May 30, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 12

I've been doing some browsing through new blogs this week, thanks to Mom2fur's alphabet blog list and a little time to continue digging through the Big List of Sewing Blogs, so not everything I have on here is actually from this past week. But it was still on the front page.

I'll start with my Crafting a Green World picks of the week.

1. If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you'll know that clothing reconstruction is not a new thing for me-- though it's been at an increasing rate in the last few years, really, I started reconstructing back in high school when I turned a pair of my brother's unwanted pants into a messenger bag. But I did really enjoy this article, both for the reminder of the positive environmental impact of reconstruction, and for the inspiring clothing pictures.

2. I also liked their recycled paper bag seed packet buisness cards tutorial. Not that it would work for me in the music biz, but it could make a cute party favor or something.

3. I also have two picks from Fairy Threads this week. These flower pillows were just too cute to pass up, and I liked these insulated can wraps-- great scrap-user, plus it used batting instead of foam, so it has the potential to be much more eco-friendly.

4. In A Minute Ago posted a link for this nifty online "color schemer". I played around with it a bit, and it looks like a fun way to play around with color schemes for scrapbook layouts.

The last three are from Mom2fur's picks.

5. This doesn't really have anything to do with crafts, but the pictures make me laugh. Especially Iron Man.

6. This is really from last week, but I didn't find it till this week so I'm counting it. This little folding tray from Marmadaisy is another great scrap-user (fat quarter size), and I like the origami look of it.

7. I also liked Sew Nancy's branch decorations (made with real branches!)

Ok, seven seems like a good number. And now I'm off for Baltimore and bachelorette partying, so enjoy your weekend!

May 28, 2008

where's my crafting time?!

Seriously... I haven't done a thing this week, other than a few stitches on J's wedding gift. I was gone on the backpacking trip till Monday night, yesterday I got done work/dinner too late, today's been taken up with finishing getting my summer clothes out from under the bed and taking care of the toe I busted after I got back from the trip, tomorrow's going to be another later teaching night... I did, however, get my fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics in the mail today. No pictures yet, but I love it and can't wait to work with it. Which probably won't happen until after the wedding, since I have a couple other things that are taking higher priority.

I am, however, going to have a good bit of crafty time this weekend, since C and I are going down to T's place in Baltimore for another crafty hangout weekend thing. My plan is to finish J's gift since all I have left is handwork, cut out my purse for the wedding (which I am going to be making entirely out of scraps from other projects and a zipper that I have, which means that other than the pattern that I bought, this bag is FREE!), and if I still have time, cut out a new wallet for myself. My mom had a pattern that's pretty much exactly what I need, and I'm going to chop up an old skirt for the fabric. Not sure I'll have time to get to that one since the purse will be a bit involved-- I'm using the leftovers from a skirt I made a few years ago for the outside, but since it's lightweight fabric, I'm going to underline it with the cotton batiste left over from the Spring Fever blouse and will need to spend some time basting those pieces together (which I'll do by hand, since my plan also involves propping up my foot and sitting in a comfy chair and not hauling my machine up three flights of steps to T's condo! I have to get myself over the limping by the wedding!) I'm also going to be lining it with the leftovers from the Azalea tunic-- it matches and it'll add a fun touch to it, even if I'm the only one who knows about it. I'm making the black purse that's folded up like a fortune cookie, for those of you who are curious. I think. I may change my mind and go for the black and gold glittery-looking one... as long as I can fit my camera in the bag, that's the main thing. Any opinions?

May 23, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 11

First off, this isn't really a blog thing, but I just have to say something about Gorgeous Fabrics. I'd heard of it before from seeing things made from their fabric on a few of the blogs that I follow, and when I couldn't find anything good at Joanns' in the way of knits, stumbled across it again while running searches on the internet. So I found this knit jersey on there (no link because it's already off the site!) that I thought would be perfect for this pattern that I got recently. When I looked before work yesterday, there were 19 yards left. I placed the order last night. I'm glad I got it when I did, because the owner called while I was at work today and said that she only had 2 1/2 yards left-- I'd ordered 3-- and did I still want it or did I want to substitute something else? I called her back, and let me say, Ann was so incredibly helpful! I told her what pattern I was using, and she told me of someone she knew who's making it right now and was able to get it in two yards, and also gave me a suggestion of how to lay it out so that I could maximize fabric usage. (She also gave me the 2.5 for the price of 2 yards!) I think I'm definitely going to be shopping there again.

Now for the rest of my favorites this week (linked directly to the posts because I'm running short on time...)

1. From Crafting a Green World: Someone apparently decided to build a seaworthy vessel out of discarded chopsticks. Which looked really good. But the main reason this is my CAGW pick of the week is because the writing style just really made me laugh. ;-)

2. From Threadbanger: Not that I have a lot of places to put bulletin boards, but someday I will have my own place and then I will. And these were some neat ideas for boards made mostly from recycled materials. And apparently there is a building material made from recycled paper called homasote. I did not know this. But that's pretty cool.

3. Craft Tutorials posted a how-to for candle globes. I'll give you a clue-- it involves balloons. And as any kid who ever tried to make a paper-mache pinata knows, crafts involving laying stuff on balloons is just a recipe for messy fun.

4. rostitchery made this cute little portfolio that she calls a "holder keeper". Looks like there's lots of uses for this sort of thing.

And with that, I am off to finish my week's teaching, and then packing, and then off to the great outdoors to test my hiking skirt while backpacking this weekend. Ciao!

May 22, 2008

are you eating at Scarborough Fair....

It all started with the rosemary. One of the hazards of working at a garden center, as I learned today, is that on occasion you have to work with plants that smell really good. Today, I had to both ring up and label several containers of rosemary, which kept my stomach growling for the better part of the day and made me seriously contemplate buying a plant so I could take it home and eat it. I managed to resist, but fortunately I found out upon getting home that rosemary is actually one of the herbs that my mom is growing fresh in her little potted herb garden on the deck.

Today was one of the rare weekdays where, due to student cancellations, I had time to do more "cooking" than usual. (The norm is "thaw out whatver frozen leftovers I can dredge out of the freezer", or "cook the frozen Trader Joe's Chinese dumplings while nuking the ready-in-two-minutes box of Asian noodles", or in a pinch, "eat a bowl of cereal.") Now, let me just say, besides the time restrictions, cooking as a single woman is hard. Most recipes are designed for 4-6 servings, which means that either I need to make sure whatever I'm cooking is freezer-friendly, or I'll be eating leftovers for the next few days. And I know I don't live alone, but my mom has food allergy issues, my dad always eats salads for dinner, my rarely-home brother thinks that the four major food groups are pizza, boxed noodles, buffalo chicken and Mountain Dew, and by the time I got done teaching, I was still the only one left who had to eat. So while I love trying new recipes, one of my main cooking goals is to learn to improvise so that I can quickly throw together healthy meals for just myself. (Which will also be useful if I can ever afford that place of my own, in case I don't end up with a hubby to cook for!)

I'd picked up this cookbook awhile back (my very first cookbook, awwww)--besides gearing towards healthy and fresh ingredients, my main draw was that it gives basic technique guidelines and how to improvise with them. So with fresh rosemary and chicken in mind, I decided to try her guideline for seared poultry sauced with broth. And this is what I ended up with...

I didn't have any "rich" broth, so I had to go with the chicken broth that was already in the fridge. I also decided to throw in a chopped-up carrot, to add some color and veggie, and the leftover rice from a few days ago. (Please ignore the drying grill rack and the bowl of stuff-that-needs-to-go-in-the-compost.)
Pounding meat is the best cooking thing ever. Besides making it cook faster, it's great stress relief! I just used an empty can that was waiting to be recycled.
I threw the carrots and some of the fresh rosemary in with the broth and let it simmer a bit, until the carrots were starting to get soft.
Then I took the carrots out and added some olive oil and the chicken, which I'd sprinkled on both sides with some freshly-ground sea salt, as well as some dried parsley, sage and thyme. (Get it? ;-) Later on, after the chicken was mostly cooked, I added the carrots back in as well as the rest of the rosemary. And then I put it on the reheated rice.
And this was the final result. It wasn't perfect. The chicken didn't really sear (I guess I didn't have the heat high enough), and the carrots could have cooked a bit longer (they weren't raw-tasting, but I think I would have liked them a bit softer). It also tastes like it needs some more flavor-- maybe some olives, or some mushrooms and white wine (though that might be too earthy to contrast well with the carrots.) Or maybe just some more salt. But the herb mix was good, and the chicken wasn't too dry-- I guess the broth helped there. So I think my "Scarborough Fair" chicken might be worth tweaking for future fast meals. (And I'm definitely open to suggestions!)

a chocolate scrapbook sampler....

Since Mom2Fur asked, here's a few of the blurbs that go with the chocolate wrapper scrapbook page from yesterday's post. Bold text will be the original wrapper, italics will be my and C's additions.

Send a love letter this week. --I sent one to my cat. --C (since both she and I have love lives on standby.)

Sing along with the elevator music. --Unless it's Beatles dance remixes. --B (since there was this really awful mashup that we've heard on a couple different occasions going out, and it makes all three of us want to pull our hair out and/or puke.)

It's definitely a bubble-bath day. --"MY BUBBLES!!" --Finding Nemo

Listen to your heartbeat and dance. --Just make sure it's not the Electric Slide or the Macarena, since both of those are rather dated. --B

Smile before bed. You'll sleep better. --And brush your teeth--your new husband will appreciate it very much that you did. --C

Hey, why not? --"We want.... a SHRUBBERY!" --Monty Python (Hey, it was random...)

Also thanks to Mom2Fur for the shameless plug for this blog. She's been doing this neat series of blogs she likes, based on letters of the alphabet, and I was one of today's picks for the letter S. Definitely worth checking out, as I've found some neat stuff through there.

It's possible that I may have J's wedding gift to show tonight... keep watching this space. ;-)

May 21, 2008

my so-called logic

Titled thus because, the way my brain works, these three things connect.

Item #1: I found out after the last post that I was tagged by Goodworks1 for a second meme. Here's the instructions:

1. Pick up the nearest book.

2. Turn to page 123

3. Find the fifth sentence

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

The closest book, sitting in my purse behind me on the bed, is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (currently rereading The Chronicles of Narnia for obvious reasons.)

Starting from sentence 5, plus 3 sentences:

"Hang it!" said Caspian. "The whole thing is moving this way."

"And moving a great deal quicker than we can sail, Sire," said Drinian. "It'll be up with us in a minute."

Oh, the drama! I'm going to misbehave now, and not tag, because I had so much trouble coming up with people for the last one and I know from Bloglines that this one's been floating around for awhile. So if you want to do it, feel free to steal.

Item #2, connected to the first by involving a book of some sort: as promised, a few pics from J's scrapbook that C and I gifted her with this past weekend. (She loved it.)

The idea for this one came from my friend T, who was up here during that crafty weekend when C and I put most of it together. (She crocheted while we scrapbooked.) She saw the tie-dyed paper and thought it would be neat to do writing in a spiral--which I loved, because I used to do stuff like that all the time when doodling in notebooks and such. So this page is entirely one-liner movie quotes from a few of our 3-way mutual favorites, like The Emperor's New Groove, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Lord of the Rings, the first Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.
We've spent many a get-together munching on Dove chocolate and laughing at the wrapper messages. So C had the idea to include some of the wrapper messages-- what we ended up doing was gluing them down, and then writing our own short additions/commentary in a circle around the wrapper pieces, ranging from serious to silly to snarky.
Yes, we included pictures! Lots and lots of pictures, actually. I just included this page for my palm tree doodle, in the bottom left-hand corner. ;-)
This completely random page has a story behind it... one time, J and I decided to surprise C for her 25th birthday with a Series of Unfortunate Events-themed day (her birthday coincided with the release of one of the books), only we did a Series of Fortunate Events. So we had this letter written in the style of the back of the books, along with clues written in the style of the definitions scattered throughout. C still had them, so we were going to include a copy here. But then we forgot that I'd stuck them further down the sorted stack with this paper, thought we'd lost them, and printed out a new copy to include with pictures of that day. So then we had this random piece of paper that we didn't want to take out, because it would throw off the paper pairings for the rest of the scrapbook, so we took a cue from Monty Python and did an entire page themed around llamas, with llama quotes from The Emperor's New Groove, the lyrics to the Llama Song, a transcript of the llama credits from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and of course, a picture of a llama.
I wish I could take credit for this page, but it was all C. I really like the way she angled the pics on this one. (Plus you can see a bit of my fabric scrapbook cover on this one.)
Item #3, connected to the previous item by the fact that it also has to do with J's wedding. I had a bit of a laugh today at the expense of my bridesmaid's dress. I took it out and tried it on to make sure I don't need to hem it shorter or anything, and noticed a disclaimer on the tag, which was obviously meant for people who don't sew and therefore don't know anything about fabric. It says....
The irregularities and variations in the color and texture of this fabric are characteristic of the fabric adding to its natural beauty, and is in no way to be considered as defective.
Grammatical errors aside (I would have put a comma between "fabric" and "adding"), what really killed me was the "natural beauty". The dress is made of 100% polyester.

May 18, 2008

I've been tagged!

Been tagged for a meme by Eilleen at Consumption Rebellion. Not sure if I'll be able to come up with 6 people to tag, but here goes...

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

a) What was I doing 10 years ago? I was finishing up my junior year of high school, and trying to figure out what I would do for a summer job (I ended up working at Dairy Queen). So that means next year is going to bring my class's 10-year reunion.... how scary is that?!

b) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today:
1. Go to church (going to the later service today)
2. Go to the baptism/birthday party for the son of two of my friends
3. Go hang out with J and C-- last time it'll be just the three of us before J's wedding
4. Give J the scrapbook
5. If I still have time, deal with the massive pile of laundry in my room that needs to be put away!

c) Snacks I enjoy: Anything chocolate, s'mores, buttermilk ranch hard pretzels, trail mix, dehydrated fruit, cheese & crackers, cheese & apples & crackers, fresh fruit when I remember to eat it!

d) Things I would do if I were a billionaire: I'd have to get the practical stuff out of the way-- pay off the rest of my car, and then buy myself a small house (enough space that I can have my craft room and my teaching studio, but I'm only one person, I don't need a huge space. And I'd still furnish it from the thrift store and other DIY methods!) I'd also take a few of those trips I've always wanted to take-- Hawaii, the European tour, and New Zealand (Australia too, if I could swing that.) I'm not really a luxury vacation person (last year's road trip was totally done on the cheap, as was the Florida trip a few of us girls did a couple summers ago, and I think it makes for a much more memorable vacation! So I'd still do it that way--unless they have one of those geeked-out tours where they'd take me around everywhere in NZ where they filmed LotR. I would totally do that.) I'd also want to donate a chunk of it-- maybe to something like the Blood:Water Mission, or "adopting" a sponsored child. But I wouldn't quit my music career, or sewing my own clothes!

e) Places I have lived: Just Delaware. I know, I'm boring. ;-)

And who am I tagging?
Hmm.... Lydia at Lydia's Cozy Corner, Mom2Fur, Oonaballoona.... um, that's all I can come up with for now. So feel free to do this if you want to. :)

May 16, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 10 (and a few of my own things)

I had an unexpected day off from the garden center due to the rain (when it's raining all day, I've learned, I get calls sometimes telling me not to come in because it will be dead.) So, of course, I decided to do some craft-related things...I got a free shirt from a clothing exchange that my church did a couple months ago, and I really liked the shirt's style, but it's a large so it was a little too big for me. So I decided to play with my serger and differential feed, and it now fits me better and the knit didn't stretch! Then I went to Joanns' to get those patterns, then went to Linens N' Things to get a few things for the shower I'm doing the bridesmaid thing for tomorrow (needed something I could put cheese & crackers on-- hopefully I can find a use for it afterwards, because it's definitely reusable). And then went back to Joann's and bought some fabric, because I'd seen some that I was eyeing that would work nicely for one of the patterns I just bought (the shorter version of McCalls' 5624. Going to try it out with this and see how the dress looks before I try to make a long version.) I think my family's cat approves of my choice. I'm kicking myself a little, though-- these two pieces of fabric were on sale, but since there's white involved in the print I decided to go ahead and line the dress, just for some extra security. The lining I'd originally picked didn't have enough on the bolt, so I went back and grabbed another-- I could have gotten the $3.99 a yard stuff, but it just felt stiff and I figured it would be right against my skin since it's a summer dress, so I had to go for the $8.99 a yard stuff instead. As a result, the lining was actually more expensive than the print fabric. And I didn't have a coupon because I misplaced my circular and could not find it after two days of searching. Oh well... I'll just keep telling myself that the higher price means the lining is higher quality and will therefore make the dress better.
I also finished the bridesmaid jewelry last night, minus the clasps on all but this one. (This was my original sample. The clasps will be added later, so I can customize the lengths to each girl for a uniform look. The earrings are all identical too, except for one pair is clip-ons because the girl doesn't have her ears pierced (and told the bride she refused to do it for her wedding, as much as she likes her. ;-) I do have a good number of beads left over, so I think a seventh necklace may be in order for J., since she paid for the supplies. (Though it'll be different, because I have no more of the teardrops.)
Also accomplished yesterday: cutting out the oven mitts. Again, no pics till it's done! (At least I know that J. won't be stalking my blog... #1, she's not crafty, and #2, she doesn't know I have it. ;-)
And now, onto this week's blog roundup...
1. My Half of the Brain had a link to a tutorial for a thread catcher. I think I might have to make one of these for my serger, because that thing is a mess! (The rick-rack dahlias are cute too, but I can't think of any use for them at this point.)
2. The Sewing Divas also had a tutorial for drafting a reverse scarf sleeve. Nice way to change up a tried-and-true pattern a bit.
3. Fun new blog of the week: Craft Tutorials. I haven't had a chance to dig through the archives much yet, but this miniature dry-erase board made from a recycled envelope looks like fun....
4. Another fun blog, which I found through a spontaneous stop over at ReadyMade: Ikea Hacker. Basically like Wardrobe Refashion, but for cheap Ikea housewares. I have a feeling this site would be much more dangerous if I had a place of my own to decorate. And an Ikea that's closer than an hour or so away.
5. Speaking of Wardrobe Refashion, I just have to say that I love this shirt makeover posted on there this week. It has a bit of a modernized Jane Austen feel to it, which I think is great. (Also speaking of WR, I'm very strongly leaning towards signing up again once the next round of signups is available...)
6. Last pick of the week, which is making me hungry even though I'm just finishing up lunch (maybe... I think I might need more food): Consumption Rebellion posted a yummy-looking recipe for Morrocan Roast Lamb (and something to do with the leftovers). Out of the ethnic cuisines I've tried, Morrocan is one of my favorites, so I will definitely have to give this one a shot sometime. Though I might have to sub in some beef, since lamb's not the most readily available meat around here...

May 13, 2008

High School Creativity, or, I wish I'd been blogging back then

Talk about random post inspiration... I was leaving one of my flute-teaching jobs yesterday afternoon, which is at a local private school, with Nickel Creek's "When In Rome" stuck in my head for no reason, and it brought to mind this school assignment I'd had back in junior high that had to do with Rome. Which led to thinking about all sorts of random memories of creativity connected to my high school life. I actually enjoyed many of my school projects, since my school was pretty good about encouraging creativity in the execution. Since I didn't have a blog back then, please indulge me while I reminisce a bit now. (Even though, sadly, I don't have pictures of the best ones. I wish I did.)

  • The project that started this whole runaway train of thought: the Rome project. When I was in 8th grade, we were doing a unit on ancient Rome in my history class, and each student got assigned a different aspect of life in Rome to research. We were supposed to give an oral report and, I can't remember if it was required or just one of the options, a visual aid. I got assigned weapons and armor. Which I'd thought was pretty lame, at first... I was a good bit girlier back then than I am now, and with the way my movie/literature interests have evolved, I'd probably think that was a pretty sweet assignment now. But I was pretty excited about the project by the end, mostly due to my visual aid: I bought a Ken doll (the only one I ever owned, for the record) and turned him into a Roman centurion. Made a little red tunic for him, and then I made the plate armor out of strips of cardboard covered with aluminum foil. That part looked pretty good. I also remember painting the gladiator lace-up sandals directly onto his legs. The part I had the most trouble with was his helmet-- I ended up making it out of polymer clay (the paintable kind, because this was just when it was starting to come out as a craft supply), and it was way too big because I couldn't bake it directly onto his head. I think I may have made the sword out of clay too. The clay parts of the outfit didn't survive long past the due date, but I really did think that armor was pretty good.

  • This may have also been an 8th grade project--I had the same teacher for 11th grade chemistry, but I'm pretty sure this was the junior high class because I had two lab partners in chem and only one partner for this particular project. The chemistry teacher at my school (private school, and 7th-12th were in the same building, so we had a lot of overlapping teachers between junior and high school) was rather quirky, and we were doing a basic chemistry unit. Our last assignment before Christmas break was to pair up and make her a chemistry-related Christmas T-shirt. So my best friend and I teamed up to make her a snowflake shirt, based on hexagon-shaped chemical formulas. Typical early 90s job in glittery puffy paint, but I still think we had one of the best shirts in the class. Of course, I have no idea how those snowflakes would have reacted to each other had they really been together in a test tube...for all I know, we created a formula to make a minor explosion.
  • Now this one I do actually still have, though it's buried in my bedroom at the moment. For one of my (I'm pretty sure it's history) classes, we had to do a geneaology project about our families, back to our great-grandparents, and include pictures and such. I made mine kind of scrapbook-style (I think this was when I was first starting to get into it, thanks to a scrapbooking kit that one of my crafty aunts gave me for Christmas one year. At any rate, I did have the deckle scissors, and I know I didn't have those until I started doing that.)--had some really flimsy paper that may or may not have been sheets of newsprint, but at any rate it looked old. And so I printed everything onto that, glued my photocopies of the pictures on the same stuff, and did a little bookbinding project (the only one I ever did that turned out-- good thing, since I was getting graded!) with mat board covered with black construction paper and a dark mulberry paper that I drew the title on with a gold pen. It was very typically heritage-looking. Fitting for the subject, but I don't think I'm ever going to do one that style again. I like brighter colors. Anyway, as I said, I do still have that one. I guess I figured it might be good to pass along to my non-existent kids someday. But I can at least take a picture to post on here sometime.
  • One of my favorites was actually for an English class--sophomore year American Lit. We were studying John Steinbeck, and were supposed to do some kind of dramatic summary in groups. I was fortunate to get into a rather creative group (the groups were divided based on who picked what book, and ours was The Moon Is Down, which is the only Steinbeck book I've ever read and actually liked.) So we decided that for our presentation, rather than act it out ourselves, we would do a puppet show. So we spent a couple long afternoons making heads out of paper mache and yarn, my mom was kind enough to help us with the "costumes" since we were on a time crunch, and my one friend rigged up some kind of stage that we could hang across the classroom doorway while we were in the hall. Our theme music was the Imperial March from Star Wars. We made scrolling (sort of) credits to go on top of them. And little sticks of felt dynamite hanging from parachutes, which we tied to miniature Hershey's bars and threw at our classmates during the show (in the book, the people resisting the Nazis air-dropped dynamite tied to chocolate bars so that kids would pick them up and bring them home to their parents). Needless to say, that made our presentation the most popular. ;-) I really wish I could see the video of that again... one of my friends in the group videotaped it, and I saw it at her house once during a sleepover, but this was before digital videocameras and it was some kind of format that couldn't be copied onto VHS with what they had or something. Oh well.
  • Another science-class project, and the only thing I liked about freshman year physical science...we had a "design your own experiment" project that we had to do, and my best friend and I decided that for our scientific experiment, we were going to make cookies and see what effects certain compounds common in baking (i.e. salt, baking powder--see, this is chemistry!) had on the finished products. (I know there was a third ingredient involved, but I can't remember what.) So we made four batches of chocolate chip cookies--a "control" group made normally, and then leaving one of the three test ingredients out of each of the other three batches. And then we ate them and recorded the taste-test results. Note to self: Never leave the baking powder/soda out of your cookies again.
  • The last one I remember doesn't actually relate to a project, but it was craftiness in school. There was this rule during finals week that, even when you finished your test, you had to stay in the classroom until the period was over. We all knew that our 9th-grade civics class was going to be a piece of cake, and there weren't really any rules restricting what we could do afterwards as long as we were quiet enough for those still taking tests, so I brought a small case of beads into the test and worked on a necklace after I was done. It was one of those seed bead daisy chain ones. The reason I remember this, other than making necklaces in school, was because my classmates apparently thought this was rather entertaining. One of the guys (the one that at least half the girls in my class had a crush on at one time or another) even asked if he could try it. So I told him how, and he made one of the daisies on my necklace. (I still have that necklace too, actually.)

It was kind of fun to think back on those, actually. I may have to do another nostalgia post about those teenage clothes sewing projects that I also wish I had pictures of, if only for me to laugh at.

May 11, 2008

Moms, patterns and wedding projects

Spent the afternoon with my mom, watching the Sci-fi channel's Eureka marathon and sewing. A fitting activity, since Mom is the one who taught me how to sew. I made BurdaStyle's apron pattern and started on the matching oven mitts for J's wedding present. The apron sewed up really fast, though I did have to adjust the neck strap. And I got one of the four pieces for the mitts quilted. No pics yet-- I want to wait until I have the set done.

Mom was also kind enough to help me look over some patterns that I'm thinking about buying-- Joann's is having a sale this coming weekend on Butterick and McCall's patterns, and for some reason, I'm in the mood to make some dresses to just wear on an everyday basis during the summer. A bit odd, I guess, but I do like wearing skirts in the summer, so maybe it's not that much of a stretch. Anyway, these are the patterns I think I've settled on.

I'm still debating about this last one.

Oh yeah... I just realized this is my 200th post!

May 10, 2008

Should I be worried?

No, this is not an attempt at abstract photography. I finally spent some time trying to sort my photos with my paper for the road trip scrapbook tonight. Didn't make it as far as I'd thought, mainly due to the fact that I agreed to work at the garden center, got scheduled for eight hours, ended up staying closer to nine (between getting there about ten minutes early and it taking 45 minutes past closing time to get all the last-minute shoppers out and close up the registers), and am completely exhausted.

I counted it up, and I sorted 15 pages (the white is the plastic dividers that came in the storage organizer thing). And only made it through approximately the first third of day 2 of the trip, which was the first day we spent in a park. Granted, the first part (Olympic) is probably one of the ones I have the most pictures of, due to the plethora of nature things completely different than what I'm used to (i.e. a temperate rainforest and a beach that's made of more rocks than sand. That, and I sort of went nuts taking nature pictures at Ruby Beach, both because it was gorgeous and because I needed to kill quite a bit of time on my own while my traveling companion was talking on the phone to her now-fiance.) Anyway, the point is, I'm only on day 2 out of 15, and I've used 15/175 of the pieces of paper that I got for this. (I'm too tired to pull out and recount, but this is assuming that my original thought is correct and each pack of the original paper has 25 pieces. If I'm wrong, I have only about 140 pieces.) My original thought was to sort all the photos with one piece of cardstock as the primary background, and then use whatever was left to add to the backgrounds/embellish/etc later. Now I'm seriously beginning to wonder if I have enough paper even to do one sheet per page. And this is with me cramming as many photos as I can, likely at the expense of actual good design. Though I haven't tacked anything to paper yet.

Also, I did repair the peeling end-papers for said traveling companion's bachelorette scrapbook gift. So that is now officially done-done, not just done. Too tired to dig through the pics. But there will be some.

May 9, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 9

It's funny how what I find each week tends to have an overriding theme. This week, what caught my eye was less project-oriented and more thought-provoking articles.

I did find one nice tutorial from The Sewing Divas, about how to draft a banded surplice neckline. And Crafting A Green World had a great post about sources for recycled beads--which is great, because the last time we got a catalog from Fire Mountain Gems (one of my mom's and my favorite bead sources), I found myself wondering about the environmental impact of their products. Still doesn't help me with stuff like their gorgeous semiprecious gem beads, but it's a start.

The last non-article link (thanks to Mom2Fur) is for, which is a nice site because it lets you download embellishments and stuff for free. I haven't really tried digital scrapbooking at all, other than a really simplistic one I've been working on in Photoshop since I got that last summer (a very simple project journal with photos of my finished projects, basic details like pattern used/finishing date/alterations made, and once I print it out, fabric samples). For one thing, I really like having actual paper and textures and such to manipulate. That, and the printer my family has prints pictures very badly, and I have little motivation to make pages that are going to be covered in bad printer lines. (Once I finish the project journal ones, which is going to take awhile because I think I need to scan the printed photos I took before I got my digital camera--I've tried two times to get it to work as a very simple traditional scrapbook, and it just doesn't--I think I'm just going to take it to Kinko's.) But anyway, the whole point of this ramble is I think it has stuff I can use anyway, like if I want to make some very simple digital embellishments to print out and use on my pages (done that before) or print my own transparencies or something.

Anyway, on to the articles. Three of them this week.
1. Assorted Notions had some really good advice for people planning a sewn wardrobe. Several of the bloggers I follow participate in SWAP challenges (stands for Sewing With A Plan--basically a challenge to make a wardrobe of several pieces that are entirely mix-and-match). It's something I'm unsure if I'd ever participate in myself, mainly because I love patterned fabric and don't think I could pull off six or eight pieces that tied to just one, and wouldn't want that many solid colors. Or neutrals. Who knows-- I never thought I'd do something like Wardrobe Refashion either, and now that I've had about four months off, I want to do it again. And I can see how it would come in handy for stuff like, say, if I was going on my dream European vacation and needed a stylish wardrobe that I could mix-and-match and tote around in my luggage. That would certainly incite me to do something like this. But I digress. If I was going to do this wardrobe thing, I would certainly be turning to this post to start.

2. Sew, Mama, Sew! had an interesting article on figuring out your learning style and how that relates to working with sewing patterns. Based on what she said, I think I fall somewhere between being a print-oriented and visual-spatial learner-- don't fit neatly into either category, because I can often pick things up by reading them, and I'm a big note-taker, but I often find pictures to be helpful as well. Especially if it's more technical things. Probably why I was far better at geometry than I was at algebra, because I could draw pictures. (Actually, now that I think about it, falling in-between makes sense. After all, I'm a musician, and reading music is basically reading a pictorial language.)

3. I found some inspiring thoughts on fabric stashes at Rostitchery that's making me want to use up some of this fabric I've been hoarding. I need to do that anyway, but I really like her philosophy on why smaller stashes may be better.

And now I just found out that I don't have to go to the garden center today-- it's pouring down rain and really gross, so they're not expecting to have hardly any customers. Which is kind of nice for me, because I got scheduled to work for eight hours tomorrow since I told them I could work Mother's Day weekend. So I'm going to get some practicing done, and then maybe toy with some scrapbooking stuff. I've been kind of feeling the need to get my hands on some paper again lately. I do have some sewing to do--cut out the apron that I'm going to be making for a friend's wedding gift, as well as some largeish leftover pieces that I need to quilt with the heat-resistant batting to make matching oven mitts. But that's more of a have-to-do project, and if I'm going to have unexpected time off, I want some fun first.

May 7, 2008

Survey time!

Borrowed from rostitchery.

1: what are your three favorite fabrics?
a. Cotton, because it's really easy to work with, and makes very comfortable clothes.
b. Anything with a silky or velvety texture--not always easy to work with, but I love the way it feels against my skin. (That's my inner fantasy heroine/Ren Faire lover coming out, I suppose....)
c. Bamboo. I've only made one thing with it, but I love it. I wish it was more readily available.

2. what are your three least favorite fabrics?
a. Gore-tex. You can't pin it, you can't mark things or you put holes in it, if you mess up you have to toss it because you get too many holes in it. I never want to make rain gear again.
b. Sheer fabrics. Mainly due to hemming them and how hard it is to get a nice-looking seam. But I like to wear them, so I'll keep sewing with them anyway, plus it might be better now that I have a serger!
c. Wool. Because it makes me break out in hives.

3: what is the most unusual fabric you've ever sewn?
Hmm... Probably a sheet of craft foam. I used it to make leather-looking armor for some Lord of the Rings-inspired plushies.(See Faramir and Eomer.) Of course, I hand-sewed that.

4: what is the most unusual thing you've made out of regular fabric?
Tough call there. I guess I'd have to say either the baldric and boot tops that I made out of vinyl for my pirate costume, or this one vest I made in high school. It was a vintage 70s pattern that I made with snakeskin-printed vinyl. (And now that I think about it, this is kind of a depressing question-- I thought I was a little more outside-the-box with my crafting!)

5: if you could sew with just one fabric for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I guess I'd have to say cotton-- it's versatile, it comes in a bunch of different weights, you can get it almost sheer as batiste and velvety as cotton velvet/velveteen. All I'd be missing is my silky stuff.

6: what is the most special piece of fabric you've ever bought and used?
When it came time to do my final solo recital for grad school, I decided I was going to make my dress (because sewing was stress relief from my classes.) One of the pieces I had originally planned to do was called Medieval Suite by Katherine Hoover-- I ended up not playing it (almost every piece I originally picked got switched out with something else!), but my original idea for my dress was based on that. I got a piece of forest green brocade off of an eBay fabric store that was woven with a Celtic cross-type motif, and used that for the bodice of my dress--a corset-style front with some lacing detail, and then a full skirt. Fortunately, my dress still ended up fitting the theme, because what I switched Medieval Suite out with was a piece that was supposed to depict an area in Scotland (written by my school's composition prof for flute and piano-- she's an immigrant from Scotland, with the accent to boot!)

7: where do you get most of your fabrics?
Joanns', simply because it's pretty much the only game in town when it comes to apparel fabric. (There's other stores for home dec and quilting, but that doesn't usually help me much.) I do also buy things online on occasion, or buy clothes at Goodwill or other thrift stores specifically for the purpose of tearing them apart and using them for fabric (see the last finished project!)

8: what are the last three fabrics you used?
Cotton, for the last three projects. (The thrifted shirting for the blouse, quilter's cotton for the nursing cover, and flannel for those pillows.) To branch out to other fabrics, I also used a polyester satin-type fabric and a polyester microfiber for the Azalea tunic.

9: if you could buy any fabric you wish, what would you buy and what would you do with it?
In my dream world, I would get some real silk-- either dupioni or shantung, since I really like the texture on them. Since this is my dream world, one of my long-time dreams was to sew my own wedding dress. I don't think that's going to be happening, though, since the last time I had anything resembling a date, the general population at large was still into boy bands and I was still waiting for Return of the King to hit theaters.

10: what advice do you have for seamstresses about buying fabric?
Don't limit yourself to the back of the pattern envelope--just because it's not listed doesn't mean it won't work. Don't be afraid to trust your instincts on what you want to use. If it doesn't feel right under your hand, it won't feel right on your body/as a quilt/whatever you're planning on using it for. If you're unsure how to work with it, there's resources all over the internet. And don't be afraid to mess up. There will always be more fabric.

May 5, 2008

The Doolittle Blouse, part 5: The part you've all been waiting for!

Ta-daaa! I finished it yesterday afternoon--waited to post in hopes that I could wear it today and get a better picture of it, because once again, it fits me better than the dummy. (Which is good, I suppose.) But today was colder than expected, and I got home later than expected, and now it's getting dark, and I don't take good pictures of myself anyway.

Now, as you may recall, this started out life as an average, normal, slightly on the side of boring men's shirt from Goodwill. Less than $5. I wanted to find a link to the Anthropologie shirt I took the idea from so I could brag about how much money I saved, but apparently it's sold out because it's no longer on the site. But I know it was at least in the $70-80 range. I like mine better anyway. For one thing, it's not pink.

And here's the back. It really doesn't bunch up like that around the waistband when I'm wearing it, at least from what I could tell from trying it on yesterday.

I really am proud of the recycling job on this. Almost every single piece of the original shirt was used, and there weren't very many scrap pieces left over. I left the collar completely as-is, other than removing and later re-sewing a button. The buttons are all the original ones from the shirt. I even used the cuffs, as the shoulder bits. (Just one layer of it, though.) I do wish I could have made it a little longer in the front, but with the way I had to lay out the top with the original shirt fronts and using the tops of the sleeves as the lower part of the front, it just wasn't possible to. It is a little longer in the back, though, to avoid any overexposure issues. (Easier to tug down in the front.) I still adore the sleeves. And I really like the sort of retro '40s/nautical feel that the blue and white stripes give to it, now that it's all together, even though it makes me think of Rosie the Riveter ads.

I think I might still try to get a pic of me wearing it at some point, and stick it up here, because I'm not entirely happy with the way the dummy shot presents it. But at least now you get to see it.

Also, coming soon to a craft blog near you: Bachelorette scrapbook pics!

May 3, 2008

Class day!

When I got my serger back in February, the store said that I'd get one free class on basic serger use as part of the package. It took a couple months for them to get their new class schedule out, but I went this afternoon. And let me say, it was totally worth it, if only for the instructor (Loretta, who was so nice!) informing me that the problem I'd been having with loops hanging off the edge was not actually due to the looper tension-- the blade had been cutting too far into the fabric. So she showed me how to readjust that, and it made a huge difference. I also learned several other cool tricks-- clockwise from the top, how to gather fabric (also useful for edge-finishing/easing sleeve caps quickly, she said), rolled hems (no more tiny seam allowances on sheers, hurrah!), curves like necklines (also how to adjust the serger to get knits to lie flat-- I really need to make myself something with knits so I can try it!), and how to do corners, both inside (like for V-necks) and outside (like for doing napkin edges and such).
And here's a closeup of the rolled hem.
Another fun story from the class-- I was the youngest one there (by several years, for the most part), and I'm wearing my Beatles logo-bling shirt (the logo done in those iron-on gem-type things, metallic silver so it's very reflective. And no, I did not make this one.) So after the class, one of the women asked me if I like the Beatles, I told her I did, and she told me that she'd gotten to meet Paul McCartney and shake his hand (back when Linda was still alive.) So that was neat.
The other thing I did today: made a gift for one of my pregnant friends, who's due to have the baby in a couple of weeks. I'd wanted to make something for her anyway--some women at my church had a baby shower for the girls at my old Bible study who were all pregnant with their second-or-later child (this is my friend's fourth), just so they'd get a little something. I couldn't go, and she's the only one of the four that I'm really friends with (and she still goes to my current one anyway.) So this past Sunday, when my current Bible study had a surprise baby shower for another of the pregnant couples (this is their first), she got this nursing cover that looked kind of like an apron with an overalls buckle that had some stiff plastic in the top so she could look down and check on the baby without potentially flashing people. This particular friend of mine, who was sitting next to me, said she thought that was neat, and she'd have to see if she could find one to buy for herself since she wouldn't have time to make one. (She sews too, but like I said, this is her fourth!) So I told her that I had been planning on making something for the baby girl anyway, so if she wanted me to, I could try to figure one out and that would be her gift. She really liked that idea.
So this is what I ended up with, as modeled by my curtain rod. I sort of used the tutorial by Made By The Mama Monster that I linked in yesterday's favorites, to get an idea of the size, but then ended up kind of winging it because I wanted it to be bigger and I'd already got fabric to line it with (was afraid the lighter-colored fabric that just looked so much like her style would be a little too see-through for public use, you know?) It was really easy-- basically two rectangles, one about 1.25" taller than the other, that I sewed together on three sides like a pillowcase, then folded the taller side over the lining to make a casing, sewed the strap in along with the casing, inserted the boning, sewed up the other side, topstitched the whole thing, and added the overalls buckle.
And a view of the buckle...
...and of the lining. So now I can give it to her tomorrow, and she'll have it for when the baby comes.

May 2, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 8

You all were busy this week... I have to super-size it!

1. I'll admit that I'm not a fan of this high-waisted trend. Namely because I'm a flute player, and stuff like that restricts my breathing. However, this shorts version of BurdaStyle's Bella pants by the ever-so-stylish Koti*Koti is definitely worth a mention for the creative use of stripes alone.

2. Sew, Mama, Sew! hosted a sewing tutorial contest, and posted several rounds of finalists. My favorite picks: cute fabric toe separators for pedicures, a how-to for tightening up the back of jeans to prevent gapping, a quick way to make old bootcuts into Bermuda shorts, and an ice cream cone plushie. Timeliest entry for me was this nursing cover, since I promised a friend I'd make one for her and she's due in about 3 weeks, and I also have to mention this because, doesn't that look kind of familiar?

3. ThreadBanger pick of the week: A list of links for DIY headboards. I really like the idea of the padded one, because my Ikea bed has gappage issues between the wall and the mattress! And this one looks like it would be relatively easy.

4. I saw this hoodie on Wardrobe Refashion and thought it was cute.

5. The Sewing Divas had a nice tutorial on how to do mitered hems-- which will come in handy for the ends of ties and such!

6. I can't remember who posted the link to it, but thanks to that person, I found a nice blog that features scrapbook layout sketches, as well as several examples by different people of what can be done with each sketch. Which is always a helpful resource for me, and especially in light of my self-challenge to figure out what exactly my scrapbook style is and improve my layout design.

7. Angry Chicken posted a link to a great tutorial for 4x6 bound journals that use a photo for the cover.

8. I really liked Assorted Notions' twisted knit neckline-- really spices up an otherwise simple shirt!

9. Crafty Daisies' kids' quilt gets a mention, simply due to the fact that she found fabric based on the Hungry Caterpillar book. That just makes me happy.

That's it for now, and rushing off to work. Happy Friday!