Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 5 of 2014, part 2

I was originally going to do one quick post for the top 5 of 2014, but this year's topics really gave me a lot to think about, so I figured I'd spare you the brain dump (though this does make it harder to skip if you're not interested!)

Top 5 Reflections:

1. Unlike Becky at SewandSo (I think every point in her list gave me my own point to think/talk about), after the first quarter of the year, I mostly walked away from  refashioning and jumped headfirst into making things from scratch, and I much prefer it this way. There's something about starting with a whole length of virgin fabric that appeals to me much more than working around existing buttons and darts and seams and and and... Luckily, I did get to use a lot of the skirts I'd intended to refashion in my rainbow quilt, at least!

2. I like sewing easy fluff (or "frosting," as many of us call it). I don't have the patience to sit down and sew fiddly things like jeans, or boring (to me) things that require a lot of precision (like t-shirts). I like pretty skirts. I wear pretty skirts. I mostly have enough of the basics in my wardrobe that I can find things to pair these with (though I would like a more complete rainbow of cardigans). 

3. I'm not good at not buying things. I mostly stayed away from the scrapbooking stuff, but I also did very little scrapbooking in general this year. I bought quite a bit of Black Friday yarn, and TONS of fabric, but I've also been going through the latter at a good clip. I still need to slow down with my buying, though, because I'm not sure I could ever make it through what I have, but I've also realized that some of my stash just really needs to go. There are things that I know I'll never use, and I don't know what possessed me to buy them in the first place. I slowed down significantly on my pattern buying, thankfully, but I need to get better about trying out the patterns I *do* have. Most of them are still uncut!

 [This is less than half of my stash. :-/]

4. As always, I got into some new projects. Not really the stuff I was anticipating needing/wanting for my new house (yet), but fun projects nonetheless, including candles, embroidery, cross stitch, and quilting. Part of me thinks that I need to focus, but the rest of me just really enjoys making in any form that inspires me. 

5. I used to think that having a few projects going at once was a bad thing, but now I'm not so sure. I *do* have too many UFOs right now, but I've found that it's really nice to have a variety of things to work on when the mood strikes. Sometimes I feel like sewing, but sometimes I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV. I still like to keep my hands busy, so that's when a knitting or embroidery project comes in handy. I got *so* much embroidering done in the last 2 months because I couldn't be bothered to get off of the couch, but I still wanted to create. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going...

Top 5 Goals:

1. Learn to make bras. There are lots of great bloggers out there making cute stuff. This might be one "fiddly" thing that I have to try, we'll see. If Gertie ends up designing any bras, I'm sure I'd be all over that!

2. Finish more of my UFOs. I did wrap up a few that had been lingering, but I added a BUNCH more. They tend to weigh on me and really, who needs that?

3. As stated above, try different patterns, including my intended Anna hack/look-alike.

4. Work on my serger skills. They're rudimentary at best and I know I could be doing so much more.

5. Two words. Zombie. Quilt. I'm trying to keep the details hush-hush until it's done, but I am SO. EXCITED. for this. I hope it turns out as well as I'm anticipating.

6. Sewing meet-up. I would really like to participate in one, I'm getting too jealous watching everyone else have fun. Maybe I can try to organize my own, if no one else comes up with one? Would anybody in the Chicago area be up for it?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Top 5 of 2014, part 1

Jumping on the bandwagon that craftingarainbow started, I figured I'd share some of my top 5 lists for the year.

Because I'm a rule-breaker, I'm going to go with a 3-4-5 scheme for this first installment.

Let's start with the misses, shall we?

Top 3 misses - wadders. These were things that were so terrible that I couldn't be bothered to finish them. Disheartening, yes, but I'd like to think that I learned from my mistakes, at least.

1. The shorts that weren't. Maybe one day I'll find a pattern that works for me and my pancake butt...

2. This terrible "refashion" (I was about to say that I didn't learn a thing from this one, but I guess I did learn that this style isn't for me!):

3. The awesome tank that could have been if only I'd read up on bias tape before I started. I couldn't even bear to photograph this. I'd like to think there's a way to save it, but...probably not. But since then I *have* learned how to use bias tape, thankfully. I'd like to re-try this one with another fabric.
Top 4 misses - finished. I at least got to wear these once...

1. The peplum top that I thought it would be a good idea to make, despite me never having liked any peplum anything that I've tried on.

2. This hot pink ridiculousness. One of my friends says she loves it, but I just don't think it's "me." It was a pain and a half to make, and maybe a better skirt would save it, but...I think I'm over it. Might be time to give it to her.

3. This self-drafted tank. I like the pattern I drafted and need to revisit it, but the finishing on this one wasn't great and I never found myself reaching for it. It finally made its way to the donate bin recently.

4. My polo refashion. I loved it when I made it, but this has also recently been relegated to the donate been after not having been worn for a while. Just not my style, I think. Also, the shoulders are *way* too wide, which is just plain annoying.

Top 5 highlights of 2014 - I've got to end on a brighter note!

1. Holy hell, I bought a house!

2. And I got a new kitten to go with it! He brightens up my day so well, and is perhaps the world's best cuddler.

3. My trip to Puerto Rico with my best friend. Hiking, kayaking, seeing the little things glow in the bioluminescent bay, *and* not getting sunburnt? Win-win-win-win. 

4. My new job and a raise. I'm keeping busier, which keeps me happy, and I like the work I'm doing, although it *is* less related to my long-term goals. 

5. Ending toxic relationships and starting great new ones. I got to meet up with some super sweet people I met on my blog recently, and though we'd only ever talked online, we felt so comfortable with each other and talked the day away! Can't wait to go back and see them again, and for them to come here! I also like to think that I became more active in the sewing community with Me-Made May and the Flickr stashbusting group. Hopefully next year I can amp it up even more!

Any reflections on your past year? I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Circle skirt madness continues

As promised, here's my second circle skirt made for my recent business trip, with fabric picked up from my Vogue Fabrics excursion. This is some kind of mystery polka-dot feels *almost* like a very light fleece? (That does not sound like an attractive thing to make a skirt out of. I promise, it is.) I'm not really sure, but it's pretty warm, and soft, and only cost about $1.50/yard from the bargain table, so....

I took some inspiration from Handmade Jane for the color choices (damn you, Ribbet, screwing up the colors again - the first pic is more true-to-life than the second one) - navy, red, and white are so classic and so so cute. This one came together much more easily than the last one - it didn't stretch out nearly as much on the dress form, so there was less evening out to do (but using the proper technique from the beginning definitely helped!).

Again, another good circle skirt great for layering with fleece leggings. I made this one a bit smaller than the gray one, and it does fit much better. I should have interfaced the waistband, though. This is all unlined, but doesn't seem to stick to my leggings much, if at all. One of these days I'll get around to making a slip, though.

More twirling, because I can't resist. You can see a bit of green bias tape sticking out (you guys, this is my new favorite thing, I just stocked up at Hobby Lobby's 1/2 price sale!). It's what I had on hand, and I really like the extra peek of color!

And just for fun, I'll leave you with a pic of Will "helping" me cut this out, which also allows a better view of the polka dots. :)

What do you think - for or against circle skirts?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Circle skirt madness

As mentioned in my last post, I've been on a bit of a skirt-sewing kick, especially since I needed more work-appropriate wear for my recent business trip. Since I finally got my mom to photograph me in my most recent makes, I can share skirt #1 of Vogue fabric-buying madness! This was my *worst* deal: 2 yards of gray wool blend for about $10.

It's inexcusably wrinkly thanks to having been packed away for a while, but I like it! I used the By Hand London circle skirt calculator to make this one (my first ever!) and am pretty pleased with the result. The waistband isn't interfaced (because I was too lazy), and it ended up being a bit big, but it was definitely a good start.

I used a zipper I already had on hand - not invisible, but I don't think it looks too bad. I am gradually getting better at inserting them, too, even though this blend had a bit of stretch. I cut out and sewed this up pretty quickly, but when it came time to let it hang and even up the hem, I almost threw it in the trash out of frustration. After getting what I'd thought was a perfectly even hem, I used single-fold bias binding for the first time ever and was thrilled with how much easier it was than I thought, and with how nicely the hem turned out...until I realized how uneven it was and that I'd have to rip out about 6 yards of it.

My brand new (to me), lovely dress form helped out, but it wasn't until *after* I'd finished this one that I learned the secrets (thanks to Gertie). All in all, though, it's perfect for winter - warm and heavy (but not too heavy!), and I can twirl like a princess in it. ;-)

One skirt down, three to go!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Excuses, excuses!

Hi there! Long time no talk, huh? I *have* been hard at work lately, but the few hours of daylight we get aren't exactly conducive to being able to photograph things. Neither is the fact that I was rushing to get some (i.e. three) skirts done a few weeks ago before my big business trip! (I feel like such a grown-up saying that. As you can probably tell by my use of the phrase "grown-up," I am not.)

Since I've officially given up on my stash-busting pledge, I've been buying fabric pretty maniacally lately. Sure, I can usually resist the overpriced junk at JoAnn, but Hancock is another story. My latest and greatest find there were these lovely flower prints. Originally $13/yard, they were marked down 90% (!), AND I had another 20% off coupon, making them practically free (at least, that's what I have to tell myself).

[Forgive the blurry pic. I'd been meaning to photograph these for a while for this post, and finally decided this morning in the dark that I couldn't put it off any longer.]

A week before I picked these up, I headed to the Vogue Fabrics Warehouse sale in Evanston. It'd been on my calendar for months, and I was so looking forward to scooping up some fabric by the pound like I did the last time I visited (a few years ago now). To my disappointment, the only by-the-pound pricing they had was on scraps. I certainly don't need any more of those, and didn't need 20+ yards of any one particular fabric on the bolt, either, so I walked away (mostly) empty-handed. I did pick up a couple small pieces of leather, but I think that was it.

Vogue has a retail store near their wholesale one, though, so I stopped by to look there and ended up finding some great bargains! I'll be sharing most of those with you later, but for today, I need your help!

By the time I realized that I *had* to have these Anthropologie cardigans, they were all sold out. I've found a couple for sale on eBay, but can't justify spending $70 on a used article of clothing that's not even guaranteed to fit. So, my question to you is - have you seen any fabrics that are even remotely similar? I've been searching high and low for watercolor/floral fabrics, but can't find anything that resembles these in the slightest. I'd appreciate all of the help I can get in tracking something down!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Vacation Cascade

Hey kiddos. Forgive my long absence, and the short post today. I've had very little time for blogging and making recently because...vacation! 

[Yep, that little dot is me!]
After way too long without one, I finally got the chance to get out and go explore. Puerto Rico was very welcoming, we had so much fun!

Right before I left, I got the crazy idea to make a fun, festive skirt to take with me. JoAnn didn't have too many tropical options, but with some help from the girl at the cutting counter, I was able to pick one I liked.

[Taken in our awesome beachfront condo because, although I wore this skirt several times, we were never in very scenic locations!]
Bright and colorful and comfy, though shorts underneath were certainly a necessity. I even had a perfect matching scarf!

Forgive the awkward pics and tiny-looking friend was getting a little tired of taking these, so they were the best I had! 

I don't really have anything new to say about this pattern. You've all seen it a million times by now, right? I did try a fancy-ish ribbon technique on the underside of the back hem to cover up the ugliness, needs some work, honestly. Oh well, live and learn. 

I alllllmost thought I could make a full-on dress to take with me, too, but that didn't happen. It's currently sitting half-finished in my sewing room...hopefully it won't take until next summer to finish it. I need to start working through my UFOs!

Have you ever rushed to finish something before vacation? How did it turn out?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9 months and some change

In the time it takes most people to make a baby, I finished a sweater!

The pattern is the infamous Aidez by Cirilia Rose. It's not for the faint of heart, especially when you choose it as your first sweater pattern, but I have to say that it was a pretty fun make, and I'm fairly pleased with the results.

I knit the size M and didn't make any pattern adjustments (mostly because I don't know how, oops). I tried to block it out so that you could get more of the detail on the front sides, but the yarn is synthetic and has already made up its mind about how to behave.

I decided on the medium because I was going through a fitted sweater phase, but now that it's done, I think I'd like it a teeny bit more if it were a teeny bit bigger. The next sweater's already on the needles, though, this time in a size L. I'm using some more synthetic yarn, but this one is much softer (and maybe a little too fuzzy? We'll see, I hardly paid anything for the yarn - beggars can't be choosers). 

I wore it during our recent cold snap, and it is WARM, let me tell you. If we do end up having the polar vortex they're forecasting, I think I'll be all set in this sweater.

I'm also considering this a stash-busting win! Even though my blog title has changed, that will always be a bit of a goal in the back of my mind. I used about 2 skeins of the yarn I swapped with Emma Jayne for this make. Now to figure out what to do with the other 3 skeins!

Have you got any winter knitting queued? I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Well this is embarrassing

I finished this months ago (probably at least 4 or 5), but was seriously struggling to figure out how to display it. Embroidery hoop? Nope, didn't give myself enough extra room. Square frame? Same problem. Finally I just took the dang thing with me to JoAnn and realized that it would fit perfectly into a standard 8x10 frame.

Duh. Cross stitch 1, Alicia 0. 

This is based on Satsuma Street's Pretty Little Disney pattern, with color changes based on what I had on hand. When I started it, we were preparing for a trip to Disney and I was feeling simultaneously nostalgic and excited. However, once I finished it, I realized I would probably never hang it.

Luckily, once I finally showed my mom (who had better not be reading!) the finished (un-framed) project, she said that she'd like to have it. Woohoo, that makes for 2 Christmas presents down in one week! 

I'll admit that I got really tired of working on this about halfway through, but I powered through it so I could justify moving on to something else. I haven't ruled out cross stitch, but it might need to be a once-a-year type of thing...

...although I just realized that Satsuma Street has a new Barcelona pattern! (I spent 5 months there when I was 19, which sparked my wanderlust and will always hold a special place in my heart.) That might have to go on the queue ASAP. Now, if we could just get her to make a Chicago one...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rainbow stash-busting

Well, after almost 9 months, it's finally done!

As usual, it's far from perfect, but I don't care, I love it!

I've talked about this a couple of times in the past, but it was inspired by this beauty:Love the back of this quilt.

For once, almost all of the fabrics I used were from the stash, woohoo! I only bought 1/4 yard for this project specifically. All of the colored fabric was stuff that's been sitting around for quite a while, and the white on the front and the blue binding were recent stash acquisitions as part of a HUGE quilter's auction. 

I think Will (my new kitten, yay!) approves, don't you? 

This was definitely a labor of love, and impatience. While I certainly see a lot of flaws with this quilt, no one else seems to, and I did learn quite a bit. I'm already eagerly looking forward to making Pinterest board is overflowing with ideas. I just can't decide where to start. What do you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Little Prince

I'm know I'm not the only one who shares a fondness for this beloved children's book, right? I wasn't introduced to it until high school, when we read it for my second-year French class. It was a difficult read at first, but once I understood what was going on, I fell in love, just like everyone else. 

I'm a big book lover (still waiting for my in-home library to happen!), and when I started traveling abroad, I decided that I wanted to get a book in the language(s) of every country I visited. One of my first stops was the Basque province in Spain, where I couldn't figure out just what to get, so I picked up a Roald Dahl book (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, maybe?) on a whim. But the more I traveled, the more I realized that I wouldn't always be able to spend countless hours searching for the *perfect* book in whatever bookstore we happened to cross. I'm not sure what made me think of it, but eventually I decided that collecting the same book in a variety of languages might be a good way to go. Given The Little Prince's popularity (making it easier to find), along with my love for the story, it was settled. 

 [Copies in French, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Czech, and German. It was really really hard to find a copy in Arabic, unfortunately, and there are a few others I'm still missing.]

Fast-forward almost ten years, to a point where I felt that, amongst all of the other hobbies that I can perform at a level somewhere between mediocre and decent, I needed to throw embroidery into the mix. I'm going to blame this pin for the idea:

Do you guys have any idea how badly I want one (or all) of these? Charlotte's Web never held any particular appeal for me, but The Little Prince? Now that's a different story. (I think I'd really like a Harry Potter one, too, and...others that are TBD at the moment.)

However, I thought it would be a good idea to get just a *little* bit of embroidery practice before launching into something like this, right? I set off to Google images and found a couple of designs I liked (with the title in French, naturally), and got to work. 

All in all, this really didn't take too long, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.

I got to practice quite a few techniques, including a satin stitch (which I then outlined in a back stitch, because it was really quite messy)...

...French knots and Lazy Daisys...

...and some proper back-stitching.

I still need to clean it up a bit, a.k.a. trim the edges, find the right hoop (this one's my favorite to work with and cannot be relegated to a wall), and back it in something so it's suitable for hanging.

Does anyone else have any embroidery experience? I've already got about a million more projects lined up, I figure it'll be a good way to while away the cold winter hours that will be here before I know it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fourth-quarter resolution checkup

I thought it might be interesting to look in and see how far I have (or haven't) come with my resolutions...I originally started writing this post somewhere around June, but it's taken me this long to get around to publishing it...which probably doesn't bode well for my resolutions, does it? This means I consider it accomplished, and this means I don't

  • Get pictures printed! This is step #1 in completing all of those pages I need to finish, obviously. 
  • Get to work for the first time in years! Once I'm in the zone, I can usually crank out quite a few pages a night, but it's hard to get started without a dedicated table/place where I can leave my mess out, so my goal is to keep my coffee table clear of everything but scrapbooking stuff and allow myself to live with the mess when I'm in the middle of pages. I have made quite a few pages so far, although, since the move, it's all been packed back up again.
  • Most of my supplies are organized by theme, but not quite everything. I need to finish this task, so I can grab the theme I want when I'm ready to work on that page. [This might have to wait a while longer, actually.]
  • I'm not allowed to buy anything new, unless it's something absolutely necessary to finishing a page (which, let's be honest, shouldn't ever really happen with paper and stickers and accessories). I think I'll only be allowing myself to buy adhesives and solid-colored cardstock. Done and done! I've been very faithfully putting back things that I've picked up at JoAnn, returned one Disney-themed paper pack my mom bought, and have only filled a couple of solid-colored cardstock holes.
(Garment) Sewing:
  • Again, I can't buy anything unless it is absolutely necessary to finishing a project. I know that great linings, the right zipper, perfect buttons, etc. can really finish up the look, but let's be honest - I am a complete novice at sewing and it's unlikely that replacing stash pieces with store-bought perfection would actually perfect my garments. For now I just need to sew, and learn as I go and refine skills, and then I can worry about perfection once I feel more comfortable. [Realllly failed on this one. My stash has grown significantly, but that's mostly because I can't resist a good garage sale or estate sale. Or the clearance racks. Oops. However, in my defense, I've been using some of the fabrics up very quickly, and have sewn more this year than all previous years combined.]

    [I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that this is only a small portion of what I've bought this year, sewing-wise.]
  • Just start cutting. Again, if I'm being honest with myself, none of my fabrics are pieces that I should be afraid to cut into, as they're not vintage beauties, and they hardly cost me anything. I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain by cutting up so-so fabrics as muslins and practice pieces. Best-case scenario: I have a wearable muslin! Worst-case: I learned better for the next time. The four pairs of shorts I ruined should attest to that. Pair #5 might be make-it-or-break it (it also helps if I use the right size pattern when cutting out my pieces - that was my mistake with #4!). I do have some great success stories, though!

  • Use the patterns I have (and make a list so I stop buying copies of the same patterns!). Most of them only cost me $1 each - if I screw them up that badly, I can buy them again, but they really just need to be used! This was maybe half-accomplished. I did finally cut into three commercial patterns, but I have realized I have a few gaps in my collection (meaning, my collection is almost entirely made up of dresses and nothing else. Oops).
  • Refashion the things I've been meaning to refashion, and if they're not done by the end of the year, give them away! I did a decent closet purge a few months ago and took things to the resale shops, but as my items were out-of-season, the stores had no space for them. They suggested bringing them back in the spring, and since half of these items have never been worn, I'm reluctant to just give them away. So I'll make one more trip in early March, and whatever isn't bought is going straight to the Goodwill! Well, the year's not over, but I have managed to refashion 4 things so far, and I gave away the stuff I couldn't sell. There are still several more things sitting around to be refashioned, but I have faith.

  • Whoa, what? I do not need to start another hobby, but I feel like this might be easier for me to accomplish than fiddling with hems and darts and fit and such. I recently came across this beauty and I know I have a million things in my stash that I could use to get a similar look.  The quilt I linked to is now DONE! It's so far from perfect that it's laughable, but I still like it. I'll be showing that off in an upcoming post, don't you worry. 
  • Make my friend's T-shirt quilt. I probably won't see her again for ages, but I have to stop letting that be an excuse to keep her t-shirts hanging around and haunting me. I've made one of these before, and it's pretty simple, if a bit time-consuming, so it might be just the kick-start I need. Plus, I can always mail it to her when I'm done.  Done and done! It's not perfect, but she loves it, and I got some practice binding, so this is definitely a win. 

  • I actually don't have much of a yarn stash anymore, and it needs to stay that way. I want to try to use up most of the rest of what I have by year's-end.
  • Make a case for my knitting needles, and maybe do some kind of swap to get rid of duplicates and fill in the sizes I'm missing. [This has been placed on the back-burner for now...]
  • Start taking projects to my boyfriend's place. That way I can feel like I've accomplished something while he's playing video games. Although he's no longer in the picture, my finished cowl can attest to my success with this one! My sweater has been lingering, but I've only got about a sleeve and a half left to go on that one. Maybe I'll actually be able to wear it by the time the winter gets here!
  • Figure out how to finish the project I started using leftover yarn from my granny square quilt. I...have no idea at this point. It's not long enough to be a scarf, and not quite halfway to being a decent sized blanket, so we'll see.
  • Finally knit an infinity cowl. I wanted one last year, but never got around to it. I still want one, and may just have enough matching yarn to make one this year. If I keep it simple (no fancy patterns), it should come together pretty quickly.  
Well, there you have it, folks. Not a total win yet, but I've still got a few more months, right? How are you coming with your resolutions?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New title and URL, same old me

Hi all! If you're wondering if there's been a mix-up, well, wonder no more...

I started Project Stash Bust with the goal of...stash busting, obviously. Doing what I could to add as little to the stash as possible, and eventually ending up with a negative input. Well, my efforts toward that goal were lackluster at the best of times, honestly, so it felt a little disingenuous to keep blogging there, under that name.

When deciding what to name my new blog, I kept going back to the one phrase I find myself repeating over and over in my crafting: "Good enough (for who it's for)." My grandpa coined this phrase 20+ years ago, and it's become a family motto of sorts. No, my sewing/knitting/embroidery/what-have-you projects are not perfect, but I'm okay with that. I get so many compliments on them already, and no one ever notices my mistakes as badly as I do. With every project, I hone a skill and get ever closer to being able to call something "great," but nine times out of ten, I'll settle for "Good enough (for who its for (a.k.a. me!))." 

So, welcome, and please stick around to see what I've got up next - I'm trying really hard to start posting more often! Some of my favorite bloggers are really putting me to shame...

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What's happening

Unfortunately, I don't have too much to share right now. Between the move, unpacking/getting settled, having a million and one friends in town, and my parents almost constantly being here to help with house stuff, I haven't had a whole lot of time to create. 

Luckily, I did manage to get a couple of blurry cell phone sneak peaks of my craft space and a quick new project, though!

This was my first attempt at embroidery, and it sure looks a whole lot better than the crappy paper I had in these frames before, doesn't it?

I promise I'll get better pictures of these for my craft room reveal, but I'm very pleased with how they're turning out. These little pieces allow me to accomplish a little something crafty even though the rest of the room isn't ready for me to get back to sewing.

But speaking of sewing, look at all (okay, half) of my lovely fabric stash! It's nice to not have to store things in 14 different places anymore...

Hopefully I'll be able to start posting more regularly soon, but for now, I'll take what I can get. Is anyone else as overwhelmed with how quickly this summer is flying by?