A 2008 Retrospective

First, the current stuff: the party is now officially not a costume party anymore. *sigh* Guess I’ll just have to hope for a Halloween party this year. On a happier note, I did get a lot done yesterday– made a cover for my 2009 day planner (it’s a hardback book that I got at the store because of the fun printed cover, but it was already getting a bit beat up in my bag and I wanted to add a pen holder because pens get lost in my bag very easily. So I made it from clear vinyl.) And I also made 7 ornaments for Saturday’s Christmas party as take-home favors for my friends. Today I went to Joanns’ and got some fabric that was on sale and was just screaming cute spring/summer top, and my big splurge item– a knitting machine! I’d been contemplating one for awhile– it’s well-established that I don’t have the patience or skill for knitting (or crocheting, for that matter– too hard on my carpal-tunnel-prone hands). But I love sweaters, since I get cold easily, and I get frustrated with how hard it is to find sweaters that I like that I can actually wear, since my skin is highly sensitive to wool. Seriously– all I have to do is touch a ball of wool-blend yarn, and I get this prickly feeling that takes at least half an hour to go away. And if I actually wear the stuff, watch out. And I also get frustrated with how hard it is to find sweater knits so I can sew my own. So I figure I can either try to knit an actual sweater on this thing, or just make sweater fabric and sew my own. Gotta go with my strengths here. So we’ll see how this endeavor goes!

Ok, on to the main topic. Last New Year’s Eve, I did a year-in-review post for my crafty endeavors, mostly out of curiosity to see what I had accomplished. And I decided it would be fun to do it again to compare. (Besides, I’ve been seeing lots of year-in-review posts on the sewing blogs as of late… just delayed so I could get my end-of-year cramming in!)

Part 1: 7 Things I’m hoping to accomplish in 2008 (revisited)
1. Finally learn how to make jeans that fit!
Didn’t get this one done. However, I will consider starting to learn how to do a fly-front zipper as part of the pantsuit a step in this direction. As well as actually getting a pair of pants to fit!

2. Get better at working with knit fabrics.
I think I did fulfill this goal– the serger helped immensely!

3. Use up some of my stash.
Well, I didn’t refrain from buying fabric. (I’m not sure that’s possible for me.) But I did manage to use up a few pieces I’d had, as well as make some things out of leftover scraps!

4. Finish the two scrapbooks from my grad school years, the Chile album and the road trip album.
Partially done, since I essentially finished the road trip album this week. And I think I may have done a couple layouts of the grad school ones– didn’t touch Chile this year at all that I can remember. I got a bit sidetracked by stuff like making an entire bachelorette scrapbook for Julie. And being a bridesmaid. And sewing. And, you know, work and stuff.

5. Even though I didn’t sign up again [for Wardrobe Refashion], I still want to sew as much of my wardrobe as possible instead of buying things new.
Now this one I did! Particularly since I did end up resigning at WR for the past 6 months– and haven’t fallen off the wagon once!

6. Try a project from this book that I got for Christmas.
Didn’t do that either. Though we did use it as designs considered for Susannah’s wedding jewelry…

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.
Well, I didn’t get the Chinese dumplings down. But I did try several new recipes this year!

Part 2: The Numbers

Clothing items sewn (new): 16
Clothing items sewn (reconstructed): 8
Bags or bag-like things: 7
Other sewn accessories: 4
Household stuff (pillows, blankets, etc.): 7
Baby stuff: 1

Everything else:
Articles of jewelry: 31
Scrapbook layouts : 19 2-page spreads, 58 single pages (in Julie’s scrapbook)
Cards: 2
Artist Trading Cards (ATC’s): 4
Christmas Ornaments: 15
Book cover for my 2009 planner (which I finished yesterday): 1

Items given away: (Since one of my hopes for this year was to make more things for people other than myself.) ~15 (counting Julie’s scrapbook as one item)

Favorite sewn-from-scratch project: the green and gray dress. So comfortable, love the fabric, and the serger made it sew up like a dream!
Favorite reconstructed sewing project: The Doolittle Blouse. I had a lot of fun figuring it out, and ended up wearing it a lot!
Least favorite sewing project: The paisley mandarin jacket. It’s not that I don’t like it, persay… I just don’t like it with anything actually in my wardrobe. So I’ve never worn it. Unfortunately, it’s not the only thing I haven’t worn that I sewed this year… I never got a chance to test out the hiking skirt, and though I really like the look of the chevron blouse, by the time I got it done, it was too cold for me to wear it.
Favorite jewelry project: The autumn leaf set— it’s the one I’ve ended up wearing the most. Despite the propensity of the necklace pendant to fall off on occasion. (Need to fix it again, actually…) And I don’t really have a least favorite of these.
Favorite non-jewelry accessory: The dragonfly wallet. It’s cute, it’s recycled, and it’s seriously the best wallet layout I’ve ever had, purchased or hand-crafted.
Least favorite non-jewelry accessory: The leather Diana bag— not because of the look, but I’m still not happy with the craftsmanship. I’m using it right now, and I’m seriously afraid that the strap is just going to rip out one of these days. But with all the leather-sewing problems I had, I have no idea what to do about it! (Incidentally, I also discovered by accident that I never actually sewed the lining in the bottom shut… oops.) On the positive side, though, I do like the actual style of the bag, and would be quite happy to sew it again. With easier materials to work with.

Part 3: What I’ve learned/goals for 2009

Even though it seems like my craft output is rather down in some areas (though much higher in some others), I do feel like I accomplished a lot.

  1. I made pants that fit!
  2. Tried some crafts new to me, like ATCs (a big deal, since I really hadn’t done any art since I dropped that as a major in favor of turning my music minor into a major) and card-making.
  3. I did make more gifts this year.
  4. I learned how to really use a serger.
  5. I’m becoming much better about “greening” up my crafting– using stuff on hand, using recycled materials when I can or trying to recycle/use up the leftover scraps.

Goals/possibilities for 2009:

  1. I think it might be interesting to try to sew one of those mini-wardrobes– like the SWAP-type thing. (Though not for a contest for sure!) I’m dreaming very much of summer clothes as a result of this thought…
  2. I’m going to say that jeans-making goal again. I still need them. Even more so, since I ended up wearing holes in several of my older pairs as a result of my part-time job. (All the ones that remotely fit me in the first place…. go fig.)
  3. At least START that jewelry organizer I’ve needed for years!
  4. Finish the grad school-era scrapbooks. If I have time to get caught up past that, great. But since 2009 will mark year 4 since I graduated, it’s time! Especially since I probably only have something like 10-15 spreads left between the two of them…
  5. Fine-tune my organization plan to get caught up on these scrapbooks faster!
  6. Continue crafting more for others, either as gifts or as some kind of volunteerism for worthy causes.
  7. And I guess I should probably add make a sweater that I like on the new sweater machine!


The good news: I finished my costume for New Year’s Eve on Sunday.

The bad news: I might not get to actually wear it. Got a message from the friend whose party I made it for, and she said that she wasn’t sure how into the costume idea her other guests were going to be, so I might not want to go all out for it. After mentioning my disappointment at that, she said she’ll see if she can talk some of her other friends into dressing up. But I’m going to be giving her a call later to see how that’s going… truthfully, at this point, I’m not sure I still want to go. Since she moved about an hour away to Philadelphia, none of our mutual friends around here can make it, so last I heard, one mutual friend who lives closer to the DC area might come. Other than that, it’s going to be all of her swing-dance friends from the city and then me. And I’m enough of an introvert that I know I won’t enjoy a party full of mostly strangers with nothing like the fun of a costume party to temper that. Especially driving that far for one– if she still lived around here it would be different. (Of course, if she still lived around here, I’d know more people coming too. And those friends of hers are the type that would dress up– been to enough costume parties with them to be certain of that!) I just wish I’d known that before I spent those several days rushing to get the costume done!

The other good news: Other than slicing open a few page protectors to get access to the fold-out things beneath, my road trip album is finally done as of yesterday! So at least that’s one of my craft goals for 2008 that I can say I finished.

Ok, back to work… trying to make those ornaments for Saturday’s post-New Year’s Christmas party.

Finishing the Christmas roundup and the latest project…

Though my serger was my big crafty Christmas gift this year (combo for that and my birthday), I did get a few small craft-related things in my stocking. Mainly in the way of scrapbook adhesives and these lovely coordinating beads, which I’m looking forward to making something with, but the sewing machine needles, marking pen and machine brush are also greatly appreciated (and needed!) And as of this afternoon, since my tire rebate check came in, I finished off the Christmas gifts with ordering my subscription to Burda World of Fashion. So I’m guessing my first issue will be the February one? Either that or March. I also purchased the March 2007 issue off of eBay, because I saw this jacket that Alviana posted earlier this week, and based on the BWOF pic she pasted in, it looks like this design will be absolutely perfect for this embroidered suedecloth that I’ve had in my stash forever– the suedecloth I was originally going to make the BurdaStyle Eva jacket with (since the corduroy one was technically my “muslin”), but I think I like this one better for it! And I did see several other designs that I liked from that issue when I looked at the magazine archive on the main Burda site, so hopefully it’ll be worth the investment.

I should have taken pics, but I received some handcrafted goodies too. My friend Cassie and my brother’s girlfriend both gave me crocheted scarves. (Cassie also included a matching hat and handwarmers– so far I’ve used the handwarmers the most, because my hands are perpetually cold this time of year!)

Been sewing like crazy for the last couple of days– spent a couple hours on Christmas morning and then nearly all of yesterday sewing together the main dress for my New Year’s Eve costume, and a pretty large portion of today working on the accessories (a belt, which is done except for hand-sewing, and a necklace.) No pictures of any of it yet– I don’t think I’ll post those until after the party, so that way I’ll have a few of it all put together to show! But I should be home for most of tomorrow afternoon too, so I think I will actually be able to finish this costume tomorrow!

Christmas craftiness

Warning: VERY pic-heavy post ahead! (Which will make this interesting to read, because I can NEVER get the formatting right on these!)

I know this is probably an unusual time to be posting! But my family tends to keep Christmas rather low-key. My immediate family (my parents, brother and I) have this annual tradition of going to my church’s Christmas Eve service, and then coming home, having sparkling cider and cookies, and opening our gifts. We go to my mom’s parents and celebrate with her side of the family during the afternoon on Christmas day, and then the same thing with my dad’s side of the family usually the weekend after. (Saturday this year.) So now that all my crafty Christmas presents have been distributed, I can post about them.
The first one is a recipe box I made for my friend Cassie. She’s been saying for months now that she needed one, and I’m just glad she didn’t go out and buy one first! It’s just a plain wooden recipe box that I got at the craft store and covered with scrapbook paper, then painted the “Recipes” on top and did a little decoupage coffee/teacup on the bottom (she loves both) with some of my paper scraps.
She loves literature and collecting quotes, so I was quite happy to find an appropriate one to paint inside the lid!

And then I found these recipe cards that matched perfectly at AC Moore, so I got her several packs of those. She was thrilled to have a recipe box at last, and told me today that she’s managed to get 4 in there so far.

Next up: the rest of the stocking stuffer necklaces I made for my mom, all out of stuff from her stash minus one pendant. These first two are ones that I’m pretty sure I did the Sunday before last…
Several of the beads from this one came in a little pre-packaged set (including that lovely Celtic pendant), so I was quite happy she had stuff to fill it out the rest of the way!
This next one with the leaf was made last Saturday (this was the pendant that was new)…

And then the next five were made on Sunday…

From sew and so
From sew and so

And the last one was made on Monday.

Finally, five sets of earrings that I made for my friend Julie.
She said I was cheating– we’d agreed among my group of friends that we’re just going to do the gift card exchange at our Christmas party (to be held in January.) But I told her it was all stuff from my stash and she was helping me use it up, so she was really doing me a favor. So I don’t think she minded too terribly much.
And then this is how I packaged them– just some cardstock folded accordion-style with holes punched for the earwires. Hard to see past the floss, but it says “earrings for special occasions”– stuff like “cheering on the NY Jets” (the teal/silver pair–that’s her favorite NFL team), “showing school spirit” (the blue and gold pair, which is the colors of the college we both graduated from, and her family gets season tickets to the football games every year) or “fooling people into thinking you’re Irish” (the green pair–she’s a redhead, but not Irish.)

Next post– some of the handmade/crafty related presesnts I got!

Secret Sewing Project Revealed!

It all started with this conversation between myself and my friend Bethany (on the right)…

Me: So I got your email about people dressing up for the party….do you mean formal? Semi-formal?

Bethany: No. I mean like Communists.

Me: Oh. *thinks about it* I think I could make a big furry Russian hat…

Bethany: YES!! DO IT!!

So yes… my secret sewing project was a big furry Russian hat, for a party which she and her roommate dubbed “The Fudgin’ Russian Communist Christmas Party”. Which I reconstructed from that same trenchcoat that the leather Diana bag is from. It had a zip-out fake fur lining. So I used that and some leftover black lining from the pantsuit. And some really heavy interfacing.

And what is a Fudgin’ Russian, you may ask? They invented the drink for the party– a White Russian with a fudgesicle dunked in. I’m not really into the alcohol thing, so it was rather strong for my taste. But you have to give them kudos for creativity!

And the winner is…

Just did the random number generator thing, and it came up with 3. That makes the winner….Angelina! Congrats!

This was kind of fun. I may have to do more of these in the future. 🙂

And now, off to defrost my dinner. And myself. Baby, it’s COLD outside!

Stay tuned next time for a tweaked refashion, more Christmas gifts, and the revelation of the secret sewing project!

300th post! (And Christmassy giveaway!)

Wow, I can’t believe I’m at 300 already. So to celebrate, I’m going to try something new for me– I’ve never done a giveaway before!

So I’m offering up 3 ornaments that I made this afternoon. They’re made of felt with ribbon hangers, and about 3 1/2″ tall. I doubt they’ll get to anyone in time for Christmas, but should at least within the 12 days after! If you’re interested, leave a comment, and I’ll draw a name Monday night.

I’ve got at least 5 projects that I’ll need to put in the next post, but I’ll try to refrain from spamming this thing up until then too. 😉

Friday Favorites, Episode 33 (last one of 2008!)

It’s been a very quiet week for crafting here. I literally have not had a chance to do anything since last Saturday, other than put together a couple more necklaces for my mom’s stocking and a couple pairs of earrings for a Christmas gift. I guess I should take pictures of those. Oh, and I made earrings to go with that red and black necklace I made for Mom a week or so ago, because she let me borrow it back to wear with my pantsuit for the band concert and I needed earrings for it. (Using another leftover bead and some of my thrifted jar supplies to make myself a necklace, so I’ll still have something to go with it.)

But it’s been a crazy busy week– spent most of Sunday afternoon addressing invitations and planning Susannah’s bridal shower, Monday was an extra-long teaching day because of adding a new student, Tuesday also ran late and by the time I finished eating dinner and showering and all I just wasn’t up for it, Wednesday was the band concert (which went really well! Yay!), and then yesterday I had practice for my church’s Sunday and Christmas Eve services, which I’m playing with the music team for. And then tonight I’m going to a party, though I’m hoping to have some time to work on unpicking the hem of my latest refashion so I can make it look better. I’m getting so desperate for creative time, though, that when I had some dead time at work yesterday, I sat there sketching out craft ideas! (It’s not like I was slacking– it’s just the managers literally had nothing for me to work on at the moment, and I’d already cleaned the showroom. Ah, garden centers in winter.) I really hope I have time to do something tomorrow!

Anyway, on to Friday Favorites. I’ve decided to make this “episode” the last one of the year, since the last Friday is the 26th and by then I’m going to be in frantic costume mode in order to get things done before New Year’s Eve. So I’ll bring it back in about 2 weeks (I’m hosting a party on the 3rd, so between that and the party on the 31st, I’m going to have my hands full!) Anyway, I hope you’ve all been enjoying this feature, and hopefully I’ll find lots of fun stuff to share in 2009.

Also, I’m not finished with the backlog yet, but I’ve started sticking all the tutorial-type stuff that I’ve been bookmarking on my Wists page so they’re all in one place. Plus it has pictures.

Not surprisingly, almost everything is Christmas decorations this week.

Garlands: Dollar Store Crafts had a fun, colorful one of felt squares. Cheeky Magpie featured a rather intricate one of folded paper and (very carefully cut-out) stamped designs. And Whip Up linked to a paper chain link garland— not the construction-paper version we made in elementary school, for sure! Looks so time-consuming, but the Renaissance lover in me is all, “Ooh, paper chain-maille!” (Plus it would probably be a fun way to recycle junk mail or something.)

Cards and Wrapping: Speaking of junk mail, I thought the gift bag made from it at Recycled Crafts was a really clever idea! Going back to Cheeky Magpie, I couldn’t help but love her snowman cardsCalvin & Hobbes is pretty much my favorite comic strip ever, and his snowmen always amused me. And for her blogaversary, the writer of SewDelish has free Christmas printables that would be great for gift tags or scrapbook pages or whatever.

Ornaments: The medieval-looking cd cross ornaments over at Ecologue were just stunning. I love the look of these fabric star origami ornaments at Zen Crafting. And that they can have a billion different looks depending on what fabric you use. And that it’s great for scraps. Over at CraftStylish, they’re showing how to revamp (or “resparkle”, as they call it) those worn glass balls with charms and gems. Crafting a Green World had a nice kid-friendly ornament made from, of all things, recycled plastic ziplock bags (and some other on-hand stuff to decorate them with). And while not really an ornament, persay, I did like Creative Kismet‘s snowflake window.

Other: Which I suppose these would make good stocking stuffers or last-minute gifts. First one is these simple but cute bookmarks at Trail Mix. Over at Craft Apple, she made a bag from a cheap skirt found on the clearance rack. And Craft Leftovers had a free pattern for recycling sweater bits into some very cute armwarmers.

Ok, so that’s everything for this week. Er, year.

One more bloggy announcement… next post is my 300th. Going to try to do something special for it. Stay tuned.

More reasons to love Goodwill (and other thoughts)

Warning: Very picture-heavy post coming.

I had to go to the thrift store today–going to a party with a white elephant gift exchange next weekend, and I needed a present. And while I was there, I realized that I should probably look for some stuff for the costume I’ll be making soon– Nicole is having the New Year’s Eve costume party, and the theme is historical figures. So I’m going as Cleopatra. I know how I’m going to do the dress, and I have stash fabric that will cover it, but I need some accessories. So I was quite excited when I found these sandals for $2.50– especially because they actually fit my ugly-stepsister feet!

The sewing part of the costume I’ve been having the most trouble figuring out is the belt. No lie– I was literally walking around, thinking that this would be the perfect day to find horrific 80’s shiny gold pants. And then I spotted these.

Yeah, that’s right– gold spandex pants. Oh, the humanity– I can’t believe these were ever in style! But I can’t complain too much, because this will be much nicer to sew on than the gold lame I rejected at Joann’s for this purpose the other day.

And yes, I did find my white elephant gift– a light-up toy lightsaber for $2. Not sure if it actually lights up, haven’t changed the batteries to check, but I’m thinking it might be good for a few laughs. And hopefully some steals.

Been working on crafts, too.

I finished these tea wallets today.

And this is what one looks like on the inside…
though I haven’t added the tea yet.
I took the idea from this tea wallet tutorial by Krustallos, though I ended up changing it– the first one I tried, I didn’t like the way it looked with the many layers of fabric showing aroun dthe edges. Plus I kind of wrecked the tabs trying to get the snaps in. So then I made these two with velcro. The blue one is for my friend Tracey, and the brocade one is for my brother’s girlfriend, since they both like tea. And I was quite happy that I was able to make both of these from things on hand!

From sew and so

Then I took this dress that I’d found ages ago at the thrift store, and turned it into this.

From sew and so

I’m thinking it needs work. The ribbon still isn’t laying quite right, and the bottom seems just a little too full for a tunic. I probably should have taken some of that out before I hemmed it!

I did another sewing project today too, but I’m not showing it yet because it’s that secret project I’d mentioned a post or two ago. Hopefully will have some pictures after next weekend.

Friday Favorites, Episode 32

This one’s almost entirely Christmas-oriented, so I’ll categorize like that. Funny how I can never seem to set this up the same way twice…


It seems I’m perpetually on the lookout for things that can be made with fabric scraps, and so of course I thought these “scrappy tree” ornaments from Dollar Store Crafts were really cute! And I like that they can fit a lot of different decor styles, depending on how the edges are finished and what sort of fabric is used. Whip Up had a tutorial for a vintage-looking fabric-covered ball that would also be a great use of scraps. This one’s not a tutorial, but I couldn’t pass up a mention of these metal ornaments by Creative Kismet because they’re so fun and colorful. And though technically not an ornament, Recycled Crafts featured an easy-to-make (though undoubtedly time-consuming) felt tree garland created by scrapbooking superstar Ali Edwards.

Other Decor!

Also on Recycled Crafts, they have a tree skirt made from a bridesmaid dress. If this past year is any indication, it seems I’m in process of becoming the next 27 Dresses girl, so this one might come in handy! Cheeky Magpie had a pattern for a paper cone that can be used either as a fillable decoration, or flipped over as a paper tree (which she put lights inside for a really neat effect!) ThreadBanger’s weekly DIY roundup featured wreaths of all different styles, made of everything from recycled fabric to ice to computer parts. Speaking of wreaths, Thimble had a small feature of different Christmas tutorials, of which my favorite was this paper wreath at the red thread. And sew it begins… featured a tutorial for an easy-to-make but complicated paper snowflake that’s a great large size for window or wall decorating. And going back to Creative Kismet, she had this great paper-cut winter wall art.

Miscellaneous goodies!

Over at Quality Time, there was a tutorial for a patchwork tissue holder that would make a great stocking stuffer (and use up more scraps!) I liked this cocktail dress at Fehr Trade— simple, but a great color. And Angry Chicken had a simple but good sweater reconstrutcion with a vintage vibe that would be good for more casual holiday gatherings.

My stuff:

I had some unexpected time off work yesterday, so I had time to go to Joann’s (where I got some fabric on sale because I’m weak.) And I also did some sewing– need a few finishing touches, but then two of my Christmas presents will be done. Hopefully will get those up tomorrow. No time tonight, since one of my friends is having her annual Christmas party/ornament exchange. I think I’m going to bring one of the poinsettia ornaments, so we’ll see what I come home with!