Saturday, February 27, 2010

The life of one free shirt

Brother-in-law received a freebie shirt for participating in a golf tournament but never wore it so sis Rikki Tikki Tavi gave it to me to add to my thrift store drop-off but I had an idea for it. Remembering a sewing revamp online, I cut it into an easy and casual skirt.
With the remaining fabric, I made a This Mama Makes Stuff baby gown and sent it to Baby Cutie, son of Ernest and Eileen.
Eileen told me that Baby Cutie wore it as a small baby and just today sent me a pic of him (9 months) wearing it as a shirt with jeans.
Hey, exactly what is Cutie sneaking out of that wine 'frig? He's a quick learner, I tell ya!

Restringing the broken

Rikki Tikki Tavi broke her favorite string of beads and lost a few. I took her sick, her tired, her broken and restrung with a few added beads and added a silver pendant we glommed off Mom. Easy, I tell ya!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pearls on string

Spied my favorite color green in a big roll of string at Hobby Lobby. Not sure what the string is used for . . . found it near the yarn aisle. Anywho, rummaging through the Skitzo Leezra Studio craft stash and somehow pearls and green string ended up in the same idea bubble above my head.

How does one string pearls onto string without a correctly sized needle? So glad you asked because I took photos! How serendipitous!

Cut your string longer than your finished project, usually 10" or so. (String is cheap. Your time and effort is priceless.) Tie a knot to end of string so beads won't fall off. You'll trim that knot when you complete your project.

1. Grab some beading wire and cut about 10". Fold in half and mash the center with your fingers for a crisp fold. Pull your string to rest in that center fold. Run a bead onto wire toward the string.

2. Slide bead to end of wire and butt it up to the string.

3. Hold the string with a 4" or so tail. Slide bead from wire to string. You may need to use some force.

4. Pull the short end of the string through the bead.

Once you get the hang of it, you can stack lots of beads on the wire and slide a whole row of beads onto string.

Scarab sounds better than dung beetle

Baby sis Rikki Tikki Tavi and I organized her closet last weekend and our favorite activity was rooting through her jewelry. We found her long forgotten gold scarab memento from the 1977 touring King Tut exhibit while at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Rikki is not fan of gold so I strung it with white beads and pearls for a quick revamp. I think it looks cool but not sure she's sold on it . . . thinking a fancy gold dung beetle is in my future.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Practice run of cotton blouse

New Look 6803

My mom says ignorance sometimes serves as a good thing because you don't know enough to be intimidated. You don't know what you don't know. Apparel sewing is still new to me. Sure, I can make a drawstring skirt but things that fit? Not in my skill set.

Because I read so many sewing blogs, the idea of a "practice muslin" finally sunk into my stubborn brain. If it is a good idea for sewing veterans, maybe it's a good idea for a newbie.
Quilting fabric* pulled from my mom's stash. Fabric pre-washed. Fabric ironed. Fabric cut from pattern view "A" (sleeveless blue dress) at blouse length.

Easy tucks at neckline but once I began to construct the blouse, the desire to use those neat finishing techniques from Michelle's Cheap and Picky blog interrupted my progress. I sent her a late night e-mail and she was kind enough to share her expertise on her blog.

Here are my attempts to play with the big girls:

  • missed my opportunity to do complete French seams at shoulder so folded under the seam allowances and topstitched. This is when I realized I needed Michelle's instructions.

  • Shoulder seam interior - tacked bias tape edge to inside to stabilize interfacing piece. (I skipped the iron-on interfacing step because I didn't want it to be too stiff. Shame on me. It was too wimpy so had to hand tack at shoulders, front and back.

  • For front neckline, made small tack stitches to back of pleats to hide threads.

  • Same thing for back of neck - hand tacked down to center back seam allowance.

  • Fashioned my own split seams.

  • Serged raw edges.

  • Why did it take so long to post? Well, at some point, I realized the bust was entirely too large so tailored to friend's size. There is no way I am gonna "waste" all my time on a throw away practice muslin; someone is gonna wear the quilting cotton blouse, dammit all. Believe it or not, it looks cute on my friend. Gave it to her but forgot to take photos. Visited the shirt this week and took the snaps. Not sure I'll revisit the pattern again but I learned alot.
    Thanks for your help, Michelle!

    *The Selfish Seamstress says nothing screams "homemade" like clothing made of quilting cotton and I must admit the wrinkled shirt on hanger photo isn't fantastic. Visualize it under a cute brown jacket, styled with leather cord necklace. It kinda has that Ralph Lauren or Hilfiger vibe.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Least likely organizing source

craft room sewing notions
Originally uploaded by Skitzo Leezra notified me that someone added one of my craft room photos as their favorite. It shows several baskets with sewing tools, supplies and notions. Do you see those white divider boxes inside each box? Those white boxes separate items for a neat look but even better, allows for super easy grab of each specific item. So, where does one find such super separator boxes? I get a few each month as a bonus gift with purchase.
Figured it out yet?
Inside Tampax multi-pack boxes!
~~You're welcome~~

Friday, February 19, 2010

Introducing the Lightning Boys

The brat nephews gave away Super Hero capes at the eldest's themed birthday party last month and their mom Rikki Tikki Tavi bought just enough black fabric for two capes for them. They like Star Wars, Super Heroes and Harry Potter so the color black is key.

Did they want to add some of the way cool reflective silvery gray fabric sample that Ernest sent me? They liked the reflective sheen and one brat suggested a lightning symbol. Because they seem to have opinions on everything (wonder where that came from?), I even asked their thread preference. Would you think a 7 year would even care? Surprise. AND it was the correct decision. The gray thread does "disappear", just like he said it would.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Party flower success

Design*Sponge posted an easy "Party Flower" tutorial and I finally got around to making one the other night because I love a craft that can be done while watching television. Click on the tutorial link, print the template and follow the directions.

My suggestions, after completing two flowers:

  • Print 4 copies of template and cut each size petal for pattern. (I printed on cardstock weight paper.)
  • Iron fabric.
  • Starch for extra "petal loft". You can always scrunch it if the fabric is too stiff.
  • Pin each size petal template to prescribed layers of fabric and cut all layers at one time instead of tracing each.
  • If you find the bottom layer is too large for your flower, fold it under and whipstitch it.
  • Use pinking sheers on bottom layer for frayed finish.
  • Try different weights of fabric for unique looks
  • Layer tulle or organza with your fabric for extra flair

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mama's got a brand new bag

My mom sewed everything in the world, back in the day.
She loved it, she was good at it and there was nothing she couldn't do; be it cheerleader uniforms, ballet costumes, formal gowns, Halloween costumes, quilts, you name it. Her things were well made and fashionable so I didn't even know "did someone make that for you?" could be anything but a positive question. Heck, Mom could look at a dress at a store then go home and make it without a pattern.
Since then she has dabbled and excelled in other interests: photography, drafting, painting . . .while the sewing machine no longer calls her name, she had a bounce back recently, thanks to me, perhaps.
While scouting the department store's place mat inventory for
my organizers, she found pretty Ralph Lauren prints and made an overnight bag, make-up bag and tote for flat iron and blow dryer from place mats! She's still got mad skills, I tell ya.

Messenger bag, with interior pockets shown below

Make-up bag with pockets sized for specific products
Tote sized for flat iron, blow dryer and travel mirror

Monday, February 15, 2010

An editing eye

Color mats are the mark of mall art. No good, I say.
Neutral mats allow art to stand alone without interruption

My mom is a fabulous oil and watercolor painting artist so when she invites my input on matting and framing, I am always surprised because I am quite vehement in my opinions. If you ask for my take on decor or apparel, my answer is usually to remove extraneous detail.
Today, she and I considered several different styles and cropping options when I reiterated my typical advice - white, ecru or very neutral mats. I hate color mats!!!!!! Hate 'em, I tell ya. Double mats in color? ------> Double the hate.
It is just my aesthetic or curse of good taste but only today did I finally realize why color mats irk me so.
Use of color mats seems to be an unsophisticated desire to force art to match the sofa instead of loving the artwork as it is. Too matchy matchy. Be it photography, water color, oil or children's art, let the neutral mat be your friend.

Framed Artwork by Gregory Garrett

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Giving a lift to the thrift

So, when gathering glitz and glam for Dawn's Solid Gold karaoke party, I purchased a "gold" multi-chain necklace that worked with the revamped neckline of the shimmery gold sweater. Since 1980's Solid Gold was the theme, I added a big honkin' teardrop shape "diamond" pendant that I found in my stash and rocked it out like I was on "Dynasty".
After the glitter and shine wore off and I unpacked my party shame, I removed the "diamond" and replaced back to the shiny jewelry part stash.
Then my shiny lovin' eyes stared at the multi-chains and wondered . . . . .would I wear that "in real life"? Attached my mom's cool vintage turquoise embellished watch pendant from my recent jewelry grab and decided I liked the mix. Wound the watch and guess what? It works!
Have received a few compliments on my new jewelry find and love that it cost me a whopping $2!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

American Pickers: Pre-hoarder or Post-hoarder?

My new favorite television program is "American Pickers" on the History Channel. Two guys roam the countryside to find treasures and "rusted stuff". It is interesting because history is imparted and knowledge is gained through the owner's stories. (While some may feel the picker guys are ripping off their sources, I give them credit for their knowledge and access to specific collectors. Things their sources of treasures don't have.)
If ya ever watched "Hoarders", you will recognize the gathering cycle at the critical mass stage with old folks and their rusting crap hidden under grass, being ruined with each passing day and unwilling to sell anything. It's just plain crazy. By contrast, the folks that actually let go of dusty junk seem incredibly balanced and sane.
Wondering if the Picker show might be dangerous viewing to a budding hoarder. Would seeing all those hidden treasures increase a hoarder's compulsion to collect more? Yikes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Baby gift idea

For my sister Rikki Tikki Tavi's first baby shower, Dad and I worked together to make a couple baby clothing wooden hangers with pet heads on top. When hanging, the cat or dog head appears at the neckline.

I printed out a dog head and cat head.

Dad used the paper print outs to trace and cut the wood.

Wood was painted white.

Cat head and dog head decoupaged to wood.

Metal hook installed.

I made a cat head hanger for myself to model my "coming home from the hospital" outfit that my mom saved all these years. My Sammy-head-wearing-my-baby-dress hanger is on display in the laundry room.

Funny thing: each time Rikki would remove the dog hanger from the closet, her Welsh Corgi dog would bark like crazy.
Was the dog scared of her own image or mad that her likeness was sporting boy's clothing?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Put a hole in it

No towel bar in laundry room . . .
gotta love a grommet tool kit!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Easiest scarf ever

Saw a cute gingham scarf tutorial on the I Heart Linen blog and the very next day, Mom called me from Hobby Lobby to ask if I needed anything while she was there. Gingham, please! I wanna make some scarves!
That day was cold and rainy so suppose the gingham happy spring colors didn't grab her. Instead she grabbed 2 yards each of 2 tan and black print fabrics. One check, the other plaid. Love plaid and tartan, don't ya know.
Cut 8 scarves 2 yards in length and about 8 to 10 inches in width. In little time, all scarves were fringed and I had a large ball of thread on my lap. My fringe tips:
  • use a straight pin

  • stick pin in the middle of fringe edge

  • separate 1 or 2 threads

  • drag pin away from fabric until threads are free

  • repeat repeat repeat

  • match fringe length on opposite side

Instead of following the directions and folding over the long edges twice, I simply ran a straight stitch. It kinda disappears when the edges roll over while wearing.

Super fast, super cheap and super easy.
(Just like your ma!)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Check out Elizabeth's easy Roman Shade

My friend Elizabeth has great taste, wonderful things and mad skills with her fabulous embroidery machine but she is scared of cutting a piece of fabric. You heard me, scared. This week she looked her scissors in the eye, declared "you are not the boss of me" and cut some fabric to make some fabulous Roman shades made from ~~~mini-blinds!! She found the tutorial over at the Little Green Notebook blog. Look at the finished product! Pretty wonderful, right?

Considering a try myself.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Easy fabric storage

Thanks to Eileen, I had a heap of silk fabric with no home and wondered how to store it. Sure, I could buy plastic lidded storage boxes but those are pain in the ass because they're heavy when stacked full of fabric and invariably it's the bottom box you want when searching for a specific item. Already had this metal shelving unit (that I had powder coated in metallic silver paint) so filled it up with fabric.

Filled that mammajamma and still needed MORE fabric storage space. Another visit to my favorite used office furniture store and found this cool unit for less than marked price of $49! WooHoo! I opted for the sturdy metal cabinet at the same price as four plastic storage containers. Cleaned it up and opted to place unit in closet so no powder coating necessary although, am now considering a powder coat finish to match the other unit and placing them in the same room.
Top two shelves have sliding doors removable for easy cleaning.
Sliding drawers on third and fourth levels.

All the sliding mechanisms are incredibly smooth. No, it isn't pretty but it is incredibly functional, dust-free and easy access storage. It is a joy, I tell ya, JOY for this anal retentive girl to squirrel away even more silk fabric!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sewing helper

Sometimes, while sewing, I need a little assistance but not so much that I need a real live person there talking and distracting and breathing . . . so here's my little trick for a third hand holding fabric.

Rocks can be your friend.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

First thing I made when I started sewing

About 10 years ago, my mom gave me a new sewing machine for Christmas after I put it on my "wish list". At the time, I was only interested in easy home decor projects and had no idea that I would have so much fun sewing.
With one spool of thread and a bag of upholstery samples, I played around and made some plastic bag dispensers for myself and everyone I knew. That is the way I show love (or seek approval?), I make stuff.
The dispenser idea was a bastardized version of a Martha Stewart project I remembered from her magazine's "Good Things" column.

Kept two for myself, one for plastic bags, the other for cleaning rags.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Placemat zipper bag

Purchased a 4-pack of place mats for organizer portfolio but found them too "wimpy" for a crisp cover so instead made a zippered make-up bag with my first ever zipper insertion!! Mind you, I didn't really know what I was doing but I found a blue zipper in my stash. What the hey, let's give it a try.

Sewed grosgrain ribbon on each side of zipper for a wider top.

Love the dimensional space that a boxed corner provides. See interior and exterior photos.

How to box corners HERE.