2010 in review…

Drat….my plan to work on the Anthro-inspired shirt didn’t work out very well at all. I got it all cut out and started sewing it together…but then my serger broke. Again. So it’s in the shop. Again. (A different one than the first time–this time I took it back to the place where I bought it. It’s the timing issue again– I broke 2 needles in about 10 minutes just trying to sew a basic side seam:. And this was only maybe the third time I’ve really used it since the last repair, since a lot of what I’ve spent my time on in the last few months have been serger-less jackets with a ton of Hong Kong seams and serger-less pattern testing. I hope the fix takes this time…. I got something like 7 pieces of fabric for Christmas, and 6 of them are knits!

But to take my mind off of that…time for the annual year-end roundup! Let’s see how I did this year…  

7 Things I hoped to accomplish in 2010 (revisited):

1. 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.

I think I mostly succeeded in this one, thanks to my little personal style project that I spent the first several months of the year on. Self-Stitched September was a big help too, since it forced me to think about the entire outfit. Still feel like my winter wardrobe needs a colorful kick in the pants, because it’s only the end of December and I’m already tired of most of the things I’ve been wearing, but oh well.. (I hear there’s going to be another monthly challenge in May or March or one of those M months…it would be interesting to try this again in a different season.) As for making basics, I did manage to make some things in solid colors, like a couple of knit tops and a basic black skirt. So that’s something.

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?

Let’s see: 1 (and a half), 2, 3, 4. And a half, because technically I sewed most of this last year but I fixed it this year. Either way, I win!

3. I’d like to make a significant dent in getting caught up on my scrapbooks.   

Once again, pretty much a fail. Considering I haven’t really touched anything having to do with it in at least 6 months. I blame the jewelry.

4. I’d like to continue with trying to use more of my stash than I buy new, for fabric, paper and beads.

I can’t really say I used up paper, but I didn’t buy more. And I did give a pretty big stack away via Freecycle. I definitely used up some beads this time. Fabric….I did use up some pieces that had been sitting in my stash for quite some time. But I did definitely buy some things. Several of which I used right away, but a few that had leftovers. And I recently got another stack of fabric, but it was free. So I probably broke even on this one.

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

My room’s still not completely done–there’s still some details, like I need to finish a dresser (still), and hang a couple of things on the walls. Which I should probably at least do the latter, because I’ve been in here over a year now and that doesn’t require being outside where it’s cold like the dresser would.  But I did do an ottoman, finish a quilt, make several curtains, and the pillows. Overall a success.

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.

Well, I didn’t get to the skirt this year. Still in the queue. The jeans class was probably the biggest distraction on that. But it does count as fitting work!

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!)

Success! (I also played around with wire wrapping, which I hadn’t really done before, for a couple of pairs of earrings that were for the craft show.)

What I’d like to do in 2011:

Rather than post numbers, I’m just going to go by category this time.

Sewing: I’d like to continue working on fitting–now that I’m armed with Donna 2.0, the two new fitting books I also got for Christmas, and a lot more practice at muslin making! My goal, I think, will be to learn the basic alterations I need to make a well-fitting skirt (because it’s the easiest and I’ve already started) and shirt. Supermega bonus points if I finally succeed on the jeans that I’ve been trying to make, oh, since I started this blog.

Thanks to a few of the blogs I started following this year (particularly Gertie’s, Tasia’s and Sunni’s), I’m finding that I’m getting a lot more interested in things like finishing techniques and other more “couture” touches. So this is something I’d like to play around with more as well. I guess that I’m beginning to venture more into the quality over quantity school of clothes sewing. I know I’ll learn a bit, at least, thanks to the Little Black Dress class coming up in January.

Another major point for me is organization. Because let’s face it, I’m the stereotypical crafty pack rat slob. I’m going to be realistic here and say that I just want to get my fabric and patterns reorganized in order to enable me to effectively use up a good chunk of my stash (since that’s a perpetual goal of mine). But it would be nice if I could also get myself to the point where my sewing space is organized enough that I’m not constantly doing things like setting down my scissors or seam ripper and then losing them!

Last thing in this category: I want to get back into the reconstruction end of things a little more. I feel like I kind of got away from it this past year, but it’s a fun and completely different challenge to start with a garment instead of a flat piece of fabric and a pattern. I like the looser approach to it, and I feel like I’ve learned some useful skills from it. The idea of the Wardrobe Refashion Wednesdays was fun, but not very realistic with how my schedule’s turned out. But I do have a fairly decent-sized stash of clothes that are either intended for recons or already torn up for that, so I want to play with that along with my actual fabric. I’m going to set myself a goal of one reconstruction a month, because sometimes those can be really quick projects and they would still count.

Jewelry: I guess the big thing here is figuring out whether this little Etsy shop thing is going to work out! But I do want to continue chipping away at the bead stash, and playing around with some new techniques. The craft fair stuff got me playing a little more with wirework instead of just stringing, and I’d like to continue along those lines, I think.

Scrapbook: Honestly, at this point I’m thinking that I need to either find a way to better integrate this into my crafty life, or just let it go. I’m reluctant to just give up on this, because when I do work on it, I enjoy it. And I like being able to look back at the old ones and relive the memories that way–it’s kind of therapeutic sometimes, especially when I get into my “everything about being single sucks” moods and then I can go back and look at the fun times again. But it seems like every new year, I make a goal to catch up on it some, and every year, I get to the end and have barely done a thing. So I need to evaluate this. At this point, even something as simple as doing the photo layouts on a page with the captions would do– I don’t have to do the pages all fancy all the time. Must think about this.

And finally, the tally for this year:

Sewn stuff:
Tops: 11 (3 reconstructed)
Cardigan sweaters: 2 (both sewn, 1 reconstructed)
Jackets: 2 (though you’ll only see one on here, since BurdaStyle has the other and it won’t be seen until next fall)
Skirts: 2 (1 reconstructed)
Dresses: 3 (2 reconstructed)
No pants, unless you count two attempts at muslining jeans…
PJs: 1 set
Total garments:  20 (I thought I did a lot less than last year, but I glanced at last year’s and I was only 3 garments less.)
Bags: 2
Home decor stuff: 1 quilt, 3 sets of curtains, an ottoman recover, 4 pillows
Gifts: Apron, TARDIS tissue box cover, 6 baby bibs

Scrapbook stuff: I could only find pics of 3 pages on here. But I’m sure I must have worked on more than that–probably somewhere in the 6-10 range.

I think jewelry wins for this year, thanks to the craft fair. Between that (which I did tally up before the day of) and the stuff I made for myself (which was mostly the Elements series) or for friends, it was somewhere in the vicinity of 42 necklaces, 56-60 pairs of earrings, and 12 bracelets. And since it won’t fit anywhere in any other category, I’m going to say those 4 embellished crochet hooks go here too.

As for favorites, I think my favorite sewn-from scratch is a toss-up between the Ayden shirt and the flowery jacket. Favorite recon, hands-down, is that Indian tunic top.  And going by the jewelry not made for the craft fair, I think I liked the “Air”element jewelry the most.

And that pretty much wraps it up….happy crafty new year, everyone!

Wrapping up…

Since the end of the year is approaching rapidly, figured I’d best catch up! Plus it gave me an excuse to play with Picasa’s collage-making feature. (I used to play with Photoshop all the time, but this one’s so much faster/Blogger-friendly. And Picasa organizes my photos too, so added bonus.) Anyway, starting from the top left corner: a jasper/metallic seed bead/resin pendant necklace, jasper with a copper focal thing (not sure what the technical term for those are), black seed beads/vaguely Celtic silver spacers with a jewel-style flower pendant, some kind of resin nugget beads with shell bits in them (and a matching pendant), a teapot filled with a tiger-eye bead on a chain with crystal beads, and some kind of teal stone in a metal frame on a chain, all for my mom’s Christmas present. (She wanted me to make her some necklaces from the things she’s had lying around.)

And then the other necklace and earrings were my Christmas crafty project this year–one of my flute students’ moms was one of my few customers at the craft fair and so she knows I make jewelry, and so their Christmas gift to me was the beads that those were made from. I was particularly pleased with how the earrings turned out, because a) I’m still pretty new to playing with wire, and b) by the happy accident of me not being able to find my earring hooks before I made them (I was searching for them in another room during commercial breaks because I didn’t want to miss the concert I was watching on tv), I ended up using a couple of the kidney-style hooks. Which means that both the necklace and earrings are reversible– I can either show the smooth iridescent side of the shell discs, or the more mottled side that you can somewhat see in the earring closeup picture, depending on my mood and outfit. (I’m going to have to make sure I have something in my wardrobe that goes with this, especially for the warmer weather, because this definitely looks like a summer set to me.)

In other news, you remember that Anthropologie shirt I’m drooling over? Well, I was supposed to go to a party for the staff of my retail job tonight, but when I got to the designated party place, absolutely no one was there and the house was all dark and everything. So I took it as a sign that I was meant to go home and work on that instead, and spent a couple of hours pinning and draping with the scraps from the basic shirt I’m using as my starting point. That’s all done now, and since I don’t have any teaching tomorrow, sewing is definitely in the plan. In fact, as long as my serger cooperates, I may get it entirely done tomorrow–the original shirt looks like the edges aren’t really hemmed, and I’m thinking I’m going to give it a rolled hem. (It all depends on if my serger cooperates, because I haven’t been able to get the tension right ever since I had to take it to the shop. Not to mention I have to rethread it to get a closer color, and that always seems to take me five times longer than it should….)

A little holiday insanity

I went thrift shopping with a friend on Monday night, and found this dress. I just kept going back to it, leaving, going back to it, and finally decided to try it on. I’m surprised I liked it, because I’m not really a lace person, but something about the all-over olive lace just really spoke to me. Plus it fit me perfectly, so I ended up getting it, though I knew it would need a bit of tweaking. (I think Jane thought I was kind of nuts for getting it, though she also said I looked like a dryad, so I’m going to take that as a compliment.)

So I decided yesterday that this dress would actually be great for Christmas Eve–there’s a candlelight service at my church that I’m on the music team for every year, so I’d be right up front and needed to dress nicely. So here’s what I did….

Donna 2.0 got her debut performance, with a quick-n-dirty padding job. The dress was in two pieces, so the first step was to shorten the underdress. And I have to say, I like New Donna’s hem-marking feature, which made it a lot easier to trim it off! (Though I’m guessing I was supposed to put a marking tool in the clamp instead of shoving the fabric in there…)

Once that was all trimmed and hemmed and everything, it was time to tackle the lace overdress. First step: take out the shoulder pads (and those satiny cords which I’m guessing were for hanging, but were broken and in the way.) And then more skirt trimming and hemming.

The sleeves were a bit odd–I think if this had been a different fabric, I might have liked this almost mutton-sleeve-esque detail, but in the lace it just looked kind of frumpy. But that was easy enough to fix– I just chopped about five inches off of those, then hemmed again.

And so I ended up with this, which was much cuter.

And I had enough fabric left from the part I cut off for the hem to make a little scarf. (Which I didn’t wear with the dress, but we’ll see if I incorporate it into a later outfit.)

My immediate family’s already had our gift exchange (we do it on Christmas Eve) and I did get sewing and other crafty goodies other than Donna, but I’ll save that for another time.

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!


So I haven’t posted in a week or so, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy!
I finished these pajama pants last Saturday. And while most if it went together nicely, the elastic casing proved to be a bit more of a pain than anticipated. The first problem was, I didn’t realize until I got to that step that there was no elastic that was wide enough in my stash! So I had to run out to Joann’s (on the Saturday before Christmas) to get some. Thankfully, the line was not as long as I expected it to be.  Then there was the issue of trying to get it in– apparently I stitched the casing just a little bit too narrow, so it took me awhile to wrestle the elastic into submission. Even then, there’s a spot in the back where the elastic didn’t gather properly (right where I left the opening– I ended up just having to stitch flat over the elastic.) So not the most professional-looking pair of flannel pajama pants I’ve ever made, if the term “professional-looking” can be applied to pajama pants, but they’re done, and they’re very comfortable, and the flannel must be a really good quality because I’ve been wearing them for about a week and they haven’t gone all wrinkly on me from being slept in.

And here’s a closeup of the fabric–a very cheery print! As it turned out, I had a long-sleeved knit shirt in my refashion pile that perfectly matches the lighter shade of green. I’d gotten it at the thrift store awhile back because I liked the color, but it was a bit big for me, so I had a thought to use a dress I’d found on the same trip that matched it well as a trim, and cut it down to size. But it’s been relegated to pajama use instead, which works for me– I’m silly enough to want the top half of my pjs to match the bottom half! Plus one thing out of the recon pile is always a good thing.

I also made this necklace for one of my cousins for Christmas. (She won’t see this post.) On my mom’s side of the family, for years each of the cousins has drawn another cousin’s (or occasionally a sibling’s) name, and that’s the one they buy a present for. There’s enough of us that it was just too much for the aunts and uncles to buy a present for every niece and nephew. Even though we’re almost all adults now, it’s still pretty much a gift from the aunts and uncles, but I wanted to contribute something this time. My mom’s been making a lot of bags like this one that I made several months ago lately, and she had the idea to make one each for the cousins that I and my brother picked (since both of us drew girls), and fill them with handy things. The cousin I got is still in college, so she got things like a pack of purse-sized notebooks, pens, a water bottle, snack food like chocolate and mini bags of popcorn, etc. And the print of her bag has butterflies on it, so for a fun addition, I made this very simple necklace to match–it’s just a chain with some iridescent beads scattered in it, and then the butterfly pendant. (My cousin who just started working as a nurse this fall got something similar, and my sister-in-law made her a scarf to go with it.)

Aside from that, I spent some time earlier this week decking my room with some of my ornament collection– I love my mismatched ornaments, because almost all of them were handmade or given to me by friends, so there’s memories with all of them. But I’ve never really gotten to use them, until this year. So this is what I ended up with:

It extends to the end of the hutch, too…a bit busy with my dvd collection in the background, but between the impromptu garland (a very thick piece of jewelry-making hemp that I’ve never been able to figure out what to do with, held in place by extra-large binder clips) and a few other places I found to scatter them, I was able to use nearly the entire collection. Since I’m still living at home, it was really nice for me to have a way to decorate my space that’s just mine, you know?

Anyway, that’s all for the moment….though there will likely be another post today, since I’m very close to finishing a project I started on yesterday!


I’m not completely done with the jeans muslin yet. But thanks to a brilliant suggestion by the wonderful teacher, Jen, the issue of weird wrinkles in the front around the crotch area seems to have been solved! So I just have to make a few more tweaks, and then I just might have an actual usable jeans pattern!

Aside from that, did some “real” sewing today. I cut out the first part of what will hopefully become a shirt inspired by the Anthropologie sweater I put in the last post, as well as a pair of new pajama pants from some wonderfully soft flannel. I did get those partially sewn together today–a nice quick project, since I’m not going to worry about seam finishing or anything on this one.

I also did a small wardrobe refashion. Some of you may remember these pj’s from a few years ago. Which I still love. But in the 2-3 winters I’ve worn them, I’ve learned that while those sleeves look awesome, they’re really not very practical for clothes to sleep in. Especially this time of year– all sorts of cold air gets in the sleeves, they get caught on things all the time, and if I want to throw my robe on over them, the sleeves don’t exactly fit. I also discovered while unpacking them that one of the sleeves had ripped pretty badly near the armpit, I guess from the weight of that fabric while going through the laundry. So while I was repairing that, I chopped something like 10-12″ off of the sleeve.

So this is what they look like now. Or at least as much as I can show with one arm shoved in a sleeve and the other holding the camera! (Also, please excuse the wrinkles–it was stored under my bed for the last six months or so.) I think it keeps the spirit of the kimono sleeve, but hopefully it’ll be much more wearable now.

Not dead yet.

I just haven’t had a whole lot to show or tell lately. Still chipping away at Muslin 2.0 for the jeans, and still haven’t solved the fitting puzzles yet. I think this one’s closer than the last class’s, but I’m still having some weird issues I haven’t been able to resolve yet.

I miss sewing things that are for real. Trying not to think of January, in which I’ll be taking another class on Pattern Review that will require me to make a muslin.

Also had my first craft fair experience. Rather than rehash the whole thing, I’ll just refer you to the post I made on my newer jewelry-business-only blog.

I do have a bit of inspiration to share, at least. Work was super-slow today, so after the manager didn’t have anything else for me to do, I spent some time window shopping on Anthropologie. And fell in love with this:

There’s just so many things I love about this top–the ginormous cowl, the ruffles at the bottom, the fact that the sleeves are super-long-looking with the scrunches and would therefore probably fit my arms perfectly, etc. What I don’t love is that it’s made from wool, so I wouldn’t actually be able to wear it. Technically, this is a sweater, but I think I can pull some inspiration from it for a lovely knit top. I’ve been thinking/saying I need some things to brighten up the blahness that is my winter wardrobe anyway, so this might be just the thing. Since I have about 2 yards of teal interlock that need to get used up. (Particularly since, in digging through the stash, I discovered I actually have two pieces of teal knit–not the same textile, since the aforementioned piece is a thicker knit, but almost the exact same color!) So I’m going to be using this for an inspiration piece, and I have just the perfect starting point. More to come….hopefully later this week. I just need to get through Wednesday first.

Just a little holiday fun!

There’s a tradition in my family, on my mom’s side at least, that when we get together to celebrate Thanksgiving, we decorate gingerbread houses. My grandmother made them for me, my brother, and my other 8 cousins–a labor of love for certain. Now that we’re basically all adults, the guys don’t bother with it (of course), but the girls still have fun with it. A couple of my cousins brought a bunch of extra candy they picked up for really cheap at the dollar store this year, which made for some fun building materials. So I thought I’d show off some things, at least as far as the camera on my phone would let me.

So this was my rather ambitious project this year–Gingerbreaduseld!! (Otherwise known as Meduseld, as seen in The Two Towers. Yes, I am a hopeless Tolkien geek and proud of it.) I can’t take credit for Eowyn, though–that was entirely my sister-in-law’s idea/creation. Complete with candy cane sword, which Julia was very proud of because she managed to get the sword to a) stay on and b) be pointy.

Speaking of Julia, she decided to go the fantasy geek route with me and did a Hogwarts House. Specifically, Gryffindor.

My cousin Katie decided to turn her house into Noah’s Ark. My brother actually helped with this one….namely by sorting through the animal crackers to help her find pairs. And eating the extras. But still, that’s the most participation he’s done since the infamous “Gummy penguin frat house of horror” that he did when we were teenagers (and which we still talk about.)

Aside from my graham cracker additions, Katie’s sister Lauren was the most architecturally ambitious of us. She managed somehow to cut windows in the roof without making it collapse, which I don’t think I would have been able to do. What can I say, I’m clumsy. (I also thought her cookie log stack was a cute touch.)

Stephanie always seems to think she doesn’t do a very good job with this, but I thought her Oreo roof was really fun!

Her new sister-in-law, Kate, did an Oreo roof too. But completely differently. And the little blue house was cute!

So yeah…it’s fun to see all the variations that you can get from the same building materials. And the creativity in other people in my family!

Speaking of creativity, back to my one-woman sweatshop. I’m sewing on a deadline!