March 30, 2011

Guess I'm committed.

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I was almost sure I'd be letting go of the Etsy shop. Well, I've started raiding the collection of jewelry that I'd made for the craft fair, i.e. what I'd be attempting to sell on there, and actually wearing some of it myself. So since letting go of the shop means I'm not going to be posting in the blog I made to go along with it, I'm going to start showing those things in here as I pull them for myself or give them away.

So here's my first keeper:

I was really pleased with how this turned out, and had thought for sure that it would get snatched up at the fair. All of the beads are recycled from a bracelet I found on one of my thrift store excursions--it was this loop of pewter-looking bead holders strung on elastic. Every holder had something like 4 or 5 loops, and every one of those had something like 3 beads, so there were a LOT of beads on this thing. I wasn't really wearing bracelets at the time, and this one wasn't really appealing to me as is, but I'd figured I could use the beads for something. I think the freshwater pearls just might be real, but the rest of it is definitely faux pearls and crystals. I put it on 3 different types of chain.

(And here's a more closeup pic of the earrings.)

I already had a couple of brown necklaces I really like and wear often, but they're kind of more seasonal-looking to me since they have shells and leaves and such. So I figured this set would be a good supplement to that.

I've pulled a couple of other things for myself, which I'll post as I go. But here's what else has been going on in my crafty little world:

I had a nice chunk of sewing time on Monday, so I started that dress that I was planning to knock out. So far, I have the pleats done in both the front and the back, and am working on the yoke pieces. Hopefully those pleats are ok, because the directions were making absolutely no sense to me for that part. It's these weird pattern pieces that have chunks cut out of them, and the straight line at the bottom of the chunk is supposed to be the top of the pleat, and somehow you're supposed to sew across that without getting the outer part and still have it press flat. Yeah, that wasn't happening. So I kind of ended up winging it and adding some topstitching--both to capitalize on the corset-looking nature of the seams, and to actually get the top part of those pleats to stay in place. On the plus side, the paisley pattern ended up matching up much better than I expected it to, particularly at the bottom of the pleats!

In knitting news, the wrap still looks just like a longer version of the same picture I posted before. I think it's somewhere around 20" long now. Maybe a little more. So I kind of feel like it's less exciting to blog about since it's just a giant rectangle of the same thing over and over. But I haven't gotten completely bored with knitting it yet, most likely since I'm just doing a row here and there as I don't have time to do other things, and the instructions call for making it 47" so I guess I'm about halfway done. Maybe a little less. I recently started the third ball of yarn, and I have 6. I have to at the very least use 5 of them, preferably all 6, because I said so. And I don't care if it's a little longer as a result. I'm still trying to avoid creating a yarn stash to rival my fabric/bead/scrapbook paper ones, darn it, and so far I'm doing a pretty good job!

On a random note, I've also been refashioning my hair a bit this week! Nothing drastic, just got a slightly differently-styled haircut with a little more shaping (and most of the length I had before.) And my sis-in-law gave me a block of henna from LUSH for my birthday this year (part of my ongoing quest to be a natural redhead, whether my hair wants to or not, and I've liked the more natural look and feel that the henna gives my hair. Plus less chemical damage and more eco-friendly. Yay!) At the suggestion of the lovely helpful store employee I was talking to on Sunday, I ended up putting it in last night and wrapping it up, and sleeping on it, and washing it out this morning. So far, the color's turned out the best out of the henna products I've tried, and it actually washed out much cleaner in terms of toweling it off afterwards! But I can't show any pics yet--since this henna also had cocoa butter mixed in, and the instructions for washing it out called for both shampoo and conditioner, my hair ended up so heavily conditioned today that I pretty much had no choice but to ponytail it. It literally feels like I forgot to wash the conditioner out of my hair. Ugh. Hopefully it'll be better tomorrow. But at least it's an awesome shade of red.

March 25, 2011

yarn studies

(Pictureless post this time--sorry.)

Despite my best efforts, I'm having trouble not thinking past the couple of knitting projects I have in the queue to figure out what I want to attempt once I get done with those. I'm nowhere near being done the wrap I'm currently working on, of course, but all I have after that is a few dishcloths I'm making for fun and gifts, and then a second pair of those handwarmers. (A friend of mine, who doesn't read this blog, really liked them. So I want to make her a pair.) So those won't take too long. I've hit the point on the wrap where I've repeated the pattern enough that I don't have to look at the pattern or really have to think about it too much now, which means I can multitask and do things like read blogs or my Kindle while I knit. (Or my paperback books that I'm currently reading, if I can figure out how to keep them open...) So it should go faster, since I can do a few rows here and there during the times where I have time to sit, but not enough to get anything sewing-related done.

I have no idea what to make once I get through those things. I have plenty of scarves (too many, actually, but I've already pared it down as much as I can bring myself to), and no particular need for another hat at this time. I'm kind of torn about whether to try socks, gloves or maybe, if I'm feeling brave, a sweater. I have seen several sweater patterns that I like, and I do have this book that has some really great gloves in it. But I wonder how limited I am by my current skill level. Of course all of the sweaters I've seen and really liked so far are more complicated, and I wouldn't want to waste my time on a simple pattern if it's just going to end up looking like a shapeless mess on me. But I don't know how wise it would be to jump into a more complex pattern when, say, I've never made shapes other than a tube or rectangle yet. And then there's the fact that I have no clue how to do cables, and I seem to be often drawn to things that have them. And, well, I don't even know how to block things, though I'll have to make an attempt at that once the wrap is done.  Socks would fit the tube knowledge better, but then there's that pesky heel. And I actually do need gloves, because the boring fleece ones I've been wearing for the last two cold seasons have a hole in them, tend to leave my wrist exposed (even though I actually made the sleeves a good length on the coat itself), and, well, they're just plain ugly. But am I up to making fingers yet? I don't know.

And then there's the complication of yarns. As in, my wool issues. I did recently order that No Sheep For You book (as well as some other crafty reading), so hopefully that will give me some ideas. But I've come to suspect that maybe, just maybe, I can handle tiny little amounts of wool. Mainly due to a store-bought sweater that I've had for several years, and worn quite often--I was recently putting it away after washing it, and was surprised to see on the tag that it's 10% wool. I've never had trouble with it. But I wonder if it has to do with the blend, since it's 90% other things (including a nice chunk of silk.)

So I had to go to Joann's today to pick up some zippers and such for upcoming projects, and did a little bit of scientific experimentation on myself. Namely grabbing skeins of yarn with low wool contents (by the label) and sticking them on my arm to see how bad it felt. And, well, the results were kind of mixed. I seemed to be ok with this Patons lace-weight yarn (10% wool, 10% mohair, and 80% acrylic), and the Caron "Country" yarn (25% merino wool and 75% acrylic). But then, I'm not sure, because it's been over an hour since I left the store, and my palm still feels all prickly and unhappy. I'm not sure if that's because of the part lambswool yarn I picked up by accident or what, but you'd think lambswool would be better than a full-grown sheep...

So yeah, maybe I should just stay away from the sheep. Which could still be a problem for any of my three "what to knit next" options-- I know most sock yarns have wool, and I'd really prefer, if I'm going to put in the time to make an entire sweater, to use something more natural and longer-lasting than acrylic. But then, I spent some time the other day with a skein of alpaca-acrylic blend shoved down the neck of my shirt, and it didn't feel that bad. So maybe that gives me an option. (If I can find a nice alpaca or alpaca-blend yarn that doesn't also have wool. Silly yarn-making people.)

March 24, 2011

Beaded wrap tutorial

This is how I made the wrap I'll be wearing for my cousin's upcoming wedding (along with the LBD.) It was super-easy, and no pattern required, so I figured this might be a useful tutorial for someone. Here goes...

You'll need:
2 yards of drapey fabric. (Mine was 45" wide.)
Trim with beaded fringe, to equal one width of the fabric. (Half goes on each end, so I used about 45" for mine.)
Sewing machine with a zipper foot
Thread, iron, cutting supplies

Step 1: Lay your fabric out, matching up the selvages, and trim off just enough fabric to even up the ends. I used a hand-dyed-looking silky fabric that's been sitting in my stash for several years, but as long as it has some drape to it, pretty much anything could work. (I'm envisioning the refashionista crowd using some old curtains....)

Step 2: On the shorter ends, press under about 3/4". (This would be width-wise.)

Step 3: Pin the selvage edges together to make a long tube. (You're folding it lengthwise to do this.) The pressed-under edges should be on the outside of the tube, with the folded edges lined up. With the regular machine foot, sew together with a wide enough seam allowance to enclose the selvages. (I had to use about 3/4", but that would vary depending on how wide that selvage is.) Do not sew the folded-under edges. You want an open tube.


Before you turn it, trim the corners of the seam. You don't want that edge sticking out!

Step 4: I found it helpful to press the seam flat while it was still inside-out, just to start defining the edge. Turn the tube right-side out, with the folded edges inside the tube. Press the seamed edge flat, with the fold as close to the seam as possible. You might want to also press the opposite side to give that side a crisper edge as well.

Step 5: Get that beaded trim. It's probably best if you find something with the ribbon/twill tape as close to the color of your fabric as possible, because it's really hard to keep it from showing! I found this in the home dec section of the local Joann's, so it's pretty heavy, but it does help the wrap to hang very well!

Now start sandwiching the ribbon between the two folded edges. You want to keep the beads out, of course, but hide as much of the ribbon as you can. (It'll likely show a bit once you stitch it.) I highly recommend pinning the heck out of it to keep everything in place, because slippery fabric + heavy trim is pretty much a recipe for disaster without it!

I didn't actually cut the trim until I was very close to the opposite end of where I started, just to guarantee that it would fit exactly.
Step 6: With the zipper foot, topstitch as close to the edge of the fabric as possible. I took my time and went really slowly, but as stated before, it was still very hard to keep a bit of the twill tape from peeking out. So I'm quite thankful that I was able to find a color that matched my old fabric so well!

I don't have a picture of this step (sorry), but once you get the beaded edges stitched down, it's also good to do another close topstitching on the long edges, just to keep it lying nice and flat.

And here's the finished product!

And a closeup of the beaded edge. It really hangs quite nicely!

So there you have it. This really didn't take me very long at all...probably something like an hour and a half from start to finish, if I subtract the lunch break and how much reading other sewing blogs while I was pinning the trim in slowed me down. I hope someone finds this useful--and if you use the tutorial, I'd love to see the finished product! Also, if I need to clarify anything, let me know.

So this makes 3 successful things I've sewn for this wedding....does that mean I finally broke the wedding sewing jinx? :-)

March 23, 2011

outsourced.

I did finish a wrap on Monday, and am going to post it. But I'm planning on doing a tutorial, so that will come later. But here's what else has been going on.

#1: The dress is done!
So here's the entire thing (though I know the sheer part is a little hard to see, since it's the same color as Donna.). I did end up having to shorten the straps about 3", but aside from that, it's pretty much as is.

And here's a view of the back.

#2: My mom and I ended up making a bit of a deal. Since I made her dress, she made me a new spring/summer bag! (Which works out well for me, because I probably wouldn't have gotten to it till July or something, and she's way better at making bags than me. So in this case, I'm perfectly fine with outsourcing!) Most of the fabric was from my stash, too, which was nice for my efforts to use it up!)

She also added this nifty pocket to the back, which is just the perfect size for my habit of carrying a book with me at all times!

#3: Speaking of the stashbusting, here's the update: I started off with about 273 yards. So far, between the wrap I just made on Monday, and a dress I've cut out but haven't started sewing yet, it looks like I'm down to 260 1/2 yards. (Including adding some back in for the linen I got for the Anthropologie pants.)

#4: Still knitting that wrap. On ball #2 of yarn. Otherwise, it looks pretty much the same as the last picture.

#5: On a totally unrelated note, I'm 98% decided on letting go of the Etsy shop. (The other 2% is feeling like maybe I'm giving up too soon.) The thing is, I haven't had time to work on it in about a month. And the things I do have up there just aren't getting noticed. Most of the views I have up there are from my own edits. I came to the realization today that this isn't a good time for me to be doing this, because I just can't put in the effort that I'd need to in order to promote this. There's too much going on in my life right now--I'm going to be doing some job-hunting very soon, and I need to figure out what direction I'm going to be taking with that. And whether I can actually keep teaching music, as a result.

So there's a lot of changes coming my way. And I'm not sure what my free time is going to look like after everything gets sorted out. Making things is still a must, but I need it to be my hobby, not a second (or third, or fourth) job. My goal with the jewelry was to raise some money to donate to a Haiti relief organization that some friends founded, and thanks to the craft fair, I did that. I'd thought it might be an ongoing thing, but it seems that wasn't meant to be the case right now. So I'm ready to simplify things again, and I'm at peace with that. As for the leftover jewelry, I think I'm going to pull a couple of things for me, and then give some of it away to friends. (Maybe I'll even do a giveaway or two here, if people are interested...it's been awhile since I've done one of those!) I don't need to keep it all, especially since I made some things similar to what I already had, and I'll feel better about it if I know that it's being used and enjoyed.

I'm not sorry I tried it. It was a good learning experience. And maybe someday I'll try doing a little crafty business on the side again. Just not now. (Besides, then I don't have to try and keep up with writing a second crafty blog!)

March 21, 2011

When will I learn...

...that empire-waisted stuff is not the easiest thing to fit on me, and therefore should be approached with far more caution? I won't say I shouldn't make them, period. Because style-wise, I like it. But realistically, I often run into the problem of having to do something to the waist to avoid a maternity look, or the following story:

I had a couple of hours to kill on Friday between work and a going-away party I was attending, so I figured that I'd go for what I thought would be a quickie refashion while I had the right color of thread in the serger. So I took this dress (the one on the left:
Sorry, it's been so long since I got this, and it was already partially deconstructed, so I couldn't take another "before" shot. Basically, it was this 2-layer empire-waisted maxi-dress-- a polyester knit inner layer, and then this cool mesh print outer.

See? Pretty print.

The dress was uncomfortably small for me up at the top, but I figured there was enough fabric there that I could get something fun out of it. 

Fast-forward about 2 years, when I dug it out of the bin of clothes I have to refashion. (Well, 2 bins. I'm trying to get that down to a more manageable level too.) I had in mind to make it into an empire-waisted top, thinking I wouldn't have enough of the skirt to do a longer bodice.
So I chopped off the top of the skirt and stuck it in place on Donna....

...began to drape out a top piece with the lining....


...and, using that as a pattern, cut out and sewed a good chunk of the bodice together with the mesh layer. Unfortunately, it seems I forgot to factor in that I actually have curves, and that doesn't always translate well to draping on my dummy.


So I ended up making the bodice too short. My finger is where the seam actually should be. You can see where the seam allowance actually ends.


And tugging it down to sit at approximately a decent place (which still might result in the seam ending up in annoying places) makes the back go at this horrible angle. To quote that Despicable Me commercial that I keep hearing every time I watch anything through On Demand these days, "Not cool."

Honestly, I'm not sure if that's fixable, because I certainly don't have enough of the fabric left to make another bodice that would actually be long enough. So I'm officially declaring this one a craft fail. I still like the print, so I'm keeping the large pieces of mesh that I still have and sticking those in the scrap bin for now-- maybe I can use those to embellish something. So it's a shame, because I still like the concept of what I was doing (had these great pleated shoulder seams and all) but I guess all of my experiments can't work out. Although, to be honest, this one might not be a huge loss, because that polyester lining probably would have made it feel rather uncomfortable to wear around here when it's actually warm enough for me to wear sleeveless.

Hopefully I can dig into the bin and find something else to play with soon. But for now, it's back to work. The good news is, the dress is done except for pressing the hem, and I'll have finished pictures of that for later. The not so good news is, even though I'm back to work, it seems my hours are still quite cut back from what they used to be, and so I'm only doing 10 hours this week. My silver lining is that it means I have several hours between when I just wrapped up my flute practicing, and when I actually start teaching this afternoon. So I have one more sewing project to knock out for my cousin's upcoming wedding. If all goes well, I'll have another finished project, and possibly even a tutorial, to share later!

March 17, 2011

Mission accomplished!

 I've just been posting up a storm lately, haven't I? Don't worry, it'll slow down very soon, as this is my last day "off" (other than my flute teaching and band work) before I go back to job #3 at the garden center. Thankfully, I had some warning as to when I'd be starting back up. So my main goal this week was to finish all of the machine work on my mom's dress so I could do the handwork on Saturday. (Being the not-so-closet geek that I am, Saturday's plans consist mainly of playing a game over the internet with a few friends. But it's the sort of game where there's more talking via a headset than actually typing on the keyboard or clicking with a mouse, so it's been a good way for me to also get several concentrated hours of off-machine craftiness in so far.) As of about 15 minutes ago, the machine work is done!

 Don't worry, it'll hang better than this. I haven't put the zipper in yet, because I'm going to use one of the methods I learned from the LBD class and hand-pick that. This zipper only goes partway up the back and there's a sheer part that will extend above, so the greater control of handwork is definitely desirable here. Plus, since part of the plan is for me to resize this slightly if needed to fit me after the wedding, it'll be much easier for me to tweak the back as needed if I'm working with hand stitches instead of the tinier machine ones! I'll also need to hem those sheer edges a bit, sew the bodice lining down over the zipper and skirt, and hem the skirt itself. So far, I'm rather pleased with how it's looking! (And also glad that I decided to serge the edges of the skirt pieces before sewing the seam-- I left the top of the skirt and the bodice pieces unserged, and they were a horribly fraying mess!)

Speaking of the serger, guess what? It's not broken again--I took it to the shop on Friday and the mechanisms are just fine. The problem was that the thread had gone bad! Which, I guess, shouldn't be a surprise, because there's a strong possibility that most of the serger thread I've been using is older than I am. (It was mostly stuff I got for free from a doll/craft supply shop that my grandparents used to run.) So I tossed a bunch of the stuff that I knew was older, and am going to have to start replacing it as I can. And because I did the brocade bits before this, the serged edges are not the cleanest at all. But the sheer, which was done with the new thread, is much, much better. I'm quite happy that I didn't have to get it repaired again so quickly!

The cat, who decided to be my sewing buddy for today, was rather more ambivalent about the whole thing. In fact, she was quite unhappy that I dared interrupt her nap on top of my pattern pieces to take a picture. Sorry, Cleo.

One last thing for today....decided to have a little St. Patrick's Day fun on a whim. Now, I'm not one who will just celebrate any and every holiday that happens around this time of year. I could care less about Mardi Gras, and I have a rather strong loathing for Valentine's Day. But St. Patrick's Day has always been a fun one-- I'm quite happy to dress the part (today it's my Shakespeare on the Green top, along with some Celtic-knot embellished jewelry), and I've been having fun with listening to some of my favorite Irish bands today (namely The Frames and Flogging Molly so far, but there's still a good chance I'll fit in some U2 and/or The Cranberries). Hey, I really am part Irish, so of course I want to have some fun with this! But anyway....on a whim, I decided to make some scones, since I had a little time to kill. They're total cheater scones because they're made with Bisquick that was already in the pantry, and I even cheated on the cheater recipe. (No heavy cream, so I used the nonfat milk that I had instead, and I didn't have chocolate chips, so I chopped up a dark chocolate-raspberry organic chocolate bar. There. Now they're healthier.) On an even bigger whim, I added some green food dye to make them festive. For total cheater baked goods, I thought they turned out pretty good! Once they fully baked, at least... I may have made them a little too thick to cook through properly until I cut them up and stuck them back in the oven.


March 16, 2011

Making plans, and a sneak preview

It's finally supposed to start getting decently warm around here-- 60s tomorrow, and I hear it's even supposed to get up to 70 on Friday! I'm so excited! And also so ready to start thinking about some warm-weather clothes! I'm currently making a dress for my mom to wear to a cousin's upcoming wedding, and I still need to make myself a wrap to wear on top of my own dress. 
So here's a preview, somewhat, of Mom's dress. I took this picture on my phone, so the colors aren't entirely accurate--the flowers are straight-up silver, and here they look rather tarnished! And it's really more of a navy than this twilight blue. But this is a look at the skirt, in all its unpressed glory.  So far, I've gotten that sewn together, some sheer overlay bits of the bodice, and the actual bodice and lining. I was planning on finishing the bodice up to the zipper tonight, but hit a bit of a snag-- brocade is apparently one of the worst fabrics ever to try and make spaghetti straps out of, and I completely messed up both pieces trying to get it to work. So I need to cut some new, wider straps. Thus the reason I sewed the skirt instead. I'm trying to get this done as quickly as possible, as my seasonal retail job is starting up again on Friday and I'll have less time.
I had a little time to kill between at-home lessons this afternoon, and couldn't resist pulling a few things out of my stash that I've been thinking about. All of these, save one, have been in my stash for years, and I've finally got the inspiration I need. So, in no particular order, here's what I want to get started on as soon as I can...
I picked up this paisley cotton several years ago, with the thought of making one of those dirndl-looking dresses with the kind of Asian name (for the life of me, I can't remember now what those were called!) that were so popular. I never got around to making it, which was probably a good thing. As soon as I saw this really interesting-looking Project Runway pattern, I knew it would be a perfect match. The top is almost corset-looking due to the pleats, and it looks like it'll be fairly quick to sew. Plus I already have matching fabric that can be turned into the piping trim! I may be considering this for an Easter dress this year, since I actually do have a cardigan that I could wear over top. If I have time to do so.
This one is a new acquisition to my stash, although I got it for free! I'm being highly unoriginal here and making the cap sleeve view--you know, the one that looks like it's made from the exact same fabric in the sketch. But I'm strongly considering adding some black piping to this one as well to make it look a little sharper. And I'm also planning on fully underlining it, except for perhaps the sleeves. It is a bit see-through.


 Another one that's been in my stash for years. At least since college. I don't have a pattern to show for this one, because I've got a design in mind based on a blouse I saw last spring or summer. So I'm going to Frankenstein a couple of patterns I've already played with before for this one. It's very sheer, but also very neutral, so I think it'll be a good layering piece.


And then there's this one, which I've shown before. I've literally had this one in my queue for at least a year and a half now, but it kept getting pushed aside for other, more needed projects. Well, I'm determined to have this skirt in my closet by the end of spring, because I still really like the mental picture of this fabric and pattern combination. Plus I've also been meaning to do a test of the skirt sloper pattern I made in one of those Pattern Review classes a few years ago, and this skirt is just straight enough that I think, between this and my new fitting books, it might be the perfect test.

After I get through these 4 things, it's time to tackle those Anthropologie pants. The fabric is in, but no pictures because it's in my laundry, waiting to be washed. And I have a plan of attack in mind. So I'm trying not to load up my sewing queue for this season too much--other than making piping, I don't think any of these patterns will be overly taxing, and I'd still like to get some refashioning in there, since being a contributor at the Refashion Co-Op has been a lot of fun so far and I'd like to continue to do so.

March 15, 2011

Burda Style 03/11 review

Though I let my subscription run out, due to being rather disappointed for the most part with the last several issues, I did pick up the latest one from the bookstore today (now that I have a bookstore nearby that actually carries them!) There were a couple of things in there I really liked, actually. But then there were some really horrific things, too. So here's my review:

The good:
 You'd have to have the right figure to pull it off, but this actually looked very nice on the model as well. I didn't like the full-length one as much, but this one is pretty good.

 This jacket was my main incentive for buying this issue. I love the pleated peplum. And while I know I could probably figure this sort of thing out from another basic jacket pattern, it's always nice when someone else does the work for you.

 Pretty much THE perfect basic straight skirt pattern. (Which, incidentally, I was looking for a sloper-type pattern like this during a recent 5 for $5 sale at Joann's, and the company in question did not have a single one.) Looks like it even has pockets!

  Even though I could probably figure this one out myself very easily, it's still a nice basic jersey skirt.

 My other incentive for buying this issue. I like the pants as is, but they also have 2 of the 4 missing elements from my other pattern for knocking off the Anthropologie pants: the waistband and the welt pockets. I figured that melding this pattern with the other should be fairly simple, since it's the same company. The pleats will have to be figured out myself, but then all I would need, should I choose to torment myself with accuracy instead of making it easier for myself by going with the side zip that's already in the other pattern, is the fly front.

 Hey look, the fly front! (Plus I like that there's a longer version of a very basic, non-pleated front short.)

The bad:
 One of their wedding dresses. For a girl who watched too much Sailor Moon growing up.

 To be fair, though, the basic lines of this dress (and the top version they also have in here) aren't bad at all. It could make a really great maxi-dress or camisole (though probably not for me, because I'd be falling out all over the place up top). This would be the part of Project Runway where the judge would normally tell the designer that he or she needs to learn how to edit--the toga party drape is just unnecessary. And ugly.

 The 80s called. They want their Flashdance costumes back.

The "what were they THINKING?"

(Most of which came from the wedding section, actually.)
On the plus side, you have a built-in apron in case you drop cake on yourself during the reception.

 Just, ew.

 Just what I always wanted: a maternity poncho.

 I don't know about you all, but drawing attention to my inner thighs by sticking a weird seam in there is not exactly something I want to do.

 And the worst: Because it's clearly every woman's dream to look like a bowling pin on her wedding day.

Aside from that, the crafts were the usual meh. There were some pretty cute baby things in there, too, but that's not really useful to me at this point.

p.s. I actually have been sewing quite a bit over the last two days. Maybe I'll have something to show for it soon.

March 14, 2011

Bad little miss Sew and So.

After much consideration, I've decided that I'm pulling out of Me-Made-March. I still fully support the idea, and I think it's important to wear the things I create. And I do think it's also a good idea to follow through on the things I've committed to. But there's a whole lot of stuff that's been working against me this time. The main thing is just time. Taking the daily photos has been a total rush job, and I haven't been at all satisfied with any of the photos or how they show the clothes I've made. Nor have I had the time to actually sit down and write the descriptions/post the photos, either here or in the Flickr group, since day 4. And since I'm getting more behind every day, it becomes a bigger job to catch up every day. Truth be told, I spent the weekend out of town visiting friends, and while I wore me-made things, I didn't even have a chance to take any pictures. The other factor there is that I'm picking up my seasonal retail job again very soon, probably before the end of the week, which means that I'll have even less time to work with. (And I actually can't participate in MMM on the job, anyway, since I have a t-shirt uniform I'm required to wear. This was a complication back during Self-Stitched-September, too.)

I do think that part of the problem lies in the handmade portion of my wardrobe, as well. I quickly learned that having only one pair of me-made pants was a HUGE detriment while it's still rather cool around here--better than it was, but the temperatures still haven't topped the low 50s on a regular basis. So I'm not very inclined to pull out the skirts yet--I'm wearing a 3/4 sleeved top now and that's kind of pushing it for my body's ability to stay warm, at least without my jacket. (Which, incidentally, is the same jacket I already wore on one of the few days I did post in here, also worn with black pants and a different colored top. And therefore kind of boring for me to photograph again.) But anyway, since I'm basically limited them to self-made tops, and I've discovered that while I have a lot of handmade tops that are in great colors for transitioning into fall and wearing through the winter, after wearing those for the last 5 months, I'm less inclined to want to wear olive greens and browns and those sorts of things. I want brighter, happier colors to chase away the last of those winter blahs. And most of the stuff I have in those colors came from places like the thrift stores, and therefore don't fit the parameters of the challenge.

So I'm giving up for this round. And I should probably feel worse about it than I do, but I feel that I learned what I needed to from this round. Which is basically that I need to work on pants and transitional/layering pieces for warmer weather. And I also need to find a way to take better/more interesting photos of myself wearing those handmade things, even though it's so much easier to just stick them on Donna. I'm not saying I'll never do this sort of thing again, but it'll probably play out in more me playing around with incorporating new items into my current wardrobe and doing outfit shots of that. (I'm thinking along the lines of those "1 item 6 ways" posts that Carolyn does.) And with more limited time now, I'd rather spend what I have doing things like practicing my flute and making new stuff, rather than writing up descriptions for rushed, crappy photos of the stuff I've already made.

My apologies to the other MMM participants, and I hope you understand.

Along the lines of my need to conquer pants-making, I am now in possession of the Burda pattern recommended as a starting point for those Anthropologie pants, and there are 3 1/2 yards of caramel-colored linen somewhere between Fabric.com's warehouse and my place. So it has to happen now. (Other than the color issue, I had no pieces of fabric with enough yardage that would work for pants. Though I am thinking about making the basic wide-legged pant from this pattern by squeezing it out of something in the stash, as a wearable muslin of sorts, before I attempt adding the pleats and such.)

Also, so this post isn't completely pictureless, I do have knitting progress to show.
I started this before the weekend, but here's where I'm at on the wrap now. It's made out of some very soft organic cotton, and I'm about 1/6 of the way through--since I am trying to partially offset my fabric stash by avoiding building a yarn one, I've decided I'm going to ignore the instructions as far as the length goes and just basically knit until I run out of yarn. It'll shrink up a bit lengthwise once I block it to open up the pattern anyway, more likely than not. (I think. I've never blocked anything, so I'm not sure.) And it's a repetitive pattern, basically the same 4 rows over and over with 2 rows of straight up knitting on either end, so I can get away with extending the pattern quite easily.

March 11, 2011

a post of epic proportions

....that still contains no MMM pictures. I'm SO behind. Though I've still been wearing handmade things every day, and taking really crappy, rushed photos of said handmade things. But let's move on to more important things, like amazing Anthro pants.

First of all-- yes, Nicole, you're right. I need those pants. ;-) And Joy, you have an excellent point--so far, one of the things I have taken from Me-Made-March (and observing my wardrobe in general) is that I really need to conquer the pants-sewing. Though I may almost have a jeans pattern now, though it remains untested in actual denim, a wide-legged pant would hopefully be not nearly so annoying to fit since it's not quite so close-fitting. And so I think that this is something that will be added to the queue. Elise, you seriously tilted the scales towards DIYing them with that pattern suggestion! There are still elements I'd need to add-- particularly the front pleat, I'd prefer a waistband over a facing, and of course pockets. (I actually really like the welt pockets in the Anthro pants, at least in the back. Since I need to keep my phone on me quite a bit, completely pocketless pants are kind of annoying.) But I doubt I could find a better starting point, unless Anthro gave up its patterns! (Wow...wouldn't that be a dream come true, if Anthropologie started selling its own sewing patterns...) Christina and Antoinette, the original pants are linen, so finding the right fabric could be quite doable. In fact, if I can get my butt to Joann's asap and see if they have the pattern so I can check the yardage, I may have already found it. (And on sale!) Hana, I have no idea about the quality of the original pants, since I haven't had time to go to the mall to see if the new local store has them.

Now that I've done all that talk...I actually finished not one, but two projects today! So have a boatload of pictures!

First up, my latest refashion, along with a quasi-tutorial! I started with this shirt:

I like it. I've had it for awhile, and it's comfortable. It's a good length, and it layers well due to the monochromatic print. And yet, it's still a print. For the most part, it's held up well to repeated washings and wearings. Only problem is, over the years, the back neckline has done this:



As you can see, it got all stretched out, and the tags refused to stay on the inside of the shirt. Not so obvious on Donna. It's a lot worse when I wear it. I was thinking about taking in just the shoulder seams to fix it, but the front is fine so I didn't want to take away from that. And then I got some inspiration....

First, I cut out the tags, then pinched out the excess in the back. (Which ended up being about a 2 1/2" dart, when unfolded.)

 Then, while the dart was still pinched out, I traced a circle with a disappearing fabric marker. (This is a box lid.)

Ta-da!

I don't have pictures of this step, but what I did next was unpin the dart and then cut the circleish shape out. I folded the raw edge in and stitched it down--I chose to hand-sew it so I could minimize any ripple effect and have better control over the raw edge actually staying where I wanted it.

I then sewed a small button onto one of the pointed edges at the top, made a thread loop on the other side, and buttoned it up to close the gap.

And here's the end result--best I could do, taking the picture on my own around 11 pm! I'm pleased with how it turned out--still ripples away from me a little at the bottom of the circle depending on how I'm standing, but not nearly to the extent that it did. The only problem is, the new neckline keeps making me think of the description I've heard multiple times for, of all things, the mullet! "Business in the front, party in the back." Hmmm....not the best association.

After I finished this shirt, I had more time to kill, so I finished off the beret I was knitting. It didn't take too long, since I finally got to the decrease stage a night or two ago.

I've long liked berets. I guess because it was the stereotypical artist hat. And I used to draw a lot--painting and such too, but I was a lot better at drawing. At least until I spent one semester majoring in art. I don't know if it's some psychological block or what, but I've barely been inspired to even try since. Oh well....maybe someday.

A closeup of the starburst-like top--yes, I had to learn a new stitch form for this one! A slip-slip-knit, she called it.

And the whole hat. It looks kind of like a sea urchin, lying on the bed like this...

The pattern was this "Early Morning Beret" at KnitBot. The only other thing I possibly need to do to this is that the instructions call for blocking it. Which, as I understand, involves wetting the piece and pinning it out. Except I'm not sure how that works with something more 3D, like a hat. Maybe I'll just skip that. But for now, I think I'd best go to bed, because I'm looking at these last few paragraphs and thinking that I sound a little loopy!