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!