Monday, December 22, 2008

Handmade Christmas 2008

So I had some really great ideas and plans to do a very handmade Christmas this year. But, alas, LIFE got in the way (especially work) and I was only able to muster one handmade gift.

BOO.

Of course, after I was done assembling it, I immediately had ideas on how to improve it, but of course, no time to rip it apart and start again. It will just have to do as is.

Do you remember this?

Well, here's how it turned out:

If I ever did this project again, I would definitely remember to add a handle (I actually wrote one into the pattern, but forgot to put it in there before I sewed the whole thing together) and some sort of velcro closure or something so it would stay together better. I also realized that I should have added some batting or something in between the outer layer and inner so that it would have a bit more structure when you take the book/coloring implements out. And a flap at the top. I should have added a flap so the stuff wouldn't fall out if it was swung around by a 3 year old.

Oh well.

All in all, I'm glad I was able to make something at all. I have been so burned out from work it has been really tough to get any creative time in. At some point, I just resigned myself to the fact that I would have to hold off on my godchild's gift (still a surprise), and the Waldorf doll for Little Miss. The idea for my husband may also just have to wait until his birthday next year. Seems like a long ways away, but given the fact that I drafted my pattern for this little gift in September and didn't get to finish it until last week . . . we've got to be more realistic about my time constraints.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can the Government Please Not Crush the Handmade Industry?

I am so sad after reading this thread that I found on Etsy. If the government has its way, that Etsy shop I've mused about opening will probably never happen. Unless I stop wanting to make things for kids.


Save Handmade Toys

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Heard from Joy . . .

of Joy's Waldorf Dolls (yes, I am a super-geek and I emailed her personally to ask her opinion) and her doll-making expertise along with your votes and my instincts helped me to arrive at my final yarn choices for the Waldorf doll adventure I have yet to begin:

sandy mohair

and

light brown wool.

I know that it has been eating you all inside wondering what I might choose.

*insert eyeroll here*

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Take My Poll

I received my order from Joy's Waldorf Dolls last week or so and now that it's here, I realize that I want to play around with other options. Get creative with me a moment. Give me a little feedback on how to make doll hair, lol.

Here's the deal: I got the cinnamon bouclez (curly) yarn to make the wig for the doll. My thought process at the outset was that I wanted curly hair for the doll because Little Miss has curly (oh so beautiful I wish I had it for myself) hair. I really puzzled over the yarn choice before going with it. Her hair is much more dirty blond than red, but she kinda had a strawberry blond thing going when she was first born and I wanted to do something different than just plain blond. Anyway, now that it's here, I'm not sure about my choice. It's a little more orange-y than I thought it would be. I don't think I can return it. I emailed Joy and asked her what she thought about blending yarns to tone down the color a bit. She said it would totally work and that she even would give me a discount on extra supplies. (Score!)

Of course that got me to thinking more about this (I know - GET A LIFE) and now I've got it in my mind to blend what I have with 1 or 2 other kinds of yarns as well as maybe colors (not sure completely) to create a more multi-textured look. I want the different colors as well to make the cinnamon more of a highlight to the hair rather than make it the total feature (if that makes sense!)

You can see the yarn samples here.

I'd like to get a bit of mohair and also some of the regular wool yarn. I was originally thinking sandy and/or blond to mix, but then I got to looking at the light brown next to it in the picture and wonder if that wouldn't look a little better and make it a more subtle highlight? Then I'm wondering if this will be cute or just TOO much?! I'm realizing a tendency within myself to go above and beyond instead of just sticking to a pattern with a lot of the things I have tried . . .

If you're wondering how I got all hepped up on making multi-textured hair (or if you need convincing that this won't look dumb), check out this, this, this, this, and this.

Well, what do you think? I've posted a little poll in the corner for you to log your choice . . . or just leave me a comment and tell me I am a HUGE dork for obsessing over doll hair.

In my defense, I anticipate that crafting this doll from nothing will be very time consuming and so I would prefer to do it the way that I want it rather than do the basics and lament over it later. Even getting supplies on sale these things are NOT cheap.

OK. Even if you think I'm dorky, VOTE!

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

On the Fly: Barrette Holder

I was up late last night *creating* something for the Little Miss' that is now hanging on her wall. Her hair is getting so long now that she's often walking around with it all hanging in her eyes. A week or 2 ago, I went out and picked up some barrettes for her. They've been sitting on top of the dresser in their little plastic sleeves ever since. And it's just been bugging me. I've done a pretty good job (I think!) of setting aside space in her bedroom and closet for all her little things so that they can have a home and be found when they need to be found and put away when they need to be put away. I try not to look at this as being anal so much as being an agent of easing the stress of not knowing where things are (keeping in mind that I have a tendency to be late for things so being able to locate something quickly is key!)

I am fully aware that I could have just put them in a little dish or cup on her dresser and called it good. But you know me. I wanted to *make* something. So I cruised the internet looking for ideas and using some salvaged scraps from her bed makeover and some from the book I made for my cousin's soon to be born little one I came up with this:

The larger strip on the bottom is actually 3 small pockets for holding little ponytail holders (someday!) or other little *non-clippable* items.
I'm finding that I kind of love projects like this. Inspiration struck at about 3am and I created a pattern, deliberated over fabric choices, cut all the pieces out and had it sewn up and hung on the wall by 5am. Not too shabby for making it all up as I went along if I do say so myself! I'm realizing, too, that not having a dedicated sewing room (but rather a rolling sewing station that needs to be put away after every use) really motivates me to start and finish a project in one sitting.
It's a good feeling to see work *become* something that it wasn't before. The work I do for my actual job is so abstract that I rarely see tangible results of what I have toiled over. Sewing allows me to step back and say, "I took these things that were functionless on their own and combined them to make something useful (and dare I say, cute?)"
Ok, you caught me. I have never said that.
Well, not out loud.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good Call

When my friend who used to be involved with 4H caught wind of my bunny-gone-wrong, she directed me straight.

This is a picture of an angora bunny. So yeah . . . I um . . . meant to make the bunny look that way. Yeah . . . that's it.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

I Made a Wookie

I didn't mean to. Really I didn't.

Awhile back I found this really cute kit at Target to make a stuffed bunny. I filed it back in my brain as something to come back and get at some point to make for my godchild for her 1st birthday. As I should have anticipated, it was gone when I went back with no sign that it had ever even existed. Boo.

This caused me to embark on an impossible quest to find the kit online. I ended up finding a similar, but different, still very cute kit elsewhere online and went ahead and ordered it. On the picture were 3 very cute bunnies, each made of different materials so you could see how it could turn out differently depending on what you went with. I was unsure of what I wanted to get and looked at the overwhelming amount of fur options on the site. I ended up going with something that I thought would be fluffy and soft and very cute. Plus, it was one of the suggested combos for this particular pattern.

So I went with it.

And when I opened the package I was skeptical of it from the getgo. A) I didn't know it was going to come with pink eyes. B) I had no idea that it would be HAIRY rather than FUZZY.
But the designer of the pattern was very sweet and left me a little note in the package about how to manage all the hairiness with the promise that it makes "an adorable bunny!" So I figured, she's made a ton of these things . . . she would know! So I just went with it. I briefly pondered returning the fur and getting something different. I even pondered returning the eyes and getting a darker color.


But I did not.


And now I have a wookie.


Or a yeti.


My father-in-law saw it today and thought it was a dog.

I was so distressed with how it ended up looking, I posted about it on a message board I frequent to get some feedback from all the other DIY mamas on there. I wanted some honest feedback from people who don't love me so I would know if it was just too scary to give to a small child. Mostly they were supportive. Some thought it was a bit scary, but most of them thought it was cute even though you cannot tell in any way that it is supposed to be a bunny. One responder told me that I could corner the market on stuffed yetis since bunny dolls are a dime a dozen.

At their encouragement, I called my sister and directed her to the message thread to see if she thought it was too scary for my little niece. I really didn't want to do this, because it was supposed to be a surprise. But since there is a difference between a "good surprise" and a "bad surprise" I gave in. She looked at it, laughed, and told me she thought it looked like a muppet. Or a furry monster. Or something. Then she told me that it was fine and that I should give it to her anyway since you never know what kids are going to love or why.

I just hope it doesn't make the sweet child cry on her birthday.

P.S. Yes, I realize that Little Miss is hugging it in the picture above, but when I tried to turn her around to get a better picture of them together, she threw it to the ground and refused to pick it back up again! Over the last day or so she has gone from saying, "Ohh! Bunny!" and hugging it or carrying it around briefly to yelling, "NO!" at me if I try to suggest to her to pick it up. Poor bunny-wookie. You may never be loved, little friend.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

My First Go at Pattern Making

So I have had my idea for what I want to make for my niece for awhile now, and in my perusals around the internet I've come across inspiration, but not a pattern per se. Actually I did find a pattern for something similar at some point, but then I had some other ideas on how I wanted to tweak it further. So I drafted my first pattern.

When I envision it coming together in my mind it seems simple, so I started sketching it out:Then I realized my great vision was going to make things more complicated:
When all was said and done, I had a handful or instructions and I was less sure that it would be as easy as I once thought:Oy. Oh well . . . I'm just going to go for it. If my pattern has flaws, I will hone my stitch picking technique at least!

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Merry Crafty Christmas!

I have pretty much never been a great "Christmas shopper". I always overestimate how much time I have left to think up awesome gifts and go out and get them. What always adds insult to injury is finally thinking of a great gift and then not being able to find it. Anywhere. Because I waited too long. Or because it doesn't really exist. Hand in hand with my *thinking I have more time than I actually do* is the *loathing shopping alongside way too many people who thought that they had more time as well*. I don't hate all shopping, but it has not been a hobby of mine to go *mall-ing* since high school. As a result of all this, friends and family have sometimes received less than stellar or less than completely thoughtful gifts.

In light of this, and in the glowing light of my Confidence . . . I have decided to do as many handmade gifts as I can muster for the gift-giving this year. Which means I have to start thinking about this now. So far, I've got ideas for the little ladies in my life (Little Miss and my 2 nieces), and a couple for my husband that he already kinda knows about. A few supplies for each of my projects are already in my possession or are en route to my doorstep. I am BEYOND excited to tackle some projects that might be alot harder than I am ready for (check out Joy's Waldorf Dolls for a peek into what I'm dreaming up for the Little Miss), and some that I feel confident that I can do even though I'll be making up the pattern as I go.

I know . . . ambitious. But I was able to handcraft some gifts last year and I want to keep it alive. Heck, I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull off that cloth baby book, but that came together pretty well if I do say so myself. And although it was frustrating at times and I puzzled over how to put it together, in the end it was a very satisfying feeling to create something that was from the heart.

I hope my projects don't fall flat. And I hope that I'm starting early enough to get all of them done. Wish me luck! :)

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Etsy?

I saw my in-laws on Sunday morning. My husband's grandpa was being honored at a church in Rockford for being in ministry for 50 years. It was a really nice service in a super small church, where the loudest thing that happened was Little Miss falling into my lap while everyone was praying, assuming the "position" and yelling, "PEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!" to get me to nurse her because she was bored. But I digress.

Afterward we went to their house and had a little cookout/party, and at the end of the day I gave Boo-la the rocking chair cushions. My father-in-law asked me if I thought I might like pursuing sewing as an avenue to making money at some point. I kinda laughed it off (I am still VERY much a beginner!) but the question came back to my mind later. More in the sense of thinking that people DO have jobs that they LOVE to do. It just struck a chord with me because I have been having this trouble with "starting" work in the evenings lately. Not that I'm bragging (I'm NOT!) but I have been directed to Etsy by a lot of people since my sewing curiosity began last year. Like I should be making and selling stuff on there. I think I'd like to work on my skills a bit more before I enslave the few extra hours I have to myself to another business. Maybe someday though . . .

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

On the Fly: Puppy PJ's

Before my first niece was born, I got all excited and crafty, and I knitted her a blankie. I constructed it in the most insane way possible, knitting each square individually and then hand-sewing them together. It was a time-consuming project that I was pretty happy with in the end, although I have worried that my hand sewing was not as great as it could have been and that it is falling apart somewhere and my sister is afraid to tell me so.

I also found this little kit to make a stuffed cuddly puppy because I thought it looked adorable. Let's get serious, it looked easy. Long story short, I did that too. I remember when I gave it to my sis and brother-in-law for their baby shower, I told them that they would be getting a lot of stuffed things from other people, but that this one was special and that they should give it to her early so that she bonded with it. How sneaky is that??
Now that I have my own little one (who is overflowing with stuffed goodness), I can say that forcing a toy on a kid is just not something you do. These little people make their own choices, from a very very wee age and there's not much you can do about it (save taking away all their toys but the one you want them to love the most). As it turns out, my niece actually really did take to the Puppy (as well as to Mama Bear and Baby Bear, two other gifts that have been with her since Day 1) and while that leaves me beyond thrilled, Puppy has gotten so much love that I have had to perform minor surgery on him several times because my lack of stuffed animal experience caused me to construct him in a similarly crazy way as I constructed her blankie. Ok, maybe not crazy, but my attention to detail was not what it could have or should have been for the amount of lovin' he's gotten over the years.

Oops.

Anyway, the Puppy endures. He is loved and looks quite rough, but I am told he still shares every bedtime with his mama.
Recently, I found out that my niece had been inquiring about her Puppy's lack of PJ's. Mama and Baby Bear apparently came to her already ready for bed. Not that I've ever constructed Puppy clothes, but I thought I could give that a shot. How hard could it be?
With no Puppy in sight for sizing, I plucked out Little Miss' monkey from the toy bin (he seems pretty Puppy-sized from what I remember) as my model and went to work. Now that it's completed, I have this feeling that it will be quite tight on Puppy (it's pretty-stinking snug on Monkey too - - stupid seam-allowance . . . I always forget about seam allowance). And because it turned out smaller than I anticipated, the night shirt looks more like a child's version of a John Travolta suit jacket a la Saturday Night Fever. Oh well. If it doesn't fit, I can try again. Now that I got my pattern down, it shouldn't be too hard to re-size. Or maybe Puppy is a closet Bee-Gees fan and won't mind?

P.S. This was my first time sewing in snaps. I was going to do buttons initially, but when I realized how tight it might be, I was afraid to put all those buttons down the front. I didn't want Puppy to be sleeping in a corset. The other option was to leave it open, but that also seemed less desirable . . . like he was one of those old, fake-baked men that walk around with their shirts open in the summer and wear gold chains.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

On the Fly: Rocking Chair Cushions

The last time that my husband and I were at Ikea, I persuaded him to let me run through the fabric section. To be honest, I was looking for some fabric for my mother-in-law's living room redo. Although we're going with a solid color for the recovering of the couch, she's got two rocking chairs in that room that were being repainted a soft yellow to match the trim in the room. The cushions that have been on them all along were a deep red color that was way too dark for the rest of the room and she was never quite happy with them:

In addition to finding the fabric that eventually became my sewing machine cover, this is what I found to recover the rocking chair cushions:
She loved the fabric and it looks perfect with all the color she's got going on in there. It also really complements the mango-colored fabric we got to do the couch cushions. A little puzzling over the "pattern" (and by "pattern" I mean, me guessing what would work and making it up as I went along) and a few hours later and I had 2 of these:There were many ways to accomplish this, but when I figured out I could keep the stripes lined up with a simple folding technique (there's probably a name for it that I'm not aware of), the job became a little easier.

I ended up finishing the backs of them by hand with invisible thread. Its not my favorite looking finish, but it's not bad considering I sewed it ONTO the cushion instead of inserting a zipper or something where I could make it a little more clean looking. I had no zipper and Boo-la didn't even necessarily care about or even want ties at the back, so in the end I think it's immaterial.

It feels good to get those done. Now I can feel good working on my own projects (did I mention I have BILLIONS of ideas?!) while I wait for her to wash and iron all the couch fabric. I told her I would do it, but she insisted that my time was precious enough not to spend all of it ironing. So true.

Hmm . . . what to do next?

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Friday, September 5, 2008

If I was on this video, who would I be?

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Simplicity 3709: Cloth Baby Book

This weekend we went to Chicago to visit family and friends. Saturday was my cousin's baby shower. We had a blast! I got a chance to hang out and talk with all the family I missed seeing on vacation which was really nice, and even got in a Babywearing Lesson with the parents-to-be. Man, why can't I get paid to hold babywearing demonstrations? I love showing people how much easier life can be if they would just wear their little person around, and since I have been overly boisterous in my research I'm actually decently knowledgeable about it. Anyway, it was fun to rap about wraps and such and found out that my cousin's cousin, is a slinging mom too, which was so nice to hear! Oftentimes with the babywearing you either get, "Wow, what a great idea!" or "Who is this hippy freak?!" It is always nice to find a kindred spirit . . . even if just for the afternoon. :)


I'm also excited that I can now show the pictures of the project that I was working on (secretly) for the new baby. It was a labor of love for sure as I was teaching myself as I went: a) how to read/use a pattern, b) how to make buttonholes, c) how to not go crazy as you get towards the end of the project and realize you have no idea how to attach the last piece. Being able to watch the Olympics into the wee hours of the night over the course of many evenings helped keep me company as I went on my sewing odyssey with this project. Some of you have seen it because you were at the shower, but for my other readers who couldn't be there, this is what I came up with.

Without further ado, my first cloth baby book (Simplicity pattern 3709):This "I Love You" fabric was something I purchased in a random quantity when I first decided that I was going to make a gift for the new babe. I had no idea what I would eventually do with it, but I wanted to use it for whatever I decided to do so I got it.
This is Little Miss' favorite page in the book (the "peek-a-boo" page). Of course I had to have her *test* the book for me before I could count it worthy to pass along. :)

Little Miss loves "peek-aboo". When she realized that's what this was about I can't tell you how many times she opened and closed his hands saying "peeeeeeeee-PA-boo!"
This was the page that taught me how to make buttonholes. The flowers can be unbuttoned and buttoned back on and they won't fall out of the book if they become unbuttoned because they're held down by that bow gathering the "stems" at the bottom of the page.

The Little Miss also loves puppies and enjoyed pulling the puppy out of his house and then dragging the book around the room. That was actually a good thing because then I knew that the "leash" was sewn in enough to take some abuse. The little puppy ears, however, may prove delicate. They're only one-ply felt . . .I had a hard time getting a good photo of this page since the face is not showing up too well due to the dark color of this fabric. This is actually the only page I redid because after I got the rest of the pages done I realized how poorly the first one came out. The first time the fabric I used for the background had way too faint of a pattern and ended up looking more like just a solid yellow, which wasn't that fun to me. I wanted some unobtrusive, but still patterned, fabric of different colors for each page. Also, I hand-appliqued a mouth on the first one that I did and it turned out really wonky and there was no good way to pull it out and try again due to the fabric used for the cat's body. Also, it was my first experience with applique-ing pieces of fabric to each other and the sewing was way off. I went too fast with it and so the precision suffered. To make a long story short . . . quality control said it had to either be deleted or redone. I'm glad I redid it when all is said and done. The bow on the cat has jingle bells inside. :)This one was just kinda fun to do. The corn zips up and down. One thing I really liked about this project was all the different things I got to use in making it. All the different textures and notions . . . it was really involved! Much moreso than any other project I have ever attempted.
The bird's nest is made out of craft fur . . .

which pulls down to reveal some polka-dotted eggs!

The crinkly butterfly wings page. I had the hardest time figuring out what to put in these wings to give them a crinkly sound. The pattern called for an 8" square of "crinkly paper". No other explanation on what that might be. I talked to several different people at fabric and craft stores and no one had the same idea (and many had NO idea at all). I ended up taking a couple of cellophone treat bags and cutting them open to get my "crinkly" wings. I'm not convinced this was the best thing I could have used, but it's what I came up with and seemed to more or less create the desired effect.OK, so kids don't really learn the whole tying their shoe thing until they're probably way too old for this book, but it was in the pattern so I just went with it. I got to use Jiffy-Grip for the toe of the shoe which is that nubby fabric that they use on the bottom of the foot-y pajamas that kids wear so that they don't slip and fall down. The shoe laces are a suede trim. There are so many great textures on this page that it's worth putting in there for that alone.

THE END!


Anyway, we're home now. I thought I would have some work that needed to be done, but it looks like I wasn't left proper directives in my email so instead I'm up blogging. As usual, I was super-tired on the drive home and now that we're here, I'm UP. Maybe not for too much longer though. It's way too late to bust out a sewing project and I don't want to be up all night wasting my time perusing sewing blogs on the internet. Well . . . actually I wouldn't mind it, but I do need to sleep every once in awhile.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

On the Fly: Tricked Out Bed Rails

My sweet husband made these bed rails for the Little Miss awhile back, but they are unfinished pieces of wood and none too lovely on their own. I had material leftover from the headboard project and my fabric shopping spree awhile back and decided to make some padded "bumper"-esque covers for the bed rails. Now I feel like I can put her in her bed for naps and start getting her used to the idea that maybe she will NOT sleep with Mom and Dad forever. And by maybe, I mean definitely.This project was way more labor intensive than I anticipated, but the end result was worth it. It was my first real experience with piecing multiple fabrics together to make a kind of quilt-top before completing it with the batting and velcro closures. It was fun though. I debated about whether I should put all the food pictures on the outside, but in the end I decided I would let Little Miss "enjoy them" from her viewpoint in bed. Plus, the purple strip on the outside helps to pull the headboard and rails into a more uniform look. Or something.

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Connie Put Your Clothes On

Connie arrived to me with naught but a vinyl cover to keep her dust free. Functional, but not too lovely:

Especially after I ripped it within one day of owning it. (I got a little excited showing it to someone and whipped off the cover with a flourish . . . and by whipped, I mean RIPPED.):
No matter. A few hours and a little IKEA fabric later I came up with this:MUCH better.

Since the cover was already ripped, I went ahead and cut it apart to make myself some pattern pieces and voila! Don't forget that decorative stitch on the bottom. ;) Those little details make the difference.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Sew On . . .

Now that I am going *sew crazy*, I find myself with an excuse to cover everything I see in fabric. I just want to try things I haven't tried before and see if I can't make something that looks cool in the process. Here is my latest sewing escapade:

Below is a picture of my front door from the inside. It's got these lovely little side windows which I had no thought of covering with curtains pre-Connie days (yes . . . my sewing machine now has a name). If I were to turn around from where I was standing and taken a picture, you would see that my "office" is right there when you walk through the front door. I feel much better about that arrangement since the entry of the computer cabinet which tucks all the computer office-y stuff away, but (and maybe this is just me being weird and paranoid) it has bothered me for some time that those little side windows are there. Don't get me wrong, I love the way they look, but I work late at night into the wee hours . . . and perhaps I have seen too many horror movies, but I don't like that my back is to these windows. The later it gets the more I get it in my mind that someone is peeping in at me through them. (Note: I have never caught anyone peeping at me and have no reason to believe that anyone actually has . . . like I said, just weird paranoia.)
So we have this deep red/burgundy accent wall to the right of the door which was just begging to be pulled into the windows. I took a little trip to Fields, sat down for a chat with Connie, and out they came:I took a picture of them during the daylight hours so you could see the way the light filters through them in a "yay, you did it!" kind of way. They make me happy every time I walk down the stairs . . . more than anything because the more I sew, the more inspired I am to sew some more.They're not "perfect" or whatever, but it doesn't bother me. I am not too perfectionistic about these things. In a totally superfluous "I did it because I can" kind of move, I decorative stitched it the whole way around intead of just giving a boring straight seam. I am realizing about myself that I will use any excuse in the world to use the decorative stitch function on my machine. Matching the thread to the fabric and then stitching decoratively makes no sense at all, because unless someone really looked up close they would miss it . . . but I know it's there. :)
This was also my first time sewing in velcro. I know, a zipper and now velcro? I've got to come up with an excuse now to make a buttonhole and I will have acquired more sewing skills in 2 weeks than in the whole rest of my sewing career. :P

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Search for the Perfect Sewing Box

So I thought that now, what with the new machine and all, that it was time to get my *stuff* organized. You know, needles, threads, presser feet, fabric, patterns, etc. But finding a good sewing box has proved harder than I first imagined. The sewing box that I have been using lately is actually my mom's, and can I just say . . . they don't make em like they used to anymore. The biggest problem with hers is that the latch is tricky and so you can't carry the thing by the handle anymore for fear that it will explode on you.

As I've been looking around online and in-stores, I've been finding inadequate solutions. Too small, too item specific, not enough dividers, too many dividers . . . I am probably being way too picky, but since I can't just dedicate a whole room to sewing and therefore leave stuff up on the walls and all out and about I have to come up with something that is more efficient and concise and that can be tucked into the back of the closet when I am done so my house doesn't turn into total chaos. You hear what I'm saying. Or maybe you think I'm being anal about this. Either way.

I thought I would share something with you that I found whilst searching though that, well, you tell me:


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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kind of Really Impressed with Myself

July 24th, 2008 is a day that will live on in infamy. Probably. If my first attempts at sewing with my Confidence are any indication of the leaps and bounds in progress I will be making over the years in this particular craft.

The first night I had her, I wasn't able to do anything much aside from take her out of the box and gaze lovingly at her. I paged through the instruction manual and quickly realized from this experience that I had NO idea how to sew. This thing comes with 5 different presser feet (!) and does so many stitches and so on . . . I don't know. I'll tell you what, it's no Stylist. So I was quite intimidated by it but very excited to dive in. Then my in-laws arrived at our house with ice cream and toppings.

The ice cream won.

Then on Friday, I decided after the fam went to bed that it was time to try 'er out. So I threaded her up and threw some fabric in and off she went. At the end of that evening, I had this:
I recovered the throw pillow that resides on the guest bed (which is also in the Little Miss' room). I had leftover material from her headboard project and the remaining two panels fit perfectly on the pillow. So there you have it. This morning she saw it for the first time and got so excited about the caterpillar that she aimed and landed on his face for a big kiss. Did I mention we are big Eric Carle fans at our house?

I should interject here that I have PLENTY of projects that have been put on the backburner since right before the move. This was the first sewing I had done since then (3 1/2 months ago!) so I wanted to do something I could accomplish *quick* and *super easy* to boost my confidence in my ability to tackle my other projects.

The caterpillar pillow did the trick nicely.
As is always a fantastic move, tackling something you have never remotely attempted the night after your *quick* and *super easy* project, I decided to dive right into my first legit paying commissioned sewing job. Boo-la (Abuela aka my mother-in-law) decided a few months ago that she wanted to have her couch recovered. For those of you who have not seen her house, let me explain that she grew up in Mexico and raised her kids in the Dominican Republic. Her house is quite reflective of the Latin flair . . . she LOVES bright colors! So after we had searched around everywhere for some bright, upholstery grade fabric that she could purchase to do the job, I started ripping her couch cushions apart to try to figure out how one would go about making them. I have to admit, tearing the stitches out of her cushion covers made me very nervous as I have no experience with anything like this and had some doubts about how my version of the couch covers would turn out. Boo-la is a pretty laid back person, and she assured me over and over again that they didn't need to be perfect or have zippers or whatever, but I surely didn't want to give her *crap* so I was setting the bar high for myself. I mean, if she is going to insist on paying me, then I better make something worth being compensated for, right?
Well . . . tonight was the night. Here's how it went down:

I ripped the seams apart on the old cushion cover, salvaged the zipper, and used the pieces as a pattern for cutting out my new fabric (which incidentally is not *the* fabric for the final project, but the same type of fabric in a color that she decided was way too light once she got it):
Pinned and puzzled and sewed and sewed until I came up with this:



Yeah . . . I even figured out how to put in the zipper (I had never done that before!):
I guess this the machine is giving me some kind of *quantum confidence* that enables me to complete tricky never-before-sewn (by me) projects.
I'm just as surprised by this as you are. I mean really, who knew?

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh My Quantum Confident Happy Day!

Awhile back I checked in on my sewing machine (see below: The Singer Confidence 7470 . . . oohh ahh) . . . well, the one that I have been scrimping and saving for and shamelessly lusting after anyway. I found an awesome deal on it on the internet, but I wasn't quite "at the ready" with the cash-o-la. That sale came and went and the price was back up again.

BOO.

So like a crazy hawk I have constantly been checking around for deals and price comparing (and sometimes I google the Confidence just to gaze longingly at the picture on the screen and drool over the features) and lo and behold, THE AMAZING PRICE WAS BACK AGAIN. TONIGHT. I checked in my fund. There was more in it than I realized and with the price being down . . . it was time to jump!

My finger gave a little tremble as I hit the purchase button. My oh my what a wonderful day!

I doubt highly that my mom is going to be half as excited to get her sewing machine back as I am to be getting my new one. Thanks, Mom, for the loaner. We've had some good times together. I will always have a place in my heart for your Stylist which helped me learn that I was really interested in sewing as a hobby. Now that you'll be getting it back you can actually hem pants with stitches instead of watching Dad and his iron-on hem tape. Even though, from what I gather, he likes that hem tape.

Oh, but isn't she a beaut:


A little spec detail for all you sewing-type geeks. Everyone else, feel free to skip. I don't know if I even understand half the features on it which adds to the excitement as I will now have all this fun stuff to learn and experiment with:

Now introducing the newest Singer Computerized Sewing Machine, the Quantum 7470 Confidence.
This newest Singer machine has these great features:
173 built-in stitches
Drop & Sew™ bobbin system
LCD with push-button stitch selection
Block-style alphabet & numbers
Hand-look quilt stitch
6 styles of automatic precisely balanced one-step buttonholes - exclusive underplate system
Programmable needle up/down
Automatic tension
Drop-feed
Twin needle touch selector
Mirror image touch selector
StayBright™ long-lasting LED light and more. Buy a new Singer Sewing Machine today and start sewing the"Singer Way"
Features
Electronic Sewing Machine with Push-Button Stitch SelectionWith just a simple push of a button you have selected the stitch as well as the optimum settings for length, width, balance, pressure and tension.
Liquid Crystal DisplaySelect a stitch, and an illustration of the stitch is displayed on the LCD screen. The LCD provides clear and easy viewing of stitch patterns, including stitch width and length.
Built-In Stitches173 Built- in stitches for construction, fashion sewing, quilting, heirloom, crafts, home decorating and decorative sewing always ensures the perfect stitch for every project.
Built-In AlphabetPersonalize projects by adding a monogram, name or phrase with the Built-In block style Alphabet.
Built-In Stretch StitchesSpecially designed stitches that add strength and flexibility to seams, especially useful when sewing on knitwear. Some of the stretch stitches can also be used for decorative embellishment.
Hand-Look Quilt StitchThis stitch is designed to look like hand sewing for topstitching or quilting. The Hand-Look Quilt Stitch is especially valuable to quilters, crafters and heirloom seamstresses.
Adjustable Stitch LengthOptimal settings for length are automatically adjusted when choosing a stitch. They can be overridden to personalize length choice.
Adjustable Stitch WidthOptimal settings for width are automatically adjusted when choosing a stitch. They can be overridden to personalize width choice.
Center Zigzag TaperWhen tapering with the zigzag stitch, the stitch tapers to the center, not the left or right. This provides a more attractive look when tapering into or out of a point.
Automatic Tacking Stitch FunctionTie-off decorative stitches with just a push of a button. With 4 tiny tacking stitches the start and end of the pattern is reinforced. This ensures quality stitching and avoids raveling.
Automatic Tie-Off FunctionWith just a push of a button the 7470 will sew 4 stitches forward and then 4 stitches in reverse at the start of Straight Automatic Tie-Off Stitching. At the end press the reverse button again and the machine will sew 4 stitches in reverse and then 4 stitches forward and then stop. The Automatic Tie-Off Function reinforces the start and end of seams for stronger stitching.
Automatic ReversePush the conveniently located Automatic Reverse Button to sew in reverse and reinforce the stitch.
7mm Stitch WidthMost stitches can be set for a maximum width of 6mm. When sewing decorative stitches or satin stitches, the wide stitches are bolder and more pronounced.
One-Step Automatic Precisely Balanced Built-In ButtonholesChoose from 6 different one step buttonhole styles. Buttonhole sewing is a one step simple process, providing reliable results. Each side of the buttonhole is sewn in the same direction, creating beautifully balanced buttonholes.
Exclusive 3-Step Infinite Length Bar-Tack ButtonholeCreate a buttonholes with endlessly long sides. This is ideal when sewing non-traditional sized buttonholes. There are no size limitations with this buttonhole.
Electronic Twin Needle ControlStitches are automatically adjusted for twin needle sewing with just the touch of a button. Twin needle sewing creates two parallel rows adding a decorative touch.
13 Needle PositionsNeedle position can be adjusted for techniques, such as inserting zippers or cording, and also topstitching.
Programmable Needle Up and DownSelect whether the needle is up or down when the machine stops. It is beneficial to have the needle stop in the down position when appliqueing, quilting or pivoting fabric. When removing the fabric from the machine, it is easier if the needle is raised to highest position.
20-Space MemoryA memory bank holds full names and simple phrases.
Editing CapabilitiesEditing is simple. A cursor button can be moved through the 20-space memory. If a stitch or letter needs to be removed, use the editing button.
Mirror Image*Just touch a button and stitches can be mirror imaged.
Continuous Pattern*Just touch a button and stitches can be sewn either as a single pattern or can be sewn continuously. (*Only specific stitches can be mirror imaged and/or sewn as a continuous pattern.)
Error Messaging4 audible and visual warning messages alert the sewer. The messages make for trouble-free sewing.
6-Second ThreadingThread a machine in 6 seconds! No tediously following manual's instruction to thread the machine, just follow the arrows on the machine...and you are threaded in a snap.
Automatic Needle ThreaderAfter effortlessly threading the machine this feature automatically threads the eye of the needle!
Audible ToneAn audible tone confirms pattern and function selection.
Automatic TensionThis system ensures stable stitch quality, whatever type of fabric is being used.
Automatic Presser Foot Pressure ControlThe amount of pressure exerted on the fabric by the presser foot against the feed dogs is automatic. Sew from the lightest weight tricots to the heaviest denim, without making adjustments.
Jam-Proof Bobbin SystemThe bobbin case floats above the hook, precluding thread jams. The machine will not jam, even when sewing on sheer fabric or no fabric at all! The bobbin loads from the top, so it is easy to insert the bobbin. The clear cover makes it easy to monitor the bobbin thread supply.
Automatic Bobbin Winding ClutchNeedle bar automatically disengages when winding the bobbin, making bobbin winding more convenient.
Extra-High Presser Foot LifterWhen the Presser Foot Lifter is in extra-high position it offers more clearance, which is needed when placing multiple layers of bulky fabric under the presser foot.
LED Lifetime White LampThe lamp illuminates the sewing surface for optimal viewing. The long-lasting bulb (100,000 hours) stays cool, regardless how long the machine is operated.
6-Segment Feeding SystemThere are 6 points of contact between the fabric and the feeding system. The more contact points the better the fabric feeds. With 6-segments even lightweight fabrics feed smoothly.
Box FeedThis is a feed dog motion that moves the feed dogs in a box motion, rather than the historic arc motion. Box motion assures perfect feeding throughout the entire feed process, as the feed dogs are always in perfect and equal contact with the fabric and presser foot.
Drop Feed DogsA conveniently located lever, easily and effortlessly moved, will lower the feed dogs for free-motion embroidery, monograms, and for attaching buttons.
Aluminum FrameThe internal skeleton of the sewing machine. This rigid support holds all the mechanisms in perfect alignment for perfect, skip-free sewing.
Electronic Stitch FormationAll stepper motors are electronically controlled. Digital electronic control of the stepper motors that control the pattern formation allows for perfectly formed patterns every time.
Optimum Power ControlThis is a SINGER® name for a control system that senses when additional power is required to maintain speed through thick or changing fabric conditions. This feature is most useful when sewing through multiple (6-8) layers of fabric.
Electronic Foot ControllerGuarantees consistent sewing speed with no jump starts.
Snap-On Presser FeetChange from one to another effortlessly with a simple push of the foot release button.
Dust CoverCovers the machine when not in use.
On Board StorageKeep the accessories in the Extension Table Storage area, and they are always within reach.
Included Accessories
Zig Zag Foot
Applique Foot
Zipper Foot
Blind Hem Foot
Sensor Button Hole Foot
2 Spool Felts
5 Pack Needles
Large Spool Cap
Medium Spool Cap
Small Spool Cap
Bobbins
Screw Driver
Double Needle Spool Pin
Seam Ripper

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