November 28, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 30

Happy day-after Thanksgiving!! Appropriately, most of my links this week are for Christmas stuff.

First off, even though I'm not buying anything today, I have a list of eco-friendly craft supplies, courtesy of Crafting a Green World. I'm kind of drooling over the bead collection. And wondering how my crochet friends would feel about yarn hand-spun from the seller's wedding dress...

Some fun decorations at Dollar Store Crafts. The first is Christmas ornaments made from those little metal wrappers that tea lights come in, and the second is a recycled cd decorated to look like peppermint candy. Yum.

Ok, so this one's not exactly Christmas-y. But I loved these "fairy lights" made from Christmas lights and recycled egg cartons at Whip Up. I'll have to find an excuse to make those sometime...a party, perhaps? I also had to take note of their list of tutorials for baby crafts--I think I have a couple of years until the next wave of babies, since it seemed like half of the women I know and their sister had a baby this past year, but I'm always scrounging for ideas (and ways to avoid the headache that is Babies R' Us!) so this should help.

Moving away from the holiday stuff-- I really liked this Dresden petal handbag tutorial at Quality Time. Not only cute, but a great way to use up those pesky scraps. And, well, this one really isn't crafty at all. But I also had to bookmark this list of music of interest at Angry Chicken. Because music feeds creativity, and I'm always looking for ideas of bands to hunt down at eMusic. Mmmmm, indie bands.

And with that, I am off for a night of movies and craftiness of the Christmas ornament variety with some of my friends. Ciao!

November 27, 2008

Thankful to be Crafty

Since I'm not the one rushing around to cook dinner (my family always goes to my dad's parents' on Thanksgiving, and my grandfather insists on making all the food, other than the bread, which my mom makes), figured it would be fitting for this blog to think a little on this subject.

So here's why I'm thankful that I'm crafty....

  1. Because it's fun!
  2. Because it allows me to express myself in a unique, creative way. Particularly since I'm primarily a clothes sewer. Plus I rarely have to bother with the concern that someone else will show up in the same outfit as me.
  3. Because, even though it takes some effort sometimes, I can have clothes that truly fit.
  4. Because it allows me to recycle in creative ways.
  5. Because, sometimes, it saves me money. (Anyone who makes clothes should know what I mean there, haha.)
  6. Because it allows me to make gifts for my friends and family that are truly personal. For instance, what are the odds that I would have been able to find a rabbit apron for my rabbit-owning-and-loving friend for her wedding? (Plus it was functional!)
  7. Because it's something I can use to help people. Something I've just started having opportunities to do this year, pretty much, and mainly through my Bible study--like I was able to help make pillows for kids at battered women's shelters, and it looks like we're going to be doing something with Project Linus soon.
  8. Because it's therapeutic. Crafting is great stress relief for me-- though I'm not one for long-term repetitive crafts (the reason I was never really able to get into cross-stitching or knitting or crocheting), something small like stringing a necklace together can be really soothing. Or the accomplished feeling of running a few seams together and having it look like a skirt or shirt can be a real pick-me-up. Or, sometimes I have to break stuff before I can make stuff, and that's just fun. ;-) Or, on a slightly more personal note, the times when I get really down about the single life, it helps to work on my scrapbook some and remember all the fun times I have with my friends and such.
  9. Speaking of scrapbooking, it means I get a more creative way to look back on those memories than just shoving them in an album. More time-consuming, yes, but the kid in me loves the collage aspect!
  10. Because it allows me to connect with people. Though not all of my friends, I'm fortunate to have some friends here who also craft, and getting together with them and making stuff (even though it's often not the same type of stuff, as 2 out of 3 of them are primarily crocheters!) is always a fun time. And, I've also enjoyed getting to know crafters from all over the place through this blog!
Ten seems like a good number to stop at. Especially since I want to get some sewing in before we head over to my grandparents' for the turkey. So, I hope you all have a wonderful day with lots to be thankful for, no matter where you are!

November 23, 2008

Taming the Pants Monster, part 5

They FIT!!

It took me all day yesterday, and they're not completely done yet-- I still have to sew on some hooks and eyes, and I'm letting them hang up for now just in case they stretch out a bit on the legs before I hem them, and I have to clean up all the stray threads from the waistband and the markings. But I have pants that fit.

Admittedly, they're a little more snug than I would have wished. They still fit, but if I ever gain weight, they won't. The problem is, the interfacing eliminated every bit of give that the fabric had for the yoke. I couldn't get the yoke onto the pants without a lot of puckering, even though I clipped the seams a lot to try and get it to stretch more. (Thus the stray threads at the waistband.) So I ended up having to take the seams in a bit near the top of the pants, to try and work out some of that excess cloth. Thankfully, I can still get them on (though I have to do the hip shimmy thing to make it work!)

Had a little bit of trouble with the fly front, namely because I ended up sewing it shut when doing the external stitching. I wish I could say it was an accident, but I think it was just a case of not knowing how to construct it. Once I went to put the yoke on, I realized my mistake and (with the help of a pair of RTW pants so I could see what it was supposed to look like) fixed it. But it's not bad for my first fly front since I was a teenager! (Probably better than that one was, actually.) So that gets me one step closer to what is currently my sewing Holy Grail (since I'm in no position to get to make myself a wedding dress) --jeans that fit!

I'm really glad I have a serger now. I know I've had it since February, but since it was a combined birthday/Christmas gift for this year, I'll say it again. Having that was the best thing that could have happened to these pants, because the fabric got so easily frayed and without it, I probably would have had to double-stitch a bunch of seams to try and keep the fabric from pulling apart within a couple wearings. Or French-seam all the straight ones. And then it would have taken twice as long. The pattern instructions actually did call for French-seaming the outer curved edge of the pockets, but I just regular stitched it and then serged the edges instead. Probably not quite the couture thing that the Vogue pattern was going for, but I'm glad I did it, because I'm certain that the pocket seam would have showed through the front of the legs with that excess bulk. It's just that kind of fabric. I'm also thinking that it's a good thing I decided to skip the back welt pockets, because I probably would have rectangles showing through on my backside--not a good thing, when I'm going to be wearing this to conduct a band at their Christmas program and that's what all their parents are going to be seeing!)

No pictures yet, because I don't want to take them before I sew on the hooks and eyes. And, well, I would like to get the hemming done first so they're actually done. Maybe I'll get that done later today. We'll see, because Joy and I are going to be spending the afternoon blueifying Susannah's wedding dress again. And dyeing her shoes. I've never dyed shoes before, so this should be an interesting experience!!

Edit, 11:24 AM: Trying out a new color scheme, because I'm feeling festive. I really wish I was better at this HTML editing... I can't figure out how to change the tag boxes at the bottom of the posts from that clashy blue-grey! And I can't pick a new template, because I can't remember how I got my scrolling sidebars on here. Meh.

November 21, 2008

Bookworm award! (Oh yeah, and Friday Favorites, Episode 30...)

First order of business: Christine at and sew it begins... graciously bestowed a Bookworm Award on me.

The rules of this award are:
-pass this on to 5 friends

-Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.
Write out the 5th sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that...

Closest book to me is Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice (started it just before Halloween, figured it was appropriate for the season, but this is proving to be a shockingly slow read for me!! Normally I'd have been done a book of this size by now! Anyway...

" 'For what!' Lestat grimaced, so that his face looked like a skull. 'Taking me out of school!' He threw up his hands and let out a terrible roar of desperation. 'Damn him! Kill him!' he said."

On that cheery note... :-P
Since the book thing never gets old, even if you've done it before, I'm nominating Mom2Fur @ Sorta Frugal, Sharon @ Adventures From the Sewing Studio, Gwen @ After The Dress..., Christina @ Stina's Stuff, and Antoinette @ Have fun!

And now, onto Friday Favorites! This week, it's pretty much a case of Christmas or not.

Non-holiday favorites: Another tutorial list at Whip Up-- picked this one because it had more clothes! And Dollar Store Crafts had a tutorial for a coin purse made from an old cassette tape-- I like this better than the wallets!

Holiday favorites: Confessions of a Craft Addict had the cutest little trees! Sew, Mama, Sew! has been doing a series of gift ideas for various people, such as this post on gifts for bookworms. They also have a woodland ornament tutorial that looks like fun. Over at The Long Thread, there's...bowling for elves? Well, they call it "skittles", but it's basically bowling. Back over to Whip Up, there's a tutorial for a pocket advent calendar (using gum), and a gift card box (which will come in handy for the gift card white elephant my friends and I are having!

Ok, that wraps it up for today. As for the pantsuit, so far, on track. Though I haven't started cutting yet, since I'm waiting for the tires on my car to get done!!

November 19, 2008

The pantsuit game plan

Ok. After digging through the pattern stash, I came up with this. So here's my game plan of how I will (hopefully) get started on sewing this thing by this weekend, since I have a very limited amount of time in which to finish it! (Especially since I have a Christmas present that needs sewing in the meantime so I can mail it out!! And a growing craving to get some recons done...)

Tonight: Cut out muslin #2.
Tomorrow: Baste together said muslin, and work on fitting errors.
Friday: Cut out the pants/jacket/lining/interfacing in its entirety.
Saturday: Start sewing like crazy!!

Off to work...

November 15, 2008

HotPatterns: 2. Me: 0.

Well, it's official-- both of my HotPatterns are a flop. At least for the purpose I had in mind.

I took a break from the pants fitting, and spent a good chunk of today cutting out and basting together the muslin-- didn't even bother putting in the second sleeve, because it was quickly apparent that there's some major problems with this.

Problem #1: It needs to be taken in. A LOT. And it's not so much a pattern sizing issue this time (I triple-checked my measurements against the chart, and since it had everything from size 6 to 26 on the same pattern, it's not like I could have bought the wrong size!) No, this is my usual fitting-at-the-waist issues. But highly accentuated by the gathering. But yeah, several inches have to go.

Problem #2 (the more difficult one): The armhole is ginormous. To the point where this is where it stops--almost level with the empire waist. Since I'm planning on wearing this to conduct a band concert, arm movement is kind of a priority. And with both sleeves and buttoned up, don't think that's going to be happening-- at least not without some major tugging across the back at this point!

Another view-- hard to see since the picture's kind of dark (and I haven't gotten Photoshop back on my computer yet to play with it), but the hugeness of the armhole shows up better against my darker shirt.

Problem #3: I should have seen this one coming. But the sleeves are too short. It's practically a 3/4 sleeve on me, and I think they were supposed to be long. At least, that's how it looked on the envelope sketch. Curse my monkey arms!

So it looks like I'm going to be hitting the stash for the jacket pattern, too. I have a Simplicity one that might work out nicely. I'm just so annoyed--for one thing, I've been wanting to try a HotPatterns outfit for years, and it really doesn't make me feel any better that the patterns are way pricier than my usual strategy of stocking up on the $0.99 pattern sales at Joanns' or getting stuff free off of BurdaStyle!!

I'm not saying I'm never going to come back to these two patterns-- if only for the reason of trying to get my money's worth, I kind of feel like I have to at least try to tweak them into something wearable. But with only a month to get this pantsuit done, I just don't have the time to try and fix such major issues right now.

On a brighter note, I did get C's Christmas present mostly done today as well, and I'm very happy with how that is turning out. Though I'm not posting any hints or pictures yet, since I know she occasionally lurks on here!

November 14, 2008

Taming the Pants Monster, part 4a (plus some)

A visual aid to the last pants post--the trimmed-down pieces overlaid with the original pattern.

Had to trim down the outer side seams...

...change the angle and depth of the back crotch...

...and the most dramatic one-- look how much I have to take out of the yoke!!

I also got the pattern pieces cut out for my jacket. I'm glad I cut them out first, because I was going cross-eyed with some of the smaller pieces, the lines were so close together! I can't imagine trying to trim them at the same time that I was cutting the fabric!!

In other news, I've joined the Sew Craft Blog-- Sharon told us about it, and the concept is pretty neat. It groups 15 crafters together to form a mini-blog community of sorts. I've been placed in the still-forming group #3. Adding the links to the list of blogs I'm following as I get them, and will post on the sidebar once the group is fully made. I'm excited to see how this turns out!

Friday Favorites, Episode 29

It's baaaaaaack!!

And loaded with stuff, as I did end up being able to get my bookmarks back, so this is the pared-down version of three week's worth of stuff.

So I'll sort it into categories.

Stuff people made that I liked:

Angry chicken's shadow box/thumb puppet theater was just too fun. And though she's been quieter as of late, I really enjoyed reading Lydia's post about a Martha Stewart roasted chicken recipe. I swear, the girl should be a food writer. The photography and the way she describes things never fails to make me hungry! And Whip Up featured a dress made entirely from fabric selvedges, and (of all things) a puppet made from old t-shirts, earthworm. Finally, I was glad to see Krustallos' pattern review for a McCall jeans pattern-- I think I have this same one to try next in my quest for the perfect pair of jeans. And since I have that gapping in the back issue with jeans all the time, good to know that I'll probably have to make those adjustments!

Tutorials galore!!

I get blank envelopes on a pretty regular basis, from students who pay me in cash. So I'm looking forward to trying these envelope books featured at Recycled Crafts. They also had a tutorial for making new packaging boxes from old ones-- just in time for holiday gift-wrapping--and a bag made from woven labels. I loved the look of it-- reminds me of those Starburst wrapper chains I used to make! Over at Little Sweet Hearts, she made a tutorial for Hana Kanzashi-- those hair flowers that are featured in Memoirs of a Geisha. At Crafting a Green World, someone figured out how to make shrinky dinks from the type of plastic that disposable cups are made from-- I really want to try this for a scrapbook! And there were a whole slew of things at Whip Up: A pencil case that looked like a bunny. A chipmunk plushie made from a glove. (I kind of want to try it as a squirrel, since a couple of my friends and I have a lot of inside jokes about squirrels.) A flower garland from old catalogues. Another flower, in the form of a pincushion wrist cuff. And if that wasn't enough, they pointed me to a post by The Princess and the Monkey, that's an entire list of sewing tutorials for everything from bags to plushies. A lot of it is kid-oriented, but that should help a lot when I'm having to make gifts for my friends!

Cool blog of the week:
A heads-up from ThreadBanger, who pointed me towards Dollar Store Crafts. The entire blog is dedicated to upcycled crafts made from stuff found in dollar stores and bargain bins. I'm checking out the wearables category and my favorite so far is the "Eight Dollar Corset". The stained glass is fun too, as is their tattooed soap!

And with that, wrapping it up for today, as I need time to actually, you know, craft.

November 12, 2008

Taming the Pants Monster, part 4

Or, several notes to myself in tweaking the pants pattern. This post is pretty much just for myself so I can find it quickly. If I write it down on paper, I'll be sure to lose it in my messy living space.

Pants side seams: 1"

Yoke side seams: widening from 3/4" where it joins the pants, to 1 1/4" at top.

Yoke back seam: widening from 5/8" where it joins the pants, to 1 3/8" at top.

Crotch seam: tapering from 1 3/4" in back to 5/8"-- end of tapering approx. 1 1/4" from center, in front.

New pocket join point: ~1" from notch (pants side), away from center front.

Pants side and yoke side front notch: 7/8" apart. (Same for back double notches, actually.)

Next trick: How to actually transfer all of this to the pattern, so I'll be ready to cut out the black version.

Next next trick: Jacket muslin. Finishing the striped pants will have to wait, seeing as how I have only 32 days to actually get the pantsuit ready to wear! More like 20, if you count all the days (i.e. Mondays and Tuesdays) where I get done work/dinner/all that too late to have presence of mind to sew/the days I'm working on S's wedding dress!

November 11, 2008

Of Slacks, Scrapbooks and Stingy Crafting

Ok, so the last bit isn't entirely accurate, but I wanted the alliteration.

As you can see, I'm now photo-capable again! My computer is mostly functional again-- still have to reload a couple things like Photoshop, and do some major work on fixing my iTunes library. There's a bunch of random albums where all the tracks got loaded twice (some of them only partially loaded twice), and I'm going to have to reconstruct all of my playlists, so I'm in the process of writing down the track listings from my iPod. Can't sync that till it's done. But anyway, back to the craftiness!

This is the fabric/pattern I'm making my test pants from, which has been sitting in my stash for about two years now.
I also found all of this yumminess in the same bin, which I honestly had forgotten I had, and am itching to make some stuff from it!! Especially that embroidered black.

So these are the pants, which I cut out and basted together last Thursday.

As you can see, I still need to tweak the fit some. (And it doesn't help that this mirror angle makes me look really short and fat!) I'm going to have to take off the yoke and tweak the side seams a bit, I think, but hopefully once I get all those changes made, it'll sew back together really easily! So I'm hoping to have all those changes made and the pattern altered accordingly by the weekend, so I can sew them together as my test run for the pantsuit.

No sewing this past weekend-- was in Baltimore to hang out with friends and watch The Decemberists! I did take my road trip scrapbook down, though, and made a rather major dent on it. I have one tiny bit of stamping left to do, and then it's just print out a couple of things (easier to do now that I have my computer back) and machine stitching, which I can get done in an afternoon. But I have to do the pantsuit first. Still, I should be able to get this done by the end of the year, which is my goal!!

As for the last part...I've come to a decision. Money's going to be really tight for me over the next several months, and so I'm going to see if I can refrain from buying new craft supplies until May (which is when my car should be paid off, and then I can rebuild whatever chunk of my bank account the next couple of months is going to kill.) I will make a few exceptions:
  • Small notions like zippers and thread, if I don't have anything on hand that will work.
  • Scrapbook adhesive. Can't finish those pages if I run out of sticky stuff! Also, maybe photos, if I run out of printed out stuff to work on (hahahaha!)
  • If I need to buy things to make gifts. Such as that fabric I already promised B for her birthday presents. And if I need to make any wedding gifts for S.

But other than that, I'm going to try my darndest to not buy any more fabric. Or paper. Or clothes from the thrift store to refashion. We'll see if I can stick to it.

November 7, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 29: The Interactive Edition

I know I'd said I wanted to go back to the regular format this week, but due to the current computer issues, that's impossible, as my bookmark list is trapped on my computer and it and the internet don't get along right now.

So, since there's a good chance the needed reformatting is going to make me lose my entire bookmark list anyway, for today's Friday Favorites, I want some feedback!

The question: What are your favorite craft websites? I'm not being picky here-- they can be blogs, forums, regular websites, places you go purely for inspiration, anything craft-related. (Ok, so I'm not really into the yarncraft thing, but if those are your favorites, go ahead and say them anyway!)

November 6, 2008

Taming the Pants Monster, Part 3

Making progress! No pictures though, at least not tonight. Remember those computer issues that I was having about a week and a half ago? Well, after several days of working just fine, my computer started crashing again on Tuesday night. (Right around the time the election results were finalized...I'm really not making that up!) So it's looking like it's going to have to be entirely reformatted, with reloading Windows and everything else. All of my photos and documents were backed up last night, and my tech-savvy brother (who built the computer in the first place) is going to work on it for me tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm on my dad's borrowed laptop with nowhere to upload my photos. But I am still documenting.

Anyway, back to the pants. Since the HotPatterns attempt was a flop, I dug through my stash and pulled this one out. Along with the fabric I'd originally bought for it--since I was planning on finally getting to that this winter anyway (it's been in the stash for about 2 years now), figured I'd save myself some time and use that as my muslin too. Cut it out today, and basted it together tonight, and I think this one's going to work much better! Though it does need some adjustments. I made it the size to accomodate my hips, so of course it doesn't fit at the waist. I ended up chopping the yoke up, a la the other view, and then taking it in several inches around the three seams that the yoke now has. (Still basted together, so I can get the exact measurements later. I still need to tweak it a bit in the side seams anyway.) I think once I get the fit figured out, I'll go ahead and sew them together anyway so I can work out all the pattern kinks. It's been years since I attempted fly-front pants.

November 5, 2008

Taming the Pants Monster, Part 2

Or, to quote the song by The Frames that I currently have stuck in my head, "I'm not sad, I'm just disappointed."

I sewed together the muslin for the Classix Nouveau Razor-Sharp Pants from HotPatterns tonight. And, well, I'm not sure there's any way to salvage this pants pattern, other than entirely change it to something else. Sizing issue aside, they just don't look good on me at all. I don't know if it's the fact that they're a wide-legged pant, or if it's just this particular cut of wide-legged, or what. So I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do I just try a different pattern, since I'm on a time crunch and don't have hours and hours to spend tweaking the pattern right now? And if so, what? Nothing on BurdaStyle looks like it will work for this. And the only patterns on sale at Joann's any time soon are Simplicity, and nothing on there is really inspiring me right now. Except for maybe the pants from this pattern. Of course, it's also a 5 for $5 deal, which means I might need to come up with 4 other patterns I like, and I really don't need any more stash patterns right now... augh!!

I give up for tonight.

November 4, 2008

Taming the Pants Monster, Part 1

Or, Why It's A Darn Good Thing I'm Making A Muslin, or, Mental Note To Self: I Am Not A Glamour Girl.
So here's the scoop: I really need to learn to make pants that fit me. And I have to stop procrastinating now, because I need to get this pantsuit done within the next month and a half. I'm using the Classic Nouveaux pants from HotPatterns (my first time using this brand). And I cut the muslin out tonight.
In the process of doing so, I learned that I had apparently ordered the wrong size. I know I read the webpage, I don't know how I missed this. But I went by my bra size, which led me to "Glamour Girl"...and somehow, based on my measurements (and not counting my bra size), I should really be in the second-largest size of "Slinky Girl."
Mental note to self: Never order patterns based on bra size again. Unless I actually decide to make a bra or something related to such.
So what it comes to is, I'm making a size too big. So this muslin will be interesting to fit.
And wrapping it up there, because I have microwave chocolate cake calling my name in the kitchen!

November 3, 2008

Simplification is good, right?

So it looks like I might not be making a bunch of Christmas gifts after all. Last Christmas, I had a party for the girls where we watched Christmas movies and ate fondue-- was talking to J and C on the backpacking trip I went on this weekend, and the subject of holiday plans came up. And we decided that yes, we are interested in doing the party again. J also had a good idea for the gift exchange portion--instead of everyone giving gifts to everyone, everyone just gets one gift card to the place of their choice for a pre-set amount, and then we white elephant it. And since nearly every friend I was going to make a gift for would be invited to this party, if it happens, that would eliminate the need to make most of them gifts. I'd still make them for J and C, since they're my two best friends, and for T since she wouldn't be coming. And for anyone who couldn't come. But otherwise...

Part of me is a little disappointed because I'd finally come up with an idea for everyone! But simplification is good, right? Especially seeing as of... *checks clock* oh, now, I owe B for two birthdays and need to make her stuff for that. Once she picks the fabric. And that I absolutely have to get a pantsuit done by December 17 (the concert that I'm conducting band for) that I haven't started the muslin for yet. Not to mention finish arranging the music that the band will be playing for said concert. And am in dire need of pants that aren't jeans. And slightly less dire need of jeans that actually fit me for once in my life. (And, um, I really want to make my satin-backed flannel pjs...and do some more recons...)

Also means I need to rethink my weekend crafting plans-- since I'll be at T's house, my plan was to bring stuff to make gifts for several of my friends. But since I won't be doing that, and I don't want to haul my sewing machine down there and make a bunch of noise while I'm trying to maintain conversations with her and C, I'll probably end up breaking out the road trip album again. Who knows-- I just might finish it this year like I'd hoped to after all!

And I guess I can save the gift ideas for birthdays, right?