UFO Sighting

Posted On March 31, 2008

Filed under Confession

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I decided to make a princess dress for my Junior League’s auction this year. In typical fashion, I have waited until the very last minute (I need to turn it in tomorrow night). I decided to morph a Burda pattern that was similar to a sketch I did. I bought a beautiful dupioni silk for it plus a bunch of trims. This was gonna be one fancy princess dress!

Got everything cut out this afternoon and planned to sew the bodice before I went to bed tonight so I’d have all day tomorrow to work on the three skirts (silk overskirt, sheer embroidered underskirt and lining).

I was doing great until the sleeves. At that point, I managed to mess up so badly that the only option is cutting out the bodice and sleeves again — and I don’t have enough fabric. The silk is fraying with every breath, so there’s no ripping it out and starting over.

Thank goodness I have a mommy-n-me apron set sewn and ready to go, and can whip up a tutu and princess dress-up basket with my eyes closed. In the meantime, I’ve shoved the mess that is my failed dress in the back of my craft closet.  Oh, well. Win some, lose some.

Let There Be Light

Posted On March 31, 2008

Filed under Confession, Home

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Remember how I was whining about the poor lighting in my sewing space? Yeah, I solved that problem.

Today, I installed a new light fixture downstairs. It was fairly easy and only took about an hour. I started out by reading this tutorial at HGTV.com.  Very helpful. Did a little window shopping online to pick out the fixture I wanted and ran my idea past my dad, who is my sounding board for all things home improvement. After Miss L woke up this morning, we ran up to the store to pick up the new fixture and a few light bulbs.

The most challenging part was fitting the plate up to the screws jutting out of the junction box. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the holes to line up, largely because of the thick layer of insulation that shifted to obscure the screws. I’m a crafty girl so I tied ribbon to the screw heads then pulled the ribbon through the holes on the plate (using my handy dandy strap-turning tool). The ribbon was a great help in guiding the plate up to the proper position.  All in all, the whole thing took about an hour.

I was pretty proud of myself, so I called my parents to brag. My stepmother answered the phone and was duly impressed, in no small part because of my similarities to my father. Not only am I a big-time Daddy’s girl, I’m just like him. Same temperament, same sense of humor, same, same, same. (We do differ in a few things: I have no athletic prowess whatsoever; he has never breastfed a baby.)

Because of this family resemblance, I had a tiny bit of trepidation about this particular project. My father is more of a Tim “The Toolman” Taylor than a Bob Villa. He’s no longer allowed to do electrical work given his streak of  mishaps. One of my favorite stories involves my dad installing a ceiling fan in the bedroom that could only be turned on/off from the living room. (This happened more than 20 years ago but we still razz him about it.)

I was nice; I didn’t rub it in. Much.

Skirting the Issue

I’ve had the Amy Butler Barcelona Skirts pattern for about a year, yet have never made the first one. I did trace off the pattern, and I bought plenty of fabric for making a couple of them. I just found other things to sew first. Why? The zipper. I have an irrational fear of sewing zippers, for no other reason than the unknown.

Not anymore.

In the past week, I’ve sewn two skirts and one pair of shorts, all with invisible zippers. They’re not perfect but unlike previous zipper experiments, they are functional and wearable — and they don’t look half bad. In fact, they look pretty darned good!

This is actually the second of the two Barcelona skirts I sewed. I bought this fabric when I bought the pattern, brought it home and washed it, then promptly ignored it. And that’s a total shame, because I could have been wearing and enjoying it all this time.

I made this more or less as the pattern dictated. Instead of using sew-in interfacing for the waistband of the apron, though, I used flannel. While I like the feel, it’s a bit too heavy, especially when folded over.

I also had some issues with stitching the waistband closed. If you could see it close up, you’d understand what I’m talking about. I think part of the problem was the thickness of the waistband, courtesy of the flannel. The other part? Sewing too late again. Yes, it’s the bane of my existence. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes necessary and I guess I really need to learn to keep it together when the clock ticks past 9 p.m.

I did make a bit of bigger goof in sewing this skirt that had nothing to do with the time. I thought the first skirt I made was a little on the small side, so I added a half an inch to the middle of both the front and back sections, then used a smaller seam allowance. I now have a skirt that is too big. Guess I’ll be taking it in before I break it in.

This was my first attempt at the Barcelona skirt, using a pretty blue floral fabric from Joann’s. Boy, do I like this fabric! It’s very spring-y and sweet, but not in a cloying way. You know? I think I may even have paid full price for this fabric, I liked it that much. Glad I did, too, because it’s sold out around here.

The apron was sort of a last-minute project. I decided on Saturday to make Miss L a coordinating outfit for Easter, since we were going to church the next day for her big brother’s baptism. I thought the apron would help pull together our outfits. While I got her dress finished before I went to bed Saturday night, the apron was only about half done. Woke up early Sunday to finish it before church — and then managed to leave it on my bed when I walked out the door.

Brilliant.

I opted not to make this apron reversible, and also did not use any interfacing on the waistband. Because it’s not reversible, I did need to finish the back side and bottom edges. I think it’s one of my favorite aprons, and I actually wore the outfit at left all day Monday — even out and about. (By the way, the picture is actually a self portrait. I used my handy dandy tripod and the timer on my 30D.)

The dress on the left is Miss L’s Easter dress. It’s just a simple A-line dress, fully lined, with buttons at the shoulders. I think it’s going to be a great dress for spring and summer, very cool and fun and classic. The Easter bloopers actually continued Sunday morning. I didn’t realize I’d put the dress on backwards until after lunch. Guess I need to sew some tags on it!

My little “Stinkerbell” had fun posing today, especially the photo on the right. What a nut! Tomorrow is “green day” in her class and she needs to wear something green. I recently acquired this Tinkerbell knit fabric and knew it fit the bill. I’m not big on buying anything with characters on it but I made an exception for this one because Miss L loves Tinkerbell and I couldn’t resist. The pattern is Butterick, 3316 (I think). It’s no longer in print but definitely worth searching out. It has a curved bodice, which does make it a bit more interesting than just a basic swing dress. Fun to sew, pretty fast — except when I sewed one section wrong and had to re-cut two pieces to fix the goof. When the weather warms up, I’ll shorten the sleeves so it can be worn through the summer.

This Burda pattern is another I’ve had for a while, just waiting to get up the courage to sew something with a zipper. I hate that I missed out on a year of getting use out of it, because these pants are cute as can be. I made the bermuda length but there are two other lengths, so they can be worn year round

I love this fabric, a pretty embroidered twill with bumblebees on it. I found it at Joann’s, along with two other twills. One is pink with strawberries; the other is green with ladybugs on it. I was only going to buy the pink and blue but that little blond cutie insisted on the green ladybugs.

I’m planning to make tops to coordinate with all three pairs of shorts, but I figure I’ve got a little time since the weather is not quite warm enough for wearing them. (I can already tell that t-shirt isn’t going to make the cut for summer, cute as that pumpkin belly may be.)

I’m meeting my goal of sewing more for me this year, that’s for sure. Today, I broke in my new coverstitcher with the top on the left, Butterick B5185. I made it with short sleeves with a pretty teal knit I bought at … yes, same place. (Really, I do shop other places; it’s just how it worked with this sew-and-show.) I messed up while sewing it and had to rip out some stitches and fix it. It would help to read the directions before I start sewing.

A little love for the CP900: I never thought I’d own a coverstitcher. It just didn’t seem like a must have for me, and I was making do just fine with twin needling on my sewing machine. But then I learned about a great deal on a Janome CP900 and decided to splurge. So glad I did! It’s really amazing how great it does on coverstitching knits (and it should, since that’s what it’s supposed to do). In fact, my son was surprised to learn the shirt I was wearing was made by me and not store bought — and that made my ego just swell.

On the right is my new Favorite Things skirt, the Hip Skirts pleated skirt. I used a fabric I found at Hobby Lobby that’s one of my favorite colors (aqua). I like the skirt but did not cut the elastic small enough, so it’s a little roomy in the waist. It’s an easy enough problem to fix; I just haven’t done it yet.

Catch Up (Not Tomatoes)

I have to start off this entry with a bit of a disclaimer. You see, I had more photos of what I’ve been working on lately. Sadly, the 2GB CF card I bought before my trip to Chicago last year has resumed eating my photos. All of Easter? Pfffft. Gone. Just like that. Everything I shot yesterday? Gone. So, know that there’s more to be photographed as soon as I can find my 1GB card (henceforth known as “ol’ reliable”). Also, I’m doing a separate post with my sewing space revamp because there’s so much to share there.

Now, on with the show!

Neither of these cute little purses is for me. The one on the left, made with the cutest Japanese panda fabric (with a touch of Jennifer Paganelli) is a pattern by Jenna Lou Designs, the Fiona Handbag. Ca-yooot! It’s a birthday present for a friend and I can’t wait to give it to her. I added a little pocket on the inside with the same panda fabric on those polka dots. There’s a touch more JP on the kitty purse on the right, another Melly & Me pattern. The two main fabrics are (I think) Alexander Henry. I’ll be honest here and admit that I’m not as crazy about this bag. Love the pattern, love the design. The fabrics aren’t doing it for me. I think I need to use a smaller print fabric the next go ’round. The print just gets lost in the strips, which is a shame because it’s a cute fabric with geisha and cats. (The little missy has no complaints and has been hauling it everywhere she goes.)

I had so much fun making these felted wool pincushions! I used an online tutorial I found and was surprised at how easily they came together. It does take a little bit of patience, especially with the dunking and squeezing part, but I found it pretty relaxing.

I’m eager to try more felting, actually, and have a few more projects in mind. That’s how much fun it is. It’s a little tough to find supplies and tools locally, though, so if anyone has suggestions of online sources, throw ’em at me. And with this project, I get to cross off another on my Try It! list. Oh, yeah! I’m pleased with the progress I’m making there, especially since I may need to slow down with the list a bit in the next few weeks as I finish up some custom orders, stock my Etsy storefront and try to make a little progress on spring and summer wardrobes for Miss L and I.

Last but not least is the little design job that let me stretch myself creatively in a completely different way. My sweet sister-in-law has a show coming up next month and needed some tickets designed. How could I refuse? I’ve never done something that size before; most of my work has been a considerably larger format (newspaper or magazine). Fortunately, I had some great images to work with and the photo booth strip from Pink Ink Studios lent itself to the format. They were a huge hit and I can’t wait to see them in person (which actually won’t happen until the show, since the tickets aren’t coming here). (The red bar at the bottom is where the ticket numbering goes.)

Some Easter fashions for Miss L and I, plus a couple more apparel items, will hopefully make their way to the blog in the next few days as I re-shoot what my camera ate. In the meantime, check back soon for the new and improved sewing space tour!

Achy Breaky Blog

Posted On March 18, 2008

Filed under Confession, Try It!
Tags: , ,

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I’m still kickin’! Sorry for the bit of a blog break but I’ve got a bit too much on my plate right now and the Internet is always the first thing to get knocked out of my schedule. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve stopped putting things on my to-do list because it’s just stressing me out that I’ve got so much going on. I hope to make a good dent in things in the next few days and will be back soon to share the last Try It! I’ve checked off (and am now addicted to!), the umpteen sewing projects I’ve been working on and my revamped sewing space.

xoxo,
Mary

Party Sweets

Here’s the little cupcake dress I finished the other night. OK, mostly finished — it still needs buttons and buttonholes (any suggestions for button color?) but otherwise is done. Oh, wait. I need to rip out the hem and redo it. See how wonky it looks? It’s not just the picture. The hem really is that wonky. That’s what I get for sewing so late.

The dress is a pattern I picked up at the Expo (I can look it up if someone is that interested). Cupcakes are again from Sublime Stitching; I’m really enjoying that book and just embroidery in general. I have lots of ideas for other projects. For the record, I’m still plugging away on my crocheted scarf. I’m determined to have one wearable object, even if it takes a while. The experience has convinced me that I’ll need to sign up for knitting and smocking classes if I want to actually make something I’m willing to show off.

I think this dress will be perfect for all those special events and parties we’ll be hitting when the weather warms up. For now, it’ll be virtual party wear for …

Glitter Text Generator

Ultimate Blog Party 2008The Ultimate Blog Party! I’m joining the fun at 5 Minutes for Mom and taking part in this year’s global blog event. I even put up a nice glittery banner just for the party! The Blog Party is a great way to find other cool blogs and also win some pretty nifty prizes. I’ve already found quite a few great reads to add to my Bloglines, plus “run into” a couple of friends whose blogs I already read.

For those who are stopping by for the first time, I’m Mary, the self-professed craft addict. My blog is about a year old and documents my many adventures in crafting — some more successful than others. When I’m not crafting, I’m hanging out with my three kids or spending time with my very cute and tolerant husband (aka Honey).

What’s a party without food? Gotta feed my guests so I’m going to share one of my favorite recipes. It’s actually what I made for dinner last night! I found the recipe for Spicy Chicken Cakes with Horseradish Aioli in Cooking Light magazine last year and it was an instant hit with the fam. That’s no small feat around here, since there are five very picky eaters in this house. I have made a few modifications to the recipe, namely using Ian’s wheat panko breadcrumbs instead of making my own. I also use packaged ground turkey breast instead of grinding my own chicken. Martha Stewart can do everything from scratch if she wants. I have three kids, a husband who works too much and no interest in doing every little thing. We also like our aioli a little hotter, so I add a lot more horseradish. Enjoy!

Getting Organized is Easy

It’s staying organized that seems to be a challenge for me.

A little more than six months ago, I did a massive purge-and-clean of my craft closet.  Oh, it was so pretty! And I did manage to keep it that way for at least a month. Over time, I fell back into my old habits, namely the “fill a bag and toss it in the closet” method of cleaning my sewing area. I can’t remember the last time I could actually walk into the closet — much less find anything in there.

With all the machine shopping I’ve been doing, I needed to clean my craft area to prepare for using everything. That meant I needed to find the manuals for my old machines (which are headed to Craigslist soon) and no way that was going to happen without doing some real digging. A clean out was the only way to go.

Because I had to spend most of yesterday at home, waiting for both the insurance adjuster* and UPS, I decided it was an ideal day for fixing my mess. I started with pulling out all of my fabric and folding/refolding it, then sorting it (Asian fabrics, silks, linens, corduroy, flannel and everything else by color) and putting it back in the closet. From there, I next went through all the bags, bins and boxes of accumulated stuff, purging and sorting as I went. The last step was putting all my patterns and tracings in their file boxes.

It took all day and  a good part of the evening, but it’s finally done. Again. Here’s hoping it stays that way!

I’ve determined that I don’t need any white serger thread for a good while; apparently I just bought more if I couldn’t find it where I expected it. And I have far more interfacing than I realized. Should be much easier to keep up with now that it’s all in one place.

Oh, and the most ironic find of the day? A book on organizing. Go ahead — laugh. I sure did.

*On my way to the sewing machine store on the other side of town (serger shopping), I got rear ended. Very minor but I’m going to need a new bumper.

That’s Two

My hat is off to all of you who crochet. I do not have the patience to master it. Or even learn it.

This is no surprise to me. My mother taught my how to crochet when I was just a wee craft explorer, in the years before becoming an addict. I made many a snaky bookmark out of Red Heart yarn. Anything beyond that was more than my feeble skills allowed.

Not much has changed in the past 30 years. I can still do a basic chain stitch. Beyond that? Not so much. I did manage to make a couple of simple flowers last night, a circle of chain stitches with chain-stitched loops around it. I also have the beginnings of a coaster. I went with that since all of my attempts at building on straight lines resulted in misshapen curves and curlies.

Another one off the list, although much less successful than the last endeavor. I do believe I’ll leave the crocheting to the pros.

The Great Tripod Hunt of 2008

Like my attempt at photographing the eclipse? I’ll give you a tip: it’s much easier if you put your camera on a tripod. Nighttime shooting requires sloooooow shutter speeds, to slow to hold with your hand.

And I know this. So why I thought I could just step onto my deck and snap away is beyond me. Probably the same reason why I didn’t think to look for my tripod until the eclipse was at its zenith. Nope, no idea where it is. I did, however, find my knee brace which was nowhere to be found on Saturday, when I needed it.

Gotta work on that spring cleaning.

I cranked up the ISO on my camera to 800 (I think; I’m too lazy to get off the couch and look) and dropped the shutter speed on the above photo to five seconds. In a perfect world, I would have used the tripod and done a shutter speed of a minute to see if I needed to go longer or shorter. Since that was not the case and camera movement would be inevitable, I opted to “drag” the moon across the picture. I focused on the moon on one side of the camera, depressed the shutter and slowly panned the camera across the sky. I did a few and think this was the best of the lot (and I don’t think that’s saying much).

Oh well. There’s always the next one.

No Cheating

Posted On January 17, 2008

Filed under Confession

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