Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Styling my space..

7 years of renting has apparently been stifling my creativity! Almost immediately upon moving in to the new house, I started making a list in my head of painting, building, and landscaping projects. The list is still SUPER LONG, but I wanted to put up pics of a few things that I have accomplished.
My new bedroom is WAY, WAY smaller than my old bedroom, so the only piece of existing bedroom furniture that fit is my bed. :( Consequently, I had to find something to put my clothes in and my alarm clock on.  Luckily, there is the most adorable "shabby chic" antique shop about 30 miles away, and I found a few items that would work perfectly in my space. Of course, they were all painted.....about 400 times.
I had never stripped furniture before, and after this experience I will NEVER strip it again. Night. Mare.
But, everything came out looking delightfully distressed and more appropriate for the ages of the pieces. I love them.

After the furniture stripping trauma, I changed gears and yanked a gross full length mirror off the back of the bathroom door.  Hottie Handyman made a frame to fit, and I scoured local thrift shops for old sheet music to decoupage on to the wood.  Now, this beauty hangs in the entryway area and I couldn't be happier.

I have quite a few more projects to complete, and my sewing room is still getting organized, but I definitely feel like I'm making progress! This will return to being a sewing blog again, I swear.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"I like to move it, move it..."

I haven't updated the blog lately because we are getting ready to move.
For the last time (hopefully).

My family and I will be tethering ourselves to property ownership in appx. 3 weeks. Do you know what that means?? It means that this is my sewing area right now:

Very sad, no?

But, my NEW sewing area will be awesome. Especially now that I have added Maureen to the cache of sewing notions:

Isn't she beautiful? I rescued her from an estate auction for $35. She is in great shape, and I am DESPERATE to start draping fabric on her.  3 weeks is SO LONG!!

In the meantime, I have been working on some shrink plastic jewelry in order to keep my creativity flowing.
It's not as fulfilling as sewing, but at least it's something. ;)

Anyhow, this blog will be pretty quiet until later in the summer. I have to wait 800 YEARS until we close on the house, and then I have to get things set up, and then I have to pick a new project to sew. Bear with me, though.  Maureen and I will be churning stuff out as soon as we can.

See you in my new sewing space!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Outfitting the Beanstalk

Just like most parents, I am often perplexed by children's clothing sizes and how they pertain to my kid.  I don't know that he has yet reached an age where he is able to fit in to his corresponding RTW size.  As an infant and toddler, he was wearing sizes above his age level, and somewhere along the line he started wearing sizes well below it. I have gotten pretty good at creatively extending the life of his clothes since I never know when a growth spurt will leave him with nothing to wear. Case in point, these jersey shorts from OshKosh B'Gosh:
I used to live near an OshKosh outlet store, and I always went in during the super sales and stocked up on staple items for my son.  He is a creature that appreciates the comfort of soft, well-worn jersey (who isn't?), and he fights me every time I try to give these away.  Believe it or not, the size 7 elastic waist still fits my 11 year old, but the length is getting a little too "Daisy Duke" for my peace of mind.
So, he and I compromised. I told him that he could keep a couple pair of these if he let me add length to them. He was very amenable to that idea, and we collaborated on how to coordinate 4 pair of shorts in to 2. After deciding that an all-red pair and a orange/blue pair were the way to go, I got my snip on.
Let me just say, I am not some hyper-frugal nutter. This alteration is more about how much my kid loves these shorts than it is about saving some money.  Don't get  me wrong, I love to find inexpensive alternatives to doling out my life savings on a child's wardrobe, but I generally wouldn't be mucking around with some jersey shorts that I picked up for $3 in the first place.  That being said, I am over the moon that $12 worth of shorts will be able to last him another summer, on top of the 5 summers they have already endured!

I think that a laundering before the photo would have improved the drape of the shorts. Whoops.

These had just come out of the wash which is why there was no "before" picture.

You can see that the layers hang better once the shorts have been washed.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rockin' Refashion

As I was sorting through my patterns to find something that would work for this month's stash-busting theme -knits- I came across a design that I made years ago, but didn't love.  It is not meant for knits, but I saw the possibility and decided that it would be a simple hack to make this pattern suit my needs.
I have a few t-shirts that I have been hanging on to for special projects, and this shirt was the first thing I thought of when I envisioned myself wearing this design in a knit fabric.
I chopped up a black tee for the bodice, and I went to town.
I pleated the center front bodice, and I cut off about 5 inches of elastic in the neckline. I also added a strip of jersey at the top of the skirt in order to offer more contrast.

I don't know how other sewists feel, but I always consider my homemade clothes "works in progress." I may add some fullness to the skirt by slicing the side seams and inserting triangles of black jersey.  Also, some embellishment to the neckline, maybe?  I don't know. I like how it fits and looks right now, but I can see myself wanting to jazz it up more later.

And now this picture because....that face. Is that how I look when I squint? Geez.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fast & Furious Flower Girl Frock

My brother sent me a text last week asking if I could whip up a dress for my niece. She was asked to be a flower girl in his friend's wedding, and he thought that I might create something unique for her.  This posed a bit of a challenge since:
A. My niece is in IL, and I am in WY
B. I had to rely on my brother to provide accurate measurements
C. The wedding is on June 6th.
D. I don't have a big fabric store nearby.

Undaunted, I rummaged through my fabric stash to see what I had.  I don't keep satin or crepe around (I have no girls of my own), so I knew I would have to settle for an Easter-style dress made from cotton. I was fortunate to find just over a yard of lavender-ish fabric (that was the color that I was instructed to use), but I only had less than half a yard of my preferred contrast material. That sucked a little bit since I wanted to make a little short-sleeved coat to go with this sundress.
Since I was making such a structurally simple garment, I decided to focus on the craftsmanship.  The bodice lining is all handsewn, the flowers are homemade (with my little Clover Hana-Ami Flower Loom), and there are no raw edges on the seams.
I made a big bow on the back with long tails since I felt that it looked a little more "fancy occasion" rather than "picnic in the park." I had also thought about adding tulle to the hem, but I was worried about the scratchiness, and the color that I had was too plum and not enough violet.
I do wish that I had a larger fabric selection, or a store nearby that I could have perused, but I think I did okay with what I had on hand.  Plus, I wanted to get this done as quickly as possible so that I could ship it off in plenty of time.  If this dress doesn't fit right, my brother will still be able to shop for one that does.  Fingers crossed that my HOURS of hand sewing weren't wasted!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tutorial: Shrink Plastic Bookmarks

It's that time of year again. Coffee mugs, pencil holders, Starbuck's gift cards, "World's Best Teacher" magnets - you know...end of the school year teacher appreciation gift time.  Well, I said "PHOOEY!" to the souvenir-shop-style items, and decided to do something for both the teacher AND her students next year.


I thought it would be great to represent a slew of classic(ish) children's books on durable, hard plastic bookmarks.  I decided to make about 20 of these, and present them in a mason jar for the teacher to keep on her desk.  Then, I thought that other people may like this idea, so I made a tutorial.
And, away we go..
   The first thing that you need is some shrink plastic. I had 2 different brands in my craft stash, and the sheets were about 8.5" x 11". I have read a few blogs that say you can recycle take-home meal containers for this kind of project, but I didn't have any of those to try out.

Also needed are - Fine point permanent markers, scissors, small binder clips, a hole punch, and parchment paper.

Instructions (Click on the images to view them larger):
 Lay out a piece of paper that is the same size as your plastic sheet, and measure the halfway mark.

 Draw a vertical line separating the 2 equal sides, and place your plastic sheet on the paper.
 Use the drawn line as a guide for cutting the plastic
This will give you 2 plastic sheets appx 4.25"w x 11"h.

 Use your small binder clips to attach one plastic sheet firmly to the page with the image that you are going to trace.
 This picture shows that I used a black permanent marker for the outlines, and colored markers to fill in some of the details. I definitely suggest illustrations that DO NOT involve a lot of shadowing.
Once you have traced the illustration, repeat the tracing process on the title and author name. Then, punch a hole in the top of the bookmark.  If you forget to punch the hole prior to baking, you will have to use a drilling tool to get it done afterward.
 Heat your OVEN (not toaster oven) to 250 degrees, and place your bookmark on a foil-lined tray covered with parchment paper.
 Lay an additional piece of parchment paper on top of the bookmark to prevent curling, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
The finished product comes out about 1/2 the size of the original, but size will vary for each bookmark.
Finally, just add some ribbon or thread through the hole that you punched (you didn't forget to do that before baking, did you???), and you have a great keepsake that any kid would love to get!
Don't forget to put them in a decorated container before you give them to the teacher.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Spending time with my seam ripper...

Have you ever had one of those projects that started with a great idea, but that you just couldn't get to work right? A garment that you construct, then take apart, then reconstruct, only to take apart again?  This is one of those projects for me.  I had no pattern to guide me on measurements here. All I had was an idea and some fabric. This is why I don't draft my own patterns, people.
Believe it or not, the most difficult portion of this dress was NOT the denim bodice. Honestly, if I was shaped like a square, that bodice would have been the easiest part. I mean, obviously the denim presented some challenges, and I still didn't get the side seams in enough to eliminate wrinkling, but this was the one aspect of the dress that never got seam-ripped.
The skirt, on the other hand... I originally wanted pleats, but that didn't work, so I thought I would do an "A" line with jersey fabric, which turned out to be awful, so I finally just gathered a cotton panel skirt. How boring.
Now, after all of the time I have spent building a relationship with this garment, my feelings about it are only lukewarm. I don't love it, I only barely like it, but I am NOT taking this thing apart again.  Maybe I'll add a belt or some embellishments, but the seam ripper will not be an option here. It's time to move on.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

We're Doomed!!

I would like to start this post with a "shout out" to the disgruntled Hobby Lobby employee that cut this fabric like TOTAL CRAP. Thank you, lady, for screwing up my measurements.
Sorry for the grumpiness, but sewing with satin-type fabric is not my favorite to begin with, and then I unfold it to find that almost 10 inches of this piece is unusable for the project that I bought it for. Glarg!

Okay. Rant over.

Several weeks ago, my son asked me for a Dr. Doom hooded cloak. I am always amused and delighted by his requests. In addition to the piles of everyday clothing that I have made him over the past 11 years, I have also constructed a lightsaber sheath, a "Hellbat" costume, a Mad Hatter's hat, and a Dr. Who costume, among other things. I love that he has such an amazing imagination.

So, I was on the hunt for a hooded cloak tutorial, and I found several that involved printing PDF patterns.  Um...pass. I'm not wasting 20 pages of paper and ink, plus hours of piecing and taping, on a "pretend play" garment. Eventually, I found a very simple and straightforward YouTube video - HERE.  And, WOW, so easy! I changed the measurements to fit a child, and I rounded the hood to make it more Dr. Doom-y. It's still big on him, but that is because the boy grows another inch every time I look away and I want this to last a little while.

I know that it's not much, but this was a satisfying project for me. My kid is THRILLED, and I am feeling like Super Mom today. :) It just doesn't get better than this.