tabs on the projects I’m working on. The majority of my projects are made with fabric that has come from this wonderful store, and they turn out just fine. The dress my sister wore to her friend’s wedding (she was the matron of honor) was made of fabric purchased at JoAnn’s, as was the “mock-up” I made for her, in a beautiful blue and brown knit print. That reminds me, I need to get photos of those two dresses. Although I tend to come across one or two people who have no idea what they are doing on each trip to JoAnn’s, I’ve also met a number of talented, sophisticated sewers. They clearly get joy out of what they do. And even the people who sit there with thirteen different bolts of busy fabric, asking which one would be best for little boy room curtains (and, inevitably, asking how much they should get) have the potential to become the next ____(insert name of favorite high end designer here)___

So, what lesson do we learn from today’s blog? First, don’t assume that people who visit Joann’s are, in some way, less than those who shop snooty online stores. Second, understand that, when starting out, Joann’s is going to be an obvious starting place for most sewers. Third, and most importantly, don’t put JoAnn’s name in italics and imply that sewing excellence is not to be found inside its doors.

If you do, you might just find a very large, very shiny, very heavy Bernina flying towards your head.

Costume blogs – nitpicking

Since I’ve started my own costume blog, I felt it only right to research the other costuming blogs that are out there in cyberland. I stumbled across one yesterday that both impressed and annoyed me. I was impressed because the person who writes it is incredibly talented, both in creating costumes (they have a business where people commission mascot costumes from them, so they’d better be good) and in special effects makeup and masks. I admire a lot of people’s work, and this person definitely ranked up there near the top.

The reason I was annoyed was, in some ways, trivial. The person had posted a number of photos from a large costume convention. The majority of the costumes were quite obvious: a number of Supermen, some X-Men, a bunch of different comic book superheroes, etc. Preceding each set of photos was a caption listing the characters appearing in said photos. I was excited by one caption in particular. According to the blog author, one of the people they photographed was dressed as Angel, from X-Men. I thought I wonder which look they went for? Are they following the film? The comic? Will it be a really hot, shirtless guy, showing off his rock-hard six-pack abs and a massive wingspan?

Truth be told, I was really hoping for a hot, drool-worthy, half-naked guy with giant, feathery wings.

I was a little let down. Not that the guy wasn’t hot. He was kind of cute. He was wearing a shirt, but that was okay. The wings weren’t the disappointment, either. Honestly? They were the best wings I’ve EVER seen. They looked real. My father studied ornithology in college, so I’ve seen my share of bird wings. Believe me when I say these were amazing. I think, if I had seen this man walking the halls of a con, I would have run up to him and expected him to be able to fly me up high above the city.

What disappointed me was that the man in the picture was not, in fact, dressed as Angel from X-Men. He was, instead, one of the angels from Kevin Smith’s “Dogma.” The costume was pretty good. Metal breastplate, chainmail yoke, afore-mentioned kick-ass wings. Blood smear gotten while smiting humans. It was great. And it was mislabeled.

I figure, if you are going to have a costume blog, and you are going to post pictures that you took of the work of other costumers, the least you can do is make sure that you are correct about who the person is supposed to be. It’s easy, really. When you take the picture, just make sure you say “You’re blah-blah, right?” It’s okay if you get it wrong when asking them, in my mind. I’ve yet to meet someone at a con who has gotten snippy or violent when someone mistakes their costume for something else. But when you present yourself as a costumer who is “in the know,” and then get the name of the character being cosplayed wrong, you just end up looking like a jackass.

That’s just my opinion. Take it or leave it.