Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Christmas in July

Why do we make things for ourselves?  I do it because I like to think that getting off the hamster wheel of consuming industrial-made goods is a statement of my convictions.  This planet matters, one person's behavior can matter.  Yeah, I buy yarn and fabric so I'm not completely eco-friendly, but animal fibers are an allergy issue for me, and I'm looking into trying to reclaim yarn and fabric in the future.

I'm one of those people who buy gifts all year round.  I don't wait until october-november to think about christmas.  I'm buying things in february on sale, or june on sale, if I think someone might like it for a gift.  I have my gift box where I collect these bits of stuff and then when gift season comes I "shop" these bargains I already have, for myself and my mother when she can't think of what to give someone.  Since I live a couple hours from my family I often go in on gifts with my parents, so I contribute from the box.

I was thinking though, I've been looking to make things for myself, either from scratch or remaking something I have into something I'll wear, but I still think about buying gifts brand new from stores.  I buy at thrift stores for myself because of my ethic, but I blithely spend money at the mall for other people.  Is this some sort of grave conflict in thinking?  I know many people don't like second-hand or used, or even new if it came from a thrift store.  But I often feel like I should apply my ethic to all my purchases, not just the ones I make for myself and my household.

So I've taken steps to do just that.  I've been keeping an eye out at the local Goodwill for stuff I can give as gifts.  I found a whisk ornament for $0.99 and cast iron shaped muffin (?) tray for $7.99 for my baker cousin.  Well, the baking tray will be hers after I scrub it clean, if it comes clean.  Obviously if it doesn't clean I'll find something else.  My mother is making scarves for many of the women in our family as well as dish clothes and potholders from cotton yarn (my mom is way better at crochet than I am) for the adults.  We'll have to buy the gifts that are food items like special spices some of the guys like and hot sauces.  Other than that, stuff will be made.

For boyfriend's family, I made a scarf for his sister-in-law and am in progress on a scarf for his sister.  I found a ton of boucle yarn on clearance for $0.97 per 255 yard skein.  My mother graciously made a scarf for his older niece that I made a matching hat for so she can match.  Younger niece is also getting a hat that matches her older sister.  If I have time I wanted to make skirts for them so they can match (older sister likes pink and her baby sister so I thought matching pink skirts would be cute), if not I will add diapers to younger sister gift.  Not sure yet what I will do yet for brother and parents.  I'm thinking something in sports colors for brother and maybe some cotton washcloths for mother since she mentioned she had one she liked.  Father I am clueless, kindof like with my own dad.  Funny how that works out, must be a dad thing.

I still look at thrift stores for stuff I can use, re-use, or clean up and give as is.  My standards are a bit higher for gifts than they would be for myself, but you can still find things that, if you didn't tell them, people would not guess you bought from a thrift store.  And I feel better knowing I am being consistent with my principles and still giving great gifts.

How do you feel about gift-giving?  Are you a shop on the 24th kind of person?  Do you try to make gifts or thrift gifts?  There is a button on the right side of the screen for the Crafty Christmas Club that I will be signing up for in the fall when they take pledges for the coming holiday season.  You should check it out too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Make and Mend 2011 - July (no pictures)

So I am hoping you will take my word for it that I have been mending for this challenge to make or mend five pieces a month.  I've mended a tear on the inside of a pocket on one of boyfriend's work pants, sewn closed a hole next to a back pocket on a pair of his shorts, and an almost identical hole next to a back pocket on a pair of my jeans. 

I'm working on formulating how to fix a split hem on another pair of boyfriend's shorts since I can't just take them up like I did his other work pants.  I'm thinking about putting the hem tape inside the split hem as close to the open edge as possible.  We'll see how that works out.

Still experimenting with making small drawstring bags.  I'd like to sell dice bags on my etsy shop if I can ever perfect the drawstring channel.  Maybe next one will work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hats, Hats, Everywhere

So I have been super busy outside of work making hats.  Baby size hats actually.  A coworker is doing a craft fair in the fall and, seeing me making a hat for a christmas gift, asked me to make some for her table.  I agreed.  Went out and bought the yarn, a nice bulky 6 yarn from Bernat.  The label says it is for blankets, but who cares, soft yarn is soft yarn and it'll be nice and warm.

The theme is baby girls, so I got yellow and white yarn.  They didn't have any pink.  Then came the tedious part - actually knitting the hats on my new loom.  I bought the two small size looms.  The blue is the baby size and the orange is a special extra small size.  The instructions that came with it were for making flowers.  I tried it out on these which I then put up on my Etsy store, hehe, didn't have anything else to do with them really.

Baby loom went to work making hats.  I'm almost done as you can see here.  She wanted 5 white and 5 yellow.  Only 1 more yellow to go.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fun at JoAnn's and Announcement

Announcement first - I opened an Etsy shop which you can find here.  My handle is StitcherChic.  Not much stuff up yet, but I'm excited.

JoAnn's was an adventure because I went in for the express purpose of buying buttons for my Victorian Tea top.  Five plain black buttons, how are could it be?  Apparently a lot of other people needed them too because it was ridiculously hard to find semi-affordable basic buttons in the size I needed.  Being in the aisle I decided to look at the clearance section - such fun:
 Top row are the more basic style buttons.  I am keeping all of those.  The bottom row are the fun buttons.  The far left are lion head buttons (closeup below), followed by shamrocks, red tractors, and two types of ducky buttons (cue higher voice pitch).  All but the shamrocks are going to my mother.
Most of them were $0.25 or $0.50 for the card.  The lion ones were the most expensive at $0.97 for the card.  Buttons are fun!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Busy Busy

So I am almost done with the Victorian Tea shirt.  Buttonholes are in, with some mishaps, but they're done.  Of course I put them on the wrong side.  Oh well, this top really wanted to button right over left anyway.  Now all that's left is to actually sew on the buttons - but black buttons on black fabric screams for daytime and the additional natural light, so they'll be going in tomorrow.  So exciting to be almost done.  More exciting will be being done.

Not so many posts lately, sorry about that, I've been experimenting with knitting and such between Victorian Tea top sessions.  I started an Etsy shop - with nothing in it.  Plus I agreed to make hats for someone else's craft fair table.  Too much to do.  As soon as I have pictures of what I've been working on I will put them up.  I recently bought the baby and teeny size round looms so I can make baby hats.  Turns out the teeny one comes with instructions for flowers.  I've been playing around with that.  Super fun and they're so fast so almost instant gratification.  Pictures will be forthcoming, I promise.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Almost Finished!

So I am actually almost finished with the Victorian Top as it is now dubbed.  It came together quicker than I thought it would - guess I did have time to prewash the fabric.  Hindsight 20/20 and all that.  I have pictures now.  There is a waist tie and the top isn't quite finished.  I thought I had 5 matching buttons to go down the back, buuuuuut no.  So there is no back closure, so for pics the top is tied and boyfriend pinned the top so it stays together. 

First pic is with the white skirt I hope to pair the top with for the Event:
Second pic is closeup on the top itself.  You can kindof see the grey floral pattern on the black, it is a subtle pattern from a distance.
I am hoping to find some buttons on an item at a thrift store so as to save money and maybe find something cute to use.  I've been going back and forth on button color - black, white, pearlized, etc.  I've pretty much ruled out shank buttons because, being in the back, they'll dig in if I sit against a chair back.  Not fun.  Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Project in Progress

SO I haven't been around for a few days and I'll tell you why.  1. I had all four wisdom teeth removed friday morning.  Huge bummer.  Rinsing with warm salt water makes me want to go back to having jaw pain sometimes.  2. And a much more interesting reason, is I am working on a shirt that is way beyond my skill level.  What is life without some challenge?

In less than two weeks a friend is having her bridal shower.  It is a Victorian Tea at a tea house.  Never been to a tea house, or had a Victorian Tea, but it sounds like something dressy.  To whit I combed my closet.  I found a white skirt with some eyelet at the bottom I can wear, but no suitable tops.  Wait!  I have a sewing machine and a pile of patterns.  Sure enough, enter McCall's M5661 view E.  Pleated neckline, gathered bell-like sleeves, and a tie waist.  Not quite Victorian, but we're channeling the vibe, and it's the best I've got.  Very limited time means no muslin, we're going right for fabric folks.  Live tv, there's nothing like it.  I had a pretty black with grey tonal flowers on it that I originally bought for a skirt, but is being drafted into service.  Its a lightweight calico cotton so it should drape nicely.

I managed to get all the pieces cut out, interfacing applied, pleats pinned and basted, and front piece attached to the two back pieces at the shoulders and sides before wisdom teeth day.  I'm hoping tomorrow to be able to get cracking again between hot presses and antibiotics.  If I can get this finished, well, I hope the bride likes it because it will have been a triumph of determination over, well, everything.

No pictures yet, but wish me luck!  I'll be needing it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Downcycle? Sidecycle?

Usually when we refashion we talk about upcycling.  Taking something and turning it into something better.  Six years ago I bought a top for a wedding I was attending in the summer.  It was a pretty lavender layered look with a shiny camisole covered by a gauzy silk overshirt with fluttery-sort-of-cap sleeves.  Not sure what you call them.  After the event I put it in my pile of stuff to be dry-cleaned.  A year later I opened the dry cleaning bags to get something else and noticed that the front of the shirt had a burn mark on it.  A year later is much too late to take it back for a refund or some sort of repair, if possible, so I was stuck with it.
Front and just right-of-center on the edge so no way to applique over it, even if you could applique on 100% gauzy silk.  Very noticeable too, I tested on the boyfriend and he saw it right away.  So it sat for the next five years as I debated what to do with it.  Finally I had an idea. 

Some coworkers of mine had gotten a yoyo maker from Clover that they showed me.  Then I saw someone in an elevator that had gauzy fabric yoyos with beads in the center for flowers on an embellished cardigan.  I decided to cut up the silk overshirt and make yoyos.  As horrified as this made one of my coworkers, the shirt as is was doing me no good.  With the yoyos I could use them as embellishment on something.  The shirt in (mostly) before condition is below.  Just imagine the front isn't cut away.
I decided to not cut squares as the yoyo maker suggests.  I figured I would get more if I put the piece in and then cut around it.  I was totally right.  I would have gotten maybe half as many cutting out the squares first.  Cutting around the device allowed me to finagle many more out of the available fabric.  The final tally is below:
That is a lot of yoyos.  No clue what I am going to do with them yet, but at least now I have something useful to pull out when I need instead of a pretty might-have-been sitting in a box.

So what do you think?  Upcycle?  Downcycle?  Sidecycle maybe?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Crochet Victory

Finally, after failing to learn years ago (probably from lack of patience), relearning, and much practice - I have single crocheted a scarf!  Maybe not so impressive, but the rows are pretty even, no mysterious dropped stitches or tightened tension, and it is a decent length to be worn.  Version 1.0 with this yarn actually came out well too, but I'd made it too wide so there wasn't enough length.  Cue ripping out all the crochet and starting again.  No wasting yarn here.

The yarn is a Bernat cottontots yarn - which is 100% cotton - with the color name "sunshine" that I had bought many years ago intending to crochet a hat.  Not sure how I intended to do that with my then complete lack of crochet ability, but hope springs eternal.  So here, in all of its not-very-interesting glory is my first successful crochet scarf, folded for your convenience.
Final dimensions were 50 3/4" long and 3 3/4" - 4" wide.  I'm not sure what I will do with it.  Either donate it to the domestic violence shelter, or save it for the Etsy shop I hope to start as soon as I can think of a cool name.