Sunday, April 27, 2008

No time now!

That is...I have no time! Between visiting relatives, birthday party planning, and a dance show, I've had little to no time to craft. I think after the birthday party things will calm down. I hope--I just figured out the style of bag I want to try to make and the Bell Bottom fabric will look great!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I want to experiment with making a purse. I have some lovely fabric that would suit a beach tote and another that is just wonderful--can't decide what yet. I finally found a purse shape that I'm going to attempt--someday, when I have time. I don't have a pattern to follow, so it will also be my first time in trying to make a pattern. Should be an adventure.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fresh Bread and Freshly-Squeezed OJ for Breakfast

I've seen other blogs with beautiful pictures of food! This is not one of them, though I'm hoping to get better. This was our breakfast over the weekend:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Little Hook

This is just a little latch hook, just like used for a latch-hook rug. When I got it at a yard sale (with a bunch of other sewing things), I thought it was used for bringing snags in sweaters to the inside. I was able to use it when the elastic in the material from the previous post started to unravel. I wish I knew what it was called.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Narrow Hem

I used my 1/4" narrow hem foot to hem that dress. It was my first experience using specialty sewing feet. My goal is to sew fast and with a minimum of hassle. I think the narrow hem foot helped with that goal. I followed the tutorial here and here. It was not super easy to use, but it was certainly easier than what I would have done previously. I needed to restart a number of times as the fabric was fed into the foot the wrong way. I also went over the seam by hand. Here are some of the bad spots. In addition to too much and too little fabric feeding into the foot, the other thing I found was that sometimes the fabric would go under the foot instead of being rounded into the fold. Over all I found it pretty quick and certainly worth the not-perfect results. Practice will help too.

Super Quick Dress

So I used some of the pre-elaticized fabric being sold now. I bought mine at JoAnn's with a 40% off coupon. All I did was buy a cut of fabric 1" smaller than my daughter's chest measurement (it's sold by the inch), trim it more neatly at home, measure for the length (17" below the last elastic line for a 9 year-old), sew the back seam and hem (using a narrow hem foot--that will be the next post). I think it took me a total of 1 1/2 hours. I spent some extra time fixing where some the elastic came undone and then reinforced the seam over the elastic with a really short stitch length so that I didn't have to worry about the elastic coming undone again. This dress could have been even quicker if I hadn't bought such a long fabric. I had to hem it.
But the fabric is really cute, isn't it? My girl has discovered that she loves paisley.
On a down note, after her first day of wearing it, the elastic irritated her skin so I'll need to add a liner of some stretchy t-shirt material to the front of the elastic part.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Too Pretty to Cut

Ever had a fabric that you just fell in love with? I found a number of fabrics that I just thought were great and bought a few yards of each. The only problem now is that I think they must just be too pretty to use. Every time I think I'd like to turn one into something (skirts for the girls, purse for myself, apron, cover for my mixer, tea cozy), I keep wondering if I won't find a better project for it. That's one of the reasons I haven't yet started anything with the Sis Boom fabrics I won. They're all just so pretty and I want to make the best use of them. I've definitely decided it's going to be something I can look at and enjoy. So kid's clothes are not on the list.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Clothes for You: Chapter 1

This chapter advocates taking a good, hard, honest look at yourself. Recognize the attractive qualities and the peculiarities. Appreciate your individuality. Don't be a copy cat, but also don't be deliberately eccentric. In order to appear your best, you must know what you've got to work with. It takes real courage to come face to face with your faults.

It is hard to recognize bad points, but they, as well as the good ones, should be recorded. This gives a baseline from which to work and to compare to in the future. It's a good idea to use pictures: in the clothes you currently wear, and a front and side view of your face and head. Age, health, figure traits like posture, weight, proportions, face shape and profile, length of neck, facial features, skin, hair, coloring are all qualities that should be observed. Take into account your likes and dislikes. Good personal grooming is the key to a smart look. People can't be statues, so in moving make sure you avoid irritating mannerisms like an annoying voice, fingernail biting, tapping, swinging feet, fiddling, adjusting undergarments, and biting lips that might mar your appearance. Once these are recorded, you can begin a plan of attack. It will be quite satisfying to know that you're going to improve.

This chapter ends with the following recommended projects:
  1. Make a chart for your plan that includes the noted characteristics
  2. Full-length picture in a tight bathing suit
  3. Picture in an outfit you consider attractive
  4. Record an analysis of yourself on your chart
  5. List your like and dislikes that influence your appearance
  6. Have someone prepare a list of mannerisms and facial expressions that mar your appearance (I would definitely not ask a spouse)
  7. Listen to a recording of your voice and determine qualities to change
  8. Make a score card to score your grooming

Here's an example of a woman after undergoing a thorough personal revamp.

Here's an example of how physical mannerisms car mar your appearance.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Crochet Necklace

This gorgeous necklace doesn't look too hard (I only know very basic stuff and just doing a chain can be really time consuming for me). Pattern here and found via Craft Magazine blog.
ADDED: Since the author doesn't give any pattern for the flower, I would guess that you'd crochet a circle a multiple of four(?), and then single, double, treble, double, single into each chain.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

For When Your Domestic Diva Comes Out to Play

I, being the post-feminist that I am (or that I at least think I am, as if I even knew what that meant), really did not think aprons were worthy of attention...until I tried one. Not only did it keep food off my clothes when cooking (which I didn't start worrying about until I realized I couldn't afford to just throw them away when they got stained), it's like having a dish towel whenever and wherever you need one. It is also a great way to do a quick dusting when you realize your housekeeping has been slacking (and mine always is).

But do you want to look like this?

I think not!

But thanks to this site, I realize an apron can look like these:

Or like this:

OK--fun and hot! What's not to like? That, and your clothes will stay nice and your hands clean and your countertops and tables are less likely to be dusty.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sewing Machine Purchases

There are two things I really hate when I'm sewing: hems and bias binding.

Hems drive me nuts because I take them very seriously. I mark them using a removable marking pencil at 1/4", fold that down and iron it, then mark them again, fold them down, iron them, pin them like crazy, and then sew it all together. Doesn't that sound like too much work? I ordered a narrow hemming foot from AllBrands. I'm hoping it actually works. I just got it today so I'm going to start experimenting!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bitty Booties

I made this free pattern from Heather Bailey of Hello, My Name is Heather and Fresh Cuts fabric fame. Her fabric (as well as Sis Boom) was featured in the Do It Yourself magazine from Better Homes and Gardens.

I made these for a friend of mine who just had a little girl. I picked this pattern because it seemed straightforward. It was a straight forward pattern, but I had a really hard time putting these things together--and I was even able to use a short cut. You'll see that instead of stabilizing the edges of the tops of the shoes with stitching or ribbon, I have a stitched down seam. This is actually because I used a really cute pair of cordoruys that my youngest daughter used to have. They had a decorative seam running down the front of the leg and I centered the top of the pattern on that seam and just opened it up where a split is required.

For reinforcing the open-end of the seam, I used some ribbon folded into a triangle (glued to help hold it together while I sewed it down). I decided to make that a decorative element. I like how the ribs of the ribbon echo the cordoruy wale.

Making these shoes took forever. The seam allowance is so tiny that I ended up hand-stitching a number of holes closed. I will probably just hand-stitch the next pair. I also had a hard time with easing of the toe-box. It turns out that my brilliant idea of using a seamed top peice meant that it was too thick to ease through the front of the toe.

After I was finished with the shoes I was not going to embellish them at all--I just want to be done! But, when I took a few days rest and looked at them with fresh eyes, I decided to add a little something.

This is my first embroidery. I chose something simple--daisy with a french knot center. It's not perfect--next time I will mark a circle before stitching.

I really don't think they hold a candle to what's in the Bitty Booty Flickr group. Those things are just gorgeous.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Vintage Book: Clothes for You by Mildred Graves Ryan and Velma Phillips

Copyright 1947, 1954.

This book seems to be directed to high school level students to teach them how to look their best and be a smart clothes consumer. Highly applicable even today! The book has three parts: 1) What Can You Do to Be More Attractive?, 2) What Factors Influence the Buying of Clothes?, 3) How Can You Make Good-Looking Clothes?

I tried photographing the preface. Let me know if you can read it after clicking on the pictures for an enlarged view.

Of course I won't be posting extensive excerpts from the book (copyright, you know). I may summarize certain sections of interest. If I find any good illustrations, I'll pass them along.

Vintage Books

I love going to library fundraising sales. I always go and skim the crafts and cooking section. I've gleaned a number (meaning around 10 or 20) of interesting old books related to fashion, homemaking, and needlework from the 60s or earlier. I will tell you that the older cook books are pretty scary.

I thought I'd highlight a few of them here. Maybe someone out there reading this would find them as interesting as I do. Sometimes I feel like an archeologist or anthropologist and other times I'm just wondering if I'll ever get up the guts to wear white gloves and a pillbox hat and leave a calling card at someone's house when visiting. Some of the rules have changed so dramatically that reading them is purely a matter of gaining a historical perspective. Other things I've read have given me a new way to look at my role as a woman and appreciate some of the modern advantages.