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The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

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Hello Old Friend

Hello, it’s me again.

Did you think that I had forgotten about you?

I did not.

Actually, I have really missed you and I am thrilled to be back with you.

This is the conversation that I had with each of my sewing machines as I unpacked them from their boxes and set them up in my new sewing room.

They made their cross country move over the holidays admirably with very few issues, and are now set back up and ready to start sewing again.

img_1243The sewing machines, sewing tools and notions were not the only thing to make this long move to their new home. The stash moved as well, and lets just say, I am a little more than embarrassed by the enormity of my stash of fabric. As I packed each box and prepared it for the move, I was stunned by the number of boxes I had labeled fabric.

Had I really let my stash get this big? Did I really own all this fabric?

img_1245Buying it a piece at a time, I really had not noticed just how big the stash was getting and how much fabric that I owned. The actual size of the stash was not nearly as big of a problem as the fact that there was no way of hiding the number of boxes I had loaded with fabric from the husband any longer as they were loaded into the trailer to be moved.

I thought for a brief moment about labeling some of the boxes, kitchen or bathroom, but if the husband opened one of these boxes to find fabric, it would be much worse than admitting just how much fabric I have in my stash at this point.

img_1242Luckily the husband is a great guy and he just rolled his eyes as he loaded the multitude of fabric and sewing boxes into the moving trailer. Needless to say, it took an entire trailer just to move my previous sewing rooms contents and the fabric stash. And of course I find myself once again vowing to purchase no more fabric and to just sew items from my existing stash.

img_1246Actually, the entire trailer was not just full of sewing tools, notions and fabric.

The same trailer also carried the yarn stash and my crocheting supplies.

But this really only took a fairly small portion of the available room in the trailer.

 

Crochet hooks are just not that big and I can stuff a lot of yarn into one box.

I am very close to having my new sewing room set up with all of my sewing tools and notions in one place and ready for me to start sewing again.

And I am super excited to get back to sewing again.

Stay tuned to see some my newest creations.

Until then, sew forth and move on!

Behavioral Economics

make0016IMG_3913I stopped buying fabric remnants at Walmart a while back now because the remnants at Walmart are only discounted 20% off. When the price of fabric at Walmart used to sell for less, it seemed like the remnants with the 20% off discount was costing very little money at all. So, even if it was a little less or a little more than I needed or not quite enough for what I had in mind for that specific project, it was easy to purchase them anyway.

But, when the price of fabric went up at Walmart, the extra 20% off the remnants price just didn’t seem like it was that much of a discount. To me the remnants cost still seemed to be expensive in my mind. It made you stop, think twice and look carefully instead of just tossing the remnants in your shopping cart without much thought about the cost.

IMG_3908IMG_3909Now it does matter to me if the remnant is too little, too big, or doesn’t quite match what I had in mind. The illusion of saving more or getting a deal on the remnant pieces just isn’t there anymore, so why not get exactly what you want and need cut directly from the bolt?

Recently while doing some shopping at Walmart for items other than fabric, I ended up purchasing almost every remnant my Walmart had. Why, you might ask? Let me tell you why…

My local Walmart was prepping for it’s inventory, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time for once. All of the remnants in the bin had been marked down to clear them out before their inventory. Most of the remnants had been marked down to a half of the 20% off price. That was about a 70% savings off the regular cost. Some of the remnants were not IMG_3910IMG_3911marked down quite by half and a few were marked down more than a half. Regardless of whether it was more or less, the remnants were a great price and I did not hesitate toss almost all of them from the bin into my cart. I think the only thing I left in the remnant bin were a couple of pieces that I definitely knew I would have no use for, like a small piece of vinyl and some cheap fleece.

I hauled my treasures home and I have had a great time sorting and matching the pieces with other fabrics in my fabric stash and creating a sewing project for each piece that I purchased. I am so excited about the remnants that I purchased that I’m not even planning on storing these remnants in the stash. Instead, I want to get them sewn up right away.

So, I guess that is my cue! I had better get busy sewing! Winter is coming…

Until then, Sew Forth and Remnant On!IMG_3917

Buttoning It All Together

I need a bigger button box! cz4mwl6uy_m

 

Or do I?

My button box is currently full, right to the top. I can hardly close the lid on the darn thing!

So, it must be time to get a bigger box to store my buttons in right?

Or maybe it is just time to stop being lazy and sort and organize my current button box so that I have an easier time using what I already have.

While staring at all of the buttons that were just randomly and haphazardly tossed in my button box, I decided that a bigger button box was not the answer. What I needed was to take the time to sort and organize what was in my current button box.

DSCN4316Looking in my button box, I noticed right away that a lot of the space in the box was being taken up by the buttons packaging, mostly the cardboard cards the buttons were purchased on. So, my first step was to remove all of the buttons from the cards.

As I pulled the first buttons off a card, I thought to myself “This will take no time at all!” Boy was I wrong!

As I pulled more buttons off the cards, the staples holding the buttons to the card were staying attached to the buttons, not the cards. I did not want to store the staples attached to the buttons, and I did not want the staples to scratch the buttons while in the box. So, I started the long and tedious task of removing the staples from each of the buttons.

With the use of pliers, scissors and a staple remover, I slowly worked at removing the staples from the buttons. The husband was even given some buttons to remove the staples from. (That will teach him to walk into the sewing room and inquire what I was up to.) After a couple of hours and some sore fingers, I had all of the buttons removed from their cards and the packaging and all the staples and threads were removed.

DSCN4308Now that I had piles and piles of buttons all over the cutting table, it was time to sort and package them up more efficiently. I started by sorting my miscellaneous buttons from my button can. I matched the buttons from the can with the piles of buttons I had on the table. I was surprised how many single buttons from the can matched with one of the piles of buttons. Next, I retrieved my small jewelry zip lock baggies from the closet. I love these baggies. I use them all the time in my crafting and sewing so I keep them handy in a couple of different sizes. I placed each sorted pile of buttons in its own little zip lock baggie. Any single buttons without mates went back into the button can.

DSCN4317Now that I had several piles of buttons all stored in little baggies all over the cutting table, I started sorting the buttons by color. I was pretty liberal on what color the buttons were as I sorted, and soon I had just a few larger piles of buttons in little baggies of like colors sitting on the cutting table. These piles where then placed in larger quart or gallon ziplock bags to keep them further organized.

DSCN4320Looking at the large ziplock bags of buttons, I was pleased with the cleaning and sorting of my buttons. The large bags easily fit back into my current button box with some room to spare. I was very excited. I really like my current button box and I did not really want to replace it with a bigger one so this worked out great!

I have looked for buttons for a project a few times now since sorting my buttons into the bags and the new organization system has worked great. I merely pulled out the bag of buttons in the color I was looking for, then I quickly sorted through the little baggie inside to pick the exact buttons that I needed for my project. Through the clear bags I can easily see the buttons I have and how many of each of them I have, and since they are not attached to a card, the buttons can easily be placed on top of a project while still in the bags to see how they will look and match. Plus, this baggie system has been easy to keep organized as I add new buttons to my button box.

DSCN4315With the buttons finally sorted and back in the button box, I was ready for my next sewing room adventure!

Until then, sew forth and button on!

Down In The Southwest

DSCN4029Waste not, want not, but as you know there is more to it when it comes to fabric scraps and remnants. It’s the challenge of making something from nothing and the creativity of making it work that gets you to use those scraps and to buy those fabric remnants from the bargain bin at the fabric store.

It was this challenge and creativity that got me to begin my latest sewing project.

DSCN4027I saw this southwest print in a stack of discounted flat fold fabrics and I just fell in love with it. I love the bright colors on the black background and the fabric has a nice weight and feel to it. But, there was just a little over a yard left. What could I make from that? The fabric would be ideal for me a shirt, but could I figure out how to piece it together with other pieces of fabric to make me a shirt? Color blocking ideas swirled in my head so I quickly purchased the piece of southwest print fabric and brought it home!

DSCN4033With a color blocking design in mind, I dug through the stash and found several pieces of fabric that I could put together with the southwest print to make me a shirt, but the deep blood red piece that I found was by far my favorite. But, as I went to cut the shirt out, I noticed that the red piece of fabric was terribly flawed.

What was such a flawed piece of fabric even doing in the stash?

I returned to the stash to select a different piece of fabric to use with the southwest print but now I did not like any of my other choices. I thought about going back to the fabric store to look for more red fabric but I was too disappointed to go. I took another look at the flaws in the red fabric to see if I could work around them. How could I make it work the way it was? After much thought, I came up with a new color block design that should work, but I would have to cut the southwest print perpendicular to the grain line.

Would it be ok to cut against the grain?

DSCN4022After much studying and reading about grain lines, grain, cross grain, welt and warp threads, I decided that yes it would be ok to cut my fabric perpendicular to the grain line as long as I was careful to cut on the cross grain just as I would be careful to cut on the grain line. At this point after fully researching the issue, it was finally time to cut the fabric.

The cutting process started with tracing my pattern and then cutting out new pieces for the color blocking. This took time and thought. I had to decide where I wanted the seams to be, add some seam allowances and then reshape the armscye and hem. With the new pattern pieces created, it was time to cut. I carefully cut the front and back pieces perpendicular to the grain line from the southwest print and the I carefully placed and cut my new side pattern pieces and sleeves around the flaws of the red pieces of fabric. With the pieces all cut out, it was time to sew.

DSCN4023The sewing process was going along smoothly until I noticed the flaw of the red fabric in the center of one of the sleeves. I thought I had cut so carefully around the flaws but I guess that I had not. I had no more non-flawed red fabric to cut out another sleeve with. Could I just pretend the flaw was not there? No, I would never wear the shirt with the flawed sleeve. Hmm, I wondered. Could I cover up the flaw with a little embroidery? Yes, that would work!

I picked a lizard embroidery design and some bright colors to match the southwest print and embroidered the design on the sleeve to cover up the flaw and it worked great! You can still see the flaw, but your eye is now attracted to the embroidery design instead of the flaw so no one ever notices it. Showing the husband my embroidery solution, he suggested embroidering another lizard on the other sleeve to balance out the design. So, I picked some more bright colors and embroidered another lizard on the other arm. With the lizard designs embroidered on each sleeve, it did not take long to complete the hems and sew on some bright southwest looking buttons to complete the shirt.

DSCN4026I was a little apprehensive about wearing this shirt at first with its bright colors and it’s multiple embroidery designs, but it did not take long to fall in love with the shirt. It is a lot of fun to wear! The color blocking, bright colors, and the embroidered designs make it highly unique. This shirt also fits well. The alterations to the pattern for the color blocking did not affect the fit.

I am very pleased with this shirt and have already worn it several times. I am now excited to make more projects with lots of color blocking and embroidery designs but minus the flawed fabric.

Until then, sew forth and lizard on!

Look WHOO’s Here For Thanksgiving!

IMG_2840
As I made my list this year of the many things that I am thankful for, I decided to include my fabric stash in the list.

YES! I am VERY thankful for my fabric stash!

Like a fine wine, it is a place for my fabric to age and rest until it is time to be sewn into something wonderful. It seems that the fabric I buy HAS to spend a certain amount of time in the stash to age and breath before I can use it.

That was not true for this fabric though…

Joann’s had a doorbuster sale on holiday fabric. At 60% off, how could I not buy some? Sitting on the doorbuster deal shelf was this cute Thanksgiving owl printed fabric. When I saw it, I knew I wanted a shirt made from it. So, I bought enough fabric to make me a typical shirt with it. Off I went straight home with it to the sewing room, bypassing the stash completely.

DSCN3819I pushed all of my other sewing projects aside and got started on my new Thanksgiving shirt straight away!

This was a very odd feeling for me…

Here I was ready to prep and cut this fabric within hours of purchasing it, and it had not yet spent its allotted time in the stash to properly breath and age. I blame the recently made Snoopy shirt for this reckless use of fabric on my part. After cutting and sewing such a precious fabric as the snoopy fabric, why not try using another recently purchased fabric?

I started the construction process by pre-washing the fabric and I am so happy that I did not skip this step.

This fabric shrank. A LOT!

DSCN3820I could still get my shirt from it but there would be little to no scraps remaining when I was done. After washing and ironing the fabric, I pulled out my collarless button front basic sloper pattern and the cutting process started.

Knowing that I had just enough fabric to make this shirt, I tried to cut carefully, but I did not cut carefully enough. I cut two right facings, and I did not have enough fabric left to cut a left facing. Since the facing on this shirt will not be seen, I thought about making the facings from a different fabric, but as I fiddled with the scraps of this fabric that was left, I determined I could cut the left facing from the scraps if I put a seam across the middle of the facing. Once again, since the facings will not be seen, I decided to try the seamed facings first. If it looked bad or was bulky or messed with the buttons or buttonholes, I could always cut out some new facings from a different fabric.

DSCN3821So with that, I began the process of sewing it into a finished garment.

The sewing of this shirt went smoothly. I have made this basic sloper many times without problems. When the shirt was completed, you would not have known that I had to piece the left facing together. The seam did not add any bulk to the front of shirt and it is in between the third and fourth button so no one will know it is there but me.

IMG_2870The shirt wore great as I gobbled down turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie in it on Thanksgiving Day.

The shirt is very comfortable and I have received a few compliments on it.

So with that I will add one more thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am thankful to have a fun Thanksgiving shirt for one of my favorite holidays. I am also thankful that I did not make this fabric spend a year or two in the stash before sewing it up into this shirt.

I have wore it all month long now and with November nearly over, I can’t wait for next year just so I can wear it again!

Until then, sew forth and gobble till ya wobble on!

Time To Say Goodbye, and Hello!

DSCN3535DSCN3537“He’s dead, Jim!” goes the often quoted line from Star Trek’s ever present with a quip Doctor “Bones” McCoy. And in this case, it’s as true as ever…

My favorite Snoopy shirt, made so many years ago, is finally dead. It is faded, thread bare and as of the last laundering, has a small hole at the back of the neck.

But at least I can say I have wore it everywhere!

 

It’s been to London, it’s been to France, and yes it’s even seen the Queen’s underpants! Well Elton John’s anyway! It been wore to work, at home, for parties, on vacations, just everywhere! But I can no longer wear it outside of the house in public again in this shape.

But for some reason I just can’t seem to stop wearing it!

It’s my SNOOPY shirt you see, and I just can’t seem to let it go…

So, to ease the pain of my not being able to wear this particular Snoopy shirt in public again, I decided it was time to open the box of my most precious fabrics, the Snoopy fabrics, and to use some of it to make me a new Snoopy shirt.

DSCN2792Luckily I did not even have to open the precious Snoopy fabric box to pick out the piece of Snoopy fabric that I would use to make this new shirt from as I had just purchased it at Walmart a couple of weeks ago and it hadn’t even made it to the box for storage yet.

I then debated about the style of shirt that I wanted this new Snoopy shirt to be.

Collar or no collar? Buttons or no buttons?

DSCN3447After making my last project, the fleece football pull over jacket, I decided to make this shirt in that style, but with no hood and just short sleeves.

I would use my basic t-shirt sloper pattern, but I would cut a slit in the front to get the shirt over my head and use facings to complete the neck line.

This would be a very simple design that would let the Snoopy fabric be the details of the shirt.

I had never made myself a shirt like this before, but it didn’t seem like it would be too difficult to make the changes to the pattern or to sew it up.

DSCN3541It was easy enough to prep this fabric for cutting, make the alterations to the pattern and lay it out, but when it was finally time to cut the fabric, panic and fear filled my heart and soul…

I would be cutting into this precious Snoopy fabric and what if I ruined it?
What if I cut it wrong?
What if I didn’t like the pullover design?
What if I messed up the alterations?

DSCN3539I could not cut into this fabric.

I just couldn’t.

So I decided that I would not be making myself a new Snoopy shirt after all, and that I would never, ever have another Snoopy shirt again.

SIGH!

But to console myself, I would always know that I had a box filled with Snoopy fabrics that I could sometimes visit and look longingly at behind it’s bulletproof glass in it’s hermetically sealed climate controlled room.

As I was folding up the Snoopy fabric to put it back in the box, the husband wandered into the sewing room to see my progress. I explained to him that I just could not cut into my precious Snoopy fabric so there would be no new shirt. He sympathized with me and I was done sewing for the day.

The next day, the husband made a secret trip to Walmart and bought me some more of the same Snoopy fabric. He explained that now I could make my new Snoopy shirt as planned and I would still have some of this Snoopy fabric carefully tucked away in the Snoopy fabric box.

AAUGH! Isn’t he the best?

DSCN3542Well back to work on the new shirt then!

Cutting out this shirt went smoothly. The sewing of this shirt also went smoothly. I carefully stitched and cut the the slit and sewed the neck with the facings.

I did put a small bar tack at the base of the slit to stabilize the slit. I thought for a moment about tacking the slit open, and maybe adding some buttons, but then decided not to. And soon enough, I had a new Snoopy shirt to wear!

YAY!

DSCN3543This newly designed Snoopy shirt has passed the “wear test” with flying colors!

This shirt is very comfortable to wear and I like the design and the slit. It’s very hospital scrub like in design.

And, everyone loved the Snoopy and Woodstock’s on the shirt. I am so happy that I made this shirt and that it turned out so well!

And I am especially happy that I have more of this fabric tucked away in the stash to use for something else later on.

The success of this shirt MAY just have encouraged me enough to pull another piece of Snoopy fabric from the box and make another shirt from it. I might even use a fabric that can not be replaced readily.

Maybe! That’s a BIG MAYBE! We’ll see.

Until then, sew forth and Snoopy Happy Dance on!