Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Belated Valentine Cheer

I really want to be faithful in posting regularly each week, but this week was tough! My project was maybe just a little bit ambitious in the first place, but then throw a wedding, some flu-ish version of a bug, a charity walk, and a 5-hour midnight visit to the ER into the mix of a week and I don't stand a chance!

My embroidered pillow is coming I PROMISE, but you'll have to wait just a bit longer to see the finished product.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a pic from Valentine's Day. This year I participated in Aunt Peaches' 3rd Annual Valentine Swap. The gist is you make 3 cards for 3 strangers and [ideally] receive 3 cards from 3 different strangers. Ok, so I'm still waiting for that 3rd card...but I really enjoyed the 2 that I did receive and I had such a blast making my cards.

Handmade cards for strangers

Even though I was sending 3 cards in 3 different directions, I wanted them to be similar and sort of go together somehow. I decided on a large heart as the general theme, but used very different mediums. The first one is embroidered on cardstock. The second I call 'Chevron Ombre Heart' made with paintchips. And the third is a paisley doodle in red ink. I'd totally sign up for something like this again in a heartbeat!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Week 7: Embroider Something!

Why I want to make this: I love embroidery! I love how it looks and I love the detail that goes into making an embroidered piece. I've been wanting to do more embroidery for about a year now and I've got all of the tools required to make some fabulous pieces.

Ideas & Inspirations: There are too many ideas. You can embroider just about anything. Clothing, cards, art pieces, jewelry, kitcheny items, etc. This time around I think I'll embroider a pillow for my bedroom. I will make it super girly with pink and purple and flowers.

What I intend to do with said project: I will proudly display it on my bed. The bonus is that perhaps it will inspire me to make my bed look nice rather than the usual 2-second pulling the covers up to the top. Eventually it will be nice to make some other pillows to compliment the whole ensemble.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Week 6: A Pin-Poppet

What started out as a seemingly simple project has sent me down a rabbit hole of questions and curiosities. 

Why the tomato and strawberry shape? Well, according to Wikipedia, during the Victorian era, it was a sign of prosperity and good luck to place a tomato on the mantle in a new home. When not in season, they would use red fabric filled with sand or sawdust. And as chance would have it, these little charms became a very practical place to store pins. 

Being extra resourceful, I thought I could reuse the stuffing from my old one. I cut it open expecting some tightly compressed stuffing or something, but inside was sawdust! Or at least I hope it was sawdust... Which led me to my next question.

What is the best stuffing for a pin cushion? I found many weird and wonderful answers: wool, flax seeds, lentils, pencil shavings, human hair, ground walnut shells, emery sand, and various pebbles you could source from a pet store. I was nearly sold on the ground walnut shells, but my tight purse prevented me from going out and getting some. 

I opted for a 3-tiered cheap method: 

  • rice - for weight and possible moisture absorbency
  • sawdust - for frugality and moisture absorbency
  • scraps of cotton quilt batting - for added softness and a smooth outer layer

I was inspired by some goldenrod-coloured rick rack I had kicking around, so I choose an outer fabric that would compliment. From my outer fabric, I cut 2 large circles, approx 5 1/2 inches in diameter. I then cut 2 medium circles (4 1/2 inches diameter) using scraps of cotton quilt batting. Lastly, I cut 2 small circles (3 1/2 inches diameter) of muslin. 

Using the small circles, I sewed them together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and left a small opening. I stuffed the little pouch with rice, leaving some space inside so it was not too tightly stuffed, then I machine stitched it shut. 

Then I sewed the medium circles together leaving about a 2 inch opening (so I could fit the rice pouch inside of it). Then I flipped it inside out in hopes that it would help gain some height, stuck my rice pouch inside and stuffed the rest tightly with sawdust. Then I hand stitched so that very little sawdust (if any) would leak out. 

At this point, I could have put this medium sized pouch in my outer fabric and stuffed the rest with polyfil, but I didn't have any. Instead, I made yet another pouch from cotton quilt batting (cut approx 5 inch diameter) and put my sawdust/rice pouch inside. Then I sewed my outer fabric together, leaving quite a large opening, flipped it right side out and put my soft pouch inside. To seal it off, I handstitched the opening shut.

For decoration, I added a yellow button to the centre of the cushion (and one on the bottom too!), while maneuvering the stuffing toward the outside as much as I could. Lastly, I handsewed the rick rack on the perimeter, covering up the seam of the outmost layer.

What I enjoyed the most: I really enjoyed doing my research on this one. If I hadn't, I probably would have just stuffed it with scraps of quilt batting or something. Then it would have been too light, or worse - a needle-rusting haven!

Next time I would... Invest in some high quality stuffing like crushed walnut shells or emery sand. Or maybe try a variety of suggested stuffings and have a little science experiment of which one kept my needles the nicest over long periods of time. The people of the internet deserve to know what is best!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Week 6: Make a Pin Cushion

Why I want to make this: I've got an old tomato and strawberry style pin cushion, and would love to have something new and fresh. Something that would just add a touch of colour and happiness to my sewing experience.

Ideas & Inspirations: I like the idea of having one that wraps around my wrist. I catch myself holding pins and needles with my mouth way too often. Maybe I can break this habit by having something a touch more accessible. I don't know though, there are just so many fun ideas out there.

What I intend to do with said project: Well...geee...How about stick my pins and needles in it? Put it on my shelf when I'm not sewing?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Week 5: Three Wee Key Rings

Here they are! Three new keychains just for me. For the first one I created a stuffed fabric monogram. I wish I had made it just a tad larger because it was so difficult turning it right side out again and then stuffing it. To create the lowercase effect, I wrapped a large bead with fabric and brought it together with some string -woven friendship bracelet style.

For my car keys, I had some fun vintage-style letter tiles from the Reuse Centre that I glued together in a reversible way. Then I wrapped some string around pieces of chain to tie it all together. Lafawnduh the Honda is gonna love this! 

For my final keychain, I was totally inspired by my little collection of old wooden spools. This gem of a spool still had it's original labels on it. I wrapped some scraps of string around the center and applied copious amounts of modge podge. And again, I wove some some string in order to loop it onto the ring. I'm so glad I learned how to weave like this, it's a great effect.  I like having a spool keychain -I feel that it represents me well!

What I enjoyed the most: I finally found something to do with all my wooden spools! But I don't think I will make 20 more spool keychains, so what should I do with them!? Ideas?

Next time I would... Definitely make a small zippered pouch key chain. I'm regretting that I didn't. It would be so handy for money and cards. Especially handy to use at work to tote around at coffee break time.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week 5: Make Keychains

Why I want to make this: From the good old days of lizard-shaped beaded keychains to cheeky charms from far away lands, keychains are a great way to showcase your personality and add pizazz to your routine.

Ideas & Inspirations: Every other store carries some great ones and a number of them seem really easy to make. I'd like to do a monogram in a patterned fabric. Then maybe I'll play around with some knots and beads or something. Or maybe sew a little pouch for my debit card, ID and some cash?

What I intend to do with said project: My collection of keys keep growing and I'd like to split them up before they get even more out of control. One for work, one for house/car and one for my spare keys.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Week 4: A Comfy Dress for Traipsing Around

Posting late this week, but I've had other projects on the go this week. Like Valentine's cards! And other fun things...

When I began working on this dress I was surprised to find out that my Little Green Dresses book was no book of patterns, but twas a book of instructions. It instructed me on how to draft my own pattern using my own measurements, a little bit of math and some basic geometric drawing. This was my first time drafting a pattern (or at least the proper way) and I can't wait to do more! I better invest in a curved ruler before then - I ended up using the curve on a different dress pattern to trace my neckline. It turned out fine, but I was pretty nervous about it.

I followed the instructions with just the slightest modifications. For the neck facing, I just used remnants of my black-with-white-polka-dots fabric and I overstitched it to stay in place. It was a quick and easy pattern - once it was drafted, the dress only took about 2-3 hours.

I wasn't sure I wanted to post pictures of myself on the blog, but here I am now!
This is definitely the type of dress that is better with a belt! I would like to find a nice red leather belt to wear with this outfit. This dress is super comfy and I'm happy with how it turned out. I will enjoy traipsing around in it on weekends, but it is also super appropriate to wear to work.

What I enjoyed the most: This is a no brainer - drafting the pattern! It was fun discovering how the patterns I've come to know and love over the years are formulated and put together. Plus, I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to numbers and math.

Next time I would... Be more careful 'clipping the notches' underneath the armholes. Good thing no one will be staring at my armpits. Also, I think this pattern would make a cute top in a fun cotton print.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Week 4: A dress for me!

Dresses are probably one of my favorite things to sew. Some are amazingly simple and others take great detail and time. But the results are fantastic. And it's funny how life works, I was JUST telling my roomie that dresses are my fav and then only moments later I pulled this project from the jar.

Why I want to make this: I have a number of dresses in my closet that I rarely ever wear! And when I do wear one, I almost always get comments: I love your dress! You made it didn't you? To which I always respond: No - I wish! I have made a lot of dresses for other people, which has been fun and challenging and has even gotten me a few paid gigs, but I haven't made a dress for myself in years! I did a few in high school, including my prom dress, and just one during university. The time has come.

Ideas & Inspirations: But which dress should I make? I first started looking through my arsenal of patterns: sewing books I own, old patterns, and perusing BurdaStyle. Coincidentally there is a contest that BurdaStyle has going on right now, but more about that later. I settled on some knit fabric I had in my drawer and a pattern from a book I have called Little Green Dresses. I received this book on my birthday nearly 2 years ago from my fantastic roommate at the time.

What I intend to do with said project: Although I was tempted to make something a bit more fancy, I already have a closet full of them. On weekends there is nothing I love more than traipsing around the city in a comfy dress and leggings! This dress will be comfy, fairly simple and should be manageable in my one week time frame.