Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Whoa. Did you know a year has passed since my last post? Who knew that writing a blog was um, work?

Not that this wasn't a crafty year. In fact, I think 2012 was my most productive year ever, craftwise. I sewed and sewed and sewed to the point of obsession. Seriously. My output of items I actually wear is relatively small for all that sewing time: a skirt, a shirt, and a dress. Besides these, I had a ton of UFOs and FOs that I didn't like well enough in the end to wear.

2013 brings a new year and new sensibilities. I moved my center of operations from the dining room table to the craft room downstairs. While this makes for more order and less chaos in my dining room, it means my craft time has been almost nonexistent. 99% of our family life occurs upstairs, far from the craft room. It is hard to parent while sewing in a different part of the house.

I have a couple of projects lined up:

- upcycled sweater coat for a friend
- flame skirt for a friend
- tribal headdress for myself
- another tribal headdress for myself
- about 60 bajillion other ideas.

The big thing I have been working on has been my craft room itself. One of my holiday gifts was a Norden gateleg table that I am tricking out to be a cutting/craft table. I am attaching three cutting mats with velcro to the top of the table, along with a measuring table. Obviously, this is a popular idea. My husband looked online to see some of the Ikea hacks for this table and came back with "does anyone use this table anywhere other than a craft room???"

Inspired by the new table, I tackled reorganizing everything. Every. Thing. I have 15+ years of accumulated fabric, notions, failed craft attempts, and detritus. I was so impressed by the organization Gertie posted on her sewing blog, that I had to duplicate it. I now have every length of fabric measured, folded, and stored with a card attached to the fabric noting the width and length as well as a card with a swatch held in a baggie outside the storage box. Now I can just feel through the swatches and know exactly what each bin contains. This is HUGE. Also, I have a lot of fabric.

I also have a lot of sewing patterns. 215 to be exact. And all of them are now cataloged by manufacturer, number, and brief description in an Excel file. Eventually I would like to attach a PDF of the envelope backs to each entry, but that will be a bigger project.

So things are quiet, but moving on the craft front. Maybe I will get up the gumption to document my sewing this year. Or not. It is more about the doing than the talking, anyway.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Of sheets and pillowcases

Let me sing to you of my love of bed linens.

Seriously, I think Scarlett O'Hara was onto something when she made a dress out of velvet curtains.

Some results are better than others...

Sheets, curtains, table cloths, pillowcases - these are all excellent sources of fabric. They come in many prints, colors, patterns, and fabrics, although cotton (or poly cotton blend) is the most common.

Where else can you find yards of fabric at such low prices? Especially if you shop at thrift stores, like I do. You can easily pick up a king or queen size flat bedsheet for $2 at a thrift store. That is $2 for 3+/- yards of fabric! You can't beat that in the fabric store. Like fun prints? No problem - check out the kids sheets or curtains.

Old sheets make the perfect muslins. They are cheap, cotton, and easy to find. Plus, you don't feel guilty about cutting up a faded old sheet to mock up an outfit; you are reusing and being eco-conscious.

Actually, I have liked some of the muslins I made out of old sheets so much, I never got around to making the pattern out of the "real" fabric. I just finished a sundress made out of an emerald green queen size sheet. It is one of my favorite colors of green, the sheet was in almost-new condition, and I think I look fabulous in it. I paid $2 for the 100% cotton sheet. Add the cost of the pattern ($1), zipper ($1.50 and thread ($.50) and I have a $5 dress that is custom fit to me!

Do a Google search and you can find lots of uses for reused linens. Table cloths become circle skirts with one cut and some hemming. Sheets, especially kid sheets, make perfect wrap pants (thank you to my friend, Sarah, for this idea!). You can tart up sheets and pillowcases with trim, markers, fabric paints, or whatever. The possibilities are really endless.

The other day I found some Ralph Lauren pillowcases for $3 at the thrift store. I loved the bohemian/hippie print on them and they were in new condition. I decided these would have to be made into a hippie sundress IMMEDIATELY!

Uncut and unironed pillowcases. Cool print, yes?

Ironed and cut
Once cut open and ironed, I discovered I have about 2 yards of very soft, high thread count 100% cotton to play with. I toyed with the idea of using a pattern but decided I was overthinking it. So last night, I sewed two tubes for elastic casing, adjusting the neckline, armhole, and backline a little and made two shoulder straps. Today I plan to insert the elastic, adjust the skirt to an A line and then boom - cute little sundress for under $5 and 2 hours of time.

So look no further than your linen cupboard for some inspiration. I swear, I feel like this is one of the biggest sewing secrets out there!

Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm sewing... really!

LOTS going on sewing/crafting-wise, but I haven't had much time to photograph and post. I would love to do one of those photoshoots like I see on other sewing blogs, but my resident photographer is my husband. With two young children, trying to find the time for both parents to play dress up and photoshoot is a pipe dream. :)

Although there is a lot going on in my sewing world, not very much has been successful of late. In fact, I plan to post something about my mistakes. Going back over them would be helpful to me and might be of use to others.

I'm currently obsessing about two things:

sun dresses, especially vintage/rockabilly ones
patchwork ALL THE THINGS!

I had a brief obsession with infinity dresses. After three attempts, I now know what I was doing wrong. I'm not sure if I have enough momentum left to do one right. Shouldn't buy any new fabric right now anyway.

Soon, my precious, soon I shall return and have more to report!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Sewing in fits and starts. Work intruded - darn you, need for a paycheck! - and then illness descended upon my family. So the creative fires have been banked a bit. Maybe I need some pretty pictures to view to get them flaming again?

There are quite a few blogs I love to peruse and sigh over. Your Fantasy Costume is one where I find a lot of inspiration or at least confirmation in some of my crafty desires. She seems to run across the same items I do and I always find a new discovery or two. For instance, I have been on the lookout for truly awesome elfin shoes for some time; Your Fantasy Costume introduced to me to these by Fairysteps:

Then there is Fae Nation. It is another handy linking tool. It reintroduced me to Zizzyfay Faery, especially their hooded sundress:

I love the combination of classic styling with an elfin twist. It is like a rockabilly fairy!

Speaking of rockabilly, I have always appreciated the aesthetic, but I'm just not into the degree of daily maintenance such a look requires on a daily basis. I am firmly rooted in comfort: I eschew heels and hose, rarely shave, wear cotton undies, and generally believe life is too short to wear uncomfortable clothing. But every once in a while I am overcome with the urge to dress to the nines by slinging on heels, doing my hair, adding about 3 lbs of makeup and generally looking well-detailed. Plus, my wonderful husband has expressed a good deal of appreciation for the rockabilly look and who doesn't like to feed the spark of attraction with your love?

Inspiration is where you find it. Perhaps I need to wander on over to my Pinterest boards agains and browse through my pins. SO much inspiration - now I need to find the time!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Red coat is finished!

Another project done! I'm sad to go back to work tomorrow. I won't have nearly as much time to devote to sewing and crafty stuff. I have managed to cram some in by having my sewing machine and serger in the dining room. It means I get to be a part of family activities, but it plays havoc with the tidiness of my home. Strips of cut fabric and patterns flutter about. I try to clean as I go, but it still manages to look... rumpled.

Anyway, the red coat is done! This is the first project I showed on the blog, so it is momentous. I have some cleaning up to do on the zipper - it sort of gave me fits.

It is nice and warm and cozy. I know my friend will like it because I ruined the surprise and let her test drive it before I installed the zipper:

She promised to act surprised when she opened the gift at her birthday party. :)

Next up - a shift for a friend and a rockabilly dress for myself!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Completed Project!

Finally! A project is completed. And this was a bitch of a project.

Current fashion is all about bold, bright patterns. I am not a bold, bright pattern kind of person. But then I stumbled upon this sateen fabric in the clearance section of JoAnn's - which was on sale at 50% off! It was a big pattern, but I liked the shape and colors within it. At $3.50/yard this was a deal too good to miss, so I snapped some up. I found some coordinating purple sateen (also half off!) and a dress was born.

I wanted to make a dress with some sort of contrast neckline so I could use the purple sateen to break up the pattern and frame my face. I found what I was looking for in New Look pattern 6864.

I planned to do the criss-cross neckline with the flutter sleeves. Planning to do things right (see, this blog is holding me accountable!), I made a muslin first. The muslin dress came together super fast and easy. I'm glad I made it, too, since I discovered an error in the pattern; the front pattern image tells me to use the wrong bodice type for the dress I wanted to make. So yay, saving me time and money!

The muslin also told me I should make a smaller size than I originally planned. I made a size 12 top and a size 14 bottom.

Then things went all to hell. This quickly became a cursed project. I don't have any pictures of the sewing process because I was too busy cursing to take pictures. I sewed every seam at least twice. There were a couple of seams I sewed four times. My mom always told me that if you make two mistakes in a row you should put the project down and walk away from it for the rest of the day. Wise words. Too bad I didn't heed them.

I stumbled on, sewing, cursing, ripping, sewing again. Finally, FINALLY the dress is done. Well, I only did a small hem and could probably take it up a bit more, but that is a pretty easy fix. Here it is, the cursed dress in all its glory:

Yep, I could take it up another inch or two. Show some knee (how scandalous!). The back looks a little rumpled, but I assure you that is just the bounty that is my butt making the fabric wrinkle up. (sigh)

Would I make this pattern again? Yes, though I don't think I would do the flutter sleeves unless I had a really lightweight fabric like chiffon or something. I feel like the sleeves make my shoulders look really broad which makes my head look really small. Maybe they will relax with some washing. Thankfully, the pattern had a lot of options.

Glad the cursed project is over. Next up: zipper on the red coat!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Project ADD

Ok, so my main rationale for beginning this blog was that if I documented my process, I would be more likely to complete my process.

I am a long-time sufferer of project Attention Deficit Disorder. I will be plugging away on a project, 90% of the way to awesomeness - whoa, did you see that bolt of fabric over there! It would be perfect for that sundress idea I had a couple days ago! And off I go chasing a new project.

My craft room is full of projects three quarters of the way done. I could probably spend an entire year just finishing them. Such a resolution would likely teach me fine moral lessons about completing things I start, the satisfaction that comes from doing a project right and in total and other wonderful ideals.

But inspiration, when it strikes, is like a lightning bolt. I love the sizzle. I know I will chase it whenever it strikes.

So the red coat is momentarily on hold as I work on completing some ram horns.

Didn't see that one coming, did you?

My husband gifted me with an absolutely fabulous mask from Mythical Masks for Yule. Well, of course I have to create an entire outfit to go along with it. And the mask isn't enough. Nope. It calls for horns. Ram horns. Yep.

So I found an Instructable on how to make hollow horns. You can even put LEDs inside to make them light up. How cool would that be at a burn or festival?? ZAPwent the lightning. And off I went.

I rolled a wire frame and covered them in a layer of papier mache last week. Today, I went to work in applying the Model Magic to the frame.

You can see the wire frame and papier mache in this picture. I have started rolling on the Model Magic. It is incredibly light and fluffy, much more so than Sculpey or Fimo. It takes a few days to air dry and won't be as sturdy at the end, but since I will be wearing these on my head, I figured less weight was a good thing.

 The process for adding the horn ridges is super easy. Roll a snake with the Model Magic, roll it flat with a rolling pin, and then wind it onto the form. Ta da! Real ram horns aren't perfect (or this big, but I'm going for a Mucha look), so imperfections just make it that much better. Or so I tell myself. :)

Life interrupted before I could finish the second horn. I'll finish it off tomorrow and leave these to air dry for several days before painting.