Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ohio in April and May...

Is stormy!! We are having a downpour/thunderstorm right now and I LOVE thunderstorms. All I want to do when it rains is stay inside and work on a project!

Unfortunately, right now that project is statistics. And after statistics it's going to be Spanish. And then after that it's going to be ripping out all the seams I sewed yesterday. But at least it's raining and I don't have to go anywhere! :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ohhhhh sigh!

Boy these past two days... let's just say I did not get very far in the end!

I am making a dress without ever taking a sewing class and without having made anything but quilts before (not true... I made a futon cover for Art once, but that was really like a big pillow case). All I have to go on is my mom's memory of high school sewing class and Andrea's tutorial... and while these are both great sources, I am still screwing up an awful lot and spend a lot of time frustrated!!

Here's a fun fact... if you grab a rotary cutter by the wrong side, you will realize exactly how sharp they are... ouch!

I cut the first part of the bodice with my brand new pinking shears, but I have since gone crawling back to my beloved rotary cutter to cut out my pattern pieces, and I will just finish them with the shears later.

Yesterday I got this far:

That's the armhole. So far, this has been the only thing that I did right!! Here are the pieces for the neck bands, with the "fusible" interfacing attached... I'm not too thrilled with how this interfacing stuck, but I'm pretty sure it's just because I'm not patient enough to hold the iron on for as long as it takes, despite all the advice I've been given. I can't tell you how much I hate pressing seams on quilts, and I hate doing it equally as much on apparel!! Oh well.

I sewed these together, then ripped the seams out, them flipped them, ripped the seams out, then flipped them again, stitched them to the bodice, only to realize that I sewed the wrong pieces to the bodice, and those pieces are also inside out (my lining is the same fabric as the outside). So, tomorrow, if you wish you find me, this is where I will be:

Sigh. The good thing is that I did not make any mistakes that can't be fixed with a seam ripper and new stitches. I have another day off tomorrow, but have to dedicate the morning to Rosetta Stone and statistics, so tomorrow afternoon I will HOPEFULLY have the bodice finished. And then I think I may set the dress aside for a while and work on Art's placemats to get back into some familiar territory!

The very good thing is that I started early: I don't have to wear this dress until June 19! Even with all my screw ups, I'm enjoying this dressmaking... Art's quilt was SO much easier than the first one I made, because I knew what to expect, so I can imagine that the next apparel project I make will be easier than this one.

And that's that!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dress Day 1

Well, it's not really day one, but I made the first stitch of the yellow maxi dress today!!

I spent the early part of the morning scanning the rest of my pattern pieces and pasting them together. I'm glad I did it, because that way I can make this dress in one of the other styles again if I want to. Or, the more likely option, I screw up one of these and need a new piece!

I made all kinds of flubs today. Nothing too catastrophic, and nothing I couldn't fix. Well, except for this:

Yes, that is a hole in the black fabric in the shape of an iron. I am so used to working with heavy cottons for quilting, and ALL my clothes are wash-and-wear (read: cheap), so I always just crank that iron up all the way when I use it. Apparently when you press a 400 degree iron onto silk polyester, bad things go down. Noted.

Then came the pattern placing and cutting parts. Andrea told me to finish the fabric with a serger or pinking shears, and I definitely do not have a serger (or really even know what one is), so I went to use my mom's Singer pinking shears that would probably stay pristine in a chemical fire, only to find out that they are LEFT HANDED. Bummer. In an act of total altruism, my mom tells me she'll treat me to a new pair of pinking shears. She does this sometimes, and I do not complain. So since the Stitching Post has closed (well not quite yet, they're still having their "sale" but I kind of refuse to go back), we went to this tiny little house-turned-sewing-shop just down the road from Stitching Post. Did they have pinking shears? ONLY LEFT HANDED ONES. Hello? Am I in an Alanis Morissette song? Is it 1994? We ended up at Joann, of course, where they had lots of pinking shears, and of course they were on sale. Hello, small businesses, I am trying to help stimulate the local economy. Could you throw me a bone here? I came home with a pair of Gingham shears that even come in a little tin. I love things that come in little tins.

Hm. Well, I was so excited about my new pinking shears that while cutting out the pieces for my bodice, I just lobbed off where I should have cut out notches. Not on all of them, I did remember to make one. So I traced them onto the wrong side of the fabric along with the markings and we're going to hope that works. I had a heck of a time pinning this waify paper to silk polyester. Times like this make me miss quilting. Mat, fabric, right angle, rotary cutter, done. (Of course, on my first quilt I cut out about 100 triangles one inch TOO SMALL. So I'm used to setbacks). But I did manage to get a good looking two pieces cut:

They aren't perfect, which is driving me a little crazy. My t-shirts are color coordinated. I need perfection in my life. There are ripples in the pattern piece but it took me about an hour to get this all pinned, so it was as good as it's going to get. And hey! You can see my lonely little double notch on the right pattern piece. I will try to be good next time.

I know I should have waited and cut out the rest of the pieces of the bodice, but I couldn't wait. These four pieces were all going to get stitched together anyway, so why not now? And this is what they look like now:

This should be interesting. I have absolutely no plans tomorrow and it's supposed to be cold and rainy, so I might have to sequester myself back to the sewing room (which is actually my brother's bedroom, but he is at Michigan getting a Ph.D. in something really complicated so I'm pretty sure he isn't coming home for a while!) and see if this is really going to come together. I have about double the fabric I need for the bodice, and I'm pretty confident that even I can't screw up sewing three straight panels of fabric together to make the skirt, so I have plenty of wiggle room to ruin it a few times.

Today, Dress 2, Amy 1. Tomorrow is another day!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A little progress!

Well, I didn't exactly sew all day like I had planned...

Ohio has FINALLY decided to turn into summer weather and the past two days have been GORGEOUS. So, when my friend Clara invited me over to her house to lay out today, I had to accept... if not to spend time with a great friend, to be in the sun for a few hours!! And I definitely don't regret it... it's amazing what a mood stabilizer the sun is!!

So, it was around 4:30 when I got home, and I sat down for a little while to start my dress! I cut the pieces out, and then I decided that I wanted a hard copy just in case I decide to make it again. So, pretty much ever since then (minus a short visit to my aunt's to see my grandma) I've been scanning in the pieces bit by bit, piecing them together in Photoshop. It's pretty tedious, but I think it's worth it. The only thing I'm having issues with right now is the fact that when I iron the pieces, all the wrinkles don't come out. I don't want to burn them but I'm so OCD about wrinkles... that's why I only have a few pieces of clothing I have to iron... because it has to be perfect!! Haha.

Anyway, I don't start training for work until next Monday, so all I have on docket for this week (since I'm done with UD's semester! Woo hoo!) is my Sinclair class and 3 45-minute tutoring sessions. So I imagine I will have lots of time to sew!

My lovely friend Andrea sent me a garment sewing tutorial today, and BOY did it clear up lots of things about this dress business!! I'm really looking forward to it now that it isn't so intimidating. It was such a nice thing for her to do!! :)

Also, I may be nixing the roman shades. Art says he might want to put blinds in all the windows - and hey, if he's buying, I'm not complaining!! So perhaps just some simple panel curtains and a window seat cushion. And placemats. And paintings. Hmm... I think that's suitable for a housewarming present!!

Welp, back to scanning!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bonus sewing day!!

I'm WAY ahead of schedule on my finals!! I only have a paper and a few statistics assignments to go and I'll be DONE for the semester!! I got lucky with the finals schedule this semester, since I only have one actual sit-down final and the rest are take home... and the one sit-down final is today at 2:30 (I know, finals on a Saturday--what were they thinking?!)... but at least it will be out of the way!!

THAT means I get to start sewing tomorrow instead of Tuesday!! I have a lot to work on. I just added to my list three 59 3/4 in. wide roman shades for Art's new house... as long as they are cheaper than $60 a piece, we have success. I tell ya, blinds are so freaking expensive!! But I actually like roman shades better anyway. And they will be all white, so that fabric should run pretty cheap. They need to go all the way up (because the sun is so BEAUTIFUL when it sets in the back of the house) and all the way down (because the sun is so BRIGHT when it sets in the back of the house)... so I'll be looking for a pattern for those soon.

I'll also be making curtains for those three windows, but that will come later. Art and his roommate mark do not care about window treatments, trust me. ;)

Here's a picture of the back of the house where two of the roman shades will go (the other window is just to the right). Man, that sun is gorgeous, isn't it?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Quilts

To ease my anxiety about sewing this maxi dress, my friend Andrea sent me a very long, wonderful email with all sorts of tips and how-tos. I feel totally 100% more confident now!! She is just starting to quilt, so I wanted to post a few pictures of my two completed quilts for her and everybody else. I'm completely self-taught in quilting, so be nice. :)

Quilt for the Kozlowski wedding, 2006 (PS, that dark blue fabric used for the inner border was my favorite favorite fabric I have ever seen):

Close up of the piecing. All the triangles don't match up, but they are pretty close!

For the quilting part, I just used an all-over even diagonal pattern. My machine has a tool that is basically an extended arm out from the needle that matches the seam you just sewed, so that the stitches are all the same distance apart. You can also see the binding. This quilt I'm making now is the first time I'm doing the binding on my own. I had this done at a tiny little quilt shop that has since closed, so I'm going to venture out this time. Oh, and see that white line in the corner of the inner border? THAT'S why you don't want to use a quilt pencil EVER. Buy erasable quilt markers instead!!

Art's commissioning quilt, 2007. This was kind of a challenge because after seeing the Kozlowski's quilt, Art wanted one, but quilts can tend to look feminine. So I had to pick a different quilt to make and find fabrics that looked masculine. I found some GREAT red white and blue fabric and there ya have it.

I got more adventurous with the quilting this time. The center part with all the blocks is still quilted with the diagonal diamond pattern, but the red and white borders are using a freehand loop design. I did not draw this out first, I just went for it. They are all totally uneven, but that is the best part of quilting!!

The red white and blue border uses stippling. This is basically an all-over wiggle design that never crosses the other stitches. Stippling is lots of fun, but make sure the stitches never cross each other! I also had this bound at the same shop.

My favorite part: the back. My photographer cousin took portraits of us which I printed out on fabric paper and stitched into a red and white border. I designed this quilt back, so it took a lot of math! And, even though I like math, I screwed up. Toward the center of the back you can see where my red-and-white row does NOT match up with the photos. But it was on the back and Art was like two weeks away from moving to Texas so I had to improvise. Art says he wouldn't recommend using the fabric paper again because it's really scratchy. I bet fabric softener would make it better pre-piecing. Fabric softener will also smooth scratchy American Girl doll hair. Who knew?!

These two quilts plus the one I'm making now have come from this book. I have yet to design one myself, mostly because these quilts are easy and beautiful and they give you specific instructions on how much fabric to buy. Perhaps for my next quilt I will design my own... but for now, I love this book.

And that's that! <3 Off to squeeze in a workout before my last day of UD classes!! For two weeks anyway, then summer session starts. But still, I'm happy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

SEW disappointed!!! :(

So this "big sale" at the Stitching Post? Total bust. To make a long story short, I got there at 9:45am, and the one tiny aisle that was 50% was full of things like "knit in a day" books, 6-in. rulers, quilt pencils (please don't ever use those if you ever quilt. Please.), and the like. AKA nothing that an experienced sewer would ever want to buy. I'm not even an experienced sewer and I know that there would be no real use for most of the stuff on that aisle.

But whatever, I was there to get fabric anyway, so I went over to the fabric part of the store. Now, you have to understand the Stitching Post. The fabric there is top quality and overpriced. Fine. So, even at 50% it's still about as expensive as it would be at a place like Jo-Ann. HOWEVER, when I got over there, the fabric was only 20% off!! LAME. BUT, I found some fabric I liked and bought it anyway, for three reasons: a, I was already there, b, I loved it, and c, I know SP is family run and I like local businesses. But I was still miffed. I ended up buying fabric for the quilt, minus one tiny piece of large-print fabric because I really couldn't find anything to match. I needed some notions too, but it was just way to crazy busy, so I got in line and barely saved any money. Bummer. Bummer. Bummer.

Because it took me SO LONG (an hour) waiting in line to get the fabric, I didn't have time to go back home before I had to go downtown for my English class at Sinclair and then tutoring at Holy Angels. I was still determined to find this large-print fabric I needed, so I decided to go to Jo-Ann just to see what they had. Plus, I was unable to find my silky black fabric I needed for the top of my dress. Welllll I ended up getting 2 1/2 yards of silky polyester for 30% off, two spools of thread for 50% off, and a zipper, interfacing, hook-and-eye and a thread organizer all for 20% off. MORAL: The sale at Jo-Ann was way freaking better. And I'm very mad that I didn't buy my fabric there in the first place.

Here's what I came away with from both stores:

Here's a close up of the quilt fabric. And that's all you will hear about the quilt (until I find my large-print fabric, that is) because it's a present and I don't want to spoil it. But I promise I'll take pictures and post them after the wedding.

I am head over heels in LOVE with this fabric. I bought the entire bolt!

I am also head over heels in love with THIS fabric... this will be the skirt of my maxi dress... well, ideally ;)

I just love the white flowers on the yellow fabric. The bust will be black silk polyester (that's a total oxymoron!). This is apparently the dress pattern I'm supposed to decipher:

And, God-willing, the dress will look something like the black and white one in this pattern:

Except that mine is made of really flowy fabric so it won't be as structured... and it will fall all the way to the floor and hopefully even drag a little. That is, if I have enough fabric to make it long enough to cover my six feet long legs. And I'm not putting that bow on the dress. I wouldn't want to draw any attention from my gorgeous yellow fabric!!!

Anyway, I still have to find some large-print fabric for the quilt, but after that I'm set for those two projects. YAY.

I won't be able to sew, however, until after my finals are over next Tuesday. So until then!!

Monday, April 20, 2009


So, some bittersweet news...

The Stitching Post, the big sewing store in Cross Point, is closing :(. It was definitely my favorite place for fabrics, even though it has less of a selection than some other fabric stores around here. The ladies there helped me make my very first quilt, and I took a beginner quilting class there that was such a great value for something like $10. I'm very sad.

HOWEVER, they are having a huge sale starting Wednesday on EVERYTHING... up to 50% off!! I'm very excited that Wednesdays are my non-busy days so that I can go right at 9 when they open... this is very convenient for my upcoming projects!! I will definitely be stocking up on all sorts of sewing things... I better go make sure my credit card is paid off and raring to go before then!! ;)

I'm supposed to take a statistics test that day, but I'm thinking I'll reschedule for Friday morning instead (it's an online class, so we can go take the tests whenever we like) so I can go fabric and notion crazy. Will be posting pictures of what I come home with!! <3

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New creating blog!!

I love to make things. Love love love. I can't think of anything in the world I would rather do than sew, quilt, paint, scrapbook, etc. I wanted to keep a log of the things that I make and how I make them, so I started this blog! I've never had a real blog before so this should be interesting!! I hope anyone who reads this will find my meanderings useful... I know I will look back on it so I don't make the same mistakes again!! And... I miss writing. For those that don't know, I got my undergrad degree in journalism and made it through about 8 months of freelancing before I got called to be a teacher. I don't miss freelancing and I DON'T miss journalism, but I do miss being able to write every day. So this is a way to talk about creating AND get back into writing. :)

Small caveat: I'm currently a graduate student, trying to cram a two-year-including-summers teacher certification program into a year and a half. And I go to two schools, University of Dayton and Sinclair Community College, and one is on semesters and one is on quarters. And it's finals week. And I'm taking two Praxis tests in June. Soooooo if my posts are not as detailed sometimes, it just means that I probably have something more pressing to do than to do what I love. Be advised.

I mostly quilt and needlepoint, but I'm slowly working my way into apparel and home sewing. As for painting, I have a few projects on the horizon but really haven't done anything full-scale. I'm no artist, but I like using colors and I LOVE the way canvas smells. Painting is probably my least-exercised craft, and also the one I'm least intuitive about. My best friend growing up was/is an incredibly talented artist and painter, so she stunted my painting growth because everything I do I always compare to her... and she is so good, even if I WAS talented in that area it wouldn't hold a candle to her!! I used to papercraft a LOT, especially when I got a 50% discount working at a scrapbooking store, but since it closed I have switched to digital scrapbooking via Photoshop, which I like a lot more. I also LOVE to cook.

That's pretty much what you'll see on this blog, some things from my personal life interjected occassionally. Enjoy!

Here's some of my upcoming projects, just so you know what you're in for in the next couple of months:

- lap-size quilt for a friend's wedding gift
- a silky maxi dress to wear to upcoming summer weddings - this is my first apparel project beyond hemming and sewing on buttons, and I'm sooo lost already!! First wedding is June 19 - hope to have it done by then!
- trio of paintings for Art's new house in Del Rio. There's a wall right by the dining table that I would love to do something wine-related using burgundy, browns, blacks - this is currently on the backburner behind the previous two sewing projects
- quilted placemats for Art since he ruined the ones his mom got him - these will probably be black and brown, the same colors as the old ones (he really liked them, but put them in the dryer; oh the plights of the yuppie!!)
- Christmas stockings. These are needlepointed and then I'm adding a quilted back instead of the cheap felt that is included with the kit. I have one needlepointed already and one is about halfway done. This project will probably last or second to last on the list... I don't have to have them ready until Christmas, after all!!

That pretty much takes me through the year... but trust me, I'm sure I will add some more at a particularly inconvenient time for myself. I do that.

I believe that each person has a particular activity that releases stress for them. Mine is creating. And crying. And I do both a lot. But, I like creating better, for the sole reason that it is prettier. :)

Happy Sunday!!