Sounds Like…

Earlier this week, I made a phone call I never thought I’d make: I called Hellmann’s Mayonnaise to ask if my sister-in-law’s song was used in their newest commercial.

First, a little backstory.

My love for my sister-in-law Jenn Cristy and her music is no secret. I’ve blogged before about her music and her work (and my work to help her music). And my husband (her brother) and I are just about the biggest fans we can be from three states away. Two years ago, I spent hours listening to the tracks for her then-unreleased CD, Hotel Confessions, while I worked on the album and merchandise design. Jenn’s song “Betty” quickly stood out as one of my favorite tracks.

On Tuesday morning while simultaneously half-listening to the Today Show and surfing the Internet, some familiar music came through the TV speakers. My oldest, who was sitting next to me on the couch, popped his head up from his work. “Is that Aunt Jenn?” he asked. It sure sounded like it to me, so I fired off an email to her:

To: Jenn
From: me
Subject: Weird
OK there was a hellmann’s commercial on just now that had music that sounded just like the intro to “Betty.”

When I got in the car to go to work about an hour later, I noticed that I’d missed a call from Jenn. So, like any responsible adult, I waited until I got to work to return her call. Yeah, no. I called her from the car. (I did use the speakerphone, Honey. I promise.)

Jenn said a friend of hers had contacted her a couple of weeks ago about the same commercial so she’d looked it up online to take a listen for herself. “It’s the exact same chords from ‘Betty’,” she said. And, no, neither Hellmann’s (a Unilever brand) or Ogilvy & Mather (the agency who made the ad) had contacted her about using the song.

Here’s Jenn singing ‘Betty’ in Aug. 2010 on WTIU’s Weekly Special show — first seven seconds (via YouTube):

And here’s the Hellmann’s Mayonnaise commercial-first seven seconds (also via YouTube):

I’m not a trained musician but they sound awfully similar to me. Jenn, who is, thinks they do, too.

Jenn is an independent musician. That means she doesn’t have a label or a recording contract. The albums she’s made? Money came out of her pocket to pay for it. And I’ve got to be honest: I don’t think playing 100-some shows a year (some of which require travel and overnight stays for she and her band) is so lucrative that she and her elementary-school-teacher husband aren’t having to make some sacrifices for her to fund her business. Even the idea that someone is using her music for a commercial endeavor without compensating her makes me see red.

I called Unilever’s consumer contact line Tuesday afternoon to ask about the song used. The customer service agent I spoke to (Rose) said the commercial’s info was not in her system so she would have to pass on my information and someone would have to call me back. Because it was close to the end of business, she said, I likely could not expect a return call until Wednesday, at the earliest. (I explained to Rose that I was going to blog and tweet about the similarities in the music but wanted to give the company a chance to respond first. Newsroom habits die hard.) It’s now Friday and I’ve yet to receive a response to my call. Or, as we used to write at my previous employer, “a Unilever spokesperson did not respond to calls before press time.”

I’ll update this post if and when they respond.

Days at Dragoncon

If ever there was a question about my geeky-ness, it’s answered with one word: Dragoncon.

Yes, I am exactly that geeky. Not only am I enough of a geek to hang out with other sci-fi/fantasy/comic geeks for four days but I dress up. And now I’m also dressing up my offspring.


Less than two weeks before DC, I found out I was going to be on a panel about making costumes for kids. I was excited and a little nervous, as you might imagine. While I’ve sewn costumes for them, I wouldn’t describe many of them as “quick and easy,” which was the description of the panel.

Around that time, Miss L told us she wanted to attend DC with us instead of spending the weekend with her grandparents. And so an idea was hatched. I had already convinced my oldest and his girlfriend to dress as Dr. Who and Amy Pond for the con. Why not have L dress as a Dalek? She would coordinate with the young adults and I could have her model for my panel. Brilliant!

The skirt is a modified (read: wider) version of the No-Hem Skirt from my book. I used Heat n Bond to fuse 3″ felt circles to the skirt and slipped featherlight boning into the hem band to give it shape.

The headband is covered in the same fabric as the skirt and sealed with Mod Podge. I used battery-operated tea lights and clear plastic shot glasses for the lights, attached to the headband with elastic straps.

All told, I think I spent less than $20 on the whole costume. The felt circles were the most time consuming part but I still managed to pull it together in a couple of hours.

The payoff was definitely in the attention she got at the con. Passersby started complimenting her in the parking lot and the comments didn’t stop until we got back in the car at the end of the day. The three took off for about 90 minutes to hit the photo spots and I’m told they were quite a hit. They’re already talking about next year!

Boy, am I glad they can both sew. Mama’s got her own costumes to sew, you know.

Bird Watching with Kokka

I have been wanting to make the Bird-Watcher Messenger Bag from Cassie Barden’s The New Handmade since I got the book at Market in October 2008. I’ve made so many things from the book but couldn’t settle on the fabrics I wanted to use, so I kept putting it off.

My sweet friend Phoebe had one she made at Market in Pittsburgh and I loudly proclaimed my love for it. But I still couldn’t decide on some fabric.

Lucky for me that Sarah wanted a sample for the shop. I talked her into picking out fabrics she liked, hence the really rocking combination of Echino for Kokka, Terri Mangat’s The Bees Knees and some cool Aboriginal prints. All of which you see when you raise the flap:

It’s so incredibly fun! Instead of using a fabric strap, I used some of the cool Echino/Kokka canvas strapping. Other than that, the only thing I would do differently is interfacing the bag and lining. Because the bird fabric is a cotton/linen blend and thus a little heavier than quilting cotton, I skipped the interfacing. The bag’s a little floppier than I would like but Sarah likes it just fine, so obviously it’s a matter of personal choice.

Now if I can just decide on some fabric, I might actually be able to make one for me.

A Quilt to Kit

I have been in shop sample overload lately as we prepare for the Greater Atlanta Shop Hop. Between the sewing and actually working at the shop a couple of days a week, I’ve been pretty occupied. Happy and tired but busy.

This quilt was not actually intended to be used as a shop sample. I fell in love with Pillow & Maxfield’s Gypsy Bandana when the Michael Miller rep brought it in. Could hardly wait to get my hands on it, in fact. And then the Gypsy Bandana booth at Market just about sent me into palpitations.

I knew I wanted to do something with the panel fabric and tried to go through my patterns and books to find a suitable pattern. Debby Kratovil’s Supersize ‘Em had just the pattern: Modern Grace. The only problem was that the center panel in the pattern was smaller, so it meant scaling up.

Oh, and scaling up while doing an on-point pattern for the first time.

Other than chopping off three of the four points (yep, four tries to get it right), I think it looks pretty darned cool. And Sarah* liked it enough to hang it as a shop sample AND kit it, although I had to figure out the changed fabric requirements and write up the new instructions about six weeks after I made it. That was fun.

It sure is pretty, though.

*She also did the binding, which is why it looks so awesome. My bindings? Not nearly as pretty. Or even.

Itchy Fingers

When the Free Spirit rep pulled out the cards with this fabric last month, I almost squealed. OK, maybe I actually squealed but he doesn’t read my blog and Sarah won’t rat me out so you’ll never know for certain.

Joel Dewberry’s original line remains one of my favorites and I’m so excited that these bolts have started to arrive at the shop. Excited as in ripped open the boxes myself and piled the bolts on the table, then snapped a picture. Yeah, I might be a little obsessed. (Also? I work at the shop so it’s not like I’m a complete whackadoodle. Maybe.)

Now to just hold back until the rest of the fabric comes in. If I can.

Winner, Winner, Winner!

Thanks for being patient with me! That bunny of mine was missed three days of school last week because she was sick and I had my hands full. I’m happy to say that she’s all better, back at school and I’m back to blogging. So without further adieu, the winner of Bari J’s Inspired to Sew is …

Congratulations! Please email me your mailing information and I’ll pass that along to the kind folks at Stash Books/C&T Publishing so they can get your book out.

Quilt Market, Part 4

I’m wrapping up my recap of Quilt Market today with some of the fun things I made for the show. Thanks to a couple of really sweet friends, I was able to sew with some beautiful fabrics and then see my work on display in a couple of booths.

Meeting Elizabeth Scott was among the highlights of my trip. We’ve been Twitter pals and she is just as delightful in person as she is on the Internet. I have to say that I just about fell over when I saw her gorgeous debut fabric line for P&B Textiles. Red Rose Farm is just stunning and I was thrilled to win a fat quarter stack of it in her Schoolhouse. Of course, I’m just as thrilled that I was able to snap some pictures of Miss L in her Red Rose Farm/Little Girls, Big Style outfit (Flutter Sleeve Peasant + Lace-Edged Gauchos) before I dropped off the outfit with P&B.

I had so much fun playing with the new lawn fabrics from Timeless Treasures. The colors and prints of Darling Clementine are so me and I’m definitely going to have to get some more for a skirt and probably shirt that I can wear. I like that they are a little less transparent than some of the voiles I love, too. Top photo: Sunshine Halter + No-Hem Skirt. Bottom photo: Empire Peasant + Double Layer Twirl Skirt.

When I saw this picture on the LCD screen of my camera, I totally did a fist pump. It was one of those moments when you know everything has come together so perfectly and you’re holding the proof. I actually used two of Alice Kennedy’s fabric lines in the book and could not stop myself when I saw this line. It’s called Sunny Daze (for Timeless Treasures) and this outfit is a mix of the quilting cottons and the new cotton canvas. The outfit combines the Barely Basic Top with the Tiered Pants and it’s definitely a show-stopper when you see it on.

I’m adding all these photos to the Little Girls, Big Style Flickr group and hope you’ll join and share pics of the projects you make from the book, too. There’s also a FB page for the book (and for the blog, too), and I’d love it if you could “like” them, too.