Tag Archive | picture

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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Penelope or When A Picture Doesn’t Say A Thousand Words

DSCN3945It was love at first sight AGAIN when I saw the pictures of this pterodactyl pattern. The absolute cuteness in these pictures was causing me to pick this pattern as my next amigurumi project. Once I got started on the crocheting though, I could see that the pictures didn’t tell the whole story, so I will explain the missing parts.

Excited to get crocheting the pieces for this amigurumi, I easily picked out two shades of purple yarn and a cream yarn from the stash to make this pterodactyl. As I quickly read through the pattern, I could tell right away that is was not going to be an easy or fast pattern to crochet or stitch together. I still wanted to make it thought so I got started on it. I crocheted it from the bottom up, starting with the tail, legs and feet and then moving on to the beak and the body. All was going well until it was time to crochet the head and the crown.

DSCN3947Looking at the pictures in the pattern, there was a stripe of cream in the head and crown, but as I read the pattern it said nothing about a color change. Maybe the stripe was a separate piece that was to be stitched on after the head and crown were crocheted and stuffed? There were no instructions for such a stripe in the pattern. I studied the picture and reread the pattern, only to finally notice in the pictures that the cream stripe was the sun shining through the trees and on to the pterodactyl.

Sadly there were no color changes or a separate stripe on the head and crown, the pictures in the pattern had mislead me in believing there was. The only place the cream color yarn was going to be used was around the eyes. I thought about trying to add the stripe, but then I decided to just follow the pattern and make the head and crown one solid color with no stripes. I was not too disappointed that there was not a cream stripe in the head and crown because the pieces were crocheting up nicely.

DSCN3946When I came to the wings, I faced another picture dilemma. I crocheted the arms and wings last by following the instructions of the pattern. After completing the wings, I held them to the pterodactyl’s body and then looked again at the pictures. In the pattern, there were no real instructions or pictures for stitching this amigurumi together. You just had to figure it out on a wing and a prayer.

Per the pictures, it looked like the wings were attached to the body, but I could not figure out how to attach the wings versus how they were crocheted. I studied the pictures and twisted and turned the wings to no avail. Luckily the husband happened along. He had to study the pictures for a minute as well, but then concluded that the wings were attached to the arms, not the body. Only then did it make sense to me as to how the wings were crocheted versus how they were stitched on. It also explained why the arms were so long.

DSCN3950I started from the top to stitch the pterodactyl together, stitching the crown and beak to the head first. The safety eyes were only snapped on to the cream eye circles. The ends of the safety eye were inserted into the head and the eyes were stitched into place by stitching the cream eye circles to the head. The arms with the wings attached were stitched on next and then the tail.

I started stitching at the top because I wanted this pterodactyl to stand up. And I knew that I needed all its parts attached so that I could balance its weight on its legs and feet. I spent some time decided where to attach the legs to the body to get this amigurumi to stand. After attaching the legs and feet, I can with a lot of help and persuading get this pterodactyl to stand up by itself. There is just too much unbalanced weight between the crown, beak, arms, wings and tail for those little legs and feet to hold things very steadily, but it can stand if it wants to.

DSCN3953With all the pieces stitched together, this amigurumi took on a feminine side and became a girl. The husband and I debated back and forth about names, but finally settled on Penelope. I like the name and think Penelope the Pterodactyl turned out just as cute as the pictures in her pattern were, if not a little cuter. Hopefully, she can find a good home to fly around in.

Until then, crochet forth and fly on!

Just Three Inches More…

P1040317I have not had time to do much sewing lately, but what I have done, the sleepers and the little dresses, I have throughly enjoyed making. Now it was time to get down to business and get back to work on the altering of the my basic sloper pattern for some fun new summer shirts for myself. Not a fun task, but it is some sewing that I needed to do. With that, I pulled out my camp shirt pattern, a shirt with a collar and lapel, and laid it out on the cutting table.

Altering this pattern was really easy. I had already done all of the hardest altering work on my last pattern, the collarless v-neck shirt. Since I did not feel the need to reinvent the wheel, I laid the first pattern over the second pattern and made the same changes. I figured why not since the three collarless v-neck shirts I had made previously fit and wear well. So, with the alterations done so quickly, it was time to start cutting and then on to the sewing.

P1040316Looking through my stash photos, I quickly picked a fabric that I really liked to make this shirt out of. I figured since I was fairly secure about the alterations I had made that I would use one of my precious pieces of fabric. But just then, the voices in my head talked me out of it and for the most part I’m glad that they did, except it made this project more work for me and here is why.

Looking again at my stash photos, I picked another piece of fabric that I was not as fond of. After digging it out of the stash, I realized that it was not as large a piece of fabric as I thought it was. And as I laid my pattern pieces on the fabric they just did not fit. Rather than doing the right thing and returning to my stash photos to find a larger piece of fabric, the voices in my head said to just go ahead and make this fabric work. All I had to do was to cut the facings separately and not have them attached to the front of the shirt, and then the pattern would fit just fine on the fabric. I knew this was not a good idea, but the voices in my head said it would work out fine and to just do it. So, I did, and it didn’t.

P1040312After cutting the facings separately from the front of the shirt, I sewed the facings onto the front of the shirt. I then ironed the facings very carefully. The sewed on facings worked great at the buttons part of the shirt, but failed at the lapel part. At the lapel, the seam attaching the facings was obvious and ugly. So lesson learned. No, it is not ok to save fabric on a camp shirt and cut the facings separately from the front of the shirt and still have it look fine. It was ok though. After all, this was just a muslin test of my latest altered pattern, so I was not supposed to be happy with it.

Now since I was unhappy with the lapels, I wanted to see if I could spice the shirt up a little and see if I could still make it a wearable muslin. With this, I decided to make the sleeves white and add an embroidered pocket to the front. I figured that would draw the eye away from the ugly lapels. So I grabbed some white fabric that I had out already, but it was not large enough for the sleeves. Being lazy and not wanting to dig through the stash yet again, I decided to just add a band at the bottom of the sleeves and I like the end results. The band makes the white sleeves look more like a design decision not just an after thought.

P1040266I embroidered a nice Snoopy design on some of the left over white scraps from the sleeves, and made the front pocket with it. The pocket turned out really cute, but when I stitched it to the front of the shirt, I thought that it looked terrible. I could not unpick it from the shirt fast enough. I thought about embroidering the Snoopy design directly onto the shirt but opted not to. I just did not think it was going to look the way that I wanted it to in my head, so why not save the thread and stabilizer for another project later on.

P1040267Now back to what this shirt was originally made for, I have worn the shirt and it wore well. I still need to adjust the placement of the buttons a bit though. When I sit, the buttons are not where they need to be to let the front of the shirt gap a little. I also noticed that I needed the armscye a little deeper in the back on this shirt. I don’t know if this is an alteration issue or a fabric issue. This fabric is quite stiff and has very little give so it might be just that.

With this shirt completed, I should make another shirt to verify that the alterations made are working well, but this was not really a fun sew for me. And I just don’t want to make another shirt right now. Instead I want to go back and make more fun little dresses. So I think I will do that next instead of what I should be doing. I think that if I make something fun and then return to making another shirt from this newly altered pattern I will feel a little less stressed about it.

Until next time, sew forth and sew on!

This is Halloween…

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Happy Halloween Everyone!

Hopefully you enjoy this years Halloween/Day of the Dead Diorama that my husband creates for me every year from all of my crocheted Halloween Amigurumi creations! I sure do, and I think this years is the best yet!

October 31st, straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

IMG_8549 - Version 5The Day of the Dead celebration (Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include making catrinas, building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

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!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

P1020861With the sorting of all my fabric in the stash finally completed, it was time to start re-boxing it all back up. And I must say that I just hated to be putting all of my lovely fabric back into boxes. I was wishing as I was packing it back up that I had a way of displaying everything in my stash at once so I could see what I have without looking in the boxes. I could have bought the clear plastic totes to box up the stash in, but I am a frugal person at heart and I didn’t want to put out the money for them.

So, how else could I box my stash back up and yet still be able to see what I had in the boxes?

The answer was a simple one of course! A picture of the contents of the box, taped to the outside of the box, would let me see what I had in the box and yet the fabric would be safe and secure in storage inside it’s box. This also went hand in hand with the way I wanted the stash categorized for my needs.

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P1020916So my Organizational Categories that I came up with are as follows: Category 1 is Knits, solid colors, 2 yards or longer. And so in the first box I arranged 9 pieces of knit solid color 2 yards or longer fabric in the box. I had picked darker colors to go into this box. And since I had taken the time to pre-sort all of my fabrics as I unboxed them all, I knew that I had all of my pieces of this type of fabric together.

Once I was sure they would fit in the box ok, I then removed the 9 pieces of fabric and took a picture of them. I then re-boxed up the 9 pieces of fabric, and then I printed out the picture I took and labeled the box and picture 1a. Next I placed the picture in a plastic sheet protector and taped it to the front of the box so I could easily see it from the side as it was stacked with other boxes in the closet. Since I have many more pieces in this category, I repeated the process for the next box but labeled it 1b and so on with the next boxes of fabric.

Now when I decide that I want to make something that will require a piece of solid color knit fabric of more than 2 yards in length, I will only need to look at the photos on the boxes in the 1XX series to determine which box I need to open. And when I remove a piece of fabric from a box, I will pull the picture out of the plastic protector and mark out the fabric on the picture showing that it has been used and is no longer in the box. Also, if I need to condense boxes in the future, I can just retake the pictures for the the front of the box to show the boxes current inventory.

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P1020923Fortunately or unfortunately, depending who you are and how you think about it, I am not parting with very much of the fabric from my stash. I had started this project with the original intent of getting rid of quite a bit of the fabric that I would probably never use while I was organizing and categorizing it. But that didn’t end up happening.

While I was discussing my intentions with the husband, he asked why I wanted to part with any of my fabric that I had spent so long carefully curating, and he was right. Why would I? It isn’t like I didn’t have room to store it or anything like that. And each piece in the stash is a wanted piece of fabric that I was willing to give money for and was willing to store, sometimes for many years on end.

He wondered why I would part with these pieces only to end up going back out and purchasing them again in the end. I told him it was probably the thrill of the purchase, to which, he of course responded with some smart comment about charging me for each piece that I removed from the stash so I felt like I was getting nothing for my money. I promptly ignored his last comment, but I took his other comments to heart.

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P1020873Of course, there are always those pieces that you just adored back when you first purchased them and at the time knew just exactly what you wanted to make from them, but after aging in a box for awhile, they just don’t have the same appeal to you when you next see them. And all of those pieces have now departed the stash and are being sent to a local charity that makes things to sell at craft shows.

Also a lot of my older scraps that I had been storing are finally making their way to the garbage can. I view scraps quite differently now than I used to.

Previously I would always keep all my scraps, just in case, you never know, like aliens are landing on earth and the only thing that would save us is if I could make a rope from the tied together pieces of the scraps and we could climb down from the rooftop using the rope made from the scraps and we would be saved from certain destruction, and on and on. But after storing the scraps now for years, and just never really needing them, they are finally departing the stash.

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P1030024I remember the first time that I ever threw away the scraps from a project, it upset me greatly and I ended up retrieving the scraps from the garbage can, but I then found a bit of bravery and threw them away again. And I did not in the end ever miss or need them. It was all ok.

So, now it is time I have decided for the scraps in the stash to just go away. Now, bear in mind, that I am pretty conservative about what I consider to be scraps. If I can squeeze a baby sleeper or a size 6 month t-shirt out of a scrap, it’s not a scrap. Instead it is still a usable piece of fabric to me. So, the scraps I am parting with really are scraps. Two or three inches here, four of five inches there, etc, but even at that I even kept some or the cuter scraps for appliqués.

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P1020875As I am writing this I am still in the long process of re-boxing the stash. It is a very slow and painstaking process and so I am taking it slow. I wanted to get this sorting and boxing process done right this time, because I want the stash organized and under control for the first time in a very long time.

And I want to be able to easily and quickly find what I want, when I want it. So far it is looking good with my chosen categories and pictures. And I am excited to be done with the boxing and to start on my next project and to be able to find a piece of fabric from the stash without spending hours looking for it as I would have previously. My husband was nice enough to design me a small computer database of the categories and photos so that before I even head to the stash I can see an overview of everything I have without even leaving my sewing room. I have my fingers crossed that it will all work as I had planned. Here is to hoping that I am right!