Crafty Christmas goodies

Hello, and happy New Year’s Eve! I figured I’d end the year with updating this with the newest toys I’ve gotten recently.

One thing I posted on Instagram, but not here, was that back around Thanksgiving, my Grandma (on my dad’s side) was in the process of cleaning some things out of her house. She decided that she wasn’t going to do any more yarncrafting. So she let my sis-in-law and I take her entire stash of knitting and crochet needles. Since sis crochets and they were mostly knitting needles, I did get the bulk of it, but she did get a couple of things, too! Grandma also let me look through her old craft books, and I did take a few booklets of some cute 60s-ish vintage knitting patterns. Thanks, Grandma! So I should be good for awhile on double-pointed needles and circular needles….but I might need to sew new cases for them, because mine are stuffed!

As usual, my mom gave me some fabric for Christmas! In particular, she gave me about 4 yards of a funky knit print, 3 yards of this oh-so-cool Japanese teacup fabric, and a couple of yards of a lightweight denim. I don’t have quite 4 yards of the knit anymore, since it shrank a bit in the wash, but that’s why we pre-wash, right?  I’m thinking a Tiramisu maxi-dress (a la Cation Designs) for the knit, a “real” Cambie for the teacup print, and maybe some wider-legged jeans with the denim–since it’s thinner and non-stretch, I think that would put less strain on the fabric. Plus a looser leg would be more comfortable for warmer weather here.

But what? you say. There’s four fabrics in this picture! Well, Doug completely spoiled me this year. Not only did he get me a new computer– and a Kindle Fire, which I’m still completely in shock over since I already knew about the computer–he also bought me fabric! With TARDISes on it! He got it off of Spoonflower, with the disclaimer that since there were a ton of TARDIS fabrics on there, he basically got the one he liked best. Love that guy. It’s a quilter-weight cotton, so I’m thinking this would make an excellent lining for the Colette Cooper bag, which I recently acquired the pattern for. The best part is that, although I’d have to buy contrast, I do have a blue canvas-type fabric in the stash already that should work quite nicely for part of the bag!

photo 1Mom made a couple of things for my sis-in-law and I, too. She made each of us a new beach bag with some meshy fabric (hers was in a different color scheme, but same idea). And she also made each of us a TARDIS wristlet–so cool! (And this would be perfect to throw into that Cooper bag that already exists in my head!)

photo 2The best part, other than the fact that it’s a TARDIS, is that she lined it with Van Gogh fabric. If you watch Doctor Who, you understand why this is great. My mom rocks. 

IMG_0962My mom also put a few fun new sewing toys in my stocking. I now have a buttonhole gauge, a Chaco pen, and a double-wheel tracing…thingy. She also got me this amazing wooden pressing tool, which I saw on A Fashionable Stitch and promptly put on my wish list. This will be so handy when I make that new winter coat!


I even got something for the scrapbook–my mother-in-law spotted a Project Life kit on my Amazon wishlist and got that for me. I think this one will be fun, because it’s so colorful! I love those constellation cards in particular.

So that’s a wrap on 2013, and I need to get back to trying to figure out the 3-D puzzle that is currently trying to get my craft room optimized to actually use this stuff!

Two last projects for 2013

Now that Christmas is over, I can show one of my more recent secret projects! And even though most of my “craft” time since then has been “completely reorganize the craft room” time, I did take a break from it on Saturday night to knock out another project. So I thought I’d share.

Christmas placematsFirst up are these placemats, which I (partially) made for my mother-in-law. I can’t take credit for too much on here–making them in the first place was Doug’s idea, and I honestly would not have been able to get these done even remotely on time without some greatly appreciated help from my own mom. I did the quilting and cutting, but she cut and sewed on all of the binding strips and also did the majority of the hand-sewing for that. Thanks, Mom!

Christmas placemats

A close-up of the fabrics. The penguins are because my mother-in-law is pretty much obsessed with them–seriously, she loves anything with a penguin on it! And Doug thought this would be more practical than another figurine. The flip side with the Christmas puppies are because the lighter one in particular strongly resembles the older of our two dogs, which she also loves a lot. It’s really hard to find penguin fabric that isn’t blatantly Christmas, but I’m glad I succeeded, because then she can use them more often.

Another Renfrew topThe other project I finished over the weekend was for the #SewGreenDecember sewalong that the Sewcialists on Twitter have been doing. It’s another Renfrew, my third one now, so there’s not too terribly much to say, other than this:

1. This was my first time doing the V-neck. It’s not quite as crisp of a V as I would have preferred, due to the fabric, but I’m proud of how it turned out nonetheless.

2. The fabric itself is a very drape-y, more or less a textured slinky knit. Thus the not-crisp V. The other effect that this had was that this one seems to have ended up a little longer than my other ones. The sleeves in particular do bunch around my wrists a bit, and pull down to handwarmer length. I don’t mind this, actually, since my hands do get cold frequently. My only regret is that I didn’t think to add thumb holes until after I tried it on! As for the print, all I can think when I look at it is that it’s like a closeup of Impressionist shrubbery. Which is probably what this shirt will end up being called on the sidebar, because I’m not-clever like that.

3. Since it was already cut out, this was super-quick. It’s really nice to have a TNT pattern that I can knock out in a few hours while watching tv. It’s also nice that I was able to use up a piece of fabric that has been sitting in the stash since before I started this blog!

So now I’ve done all 3 neckline options, and two of the three sleeve lengths on this pattern. I’m sure there will be more, though I don’t have any more planned for the semi-immediate future.

I do have one more end-of-year post I’ll need to do, since I did get some fun crafty/handmade things for Christmas that I wanted to show off. I’m also in the middle of inventorying my fabric (on a spreadsheet) and my yarn (on Ravelry), to give me something tangible to track in my stashbusting efforts. I do have to say that the numbers on my fabric are embarrassing at the moment–I haven’t quite finished due to finding some things in unexpected places (and another fabric purchase that Gillian and Heather completely enabled me on, when I commented on Twitter that I had an Archer pattern and literally nothing to use for it), but at last count, I was over 320 yards! And that’s not even counting scraps! Yikes!

Top 5’s of 2013, part 4: Knitting and other craftiness

Because those things deserve recognition, too, right? So here’s all the things that weren’t sewing clothes.

Top 5 hits of 2013: 
1. The Branching Out mitts that I knitted. Look, I did colorwork! And they’re soft and cute and from a pattern I already had on hand. And I used the yarn in a fairly timely fashion, so win all around. I did have a bunch of this yarn leftover, but I’m actually using the leftover blue in a current project, which I will blog about when I have more to show for it.

2. The “Project Life” scrapbooking system. I started playing around with this during the summer as a way to try to stay more on top of my scrapbooking and document newlywed life. For those of you who don’t scrapbook, the basic concept is that you can get these kits with pocket page protectors, cards that fit into those slots, and then you just add your writing and photos and you’re basically done. Most people seem to do one spread a week. I’ve been doing more of a system of add stuff as I have photos for it or things I want to write down, occasionally mixing in more “traditional” scrapbook layouts, and go on a more month-by-month basis. I can’t say I’m caught up, but it really is making it easier to scrapbook on a more regular basis–it’s so easy to just grab the stuff, sit in front of the tv, and see what fits where. I’m also able to use some paper and stuff I already have, just slicing it down to size. I haven’t showed too much of that on here, so here’s a sampling of some things that I’ve (mostly) already gotten done!

Scrapbook Layouts, 2013

It’s not all pocket pages, obviously. The top two show what I’ve been doing when I have a “real” scrapbook page on one side–I’ve been making my own cards here and there to coordinate with whatever the main page is. The bottom left-hand corner is a finished page, from a concert that I went to over the summer with two of my closest friends, the bottom lowest right is one of the straight-up Project Life pages, though with a few additional filler cards that I made or printed myself, and the one above that is an in-progress one from the honeymoon. Yes, they’re all Instagram pictures of a little plastic TARDIS. Doug and I were having fun with that! I just need to print out the captions and paste them on, and then that spread is done, and same thing with most of my honeymoon pics. I’ve only gotten stuff through the end of the summer mostly done at the moment, but I’m still feeling much better about this particular hobby than I have for a couple of years!

TARDIS shoes!3. Geeky shoes. My bridesmaids and mom got a huge kick out of our mostly Whovian shoes for the wedding reception! And I have occasionally worn mine since, though not recently since it’s been wet and icy a lot lately. Not the best scenario for painted canvas footwear.

Roheline cardigan (in progress)4. It’s nowhere near finished, but I’m going to add my Roheline cardigan. This is what it currently looks like. I have a long way to go, but once I got past the initial trouble with starting it, it’s been a pretty easy knit, albeit slow. I think my stockinette knitting is starting to look pretty nice and even, which is why I’m calling this a win, even if it’s still in progress! And now that I finally understand what it means by “wrap and turn” on the short row sections, the top will look even better.

5. Making things for others. Yes, this includes sewing too, but I tend to often be selfish in my crafting, and I did make more things that were gifts for other people this year. So that makes me feel pretty good.

Top 5 misses of 2013:
1. The scarf I knitted for Doug near the end of last winter. It was successful for stashbusting, but he hasn’t really worn it at all so far this winter. This isn’t a criticism, because he does wear the hat I knitted for him in 2012 all the time! He just doesn’t get as cold as I do.

IMG_05132. The bedroom curtains, to some extent. They do block more light than the blinds do alone, though it still can get way more bright than I like in the mornings. They’re way shorter than I would have preferred. Note to self: Next time, be more generous with curtain yardage estimations.

3. Jewelry-making. Mainly because I just didn’t take the time to do any this year. Note to self: must start playing with beads again, because I have way too many of them not to!

4. Home decor crafting in general. I meant to do a lot more, but once again, time management and I didn’t get along so well, and I only got to the bedroom curtains.

5. Honestly, I can’t come up with a fifth thing, because that more or less encompasses everything I made this year! So let’s just say the time factor and leave it at that, since having more plans than I finished was a running theme this time around.

Finally, in the interest of not leaving projects unblogged, here’s the handwarmers I actually finished to wear to my retail job.

work handwarmersIt’s honestly not my best work–I messed up the very easy stitch pattern here and there because I was in a hurry, and the yarn is pilling very quickly, because my job is hard on them. The stripes don’t match up, and I don’t care, because I just wanted to get them done–though I did do a surprisingly good job of getting the thumb gussets to match the stripes without even trying! But they’ve been keeping my hands warmer than they would have been on their own, especially during October when I was still mostly sitting at an outdoor register. This is how I was wearing them then:
Yes, those are other gloves underneath. Along with a hat, a scarf, long underwear, at least 2 other shirts, and a 2-layer sporty winter coat. Incidentally, one of the main reasons I still want to sew a new winter coat rather than just use this one, other than fashion, is that the inner layer is fleece, and I’ve found that it’s really, really difficult to pull that on over my sweaters and blazer jackets, on the occasions that I forget to bring my “real” winter coat with me to switch to before I go do my teaching!

Aside from a couple of secret projects that I won’t post until after Christmas, and a few in-progress things, that pretty much wraps up 2013! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas (or whatever you celebrate)!

Top 5’s of 2013, part 3: Hits and Misses

Time to look back at what I actually made this year! Let’s start with the hits, shall we?

Top 5 Hits of 2013: 
Wedding dress front 1. My wedding dress, aka the “One Dress To Rule Them All”! Yes, I only wore it once, but this was easily the most time-consuming and expensive thing I’ve ever sewn, so I have to include it, right? Plus, I never showed a really good full shot of the finished product, so here’s my excuse to share some of the professional pics. Don’t worry, they gave me the copyright as part of the photo package! We did get a couple of outdoor shots, but the lighting on the ones inside the church actually shows off the details of the dress better, so I went with those.

At Gillian’s request, I’m including a mini top 5 of things I learned or loved about making my wedding dress.

a) I loved working with the fabrics! It’s not every day that I can justify using a whole bunch of different silks, so this was both a lot of fun and a very big learning experience.

b) I learned and/or developed skills in a lot of different couture techniques. I’d worked with underlining before, for instance, but this had underlining, sometimes multiple layers of underlining, boning (and not the cheap plastic kind ,either!), regular lining, the works! So I think my handstitching improved quite a bit in this process!

Wedding dress backc) I love that I was able to design an entire dress around that sunflower lace, since the only two things I’d wanted for my future wedding for ages was having sunflowers, and making my dress! So I got to combine them! I also love that my pattern modifications to the Cambie top worked so well for really showing it off. (Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of it, because I have probably at least 3 yards left! Any ideas?)

d) I learned that sometimes muslins, or even multiple muslins, are a necessary evil. I’m really glad I allowed myself the time to do that. My usual attitude towards them is to try to make them as wearable as possible, or just skip them altogether, because I have so little sewing time and “ain’t nobody got time for that.” But I’m glad I really took the time to perfect the fit before I started–especially since I was just barely able to squeak out the skirt with the yardage I had estimated! Plus, now whenever I do get around to making a “real” Cambie, I have it all modified and ready to go. Assuming I can find those muslin pieces. Gah.

(Disclaimer: I’m still probably going to stick more with wearable muslins for most things, because I still mostly don’t want to take the time for that.)

e) I love that being able to sew helped me keep the costs down significantly! All together, I think the supplies ended up costing about $500. I think the most expensive fabric I got was the dupioni for the outside, at around $16 a yard. Given that I have a hard time paying more than $12 a yard for most fabrics, that’s a LOT. But at the average bridal shop around here, that would get you a pretty low-end polyester dress. Mine was silk, custom-fitted, and I didn’t have to deal with sorting through all of the trains and strapless bodices to find something I was ok with!

And now, on with the rest of the hits…

Thurlow trousers2. The Thurlow trousers. I’m quite happy with the fit, they’re very comfortable, and I’ve worn them at least once a week since I finished them. In fact, I’ve washed and worn them so much that the fabric is already starting to pill on the thighs a bit! Not a huge loss, since this was only ever intended to be a wearable muslin, and the fabric was free, but that means I may have to make a new brown pair sooner than I thought. (After I finish the other 4 pairs that I actually bought fabric for.)

TARDIS-inspired skirt 

3. The TARDIS Hummingbird-esque skirt. Subtle geekiness for the win! This got a lot of love on Flickr (by my standards, which is pretty much anyone commenting at all), and I’m always happy when my pattern alterations turn out as I envision them. Plus, since it’s basically a denim skirt, I have a feeling this is going to be a rather versatile addition to my wardrobe!

Plaid matching4. My plaid flannel shirt. Even though I’m still not a huge fan of the collar, it’s warm and cozy, which is exactly what I need in my life right now. I’m also still feeling a bit smug about how many sewalongs I was able to apply this to! (And now I’m wondering if it’s a crime against fashion to wear flannel shirts that aren’t plaid, because I want a lot more flannel in my life!)

purple tank front
5. The purple Sadie tank top, which has proved to be quite versatile, even though it’s not the most exciting thing I sewed this year. (Aaaaahhhh, look how sunny and warm it is there! Much nicer than looking out the window–it’s actually pretty unseasonably warm here today, but it’s also grey and rainy, which is why I’m home to finish this post. Work is soooooo sloooooow on rainy days that the manager told me to stay home!)

Thankfully, since I didn’t have a huge output this year, I don’t feel like I really had a lot of misses as far as my actual finished projects went. So I’m taking a slightly more tongue-in-cheek approach to this.

Top 5 misses of 2013:
Pavlova cardi
1. The one true sewing fail I had this year was my Pavlova cardigan–the one that tore apart in the washer before I even had a chance to take a photo of me wearing it. I hardly even got a chance to wear it, either. Despite my usual cold-blooded ways, I was sufficiently comfortable both indoors and out to not wear it at all while I was in Jamaica, so I only wore it on the plane there and back. If I were to be honest, it didn’t turn out as cute and flattering as I’d hoped, either. I still plan to make a Pavlova top again, but maybe more of a wrap top as intended. Or with knit fabric so it drapes better.

2. My timing in finishing my Tiramisu dress. It’s not the dress itself, because I do like it. And if I’d made it earlier in the fall or even the summer, I think it would have been worn a lot more. But I only wore it once, because it got too cold almost as soon as I’d finished it! I’m definitely not one of those people who can go short-sleeved in the cold. I wonder how it would look with my brown corduroy jacket–too much brown in the middle?

3. Online fabric shopping. This wasn’t a 100% fail. I did manage to find the right shade of nude organza for the wedding dress. I do like the rayon challises that I picked up for a couple of dresses that I didn’t get to this year. And I recently got some organic cotton knit that is super-soft and I think it will make a great basic black maxidress next year! But I did have multiple issues here, from trying to find a solid emerald green to make wedding accessories (color of the year, huh?!), to the paisley I’d intended for a Darling Ranges dress that looked quite different when it arrived, to the stretch denim I recently ordered that looked like teal, but showed up more of a robin’s egg blue and a lot thinner than I’d anticipated! And, of course, I also recently had issues in buying both fabric and yarn online, because in both cases, the website said they had more in stock than they actually had by the time they got to processing my orders. Both times, I had to make substitutions for things that cost more money. Aside from higher cost, the most annoying thing in both cases was that they were things I’d spent hours searching for in order to avoid wool! Blasted allergy…anyway. Hopefully I’ll have more hits on that count next year, since I can’t necessarily rely on Joann’s to have what I need or want.

My pattern/fabric combo4. Pantsapalooza. It’s not that I regret doing it, though I think I really could/should have managed the sewalong aspect of it much, much better. I guess since it was my first time hosting one, it’s a learning experience, right? And I did get usable trousers, but only one pair out of my intended five. So that’s not a palooza, that’s just pants! (Guess what I’m most likely sewing first in January…)

5. Buying vs. using. Yes, a few of these were projects I intended to get to quickly–my Darling Ranges dress that I actually bought fabric for twice (see #3 above), or the Reglisse dress that I found the perfect print for almost right away, for instance. And then the summer just disappeared. A few of these I actually did get to right away–I’m thinking specifically of the Hummingbird pattern, since I actually managed to jump in on the official sewalong and use up some stash to boot! And I did buy and use the plaid flannel in a timely fashion, which is unusual for me. But overall, I think I acquired a lot more fabrics and patterns this year than I have in recent years past, and didn’t necessarily use things up in a way to balance that out. (And it’s not even Christmas yet, and I can usually expect to get fabric for Christmas from my mom, too!) My husband and I are planning to really crack down on the budget come January so we can pay off some debt and save for some things we’re hoping to do, so this is something I really need to get under control again, and focus more on using what I have and being creative with it. (Incidentally, I loved the idea of the Sewcial Bee that I did last year, since it forced me to jump on fabric and patterns that were already in the stash! I hear rumors that there’s going to be more next year, and I hope that’s true!)

I did also lose track of yardage in vs. out this year, which is something I’ve been trying to keep track of. If I do succeed in my plan to get the room straightened up to start the new year, I do plan to re-tally everything that has significant yardage (like a yard or more) so I can start keeping tabs on that again.

Honorable mention: My #greendecember project. I got it cut out, then got caught up in a secret sewing frenzy, so that’s as far as it got. But it only gets honorable mention, because it’s another Renfrew top, which means there is a chance I can still actually get it sewed up before January 1!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

My most recently finished sewing project is a secret, but I do have some holiday decor to share!

I’ve been trying to keep a smaller craft project at my parents’ house, for when I need to kill some time between my garden center job and my flute teaching. They’re generously letting me continue to do the majority of my teaching out of their house, since I live just over the next county line now. That, and our dogs are insane when they can’t get to where the people are, and I can’t teach with them around until we move to a different house where I can shut them in a room where they won’t destroy everything in it. Maybe. Anyway. Mom is also letting me use the spare sewing machine in her sewing room as needed (yes, she has two set up all the time!), and a pattern that she had, so I made some Christmas stockings!

StockingHey, look, I’m pattern mixing! I wanted something cheery and fun, since December around here is often dark and blah weather-wise, and this funky black ornament fabric really stood out to me. The green stripey stuff is more for my husband, since green is his favorite color and he’s not afraid of the brighter shades of it.  I normally don’t go for rick-rack, but it needed something between the heel/toe and the main fabric, and decorative stitching was just eating the fabric like crazy. So this was a cute solution. And I’m ok with it making these stockings look more “homemade”. (I still refuse to say that other phrase with my name in it. So there.)

Stocking closeupI had originally planned to make the lettering red, but I couldn’t find red embroidery floss in my pile of things. I did, however, find black pearl cotton. So, in the spirit of stashbusting, that’s what I used to embroider the names. It only took a couple of hours one night while watching tv, and some disappearing marker. I’m pretty proud of how legible it turned out, actually!

I’d also originally planned to make a couple of smaller stockings for the dogs, but time is running short. So that can wait. It’s not like we can leave treats or toys lying out like that, anyway. Knowing them, they’d eat the stocking!

WreathI also made this wreath last year, but never blogged it. It’s pretty simple, just ornaments wired to an artificial wreath that I bought at work on clearance. The ornaments have a bit of a story, actually–a couple that I’m friends with has an (almost) annual party around this time of year with an ornament exchange. Last year, when all of the dust from the white elephant-style stealing had settled, I was left with two boxes of cheap baubles in lime and hot pink–another friend had them leftover from decorating his boss’s office as a joke. I didn’t end up keeping the pink one, but I was able to use up most of the green ones on this wreath. So, all in all, a pretty decent holiday decoration for about $2– not bad! Hopefully next year, we can find somewhere better to hang it than from the wall lamp…

Top 5’s of 2013, part 2: Goals

Since I didn’t actually use this format last year, I’m going to pick the more sewing-relevant goals from last year’s list, and deal with the rest later. 
Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series
In 2013, I wanted to….

  1. …finish my wedding dress, obviously. Definitely a check! 
  2. ..find a way to work craftiness in on a more daily basis. I had mixed success on this one. Having my own permanent creative space in the new place definitely helped! And I’ve found that knitting and even scrapbooking, to some extent, make pretty good projects for when I’m hanging out with Doug and watching tv. Sewing has been a little harder to work in than I’d hoped, since I’m still trying to get control of my work schedule and longer commutes. So I think this one will be an ongoing goal as I try to keep working on a better work/social time/housework/personal time balance.
  3. a few basics–or cake, if you will–that will help tie various parts of my wardrobe together. Somewhat successful. I did make pants, which is big. And a few other more basic pieces that ended up being pretty good wardrobe additions. But this one is ongoing as well, I think.
  4. …IF time permits, try another mini-wardrobe. I did manage to put together a pretty decent wardrobe for my honeymoon, though I only sewed two new things for it. Not quite what I meant, but oh well.
  5. On the blogging front, I really would like to make some changes around here–a new blog design, if I can figure out how, and most definitely improving my photographs. I did make a new blog header, which I think is pretty nice! The photography….well, that still needs work. Part of the issue is that my new house doesn’t really have a good outdoor spot for photos–I’m in a middle townhouse, our front yard faces all the other houses, and our backyard overlooks one of the busiest highways in the state! Especially in the summer, as it’s the main route to the beaches. (The yard is basically a big doggy toilet, anyway.) Part of the issue is that by the time I get home from work, the natural light is often gone. And, though he puts in a valiant effort, Doug doesn’t really like using my SLR camera. I think that I’m going to have to invest in a remote one of these days. 

Top 5 2014 Sewing Goals:

I’m mostly trying to avoid calling out specific projects this time, due to my complaints in the last post about time management issues. I don’t want to plan a whole bunch of things and then not get to them, like I did this year. And I also want to allow myself some flexibility to participate in sewalongs as they come up, or try out new patterns that excite me! So here goes…

  1. Create more cohesion in my wardrobe. This goes back to sewing those basics. For instance, I still plan on making those other Thurlows I didn’t get to this year! But this also encompasses being more mindful in my fabric choices, and trying to choose things that can go with things I already have. Especially when it comes to prints, because you know I’ll never give them up. They’re just so much more fun to shop for! I also seem to have an ongoing idea that I need to develop my “style”, so this ties into that, too.
  2. Beef up my cold-weather wardrobe. This carries over to knitting as well, tbh. But this is a huge one, because once again, I found myself bored with all of my clothing choices by November! This isn’t to say that I won’t sew anything for the warmer months, especially the things I already have fabric and patterns for, but the fall and winter months are honestly the bigger need. (And the bigger challenge, given my extreme wool issues.) This also includes a needed new winter coat, since my current one is getting shabbier by the week. I’m pleased to say that I did purchase some non-wool fabric (even though it was another scenario of them running out of fabric and me having to substitute and pay more money, grr!), so now I just need to get some Thinsulate and I’m good to go.
  3. Branch out. I’m reluctant to set a specific goal here, since who knows what fraction of what bounces around in my head will actually make it to the machine. But, as stated in the last top 5 post, I have several new-to-me pattern companies to try out that I already have patterns from. I have a couple of patterns in styles different from what I usually wear, like the Archer–way looser than I usually wear–and Espresso leggings–aside from under my jeans when I’m stuck on outside register, I haven’t worn leggings pretty much ever.  I’ve had the thought of trying to sew some underwear, since I always have knit scraps that aren’t big enough for much else, and I hate throwing away potentially useful fabric. Or maybe trying new colors–who knows where this will take me?
  4. Start refashioning again. I didn’t consciously choose to stop doing it. But I barely did any in 2012, and unless you count my dyeing experiments from about a month ago, and a bag I remade for a friend and didn’t blog, or the sweater I’m currently knitting from another sweater I’d unraveled, I did absolutely none this year. I have a giant bin full of clothes to chop up and use for projects, and I need to start dealing with that. And I think it’s good for me to have that creative challenge every so often, of working within those constraints. Some of my most interesting projects have come from those! 
  5. Use up some of my more challenging stashed fabrics. After all, there has to be some way I can incorporate organza or brocade into my everyday life, right? And the more on-hand things I use up, the easier it will be for me to justify buying more fabrics to help me with #1 and #2 in particular.

 There’s other things I can think of, like working on my fitting and pattern alteration skills. But these are things that I can and should incorporate into nearly every project anyway, right? What goals or plans do you have in mind for the upcoming year?

    Top 5’s of 2013, part 1: Reflections and Inspirations

    I’ve been quiet lately. Part of it is that because even though I am sewing, it’s all stuff that needs to stay secret for awhile longer. Part of it is because I’ve had a slew of computer issues lately that resulted in my husband giving me my main Christmas present early– he likes to go a bit over-the-top when it comes to giving me presents, and he bought me a new computer! So I’ve been trying to get stuff transferred from the old computer to the new, but that’s been one issue after another. I’ve finally managed to get the files on there, but it dumped it all onto one hard drive with no rhyme or reason, so I’m in the process of reorganizing EVERYTHING. And finishing installing programs and such. And hopefully finding the approximate half of my extensive music library that didn’t seem to transfer– yikes! I do actually have some Christmas-themed projects to post, but they’ll have to wait until I get things sorted and feel comfortable loading pictures on there again!

    But enough of my IT woes. Let’s talk end-of-year stuff, shall we?

    Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series
    I’m doing a Gillian-style roundup this year! Due to all of the computer issues, I’m starting with the ones least likely to need photos, and hopefully by the time I get to hits and misses, I’ll have this sorted.  I’ll probably also do a knitting and other crafts one later, but I’ll stick with sewing for now.

    Top 5 Reflections: What I learned
    1. I’m a slow sewist.  It seems there’s so many sewing bloggers out there that can just crank out one fabulous garment after another. I am not one of them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, since I definitely have a perfectionist streak, and taking my time means I’m more likely to be happy with the finished project. But still–I was looking back, and I actually only sewed 10 garments this entire year! I think that’s my lowest number since I started this blog! Granted, that doesn’t count the time I spent making accessories for the wedding, or gifts for friends, or those bedroom curtains that took way longer than they probably should have. And I did spend 3 months on just that One Dress. (Or, you know, several major life changes, like getting married and moving!) Still, the sad truth of it is that I just don’t have as much time to sew as I wish I did. And until my work schedule changes, or I have a shorter commute again, it will stay that way.
    2. I need to be more realistic in my goals. Like when I meant to make 5 pairs of pants during Pantsapalooza, and it took me the entire 4+ weeks to make one pair. But I do this to myself every time–for every new season or sewalong that comes my way, I always think I’ll get more done than I can honestly accomplish, and I get frustrated at how little I finished at the end. So I think I need to scale back some, settle on 1 or 2 things at a time, and then it will be a pleasant surprise when I have time to do more!
    3. Couture sewing can be fun. And also a huge pain in the butt. But for someone who absolutely used to loathe handsewing, I definitely learned to relax and enjoy the process more this year. I guess knitting actually sticking has helped my patience levels immensely!
    4. Stashbusting is great, but sometimes a girl just needs a new piece of fabric to get inspired. Or a new pattern. I’m not giving up on busting the stash, and I think I did pretty decently with it this year, all things considered. But I don’t need to feel guilty about occasionally buying new things, either. Especially when I just don’t have fabric on hand for something I really need.
    5. My organizational skills need work. It definitely helps that I have built-in organizational skills via my husband now! But I always waste a lot of time trying to figure out where I set that thingy that I was just using. And I definitely had a few incidents of thinking I had notions that I didn’t, or buying things I already had. Now that I live even further from anywhere to buy sewing stuff (you’ve all heard me lament occasionally how Joann’s is the only place in the state–and now the Super Joann’s is close to where I used to live, and the only local one is a smaller Joann’s!), I really need to get on top of this.

    Actually, I’m not claiming this as a goal for 2014, but I have made a goal to try to get my craft room reorganized before the end of this year! I will have more free time starting next week, when my seasonal retail job lets me off for the winter. So I want a fresh start, so I can spend those two glorious months when I’m pretty much guaranteed to have no work other than my flute teaching sewing as much as possible!

    Top 5 (Plus some) Inspirations: Bloggers, etc.

    It’s hard to narrow down bloggers–I’ve discovered so many new ones this year, I don’t want to leave anyone out! So here’s my best shot, in no particular order other than what came to mind.
    1. Tempest at Fanbloomingtastic. I admire her quirky sense of style, and the Doctor Who sewalong was one of the highlights of my sewing year! She also is creating an ongoing “club” of sorts for more Whovian makes, which is great, since I didn’t get all that I wanted to done.
    2. Cation Designs. She’s another one whose quirky clothes I admire. And she loves all things Tolkien, which automatically makes her cool. (I can say that, because I have multiple offline friendships and even more online friendships that started just over Lord of the Rings!) Her cat pictures make me smile, especially now that I’m cat-less myself. And her cosplay posts have me itching to create some costumes again! Her “Party King Thranduil” seriously makes me giggle.
    3. Handmade by Carolyn. I’ve been following her longer than most of the blogs that I read, but I’m still in awe of her commitment to a completely handmade wardrobe. Her ability to mix and match her makes is enviable, and I quite enjoyed following her “paper doll project” and her adventures in learning to screenprint this year!
    4. Handmade by Heather B. She’s one of those bloggers I mentioned earlier who seems to be super-productive, despite wrangling a toddler. Her style of writing consistently makes me laugh, and her photos make me want to have some more fun with my own. (She’s also probably the person on Twitter that I commiserate about the weather with the most, since she’s as close as I get to local and things are usually similar.)
    5. Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow, since her “sewing dare” is what got me on Twitter in the first place! Her posts on color palettes have gotten me thinking about my own closet quite a bit, too. And though knits never really scared me that much, I’ve enjoyed the “Lazy Tips” series a great deal, because there’s always room for learning new things.
    I’m adding two more cheater answers:
    6. Twitter! As far as I can tell, I am literally the only person who sews clothes and blogs about it in my state–seriously, I keep checking the “Sewintists” map every few months, and I have never, ever seen another pin dropped in Delaware! So, since I have very few people I can talk to about sewing in my everyday life, with the exception of Mom the Quilter, it’s great to have a place where I can talk to like-minded people in real time. The Friday afternoon #fabricchat sessions were something I looked forward to, when my teaching schedule allowed me to participate, and I did have several projects from this year that were directly inspired from sewalongs or other ideas thrown about on there. Also, this encompasses pretty much every other new-to-me sewcialist that I “met” this year!

    7. Indie pattern designers! A rather huge percentage of this year’s projects were from smaller companies’ patterns. Sewaholic and Cake Patterns were the big winners, with 3 and 6 projects, respectively. (Even though my Cambie and the last Hummingbird skirt were heavily modified, I’m still counting them.) I also acquired patterns from Grainline Studios, Deer & Doe, Maria Denmark, Colette Patterns, and Megan Nielsen this year. But in spite of my good intentions, and often already buying fabric to go with, I haven’t actually sewn any of those up yet. Maybe that should be one of my goals for 2014…

    Stash confessional: Cyber Monday edition

    Actually, I think I showed very good restraint! I’m trying to be sensible as I’m considering purchases for next year’s projects (since there’s absolutely no way I’ll get to any of these things this year!), and do a little wardrobe planning. I’ve been eyeing a few things on in particular, and have been checking quite often over this past weekend in hopes that some of these things would go on sale. I didn’t have any luck on Black Friday, but I did have a couple things on my list go on sale for today. For the others, I’m still in the waiting game of holding out for sales vs. jumping on it when quantities get dangerously low.

    So here’s the latest acquisitions:

    Organic Cotton Interlock Knit Black

    Black organic cotton knit. I bought 2 yards to make the long, non-pieced version of McCall’s 6559. I’d figured a black maxi-dress would be a good basic for my wardrobe, since I can even wear that for summer performances. And I’m also planning ahead for a travel wardrobe for a trip that my husband and I are hoping to take next year, and this would also fit nicely into that! (I know it looks a lot like the Mission Maxi, and I’m usually quite happy to support the independent designers, but this pattern was on sale for something like $.70 when Joann’s was celebrating it’s 70th anniversary.)

    Ambiance Bemberg Lining Black

    2 yards of black Bemberg lining. Because when Bemberg is on sale, you jump on it. I strongly debated between 2 and 3 yards, but since I don’t have a specific plan for this yet, I decided to be conservative.

    Grand Hotel Rooftop Garden Teal

    1 1/2 yards of this cute floral cotton print. It was on clearance, and I bought this to make bias tape for the Sewaholic Robson coat. My lightweight long denim jacket is starting to look quite battered, which is no surprise since I think it predates this blog. So this one is definitely on the radar for next year’s sewing. I have my main fabric picked out, but that one wasn’t on sale, so I’ll say more about that in a minute.

    Stretch Pacific Denim Sky Blue
    My splurge item was this stretch teal denim, which I’m planning on making into jeans. I know I’ve said before that I thought I preferred non-stretch denim for making jeans, since it will hold its shape better. But I think I’d like to try a pair of two in stretch denim for ease of wearing, now that I have my pattern more or less figured out. I haven’t done colored jeans since I was in high school and the dress code said that any color but regular blue denim was ok. But teal is a color I wear a lot. And Heather totally enabled me to go for it on Twitter, so that makes it ok, right? I got 2 1/2 yards, and it’s wide enough that I think it will be plenty.

    Still on my watch list:

    Dakota Stretch Rayon Jersey Knit Black

    More black jersey! This one is a rayon/spandex blend, and I’m eyeing it for two of the more recent Cake patterns. Specifically half of a Red Velvet (to pair with something already in my stash), and the Espresso leggings, assuming I can get that pattern to work for me. (I do have a stash fabric to test it with, but black is always useful. Also, the black leggings I desperately bought at Kohl’s to wear under my work jeans when I was on outside register don’t like to stay over some of my curvier bits. Ahem.)

    Montauk Twill Deep Sea

    The aforementioned main fabric for that Robson coat. This one is a non-stretch cotton twill. Have I mentioned my love for teal lately? Plus this one also fits into my potential travel wardrobe quite nicely.

    Valletta Tweed Black

    This is the one I’m most looking for a price drop on, because it’s coat fabric that has absolutely no wool in it! It’s listed as a “very heavyweight” 100% polyester. I’ll still need to underline it with something for warmth, I think, but I like the look of it. Especially since it’s plaid-like, but not so much that I have to go through all the hassle of actually matching things. It’s also nearly $17 a yard, which puts it right up there with the most expensive of my wedding dress fabrics! I only need 3 yards, since I’m just going to use the same peacoat pattern that I used for my current winter coat, but I still wouldn’t mind a lower price, since I’m still going to have to buy underlining and lining. (I’m looking at Thinsulate, and that seems to average about $7/yard.)

    Annoyingly, I could get that fabric on sale now, if I wanted royal blue or red. But I’d prefer to stick with the black, since that will go with all of my scarves already! After all, I’m even slower at knitting than I am at sewing!

    Charmeuse Satin Zebra Turquoise/BlackSpeaking of lining, I’m tentatively eyeing this. But I’m not 100% sold on it. I just want some color inside. But if it doesn’t go on sale, I can always get some poly charmeuse with a coupon at Joann’s or something.

    Look at me, being all coordinated! You’d think I’d been reading Gillian’s blog or something.