Tag Archive | make

Bad Habits – Cutting Corners And Skipping Steps

'Gee, I don't know. Can I see this in another mirror?'

I did something that I have not done in at least 15 years. I went to the store, picked out 6 pairs of denim pants in my size, took them to the fitting room, tried each pair on, selected the pair that had the most acceptable fit of the six, then purchased that pair of pants. This experience got me thinking about several things.

First, why was I buying Ready To Wear (RTW) pants?

As you can tell from the recent slow down in the frequency of my blog posts, life happens, and the only sewing that I have been able to do recently is a little mending here and there. Thankfully I knew quite awhile ago just when these life changes were coming.

life-change-aheadBecause of that I took the precious little sewing time that I still had left to make myself a couple of new pairs of work pants, but I did not get a pair of casual denim pants made before my time ran out. At the time, this was fine. It was still summer, and I was wearing shorts on my days off, but it’s starting to get colder now, and I need long pants to wear most days. Because of this I had to make a decision, either quickly whip up a pair of denim pants cutting as many corners as possible to save time, or to head to the store to  purchase a pair of denim pants. I choose the later.

My  first thought when I decided to purchase a pair of pants instead of making them was the famous minion refrain ”WWHHAATTT?!?” “You’re a seamstress! You have the tools, the fabric, and the notions! Get your butt in there and sew yourself a new pair of pants!”

'I knew there was part of the pattern missing!'

But, with the very little time that I had available to make the pants, I would have had to cut every corner possible to get them done in time. I would not have washed and pre-shrunk the fabric. I would not have finished the seams properly or completely, and I wouldn’t hem the pants to the proper length either. I would have just rolled the hem under and hope that it stayed with a quick ironing or a big safety pin.

This lead my next thought to be, “Is this really the way you want to sew something? Do you want to do a poor sewing job just to get the item done in the time you have available?” The answer was easy for me. No! I did not want to wear a pair of pants that were sewn that way!

deadlines-1p2cpw7There was a time long ago when I first started sewing that I sewed only for the end result, regardless of how poor of a job that I did. When I first started sewing, my mom, who is a advanced and skilled seamstress, trying to encourage me, would say, “Oh, it should only take 30 minutes for you to make that t-shirt”, or “You’ll have that dress whipped up in an hour.” She was trying to let me know that sewing was fun, quick and easy and, in no time at all that I would have a finished wearable item.

But, I misinterpreted my mom words at the time! I made sewing a timed event. When it took me 2 days instead of 2 hours to sew something, I figured I was a failure and that I was doing something wrong, so to compensate I would try to sew the item too quickly, cut corners, and skip steps to complete the project in the allotted time.

02d0fcf10d4a027a72e27973cf29abc7My goal was only to get the item finished in the proper amount of time. When I finally figured out that every sewing project did not have a deadline, and that I could take the time that I needed to complete a project properly, I enjoyed sewing a lot more. Sewing became fun and I began to enjoy the process, plus my finished items were of a much higher quality and they wore a lot better.

Another reason that I was willing to cut corners and skip steps to get the finished item completed quickly, was that when I was first starting to sew I grew tired and bored of a project. I just wanted it to be done and over with so that I could start on another project. I would often say “I should really unpick this and sew this again, but I’m not going to. I will just do better on the next project.” I quickly learned that when I did this, I was not pleased with the finished item, and I was not enjoying the sewing process at all because I knew I could have sewn it better.

SLIGHTLY Irregular Designer Jeans.

So, when it came to going back to poor sewing habits just to complete a pair of pants, I decided that I would rather use the little time I had to carefully sew a few seams on a current project, or thoughtfully plan a future project, or, if I just needed to sew,  I would just make a baby sleeper or two. For a needed pair of pants though, I would just see what the Ready To Wear world had available for me instead. I would leave the poor sewing in my past.

Hopefully, life will change again soon, and I will have more sewing time available to me in the future!

Until then, sew forth and enjoy the process on!

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Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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DSCN0801I just love to do Christmas crafting. The idea of making that something special for that special someone really gets me in the Christmas mood and gets my creativity flowing. I love baking holiday cookies, crafting that new ornament for the tree, or sewing that perfect gift. Unfortunately, my hopes, dreams, and ideas are usually bigger than the holiday season, and I never get everything done that I want to, but over the years I have learned to not let that ruin my holiday fun. This year was no exception. I was able to do some holiday crafting, not as much as I would have like to, but some and I am thankful for that.

Each Christmas season, my work has an auction for the Relay for Life cancer event and asks for donations. This year I decided that my Christmas crafting would be to make something to donate. I wanted to make something small that people would not mind spending a dollar or two on. So, when I found some fun snowflake patterns on ravelry, I knew that was what I wanted to make and donate.

DSCN0776The problem with that was that I don’t crochet with thread so don’t have any in my stash, or have any good small sized hooks to crochet with. So I wondered what the snowflakes would look like made out of 4-ply acrylic Red Heart yarn and my favorite size G hook instead? Let’s find out! And the answer is they turn out just great! I had a great time crocheting the snowflakes and changing up the pattern each time so that each flake was just a little different just like real snowflakes. When they were finished though, they were kind of boring. I needed to spice them up.

DSCN0780To do that I found a pattern for a star shape in a scarf pattern I had. That would work to spice up the snowflakes, but what color should I make them in? I started out with a light blue. What about dark blue? Oh, maybe black? No, silver! How about this blue variegated? It is Christmas, so why not some red and green too? I started making stars from all of the colors to see what I liked best and found that I liked them all. Some colors I liked a little more than others, and some colors the husband liked better than others, but all the star looked great with the snowflakes. I had to modify the star pattern a little and use a size H hook to get the larger sized star that I needed to match the snowflakes size.

DSCN0792I thought about stiffening the snowflakes, but I decided not to. Because of the yarn I used, they were already stiff enough. I did block the snowflakes and stars with water to help them lay even and flat. When I started to glue the snowflakes to the stars, the husband said they needed to be spiced up even more, so he helped me use spray adhesive to glue blue and silver glitter to the snowflakes before I used some tacky glue to attach the flakes to the stars.

DSCN0809And now my Christmas snowflakes were complete! With the changes to the snowflake pattern and the different colors of the stars, and the glitter, no two snowflakes are the same just like real snowflakes. These snowflakes were fun to make and turned out great. I hope they will make someone’s Christmas I little bit merrier and make a little money for the Relay for Life event.

In the meanwhile, while watching Christmas movies, I crocheted this little reindeer. I call him Rudy. He has the tiniest body for his big head but he is so cute! He was a fun and quick crochet and will accompany the snowflakes to the auction. Hopefully someone will get a kick out of a tiny crocheted reindeer with a big red nose!

Until next time, crochet forth and Christmas craft on!

I won, but I lost, but I won

Well after organizing and re-packing all of my fabric into fifty two separate boxes, the fabric in my stash is finally organized, pictured, labeled and put back in the closet, or at least mostly put back in the closet. Some of it just would not fit, so it is sitting in boxes next to the closet instead.

And with that my New Year 2013 resolution is finally complete! Yay!

Now that my stash is finally fully organized and under control again, I am very satisfied with the results and very pleased with myself for a job finally completed and done well. It has been a long time coming.

And I felt that it was time for some relaxation and what better way to relax than to check out Fabric Mart’s latest sale? And what better way to reward myself for a job well done than to make a fabric purchase?

Now, a small fabric purchase of a piece or two of shiny new fabric should do just fine I thought to myself. And the fact that it was on sale for an unbelievably awesome deal and that it would not ever enter the stash at all, but would instead be used right away should be a fine reward for anyone who had just completed a total reorganization of their stash, but oh no, not for me. Instead I ended up purchasing 45 yards of fabric on sale at Fabric Mart, for a grand total of 37 pounds of new fabric. Cheese Louise!

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But, but, but the flannel was only two dollars a yard and the wool was imported from Italy, and the pique is just right for the husband’s shirts and at just one dollar per yard how could I not buy at least 10 yards of it? That’s 4 shirts for just $10! Really?!? How could I not buy it ALL? REALLY?!? How could I actually go and BUY more fabric?

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After just spending almost 2 months of my free time reorganizing all of my fabric stash how could I possibly add more to it? Hadn’t I handled enough fabric lately to have grown sick of it? Hadn’t I just found so many pieces that I had long forgot I purchased so it was like a new fabric purchase to me anyway? Hadn’t I been inspired by all of the cool pieces in the stash to do something with them? Why oh why did I feel the need to purchase still more fabric? Now I will have to get more boxes. Now I will have to take more pictures. Now I will have to add more categories to my new stash organization system. When will I ever have the time to sew again?

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Although I can not answer all these questions right now, I can answer the last one. It is time to start sewing again after a two month hiatus. While organizing the stash I found two pair of pants for me already cut out and just waiting to be sewn up. So that is next on my list to do. And I set out 4 pieces of fabric from the stash for baby sleepers. So that will be the second thing I put on my to do list. And I know exactly what piece of fabric I want to use for the husband’s next shirt too.

So let the sewing begin!

And perhaps I can stay busy enough sewing fun new things that my fabric addiction will subside, at least for a short time…  Or until the next great fabric sale that is just too good to pass up, so maybe I am safe for a week or two! I hope!

Bugs and Bunnies and Hearts, oh my!

P1030086Happy Valentines Day!

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I wonder what I should get for my valentine this year? A card? Perhaps some candy? How about a love bug or a love bunny?

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While I was surfing on Ravelry.com recently, I found several fun patterns for Valentine’s Day and so I decided to try a couple of them out. The first was a bunny pattern. It looked just like a giant gummy bear bunny! In PINK no less! The picture on the pattern was so cute, I knew that this might be a possible gift for my valentine. And so I promptly ignored the instructions on the pattern as to the size of hook and yarn that I should use, and instead I picked up my size G hook and Red Heart yarn and started to crochet it. I have done this before and the project has turned out just fine if not great, I thought to myself as I P1030084was remembering my previous project of escargot the snail. Well, this time I was not to be so lucky. As I crocheted, the bunny just kept getting bigger and bigger. All of the cuteness was draining from the bunny with each stitch I took, but still I continued to crochet it anyway. When the 4 pieces of the bunny were all crocheted up, I did not like the size it had turned out at all. I debated about not spending the time or stuffing to stitch him together, but I decided to continue on hoping that after being stuffed and stitched some of the cuteness would return. But it didn’t. I then stitched in the bunnies face in black yarn, but it looked so harsh on the pink that I took it out and stitched it again in brown. Compared to the picture, this bunny was just not the cute little love bunny I wanted to give to my valentine. I debated about making another bunny with the correct size of hook and yarn that the pattern called for, but I was tired of the pattern already and I just wanted to move on.

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P1030087With that decision past me, I decided to give the love bug pattern I had found along with the bunny a try next. It called for a size G hook and red and pink yarn and that is what I already had handy, so I was all set. It’s four parts crocheted up quickly. I thought I would have a problem with the heart wings but they were quite easy to make. I could tell as soon as the parts were crocheted that this little love bug was going to be just as cute as the picture had shown it, and it would be a fine gift for my valentine. The details of the bugs details with the pipe cleaner antennas and the placement of the heart wings, took some time to decide on, but were well worth the time and it turned out very cute. Once my first love bug was done, I thought it was just adorable and so fun to make that I decided to make another. For the second one I used a size F hook and different colors, just to see what I got. The results were just as cute as the first. The size of the hook used did not seem to make much of a difference. And it was fun to make the pattern again. Because the detail decisions had already been made on the first bug, the second love bug in white, worked up very quickly. I did not crochet the stripes in the white love bugs body as I had the first one, and when he was done, he was so white that I went ahead and added the dashed lines of red to his body. I like the look of it and it breaks up the solid white body nicely.

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P1020879I wanted both the bunny and the bugs to stand up by themselves so I added some pony beads to the bottom of their bodies to give them some bottom weight before I stuffed them. The bunny was going to need a lot of beads for weight to stand up, so I made a little pouch first to hold the beads together in the bottom and to hide the color of the beads. I did not really worry about matching the size of the bottom too closely or how round or neat the pouch looked since no one would ever see it but me, so the pouch was simple and quick to make. And it worked out great! Because the pouch of beads worked so well in the bunny, I made another pouch for the beads in the pink bug too. It worked just as well as the bunny’s pouch had. On the white bug though I just added the beads to the bottom of the bug without a pouch. There is only about 10 beads in the bottom of the bugs so I wanted to see if it made a difference, pouch or no pouch. I also had white colored beads so I did not have to worry about the color of them showing through the yarn on the white bug. I don’t really see much difference between the two bugs as far as the weight goes. This has led me to concluded that if the amigurumi is small, it doesn’t matter if the weights are in a pouch or not, but I believe that the bunny due to its larger size is better off with its beads in a pouch so they stay in place in it’s bottom.

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And now that  my gifts are all ready for my valentines this year, will you, will you be mine?

 

And Last In Box Number Three…

The contents of box number 3 is what made it easy to send a box of fabric to Good Will. Box 3 contained a lot of scraps. Although I find scraps useful to hang onto because I sew a lot of kid’s clothes, over the years I have found it easier and easier to just throw scraps away or to discern if there is any usable length to donate or use. Box 3 contained all three types of scraps, some went right to the garbage can, some went back into the stash but most had enough yardage to go into the donation pile.

In box 3 was some useful gray fleece scraps that were just perfect for some kids sweatshirts. I love gray sweatshirts and they are also so much fun to embroider on because almost any design looks good on them. So, these scraps made it to the sew now pile.

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I laid out the gray scraps on my cutting table and then got out all my kid’s sweatshirt patterns in sizes 1 to 4. I started to arrange to pieces and quickly found that one size 1 shirt and one size 4 shirt fit the best. I cut out the pieces for them and then moved to the embroidery machine to get to work putting something fun on them.

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Since many designs would look good on the shirts, I had a difficult time picking just two designs. But, in the end, I turned back to my Peanut’s designs. I picked two designs that I had never stitched before, one for a girl and one for a boy. The gray fleece embroidered beautifully and the designs turned out great. But then again, all Snoopy designs do in my opinion.

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I then went back to the cutting table and picked colors for the ribbing which was easy after the embroidery was done. The sewing of sweatshirts went quickly and was great fun. Kid’s clothes are always fun to sew for me. They are usually simple and the results are always so cute.

Now, as I look at the pile of scraps destined for Good Will, I begin to second guess myself. The gray scraps were transformed into such cute clothes. Couldn’t the rest of these scraps turn into the same? Yes, they could, but I think I will let someone else have the fun of making those scraps into something. And so off to Goodwill they go!

From Box Number Two…

With my first mystery box of fabric shirt done for myself, it was time to make the husband a shirt. From the second mystery box in the closet, I pulled this large piece of blue interlock knit out. Once again, I don’t know where or when I bought it, but I am sure I fell in love with it then as I have again now. It is a beautiful piece of fabric with a great soft feel and stretch.

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I cut the husband’s shirt out and then applied the interfacing to the fabric. The interfacing did not give me any hassle, which was nice. Do you think I have finally figured out the trick to applying interfacing? Or is the interfacing just teasing me, and will bubble and curl even more than normal the next time I use it?

The sewing process for the husband’s shirt went smoothly. Before I opened up the mystery boxes from the closet, I had started a shirt for the husband but had not yet finished it. So as long as I was sewing the new blue shirt, I decided to finish up the first shirt at the same time. It is made from a ribbed green knit that has tons of stretch. Needless to say, with the stretch, the green shirt took more time to finish up than the blue one took to make. I only thought that I used a lot of pins on my shirt to keep the fabric from stretching. It was not even close to the number of pins I had to use on each seam of the husband’s green shirt to keep it from stretching too much.

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Embroidering designs on the shirts became a little more challenging than I expected, well at least on the green shirt. The only difficult part of embroidering on the blue shirt was picking the design. After looking at many designs, I returned to the my first choice, the Peanuts Snoopy as a World War I flying ace. It stitched up nicely on the shirt and it looks great. I love it, of course since it is Snoopy. Hopefully the husband will like it half as much as I do.

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The green shirt was made for the new Haunted Mansion design I had recently digitized for Halloween, but with the stretch, I just was not sure it was going to work out. Luckily over the years, I have learned and remembered some hard learned lessons, so I hooped up a scrap piece of the green fabric and tried the design out first. Due to the stretch, it did not work out. I hooped another piece of green scrap differently this time, tinkered with the design, and tried again. Still it was a No go. Disappointed, I looked though my designs and found a design I just loved, but have just never put on anything until now. So, I present to you superhero Tootsie Roll! The stretchy fabric still gave me a hassle with this design but since it was smaller, stitched from up and down rather than side to side, and had a much lower stitch count, I was able to make it work without too many problems. I think the design turned out cute and I like the chocolate buttons I chose on the shirt with the design.

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Now the dilemma, I want to finish sewing up the fabric from the boxes, but I am anxious to get into the stash and find a piece of fabric for another shirt to put the husband’s Haunted Mansion design on. So, what to do next?