Wednesday, August 31, 2011

British Word of the Day

I'm going to continue this series I began on the Facebook page a couple of weeks ago on the blog. That way there will be no crickets chirping here as I finish up my summer break. If you don't already know, my girl bud extraordinaire and I will be visiting London for a few days soon, so I thought I'd better study up on the lingo. It's been pretty entertaining so far on FB since helpful Brits weigh in and tell me I've got it all wrong. LOL. Hey, I'm just drawing from all the BBC TV and Terry Pratchett books I read. Here we go:

British Word of the Day: Nappy. "Of course as soon as I'd zipped Nigel into his snowsuit I realised he had a dirty nappy. Brilliant."

(This usage of the normally cheerful 'brilliant' comes wrapped in heavy sarcasm.)
(Note the British spelling of realized.)
(We say diaper.)
(I like parenthetical notes.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

coming, Gramma!

"Little Red, will you run this basket of fresh bread to your Gramma? She hasn't been feeling very well."
"Yes, Momma!"
"Hold it, don't forget your cloak!" (mwah.) "Be careful, sweetie."
"I will!"

(Doll pattern is underway and coming soon!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

summer reruns: bootcut to skinny jeans tutorial

Here's another oldie but goodie, a tutorial from March 2010:

I've been admiring so many in the blogosphere that are taking old/unwearable clothes and remaking them into new, beautiful things. I'd really like to try a pretty ruffle shirt like the one my BFF made from her husband's old dress shirt. But first things first, as I have a growing mountain of clothing in my craft room that needs fixing or updating.

My most urgent need is jeans to wear tucked inside my newish lovely boots. I didn't own a pair of skinny jeans until a couple of weeks ago. After I bought one pair I got the idea to convert my old bootcut jeans (which are too short now anyway) into skinny jeans from some similar transformations I've seen on several great YouTube videos.

People, this is the easiest wardrobe revamp you could hope for. Really. It takes like twenty minutes and can save you some serious jean money.

This is the process in a nutshell:

1) Turn your old pair of bootcut jeans inside out and lay them down flat. Lay your favorite pair of skinny jeans on top.

2) Find out which seam on your old jeans has the pretty topstitching. Align the edges of the skinny legs along the bootcut seam that is topstitched (this could be the outside seam or the inside seam). You don't want to take in the seam that is topstitched. It will look funny since you can't replicate the topstitching. You want to take in the side that has a regular seam so your new one will blend in. As it happens, the pair I was working with didn't have topstitching on either side.

3) Once it is all aligned carefully and you have the seams nice and flat, trace along the edge of the skinny leg to mark your new seam line on the bootcut leg. Pin in place, taking care to match up the hem of your old jeans nicely.

4) Using a heavy duty needle on your machine (really. don't skip this step), sew your new seams on each leg. Now before you trim and finish the new seams, try the jeans on to be sure they fit the way you like. You may need to make minor adjustments before you finish and press your seams.

Erm. The girls make up their own beds. Good for them.
Bad for photo styling.

Voila. You really can't tell where my new seam starts and the old one ends. Just saved myself some money. Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

shop update done, a little late

Update: There is a pattern available for this now: the Flora Needle Book pattern, available for instant download at Etsy and Craftsy.

Needle books are in the shop! I apologize that the update was an hour late and any inconvenience that might have caused. I knew as soon as I said a specific time yesterday that I was dooming myself. Ha! But I know you'll understand once I explain that I was talking with and praying for a friend who is going through a terrible time. Remember to thank God tonight for your families.

Monday, August 22, 2011

fair warning: needle books

Update: There is a pattern available for this now: the Flora Needle Book pattern, available for instant download at Etsy and Craftsy.

I now interrupt this summer break with the following news flash: Six needle books are going in the shop tomorrow (Aug 23) around 3pm Eastern. Just so's you know a bit ahead of time! (In the interest of fairness, I can't reserve any, but I know you understand! Thank you!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

summer reruns: make a quickie skirt lining

Another rerun from the blog time-machine, a post from March 2010:

 Closeup of the lining sewn to the skirt facing.
Sorry about the purple thread.

Closeup of hem of lining inside the skirt. It's just overlocked, not hemmed.

I have a perfect straight dark denim skirt from the Gap that I love, but every time I wear it with tights, the denim catches on my knees. The visual effect being that as I walk, the skirt also walks. Up my thighs.

Of course I have a half slip that I wear to avoid this, but it adds bulk at the waist and doesn't solve the problem completely because it is not the ideal length and tends to ride up as well. I find myself constantly either trying to reach in and pull the slip back down (nice) or grabbing the hem of the skirt off my tights. Not a great way to look all ladylike.

I had a eureka after I made this dress with a lining. Why not just line my favorite skirt and solve this annoying problem for good? {smack of hand on forehead} I can't believe I didn't do this a long time ago.

It was so easy. I can now wear the grabbiest, knubbliest tights under the skirt with no problems.

NOTE: I make no claim that the below is the correct way to line a garment professionally. As a matter of fact, it would probably make any self-respecting tailor feel pretty queasy. No, this is all about Easy, Fast, and Solving The Problem Already. Not about tailoring excellence.
1) Lay your straight or A-line skirt inside out on the floor and measure it across the widest part (this is probably the hem). Double this number. That is your skirt's circumference. Now add an inch, for seam allowance. This is value [A].

2) Now find the bottom of the waistband facing. Measure from this part to your hem. Now subtract a half an inch. This is so your lining won't hang below your hem. This is value [B].

3) Cut a piece of lining fabric that is [A] wide and [B] long. This is slippery stuff, I know. I found it was more manageable to lay it on the carpet* to cut than on my worktable, because it kept slithering off my worktable.
*Listen, I have builder grade el-cheapo carpet in my house, so scissors can't do much damage. If you have costly looped Berber, then for Pete's sake get back up on your worktable!

4) Pin it right sides together and sew the back seam with 1/2 inch seam allowance, locking your stitches and leaving the seam open the appropriate length to accommodate your skirt's zipper. If your skirt has a slit, leave an opening to correspond to that also. Trim and finish your seam.

5) Now overlock or zig zag all the unfinished edges of your lining piece. I have an overlock stitch on my machine that I use for this. (I didn't turn any nice hems for the lining. Remember? Easy. Fast. Not excellent. Of course, you always have that hem option, just remember to add the hem allowance in before you cut.) Now, iron the whole lining on the synthetic setting.

6) Turn your machine to the longest stitch length and sew around the top of your lining to create a gathering stitch. Sew two lines of this gathering stitch if you tend to break your thread when gathering.

7) Turn your skirt wrong side out. Pin the lining wrong sides together to the waistband facing at the zipper, side seams, and the middle of the front. Draw up your gathering stitches to fit, pinning as you go. The gathering doesn't have to be all perfectly distributed. No one will see it unless your suitcase pops open in baggage claim, and if that happens you'll likely be more focused on chasing your underwear around the conveyor belt.

8) Sew the lining by hand to your facing with a whip stitch, catching a small bit of facing and then the lining below the overlock/zig zag stitches. Take care to only sew through the layer that makes up the facing and not the outside layer, or your stitches will show on the outside of your skirt.

9) Tack down the lining around your zipper with a few stitches, and do the same for your slit if you have one. You can also anchor your lining to your side seams with a few stitches close to the hem if you like.

Like I said. Quick. Easy. Done and done!


Click your heels three times and *ding* now you are back in August 2011. I've used this slap it on method with other skirts. I love not having to wear a slip with tights. And I so looooooooove to wear tights in the winter. No shaving necessary! (Hmmm. I should probably pretend I'm only joking here.) Ha ha! Just kidding. My legs are never stubbly. Ha ha. Yeah. I also have this same grabby legs issue with knit tunics over leggings. I keep thinking that a wide satin ribbon hand sewn around the hem at the bottom of the tunics might fix the this annoying problem but I haven't tried it yet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

summer reruns: frilly unmentionables bag

Now from the way-back blog machine, a post from Feb 2010:

My friend Kristyn had a lingerie shower this past weekend and I decided to make her a travel bag to go with the hardly-wearables I was giving her. My mom made me a similar bag when I got married, and it has come in very handy to protect my filmy and snag-able items from wear and tear inside the suitcase.

The fabric I used was a decor weight Jade Somerset I have had for a while. What is it with me and paisley lately?

It is very simple to make, but it took a couple tries to get the closure right. I thought at first I'd make it a drawstring bag and I had it gathered round the top with a really pretty black and white grosgrain ribbon, but discovered that it would not cinch closed because the fabric was too bulky. Oops. So I cut off the the drawstring tube and sewed in a zipper instead. Not as attractive maybe, but easier to use. Done.

If you are interested in making one, it is basically two 14 inch x 18 inch rectangles sewn right sides together with one short side left open for the zipper, then turned. I made a silky lining that was the same size, dropped it inside the bag wrong sides facing, and basted it around the top. Then I folded over the edges and sewed in the zipper.


And now you are magically back in the summer of 2011! Now my friends Kristyn and Brian have a beautiful baby boy, so see what carefully packed frilly unmentionables might do for you?

Friday, August 12, 2011

summer reruns: bloganistas

Another one from the way-back blog machine, a post from Jan 2010 in which I become aware that I've turned into a fashion frump and attempt to do something about it:

look at the outfits, ignore the squalor

There's been a lot of fashion apathy around here in the last few months. I mean, I know I should always put more emphasis on my inward beauty and not so much on the outward, but there's a lot to be said for getting out of the pajamas and combing the hair every once in a while. My husband certainly appreciates it.

So to keep myself a bit more accountable in the Showered And Dressed Dept. I joined the bloganistas group I mentioned in the last post. If you are a blogger and you have a wardrobe you'd like to share, by all means, join up. I need all the help I can get.

Oh, yeah, I just ordered this Built By Wendy pattern. I'm looking forward to trying a tunic or dress for myself from it!


And gently fading into white, and tada! Back in 2011. I have to confess. I didn't last long as a bloganista contributor. However, I did reach my goal of being more put together. The problem was having to record my outfits. Taking good photographs of myself was a continual problem. Lighting, mirrors, camera timers, finding a corner of the house that looked clean. I still look at the group for fashion inspiration, and especially Ivy, my WORD I love everything she wears.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

summer reruns: faux fall foliage

Another one from the way-back blog machine, a post from Oct 2009:

I've had these cut branches from our back yard in my home for over a year. I've always enjoyed the stark shapes of the bare branches but often wondered what it would look like to embellish them somehow. I'm just getting around to it, so naturally I chose some fall foliage.

Ignore the ugly air conditioning vent. Porquoi, house builders?

I cut a bunch of simple leaf shapes from ochre, buff and yellow paper scraps I had on hand. I scored down the middle of each leaf and bent them slightly along the score to give them some dimension, light and shadow. Then I attempted to attach them to the branches. This did not go so well. The branches are brittle, dry, (and yes, dusty) from being indoors for a year. After some trial and error, I found that clear tape seemed to work the best.

At first I tried Fabritac and also thin foam pop dots. Both failures.

The Fabritac took a while to dry, so I had to hold each leaf in place until it got tacky enough to stay. With the number of leaves I needed, this was a time nightmare. Yes, I thought of my hot glue gun, but having been a multiple hot glue burn victim before and also envisioning the branches festooned with hardened threads of glue, I passed.

The pop dots worked like a charm at first. After about eight hours all the leaves fell off. Which is very appropriate for autumn, but not the look I was going for. So, on to clear tape.

I could be sure the leaf was on securely with the tape around the branch, but I don't like any visible shiny tape, so I made sure to angle all the leaves so that the backsides would not be seen from normal viewing height.

I really like the effect. It didn't take that long to do, once I figured out how to stick them on, and we can enjoy them until after Thanksgiving. I don't decorate for Christmas until December. It's a thing I have.


And here you are, magically back in 2011 again! Just as an update, those leaves are still on the tree branches. Two years later. And I still enjoy looking at them. So that clear tape is really a great solution. I'd like to get a fresh batch of branches and do it again in bright oranges this year. Maybe spray paint the branches white first. I think that would look great against my new blue walls!

Friday, August 5, 2011

a blog break and summer reruns

Hey. I'm outta gas, blog wise. I'm going to enjoy some time off from posting while my kids are enjoying their school break. I'll be back later on with a fresh perspective and hopefully some makery to share. I've got Little Red underway and also have started some needle books.

In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, I'll be re-posting some moldy oldies you may not have seen in a while. First up a summery sundress I  made Thing 2 two summers ago. It's a nice pattern but I made some mods. It came to mind because she tried to wear it the other day and we found she'd grown out of it all of a sudden. Then I was surprised to discover she's almost grown out of the one I made for her older sister too. I'm always so sad when that happens.

Now from the way-back blog machine, a post from Aug 2009:

Here's the tiered dress for the youngest. Why isn't it pink, orange and brown? Because I'm easily distracted, that's why. I can't resist greens, blues and citruses together. It's my favorite combo right now.

Here's a side by side comparison. As planned from the previous post, I lengthened the bodice 1.5 inches and took out some of the width in the skirt. Even though I bought plenty of fabric this time (duh), I still cut the tiers 8 inches long (that's less than the pattern) to make up for the added length from the bodice. It fits her like a dream. I like the shape of this version a bit better. The added length on the bodice made her dress a bit longer than big sister's, which is fine. At the rate she's growing, she'll need it (four inches last year).

I made the fabric flower pin a tad different this time. Instead of puckering each layer in the middle and tacking it together, I took tiny tucks in the middle of each petal on only the two largest layers. Just a couple of stitches in each one with the machine to give it some depth. Easy. Then I layered it all together and put in a circle of blue behind the button for some extra pop.

The fabric I chose this time for the dress cost a mere $7. Total. For the whole dress. That is because it is super cheap 60/40 poly-cotton broadcloth. Why? I couldn't find the stinkin colors I wanted in cottons. I needed just the right olive green -- not foresty, not kelly-y, but the perfect dark true olive. I looked at two fabric stores with no luck. Then I stumbled on a huge row of great solid colors in all these scrumptious shades at Hobby Lobby and thought 'Bingo!'.
Then I read the fiber content.
But then I saw the price.
Sold, baby.

Of course, there are things I definitely did not like about the poly blend fabric.
  1. The drape is not as nice and it feels a bit flimsy.
  2. The surface texture is too smooth.
  3. There is no give.
  4. You have to watch the temperature on your iron or it starts to pucker.
  5. And what is UP with the bizarro resistance to pins and needles? It is a huge pain to pin it, the pins just refuse to puncture it half the time. It seems to have a force field around it. Also the machine needle has a tough time punching through. It makes a disconcerting pop each time, and also gets bogged down if it goes through multiple thicknesses.
However, there are things you have to love about it, plastic content or no:
  1. The price, I mean, seriously. It wasn't even on sale.
  2. The color range, all my favorite shades--why can't cotton come in that kind of variety?
  3. Also, this stuff does not unravel much in the wash and comes out wrinkle-free. To me, that is huge. I hate ironing.
  4. Lastly, when you press a hem over, by gum it stays pressed, with a knife edge. It makes a narrow hem so easy to do.

Sorry, this is the best photo I was able to get of Thing 2 sporting her new dress. She was very very VERY grumpy at the time. Then Thing 1 shut her finger in the back door as I was trying to shoot this. We were having one of those days.

I was thinking earlier today about this post and how this is so typical me. To be making sundresses at this point in the waning summer. It's a good thing it will be warm here through September, maybe October. I had all these high hopes and ambitions to make a bunch of summery clothes for the girls and for me too, waaaay back in the spring. I did get some things made, but as usual nothing for me.

(And I'm still wrestling with Lori's bag flap design. Great Scott! Why why whyyyyy won't this flippety thing come together? I've worked for hours on a version that I don't love. But I WILL press on. I WILL like it. And I'm scrapping what I've done so far. Back to the ol' drawing board.)


Flourish of harp music and soft focus transition...Now you are back in 2011! I'll be posting more from the archives soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book winner!

Wow, y'all, I really enjoyed every story about your childhood crafting. The magical Grandma closets filled with crafting supplies, the palaminos (Candace, oh the towers of paper filled with adolescent horse drawings I did in my day), the inventive Barbie clothes (a wash cloth makes a stunning formal if you know what you are doing), the toilet paper crafts, friendship bracelet making (wow, I had a huge wave of nostalgia over that one; those were serious business and you could NOT remove them, you had to wait for them to fall off on their own or risk irreparable damage to your friendship), the soggy crepe paper fairy skirt disaster (bless your heart!), the heart rending gift of the treasured pipe cleaner fairy, the thirty year old cross stitch WIP (now I don't feel so bad, Olivia, thanks), the magazine scrap books (oh my word MUCILAGE GLUE! can't tell you how many years since I thought of that stuff), the blood on the ceiling (see now you will have to search the comments to clarify that one), and the long suffering family members who oohed and ahhed over your creations and then patiently cleaned up your mess.

I just had a ball reading all of those and it brought on a flood of memories for me. Besides drawing unicorns and damsels on any available paper to be had, I made childhood forays into modeling clay, latch hooking, cross stitch, puppet making, doll making, and all kinds of 3D paper creations. I remember toiling for hours to make a 8 inch 3D paper doll who had the most beautiful auburn sewing thread hair and was completely posable in all her joints. I made her dresses and paper shoes, and a pair of fairy wings, and I constructed a house for her inside a bookshelf with paper furniture, all the way down to tiny paper flakes inside a tiny cereal box (with advertisements drawn on the back, so she could read it while she ate from her tiny paper cereal bowl). Sigh. I did all of that at a table my mom set up in the garage because me and my constant craft mess had been banished from the house.

(Snapping back to the present) So! On to the giveaway portion of the post! Brought to you by the power of random number pickery, the lucky winner of the Kids' Crafternoon Papercraft book is...
hi, I'm Kat!
Congratulations! Kat, I'll be contacting you for the snail mail details and I'll get your book on its way. A big thank you to publisher Hardie Grant for providing the giveaway copy!

Thanks everybody! Hey, if you missed out I just saw there are giveaways for both books still going at Maggie Makes and Elizabeth Abernathy. Go jump in. You can follow the rest of the blog tour here.