Saturday, May 2, 2015

Round 2...FIGHT!

I have officially conquered the "Essential A-Line" master pattern that gave me such a headache in my last post!

There was no way that I was going to let this project defeat me. I really want some new skirts for the summer, and I was determined to find a TNT that would eat up some of this cotton fabric that I have amassed over the years.
For the second time around with this pattern, I used an old bed sheet for the under layer and some hard-to-match quilting cotton that I wouldn't miss. I also scrounged up a few yards of orangey-red lace that I had no intention of using on anything in the immediate future.
I cut a "medium" based on the hip measurements, but had to cut 2" off the waist for a proper fit. Last time, I only took out an inch, and it is amazing what a difference this extra inch made!! Fits like a dream...
There was a bee getting ready to "photo bomb" me here. 
I am so relieved that I was able (and willing) to tweak this pattern in to something that I love. There are several variations of this master that I can play around with, which will help me build a "me made" summer wardrobe this year!
I was going to wait to photograph the skirt until next week, but the light this evening was so awesome that I threw on the skirt and grabbed my 12 year old to act as photographer. As soon as I got outside....cloudy. Seriously, sky?? 2 minutes!?!? I only took 2 minutes!! 
Changed out of the skirt, and then the sun came back out.  Of course. :(

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Loathe Linings

After more than a month, I finally dusted off my sewing machine and got down to sewing something for fun!
I have dozens of projects on my list, but this book has been sitting on my cutting table for about 2 months waiting for me to feel motivated. Can you believe that I only paid $2 for this at the thrift shop?
I've had my eye on the Triple Ruffle Skirt, but the instructions seemed so daunting - flipping through several different pages for construction details, tracing the main pattern, making adjustments, fussing with a lining, etc.... It seemed like a lot of work for a simple skirt.

 I started the project Saturday morning with high hopes and lots of enthusiasm.  By late Saturday afternoon, I was convinced that this skirt pattern was created by demons.  It all came down to the lining. The problems began when I constructed the lining inside out, and continued when I tried to install the zipper. I am normally a zipper rockstar, but I just.could. not. get. it. right. Argh! After HOURS of sewing and stitch ripping, I finally had to walk away and start anew Sunday morning.
It went.....better. I decided to take it all in stride and just get it done. Things that I am trying to be zen about:
- The lining is inside out
- The zipper looks like it was installed by a monkey
- I only had enough lace for 2 "tiers"
- The waist needs to be brought in another inch
- The bottom tier did not match up properly with the main skirt
- This took me 2 DAYS!!
See how zen I am in that picture?? I am not even phased by the gray day, the crap lighting in my sewing area, or the fact that I had to move a bunch of stuff around to make room for the photo shoot. SUPER ZEN!

Ultimately, I know how to fix all of the problems for the next skirt, and this pattern is pretty good. I have already made a note to use bias tape as a waist band facing so that I don't ever have to deal with lining again. And, there are a ton of cute skirts in this book that I can see myself wearing, so I really want to not hate this pattern. Just have to work out the kinks, right?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

To Done.

 My "to do" list is long, and my attention span for planned projects is short, so when I finally get to mark something off of my list it's a pretty big deal. And, today I knocked out one of the projects that has been waiting for me to get around to it for quite some time - snack bags.

I told myself years ago that I would stop buying zip-top bags for my son's chips and lunch snacks, but they are just so damn convenient! Reusable snack bags aren't terribly expensive online, but I suffer from the "why should I pay for it when I have the materials to make it here" disorder. You know what I'm talking about.

My main hurdle was figuring out what material I should use for the inside of the bags. I don't have any oil cloth in my stash, so I knew that I would be recycling something from around the house. That led me to plastic bags, of course. I didn't even consider grocery bags because - A: I don't know that they are food safe, and B: I have tried melting them together before, and it sucked. What to use, what to use?
 Cereal bags!! Easy to clean, durable, and food safe. I remember that my grandmother used to save cereal bags to wrap sandwiches and leftovers and stuff, so why did it take me so long to think of them??
 I have to admit that they are kind of a pain to sew. Since the plastic is so smooth and waxy, the slip factor was high. Using paperclips to hold the cotton and plastic together while I sewed helped a little bit, but I wouldn't say that it was perfect.
And, I kept changing my mind about the closure and size. At first, I did a fold over closure - like the cheap sandwich bags, but I hated it. Then, I tried an envelope flap with velcro. Meh. Finally, I halved the size of the snack bag and used a rounded flap with double velcro.

One less project on my mile-long list! Huzzah!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dyeing Debacle of 2015

I got it in to my head the other day that I would love a long circle skirt. I blame YouTube for their "recommended" section that often lures me in to wasting hours on videos that I didn't plan to watch. It's shameful how much time I lose on that site....
Anyway, there was a lady that demonstrated how to turn a king-size sheet in to a "maxi" circle skirt. I will not link to the video because it was mostly awful and I didn't use any of her "instructions," but I mention it because it reminded me that I have a pile of flat sheets sitting around and being useless.

Do you use flat sheets in your home? We don't. Both of the males in my house seem to have internal furnaces that run hot at night, and they can barely stand the lightweight comforters that I force upon them. Thus, every time I buy new sheets the flat sheet gets tossed in a pile while I decide whether to make it in to a second fitted sheet (I'm still mulling it over..).  Anywho, I thought of my "stash" of sheets when I watched the video and realized that I needed to make a circle skirt immediately.

Unfortunately, all of my flat sheets are this tan/beige/neutral color, and that is NOT my style at all.
Which brings me to the "dyeing debacle of 2015."
The above picture is "super saturated." Can you tell that the color is supposed to be ombre?
How about this one:
*sigh* I knew going in to this that it would be challenging since the fabric is a 50/50 cotton/poly blend.  But, I didn't think that the hour and a half that I wasted prepping, dipping, stirring, and cleaning up would produce such "meh" results.  I mean, at least it's not tan/beige/neutral anymore. Right?
Ultimately, I'm satisfied with it. The color is a very light denim shade of blue that should coordinate with just about anything. And, I will actually wear this since I LOVE LONG SKIRTS. The flat sheet fabric is light enough to drape well, but heavy enough to prevent windy day anxiety.
  The skirt is a fitted waist circle skirt with side zipper. I will have to make another waist adjustment because, you know, circle skirts are a pain in the ass and math is annoying. But, it fits very comfortably on my hips right now, so I'm wearing it. And, I busted however many yards are in a queen-sized sheet! 2.5?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bin There, Done with That..

I promise that this is the final project that I'm doing for my sewing class! At the last minute, I decided that I needed some fabric bins to hold shears, rulers, fabric markers, etc.. that go on the sewing tables. After several hours of searching sewing sites for a good tutorial, I came across some simple instructions at the Birch Fabrics Blog. I like that it had an easy to reproduce template and common sense construction.

The technique is similar to the tote bags that I have made with the boxed bottom, and the only things I added were an interior pocket and a couple of handles.
I only have a lightweight interfacing in my stash, so they're not very stiff, but the form isn't as important as the function in this project.  They are the perfect size to hold what I need, and they will be easy to transport.
Now that I confirmed that this is a successful endeavor, I might make a few more to use for organizing things in my bathroom and living room. So quick and easy!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pins and Needles

Once I finished my pressing boards from earlier this week, I decided that the kids in my sewing classes needed pin cushions. After scouring the internet for fun ideas that I could sew in bulk, I eventually realized that it was best to keep it simple - a wrist pin cushion seemed the most practical. Circles are my preferred shape, so I found a roll of masking tape to use as a template and went to work.
 The great thing about the masking tape is that it had a template for the larger exterior of the pin cushion, as well as the smaller interior circle that I used for a piece of wool lining (from an old, gross sweater). A couple of the ladies in my stashbusting group pointed out that wool and other natural fibers (like human hair - WEIRD!) prevent the pins/needles from rusting.
I was initially worried about the younger ones pushing too hard on the pins and impaling their wrists, but I was determined to solve that issue. So, I dug through my recyclables and came up with a solution:
I used some lightweight cardboard from a cereal box as the base lining of my pincushions. The kids would have to poke pretty hard to get through that!

And then, I set up the assembly line for sewing:
4 of the bands are adjustable, and 4 of them are not. But, they are all elastic. I am confident that they will fit the kids' wrists.

Once the circles were sewn, I found that it was really easy to bend the cardboard to fit through the 1.5" gap that I left open for stuffing.

I have to admit that this whole project was really time consuming. After all of the measuring, cutting, machine stitching, and stuffing - I added hand-sewn trim to 7 of the 8 pin cushions. This was an all day event.  But, how cute did they turn out?!?!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Girl and Her Staple Gun..

Thanks to the children's sewing class that I instruct, there has been a lot of stash-busting going on this week! The class will be contributing to the 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge this month, and I have been doing crazy prep work for the occasion! First of all, I busted about 2 yards by making the pillow case examples for the students:
For the beginners

For my advanced class
And then, I had to construct a few portable pressing boards for the kids to use during class:
You may recognize the fabric that I hate from my last post - I think it is cloning itself on my shelf!

This was a really straightforward project, and I had almost everything on hand. An amazingly nice guy in my town donated (and cut) the 15" x 19" boards for me, so all I had to do was dig out my staple gun and get to work!
Cut a couple of layers of felt to fit the board 

Stapled the felt to the board

Stapled the fabric over the felt

Front of the pressing board

I added non-slip grips to the corners underneath
If I had used MDF or particle board for the base, I could have left the back "raw", but since I used OSB (subflooring), it was very slivery (just ask my poor, impaled fingers). So, I added some fabric panels to cover the wood on the back for when these boards are being moved around or transported.

With the exception of purchasing a new box of staples (one day I will find the hidden panel in my house where all of the staples, paperclips, and scotch tape have sought refuge), this project was FREE! And, I busted almost 3 yards of felt (a heinous over-purchase for Halloween), as well as 2.5 yards of cotton fabric that had been languishing on my shelf for years. Hooray!