An ADHD mess of a post (or what I have been up to for the past month)

Posted by Kristin on Sunday, November 10, 2013.
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October was quite busy creatively speaking.  But nothing warranted its own post, so this is a random jumble of small projects. 

I know I swore after I finished my zombie costume that I wouldn't sew again until I could get my dream sewing machine.  I decided to borrow my mom's instead and that is getting me through until I put my new one on layaway after Thanksgiving. 

I've fallen in love with the tent-like tunic style of dress with leggings and boots.  Although not necessarily the most flattering on me, they are super comfortable (and at this point in life, what's more important?  that's right...comfort!)

I decided to take my second stab at knits since JoAnn's put a purple leopard print knit on sale.  I've been eyeing this fabric since August but couldn't bring myself to spend $13/yrd.  But at 50% off?  Heck yes!

I chose to use Vogue 8731 for the pattern.  It is labeled "very easy" and it is!  If you want to wear a tent and want some instant gratification...this is the pattern for you!  It has three lengths and three sleeve styles (but I think anyone could figure out how to not add sleeves or how to shorten it).

I hope you are no longer astounded by my complete lack of photography skills. 

I actually made a muslin for this one...which was totally unnecessary.  I'm not really sure how to fit a sack any better!  I did add some clear elastic to the shoulder seams to give them some strength.  But there is no waist seam (woo hoo!).  This went together from cutting to hemming in just a couple of hours.

See?  Not much shape but enough to tell I have a waist.  I'm now realizing the brown boots were probably not my best option.  I really need black boots.  My Danskos made the dress look like a baby doll they didn't work either.  My black flats made me look like a toddler and the heels made me look like a toddler in my mom's shoes.  So the brown boots won.  Sorry.  I'll buy black boots at some point.

The front of the dress has four small pleats that help give it some shape.  The pattern uses bias tape around the neckline.  I found it odd to use bias tape on a knit, but I went with it because I am not comfortable enough to design my own neckline band.  I'm sure it is easy, but that would have ruined the speediness of this dress since I really didn't know what I was doing.  To my surprise the bias tape worked just fine.  I would sleep in this dress if I could (which means it probably looks more like a nightgown than a tunic dress).

While I'm in the throes of purple madness, I also made a purple scarf.  Which was made to go with a soon to exist purple coat.  Maybe I'll wear it all with this purple dress.  And look a little like a grape.  Or Barney...

The scarf is just three sections:  seed stitch, 2x2 basket stitch, and 4x4 basket stitch.  Over and over and over.  I used a Lion Brand Tweed for this and it took about 1.5 skeins.  I wish I had made it a smidge longer but I got bored with it and finished it.  I had planned on blocking it to even out my sides but this was before I learned that acrylic doesn't block.  It snaps right back like a rubber band.  And I chose this yarn based off of color (and price) and not content.  My current scarf project is alpaca...a little more natural than acrylic.

This scarf will go with my future Colette Lady Grey.  I've had the lining for ages, and bought the purple wool on sale for $2.95/yrd this summer (not much demand for wool coating in July).  I had hoped to get this together over the summer in order to have it ready by October.  It is now November and it is still hanging out just waiting.

from Colette Patterns

It really is purple, it is just a dark purple.  I did get hair canvas with the intentions of hand tailoring it as I follow Gertie's sew along instructions for this coat.  Which means it should be ready to wear in April. 

Next on my to do list is the Colette Zinnia.  I bought a lovely floral chiffon and a gold lining but want to wait on this one until I get my new machine.  I can't have my machine chewing up my chiffon.  So it sits by the coat.

from Colette Patterns

In all of this waiting, I did manage to finish a couple of owl paintings for a friend's nursery.  She asked for owls to coordinate with her daughter's bedding.  I even put polka dot sides on them to match the border of the bedding. 

 And last but not least I decided to add a new member to our already wild household.  Bailey is 13 and is steadily slowing down.  I was thinking about getting her a younger pup with the hopes that she would brighten up a bit.  And, selfishly, I am scared of the day that Bailey is no longer with me.  I hoped that already having another dog would make that day a little easier instead of facing life dogless for a little while.  

I searched online and finally found one that looked like he might fit my requirements of not too big, not too old, not too young, and not in need of intensive training.  But when I went to go visit him he was a boisterous 90lbs with a little fear based aggression mixed in.  So he was a no.  On a whim I went to go visit another one.  He greeted me by calmly coming up and placing his head in my lap with his ears splayed out across my knees.  He turned his honey colored eyes up to mine and that was it.  I took Bailey out to meet him and they greeted each other then both sniffed the ground for our walk.  When I lifted Bailey into the back of the car to leave, he tried to jump up with her.  He is joining our home for good on Friday.  I'm nervous about Phoebe's reaction to him, but he is so laid back that I'm not expecting too many issues.

Meet Max...

I'll write more to let everyone know how his introduction to my wild kingdom goes.

Whew!  My next projects include some Christmas gifts and hula recital costumes.  Then the coat and skirt....I promise.... 

Colette Hawthorn and ZOMBIES!

Posted by Kristin on Sunday, October 6, 2013.
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I love costumes and love dressing up. But I don't have many opportunities to play dress up, so when I get the chance to do so, I'm all over it! Which is why I excitedly registered to be a zombie in the Roanoke Zombie 5K. Plus I can't run anymore. Or jog. Or even walk a 5K. But I could dress up and lumber after people (like my sister) and try to catch their flags (lives) as they ran the 5K. Plus it was for Special Olympics. I can never turn down Special Olympics (over $26,000 was raised..woop, woop!). I started planning my costume by searching for zombie costumes on Pinterest and was quickly remembered that zombies are actually pretty gross. I can't dress in a pretty pink dress with a fun tulle crinoline and be a zombie. I couldn't really plan on being a princessy zombie...that would look stupid. Or could I? Enter my second Colette Hawthorn. I already had a light bubble gum pink cotton in my stash that I could accent with white to make a waitress uniform. I bought some plastic brains and fingers to glue on a tray I took from our school cafeteria. And because my bubble gum pink was pretty sheer, I opted to wear my white crinoline underneath for a retro waitress look. I was going to be a pretty and not very bloody zombie. I did break down and did some gory cuts with lipstick and painted my nails a lovely shade of brain-eating dead. But otherwise I was a pretty  in pink zombie.

Although I have made a lovely skulls and crossbones version of this dress, and I used the exact same pattern, my darts ended up all wonky on this one.  The bodice of the dress kept creeping up so my bust darts look like they end at my neck.  I'm going to blame it on the crinoline pushing the dress up and not my slightly expanded waistline....

It's amazing what a little black eyeliner, red lipstick, and clear lip gloss can do.  I recreated one on my leg which Bailey promptly rubbed against.  She thankfully survived her zombie attack but she had a reddish mark for a few hours...

My creeptastic nails!  I had all of these nail colors on hand already.  I'm not really sure what that says about my choices in polishes.  Does it look like I just finished serving up a tasty meal of brains and finger fries?

Mmmm, tasty!  

You can kind of see my black eyes and blush here...but I didn't quite get it all dark enough.  Oh well.

Roanoke Zombie 5K
Here I am on the course ready to "kill" all the runners I could.  The brain fabric for the apron is from Spoonflower and I used the pattern found in The Liberty Book of Home Sewing.

Here I am trying my best to catch a runner.  I only caught two.  Zombies aren't fast!

Here I am with my sister after the race.  See those wacko bust darts?  I don't know what was going on.  I also didn't win the costume contest....all those winners were gross and bloody (not pink and flouncy).  But, I did pose in a multitude of photos!  So although I didn't look freshly (or unfreshly) like the walking dead, my costume was still a hit.

The event was a brain-eating good time and I hope they do it again next year.  But I still won't do icky....

My first knitting project!

Posted by Kristin on Wednesday, September 25, 2013.
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I love to wear cardigans.  I'd wear them to bed if I could.  I have long sleeved ones, short sleeved ones, basic ones, and bright ones.  They cover my wobbly bits...and I feel like I am wearing a security blanket all day.  But I've become tired of the cardigans I find in stores.  I want snazzy ones!  Which is what pushed me into knitting.  I want sweaters.  Lots and lots of sweaters.  I entered the time suck known as Ravelry and quickly filled my favorites with sweaters, scarves and skirts!  Did you know you can knit skirts?  And not look like a toddler?  Yes!  I will NOT be knitting yarn bikinis.  Nobody wants to see that...

My first foray into knitting was several years ago when those fuzzy yarn scarves were all the rage.  But mine always looked like lopsided triangles because I kept adding stitches somehow.  I didn't know what I was doing so I quit and shoved everything under my bed.  I've moved since then and continued to shove it under the bed in new houses.  I have since discovered Craftsy and signed up for a beginning knit class.

And here is my first presentable knit project! (Disclaimer:  my picture taking skills are still not very presentable)

I used a black and metallic green yarn by Lurex.  Our local yarn shop had it on sale.  It was not that easy to work with because each time I screwed up and had to pull it out (is that frogging? why?) my fibers would unravel.  By the time I started it the fourth time, I really couldn't see one fuzzy strand from the next.

Amazingly, I still managed to create a scarf.  With a keyhole.  And with lace!  Bailey was at the vet all day and was little upset so I thought wearing a sparkly scarf would cheer her up.  It didn't.

I tried it on for the first time so everyone could see how it looks on.  I just want to say that I couldn't find my black t-shirt today so I am wearing a black pajama top.  I was also too lazy to change my shirt for hula class tonight so I wore my pajama top to the gym.  I wore my pjs out in public and to work today.  I have no shame.

Phoebe noticed that I was doing something that didn't involve her so she joined in the fun.

She also kinda matches the rug too.  Just noticed that.  Huh.

Since I knit at the same speed at which I sew (Grass grows faster.  Paint dries faster.  Sloths move faster.) I might get a nice fall cardigan done by next July....

Spooktacular Inspiration

Posted by Kristin on Sunday, September 15, 2013.
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I know, I is only September...and here I am writing a post about Halloween decor.  But in all fairness, I was picking among the last of the Halloween stuff in the store today because the Christmas stuff was coming out.  So it was either do this now, or wait until it is October and all that would be out would be Valentine's hearts...

I love Halloween.  Not scary or gory Halloween, but cute and shimmery Halloween.  I love costumes, decorating, and seeing all of the tiny tots dressed up for Trick-or-Treating.  I found a wreath that I absolutely fell in love with at Grandin Road. 

Cast a Spell Wreath
Isn't it fun?!  And it could be mine (or yours) for the low, low price of $349.  Um, no.  I'm not spending half my mortgage on a Halloween wreath. 

But I still wanted it.  So off I went to Michael's to try to make my own.  I came home with all my loot and got to work.

So $35 and a few hot glue sticks later I had this...

I added a flower and a big purple spider 'cause I wanted to...

Mine isn't quite a full as the inspiration wreath, and it is a bit more glittery...

I painted a few of my plastic gourds just like the way expensive wreath...

I'm quite happy with my copy cat wreath.  And for 10 times less than the original!!!

It's already hanging up in my kitchen.  Knowing me, it will probably stay there until mid-November.  Now I just have to make my zombie costume for the Zombie 5K in early October.  Only I don't like scary or gory.  I'm going to be the prettiest and least bloody zombie out there!  I might even add some glitter....

Super Online Sewing Community Entry

Posted by Kristin on Monday, September 9, 2013.

Have you ever been to a buffet and piled up your plate with a mountain of food that you will never eat?  You know, the "eyes bigger than your stomach" phenomenon.  This skirt was my Chinese buffet.  I put way too many egg rolls on my plate....

Sew Mama Sew hosted the Super Online Sewing Match (which is in no way similar to the Great British Sewing don't even go there).  Talented sewists were selected to participate in each challenge and the pool was whittled down until one winner was left.  If you would like to read about the entire match from beginning to end, click here.  I waited eagerly for each challenge and loved reading through each talented entry.

There is also a Super Online Sewing Community Match which anyone was welcome to join.  All you had to do was select one (or all ) of the challenges to complete and upload a couple of pics to the Flickr pool.  The very first challenge was to design and sew your own a-line skirt from Deborah Moebes' Craftsy class...which I had already taken and completed two skirts.

I immediately started looking for fabric and ran across a beautiful (but blindingly bright) yellow tweed wool.  It was on sale (not a surprise) and I scooped up two yards for around $4.00.  My fuchsia lining was about $6.00, so I spent $10.00 for my materials.

The deadline is (or was, depending on when you are reading this) September 10th.  And of course I didn't get started until a couple of weeks before the deadline.  But I had done this before, it would be a breeze!

My breeze quickly escalated to hurricane force winds.

My tweed was woven extremely loose so I opted to underline instead of lining it.  I left the bottom part free when stitching my underlining and tweed together.  It went together so easily!  I even managed to match my plaid!  I've steered clear of plaids or stripes because I am beyond anal about everything matching up and I feared I couldn't do it...but I did!

I mean, it's still not perfect, but I think it is pretty well done for my first try.

Since I was entering this into a competition, I knew my inside needed to be as finished as the outside.  I created a facing out of my tweed and finished it with bias tape.  I also used the bias strips to finish my seams.  I was so proud!

My plaid even match up here as well.  There was no way I wouldn't win something!

Then came the hem.  And my inexperience working with thick fabrics that fray faster than you can say "shreds" came through.

I first tried bias tape around the hem.  It turned out...well...hideously.  My lining was somehow shorter than my outer fabric.  I let my skirt hang for a day or two and then evened everything up.  It still didn't match up.

It hung so straight!  Not really.  Bailey wanted in on the picture taking action also...

Here it is from the side.  I felt a little like a wilted upside down tulip.  Phoebe was helping by chasing the threads hanging off of it.

I tried turning the hem up with the intention of stitching  the bias covered edge to the underlining.  That was just as disastrous because I couldn't ease the hem in at all.  I cut the entire hem off and headed out in search of hem tape or lace.  That was today.  The deadline is tomorrow.

I found hem lace in another totally different shade of pink (this skirt is beginning to look like a circus).  I got it stitched on and then hand stitched my hem up.  I had never used hem lace or tape, so there was some winging it involved (too lazy to look it up...I figured I couldn't hurt the skirt at this point!).

It worked!  My hand stitching isn't perfect (and I normally pride myself on my hand stitching skills...not this time).  But it is now hemmed.  And I'm not redoing it.

The skirt is heavy enough to wear in the Siberian winter.  I won't be wearing it anytime soon since we are still hanging out in the 80's.  I would go back and get some better pictures since it is a competition, but the skirt is hot.  My house is hot.  I'd swelter running back and forth between the camera and the living room.  And that would definitely not make a pretty shot.

Now let's talk shoes!!!  I bought these from J. Crew about three years ago.  They are my favorite shoe.  Suede?  Wedge heel?  Orange?  Pink?  What is there not to love???  Except with my arthritisy feet I can't wear them longer than about 3 minutes.  I just collect pretty shoes to look at and clomp around in Danskos the rest of the time.

Ok, I'm off to try more pictures.  I just looked at the other fabulous entries.  One washed out picture of me standing in my unvacuumed hallway won't win much.  At least I moved my dead and misshapen duct tape dress form dressed in a purple sweater and Halloween skirt out of the way...

If you would like to see the other entries, visit the Flickr pool here.  See why I need better pictures? 

Why I am totally selfish (and ok with it)

Posted by Kristin on Wednesday, September 4, 2013.
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"Can you make me ____________?"

"Can you fix/alter/redo this?"

"I would love to have that.  Can you make me one?"

Yes, yes I can (maybe).  But will I?  No.

And here's why.....

I love sewing.  I really do.  There are some days when I'll be sitting in my sewing room furious because I can't figure something out, but I love the entire process.  There is no pressure on me when I create things because I know it is for me and if I screw it up, no one knows.

I teach special education for my real job.  And although I love it, it is a job.  It has all of the stress and pressure that jobs usually have.  I don't want to bring that pressure into the craft that I love.  And I would.  I would be pressured to finish something by a certain time.  I would stress if every single seam wasn't perfect or if the fit was off.  I don't want that to happen because I would begin to dread my dates with my sewing machine.

People are also under the assumption that sewing is cheaper than buying clothes at the mall.  I quickly realized that wasn't true.  By the time I buy all of my fabric, thread, notions, it quickly adds up!  And I don't charge myself an hourly rate.  If I were to charge someone else for my time, say $20 an hour, the cost would be over a hundred, possibly two hundred (I'm slow.....really slow....).  Some people may be willing to pay upwards of $200 for a handmade garment.  Most aren't.  I'm not running a sweatshop where I work for $0.20 an hour!

And my most selfish reason???  It would take time away from my own projects!  I may not be married or have kids, but I am still quite busy.  I barely have time to squeeze a half hour of sewing or knitting into my days.  I'm not giving that up so that I can make something for someone who is underpaying me for my time. 

What will I do?  I will happily teach anyone to sew.  I'd love to help someone create their own wonderful pillow, garment, curtain, etc. 

So instead of asking me to make you something from scratch, ask me to teach you how to do it.  Trust me, it will be all the more special for you!  And I get more enjoyment from inspiring others to create than doing it for them.

Oh, I do make occasional exceptions for my immediate family or close friends.  But I still make them buy the one gets everything for free!

From the hilarious Selfish Seamstress

First Day of School and an Alfred Shaheen Inspired Dress

Posted by Kristin on Tuesday, August 27, 2013.

Today was the first day of school and I always like to start the year with a new dress.  Only instead of buying something from Macy's, I made one to wear.  Ok, that's a lie.  I made SIX to wear!  My first day dress is a mash up of Simplicity 2217 and a self drafted skirt.

Remember my vintage Alfred Shaheen fabric I found on vacation this past June?  If not, I was rambling around in a little fabric shop while on vacation in Emerald Isle, NC when I found just over two yards of fabric by Alfred Shaheen.  Shaheen was the pioneer behind the iconic Hawaiian shirt.  He also designed fabrics and women's dresses. He is considered a pioneer in the textile industry.  Sorry, that kind of reads like a middle school book report.  At least I didn't tack on "The End" or end my paragraph with "And that is the history of Alfred Shaheen." 

Blue Velvet Vintage



Posh Girl Vintage

I considered my fabric find to be a treasure that I couldn't ruin.  I agonized for weeks trying to decide how to best use it.  Then one of my readers, Danielle, suggested using Simplicity 2217 as my bodice.  Simplicity 2217 is from their "Amazing Fit" collection, which I think translates to "ginormous amount of ease added."  I liked that the pattern had varying cup sizes so that saved me from having to do an FBA.  Again, my measurements placed me in a solid 22, but after making up the muslin, it was obvious that taking a few seams wouldn't work and I sized down to a 20.  When I looked at the measurements for the finished garment, the bodice allowed for 3+ inches of wearing ease!  Since I wanted my bodice to be fitted and not hanging open in the front (which would be oh so appropriate for a middle school teacher to wear to work), I went down a size and still had to take in some along the front princess seams and the top of the side seams.  I also added an invisible zip instead of a lapped zip.  I did that for no real reason other than I know how to do invisible zips.  My bodice fabric is a basic black cotton that collects Phoebe hair faster than honey attracts flies.  I think I sewed up the equivalent of a whole cat in this since she likes to lay on whatever fabric I am working with.  Um, hope none of my students are allergic to cats...  I also put the bodice together in a little different order than what the instructions stated because I was adding my own skirt and I made a muslin instead of fitting as I went. 

2217 has a more fitted skirt with a couple of pleats at the top but I opted to do a self drafted gathered skirt for fullness.  It is a basic dirndl (you know, two hard can it be?).  I did not gather it in the front or the back because I imagine it makes me look slimmer.  Or at least not the size of a water buffalo.  I also lined it in a light blue lining from JoAnn's.  I have no idea what it is made out of but I do know it was next to impossible to work with and feels hotter than summer in Hades.  Or I'm having hot flashes.  But I'm still blaming the lining.  So I'm assuming it is polyester.  On the bright side, it is a pretty color.

I took these pictures after the first day of school and after meeting with our HOA's accountant I've hired to straighten out my mess I created while pretending I know what I am doing as Treasurer.  Apparently there was some money missing.  Don't worry, I don't have some elaborate scheme to collect HOA fees for my own bank account...I'm not smart enough to figure that out.  I just applied some stuff in weird places.  Oops. Wait, my point was that I'm tired.  Exhausted, actually.  Hence the unruly hair and sleepy look.

When I first took these pics the first few had a bunch of orbs in them.  I guess my place is now haunted.  All of those noises I blame on Phoebe must be due to spirits moving about.  Ok, ok, the orbs disappeared once I cleaned the lens of my camera.  But I'm checking into blessing the house just in case.  They may have just been hiding for the second round of pics....

See the cat hair?  And the cat?  She's pissed that I picked her up and since I was trying not to be clawed to death (and having my own spirit join my orbs) I forgot to set the auto timer and took a picture of my chest instead.  Sadly, this is after I went over it with a lint roller. 

On a completely unrelated note, this green is the for real color of my living room.  All of my other pictures seem to wash it out.  I keep thinking if I make my house look like it belongs at the beach, I'll fool myself into believing I actually live there and not in the mountains of SW Virginia.  A girl can dream, right?

In conclusion, my dress is very comfortable to wear and I love it.  And that is my blog about my dress.  The End.