A 2009 Retrospective

You know I had to do it. 😉 I’m really not feeling like this past year was a very good one for me in terms of craftiness, so let’s just write this post off as self-therapy.

1. 7 Things I hoped to accomplish in 2009 (revisited):

  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…

Even though I didn’t complete it, being a pair of shorts and about half a shirt shy of my original plan, and even though the pieces didn’t go together as well as I’d hoped, I did do this. So check.

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.)

Again, check. The fact that they didn’t survive more than five wearings tops is irrelevant.

3. At least START that jewelry organizer I’ve needed for years!

I did start it– I only did one page, but that still counts. Even though I’m probably not going to end up finishing it–if the Etsy seller I’ve been talking to comes through, I should have a new way of organizing those necklaces that will be a lot less labor-intensive for me!

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...

I don’t think I quite managed this one, seeing as how I really haven’t touched my scrapbook since, oh, February or so. But I did get a pretty good dent made in them during that last binge, so I think I’m something like 5 away from wrapping it up.

5. Fine-tune my organization plan to get caught up on these scrapbooks faster!

Now that I did do. I made a little checklist thing I could just print out, and have them on a little binder ring-type thing so I can see what I’ve pulled paper for, sketch layouts if I’m inspired to, etc. And my box thingy that I got at some scrapbook supply party last winter is a big help there.

6. Continue crafting more for others, either as gifts or as some kind of volunteerism for worthy causes.

I did do a fair number of gifts this year. And Susannah’s wedding was definitely a huge undertaking for someone else!

7. And I guess I should probably add make a sweater that I like on the new sweater machine!

That was a fail. Especially seeing as how I could never get the machine working right anyway. I really should try to sell that on eBay or something so I can recoup some of my losses.

7 Things I hope to accomplish in 2010:

You mean other than get my crafting mojo back? 😛

1. As already stated, I’d like to give myself a little bit of a style makeover, or at least give it a kick in the pants to make it fun again. Along those lines, I’d also like to start making more of a conscious effort to make sure I have things that will go with other things. The crafting translation is that I’ll need to either make or acquire (preferably make) some basics that will help to tie some of my beloved funky prints in better.

2. I’d like to sew at least 4 Burda mag patterns this year. That gives me an average of one every 3 months…not unreasonable, right?

3. I’d like to make a significant dent in getting caught up on my scrapbooks. I know this will be a challenge, since NOTHING from 2009 got done at all, and I still have a pretty good chunk of 2008 to do. And, if I were to be honest, stuff dating back to my earlier teenage years that needs to get put in something sometime, if I count transferring my pictures from the Jamaica trip I took between 8th and 9th grade out of that old-school magnetic album… (Thus the reason I’m not setting numbers… I have no idea at this point what constitutes a “significant dent”.)

4. I’d like to continue with trying to use more of my stash than I buy new, for fabric, paper and beads. (I think I did pretty well with the fabric, at least, this past year–the bulk of what I bought was stuff for my room, which was an unforeseen project at the beginning of the year.)

5. While I’m on that, I’d like to finish getting this room put together, including the sewing projects for it. Preferably sooner rather than later.

6. I’d like to continue working on learning how to alter and fit patterns. My specific goal for this one is to apply what I learned in last year’s skirt-making class to make both a skirt from my master pattern, and a well-fitting skirt from applying those principles to a new pattern.

7. I’d like to try at least one craft technique that I haven’t before. (At this point, I’m thinking screenprinting, since I have a gift project in mind that practically requires it, and there’s no way I’m getting to that before the end of this year!)

Part 2: The Numbers

Home decor: hutch, 2 window shade recons, computer desk, computer chair (total: 4)
Bags and pouches: Dice bag, drawstring bag for gypsy costume, watercolor brush roll, weekender bag, daisy chain purse, (total: 5)
Clothing (new): the brown crappy dress, velvet wrap (fail), hippie top, sunflower skirt, sea flowers top, sea flowers dress, ill-fated jeans, bamboo skirt, BWOF painter blouse, 3 bridesmaid shrugs, starry night skirt, the Edoras top, princess pjs, (total: 15)
Clothing (recon): the gypsy costume (which is actually 4 recons), daisy pjs, Easter dress and cardi, lotus hoodie, (total: 8)
Clothing (embellishment): One beaded wedding dress and a ribbon-trimmed veil
Unfinished in-process: ivory tank for summer wardrobe, the Easter shrug that didn’t work with the dress, a denim skirt recon (unfinished because I think it needs a dye job to work)
Jewelry: Gryffindor earrings, palm tree necklace recon, bone earrings, daisy beachy necklace/earrings, 5 sets of jewelry for Susannah’s wedding + her mom’s earrings, the two necklaces I gave my mom for Christmas (total: 12, not counting one as-of-yet undisclosed project.)
Scrapbook pages: July 4, 29 layouts at Tracey’s, (total: 30)
Other: Car seat covers, 2 toddler capes, Kaylee the Kangaroo, (total: 4)

Favorite sewn-from-scratch project: I think the starry night skirt. It fits well, and I love the fabric. So glad I went with the teal underneath the black sheer, it adds so much depth!
Favorite reconstructed sewing project: Probably the gypsy costume–beyond that, there weren’t really any recons I was overly excited about this year, but that was a lot of fun to make.
Least favorite sewing project: Hands down, the dress I wore to my brother’s wedding. That was just a totally miserable crafting experience.
Favorite jewelry project: Probably the dragonfly necklace I made for my mom for Christmas.
Least favorite jewelry project: The necklaces I made for Susannah’s wedding. (Best pic I have of that is the one of her wearing it, sorry for no close-ups.) It’s not that I didn’t like the way they looked, but the combination of those beads and the jump rings made them annoyingly difficult to put together, and even the day of the wedding they kept falling apart somewhat– it’s a good thing I brought my pliers with me, because we did have some pre-wedding issues with that!
Favorite non-jewelry accessory: The Daisy Chain purse. It’s just really hard for me to make things from Amy Butler fabric that I don’t like.
I didn’t really have a non-favorite non-jewelry accessory, so let’s just skip ahead to…Favorite scrapbook layout: The “Music Builds Tour” one. (The bubble tea one was a close second.) Both of these were really all about the paper being freaking awesome. I’m definitely more of a paper than embellishment girl. Although I did branch out a bit on these, making cardboard embellishments for the bubble tea and the photo collage for the concert one. So I think that’s a big part of it.

Ok, that wraps it up for 2009…wishing you all a happy and crafty new year!

Now that Christmas is over…

…I can show what I put in my mom’s stocking this year! It’s become traditional for me to make a necklace or two and stick it in there. I kept it simple this year out of necessity– I knew she wanted a silver one, and I stumbled across the black and white ones in my stash (which I think she may have bought a long time ago for me to make something for her anyway).

Christmas was pretty good, although there hasn’t been much in the way of craftiness going on lately. We’ve had family staying with us, so the last couple of days have been pretty much spent in either celebrating Christmas with various groups of relatives, or keeping my 7-year old cousin who’s staying with us busy. (Mostly by playing hours and hours of Lego Star Wars with him!)

I have also been doing a little (make that VERY little) bit of work on the room, mostly in terms of organizing. I sorted through two of my three boxes of photo doubles, mostly to get rid of the excess prints and file the negatives. (Most of what I have in there ended up in my scrapbooks, so it’s ok. The photo boxes just take up space, and I’m trying to cut back now.) It’s necessitated going through some of my old scrapbooks to make sure I have these particular photos covered…and now I’m feeling this urge to redo my first-half-of-college scrapbook. The first two I did weren’t standard scrapbook size, they were these weird something like 11×15″ and full of this construction-esque paper that I ended up just directly gluing 8.5×11″ paper and photos to. Admittedly, I do have a practical reason in that some of the paper and photos are beginning to peel off of the pages, since there’s no page protectors to help hold them down and I think this is when I was still using something like a scrapbook-safe glue stick. The other reason is that I wasn’t able to destroy the pages of stuff that my last ex-boyfriend and I did together, like I was with the next scrapbook (which was my first 12×12 with page protectors one—it was a lot easier to just pull the layouts out and trash them!) I know, I know, it’s a part of my history and a lot of scrapbookers would claim it’s blasphemy that I want those pictures gone. But really, he was a jerk, and I’d like to be able to look at the pics of time with my college friends without seeing too much of him. Don’t think I can destroy them all, since I do have some involving him and other friends, and I’d rather not get rid of my friends, but I really don’t want any more pics of the two of us! (And, truth be told, it’s not very good for my ego to have that reminder that he’s the last guy who was actually really interested enough in me to ask me out…or how long it’s been since.) Hopefully it’ll be something simple like I can just peel the matted photos off and rewrite the text for the stuff I do want to keep. You know, with me being horribly behind on my scrapbooks and all. Because the more I think about it, the more I think I’m talking myself into just doing it.

It was snowing. I did sewing!

(And there was much rejoicing!)

So, as I’m sure all of you who live in the United States know, the East Coast got slammed with a blizzard over the weekend. Which resulted in 17″ of snow where I live, which easily ranks it as one of the biggest snowfalls in my lifetime. (Big snows are kind of unusual here–usually the big ones we get are the kind that happen from freak March snowstorms that melt away quickly. Needless to say, my state’s been kind of shut down over the last 3 days.)

This was the view from my new bedroom’s window this morning, after a day to melt away. What I did yesterday was to stay indoors in my pjs all day, I drank lots of tea, watched Julie & Julia with my mom, and SEW!!
This was the result–I got a large portion of the top of my bedspread quilt sewn together–basically spent the whole day cutting and sewing in those light tan strips, with my mom kindly talking me through the best way to do it. I still have quite a bit of work to do on it–I need to sew the tan strips down the side, and then add borders to make it bigger. (Actually, I need to add 2 borders, because after laying it out on my bed last night to test the size, I realized I’m going to have to add another 5″ all around to get it to cover all the way to the floor like I’d wanted. But I talked to my mom about it, and she thinks I can squeeze a second border out of the fabric I have if I add a strip of the “sashing” fabric in between the two borders. Hopefully that’ll leave me enough to do the binding.) And then I need to put the batting and backing with it, and then quilt it, and then sew the binding on! But I think this is going to be a good project to get my sewing mojo back, since it involves lots of straight lines and no fitting (and by the time I’m finished it, I’m sure I’ll be itching to sew something I can wear again!)

It’s also high time I actually posted my other two somewhat recent sewing-ish projects.

#1, remember this computer chair that I got at Goodwill for $10? (Second picture down.) One reupholstery job, a fresh coat of paint, and -4 wheels later (with the wheels, the chair wouldn’t fit under the desk, unfortunately), this is what it looks like.

I think it’s an improvement! And so does my backside, since the new foam is 1″ thicker and much more dense than the original cushion. (I do have to keep a pillow on there to lean my back against, which completely clashes, but it’s out of Yellow Submarine fabric which is way too cool to cover up, so I’ve decided I don’t care if it doesn’t match in this case!)

#2, which may be one of the geekiest things I’ve ever stuck up here. A couple of months ago, some friends of mine invited me to do a D&D-style game with them, based off of Star Wars. Which meant that I needed to get myself a set of those funky multiple-sided gaming dice, and something to keep it in. And of course I’m not going to buy a dice bag when I could easily sew one within 2 hours!
Which I did. It would have taken less, except I decided to get all fancy and make it fully self-lined with no exposed seams. But at least I finally found something to do with this nice fat quarter of Celtic knot-printed fabric! Part of it, anyway. (Incidentally, we were supposed to play our third round on Saturday, but decided to postpone it due to the bad weather. Yes, go ahead and say it… I’m a geek. I’m ok with that.)

wedding outfits and sewing phobias

I think I’m caving; I’m 99% settled on buying a dress to wear to my friend Tracey’s upcoming January wedding, instead of making one.

This is the dress I’ve picked out, from modcloth.com. I like the kind of 60s-ish look to it, love the color (though I’m hoping it’s not too close to that of the bridesmaid dresses–Cassie, if you’re reading this, help me out!), and I think it’s a simple enough style that, with the right accessories, I could wear this for both warmer or colder weather (would need to find a sweater and tights to wear with this, and possibly shoes since I’m not sure either my black heels or my ill-fitting brown ones would work–I’m thinking if I can find a pewter-ish colored flat in my size, that would be perfect for both the look and accommodating any chance of icy parking lots!). And therefore I could be justified in paying the $53 for it. (And free shipping if I also get the cardigan that I fell in love with from there!) But still, I’m hesitating….buying a sweater is one thing, because that’s something I can’t really do myself. But for some odd reason, part of me is feeling like I’m failing a bit or copping out for buying a dress instead of sewing one. Probably from spending so much time on the Wardrobe Refashion bandwagon, where buying new = bad. I’m telling myself that at least I’m supporting a smaller business and independent designers. And I really don’t have time to sew a dress, especially with all of the stuff for my room still in the queue. But honestly, after the last several clothing project fails, I think part of me is a little afraid to sew clothes again. Weird, huh? I need to find a way to get over that. (And I also need to go to work! Yikes!)

All sorts of makeovers

#1: The bedroom makeover. No pictures, because my card reader is currently MIA. That, and it’s a disorganized mess in here. My dad decided on Thursday that the remaining furniture that I’m not keeping was getting out of the room that night. So while we were at it, we went ahead and moved my bed over to here. So even though not all of my stuff is out of the old room, I’m officially in the new room. Hopefully, the rest of the moving things and a good chunk of the organization will happen on Monday. (And that I’ll find my card reader.)

#2: My little fashion project. I have a confession to make: I like researching things. I know that makes me sound like a total nerd, and maybe I am. When I was in high school, I actually didn’t mind term papers because I really enjoyed the process of spending hours in the library delving into a literary topic. I often spend ridiculous amounts of time doing things like clicking through pages and pages on eMusic to find one new band to listen to, or trying to learn everything I need to know to, say, refinish a piece of furniture for my in-progress room makeover. So, of course, to try and get this personal style development project-of-sorts off the ground, I’ve been looking into what I need to know to, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, “make it work”.

So I’ve been spending some time over the last couple of days (between bouts of working and shifting things from one room to another) to try and figure out just how to figure out what my style is. In this process, I’ve learned a couple of things:

1) “What’s my style?”-type personality quizzes are pretty useless. I took a couple just for the heck of it, and got told that I was athletic (only when I’m backpacking), preppy (which I generally tend to avoid), and a pair of velour sweatpants. I kid you not.

2) Most sites that pop up on Google are actually for businesses of style consultants. I really don’t think I need professional help.

3) Apparently these “must have wardrobe essential” lists want everyone to conform to a classic style. Some of us just simply aren’t wired that way. For instance: a trip to the library sent me home with a couple of books, one of which is a guide from the What Not To Wear people. And while it does look like there’s some good stuff in there, I’m finding the “essentials” list to be somewhat less-than-interesting to me. And, honestly, not necessarily conducive to my lifestyle.

a) After “black pantsuit”, they mention “a softer neutral suit with pants or skirt”. Now, I don’t know about you, but unless it’s band concert night, a pantsuit is a bit of an overkill on what to wear while teaching kids flute lessons. So really, why would I need a second when I already have the black one that I made last year?
b) 3 each of winter-weight and summer-weight skirts. Both saying that one should be a tweed. You just don’t wear tweed in a mid-Atlantic summer! (Not to mention most tweed is generally wool, and I can’t wear wool).
c)3 blouses, 2 cotton button-down shirts. What’s the difference?
d) 3/4 length wool coat. Again, I can’t wear wool.
e) Who needs a watch when you have a cell phone that you can just whip out of your pocket or purse?

4) Generally speaking, these style guides don’t really seem to deal with prints very well. Which is a shame, because I do love my funky prints. But in these books, everything’s just so…solid.

So I’m playing around with a couple of things to see if I can sort out for myself what my style is–putting together outfits with a little help from Donna the Dummy, assembling things on Polyvore, etc. And I also want to go through the closet and see what of my crazy print stuff I’m lacking things to coordinate with, so I can start planning accordingly. (Actually, I should probably pull the summer wardrobe out from under the bed too….if I can come up with some basics that would go with both, that might be best, since I’m so far behind on other projects with deadlines that I don’t think I’ll get anything major done in time to mix it into my winter wardrobe!)

Ok, off to bed with me…was out late at a friend’s Christmas party last night, and spent all day today baking Christmas cookies with my mom, and I’m beat.

Have you seen my sense of style? (or year-end musings)

So it’s the time of year where I get all reflective about how things have gone. And I have to say that I’m feeling a bit discouraged about my craftiness this year. I’m sure that if I looked back over the blog over the last 12 months, there would be some major successes. I think right now it’s a combination of the overall fails that were my summer wardrobe project and the sister-of-the-groom dress of doom (basically the last two things I made), and the usual “I’m cold and there’s four more months of winter” blahs. That, and I’ve really done no sewing in weeks, other than a brief session yesterday to reupholster my computer chair. I’ve actually made absolutely nothing resembling clothes since September. That’s a long time.

I also think this feeling is due to the context of these musings, which was sitting at the garden center in my ginormous sweatshirt that I have to wear, with a ponytail that won’t stay in my hair since I lost and/or broke all of the elastics that went tight enough to hold it well, and feeling generally cold and frumpy. But the point of all of this rambling is, I think I’ve lost my fashion sense. I just can’t put good outfits together anymore, it seems–especially this time of year, where I’m pretty much always cold and therefore my usual go-to outfit is a bulky sweater and a pair of pants. And I’m kind of feeling like my style has gotten kind of boring– like I was more daring with it when I was in high school, and the super-casual rut that college puts you in + trying to come off as professional when I’m teaching kids and still look young enough to get carded = I lost my personal expression. And it’s really not helping that I did that summer wardrobe thing and ended up with nothing that actually looked good together. (Though I’m sure the tops would have looked ok with the jeans if they hadn’t ripped up within a couple of wearings…) That, and though I hate to say it, I think that the year+ I spent in Wardrobe Refashion kind of didn’t help, since I felt like I had to make everything I wore. So my confidence in my ability to dress well has kind of taken a bit of a nose-dive over these last couple of months. (Though I do think I’m better at it in the summer, when my focus isn’t trying to avoid a perpetual state of near-hypothermia!)

I’ve noticed that I seem to need some kind of focus for my crafting–like this year, it was working on fit and using up stash. (Both of which I still need to work on.) But I think my quest for this year is going to be figuring out what my style is now and trying to only make things that fit into that. And learning how to put the stuff in my closet together into more interesting outfits, now that I actually have an organized one. (Hopefully I can pull off interesting and still somewhat professional…at least I can get away with funkier professional since I work in the arts!) Now I just have to figure out how to do that…