Monday, August 13, 2012

Repairs using what you have

Also known as macguyvering around these parts, I grew up with the idea that if something broke you tried to fix it.  And if you didn't have the appropriate part, well, you finagled it with what you had before you gave up and threw the item out.

Things have been busy around the CrazynCrafty household these past weeks.  So much stuff to do between work, side business, and personal obligations has left me no time to do any crafting for myself.  I did manage to fix a few things here and there that needed it because not having the items in question was really cramping my style.  And since macguyvering requires a certain mix of creativity, perserverance, and a stubborn will to not throw something out unless you absolutely have to - it seems like a kind of crafting all its own.

First up was an umbrella I picked up at Goodwill for $1.99 a little over a month ago.  A good deal already to start with, one of the arms snapped.  Not entirely sure how it happened, but my umbrella was out of commission.  Ignoring the fact that I'd gotten it for cheap and could certainly afford another one, the first question was how could I fix it?  The solution involved a bamboo skewer, some strapping tape, and upholstery thread.  Strapping tape is one of the strongest tapes known to mankind I think, ranking right up there with duct tape.  I used it to tape the skwer along the arm, covering the break, so the arm was straight again and braced by the skewer and strengthened by the tape.  The upholstery thread connected the small metal brace piece to the arm so the arm would be held up when the umbrella was opened.  For a couple of things I had laying around I retained the use of a very useful item given the recent rain we've been having.

Second up was a clothing drying rack.  It is a cheap wood (maybe?) one I got somewhere.  Not even sure where now, but it didn't cost me much. Cheap construction meant it was only a matter of time before it fell apart.  Not willing to accept that, and not willing to pay $20+ for a new metal one, I set about finding a way to fix it.  There were two problems here.  First issue was one of the horizontal rods where you actually hang your clothes.  They're attached to the side braces by means of an end cap that goes through the brace and screws into the rods.  One of these end caps was missing, so the rod kept coming out.  A piece of cardboard folded over and wrapped with strapping tape made a neat new endcap and a spare screw from something pulled it together:
The second issue was the horizontal rod that the top piece hooks into to keep the rack standing.  Hard to describe unless you have a clothing drying rack, but the rack folds flat for storage.  The side braces accordion flat or stretch out to form the rack and the top swings over to hook onto one of the rods to hold the whole thing up.  This rod is attached differently (read: worse) than the others.  The rod has a plastic sleeve on each end that slides over a plastic peg in the side braces.  That's it.  So when the plastic collar breaks, there is nothing connecting the rod to the side braces, and the rack can't stand up because the top piece has nothing to hook onto.  Brilliant.  So I took some strapping tape, awesome stuff, and wrapped it as tightly as I could around the plastic collar to hold it closed again and strengthen it.  Won't hold forever, but it'll limp along for a while yet.  I used a decent sized piece of tape so I got a couple layers of tape on there.  Below is a picture of the repair up close and the rack itself in case my description was terrible (it probably was) so you can see the flat top and where it hooks on the right side.

So yeah, saved myself $20 on the rack and maybe $6 on the umbrella, assuming a sale and I'm purchasing replacements new out of necessity.  Not bad for maybe 20 minutes of work total and some stuff I had around the apartment anyway.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Making martial arts pants - trial, error, and alterations

So I started a martial arts class and I needed a new pair of pants as mentioned here because I only had a pair of black knit and the white pants that go with my full gi from college.  A gi is that uniform you often see martial artists wearing - wrap jacket over pants, often white though they come in many colors.

Fabric was a 55%  cotton/45% polyester blend navy blue tablecloth I had picked up somewhere and kept in my stash.  The fabric has a subtle tonal stripey thing going from the weave so I made sure that was vertical since I liked that look better.  I used McCall's M5813 as a starting point.  The sleep pants seemed like a good base because it is designed to be loose rather than closer to the body like many pants patterns.  For martial arts you don't want the pants to constrict your movements.  Actually I lucked out on this pattern.  View A is a cropped version of the pants, and as such doesn't have a yoke piece at the waist.  However, because I am so short the cropped pant is the perfect length of full pants for me.  One of those times that being so petite works in my favor.  Save time and fabric.

Or at least saving time was the plan.  Probably would have gone quickly if I could have managed to stop messing it up.  Seriously, this pattern has two pattern pieces and four pieces to assemble.  How hard could this possibly be you ask?

Mistake one - Managed to sew one leg with right sides of the fabric together (correctly) and one with the wrong sides of the fabric together (incorrectly) and didn't discover it until I was trying to get the notches to line up for the next step.  So that line of stitching had to be seamripped.

Mistake two - Fixed the leg and then moved on to sewing the front to the back on each side.  Except I manage to sew the front to the front and the back to the back.  Somehow didn't click that it didn't look right until I was trying to figure how much to adjust the waistband foldover since I was using 1" elastic instead of 3/4" elastic.  That was two lines of stitching that had to be seamripped.

Then of course came the alterations.  I tried it on before putting in the waistband and the legs were enormously wide.  Total clown pants.  Trial and error got me the proper amount to take in from each side so my hips still fit and could move comfortably through kicks and such.  I used my existing gi pants as an example for how wide I wanted the ankle opening to be.  Then just tapered between the hip measurement and the ankle measurement.  Somehow summing it up makes it sound easier, but trust me, it was a lot of pinning and trying on, moving pins, and trying on again.  Then measuring and pinning.  Only once I was satisfied did I sew the new side seam and cut away the excess.  I made sure to note how much I took in so I could add the notes to the pattern envelope and hopefully down the road make new pattern pieces for this purpose.

From there on the construction went smoother until it was time to feed the elastic.  Got to within 6-8" of done and suddenly had a horrible time getting the safety pin to pull through.  Took forever as the safety pin kept opening and threatening to get stuck inside the channel.  I wanted to scream I swear.  Cooler head prevailed and finally got it in and adjusted.  Only thing left was hemming the ankles and that went quickly.  I used my pinking shears to trim the seam allowance a little to prevent fraying and tossed the pants in the wash to get all the fuzzies off.

Did I mention pinking the edges to prevent fraying?  Yeah that didn't work.  I lost at least 1/4" off all the exposed seams from fraying.  I'm going to have to use hem tape and cover all the exposed seams.  I am way to lazy to deconstruct the garment to do anything with the seam allowance.  Luckily the fraying wasn't so bad that it threatened the integrity of the seams.  I had totally spaced and didn't zigzag the seams so I was a bit worried.

Wore them last thursday to class and they worked out fine.  No seams failed and I had full range of movement during class.  Unfortunately my sewing machine was doing something wrong and the thread on the underside while sewing (outside when sewing outer seams) was loopy.  Difficult for anyone to see navy thread on navy fabric so I don't think anyone noticed but me.  Gotta figure out the problem there because I want to try this again with some red cotton sailcloth curtains I also had picked up somewhere.  Red pants will certainly stand out in class.

Unfortunately I was so frustrated with my time consuming mistakes that I didn't stop to take pictures of the alteration process.  I have to go back and cover the seams though so I'll take pictures of the finished project.  I'll try to remember to take more pictures when making the red pair.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Epic Continuing Work in Progress . . Seedling Pictures

As promised - seedling pictures:



snow peas

Epic Continuing Work in Progress . . Condensed Updates

So the garden has been in place now for abut two weeks.  You've seen the progression of clearing the jungle.  In some of those pictures you can see beds laid out in a grid pattern with white twine and sticks for stakes.  Low cost solution.  The grid pattern is because I'm using a technique called square foot gardening which is mostly about efficiently utilizing your space to get as much in as you can.  I hardly needed it because the spot turned out to be more than half again as big as I was led to believe.

I planted a ton of stuff, some for me, some for other people because I just had so much space.  I got all the plants and seeds free from the community gardening organization so luckily I did not have to purchase anything really beyond the space itself.  A hopefully complete listing of what I attempted to grow is:
cubanelle peppers
banana pepper
spaghetti squash
butternut squash
snow peas
white cucumber
bush beans
*some other herb I can't remember now*
lilac pepper
brussel's sprouts
habanero peppers
purple cabbage
green cabbage
... plus assorted flowers including marigolds, nasturtium, and sweet pea

Some stuff grew, most of the herbs did not.  I think one basil seedling came up.  Some of the peppers have died, about half the cubanelles, the banana, and the lilac.  The habanero peppers seem to be treading water right now.  The winter squash and cucumbers seem to be growing, as are the bush beans.  Many of the plants were eaten off by woodchucks, but most of them appear to be trying a comeback so I hope they can make up for lost time.

Pictures to follow of some of the plants.  In other news some kids started a fire in the woods near the garden that spread down into the field behind the garden and came right up to the fence by my space before they got it put out.  I can thisclose to losing a good portion of my plants.

Epic Continuing Work in Progress . . The Beginning

My garden!  I may have mentioned the garden previously, but now I have pictures!  Finally having my computer back means pictures for the having and posting and seeing!  So this post will be picture heavy to get us up to date on the garden that is.

So I got the space from a community garden organization.  I didn't sign up until june so I was lucky to get a space.  However, it was filled with weeds.  Let the cleaning begin.  I grew up on a farm so these weeds didn't scare me one bit.  (Now those weeds in the fields back home that literally chest high - those were out to get me I swear!)  These pictures are in order of clearing so you can see the progression:

Super Secret Project . . . Revealed!

So a little while ago I alluded to a super secret project I was working on.  But I'd given the intended recipient a link to my blog so I didn't want to chance a big reveal flop.  The gift has now been given so I can safely share what all was the deal.

So a friend of mine went back to grad school (again) and I wanted to give her a nice gift bag of stuff as a Good Luck and Congratulations on Going for Your Second Master's gift.  So rundown on the contents, unfortunately I didn't take a picture of everything.
1. orange thyme plant (yes we tested it when I bought it from the farmer's market, it does small like orange)
2. scarf (why a scarf in the summer you say?  well I happened to have yarn in her fav colors and I had time before giving the gift so I went a little overboard)

3. two placemats (but not just any placemats.  These placemats were single crocheted from black organic cotton yarn)

4. two coasters (squares of cork that I drew her initial on with marker in fancy lettering.  Don't want them walking off on their own you know.)

5. a rice heating pad (A nice big one that can lay across the top of one's back and over one's shoulders.  100% cotton toweling and thread so it can be heated up in a microwave or oven.)
6. A tote bag (I needed to give the gift stuff in some kind of container, and I thought a tote bag is also a useful thing.  No pic of it because I made it at the last minute.  Flannel with a green and brown pattern, plastic insert to help the bottom hold shape, and wooden buttons as a decorative element where the handles join the bag.)

Of course after the fact when the gift had been given I thought of all sorts of ways I could have made it better, but isn't that always the way.  She seemed to like the stuff, as eclectic as it was, and I hope they either make her life at school a little easier or at least help her relax a little.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Project Acquired - workout pants

Alrighty.  SO I haven't been doing much sewing around here.  Just mending and commissions for my side business.  Which is all well and good, but my sewing machine is calling my name.  Which it should totally not be doing after it let me down on that tote bag I whipped up at the last second for the grad school gift bag.  (Which I will totally post pictures of as soon as my main computer is back up and running I swear.)

But I've been casting about for a project to get started on, and then today it hit me.  I just recently started a martial arts class - krav maga if you're interested - and I need more workout pants.  Right now I have two.  one black in a knit fabric that is okay, but the fabric tends to cling a bit as I get sweaty.  The second is the bottom half of my martial arts gi from college - I took soo bahk do then.  I much prefer the second pair, but only one problem....they're bright white.  Which is sometimes awkward.  I love the weight of the cotton canvasy fabric and how comfy they are and how they don't cling.  They're just so . . . white.

Unfortunately I did take that no new fabric pledge, so I will have to go diving into my many boxes of fabric to see if I have something appropriate.  I have a few patterns for sleep pants that I am sure I can find one I want to use for this.  I figure a sleep pant pattern will have a loose enough fit to work for a martial arts class.  These are one pair of pants that I want to be a little baggy.

My only concern is the waist.  I'd like to do an elastic waist, but my weight fluctuates a bit so I'm not sure if I should make the waist a little small or just add a drawstring just in case.  Any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First new business fail

Well, it was bound to happen.  Just wish it hadn't happened so soon.  I was asked to take in a seam just a little bit to hide a weird spot where the pattern, white stripes on a navy field, had created a white spot that looked bad.  So I took in the seam a little and returned it to the owner.  Unfortunately I had apparently not taken it in enough, because she had to give it back to me to fix again.  I was a bit embarassed that I had not done a good job the first time, but I took the seam in more this time so hopefully it will hold.

I want to build a reputation for doing good work, so I'm hoping this doesn't happen again anytime soon.  But I also hope that having a policy of fixing my work when it doesn't meet standards will also help me build a good reputation.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Busy Day at Home

So I'm staying close to home today for the most part today.  Just don't have any errands to run or places I absolutely need to be.  So while waiting for a friend to call with a fabulous adventure, or just to summon me to hang out, I figure I might actually get some things done around my apartment.

So far I've been fairly productive.  Not as much on the cleaning front as I'd like (not being a fan of cleaning), but I've done much better on the crafting front. 

Gardening: I got a 5 pot pyramid thing from my mom that I filled with potting soil and actually planted some seeds in.  The seeds are a bit old (a bit is being generous) so we'll see if they germinate.  I'm keeping a positive outlook though.

Cooking: No cooking yet today, but I did heat up some of my leftovers from last night for lunch.  Just a stir fry, but I had garlic scapes this time which I picked up at the farmer's market near my job.  Never cooked them before so figured I'd give it a shot.  Definitely a bit tough, don't think I cooked them long enough.  Instead of rice I made some quinoa to mix in at the end.  Other than that, just half a yellow pepper that was on its last legs, some onion, and the ever present garlic.  Those glass jars I've been saving came in handy for the extra cut-up veggies.

Sewing:  Two parter here.  On the business front I finished the second piece of a recent commission.  The first piece was just replacing some clasps on a pair of dress pants that had come loose.  The second piece had me pausing for a bit to make sure I was sure on my strategy.  Basically the pants have a pretty white stripe in a navy fabric.  Unfortunately one of the seams has the fabric meeting at an angle so there was a spot of a lot of white where it looks like the fabric is pulling apart or something.  Not nice.  So I took in the seam just a touch so you saw the navy fabric instead and you can't even tell.  Much better.

As for personal sewing - 1) I had a soft t-shirt fabric dress I picked up to wear around the house but it was too long so it has been hanging since I bought it.  Had to hem it 3", but hopefully now I'll wear it since it is super comfy and does me no good on a hanger. 
2) I took in the necklines on two shirts (identical with different color patterns) that gaped open if I bent forward AT ALL.  I just took in each neckline an inch only along the actual neckline.  I did not do anything to the shoulderseam or top-of-sleeve.  The patterns are so busy that you wouldn't notice.  I used the same technique on this shirt and it is even less visible on these shirts because the fabric is more loose and drapey.
3) I replaced two buttons, one each on the back pockets of a pair of jeans.  The way the pocket flaps hung outward was driving me nuts, but I've been too lazy to fix it.  Step in day of being a homebody - two buttons added and I feel much better.
4) And speaking of replacing buttons, I have a pair of linen capris that I haven't been able to wear for over a year because both buttons above the zipper had come off and I never bothered to replace them.  Since it is getting hot here as summer rolls in, linen capris might be handy.  So I found two (non-matching) buttons in my stash that are roughly the right size and sewed those bad boys on.  One is slightly too big, but works.  I'm trying to not be bothered by the non-matching-ness of the buttons.  Casual pants, and who is going to notice besides me.  Or if they do notice, care at all.

So that is the roundup so far.  I apologize for the lack of pictures of all this productivity.  My computer is down so I am using my old netbook.  Which is finicky.  So I don't like to ask too much of it.  If I'm lucky and the company sends me a new motherboard then we'll be back in business on pictures.  If not, then, I'll try to figure something out.

Friday, June 29, 2012

New Pledge

I hereby pledge to not buy any new craft supplies, excluding notions required to facilitate projects such as thread, zippers, etc., and to use what I have to do future projects. 

I have a ton of fabric.  Boxes stashed neatly under my bed galore.  Plus boxes of assorted supplies for assorted crafts.  I need to use this stuff up.  I admit it, i am a hoarder, but I also love to craft.  So everytime I go to a craft store i end up buying more.  I figure free stuff from freecycle or craigslist free section don't count because I'm not spending any money.  But I am hoping to get back into making clothing for myself and refashioning other clothing to refresh my wardrobe.  To this end I want to focus on fabric and un-used clothing I already have first.  Use up my stash.

I definitely don't want to buy anymore new fabric for now.  I've been trying to be more environmentally friendly, and I think using what you have and re-using clothes has to be more eco-friendly than buying new fabric for every project.  I'll make it work somehow.

It is exciting because what projects I work on will, to a certain extent, be influenced by the fabric I have.  This could get interesting.  Once I get going I'll keep y'all up to date on the adventure.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

So busy, top secret for now... and an update

So I haven't been posting regularly lately.  Sorry about that oh ye few, but faithful.  I promise to try and do better.  My real job has been crazy busy up until recently with long hours.  But freedom is mine!  Or at least normal employment hours are.  It feels a bit like freedom though.

I've been working on a super secret project whose details shall be shared in time.  I don't want to jinx it, so I won't give particulars.  But wish me luck!  I am hoping it turns out well.

Update!  I started a side business for hemming and mending.  I figure I have the skills, why not try to make a little cash right?  So many people these days don't want to learn how to do it themselves and would rather just pay someone else.  I even had my first customer!  Paid and everything.  I was so excited.  I'm a real businesswoman now, hehe.  I feel a twinge of guilt charging people I work with, but kindof defeats the purpose of having a business if you just waive the charge all the time.  I offer for free as a favor to friends though.  I like to help out my friends.  If they want to pay me, that is their choice.

I'm really trying to crack down and clean up my place so I can get my craft table out and start some real projects.  I have patterns calling my name for some nice summer skirts and shorts.  Since it has been killer hot here lately I could use them.  Maybe even a sundress or two.  Craziness!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Something a Little Different

I don't normally post food stuff on here.  But this recipe is the first one I've tried altering to be gluten free and it worked!  Long story short I have digestive problems and supposedly eating gluten free is helpful so away I go.  The recipe is below with my substitution in parentheses.  It originated from a Pampered Chef cookbook I used to have.

Beef Tamale Bake

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used brown rice flour)
1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
2 egg whites
3 tbs butter (I used oil so the "crust" came out a little heavy)
1/2 lb ground meat (I left this out because I didn't have any)
1 jar salsa - approx 16 oz
1 can beans, rinsed and drained - approx 15.5 oz (I left these out)
1 garlic clove, pressed (I just spooned in some pre-minced garlic, probably a bit more than a clove's worth but I like garlic)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese (I left this out because I can't eat cheese)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Spray your baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray.  (I used a 13x9 and the crust seemed thinnish, but I was also substituting the flour and butter so that might contribute to it not rising as much.)

2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk in water, egg whites, and butter.  Stir until smooth.  Pour batter into the baking dish.

3. Cook ground meat until no longer pink and drain.  Add salsa, beans, garlic, chili powder, and cumin to the cooked meat.  Mix well and bring to a boil over medium heat.  (Since I didn't use meat or beans I just mixed the salsa, garlic, and spices in a bowl and skipped to the next step.)

4. Spoon the meat mixture over the batter to within a 1/2 inch of the edge.  Bake 20-23 minutes, or until crust is set.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese.  Let stand 5 minutes.  (I baked mine for approx. 30 minutes, probably because of the oil substitution making the batter a bit more moist.  Obviously skipped cheese step.)

5. Cut into pieces and serve.

Yields approx. 8 servings

Thursday, March 29, 2012

No Time!

So I've worked 162 hours in the last 14 days.  Which has unfortunately left me with no energy at all to do any sort of crafting.  I had some projects lined up, but when I had time I felt like a zombie.  Nobody likes to see what a zombie would do to a crafting project.  Better all around to wait.

I did get a bit of mending done today though, none of it mine!  Apparently sewing is one of those skills like troubleshooting computers.  Once people know you can do it they bring stuff to you whenever they need fixing.  I've never considered sewing to be a difficult thing to do, I was just lazy when I was younger.

For one coworker I hemmed a pair of dress pants.  By hand, thanks mom for teaching me to catch-stitch, because I am too lazy to figure out how to use the blind hem stitch on my machine.  That's right, too lazy to learn a time saving skill.  That's irony.

For the other I reattached half of the zipper fly of a pair of dress pants.  No idea how it came loose, but it needed to be sewn down.  Luckily it wasn't sewn directly to the front of the pants.  It was attached to a small flap of fabric that was in turn attached to the pants.  Sewing down the zipper with a back stich was a cinch.  Sewing back down the flap of fabric was another thing.  Without matching thread I couldn't topstitch it back down (it had originally been topstitched down), so I decided to catch-stitch it around the edge instead.  I made the stitches closer together than I normally do to increase the stability.  Hopefully it will hold.  The slight puckering you sometimes get on the front of a catch-stich was minor so I'm hoping the owner will be happy.  If not I'll have to go buy matching thread and I'd just rather not.

It's nice to help people out and save some clothes from getting tossed by making them usable again.  Now if only I could get my own mending projects done I'd be in good shape.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Altering everything

So I get home from work tonight and think, I should get some sewing project done tonight.  I haven't been too productive the last few days.  So suddenly it is several hours later and I've altered three pairs of dress pants by taking them in at the waist and made more "no progress" on a pair of grey dress pants that might wind up going back to their original state if this keeps up.  Three more pairs of pants wearable without worrying about how tight my belt is.  Thus I can keep avoiding buying new clothes.  Why buy new when you already own something that can fit with a little tweaking?

No pics yet, but I was trying to alter them from the inseam instead of the outer seams like I usually do since I wanted to take in the leg width as well.  It is turning into a disaster, and I may give up altogether if I can't figure out what is going wrong.  If I can remember to I will try to take more pictures along the way.  The fact I haven't torched them in frustration should be a win all on its own.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mom Skirt, AKA Butterick 4817

I had promised my mother as long ago as sometime last summer that I would make her a skirt from Butterick 4817, which she picked out online and I purchased for this purpose.  I had made myself a top for a tea party themed bridal shower.  She loved the fabric when I showed it to her, so I offered to make her a skirt.  I even bought the fabric right away since it was on sale at the time.  I hope you can see the details.  It is black with grey flowers.
The fabric sat in my stash for months and months, through a move that rendered it wrinkled and misfolded beyond belief.  Finally I decided enough was enough.  The pattern pieces were cut out, this had to happen.  Much laborious refolding and ironing later, I was ready to cut the pieces out.  Except apparently I forgot how wide my fabric was, and 45" is very different from 60".  I had 45", but started cutting as if I had 60".  Luckily I realized it after the first cut piece.  So, so creative just-off-grain cutting later and I had managed to get all the pieces out with a foot to spare.

The pattern itself was so simple I wondered why I hadn't just made the skirt back in the day.  Straight seams for the 6 panels, and a simple hem at the bottom.  I didn't do the waistband since it is an elastic waist and my mom wanted to do that herself.  Here is the skirt done and laid out on my floor.  The fabric looks black, but trust me it is the fabric above.
I am sure it will swish nicely, since the pieces curved outward, but the seams were sewn straight down.  Lots of lovely fluting at the bottom.  I hope she likes it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sadness Yarn

So I've been dealing with a lot of serious personal drama, which distracts me from lots of things including posting here on a semi-regular basis.  Part of this involved visiting a relative in the hospital every day for about 2 weeks.  Not too much to do there, so I brought my largest knitting loom and some boucle yarn to work on a wrap/shawl thing.  No recipient in mind, just something to keep my hands busy.  I was about halfway through when the visits ended, and just recently remembered the project and wanted to finish it.  Imagine my surprise, and extreme irritation, to find that my loom is mysteriously missing a peg.  Somehow it broke clean off!  The shawl was only 38" long, not nearly enough to be useful.  And I had no immediate way to fix the loom to try and finish it.

So this:

Became this:
That's right, I had to unravel it all to make into something else.  I sent the picture to my mother, who I had told about the situation, and told her "This is what sadness looks like."  So this is now my "sadness yarn" that I am currently working to turn into a scarf on one of my shorter looms.  That's right.  I'm making a "sadness scarf" that I will probably give away to charity to get the thing out of my sight.  I am just beyond frustrated with the whole situation that I've been spotty in actually working on the scarf.  Hopefully I'll have some time to sit down and work on it.  I just haven't been in the mood lately.

Have you ever had a project just turn into a disaster that it made you want to chuck the whole lot right out a high window or something?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Matching bib? Of course!

SO my coworker was so in love with the baby bonnet, that I offered to make something to coordinate with it.  I still had a decent amount of butterfly fabric left to make something small.  A skirt was out, even for a 6-mo old.  I was able to whip up a bib in a night start to finish, however, using the same kind of construction.  Coworker donated a white knit shirt for backing since I had finished off my stash on the bonnet.  With more white cotton curtaining inside and white bias tape binding, the bib came together pretty easily.  I used the same kindof inside-out construction as the bonnet to attach the ties, also made of white knit.  The ties came out not quite straight from the main part of the bib, but oh well, it still looks adorable.

And I still have butterfly fabric left over.  Not sure what I'm going to do with it.  Probably save it for another baby project.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Baby Bonnet Finished!

I really wanted to finish this baby bonnet, not only because it is promised to someone else and I hate to drag my feet on things like that, but because it is such an easy project that it is reliable gratification.  To recap, I offered to make a baby bonnet for a coworker who is expecting a new niece any day now.  I used a tutorial from Sew Mama Sew that I have used before with adorable results.

Since I've been on a re-use kick lately, I decided to reuse some fabric I had around.  A pair of sleep shorts with a cute butterfly and flower pattern was the lucky donor.  I'm glad I left the center serged seams in place because I would have needed to piece the fabric anyway.  I don't have a serger so I would have been duplicating work.  After carefully deconstructing the garment to save as much as I could, I got to work.  The bonnet has three layers.  The outer layer is the butterfly fabric.  There is a hidden inner layer of a thicker cotton weave to give the bonnet a bit of stability since the outer layer is a worn thinner cotton and the innermost layer is a white cotton t-shirt knit.  Also recycled, but with no body of its own.  I wanted something soft for against the baby's head.  The ties are also t-shirt fabric for this reason.

So without further ado, here are the last few stages in pictures.

This is with the pieces assembled and sewn on 3 sides.  Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the pieces and intervening steps.  This stage caused me enough headache as I had accidentally piled the pieces out of order.  So when I flipped it to the right sides the interfacing fabric was showing instead of the butterflies.  I had to pick all the stitches out and reorder them to sew again.  Unfortunately I had already trimmed the seam allowances so I had to sew very carefully.

Once that was done (correctly) the next stage was trimming them front edge.  Last time I made this bonnet I was able to just use some wide lavender ribbon from my stash and call it a day.  Unfortunately that ribbon doesn't match this fabric.  The client wanted white trim anyway, but luckily I had some white bias tape in my stash as well.  Bring much narrower than the ribbon, I had to sew it on carefully in two steps.  I sewed it on one side to the inside of the bonnet, then folded it over the raw edge and sewed down through all the layers.

Here it is with the bias tape on.  I also folded over and sewed the bottom edge where the tie will go at the back of the baby's head.  Threading that was a pain.  Lacking also any spaghetti bias tape, which is what the tutorial calls for, I improvised by using more of my white bias tape folded over and sewn through to create a narrower width.  The channel had come out a bit narrower than intended, so there was some trouble getting the length through, but I managed.  I only had to unpick a small section at the end and re-sew it to make the channel a little wider.  Tied up, the bonnet is done done done!

Here it is with the brim forward:
And back:
I hope she likes it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Baby Bonnet ironing is a go!

Alright, so apparently you can iron on just a table top with a towel for padding.  Guess we're going to find out because I desperately need to iron this butterfly fabric before I can cut out the pattern pieces.  So with that dilemma solved, it will be onward as soon as I have some time to devote, hopefully later this evening.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baby Bonnet Update with Pictures

So an update on the baby bonnet from sleep shorts project.  Let me tell you, it would have been way easier to just cut, but noooooo.  I wanted to make sure I had enough fabric so all those seams had to be taken out by hand.  Serged seams are doubly a pain.  Plus these babies had a covered elastic waist and trim on the bottom of each leg. 

Finally, though, all the seams are out except two.  I'm waiting on those until I measure to see if there is enough fabric to cut out the pattern sections without piecing fabric.  If I need to do piecing, I might as well keep the original serged seam in place and save some aggravation.  On the upside the fabric is cute, and is growing on me the more I work with it.  I'm hoping to re-use the trim for the ties.  With any luck I'll find another project to use the rest of the fabric.  Zero waste, or as close as I can get, is the goal.

So before decontruction:

And after:

Unfortunately I'm stymied until I find a way to iron the pieces out.  The bottom edge where the trim was attached and the top edge where the waistband were are not going to cooperate for pattern cutting until I can get the fabric to lay flat.  Of course I have an iron, but no ironing board.  Anyone know of a solution to this dilemma?  I'll have to google it at some point and see if I can find an easy way to MacGuyver an ironing board.

At least this is one more step down.  Onward!

Step 3: Iron

Step 4: Cut Pieces from fashion fabric, interfacing fabric, and lining fabric

Step 5: Pin

Step 6: Sew

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baby Bonnet from sleep shorts

After seeing pictures and hearing about a coworker's new niece on the way, I spontaneously volunteered to make a baby bonnet for her.  This offer enthusiastically accepted, I was faced with the prospect of fulfilling this obligation.

Step 1: pattern
There is a great baby bonnet pattern from Sew Mama Sew that I've made before and I love and I totally intend to deploy it for this project as well.  I'll post the link in my followup post.

Step 2: fabric
Little girls need little girl fabric.  I have around 4-5 boxes of fabric under my bed right now and none of it was appropriate.  Then I'm walking past some bagged clothes intended for donation, and there on top is a pair of sleep shorts in a pretty lavender shade with butterflies and flowers all over it.  Perfect!  I'm currently unpicking all the seams to get a sense of how much fabric I have.  I will have to do some piecing to get the right size sections, but I think it'll work out.  I have plenty of white t-shirt fabric for lining and stiffer cotton woven fabric to use as a stiff inner layer.  Yay for recycled fabric.  And my coworker is excited about the eco-friendly use of fabric too, so win!

So I'm currently in Step 2, and since many of the seams were serged, it'll take a while to unpick them.  But I think it will be worth it to have every speck of fabric, even if it just allows for seam allowance.  Plus it allows me to save pieces I don't use for future projects.  Zero waste is the goal.  Re-using fabric is good for the environment and the wallet.

Pictures will follow.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's Spreading!

I am slowly corrupting my friends.  I was hanging out with some friends when one, S for this discussion, started talking about a pair of dress pants she had bought a year ago that didn't quite fit anymore.  I immediately jumped in with the tale of altering my own dress pants with not too much fuss.

Success!  She pulled them out, tried them on, and it turns out that all they need really is some taking in at the sides and hemming the legs.  No problemo!  So I'm now taking in the sides (by hand since my machine is still in box) and luckily they didn't need to come in too much.  With how heavy the fabric is, I don't think I am going to split the fabric to press the seam open.  It can probably be pressed to the side, not that there is much extra fabric in any case.  The top edge of the dart only came in 1/4" folded.  Her call really.

But I am totally excited that I am slowing spreading the idea of altering clothes to fit instead of buying new.  Quick fixes that I can do with a needle and thread save money and the eco-downside of more new clothes.  She has a sewing machine of her own, but she pretty much sews from scratch - not altering and mending existing clothing.  Hopefully if these pants come out well she'll be hooked.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I'm thinking I might have to just get rid of some of my jeans.  They're too big around the waist now and unfortunately my sewing machine is not powerful enough to sew multiple layers of denim.  I'm not 100% sure it can handle one.  I could hand sew my dress pants, but I'm not sure that would work as well on denim.  The alternative is to set aside a day to go to Goodwill and look for smaller sized jeans and donate my larger sized ones.  The issue is setting aside a day to try on pants.  I'm not so patient with long bouts of trying things on, especially after you have to comb the racks for your size in the first place.

Maybe I need a thrifting buddy.  Someone to come with and help keep it fun.  Has anyone tried to hand sew denim alterations?  Is it hard?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Alteration - Michael Kors style

So I had picked up a shirt at Macy's from their Michael Kors line.  Softest fabric I have ever felt - thank goodness it was on sale because I just had to have it.  Only one problem I didn't notice until I got it home and put it on to wear it.  The cowl neck has a little too much extra fabric.  If you stood up straight it draped beautifully.  Unfortunately, if you leaned forward or even hunched your shoulders at all it gapped to show way too much.  Hmm, dilemma.

I decided to try taking the neckline up at the shoulder seam.  But only at the neckline.  I did it that way to try and avoid ruining the cowl neck, and because I wasn't sure what to do with the extra fabric.  It would distort the seam at the arm if I took the adjustment all the way across, or so I was thinking.

SO here is the view from the front of the shirt:
And since you can't really see it in this picture because of the pattern, here is a closeup of the shoulder area:
It creates kindof a starburst effect of folds.  Not sure if it looks deliberate or just sloppy.  Can't decide if I want to try and fix this, or try to figure out how, or just leave it as is and brazen it out like I meant it that way.  Any thoughts or suggestions?

Friday, January 27, 2012

More Mending

SO continuing with the mending theme to get some easy projects under my belt, I decided to mend a pair of my jeans.  They're older so the denim is wearing through.  This pair developed holes along the seam where the butt pockets are attached.  Since the holes are small I pulled the fabric over and sewed them closed.  It creates some interesting small pull ripples in the fabric, but I'm willing to deal for a pair of casual pants.  Plus they're behind me so I can't see them anyway!  Yay semi-instant gratification.  Until I can afford to buy more jeans that fit, the ones I currently own have to last.  I'd love to make my own, but my sewing machine isn't powerful enough to sew denim.  So for now I have to rely on the slave machine of industrial clothing to bring me jeans.

Pics to come once I figure out what I'm going to do with the back pockets on these suckers.  They had riveted shank type buttons that came out.  Now there are holes.  Right where I need to sew new buttons on.  I'm considering using fusible interfacing to attach fabric on the inside of the pocket to cover the hole.  Then  sewing the new buttons to that fabric.

Any thoughts?  I've never dealt with this situation before so any suggestions are welcome.

Getting Started - first victim

SO I decided to get started right off with my list, which was longer than I thought it would be and I'm not even done with it yet.  I had some time to kill waiting to take my meds (ear infections hurt!).  Since my sewing machine is still in its box, I decided to hand sew it.  Since I had the time anyway.  And I wasn't entirely sure my machine could get over one part of this seam.

So the first victim was a pair of dress pants I bought a year or so ago.  I've lost a few pounds so now most of my dress pants hang on me in an unflattering manner.  These pants were more urgent than the rest due to the lack of belt loops with which to hold them up.  Since dropping trou at work is considered bad form I decided to start with them to see if altering them would work.

I started by putting them on and pulling out on either side, trying to equalize between each side the amount needed to be taken in.  I decided to use the existing side seam as the midpoint for the dart so I'm just creating a new side seam.  My only issue were the pockets.  I had to shorten the dart more than I'dve liked so as not to impede the pockets.  It creates a bit of a point with the extra fabric below the bottom edge of the pocket opening that no longer exists above.  Not really sure what to do about it.  For now I am just going to bask in being able to wear these pants again without being in danger of showing more than I'd like.  The odd ripples will just have to deal.

Inside seam:
Gotta love my hand sewing skills right?  Where the waistband, the herringbone fabric of the pants, meets the black fabric that is the pocket is a thicker seam that I wasn't sure my machine could contend with.  Hence the decision to just sew it by hand.  I used a backstitch to avoid the stitches stretching out and showing on the outside of the garment while it is being worn.

Outside seam:
You can kindof see what I was talking about with there suddenly being extra fabric below the pocket - to the left in this picture.  I'm just going to leave it as is until I think of a solution that doesn't shorten the pocket opening.  Otherwise I can't get my hands in.  Women's clothes have few enough functional pockets that I don't want to ruin the ones I do have.  Any thoughts are always welcome.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Project Roundup

Alright.  So my resolution to actually finish some projects would probably benefit from knowing what projects I have to do in each category.  I'll have to add things as I actually sort through my stuff.

- jeans with a hole by back pocket
- sew up torn side of reusable shopping bag
- hem a pair of my dress pants
- add buttons back to my black wool pea coat
- zipper on my down coat (below-the-knee length coat so a long zipper - replacing it would be a pain)

- tuck neckline on cowl neck top to avoid exposure
- tuck neckline on two shortsleeve shirts for same reason as above (why would I want to flash random people?? More importantly why didn't I notice this when I was purchasing the shirts?  Oh well.)
- embroider black cardigan? (not sure on this one since without embroidery it doesn't call attention if I wear it more than once in a short period of time)
- embroider grey cardigan? (same concern as above)
- figure out if I can alter dress pants since I lost weight (not sure how feasible this is given I've never even made pants before.  we'll see.)
     * one down - herringbone

- ankle-length skirt for my mother
- fall color medley loom knitted shawl (no recipient in mind, I think my longest running project in progress ever)
- skirt for work from some moleskin my mother gave me

How do you guys keep track of what projects you have to do plus the ones you'd like to start if you had the time?  I always seem to forget until I stumble on it or need the item in question for some reason.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Maybe, hopefully.  Too much life going on to focus on crafting lately, or at least that's what I have been telling myself.  Too busy and stressed to work on a project.  But working on projects is often a way to deal with stress.  The small bit of triumph I feel when I've completed something, the satisfaction of a job well done, combats the stress of other areas of my life where I haven't been successful.  Plus seeing those unfinished projects is another source of stress!  Too stressed to deal with my stress.  Ironical.

So I am making a resolution to sort through my unfinished projects.  Everything from mending to refashions to brand new cloth projects.  That way I can try to fit in projects where I can.

What about you?  Are crafts a way to relax at the end of a day or on a day of rest.  A way to get your mind off stress for a while and work on something that gives you simple pleasure?