Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lonestar Roundup - Roundup! Day One

This year instead of Viva Las Vegas we went to the Lonestar Roundup, three days of vintage car fun in Austin, Texas.  We flew in on the red-eye on Thursday night and on Friday morning, we met up with our friend Stephan who was our super awesome tour guide.

We started at the Johnson Ranch, which was delightful.  They won't let you take any photos inside the house, but let me tell you, it is a real treat to see how the Johnson family lived.  It has been restored to when LBJ was alive and it is mid-mod magnificent.

The ranch itself is lovely too: acres of softly rolling countryside, a lazy river, farm animals; a wonderful, peaceful place to visit.

The long driveway up to the ranch.
Rolling hills and cows.
...and it's got its own air strip.

Nick, the Hubs, and LBJ's private plane.
Stephan, MD, and Nick enjoying some shade.
MD standing in front of the secret service bungalow.
 After the Johnson ranch we went to Fredericksburg for lunch at Hondo's on Main.

The first of many Lone Star beers.
Hungry people waiting for chicken fried...everything.
Fredericksburg still has an old-timey five and dime store.  I haven't been inside a real five and dime in many years.  It reminded me of the Sprouse-Reitz drugstore in my hometown when I was growing up.

Hubs and Stephan in front of Dooley's 5, 10, and 25 Cent Store
It has everything!  (Including fabric, from which I averted my eyes.) I went straight to the makeup and hair care aisle where I picked up tons of Jac-0-net hair nets and a very pretty vintage-looking box of loose powder in Bridal Pink.  I also got a retro automatic address finder.  Love!

On our way back to town we stopped of at Luckenback, Texas. Yes, that Luckenback, Texas, just like the song.  What started off as an Indian trading post on sleepy Hill Country ranch was transformed by Hondo Crouch (see link above) into the preeminent 1970s country western road house.  Willie Nelson doesn't come by as much as he used to, but the place is still serving up country western music, cheap beer, and fun on a daily basis.

It's a favorite pit-stop for touring Harley Riders and vintage car enthusiasts.
The beautiful dance hall.
The "buy a brick" patio.  Don't step on that one in the middle or you'll break your momma's back.
One of the gorgeously weathered outbuildings.
Me and Katie and more Lone Star!
After Luckenback, we headed back to Austin to see the famous Congress Street bats fly at dusk. We had a little frozen custard, checked out the cruise on South Congress (none of my snaps came out), ate a quick dinner and then trundled back to the hotel for bed.  It was a long wonderful day.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quest for Fire ... Bowl

I want the Astrofire backard fire pit by ModFire.
Photo Here
But I can’t afford it.   If you can afford it, you should totally go here and buy it because it’s amazing.
I could save up for it, I suppose, but we have people coming over for a BBQ very soon and I want to have my fire bowl situation resolved by then.  So, I decided that I might try to build my own.  Full disclosure: I project managed but MD did all the actual building.

Disclaimer: The Hubs and I have no special knowledge.  We are just two dorks who like to make stuff. We followed the CIAC instructions but beyond that, I have no clue if this project is safe or not. This blog post is not a tutorial for making your own fire bowl. It is simply a record of what we did and the results. Hopefully we won't blow up. If you try this at home, which I can't recommend as I am not an expert, I take no responsibility for your experience.  Fire is dangerous.  Do your own homework.



Since the plan was to get rid of the old Weber portable grill that we’d been using as a log-burning fire pit (Too smoky!) I decided to repurpose it for this project.  It has a vaguely flying-saucer shape and, when attached correctly, the boomerang legs are actually pretty cute.  (Note: The legs in the photo below, from Weber, are on upside-down.) It could easily look quite retro with a little bit of tuning up.  It ended up being perfect for this project. This is the model we used. 
Photo Here 
MD removed the legs and gave them a quick touch-up spray of silver paint.  He scrubbed the body of the grill inside and out with Barkeeper’s Friend to remove any grease and ash and to give the surface a little bit of grip.  We wanted to be sure that the new paint would stick!

We picked up a can of ceramic engine paint at the auto parts store.  This stuff can stand up to engine heat so it should be fine for a fire bowl.   We used Dupli-Color Torque-n-Teal which is a nice bright mid-century blue.

Photo Here
MD sprayed the grill body inside and out with two coats of paint and we left it in the sun for a few hours to cure.  While the paint was drying we headed down to Building Resources (our local used building supply store) and bought some tumbled tempered glass to fill in the body around the fire ring.  We could have gotten colored fire beads at Home Depot but I'd much rather support my local re-store.

We used a Campfire-in-a-Can as the fire unit.  This was the expensive part, but it still saved us a ton of money compared to the Astrofire.

Photo Here
The company website shows lots of creative examples of what you can do with your CIAC.  One example shows it nestled inside a big terra cotta planter and surrounded by glass beads, so we knew we were on the right track.  After reading all the great reviews on Amazon,  we felt like this was definitely the way to go. 

Once the paint was dry, we nestled the original Weber BBQ rack  down inside the bottom of the grill body to act as a riser for the CIAC fire unit.  We didn't have to do any mods to get the CIAC to the right height.  When supported by the rack, it was just perfect!  To keep the glass from falling through the rack, we covered it with a circular piece of sheet metal.

We didn't have to cut a hole in the side of the grill for the gas line because Weber kindly did that for us already.  On each side of the grill body there are small metal plates that hold the handles on.  Beneath the plates are nice and smooth factory drilled vent holes.  We just ran the gas line out one of the vent holes.  When MD put the handle and plates back on, he simply turned one plate slightly to expose a hole for the gas line.

Then we just filled in the empty space around the CIAC with the tumbled glass and set the log ring on top.  That was it!  Done!

We spent just under $400 to build our backyard fire pit and I like it nearly as well as the fancy one.  It's pretty cute!
Ready for a test.
It works!
It's small but mighty.
It looks lovely in the twilight!
Since it's propane, I'm comfortable burning it on the wooden deck.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How To Stuff A Mild Bikini

More stashbusting!  This time it's swimwear.

Despite the fact that I do not like to be in pools with other people (too splashy) and therefore do not like to swim and even though Fogville is just too cold for sunbathing I love swimwear.  I love it. Passionately.  I probably have 20 swimsuits despite the fact that they only get worn when I'm poolside at a weekender somewhere. Vintage-style swimwear is the best.  The BEST!  It's sexy and flirty without showing too much skin and hides so many figure flaws, which I especially appreciate as I don't exactly have a "bangin' beach body"...or whatever.

So, when my Tia Maria gave me a big pile of fabric a while back including some interesting polyesters, it seemed obvious that the polys should be used for swimwear.   Franky, I don't know what else to do with polyester.  Even if the print is cute, it's still polyester which in my mind means it will eventually become permanently sweat saturated and stinky.   Ick.

This yellow poly with a tiny red rose print fairly screams "kicky early 60s bikini" doesn't it?

Unfortunately, once I started working with the fabric it became clear that it probably wouldn't hold up to much wear.  While somewhat stretchy, it doesn't bounce back well. Instead it sort of melts.  Weird.

Also, it runs like a pair of pantyhose.

I forged ahead anyway with the idea that this could be a semi-wearable muslin.

It took forever to find a bikini pattern with the kind of bottoms I was envisioning. Everything in my stash had either regular short-shorts with open legs or was from the later 60s and had "below the belly-button" bottoms.  I did a lot of internet searching and finally found Advance 3169.  (The swimsuit is the teensy photo of view 3 a the top.) The bottoms are exactly what I was looking for!

Being as I am a busty girl, a more constructed top than what was included with the pattern was a must.  Many years ago, I owned a few vintage 60s bikini tops and they were very constructed, almost bra-like.  To make sure that I wasn't imagining the bra-ness of those tops, I did some internet searching and found a few examples of vintage bra-style swim tops on Ebay.

Reassured that it wasn't crazy to make a "bra" for the beach, I went with this Sew Lovely bra pattern for the top.  It's from 1970, but it has exactly the shape that I want.

At first I was a little scared of the tiny pieces and all the tiny seams but you know what?   It's only three main pieces (I made the straps from another pattern) and was super duper easy to put together!

I cut out two copies of the fashion fabric (one outside and one interior lining) and one additional copy out of power net for interior support.  To give the cups more shape, I added Dritz molded foam bra cups between the inner fashion fabric and the interior power net layer.  The serger was invaluable again as I simply basted all of the seams together on the Pfaff and then finished the edges with the serger. Once everything was stitched together and the right sides were flipped out, I zigzagged the edges for extra support.   Instead of bra hooks in back, I added a swim hook.

Shorts construction was super easy too.  I finished most of the seams with the serger and added elastic to the waist and leg openings.  I love the zip back!

Since I had extra fabric, I went ahead and made the bandeau top that came with the shorts. The center twist doesn't really work at all with my sizable chest so I gave up on that.  Without the twist, it makes me look a bit more bulky up top than I would like. It works, and looks okay, but I don't love it. 

But the finished suit with the bra top isn't bad.

It is a full coverage, mild but not modest, bikini and I like it.

With the bandeau top.

With the bra top.
It mostly held up to one wearing for photos and then the side seams, which I neglected to serge, began to run. Also, pale yellow might not be my color.  Eh  la la.  These things happen.

The final result is that I'm not afraid of making swimwear anymore.  Hooray!  I will definitely be making this suit again!

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm Not Crabby, I'm Lobstery

I was thrilled to find a lobster print pinstriped/faux-seersucker 100% cotton Tommy Hilfiger twin flat sheet for 99 cents at the thrift store!

It was pretty small and had some faint bleach stains on one end, but I thought it would make a wonderful summer dress, if I unfolded all of the seams and used a bodice pattern that didn’t require much fabric.
 I used the bodice from McCalls 6780.

Somehow, even though I’ve used this bodice pattern before, I forgot that it is a 36 bust.  The waist fits fine but the bust is ginormous!  I didn't do the alterations beforehand, so, after the whole thing was put together and lined and, dare I say, perfectly constructed, I had to take the top in on the sides to keep it from gapping.  It ruined my perfectly sewn interior, but it was worth it.  It fits, and that’s the main thing!

The skirt is just three giant rectangles gathered dirndl-style.  There are more gathers in the back than in the front and boy, is it ever FULL!    I love big puffy floaty skirts.  Especially with a crinoline.

The worst mistake was mis-calculating the placement of the lobsters when I cut out the skirt panels.  I had originally intended to put the bleach stained section in the back where there would be more gathers and it would be less noticeable. Unfortunately, in order to get all of the lobsters to (mostly) match up at the side-seams, I had to put the stained panel in front. Bummer!
 Luckily, the pattern is busy enough that you can’t tell that much.

My favorite element of this dress is the matched lobsters in the straps!

I love this dress so much!  It's crisp and preppy and peppy! It makes me super happy whenever I wear it.