Right?

One of my bestest girlfriends Jenna recently gifted me with something sew cute. I couldn’t resist recreating it from leftover materials from the Mardi Gras headpiece project.

She found this scissors case at an estate sale. She always finds great loot when she hits these sorts of sales!

So I used the case as a guide, and traced the outline on four pieces of felt (2 green and 2 pink). I cut out the pieces using my pinking shears. I then free handed the scissors, and stitched the applique to one of the pink pieces of felt. I had flashbacks to the baby book for Felix. After, I stitched one green piece to one pink piece, and then the other green pieces to the remaining pink piece. I stitched the top of the case only.

I then stacked all four pieces, and stitched the bottom half. By not stitching all the way up, you leave room for the opening. And voila:

And the two cases, side-by-side:

Each pair of my scissors will be outfitted in one of these very soon.

One of the reasons I took such a long “intermission” at the end of 2011/start of 2012 was because of a bit of traveling.

I know, I know. Excuses!

But sewing was on my mind. When in Cincinnati, I visited this great new fabric shop that just celebrated their first birthday – Sewn Studio. I picked up a fun pattern by independent pattern maker Hemma Designs, and some great fabric (stay tuned for an upcoming post). Speaking of indie pattern makers, check out all the fabulous designers, courtesy of Sew, Mama, Sew!

And then I was NYC-bound to visit my college roomie. We had a craft-tastic weekend, and even squeezed in a trip to Brooklyn General Store, a yarn and fabric shop.

She was kind enough to write in this week:

My name is Amber, and I have a problem finishing projects. I love to make things and am always working on not just one project but several at the same time, starting new projects before finishing the old ones. This results in a lot of unfinished projects; projects that I started with the best intentions and enthusiasm sit incomplete and undone.  I wish I could say that the reason for this was because my creative mind is in overdrive but really my problem is impatience coupled with a short attention span.  I am bad at following instructions and when I get to a step that I can’t figure out, I grow frustrated and put the project aside and take up another. 
 
The cycle repeats.
 
People ask me to make them things and I agree, get the materials, get started, and then stop because either I need to make something else for someone else or I can’t figure out what I am doing.  Guilt ensues.  In my small apartment in NY sit many (I’m embarrassed to say how many) unfinished projects.  Besides basic storage and space issues these unfinished projects gnaw at my conscience.  The thought of finishing them makes me so overwhelmed I’ve fallen into a creative rut and instead of finishing a project I sit feeling overwhelmed.  Just as the dust on my unfinished projects began to reach an unmanageable level Stitch Me Something, Sister! arrived at my door like my fairy sewing mentor and kicked my butt into gear.  Who knew she made house calls?
 
Jenn and I have a sewing history.  We took a class together last year and she finished her project (a very cute romper) while mine sits in a plastic bag on a shelf in a storage cabinet (a shirt dress) because I got to a point in the instructions that scared me (buttons).  Jenn started Stitch Me Something, Sister! shortly after our sewing class, and I started to not finish several more projects.  She made me the cutest tank that fits me just perfectly and filled with inspiration I fully intended to finish some of my projects.  But I didn’t. 
 
Fast forward to Jenn’s visit/ intervention. She announced that we were to spend the next few days sewing and that I was going to work towards finishing something. 
 
1. The first step was full disclosure.  I showed her several (maybe dozens) of my unfinished projects. She pointed out how close I was to finishing many of them and how much time I had already spent on them.   She makes a very valid point, I had already put a lot of time, effort, and money into some of these projects, what was another hour? 
 
2. Step two was making a list of a few of projects that I needed to finish and projects that I promised to start.  I chose three projects that I need to finish and three projects that I promised to start.  Rather than trying to finish everything Jenn’s suggestion of picking a few things made the process manageable.
 
3. Step three was setting a time line to finish these projects.  Jenn gave me until March 6th, which is getting closer and closer.  She also forbid me from buying anymore fabric or patterns for any new projects until these projects were done.  This way I am focused on the tasks at hand.
 
4. Step four is making myself accountable by giving Jenn the list and committing to finishing and starting and finishing my projects. I would hate to disappoint her.  Especially after she traveled all the way here and made me that cute tank.
 
 
5. Step five will be actually finishing all six items.  Where am I in this process? Like usual I am almost done with a few things.  Unlike the past however, I’ve made it through parts in the directions where I would’ve usually given up.  How did I do this?  Deep breaths, underlining all the verbs in the pattern instructions (I find this helpful for some reason) and constant emails, texts, and even a visit to Jenn.  Also unlike before I know I can do it with patience and Stitch Me Something, Sister! holding my hand.

We will need to check back in with Amber come March 6th. She does have a bit of distraction though, in a form of a cat named Pablo:

I find the snowball method the most helpful when approaching unfinished projects. Tackle the smaller projects first. Start feeling that sense of accomplishment, then move on to the larger projects. Once there’s momentum, there’s no stopping the sewist inside of us!

Update

(02.22.12)

The first project on Amber’s “Projects to Finish” list is completed. Here are her very lovely swaddle blankets:

And the blankets in use:

Ambs, keep the momentum, girl!

 

(02.27.12)

And the apron for Caroline is finished (number 2 on the list):

So after a mini hiatus (ok, maybe a not-so-mini hiatus), I’m sew back. My first completed project for 2012: headpieces for the lovely ladies of float #21 of my favorite all-female Mardi Gras krewe, the Krewe of Muses. Note the emphasis on “completed”! I have started many projects since the start of the year, but need to focus on completion rate.

I was given the float theme of “young + rich” and was told that the wigs would have pigtails (reinforced the “young” of the theme). So from there, the idea was born:

  • I made bows out of felt (a basting stitch up the middle of the felt strips, then gathered).
  • Glittered the edges and placed rhinestones for added bling.
  • Found dollar sign medallions on a strand of dollar sign beads. I used every part of the strand – the medallion for the centerpiece and the mini dollar sign “beads” at the corners to make the bow resemble a dollar sign.
  • And topped it off with a fan of play money.

And with this came the prototype:

But it needed a bit more bling slash accoutrements. And a little light.

I took tulle (nylon netting) and placed it between the bow and the fan of money. This gave it a bit more depth.

And while shopping around, I found these great light-up gift bows:

I removed the bow, and squeezed the optical fibers through the dollar sign. I added a hair clip on the back, and voila, we have a headpiece (one for each pigtail):

 

And once placed on the wig:

 

“Happy are they whom the Muses love.” – Hesiod

 

There were a few late nights at work  last week, and I couldn’t squeeze in time with my Singer. I will be back next week. Promise!

Project: Children’s Dress

Sew Tunes: A mixed CD received in the mail from a friend. No one sends mixed CDs and letters in the mail anymore. I was lucky enough to receive both!

Pattern: Simplicity (pattern 2167)

Fabric and Notions Used: Gingham, Broadcloth, Rick Rack, Ribbon, Buttons (2), Embroidery Thread, Hot Iron Transfer

New to Me: Embroidery

Trips to Store: 1

Loved One: My college gal pal Michelle’s little girl Josephine, who is now almost 3. How is it possible that we are of the age to have children? I feel like the late 90s were…like…yesterday.

Day by Day…

I have been eying this pattern for awhile, but the embroidery work scared me away. I am ready to tackle it head on during week 20.

Monday, November 28 – Saturday, December 3:

The pattern calls for a vintage pillowcase, but I haven’t been lucky enough to score one at the thrift, antique shops, and estate sales. So I  am improvising, using Aunt Martha’s Hot Iron Transfers. The packaging looks vintage. Perfect…and charming.

Since I am using gingham, I thought roosters would be fun. Think farm. I cut out the rooster transfers:

I cut out the pattern piece for the skirt front (broadcloth), and placed the roosters face down, and applied a hot, dry iron to the backside. The result: a very clean transfer. I have seen other crafters embroider using a ring, so I pretended I knew what I was doing:

I had Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts close by.  There are several types of hand-embroidery stitches like the stem stitch, the chain stitch, and the blanket stitch. I do love the blanket stitch, but for this project, I am going to bring it back to the basics and use the back stitch and the cross stitch. I started embroidering but found that I needed a little more guidance, so I rang my friend Shon. Over wine, she taught me all things embroidery.

After a few tries…over a few days…my roosters were looking real good (not trying to be too cocky).

As I was doing the back stitch and the cross stitch, I wanted to switch it up a bit, so tried something new. Not sure if this is an actual stitch:

I stitched a facing on the backside of the roosters to hide the embroidery string.

Sunday, December 4:

It’s time to do some sewing! There are 5 pieces total to the pattern, one of which I have already cut out for the rooster embroidery. Most of the pieces are cut on the fold. And I am really surprised that interfacing is not needed for this project, especially with the bodice since there are buttonholes.

I am using gingham as the main fabric. I found it in the nursery section of  Jo-Ann Fabric. The pattern called for 1 and 1/8 yards. The cutting layout…

Part I (Skirt back on the fold. Skirt sides close to the selvages):

Part II (Both bodice front and back on the folds; yields 2 of each piece.):

Part III (Then flipped them up to the top fold.):

):

I stay stitched all bodice pieces 1/2″ from the raw edge.

It’s time to have some fun with rick rack. The pattern tissue doesn’t indicate a placement line for the rick rack, so I winged it and pinned it 3/4″ from the raw edge. I basted the rick rack.

I then stitched the front to the back of the bodice at the sides seams (5/8″ seam allowance). I did the same for the second set of bodice front/back pieces. This will become the facing. I then pinned and stitched both bodice pieces together with right sides together.

I clipped the curves, then turned right side out. I noticed that the basted in rick rack was not secure enough, so I re-stitched the section that had the rick rack. I made sure it was really sandwiched well between the two pieces of the front bodice fabric. I flipped the bodice right sides out, and pressed the seams.

I stitched the skirt front sections to the skirt back. I used my pinking shears to finish the raw edges of the seams, then ironed them flat. I then hemmed the bottom raw edge.

I then folded the side skirt sections to the fold line (on pattern tissue) and placed rick rack on the inside of the fold. These folds will allow for more of the skirt front (the roosters) to show. Once the rick rack was placed, I stitched the skirt front (roosters) to the skirts sides along the raw edge of the fold.

I then basted the top raw edge of the skirt and gathered it to match up with the bodice. I matched at the notches. I don’t know if it is perfectly even. I probably won’t know until Josephine puts it on. But gathering is tough. I feel like some of the gathering comes out as it slides under the presser foot.

Next step was the buttonholes. I held my breath while doing it. One of the last buttonhole projects didn’t turn out so well. But this time, I was pleasantly surprised.

I do need to figure out how to set the machine so both sides of the button hole have the same stitch density. As seen above, the top line is much more dense than the bottom.

I sewed the buttons on and the ribbon at the waistline. Joesphine now how a dress to bring to the country, although I think she is a city gal.

Project Wrap-up

Sew Happy:

  • The rick rack along the neckline looks A for awesome.
  • The horizontal lines on the skirt sections (skirt back and skirt sides) line up perfectly.

Not Sew Happy:

  • The straps aren’t completely symmetrical.
  • The ribbon, being that it is somewhat thin, was difficult to stitch in place. There are a few areas were it is slightly above the waistline.
  • I don’t think I gathered evenly when stitching the skirt to the bodice.
  • I used too large of a transfer, so a bit of the roosters are being hidden.

Hmmm, so all of these things that made me not sew happy are actually telling of where I am at in my sewing experiment. I am now starting to focus more and more on the detail. I feel like I made some movement this week!

Helpful Hints

I have a new name for this section – Next Time!

  • Next time, I am going to make sure the embroidery is of appropriate size. It would have been great if both roosters were showing fully.

Project: Slippers

Sew Tunes: This American Life

Pattern: Simplicity (pattern 1958)

Fabric Used: Cotton and Faux Fur

New to Me: Slipper Soles and the Trimmings

Trips to Store: 2 times. Once to choose the fabric, then back again for the soles.

Loved One: My niece Kate, who is turning into such a lovely little lady. I miss her sew.

Day by Day…

Wednesday, November 23:

I see much sewing in my very near (4-day) future.

I hit Hancock Fabrics to pick up a pattern, fabric, and notions. I didn’t realize how much time I had spent in the store until I went to the cutting table. The Hancock’s team member had politely informed me that I had been shopping for two hours. Doh! I guess I spent a little too much time “curating” the fabric and trims for the slippers. But I think what I picked out is perfect for my sweet little 9 year old niece:

I also saw this fabric for the first time while shopping the aisles. Not appropriate for this project, since Kate probably doesn’t know what a “tape” is, but fun fabric nonetheless:

Thursday, November 24:

Before stuffing myself with copious amounts of turkey, I wanted to make a little movement with the slippers. I read through the instructions, cut and ironed the pattern pieces (2 total – slipper and lining), and then placed them and cut the fabric:

I do love this pattern. Not only are there different styles of slippers all in this one pattern (I’m making view D)…

…but each size (S-M-L) has its own pattern pieces. I am using the small (sizes 5 – 6.5), which Kate will most likely need to grow into. I am thinking these will make great gifts (depending on the outcome of this project). And no problem because all the sizes are still intact.  Slippers galore.

Friday, November 25:

Once cut, there were four of each pattern piece – two for the right slipper, and two for the left.

With the right sides together, I stitched the center seams of the slipper sections (1/2″ seam allowance). I then pinned the pom-pom trim along the placement line and stitched.

And then placed the ribbon over the top of the pom-pom trim and stitched.

I was feeling daring and used pink thread against the teal ribbon. The pom-poms made it a bit difficult to stitch in a straight line. I feel like I have regressed to the beginning weeks of this experiment.

Moving on…

With right sides together, I stitched the center back seam of the slippers. I then took the fur lining (right sides together) and stitched the center front and center back seams.

Time to attach the slipper sections to the lining sections. I was able to do a quick fix to remedy the crooked stitching in the above picture. When sewing all the layers together, I stitched along the top stitch line of the ribbon. The mistake was disguised as it was caught in the seam, but the awkwardness of sewing all the layers together wasn’t:

It reminded me of the clutch project.

I stitched along the top raw edges (the opening) and the bottom raw edges (where the sole will attach), added the bow, and here is what I ended up with:

Saturday, November 26:

The pattern requires pre-made soles, and picky is it. I need Boye Starting Point Suede Slipper Soles. I wasn’t able to find these soles locally, but really, how hard is it to make soles?!? A little bit of suede, a little bit of fur. I ran to the store to pick up a piece of suede.

And I am back. I took the slipper pattern piece and traced it onto the backside of the suede:

I then traced an outer line, doubling the seam allowance to allow for the suede to cover the stitch line on the slipper:

And then I sewed in the fur:

And here is my engineered sole attached by pins to the slipper. I had to cut the suede as I went, as the original piece was just a little too big.

And I didn’t have to worry about hemming the suede before attaching it. Suede has a very clean (raw) edge once cut:

Now it’s time to attach the soles to the slippers using embroidery thread. As I stitched, I was sure to catch the fur that was stitched onto the sole as to avoid holes that Kate’s little toes can get stuck in.

Wow, this is a lot of work. Maybe pre-made soles aren’t such a bad idea. I am going to finish up this slipper, then place an order online for some Boye soles, and test it on the other slipper.

I will keep you posted. Until then, sew on…

Project Wrap-up

Sew Happy:

  • The tape fabric made me happy, so much so that I went back to pick up just enough to make a dish towel. A little diversion from the slipper project:

:

Not Sew Happy:

  • I wish I could have found the pre-made soles locally. I don’t want to lose momentum.

Project: Quilted Dog Jacket

Sew Tunes: Kate Nash (Pandora Station)

Pattern: Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts (again!)

Fabric Used: Linen and Fleece

New to Me: Outfitting a pet pug

Trips to Store: 1x

Loved One: My four-legged friend Rocco.

Day by Day…

I didn’t get my fill of Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts last week. While working on the baby kimono, I saw the quilted dog jacket pattern, and instantly thought of Rocco. Rocco’s momma Katie has been very supportive of my sewing experiment. She has given me a ham. No, not Rocco. A sewing ham:

As well as this beautiful Japanese silk, which will require much more practice before using as part of a project:

So as a thank you for her thoughtfulness, Rocco will soon be able to sport a couture dog jacket, or should I say COATure?

Sunday, November 13:

First stop: Hancock Fabrics to pick up the supplies – fabric, thread, and bias tape. I wanted to go with fall colors, specifically browns and greens. I found the linen first (top of the coat), and went to the fleece section (for the underside of the coat) and found this complementing fabric:

Tuesday, November 15:

There are four pattern pieces total:

  1. Collar
  2. Strap
  3. Dog coat – top
  4. Dog coat – underside

I printed out the PDF pattern. I lined up both the top of the dog coat (9 sheets total; 3 rows x 3 columns) and the underside (9 sheets total; 3 rows x 3 columns) pattern pieces. Similar to last week, I cut the borders off of the tops and bottoms of the sheets in row 2, and the left and right borders off the sheets in column 2. I taped:

Then cut.

Wednesday, November 16:

Momma Schlotbom arrived for a mother / daughter weekend. I am very much looking forward to the QT, especially QT in the craft room. Our first project: set-up a Brother sewing machine that my friend donated to the cause (a.k.a. me).

My Singer has a drop-in bobbin, and I am very comfy now with winding and threading the bobbin. But with this model of Brother, the bobbin is placed in a bobbin case which is then placed in a “shuttle race.” Oh Brother! This sister was not understanding it, and had the internet close by:

Time for mom to give it a try:

We didn’t have much success, even after calling Brother’s technical support. To my readers, if you have experience with a “shuttle race,” I would love some helpful hints. Please share!

Saturday, November 19:

The pattern is cut. Now it’s time to quilt. The last time I quilted was during week two. I placed the linen fabric on top of the fleece and pinned in place. I then traced lines to create diamonds. Each vertical and horizontal line were 3″ apart:

Remembering back to the oven mitts (and what I did wrong while quilting that project), I started stitching from the center line and worked my way out. It worked perfectly. No puckering. I now have one piece, and it’s time to place the pattern on it:

I can’t understand why there are two main pieces – a top pattern piece and the underside pattern piece. They are both the same size when you have the wrong sides together. The underside pattern piece must be included for the placement of the velcro only.

I cut the main piece, then cut the collar. But when cutting the collar, I was mindful of the quilting lines. I wanted to be sure they lined up with the main coat as it will be sitting on top of it. Momma Schlotbom suggested having the flannel side showing on the coat. I like! I placed bias tape along the sides and bottom edge of the collar, then pinned it to the coat. Stitch time.

I then pinned the bias tape around the coat itself. Martha doesn’t say how much bias tape is needed for the project, just the width needed. But the one pack did the trick, thankfully.

When stitching, I am still challenged by the curves. It puckered a little bit.

Sunday, November 20:

I did not have enough quilted material for the belly strap, so I cut it out of the linen. At this point, I am also out of the green bias tape, so I am improvising with some cream tape I have. I used the pattern pieces as a guide to place (and stitch the velcro in), and this week’s project is complete.

And Rocco will now be the warmest pup at the next pug meet-up:

Project Wrap-up

Sew Happy:

  • Having my mom here to pass along some of her tricks of the trade. Sew fun!
  • By no means have I picked up the art of quilting, but I was able to take what I learned during week two and apply it this week (quilting from the center out) with much success.

Not Sew Happy:

  • Stitching bias tape on the curve is still challenging. I want my finished projects to be pucker free.

Helpful Hints (to self)

  • This is not so much a hint, but maybe it’s time to consider trading in my stuffed rainbow trout for a pug. They are just too darn cute. Here’s another picture of the cutie pug-tootie Rocco. Katie made this costume for him to sport during Halloween:

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