When inspiration strikes like a piano falling from the sky

I’m having trouble concentrating on anything else right now. Thanks, BurdaStyle.

The scenario: A mini-challenge sewalong contest. I have to use the Sidone skirt pattern (alterations strongly encouraged), and I have until March 15. So I think the Desira pants will be put on hold. I may still do that sewalong, we’ll see how the time goes.

I saw it at first, and was trying to figure out what to do with it. It’s a shorter skirt than what I normally wear–generally I go knee-length or longer (I love long skirts), and a skirt closer to mini-length probably wouldn’t be good for either church or teaching. So then I was thinking maybe I could turn it into a wrap skirt and use it for a beach cover-up. Then it hit me– make a hiking skirt.

I know it sounds weird, but my hard-core hiker friend who got me into backpacking swears by them, as do several of her hard-core hiker friends that I met on one of the trips. I can see how they’d have their advantages– for one, nature calls in the woods would be so much easier. (The disadvantage would be the ticks would have an easier time getting to my legs, but there’s ways around that too.) Plus they just look so darn cute. I mean, look at this!

The Sidone would adapt to it very well, I think, since it’s a basic A-line skirt. In theory, making it a wrap would be easy. If it’s geared towards moving, the shorter length wouldn’t matter– it would be longer than shorts. The one problem– I’m not sure what it would look like on the inside, to keep it from flapping open when walking. I emailed K. and asked her if she could bring one of her skirts on Sunday so I could look at it, so hopefully she’ll get the message. (Oh, wait, she just emailed me back and thinks it’s a great idea. So I’m good there.) I already have fabric, from my failed attempt to make zip-off hiking pants (I’d gotten enough for two pairs, so I have some black quick-dry nylon-type stuff that hasn’t been cut into at all, and I’ve been wondering what to do with it since the pants pattern was a flop.) I probably have nice outdoors-weight zippers from that too. And maybe outdoors fabric will be slightly easier to work with, now that I have a serger and can take care of the fraying before it starts. So I’m quite excited about this project, and eager to get started! Even if I can’t deal with the fabric itself till Sunday, I might be able to take care of a few starting things, like printing out the basic skirt pattern and seeing if I need to make any fitting changes. And maybe drawing out a cargo pocket.

I’m still planning on working on the Kaylee tonight, though, since I can’t really make any serious pattern decisions until I see what I’m working with– whether it’s a pleat or a real wrap or what.

Also, a quick comment on part one of the Runway finale. So far, Jillian’s collection is my favorite. The details are exquisite, like with that one jacket. I hope she brings some more color in, but since she worked for Ralph Lauren and they’re geared towards those dull-colored timeless classic looks, I have my doubts. Christian looks like he has some good stuff, but that ruff he had for that one jacket looks like the model’s chest would have been attacked by the ghost of Elizabethan collars past. (Not in a good way.) I knew Chris was in color as soon as he said he was adding human hair to his clothes– creative, but kind of gross. And it was refreshing to see some tailoring from Rami, though that one coat was way over the top. Maybe it’ll be different, seeing it in context. And I’m eagerly looking forward to Wednesday!

Edit, 10:28 pm: I did work more on the Kaylee tonight. Got the side seams in and the collar sewn on, though I still need to stitch down the inner collar. Had a bit of trouble with the invisible zipper– I decided to try a technique from the 7/05 issue of Threads to sew an invisible zipper into an already partially-sewn seam. The good news is, there were no bumps at the end of the zipper. The not so fun news was that I actually ended up having to sew a third row of stitching in, with the invisible zipper foot– it was supposed to work with just a regular zipper foot, but I couldn’t get it close enough. I think I’m going to have to work with this technique some more–maybe try the second row of stitching with the invisible zipper foot instead of the regular zipper foot and see if that solves the problem.

I dream of sewing…

Literally, in this case. Things have been extra-busy with work and such lately, plus I went out of town all last weekend, so I’ve either been too busy or too tired to craft at night. All I’ve done since the last post is quickly serge up some cloth pad liners that I’d already had cut out. I miss it. It’s starting to seriously affect my subconscious.

Example: Last night. I dreamed of fabric shopping. The fictional fabric store had a nice feature, in that it had a computer with internet access, so I was also looking up patterns on BurdaStyle to decide what I wanted to make with the fabric. I think my brain had a couple of its wires crossed, though… I remember looking at a coat (kind of a mashup of Victorya/Jillian’s avant-garde punk coat and a long, huge-collared version of the Talea coat and contemplating whether to use a blue/green/black/white mod-looking swirly print for it (really, a lot like this but way less pink), and then this plain solid gold tweedy fabric that I wouldn’t even look at in real life because it would probably be made of wool and thinking about making the Zoe from it. Now, if I was conscious, I would definitely be thinking the mod for the Zoe, and probably a solid for such a funky coat. But I’m still rather amused–if I can’t sew in the real world, at least I can sew in my dreams!

I am plotting though. Like when I can continue working on the Kaylee shirt. I was going to tonight, but was way too tired and it was really cold in the basement anyway. So I’m thinking Friday night is looking like a good option (since tomorrow will probably have too much teaching.) I’m also going to be working up my second BurdaStyle project soon, I think… they’re doing a sewalong for the Nichola pants starting on Saturday, and since I was wanting to make that anyway, I think I’m going to jump in this time. I’ve never done a sewalong before, really, other than sort of participating in a fall/winter clothes one on Craftster.org (that basically consisted of me spending two months on that coat). So it’ll be interesting to work on the same pattern as several other people. I’ll have to print out the pattern to figure out if I need to make any fitting alterations, but at first glance, I really want to add some pockets to the front. All good pants should have pockets. If nothing else, now that I’m using my cell phone as a clock instead of a watch (mainly because I’ve been too busy/lazy to go out and get a replacement battery), I need somewhere to keep it. I’m also still wanting to reconstruct a copy of that Nottingham Tee from anthropologie (which, sadly, is now off-site so hopefully my sketch will suffice), and I have to do some cleaning up of my sewing area! Oh yeah, and fit some scrapbooking in at some point. I’ve been kind of wanting to get back to it, particularly my road trip album.

The retrotastic iPod cozy, part 2, and….

…an early happy birthday to me. Since I was off the after-school teaching job again for President’s Day, my mom and I went shopping. Now that I’m into my simplifying/wanting less stuff kick, there was really only one thing I could think of to ask them for that would be fun and useful. So this year I got….

Ta-da! It’s a Baby Lock 450. The price was right around what I was thinking, it has the free arm to make it easier for me to sew things like armholes, according to the in-store demonstration it’ll sew both knits and wovens just fine, it does the rolled edges like I was hoping for sheers, I get a year of free service and a free 2-hour class there on how to use it, and it looks like it’s a lot easier to thread than my mom’s. (Which, by the way, we discovered is actually kind of broken. It’s now in the shop.)
I think the big challenge for me is going to be figuring out how to get the tension just right. So far I’ve just tried on a basic stitch, and it took me about 30 minutes of adjusting, serging, readjusting, serging, consulting the pictures in the manual, etc. But it looks like this is a good starter stitch. Next step: rethreading it in colors I can actually use on my current project and testing it out on leftover pieces of the brocade-like fabric I’m using on the Kaylee shirt. (Now that I think about it, trying to learn how to use this thing on different fabrics just might eat up my scrap problem. 😛 )
In other news, here’s my finished iPod cozy.
It was entirely sewn by hand, but I think it turned out pretty good in spite of that. Actually turned out to be a good project for practicing that on. To make it stronger, I actually sewed the binding on both sides. This has two pockets in it– one for the iPod itself, and one to store my headphones.

A thank you, and a lot of pictures.

First of all, thanks to those of you who gave me some suggestions for the scrap issue. I’ve signed up for my local Freecycle chapter– even if I end up not getting rid of the scraps themselves through it, it’ll probably come in handy for when I go through my bead stash (I probably need to get rid of some stuff there too and that might be a little easier to give away), as well as my bookshelves (where I also need to do some purging.) In the meantime, I have come up with a few ideas, though I’m likely going to wait until I have a chance to really go through/organize my fabric stash so I can fully see what I’m going to be working with.

Secondly, here’s that promised better picture of the North Rim tunic. Two of them, actually.

Not the most flattering picture on me, unfortunately–I swear my stomach didn’t look that poofy when I was wearing it! but it was the best I could do with getting my mom to take the picture. Mental note to self, next time make the zipper longer so I can put it on the dummy!
Thirdly, no pictures of this one yet, but I made some progress today sewing on my Chinese-style shirt. Shockingly, I have a name for this project already– calling it the Kaylee shirt, because the color and the styling of it sort of remind me of this jacket that Kaylee wears in the pilot episode of Firefly. Besides, I’ve already made a shirt reminiscent of one of Inara’s, so why not?

Will shortly have a picture up of my new iPod cozy… it’s entirely finished, minus sewing on some velcro, which I’ll probably do tonight.

But I’m going to load a bunch more pictures now– I realized I never put any pics up of the scrapbook pages I made at the crafty weekend with T and C about a month ago, so here’s a few of my favorites.

From an all-day surprise for a friend’s 25th birthday, themed around the Series of Unfortunate Events books since one was set to release on her birthday. (Of course, we did fortunate events. 😉 I’m really happy with how the sort-of photo collage turned out.

Pages like this are why I save my paper scraps! (They’re a little easier for me to figure out what to do with!) I started it, then realized I really didn’t have that much stuff to add to it. Then I got the idea for the tree branches and leaves, and that made the page not suck. Which is good.

This one’s not entirely finished… I want to go back and add band reviews in the booklet, since basically every artist/group we heard at this festival was listed in it somewhere, and that’ll be more fun than trying to cram it on the page. But I was so happy to find paper that went with both my major “embellishments” (which was the program and wristband) that still kind of fit that whole summer music-fest vibe.

The tree paper is awesome. It’s kind of shiny with a hint of glitter. Anyway, since I inevitably end up with a ton of pictures of trees and water and stuff every time I go backpacking and I didn’t want to not display them, I made another photo booklet directly on the page. (The yarn-tied booklet in the top left-hand corner of the spread.)

I had fun with shimmer powder and “perfect medium” markers on this page. (And another photo booklet, since costume parties inevitably have a ton of photos. I made a lot of photo booklets that weekend…)
This is actually only half the spread– even with a photo booklet on the second 2-page spread, I needed 4 pages! But I used the same paper strip thing on both. Another paper I was really happy with, since it somehow captured all the gorgeous fall/blue sky colors of the day!

fabric scraps and pangs of conscience

I’m having a bit of a storage dilemma here.

I’ve always been a bit of a pack rat, especially when it comes to craft supplies. As a result, I currently have quite an accumulation of fabric pieces left over from projects that are big enough that I could potentially make something out of them, but too small to make anything like another article of clothing. The most obvious solution would be to make bags out of them, but the thing is, I really don’t need any more bags right now. And I think I’ve finally completely abandoned the Etsy idea–I’m trying to simplify my life, and further complicating my craft time by feeling the pressure of making things to sell is not really simplifying. Plus that’s just one more source of income I’d have to keep track of my taxes for, and my taxes are complicated enough right now.

The other obvious solution is to just throw these pieces out. But I feel totally guilty about it–not just because they’re large enough to make things from, but because all I can think is it would be contributing to the already huge landfill and just sitting there for years and years. Having become far more conscious about things like this over the past year or so, I don’t want to do that. But I also don’t want to leave them sitting around my house just for the sake of keeping them out of the landfill, either.

If my life situation were different, a solution might be easier. But I still live with my parents, and therefore lack the space to use these in home decor projects. I’m hoping that in a few years I’ll finally be financially ready to look into getting my own place, but that would still require storing them for a few years. And I certainly don’t have kids to use these to make projects for them (and don’t really have close enough friends with kids to pawn it off on making stuff for their kids.) So the question is, what is the responsible thing to do with these scraps? I had the thought that I might be able to incorporate some of these scraps onto scrapbook pages, since I like to sew on my pages anyway, but that only solves a small portion of the dilemma. Do I keep them just in case I can use them someday? Or do I throw them out?

This was so much easier before I actually started thinking about social and environmental impacts of my choices. 😛

Project Runway–the final five!

Well, PR last night certainly had its surprises…

I really liked the challenge–taking fashion inspiration from paintings was a really fun idea. And I love that they limited them to which rooms they could go into in the Met so that no one was able to pull from the crazy modern stuff.

I really am sorry to see Sweet P go. Especially after being the only one cut when the original idea was to cut two. But I really wasn’t thrilled with her dress last night– peacock had way more potential than she gave it.

Rami’s dress wasn’t really a surprise. As Nina pointed out, him doing Greco-Roman draping wasn’t a surprise at all. It was a pretty dress, but nothing new. And while I thought Chris’s dress was certainly interesting, well-made, and interpreted the painting well, the judges had a point about how recently it had been done by him and Christian on the show. It was an interesting twist, having the two of them compete one last time to see who really gets the third Fashion Week slot, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what happens. Especially Rami, since he seems determined to go his own way. Unless he takes some major risk, my gut tells me Chris will get it. (And part of me hopes he does, just to see what he would do with an entire collection, though Rami’s clothes are undeniably lovely. I also have to admit that I’m glad Chris has a shot at Fashion Week just because to be the only contestant eliminated twice in the history of the show would kind of suck.)

I’m really excited that Jillian got one of the spots, actually. I thought she would crack under the pressure, but she didn’t. And I absolutely loved her outfit last night– it was my favorite one going down the runway.

Christian… what was UP with that shirt? It reminded me of the infamous Seinfeld “puffy shirt”. And definitely would have been better suited to the Ren Faire than the average woman’s wardrobe. (Um, let me make that the Ren Faire on a guy, since I happen to like the Ren Faire.) And I think he actually managed to pinpoint what it is I dislike about his style on the show last night– he admitted he likes to play with the idea of androgeny. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a girly girl by any means. But that doesn’t mean I want to dress in a way that makes me look indistinguishable from a guy. (Since I have the curves, I might as well work with them, you know?) The kid has talent, I won’t deny that. But he’s such an arrogant pig that I’d love to see him make some huge blunder and fall flat on his face. He could use a bit of humbling.

Anyway, two weeks till the big finale. Not sure if I’ll write about next week’s episode. Probably won’t, since the odds of it degenerating into a mudslinging fest are pretty high.

Shiny shirt!

I need a better name for this one than “shiny shirt”. Hmm. I think I’m going to call it the North Rim shirt, because the combination of the browns and greens kind of reminds me of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which was a lot greener than I expected. And I’ll justfy the blue/purple parts because that was the color of the sky as we watched the sun set, a distant thunderstorm across the canyon, and the stars come out. So there we go. Anyway, I finished the hemming and ripping out the obvious sleeve cap basting tonight, so it’s done. I don’t have a very good picture of it yet, I’ll have to wait until someone in my family can take it on me, so here’s a picture of the downstairs pool table (which generally doubles as my mom’s and my cutting table with the ping-pong top on) wearing it.

Being pleased with my progress, I decided to go on to another project, though I decided to hold off on the shirt reconstruction I want to do (because it’s on knits, and my mom and I are going to venture up to a local sewing machine store on Monday while I’m off my one teaching job due to the school closure for Presidents’ Day to look at sergers– I’m strongly considering getting one for my birthday. We’re also going to take hers to get fixed. Either way, I’d prefer to wait on the knit shirts until I have help from a reliable serger.) So instead, I cut out this shirt from this fabric I got on Sunday. I’m making the longer short-sleeved view (the off-white one in the top right-hand corner), mainly because it takes far fewer buttons and therefore I may be able to find one in the stash to use for free. I still need a zipper though. I got this fabric with this pattern in mind, but couldn’t find it in the pattern books to determine what notions I would need, so I couldn’t get it on Sunday. Anyway, I figured this fabric would be perfect– it was with the Chinese brocades, but it’s a much lighter weight than those tend to be, and a bit drapier. Plus it doesn’t have the metallic weaving, so it’s a little better suited to an everyday look. Plus I love the color. So I may swing by Joann’s and pick a zipper up after the office tomorrow. Not that I’ll likely have time to sew on it before Sunday. Maybe on Saturday morning… we’ll see.

A whole lotta updating to do…

  1. The shirt. I spent a good bit of Saturday working on it– got the sleeves sewn in and the neck binding on. Did a little more work tonight, and sewed the side vents, and a hook and eye onto the back binding (despite my best efforts, it ended up a little uneven. And obviously higher than the zipper–an inevitable byproduct of having to wait to put the sleeves in to see how to cut the neck.) I also serged the shirt and sleeve hem allowances to make it easier to turn up and sew the hems, which I’ll be doing by hand. Once that’s done, then I can finally get a picture of it.
  2. Speaking of handwork, last night I finished reinforcing the seams on the green skirt where I serged in the black fabric. (Silly me– I should have guessed that the serger alone, which has been having problems, wouldn’t hold it alone, and it was pulling already on the first and only day I wore it. But I was in too much of a hurry to have pieces cut out so I could sew it on my crafty day with Nicole.)
  3. I also worked a little bit on the iPod cozy, though admittedly that’s been getting back burner to my clothes handwork.
  4. On Saturday night, I went over to my friend Julie’s house. I’m making the bridesmaid jewelry for her wedding, so we spent a couple hours fiddling around with my bead board, the beads she had already purchased to go with our dresses, and a few extras I’d brought from my stash to get an idea of a look. I had to laugh–one of the things I’d brought over was these plastic pearl-looking beads. (Not that I’d use plastic in a bridesmaid necklace–that was just all I had look-wise. Not even sure where those came from, anyway, because I’m certain I didn’t buy it!) We were trying to decide between a look using those and one with the larger of the blue crystal bead sizes that she’d purchased, since apparently white roses are going to be part of our bridesmaid bouquets. I’m naturally kind of iffy on pearls anyway (they’re a bit old-fashioned for my taste, unless they’re in a really funky context). So I couldn’t help being relieved when she stated that “pearls make me cringe.”

    Anyway, we finally settled on a look, and I purchased the rest of the materials I’d need yesterday since Joanns was having basically all its beads on sale (that’s where she got her beads from.) Along with some beads for myself. And, um, three pieces of fabric. My justification for the latter was that I had Christmas gift cards to use, and I bought stuff to make short-sleeved tops I can wear for work, which I legitimately need.

    Ok, ok, so one of them is actually a sleeveless top, because I’ll be basing it off of BurdaStyle’s Azalea. But since I’m planning on making it with only the outer layer to keep it light, I bought enough extra of the fabric that I’ll be using on the solid upper part/belt to make a shrug to go over it as well, and that way it can be worn for both spring and summer. Or summer in air conditioning. Which also makes me cold. Now the one challenge will probably be figuring out the zipper– I’m not sure if my fabric will support one, and I’m also not sure if I’ll be able to pull the fitted part over my head without one. So I think I’ll have to mockup that part.

Making it work!

Sooo happy– the shirt is working! I got the front and back all sewn together. Won’t fit on the dummy (same problem as the shirt I fixed–with the waistband, apparently the zipper isn’t long enough to separate it so that it’ll go over the shoulders. But in both cases, they go over me just fine!) so no picture tonight. (Tried taking a couple of myself, which just don’t show it well.) But it looks well-fitted at the waist now, and the brown breaks up the print nicely. So sleeves are the next part.

And now, the Project Runway review of the week! (Once again, blogged as I watch. And continue hand-reinforcing my stripey skirt.) I can’t help wondering if kids are involved in this one, based on the screams.

Final 6! If I had to make a prediction, I think the final 3 will be Rami, Christian (just to annoy me)…and based on recent improvements, I think Sweet P just might make it. Jillian’s too close to a nervous breakdown, Ricky’s been too flat most of the time, and Chris is a little hit-and-miss.

Ok, I was wrong about the kids. It’s female wrestlers. Ugh. Well, Christian wanted fierce…

Well, Chris and Ricky seem to have the immediate advantages– Chris is used to out-there outfits, and Ricky has all that lingerie experience he keeps yakking about. And haha, they have to work with spandex! On second thought, Rami might not survive this one. Skintight isn’t his forte.

“If I design the wrong thing, she might bodyslam me.” –That just might be one of my favorite lines of the season.

I’m really having trouble picturing Christian’s jacket in a wrestling ring, unless it gets shredded by a chair. Sweet P’s having a bit of trouble–cutout stars on the butt? In skintight spandex? I hope she decides to leave that Diva suggestion in the scrap bin. She’s worried. I don’t blame her.

And Chris asks the question of the day: What would Nina Garcia say about pink spandex with rhinestones? Let’s see: So far, seems like Jillian, Chris and Christian have the best of it. Sweet P has greatly improved (even Ego-boy admitted it–could it be he’s softening his fierceness a bit? Nah.), and Ricky… I’ll be surprised if he survives the episode.

Runway show time! Ugh– I have two piece swimsuits that have better coverage than this. Every single diva has her butt hanging out of the bottom of her shorts! And now judging time.
Jillian first– sexy tomboy look. Diva likes it, she kept in mind that it needed to be practical for the ring, even though the tights make her look like an anime schoolgirl. Michael likes it.
Rami: Flirty girl next door. Diva thinks it would work in the ring. Nina hates pink spandex, what do you know?
Christian: Biker rock chick. Diva loves it, the judges find it fierce.
Sweet P: Tried to work with the “robe and reveal”. The judges are worried, and think she should have done more.
Chris: Though they admit it’s not a stretch, they seem to really like it and its “expensive” look.
Ricky: Nina declares it a bathing suit, not a costume, and the pimp guys…. who the heck are these judges? I must have missed that somehow.

Decision time. The winner is Chris– now there’s a shocker. This was right up his alley. Jillian and Christian are still in, as I thought they would be. Rami’s still in. Auf’ed is Ricky. (I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner.) I am glad that Sweet P gets another chance, though– she’s kind of been the surprising dark horse of the competition.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner!

I think (I hope) I finally have a solution to my shirt problem. It involved buying another yard of fabric and completely recutting the front, but I’ve now converted it to princess seams. I’m going to have to fiddle with the neckline a bit, I think, but basically I just pulled out a pattern I had for a princess-seamed dress bodice that I knew fit, along with the front, and traced it out to combine the two so that the armholes and shoulder lengths would still match up. (Look at me, I’m sort of patternmaking! 😀 ) So now I can get my tapering at the waist without having difficulty with the properties of the fabric. I may need to tweak the bottom of the seams just a bit, but I don’t mind if it’s a little loose. I just didn’t want that pregnant belly look.

So hoping I can get the front and backs sewn together tomorrow. Maybe the sleeves if there’s time. I’m going to save the neckline for after that, so I can tweak it to however it’s hanging then.

Special thanks to mom2fur for her comments on this project so far– really helped me with thinking through this!