Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Finished: Colette Patterns' Meringue Skirt

I finally finished the Meringue Skirt! The muslin took way longer than the actual skirt took. Partially, I think, because I already knew what I was doing the second time, and I wasn't really procrastinating as much on it as I was with the muslin. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I was afraid of with the muslin.

I know that half of the fun of finished projects is seeing them modeled, but...

I don't have a full length mirror to take selfies in, and I feel really narcissistic asking my husband to take pictures of me.

Alterations: I hacked off two inches in the length because I'm a petite, and I wanted the skirt to fall just above my knees, not below. Overall, I'm happy with the skirt and I wore it right away on a walk around the neighborhood with my husband. I am looking forward to pairing it with a butter yellow top that I have to bring out the yellow in the skirt, but that top is in the wash right now. :)

I should have taken in the waist a couple inches as well, but since I'm really new to this, I didn't feel confident in making that kind of an alteration. So instead of it sitting on my waist like it should, it comes down around my hips, which suits me just fine because that's where I wear my pants. Being a petite, high waisted things on me make me look shorter in the torso. I feel like Urkel. This means that those two inches I took out in the length pretty much mean nothing. In the models, the skirt falls a couple inches above the knee. On me, the bottom of the scallops hit just below my knee. But at least it's not that awkward few-inches-below-the-knee length that looks like it's supposed to be mid-shin but it's not...like it would have been had I not taken out the length.

To me, this skirt looks way bigger than what it is, but honestly, I know I have some body issues. I weigh more than I would like, and my shapes are not where I want them to be, but in my head, my body image is slimmer than what I really am.

The next pattern in the book is the Pastille dress, but if I'm really this big, and I google the dress and see others of my body type that have made it, I'm not happy with the results. I bought a really nice fabric, and I don't want to "waste" it on making something that I'm not going to love, all because I'm bigger than I would like to be.

For the record, this is not me being unhappy with the social standard of what I should look like vs what I really do. This is me being unhappy with the way I look because I know how I have looked in the past...and I want that back. I was a healthy size 4 (off the rack) at one point. I still jiggled in places, so fear not, I was not anorexic. Bacon cheese fries are far too delicious for that. Now, I'm a size 10. I can get into a size 8 pair of petite skinny jeans (I tried this past weekend) and they fit, but they don't make me feel comfortable with myself, and I know that if I were to have sat down in them, I'd have that doughnut tummy going on.

So for now, I'm going to stick to sewing skirts and keep working on my body until it's more where I want it to be. Shopping is great for pulling out your imperfections, especially in ready to wear. Every time I go shopping and am really honest with how clothing falls on me, I get really depressed. This time though, I knew what it was going to be like going into the "experience" and I feel that I'm coming at the issue from a much more mentally healthy standpoint.

I'm almost 100% sure that I have sewing to thank for that. Sewing sizes run much larger than ready to wear. I cut the skirt pattern from a size 14 based on my largest measurement, which is my hips (thanks to two children).

So my whole thing about sewing the entire Colette Patterns book will have to wait. I'm incredibly unfit and lose my breath easily. So while I build up to that, and slim down in the process, skirts it is! ... and loose dresses because Myrtle looks pretty amazing, even on the bigger model!

Shut up, Mom. You know why.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fat Quarter Bag Tutorial by Cheri Borden

I was talking with some friends in a G+ hangout about our recent fabric scores, and one of them shared this tutorial from Cheri Borden with me. Cheri is a yarn shop owner (ACME Fibres) up near the Canada/New York state line, and she doesn't know that I'm reposting her tutorial along with all of her pictures. That said, I don't own this tutorial, I didn't help make it, I have nothing to do with it other than wanting to repost it so that when the time comes to make some with my son, I can find it again easily. If you want to see the original tutorial you can find it here.


This is a nice little stuff sack for small projects - fully lined & reversible.

I buy these packs of fat quarters at Joann Fabrics - they're nice quilting cotton, usually $9.99... or less if you have a coupon. This pack was $5.99, so the material cost for 4 bags would be $1.50 each.

Divide each of the 5 fat quarters in half along the short axis, and square it up to 18" by 10.5"

You'll have 10 fat eighths (sort of). Sort them until you have 4 pairs of main body pieces that go nicely with 2 accent pieces. Two bags will share one accent piece; the other two bags will share the other. Try different combinations until everything suits you.

Cut each of your accent pieces in 4 along the short axis to get accent panels measuring 4.5" by 10.5". Here we have two body pieces and two accent panels - they'll form one bag. Set all the others aside - your cutting is all done, it's time to sew!

Line up an accent panel on each body piece, right sides together, and sew. I use a 1/4" seam allowance, but I'm not the boss of you - you use what you like. Just be consistent. The little pile of cuttings right there? that was all the scrap from all the bags.

Lay one body + accent piece on top of the other body + accent piece, and sew together to form a loop made of a body piece, then an accent piece, then a body piece, then an accent piece.

Lay your loop of fabric out with the seams for the accent panels lined up on top of each other. Press the seams flat and pin the sides together so they don't shift.

Find the centre of the short edge of your accent panels, then mark 1" on each side of the centre. This gap will form the drawstring casing - you'll not be sewing the space between these two marks. Mark both sides this same way - you'll have a gap on each side of your bag.

Sew up the side seams from the folds at each end up to the mark for the drawstring casing; backstitch the ends of the seams.

Press the seams flat - this makes it easier to fold the edges in when you do your topstitching later.

Do you like box corners? I like box corners. You don't have to make them if you don't want to. I do it by cutting out a wee square measuring 1.5" on each side. Make sure you measure from the fold and from the SEAM, not the outside edge. Otherwise your box corners will be all wonky (ask me how I know).

Pinch the corner and open out where you cut out the wee square, and fold them the other way with the seam lined up against the middle of the bottom of the bag. Sew this together to make your box corner. Repeat for the other 3 corners.

Turn the whole thing right-side out through one of the side gaps. It'll be fiddly, but it'll all come through the hole, trust me.

This is what you'll end up with. Odd looking business, isn't it? Keep going, you're almost there.

Push one half of the bag down inside the other half.

Line up the bottoms of the drawstring openings and pin them together. Press the top edges of the bag to get a nice crisp fold.

Topstitch all around the accent panel just below the opening for the drawstrings and about 1.4" or so down from the top edge. Backstitch at the ends of the top edges and at the bottom of the gaps. Voila! the drawstring casing is done, and so is the sewing.

Run a pair of twisted cords or ribbons through the casing in opposite directions and knot the ends together. You have a finished bag!

Turn it inside out. Oooo - no exposed seams!

If you use a nice sturdy quilting cotton, you can fold the sides down to form a little yarn bowl.

Finished measurements: about 9" tall and 10" wide. Big enough to hold a ball of sock yarn or other small project.


Thank you for the great tutorial, Ms. Borden!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fiber Friday: A Pink/Purple/White Fingering Weight Skein of Gorgeous Yarn: Cheshire

Right now, I can't promise a new colorway every week, but I am Really excited about this one, with a capital R. I kept going back and forth on this one. Do I keep it? Do I see if it sells for X amount of time and then keep it?

In the end, I am trying my best to provide great colorways for you, so that I can buy more yarn from the mill, and make more gorgeous colorways. I worked really hard yesterday on this site and re-arranging furniture in our house to make more room for the ever expanding studio area, so I'm going to keep this short, as I totally rocked it out and earned a fun day.

You can find this skein and others by clicking the link "To the shop!" in the navigation menu.

Meet Cheshire. A pinky purpley mauvey with a hint of brown skein in Puck. While I think Cheshire would be great for some sock, I think he'd make an even better simple shawl to show off his colors. We all know Chesh is a bit of a show off. ;)

Colorway: Cheshire
Weight: Fingering
Yards: 438
Material: 75% Superwash Merino Wool / 25% Nylon
Dye lot: None
Available: 1

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Time to put Zeke out to pasture: Getting a new sewing machine and website updates

I have been working diligently since last Thursday on getting things moved from Etsy to here, just to have to move from here over to my very own dot com in about a month or so. My brain is mush!!

I have added a shop page (you can find it in the navigation menu up yonder) and in that page, you'll be directed somewhere else based on the yarn weight and fiber type that you're looking for. Then you get to see all the pretty yarn. We had a very nice photo shoot the other evening, and they're ready to show you their best top model photos. Not all of them are entered in yet, as it's still a work in progress of it's own.

I'm also working on a very pretty shawl, and though I started it out to list for sale, I'm falling in love with it the more I work on it, and holy crap! It's actually being made from my very own hand dyed yarn. Puck will be pleased, as it falls under his "line."

I'm not normally this productive. (Hey, what I've been doing may not look like much, but I promise, mushy brain is mushy like over cooked oatmeal.) I'm bribing myself, and finding that it's working out pretty nicely. I want to do two things; 1: I want to play good ol' Caesar 3 - I really can't get enough of this game. It's so zen when you're playing on the city construction kit...or as I like to call it 'Piss Off, Caesar' mode. 2: we refinanced our car, and in the process got some money back from our previous lender, and my wonderful, loving, amazeballs hubby took me to the store to get a new sewing machine....and I want to touch it!

I unpacked it, and put it on my sewing spot and haven't messed with it at all. I've been such a good girl! I told myself that when I made decent progress on updating the shop portion of the site, I would be allowed to play with my new machine... well, I'm allowing myself to learn what all these new doohickeys do. My first machine is fifteen years old,  and you wouldn't think that a lot would change in sewing in fifteen years, but oh boy...this thing has functions that I can't even begin to fathom what they do.

I know I'm not the only one that names my...how do I say this without sounding dirty....oh heck, we'll just stick with machines. My computer's name is Jet, because he's all black and dark gray. My first sewing machine I named Zeke, and I'm not really sure why. But Zeke will be going to my son, since now we've got two machines that work, even though Zeke isn't in the best shape of his life.

Now, my new machine, I'm calling her Mildred. For no other reason than when she's fifteen years old, I can say things like, "Well, Old Girl, you gave it a good try, but I think it's time you went to see The Doctor."

Here's a picture of Mildred. No, this isn't staged to show off the pretty yarn sitting next to her, that's just how it happened to be (aka: I pulled out the yarn so when making the entries for each skein, I didn't get the name wrong. Can you imagine how pissed Blue Fairy would be if I called her Cinderella?)

Do you name your sewing machine or laptop? I'd love to hear what you call him/her/them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yellow and Gray Hand Dyed Superwash Merino Yarn and Coat of Arms

Yesterday, I broke out the dye pot because I wanted to make for myself some butter yellow and gray yarn, because those are my favorite colors right now. I love the color play between the two. If done right, it can be gorgeous and no bumble bee like at all.


I was using a dye that I haven't tested yet, and I really know better. Sometimes, my excitement to make someone that I know I will love gets the better of me. Here's how it turned out:
You can find this skein of yarn, and others by clicking the link in the header named: To the shop!

While I adore how gorgeous the gray came out, the yellow was a bit brighter than I wanted. When I showed it to my husband, he went into a Google-fu flurry and pulled up his family crest.

 I started laughing, because the colors match so perfectly!! So here it is, a new skein of yarn and it actually has a name!!

Yarn Company: Little Bit Fae
Name: Puck
Colorway: Coat of Arms
Weight: Fingering
Yards: 438
Material: 75% Superwash Merino Wool/25% Nylon
Dye lot: None

If you want to check out his family crest, or look up what yours is, I've found HeraldicJewelry.com to be pretty helpful.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WIP Wednesday

I think I may be done with the Nerd Wars. I really love the idea of doing it, but I'm not really one for creating on someone else's schedule. I don't mind being given deadlines for things I want to make, but being told what to make really kind of blows.

That said, if you have a ginormous queue that you want to make, you could probably find ways to make it work. Moreover, if you're doing an afghan or a hexipuff quilt, this would be great for that. You could do one square/hexipuff for each challenge, get points for your team, and progress on you WIP.

Yesterday, I decided to cast on a new project, instead of finishing something already on the needles. What I currently have going on isn't really inspiring me to work on it right now. I do have a few balls of yarn that I need to soak and then let dry to give them their shape again, so I may do that. That partly involves working on one of my WIsP. I knit a hat way back when I was first learning, and it didn't fit because I didn't change needles for the brim. Years later I've taken it apart, and I need to soak it so the yarn can relax.

The new project that I cast on is the Indigo top by Mishellee Zaharis Poulin. I'm having some gauge issues with it, because I want to make it in a cotton/bamboo blend, and this schtuff grows like crazy! My swatch doubled in width, but remained the same in height. I may decide to save the pattern, but choose something else that was meant to be used with cotton and already should have the growth taken into consideration.

Just to prove to you, because it is WIP Wednesday, that I am indeed working on the Meringue skirt, I have a photo of my nearly finished muslin! I can tell already that there's going to be some fit issues. I've lost some weight since I took my initial sizing measurements, and found that the mark on my sewing machine plate that I'd had marked for the seam allowance, is 1/4" too small. It might all work out, but when holding the muslin up to my waist, it feels like it's going to be too big.

Meringue Skirt muslin. My house is not this messy, just my crafting area.:)

All that I have left to do, is stitch the part that's hanging down below the scallops, adjust for fit, and then make the real thing! I feel like making the muslin took me forever, but I know that I put it down for about a week for a couple more instantly gratifying projects. It makes me wonder why I procrastinate on things that will make me happy... like new skirts!

I'm looking forward to this skirt so much, that I even took the time to pull out the fabric, scan it in, and then resize and crop it down to something easier to look at.

 Isn't it adorable?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weekend Project

Pulling all of your money out of your account (except what you need to cover your bills) can do amazing things for avoiding over draft fees. :) I'm not sure what it is lately, but it seems like we're being charged different amounts when we go to places, like instead of it being the 25.80 that we were told, when the charge hits our account, it's for 32 or something like that. Or we were double charged, like our cards were swiped twice for the same transaction. Get enough of those, and then you get over draft fees...which have never made any sense to me. You're going to charge me $25-50 for not having money in my account. Think about that. There's no money there, so why are you taking more money that is not there? And for stuff that isn't even our fault!

We found too, that the double charges and over charges were always coming from the same place, and trust me, it's just easier to let it go than to fight this place. So in order to stop this from happening, my husband and I decided that we're going to take the harder road and pay cash for everything except our bills and important things that having a paper trail would be helpful for (like sending an important piece of mail certified with delivery confirmation; receipt plus bank statement showing it was paid for equals 'CYA' method).

I'd heard about this budgeting system where you use a bunch of envelopes for your different spending categories, so we tried that too. We found that we were always out of money at the end of the pay period when according to our budget we shouldn't have been, and when we reviewed our bank statement, we couldn't find out why, other than going to McDonald's a few too many times.

Instead of carrying around a bunch of envelopes, which frankly, just made me feel like the idiot that doesn't know what a wallet is for, I decided that I was going to make my own wallet. It's not the best wallet in the world, and there are certainly changes that I would make to it if I were to make it again but I love having all the little zipper pockets. We don't use them all for budget categories, but I have the feeling they will get used the more I use the wallet. Right now, my husband gets the gas money because he's the primary driver, and I get the food money, and the rest of the money goes in the "other" category. "Other" is pretty much code for the kid's need new shoes, my only pair of jeans died and I need another pair, Mom found a great deal on a used twin bed frame and mattress, Mom and Bug need more fabric to raise their Sewing level to 150, and so on. I have a feeling one of those unused pockets is going to be delegated to a "craft" budget.

It took me all day Sunday to make this. There was a lot of measuring and cutting, but aside from the 'outside' fabric, I'm pretty pleased to say that everything came from items that I already had in my stash, and I love how "put together" the whole thing looks. It may not have been the best style choice to use the blue thread for the detail stitching, but I'm happy with it. That's the same thread that I'm going to be using on my first dress...whenever I can get around to stop procrastinating on the Meringue skirt muslin.

Friday, July 11, 2014

New pattern goodness!!!

I've just pre-ordered the new pattern from Colette Patterns! I'm really excited for this one because it's absolutely gorgeous and labeled as a beginner pattern. I've been sworn to secrecy until they do the grand reveal, so I won't say any more than that. Time to start browsing for fabric! WHEE!!

I'm thinking either white, or one of these colors:

I'm really loving these colors right now, and they're pretty much my go-to colors, but I don't care!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Finding Value

I've struggled for a long time to try and find a unifying theme for my blog so that it becomes something of value, rather than a place where I post the stuff that I make that no one really wants to see anyway. It seems to me that all of the blogs that I love to read are about something, whether it's knitting, cooking, photography, sewing, etc. They've all got that one thing that holds them together. The problem with doing that for my blog is that I am interested in far too much, and I go through my interests in phases. If I had a blog about ceramics and pottery, it will have been dead since 2004.

I love to create things, and I'm finding that it doesn't matter what medium it is, I will try it a few times and see if it's for me. Most of the time, I really enjoy the activity, but sometimes, I could really do without it. Recently, I swore off of quilting. I love looking at them, feeling them, and being in awe of some really amazing work, but I don't have the patience for piecing tiny stuff together...and all that math! I love me some geometry, but not that much. It's just an aspect of sewing that I can do without...happily. The same goes for crochet. I love making tiny little crocheted dolls and amigurumi, and I love how quickly the projects go when compared to knitting, but I do not like the fabric that crocheted stitches create. It's lumpy and bumpy, and any color changes in the yarn turn into camouflage in crocheted items. The sample picture on my crocheted dishcloth pattern is a perfect example.

So really, the unifying theme of this blog is me. Every day I wake up to my kids, either Goosie laying her head on my chest, or kissing my face (which sounds sweet, but I assure you it's at the most obnoxious hour of the morning, and I am not a morning person) or to both Goosie and Bug yelling at each other in some asinine argument that I can't make heads or tails of. Usually, it's just "Yes!" "No!" "I said 'yes!'" "Well, I said 'no!'"...and so on until I find the strength inside me to let them know that I am awake and yell, "SHUT UP!"

And then of course they know I'm awake, and both come barreling into my bedroom (thank God I don't sleep naked) to complain about the argument or that they're hungry, thirsty, bored, etc. and I'm still bleary-eyed and barely conscious.

Most of my days feel like a fight between being Mom and being myself. I struggle constantly with being who I want to be, and being who society tells me I should be. Maybe it's just my old fashioned way of thinking, but I'd really love to consistently have purple, or blue, or pink, or some other bright color of fun in my hair, but I don't because moms don't have fun hair. Moms wear God-awful jeans up to their armpits, Bermuda shorts that are too big, carry around an endless supply of tissues and bandaids, and ugh! I don't want to be a badly dressed mom-supply vending machine.

I do love my kids to tiny little pieces, but there are (many) days where I wonder if I should have ever birthed them. I'm not sure if at the end of it all, I have what it takes to see this motherhood thing through. They're 9 and 4 and I am looking forward to the days where they shut themselves in their room, blast whatever garbage they call music too loud, and they leave me alone.

And then I feel terrible for thinking these things. The Pinterest Moms are certainly going to come after me and scoff at me and judge me, because don't I know how lucky I am? Don't I know there are hundreds of women out there who can't have children, and I am just so blessed with two??? Don't I just want to scoop them up and make my whole life orbit around their every little desire?

This is why I had the "No kids after 30" rule. Because that sounds absolutely horrible to me. I don't want to lose myself in order to cater to these poopy little crooks! I swear the word that gets the most use in my vocabulary is "stop."

I hope we get a good school system when we're done being stationed in California, because I want to send Bug back to public school. I want to have confidence that Goosie will have a good start in Kindergarten and that they Army keeps their word on not moving people from station to station once a year, and sticks to the once every four years at a minimum. I cannot wait to have all my days filled with silence and doing whatever the hell I want.

So there's my unification. That's why I changed the name of the blog. I am more than just their mom. And I will claw at the sides of every box that people try to put me in like a feral cat with rabies. They are not my life.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sewing is Addictive!

Oh my gosh, it's seriously been almost a month since I wrote a post, not counting moving the crochet dish cloth pattern here from wherever it got lost on the internet. I didn't write, because at the time, I had really nothing to write about, and I don't want to have a bunch of filler posts just because writing-a-post day has sprouted up.

I've been sewing a lot, and my knitting has been suffering for it. I really, really love the thrill of having a project done in a day. Making clothes for my daughter totally fulfills that. She's got two new skirts to prove it.

I've almost finished the muslin for the Meringue skirt from The Colette Sewing Handbook book. I got to the part about putting in the zipper, and kind of freaked out. I've sewn in one zipper before, and it was into a makeup bag that I was making for my daughter to put her pretend make up and brushes in. It didn't turn out. Well, the zipper was okay, I think, but there was a misunderstanding of the instructions, or the instructions were written badly for a "beginner" audience.

The first skirt that I made for my daughter was a circle skirt style. I botched up putting on the 1.5 inch elastic waistband a little bit, but you can't really tell. She absolutely loves it. I added some tulle underneath to give it some poof and a bit of modesty, but since she's a wild little thing, she still needs to wear shorts under it.