I Had Hot Chocolate This Morning.

So that means I’m going to post a blog post… post a blog post. Post a blog? Post on my blog? Write a post for my blog?

Whatever. I’m excited not only about the hot chocolate, but what that represents. So this post is coming to you in three parts.

Part the First:

The literal hot chocolate. I got some from the gas station just next to the Hellmouth (that is, my work place), which I would usually consider a cop-out because I can just make my own and if you can get like 12 packets of hot chocolate for $3.99, it seems almost ridiculous to pay $0.99 for one cup, but I was unfortunately out of hot chocolate mix this morning and then tried to use chocolate milk mix with warm water, but the end result was sort of like really weak tea, which is odd, considering tea shouldn’t taste like chocolate.

(Have I mentioned lately that I’m an English major and a tutor at my university’s writing center? Doesn’t matter. William Faulkner made a career out of run-on sentences, did he not?)

So, I had hot chocolate because I can’t stand coffee or tea and I’m sick and I legitimately think it helped. It’s like the Power of Positive Thinking–which is, in fact, bullshit–but for colds. I think, “This hot chocolate will make me feel better when I drink it.” And poof! The medicine that I took earlier this morning kicks in just as I’m gulping down my sweet, sugary nectar of the Gods.

The drinking of warm(ish) liquids also somewhat functions as a harbinger to colder weather. And I would say this is my case, but at the moment, Georgia doesn’t know where the hell it is. The whole of October has gone from jacket-and-scarf weather (fave) one day to tank-and-shorts weather the next. Consistency, weather, that is all I beg of you. Pick one and stick to it.

Part the Second:

Hot chocolate is a prop in a ten-minute play I wrote earlier this year that I have since entered into my school’s One Act Play Festival, and has been chosen. Two, in fact, have been chosen, though the other doesn’t feature hot chocolate.

The One Act Play Festival often becomes my reason for living in October. I love every part of it. It is student-run, written, directed, and acted. No faculties about it. It has yielded some really interesting and some really awful theatre. But this year, it’s different. Because I’m like 99.9% certain all of it is going to be epic. And not just because two of my plays are being performed.

On the subject of playwriting, I say this. I don’t know that I will ever get used to (or even want to get used to) being surprised that my brain’s thoughts are onstage. My imagination is coming to life in wonderful technicolor and eye-popping 3D, but with a stunningly low budget (eat my dust, James Cameron). And I always get worried during read-throughs that people just won’t get it, you know? I write comedy–or… try to–and I have a fairly particular sense of humor. I prefer smirk-comedy to “lol”-comedy. I used to dream one day of being Tom Stoppard… or, as equally unlikely, Aaron Sorkin. Or Joss Whedon.

Anyway.

My brain onstage! Even if I’m writing about something absolutely the farthest away from anything I’ve ever done, said, or experienced, everything still seems so personal. I am giving part of who I am to a director and three/four actors and letting them use it as a playground. What I think is so obviously said one way can be interpreted in another. Sometimes I have trouble accepting that my work can be done in a billion different ways. Sometimes I want to run up onto the stage and shout, “NO NO NO! FASTER YOU MUST SAY IT FASTER!” That’s not my place.

Sometimes it’s best to let somebody say, “Wingadrium Levio-sar” and not “Wingardium Levi-o-sa”.

Part the Third:

But my playwright’s attention span usually lasts about ten pages (this is why ten-minute play festivals are where it’s at) so I would prefer to be a dramaturg. This next bit is my second reason for living–for the Oct/Nov. period.

I am dramaturg’n it up in the production of Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women at school, updating it to a Napoleonic Era tragedy. So basic responsibilities include general research on the original play’s setting and the new setting, on costuming, on morality, on literary criticism, on textual meaning, and so on. I have… probably around 100 pages of stuff to read before next week, summarize it all into a nice neat packet of stuff, and set this packet free on my actors.

I. Love. Thomas. Middleton. I also love Women Beware, so really this is like an all around win. It is my hope not to get too boggled down and try to do more than I’m supposed to. I have this strange feeling that when I walk into rehearsals next week, my director is going to laugh at exactly how prepared I’ll be. I’m aiming to be a walking encyclopedia of all things Women Beware Women.  It’s such a great show, full of intrigue and incest, immorality and immaturity. And Middleton is such a great playwright–he has a rich history as a victim of censorship, so you know he’s gotta be at least a little bit good. Some scholarly scholars of scholarship refer to him as second only to Shakespeare, so stick that in your pipe but don’t smoke it ’cause smokin’s bad for ya. Gives ya cancer.

You see what I did there? I started with a seemingly innocent post about  hot chocolate and then hit you with some major 17th Century drama. What a blog ninja.

Anyway, for vids of One Act Festivals past (and, post-Oct 23, this years’ plays), you can hit up my Youtube page, which, if I have tamed this beast enough, should be somewhere in the doobly-doo on the right.

Advertisements

How to Make a Ramona Flowers Subspace Purse (if you know nothing about making purses)

An image of Ramona’s bag from the Scott Pilgrim set

Part One!

Those who know me are probably pretty tired of experiencing my Scott Pilgrim phase through facebook status updates and general conversation. I’ve read all six books, read all of the short strips, seen the movie, and downloaded the soundtrack. So naturally, the next course of action for a fan such as myself is to construct my very own Ramona Flowers outfit (modeled after the picture to the left) for use at Halloween and/or Dragon*Con. Among the most important aspect of this outfit is the Subspace Purse. It has an infinite capacity, has in-verse importance to the plot… and let’s be honest. It is REALLY cool.

So because I don’t have $120 to spend on the really really nice purse I have pictured below (that is, incidentally, Bryan Lee O’Malley approved), I enlisted my best friend Taylor–who not only has a sewing machine but is something of an artistic genius–to help me on my quest to make the world’s awesomest purse. Useful for not only fashion, but also stowing large hammers (+2 against girls) and Scott Pilgrims, but also in the event that I need to make an escape through Subspace. Because these things happen in real life, you guys.

farfallagialla’s Etsy Purse

I decided to stay with this general color pattern because I like it much better than the really blue and hot pink version that I have seen with comic Ramona. We have set about our mad task, and, of course, if you are reading this blog post now, it means that we were ultimately successful and the following instructions may not be the most efficient way to get it done, but it is very craft-ignorant friendly (that’s me, I’m the one who’s craft-ignorant).

If you’re thinking about pursuing this, read all of the directions before you get started, because I have some parts where you can choose what you want to do first based on how you want to go about it.

Purse Dimensions

  • 11″ diameter
  • 4.5″ deep
  • 10″ star
  • Strap length yet to be determined

Materials for the Purse:

  • 24″x60″ Duck Canvas Fabric, NuGrey
  • 12″x60″ Cotton Fabric, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle
  • 2″x60″ Cotton Fabric, Symphony Black
  • 24″x60″ Apparel Lining, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle/Whatevs (get funky if you can)
  • 1 package of 0.5″x2.5 yd Maxi Piping, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle
  • 10″ embroidery ring (optional, but SUPER handy)
  • 1 12″ Zipper, NuGrey (or 2, if you plan to do the back zipper)
  • 2 1.5″ Rectangle Rings, Silver
  • 1 1.5″ Strap Adjuster, Silver

All of these materials were found at our local Joann Fabric and Craft store (with the exception of the strap adjuster, which is available online on amazon.com–the website address is amazon.com, Scott) for roughly $30. I’m assuming that you already have a sewing machine and will therefore not need to factor in that cost. Taylor’s sewing machine is ‘Vintage’, which is just a nice way of saying, ‘Doesn’t work 80% of the time’.

Materials for the Preparation:

  • Ruler and/or T-Square
  • Compass for Circle Drawing (or a large bowl)
  • Compass for Angle Drawing
  • Sharp Scissors of Sharpness (did I mention they should be sharp?)
  • Iron with Ironing Board
  • Tape Measure
  • Fabric pencil or light colored pencil
  • Calculator (or your brain, paper, and pencil)
  • Patience and/or a good sense of humor

And so it begins!

Preparation

We spent about six hours total driving, shopping, driving, going back because we forgot a zipper, driving some more, making measurements, and cutting for preparation. So if you’re a little more organized than us, you might not need as long. But this is definitely an all day kind of activity.

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to go ahead and iron all of your material. Then everything looks all nice. If you don’t know how to iron and/or you don’t have an iron, it’s not the end of the world. Just try to move around any creases. But I’ll bet you your mom and/or somebody else’s mom has an ironing board and would be more than happy to demonstrate if you promise to do some ironing for them.

First we figured how large I wanted my bag to be, which was more or less 11 inches. This is where having a rather large compass comes in handy. We didn’t have one, so we scoured Taylor’s kitchen until we found a bowl that measured exactly 11 inches.

This forms the front and back circles for the purse.

Fold your Duck Canvas in half.  Trace the circle toward the top of the fabric, next to the edges that are touching. Don’t trace on the side by the fold–it’ll be easier to cut out both circles for the front and back of the purse. When you’re tracing, you’ll want to make sure that you leave at the very least one inch of fabric around your circle. This extra border will be integral in the sewing to come.  You should have two circles drawn on your fabric–one with diameter of 11″, and with with a diameter of at least 13″.

Don’t worry too much about markings on your fabric. Anything you write on will be covered with lining later, so have no fears about writing any measurements down on the cloth or labeling what piece is what.

The bottom portion of your canvas will become the portion that holds these two circles together as well as the strap. We’ll worry about the strap later.

So getting to the middle of the portion is when you’re gonna bust out the maths. You’ll need to figure out the circumference of your purse. The equation for the circumference is the diameter times π (3.14….). So we figured that with a circumference of 11, we were more or less looking at 35″ of fabric, and then we added about three inches in order to account for the flaps to fold down and sew together and the fact that the strap must be inserted into the middle portion… and, let’s face it,  you’ll always want extra room in the event of screw ups.

Measuring out the middle.

So here’s where your T-square and/or ruler comes in. Measure about 38″ long (for this, you’ll unfold the canvas) by about 5.5″ (4.5″ depth with .5″ on either side to account for sewing space) If your cloth is long enough (the canvas from Joann isn’t), a 6.5″ strip is preferred just in case you make an error. You can always trim these flaps later when all is said and sewn.

Your fabric should have the front/back and the middle traced.

When you’ve gotten over all of your anxieties about making mistakes on your measurements and drawings and such, you get to cut! If you’re feeling brazen, go ahead and refold the canvas and cut out both circles simultaneously.

If you’re not so sure (like us),  fold the canvas over like before and cut out the one circle on the top part of the fabric. Then retrace the circles and such on the bottom portion of the fabric (that is still folded). We cut out a square around our circle and then cut all the points of the square off. We found it was easier that way.  So of what’s left, you’ll have an odd L-shape. Go ahead and cut the middle portion off the bottom of the fabric. Whatever’s left will go into the strap. So just sit the leftovers aside for now.

The middle portion!

So now we kicked back to the ironing board to iron up our circles. We took all of the flaps and ironed them up in a circle, which we figured might help for the sewing. It was ultimately unnecessary, but nice to have.

Cutting out the circles

Now! If you have a compass for drawing angles–we didn’t; how grossly under-prepared were we to do this?–then you can use it for drawing the star! We were figuring the whole star would measure about 10″.So what you’ll want to do is cut out the blue star around 9″. Each angle of the star needs to be 72 degrees.

We cheated. Print and trace a star.

You can do all that math-y stuff to figure it out. OR. If you’re a cheater, like us, you can find a perfect star off of Google Images, resize it to 9″, print it, and lay it under the cloth, and trace it (the cotton we picked was see-through-ish). Either way. Measure and cut your blue star.

Trace the lining and cut it out to be the same size as the canvas.

Now to mess with the lining for the inside of the purse. The lining can pretty much be the same size as the front/back covers made in the duck canvas. So just get you the bowl/compass/already cut bit of fabric again, measure out that circle in 11 inches, then get you a nice border of at least an inch. Rinse and repeat with the cutting. Don’t forget to make lining for the middle section as well.

Now the Etsy purse has a zipper in the back. We are attempting to do that, but I’ll be honest… I have no idea what we’ve done or how we did it, but it seems to be working well so far. However. Doing it is a HUGE pain in the neck. Empire State Building huge, so I don’t have any instructions. Wing it at your own risk. I’ll post some pictures, but essentially your guess is as good as ours on how it’s accomplished.

Sewing

The first bit of sewing I did was to the lining for the front of the purse. I created three types of pockets–one for my phone, one for cards/IDs/cash, and three slots for writing implements–just things I wouldn’t want to get lost in the chaos of the bottom of a lady purse (ladies, you know). So I got this embroidery ring thing that has become super useful. At JoAnn, they only come in even sizes, so I got the 10″ one for my 11″ purse. It has come in handy for keeping the fabric taut, so’s to eliminate any bubbliness and wrinkles. I pinned out what I wanted to do as far as pockets, folding in less than half an inch of fabric to make everything smooth and even. The easiest way I found to measure was to simply pin around the items going in the pockets.

Yay organization!

It’s important to get the pieces centered on your lining–if you sketched the circle as we did above, that shouldn’t be too hard. This looks kind of off-center in the picture, but only because I was tugging the fabric to increase tautness. I’m not going to say ‘taut’ anymore after this.

The top star has been folded over and pinned to give smooth edges.

Then I moved onto attaching the star to the front portion of the purse. The material we used for the star, as mentioned previously, was a little see-through, so we cut out two stars to combine.

I decided to only do one go-round with the sewing, so after pinning these two, I added the tiny black border the purse has. I had to get rid of these pins first before I could pin the black, so I’m not sure it

Because I am entirely too cheap to purchase a thick block of fabric, the nice lady gave us a thin strip as a 'free sample'. I do not recommend being cheap.

was a good idea to pin this stuff first. But the issue I was having was keeping the two stars together without pins before the black, so I just pinned, unpinned, and repinned and stabbed myself like 203 times, but it worked out okay.

If you can recreate a solid black star to put behind the blue one, good for you! Do it! I only left a couple of centimeters for a border. I was also very frustrated at the time, so I didn’t do any actual measuring. Mine looks absolutely dreadful because I was not using sharp scissors! Let that be a lesson to ye! Dull scissors rip fabric!

It looks so Seussian.

I did one go-round of the star sewing it together. I figured that in sewing the star to the purse, the stitching would be reinforced there. I used periwinkle-colored thread and I didn’t have any sort of fancy-dance stitch. After that bit of sewing was over, I pinned the star to about the middle of the circle. The embroidery circle worked yet again to keep everything straight. The star sewed on a little puffier than I’d have liked–so be careful and try to keep everything as taut (damn) as humanly possible.

Looks good, neh? Attached cat is optional.

So that’s all for now!

Halloween 2010 has come and gone and I did wear my Ramona Flowers outfit (regrettably sans purse) to a Halloween party with much success!

Continue to Part Two?

(Yes / No)

Questions, comments, clarifications, concerns, wisecracks for the Guide so far? Hit the comments below.