Sunday, January 19, 2014

Good enough for who it's for

Over the years, this has kind of become a family motto for us. My parents built their house about 20 years ago, and while they did an excellent job, there were a few things here and there that weren't perfect, but hey, "Good enough for who it's for!" I've certainly carried on with this motto. Although I'm very type A, and often demand excellence, I'm also incredibly impatient, so if getting something finished RIGHT NOW means that it won't be perfect, the impatience usually wins out. 

Cases in point:

Yes, ladies and gentleman, this is what was covering the window of my front door for an embarrassingly large number of months. I'd intended to make a real curtain for quite a while, but couldn't figure out what fabric I wanted to use. I finally picked out some stash fabric and got to work without a clear idea of how I wanted the curtain to come together. The fabric, which I picked up at a local fabric store warehouse sale as part of a $6/pound special, probably cost me no more than a dollar, so, while I liked it, I wasn't too afraid of screwing it up. It was slippery and very difficult to work with, so I thought fusible interfacing might be easier to work with than the sewing machine. Well, after 2 seams, I'd had enough, and set this project aside for months.

Eventually (as in, the day before my housewarming party - which I held 4 months after I actually moved in), I decided that, come hell or high water, this curtain was going to get done! I realized the way I'd originally envisioned the curtain was pretty stupid and impractical, so I decided on a much simpler version and started over (luckily there was enough fabric left!).'s finished, but the edges aren't quite straight, and the back looks terrible, but...good enough for who it's for! It's neutral, it still lets in some light (a must in my basement apartment!), but is thick enough to provide some privacy. All in all, a job decently done. 

This next project was actually finished the day OF my housewarming party. Back story: I bought these two footstools at an auction 6 years ago for $10. My cat practically tore the "leather" to shreds, but the footstools were incredibly useful and, since I didn't want to shell out for new, store-priced ones, I couldn't bear to throw them away. When I moved into my last apartment, I decided to recover them:

I cut out 6 squares and sewed them into a cube shape. You can't see it in this picture, but I didn't have quite enough fabric to reach the bottom of the stools. Still, it was better than what I had and, you guessed it, good enough for who it was for.

Well, with my new apartment, it was time for a new theme. I decided to use one of the footstools as a sewing "chair" (still needs to be recovered!) and put the other in the bathroom as a good catch-all, since my vanity is so small.

At first, I was planning to use some stash fabric, but then my friend and I bought Groupons to the Chicago Textile Discount Outlet and I found some remnant fabric that matched my shower curtain almost perfectly!

I definitely rushed this one, hence the less-than perfect seams and the fabric dragging the ground a bit. Instead of the 6 squares this time, I figured I'd save myself some seams and cut out an X-shape to start with. It's really handy having this in the bathroom, and I really like that it matches! Now, if I could just whip the rest of my apartment into shape...

Are you guys perfectionists? Or would you rather just get a project done?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

As promised, UFOs!

(Don't make cheesy X-files joke, don't make cheesy X-files joke) That's right, today we're talking about Unfinished Objects! Almost every crafter I know has at least one of these lying around, and most of us have multiples (I think the only two exceptions I've heard of are my friend Allie, who has a one-track crafting mind, and the lovely LLadybird (she has a great post about her method here)). 

I, on the other hand, am a master at getting really into a project, and when things get hard or busy or boring, walking away for weeks or months (or years? oops). I took these photos when I started the projects below, but have yet to finish any of them. I'm sure there are more UFOs lying around my apartment, and as I make a serious effort to dig through/use up/organize my stash this year, I'm sure I'll be finding more of them. 

Polo shirt refashion 

[Image from: Merrick's Art]
Merrick has a great tutorial on a men's polo shirt to women's comfy casual top refashion. (At one point I had another similar pin in my queue (that's how much I liked it!), but I liked Merrick's tutorial better.) She made it look so easy, and, when I found this slightly less than perfect shirt of my dad's in the Goodwill pile, I knew I had to try it for myself. 

This picture is super unflattering (I swear there's a shape hiding under there, and I cannot for the life of me get it less yellow), but, knowing that I didn't have much to lose, I dove right in and started cutting!   

I actually managed to get a pretty decent fit on this one before it wandered into UFO-land, too. Alas

Why did I stop?

I cut the neck line a little too wide, unfortunately, and when, after a lot of fighting with the serger, I still couldn't get it sewn down properly, I had to walk away. I think I moved shortly thereafter, and haven't managed to dig this out again.

Time in purgatory

I started this in...May 2013? Dang, that's embarrassing, especially considering I was so close to being finished!

Plans to finish

Eh, I'm not even sure where this is right now, and it's too cold to wear it, anyway. I would like to finish it sooner rather than later, though! What's stopping me now is that both my serger and my sewing machine are in need of some TLC, and that's just NO FUN, so instead of sucking it up and taking the time, I just keep working on bits and pieces of easier projects.

Zigzag rainbow...something
[Image from: Purl Bee Soho]

I saw this super-cute Chevron Knit Baby blanket and knew I wanted a larger version. I still had quite a bit of yarn left over from my granny square blanket, so I figured I'd put it to good use!

 [Sorry about the funky draping, it's still on the needles, which aren't long enough to spread it out all the way.]

Since I had varying amounts of yarn left, I decided to do the rows in a 12-10-8-10-12 pattern, which worked until the second-to-last row, where the amount of yarn I had left me one row short.

Why did I stop?

The aforementioned shortage of yarn (I'm not sure what kind of a solution I was hoping to come up with, but no, yarn did not magically grow while I let the project sit). It's also not really big enough to be much of anything right now. There are no babies in the family, and I'm out of my rainbow stash of yarn. In fact, I'm out of most of my entire stash of yarn. I was thinking about getting some new black and white yarn (*gasp* I know, but it's not considered breaking the rules if it's bought to finish a project) and doing a solid colorblock, rather than so many rows of alternating colors, right next to this piece, but I think the blanket would still be too short. My original plan was to have 4 similarly sized pieces in various colors, but...that might be overly ambitious. 

Time in purgatory

I started this in October, and worked on it pretty steadily until just before Christmas. As with my cowl, I have to rip out almost every row of this. I invariably K2FB instead of K2T, or vice versa, and sometimes my counting is way off. Ugh.

Plans to finish

I actually just recently picked this up again and used up the last 2 colors! Now to figure out what comes next...

(Mom, if you're reading this right now, STOP!) :)

Stencil text on pillows


DIY pillow cases
[Image from: Wit and Whistle]

If you guys are on Pinterest as much as I am, I'm sure you've seen this (or a similar) picture floating around.

I knew I wanted to make one of these, but I couldn't quite decide what I wanted it to say. I was shopping at Hancock Fabrics one day and found a couple of these in the remnant bin:

This one alone is almost a full yard, and I'm pretty sure this was during a half off remnant sale, so it only cost me $1! 

I was fairly certain that I had the rest of the supplies I needed lying around, too, but a day of digging through the basement didn't yield the stencils I knew I had, so I picked some up at JoAnn with a half off coupon.

I used to love this pillow set, but it's kind of stained and not really suitable for company anymore, so...into the new pillow cover it goes!

Eventually, it dawned on me what I wanted to write on here - the lyrics to "You Are My Sunshine." My mom always used to sing it to me as a kid, and I knew she'd love this sentimental, hand-made gift. (Although, when you look up the lyrics to the entire song, they're a bit...disturbing. Not quite as sunshine-y as you'd think.)

I got to work with my stencils, a pencil, and a ruler and tried to cram all of the text on to the pillowcase. I accidentally traced the same chunk of text twice, which was frustrating, but eventually fixed it. I realized I'd have to leave out the "please," but otherwise I'm happy with the way this turned out!

Why did I stop?

I think that I was afraid that, in washing out the pencil lines, the marker would bleed through (even though I'm pretty sure I used a special fabric marker - go figure). Then, aforementioned move meant that this got buried in the bottom of a bin.

Time in purgatory

This was also started in May 2013. :( I was on a roll back then...too bad I couldn't finish what I started!

Plans to finish

I finally dug this thing out of the bin I'd stuffed it into to photograph it, and it is now lying on my floor, where it will stay until I can finally get the darn thing washed! After that I just need to iron on some interfacing and pick out a back piece. I initially thought I should use the same fabric for the back, but now I think it might be nice to give it a pop of color and interest. Time to dig through the stash!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Let's talk about WIPs

For those not in the know, WIP stands for work in progress, and I've got quite a few of those going on right now. I was going to do a combined post with my UFOs (unfinished objects), but since there are so many of both, it'll have to be a two-parter. 

First up:

T-shirt quilt for my BFF. She's been complaining that I robbed her of her entire wardrobe to make it, so she'd like to see the quilt sooner rather than later. I told her that it's way past time for her to stop wearing college t-shirts anyway (she graduated 6 years ago). Still, I figured this would be an easy way to get started sewing again.

These are all of the shirts she gave me. I'm mostly just winging this in terms of finished measurements (as I did with my own). I decided not to cut into all of these because I wanted the quilt to be 3 shirts x 5 shirts and didn't end up needing all of them.  

The largest logo is almost 12.5 inches wide, so that settled the question of square size -  13 x 13! Alas, I realized too far in that 2 of the shirts weren't wide enough (my BFF is tiny), so I'll have to do some creative fixing. 

 [The small ones are hiding - I can't deal with them right now, still kinda bummed about that one.]

[All of the cut-out squares]

Next step: iron interfacing to the back of all of these - at least that step will keep me warm and humidified during the cold, dry Chicago winter!

Last(ish) WIP:

My Dexter boyfriend cowl (because I've exclusively been knitting this while at my boyfriend's (yay for following resolutions so far!) or while watching Dexter, or both):

I've been using entirely stash yarn for this, leftovers from some sock monkeys I made for my mom, I think. I recently started adding in some light gray leftovers, too, since I didn't think it would be long enough with just the beige and brown. I really like the random stripes so far - it's very freeing to not have to follow a pattern so strictly, or worry about counting stitches or rows, as with my sidelined knitting project.

The goal is to have one of these before winter is over:
[Image from Unneva]

I swear this thing might be the death of me. It's a super simple stitch, and is very thick and cozy, but it is impossible to correct dropped stitches. Usually what happens is: I'm watching Dexter, knitting along, and I realize that I've dropped a stitch 3 or 4 rows earlier. It's always very obvious, but I have no idea why I don't notice sooner (other than the TV, I guess). I then have to rip out those 3-4 rows, and usually 5-6 rows BEFORE that to correct the mistake. So I've probably knit enough rows to almost complete this thing by now, but have ripped out half of it. Sigh. 

Looking at the other pics, I also maybe should have gone with bigger needles, way I'm ripping that sucker out now! It'll be really nice to have this done and retire my semi-hideous scarf/hood thing.

In my next post, I'll detail all (some) of my UFOs, which I am now determined to finish sooner rather than later!

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Well, stash busting is kind of the whole point of this blog, but I've been doing a terrible job of it, so I'm taking this opportunity to re-dedicate myself to my goal. I've actually been pretty good (relatively speaking) about not buying anything new unless it's for a specific project, but I've been very very bad about actually making anything (and definitely about blogging about it!).

Most recent purchases: Harry Potter scrapbooking paper (that I knew I'd need!), white tulle for a winter skirt (that I've been wanting to make forever!), and patterns (they were on sale at JoAnn! But when I got them home, I realized I'd already bought 2 of them...). See? This is the problem. I want/need things, but don't use them. I buy duplicates because I have so much and can't remember what I've already bought. It's time for a change. 

 Way past time, actually. This was AFTER I spent quite a bit of time "cleaning up."

Way, way past time
Okay, this is just getting ridiculous. This doesn't even include all of the stuff I still have at my parents' house!

As you can see, my stash is completely out of control right now. I've been trying to organize it, but there's just so much of it, and the addition of (only about a quarter of) my scrapbooking stash, brought back from my parents' house, has not helped matters.

So, I'll be joining some other lovely bloggers who are also dedicating themselves to this goal - Stash Diet 2014!

First and foremost, I need to get organized. I know that I won't be able to accomplish anything if I have to look at/dig through this huge mess every time I need something for a project. I have lots of shelves and drawers, which is a great first step. My only planned organizing purchase is a pegboard and hooks to hang up my stickers and scrapbooking bits and baubles, though I have no idea where I'm going to hang it. I'm thinking an easel might be an interesting option, but that takes up precious floor space, so...

Other than that, I'm going to have to break down my goals by craft/medium to help me plan:


  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
(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. 
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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!

  • 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.
  • 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. 

  • 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.
  • Start taking projects to my boyfriend's place. That way I can feel like I've accomplished something while he's playing video games. 
  • 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.
Finally, my last resolution for the year: Buy a house (okay, probably a condo, but still)! I've been looking for about 3 months, and while part of me is already tired of it, the other part is so excited at what I might be able to do with a fixer-upper! I know a lot of people get in over their heads with them, but...I think I'm kinda fearless when it comes to that kind of thing. Plus, you know I love a bargain, and fixer-uppers can often be the way to go for that! So, assuming the home-buying does go through, I'll hopefully be posting about a lot of DIY renovation stuff, too! That is obviously where all of my new buying will be allowed. :)

This is such a long list that it almost seems doomed to failure, but when half of it is centered around not buying new crap, it can't really be THAT hard, can it? Wish me luck!