an update

First of all, thank you to all of you who posted comments on my last entry, for all your kind words/prayers/wishes. They were much appreciated. It’s definitely been a rough week–especially today, which was Ashley’s funeral. The service was beautifully done. And the picture is from just after– one of my friends from Bible study arranged to do a balloon release after, since there were a lot of kids there. It ended up being more over the course of ten minutes or so rather than all at once as originally planned, but it was still kind of neat to watch hundreds of balloons floating away. The hardest part for me was definitely when I was leaving the luncheon my church hosted afterwards, which was the first chance I got to actually talk to her parents. (The visitation line was huge at the service.) Wendy (her mom) told me that Ashley had actually sewn something last week, and it had made her think of me. And I’d had an idea over the course of the week of something I could do for them–awhile back when I was over at their house for some kind of party with my Bible study, she’d pulled me aside and showed me the fabric and pattern that Ashley had picked out for her first project–I’d thought she would want to make something like a skirt or pajama pants for herself, but she’d picked out stuff for some doll clothes for her younger sisters. That’s the type of girl she was– always thinking of others first. So I told Wendy that if she still had it, I wanted to go ahead and make that for her girls, since I hadn’t been able to help Ashley make it. She thought Ashley would have liked that, so she’s going to look for the stuff when she gets a chance.

There has been a little bit of craftiness going on, despite the busier-than-usual week (extra stuff going on through church to help their family out, plus all the usual work). I finished the skirt from my Spoonflower fabric last Friday afternoon, before all of this happened. And I’m almost finished with a gift for my almost-sister-in-law, whose birthday is in about a week and a half. I’ll probably finish that up tonight since I’m feeling the need to keep my hands busy (and all I have left on it is some hand-sewing), and am emotionally and mentally not up to pinning and cutting out a BWOF pattern (my next main project, for the summer wardrobe), especially one where I have to measure rectangles for straps. So hopefully the small bit of creativity will help me to relax, since I have to work all day tomorrow.


Some of you may or may not remember… awhile ago I posted that I had been asked to give sewing lessons to a friend’s daughter. Her mom, a friend from my Bible study, sews quilts, but Ashley wanted to learn to use patterns. We’d talked about it so many times– it’s just that between my juggling three jobs and their family’s sometimes-crazy work schedule (they operate a greenhouse that sells wholesale to garden centers, like the one I work at part-time), we were just never able to find a time to do it.

Ashley died on Friday afternoon in a boating accident. My heart is breaking for the family, of course…it’s been a hard weekend for all of us in the Bible study, and in the entire church. But for myself, I wish so much now that I’d been able to find the time to give her those sewing lessons…I never forgot about them, and I was looking forward to spending the time with her because she was one of the sweetest girls ever. I know it’s a small pain compared to what her family is going through, but it hurts to know that it will never happen now.

Please keep the family in your prayers and thoughts.

Finally catching up

Finally getting around to the rest of what I’ve been up to in the last couple of weeks.

#1: The car seat covers. I meant to do these last summer, but it was one of those things that I just ran out of time to do, and then it got cold, and so on. But I finished these the weekend before this past one. Made them out of four beach towels. The previous ones were beach towels too… in the spirit of trying to not be wasteful, I cut up the old ones (also beach towels) and am in the process of serging the edges of them to make blotters for a papermaking project I’m hoping to do soon.

#2: Last week was an extra-busy work week for me– the annual middle school band camp that I’m the flute instructor for. Monday and Tuesday were particularly rough in that they were very long work days, between that and my regular flute teaching. But when I got home on Tuesday, despite being quite tired, I was in the mood to do something creative that I wouldn’t have to think about too much. So I popped in Bride & Predjudice (not a mistype, the Bollywood version) and broke out the beads, and this is the result…

Gryffindor earrings!! We had some theme days, and since Wednesday was the premiere for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the kids were encouraged to wear house colors. So I went with this. (The red looks a little more burgundy when it’s not in that sort of lighting, and I happened to have a non-HP-related burgundy and gold shirt that also has a star on it, so it does double-duty.) My best friend, who is a die-hard Potterhead, stopped by briefly that night to borrow my hiking daypack, and so I made her an identical pair. She was quite pleased.

This necklace is actually a reconstruction of sorts– I made the basic necklace a couple of years ago, with a sun pendant that was huge. It didn’t look so good and it kept falling off anyway. I got the pendant separately with no idea of what to do with it, and finally realized that it went perfectly with the existing necklace.

The bone earrings were made to go with a shell -and-bone necklace that I wear all the time in the summer– one of the two original earrings got lost when I was out one day.
Finally, the “summer wardrobe” necklace– I got the materials for this specifically to fit my hippie-ish theme. (The cording is hemp.) In retrospect, I probably should have waited until I was a little more coherent and put the flowers closer to the pendant instead of the copper beads. Maybe someday I’ll redo that… we’ll see.

And then on Saturday, I spent most of the day sewing a skirt, but ended up wrapping it up with a quick refashion. I got these pjs during my freshman year of college, and they’ve served me well. But I’ve since learned that tank top + pants = limited wearability time for me– too hot for summer, too cold for winter, and the last couple of years the springs and falls haven’t really been much of a transitional time. So now I have a tank top + shorts. Much better.
And the bonus is I could make them longer shorts–I’m not particularly fond of walking around in short shorts, even for bumming around the house in my pjs!!

Also making some progress on my upcoming bedroom makeover…I’ve ended up with a different computer desk, since my dad found one for free that would save me more space in the room (and has a bit more storage options), and he’s helped me do a little repair work on it. I’ve also started what is looking to be the long, slow process of prepping it to paint– lots of sanding. (The repair involved sanding down the particle board enough on one piece that it pretty much has to be painted.) And I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond today to get some storage-type stuff for the closet and under the bed. (Was thinking about making some fabric storage bins, but I found some that were good sizes, sturdy, not too expensive and even matched the room, so I figured I’d save myself the time and hassle.)

To go back to the clothes refashioning…I’m feeling a need to do some simplifying again…the impending fall and all of its schedule changes/preparations for my brother’s wedding are stressing me out a bit. So it’s been a tough decision, but I’ve decided to take another break from Wardrobe Refashion after my pledge is up at the end of the summer. Seeing as how it’s the middle of July and I’m still working on my summer wardrobe plans, and I have to replace nearly all of my work pants and still haven’t mastered fitting those, and I need some sweaters and haven’t had luck with making or thrifting them, and my next several projects have to be things related to Adam and Julia’s wedding (including arranging the music for it, once they finalize that), I just can’t practically keep up with it. I figure I can still try to take away the lessons I’ve learned from it… I’m not going to stop refashioning, and I can look for some more sustainable options (at least for the sweaters…I have my doubts about the pants). And maybe if things calm down, I can go for another round. Everything has its season, and right now I think I just need to keep my sewing more simple and fun.

Super Toddler Capes, Vol. 2

So just in time for Harry Potter premiere day, I have….capes that have absolutely nothing to do with Harry Potter!!

These are the two capes that I made on commission for a friend of my friend’s sister-in-law, whose kids received one or two of the original capes. One of them has The Incredibles fabric, and one has Batman. I really wish I’d written down the directions when I originally did them, because I was having trouble remembering– and now that I’m looking at the original picture close-up (which I should have done about two weeks ago), I used wider elastic and more narrow tabs. Rats.

Anyway, I finished these last Thursday, and sent them off last Saturday. Got an email from the mom earlier this week, and she was really happy with them.

I’m just two posts behind now! I finished my new car seat covers on Sunday, and had some fun with beads last night. But no pictures yet, too dark to take them now, and probably won’t get to it before the weekend. It’s middle school band camp time again, which means this week is nuts!

A 2-for-1 special: The "Sea Flowers" top and dress

I finally got around to taking the pics this afternoon, so I now present parts 3 and 4 of my summer wardrobe: the printed top, and the dress that was supposed to be maxi but wasn’t.

1. The top- McCall’s 5662

Pattern Description: Knit empire-waist top with bodice and sleeve variations. I made C, which is a kind of kimono-esque one.

Pattern Sizing:X-small- Med.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mostly– I eliminated that ropey belt thing.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t have a problem with it, but it does skip back and forth a bit between views so a more beginner sewer might have problems knowing where to go next.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the style of it– it came together easily, and it’s very comfortable to wear. I had more dislikes than likes, unfortunately. #1: This top is basically unwearable without a camisole underneath. For one thing, the back is way too low, with the V ending a good 2″+ below my bra. The other thing is that the neckline doesn’t stay in place very well– I’ve worn this top once so far, and it has a tendency to slide off of my shoulders. So there’s a lot of potential for wardrobe malfunctions. #2: At least for this particular view, the sizing is huge. I made it a full size smaller than my usual, and still had to take it in some. #3: A more petty complaint, but the talking cartoon heads of the two girls who created the pattern that pop up in the instructions with tips annoy me. (“Sew an applique onto your top! Put beaded trim around the neck!”) I know that I’m probably a little older than their target market, but it just seems a bit over the top.

Fabric Used: I used a rayon lycra jersey from Lucy’s Fabrics.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: As mentioned, I made it a size smaller and eliminated the ropey belt thing. If I was making this again, I think I would have added in some kind of knit interfacing or clear elastic to fix the neckline issues.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I won’t be making this top again. It might be good for a teenage sewer, as long as they know not to wear it out without a camisole for extra insurance against flashing people.

Conclusion: I think it looks pretty good on me, but it’s just not as functional as I wanted it to be. Too bad, since I had high hopes for this one.

(A final note: One of the saddest things about this top for me is that it really doesn’t work with the bamboo skirt. So from a mini-wardrobe perspective, a fail of sorts.)

2. The un-maxi dress- Simplicity 3678

Pattern Description: “Misses’ knit dresses with bodice and sleeve variations” is the description given on the back. Also has waistband and gathering and the front and back center of the skirt. I made view A

Pattern Sizing: 8-16

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? From the waistband up, yes. From the bottom down, no.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I found them very easy to follow, though I did make some construction modifications to allow for using my serger.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the bodice– the stitched-down pleats add a nice detail, and while it’s low-cut enough that I’ll be wearing it over a camisole just for my own comfort, it’s not ridiculously so. I didn’t like the skirt–the gathering made it look like I was about five months pregnant, especially when looking at it from the side!

Fabric Used: A rayon-lycra jersey from Lucy’s Fabrics (the same one I used for the McCall’s 5662– these were both made as part of a summer mini-wardrobe.)

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I did have to take it in some at the waist, which is perfectly normal for me. I ended up having to take all of the gathering out of the skirt and sewing it in as a flat seam. I’m not entirely satisfied with the silhouette of the skirt– the fabric’s a little too clingy for it to work really well with such a fitted silhouette– but it’s still a lot better than where it started. I did add a seam in the back bodice, but only because I didn’t have enough yardage left to cut it on the fold. I also added a strip of fusible knit interfacing to the neckline facing and hand-stitched it down for extra insurance against stretching and gapping, after what happened with the McCall’s pattern. It seemed to work pretty well, though the stitching is showing up a bit more than I wanted it to.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I think I might revisit it if I ever do end up pregnant (edit: though I’d have to see some improvement in my husband-finding skills first, seeing as how I haven’t even had a boyfriend in a very long time!), because based on how it originally looked on me, it would probably make a really cute maternity dress! However, if the gathered waist is a flattering thing on you, I would recommend it.

Conclusion: It’s a nice pattern, but just doesn’t look nice on me without a lot of help.

(So it doesn’t really look very hippie-ish at all in the styling– there’s just no way I would have been able to make the originally planned maxi-dress, because I wasn’t counting on having to cut out almost every piece between these two on the fold. But it is still a cute dress. Now that it’s not maternity-looking, that is.)

I have a new pattern in the queue as well… one of my friends is getting married in January, and so I need something to wear to the wedding. I’ve found it’s hard to find long-sleeved dresses that don’t look frumpy (and with my complete inability to get my internal thermostat turned on in the winter, 3/4 sleeves is NOT an option!) So I found this one— I know there’s a slit in the sleeves, but I do like those drapey, Rennaisance/fantasy heroine-type sleeves . (And the slit actually makes them more practical, because then there’s no danger of me getting my sleeves in my food at the reception! Now I just need to find some fabric– I’d love to find something in a subtle teal/brown print, because then I can also get some more use out of the wrap I’ll be wearing at my brother’s wedding in October. (Which, if all goes well with the dyeing, is going to be chocolate brown silk velvet. YUM.)


Just when I get my computer up and running again, the internet dies! My family was completely internet-less yesterday due to the router crashing. It’s amazing how reliant on it I’ve become. No checking email or craft blogs or Facebook. No printing anything from my computer because the network was down and I don’t have my own printer. (Actually, I’m still having that problem…apparently something didn’t connect when I hooked it back up.) I’m in the midst of a massive cd/iTunes reorganization spree, and I couldn’t even upload cds that hadn’t been fully ripped because iTunes needs the internet to find the track listings! But the internet is back, and I can stop twitching now.

Of course, this means no more catching up on posts. But if all goes according to plan, this post will be updated tomorrow afternoon with project pictures and pattern reviews. Just have to take the pics first…

I’m back!!

It’s been an interesting last couple of weeks, to say the least…in the process of trying to get my computer fixed, most of it has had to be replaced. New motherboard, new processor, new memory, got a new video card while I was at it (I’ll admit it…one of my guilty pleasures is one of those online role-playing type games, and my old video card was never quite capable of running it well. Yes, I am a geek.) Anyway, as of Thursday night, it’s up and running again, with almost all of the programs reloaded. Including the camera software. Which means, rather than boring you all with another picture-less post, I can actually start catching up on showing some of those more recently finished projects!

So this is the first of the three projects that I finished in my absence– the “Weekender” bag from Weekend Designer. Since I already talked about it some here, I won’t rehash the same details. But it has been through its first test, the weekend trip to the beach that I had originally wanted to finish it for, and I’m happy to report that the strap did not, in fact, tear open as soon as I picked it up to carry it.

I was a bit nervous about that. That little band of fabric isn’t the sturdiest-looking thing, you know? And it was quite roomy– big enough to fit all of my clothes and toiletries for the weekend. Minus my beach stuff, which I stuck in my beach bag. (Were it not for my lovely beach blanket, my propensity to read very quickly with an ocean soundtrack–i.e. need for multiple books– and my inability to comfortably wear flip flops for more than the time it takes to walk onto the beach and then promptly remove them, I probably could have at least fit my swimsuit and towel in there.) Oh, and minus my craft stuff, because it’s tradition when I get together with these two particular friends to spend a great deal of time watching movies while crafting. But I digress. The point is, there was plenty of room for the essentials.

I also have to say, I’m very happy with my pockets. It was one of those last-minute inspirations–I didn’t want to make the main pocket out of the embroidered part because it would have been too hard to match, but I wanted to add a little more flair to the pockets. And the extra outer pocket is nice to have.

And that’s one less pieces of fabric in my stash–and this one’s been there for a few years. The cat approves.

On a non-related note, I got my new BWOF on Thursday. The previous issue didn’t really have a whole lot that I was interested in, but this one had some winners for me. I thought this skirt was really cute, I’m kind of in love with this jacket and spent quite a bit of time last night pondering an excuse to get it into my wardrobe (namely what color I could make it in and still have stuff to go with it! I already have too many black ones, and have plans to make a brown one), this top is going to have to get made at some point, and I’m actually finding these knit pants quite intriguing. I’m usually not a halter-top person but I kind of like the look of this one. I also like the look of this dress, but think it would be sadly unflattering on me. At least if the last dress I made (yet to be posted) is any indication.

So I’ve got two more catch-up posts to do… possibly 3, by the time I get the current project done. Next time: the first of the mini-wardrobe tops.