The House of Tatterdemalion


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Color, revisited

August 25th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

I meant to do pictures with my post of seasons/colors, but pretty soon I realized not having pictures ready was keeping me from writing the post. So I wrote it without pictures. But then someone just happened to take a snapshot of me that was just too easy to crop (though entirely unprofessionally), so now I feel obliged to post pictures.

I’m not much of a picture sharing person, at least, not pictures of me. I’d be just as happy if no one ever discovered what I looked like, and I remained a mystery forever. Everyone would have to lay awake at night wondering what I looked like, for all of eternity. Ok, so really I know that no one lays awake at night wondering what look like. At least, I hope they don’t. I’d be rather disturbed to discover that anyone did.

The point is, you aren’t going to see pictures of me all that often. But when I do post pictures of myself, I believe in the unvarnished truth. The varnished truth is so common, it is expected. Sometimes people get upset or disturbed if the truth isn’t varnished. If you aren’t used to seeing the unvarnished truth, try squinting.


What do you think, white or cream? I’m not sure that’s the right shade of “cream” or “off-white”, but that’s half the problem anyway. A yellow cream? A green cream? A cream with pink undertones? What counts as cream? And what counts as white? I’ve seen a lot of whites “in real life” that seemed to have blue undertones, and it seems that this white vs. cream is supposed to determine blue vs. yellow. The white that I used here doesn’t have any blue undertones to it (to my eye). It has more of a gray undertone, I think.


Personally, I don’t think either white or cream does much for me. I guess if someone put a gun to my head and made me choose, I’d pick the white. Or, wait—maybe the cream. But really, I think I’d avoid either color in large amounts. By the way, I notice in these pictures that my glasses look kind of silvery. I think that’s mostly glare; in real life, they are a gold sort of color, though a pale gold. (I suppose this would also be a good place to warn against the fact that, you know, monitor colors vary, and cameras can’t always capture the truth, so this can neither be scientific nor conclusive. Just so you know.)

Blue red or orange red? Also known as crimson or scarlet? (Which I can never keep straight and always have to look up, because I think of “crimson” as an orange (or yellow) red and “scarlet” as a blue red, but the powers that be disagree with me.


The difference here is pretty subtle; I think I didn’t make my blue-red blue enough. It might even still be a yellow-red. I was trying to pick colors of the same intensity, and the blue-reds always wanted to be a lot darker.

Let’s try this. . .

dark redcream

Here’s a more extreme example; a kind of eggplant color against a salmon or coral color:


Personally, I think the eggplant color look a million times better on me. They say you can tell which colors are better for you by which colors put more emphasis on your face. In other words, if the first thing you notice is the color, its a “bad” color for you. If the first thing you notice is your face its a “good” color.

How about greens?


Again, I would say the blue-based, hands down. But if you’re still not convinced, here it is again with brown:

Now let’s look at color intensity. . .


Which did you chose? (I take to the dark blue.)

In this pink example, you can see how my darker pink is also more blue.


Here’s another green example:


How about these three?


Pastel pink or dusty pink?


I don’t like either of them. Sometimes you just can’t save a color, no matter what you do to it. Like orange, for example.


I don’t like dusty rose or yellow or mint, either


But I like black and charcoal, even though my Mom thinks they’re ugly colors.


Light gray or dark gray?


I could go on comparing colors for nearly forever, but there isn’t much point to it. I’ve already made up my mind before I even started changing background colors. And I think that at this point, either you have already discovered what I mean about what colors are good for me, or you have already discovered that seeing different colors behind the same face doesn’t help you pick out “good” colors for that person. Either way, I think my work here is done.

But if you have found it helpful, try it yourself. Get a totally honest snapshot of yourself in natural but overcast lighting (outside on a cloudy day), crop out your face, and keep changing the background colors. This is pretty easy to do in this modern, hi-tech day of digital cameras, timers on cameras, and fancy-shmancy photo-editing software. Or you could go do it the low-tech way, by standing in front of a mirror and holding colored paper or fabric up to your face. The good thing about doing it the low-tech way is that you can really get much more subtle colors with fabric than you can on a monitor.

And, by the way, Laura, though I never got back to you in the comments, I too have an irrational dislike of tan, and it’s cousins ‘camel’ and ‘ecru’. I can’t decide if it’s because they look dirty to me, or if it just reminds me too much of corregated cardboard. And I think “early spring run-off” is just a more polite term for “mud-season”. “Early spring run-off” brings to mind sparkling clear streams, but in reality, it just means everything gets turned to mud.

And you’re right about it sometimes not really mattering, because no one will sell you what you want anyway. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a good green? Everyone wants to sell me kelly green (a green leaning toward yellow), olive green, sea-green, over-cooked aspargus green, lime green, jade green, mint green, apple green, split-pea soup green, and sage green, but almost no one wants to sell me hunter green or forest green. Bah humbug.

Posted in Color | No Comments »

The last little piggy stayed home; this one went to market

August 18th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

So last Friday evening, the 10th, I checked my email and saw that I had an email from my friend Abby that contained the line “Also, Millie’s birthday is next Friday. . .on the off chance that you’re able to come, no gifts needed, missy!!!” I read it carefully. Very carefully. It said “needed”, not “allowed”, so I figured I was still okay. Besides, last year she said that, and everyone brought gifts anyway. (They did this time, too, for the record.) And ever since I made piggy number one, I’ve wanted to make a second one.

Question: How come it takes me 4 years to make myself ONE dress, but only a scant seven days to make a stuffed pig complete with three dresses fully finished, an apron, and a hood?

Answer: I don’t know, but I think it has something to do with why the zipper on the fancy blue dress I’d made (which failed a few months after it was made) has yet to be repaired. I told myself I’d fix it when I sewed the buttons back on my favorite shirt. Which hasn’t happened yet.

For the purpose of working toward my certificate of insanity (my sewing room walls are bare; I need to hang something on the wall. I think a certificate of insanity would look nice up there), I’m going to show you all how I did it.

On Friday evening, I pulled out the fabrics I had set aside 4 months ago for this express purpose.

On Saturday, I washed the fabric, and accidentally stayed up to 11 pm ironing it. There’s no clock in my sewing room.

At this point, my father already beings to question my sanity.

On Sunday, um, I can’t remember. I think I forgot entirely about it.

On Monday evening I carefully and precisely cut the skirt rectangles. And I think I cut out all the body pieces for the piggy.

On Tuesday evening I sew together the ears and the arms.

On Wednesday, I start feeling the first pangs of panic. There are only 2.5 days left, and I’ve hardly gotten started!! I embroidery the face before supper; afterwards, I go over to sew with a friend (pre-arranged 3 weeks ago). We stay up till ten o’clock working together, but since when we work together I keep stopping to talk, I don’t make as much progress as I might. The head is assembled, the back is assembled, the front is assembled, but nothing is connected.

On Thursday, the panic really starts setting in. Abby and her kids are supposed to come mid-morning to pick blueberries with us. I spend the morning trying to get the body pieces connected, which is made a little bit more difficult because I left the instruction at my friends house. I finally do get it put together, but I’m 10 minutes late to the blueberry patch because I lost track of time while trying to get the arms put on right. First I would see that the fabric had wrinkled, and I had caught too much of the chest up in the arm. So then I rip it out, and re-sew it. Then I see that in some places, the arm had slipped out, and there are holes. So I rip it out, and re-sew it. Then I see that the fabric had wrinkled, and too much of the chest had gotten caught up in the armhole.

I finally got it right, and cleared away most of the storm clouds above my head before getting to the blueberry patch.

When I got home, I immediatly sat down and started sewing. Panic is now full-blown.

The good news is that since this is the second time I’ve used this pattern, I know all the places where I can take short cuts. The bad news is, I thought the dress pattern was faulty (really the last piggy had stretched), and so I wasted precious time trying to “fix” the bodice before realizing it actually fit this piggy pretty perfectly.

For the second dress, this is what I did:

  • Cut the bodice, front and back, out of the “fashion fabric”. For the back piece, I slide it about (I only eyeball it) 1/4 inch away from the fold, because I need a little extra room for fastening the dress closed.
  • Cut the bodice, the same as above, from the “lining fabric” (just a different cotton print) According to the instructions (and what I did last time), I’m supposed to bind the edges with bias tape, and make little sleeve bands that will need to be set in. I skip both of those, because this is so much faster.
  • Sew the lining to the bodice along necklines and armholes.
  • Pink the edges of the above seams with pinking shears that are getting dull.
  • Turn the pieces, and finger press them on my leg. No iron actually ever touched this project, which was a far cry from how carefully I pressed everything in piggy #1.
  • Sew the shoulder seams.
  • Sew the skirts on. Orginally (and what I did last time) the skirts are supposed to be gathered. I free-form pleat them, which is much quicker:
    • For the bodice front, I pin the skirt piece to the bodice, matching the corners. Then I pin the center (I just fold it in half to locate it) of the skirt to the center of the bodice. Then I just guestimate about where is half-way between pins, and pinch up the extra fabric there. I flatten the pinch to either side, and pin it in place. This makes an inverted box-pleat. Then I sew it in place.
    • I repeat it in the back.
    • I pink the bodice-to-skirt seams and the shoulder seams with getting-duller pinking shears.
    • I sew the side seams.
    • And pink them with dull shears.
    • And then I haphazardously turn up a hem, but I could have left that part out, because I wound up making them shorter. This was also a far cry from how I did it on the last one, where I was so carefully measuring 1/4 of an inch, pressing it under, measuring an inch, and pressing it. This time, no measuring, no pressing.

All of that took me half an hour.

At this point, I realized it was 4 o’clock, which is the lastest time for me to go over and hand-quilt with Mrs. M (the one who taught me how to knit). And she will be lonely without me. So I call her up and say,


And she says,


I talk too fast. Sometimes she says “I didn’t quite catch that.” Sometimes she says, “I didn’t understand a word you just said.” Sometimes she just squints and tries to read my lips. And so I take a deep breath and remember to add spaces:

“Hi, do you have a place where I can set up my machine, and machine sew today?”

And she says,

“Oh, sure! You can put it on my desk!”

And then I say,


And she says,


“Oh good, because I’m working on a birthday present and the party is tomorrow and I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it in time!”

“Oh, boy. Well, come on over!”



I give an embarrassed giggle. I’m doing pretty bad, speech-wise, even for me. Usually she can get 98% of what I say. So I translate, and then hang up, and throw everything I think I’ll need into plastic grocery bag, and dash out the door.

I stay there two hours, in which time I assemble the third dress, re-hem the three dresses to a better length, and finish off the back opening of two dresses with bias tape. I’m half-way through finighing the opening on the third dress when the power goes off (and any way, it’s time for their supper). During that time, Mrs. M suggests using velcro instead of snaps up the back, which is a really good idea, because I can attach it by machine, instead of by hand.

I get home, and the power comes back on, but we’re going to have a late supper. So I finish the back of the third dress. Then I start looking to trim the dresses. Orignally I had thought I would use 3/4″ lace as sleeves, but decide any kind of sleeve is out of the question. I look at various types of ribbons, but finally say, “Self, who are you kidding? You need to do this as fast and as simply as possible. Just pick something and go with it!” So I sew the 3/4″ lace along the stitching line from the hem. I’m working on the last dress when I’m called to supper.

Did I mention supper was late? And also, it was my night to wash. And I couldn’t trade, because I’d just traded on Wednesday, so I could go sewing with my friend. Here it is, Thursday night. I have to go to my grandparent’s all Friday. I still have the rest of a dress to trim, velcro to apply to the backs of all the dresses, and I had wanted to make an apron (no pattern) and a hood (have the pattern for). And the piggy still has a hole in it’s belly, where I stuffed it. It needs to be sewn up by hand. Instead, I am washing dishes. Until 9 pm.

I manage to squeeze in about an hours more worth of work, in which I finish trimming the last dress and make an apron.

Friday Morning I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I toss everything in the car, including my sewing machine, my bag of stuffing, lace and fabric and multiple thread colors and scissors and a box to wrap it in. I get to my grandparents house, and instead of mopping floors and vacuuming like a good little granddaughter, I spend the morning sewing on velcro and sewing up the stuffing hole and making a hood. By early afternoon, I’m borrowing my grandmother’s wrapping paper and tape. Finished!

I spend the afternoon vacuuming, mopping, making cups of coffee for my grandpa, helping him with bathroom difficulties, and helping my brother bring in the groceries and make supper. He graciously agreed to make supper an hour earlier, so I could drive out to Abby’s while it was still light. I have mild issues with driving. Not panic attacks or anything, but severe dislike and a strong dread of driving anywhere I haven’t driven before, or haven’t driven very many times before. (The funny thing is, I’m quite relaxed being the navigator, and riding shotgun and telling someone else where to go when I’ve never been there before.) I’ve been to Abby’s house a few times before, but on Friday I had yet to make it there and back again without getting lost, confused, mixed up, or missing turns. So I was really dreading the driving, and especially trying to find her place in the dark.

All of this when I can point it out precisely to you on a map. And even though the directions were as simple as “Go Straight until you can’t anymore. Turn left. Go straight until you cross the bridge; take a left at the first light. Go straight until you see her house on the right.”

Anyway, I finished it, and I got it to the party on time. But I don’t have any pictures of it. Because my sister’s camera got it’s memory card filled up before we got to present opening, so I took pictures with Abby’s camera. But I didn’t get to take any pictures of Millie opening it, because it started pouring rain, and I asked Abby to pause the party. Then I dashed outside to close the windows, and while I was gone, Abby tried to pause the party, but some kid handed Millie a package behind Abby’s back. And so Millie opened the piggy and neither me nor Abby nor the camera got to see it. I told Abby she had to take pictures of the piggy in better light and send them to me; she owed it to me because I got a picture of her camera-shy husband on her camera!

So if you all get to impatient for photos, nag Abby. I’ll foward your comments until she is over-come with guilt.

Posted in Completions, Projects | No Comments »

What's your season?

August 9th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

D’ja ever look into the “season” personal color theory? Odds are, if you’re reading my blog, you have. But, for those that haven’t, the brief summary is that people fall into four different categories, depending on their skin tone, eye color and hair color. For some peculiar reason which, despite all their best attempts, never makes any sense, they chose seasons to represent the four groups–Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Depending on your season, different colors are supposed to look best on you. This system is meant to help you know which colors are “best” on you.

I think this system was designed for insecure people.

I mean, first of all, you have to try to figure out what characteristics you have. If anyone has too much time your hands, can you please tell me how to differentiate between brown hair, dark brown hair, medium brown hair, light brown hair, sable brown hair, chestnut brown hair, mousy brown hair, brown hair with golden undertones, and brown hair with reddish undertones? And what do you do if your hair is one color up by your face, and another color by the time it gets all the way down to my lower back?

Then, when you think you’ve finally got all of your attributes categorized, you realize that none of the seasons allows for anyone of your composure!

If you are still an insecure type person, I suppose you have no choice except to go to a certified color technician to get you all figured out. If you’re like me, you snarl a few things under your breath about what an incompetent system this is, and skip right to the color palettes to see which one is “right” for you, and then reverse engineer which “season” you are. (And why the heck do I want to know what season I am? No particular reason. Just me being me.)

I have randomly selected a personal color site to quote from, but they’re all basically the same. I searched for “winter personal color palette”, and you’ll find a bunch that way. Some try to help you figure yourself out by comparing yourself to popular celebrities, others start by trying to get you to determine if you are “warm” or “cool”.

If you have “cool” skin tones, you’re supposed to look better in silver accessories (glasses, jewelry, etc) and pure white. “Cool” people are supposed to have pink undertones to their skin, not tan easily, and prefer blue-based reds (leaning every so slightly toward purple).

If you have “warm” skin tones, you’re supposed to look better in gold accessories and cream or off white. You’re supposed to have yellow undertones to your skin, tan easily, and prefer yellow-based reds (leaning slightly toward orange).


I know I’m not a Summer. A Summer is supposed to like cool, soft, muted, dusty colors. They’re supposed to wear silver. They’re supposed to avoid black, stark white, orange, and all yellow based colors. I understand avoiding all yellow based colors, but I detest wearing anything muted, soft or dusty. It needs to be a strong, deep color.

At first glance, Autumn colors look like they might be interesting, because they have some nice earthy tones, like deep brown or dark green. They wear gold. But I know I’m not Autumn, because they like yellow based colors, and I won’t get near them with a ten foot pole. Or at least wear them.

Spring colors sometimes catch my eye for their clearness (the opposite of dusty), but they also tend to be yellow based. Their worst crime, though, is simply being too bright. Strong, yes, but not deep, and I wear deep colors.

This leaves Winter. I generally like the most colors out of Winter palettes; they have my favorite dark green, and the dark, blue-based reds. I start having “issues” with the second half of their palette, though, because they include pale, “icy” colors, and I don’t like pale colors on me. It’s just a no go. However, Winters main problem is that they insist that Winter looks good in silver, and that is most emphatically not true for me!

I know what I wear. I wear dark, strong, clear, blue-based colors. I like blues that lean a little toward blue (forest green) and not any greens with yellow in them (lime, chartreuse, olive). I like red-based blues (royal blue, etc.) but not yellow based blues (blues that are starting to look green, like “marine blue”). Any blue-based red or pink is good, as long as it is not bright, not pastel, and not dusty. Deep dark purple is okay, and I think brown is okay as long as I follow the rules of dark, not dusty and not yellow based. Dark charcoal gray is good, and I even like black, even though my Mom thinks it’s an ugly color. Yellow, coral/peach, and orange all look hideous on me.

On that description, I think I would be a Winter. But Winters are supposed to like pure white and silver. I don’t think either cream or white looks particularly good on me (I want dark color!), but I tend to lean toward cream. It’s supposed to be a neutral, right? Well, whatever other skin terms you want to throw at me, my skin is not a pure, brilliant white. It’s just not. So a pale cream or some other slightly off white tends to fade away better.

And I do not wear silver. I have to wear glasses, and I can tell you for sure that any silvery type metal makes my face look flat and dead, and as soon as I put a gold-ish color frame on it makes my face come all alive again. I’ve always worn “gold” watches, never silver. Silver will look dead, and make everything around it look dead. Gold will look alive, and make everything dance with life.

I deduce that winters main theory is that you have either dark hair and a light skin tone, or dark skin and a light hair tone. I definitely have a dark hair and a light skin tone. I don’t tan easily, I think my skin has pink under tones, and I’m definitely drawn to blue-based colors (blue being the complement to my pink under tones). But, I do not wear silver!

I think I have figured out the crucial flaw. Winters are not supposed to have freckles. Those things are only supposed to be on Springs and Autumns, those warm people who are supposed to wear gold metal and yellow.

And I have freckles.

Dark ones too, usually, not the really pale ones you see on red-heads. I have them on my arms, and on my cheeks. And on my legs. And I even see one on my second toe on my right foot, and another one an inch and a half away from it.

And freckles do not get along with silver.

So what season am I? A warm Winter? A global-warming Winter? Stick season (after all the leaves have fallen but the snow hasn’t yet)? A mid-winter thaw? Mud season?

Posted in Color, Contemplations | 2 Comments »


August 6th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

Just once, I’d like us to be able to set up a tent without me having to sew the binding back on, from getting a guy-string tripped over. It tears the the fabric right where the binding is sewn on, so I have to rip out a yard of sewing and then sew it back onto the tent. I suppose it’s better than having to patch a hole. But I’d be happier if nothing tore. It’s rather awkward to try to sew the fly for an 8-man tent in a room that is only like 9 x 10 feet big to begin with, and especially when that room already has to store your entire fabric, pattern and notion stash, as well as an ironing board, my desks, my sewing books, and an easy-chair for reading it. Can you say cramped? But at least now the fly is fixed, so it’s doesn’t need to be stuffing up my sewing room any more.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Keep it succinct

August 6th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

“My tastes are simple; I am easily satisfied with the best.” —Winston Churchill

Reminds me of the time my brother said “I believe in manners; everyone should be polite to me.” Or some such thing.

Posted in Scrapbook | No Comments »

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