Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quick Update

So in the past few days, I've been really, really productive. I've had to work a lot (haven't had a day free off from work or school in.... Umm... I think two weeks). However, I still managed to cut out Andy's pajama pants (with the plaid perfectly matched!) and sew them in two days.

I think that's the quickest I've finished a project in a long time. And guys? It felt awesome. I know that pajama pants aren't exactly the trickiest thing to make, but still. I loved going straight from cutting the pieces out to constructing; normally I take a few day's downtime in between these steps, for some reason. I loved watching them come together and being able to give him the finished product within the same week.

Then, a few days ago, I went to a garage sale and scored a garbage bag full of fabric- probably around 20 yards total- for $5. Some of it's hideous, but the majority is actually really great; several vintage floral bedsheets, and yards and yards of lace (including a huge piece of crazy violet lace that MUST be made into a party dress). All this new fabric seriously got my creative juices flowing; I'm so excited to start new projects from it!

Expect to see more soon. I'm gonna force the boyfriend to do a photo shoot in his pj pants. Hope you guys have a great week!

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Ravenclaw Scarf.

How are you guys? Today I had to deliver my first speech in Speech class. That was rather nerve-wracking. I've also been working a lot and my last few shifts have been what can only be described at retail hell. Here's hoping next week brings less stress!

I really love making Harry Potter scarves. I think this is around the 8th one I've made (but only the second Ravenclaw! Normally people want Gryffindor). After making a set of all four for one of my good guy friends, a lot more people I knew started wanting them. They're the perfect nerdy winter accessory, really. And guys, I don't care that the series has concluded, I'll never lose my Harry Potter fan pride.

Knitting in the summer has always been kind of weird to me. It's so hot outside that working on anything wintery seems just wrong. But  thinking about it logically, it's a pretty good idea: if I can get a few projects under my belt now, they'll be ready as soon as it starts to get chilly again! And knitted stuff makes awesome presents (I'm thinking of Mrs. Weasley and her gorgeously ugly homemade sweaters), so I could get some of my Christmas gift list knocked out several months in advance.


Anyway, back to this particular Ravenclaw scarf. Super easy to do; it's just a 1x1 rib knit. I worked on it mainly while watching episodes of The Bachelorette (judge if you will, but it's quite addicting). The finishing touch was fringe, and lots of it; I don't think a Harry Potter scarf is complete without it. I can never get tired of making these.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wearing What I Sew 6/20

So I didn't technically make this whole skirt; I just altered it quite a bit. When I found it at a thrift store it  was floor length and very blah. I chopped off almost two feet and used the excess fabric to make a peplum on the front of the skirt. Super simple, and even though this was several years ago, I still wear it pretty frequently! 

Oh, and how dreamy is this flowy cardigan? I wish I could claim making it, because it's so dang perfect. I actually found it on clearance at Target for FIVE DOLLARS. I have worn it at least 3 times a week ever since. I would venture to say this has been my best clothing purchase of the year. 

I'm not gonna lie, I didn't have the best day in this outfit (not that it was the clothing's fault or anything). Work was a total fiasco; I'm a little sick right now, and my voice is really hoarse and scratchy. I had to be a cashier and it just got worse and worse as the night wore on. Then I had to stay several hours late, which is generally never very fun. Luckily, my boyfriend came to the mall during my break and got me tea with lots of honey, which helped quite a bit. So I guess I had one bright spot :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What I've Been Up To

So I bought probably the most appropriate cookbook for a college student EVER. Ramen to the Rescue. There's tons of stuff in there that looks absolutely delicious (and easy to make!), but the first recipe that caught my eye was ramen-crusted chicken tenders with honey mustard dipping sauce. You pretty much just crunch up a bag of ramen (flavor packet included), dip the chicken pieces in egg, then roll them in the mashed up noodle mixture and bake. 

And can I just say? They were delicious. The chicken flavor from the ramen packet wasn't overwhelming, but it definitely added a tasty boost from normal breaded chicken. We served them with steamed asparagus and rice (some part of the meal had to be healthy, after all).

I can hardly wait to try more from this cookbook. I love making time to try new recipes; I feel like most of the time, the things I eat are just quickly thrown together (or else prepared by my parents... Which I can hardly complain about!). Anyway, today's homemade dinner was a nice change of pace.

This is my boyfriend. And this is what we look like cooking.
I feel like I haven't posted in forever, even though it's only been a couple of days. I'm just not used to having a blog, I suppose: on one hand, I really like to devote energy to posting, but on the other I don't want it to take over my life. I never want to be that person who spends more time online than doing real, in-the-moment activities. That said, I'd like to have a blog that's the same quality of the ones I love reading the most, and that kind of thing takes work. 

So what have I been up to? In the past few days I've been finishing up the Ravenclaw scarf I'm making for a friend, working a lot, having an awesome father's day lunch, and watching an embarrassing amount of The Bachelorette. I'm procrastinating on starting my boyfriend's pajamas pants because I just don't want to cut them out: I'll have to match plaid! The last time I did that was for another garment for him, a plaid button-down, and it took FOREVER. The cutting is always my least favorite part of any project; once I get that out of the way, though, the rest should come together in no time. 

That's all for now. I do have one small new project to share in the next few days (and I'm almost done with a scarf!) Until then, have a great week, you guys :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

How do you find time to sew?

As unfortunate as it is, when my schedule starts to fill up, sewing is often the first thing that gets dropped. Even though it's one of my favorite activities, I have a hard time balancing it with non-negotiable responsibilities like work and classes (at least during the school year, I have sewing for homework!). A lot of the time, when I get home from a busy day of whatever, I just don't feel like setting up my sewing machine, plugging in the iron, and resuming progress on my current project. I just want to lay on my couch, and maybe knit or crochet something.... But certainly not sew.

I'm trying to find ways to add more sewing into my schedule, without feeling completely overwhelmed. I have to remind myself that, as much as I'd like to produce tons of garments per month, it IS summer: if I can't relax a bit now, I definitely won't have the time to later. I think I set goals for myself that are just too lofty: for example, last month I wanted to make five garments. Obviously that didn't happen, but I did sew two, make a blanket, and do tons of other small DIYs. I think learning to be happy with all the things I DO produce is important; I'm only human, after all. 

Still, though, I need to set aside a certain number of hours per week for sewing. The only way I can have more handmade pieces in my wardrobe is if I actively sit down and create them. How do you guys fit sewing in to your schedules? Does anyone else encounter the problem I have? Do you have any productivity tips?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Floral Applique Top: FINISHED!

It's finally done! I've been working on this top for FOREVER; it feels so good to finally be able to move onto something new. And wear the finished product, of course :)

I got the main floral fabric at a flea market; I randomly found it stashed in a huge chest of drawers, and it only cost $2, so of course I had to have it. The two back panels are made from fabric from a thrifted nightgown (I hemmed about a foot and a half off of it, which left me with this extra fabric). All in all, I spent less than $5 to make this! I also love projects where I can repurpose old materials in some way. The last few garments I've made have used old fabrics; I'd like to keep that up.

I used Vogue 1170 by Rachel Comey for this top. I only made a few alterations to the pattern; I omitted the buttons and buttonholes on the back, and instead I just sewed the plackets together. I added a snap at the top so the top can be taken on and off easily, though. I liked the look of buttons, but with the applique going on on the back, I figured it would be best to leave them off so it didn't look too busy. The pattern also calls for gathering in the armholes, which I didn't do. I thought the gathering would make the armholes slightly too tight, and I'd always rather have something more loose and comfortable. 

The most challenging part was making this knot symmetrical (which honestly, I don't think I ever quite accomplished). It's hard to get precision with that kind of thing!

This top is finished with all French seams, which was a touch I really appreciated about the pattern. I'd never sewn with a Vogue pattern before, but I could definitely tell a difference in the quality of instructions- Vogue doesn't baby you. They expect you to know your sewing terms, and be comfortable with more challenging techniques. I liked it, and I liked that I didn't have to finish any edges with a serger. 

I'm finally ready to move on to a new sewing project! Up next: pajama pants for my boyfriend. I've had the fabric for quite a while; it's only fair. I'd also like to make myself a clutch; I've been wanting one for while, and it can't be difficult to do. Here's hoping I have time to sew between homework assignments.....

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Glittered Ballet Flats!

This is a DIY I've been wanting to try for a while. I got the idea from this blog post a few months ago, and it slipped my mind for a long time. But when I moved out of my dorm room I found this pair of basic ballet flats (Target brand!) that I hadn't worn in forever, and suddenly I had a purpose for them!

It was super simple to do; I used tacky glue which I painted on with a foam brush, and then I just dumped glitter on over the glue-y areas. In hindsight, I could have picked a stronger glue; that's what I'd do differently next time. Even though I laid newspaper down, glitter still, inevitably, got everywhere. It's the price you pay to make sparkly things. I let them dry overnight. 

Of course, I just had to wear the shoes today, so they got shown off for the first time to the customers of American Eagle. I actually got several compliments over the course of my shift!

 The one downside to this project is its durability. The shoes looked absolutely gorgeous for most of the day, but glitter has already come off in several chunks (mostly on the heel and toe). To be fair, I did wear them for a fairly long work shift; I should probably save them for special occasions. It's easy enough to fix the patches that de-glittered during my day; it's more a matter of wether I want to have to re-touch the shoes every time I wear them.

I think it could be worth it, though. Next, I'd really like to glitter a plain pair of canvas sneakers; the only reason I didn't do that first was because I'm trying not to spend so much money at the moment. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wearing What I Sew: 6/6/12

So I just started summer classes, which means my days of nothing but work and relaxing are over; I actually have academic responsibilities again. Normally I'm that really dorky person who loves anything school-related; I guess the reason I'm not so excited about summer school is because neither of the classes I'm taking are particularly interesting to me. Chemistry and speech. I'm hoping it won't be so bad to balance my homework with all the sewing/DIY stuff I'd like to do... We'll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, here's what I wore to my first day of class. I made this top a long time (maybe 2 years) ago, and I haven't worn it for at least several months. Honestly, I'm kind of surprised it still fits! I made this from a vintage (1970's) pattern. It's chiffon underlined with cotton sateen; if I remember correctly, I actually bought really expensive fabric for this project. At the time, sewing with chiffon was quite ambitious for me.

It's definitely far from perfect; in fact, the top ruffle is not at all symmetrical on the back. One side hangs two or three inches lower than the other; it was definitely an error I made while cutting the slippery chiffon. Honestly, though, this top is so cute I'm willing to put up with it. I just have to figure that no one but me notices/cares. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Crazy Crocheted Blanket: DONE!

It's finished! My big, crazy, yarn-eating blanket. I wove in all the ends yesterday (which was a fairly large job on its own). I'm so happy with the finished product; I'm looking forward using this in my dorm next year. I ended up buying two skeins of yarn for it (the last two blue stripes on the blanket), because I actually ran out of yarn at my house. This was such a good way to use up all the skeins I'd been pointlessly hoarding! Since I already had 95% of the materials, this blanket only cost about $6. 

Here it is on my bed; I won't actually be using it there, but it doesn't look bad, right? (Also, do you think I have enough pillows? My bed is so comfy.)

It's legitimately huge; like, almost too much to carry all at once. I think it's around 6x6 feet. Because it's a square, it's big enough for 2 people... The perfect cuddling blanket. I'm satisfied; now I just need get back to sewing things.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Selling stuff you make: awkward, or is it just me?

This is kind of what the new Ravenclaw scarf I'm making will look like, except it won't have fringe all around the edges. 

One of my biggest goals is to own my own business one day, and earn a living from the things I sew (or knit or crochet, as a side project, I suppose). I'd love to be self-sufficient like that, and I hope to one day make that goal a reality. Which is why it's so ironic that I find charging people for the things I make to be so.... Well.... Awkward. 

It's not that I think my handmade stuff isn't good enough to sell: at the risk of sounding a little vain, I KNOW my sewing is ready-to-wear quality (and I'm striving for it to be better than that). I also know I'm capable of producing unique things that you couldn't necessarily find at the local mall. But I feel so presumptuous charging money for the things I make. 

A friend of mine just asked me to make her a Ravenclaw scarf (she's paying for it), and I agreed. I actually made a set of all four Harry Potter house scarves for someone a few years back, and got $80 for it. It's not often someone asks me to make them something and offers payment; a lot of people seem to think that I would like nothing more than to make them a complex dress/top/whatever, completely free of charge. I'm sure this happens to anyone who sews or knits, and it's pretty awkward. You'd think, because of that, that I'd be happy when someone offers to pay me for something.

So why do I still feel weird?

Does this happen to anyone else? I'm always afraid I'm charging to much... But, wait, what if I'm not charging enough? I see alot of stuff on Etsy that I think is far too expensive for what you're actually getting, and I worry about ripping people off. On the other hand, I am putting time and effort into making something, so I don't want to give away clothing for far less than it's worth. Should they pay for the materials? Should I? How do you reconcile this, and do you feel the same way that I do?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Vest: Made by me, Floral Top: American Eagle, Skirt: A gift, Shoes: Target

Maybe I didn't make my handmade clothes-wearing goal lofty enough! It's a new day and I'm wearing something else I made. I think this is a trend I could really get behind. Today it's my lace applique vest; this was one of my projects for basic apparel assembly last school year, and I spiced up the otherwise-simple pattern with lace detailing. My favorite thing about applique is that it's extremely easy to do, and the possibilities for it are almost endless. Plus, I used hardly any lace yardage, but I got a really great effect on this piece.

I don't wear this vest all too often because honestly, I'm not really a vest person. I guess even I can't say no to one covered in girly lace patterns, though. I know there's a ton of other stuff in my closet that would look great with this garment, so I'll definitely try to implement it into more outfits. 

Also, I'm going to the Bon Iver concert tomorrow, and I'm BEYOND excited. The last concert I went to was Taylor Swift (haha, lame, I know; I just love her!) but that was months ago. Anyone else a Bon Iver fan? Their music is gorgeous and mellow and perfect for falling asleep or rainy days. If you've never listened to them before, might I recommend Skinny Love?