Tuesday, September 17, 2013

From Jay to Jedi - Making The Tunic

The more I get to know my fellow SF writers, the more I realize we have in common. Like me, a goodly number of them also enjoy needle craft, be it sewing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, quilting or fancy work. It's hard to sew and write at the same time, and when I'm deep in the throes of book construction, my needlework suffers. I was delighted to follow my friend Pippa Jay's progress in making her own Jedi tunic as she shared photos and agonized over the process. If I couldn't spare the energy to sew my own projects, I could vicariously enjoy hers.
In honor of National Sewing Month, I asked Pippa if she'd share her project here. She graciously agreed.

From Jay to Jedi – Making the tunic

After seeing Star Wars: A New Hope on TV at the age of eight (and developing a huge crush on Luke Skywalker too), I wanted to be a Jedi. I mean really, really wanted to be one. I would stare at things in my bedroom trying to persuade them to move, and be bitterly disappointed when they didn’t. And the whole ‘Do or do not, there is no try’ from The Empire Strikes Back convinced me it was never going to happen. Thirty something years on, and I’m trying to be a Jedi again. Oh, not the making-things-move-with-my-mind stuff, but with the outfit. I’m off to Worldcon next year (LonCon 3, yahooo!). I *could* go as one of my characters, but since Quin would pretty much wear what I would (or should that be I would wear anything that she would?!), and no one is going to know who that is anyway, I thought no. This time I’m going to be a Jedi like my...no, wait, I’m just going to be the Jedi I wanted to be. Since I’m not going as a specific character but just aiming for the general look, I’m not going for 100% accuracy on the details so please don’t Force choke me for it!
So, I started with a bought pattern (Simplicity 5840) and a bundle of cheap fabric from my local charity shop (a pale sandy colour and a more mid brown/tan). The pattern came from ebay, and there are still some available on there if you want to get yourself one. Now, I’m no expert at sewing or at following patterns - I’m self taught and don’t know what a lot of the technical terms mean. I can usually figure things out though. The pattern for the tunic (image bottom right of the pattern) comes in unisex and multiple sizes - Extra Small to Extra Large. So I dutifully measured my chest/bust size and came out in the gap between Medium to Large.
Knowing how these patterns tend to be on the generous size (BTW, because this is a multiple size pattern, there’s no hem allowance included unless stated, and I didn’t find that out until AFTER I cut it. Luckily for me, the sizing is VERY generous and missing the hem allowance didn’t do any harm overall) I went for Medium. The pattern suggested lightweight linens or silky type fabrics, so I went for the lighter of the two I had - it looks and feels like chamois leather on the outside, but is kind of satiny on the inner side, and light with a slight bit of stretch to it. No idea what the fabric actually is. Then the wonderful job of pinning on the pattern and cutting it out. Then stitching the sides and shoulders of the main body, and attaching the sleeves.
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I then found that the pattern has a definite bias toward a male figure ie considerably more broad-shouldered than me. The pattern has tips for shortening and adjusting it, so I took up the shoulders and added a more tailored curve to the sides of the tunic so that it fitted better - otherwise it was hanging too far off my shoulders and the ends of the sleeves were swamping my hands. On reflection I might have been better aiming for the Small. That’s what I get for being 5ft 3. :P
Next was sewing up all the seams, including leaving small slits up the sides and generally tidying up the ends. After that comes the edging for the collar and cross-over opening of the tunic. This required four long strips of material wrapped around heavyweight interfacing (I didn’t know what that was until hubs went into a craft shop and asked - it’s stiff fabric that does things like make collars stand up straight or gives a more solid structure to your fabric). The brown fabric had to be stitched around this and then attached to the edges of the tunic to give the band that goes around the neck and along the cross-over flaps. Finally, the pattern has a belt with it. Again, this requires stitching fabric around a broad piece of interfacing and adding ties.
I think the belt is a bit too wide for me (the short factor again) so I may make a thinner one than the pattern suggested. I’m also looking at a replica Anakin belt, simply because I want something to hang my lightsaber from, and I’m not quite sure how to attach one to this fabric version. However, I’d wear this version under the leather belt anyway, since a lot of the costumes from the film do so. But this is the complete tunic for now.
As I’ll be wearing this in August, I’m currently thinking that with the length of this on me I can probably wear tights or leggings with the knee high boots I have simply to keep cool, but I’ll be working on the Jedi robe to go over the top next. Oh, you thought I’d model this for you? Nah. When I have the whole outfit ready to go, THEN I’ll subject you to the full body shot. :P
In the meantime, in the spirit of National Sewing Month, I have a little contest for you. It’s been suggested that I should have a Jedi name to go with my outfit. So, I’m including a poll for you to vote on with some Jedi names (using a random name generator) and a few suggested names from Twitter, but you can also add your own suggestions. And I’m going to do a giveaway. I’ll send one Jedi patch (see picture) to the person who either makes the suggestion I like the best, or tells me which name they voted on in the comments with a clever reason why I should use it. Have fun!


A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 20 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head. Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the SFR Brigade, a community of science fiction romance authors and publishing professionals committed to writing and promoting the very best in the genre. Website – http://www.pippajay.co.uk Blogs – http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk http://www.spacefreighters.blogspot.com http://www.romancingthegenres.blogspot.co.uk/ Twitter - https://twitter.com/pippajaygreen Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5054558.Pippa_Jay Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Pippa-Jay-Adventures-in-Scifi/114058821953752 Google+ - https://plus.google.com/u/0/101080630877126516448/posts SFR Brigade - http://www.sfrcontests.blogspot.co.uk/

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway - Hero's End

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hero's End by J.C. Cassels

Hero's End

by J.C. Cassels

Giveaway ends September 30, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Betty Crocker Pulls A "New Coke" Style Boner

I can't keep house without Potato Buds. Imagine my panic when I couldn't find them at my local grocery store only to be informed that they've discontinued Potato Buds in favor of a "gluten free" product. By all accounts, the new product cooks up badly. I suppose this means I'm going to have to go back to making mashed potatoes the old fashioned way. The other instants that I've tried taste like the box they come in. That was the only one that tasted like potato to me. Looking at the BC website, I see I'm not the only one who sees this move as a mistake. All I can say is, "Oh, Betty..."

Now, I guess we know what happened to the guy who thought introducing New Coke while pulling the original was a good idea. Two people couldn't possibly be so stupid as to make the same mistake.


Thursday, June 13, 2013


Bo the dog just knocked Timmy/Tammy the parakeet's cage to the ground. Liam raced to the rescue and found the roof off and Timmy/Tammy huddled on his/her perch in terror. Bo sat next to the mess with wagging tail and lolling tongue, but made no attempt to eat Timmy/Tammy the parakeet. Bo realized that he'd done a baaad thing and he didn't argue about being put outside (for once). Liam is now angry with Bo.

Why does the parakeet have a his/her slash thing going on? Because we aren't sure what we've got yet. The kids named the bird Timmy after Timmy Turner from Fairly Oddparents. It would seem an odd name for a girl bird, but I'm reminded of that episode of Doctor Who in which the man introduces his horse by a really butch name and the Doctor says "No it isn't. His name is Susan...and he wants you to respect his life choices. Come along, Susan!" Maybe we should just call the bird Susan.

Foiling The Leaping Hound

While the kids and I were at the pool, Dale addressed Bo the Dog's gazelle-like leaps-to-freedom by adding a two-foot extension to the top of the gate. We have agreed that if he clears this, we're going to dress a monkey in jockey silks, teach it to ride the dog and enter them in the Olympic equestrian events. Anyone know where I can find a monkey?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bo The Dog

Bo, the dog we recently adopted has settled into the pack very well. He is ridiculously smart, loving, and mischievous. I can understand why this behemoth was turned into a shelter.

Like many young dogs his age, he's mouthy. It can be disconcerting to someone inexperienced with dogs to find your dog's mouth around your arm or hand with all these sharp teeth grazing your skin. He doesn't bite, but we are trying to correct him from this behavior. I'm certain he'll grow out of it.

He also takes fences like a gazelle. We have gates and barriers up to keep the dogs in the back yard. If Dale can step over them, Bo can jump them. His new trick is jumping the gate onto the front porch and roaming the acreage until someone lets him in.

He's afraid of storms and he's a velcro dog. Not a good combination. When storms roll in, Bo becomes a big baby and wants IN YOUR LAP during bad weather.

So did we make a mistake? Do we regret rescuing him?

NOT ON YOUR LIFE!!! He's a great companion with a sense of humor and a sunny disposition. He is very gentle with the kids and loves following them around and playing with them. Right now, he's curled up at my feet, not bothering anyone, completely content to be close to me.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Using Controversy To Raise Brand Visibility

While idly scrolling through my social media, I saw repeated references and links to stories about Abercrombie & Fitch CEO’s comments about overweight people not belonging in A&F’s brand. I guess I’m getting old and jaded because I could tell you how that story was going to play out before the firestorm gained momentum. I didn’t need to read the blog posts, the articles, or the outraged comments. I’d seen this tactic before.

It’s all about raising brand visibility through controversy.

Calvin Klein showed his mastery of controversial marketing by sexualizing a teenage Brooke Shields.

In fact, Klein has it down to a science with repeated ad campaigns over the past thirty years that have pushed the boundary of good taste further each time.
“The blaze of publicity surrounding his scandalous ad campaign does not seem to have affected business - if anything, it's boosted sales. Customers flocked to the opening of the store.”
Others, like American Apparel didn’t fare as well. Learning from past mistakes, including pornographic ad campaigns, sexual harassment lawsuits, and copyright violations than nearly sunk the company, CEO Dov Charney has scaled back on the controversial advertising and has spent the past few years revamping the brand image into something more socially conscious.

Mike Jeffries, CEO of A&F, made some insulting and controversial comments, true. However, one cannot deny the result. Everyone is talking about his company, his brand, his product, and the direction he is taking his stores. You can’t afford the kind of publicity he’s getting, and you can bet he’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

There are enough pretentious, insecure young people out there (and even some not-so-young people) with a driving need to be seen as one of the “beautiful people.” Thanks to Jeffries comments, the A&F brand is now has that cache. Thanks to the resulting public backlash, anyone wearing the A&F label will garner instant attention. If there is one thing the A-crowd wannabe desires above all else, it’s attention. With Jeffries’ elitist statements about what it means to wear A&F, you now have a cadre of insecure, A-crowd-wannabe-attention-whores who will walk with a bit of extra sashay in their stride, toss their heads and sneer down their noses at anyone who isn’t wearing the A&F label.

People like Jeffries and Klein resort to controversy because, frankly, it works.

Rather than get up at arms, forming torch and pitchfork-wielding mobs of angry, plus-size villagers, look at this for what it is – an attention-seeking-whore looking to market his brand to the like-minded sheeple who will line up on both sides of the issue. Now you have the size 4 teen craving to fit in who will turn to A&F for that instant belonging, and the size 14 teen looking enviously from the outside willing to do whatever it takes to measure up, or in this case down. Not just teens, either. There are plenty of insecure adults willing to fall into lockstep with Jeffries’ media manipulation as well.

My proposal is simple:  stop talking about it and don’t buy A&F products. An angry shouting mob demanding apologies and changes in the store to accommodate larger sizes won’t do any good except stir the pot some more…not to mention it plays right into Jeffries’ hands by giving him all the cards. Take back control, people. Stop being outraged into a rabid frenzy at every controversy that comes along. Start asking yourself what personal gain the entity at the heart of the controversy can count on by getting you up at arms against him/her/it. You’re being used. Take back your personal power. Learn to laugh at people like that and ignore them. Don’t shop in their stores. Don’t talk about them. Don’t allow yourself to be used as free publicity. The only way these things can succeed is if they can get people like you talking about them.

Jeffries’ comments don’t deserve acknowledgement.

Show a little dignity for crying out loud. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How Will The Easter Bunny Find Me?

It's funny how things come full-circle. When I was a child, I remember watching movies based on Bible stories like "The Ten Commandments" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" in the days leading up to Easter. I never realized how much that meant to me until tonight. Over the past few nights, we've been watching those kinds of movies -- the stories of Esther, Jeremiah, and Mary the Mother of Jesus.

I can't help but be transported back to when I was Butterbean's age, sitting on my grandmother's couch watching "The Greatest Story Ever Told" while fretting over whether the Easter bunny was ever going to find me, and how I was going to get goodies without my basket. I confided my fears to my great-grandmother who lived across the street. She wheeled herself over to the hall cabinet and painfully and carefully rose from her wheelchair so she could reach the gardening baskets on the top shelf. She gave me a perfect basket which today sits on top of my hall cabinet.