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This is my crafting blog. If you don't already know me, get to know me here, find out why I made this page, and see what it's all about before you dive in.

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Thanks for stopping by, and happy crafting!

I'd Like To Thank The Little People

Before I get into the crafty portion of this entry, I want to say a few things.

It's been a year and a month since I've updated Paradise of Life. A couple days ago, I was reading through some of the submitted entries, and I felt ashamed. Despite how very much I love and cherish my children, I gave both of them somewhat derogatory nicknames for the sake of this blog. I thought I was being cute and cheeky, but when my daughter read over my shoulder that I've been calling her Princess Bossy, I could hear the dismay in her voice and see it on her face when she said, "Bossy? You call me Princess Bossy?" As parents, we have an obligation to lift our children up and support them, not call them names behind their backs.

Her brother, Tornado of Destruction, doesn't destroy things nearly as often (or as thoroughly) as he used to a year and some ago. Even if he did, he doesn't deserve to be labeled as a destroyer. That type of attitude calls attention to -and reinforces- that behavior. My son is kind and caring and helpful and yes, a bit overwhelming at times. But he still likes to hold my hand, sit in my lap, be my sous chef, and many other little things that add up to filling my heart.

My princess is still my Princess, and she doesn't need an adjective attached to her name because she can be many things on any given day. My tornado still whirls around the house, though he doesn't produce the same type of Tasmanian Devil destruction as he once did. In a throwback to my own childhood days, I'm going to redub my son with my brother's old nickname: Verb. Always SOME kind of action, that's my boy. He even looks like his uncle.

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*ahem* Man, I think I tripped and fell into some feelings. Better brush that junk off before I proceed to the real reason you guys are here: Trophies! Oh yes!

My hiatus from this blog has not allowed me to share my newest passion with you, dear readers. In September of last year, I joined the local roller derby team as Fresh Meat and passed my minimum skills assessment in December. Since then, I've been busting my hump to learn as much as I possibly can before my big debut in the official roller derby world in my very first bout in ten days!

Before that, though, I volunteered along with a team mate to make the awards for all of our home bouts. Our opening bout is a double header, meaning our A team and B team will both be playing. That lands the award-makers with four teams to take care of. We have five categories: Best Jammer, Best Blocker, MVP, Best Ref, Best NSO (if any of that is confusing to you, click on the "roller derby" link above to refer to the Wikipedia page to educate yourself on this amazing sport).

For four teams, that means four Jammer awards, four Blocker awards, and four MVP awards. Lucky for us, the refs and NSOs will be working both bouts, so we only need one award for each group. Total: 14 awards. Enough with the build-up. You want to know what we did, right? RIGHT? Yeessss....

We made Oscars!

It started with a bucket of clay and an overly optimistic estimation of how quickly I could bang out Barbie-sized helmets. The idea was to have them hold helmets in their hands much like actor-awarded Oscars hold swords. Because, let's face it, while swords are pretty badass, derby would be just a smidge too dangerous with them. I used a decapitated G.I. Joe head to get the helmets sized correctly.

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The clay kept sticking to the head, so it was a constant process of working with the helmet, prying it off the head, blow drying the inside of the helmet and the head, putting the helmet back on, and working with the helmet again. It took me nearly two hours to make the first helmet. And I had to make thirteen more?! Kill me now!! Fortunately, the more I made, the faster I got.

Meanwhile, my team mate, Stein, took all the Barbies home and gave them a spa treatment using hot water and a touch of fabric softener. All of them were hand-me-downs or thrift store finds, so their hair looked a fright. She also banded their hair to further get it under control.

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During our first get-together, I worked on making helmets while she sanded. The second get-together saw us making stands out of wire to wrap around our Barbies' waists. To make it sturdier, we doubled it over and twisted it over itself.

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Once all of the stands were made, I drilled some holes in an old piece of bed to ready the assembly line. While I was doing that, Stein used tiny rubber bands to attach the helmets to the Barbies' hands. We agreed that the hot glue might not be enough, given that the Barbies naturally have their arms down at their sides instead of in front of themselves, so the rubber bands would be extra insurance against droppage. Rubber bands in place, it was time to start gluing. We took it in shifts, gluing and standing the dolls in the holes I had drilled.

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We turned all of their heads backwards for the first layer of gold spray paint. We figured it was the best (read: easiest) way to spray their backs without all of that hair blocking anything. They started to look a little creepy at this point.

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We used up the entire can of spray paint, and their hair was still showing their natural hair color through it. I went back to the store only to find that they were completely out of this exact brand of gold paint and wouldn't be getting more until after the bout. I was nervous about buying a different brand, but it couldn't be helped. The shades matched closely enough that one can't tell I used another brand for the second can.

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The last of the fabrication required a new attachment to the drill. Of everything we purchased for this craft, the one piece for the drill was the most expensive item. The husband used it to cut rounds out of a piece of wood (I tried my hand at it too) for the bases of the stands. He also sanded them down (again, I helped some), and they were ready for another hole (much smaller) to be drilled off to the side of the large hole the drill put in the center. Then I laid them all out and sprayed on a couple layers of black paint.

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On the day of final assembly, Stein forgot to pick up wood putty on her way, so we used clay to fill in the holes left by the drill before spraying over that too. She did, however, remember the silver Sharpies that were in the league craft supplies that are passed around from one award-maker to the next. She is kid-less, so we agreed said supplies would be safest at her place. We simply wrote the name of each award directly on the wooden bases. Once completed, Stein used a dab of epoxy in the drilled hole and positioned the stands into the bases. She handed them off to me so I could put a touch of hot glue under each foot to make sure no one was going to walk away.

Our finished product:

barbieoscars 009
(please forgive the fact I apparently don't know how to rotate a picture)

Good golly, I sure do wish I could earn one of these back. Being a newbie skater, I don't anticipate getting voted as best of anything. Not yet. Maybe one day.

Hippie Child

In an effort to tidy up my craft room, I came across a pile of jeans belonging to Princess Bossy. I had completely forgotten that I had put them in my room to mend the blown out knees. I sat down and fixed six knees in four pairs of pants. The last pair in the stack belonged to the Tornado of Destruction. Instead of rips in the knees, the rips were in... weird places for rips to be. In any case, when wearing pants, he prefers pants that are not jeans. These were one such pair, so I had to fix them rather than throw them away.

As I was trying to take a before picture, one of my French gentlemen inquired over the camera in my hands.

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Bonjour. Que faites-vous? What did you call me? Move over, kitty.

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That's better.

See? Strange places for rips. If you have read much in this blog, you'll know how much I absolutely hate hand sewing. Thankfully, I didn't have to make this step pretty. I gave the rips Frankenstein-esque stitching just to hold the edges together rather than overlapping.

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As you will recall from the Beatles wall paintings, it's easy to tell that my boy is just like his mama. He loves bold, colorful clothes, tie dye, and he'd rather go barefoot any day of the week. So? So that meant I was able to get a fun fabric for patching his pants. I used a batik the husband had picked up for me a while back. I made a skirt out of it, and while I don't have enough to make anything else with it, there is plenty left for playing. Patches.

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Tornado's favorite color is orange, so that's what I used for sewing the patches onto his pants. Then I was reminded how difficult it is to sew inside such tiny leg holes with a machine. Erg. I managed.

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All done! The spawn are currently at school, so I'll have to wait until they get home to find out if Tornado loves his new patches as much as I do. If I can remember, I'll share an update here to let my loyal readers know how he likes (or doesn't like) them.

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Aunt Bex Sedai

Do you ever have one of those shopping trips when you spy something you absolutely MUST HAVE? Psshhhttt, who hasn't? I might be an odd female, though, because that sort of thing doesn't happen to me very often. However, it did happen about three years ago. I was thrifting at the Goodwill in Fort Walton Beach, Florida when this shawl jumped off the rack and into my basket.

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No, really! It did! All by itself! There was something special about this shawl. I was reading a book series by the late Robert Jordan called The Wheel of Time. The shawl reminded me of a society of power-wielding women known as Aes Sedai [EYEZ seh-DEYE]. They are a whole, but they're classed by their different societies -Ajahs [AH-jahs]- which are marked not only by their focused specialties, but by different colors: Red (gentling), White (logic), Yellow (healers), Green (warriors), Blue (world events), Grey (negotiations), and Brown (scholars). When they move through the ranks of novice to Accepted, Accepted to full Aes Sedai, the women choose their Ajah and gain a shawl fringed in the color of that Ajah and embroidered with the Flame of Tar Valon, or the white half of what we know as the yin yang, sans dot. At least, that's the shortest, skinniest, and dirtiest way I can explain it. There's a lot left out.

So. Back to the basket-jumping shawl. Not only did it already have fringe, but there was a perfect spot to put the Flame.

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It doesn't get much better than that.

My only problem is that I am sooo not a negotiator, therefore the grey fringe just would not do. The shawl came home with me because that's what it wanted, and even though I did wear it as it was a couple of times, it eventually got wrapped up and stuck in a box. Isn't that the way of projects with me? My family packed up and moved to Germany, and though the shawl came with me, it stayed bundled up and largely forgotten until the beginning of this year when Brandon Sanderson finally finished the final book of the series for Mr. Jordan, and my copy arrived in the mail. I know a whole lot of work goes into writing a book. Probably doubly so when writing a book that isn't yours. So I'm not complaining that it took Sanderson a little over two years to finish this book. Really.

Excitement for the series renewed, my shawl came out of hiding, and I was ready to work on it. It took only a few minutes to hit my first snag. Being in a foreign country, I still haven't found a decent craft store nearby. Oh, there are a couple of places that are good for picking up thread and other notions, but I'm yet to find the good one that's supposed to be somewhere between my house and my kids' school. In any case, I had to search online for the green fringe I wanted for replacing the grey. I finally had to ask the nice lasses over at craftgrrl for help. A great big THANK YOU! shout out to ilea for the links. She gave me EXACTLY what I was wanting.

My first task was to take a seam ripper to the grey fringe and take it off the shawl. As luck would have it, the stitches were a nice size, so it took very little effort to get through them. You can see just how excited I was to be doing this.

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Easy part over. Now for a confession. I'm not an embroiderer. I flew by the seat of my pants for this, and it reminded me of the part in the series when Min was undercover at the White Tower. Galad took a glimpse at her embroidery -which was supposed to be roses- and said, "Swallows, is it? Yellow swallows?" There is only one embroidery project that I have successfully completed, and that would be the mustache shirt I made for the Tornado of Destruction. I told myself this should be easier because it's only one color instead of five. Unfortunately for me, I was working on a dark fabric and could not draw out a pattern to trace. Eyeballs, don't fail me now. I used the picture at the top of a chapter as reference.

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That wasn't so bad. The really hard part was filling it all in. I started at the tip top and worked my way about a third of the way down. Took it out and tried again. Took it out and tried again. Took it out and tried again. After the third failed attempt, I re-evaluated my project. I needed guidance lines.

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Much better. THEN I started filling in between those lines.

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More and more until it was all filled in.

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I don't know if that's the common way to fill in a solid space in an embroidery project, but that's how I did it. I would have liked for it to be even more solid, with no brown peeking through. But I'll take what I can get.

Next, it was time to add the green fringe (that had arrived in a very timely manner). I'm happy to report that I purchased exactly what I had, just in the proper color for my purpose.

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I've never worked with fringe before, so I was very pleased to see the binding on the bottom edge to keep it all in place while I sewed it to my shawl. I'm going to go ahead and assume that the binding is normal for newly purchased fringe. It made things move so smoothly for me as I placed the fringe on my shawl and got sewing. For about five or six pins, I tried to pin the fringe to the shawl only to realize it was more trouble than it was worth. Not to toot my own horn (*toooooot*), but I can easily handle a little fringe embellishment on the edge of a piece of fabric.

After sewing it in place and trimming off the excess, I had to pluck the fringe from the binding. It was very easy if a bit time consuming. I could only pull out two or three strands at a time.

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The result? Why, only the coolest shawl in the Battle Ajah, that's all. Sha-ZAM!

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Peace be on you. Walk in the Light.

All You Need Is Love

Love is all you need!

I feel like I have been doing my spawn a huge justice by raising them on music from before my time. Today's music isn't all that inspiring, and a good bit of the music from my own generation isn't much better. I'm not saying that there isn't good stuff to be found, but the majority of what's played on the radio... yeah...

That being said, I am pleased to announce that the Tornado of Destruction has decided follow in my footsteps and name The Beatles as his favorite band. *happy dance* I introduced the spawn to the movie Yellow Submarine, and Tornado LOVES it. Way back in June last year, I got creatively frisky and painted a Yellow Submarine on his bedroom wall.

PoL 001

Aside from asking me to draw or paint a submarine on just about every yellow surface he could find, he was content. I was content. The Yellow Submarine was a hit.

Until it started feeling lonely. It totally was! Cross my heart, this poor submarine was just begging for another song to join it on Tornado's bedroom wall. So without much ado, I snatched up a pencil and started to sketch. This one didn't require nearly as many colors, so I knew it would go on the wall fairly quickly. It did. And it got smeared just as quickly. Apparently, "Don't touch it; it's still wet!" translates into, "Hey, go tap on the freshly painted wall with your toys." I never did bother to remix some orange to paint. I have no illusions that I'll come up with the same shade of orange, and I'm not too keen on the idea of repainting the entire word. So it has brown spots. Oh well. It has character.

PoL 002

*swoon* Even in the goofy Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band uniform, I would still ravish Paul. He was such a hottie.

Did I say that out loud? Damn right I did.

That takes us to this week. Tornado and I had been discussing putting another song on his wall. We knew what song, but it was a matter of figuring out how to do it. I finally had the brilliant idea of taking a still shot from that song clip in the movie Yellow Submarine: "All You Need Is Love." I'd embed the video, but I can't find it on YouTube. I stopped the video at 0:50, where John Lennon is running across the word LOVE, and here's what I did:

I taped some tissue paper across my computer monitor and used a pencil to very carefully trace the still. This would be my template to carry upstairs to Tornado's room. Next, I marked out a grid across the drawing with a ruler and another, much larger, grid on Tornado's bedroom wall using a level. I did the same with the yellow submarine. The idea was to simply use the grid as reference points to transfer a larger version of the picture onto the wall.


The first day included no paints at all. I managed to get the entire drawing onto the wall before leaving to get the spawn from school, but not before the idea for yet another song started brewing in my head. On the second day, I started painting. Something about his leg just didn't look right. I had to photograph it and stop and look for a while. That's what gave me the idea to start taking pictures of the process for this blog.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
And here's where I apologize for being gone since October. I wrote a blog for Halloween; I'll share it soon.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

PoL AYNiL 001

Then it hit me: he had no knee! I went back to the video to figure out how far out his knee was supposed to go. I had obviously missed it when I did my tracing.

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By this time, day three, I had already started the next song on the fourth wall of the room. It was another sketch-and-paint without gridding. I planned on only two colors, but that yellow was needing layer after layer to cover my pencil marks. Back to John and day four. Not counting a couple little mistakes (like the collar on his jacket) John was done, and he needed something to stand on. It was time to start working on the letters.

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The colors pop more than they do in the movie, but I just couldn't bring myself to fade them so much. These grey walls need some punch, and this particular painting was proving to be a lot of fun. Aside from the white and black on John and the cream of the letter O, all of the other colors had been mixed in the lid of a plastic container. I was particularly proud of the skin color: cream with a dot of yellow and a dot of red. The next day saw the letters go 3D. And I started working on fixing the mistake on the collar. It was driving me bonkers.

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There was one last thing I had to do to complete the image, and that was outline the letters in black. Tornado declined. He likes it the way it is. Alrighty then! That left the finishing touch: paint around it in the leftover grey to cover the grid lines.

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Looking good, John.

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Meanwhile, I had also finished this one.

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Shoe Laces

The Tornado of Destruction has destroyed another thing: his shoe laces. He ate the aglets off the ends, and the more he chews, the more fraying has happened. Fear not! There's a solution to everything.

No shoe laces.

I completely removed the laces and replaced it with elastic. I made sure the elastic was not stretched at all, but it was snug against the tongue of the shoe. I let Tornado try one on before cutting off the ends and sewing them together across the top.

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It only took a few minutes, and this will keep his teacher from having to touch his saliva-drenched laces to re-tie them for him.

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...and that's BACON!!

Please forgive my five month hiatus. I've been crafting, but I've also been raising children, running a family, and entertaining an out-of-country relative. I know I'm way past due for an update here, but I think this one will be totally worth it.


PoL bacon 001

I found a tremendous website via Pinterest called Monster Crochet. More specifically, I found her blog about making a bacon scarf.

Of course, being the bacon-lover that I am, I felt the irresistable urge to make one for myself. The only problem was that I didn't know how to crochet. That was why I got on the crochet bandwagon with this first scarf I made. Since then, I've been working off and on with the bacon scarf. It's been quite a trial, but nothing worth while is ever easy.

I'm so proud.

And hungry.

PoL bacon 002...

Quadruple Feature

Today was a day of fixing pants. Princess Bossy had three pairs of pants waiting for me to do something with them. She is blowing out knees left and right. The first pair, I seriously considered turning into skorts (shorts with a skirt front) since she really loves skirts but is about as lady-like as a $5... er... I shouldn't finish that sentence while talking about my five-year-old.

Problem was, I had to cut the pants off at the torn up knee, and that made the skirt part that was to go on the front much too short. Then as I tried piecing the legs together, it just wasn't working out too well. Some things just can't be saved. They were turned into capri pants.

Then the next pair just needed a quick stitch on some tiny holes. Since the obvious holes are somewhat in fashion (though I'm not sure why), I emphasized the holes with contrasting thread. I already had the pink thread and some excess pink fabric, so I gave it tiny patches behind the tiny holes (one in the knee and one at the hip) and gave them a few zig-zag stitches back and forth until I was certain the patches wouldn't be walking away any time soon.

With this pink fabric still sitting on the floor at my feet, I did a quick and dirty stitching around the knee of the last pair of pants with the flowery detail I cut off the pink leg inside the hole. I have it pinned open to show that when Princess bends her knee while sitting down, the flowers will show through.

The knees in the pants were fixed so quickly, I was still in a sewing mood after all three pairs were sent upstairs to be put away. I pinned two different crafts onto one of my Pinterest boards that were pretty easy to mesh together into one idea. This book holder and this toy bin went into one idea for my book pockets.

Even though I ended up having to do some serious patching with the scraps I had left over from this skirt, it was pretty easy. It would have been more so if I had been using whole pieces of fabric. I made two, so for each one I cut out: two rectangles for a front and a back, three rectangles for pockets, one long strip for a handle. The pocket rectangles were cut too wide for the front so I could gather stitch the bottom and add a bit of elastic to the top. That gives the pocket more room for stuff.

After preparing each pocket with the gathered bottom and elastic top, I sewed the bottom edge of each pocket onto the front piece upside down then flipped them right side up before making one long seam along the sides. Then I put the handle on the top, upside down so raw edges were lined up. Finally, I placed the right side of the back piece to the right side of the front piece. Those were sewn together, leaving open a small portion at the bottom for turning. Once turned, I sewed closed the openings.

I was on such a roll with these that it completely slipped my mind to take pictures until they were done.

It would appear that I just don't have enough room in my car for these things. There are little net bags attatched to the seats already, so we might have to either tuck these in (like they'd stay; HA!) or pin them (much more likely to be workable). I'm thinking these would work much better in the husband's truck since the spawn have more leg room in there.

Now You See Me, Now You Don't

The husband brought home pieces for the new fence. I was under the impression it was going to be a different style than what we already had, but it's not. It's the same as the old fence he tore down, just shorter. It's also used, so it does have a couple of broken pieces. However, he brought home extra bits for replacing said broken pieces. We're also talking about painting the fence so it's weather-proofed and won't dry rot like the last one did. Overall, it won't be the beautiful new fence I was hoping to get, but it's still a huge improvement because we're putting it where the little fence was being demolished by the hedges. He is currently at toom to gather the last few supplies needed to put up the fence. He still needs a specific tool, which he mistakenly left at work, so it doesn't look like the fence will be put up today, but at least we'll have everything ready.

In the meantime, another goodie the husband brought home was a roll of window film. To make things easier on ourselves, we looked up a how-to on YouTube. There were quite a few from which to choose, but this one seemed the most informative with the least amount of mistakes.

This is after one side of our sliding glass door was done. This is the giant window that opens to our front yard, and without the fence to give us privacy, the living room has been wide open to viewing. Yes, yes, I know we should put up some curtains. It's over a year in the deciding what kind, though. Now, it's mirrored in the daytime.

And this is outside. You can see the huge difference in the lighting. The film is supposed to help regulate the temperature inside as well. Once Summer gets here, we'll be able to tell just how well it works, considering German houses don't have air conditioning.

As I worked on smoothing the bubbles and excess water out from behind the film, the husband had a big time with taking pictures of my booty. Good thing I was wearing clean underwear.

I was really struggling with getting around the heater in front of the left window. The top two-thirds weren't a problem. In fact, standing on the heater (something that gets the spawn in trouble) was very helpful while trimming away the last tiny bits of film that were overhanging the rubber seal around the glass.

However, once it was time to get behind the heater... yeah, that was a bit more difficult. By the time I deemed it complete, my knees and hips were unhappy. My back wasn't too thrilled either, but since I was leaning on the heater, that took some of the stress away.

And there we have it! Let the lewd times in the living room begin!

The only problem now is that once the sun goes down and it's brighter inside than outside, the mirror flips, and anyone outside can see inside while those of us inside can only see ourselves. Curtains. Fence. Let's do this.


Harem Pants

Let there be truth between us. I started a pair of pants for myself so long ago that now that they're done, they don't fit properly. They're a little tight across the fronts of my thighs.

Thing is, they were almost done. All I had to do was sew on the lacing on one side, the waistband, and then hem the bottom. It took me about 45 minutes. Why they sat in my pile of unfinished crafts for so long, I just don't know.

I made them out of some super sheer fabric. They're meant for wearing around the house and letting the husband catch a glimpse of the goods without actually flaunting them. Hubba hubba. I like them enough, though, that when I slipped on some tights for photography purposes (because I'm pretty sure any readers wouldn't be too interested in the aforementioned goods), I'm thinking I'll wear them out of doors. With the tights, of course.

I'm not showing off in this other picture. It's just to show that even though the pants are not made of stretch material, the pants are still plenty roomy enough to move around comfortably. And, um, pay no attention to the dirty sock behind the curtain. *ahem* Now that I'm done, I guess I should get on sweeping and mopping. Yep.


sewing machine

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