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Fast Fashion

Spicy Hipster SkirtWhen I was about 8 or 9, my dear Mother showed me to her sewing machine, handed me the user’s manual, and said, “Here’s the book. Remember your Father faints at the sight of blood, so don’t sew your fingers.”

Thus ended my formal sewing instruction. Everything else, I learned by hook or by crook, and it has been fantastic.

Since I am a pattern designer and sewist in real life, I get a lot of questions about how young I start my kids on formal sewing lessons, and gosh, they must be pretty awesome at it, etc… and get a reaction of astonishment when I tell people that I don’t require my kids learn to sew at all, actually, and I don’t interfere with their sewing adventures until they ask me directly for help, and then I only invade minimally, and let them get back to their work without me.

I want them to have the same pride and joy in discovery as I had; it was a gift from my mother, and I want to share it along.

The Spicy Girl is getting taller (for her; that’s not very tall, but it’s a personal best, so we celebrate) and has very specific fashion tastes that don’t jive with what kid-fashion makers are putting out in stores.

(Funny aside… we were at the library Saturday, and found a book in the children’s department on “Hipster Fashions”–looking through the book, we discovered that both Little Girls fall securely under the Hipster Umbrella. Spicy’s comment was a slightly outraged, “I’m not a HIPSTER. I just like fashion that doesn’t come from the same lame stores as everyone else. And vintage is cool. And I do my own thing.” So… mini-hipster. My kids. Yay!)

Spicy finally outgrew her Sunday Bests. There’s nothing in the stores she finds appealing. So Saturday evening, I suggested we pick a nice top that had a bit of fun to it, and then grab some fabric and make a new skirt. I used to love doing that as a teen–making a new skirt on a Saturday to wear that night. It’s not couture sewing. It’s fast-fashion, and it’s supposed to be inexpensive, fun, and functional.

Learning some solid basic design skills and sewing skills gives any young person the ability to adapt, remake, or fashion from new some clothing items that meet their own personal requirements for style and comfort, without being dependent on retail selling cycles.

Spicy settled on a “retro-vintage” look: a partially-elastic drop-waist full skirt, lower-calf length so she can sit on the ground, ride a bike, or do a cartwheel without worrying about anything, accented with a cute fabric bow at the hip. After debating three different fabrics, she went with a grey and taupe “polka-spot”, for an “elegant fashion statement.”

We walked through it without a pattern. Here’s the process:

Measure a comfortably-generous hip measure (she decided on her actual full hip/bum plus 4″), and measure from waist to the desired hip point. Add a bit to allow for seam allowances and a casing at the waist. A rectangle this size, seamed together into a tube, with elastic folded in that casing at the waist, becomes the “drop waist yoke” for the skirt.

Measure from the hip point to the desired hem, and add 4″. This allows for attaching the upper edge to the yoke, and a 3.5″ hem at the bottom. Seam two full-width panels for a nice full skirt, hem the bottom, and gather to fit the yoke. Topstitch the seam allowances toward the yoke.

Fold rectangles of fabric into a pleasing composed bow, and stitch that onto the hipline at the desired spot (use a whip stitch just behind the visual horizon of the bow.)

Then get your 6’1″, 17yo brother to snap a shot of you in your new outfit, after he gives you Sorority Posing Tips, complete with Action Poses. Having a big brother who knows and appreciates girl-folk is very useful. And your mother will desperately wish she had a phone that can snap good pictures, because shots of that whole Advice Process would be awesome.

Spicy wanted to help with this project, but didn’t want to be solely in charge. She handled all the pressing, and learned how to use a hem gauge for an evenly-pressed hem. She did the machine sewing on the hem itself, carefully guiding the fabric through and doing a great job of it. She changed up her design mid-stream, opting for a gathered skirt rather than a pleated one, because she wanted “more boof.” And of course, she chose the fabric, which is a huge key to the whole outfit working.

I think she also twigged to how awesome it is to design and accomplish your own fashion… and I anticipate more than a few future Saturday Sewing adventures with my girl. It’s pretty fantastic to get to support her own ideas about comfort, fashion, and useful clothing!

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A Church Lady Hanky

Hanky1In my family, handkerchiefs are a hallmark of civilized living. My father always had one or two clean white hankies secreted about his person, as does his father, and my mother’s father did the same. I learned to iron by pressing those simple white squares when I was barely tall enough to see over the board.

My great-grandmother Fern’s delicate white hankies were scented with rose and powder, and seemed to dispense comfort from their very fibers. My own run the gamut from delicate and colorful prints to fine white linen.

There are hankies for blowing, and hankies for showing, and since my entire family tends to leak our emotions (both happy and sad) out our eyeballs, having hankies of all sorts is very handy.

Our church ladies auxiliary recently had a “Gal”entine’s get-together, and each person was given a brown paper bag in which to deposit an under-$5 item that holds meaning to the individual. We did “getting to know you” activities, allowing each sister to choose a bag as a “Gal”entine’s surprise.

Church ladies need hankies even more than most, I tend to think, so I took a bit of time, lace, batiste, and thread, and whipped up a white “showing” hanky that is plenty sturdy enough for blowing as needed.

The square of Savannah lawn (a very light 100% cotton, fine-woven–I get mine by the bolt from Fabric Depot in Portland, OR, and oh-look! It’s on sale!–but they also sell by the yard) gets a rolled and whipped hem; this sort of work is best done by hand, as a machine will tend to slurp the fabric right into the mechanisms, making an ungainly shredded wad of formerly-lovely cotton. Machined work also loads in a *ton* of thread, which makes the edge stiff. No bueno.

The finished hem is about 1/16″ wide, and completely enclosed and sturdy, without being bulky or awkward. And yes, it can be done by hand without any Creative Cussing. However, the technique really only works with 100% cotton or linen; man-mades with poly blend will definitely inspire Creative Cussing, and that offends the Spirit, and peace will depart hence! So, use very nice cotton fabric, and find joy.

Hank4

For the stitches to really disappear, the threads need to be similar in size to the threads in the weave. Gutterman’s cotton is lovely, as is YLI, which comes in 80wt and 100wt as well as more familiar 50wt (which is what you’ll find in standard sewing machine cotton.) (Below is the picture of “the wrong side.”)

Hank5

Good cotton lace is far easier to work with than poly-nylon stuff, and is well worth the time it takes to ship it in, which you’ll need to do if you only have chain fabric stores near you. (I adore Luc’s wares from Cotton Lace–he ships quickly from the Netherlands, and has lovely, lovely stuff for very small amounts of money, so it’s easy to have a few yards on hand. Or to go nutty and order 10 yards of everything you like best. You know, whatever works.)

You can also find lovely stuff from most shops in the US, Canada, and Britain that cater to heirloom sewists; another of my favorites is Farmhouse Fabrics.

The lace and hanky edge are laid right sides together, then whipped together through one header thread of the lace, and a few threads of the hem. While you might think a single thread through minuscule bits of the lace and fabric won’t hold, it’s actually very sturdy and flexible! Each corner is pleated and whipped to ease the straight lace around the right angle, and the ends of lace are running stitched and then whipped to prevent them fraying.

Hank2

Then I did up a bit of embroidery in one corner: framing stalks of “wheat” to symbolize providence, nourishment, and endless potential (wheat has additional religious significance in my faith); a beehive with a tiny bee on the inside of the wreath, symbolizing cooperative work and productive, creative sisterhood; three worked eyelets at the foundation of the ornament to symbolize God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; five worked “seeds” above the ornament… ummm…. just because I like symmetry and making seed stitches. Not everything has to have deep meaning, right?

I tend to draw up my own embroidery designs so I can customize things, but you can use any line art to create a neat, personalized embroidery tracing! Feather stitch is a grand way to make framing “wreaths”, and you can turn virtually any font into a monogramming initial by doing “outline” and choosing a text size that prints out in a good proportion for your project.

The thread for the embroidery is actually floche, not 6-strand floss. It flattens out a bit more for more “solid” coverage, and I just like the look better. Separated 6-strand floss can work, though. The embroidery is worked in stem stitch, lazy-daisy, back stitch, seeding/granito, and whipped eyelets.

All told, it took about 3 hours start to finish on this hanky. Each minute was pleasant, so it was a delight, and each time a hanky like this gets used, it brings another small moment of delight. That makes it a worthwhile effort, don’t you think?

Finishing it up Wednesday afternoon coincided with a visit from my pastoral visiting sisters, and one of the sisters (who is a friend outside of the visiting sisters program) asked how I’d be subtly marking my bag so she could be sure to choose it for her own? We laughed about that (and it gave me a great idea for a fun surprise for her next birthday). I didn’t mark the bag (cheating at Church Lady functions is considered Not Cricket), BUT! Guess which bag my sister-friend chose? It was a treat to see it go home with a favorite Church Lady!

My own Church Lady hankies are in a sweet grey-on-white print. They’re the “Mod-Hip Church Lady” version, compared to this more traditional Church Lady Lace Frippery. And my little girls have requested their own set of Church Lady Larvae hankies, in white-ground colorful prints, so I guess they’ll be learning to narrow hem this spring!

You know, for centuries, women have been adding creative elements to the most utilitarian of objects intended for the most humble of uses, for no other reason than “because I can.” It’s very cool to rebel against paper tissues, and introduce a little bit of renewable beauty into the messy moments of life.

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A quick post of links to projects I’ve shared here, just in time for some Making this holiday weekend… I’ll be staying in, and if you are, too, why not Make something?

A Miniature Sewing Kit perfect for missionaries, recent grads, or anyone who wears clothes.

 

 

 

 

Overall PlaysetMaking a Mod-Podged Binder Playset that can be customized for any doll or action-figure play, and stores very compactly on a bookshelf.

 

 

Personalized Pillow Cases can be a great gift for people who sleep.

 

 

 

You can turn pretty much any printable thing into a set of Fridge Magnets.

 

 

 

 

What about a new tote for scriptures, or a little diaper bag for the Mother of Dolls in your life?

 

 

 

Hedge In HandOr a little soft fleece hedgehog? Don’t we all deserve a little squishy hedgehog?

 

 

 

HenniesOr a Bitty Hen? You need a squishy hen.

 

 

 

Tea Party PlaymatIf space is tight, what about a Kitchen Playmat or a Tea Party Playmat? Ours are still in use years later!

 

 

 

Frogs and LilypdTossable Frogs are a splash with just about any kiddo!

 

 

 

And, some additional down-load-able sets of gift ideas here.

This holiday weekend, I’ll be Making… working on some fun things for Lefty’s birthday (items for the doll house, and upcycling a cute top into a dress for Herself), and working on some Christmas things for Spicy, which I can’t share until Christmas, but they are AMAZING and guaranteed to make her squeak, and possibly plotz. There are also plots hatching for The Boy, and Eldest as well… Making is the best!

 

 

 

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I was not a child who enjoyed coloring, so it’s been a bit of a surprise to give birth to children who do!

Standard coloring books rarely satisfy, however. The art is often quite poor, and the paper is generally abysmal. It’s time and money wasted, as the high-acid papers deteriorate while the picture is still in the mail to Grandma.

We’ve found some lovely options in good paper and good art from Dover (the Fine Art, History, Nature, and Design books get the most use here), and the on-line printable pages from Phee McFaddel and Jan Brett.

We’ve been inspired by the art of ZenTangles and Doodles. It’s cool to see what gorgeous, creative things adult artists like Johanna Basford are doing.

I think it was Ms Basford’s work that recently inspired Lefty and Spicy to spend some time creating their own coloring pages. We have a multi-function machine at our house, so photocopies and scans/prints are not a problem, which led to a many-hours work session yesterday, wherein my Littles and their friend created lovely line-art scenes to photocopy and share with one another.

Here are some things they learned along the way:

* Work in #2 pencil, which is soft enough to leave nice solid marks and lines thick enough to photocopy well.

* Don’t put in a lot of shading; you can add that when you color the final picture. It’s hard to remember to not fill it all in when you’re drawing!

* Fill up the whole page with your art; there’s room to tell a bigger story!

* If you choose to trace your drawing with ink or marker, take your time. Use a good art eraser to gently rub out the pencil marks. Don’t rub too hard.

* Everyone draws their own style of art, and it’s all very cool!

Some things I learned along the way:
* If you’re photocopying directly for immediate sharing, enhance the contrast a bit to darken pencil lines.

* Photocopy one extra. It’s just sensible.

* If you’re scanning, do it at 300dpi minimum, for the best printing later.

* After the image is scanned, use basic photo editing software to turn it gray-scale/black-white. Then heighten the contrast 2-3 times to get nice solid lines for reprinting.

* After the images is manipulated, re-size it to fit within an 8×10 rectangle, so it prints easily on regular paper.

* Print out an extra. Sensible. I promise.

Creating Is Awesome, and You Can Do It Anywhere

If you have a full-service printing house near you (generally not a chain-store/big-box one; try Alphagraphics), they can print line drawings onto special papers like heavy card stock a home printer or photocopy machine can’t handle and then a young artist can go to town creating all over again.

Coloring page art can be on any topic. It can be done to practice or explore the styles of famous artists. It can be simple, or quite ornate, right from the start. If it’s simple, you can add custom fanciness by filling spaces or sections with doodles. You can add designs to the page as you color. The possibilities are truly endless!

Coloring pages could be a fun project during a family reunion, church social, or “maker’s” day. They make a great portfolio item to showcase what a young learner has been up to (and provide extra opportunities to cement knowledge into their brains by coloring their examples over again.) Put together a collection of coloring pages, and you can make customized gifts or books for family and friends.

The thing I like best about creating these pictures is that it’s up to the child. As a parent, I’m on hand to help with the technical aspects of reproducing the art for coloring, but other than that, it’s entirely up to the young artists. That autonomy in creation is a fantastic gift!

Here’s a printable from my girls, to you, with bunny and hen-shaped clouds.

ColorThumb

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My baby brother and my baby sister-in-law recently added a lovely little person to their household, and as I am wont to do, that throws me into a frenzy of making Nifty Things for the Noob. This particular Noob comes with some exciting accessories that no one was anticipating, so there was the added frenzy of making Nifty Things That Are More Boyly, Because Noob Has Outdoor Plumbing, and We All Expected Otherwise.

(I’m going to go ahead and finish the pretty white girl gown for his Eventual Sister… and we’ll be making a bitty man-kilt for Sir Noob in a few weeks, instead.)

I’m content to let others concentrate on the cute little clothes and things; I was very excited to get to help out with some of the nitty-gritty basics that make for one-time investments with long-term use. And that means: diapers. Diapers and burp cloths. And diaper covers. And some other stuff, because once I get going I can’t stop!

DIY Diaper Covers!

Nifty Things for Noobs!

I found a great deal on unbleached pre-folds, and ordered 24 in the small infant size, then washed and dried them to fluffy perfection. Those went in a boring box, because they’re pretty utilitarian and boring, but useful. The advantage of pre-folds is that they wash and dry pretty easily and quickly, and last a long, long time, and can be used as doublers when Sir Noob outgrows them for daily diapering. Unbleached pre-folds start out a creamy natural light brown, so they actually do a nice job at hiding the long-term evidence of their use, too!

In the fun box, we tucked:

  • 24 burp flannels, made like this.

    Burp flannels in Owls and Chemistry.

    Burp flannels in Owls and Chemistry.

  • 5 tiny-newborn-with-umbilical-scoop-section diaper covers, with white PUL inside and fun fabric outside. These are made smaller than normal, and have limited usefulness, but Sir Noob is a tiny thing, and “newborn” is a bit big on him just yet! Our Lefty was in preemie clothes for six weeks for the same reason, and I remember how hard it was to diaper her in “newborn” things. So, to adapt the pattern I used, I folded out the section that would be snapped together for initial use, to make them a bit shorter in the rise, and used shorter elastic stretched more (4″ in the legs, and a 5″ stretch across the back), to snug up the legs. This blog has about nine-billion free printable patterns for different styles of cloth diapers and cloth diaper covers. I marked the umbilical scoop covers with a little green dot center front.Owls and Foxes
  • 6 regular newborn diaper covers, made with the pattern out at normal length, and slightly larger elastics (4.5″ in the legs, 5.5″ across the back). All the diaper covers fasten with sewn-on hook-and-loop. I decided on the elastic lengths using Annie Tuttle’s suggestions, and used a simple method of sewing the body of the cover right sides together, and using a long narrow zig-zag to attach the elastic to the seam allowances. When the diaper cover is turned right sides out, I can go from topstitching next to the edge to curving in a bit and creating the final casing for the elastics, all in one step. I also turned all the diaper covers through the short end of one of the front side tabs. The PUL in the diaper covers is shiny-side-up, so the covers can be wiped clean easily, and won’t need full laundering after every use.

    I call this "Covers, With Kitten In Background"

    I call this “Covers, With Kitten In Background”

  • 4 sets of old-fashioned diaper pins. If you store the points in a bar of Ivory soap, they go through the cloth of the diaper insert smoothly.
  • 2 size 0-3m onesies in neutral colors.
  • 1 newborn snap-shirt that Lefty wore as an infant, which she found and was determined to wash up and send to her new cousin. So we did.
  • A copy of the Garth Williams illustrated “Baby Farm Animals” Golden Book, because it has lovely pictures. I think every child should get to see those pictures.

Previously, we made a baby blanket with the owl fabric in the diaper covers, backed with a pretty pale greys/taupes spotted flannel. I make those kinds of blankets with the same process as the burp flannels, and machine quilt the layers together. They’re cozy… my baby sis-in-law reports that it’s already one of her favorites for swaddling.

I’m pretty much in love with making the diaper covers. The PUL was easy to work with, and the option of combining it with a range of personalized cloth for the outer layer was a lot of fun. One thing I did notice: with the very directional prints, my own sensibilities required that I flip one half of the fabric “upside down” so when the diaper cover is worn, the words are right side up on both the front and back. The join is at the base of the crutch, so it’s not very visible. The PUL is cut in one complete piece to avoid any leak points.

Boffo! Kapow! Biff! Zoom!

Boffo! Kapow! Biff! Zoom!

As Sir Noob gets bigger, I’ll be able to make new sets of covers for him. We’re planning some pretty nerdly coolness for summer use, when his fluffy bum will be on display more often.

Sir Noob is very likely to be a ninja.

Sir Noob is very likely to be a ninja.

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So, we sometimes have extra young fellows around our place, because I have this very bad habit of feeding strays–erm, missionaries. After noticing one fellow had a shirt pocket in the process of ripping off (and I sympathize, because I was the girl who lost her dress pockets more than once, due to the abundance of pretty rocks at the beach), and mentioning said pocket, I heard this in response:

Oh, I think I have some dental floss at home. It’ll be fine.

Oh.

My.

Heavens.

This just cannot, will not, must not be.

In real life, I (in part) teach dressmaking and handsewing. So, I have a few odd resources others might not have, but since they are indeed MY resources, I can easily make them available, so here’s what I put together for a sewing mini-kit, suitable for small clothing repairs and other needful situations. It stores very compactly, and if airport security does look squinch-eyed at you, at least you can delight them all with impromptu sewing lessons, and a delightfully wee instructional booklet.

For each kit, you will need:

  • One empty Altoids tin. It was such a struggle to get an empty one around here. I had to open it, and wait about 14 seconds. The mints vanished, and my Little Girls smelled refreshingly minty for several hours. Give the tin a good wash and dry it well. I also primed it, and sprayed it with hammered metal spray paint, because obviously, I can’t leave well-enough alone.

    Recycled tin, plus hammered metal paint.

    Recycled tin, plus hammered metal paint.

  • Two or three thin spools of Gutermann’s all-cotton thread. Since this kit is intended for someone who wears primarily business-type clothing (suits/ties), I included white, black, and an indeterminate medium warm grey (this is not the official color name) (though, it probably ought to be). Those three colors will serve for repairs to most business-type clothes by blending nearly perfectly, even if they are not a precise match. Vary the colors by intended uses of the recipient. Obviously, if you’re giving a sewing mini-kit to a Goth kid, three nice shades of black will be most welcome. Browns for Steampunks, etc.

    The contents, shown with the original booklet. The file you'll download doesn't need staples.

    The contents, shown with the original booklet. The file you’ll download doesn’t need staples.

  • Small bit of wool felt for a Needles-and-Pins page. Wool felt retards rusting and won’t dull the points. You can buy wool felt at many crafting stores, or get a thrifted wool sweater, and let your Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neaderthal Husband do the wash.
  • 3-5 #9 or #10 Crewel needles. These are a nice size to hold onto (not too big, not too small), and crewel eyes are longer than sharps eyes, so they’re easier to thread.

    Crewel needles have a longer eye, and are easier to thread.

    Crewel needles have a longer eye, and are easier to thread.

  • A small beeswax disc. Now, I make these by the hundreds because I use them in my class kits, but you can buy larger beeswax bits from Wawak quite cheaply (a 1-ounce disc is a lot of wax!), melt it in a glass bowl set over boiling water, and spoon that into small flat candy molds to make your own. You could even make a little cornstarch bed, press in an item about the diameter of a quarter coin, and make your own snazzy waxer.
  • A thimble, sized to fit the dominant-hand middle finger of the recipient. An XL metal thimble will lay on its side in an Altoids tin.
  • A standard aluminum needle threader, if you know the recipient may get frustrated trying to thread needles.
  • The instructional mini-booklet. Download my mini-book here. Go here for additional instructions on How To Fold It Up. Keep in mind that I had to sit down and draw the illustrations myself, and write the words, and everything, so don’t be a jerk and court foul karma: give this away with gifts, but don’t sell it!

Assemble everything, fold up the booklet, and play a bit of sewing-supply Spatial Geometry Challenge to fit everything in (embiggen the pic to see how I suggest making it work.) Then keep it for yourself or give one to a Person In Need of Useful Sewing Basics.

Compact, but full of useful stuff!

Compact, but full of useful stuff!

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This past weekend, my two Eldest Minions and I attended a family reunion with over 70,000 total strangers.

We went to ComiCon Salt Lake City. Three days of nerdtastic fun. Crowded exhibit floors (on Saturday, the Fire Marshall got out the clickers and instituted one-out, one-in policies). Amazing costuming (seriously, amazing). And a whole lot of geek family adoration.

Some beautiful things happened that made me a little misty, and a lot proud, and I didn’t expect them at all. It’s the unanticipated graceful moment that has the most depth, some days.

For instance, I never knew that the energy from a crowd of 50,000 people in one spot could be energizing. I’m a hermit, and married a hermit, and birthed hermits. We tend to not like crowds. But when you put 50,000 hermits in one space, everyone has that same “don’t invade space, don’t invade space” attitude, so even when the crush is a bit tight, everyone is keeping their own energy mostly to themselves, and it’s not exhausting. It was… oddly invigorating. There were a lot of people, and they were all happy to be together.

And speaking of happy to be together: when one nerd recognizes the nerdness of another, and appreciates the level of devotion one person can have for a fandom, it is a beautiful thing. Normally shy, at events like ComiCon, a person can spot another in a similarly-themed costume, and holler “Hey, Pith buddy!”—and then get together for a snapshot that, judging only by the expressions on the faces, is of long-lost best friends finally meeting up. It’s happiness. It’s comfort.

Pith Buddies

There’s a sense of community in shared fandoms. There’s the delight when another human being calls out really random quotes or references to minor elements of a favorite book or show, and they fit perfectly, and are understood completely, and responded to with the appropriate line or gesture.

There’s an instant kinship when someone sees this:

Elemental Master1

… and shyly asks, “Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters, right?” Because only a kindred spirit recognizes the cues that make a costume one genre versus another. And when those cues are recognized, there is instant camaraderie and delight.

I didn’t expect to get emotional seeing entire families in costume, or to tear up when a large man in spectacularly-rigged Darth Vader costume knelt down to be in a picture with a tiny Jedi or Leia. I didn’t expect to leak a bit from my heart watching adult cosplayers ask to shake the hands with children, and be in a picture with them, or genuinely compliment the bitty cosplayers on their work.

I’m from that earlier generation of nerds, hermits, and geeks who spent a lot of time at the library, and read sci-fi and fantasy books during lunch, and if we were gamers, we were quiet gamers who didn’t talk a lot about it outside our own game, because that was setting ourselves up for ridicule and pain. And here we were this weekend, with entire panel discussions on the thematic relevance of games in modern society, and formal gaming groups right there in the exhibition hall. It was… liberating.

These sorts of people do “fun” a little differently than most, perhaps. There was standing-room only for panel topics like “HP Lovecraft: are his works thematically relevant in modern society?” and “Paradox: the physics of time and multi-dimensional travel.” Only certain types of people get excited about modifying and hacking cell phones to control digital servo-motors to animate clockwork wing assemblies.

There’s a cross-generational re-seeding and regeneration of fandom… such as the gentleman with a Wheel of Time Heron Blade, who had to get a picture of the kid in the Stargate Atlantis uniform, who recognized the blue silk sari of his own fandom on one of our young companions, and reminded me that there was an entire epic fantasy series I have yet to share with my kids.

The genuine joy that was manifest when groups of similarly-themed people posed for big pictures was… cool. Only “cool” doesn’t go far enough. It was the joy that comes when we find a whole new family that feels as passionately as we do about something.

ComiCon is perhaps unique in that everyone is both an active part of the show, and an audience member, all at the same time. Having been complimented on her own costume by a very well-done adult cosplayer, my Eldest felt entirely comfortable expressing her delight and admiration to younger cosplayers, and posing just as graciously with them as her heroes did with her.

When a tiny princess asked for a picture with “her Maleficent”, the Eldest felt compelled to reward her bravery with one of her pixie-people… because that’s how fairy tales work. When bitty girls whispered and pointed, wide-eyed, the Eldest was comfortable kneeling down to chat and reassure them—and then they all squished in for a picture with “The Nice Bad Lady.”

Solemnity

And there was the most wee of all tinykin girlies, with huge brown eyes, who, when asked if she had a favorite costume for the day, pointed at my girl, smiled and said, “Her.”

To the other four Maleficents who were just as eager to have a picture with my Eldest as she was to have a picture with them: thanks for being part of my happiness.

To the impressively-dressed men who didn’t just pose for a picture for my Boy, but who pulled him into the picture with them, and chatted about the mutual fandom, and were genuinely eager to ask about how he put various parts of his costume together: thanks for being new members of our nerdly family.

Troopers

To the artists who were delighted to speak intelligently about inspiration, materials, techniques, and the work of being an artist: thank you for seeing my kid as a peer, not a consumer.

To the actors who were so genuinely delighted to meet us: thank you for being real. You are a delight to us.

To the grandparents who read Asimov and Tolkien by flashlight under the covers, to the parents who read Jordan and Brooks and Herbert, to the young parents who developed graphic novels and webisodes and cosplay, and to the rising nerdlings who inherit all the splendor and imagination and wonder we can impart: let your nerd flag fly, my brothers and sisters! We’re a grand, weird, delightfully odd and beautiful family, and I love you all!

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