Friday, December 23, 2011

Reflections: A Look at 2011

I'm logging off for the holidays, but I'm leaving you with a little reflections post. Reflections posts are totally in right now, in case you hadn't noticed. After the New Year, I'll be doing a goals-for-the-year post, which I'm sure will also be super original. :)

(a photo of the paper snowflakes I cut out to grace the cube wall above my computer monitors)

The first thing here is one I didn't blog about, at the very beginning of my blogging adventure. I didn't blog about it because, as cute as it is, it looks really awkward on. This is the sleep mask from Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray. I love the ruffles (my little adaptation of the pattern), and the eyes are super cool, but they ended up being a little too high and a little too close together. Also, while cute in theory, it's a little creepy in practice. The next sleep mask I make will not have eyes embroidered on it.

In September, I finished my first dress (since my epic fail for Halloween several years ago. I'll blog about that another time). It's made out of a sheet, and I love it. I can't wait for warm weather so I can wear it again!

In the end of September/beginning of October, I participated in Casey's Circle Skirt Sewalong. I really need to get on the whole adding-pleats-and-evening-out-the-hem thing, but I'm pretty happy with it.

November brought my first Colette pattern, the Ginger. I love this pattern, and this fabric, and I plan on sewing up another Colette pattern as soon as possible.

November also means the beginning of handmade Christmas gifts, and I made this infinity scarf for my sister. I ended up taking it back from her and lengthening it, so it's a slightly longer loop and she no longer feels like it's choking her. :)

Finally, in December I made the "Tied with a Bow" pouch for my best friend. I gave it to her the other day, and she loved it so much that she showed it off to our server and bragged about how awesome I am. *grinning* I think that's the kind of reaction that every crafter/sewer hopes for from someone they craft for.

I'll be back in 2012. Have a good holiday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Amy Adams in The Muppets

I went to go see The Muppets with my mom and my sister and my sister's boyfriend last week. I loved it, in the way that you have to love movies that remind you of being a little kid. :) One of the things the adult/sewist part of my mind noticed was how uber-cute Amy Adams's wardrobe was.

This dress has tulip sleeves, and the neckline and gathering are so cute!

I loved this outfit. The colors are spectacular, and I love the gathering and draping of the top. Also, check out the green jacket she was wearing over it:

Finally, the gorgeous dress she wore to the movie premier. I'm not generally a fan of colorblocking, but I like this look. And the pleats on the bodice are adorable. Did anyone else see the movie? What did you think?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pinterest Parade #6

I was hunting around Modcloth today, which I know everyone does occasionally (or a lot), and I found some super cute dresses I'm thinking about replicating. After I get through everything else in my sewing queue...

This dress is just adorable, with the sheer overlay that's ruched at the bodice. It actually looks strikingly similar to the first dress I ever sewed, McCall's 5001. The only difference is the seam at the waistline, and the sweetheart neckline is less defined in this dress. Sadly, I cut the pattern itself out instead of tracing it when I first stitched this up, so I'm not sure what kind of shape it's in.

This dress is pretty similar too. I do have a thing for strapless sweetheart dresses with flared skirts, don't I? Even my wedding gown fits into this category! Anyway, I love the polkadots and the colors. Is that skirt navy or black? I want it to be navy, so that's what I'll call it. :)

Not strapless! I really love this dress. I could probably wear it every day, except that the colors wouldn't be the best on me. But in other colors, I could rock this dress. Maybe I'd make it separates instead of a dress, though. More versatile that way? Hmm... I'm thinking the Colette Sorbetto for the top, but I'm not sure what pattern I'd use for the skirt.

This dress is adorable, with the pleats and the draping. I'm not an orange girl, but I'm a sewer, so it wouldn't have to be orange. The thing is, I have no idea how to go about making this dress. Maybe I could submit it to Sew Weekly's Make This Look.

Again with the Sorbetto-like top and gathered skirt look. This is one dress, but it could totally be separates. I'm thinking I need to try my hand at the Sorbetto, maybe with ruffles...

Last but not least, one of my favorites of the bunch. I love the way the piping was used all the way down the front center seam. I'd wear this dress at least once a week if I owned it. I'm also fairly certain that I could find a similar pattern. (It seems I'm really into polkadots this week too.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Boyfriend Basket Weave Scarf + Donating My Hair

I almost didn't have a blog post for you this morning. I didn't sew, embroider, or knit at all last week. Well, that's not precisely true. I took up the hems on three pairs of field pants for A, and I was super proud of how good they looked. Totally professional, like a tailor had done it, with perfectly even double rows of stitching on all of them.

But other than that, I spent the last week out of town, taking A to the airport and spending a night and a day in Chicago with an old friend (the one who will be getting that bow clutch). We did some Christmas shopping, and I got to go to my first real (non-JoAnn or Hancock) fabric store. Vouge Fabrics was a Midwestern sewer's dream. I bought this gorgeous silk, white with a tiny pink and red floral pattern. I'm going to use it for the Colette Jasmine blouse in my SWAP instead of the absurdly expensive Spoonflower fabric. I don't have a picture of it yet, but I'll get one up for you at some point, I promise.

In the meantime, Here's a project I did last winter and finished just in time for spring. :) It's the Boyfriend Basket Weave Scarf from Chicks with Sticks (this is how I've been teaching myself to knit, and I love this book!), and I made it in pink and kept it for myself, seeing as I have no boyfriend and I'm a selfish seamstress/knitter sometimes. Here it is the way I wore it this morning, with a cotton scarf I bought from Urban Outfitters over the weekend:

It's 100% wool, but the it's the not-so-high-quality stuff that you can find at JoAnn, not the gorgeous merino I made my sister's out of. The color's more accurate in the first photo, but in the one below, you can see a close-up of the basketweave pattern. So pretty! So time-consuming! My mom wants one now that she's seen it on me, and I'm thinking it'll have to be next year's Christmas gift, because there's no way I'll be able to make her one before winter's over. :)

Oh! And I cut my hair. Really cut it. Myself. I've been cutting my own hair for the last year, since I'm not really up to shelling out over $60 every time I need a trim and ending up with a bad cut anyway (no one knows what to do with curls, even if they say they do). Not the greatest cut ever, but not the worst, either. I'm donating 13 inches of curls, but I'm not sure where to donate it now. Apparently, Locks for Love sells the wigs they make these days rather than just giving them to children who need them, so I'd like to find a place that provides wigs to children free of charge. Any ideas?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Giveaway Day!

Here's the promised giveaway (and it corresponds with Sew Mama Sew's giveaway day, so I'm participating in that)! I've never done one before (or won one, for that matter!), so it's about time.

I'm giving away this lovely pattern:

The copyright on it is 1950, and it's a size 14 (32 Bust, 35 Hip). The description on the back says "Straight-front skirt has back fullness. Slight gathers from diagonal front darts, and from panel back. Skirt joins bodice at waist-line. Gathered inset yoke in front. Deep V-neck-line. Kimono cap sleeves."

How beautiful is this dress?

So, I'll be picking my wedding dress up from the cleaners this week, and I have no idea what to do with it. I'm not the kind of girl who wants to hang on to a perfectly gorgeous dress that I'll never wear again just for sentiment's sake. Unless it's a book, I'm just not a knick-knack or keepsake kind of person, and someone else could wear and love my gown. So my giveaway will simultaneously benefit me (with all of your wonderful ideas) and one of you!

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
1. Leave a comment about what you did with your wedding dress after the wedding, or what you think I should do with mine.
2. You have to have a way I can contact you (email, or a link to a blog profile with your email in it).
3. If you win, you cannot sell the pattern. If you decide at some point that you no longer want it, you have to pass on the love to someone else in a giveaway or gift.
4. The giveaway is open until December 16, at 5:00 PM ET and will be announced on December 18.

Edit: updated December 18

The winner of my pattern giveaway was determined by a random number generator. Number 23, JP, wrote, "My dress is hanging in the front closet :) It didn't cost very much and isn't huge, so it's just hanging there, not taking up very much room. But you could recycle it into special dresses for kids or satin pillows or sheets!"

Congratulations, JP! I'll email you you as well.

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! I hope you all won something from Giveaway Day at Sew Mama Sew.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pinterest Parade #6 - Ideas for Skirts in Cool Weather

This week's parade has a theme - skirts in cool weather. I'm so sick of my jeans!!

This first outfit has layers on top, and with tights and a pair of pink heels, it's a great outfit for the cold. Also, I love that denim pencil skirt. You can't even call it a jean skirt, it's so classy!

This outfit has a totally different silhouette with the full skirt, but I love it. I've been having trouble with certain cardigans on top, because they don't accentuate my waist very well. I need to find one that does so I can copy this look. Can you tell I'm into the navy, pink, and white?

Color! I don't usually wear a lot of bright colors, and I'm not sure how this yellow would look so close to my face, but I love the yellow and dark navy, and nude heels were the perfect choice for this outfit. Also, the sweater looks so soft and cozy! I'm seeing a theme here. I think I really need a navy pencil skirt, possibly in denim as well.

I'm not so much a fan of brown. I know a lot of people are, but it's just not a color I wear a lot. However, in other colors (navy, pink, and white, anyone?), I would totally wear this outfit. The sweater and skirt with a wide belt that matches the skirt... I may have dreams about layers of ruffles tonight. :)

This last skirt outfit isn't very cool-weather as it is, but toss on a sweater/cardigan and some tights, and you're good to go. Also, I adore Lilli and her blog, which I just found a couple of weeks ago. The pattern mixing in this outfit is so inspirational. The blouse reminds me a little of the Colette Jasmine, with a larger tie.

Moral of this story? I want to make a navy pencil skirt, and I think I might replace the full gray skirt in my SWAP plan with this, so I can use the pattern over and over again (denim! stripes! lace!). I also want to make the Colette Jasmine (in pink, maybe?), and I could really use some better-fitting cardigans. Hmm... I'm out of town right now, but when I get back, it's time to start working on pattern selection and fitting for my SWAP!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Tied with a Bow" Pouch - Completed!

I finished the little clutch for my friend's Christmas gift. It turned out so cute!

I love the bright color of the zipper with the fabric. It's a little brighter than anything in the fabric, but in my opninion, it looks great.

Here's the inside of the clutch. I added some pockets for phone or chapstick (she's a lip gloss/chapstick addict).

If you want to make one for yourself, the tutorial is from Mommy by Day...Crafter by Night (I talked about it in the post linked to at the top of this post), and it's super, super easy, even if you want to change the size and have to do a little math. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Paper Snowflakes - The Perfect Winter Wedding Decor

One of my coworkers got married on Friday morning. Since it's her second marriage and she's old enough that they've both acquired all the home goods they'll need, she didn't have a bridal shower, but we all wanted to do something for her anyway. We pooled some cash for a gift card, got her a card, and someone suggested decorating her cubicle. I decided to take that on, and for her winter wedding, I suggested that we all make snowflakes and a bunting.

I taught everyone how to make six-pointed snowflakes, and we made everything out of computer paper and strung it up on floss (the only string we could get at the CVS downtown).

They turned out beautifully, and everyone had so much fun making them.

(top left is one of mine)

(mine is the middle one)

(I made the tiny middle one... I like little snowflakes!)

Paper snowflakes would make great decorations for a winter wedding reception too. They're easy, fast, cheap, and fun to make, and if you iron them out to make them flat (setting your iron on low with no steam, of course), they'll look professional (as they were, my coworker thought we bought them somewhere!). I like six-pointed ones because they're scientifically accurate and I'm a huge, huge nerd. :) But you could make othernumber-pointed ones too. I'm sure there are tutorials around online!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Butterick Sale = More Patterns

So.... I bought some more patterns over the weekend. There was a .99 sale at JoAnn on Butterick patterns, and at the thrift store, I found that Simplicity pattern for .25. It'll be a great basic pattern I can use to base new dresses on.

I think I have a problem. I currently own more patterns than I think I'll be able to sew up in the next five years. Cutting back would be a good idea, but in a way that encourages creativity and productivity. Hmm...

I'm thinking out loud here... I could only buy new patterns (one at a time) if I have an idea for them already (like they're included in my SWAP). Or I can buy a new pattern for every three old patterns I stitch up. Looking through my stash, there are quite a few beautiful vintage patterns that just aren't quite my style or that won't look good on someone as A/pear-shaped as me. I'm thinking a giveaway might be in order. I haven't done one of those yet! Check back next week. I'll have something beautiful for someone. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Another Gift in the Works

Last year, I bought fabric to make a little clutch for my best friend for Christmas. I never did anything with the stuff, and I feel like a terrible friend, even though she doesn't know that I slacked off because it's not like you tell your friend, "I was going to make you this adorable little clutch, but I'm a huge procrastinator and didn't even cut the fabric, so here's a consolation gift." :)

Anyway, this year, I'm making her a clutch out of those fabrics (the multi-colored fabric for the outside and the brown and turquoise fabric for the lining). I bought a zipper to match, and I dug through my inheritance from my grandma to find perfectly matching thread too (have I ever mentioned that I inherited my grandma's old sewing supplies? I'll have to post about them at some point.).

I'm using the adorable "Tied with a Bow" Pouch Tutorial by Mommy by Day... Crafter by Night. It's so easy, and so cute!

But I'm changing the pouch up a bit. Instead of making it 9" tall by 7" wide, I'm making it 5 1/2" tall by 9" wide. It'll look more like this: 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Infinity Scarf - Completed!

I finished my sister's scarf! I talked about it in a post a couple weeks ago. I ran out of yarn when I was about three inches from the end, so I had to go out and get more of this expensive stuff, but it was worth it. It's beautiful. I looked up how to join seams together online, twisted the scarf so it would be a twisted loop, then joined the ends. Can you see the join? It's almost invisible on the right side, and it looks so clean on the wrong side. Love.

She'll be able to wear it just tossed over her head if she wants, or she can twist it around twice and wear it in what looks like a very complicated knot around her neck. I didn't get a photo of it long (well, I did, but Blogger and Picnik aren't playing well together, and it will only publish sideways, so I'm sorry, but you'll just have to imagine the beautiful long knit loop. When it's on, the bottom hits at about my belly button). Since it's a gift that hasn't been given, I can't really take a picture of it on my sister yet, so here's a photo of it on me.

I kind of want to keep it.

And a close-up. Can you see that I alternated knit and purl stitches in the same row? It makes it so that the scarf is super stretchy and twice as thick, another thing that I love about it.

Do I really have to give this one away? I suppose I do. It'll keep my little California sister warm in this cold Michigan winter. That's love, people.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Sewing Machine

In October of 2008, I borrowed one of my mom's sewing machines. She took it back once in a while when she needed to make a button hole, but for the most part, her other four machines did what she needed (she owns her own business making custom window treatments, pillows, etc.), and that machine was effectively a semi-permanent loan. I kept thinking she would get me a machine of my own for Christmas or my birthday, but then a couple weeks ago, my grandma Dean (my mom's stepmother) gave my mom my grandfather's sewing machine for me, and I picked it up on Saturday. I'm so excited to have a sewing machine of my own, and one that (albeit briefly) belonged to my grandfather before he died.

 (this is a photo from the Singer website)

It's a Singer Simple, and it really is a simple little machine. Everything is mechanical, which I love. I'm not at all into all that computerized stuff. I'm too afraid that something will break and no one will be able to figure out how to fix it. Ugh. The click of a wheel locking into place is much more satisfying. It does have an automatic needle threader, which my mom's machine didn't have, so I'm really curious about how that works. So excited to try it out! Also, that invisible zipper foot that I bought for my mom's machine fits this one! Yay!

Now all I need is to find a manual for it somewhere...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pinterest Parade #5 (plus a new pattern!)

This post and my pins this week are inspired by Kendi and her 30 x 30 challenge (if you haven't heard of it yet, get over there and check it out! She chooses 30 items of clothing to remix into outfits for 30 days). I've been bemoaning the fact that I don't have much clothing, when really, I don't need much more than I have. I need pieces that work together and that pull together the pieces I already have. Kendi just did this for Fossil, and the result was inspiring and beautiful.

The pieces in Orla Keily's Spring 2011 collection work together and create a cohesive unit. this is what I want my closet to look like! 

I know a lot of vintage gals are mad at Banana Republic for hopping onto vintage style and commercializing it, but I love their Mad Men collection and the way the pieces work together. I'm only mad at Banana because most of their clothing doesn't fit my body shape.

I'm sure everyone has seen the Lucky Dozen, but this is definitely an inspiration to create a wearable wardrobe. Seriously, every single one of those outfits is different. All I would do to change it up is make those gray slacks into a pencil skirt and get a color other than orange for the sweater. Orange is bad that close to my face. Bad.

Now this wardrobe is one I could get behind. I love nearly every piece in it, in nearly every color. Again, I'd change out the slacks because I really don't like to wear pants that much, and I'd switch out the shoes for similar but more feminine versions (a couple pairs of heels), but the rest is really kind of perfect. *daydreams*

In other happy news, I got one of the patterns I'll be using for the 2012 SWAP! It's vintage Butterick 4042, a 70s (I think) blouse pattern. I'll be making Version A (the long-sleeved one at the top) in my two sheer fabrics. I bought this pattern from an Etsy shop called Sew Betty and Dot, and I'm beyond happy with Sherri (the seller). She let me know the status of my shipment, she shipped quickly, and when I got the package, the pattern had a ribbon tied around it and she included a sweet little hand-sewn envelope with a hand-written note, a vintage playing card (which she uses as her business card), and a little tag with a miniature doily on it. It was like getting a present in the mail instead of something I'd purchased myself. I have most of my patterns now, so it's time to start tracing and fitting patterns so I can have a shot at finishing this SWAP!