January 30, 2009

panic! and a project

Ugh....this was not my best afternoon ever. One of my friends is coming over tomorrow to sew (I told her she could use my serger a couple months ago when we went fabric shopping together and she got some knit to make dresses out of), and I'd figured that I'd use my sewing machine to work on the shrugs for the upcoming wedding while she uses my serger. There's only about 5 seams involved for the outside of each shrug, so it's not like it's going to take a lot of brainpower, and then I can help her when she needs it. And I'm still hoping I can machine-sew the trim on, so I figured I could start on that tomorrow with the amount of trim I had, which is about half of what's needed for all 4 in the end. And then emailed the bride to ask her to bring the rest on Sunday, that we'd had to order in.

She didn't have it. And said that she'd given it to me back in November. Which I then vaguely remembered. So I checked my fall purse. And my current purse. And my tote bag that I put my church music and haul my flute in on Sundays that I play. And the Joann's bag that the fabric and the other half of the trim had been in. Nothing. So then I called her just to make sure she didn't have it, since she's been admittedly kind of scatterbrained lately, between planning a wedding and planning to move halfway across the world. Still nothing.

So I ended up making an unexpected trip to Joann's this afternoon, because I knew I would have no peace of mind until I knew I could finish this project in time. Especially since we're past the window where we could order more and get it in time! Thankfully, they had enough of it! (I'm also quite thankful that she purposely chose inexpensive trim. Because she said she'd pay for the replacement, and I'd feel even more awful if it had been the expensive stuff!) Ended up picking up a few other things I needed while I was there too, like a pack of hand sewing needles to replace the ones I perpetually lose, some thread for the next item of this post, and two of the new McCall's patterns I was eyeing because they were on sale. (It's 5809, because I like that it's empire waist and still fitted throughout the actual waist--will be much more flattering on me that way--and 5814, because that ruffle-cap-sleeve jacket thing just looks like it might be great for summer work clothes!)

Ok, so the project. My brother recently gave me two pairs of his old jeans that were too torn up for him to wear anymore (hard to see in the pic, but both of them had huge tears across the knees, and a few holes in other places) to see if I could do something with them. Kind of unexpected. So I started tearing them up on Sunday, and today I turned them into this:

Yeah, not the greatest picture, but what can you do by yourself at 11:30 at night?

There were a couple of glitches. Like I ended up having to take out and re-install a zipper-- I was originally planning to use the one that came in the bluer pair of jeans, since that's the part I knew I'd be using for the center front, but whoever sewed the jeans had just chopped off the top in the middle of the teeth, and I accidentally removed the zipper pull and couldn't get it back on! Fortunately, I had taken out the zipper from the greyer jeans , which was just a shorter length zipper (smarter people) and completely intact. So that took a good chunk of the afternoon, particularly since I'm not experienced enough at fly fronts yet to not have to rip things out five times when sewing them. (Yes, I sewed the fly completely shut again.) As you can see, the fly does lay a bit funny. But other than that, not bad for an afternoon's work. I sort of used the BurdaStyle Sidonie pattern as my basis for the skirt (once I got the front and back pieces sewed into the bigger pieces of fabric), and it worked out pretty well. I'm glad I had this one saved from the mini-challenge, because it was a convenient and simple one to have on hand!

This skirt isn't entirely done. Sewing-wise, yes, but I think it needs a dye job. For one thing, I just like darker denim better-- seems nicer and like it will last longer. And I'm not totally liking this two-tone thing going on, especially in the back because it looks like I have racer stripes on my butt. I don't need that. The overriding reason is, because of the way I had to cut it due to bad hole location in the bluer pair (right in the middle of the upper leg!) you can see the lines from where the original fly-front topstitching was on the greyer pair in the front, and that bothers me. Also wouldn't mind covering over the weird darker splotches where the belt carriers were. I did look at the dye while I was in Joann's, but ended up not getting it-- was hoping I could find the stuff that you could just toss in the washer without making a ginormous mess of it, and it's far too cold to bucket-dye it. Probably for at least another 3 months, as easily as I get cold. So this skirt will probably be sitting unworn for a little while. But that's ok. I'm just getting a head-start on the warm-weather sewing!

Friday Favorites, Episode 37

Kind of a slow week this time-- now that it's almost the end of January, most of what I've been finding out there in the way of tutorials and such have been for Valentine's Day projects.

I hate Valentine's Day. Always have. Red and pink (especially pink) are two of my least favorite colors, diamonds are not this girl's best friend (especially after watching Blood Diamond-- I don't think I could ever get a piece of new diamond jewelry with a clean conscience now!), hearts are too cutesy for my taste, and most of all, I think real love should be celebrated any and every day of the year, not just because Hallmark tells you to on February 14th. Besides, let's face it, when you've been single for as long as I have, it's just torture. I don't need to be any more aware of my singleness, thank you.

Ok, enough ranting. On with the projects.

Ironically, the first one is for a Valentine's related project, but this is one I can really get behind. You know those candy hearts that taste like chalk and have tacky little messages on them like "U B MINE" and "LUV U" and crap like that? Well, over at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, they decided to improve on these. #1, by making them edible (shortbread cookies instead of chalk) and then by stenciling their own messages on them. These ones were taken from classic LOLCats phrases, and therefore are already far superior to the average candy heart. (Incidentally, they do list some good uses for the regular candy hearts. Such as ammunition for a Lego trebuchet. Or sidewalk chalk on the cheap.)

On to more creatively fun projects. On Crafting a Green World this week, they demonstrated how to recycle the soles of old shoes (I'm guessing the ones that are too beat up for even the thrift store) into fun new rubber stamps. I have made my own stamps before, from the linoleum blocks as part of a printmaking project in my high school art class. It was a lot of fun, and I wouldn't mind trying it again. So I'll have to keep this in mind next time I wear out a pair of shoes. They also featured a link for a by-the-yard fabric made from a blend of hemp and recycled plastic bottles (link to one of the fabrics on their Etsy site.)

Generally, I'm not one drawn to old-fashioned vintagey sort of things that look like they could have come from my grandmother. I'm just not a pearls-and-lace-and-pink sort of girl. (Actually, for the most part, none of those things actually would come from either of my crafty grandmothers.) But I really loved this next project, probably because it can double as a very natural-looking thing (and I do love my nature stuff!) Over at Everyday Beauty, she made flowery twinkle lights using a strand of Christmas lights and....sewing pattern paper! You know that's something all of us sewing-types have a ton of. And this would be a great use for that pattern that was a total flop, or that just wasn't your style anymore. Or maybe even the leftover pieces cut off of the side and such as you're cutting out the pattern.

Since it's been a bit of a quiet week due to the impending holiday, I'm also going to mention some of my favorite things from Wardrobe Refashion as of late. Melynda made a beautiful applique and reverse-applique shirt from a Smirnoff tee. Elizabeth is making a steampunk costume from a thrifted dressing gown. And Veronica made a great 60's style dress from an appropriately-printed curtain.

January 28, 2009


It's not the prettiest thing I've put up here. But right now, I am all about using stuff up. And this has the dual function of using up scraps cut from muslin pattern tests (and eventually the test runs themselves) and spools of almost-empty thread. I used up two tonight on just this little piece.

So what is this for, you may ask? This is me finally starting an organizer for my jewelry stash, because I'm tired of digging through a jumbled pile of earrings and untangling 15 different necklaces every time I put an outfit together. I've been neglecting my accessories out of sheer laziness/frustration with it as of late, and that's just not right because I have so many fun hand-crafted pieces of jewelry. So I'm taking advantage of my current organizing mood as of late. (Not to mention wanting to procrastinate on those bridesmaid shrugs.) And hoping that this ends up being one of those things that is so ugly that it's kind of cool. :D

I think I created a monster with that craft supply organization day. Since then, I finished cataloging my fabric stash on Saturday. (The grand total was something like 70 pieces of fabric that need to get used up! But I'm happy because I gave the two pieces I wasn't willing to even catalog to my fellow sewing bridesmaid on Sunday. She actually wears pinkish stuff, and I never do, so hopefully she'll find some good use for them.) And, since I still didn't really have the time or inclination to start on those shrugs, I've also started making myself a catalog of my pattern stash. I have 3 bins full of patterns. (I should have 4, possibly 5, because I also have a bunch that just sit on the shelf on top of one of said bins.) I made myself a little form in Word for stuff like pattern # and description, required yardage and notions, etc. And then I've been scanning in the technical drawings and bringing those into the doc and printing it out. (On the recycled paper that wasn't working so hot in large quantities for BurdaStyle patterns, so yay for that.) I'm writing in the info on the printed form because it's just easier than retyping and deleting everything every time. And then they're going in a binder with dividers for what type of pattern it is. It's kind of fun to see what all I have, and have already found a couple of patterns in my stash that just might work for using up some of the smaller yardages I have, so yay for that!

Otherwise, let's see... I've almost finished tearing apart 2 pairs of jeans for a reconstructed skirt, and pretty much busted a seam ripper in the process. I got some fabric in the mail today (some Amy Butler that I'm going to make a new spring/summer purse out of, as soon as I make up or find a pattern to adapt. I might have to raid my mom's stash, because she has a ton of funky purse patterns!) So let's see... that brings my total so far up to 2 stash pieces I have to use. I also stopped procrastinating, somewhat, and cut out the three shrugs and linings today. And started sewing the muslin scraps-- that was because I was between students and didn't have a whole lot of time.

January 24, 2009

An award, Thrifted goodness, and a question

I got an award today! Thanks, Alviana!

Rules and Responsibilities--
1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.

So I'm nominating:
1. Sharon at Adventures From the Sewing Studio
2. Christina at StinaStuff

3. Antoinette at Clevergirl.org
4. Angelia at Sew Much to Sew
5. Linda at Danvillegirl Sewing Diary

6. Regina at Creative Kismet
7. Hillary at the gleam of rose tea

It was hard to narrow down, because there's so many great bloggers out there, but these are all women who have been particularly inspiring me lately with great projects, loads of productivity, creative use of stuff, great inspirational pictures, etc. (Plus, to my knowledge, they weren't already given it by someone else recently.)

Second order of business: Thrift store madness! Spent about an hour and a half there with Cassie last night, and had some very productive (and fun!) shopping time.
I got these things to just wear as is (I really didn't need another T-shirt, but I couldn't pass up a cute one with a horse! And I just love that 70's looking knit dress. Though I will be wearing it as a tunic over jeans. With a shirt underneath. Because otherwise, I cannot go out in public with that low of a cut!)

Inspired by the aforementioned Antoinette and her fantastic men's shirt recons, I got four button-down men's shirts to play with.
I particularly liked the pintuck and embroidery detail on this one. I think I'm going to have a lot of fun girlifying it.

And then I had some fun in the dress section, and found these two. The long dress will probably turn into a shirt of some kind--it fits a little too snugly for my mental comfort (especially showing off my hips!), but there's such great color and depth in that mesh overlay that I couldn't pass it up! See?

The one on the right is a wrap dress, and I'm thinking it might stay that way. But I'll have to make it smaller, because it's a bit too big all over for me. Some black contrast might also be good. But I thought this print was pretty fantastic too.

Third order of business: The question, which is actually twofold. And will be a bit rambling. You've been warned.

So my intention for today was to cut out the 3 bridesmaid shrugs, since I've been shamelessly procrastinating all week. I finished trimming down the muslin on both sides to make the two different alterations (I can wear the same as one of the bridesmaids, but the other I had to shorten a bit in the back to make up for her being a good bit shorter than both of us.) And then I took out the fabric and realized I hadn't actually washed it yet. Oops. So that will be procrastinated on just a little longer, since it's been spending all day in the laundry room. So what I've been doing today instead is finishing up going through my fabric stash, measuring it out/cutting samples/putting them in my little notebook that I'm now using for such a purpose. It's been fun and enlightening and I found a bunch of useful stuff that I didn't even know I had (like stuff I was given.)

But here's the thing: There's several pieces that I just don't know what to do with. Particularly when it comes to things that I've already used for a project, but have a decent amount left over. For instance, this dress right here. It's a great dress. I have about 1 1/3 yards left. I don't feel like I can make a skirt from it, particularly since it has that shrug to go with it and that already gives it a bit of that two-piece look. Or this shirt, which I have about 5/8 of a yard left of that fabric. Too little for just about any clothing project I can think of, too much to throw out. And then there's some pieces I have that I just know I'm never going to use. I'd just go ahead and give them to a thrift store, except the ones around here just don't sell fabric in a form that's not already bedsheets or curtains or another article of clothing. (I know that a lot of you do live near thrift stores that do sell that and vintage patterns and such. Lucky.) And it's not like I have any kids that I can just use up these pieces on.

So here's my twofold question.
a) What do you do with your fabric that's leftover from a project, or that you just don't like anymore?
b) If I stuck some of it up here for a giveaway/exchange, would anyone be interested in it? (I'd only be able to ship within the US, sorry!!)

Edit: I just finished the stash sorting. Grand total: About 78 pieces of fabric. And that's not counting scraps. Or reconstructable clothes. Maybe I should just take all the little scraps and do a Freecycle bag or two...or three...

January 23, 2009

the Lotus Hoodie

Finally got around to taking some pictures of that reconstructed shirt this morning.

So this is what it started life as--a cotton yoga hoodie and a tencel Gap shirt from the thrift store. Loved the colors of both, but the hoodie was too short on both the arms and body, and the asymmetric neckline on the Gap shirt was just weird-looking on me, but the fabric was so soft I couldn't pass it up!

This is what it turned into. I cut the hem off of the green shirt and added a couple of inches to the hem of the blue shirt (and turned the original end of the blue shirt under and hemmed it to give it a more finished look--originally, the hems of the shirt and sleeves and the edge of the hoodie were all jsut serged.) I originally did the same thing to the sleeves of the blue hoodie, but then it just looked dumb. So I ended up cutting new sleeve extensions from the body of the shirt. Oh, and the trim on the hoodie was cut before I did that.

Those marks on the shoulder? No, that's not a weird camera blob. It needed something, so I took some inspiration from the hoodie tag.
It had this picture on it.
So I did some reverse applique with a leftover piece of the green. Freehand-drew it on first with a disappearing fabric marker, and then stitched around it, and cut the blue away to reveal what (hopefully) looks like a lotus flower.

Anyway, even though the sleeves ended up being a bigger frustration than originally planned, this was a fun project. And it was nice to do some reconstructing again, after the push to finish Christmas presents and ill-fated costumes and such!

Friday Favorites, Episode 36

It's that time of the week again!

First up today: At Craft Leftovers, the author kindly provided a free download for some spice jar labels with this cute drawing of a talking spice jar on it! It's quite functional too, as there's space provided for writing when it was bought, so that way you know how fresh it is. She's re-using her spice bottles to refill from bulk bins, which I think is a pretty neat idea too.

At Creativity Prompt, there's a video tutorial for how to make a mini-photo album out of scrapbook paper and a recycled corrugated cardboard box. The instructions are quite clear, the results are cute, and it would make a great gift for someone! (Now that I'm looking there again for the links, there's a new one up for a 10-minute mini-book too. Will have to check that one out, since I'm still determined to learn bookbinding!)

Chinese New Year is on Sunday, and while I'm not Chinese by any stretch of the imagination, I do love Asian-inspired things. (One of those things I've definitely developed a greater appreciation for over the last several years, since I tend to get a lot of students that come from Asian families that immigrated here.) So I really liked this tutorial for making those oh-so-fun paper lanterns. (It's actually a dual tutorial--the same post has one for tin can lanterns!)

The next one is sort of a first for me on this feature, since I generally don't talk about books much. But this one looked kind of intriguing-- it's called Sewing Green by Betz White, and I found out about it via Whip Up. The link takes you to a gallery of sample project photos from the book. Didn't look like anything much out of the realm of my experience, but it's all using recycled stuff. (One that I did find particularly cool was a sun shade for a car windshield made out of...*drumroll*... Capri-Sun pouches! Might not have thought of that one.)

Next up, from Weekend Designer: I. Need. This. Bag. No, seriously, I do. I've been thinking for months that it would be nice to have a big roomy zip-up bag for weekend trips--my carry-on suitcase is a little too small, my regular suitcase is way too big, and it's a bit unwieldy to use a rolling suitcase in instances such as the crafty hangout weekends (like the one coming up in February) when I'm also having to wheel the rolling tote thing for my craft supplies. And this one looks pretty much perfect, plus has the added bonus of being a free pattern (once I draw it out.) I'm trying to think of if I have anything in my stash that might work-- bought fabric for a new spring/summer purse yesterday and now I have to come up with a stash project to compensate, according to my new rules. I know that I have one that might, but I'll have to see if it's strong enough (they recommended upholstery-weight, and this fabric is pieced together of denim and brocade--my mom had bought it and decided she couldn't use it after all and passed it on to me.)

Last item for today, from Dollar Store Crafts: These light bulb vases are cute and simple. Would require the old-fashioned kind, of course, because the halogen lamps would definitely NOT work for this.

Ok, that's it for now. Time to go get some stuff done. Like take some pictures-- I'm at least 2 posts behind on that now!

January 20, 2009

Sometimes I just don't want to sew.

I've had people ask me before if I would ever consider trying to make money by sewing. Admittedly, I have gone back and forth on it, but when it comes down to it, I really don't think I would want to. See, I have this tendency to not want to sew when it's something I have to sew. Like, for instance, the pantsuit that I spent so much time on in December. I'm in one of those moods right now, because right now, I have to make those shrug jackets to go along with the bridesmaid dresses for my friend's wedding. It wasn't so bad when it was only two, but now that I have to make 3 of the 4, I'm beginning to feel like it's a lot of work. And it's not like I haven't done anything at all-- I cut out and sewed together the muslin over the weekend, and fitted it on the other two bridesmaids to see what changes need to be made. But after all the additional work that went into the shower (which was Sunday--and incidentally, Kaylee was a hit), I kind of need a break from wedding stuff! After all, when you're as single as it gets, it's just not healthy to have weddings on the brain all the time.

So I had the entire day off yesterday--wasn't supposed to, but we had some bad weather that prevented me from driving out to do my flute teaching--and I didn't sew at all. That's not to say that I wasn't crafty, though. I did a LOT of scrapbook work yesterday--got out the stamps and embossing stuff and made some embellishments, and I typed up (and even printed out!) some journaling, trimmed some papers, sketched out a few more layouts, stuff like that. I still have some work to do (mainly on the writing end) but I should have several pages that will only require minimal prep work before assembling for our crafty weekend. And since I was working mostly in my room, I also got to spend the day chatting with a couple good friends over IM.

I probably won't end up starting the shrugs until the weekend-- tomorrow is band day, so I have more work than during the rest of the week ATM, and I also have a flute demo for kids that I'm trying to get ready for that's on Thursday. But I've got till March, so I think I can allow myself a little procrastination. There's only 2 pattern pieces, it won't be that hard. In the meantime, I've still got scrapbook work to do, and embroidery to work on so I can actually sew that shirt, and pictures of Friday's reconstructed shirt to take.

January 17, 2009

Princess Pajamas!

Well, purple is the color of royalty, right? Just please excuse the clashing red slippers. (What can I say... they were a gift, and they cover my entire foot so they're warmer than my old slippers.)

Anyway, I decided to start actually using my Pattern Review membership and start posting reviews. So welcome to my very first pattern review, for the pajamas I finished on Wednesday. (Even though I think this pattern is out of print now. Oh well. It's the thought that counts, right?) The actual review is here).

Pattern: McCall's 3017

Fabric: flannel-backed polyester satin, cotton

Pattern Description:
Women's pajama pants, pajama shorts, camisole, and button-down top

Pattern Sizing:
XS to XL

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I didn't have any difficulty with them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like that there's so many options for customization, particularly with the contrast bands and piping. I don't particularly like the sizing on the button-down shirt-- I made a size smaller than my usual because after checking the finished garment measurements against my own, I realized I'd be swimming in my regular size. The smaller shirt is still loose-fitting and comfortable.

Fabric Used:
A flannel-backed polyester satin (SO soft and warm!), and a metallic-printed woven cotton for the piping. (Made my own.)

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
As already stated, it was necessary for me to make the shirt a size smaller than I usually make. I also lengthened the sleeves an inch or two to accommodate my long arms. (The latter caused a slight difficulty in fitting the cuffs smoothly to the sleeves, but I'll blame myself for that one since I didn't alter the cuffs at all.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
This is actually the second time I've sewn the bottom--I made a pair of shorts from this pattern awhile back. I will definitely be returning to this pattern the next time I need a button-down top--it came together quickly and rather easily, for the most part. And I would recommend it, though a more beginner sewer might want to leave the piping off, since getting it to line up smoothly around the collar was the most challenging part. Just make sure to double-check the measurements before cutting out the top.

These pajamas are very comfortable (wearing them as I type!), and now that I've had a little more practice with the piping, I think that will go much more smoothly next time.

Coming next time (because I haven't taken a picture yet)-- the shirt I reconstructed yesterday.

January 16, 2009

Friday Favorites, Episode 35

Almost didn't get to this today... got sidetracked by a clothing reconstruction that's taking longer than I thought it would. But I'm taking a dinner break now, so here goes...

First up is Dollar Store Crafts, featuring this shoji screen made from bamboo and shower curtains, and an easy how-to for customizing an iPod with a clear plastic cover and scrapbook paper. ( I think I'll definitely have to give the latter a try, as the silicon cover I've been using since I got it is leaving it kind of grungy.)

Second is Whip Up, which had a tutorial for a Viking-style shoe and a tree stump trivet (that's really made from felt.)

The newest site I've found is Craft:G33k. Loved this Tardis tissue box cover! And she also posted a link to this "teh yarn bukkit". (For the uninitiated, it's a takeoff of the LOLCats.)

It's been awhile since I've posted anything from Crafting a Green World.... mainly because, for some reason, the feed's stopped working on my Bloglines and I missed a bunch of stuff, thinking that it was just quiet due to the holidays. :-P But I did enjoy this article about digital vs. traditional scrapbooking. And, though it's not from this week, this was a good reference post on all of their eco-friendly fabric finds from 2008.

Two other random favorites, since everything else came in pairs. I really liked Antoinette's most recent men's shirt refashion--think I'm going to have to borrow this idea sometime! And this rather stunning wrap skirt was originally featured on Weekend Designer, but there were some copyright issues so it got removed. But you can still drool over it at Assemblage.

Ok, back to the sewing room-- I'm determined to finish that shirt recon today, since I absolutely have to do muslins for bridesmaid stuff tomorrow morning!

January 14, 2009

Meet Kaylee.

Kaylee is a kangaroo. (By virtue of the ears, because otherwise she would look very much like a dinosaur, I'm afraid.) I did most of the work on New Year's Day, and officially finished this on Friday night, but then I spent all day Saturday on the Great Craft Stash Reorganization, and she had to go into hiding on Sunday, and I forgot to take her out for her photoshoot until today.

Kaylee is for Susannah's bridal shower, which is coming up on Sunday. We're doing an Australia theme, since that's where her fiance is from and where she'll be moving to. So she's going to be doing double duty as decorations and gift wrap--Susannah couldn't register for much because of electronic compatibility and shipping weight issues, so the bridesmaids are just giving her money. Which will go in the pouch.

Oh, and the name? A tribute to Firefly, since Susannah, Joy and myself watched the series in its entirety while doing the beading on her dress. And that name fits better than, say, River or Inara.

I made the pattern myself, and it was mostly from things on hand. The dark brown fleece has been around in the scrap bin for quite some time. I did have to buy the light brown fleece, and the stuffing. (But I got organic bamboo stuffing, so that made me happy. It's so soft!) The buttons were also on hand. And, to give a little extra weight in the base and tail to help her stand up straight, I added a little extra filling...dried beans! (My mom's idea, which worked beautifully.)

Other crafty stuff that's been going on: I sewed most of the pajama pants that I'm working on together last night--just need to do the elastic waistband and the hemming. So that's tonight's project. I've also spent a good bit of down time over the last two days in matching up photos to paper for my scrapbook. So I'm not completely caught up on photos I had printed out--decided to hold off on Julie's wedding pics in case I want to buy any of the professional shots (like the bridesmaids on the mini-rock wall in my church's gym!) , and I was trying to limit myself to what would fit in my layout storage box. (That didn't quite work-- I have some to work on that involve saving bulkier things like multiple cards and such, or just so many photos that it wouldn't lie in the box flat, so I have something like 8 or 9 that I'm trying to get ready for the scrapbook binge weekend that are currently getting stored in page protectors that wouldn't work for my albums because they stick out too far, just like I used to do before I got said box.) But it's still a rather large dent. So now I just need to finish off the journalings, and try to get as much stuff cropped and such before mid-February, and I'm looking at a super-productive weekend that will go a long way in reaching my goal of finally getting my albums from the grad school years and on caught up! (Which, unfortunately, includes 2008 in its entirety. Oh well.)

Off to the sewing room with me-- want to get those pants done before the Lost recap at 8! One of the few shows where I cannot sew and watch at the same time. (Photo cropping, on the other hand... ;-)

January 11, 2009

Organization woes

I have this kind of like-hate relationship with organization. Admittedly, I'm nowhere close to being a neat freak. (I'm not even sure that gene even exists in my family!) And I tend to be the person who doesn't clean up after a project-- either I run out of time, or I'm just ready to go on to something else and don't bother. So things tend to get really, really messy (as you can see here). And I have this weird thing going where I like things to be organized because then I can find stuff, but at the same time I hate it because the predominant creative side of my brain thinks it's kind of anal.

Anyway, the point of this story is that I pretty much spent all day yesterday doing just that-- organizing. My parents are rather cool about letting me keep my craft supplies in their storage space, since there's no way I can fit any of that stuff in my room. But it was kind of out of control, as you can see, and since I'm trying to get things together in preparation for a scrapbook binge and need to know what supplies I have to work with, figured this would be a good time to sort it out.

This is the after shot. Yeah, it took pretty much literally all day for me to pull everything off the shelves, sort it out, and put it back. Other than a few hours in the afternoon when I was out of the house. And I'm going to have to do some organizing within the organizing-- like all of my jewelry stuff is pretty much either in that plain wood crate or the greenish plastic bin with no rhyme or reason to it. But overall, it's much better.
Had a little fun with the labelmaker, as you can see (thus the feeling of anal-ness), so that should help with being able to find my stuff...and if I can keep up with it, hopefully that'll mean more time for crafting and less time digging around for it!

Also, seriously... I really should not buy any more scrapbook paper for the next three years, at least. (Unless I really run out of a color of cardstock. Like completely out of black.) And I'm probably set for albums until I'm 35. And page protectors for awhile. My mom and one of my good friends both ended up passing a bunch of supplies on to me, because both of them tried it and decided it wasn't for them, so I've seriously got something like 7 unused albums down there.

But I guess that's a good thing, because I found a bunch of stuff down there that needs to go into them, too. Like the half-finished album from my Chile trip, which was almost exactly 2 years ago. (I stopped working on it because I wasn't happy with how it was turning out and took a hiatus... good thing I wrote the journaling first thing!) And another envelope of half-finished scrapbook, this one being one I started making during my senior year of college to celebrate all the things that made my life what it is, like my friends and family and locations that were important to me and stuff. (I was coming off of a bad relationship and worse breakup, and it was kind of a therapy thing. But I didn't actually finish assembling it because I got caught up in stuff like preparing for my senior recital, and then grad school hit, and...yeah.) And even a bunch of stuff from high school that I meant to put into an album, like the school photos my friends and I would exchange every year where we'd write messages to each other on the back, some of the more creative projects (illustrated German children's book, anyone?), stuff like that which I ended up keeping but didn't make it into the scrapbook I had at the time that encompassed all of high school. (It was just starting to get popular, and one of my crafty aunts gave me a kit for Christmas when I was a freshman or something. I'm glad I had it then because then I had a way to keep track of the fun stuff I did with my friends, but it was one of the ones where it was basically just sheets of this heavy tan paper in an odd-sized album, and I would just glue pieces of 8.5x11" paper onto it and then layer my photos and stuff on top of that with no page protectors or anything. I didn't even have the slightest clue about 12x12" albums and page protectors until I started reading some of the scrapbook magazines at AC Moore once!) And then there's a bunch of photos I took when I was a kid, and an album full of pictures from a missions trip my church took to Jamaica when I was in junior high that should probably go into something better than that photo-rotting magnetic album thing...

But, yeah. Suffice to say, I will not run out of stuff to try and catch up on any time soon. Guess I'd better get off of here so I can start making a dent in that. Should I say this is a bad thing about organization, too? Ignorance might have been bliss!

January 9, 2009

Friday Favorites, Episode 34

It's baaaaaaaaack! 2009 may only be about a week old, but already finding some good ideas cropping up.

1. First on the list is a post from SewStylish about "dressing for her DNA". No, it has nothing to do with how tall you are, or hair color, or anything like that--more of a speculation of what she would wear if her wardrobe reflected her family background. So I wonder what would happen if my predominantly Anglo-Celtic mother's side (which I admittedly take after far more in my looks) took on my dad's Germanic, Pennsylvania Dutch side? (I think the Celts would win, given my fondness for things that look like they could come from a Renaissance Faire or a fantasy movie!) So I may give this a try at some point soon.

2. I've noticed a tendency in my sewing over the last year and a half or so-- I've been slowing down. Not so much that I'm not sewing as that I'm putting a lot of time into things to try and get them really finished-looking and well-fitting. And I'm mostly ok with that, but sometimes I just want a fast project. So I liked this quick, one-seam skirt at CraftStylish.com. (Bonus-- I need all the patterndrafting practice I can get, if I ever want to successfully make one!)

3. I'm not a coffee person at all, really--I'm thoroughly addicted to tea. (I blame that aforementioned predominant Anglo-Celtic side.) But I still liked this coffee cup cozy from Whip Up. (Us tea-drinkers probably actually need it more, as all we're usually given at the coffeeshops is a cup of boiling water with a tea bag dunked into it!) But it's cute, would be easy to just toss into your bag, and projects that use up scraps are always good.

4. Got two things from Dollar Store Crafts this week. The first would be a great project to do with kids--how to make a knitting loom from stuff like popsicle sticks and toilet paper rolls. The second is a planter made from a bread pan--the person who made it used succulents like aloe plants, but since it's made from a kitchen item anyway, I bet it would also make a really cute windowsill herb garden!

5. Last up for today-- not a tutorial, but I love this idea at Oh Happy Day. She made her husband a "Leisure Book", to give him one place to keep track of things like movies he wants to watch, bands to listen to, things like that. I'm definitely stealing this idea-- I'm constantly losing my lists of that sort of stuff. Especially my bands and my books. And I have the dayplanner from the last couple of years that would be perfect to recycle into this-- it has the binder rings, and the tab dividers. It's just falling apart in my purse, but recovering it and keeping it near my compy would work great! (Found this one via OnePrettyThing.com.)

And now, I must go do some cleaning so I can work on my pajamas some more. Hoping to finish the machine work on the top before Cassie comes over for the Stargate Atlantis finale *sniff*/Chuck marathon/crafty evening. So that way I'll have some handwork to do--that and some more embroidery, maybe. Of course, I'm more in the mood to deconstruct than sew...

January 8, 2009

Progress and Ponderings

This is what I've been working on for the last couple of days. I'm calling these my "princess pajamas"-- I mean, come on, purple satin with silver trim? But I think they're going to be really nice and luxurious when it's done. And hopefully warm, since it's flannel-backed!

Here's a somewhat close-up of the collar. I'm really proud about how well the tapering on the collar turned out-- granted, I did have to fudge it a little to get it to meet up, but I think the result was worth it. (Mostly.... in the process, I did sew my finger a little bit. First time I've ever done that, which I think it pretty good since I've been sewing since I was 7!)

I'm contemplating summer clothes again... dreamed that I was talking about sewing with one of my closest friends (who is, ironically, the least crafty of the bunch), and I remember specifically discussing a BWOF wrap skirt that caught my eye in my July '08 back issue....and woke up inspired to make something completely different. My idea would have to be a knit. So now I'm pondering how to make it work. That, and between that and my halter-style dress that I want t make for my mini-wardrobe, whether I need to also ponder building bras into both of these garments. Because I don't exactly like my strapless, and the nature of the straps on both garments would make them less than bra-friendly. (And bra-less is NOT an option!) So here's my question--have any of you ever done something like that? (Especially on a knit?) How hard was it?

January 6, 2009

My Mathematical Mind

....apparently needs some serious help! Since I'm in the stage where I'm back to teaching work, but not back to part-time job work, I'm trying to not get lazy and be very productive with my time. So I've been spending the last two days on things like exercising, practicing my flute, doing laundry, etc. And also starting some new craft projects. I've been working on getting some overdue scrapbook journaling written, in preparation for having some pages ready to assemble when Cassie, Tracey and I have our next crafty/geeky sci-fi marathon hangout thing. (We just scheduled it for mid-February.) And I also started my next sewing project, which is a pair of pajamas.

I made the piping for the trim on Friday night, which went fine, and my goal for yesterday was to get it all cut out. But when I was laying it out, I discovered that I had somehow grossly miscalculated what I needed when I bought it, and had enough to make either the top or the pants but not both. So I had to stop at Joann's on my way to my first student's house yesterday and get some more. Fortunately, they still had it! Oh well... it's like I usually tell people, I'm a musician and only have to count to 4 (or sometimes up to 8) over and over again. And that's why God had someone invent the calculator.

I'm also making a slightly belated New Year's "resolution", after having spent some time over the weekend measuring and sampling part of my stash. I have this little sketchbook with the fabric samples/yardages, so I can do things like choose patterns or matching buttons or zippers for things I bought with no particular use in mind (or waited long enough to change my mind on what I wanted to do with it.) So here's the deal: For every piece of fabric I buy this year, I have to make something with a piece of fabric I already have in my stash. And I am counting the pajamas miscalculation. So even though I already had it cut out, my top that I'm slowly embroidering the trim for is going to be the project for that. I had a little time this afternoon, so I worked on that a bit. Hoping I can keep chipping at it and get it done soon that way, because I'd really like to get these pajamas and that top done before I go into hardcore bridesmaid seamstress mode!

Speaking of fabric, I got this in the mail today. (Stupid Blogger won't let me imbed the image. Meh.) Anyway, you know how I said that one of my goals for the year is to make a mini-wardrobe? I've been sort of plotting it for a couple of weeks, and I already know basically what I want to make. My thought was to do summer clothes (because they're my favorite) with a beachy inspiration-- was originally thinking the Caribbean, because they've got that gorgeous blue water, but I couldn't pass up this print. It's fun and graphic enough to work really well with a dress I wanted to make anyway (the long one in the "day" section), it's got plenty of colors to draw from, and the name was "Sea Flowers" so it fits the theme. So I guess I'm going more with a mid-Atlantic beach town inspiration, because the colors remind me of the houses at the beaches I've grown up with, but that's ok. I got enough of it for that dress and this (purple) top. I also know I want to make this shirt (really the longer version, but that's in black so you can see it better here). Beyond that, I know I want to do some kind of shrug cover-up thing (I'm thinking a lightweight summer sweater, so hopefully I can at least get good enough with the knitting machine to make fabric for it!), a long skirt, a pair of jeans (if I can find some denim that works well with it, otherwise I guess I'll have to go with a lightweight pant) and a pair of shorts. Maybe a short-sleeved top of some kind too, if I'm feeling the need to add a third shirt to the mix. Ambitious, yes, but I figure I need something to be plotting while I'm sewing bridesmaid shrugs, because I already know it's not going to be the most interesting thing for me. And possibly frustrating, since I'm trying to fit people that aren't me (and two people to one of them, because the bride is taking the maid of honor's jacket with her to Australia, along with the dress since it belongs to her.) So trying to find fabrics to go with and patterns to use with it all should cover that nicely-- and give me a more fun incentive to finish quickly than a mere deadline!

January 2, 2009

A 2008 Retrospective, part 2: End-of-the-year projects!

Figured I'd better stick the last couple things I made last year up here before I get too far behind.
First up: the ill-fated Cleopatra costume. The dummy shot is the best I can do for now, until I have an opportunity to actually wear it. I made this using a lengthened version of the Minna from BurdaStyle, and the belt was completely winged. I'm glad I had the belt, because I think for this dress to be flattering on me without it, I'd have to eliminate the pleat closest to the hips. But for toga-esque costume purposes, it works well.

Besides adding the length, I also raised the neckline a couple inches, and replaced the trim with solid pieces of fabric. Which was a good thing, because this still would have been cut way too low for my comfort without it.

As I said, the belt was completely winged- basically, the waist part is one leg of those spandex pants, and the hanging down part is the other leg. The stripes are just scraps of fabric from previous projects-- the blue from my silver and blue elf-style Renaissance costume, the red from a second Ren costume that I made for Cassie, and the white is just a random scrap of some free fabric. Yay for scraps! And then it's held in the back with several hook-and-eyes.

Finally, the necklace. I finished this on Sunday. Mostly just cheap plastic beads from my and my mom's stashes.

I also spent some time on Monday making a cover for my planner for this year. Mainly for protection. Things in my bag tend to get rather beat up.

I also added a pen loop and a ribbon with velcro to keep it closed.

Finally, I also made some more of those felt ornaments for tomorrow's party. Technically I finished those today, since I had to add the paint details to the snowman/penguin/gingerbread man, but it was mostly a Monday deal as well.

I've spent a good bit of time today and Wednesday working with the knitting machine, and I do have pictures, but I'll save that for a separate post since this one's already loaded up. I'll just leave it at I think it'll be a positive thing. And I got the March 2007 issue of Burda World of Fashion in the mail today! Yay for eBay. I'd gotten it mainly for this jacket, but I also really like this blouse. And this knit shirt. And this top. And I'm rather in love with this skirt (which just also happens to be shown in a different fabric with the blouse, but you can see the silhouette better on this pic). Funny how I seem to be drawn to all the stuff shown made up in hippie style...

Anyway, I'm hoping I have some stuff in my stash that will work for some of these, because I'm rather excited about trying my first BWOF now! Whichever one that may be...