Archive for June, 2010

Silk Training Shirt




When the mom I nanny for showed me this quirky, silk fabric she recently bought, I couldn’t resist picking up some myself. At Fabric Outlet, it’s fifty-percent-off $20/yard.

Total cost: 1.5yd (15) + blue thread/black bias tape (~5) = $20

I decided a loose-fitting t-shirt top would complement the bold, boxer pattern.  I recently purchased a loose-fitting silk dress on-sale at Anthropologie for my birthday, so I used the upper half of dress as a template for my top.  This was my first attempt at sewing silk, so not all my seams are perfect (tip: use a walking foot to keep the silk from sliding around too much) but they look nice enough to an untrained eye. Although I made this without taking pictures of the process, it’s fairly easy, so I’m going to call it a tutorial.  Here it is:

The Method

  • Cut out two equal rectangles of fabric.  Cut the neckhole out of each.  These can be the same, or you can make the front a little deeper like I did.

  • With right sides facing, sew your shoulder seams together (1, in image).
  • Turn wrong sides in, press and hem the bottom of each side of the shirt (2).
  • Press and hem the sides of your shirt (3).
  • Now, with right sides out, top-stitch along the hem (4), starting from the bottom and sewing up until the point where you want your sleeves to be open.  (I understand this may not be a conventional way to attach your two sides, as it results in a sort of inside-0ut-looking flap on the outside of the garment, but the dress I was copying was assembled like this and I liked the way it looked.)
  • And finally, apply bias tape to the neckline (5). I used single-fold bias tape, which you first open and sew to the outside of the garment.  Then, you fold it to the inside of the garment (so none will show on the outside) and stitch it in place, resulting in a nice hem on the outside.

Done!  If this seems too tricky, I’ll confess that this was only the third piece of clothing I’ve sewn from scratch and my very first top.  If you have some basic sewing skills, the loose and boxy fit of this top makes this definitely do-able for a beginner.



One Night Music: Felonious


Writing about hip hop is a bit of a stretch for me, but I gave it my best shot for this One Night Music session:  Please visit Felonious’ session page to watch more videos, download audio, and see some beautiful photographs.



When I was in high school, there were a few tenuous years I listened almost exclusively to hip hop.  Then it was musical theater, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson, then boy bands, and then alt rock: my friends and I, like most people who are sane, question the substance of our early musical proclivities.  But following a rough breakup, something big in me shifted: I discovered folk and never turned back.  This is not that story.  But somewhere in that story is a piece of myself I let go along the way.  This is where I find that piece.


How do I begin to describe Felonious?  It’s an overwhelming commission for a country music enthusiast who has set neither foot nor ear near hip hop since age fifteen.  But today, in my kitchen, I am whipping cream to beatbox and acoustic ‘records’ scratching, and dancing to a cappella bass echoing from the mouths of MCs Soulati and Infinite.  I am right where I need to be.  I am teenager, teacher, mother.  I am whipping cream.


Felonious, a collective of musicians and actors, performers and playwrights, dancers and teachers, husbands and fathers, are each their own variety of Renaissance badass.  Though they are hardened by a dozen years of hustling the ins and outs of the Bay Area hip hop scene, you wouldn’t think twice about bringing them home to meet your mom; not because they are accomplished — though with four albums, several EPs and three hip hop theater productions[1], they certainly are — but because they are genuine, kind, and somehow commingle an impossible mix of gritty and tender.  Listening to Felonious, I suspect while we record them for One Night Music at Coda, feels a little like calling grandmother while sipping bourbon, or smoking a cigarette at the peak of a fast.

The act of Felonious is what happens when these six guys convene and unleash their art live.  The One Night Music crew assembled, larger in number than usual, to document Carlos Aguirre and Tommy Shepherd build intricate beat boxing loops that the four MCs (Dan Wolf, Keith Pinto, Carlos and Tommy) rap over.  Add to that some catchy refrains, keys (Keith), guitar (Jon Monahan), drums (Tommy) and you can maybe picture the material components of a Felonious set.  But to really understand, you have to see Tommy rap while drumming, never missing a beat.  Or write an idea of your choosing (like “cigarettes,” “Hippies,” or “scared of the woods”) on a Post-it at “Live City Revue” (a multi-disciplinary arts event Felonious hosts at Coda) to hear an MC freestyle on your selection as he works through his random handful of notes. Or hear Carlos shut down a post-session freestyle outside of Coda, split second to conjure as a bus passes, with a line about catching the 49 to City College.

This collective of men have combined their various talents and passions, which are expansive and overlapping, to carve themselves a niche in Bay Area hip hop culture — which is to say, they do so much more than mix thumping beats with hard lyrics.  They use hip hop as a platform to inspire people who need it, much unlike the hip hop artists I listened to in high school.  Carlos, for example, teaches hip hop dance, songwriting and beatbox in different Bay Area classrooms, but the work he speaks most highly of is his regular teaching gig at a local jail.  His students there, he says, are surprisingly responsive, yet most of them haven’t been in a classroom since junior high or high school.  The satisfaction Carlos derives from teaching inmates is testament to the philosophy these Felonious guys live by.  Hip hop, for them, is a positive, community-building venture.  You’re only good at what you’re passionate about, Carlos says.

And they are. Watching Felonious record their One Night Music session is an endless barrage of talent, surprise, explosives.  There is no end to what they do.  That music and energy — the theater, beat boxing, looping, rapping while drumming — is nothing less than oceanic, unbounded.  While Felonious is no throwback, they released something in me: a belief that hip hop need not be ego-dominated, that it could be alive, filled with all the nuance and care of art, of true love.


Felonious’ new album Live City releases Tuesday June 8th, 2010.  The Live City release party and show is June 10th, 2010 at The Independent in San Francisco.

[1] Beatbox: A Raparetta; Stateless: A Hip Hop Vaudeville; and Angry Black White Boy.

Anthropologie-Inspired Nautical Necklace


Here’s another Anthropologie ripoff.  I bought 1-½ yards of this upholstery cord at Discount Fabric for less than 3 dollars, and then followed the instructions in this blog I came across recently.



Though each loop of the “knot” is sewn by hand, it’s actually a very quick project, and the finished necklace garners lots of compliments.  For the “adornments” I used an earring with no match and a couple wire beads that I stretched into semi-circles.

It looks nice with my “symphony” dress, whose perchase I justified by the fact that my girlfriend gave me 2 free tickets to see the SF Symphony perform Bernstein, Stravinsky and Ravel. Thanks Calisa!!  I probably owe you a necklace.


Silk-covered Bangle Tutorial

This project is SOOOOO easy!  You can use up scrap fabric and cover an old bracelet you don’t wear anymore.

Total cost: $0.00!

The Method

1.  Cut or tear a piece of scrap fabric into a 1″x45″ strip (no need to be exact).  I had this beautiful silk left over from this project.  Find an old bracelet.

2.  Put a dot of glue on the inside of your bracelet, stick one of the ends of the fabric to it, and start wrapping.

3.  Continue wrapping, gluing every so often, until you have reached the end.  Glue the end to the inside of the bracelet.

4.  If you’d like to add a “bow,” cut or tear two small strips (I made mine different widths) and tie them around your wrapped bracelet.  Cut the ends to your desired length.

5.  DONE!

Silk Circle Scarf with Modified French Seams

I bought some beautiful silk on a whim at Discount Fabric because the colors were so interesting and disparate.  I love unexpected color combinations.

This was my second project sewing with silk — a slightly difficult fabric — and I’m definitely a little more comfortable with it now.  That’s why I decided to try a new technique — a modified French seam — to join the two halves of my scarf. You could make this circle scarf with any fabric, but silk is especially pretty and light for summer.

The Method

1.  Starting with one yard of fabric of your choice, cut or tear the fabric down its length into two equal pieces.  Silk tears easily, doesn’t fray much and looks nice with raw edges.  Press any wrinkles.

2.  Pin together the two separate pieces at the top (along the short width); if you have a fabric that is not reversible, pin with the wrong sides facing.

3.  Now for the French seams.  Topstitch the two pieces together with a small seam allowance (1/4” or so).   I used my walking foot attachment to limit how much the silk slips around while sewing.

4.  Lay fabric flat and press open the seam.

5.  Fold the fabric so that the seam is now on the inside.  Press so that the seam lays flat on the inside and the outside is neatly folded and pressed.

6.  Topstich about ¼” or so away from the fold.  Open your fabric and press the fold to one side.  This is technically the backside of your garment, but this scarf is essentially reversible.

7.  Stitch the edge of the fold to the fabric.

The two sides of your fabric should look like this:

9.  Now you should have your two halves attached on one side with a pretty seam.  Repeat steps 3-8 on the other side to complete the circle.   If you would like your seams to match, make sure you pin the wrong-sides facing again.

10.  You’re done! Loop and enjoy.

Total cost: 1 yard silk (50%off*20/yard) + thread (1.50) = $11.50

Love at Muddy Waters: Rey Villalobos and Blind Pilot

Here is a blog post I wrote for One Night Music ( featuring one of my favorite venues in Santa Barbara — Muddy Waters — and the Portland, Oregon-based band Blind Pilot.  Please visit the official blog post for additional videos, mp3 downloads and artwork.  And if this commingling of music, media and writing interests you, join the One Night Music email list for updates when we launch new music on the site.  No spam, guaranteed.


Love at Muddy Waters:

Rey Villalobos and Blind Pilot

A dear friend of mine back in Santa Barbara recently wrote an essay on love and was kind enough to share it with me.  It was poignant, drifty, one of the most beautiful things I’d ever read.  Loving your friends, loving your lover, everything, everyone — people you’d never have and the ones you probably could.  I laughed so hard, I cried, and I realized: I am just like Candice.  I am falling in love just about all the time.

In August, I fell in love twice in the same night.  I came solo to Muddy Waters Café in downtown Santa Barbara with a field mic and a pocket camcorder to record Rey Villalobos (formerly of The Coral Sea) for One Night Music.  Oh Rey, number one:  I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it.  I’d met Rey a few nights earlier, and he was as charming as they come.  We decided I’d come to the show (Rey was opening) and record his set, but — lighting not so good — we switched gears, set up at the end of the night in Muddy Waters’ storage closet for the most intimate One Night Music recording session I’d experienced yet.

Thing I Cannot Recall

Earlier, while the second band played, I sat outside and tried to get myself drunk.  I did this sometimes on dates with myself.  I had exactly one week left to reminisce the meanings I found in various Santa Barbara spots.  Great shows aside, Muddy Waters’ back patio was my favorite thing about the place. Years ago, my ex’s brother first brought me there.  He’d sit out back for hours drinking redeyes and smoking spliffs he’d made earlier by pulling tobacco out of his Camel Lights with tweezers and stuffing a mixture back in.  He wrote a novel doing this.  I still marvel that it took someone far away visiting to introduce me to the locals’ spot that would become my favorite.

Drifting. It’s when I heard Blind Pilot that I thought to go back inside.  Rey, a former Santa Barbara resident, was now living in Portland, but I think it was maybe by coincidence that he opened for the Portland-based Blind Pilot that night.  There’d been a lot of hype around this band recently, and Ian had excitedly contacted them about recording with One Night Music.  Israel Nebeker, who formed Blind Pilot with college friend Ryan Dobrowski, told me he never saw that email.  Israel is dreamy — curls and curls, like my boyfriend but taller.  He gave me the go ahead to take some impromptu videos of Blind Pilot during their set and added, “I can’t promise anything about the sound.”  Your modesty, number two! It gets me every time.

We Are the Tide

Standing at the back of the crowded café, I could hardly see the heads of the five or six bandmates.  Guitar, drums, bass, banjo, trumpet, vibes, even harmonium. And vocals, man, oh man.  I spotted a friend near the stage and pushed my way up front.  It was there, perfectly positioned under a single light, that I captured these four videos.  Sometimes watching them I get chills.  Blind Pilot played their hits, to be sure, but they ended with “We Are the Tide,” an upbeat, drum-laden, lose-yourself-to-dance song not featured on their debut album 3 Rounds and a Sound. As the room erupted in dance, I held my arm and camcorder steady, and still the collective energy coursed through my frame.  These songs, they ached of love and loss, of triumph and jubilation and skinned knees, tender and raw.  And longing: my love through the telephone wires and Rey at the back of the room and Israel, closest, but far far far.  The words became drums, the drums became claps, the claps the sounds of flinging arrows, breaking hearts.  Glory night!  I am in love, I am in love, I am in love!

Driving away from Santa Barbara seven days later, packed car, is like this: tight squeeze and quick kiss to each love — the music, Jeffrey Shuman of Club Mercy, your band and friends, places like Biko and Cold Springs Tavern and Muddy Waters, fires and ash, the best farmer’s markets. You trade this because several months ago you dreamt all of your teeth were falling out, crumbling into your cupped hand as you sat terrified, idled by some waiting room.  You trade this, oh shit, for a grieving mother, a pining for change a desire to upturn things, a love somewhere upstate you hope sticks.  The road home is golden burnt by August.

My New Desk: The Before

Here’s my new desk! I’m so excited to finally have a workspace in my bedroom.  I bought it at Thrift Town for $40.  It’s charmingly dilapidated, but that’s nothing a little sanding, staining, painting and new hardware can’t fix.  I think this project will take me a while but I’ll be sure post the results when I’m finished.