running with scissors

Spent a pretty huge chunk of today cutting things out. I got a tank top (the BurdaStyle Sadie) and a blouse (from New Look) cut out entirely, a knit top cut out roughly, and another BurdaStyle pattern taped together and cut out. Was hoping to get more done, but the blouse took awhile due to the fabric– it’s an embroidered stripe, and to get things to line up well, I had to cut a pretty good portion of it out as single layer pieces, so it took twice as long. If all goes according to plan, though, the two front pieces should be mirror images of each other. I hope.

Let’s see, PR tonight… I was actually surprised that Kenley’s dress won, after the judges’ comments about how it made the thighs look all uneven and such. Personally, I thought that Terri should have won this round, because her outfit was pretty spectacular. Especially that she was able to find fabric so close to the graffiti design. And I actually really loved Leanne’s skirt in this episode. I’d actually wear that. And I don’t say that about too many things that come onto this show. I wish the judges had something to say about Stella’s, because I have a feeling that her outfit wasn’t really anywhere remotely close to outside of her rockstar box. And if she’s just going to keep churning out the same thing every week, she can go. She annoys me anyway. I was sorry to see Emily go rather than Jennifer, if only because Emily had the better concept, even though the ruffles failed rather spectacularly. If she’d done some kind of flatter surface design with the abstract bright colors, I think it would have been brilliant. And Suede still needs to stop talking in the third person.

Presenting….the Dahlia dress!

I finished hemming this one around 11:30 or midnight last night. A bit of a longer process than usual, since I did a lot of stopping and starting due to my wrists, which are still better than they were, but still not fully recovered. I’m absolutely loving the main fabric of it. The dress itself is from McCall’s 5624. Made a few modifications, namely raising the neckline in both the front and back by about an inch. (Good thing I did, too!) The other thing I did was to fully line it instead of just line down to the midriff.

Here’s a closeup of the fun twisty straps.

I hope maxi-dresses aren’t completely outdated next summer, because I think I really do like this one enough to make the long version. But it’s not going to happen before the end of the summer, not with everything else I need to get done!

Also put together a couple scrapbook pages for the road trip album today, at least in terms of pasting down pictures.

Friday Favorites, Episode 18

It’s baaaaaaaaack!

Starting with an FF first for me–one I actually tried already! Eileen at Consumption Rebellion posted this recipe for 5-minute Chocolate Cake that you make in the microwave. Yes, that’s right, the microwave. And it actually works! Both my mom and I tried it, with a few modifications. I added a dash of vanilla extract to mine, and when I tried it the second time last night, I substituted 2 tablespoons of the oil with applesauce, both to make it a bit more moist and to cut the fat content a bit. My mom used soy milk, and swapped out the sugar for stevia, and did all applesauce instead of oil, as per her dietary restrictions. And it worked out well for both of us. Though I’m not sure how this is supposed to fit in a mug– we used bowls, and it took the whole thing!

Sew, Mama, Sew! posted a tutorial for Perfectly Portable Cushions. Which I will undoubtedly be using if I get sucked into doing anything this year that involves sitting on hard bleachers for insane amounts of time. (I’d make such a horrid sports fan.)

My favorite at Wardrobe Refashion this week– remember those Project Runway Simplicity patterns that no one in the sewing blog world actually seemed to like? (Admit it, the first ones were pretty awful.) Well, someone at WR managed to take one of those and make a really cute dress with that and an old R.E.M. concert tee.

At Crafty Daisies, there’s instructions on how to make and use a floor loom. Looks like a great way to use up all those scraps of fabric that continually drive me nuts… now I just need a floor to put rugs on!

ThreadBanger had a fun post on how to make those pendant lampshades. And finally, Crafting a Green World started their “Carnival of Green Crafts” today with a plethora of links. I haven’t had a chance to look through them yet, but I’m rather excited about the eco-friendly scrapbooking one, since that’s a point I’ve been pondering for some time!

Ok, off to teach, and then to Joann’s to get supplies for the projects mentioned in the last post, and then hopefully some sewing!

Edit: I did get some decent sewing in–basically sewed together the entire outside of the dress, minus the back seam. Tomorrow’s task (hopefully, as I will also be on a mission to find hiking boots that won’t kill my feet, which requires driving about an hour away to the closest REI), if all goes according to plan, will be to put in the zipper and then get the tops of the lining and dress connected together. If I can manage that, then it’s just hand-sewing with lots and lots of breaks to accomodate my wrists.

Dahlia dress progress, and other plotting

Doesn’t look like much yet, does it? But this is the lining, which I got pretty much completely done yesterday. Probably looks a bit weird with the blue panel, but on the original pattern it called for lining with the dress fabric and cutting the midriff out of the same contrast fabric. I’m figuring the more opaque fabric here will hide the seams better. I’m hoping this works out all right– I couldn’t figure out a way around the pleats at the shoulder, or the gathering at the waist. But both the lining and the outside fabric are lightweight enough that I’m hoping it won’t add a whole lot of unnecessary bulk. I’m trying to make this look as finished inside as possible, plus the white in the print made a skirt lining necessary. Either that, or wear a slip, and I’ve hated those things since I was a kid.

I would have gotten more work on it finished, but we had some pretty nasty thunderstorms roll through that pretty much forced me off the machines. So, since I’m slowly working on measuring out/cutting samples from my fabric stash, I re-discovered these several pieces of fabric, most of which I’ve figured out what I want to use them for. So here’s my plan, starting from the top left row…

Olive twill: BurdaStyle’s Nichola pants (I was debating between this and the Hikaru jacket, which I’ve loved since day 1, but I bought the fabric with the pants in mind and don’t have enough for the jacket.)

Off-white knit: Butterick 5084. I want to do the crossover embroidered neckline (plan for that TBA) with the flared sleeves. Because I love flared sleeves.

Funky brown and purplish knit: BurdaStyle’s Lydia top– a simpler style for a more complicated print.

Embroidered suedecloth stuff: a slightly modified version of BurdaStyle’s Eva jacket.

Second row, off-white embroidered cotton (the hard to see stuff): New Look 6678. Because a normal blouse would probably make me look like a country singer wanna-be in this print, but I believe this blouse will give it a perfectly acceptable hippie/Bohemian vibe.

Shiny green leafy stuff: Still slightly undecided, but leaning towards McCall’s 5235. Mainly because this is lightweight and drapey enough that it just might manage to compensate for the underbust gathering, and if I play it right, help me avoid the pregnant look.

Blue/green silky print: Undecided, and open to suggestions.

Brown striped cotton: A modified version of New Look 6407, hopefully. I know in my head how I want to do the layout, but I have to look at the fabric a little more closely and see if I can get things matched up in such a way to get the desired effect before I try.

Crinkly teal with gold embroidery: Undecided, and open to suggestions.

Egyptian-print cotton: BurdaStyle’s Jane pajamas. (Showing a user creation for this one, because I couldn’t find a model pic.)

Have a couple other ideas in the works too that aren’t shown on here. So I have plenty to keep me busy!

Greening the "Runway"?

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with Project Runway last night. Since Bravo put a summary blurb of each episode on the site already, I was excited to see that episode 2 was going to be a “green” challenge. After seeing it, though, I’m having some mixed feelings.

On the one hand, PR should definitely be commended on even bringing it up. It’s a major exposure into the fashion world that a lot of people tune into, even average Janes like me who tend to not follow the runways too closely because I’d rather make my own style than follow trends. So the cocktail dress challenge did do a good job in showing that eco-friendly can be really classy and fashionable, too. And I forget which of the girls said it, but I did appreciate her comment about liking the challenge because the fashion industry does horrible things to the environment and she wants to do what she can.

On the other hand, I was a little unhappy with how they chose to do a “green” challenge. My first thought on it was that it might have more of a recycling twist to it, rather than purchasing new materials. So I was kind of disappointed that it was just another buy-fabric-and-make-this-dress challenge. The other thing that saddened me (which I know PR had no control over) was how limited the selection was. I know Mood is one of the big suppliers of the NYC design world. Even BurdaStyle uses it for their pattern sample garments. I know it’s hard for home sewers like me to get access to good, eco-friendly fabric. I guess I’d kind of hoped that, especially as awareness of the issue has been growing, NYC would be a little more on top of this and have a better supply.

I know I’m probably in no position to criticize. I’m obviously not the greenest fashionista around– I still have an awful time trying to figure out what to do with scraps, especially those pieces that are too small to cut anything new out of. I still use polyester and other synthetics–I feel a little guilty for it, but a lot of times that’s all I can manage to get my hands on, in the way of sheers and such. Plus I just like the texture of a lot of it. I’m a big texture girl when it comes to fabric. And, let’s face it, I’m a musician, which means money is a constant consideration, and I live in Delaware, which means that for a clothes-focused sewing girl, Joann’s is the only game in town. So until they get with the program and start stocking organic fabric, I’m limited to the choices of a) not using it, or b) buying it mail-order, paying a lot of money per yard, and getting it mailed from places that would probably offset all the good of organic fabric by the carbon footprint the shipping would leave. And, well, I like my crazy prints, and organic fabric is often rather solid-colored. Yesterday’s challenge being case in point. But still, I try to do what I can. And PR is obviously a huge influence on the number of people my age and younger that have come to realize that sewing isn’t just for their grannies. So they could have made this huge statement, and I can’t help feeling like they dropped the ball a bit on it.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today (when you have hardly any customers to deal with and spend your entire morning pulling dying leaves off of daylilies and daisies, you have a lot of time to do this), and have decided that this is the PR challenge I would love to see: take the designers on a field trip. To Goodwill. And tell them that they have $20 and all their fabric/notions/etc have to come from the old clothes. And then watch them all squirm uncomfortably while I cackle in glee at how much ahead of them I am. Either that, or a challenge where old bridesmaid dresses are turned into something that actually can be worn more than once. I would really enjoy that. But since I have no say, I guess I’ll just keep eyeing Crafting a Green World for affordable fabric that strikes my fancy, raiding my own local Goodwills, and pondering what can be done with a tea-length cobalt blue spaghetti strap dress.

Oh, and Suede really needs to stop talking about himself in the third person.

(P.S. I will give an update about my own craftiness from yesterday…but in a different post. Whether it’s before or after the return of Friday Favorites remains to be seen.)

A slight miscalcultion, and other ponderings

I was right– I wasn’t up to doing anything creative after work on Saturday. I suspected I wouldn’t be, so I just chilled and got really excited about cutting out my latest project on Sunday. Which I did. But, as you can see in the picture, I grossly overestimated how much fabric I was actually going to need for this dress! It’s my own fault– I probably should have looked at the instructions in the store, and then I would have realized that the pattern calls to line the bodice in the same fabric. But I purchased lining fabric. Which I’m glad I did, because this fabric is just sheer enough that lining with the same fabric would result in all sorts of weird pattern-crossing. Still, that skirt piece on the left side of the picture is the end of what I needed to lay out. That rather large expanse in the rest of the picture–at least a solid yard, if not more– is what I’m left with. I’m kind of annoyed, actually, because the fabric for this dress wasn’t an inexpensive purchase. Especially because of the lining fabric– since I’m fully lining the dress instead of just lining down to the midriff piece like the pattern calls for, I sprung for one that was higher quality than the $2-3 a yard stuff, and I have a huge piece of that leftover too. My comfort there is that it’s highly probable I’ll be able to find some use for plain white lining fabric. I really don’t know what to do with this blue and white stuff, though. It’s kind of a lightweight synthetic, so I have my doubts as to how good a bag it’ll make. And yes, I could make a top out of it, likely, but it’s a rather distinctive print, so can I have a top and a dress made out of the same stuff in my wardrobe? What to do?
I haven’t been idle since Sunday. I spent Monday night partially cleaning up my room, and yesterday mostly cleaning up my sewing area. I think I made more progress on the sewing area than the room. I did end up throwing out some likely unusable pieces of scraps, mostly from my trash can…let’s just say it was rather overdue for an emptying. A whole trash bag’s worth of stuff, actually, and I feel rather guilty about it since it’s just going to be sitting in a landfill till kingdom come. But I do have to admit it’s nice to have a cleaner area. And I sort of re-discovered some things I’d been missing– some beads I’d purchased that I couldn’t find for ages, my newer, sharper pair of fabric scissors, things like that. I also found some pieces of fabric while I was rummaging around that are now just screaming at me to make something, anything, out of them. Namely a couple pieces that Mom gave me for Christmas last year that I haven’t used yet. I think I can figure out what to do with the brown striped cotton (it’s actually the brown version of the blue that I used to make the Emily blouse) , and a patterned knit that I have a couple patterns that it might work well with. What’s got me puzzled is this one piece– it’s a brown kind of suedecloth-looking piece, with raised embroidery in the shape of flowers and swirls. So it’s got some pretty nice texture to it. My original thought was a skirt, but now I’m thinking that the texture might actually add visual pounds to my hips, which don’t really need the help. So now I’m thinking maybe a fitted jacket. I guess I’ll have to see what I have in my stash, becuase I looked at the BurdaStyle patterns last night, and none of them look quite right for it. Of course, if I don’t have one, I might be able to adapt a BurdaStyle…
Feeling slightly overwhelmed with craftiness, actually… between the sudden surge of ideas I’ve had in my no-sewing week (and especially after PR last Wednesday), and still having quite a bit of scrapbooking hanging over my head, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever get either hobby under control!
There’s a good chance I’ll have another post today– since I don’t have the long day at the garden center on Wednesdays anymore, or band camp, or employee meetings today, or any teaching since I scheduled off Wednesdays due to the original garden center schedule this summer, I have the entire day off! Which means, other than necessary things like playing my flute and doing some laundry, I’m just going to sew all day. Woohoo!

I miss sewing.

In a bad way– I caught myself daydreaming of project possibilities on several occasions over the last couple days of band camp! Blaming Project Runway, as that brought it back to the forefront of my consciousness. I keep mentally reviewing my stash, dreaming of the possibilities that different pieces of fabric in there hold, thinking of projects I’ve been wanting to make for some time, re-evaluating what I want to do with other cuts of fabric…

Yeah. I’m a hopeless addict.

The good news is, my wrists are doing much, much better. Not totally out of the woods yet, but the carpal tunnel pains have nearly gone away entirely again, as has the numb tinglyness! We’ll see how I do tomorrow, after a nine-hour stint at the garden center. I’m still going to be cautious, but I think I should be happily crafting again before long. 🙂

So, in the interest of keeping this post short (especially since I have no pictures to show to make it more interesting), just two things more.

#1: A brief PR recap. I love the unconventional material challenges, so I was quite happy to see they were back at the grocery store. And I’m truly pleased that Kelli’s design won this week– I saw her dying the vaccuum cleaner bags and thought that was just so cool, I would totally wear that fabric, in a way it kind of reminded me of the “Paging Mr. Pollock” print that I used for the Green & Gray Dress. Was also a big fan of Daniel’s plastic cup dress, though I would not want to be the model to wear it! I’m still undecided whether Jerry’s or Blayne’s outift was worse–the Playboy Bunny or the MST3K-esque mad scientist woman? Hmmm….

They actually have an episode synopsis for every show this season up already. Next week’s is supposed to tap into the green movement. This should be interesting…

#2: Now I’m glad I at least skimmed the sewing-specific section of my Bloglines feeds to see what I missed this week–otherwise I wouldn’t have known that I actually got featured in a Threadbanger blog post! It’s on possible projects to do with thrifted button-downs, and somehow they stumbled across my Doolittle Blouse (last item on the list). Guess I should thank Anthropologie for inspiring what seems to be my most popular project on the web… Anyway, there’s some other really fun ideas on there, so you should check out the post.

The mid-week update…

First off, I’m probably going to disappoint a couple of you who were kind enough to comment on my last entry… this probably isn’t the band camp you’re thinking of! What I’ve been doing all week is working as the flute instructor for a concert band camp for middle-schoolers. In other words, not marching band. It’s been a pretty good week so far, though I have the quietest bunch of middle-school female flute players that I’ve ever had in the six years I’ve been doing this now– usually by this time of the week, it’s all I can do to get them to shut up and play during the all-flute rehearsal portion of the day! I have this theory that flute attracts two completely opposite personality types– the divas who want to be the center of attention and pick it because it’s one of the highest instruments (like a soprano) and tends to get a lot of melody parts, and the introverts who want to play music, but are content to hide within what is inevitably a large group of the same instrument. I think this year, I got all the latter. So that’s been interesting. Oh yeah, and I’m getting paid to play music from Star Wars, since the instructors play along with the students in the concert. So life is good.

The wrists are getting better– my right hand is almost completely back to normal, though I’m not giving up on the braces yet, and they still have their moments of stiffness/tinglyness. Left hand is still a little more on the stiff/painful side, but in theory, if I’m a good girl for the rest of this week, I might be able to pick up on stuff like, say, craftiness, and my own personal practicing, by next week. As long as I take breaks to rest them. Here’s hoping.

Ok, now for the stuff that’s actually interesting to you all!

  • I ended up getting beach towels for my seat covers again. Nice ones, so hopefully they’ll last. But need to start working on that some soon.
  • The pages aren’t done by any means–have to go back and add stuff like the stamping and machine stitching–but I spent a good amount of time over the weekend just sticking photos to paper for the road trip album. By that count, half my pictures are now on paper, at least. So that’s progress.
  • No actual sewing this week, as I’m not willing to risk scissor-work until the concert’s over. But hopefully after that.
  • What I’ve been doing on weeknights instead is some organization of supplies. My mom had a whole bunch of scrapbook supplies that she’d gotten– I’d been helping her put some of our old family photos in an album. But then I got busy with grad school or something, and they’ve been in bins for years, and she decided she just wanted to put them in a nice acid-free album with pockets that she could just slide the pics into. The result of this is that I am now in possession of a lot of paper and stickers (and a few albums) that need to be sorted into my stash, which I am slowly working on getting more organized. So between this and the stuff that C gave me when she decided she was more of a yarncraft girl, I will probably not need to buy another album for, oh, the next five years. And I have so much paper that I’m seriously considering a Wardrobe Refashion-style pledge for my scrapbook supplies–like not to buy any new supplies (with some obvious exceptions like, say, adhesive when I run out, or photo development) for a certain period of time. And if I don’t have something that immediately works, especially on the paper/embellishment side, take a cue from Tim Gunn and “make it work”! Not a formal pledge yet, will keep you posted.
  • Speaking of Tim Gunn, I did NOT know until this morning, when reading the entertainment/comics section of the newspaper, that Project Runway premieres tonight! Hopefully tomorrow I’ll find some time to review the episode…and my hands will cooperate!

Friday Favorites, Episode 17 (and an announcement)

A very short edition this week, but that’s ok.

Item #1: My Half of the Brain posted a link to a tut for a bag that looks like an electric guitar. This is exactly the sort of thing I would have carried everywhere when I was a teenager. (Though definitely not in pink!) And that my inner child wishes I could still get away with on the high side of mid-20s!

Item #2: Recycled Crafts featured a whistle upcycled from old bottlecaps. Way cooler than your average gym whistle.

Item #3 (the big one): Yes, I know I mention them almost every week, but have to give a shoutout to Crafting a Green World again. The big news there this week is that they’re organizing/partially hosting a blog carnival for green crafting. I’d never even heard of a blog carnival before, but it sounds like it’s going to be pretty neat, so you bet I’ll be following this one with interest.

The announcement: I’m going to be taking off of Friday Favorites for next week. And probably this blog, for the most part. For one thing, it’s the annual band camp week, in which I’m going to be spending many hours with a bunch of (generally very chatty because they’re almost always preteen female) middle-schoolers and trying to get them to learn their flute parts in five days. And then coming home and doing my regularly scheduled flute teaching. The other thing is the carpal tunnel flareup issues I’ve been having as of late–so since I’m going to be playing two rehearsals a day and conducting in the sectional, to spare my hands/get them healed up quickly, I’m planning to be on the computer a lot less next week. Hoping I can work on some craftiness in the meantime,if my wrists allow. (And if any of you who stop by regularly post something super-cool on your blogs, feel free to tell me to stop by anyway– I won’t be able to stay away from the internet entirely!)

Creative things I’m hoping to accomplish by the end of the summer:

Seeing as how it’s nearly mid-July, figured I’d better set some focus for myself here.

1. Finish the road trip album. If I do no other scrapbooking this summer, I want to finish that.

2. Make the blue and white dress. Would be nice to actually wear it before the summer ends.

3. Reconstruct that chiffon monstrosity from a few summers back.

4. Figure out something to replace my car seat covers with (even if I don’t sew them before the end of the summer). The beach towels just aren’t cutting it… these only lasted about a year and a half. I still have them on my car seats, but the driver’s side cover is worn completely threadbare on the seat, and leaving horrible lint all over the front of my car. I’m considering maybe those woven blankets like you find on beach boardwalks, but I’m a little concerned about the price. I’d considered fleece, but I’m afraid it might be too hot for mid-Atlantic summer humidity. If anyone reads this post, I’m open to suggestions!!

5. Finish going through my fabric stash so I know exactly what I have to work with. And what I can use for fall wardrobe items.

6. Come up with 2 or 3 recipes to make my first round of freezer food for the school year. (Making stuff ahead and freezing it is often the only way I really get to eat when my school teaching schedule is in gear.)

7. Get over my current carpal tunnel flareup so I can actually do some of these things… 😦 Anything involving scissors and seam rippers and photo-sticker peeling is not my friend right now!