Monday, October 26, 2009

Creative Ennui

I've got the blahs. The "i don't wanna sew ANYTHING" blahs. It comes on me from time to time--hard to imagine but true. I go from constantly drawing patterns in my head all day, getting fabric inspiration from random tv shows and counting the minutes until my son goes down for his nap so that i can dash downstairs and create to, "eh, maybe later." I suppose its just a block. A sewing block.

I think this is due to a string of sewing disappointments. Projects for myself and friends where the image in my head just didn't match the actual project. Frankly, it makes me feel like one of the bottom three on Project Runway, just moments away from being "auf"-ed. (ANd has anyone even noticed that she's pigeon toed? It bugs me every week.) And my current project?--pissin' me off. It's as if my mojo has left me, and i'm havin' a tough time finding it again.

Of course, with any creative endeavor, the key is to get back on the horse. But like any creative block, you don't want to. Better to wallow, i suppose, than to create another failure. (failure! Like 90% of people even noticed the problems--criminey!) It's as if every time i step into my studio, I am expecting Michael Kors to pop out of the shadow and tell me, with his fake tan and smarmy sneer, that my work looks like a baboon's ass. And i would just sit there and nod, thinking, yes, yes it does, and baboon is sooooo last year...

AHH! Where is the passion i had 0nly a few months ago?

I know in time, this will pass, and i will once again be living in my studio--just in time for the rain/flood season, no doubt. But until then, i am endeavoring to push through, forcing myself to get down there for at least an hour a day to do SOMETHING--even if it is make the ugliest Halloween costume ever.

Shut-up Kors!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A real sewing job

Well, I haven't posted in forever is due to the fact that I have an actual sewing job! I am creating 32 (gasp!) mu'u mu'us for a local Halau (hula school). Now, for those thinking this is an easy job becuase they are imagining the type of garment worn by Homer Simpson, think again. mu'u mu'us are really any kind of dress as I am discovering. I am creating a traditional mu'u mu'u with the ruffle on top and bottom. and th other two are really just dresses. with big skirts. Something pretty to twirl while dancing.

I am loving this job because it is relly pushing me out of my comfort zone. The only crutch i have is the Wild Ginger Celebrations software which creates the patterns for me. But that doesn't mean i use them as is--i am still altering and changing them.

Tonight is the first fitting. Only two dresses: my client wants to see as example of each dress before i start making the bulk. This really is a step in the right direction for me. Since i was a kid i wanted to be a fahion designer--not necessarily Calvin Klein, but definitely making clothes. This job is inspiring me, and i hope my client likes what she sees! She could be the network i need to get moving. I could happily create mu'u mu'us as a career. as long as i get to design something for myself from time to time.

Once i have a finished product I will post pics. But here are two of my design drawings (also a push outside the box for me)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Coloring Caddy


(A) rectangle 15"x28"

(B) One rectangle 15x16

(C) rectangle 15x28

(D) rectangle 15x16

(E) rectangle 15x11

(F) 2 strips 20x3

* i marked these pieces all seperately so that i could label them for contruction. Obviously it is your prerogative what kind/color material you use for each piece.

heavy pellon fusible interfacing ( for A & F)
1 piece fusible batting ( for C--doesn't have to be fusible--i just chose it for control during construction)

1. prepare your visible seams on B, D & E. I used a satin stitch edging on E, and turned down 1/2" on B & D. I also added a strip of the pink corduroy to B because it needed some contrast. That piece is probably about 3 inches wide. (didn't measure--just let the muse guide me!)
(2) find the middle of all your pieces and mark them. Fuse interfacing to A. place B on A matching the centers and sew along that center mark. Then find the center horizontally and sew along that line to form pockets.

3) Fuse interfacing to F. To make it easier, cut your interfacing piece 20 x 2” wide. Fold down the edges over the interfacing, fold in half and sew along both edges to make straps. Attach the straps to the right side of A, matching both sides. I used my rotary cutter mat to make sure my placement was spot on. Baste into place.

4) Attach E to D along the middle. Sew another line 1 inch parallel to that middle seam on each side. (This gives you folding room, and makes sure the crayons don’t disappear into the pockets.) Then mark horizontal lines every inch for regular crayons or every 1.5 inches for the fat ones. Make sure to mark from your seam allowance (.5 inch!) Sew these seams creating the crayon pockets.

5) Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of C. Attach the crayon pockets (E&D) to C , joining at the middle seam only. You may want to baste all the pocket sides down at this point as to avoid accidents later.

6) Put your two pieces right sides together, making sure the straps are inside—not poking out of the seam you are about to sew. Sew around the two pieces using .5 seam allowance. Leave an opening for turning—make sure it’s big enough. Clip your corners, trim out excess bulk if you can. Turn your piece, pushing out the corners. Press and sew up the turning hole. Attach hook & loop tape to the corners and fill with crayons and coloring books!

A boyish variation with machine Embroidery:

Friday, January 30, 2009


*Ben's jammie pants from daddy's old boxers

So, my husband has become an avid recycler and composter. And I get to bear the brunt of his excitement. All our recycling is labeled, sorted and taking over my kitchen! And I don't even want to discuss the "compost bowl" since he sees no reason to buy one of those new-fangled compost buckets with the charcoal filter at Williams-Sonoma for 29.95. Every day i get to look into what was once our breakfast/lunch/dinner and wonder why i agreed to this nonsense.

well, because secretly i believe in it too. There is a thrift gene in me that is becoming stronger as this economy continues to tank. I've always had it, having grown up poor and without. But once money and the ability to buy my inner child her every desire came about, I kinda kicked my thrift gene to the curb. But she hung around. She knew it wouldn't last. Eventually owning so many shoes, and every handbag known to man gets dull. And frankly, with this post-baby body, all those cute clothes should be hanging in someone else's closet.

But there are still needs in this house to be fulfilled. clothing for the boy, linens and such for the tables and beds, "pretty" things to please my inner decorator. But in this economy, buying all those things just doesn't make sense.

So, my new passion: upcycling! Taking something that was bound for the thrift store, or worse, the garbage or rag bin, and making it into something functional, and hopefully beautiful. I've already been doing some of this--using Pete's old clothes or some old pillowcases to make Jammies for Ben. But this passion needs fertile ground! It's time to put my creative bend to a utilitarian task! My Chinese New Year resolution, since it's year of the OX, is to do one upcycling project once a month to fill those needs that are in this house! Ok, and maybe a few wants too! And what better way to get my husband into my crafting. Since i told him about this idea, he is handing me things left and right to use! I've had to tell him to slow down, or my project list will look like our paper recycling area! (Don't ask)

So keep an eye out for my first upcycle project, the t-shirt and jeans quilt.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Double Sided Door Snake

So i know you've seen this on TV--i know you, you late night lurkers! Anyway, amidst your Star Trek Reruns and Knitting shows, you may have seen an ad for a door snake that covers both sides of the door, and thought--well hell, i could MAKE that. Guess what? it's even easier than imagined. Took me the total of 30 minutes--and i was stopping to take pics so that i could make this tut! Easy as pie, my friends!

First step--material. Since i was doing this from scratch, I went to my stash to find a piece big enough to use, and ugly enough that i didn't care if it got trashed. I found this fleece remnant and figured it was perfect. This was for a door most wouldn't see, so I didn't care too much about looks. In hindsight, this was a good choice, simply because the fleece was super easy to work with, and is great for keeping out the cold! BTW---I found this piece in the remnant cart at JoAnn's--for a song! If you don't need a huge piece, and aren't looking for a particular color, the remnant pile is THE place for fleece.

Anyway, i had previously measured the door (36" wide and 2" thick). I have no idea is this is standard, so measure your own door! Add 16 inches to the thickness. Now, add 1 inch to both the length and width of this piece for seam allowances and you've got your rectangle. Mine measured 19x37. In hindsight, I should have added one more inch to the length of my design--I've got a small gap at one end. Measure twice, cut once--works for sewing too! Once you've got your piece cut, serge your ends. If you're using fleece, it really isn't necessary, but i liked the look of a finished edge.

Ok. Now, on each long side, fold over 4.5 inches (This will make a thick snake. If you want thinner, change your initial measurements. I added 8" on either side of the 2" door width. Draw this out if it helps--for a thinner snake, change that 8" measurement. 4" would be good.) Once that is folded over, pin it down and stitch 1/2" from the raw edge. Then sew 1/4" from the edge fro a strong double seam. Shortening your stitch will make a tighter seam so your filling won't have a chance to leak. My machine has a few quilting stitches, so i used the piecing stitch. Repeat this for the other side. Once the two long ends are done, use this seam for one end. I also serged the end to tidy it up--you know how fleece can shift...

Here comes the fun part. Get a piece of cardstock or sturdy but flexible cardboard. Curl it sot hat you have a cone, and insert the small end into one tube and release. Instant funnel! I filled my tubes with kitty litter (cheap and it absorbs odor!) but you can use rice or some other heavy filler. I figured the kitty litter was cheaper. I just scooped it into the tube until I had about 1.5 space left, jiggled it a bit to get some leverage on the open end, dragged it over to the machine and stiched. Repeat for the other tube, and then, of course, the ubiquitous serge to tidy up the end. Voila! One completed double door snake!

*some ladies on SewForum suggested using pipe insulation instead of kitty litter! Fantastic idea. then you wouldn't have to seal the ends, and you could slip out the insulation to wash these when needed! Thanks for the great idea ladies!

Now, slip it under your door and you've got a door snake that moves with the door, and doubles your draft protection! If you're worried about chewy pets, give it a quick spray with apple bitters, and they will leave it alone. Once you've got it installed, make yourself a hot drink and relax. You're heating bills are decreasing already!

By the way--what to do with the fleece you have leftover? What about reusable swiffer cloths?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Every once in a while JoAnns will have a tremendous sale on patterns--a 99cent extravaganza. And a while back when i felt the need to fill out my pattern cache, I took those sales very seriously--researching all the patterns i wanted from whichever particular brand was on sale, and having a field day in the pattern drawers. As an aside--there is something deeply comforting about the sound of those pattern drawers-the feel--like ball bearings on velvet, or the taste of the perfect custard. It's a creamy feel, those drawers, and it's one of my personal joys to pore over a drawer of patterns to locate that gem I saw only moments before on a page. And the feel of a new pattern envelope! Everything flat and pressed--not like the jumbled mess that occurs AFTER you cut everything out.

But back to my sale. So with a new baby at home, I felt the primordial need to create a "busy book. You know--use up all those scraps like our grandmothers of yore. Be thrifty! Create an heirloom. One thing i had forgotton though is the amout of time these sorts of things took, and the crazy little efforts to applique this and button that. This pattern sat in MY pattern drawer (a not quite as pleasing vintage wood drawer with the unmistakable squawk of Wood against wood) until just a month ago. I was pulling out some other patterns to scan into my new catalog (trying to make a buck or two in this economy) when i ran across it again and realized--yes it was time. My son is now two. It's time to learn to button and tie and zip.

I decided to embroider the cover to make it personal. I had lofty goals to embroider the blank pages opposite the activity pages with the "instructions", but by the time i got to this, I just wanted to finish the damn thing and move on.

I found that some of the pages had no real skill at all. And nowhere in this beast was a snap to be found. Is a snap not a worthwhile skill? More challenging than velcro, which found itself highlighted on at least TWO pages. The Cat page simply had jingle bells in the bowtie, and the butterfly had crinkly wings. Where's the challenge there?

So i changed the cat to a snap on bowtie, as well as replaced the velcro on the birds nest with snaps. As for the butterfly, I lost inspiration, and simply sewed on a bow to tie. I don't expect my toddler to master tying anytime soon, but he can practice here as much as he wants.

This pattern required a great amount of felt. I was hoping to really dig into my statsh to put this together, but instead had to make an emergency run to Michael's to fill my felt cache. (and inexpensive cahe to have) Once i got over my disappointment, I began to realize how easy felt made thi project. If i had to sew and turn all thos little bits, I would have put a bullet in my brain. Or at least ran my hands through the serger.

In the end, I had to finish up the hand work--sewing buttons on and closing doggy stomachs, lest his poly intestines came free. After that came construction. But i was so DONE with this thing that i didn't pay attention, and sewed up the wrong sides when i put the pages together. They were supposed to be on the Right side with the left side blank. Oncei realized my mistake, I just rolled with it. There was no way i was going to rip anything else out and begin again. This book needed finished before my son awoke from his nap. Period.

Said son loves this book by the way. He will sit for some time, babbling in his "sweet" voice and trying to rip the buttons off. Fine praise indeed.