And Tom Waits Plays on the Radio

It’s the last day of 2013, and I alone in a house that is filled with music to drown out the silence, and the heater is blasting to try to keep me warm, even though it never quite reaches my bedroom.  I am sifting through the paperwork that has spent the last year growing on my dressers and inside drawers.  I’m unwinding forgotten knitting adventures and putting away the stray knickknacks.  This is the first time, in the all the years I have been in this apartment, that it did not feel like home.  Today, it feels cold, quiet, large, and cramped.  I am overwhelmed by the amount of stuff and the lack of connection I feel suddenly.  Maybe it is simply that I have been alone since I returned on Sunday, and that in itself was a shock after being completely surrounded by people and conversation, whether or not I had decided to engage, for the week prior.  And maybe it is getting to the time I move on.  Right now it’s hard to tell.

But I am looking back at the year and marveling at how intense it was.  Looking back over the posts, and I’m amazed at how quickly everything happened.  I jumped from adventure to adventure.  Perhaps it is simply the bitter cold that is making me restless.

I taught aerial as much as possible and pushed myself to my physical limits.  I have so much inspiration to help me focus on my work now.

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There are plans.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure how my main goals are going to turn out because of my shoulder injury.  I am still healing and it bums me out very much.  The key here is patience.  I must have patience.

I traveled to Seattle:

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And Boulder for the Aerial Dance Festival:

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I went to Lakes of Fire:

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And I hope to find a way back to each in the next year.  Plans are in the works for Lakes of Fire, Burning Man is much more expensive and requires a lot more time off work, so it’s still up in the air.

I did reduce my yarn supply, but not nearly as much as I wanted to.  And on the designing front, I did not complete much.  I have a couple patterns in the testing phase right now, and a couple that just need to be written up.

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I’ve been staring at this for awhile now.  I left to think and work a bit more, and just returned to it.  I’m not quite sure what else to add.  I don’t quite have NYE plans and it’s the first time in years.

2013 – a wonderful year.  I grew more than I thought possible.  I went on many lovely, and sometimes frightening adventures.  I met dozens of beautiful souls throughout those adventures.  I’ve healed my broken heart (and don’t feel jaded, either).  I’m a lot stronger, wiser, and ready to take a leap.  Now I face a new year, different challenges, and some of the same, and I’m excited.  So many more adventures are coming up.

 

Halfway There

Back in January, I created a list of Resolutions meant to help me find my footing while my life went down a completely new and difficult path.  I wanted to recap yesterday, but as it was my first day in which I didn’t *have* to do anything, I didn’t.  I got home from work, turned on cheesy 1990’s sitcoms, opened a beer, and started knitting.  And I didn’t stop until I was feeling droopy.  I didn’t clean, I didn’t move, I didn’t answer my phone, I didn’t even cook – I just reheated Sunday’s dinner.  The house was quiet for much of the evening, and I was ok with that.  In fact, I was happy about that.  My world has been so incredibly busy lately that having a night off was heaven.

I did have a lot of time to think.  The past month has been a time of reflection for me.  Now, we hit the halfway point for the year and I’m looking at what I’ve done so far, and what I have left to do.

Specifically – those resolutions.

  • Knitting a Dress – Hasn’t happened yet, and it kind of worries me.  But, there are projects on the horizon that I think will resolve this before the year is out.  I have decided to go with my own personal design, since there are several I can make happen (and one or two that *must* happen).
  • The Yarn Diet – I have been weak lately.  I bought yarn over the weekend.  I kept saying that it was for hair falls – it’s costuming – it doesn’t count!! And indeed, one skein was used up last night during a craft activity, but I still feel bad.  The yarn diet was as much about money as it was about space.  I have noticed a difference, though.  I have either used up more yarn than I realized, or I’ve gotten really good at storing it.  I have almost reached my goal of fitting it all into one dresser, but there are still boxes here and there.  One of the projects I am working on, however, should use up quite a bit of that.
  • WIP Wrap-up – I haven’t done much with this.  I did finish the shawl I started in DC!  However, I haven’t even touched the Tech Square Afghan or those Christmas socks…  On the other hand, I have been fairly diligent about not creating more lost projects.
  • Explore Chicago – Roaring success so far.  We haven’t been consistent, but we do get out at least once a month.  It has been incredible.  I have discovered a lot about this city, and I think that reaching out for suggestions has opened up conversations that bloom into friendships, and that was part of the goal for this endeavor.  We still have a lot to explore!
  • Finances – I have a plan – really, a spreadsheet – for saving money so that I can participate more intensively in aerial acrobatics.  It is right on schedule.  For probably the first time since I moved out of my parents’ house, I feel pretty stable.  I don’t worry about making rent, don’t have to get creative with food because I can’t afford groceries this week.  we can even spend some time doing frivolous things.  I feel much stronger than I did, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m very proud of myself for developing this discipline.  Granted, it still needs work, but I think that is more in the department of impulse control than in financial judgment.  I can tell myself that buying a bag of yarn is a bad idea, but I still do it.  But silk on sale is kind of hard to resist – I don’t care who you are.
  • Aerial Dance Festival – I will be in Boulder, CO attending this at the end of July.  I’m taking 3 classes – Aerial Burlesque, Cyr Wheel, and Intermediate Trapeze.  I am super excited, a little nervous, and I sincerely hope I don’t make a fool of myself when I’m there.  I’m still trying to figure out my housing situation, so if you’re in the area and willing to let a knitting, flying, manic pixie crash on your couch, it would be much appreciated. 😀
  • Be More Social – This is where I have seen the most improvement, and it constantly amazes me.  We hosted a party over the weekend, and the turnout was mind-blowing.  It warms my heart to have so many people in my circle, people who look forward to the events I host.  I have put myself in awkward and uncomfortable situations.  I have taken a deep breath and stood up tall, introducing myself to people I know nothing about.  And I have been rewarded every single time.  I have become so social that I need to take a few steps back every once in a while so I can breathe and re-energize.  I love every minute of it!
  • Try not to be a Control Freak – This has been a challenge, but I think it will always be.  I have seen improvement, though.  My house is not spotless, and I have learned to be ok with that.  People I interact with daily move to their own rhythm, and I have learned to appreciate many of their unique nuances, and let go of the rest.  It has made for a harmonious cycle.  I have also learned how to better communicate when things are bothering me.  There is still so much more that needs to be done, and I am constantly reminding myself to slow down and consider the situation from all angles before opening my mouth.
  • Designing – This is the most exciting of all.  I have not only been inspired greatly by my adventures this year, I have also acquired an outlet for them.  It will remain a bit hushed for the time being, but you can expect a lot of fun things to be emerging from this blog.

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6 months is not a long time, but I am amazed at how much I have accomplished.  The last two months have been especially enlightening.  I feel stronger and more secure than I did in January.  Most importantly, I am excited and happy with who I am today.  I know that I have the strength and determination to accomplish everything I want to, and I’m watching the pieces fall into place as I work.  Seeing everything I’ve accomplished in such a short amount of times makes me eager to see where I will be in December, and next summer when I plan on taking the next leap of faith into an all new adventure.

Lakes of Fire in Retrospect

For two days now, I have wondered how to sum up the amazing weekend I just experienced.  I have gone through the pictures I have taken, scoured the web for photos from others, read testimonials from others who were there, and had a difficult time adjusting to my regular life.  Actually, this last one has been the worst.  I am still cleaning dirt from under my fingernails, there is still sand and oil in my hair, I get a whiff of campfire now and again and keep finding new ideas for next year.  I still haven’t unpacked and all of my camp and circus gear is in a giant pile in my parlor still, ready to be loaded up for another trip should the fancy strike.  Knowing that I really need to be a responsible adult, pay the bills, and tuck money aside for next year’s goals is kind of a downer.

So, here I am, still readjusting and trying to put the weekend into words.  An experience that makes you want to run so fast you start to fly and hug absolute strangers because you know they have a beautiful soul is not one that can easily be summed up.  Trying to even tell you what Lakes of Fire is or was or could be feels impossible.  It is simple and complex and colorful and clear, but only if you are in the midst of it.  It is an energy that ebbs and flows between the participants so that it is more than a festival, it is an immersive experience for all of your senses.  It is difficult to *grasp* but easy to understand once you let down your barriers and respond to that flowing energy.  You can’t help but smile and relax.  My boss told me when I returned on Monday morning that I was breathing deeply and calmly, that she could tell I had enjoyed myself and taken advantage of my vacation, that I seemed at peace for the first time since I started working in an office.  That feeling hasn’t left yet.

Ok

Lakes of Fire is, at it’s core, described as a fire festival.  What is that?  It is an exhibition of art, talent, and community that culminates in a fire performance and the burning of an effigy.  This effigy was standing all weekend, and participants were able to crawl all over it, climb it an look out over the lake at the entire festival, write notes on the walls and string paper cranes from the rafters.  We imbued the structure with our energy, our dreams and words and poems and love, to be shared within the community.

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When it burned, it became a celebration of life, love and community – the cycle of all things.  Each person shared the experience, and experienced it in our own individual ways.

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This being my first burn event of any sort, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was lightly familiar with the culture, but had never felt so fully immersed.  There was no way my imagination could have come up with the amazing performance, the fireworks, the color, and the feeling of anticipation and excitement that emanated from the crowd.

There is so much more to describe to you about the weekend, but I need to formulate the thoughts and pictures in my head.  I hope I have passed some of the energy to you!

Dear 2012

You have been quite a rollercoaster year for me. I started the year with such high hopes for my future. There were so many things I was looking forward to, hoping to accomplish, new things to learn. I wasn’t expecting so many changes – or rather, these kinds of changes – by the time you were over.

This year turned into an exploration of love, overall. What love means, how it grows, and how it hurts us. I found myself nurturing new friendships and letting go of old ones. I started planning a future with the love of my life, only to have the relationship end abruptly – I still don’t understand what happened. Maybe it’s not really my lesson to learn, but his. Perhaps 2013 will be the year of discovery as well as healing. Today, this last day, I will let it go.

There is still much to look back on, though, and many good things to be thankful for. Many things have happened to spark creativity and inspire hope.

I did my fairs again – Janesville and Custer – as well as new ones. It was a difficult realization to make that wings just aren’t as profitable as they used to be. I blame Disney. Retiring them – except for special orders – is going to be rough, but so far I have enjoyed not worrying about them. My energy has been going toward more productive endeavors.

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Aerial, for instace. I debuted in May at the Actor’s Gymnasium’s “Circus in Progress” show. It was exhilarating, challenging, and incredibly fun.

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Again in October, we performed at the fall Circus in Progress. That was a clever trapeze act in which our characters were ones you would find in a midnight diner.

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I was the lonely old lady – a character I had much fun concocting.

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I have been pushing my levels of endurance and my threshold for pain as I train for this. I am hoping to turn it into a career – and that is what I hope the end result of 2013 will be.

In September, I started teaching beginning aerial arts, and in January, my daughter will begin learning.  This has been a wonderful experience, albeit stressful at times.  My students are amazing and talented, and I am excited to be the one inspiring them to push themselves farther, and even more so to be able to give them skills and confidence to do that.

Ellette in Lyra

I made a big push in the knitting world.  I participated in two challenges.  I did not succeed in one, but the other was fantastic.  The Ravellenic Games were a bit hard on me – I had too much going on at the time. The other was NaKniSweMo, and I adore the end product.

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I attended Stitches Midwest and took some wonderful classes, met amazing people, and bought too much yarn.

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I also released three new patterns.  The Tetris Afghan, Dragon Slayer Gauntlets, and Cascading Leaves Cowl:

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In June, we acquired our little Pygmalian.  He has been a fabulous addition to our household – goofy and loving and adorable.

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He is about three times that size now, and I still haven’t trained him to leave my yarn alone.  What a rascal!

There are more little things, here and there, that shine for me.  I run into bits and pieces as I walk through my house and go about my day.  With the recent relationship change, I have been working hard to clean my house and cleanse my soul.  Many things have resurfaced with this purge and my thoughts are filled with reflections.

This next year is going to be wonderful, if a little difficult and nerve wracking.  I am going to do some adventurous, dangerous, and hopefully clever things that shall be revealed throughout the coming months.  But that is in the realm of 2013.

For now, I am putting on a party dress and going to see friends to bring in this brand new year among people I love dearly, and who love me in return.

Goodbye, 2012.  I won’t be seeing you.

No longer yours,

Pixie

 

 

Custer’s Last Stand

This was my first festival here in the Chicagoland area and it went off with a bang.  The threat of rain quickly dissipated, children came out in droves with their parents, begging to be turned in to fairies and dragons.  There was music, tons of performers, historical reenactments, and loads of sunshine.

But, words fails me.  We suffered a little camnesia this weekend, but did manage to take a few spectacular pictures to sum up the busy two days.  I was on my feet most of the time, didn’t get much of a break Saturday and managed to take some time to walk with Ellette on Sunday.

So, highlights!

Welcome to my shop: Little Green Pixie

We carry costumes for children:

Adults:

(Shown here with wings Alice and Grainne)

And even your pets!:

Oh, and I like to paint:

 

There were wonderful transformations all around.  Odin and I had a lovely time and will definitely be returning next year.  If you are in the Evanston/Chicago area and are interested in a face painting pixie, just send me an email at thewishingstarAThotmailDOTcom (changing the words for symbols).

Also, keep an eye on the “Find the Faery” page to find out what public events I will be at so you can stop by to say hi!

What’s up this week?

I have two commissions I am working on – the Da Vinci wings and Charizard wings.  I will be making more plushstaches, baby wings, and top hats.  I am also designing wings specifically for dogs, per request.  I have a few ideas for how to work those out.  Full week!

Reconstructed Monday

I am happy to report that the “Reconstructed” segment of this blog is back in action, starting today.  I must say, all weekend I was worried about what I was going to present all you crafters with.  Then, as I was throwing on a t-shirt this morning (my day off) to begin all the craft work I have been neglecting for the past month, it hit me.

The weather is starting to warm up – buds on the trees, farmers markets, bikers, etcetera etcetera.  A messenger bag to take to market, to the beach, for a bike ride, would be a perfect way to begin getting ready for the activities of the summer.

Start with a t-shirt.

This is a shirt I got in college from the Anthropology Student Union.  I was briefly part of the group in my 3rd year, but then my goals went in a different direction (now, my cultural exploration involves the production and consumption of coffee around the world. Hmm…)  Anyhow, this shirt has stayed with me as a memento and because I felt that it would come in handy.  Also, I really liked the comic:

So, lay out the t-shirt flat.  It is important that it is completely flat with all of the wrinkles out before you take your scissors to it (I learned that one the hard way!)

Decide how long you want your bag to be.   Measure that from the bottom of the neck and down, then, cut off the remainder.  Save this portion, as it will be used later on as straps.

Remove the sleeves…

…and the neck.  Also snip the shoulders.

Then, turn inside-out, pin the edges and take it to the sewing machine!

I also prepped the strip I had previously cut from the bottom to sew to the shoulder seams once the body was completed.  Sew from the tip of one sleeve, around the body, and to the tip of the other.  Make sure the top of the sleeves (i.e. shoulders) and the neck are open.   In the process of sewing, I decided the bag was too wide for my taste, so I shortened the width by 2 or 3 inches.  Feel free to change the measurements however you please!

Once the body is done, pin the edges of the bottom strip to the edges of the shoulders and sew in place.

And, your nifty new messenger bag is complete!


This is my “Lazy Day Knitting and Haven’t Left the House Yet” look.  I am totally the mom in the PJs walking her kid to school – or at the least the bus stop.  Haha.

Well, I hope this inspires you to go out and enjoy the warmer weather!

All Tied Up Part 2

So, I left you 2 weeks ago with most of a skirt.  And then my sewing machine took a big giant crap and left me muttering filthy language in it’s general direction – and for most sewing machines.  And maybe the ties as well.

Since last week, I have finished the tie skirt and now have photos for you!  The quality of the photos may not be all that great, since it is my day off and no one is in the house to take them for me.  I sort of set my camera on a stack of books, hit the 10 second timer, and dived into position.  Hence,  not having any photographs of my face.

Making the Waist Band:

For starters, I had to decide what sort of waist band I wanted.  I drew a couple of sketches of one that buttons (too school girl), one that tied (hehehe), or elastic (ick).  I liked the idea of tying it closed for added security.

Second, I went through my bins of fabric (of which there are many) until I found a suitable color and fiber.  I emerged with a dark green, heavy, slightly stretchy piece, which had just enough fabric for one skirt band – so no mess ups!

I cut out a slightly curvy strip about 5 inches wide, which tapered at the tips.  I gathered the ties slightly before pinning the waist band in place and took it to my sewing machine.

Once that was done, I folded the waist band over and pinned it on the back side.  I did not pin the “tie” portion of the band, since I liked the idea of it fluttering instead of being heavy and bulging.

I sewed that in place, slowly. If you have a temperamental sewing machine, don’t use heavy fabric for this portion.  The five-ish layers of fabric will catch it up enough.

Once that was finished, I tried on my masterpiece, and realized that there were about 3 too many ties at the waist to fit me.  I was drowning in it.  (Enter several more expletives here).  I sat there staring at it and folding it for a while, trying to figure out how to fix it without ripping back and otherwise perfect waistband.  This is what I came up with:

I took a pair of sharp scissors (I can’t find my sheers anywhere!) and carefully snipped away 3 ties at about the halfway point.  I cut just after the seam that attached them to the skirt.  Then, I carefully and meticulously pinned the skirt back together, making sure the match up the seems left by the absent ties.  I took it to the sewing machine, and slowly stitched it back together.  It worked like a charm.

I actually like this better than I like the dress I made.

Well, yesterday was my friend Brian’s birthday.  To celebrate, Odin, Ellette, and I went over to his house.  We fired up the grill and played board games for the evening.  Rose gave me a bag that our friend Trish had left at her place for me.  Inside, I found these:

Looks like more fun tie ideas will be coming out of this blog.  If you have any ties you would like to contribute, let me know and I will tell you where to send them!

PS: Sundays have proven too difficult to write a Reconstructed segment.  I will be moving this activity to Mondays.  Also, we will most likely be taking a Reconstructed break while I am in Denmark.  Because you know, I’m going to DENMARK in 7 days!!

All Tied Up

I am bringing this to you a little late tonight, but I must tell you.  For several hours this Sunday afternoon I had the house completely and blissfully to myself.  So, naturally, I spent a good deal of time reading blogs and knitting that never ending skirt.

I did, however, begin work on Part 1 of a 2 part DIY project for you.

All Tied Up Skirt
Now, I previously posted  about the tie dress that was in progress – which is mostly finished.  There are just a few tweaks that need to be made to the final product.  I did manage to get one day’s use out of it before a little mishap occurred, which is fixable.  In this day, Brooke photographed the piece while I was working and put it on his blog, all about ties, which you should definitely check out.

Anyway…he recently came into the shop again and handed me another bag of ties, which I added to my collection and this weekend began to work with.

So, naturally, Step 1, consists of combing every thrift store in your area for a selection of mostly complimentary ties.  If they do not match entirely, do not worry, this can be fixed fairly decently by a later step.

In the image here, I have chosen an array of greens, browns, pinks, and khakis to make a skirt out of.

 

Step 2 – decide how long you want your skirt to be.  I had decided from my hip to about my knee, so I measured and snipped. Using the original tie, I measured every tie on top of it, from the edge of the triangle point (not the tip!) to the snipped point.

 

I also decided that I wasn’t going to waste anything.  The number of ties I had wasn’t quite enough to fit around my hips, so I used the thinner ends of the ties as well.  This would create a nice repetition and dynamic to the skirt overall.  Some of the ends I did not use, which will more than likely end up in a later project.

Step 3 – After this, the center seam of the ties need to be ripped out.  This is the most tedious job so far.  Some of the ties had labels super-stitched to them (and some were glued, which I found odd).   The heavy lining can just get tossed, unless you can think of something to use it for.  I tried, but inspiration was elusive at best.

Step 4 – Lay out the ties how you would like them to go in the skirt.  I will advice you to take two things into consideration.  The first, the weight of the ties you are using. My ties were all different in weight.  If you have a portion of the skirt consisting of mainly heavy ties, the drape and sway of the skirt will be changed.  Also, if you width of the ties isn’t dispersed, the same thing will happen.  The pointy bit on the ties don’t always match up in length, and this can make a difference in appearance.  So, I advice you to mix and match to find the right combination for you.

Step 5 – From here you begin sewing.  You will notice the creases work wonderfully for lining up the ties and sewing them together.

Step 6 – Once you finish, the last two ties will get sewn together to make a circle.  These two will only get sewn halfway, however, to make room for the zipper

Step 7:

Step 8 – trim the excess fabric on the underside of the skirt, where you split the seam earlier.  You can either serge the edges or trim them.  I serged on the dress, but my tension was too tight.  It was a pain to adjust the tension as the weight of the ties change.  So, on the skirt, I didn’t bother serging, and simply snipped.

This is where I stopped for the day.  Part 2 will be presented next week.  Then, I will be adding the waist band.  I can’t decide between buttons, or a tie.  Maybe you have some suggestions?

 

 

 

 

 


Creating Neverland

I must say, putting together a 6-year old’s Faery Tea Party is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a parent.  I thought that it would be a piece of cake, seeing as how I have been a professional faery for a few years now.  However, being the one to organize the party, rather than just show up and be cute for an hour, has sort of kicked me in the butt.  Ellette wants a Faery Tea Party, and, of course, I have to go all out for her.  It is in my nature.  I hear the words “Faery” and “party” and I think: “Oh yes!  But of course!!  It must be colorful and magical and breathtaking!” and I have set out to make it so.

So, the party is tomorrow and I am still working on decorations.  I have tried to remind myself that they are 5 and 6, and being such don’t actually care for anything more than cake and presents, yet I feel compelled to make my daughter enviable.  Why is this happening to me??

While we have gotten most of the logistics out of the way (thank you, school, for the directory.  Every student in the class has been invited, along with a few of Ellette’s best friend’s from Milwaukee) and we have an estimation of the number of kindergartner’s that will be arriving at our house tomorrow afternoon.

So, today’s post is a segment on how I have been creating our own personal Nevervland for tomorrow’s insanity adventure.

I have been knitting these “vines” – as one might call them – for weeks now!!  Today, I finally finished them (mostly) and hung them up, along with bolts of fabric.  More of which will get put up tomorrow.

I also made these:

I found the pre-made ones for sale at a shop here in Evanston but out of my budget, so I came home, googled, and made my own on the cheap.  The how-to is located here.  Ellette and I made 5, and she absolutely loves them.

For some reason this afternoon I began rearranging furniture.  I guess I want to make the apartment feel bigger for tomorrow.  I ended up finding a lot more “faery” things than I thought I had.

There is still more to do before 2 tomorrow.  Tune in later in the evening for my rendition of How To Maintain Your Sanity with a Dozen Faery Princesses in the House.

Reconstructed Roses

A couple weeks ago my stepmother offloaded several bags of stuff onto yours truly.  I do not particularly like stuff, let alone bags of it.  She thought I might find some of it useful, and insisted she would not be offended if I did not keep it, so I loaded the bags into my car and took them home with me.

In one of the bags I discovered this somewhat hideous dress that had a really nice pattern and swing to it.  I could never picture my stepmother wearing it, but could see how she purchased it thinking that maybe she would one day (and then perhaps thinking better of it).

There is this weird gathering at the navel region , which I think is the worst possible region for gathering.  Instead of being slimming, it puckers and made me look pregnant.  The sleeves were just sort of handing there, ill-defined, and there were darts, but too much fabric for bust shaping.  The whole top half was all drab and shapeless.  The front and back both went up to my neck, smothering me, and the back had a heavy metal zipper.

Initially, I was going to make it into a spaghetti strap dress, but after trying to negotiate the weird and useless darts proved too frustrating, so I simply took a pair of scissors across the midsection.

Then, I ripped out maybe an inch of the zipper, folded it at a 90* angle and folded the hem over it, sewing it securely in place.  This was a very quick and easy fix to an otherwise ghastly dress.

The puckering isn’t too bad when it’s pulled down on the hips far enough.  The modified zipper works perfectly, and I absolutely love the spin factor.  I may shorten the skirt a bit, but must wear it out and about before deciding if I look like a fool or not.  It took forever to find a good photo – I looked short and squat in most of them.  I am not sure if that is a result of the skirt or the photographer.

Also, I noticed the puckering works perfectly in this fashion too:

It’s a little tight around the upper hemline, but otherwise it looks nice, if I do say so myself.  And, it is definitely a complete transformation from what it was!

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