Naughty (Thigh High Boots) and Nice (Sproglet-Approved Dragon Plushie)

Naughty first because it’s just a triumphant update:  I FINISHED THE SATSUKI COSPLAY BOOTS!!!  They’re a bit baggy, but they’re my first real proper try (the Attack on Titan ones were just boot covers so they don’t count).  Glued to a pair of high heels and everything.  I’m moving this week though, so I’ll post about them properly later, and for now you can have a photo:

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Now for nice.  I promised I’d post about the new dragon plushie dragon I made for my friend’s child, especially seeing I never posted about the first one.  It was small and green and made of felt, which was a nightmare to turn right-side out.

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Damn cute though.

This time I thought I would be clever and make it out of green polyester taffeta with spots on, which would be easier to turn.  On second thoughts I decided to make it twice the size of the previous plushie as well.  Was it any easier?  …Eh?… Kind of?  My advice is not to do this the day before you want to give the plushie to the kid.  Or you’ll be up till *@#$ o’clock in the morning (even though that didn’t matter so much when I saw his happy little face).

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Should you wish to make one of your own, you will require:

-A couple of big sheets of paper (A3 would work well) to draw out your pattern.

-Some measuring tools, ie a tape and a ruler.  If you want to get fancy and get a compass too, by all means do, but I didn’t and I survived.

-About 50-75cm of fabric in the dragon’s main hide shade and about 25cm for the belly, feet, inside the ears and under the chin.  I used polyester taffeta and satin to make for easier lunch-stain-removal.  If you’re giving this plushie to a kid, it’s inevitable that at some point it’ll encounter tomato sauce or hummus or chocolate or all of the above.

-Some offcuts of a stiff fabric like cotton twill or felt (recommended, would have been easier) for the various features like horns, spines, a forked tongue or claws.  Go nuts.  If you want to do button eyes instead of appliqué eyes, you’ll need some of those too.

-Some felt to underline the belly to make it hold its shape better (not compulsory).

Step 1) Nut out a pattern

I broke the dragon down into the following parts:

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  • The back, including the neck and tail (two identical halves).  Once it’s drawn, add a small dart to the place where the neck meets the back in order to round it out more.  Making the neck curve like so at the edge where you set in the head (which for clarity’s sake I will refer to as n) will give the head a charming downward tilt.
  • The belly (one part, cut on the fold).  Make this a half-football shape.  Measure the curved edge and make sure it isn’t too long for the lower edge of the back.  You don’t want it going too far into the tail.
  • The foot base.  This is a circle.  It will be the base of all the feet.  Measure the radius and work out the circumference (2πr thankyou highschool maths).  We’ll call this c.
  • The front leg (cut in two identical halves).  Start by getting your measuring tape, marking half c on it, then bending it slightly to get a shallow curve.  Trace this curve.  This is the bottom of the leg where you will set in the foot base.  After that, you can draw whatever leg shape you like above it.  Trace that base line on another piece of paper though so you’ve got a matching one to build the back leg off.
  • The back leg.  Start with the tracing of the front leg base and then draw another leg shape.  I made mine fatter and with a slight bend for the dragon’s knee.
  • The top of the head (which is cut on the fold).  This is where it gets kind of tricky.  What you want to do first is measure with your measuring tape.  This is what you have to work with re: the edges of the head that attach to the neck.  The top of the head is most important.  Allocate about 2/5 of n for it.  We’ll call that edge h. Draw as a straight line (because that’s easier).  Then measure about 5mm above h and draw a straight line for the fold edge from there.  You’ll end up with this:  Then what you want to do is decide how long your dragon’s head should be and add in some curves to complete the shape.  That 5mm from before will come out as a dart to differentiate the forehead from the neck a bit more and give you a guide for where the eyes go.  Now measure the bottom edge of the pattern piece and write it down.  I’ll call that edge b
  • The chin (cut in two identical halves).  I learned the hard way that it’ll be better to have  some kind of centre seam in the head somewhere, and the chin works.  It can be a straight seam.  Allocate about 1/3 of n for the neck-edge of the chin (let’s call it c).  Make c a straight line, then remember that measurement that you took before?  That is how long the top edge of the chin piece will be.  We will call it b2, using all the powers of our imaginations.
  • The cheek (for extra head-shaping) also has an edge that is whatever is left over of n.  We’ll call that edge k.  It doesn’t matter how long the cheek is so long as it’s the same length on both sides and so long as it’s shorter than b.  We’ll call the upper and lower sides of the cheek e.  They’re the same so I figure they’re interchangeable.
  • The eye, if you want to appliqué, however big you want
  • The wing, as you like.
  • The ear, in a vaguely star-trek logo shape is nice, but really you can do it however you like.
  • Misc other features like spines, toes, tongues etc can be up to you.

Still with me?  Have a picture of the bottom of the dragon.

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Step 2) Cut out your fabric

I chose to do the body, top of the head, cheek, legs and upper wings and ears in green, the belly, chin and under wings, feet and inner ears in yellow and the spines in black.  You do you though.

Step 3) Start your engines  (I’m so sorry I didn’t take any photos…)

I started with the details so I wouldn’t forget any.  I sewed the wings right-side to right-side around the edges, clipped the corners, turned them the right way out and sewed veins onto them in a zig-zag stitch.  Then I decorated the spines, belly and tongue with a zig-zag stitch in green.  I also sewed the dart in the back of the body pieces.

Then you can get down to business.

Pin the body pieces together along the spine with any spine details and wings sandwiched between.  Sew that seam down to the end of the tail and a little way back along the other side of the tail.  Clip the end of the tail and turn it the right way out.

Sew each leg together right-to-right leaving about an inch gap along the top back.  Very carefully baste the foot base pieces in to the ends and sew them in.  If you’re adding toes, do this in the same seam.  It’s fiddly.  Then clip the seam allowances and turn the legs the right way out.  Stuff them firmly (I used cut-up fabric scraps, but you could use commercial stuffing or lentils or whatever), then slip-stitch the gap at the top firmly closed.

Get the head-pieces ready to go on the body.  Sew k to right-to-right with the wide end of the cheek piece level with on both sides of the top head piece.  Then add on each side of the chin, with the edge of the cheek pieces level with c.  Then you can add eyes to the dragon however you wish.  I just appliquéd mine on with a zig-zag stitch.  I also added a forked tongue.

Now sew up the ears (if you want them) and more spines (if you want them) and baste them to the top of n on the body pieces.  Baste or pin the complete head on over the top, right-to-right, ensuring that the centre chin edges are level with the bottom of the neck.  Too long is better than too short, and if the head edges are too long you can just pleat the cheeks a little to bring them level and it’ll give the dragon a slightly chipmunky appearance.  Sew this seam, then turn it all the right way out and check that you’ve caught all the bottoms of the ears and spines.

Turn the whole thing inside out.  Carefully fold the wings up and baste them so they won’t get caught when you sew the belly seam.  Starting at the chin, sew straight down the centre seam of the dragon, attaching the belly to the other side of the body, and then stop at the end of the belly.  From the other side, sew the bottom tail seam up, leaving about a two inch gap so you can turn the whole thing the right way out.

Turn it the right way out (it will be frustrating).  Check that everything’s ok and you haven’t sewn the wings into the belly, and then you can stuff the whole body and slip-stitch the gap closed.  Then I added the legs.  A curved needle would have been useful here, but I didn’t have one and I managed.

Step 4) Give it to a kid

This is the fun part.  The kid will hopefully hug the crap out of it and then start explaining to you that it’s actually a water dragon and it likes to cook with chocolate even though it can’t eat chocolate because dragons eat meat.  (This is legitimately what happened).

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The kid hopefully won’t care that the spine’s wonky.

See you after I move!  I need to post about some exciting things like SHORTS.  YES, I MADE SHORTS.  I’M SO PROUD I’M ONLY TALKING IN CAPITALS FROM NOW ON!  Stay (vaguely) tuned!

 

 

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Behold the Field Where I Grow All The Things I Have Finished!

Lay thine eyes upon it and thou shalt see that it is full of finished things!

I’ve been super good recently and finished a bunch of things before I start other things.  Aren’t you proud of me?  So far I have:

Made a slightly rude cushion for a housewarming present.

Made another dragon plushie for my friend’s sproglet’s birthday.

Finished fixing the badges on my Attack on Titan jacket.

Finished that blue ruffly shirt even though my sewing machine reeeeally didn’t want to.

And I am a whole two steps closer to being finished the Junketsu!

But for now, allow me to focus on the rude cushion.  I’ll post about the other things another time. Everyone’s come across the Bayeux Tapestry memes, yes?field of fucks

A shining example of how gloriously pertinent a meme can be.

I have an aunt who had recently moved, and who I was sure would appreciate said meme.  I also found that embroidery hoops are surprisingly cheap.  So I got about a metre of canvas, a cushion insert, a zip, four tassels, a couple of skeins of embroidery cotton, and went for it.  First I drew up a square 35cm x 35cm to match the cushion insert, and then using a mechanical pencil I copied some selected design elements directly onto the canvas.  I figured I was sewing over the pencil anyhow.  I chose the little man in the pale kirtle (is that a kirtle?)in the foreground, and the words, because I didn’t want to get in too far over my head.

I used backstitch for the words and outlines, and satin stitch (without the outlining or padstitching) for the fill colours on the little dude.  The dots and full stops were done with a french knot (I didn’t bother swapping needles).

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The little dude with the field.

When I was done with the embroidery, I put the cushion together using the Dreamstress’s foolproof tutorial.  I lightly basted the tassels into the corners before I sewed the front and back of the cushion together.  All in all, a surprisingly fun thing to make (especially seeing embroidery combines well with sitting up in bed and watching an entire season of Nisekoi).  And much appreciated.

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Pre-sewing

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Post-sewing up, with tassels.

I apologise for the poor lighting in that photo.  The light in my room’s been broken forever and seeing I’m moving in about a month, it’ll be easier to install a new one when the room is devoid of furniture.

Stay tuned for a lightning-quick dodgy guide to how to make the most darn-tootin’ adorable, 100% sproglet-approved dragon plushie, which I promise I will upload soon and not in like a year.

End in Sight!

I’m now ridiculously close to finishing those Bombshells costumes.  All mine lacks is a hem and a little hook and eye behind the belt to prevent any gapping.  Folkey’s is super close too.  The skirt’s done, and all it needs is the belt, waistband, buttons and hem.  Very excited to go busking in them!  The only thing, buttonholes are monotonous.  Another eleven to go and then I don’t have to do any more until I stupidly decide to go and make some other thing with an idiotic number of buttons.

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Victory!  Well, sans hemming, but victory nevertheless!

DSC_0142Smug mode.

Of course, I couldn’t help myself…

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MOON PRISM POWER!

If I did make a sailor scout costume though (which of course I am massively tempted to do.  Hey, it’d be cheap – hardly any yardage!), it’d be Sailor Jupiter.  I haven’t had hair like Usagi/Serena since primary school.

On Such a Roll.

I keep finishing things.  WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME???

This morning I finished the Bootleg Bottega Veneta dress, which I then wore to Oaks Day (ie: Ladies Day at the races) with friends.  I don’t really like the races, and this is the first time I’ve been to a Spring Racing Carnival thing at Flemington.  Probably due to the slicey wind, it was actually pretty tame, though some of the hats and outfits were pretty funny.  Now I’m not against crazy fashions, but it’s when people are deadly serious about their hat – or turquoise pea shrub gone bonkers,  or Loki’s helmet from the Avengers, or giant beehive made of nylon foliage, or scarlet basket starfish, etc – that I, in my manky old straw sunhat, couldn’t quite contain the gigglies.  Fashions on the Field takes itself way too seriously.   Also, ladies who know they’ll be walking on grass and still wear stilettos.  Try maintaining your dignity while hobbling along stiltedly like a praying mantis through a bowl of molasses.   Never was a better argument made in favour of chunky heels.

Now back to the dress.  Hooray I didn’t cut loads of corners! Well, the zip set-in could be better, but everything’s hemmed or finished or tucked away so that there can be no frayage, and it’s not ugly as sin on the inside for a change.

Instead of the original back with long straps that I’d envisaged, I went with a big floppy 70s-style tie which looked more balanced.  Knee length is a funny length on me because I’m such a pear, and especially with the cut-away neck it needed something up top to even out the froof.

I even have a metre left over of that ikat fabric, which is quite lovely apart from the tendency to pucker, and I think I want to use it to make some kind of summer top that I can wear more often.

So without further ado, here are some photos of the finished thing:

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I don’t know why these always turn out so blurry.

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And one of the back. 

Oh, and I finally got some pictures of my sexy flute friend in her new 1920s dress…

                                       naomi dress back           naomi dress front

I can guarantee it’s at least six times hotter in real life even.  The train just flows as she walks.  Slinky.

Fancy Pants (but a dress. So, not pants really)

Flutey friend’s 1920s dress is pretty much done, bar some hemming.  That’ll happen tonight, depending on what offerings are on the telly.  Hooray!  It’s ended up very late ’20s, almost early ’30s-y, with that big drapey bias-cut back.  But I know what you’re all after, so here are some pictures.  None on Flutey-friend yet.  That’ll happen when we’re in the same state again.

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Helping

There’s my sister’s cat Rupert helping with the patterning. It was nice being at my parents’ place because of the amount of floorspace for laying out fabric (as opposed to the square metre of dingy carpet at my place), but the orange horror was always keen to inspect proceedings, and the other horror – Dudley the doddery old cavalier king charles spaniel – dribbled on a corner of the silk before I realised he was standing there, wagging his tail and looking pathetic at me.  Lucky it was just a corner.

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Behold!

This is the magnificence of which I speak.  The teal-green silk, with Dudley-slobbered corner removed.  It’s slightly bluer in real life, I think the orangey wood floor makes it look a bit on the green side in this photo.

DSC_0032Patterning.

In fact, it’s almost an exact match colour-wise for the jade hippo thing that was one of my makeshift fabric weights.  The others include two small decorative plates, two mini foreign language dictionaries (French and German), a candle and a padlock.  Now look away and see how many you remember.  You will be tested.

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Bonus picture of Ruppie overseeing the process from his throne, which is broken, so he’s the only one who gets to sit on it.  He’s a smug little bastard.

And now what you’ve all been waiting for.  The (almost) finished product:

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Front and back views respectively. 

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And with the sash.  Look!  Fringey goodness!

I love fringing as a finishing method.  Beats hand-rolling hems, and there have been more than enough of those here already.  The front of the bodice and skirt are both fully lined because the silk was a little… flimsy.  Makes for excellent drape on the bias though.  Pretty simple to put together as well really.  Let’s hear it for the ’20s!  Not a dart in sight!  And pretty reasonable too.  3.5m of silk, and that includes lining (I lined it in self-fabric because it’d be less conspicuous that way), and that’s for a tall person, and with extra fullness in the back of the skirt than I’d planned for too.  Basically all it was was a plain, straight-cut bodice front, same for the back with some cowl-neck slashing, then a straight skirt front with a semi-circle set in the back.  HOORAY.

Post-Hiatus Art Deco Glamour

Ok is it just my dirty mind or do other people read the words ‘post-hiatus’ and see something else?

Just me?  Righto.

A while back my lovely Modern Flute/Piccolo friend mentioned she was going to a 1920s themed cocktail party.  If you’ve ever had the good fortune to lay eyes upon my lovely Modern Flute/Piccolo friend, you’ll know that not only does she have a perfect bob-cut, but that all the kayaking and cycling she does has left her with the absolutely perfect athletic Art Deco figure.  Naturally I jumped up and down like a three year old and begged to make her something.

After rifling gleefully through all the Vionnet dresses Google Images had to offer, I settled on a couple of inspiration shots:

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via

We loved the idea of a drapey back.  Because I am not kidding, that is pretty much exactly her figure.

I also really liked the idea of an asymmetrical hem, but so much in the standard 1920s handkerchief skirt format, more in a sort of Poiret-influenced way.  So in a sense to mash together the handkerchief skirt construction with some slightly earlier Poiret-y sash/robe/train-like connotations.  I guess if I was going to be harsh on myself I would say ‘mullet skirt’, but it’s not really, I swear!  They were everywhere in the ’20s, especially if you look at wedding dresses, where you often get a train on a knee-length dress.

poiret illustration

via

See?  It’s not really so much a mullet skirt as a Japanese-influenced-train-obi-thing.

So, drumroll please, here is the final design I decided on:

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On Goethe Institut paper, no less.

The front is straight-grain, all very respectable, then you turn around and it’s all flowing bias-cut drapery.  The sash is separate so it could be tied at the front or the back or however you please.

Then yesterday, having (finally) got the weight of the stupid hour long but pass/fail marked presentation I had to do for postgrad seminar off my shoulders, I finished the toile.  It looks a bit stupid on Dido, because she’s a lot shorter than my friend.  But it’ll be fitted this afternoon, and we’ll go shopping for fabric.  I’m thinking especially of a beautiful teal-blue silk I saw last time…  much nicer and drapier than the horrible pieced-in-places Lincraft polypop I use for patterning.

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I didn’t so much pattern the sash as just use a scrap.  Also the photo’s massively cropped so you don’t have to deal with the mess on my floor, dear reader.  Who says I don’t care about y’all?

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And the back.

I have since trimmed the train a little so that the folds hang a bit more evenly.  The sash will also be much wider and nicer and less like a giant scraggly bit of scrap-poplin in the finished version.  Then all that shall be required is a nice cupid’s bow, a few sets of beads and tons of Kohl, and we shall have our very own Louise Brooks (and not a bad likeness at that!).

c. 1925: Louise Brooks standing by the stairway.via

Now if only we could find a pair of shoes like that…

Hello Sailor

…aaaaaaaaaaaaand we continue with the lame line in vaguely nautical titles.  Since there were no hitches with the fitting the other day and my circus friend seemed to have no problems twisting himself upsidedown in a giant coil of rope metres off the ground in it, I had the go-ahead to make the proper version of the waistcoat in brown linen.  ???????????????????????????????

I know it looks like it fits Dido, but it doesn’t really.  It’s fooling.

It’s not great, because I’ve got a bit rusty with the ol’ machine sewing thing, but it looks pretty good.  The buttons are actually painted on with gold acrylic because real buttons are hazardous when combined with ropes acts.    ???????????????????????????????

Little splodge of ultra-shiny gold acrylic and nobody’s the wiser from a distance…

The pattern from it was drafted with reference to this diagram for a 1715-1735 sleeved waistcoat that was on The Costumer’s Manifesto.  Looking at that pattern really helped me get the swept-back shape that not only references the right look for the costume, but also allows it to flare backwards and away from things like hands and feet and ropes that it could otherwise have become caught in, and also allows for greater freedom of movement.  I guess it makes sense really, that a real sailor would’ve needed their clothes to stay out of the way while they’re clambering about in the rigging.

Circus Daks and Angry Ladies

I got a commission!  Yay!  I’m making a late 17th/early 18th century sailor’s outfit for a circus friend.  Because of the nature of ropes acts, there have had to be some compromises accuracy wise, but the effect is going to be pretty cool, I hope.

There’s a shirt, made to the standard rectangles and triangles pattern that was common in the period, only, it’s made of a vile 2-way stretch cotton that’ll be soft and breathable to wear with plenty of give for acrobatics, but has a faint stripe in the weave that gives it the appearance of linen from a distance.  That’s from a distance.  That stuff was an absolute son of a bitch to sew, even with every trick in the book, like using paper under the seam, and it’s full of little wibbly-wobbly-seamy-weamy things.  *unsubtle doctor who reference*  I’m currently baulking at sewing in the final sleeve.???????????????????????????????

Or we could just cut an arm off my circus friend…???????????????????????????????

Because wibbly-wobbly-seamy-weamy.

There’s also a waistcoat, which will be brown linen, very simply cut and with fake buttons painted on (because real ones can result in nasty bruises when combined with ropes acts).

Finally there’ll be a set of breeches, also stretch for flexibility – but not stretchy enough to qualify them as the Breeches of Satan – gathered to a cuff below the knee, again to avoid rope burn.  I haven’t started on those yet.

I reckon the overall effect will be quite good, but the primary concern is functionality.

And while I was off buying fabric for that, I got some to make a petticoat and jacket!  The fabric for the petticoat is a lovely soft white silk twill (I’ll make other cotton petticoats to go under to boof it out a bit), and the jacket  fabric is a beautiful honey-coloured stripe, which I keep forgetting to photograph in daylight.  I’m dubious about my stripe-matching ability, but it was so pretty I couldn’t pass on it.  If the bodice goes well, I’ll just pop down and get a little more and lengthen the skirt to a full on robe.  If there’s any left.  The sales assistant was eyeing it off too like a seagull after a chip, so I might have to suck it up and get it soon.

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Pretty.  It’s more white with honey-stripes in daylight.

I couldn’t find any linen or cotton I fancied for a chemise or these fabled other petticoats, so another day I might pop down to Cleggs or *shudder* Lincraft and have a trawl through their selections.

But in the meantime, I’m having lots of fun rolling around in my new voice like a dog rolling gleefully around in a pile of poop.  It just feels so right.  I’m now an official card-carrying member of the fach of Angry Ladies, which is great because I am an angry lady.  Anyone who thinks otherwise just hasn’t seen me pissed off yet, or perhaps has been reading this blog. Gushing about robes a l’anglaise is calming.  Many, many things are angry-making.  Like the assumption that being tiny means I only have a choice of singing Zerlina or Susanna and that’s it, ‘kay thanks.  Not that they’re not great, but if you’ve heard me sing vedrai carino recently… it’s something like trying to use a chainsaw to cut a sponge cake.  Comical, but overkill.

Anyway, I have compiled a glory reel of angry ladies singing pissed-off arias, some of which I have the incredible good fortune to be learning, and some of which I’ll probably never do but can’t resist putting them on the glory reel:

Ahoy Diana Damrau as Konstanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail getting pissed off at the Pasha Selim (who always looks like Max Brenner in every production ever for some reason).  He’s just threatened to torture her if she won’t give in, betray her lovely man Belmonte and do him, so her reaction is pretty fair.

Laura Aikin, upon whom I have the biggest lady-crush ever, as Alban Berg’s Lulu, who’s fed up with being used and objectified by everyone and their dog and is about to shoot the man on the floor, who is one in a string of jealous, controlling husbands.  Twelve-tone coloratura.  That’s right, bitches.  You do not get more hardcore than that.

Miah Persson as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Her anglaise could use a bum-pad and some extra petticoats, but her triplets are insane and I think she looks a bit like Tara from Buffy. (Plus there’s surtitles on this one)

Edda Moser, as the Queen of the Night, my other giant lady-crush.  Oh.  Mein. Gott.  This is what voices like mine dream of growing up to become.  If anyone ever decides to write Anita Blake the opera, she has to be like this.

Birgit Nilsson as Puccini’s Turandot.  I will never ever sing this, but she is just a gun.  Calaf looks dismayed because he knows she’s walking the crap all over his sound in her steel-capped-boot high Cs.

I could keep going, but after Birgit you have to let the eardrums rest a while to recover from the magnitude of her awesomeness.