February 27, 2009

Friday Favorites, Episode 40

Ah, the big 4-0! Does this mean the series is getting old, I wonder?

Favorite Tutorials of the Week:
The Crafty Chica had a fun how-to for making a stitched paper dot lantern. I also really liked that she posted some alternate ideas for how to use the stitched paper dot technique! Craft: had a link to a tutorial for some lovely beaded flowers. The Long Thread featured a tutorial for some cute, simple fabric "crooked coasters"-- they just look fun to make, since sewing in crooked lines is the entire point! And Dollar Store Crafts had a tutorial for a handbag made from a miniature rag rug! Crafting a Green World had two that I liked-- one for a t-shirt covered corkboard, and one for upcycling boring greeting cards with fabric scraps. (It always makes me happy to find tutorials for fabric scrap projects that aren't cutsey or kid-oriented, since I'm neither at this point in my life!) And last but certainly not least, Sharon over at Adventures from the Sewing Studio had a great tutorial for attaching collars to button-down shirts without getting a bump between the collar band and the main part of the shirt.

Favorite Projects:
I'm thinking I need to stop being so tutorial-oriented with this, and bring in a few more projects I see around the blogs that just deserve to be seen by more people! So with that in mind, I have two this week. The first is my favorite from Wardrobe Refashion for this week. Despite having been born in them, I hate the 80s and think it was one of the worst decades for music and (especially) fashion, ever. So I love it when people can take 80s ugliness like this stripey maternity muumuu thing, and turn it into something fun in a much better vintage sort of way (in this case, using a bodice pattern from the 60s, which was an exponentially better decade in both aforementioned categories.) Speaking of 60s music (maybe, anyway), I really loved Eileen's concert journal--she took a thrifted vinyl 45 and an old music book and turned it into a scrapbook to fill with concert memorabilia and such.

Favorite Miscellaney:
This doesn't really fit under tutorials. And this isn't really something I've ever tried, beyond purposely saving stuff to throw in a scrapbook and writing out stuff for journaling while on vacation. But over at ScrapHappy, she's started a mini-series about scrapbooking while traveling. Only one post so far, but I'm enjoying it. And who knows, at some point I might want to try the whole assembly-as-I-go thing!

Ok, that's it for today. May end up with another post depending on how things go today, since the weekends seem to be my blog catch-up time!

February 24, 2009

It was a dark and starry night...

One of the weekend's projects down! Here's the pattern review, with a few comments to interrupt myself when pictures demand it.

Pattern: Simplicity 7097

Pattern Description: 6 straight skirts with length/embellishment/ruffle variations. Also a purse.

Pattern Sizing: 8-22. I made view B in size 14.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, though my sheer fabric was pre-embellished so I did not need to add the stripes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, I had no trouble with them at all--the only difficulty I had was with the slit in the back of the sheer, but that was because I used French seams and had to wing it to get the slit sewed down with the fabric turned the opposite way.

(A closeup view of the fabric)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It's a great basic straight skirt pattern. No dislikes come to mind.

Fabric Used: A sequined polyester sheer for the overskirt, lined with a teal poly satin.

(So the teal can be seen better. Yes, I need to press that hem better--the iron was being entirely uncooperative and just dumping water on my fabric.)

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: No alterations-- this skirt fits me perfectly as is. The only design change was the aforementioned French seams (which had been suggested as a possible way to finish the sheers.) And I did hand-baste in the zipper first, which made a world of difference!

From sew and so

(I know it gaps just a little at the top where the actual zipper pull is, but otherwise I'm quite proud of this one!)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This is my second time with this pattern--several years ago I made view A, the long straight skirt. And yes, I would highly recommend it.

Conclusion: A great basic straight skirt pattern-- view B would also be great on its own without the overlay.

So, since I'm counting all fabrics purchased before January 1 as part of my stash, this skirt puts me at 3 stash pieces used/6 purchased new this year. I'm catching up! (Technically speaking, I did purchase 8, but since two of those were strictly for lining purposes, I'm not counting them--considering those to be a necessary notion like zippers and thread!)

On a random note, I saw today while blog-surfing that the March issue of BWOF is out. Hoping that my subscription starts this month, because there's some things I really liked! But if nothing else, I can grab some inspiration from it for some of those men's shirts I wanted to reconstruct...

February 22, 2009

Progress and Procrastination

Seeing as how I've spent much of the weekend watching Jane Austen movies (finishing Pride & Prejudice now, and watched Sense & Sensibility this afternoon as well), figured the alliteration was appropriate!

So here's my update for the weekend.
Friday, Progress: Got the zipper sewed into my skirt, and I must say I did a rather good job this time! I really do think that hand-basting the zipper in first makes a world of difference, as I've discovered the last couple of times I've done a non-invisible zipper. Also got the facings sewn in.
Friday, Procrastination: I still have to sew the facings down to the zipper, edge-finish the slits, and hem it. Which I haven't done yet.

Saturday, Progress: I have 4 scrapbook albums I need to cover, and started on one of them-- got the fabric cut out (and actually measured it this time, because I figured I've been doing this long enough that I just need a consistent number!) and started gluing it onto one side. I also started sewing together my purse for spring and summer-- got the pockets sewn on, I have all the lining/batting/outside pieces basted together, and I'm working on getting the sides/bottom on. Discovered that when enlarging the pattern, I didn't elongate the single-piece side/bottom enough, and did some slicing and dicing to remedy that.
Saturday, Procrastination: In my defense, both of these are not my fault. I did not finish gluing the fabric onto the album, because that's when Nicole got here to use my serger/hang out. So I started working on the purse then instead. (I knew I wouldn't need a serger for that one, so it seemed like the perfect project to to work on for that-- thus the skirt procrastination.) And I did not get any further in the purse, because that's when my friends decided to kidnap me (literally-- they used a blindfold and water guns) and make me go out to dinner and eat chocolatey desserts and celebrate my impending birthday. Aren't they so mean? (Seriously... I have the best friends in the world.)

Sunday, Progress: I did not continue either of these sewing or gluing projects today, because I'm not feeling well. (No, that is not an indication of what I was doing with my friends last night. I'm just kind of sick.) So since I'm less nauseous and lightheaded when I'm staying still, I decided to forgo the sewing in favor of the earrings for Susannah's wedding that I've been procrastinating on. Which I then had to put aside when Susannah actually called-- today was the last day we were getting together to work on her wedding ensemble. So while Joy worked on the bustle, I pinned and sewed a ribbon around the edge of her veil. So my part in that is done. Also, I did spend some time today on Pattern Review looking up information about the patterns for my mini-wardrobe that I haven't used yet. Particularly on the jeans, since I've decided I'm going to make them first. (Particularly since I can use them the soonest-- I'm basically down to 3 pairs of jeans that somewhat fit and aren't too torn up to wear, and out of those, one is faded to be lighter than I'd like and gaps in the back, one fits almost perfectly but the legs are too short for me, and the third really gaps in the back and is in all honesty a bit too big for me, but I loved the back pocket embroidery too much to pass them up.) So I'm thinking that I'm going to go in this order: Jeans, short-sleeved peasant-style top, long skirt, first sleeveless top, second sleeveless top and long dress (these two are in the same fabric so I'd prefer to cut them both out at once), shorts. I think I'm going to have to make muslins for some of them, too--definitely the jeans, and I already got the fabric for that, and the shorts, and at least the top of the dress (the pattern reviews seem to indicate that there's some major issues with fitting the back.) I've used patterns #2 and 3 before, and I think I'll be ok to wing it on the others and adjust as I go, but I just don't trust pant-type things to fit without testing.
Sunday, Procrastination: Which is actually future procrastination. These earrings are kind of a 3-step thing, and I'm one earring away from being done step 1. But once I finish that last bit, I'm just going to put it away for the rest of the night and veg out in front of the tv/computer. The dizzy headache just requires minimal concentration, I think. Off to do that.

February 20, 2009

Pattern Review: Butterick 5084

(#3, as promised! I finished this one, technically, last Friday, but I'm going to say I finished it yesterday because I ended up taking the seams in more at the sides to help with an issue at the empire waistband-- it's way too stiff and was sticking out funny. I think it helped.)

(Incidentally, I'm liking this Pattern Review thing--the template makes it easy to talk about!)

Pattern Description: Knit top with empire waist and bodice/sleeve/length variations. I made mostly view A.

Pattern Sizing: 6-20 (I made a 14)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Pretty much (especially since I made it the same color!)

Were the instructions easy to follow? The part that I used was pretty simple-- I only used them for the crossover bodice and then sewed it my own way for the sleeve/side construction (sewed the sleeves in flat and then did the underarm and side seams all at once, which worked great!)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Like: it came together very fast (once I finished with the embroidery), and it's a good length. Dislike: There's too many layers at the lower band of the empire waist-- between the lower shirt, the bodice, the bands and the interfacing, I was sewing through something like 8 layers of fabric at the points where the crossover band met the horizontal band, and my machine/serger had a bit of trouble handling it. And it doesn't quite lay right either, because it didn't press well. I also had a bit of trouble at the shoulders where the band meets the back shoulder-- maybe it's because I used my serger for the construction and that added extra seam bulk, but I could not get it to be a smooth line!

Fabric Used: Some kind of poly-cotton knit blend from Joann's. For the embroidery, I did it by hand (and that took FOREVER! But since I was trying to copy a very specific embroidery design, it was worth it.) Extra note: I blatantly stole the design from Eowyn's white wool dress from The Two Towers. Yes, I know I'm a geek. But she's pretty much my favorite fantasy story character EVER, so I'm ok with that.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I used the flared sleeves from views B/C instead of the straight ones that came with view A. I also took smaller seam allowances (1/4" instead of 5/8") at the shoulder and empire waist seams, because I was concerned about where exactly it would hit me. If the fabric had been thinner that probably would have been unnecessary, but with the bulk of the layers it's probably good that I did. Finally, I blind-hemmed it by machine instead of doing a regular straight stitch, and it worked well both for not being easily seen and avoiding stretching out the hems.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? It's a good basic top pattern that seems like it would be easy to modify/customize, and I like the length. So I probably will at some point. However, if you're making the crossover view with the band, I would recommend a lightweight knit-- mine was a bit on the thick side, and I think that may have been part of the issue. Or maybe either just interface half of the horizontal band, or leave the interfacing out altogether. (It's definitely stiffer there than I would prefer.) Also, if you're concerned about how low-cut it is, it's a good layering top for a camisole (that's how I wear it.)

Conclusion: While I wish that certain parts of it had gone together more smoothly, I do like this top-- it's very comfortable, and I'm thrilled that the embroidery turned out how I'd envisioned!

So here's my extra pics... they're a little dark, but you can see where things got a little bulky on me. The one on the left is a closeup of the embroidered bands (you can see that it sticks out just a bit in front on the horizontal part---fortunately, the neckline doesn't gap! Though I wouldn't wear this one without something under it anyway.) The other picture is where the shoulder seam joins the front and back... it's not very obvious in this pic at all so I feel kind of silly pointing out my mistake, but that brighter point does show where it doesn't quite line up smoothly.

Weekend Scrapbook pictures!!

Post #2 today... I think I can safely say that this post leaves "picture-heavy" way behind in the dust. You've been warned. And sorry for the weird light-splotches... since I'm trying to photograph 24 inches across all at once and not have to take everything out of the plastic page protectors, I haven't figured out yet how to avoid those. Other than turn off the light. And I don't think my camera likes that because then things get blurry. Anyway. All of these were made over the weekend, but it's going from most recent to oldest time-wise because Blogger uploaded them with the newest on top. And these aren't all the pages I made over the weekend, but they're the ones I like best.

#1: A round-up of random stuff from last December. No pics, very simple, but the pocket holds everything in nicely.

#2: A combination page of a couple pics from my VA Beach trip in the fall, and goofy pictures that my friend and I took on the way back. I hope the text is ok to read in the actual book, because I printed it on the actual patterned paper. But I like the combination of the really subtle textured-print paper (a picture of asphalt) and the retro-looking paper on the sides.

#3: The concert from VA Beach. The paper totally makes this page-- I admit I bought the stack pretty much just for this paper. Since cameras weren't allowed, I ended up taking all the pics on this page with my cell phone, which meant all the ones of the stage were blurry and pixellated....so I had to get creative.

Enter the collage. Cut the guitar off this page with my xacto knife, traced the outline onto a piece of cardstock, trimmed down and filled in the outline with that, and absolutely love the results.

And then I used the guitar on the other side to write the set-list on...with 3 bands (4, really, but I knew nothing from the second group and wouldn't be able to figure out what was what if I tried), it was a long one! (Can you tell I was really excited about this page?)

#4 (which got partiallly cut off, but you get the idea)-- the actual beach day from that trip.

#5/6: Both from last May's backpacking trip. I basically made them both with the same system-- tearing strips and layering with 2 pieces of patterned paper on the cardstock. And I printed the writing (since I actually brought paper to write stuff down while I was on the trail) on that vellum-type paper and layered it over the more landscapish-type pictures. Really happy with how that turned out, since you can still see the pics (attached it with brads so it can be lifted up to see the pic alone) and I got the space for the writing.

#7: Julie's bridal shower, from last May. The patterned paper ended up being a bit overwhelming in large quantities, so I had to just limit it to a couple strips. And then I wrote stuff on the big flowers.

#8: From last March, when Nicole and I were hanging out before getting together with some of my other friends to celebrate my birthday. Another one that the paper totally makes, so I just added a bit of the teal and stuck the pics directly on it.

#9: A single-girls' party from last February. More of that vellum paper and 2 patterned papers, and that's it. (And btw, that chocolate cake on the left side was delicious!!)

#10: Last winter's snowshoeing trip. Yes, more layering of patterned papers. I'm kind of into that right now, I guess.

#11: A thrift-store run from last Winter. Yeah, I made the flowers. More on that some other time.

That concludes 2008's features for now... still have a LOT to finish on that book.

#12: A bunch of random stuff from last fall. The layout itself is pretty simple, but I'm kind of liking the way I had to stick the pictures on the right side higher than the edge of the pocket-- gives a nice layered effect.

#13: The second of that year's Halloween parties. Which, again, is automatically cool due to the coolness of the paper on the right side. (And for the record, that bottle was iced tea.)

#14: The second of the two pages I made from that year's Ren Faire (the last time I went, since the weather was uncooperative last year, sigh!) The patterned paper was two-sided and I wanted to use both. So more layering. And stitched it down with the sewing machine just because I could.

#15: Another page of random stuff, from Dec 2006-Feb. 2007. All the paper except for the white background was scraps, haha!

#16: From the first time I met my high school best friend's first child. Sometimes simple and easy is good.

And finally...

#17, which dates all the way back to grad school! Another random seasonal roundup, which I had no pictures from that weren't on other pages, so I just had to use extra-fun retro paper. And no, I didn't glue the tags on crooked... they're dangling from wires and arent' really hanging straight in there yet.

So, yeah... since then I've made reeeeeeeeeeeally simple opening-closing pages for the two grad school-era books...which basically consisted of just writing on a piece of paper, like this:

I don't have anything on the last page of this one, just the funky music paper shoved rather unceremoniously in the page protector. The second book is basically the same thing, except I did have a random picture from graduation that didn't make it on the main page, so I stuck that on with a favorite song lyric quote that fit the situation. Which means that, nearly 4 years after finishing, these two scrapbooks are finally done! (Except I do still have to print out one page of text and stick it in the already-finished pockets. I really need to just do that!)

Friday Favorites, Episode 39

...which will hopefully be the first of a couple posts today. I have some catching up to do!!! So on with the show.

Everything in its place....

Got two from Whip Up today... the first is a tutorial for a quick & easy shoe bag, which I think they're using for travel packing purposes. If my closet wasn't the size of a shoebox, I think I'd try to find a way to tack them to the walls so I can get some floor space back! (I might try anyway.) The second is a tutorial for a reusable snack bag, for those tired of tossing out plastic ziploc bags every time they want to bring something crunchy with their lunches. (And more fun, too!) And from Crafting a Green World, they showed this laptop pillow that looks like it would be pretty easy to replicate with some tube-style pillows velcroed together. Of course, around here, it would probably get used as a temporary holding pen for the cat!!

Around the house...

Lots of fun decorating ideas this time. For those without on-demand cable to turn it onto the virtual aquarium, Apartment Therapy Unplugged shows how to turn an old tv into an actual aquarium. Heehee. I'm absolutely loving this faux capiz shell lampshade from Craftynest, which is made from laminated rice paper, and if I could actually manage to clear a spot big enough to set it on, would so make this for my bedroom. It would fit in perfectly. On ReadyMade, there's a tutorial for this funky bubble light fixture. And on a completely random note, if anyone ever wanted an 8-foot pillow shaped like a giant squid, PW Style is the place to find directions for that (found courtesy of One Pretty Thing's Daily DIY roundup.)

Things to Wear and Do...

At The Impatient Crafter (also found courtesy of One Pretty Thing), there's a free project from a new bead book of some really fun-looking cascade earrings. I definitely have some of those little cone things to use up, so I'm excited to try these sometime! (I'm also liking yesterday's "Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright" Choker, and think I'm going to have to start following this blog.) And while not actually something to wear, this CraftStylish tutorial for how to do 4 different seam finishes will definitely help with things to wear. I especially want to try that Hong Kong seam finish, because I've never used that one and I think it'll be perfect for one of my (hopefully) upcoming projects.

Random but Awesome

A bunch of non-tutorialish crafty goodness this week. First of all, this tissue box at Disdressed just made me laugh. Especially since I've been quasi-sick all week. Confessions of a Craft Addict used one of those giant cupcake cake pans to make a ginormous rice krispy treat. Craft Tutorials had a knitted dress that cracked me up-- I wouldn't want to dress like a cheeseburger, but if I did, this would be the way to go. I have to give a shoutout to Lydia, who posted this week to say she finished sewing together her baby bag-- believe it or not, other than a few baby bibs, this was her first major sewing project, and I think it looks great! And I also have to give a shoutout to my friend Nicole--she's an amazingly talented artist and a good friend of mine, and she just started a blog for her artwork this week. So go check it out!

Ok, gotta get some stuff done so I can post again... I'm hoping I can get stuff up today both for those scrapbook layouts I promised, and my long-overdue embroidered shirt. And then I also started a new skirt yesterday and I'd like to work on that some more too!

EDIT: I almost forgot!! I've been following Cake Wrecks since a friend sent me a link to their V-day disaster cakes (which I posted about in FF last week.) Apparently once a week they do a feature devoted to cakes that are actually good, and this week's was by the Ace of Cakes crew. Their stuff is always amazing anyway (yes, I admit I watch the show when I can catch it), but this one was just made of awesome. It was made for the crew of Lost to celebrate their hundredth episode. And has tons of fun little tributes to the show-- the computer with The Numbers, the Dharma beer, little figures of the cast (mmm, Sawyer...)

February 15, 2009

The Quick Weekend Summary (sans pictures)

Dalek cupcakes: Ace of Cakes, we ain't. And so our Daleks ended up resembling candy-covered lumps of Silly Putty. But we had fun making them.

Scrapbook stuff: I think I brought something like 34-35 layouts, and finished 29 of them. Not too shabby. Would have been more, except I lost a couple hours on Saturday from going grocery shopping for the special dinner we decided to make ourselves (tortellini and Texas Toast, yum!) and thrift shopping for books. (I got 6 for less than $2. Woohoo!)

So here's the stats: (Note that for me, "page" really means "2-page spread".)

Grad-school era (which comprises two albums, one for each school year)
Pages finished: 4
Pages left to finish: 4 (out of which, all I need to do for one is literally print out some already-formatted journaling and slip it in the envelopes already on the page, and 2 are pairs of beginning/end pages, and one is just assembly. And then grad school is finally done!)

Summer 05-Spring 06
Pages finished: 1
Pages left to finish: 3.5-4.5 (one needs just writing, one needs just a title, one may not even get done if I can't find anything to put on it-- I got in the habit back at the beginning of my scrapbook days of doing "leftovers" pages for all the stuff I wanted to remember but didn't necessarily have pics for-- ticket stubs, things I only had one photo for, events I had no tangible souvenirs for, etc. One I still need to take "after" pics for, because it's my bedroom makeover that I did during this time period, but my room needs to be cleaned badly first. And the half page is a title page-- the end page is already done.)

Summer 06-December 06 (originally paired with all of 07, but it was way too thick)
Pages finished: 1
Pages to finish: 1 (just title and end page)

Pages finished: 8
Pages to finish: 1.5 (again, the half being the title page where the end is done)

Pages finished: 15 (this being the first time I've worked on last year's pages)
Pages to finish: 19+ (could be more than this, depending on whether I have any events that require multiple layouts for me to get in all the pics I want. Such as the wedding I was involved in last summer-- I already know it will take at least 5, between the girl time beforehand, the rehearsal dinner, the fun pics from getting ready, the actual ceremony and the reception! Also, most of these I still have to print pictures for.)

So that's that-- I know that one of my grad school pages is in the stack of virtually ready-to-assemble pages I brought with me, as well as 4-5 from last year. I won't be printing any more pics until I'm more fully employed again, but maybe I can at least finish what I have nearly ready to go before that. And the title/end pages probably won't take that long to make...will probably just do something like the timeframe on the front and some random quote and maybe a photo if I can find one on the back page. So I actually made a very good dent in getting caught up! (As long as I ignore stuff like my half-finished Chile album, and the box of stuff I have from high school that I want to put in something...)

Next time, I will post some layout pics. Probably not for all of them--just some personal faves. And maybe a pic of our alien robot cupcakes.

February 13, 2009

Friday Favorites, Episode 38

You may (or may not) have noticed that I didn't post anything for this last Friday...it rolled around and I realized that due to my avoidance of a certain holiday that shall not be named left me with not very much to share (and apparently no one makes Singles Awareness Day crafts out there in blogland, at least not that I saw.) So I just took the week off. But now I have a good number of things, so here goes!

(And since I apparently have a habit of being completely inconsistent in how I present these, I'm just going to continue that trend...)

Home-type stuff

At Esprit Cabane, there were these really neat candlesticks made from wire. Kind of reminiscent of a flower, so they'd be great for a nature theme, or anyone wanting a rustic-type look. (Their cardboard ottoman is also fun.) At Dollar Store Crafts, they shared ideas for turning a string of Christmas lights and some cardboard egg cartons into a really cool flower lamp, and how to turn water-filled balloons and wax into some candle luminaries. (To fit the dollar-store theme, they suggested using battery-powered tealights so the wax doesn't melt.) And Apartment Therapy shared some ideas on how to make one of those retro-looking starburst mirrors that I love so much (out of a car mirror, of all things!), as well as a padded tufted headboard. (I still kind of want one of these padded fabric headboards for my room! But it'll have to wait....) Finally, over at Poopscape Projects (hahaha, that's the best craft blog name I've seen in awhile!), there's a tutorial for these little containers that look like tree stumps.

Getting technical....

Found a .pdf over at Art Gallery Fabrics that gave a great overview of what those numbers on the sewing machine needles mean, and how to choose the best one for your project. (Very nice presentation too!) And at Daisy Chain Designs, there was a tutorial for an easy, eco-friendly way to clean up silver jewelry. The ingredients: aluminum foil, baking soda and water. Might have to try this with some of my older earrings or something. And at CraftStylish, they shared a technique learned at the CHA conference for how to make flower prints with actual flower petals. (Hint: No paint or ink pads involved.)


Mmmm, these look so comfy...a pair of spa slippers upcycled from a towel and some flip-flops, courtesy of Craftynest. At Whip Up, they shared a link for a tutorial for this absolutely adorable leaf bag. And back at Dollar Store Crafts once more, a coin purse made from an old soda bottle. (I think it's so cute--it reminds me of Pac-Man!)


I loved Mirella's shirt that she made for a Sewing With Nature contest-- it's simply gorgeous! Creativity Prompt shared a video tutorial for a "waterfall mini-album"-- kind of reminds me of a pop-up book. Pull tabs are always fun. And Christina's greeting cards that she made for a school assignment really made me smile--not your typical greeting card sentiments!

Finally, just because I can... Valentine's cakes gone very, very wrong. (The giant heart cookie at the end of the last link especially made me laugh. Thanks to Tracey for pointing me that way.)

Ok, off for my decidedly un-romantic weekend of sci-fi geekiness and crafty fun with my friends! And have a happy weekend, however you choose to spend it.

February 12, 2009

the rules of engagement

(In terms of battling against something, not wedding proposals. Just to clear up any possible misconceptions right from the start--can't get engaged when I don't even have a boyfriend!)

So this is something that I've been pondering for quite some time--coming up with something similar to the Wardrobe Refashion pledge for my scrapbooking. Because, like my fabric, I have a ridiculous amount of stuff that needs to get used up. (A little behind on this year's fabric-busting "pledge" right now since I had to go ahead and purchase my summer wardrobe stuff--once I finish that top, hopefully today, I will be at 1/6. But I'm hoping I can even out those numbers with a few quick spring-oriented projects once this weekend's scrapbook binge is done. No, I will even out those numbers. But I digress.) It's partially out of a desire to save myself some money (these patterned paper stacks are definitely a weakness of mine), partially out of a desire to reduce the amount of supplies I have, (thinking ahead to someday when I can afford my own place, and knowing that neither my scrapbook supplies nor my fabric stash are at an amount that I can manage with a small place), and partially out of a desire to make this paper-eating hobby more environmentally friendly for myself (since going all digital to almost entirely eliminate the paper usage really isn't an option for me at this point--I have no access to a printer that will print out quality enough photos, let alone entire scrapbook pages, my wrists won't hold up to that, and frankly, I just like physically manipulating the stuff. It's like grown-up collages.)

I haven't come up with a catchy title for this pledge yet-- it's not really a "scrapbook refashion", since I'm not remaking my old pages or anything, so the best I've got is "scrapbook stashbusting". Which isn't so great, but at least I've got some alliteration there so that's something.

Anyway, here's the rules I'm setting. (Figured since this weekend is all about scrapbooking, and that's what I've spent the majority of my craft time doing prepwork for, now would be a good time to post this.)

1. I will avoid purchasing new supplies as much as possible, until such time as my stash is reduced to the point where it actually needs replenishing.

2. Exceptions to this will be the following, to be purchased only when necessary: Adhesives, page protectors, replacement blades for things like my paper trimmer and xacto knife, tools that will make processes faster and/or are multifunctional*, cardstock (if I'm completely running out of a certain color. Like, say, black.), clear embossing powder.**

3. Whenever possible, I will alter my pre-existing supplies (embellishments, paper color, etc.) to fit whatever page I'm working on, or find creative ways to use up the stuff I have that I haven't figured out what to do with.

4. I will recycle my paper scraps, either in the form of further cutting them up to make page embellishments/journaling blocks, or in literally recycling them into new handmade paper. (I've already been doing this, actually.)

5. For embellishments, I will use what I have on hand or find ways to recycle things I can commonly find around the house that would otherwise get thrown out. Buying embellishments adds up fast anyway, and then I can avoid ending up with stuff from multi-packs in colors I'm not really fond of. Like, say, pink.***

6. Whenever possible, when I do need to replenish supplies on my exceptions list (particularly the cardstock), I will make an effort to find options that are recycled or otherwise made in an eco-friendly way.

7. Finally, since craft supplies are sometimes very hard to resist, or sometimes things that need extra-special stuff comes up, I will allow myself one "get out of jail" card every six months (hey, it works for Wardrobe Refashion), just in case.

*I'm saying this because once I finish paying off my car at the end of the spring, I'd like to use what would be less than my monthly payment to get this, since it works with any TrueType font and cutting out letters with my xacto knife is a pain--literally, if I'm having a bad carpal tunnel phase. Besides, paying off my first major debt is a big accomplishment that warrants a reward, right?

**I'm not including albums on this list because, thanks to inheriting all the albums from my mom and another friend who tried scrapbooking and it wasn't for her, I easily have enough to get through at least the next five years.

***Yes, I do have things from multipacks, particularly in the way of patterned paper from stacks, that have this issue. Starting with this weekend's pages, which I've already chosen the papers for, I am making an effort to use papers that have some of these colors rather than just avoid them like the plague. I'm also thinking that some of that nasty pink paper will be the subject of some art technique experimentation-- maybe if I completely ink it over with brown or something, I can actually find a use for it!

February 11, 2009


No pictures to show for it, but I've been spending quite a bit of my free time this week in making preparations for this weekend's craft/Doctor Who marathon with Tracey and Cassie. Mostly little detail things for my scrapbook pages--changing journaling fonts from all default Times New Roman, slapped some paint on a couple of things yesterday, swapped out my sewing machine needle for an old duller one and sewed some paper pockets for pages that needed them tonight. (One of my favorite techniques for doing so-- much sturdier than the average scrapbook adhesive, no problems with things getting stuck in the slightly-peeled-away sections, and sewing on paper is just fun! I still need to print out almost everything writing-wise, and I'm hoping I have time before I go to do some of the more detailed work (stuff like cutting out letters for titles and that sort of thing. What I would love to be able to do this weekend is just mostly assembly work so I can get a lot of pages done!)

Some more mini-wardrobe prep, too-- my mom went to Joann's yesterday after having found a McCall's pattern that was the style of shorts I wanted to make for it (she's my main real-life person that I bounce sewing ideas off of). I'd given her my fabric sample of the print and asked her to look while she was there and see if they had a sweater-type knit that I could use-- they didn't, but she did get me the pattern and some light khaki fabric to make them, as an early birthday present. She also picked up a couple of skeins of yarn to do some test knits, having offered to knit a rectangle for me. My mom is the best. :-)

The shirt is coming along well-- I set in the sleeves last night, and sewed the side seams. In that order-- it was sooooo much easier to iron the sleeve cap when I could just open out the sleeve! The only difficulty I had was in lining things up at the underarm seams--one side is slightly skewed, but I don't think it'll be that noticeable. And the other side is pretty much perfect. All I have left to do is the hems, but I didn't do anything on it today since I was either working or working on scrapbook stuff between lessons. Maybe tomorrow.

February 9, 2009

Biting the bullet

I went ahead and ordered most of the fabrics I'll need for my mini-wardrobe from fabric.com over the weekend. So here's the rundown:

For this skirt, I got this chocolate brown bamboo. (My most expensive item, other than possibly the print.)

Not exactly a color from the original print, but I think this ivory rayon jersey knit will coordinate well enough for this shirt.

This is the denim for my jeans. I figured that having some tan woven into the brown will bring it very nicely into the color scheme. Besides, jeans goes with everything, right? I haven't tested it yet, but I have this pattern in my stash, so I'm going to use that to test it.

For my short-sleeved, woven top, I decided I wanted the look of a peasant blouse (every hippie beach bum has to have one, right?), but more fitted. Fortunately, I remembered this already tried-and-true pattern from my stash-- I've already made the flutter-sleeve and sleeveless versions, so this time it'll be the one with the little puff sleeves. My fabric will be this light blue cotton gauze. (On clearance, woohoo!)

So I still need something for a pair of shorts (including a pattern), and of course something for a shrug. At this point, I'm seriously considering just buying some yarn in the color I wanted and commissioning my best friend to crochet a loose-weave rectangle for me! (The pattern I'm strongly considering is seriously just a rectangle of fabric that's sewed together at the bottom just enough to make sleeves, so it has that whole drapey kimono thing going.) Or would a regular knit fabric be good for that sort of thing?

In other news, I started sewing that embroidered top together yesterday. The neckline is done, the front is all sewn together. I still need to sew on the lower back, the sleeves, the sides and the hem. Maybe tomorrow.

February 7, 2009

An update and a knitting experiment

The good news first: the stain seems to be gone! That's where it was, on the left--the whiter spots around the embroidery are where the tear-away stabilizer stuff still is. And the next picture is all three pieces, finished--the one on the right is the one that got the lotion on it. I'm thinking the Oxy-Clean may have bleached it a little bit, since it looks a little brighter than the other two pieces. Or maybe it's just the crappy lighting in here. But I don't think it'll be too noticeable. Either way, I'd rather have that than a big glob of coconut-lotion yellow!

Also, the pendant was found on my driveway, minus a leaf. But that's an easier fix than making an all-new one!

So once I got the embroidery done this morning, went out for a walk (needed sunshine and exercise) and had a late lunch, I played around with the knitting machine some more to see if I could get some workable sweater fabric out of it. I was having a hard time with it today, really-- the yarn-pushing thingy got stuck several times, the clamps eventually stopped staying on the card table so I had to try and hold it in place and move the yarn-pusher at the same time, lots of dropped stitches and latches staying closed/having to knock them open before continuing. So for about 5-6 hours of work, I got a whopping 7 or 8 inches to show for it. Plus, now that it's off the machine, there's all these weird ridges (probably where it was getting stuck and dropping stitches) and it's a really stiff fabric. Which, admittedly, could be the yarn, but there's not really any options to make the stitches looser or whatever it is that would need to be done there. So I'm thinking this isn't going to really be worth it--in that same amount of time, I could have sewed together that entire embroidered shirt and then some. I don't regret trying it, but that leaves me with the option of either learning how to crochet or knit (blech-- I really have not enjoyed it on any of my multiple attempts), or trying to find some sources online for non-wool sweater fabric/chopping up thrift store sweaters. Or maybe trying to hunt down something handmade on Etsy the next time I get the urge for a new sweater.

In the meantime, need to come up with some options for my summer wardrobe shrug. I wonder if this is the right color brown? Though I don't really need 3 yards of it. Or I could go with this...though my inner hippie is protesting vehemently at the idea of a polyester knit. Especially for the humidity that is mid-Atlantic summer. Or I could just keep hitting up my local Goodwills and Joanns and hope that something crops up in the right color (I really want to go with that light tannish-taupish color, since it's a neutral and that would give maximum versatility). Decisions, decisions....

I think I might cry.

Seriously, I'm kind of devastated right now. I had determined to finish the embroidery for this shirt I'm making, since I've been working on and off on it for at least the last six months. And since I currently don't have work on Fridays, I actually got a huge chunk of it done today-- about 30-45 minutes' work would finish it.

I was out with some friends tonight, and just got home, and was clearing some stuff off my bed so I can sleep, only to discover that somehow, a bottle of lotion got left open enough on there that a big glob of it was able to spill out--entirely contained on one of the three embroidered pieces. I immediately washed as much as I could of it out with soap, and I currently have it soaking in detergent-and-Oxy-clean treated water. But I have no way of knowing how many hours it's been sitting there--at least 8, since I left here just after 4. And the stain is quite obviously yellow, right on my cream shirt. And, go figure, closer to the shoulder than the part that would overlap in the front, so there's no concealing it. So unless soaking it in all this stuff and maybe the Tide-to-Go pen can work a miracle, I'm seriously doubting I can salvage this. Which means I'm most likely going to have to embroider an entirely new piece.

I was so excited about finishing this embroidery tomorrow--if I did, I could probably sew the entire thing together on Sunday and then have it to wear for the rest of the cold season. I'm quite badly in need of a cream-colored shirt. But if I have to re-embroider this, there is no way I'm going to finish this even by the end of the month-- I'm so horribly slow at it!

ETA, 12:20 AM--And to top it all off, I just discovered that the pendant of the necklace that I was wearing (which happens to be one of my favorite necklaces at the moment since it goes with tons of stuff, and it's better suited to the season than the brown-and-cream seashell one I wear all the time in the summer) fell off again. And since it's not tangled in the scarf I was wearing, that means it could be anywhere between here and a random Starbucks in the middle of Philadelphia (the last place I know it was there, since the necklace got twisted off to the side and I had to fix that). Technically, I can make a new one, I do have leftover supplies from it, but after the shirt, I really don't need this tonight. So, yeah. I think I'm going to go cry now. :(

February 4, 2009

Mini-wardrobe plotting

The winter blahs have hit me hard. Maybe it's the fact that it's extra-cold this year, and I hate being cold. Maybe it's being stressed out about all the weather-related teaching cancellations I've had to do (particularly since that's my only source of income atm.) Maybe it's just that it's February-- one of my least favorite months, despite having been born in it. Maybe I am just completely and utterly sick of winter. Actually, that's not a maybe.

So in an attempt to cheer myself up (and also to motivate myself to finish the remaining stuff for Susannah's wedding as quickly as possible), I'm plotting what I want to make for spring and summer clothes. Specifically, the mini-wardrobe I want to make. (Though I do have some other things in mind too.)

Here's what I know so far. I'd like to end up with 8 pieces: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, a dress and a shrug-type thing (for when I inevitably get cold from overdone AC, or am wearing things out in the evening. Yes, I am one of those people who can and does get cold when it's 70 degrees out.)

While doing a bit of reading up on how to plan a mini-wardrobe, I came across an article from a back issue of Sew Stylish that suggested coming up with a theme to tie it all together-- they had titles that was something like "Uma Thurman Goes To Pluto" or "Naughty Librarian" or something along those lines. When thinking of summer clothes, the first thing that immediately came to mind was Caribbean beaches and palm trees, so I was thinking it would be fun to make beach-inspired clothes in those vivid blues and greens. Then I came across this print, which I decided to use as my foundation for the color scheme:

From sew and so
No, it's not really island colors. If anything, it reminds me more of Rehoboth and Lewes (the two beaches here that I've basically grown up with.) But the name of the print-- "Sea Flowers"-- still demands that beachy vibe. So then I was listening to the Beatles while driving in my car today, and inspiration struck. So my theme is now "Hippie Beach Party."

From sew and so

I'd already known I wanted to make this dress for that component (the paisley one in the bottom left corner. And that I wanted to make this top:
I'm thinking maybe the purple one for this. So that's going to be the two print items (has to be, since I ordered the fabric for that yardage!).

As for the rest, I'm trying to come up with some ideas. Thinking I'll have to go with solids for this (which is going to be a bit of a stretch for me, because I do love my crazy prints! But the point is to have a wardrobe where everything goes together, so some solids would be a great foundation.)

I'd already known I want to make this top (from last July's issue of Burda World of Fashion.) This was actually the first look I'd picked out. But I didn't think it would work such a big print, due to the pintucks. So I'm thinking, if I can find it, of picking up the blue in a solid knit for this.

And this skirt is the one I'm pondering now-- the long version, only I want to lengthen it this time. This is one of my tried-and-true patterns-- I've made the capris 3 times and the long skirt twice. It's fast, it's comfortable, it's fitted enough at the top despite the drawstring that it'll counteract the flowy tops, my only complaint about the skirt is that the mid-calf thing didn't quite work for the embroidered twill. (Still works fine for the black linen-looking one that I have, but to fit the hippie theme, I want it full-length.) So for this one I'm thinking the chocolate brown, which I would love to do either in a linen or hemp blend. (Preferably the hemp... what I would absolutely love to do is to get as many of these fabrics as I can in organic or other eco-friendly options. But financially I might not be able to swing it-- was poking around earlier and all the hemp-type stuff in this sort of color alone is something like $20 a yard! So I'm hoping to at least be able to go with natural fibers.)

So for the rest: I know I want to make a pair of jeans--dark denim and at least bootcut, because I like the way flares look on me the best, fits the theme, and the dark denim means it'll go with everything, including the stuff I already own that's not part of this wardrobe. (Plus then I'll finally fulfill my jeans goal!) And I'm thinking a pair of longer, Bermuda-type shorts (color to be determined). Which I'll have to find a way to hippie-fy. And I need to come up with one more top--wondering if I should go with some kind of blouse or woven tunicy-peasant shirt type thing, since the other two are knits. (Color also TBD). And patterns for all three of these items. (I'm open to suggestions.) For the shrug, what I'm hoping to do is use the knitting machine to just make up some fabric, and then sew it up. Possibly with an adapted version of the pattern I'm using for the bridesmaid shrugs, since I think the kimono-type sleeves will fit the theme well, and it's less pieces to cut. My only concern is that I won't be able to knit fabric wide enough to accomodate both the body and sleeves. So I'm thinking I should sit down and knit up a full-size fabric sample soon, so I can test it out and see what I can do with sewing from it, or if I'll have to actually learn the stuff like how to follow knitting patterns and increase and decrease and all that. There was this shrug pattern on the machine website, which would work if I adapted it to short or 3/4 sleeves. But I'd much rather sew on homemade sweater fabric than actually knit a sweater on it!! What I'd love to use for this is a bamboo yarn (warm in the cooler temps, cooler in the warm temps), maybe either in a cream or that taupe color that's in the print. (Neutral enough that I can wear it with other stuff, too. This was the stuff I saw at Joann's--Soooo expensive... but it's so soft! Well, I guess that's actually not bad, seeing as how it's 3 skeins and not just one. But I still want to test this machine out on my pound of cheap hunter green before I commit to buying that!)

Ok, enough daydreaming-- time for me to get to bed and have some real dreams!

February 3, 2009

"Craftions" speak louder than words...

Normally I would save something like this for the Friday Favorites, but while blog-skimming this morning, I came across this article from CraftStylish called Crafting Your Personality. An interesting read, to say the least-- basically the author's musings on the crafts she has and hasn't tried, as well as how she does it, and what that says about her. So I thought it would be fun to do the same here.

It's pretty obvious from the blog title that sewing is my main deal--the one I'm most involved with and the one I've been doing the longest. Since I primarily make clothes and other fashion-related things (bags and such), for me, it's the main way that I express myself. I think it goes back to private school dress codes-- the school I went to for most of my life was pretty strict on several things about the dress code. No blue jeans, except on special dress-up days. No T-shirts. Knit shirts for girls couldn't be too tight, too short, or too low-cut. No tank tops. No skirts that were shorter than 4" above the knee, when kneeling on the ground. (That one alone motivated me to sew, because those were virtually impossible to find in the average juniors' size store unless they were long skirts.) And I've always been one who hated preppy clothes and having brand names plastered all over myself. So while the majority of my classmates shopped at the Gap and (my most-loathed store) Abercrombie & Fitch, I was the girl who sewed herself skirts out of funky fabrics, wore vintage jackets from the thrift store (or ones that my mom had sewed when she was a teenager in the 70s), and absolutely loved it when people complimented my outfits and then found out I made that. (Now people ask me if I made it before they ask me where I got it. But generally after a compliment, so I'll take that as a good thing.)

I think it encompasses a lot of different facets of my personality. There's the earthy, hippie, tree-hugger side of me who loves flowy skirts, natural fibers, and recycling clothes via reconstruction. There's the not-so-inner fantasy/sci-fi geek, who loves it when I can bring that Renaissance influence into my modern-day stuff, and will spend hours researching a costume or replicating the embroidery on a favorite movie dress onto a shirt *cough*, just so I can giggle at my own private geeky joke. There's the career woman side, who is trying to look quasi-professional, but with an artsy twist because I don't have to work in an office and music means I'm allowed to be quirky. And then there's the wannabe indie rocker/kid that never wanted to grow up who still loves glitter and shiny things and not dressing mainstream.

The jewelry-making is kind of an extension of that. After all, a girl needs accessories! And, since I generally don't like repetitive crafts, it's a good brainless repetitive craft for me. Stringing a necklace is a very low time commitment, most of the time. And, honestly, I'd always take a funky beaded necklace or a handcrafted silver ring over the fine (read: expensive and overrated) jewelry that gets advertised on tv a lot this time of year. Guess it goes back to that earthy hippie thing.

And then there's the scrapbooking. That's where my inner artist comes out to play, both because I love taking pictures and I love making collages. Plus I'm a very nostalgic person-- I'm the one who saves all her movie and concert ticket stubs, writes in journals and actually does look back at them on occasion, keeps every note I ever get from a significant other (at least until the relationship ends), etc. I like to remember the good times and the people I had them with.

Now that I think about it, the way I do these crafts probably says something about me, too. When I'm sewing from a pattern, I rarely follow it exactly-- I'll mix elements from different views to get the look I want, I'll make things longer, widen the straps, etc. I'm getting to the point where I don't really look at directions much, unless it's things like attaching linings (still trying to master that), a pattern with a lot of details, or a technique I'm unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. I'm not really a rule-breaker, if I'm honest, but I like to follow the rules my own way, and that seems to reflect that. But then for stuff like clothing reconstructions and jewelry, I rarely follow directions at all and completely wing it. I guess that's the artsy part of me that likes improvisation and spontanaeity. I've mentioned before that I'm not really into highly repetitive crafts, like knitting/crocheting/quilting (though I have a definite appreciation for the end product!) I'm thinking that's because routine pretty much drives me crazy. (One of the things I love most about my music work is that my schedule, though generally similar from week to week, is different every weekday. So it's not like I'm going to the same place doing the same thing with the same people all the time.) But there's a methodical side to me too, which seems to come out a little more in my scrapbooking. The method I've found that works best for me is to do all the prepwork in advance (do the writing, develop the photos, choose the papers, sketch out a design, etc.) and then just sit down and throw a bunch of them together at once. With room for improvisation, of course, if I don't like the way it looks. My pages tend to be pretty linear and stuff too, though I'm trying to break away from that some.

I've always said that I'm a walking contradiction. I guess these observations just support that theory.

What about you? What does the type of crafting you do or the way you craft say about you?

February 1, 2009


Had a sewing day with my friend Nicole yesterday, so she could use my serger to make a knit dress. And she loves using the serger now. She's going to have to come down again because she didn't finish, but I think I've made a convert.

And I got a pretty significant chunk of the bridesmaid shrugs done yesterday-- did a test and discovered that yes, I can machine-sew the trim! So I'm at 2/3 done for that. And then I just have to assemble and sew in the linings. Guess I'd better get on that... I just want them done so I can sew MY stuff again!