A 2007 retrospective

Silly me… the end of the year always makes me introspective. So here’s a few highlights of my year in craftiness…

-As far as creativity goes, I think I took more chances in design choices. And loved some of the results, like the kimono pjs.

-Had several firsts this year– sewing baby clothes, doing the Wardrobe Refashion challenge (for which my pledge is officially over now, or at least I can no longer post on the blog), being chosen as a contest winner for the BurdaStyle Halloween challenge, sewing with bamboo…

-Had a couple failures this year too, mainly in drafting my own patterns. Still haven’t quite gotten that one down.

-I’ve become less productive, I think, but a little more detailed. I say less productive because the second half of the year was pretty much dominated by one dress and the peacoat.

I don’t have an exact count on scrapbook pages done, though I know I did a fair amount. But here’s some other stats:
Craftster swaps completed: 2
New articles of clothing: 14
Reconned articles of clothing (which includes a few simple embellishments): 15
Bags or bag-like things: 4
Articles of jewelry: approximately 14
Totally bombed projects: 2
Scrapbook pages completed, give or take a few: 33

Favorite sewing project this year: The Titania dress. I was just so happy that I designed something and, even though I had to start with a pre-made pattern base, it worked!

Least favorite sewing project: The Felicity Peacoat. Even though I’m happy with the results, and it’s keeping me nice and warm so far, it was just such a pain to make! Though I think most of that would have been avoided had I had the right pattern size to start with. 😛

Best online discovery this year: BurdaStyle, hands-down. I mean, come on. Free sewing patterns that don’t suck!

Best podcast discovery: ThreadBanger. Even when the projects are way more punk than I am, it’s just so fun to watch.

7 Things I’m hoping to accomplish in 2008:
1. Finally learn how to make jeans that fit!
2. Get better at working with knit fabrics.
3. Use up some of my stash. Though that was part of the whole point of the WR challenge… 😛
4. Finish the two scrapbooks from my grad school years, the Chile album and the road trip album.
5. Even though I didn’t sign up again, I still want to sew as much of my wardrobe as possible instead of buying things new. (Even though, since my pledge is over, I did buy two shirts today. The first was an off-white cami that I’ve been needing for awhile to wear under things and had no luck with at the thrift store, and the other was a pretty, comfy knit shirt.
6. Try a project from this book that I got for Christmas.
7. Though it’s not crafty, persay, I do also want to work on my cooking skills a little. In particular, I want to learn how to make those Chinese pork dumplings, and how to better cook without recipes.

Happy New Year!

Seven hours and three movies later…

Ta-daa! My New Year’s Eve dress. I sketched out the design last night on a whim, and am quite pleased that it looks like how I pictured. I cut the skirt shorter, then added part of the bottom to the lining so I could make it an assymetric two-layer skirt. Then I took off the sleeves, took the zipper in about 4 inches, made some more tweaks to the fit, then sewed the original seam binding back onto the one armhole and used ribbon to get the assymmetric seam to stay. I was originally going to fold under the scalloped edge on the hem, but decided to leave it.

And it also gave me time to watch my Netflix rental (Premonition) as well as two of my Christmas gift movies (Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and Help!). So all in all, a good afternoon.

I just hope the party is worth the effort for the dress….


Sad to say this hasn’t been a very eventful week for crafting. I did make a skirt last Saturday– just a basic A-line, knee-length khaki one, and so I’ve been lazy and haven’t taken a picture of it yet. I kind of got sidetracked by preparing for a party that I hosted for a bunch of my girl friends tonight… that, and the iPod I got for Christmas. I did do a little bit of sewing on my brocade jacket, but didn’t get very far on it.

I do need to figure out some projects pretty soon. Among my Christmas gifts was three gorgeos pieces of fabric and some beads. And also, this nifty lap desk for crafting that has a light on it, for when I’m sitting on my bed doing craft projects (usually I end up just dragging a card table into my room, but this will make my scrapbooking far more comfy!)

I’ve also discovered that I need to do some repair work on one of my favorite reconned shirts. Which, unfortunately, will largely consist of deconstruction– I have a sheer panel layered over part of the original dress’s fabric, and the sheer is pulling out of the seams in several places. I do have a decent amount of that fabric left over, since I’d gotten something like a quarter- or half-yard… it’s just all that ripping out. Especially since there is a zipper involved. And I have to do it to the midriff and both sleeves. But since I love the look of the shirt, I’m crazy enough to do it. I’ll just have to make sure I do something to the sheer this time to keep it from happening again.

The other thing I’m trying to figure out is, I got invited to this semi-formal New Year’s Eve party. I haven’t thought about it before because I’ve been kind of going back and forth on whether to even go (odds are extremely good that I’ll end up being the only single person there, which is just miserable at midnight.) But I was talking to one of my best friends tonight and she told me that she and her fiance are going, so I guess if nothing else I can talk to them a bit while I’m making my appearance, even if I go home before the ball drops. Anyway, I have this dress that my mom had given me awhile ago in case I ever wanted to use it in my recon adventures– one of her sisters married for the first time rather late, like while I was in college, and so this was my mom’s bridesmaid dress from that. So I’m debating whether to do some quick work on this to make it a wearable party dress, or to wear the Morning Glory dress and just make some kind of more winter-friendly shrug to wear over it. Which would be the easier option by far, but I wonder if the turquoise flowers on it make it too summery. Either way, I have to figure this out by, oh, early tomorrow afternoon so I can get on it after church!

Admitting defeat

I give up. Nicole’s scarf is just not working. After weaving in about three times the amount of yarn it called for in the instructions, and then stitching the one end so it’ll stay, I proceeded to try and tighten the rest of it up because there were some very unattractive bubbles in it. And, in the process, not only is the scarf now rippling in an even less attractive way on the edges, but there’s snags in the scarf that I just can’t get out, and the blasted thing is STILL gapping between rows, despite weaving yarn directly between the rows in an attempt to avoid it. So I now must admit defeat, and try and come up with a sewn one that isn’t lame. Too bad I didn’t know this before I went to Joann’s today to get stocking stuffers for my mom!

On the brighter side, I now have three of the four capes done, the three that Kathryn is giving to her niece and nephews. I can delay the one for her son a bit if need be, since he’s not even walking yet so he can’t wear it. And since I noticed my mom had a pincushion on her stocking stuffer list, I made one of those tonight too.

I couldn’t justify paying $10 for a stuffed tomato or whatever, so I decided while I was at Joann’s to make one. I had some time to kill between finishing up there and starting my music lessons for the day, so I went to the Salvation Army near the campus of the university that I teach at with a vague thought of maybe I could find something to base a pincushion on. My mom loves tea, as do I, and so when I found this teacup I knew it was perfect. Fifty cents for the teacup, the fabric came from an old patchwork hippie skirt of mine that I couldn’t bear to get rid of because it had such great fabric in the blocks, and used the polyester stuffing we already had. I think she’ll enjoy this much more than a tomato.

Project Runway 4.4/4.5, and my own fun with fabric draping!

I know I should be sewing. Kathryn gave me the embroidered fabric today, so I have four toddler capes to make by Christmas Eve. (Three, technically, because the one for her son can’t be worn until he can actually, you know, walk. But still.) Unfortunately, I’m still kind of sick. More functional today so I got through work, but I’m really afraid of cutting something wrong with the headache I have now, and since she bought it and embroidered it I can’t screw it up. I’m thinking that, if I’m ok on Saturday, I can just have a sweatshop day and make a huge dent in that. So I’m limiting my crafting tonight to experimenting with one of my recent fabric acquisitions.

I want to make this a long skirt as possible, both because I prefer the look of long skirts on myself and because I want to show off as much of the fabric as I can. Obviously this isn’t even draped for real, I’m just trying to get an idea of how I want to set the stripes. So here are my options so far:

Out of these two, I’m favoring horizontal, because it seems to work better with the fabric. Of course, there is the “fear of making me look fat” issue. So then I moved to…

I’m not sure about this dual-direction diagonal thing. It does have the potential to look cool, but this was the best I could pin it. Plus I’m not sure I have enough fabric to really make that work, since I’d have to cut more pieces. So at the moment, I’m favoring the diagonal stripe. But this is why I took the pictures, so I can mull over it for a few days.

And now, Project Runway!

4.4: “Trendsetter”

Yes, I know this is a week late, I’m watching it before the new one, but I’ll just make a few comments.

–I loved the idea of bringing back outdated trends and making them actually look good.

–Cut-outs should never have been a trend in the first place.

–Christian still really gets on my nerves!

–The group challenges are always interesting, seeing all the personality clashes and such. This one was no exception. Especially since it involved collections instead of individual outfits.

–Victorya should have just taken the role of team leader from the beginning. She was the leader anyway.

–I can see why Jillian won. Those overalls were amazing, and she turned out to be the best team leader. It was good to see her say she felt bad for doubting Kevin, and I think her firm but not-pushy style of leadership helped motivate him more. The shorts outfit wasn’t really my thing, but I did enjoy the dress too.

–Wasn’t a fan of Chris’s team. The jacket was just horrid, it was not good as a collection, and while I would have worn the wrap shirt outfit, it just didn’t fit with the others.

–Have I mentioned lately that Christian is an arrogant pig? There was really only one outfit in his entire collection I liked, the one with the pencil skirt.

–Ricky’s wasn’t so fun either. Cohesive, but I didn’t like the styles. (Of course, neon pink and then underwear as outerwear wasn’t ever my thing.

4.5: “What’s the Skinny?”

Blogged as I watch this time, just for fun.

Ah, the “dress a normal woman” challenge. Interesting twist on it though, doing women who lost significant amounts of weight! Major accomplishment there. And it’s a reconstruction challenge! *squeals*

Poor Carrie. She got stuck with Christian. 😛 And I just love that she’s making it hard for him! I’m also laughing at Steve, who has to recon a wedding dress into something wearable for everyday. This should be interesting. Hmm… not sure about this “use it as trim” plan.

I do kind of feel bad for Jack, leaving like this. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision. Though I think it was for the best–his face is definitely messed up, and for him to be HIV-positive, his health is nothing to mess with. Chris coming back is fun, though! Not sure about his design style for some things, like last week, but he just has a fun personality.

Gasp…. I actually kind of like Christian’s shirt so far. Too bad I can’t say the same for his personality. Elisa’s looks kind of maternity, Steve looks like he’s not doing the challenge at all.

Whatever happened to “Day of Runway Show”? “Day of Elimination” just sounds so much more ominous. Hmm… Jillian didn’t really do the challenge either. And Elisa’s dress looks better on. Steve is glueing bits of the wedding dress to his outfit. Very decent of Victorya and Kevin to help Steve– I’m actually kind of surprised that they helped since, you know, he’s competition. Too bad his dress now looks like a French maid’s.

The driveby runway review: Sweet P– nice dress, though it might be a bit young for th eclient. Jillian’s makes it look pretty obvious that she didn’t use the original shirt. Ricky’s outfit looks really good.Chris’s doesn’t quite fit well at the bust, but considering the time crunch, not bad. Now that I see it on, Christian’s would be better with longer pants. Victorya’s is ok, kind of bland stylewise. Elisa’s doesn’t look quite like it fits the model stlyewise. Kit’s could be a fun style, I kind of like the double hem, though no way would I do it in pink. Kevin’s looks really good. Steve’s looks like the love child of a French maid and Laura from last season. Rami’s doesn’t really excite me this time.

Elimination time…

Ouch– gotta be rough for Chris, getting called out two weeks in a row. Especially since he just got a second chance! Oh look, Heidi agrees with me about Elisa’s outfit. It looks like they’re going to forgive Jillian for not actually recycling the outfit. Steve, not so much. Haha, Nina just called it a French maid. I have to grudgingly admit that Christian really had one of the best outfits out there. And now for the moment of truth: Christian won. On an immunity round. I guess I’m stuck with his arrogance for at least two more episodes. Though, as I said, I actually sort of liked his outfit this time. I’m glad Chris is still in. And Steve, as I thought as soon as he stated he was going to replace the entire dress with different fabric, is out.

Finishing details and holiday projects

Been doing a lot lately…

My mom and I made these on Saturday morning. The original plan was to collect the pinecones ourselves, but the forecast called for rain so we picked up some cinnamon-scented ones at the store instead, and then glittered them up. (Red, gold, silver and green for the colors, but only the green is pictured here because I didn’t have time to get them all on the table drying.)

Then I spent Saturday night into Sunday hanging out at Nicole’s–she worked on some artwork for a coloring pages job she’s doing, and I worked on scrapbook pages. No pics now, and most of them were adding text to already mostly-finished pages, but I still got about 10 pages done. Which, since I’d figured I had about 50 outside of the travel albums, is pretty darn good for helping me catch up.

I also spent some time fixing this skirt. It’s an old picture because I’m too lazy to take a new one. Anyway, it looks the same, all I did was take it in a bit, which involved hand-sewing in the zipper and then sewing the lining back down to it. It took a couple attempts to get the side seam to lie flat again after that, but I think it’ll look better now.

I’m having a sick day today, unfortunately–had to cancel teaching and such. So I’ve been working on Nicole’s scarf, which will hopefully be done tonight or tomorrow, and I also made these two necklaces for Mom’s stocking. She wanted a black or a natural one, so I made both. Sort of. Turns out my “black” beads are actually a deep red garnet, but next to the black sweater I’m wearing today, it still looks black. So hopefully that’ll be close enough.

Oh yeah… my attempt at the Nottingham shirt from the last post is officially on. I went to Goodwill on Friday and found two green shirts that looked like they might work well for it. So they’re washed and waiting for me to finish the brocade jacket.

Oh anthropologie, I heart you

First off, confession time… the Project Runway commentary will have to wait. I got sidetracked with something else I was working on while watching it, and therefore basically missed most of the show. Yes, I know who won and who was aufed, I have an idea of what half the fashions looked like, but I need to actually watch it. At least the runway show.

Anyway, I was looking at anthropologie today in an attempt to get some inspiration for those fabrics in yesterday’s post. I’ve pretty much loved their clothes since first stumbling across their online catalog, so I tend to steal a lot of ideas. (For instance, the skirt I’ve spent this entire night hand-sewing in the zipper for because it turned out great except it was too big at my hips.) They’ve since wised up and made it so I can’t save pictures off their website anymore. So I’ll have to sketch instead. But here’s a few of their recent things that I love and want to copy:

Drawing Room V-neck: This one is more for the style than the actual color. Orange generally isn’t my thing–combination of a puke orange carpet in my room when I was a kid that I hated and the red tendencies in my hair that makes it clash anyway. But I do like the Asian-inspired style of it, the self-belt, and the piping. So I’m thinking maybe something along this line for that multicolored silky print that I had no clue what to do with.

Nottingham Tee: Ohmygosh I want this shirt. I love that it looks like a medieval dress, but it’s a totally wearable shirt– right up my alley! I like the colors on this one too. Will have to see if I have anything in my stash that will at least work for part of this. And if I can figure out how to do smocking.

Llewellyn Surplice: Based on how it looks on the model, I’d have to raise the neckline several inches. I know it’s just a simple twist-top shirt, but I also like that puffed banded sleeve detail. And the border print look.

Snowshoe Blouse: This one’s pretty much all about the sleeves and the tie at the waist. I’m wondering if I can adapt this to a longer-sleeved version so I can use the blue/green silky print on it. With maybe a different bodice too, because I don’t want something that open in the winter. Maybe some kind of merging of that and the Crimson and Clover Tunic.

Cordial Tieback: Definitely not a winter shirt for this ice princess! And I probably wouldn’t make it with lace. But I do like the concept of the sheer over contrasting color solid. I’d also have more coverage in the back, but that’s just me.

Latticework Tank: I love the crisscrossed front. And the scrunchy straps. It really reminds me a lot of Claire Danes’ angel dress from Romeo + Juliet, even though I know it’s completely different in the front, but I loved that dress. This one actually has potential as a recon too, I think, if I can find the right starting garment.

So that’s just the tops… I kind of ran out of time for the skirts and dresses.

Also, I’m thinking I really need to find another site to draw inspiration from–anthropologie does a great job of addressing my bohemian medieval-Renaissance loving side, but I still need to indulge my funkier side too.

Edit, 12/7: I’m so excited– I went to Goodwill this afternoon in search of new sweaters. And only found two. But I did also manage to find two knit shirts that will be perfect to recon into the Nottingham Tee! They’re even the same color scheme, and the darker green has some ribbing that will add some nice detail, in lieu of the pointelle weaving. I still need to figure out what to do about the band in the middle, whether I have something that will work for trim or I’ll need to purchase a little something, but so far my version costs a grand total of $9. Yet another reason to love refashioning.

Yet another jacket

I started the main construction on this brocade jacket last night–got the front/side fronts, back/side backs and the two main sleeve pieces on each side sewed together. Tonight I connected all of those pieces to get this, which currently has the side seams partially pinned. The directions said to sew both sleeve seams first, and the side seams, and then sew it into the jacket, but I figured it would be easier to work it flat. That, and that way if I needed to take the sides in, I could figure that out first. Surprisingly, I don’t– it’s a little loose in the waist, probably, but it was meant to be worn open anyway and the princess seams are exactly in the right place on me so I don’t want to mess with that. I do hope that it doesn’t open quite so triangle-ish on me finished though– I might need to angle the front a little more, but that will also require altering the collar. So I need to think about that.

I also got started on the lining tonight, and would have gotten it to this point, but as it turns out, both sleeves were facing in the same direction so one of them won’t connect to the back properly. So guess what I’m doing during Project Runway?

On a slightly more random note, these are the fabrics I got on that last trip to Joann’s where I didn’t mean to buy fabric. The green striped to the left is going to become a skirt of some type, though I’m currently debating what direction the stripes should go in, mainly due to that crinkled green taffetta-looking stripe. It’s a heavier weight fabric, so not sure I can get away with horizontal without it making me look huge, but I’m not sure a diagonal or vertical would go right. Next one to the right will become some kind of long-sleeved top, since I need more things to wear with my navy blue cords. The teal/gold embroidered one is destined for some short-sleeved top, since my wardrobe needs such things for spring/summer in air conditioning. The one I’m a bit stumped on is the one most to the right– the colors were so rich that I just couldn’t pass up this silky print, but I have no idea what to do with it. Probably some kind of top, but I’m a bit stumped as to style/sleeve length/ etc. So if anyone out there in blogland happens to see this and has some kind of a suggestion for me, I’m open!

Today’s progress

Here’s a quickie…

Went to the store with Kathryn yesterday. Got cape fabric. Not sewing it yet, because she’s having the niece/nephew’s names embroidered on it first, so I’ll get it from her after that. Don’t think those will take long.

Worked on the scarf today. Couldn’t finish seeing if adding the extra yarn would solve the gap problem, since I ran out of one of the yarns. Wish I’d known that yesterday while I was actually at Joanns’.

Also made a scrapbook page today, mostly, which still needs some writing. I’ve been trying to get organized on my scrapbook stuff so I can get caught up as quickly as possible. So, not counting the road trip or Chile scrapbooks, I now have a list of all the pages I need to make, covering since summer of 2003 to now and 4 different albums. Got about 50, in various stages from need-to-develop-the-photos (basically anything that happened since the road trip) to would-be-done-if-I’d-just-print-out-the-journaling-and-stick-it-down. As already mentioned, I really do have more pages to do than that, since I have a half-finished album from Chile and the road trip album, which I still need to complete my paper prep before I can assemble that.

I really don’t think the road trip album will take too long, though, once I get the paper done. Hopefully I can finish that in the next few weeks, between Christmas gift stuff, because I’m really hoping to be able to assemble that around the holidays, when I’ll be home more often due to the inevitable teaching cancellations. I found a few years ago when I made an album from another vacation that for stuff like this, it’s best to just stick to a few techniques throughout the whole album because then it’s fast and easy. Then, it was the sewing machine and watercolor pencils. For this one, besides the painted paper, I’m going to stick to tearing and stitching it down (with the sewing machine, because otherwise that’s way too much work and I like the way it looks anyway!). I have some travel-themed rubons, and some letter stamps that I’m going to use for titles. I won’t even have to title all the pages, depending on sections of the parks. I will need to add some captions, and I think I’m just going to do that in computer-printed strips, since I got some letter-sized cream cardstock for printing purposes. I was also thinking of doing sections by days, since I have the maps and the journaling books, but I think I can probably come up with one layout that will work for all of those, and then just take the others depending on the orientation/cropability of the photos. So it will take some time due to the sheer number of photos, but with the colors, I’m hoping I can get a really rich look with minimal assembly effort.