May 29, 2011

Cute Cocktail Dress Disaster - Burda 7514

Cute Cocktail Dress Disaster

I am feeling a little deflated after making this dress. I blame Harry Potter for distracting me from my sewing for so long that by the time I got back to working on this dress I almost lost interest.

Cute Cocktail Dress Disaster

But I trudged through. This dress wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for a little detail. It's too short. When I worked on my muslin it didn't seem so short but this fabric is much thicker and doesn't drape like the cotton muslin fabric I used. In the final version the fabric sticks out much farther from my legs and seems waaaaay too short - hence the tights in these photos.

Maybe I could salvage it - add some lace along the bottom, only wear it with tights - eh, but right now I'm just tired of working on it.

Cute Cocktail Dress Disaster

I am so tired of this dress, not only did I not bother to fully hem it or insert the lining properly but I didn't even bother to photoshop out the plug in these pictures like I normally do. You can add "trying to smile nicely" to that list, too. That's how lack luster I feel about this dress, ha!

Cute Cocktail Dress Disaster

Maybe I can walk away from this dress with a few lessons learned - like I really shouldn't make fancy dresses unless I have a reason to wear them, otherwise I will never wear them. And don't put projects away thinking you'll get back to them because I just won't have the same energy again. And another lesson I keep telling myself - stop sewing slippery fabrics! It's just not worth it even if the fabric is pretty!

Oh, well. I'm moving on. I'm thinking of tackling some shorts next seeing as it is summer time. Or maybe that 70s dress I've had on my to-do list for ever.

Cute Cocktail Dress Disaster

But I hope I can sneak in a new project before I move because, oh yeah, part of the reason I've been MIA for the past few days - we're buying a house! And that means I must pack! So that's what I've been doing in between frustrating sewing sessions. So, sorry for being absent but you might have to put up with more of that this week as we're moving soon! Eeek! Speaking of moving - I need to transfer my internet asap!

May 23, 2011

Renegade Craft Fair Austin

Renegade Craft Fair Austin

I was out of town last year so I missed Renegade but I made sure I went this time around and I'm glad I did! It was crazy! I don't think I'd ever seen that many artists and crafters in one place. Quite overwhelming. I walked out having spent more than I intended (maybe I'll share my loot later, I haven't taken pictures yet) but there was so much more I wish I bought, too!

Renegade Craft Fair Austin

Some of my favorites booths:
  • Viva Zapata makes cool hand bags from recycled bus seats.
  • I really liked Verameat's metal animal jewelry.
    Renegade Craft Fair Austin
  • There were several people selling monster plushies but Mr. Sogs was my favorite.
  • McCheek's Mayhem supplies my need for kitchy ceramics covered in cutesy flowers and kittens. Seriously, I would rock one of those Kitty Love mugs with some hot chocolate. Both funny and grandma vintage at the same time.
  • I have a thing for odd images of cats so I really wanted this Japanese inspired cat tote from Studio Erico.
    Renegade Craft Fair Austin
  • Of course I love the Ryan Berkley's hilarious illustrations of animals dressed like people (although my friend Adriane thinks they are creepy, I disagree.)
  • I really wanted a pair of Mukee Design's earrings made from recycled skateboards but I had already run out of cash at that point, ha!
Renegade Craft Fair Austin

I also liked all the creative booth displays as well. Everything from balloons to hanging feathers and lights, banners, flags, tiny books dangling from strings, even a few trailers inside the building.

Renegade Craft Fair Austin

One thing I loved - this love notes toy dispenser. Way to make things interactive!

So much fun! We spent over two hours there and the place was packed the whole time. Anyone else been to Renegade in your town? You can check out more photos from the fair on my flickr.

May 20, 2011

On Managing Projects (and the rest of life)


Can I let you in on a secret?? Harry Potter is ruining my sewing. I'm currently reading the final book for the first time. Since the most recent movie was released I got it in my head that I wanted to read all the books before summer when the last HP movie comes out.

Don't ask me why. I've never been interested in HP before and I had never read the books before now either but once I started there was no stopping.

I've mentioned this before but I feel compelled to finish whatever project I've started immediately lest I put it on the back burner and never pick it back up again for 5 months (cough*thiscynthiarowleydress*cough). This urge to complete projects has extended to reading these freakin' books until my eyes bleed because heaven forbid I put the book down for five minutes to do basic daily things like eat or shower or sleep! Ugh!

You can imagine that Harry Potter has kept me from the sewing table and kept me from completing much desired projects. The only reason I made my jeans was because I had just finished reading book 6 and had yet to start book 7.

So this leads me to a question I've been thinking about since it was posed on another crafty/sewing blog, Always a Project - how do you manage all of your projects - be them sewing or otherwise - while still getting everything else in life done?

I think it is important to work with your personality quirks not against them - like my need to "finish."
  • I try to limit the number of projects I'm working on at a time. This doesn't always work, though. When you have so many ideas in your head it is hard not to want to do everything, but I try to resist! That way I don't start 12 projects at once and have that must-finish-now mentality take over which would only lead to disaster and my head exploding.
  • I like to schedule projects to give me set deadlines. For instance I have a baby quilt that I must finish before the end of June. I'm about a quarter finished with it but rather than picking it up now I decided to push back my start date to the beginning of June so I'll have a few designated weeks just for that quilt. Before then I'm going to knock out a couple other projects. For June I'm going to focus mostly on the quilt until it is finished and if I finish early I can start on another project as a reward.
  • Feeling productive is another one of my neurotic quirks along with "finishing" so I try to always have something to do in my downtime that isn't necessarily sewing. That way when those times hit when I feel frustrated or just plain tired of sewing and need a break I can still feel like I'm not wasting my time. Maybe I'll read a book for my book club, blog or do some laundry. I get antsy when I feel like I have nothing productive to do. Maybe I just can't relax. Seriously, going to a beach resort where all you do is sit around in the sand all day is not my idea of a good vacation.
  • Making lists helps me control all of the ideas floating around in my mind about projects to sew and makes it easier to see what needs to be done sooner than later. It also helps me to remember projects that I've put aside and need to start working on again.
So how do you keep track of and manage your projects? Are you like me and have more projects than you could possibly work on?

Have you ever neglected other important things in life to finish a project (Showed up late to a party because you just had to finish that hem? Forgot to take the laundry out of the washer because you got distracted with decorative top stitching? Or worse, forgotten to feed your cat because you'd been sewing all night? Yes, I admit to all these things. Sorry, Peanut.) Have any tips for me? I really wonder how other people manage it all.

I'm looking forward to your input! In the mean time I'm off to read The Deathly Hallows...

May 17, 2011

70s Jeans - Vintage Pattern with Modifications

70s Jeans

So I didn't exactly finish these jeans this weekend like I had hoped. I had to wait until Monday to sew the pockets but I really like them!

70s Jeans

That's one thing I need to work on - learning to accept that it is ok to leave a project unfinished. It will get done tomorrow, I know, but I still unnecessarily stress over it. But now that they're done I think these might be quite popular during Me-Made-June!

70s Jeans

I made the jeans with a light colored denim and a vintage 1971 pattern and I used Patty's tutorial for the front pockets. The inside pocket fabric peeks out a tiny bit at the opening. I used leftover fabric scraps for them from my Kite Day Shirt. I also implemented all the changes mentioned in my muslin post, like making a longer hem and lowering the waist by about and inch and a half.

70s Jeans

I also added some details like top stitching the inside leg seam, extra top stitching on the back pockets, and top stitching the darts. You can't see the top stitching very well because I used denim colored thread rather than gold thread that many jeans are sewn with. I was worried my mistakes would be too apparent on my first pair of jeans so I went with a safer color.

70s Jeans70s Jeans

Not bad for a first pair of jeans! Now I'm itching to make more jeans - maybe some skinny jeans? Something a little more modern and less vintage. Wow, thinking about it - I don't ever have to buy jeans again if I really don't want to. I could just make them!

May 13, 2011

High Waist Pants Muslin - Vintage Simplicity 9629

High waist pants muslin

No, these are not the final pants but I'm just so proud of myself for making pants that mostly fit on the first try. I would have posted this muslin version yesterday but Blogger was down for maintenance all yesterday afternoon until about an hour ago. Lame. Also, yesterday was not a face day. Ever have one of those days when you just don't like showing your face in your sewing pictures? Yeah, yesterday was one of those days.

Vintage Pattern Present

Anyway, I used the pants pattern from this 1971 Simplicity pattern that was so nicely gifted to me from across the pond by Portia. The '71 pattern had a back zipper. Instead I altered the front flap pieces from an old Built By Wendy pattern (Simplicity 3850, I used it to make shorts once) and made it a front lapped zip.

Vintage Pants Pattern

Here are all the pieces cut out - only three! Not bad. For the fabric I used an old bed sheet that I hated because it was scratchy and for some reason it had the ability to attract dust and hair and fuzz like a magnet, yuck.


I'm going to try to make my first pair of jeans from this altered pattern modeled after these jeans. I'm going to free hand draw pockets for the back and for the front pockets I will follow The Snug Bug's tutorial on welt pockets. Actually, it wasn't until I looked back at her blog did I realize that the jeans I'm using as inspiration are just a pant version of the skirt she was inspired by.

High waist pants muslin

Originally the waist band was even higher but I cut it off before taking these photos because while the pants fit pretty well everywhere else they were too tight at the waist. Removing the wiast band cut off about 2 inches. I'm wearing a belt to give myself an idea of where to lower the waist line on the pants pieces to attach a new waist band.

High waist pants muslin

Other changes I'm going to make. I like the length now as they are (not hemmed) but I'll add a couple inches for the hem. I'll also change the side seam allowances from 5/8" to 1/2" just to add a wee bit more wiggle room. Overall I quite like the look! Not too wide or too bell-bottom like. I'm buying denim today and hopefully I can finish them over the weekend.

High waist pants muslin

May 11, 2011

Just Married Card

Just Married Card

Another card I made over the weekend for some newlywed friends. I sketched, cut out, and inked bits of card stock for all the little car pieces. Simple but cute.


I'm going through the beginning process of trying to buy a house (finally found one that works and isn't owned by a crazy seller) so that has taken me away from the sewing table for a bit.

But I'll be back tomorrow with some more sewing projects, this time - pants! And vintage ones at that! Oooh, exciting. It is a new adventure in sewing for me.

May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day Card

I feel like Mother's Day needs a little jingle like the "Happy Birthday to You" song that you sing to people on their birthday. For some reason I feel the need to sing to people over the phone on special occasions. Maybe it is because I can't send breakfast in bed via the telephone.

This is a little card I made for that special occasion. Hope all you moms out there had a great day!

May 7, 2011

Re-styled Telephone Table

1950s Chair with table

Do you remember this from way back in January?

Well, here's the after:

Telephone Table Restyle

To recap the story behind this table - Justin bought it for me for a Christmas Present but it was pretty beat up and it needed work. At first I wanted to wait to restyle the table until we bought a house and I could paint outside and not on my cramped balcony. But four months later we still don't have a house (not for lack of trying!) so I just stuck the thing on the balcony and sanded and painted.

Telephone Table Restyle

What I changed: Painted the whole thing "celery." I was going more for mint but that's what the paint color was called, ha! I used wood filler on some of the big gashes in the wood. And I replaced the entire seat. The wooden seat was cracked in multiple places. Justin was nice enough to cut me a new piece. Then I covered it in foam and fabric.

Telephone Table Restyle

The color change doesn't look that noticeable in the pictures but it is in real life. The original color was a blond wood but it had so many chunks gouged out of it that I couldn't just sand it down or stain it. Now it is a very pale green color.

Telephone Table Restyle

For now my little table is sitting by my font door, hopefully to be a mail catcher. You can see more before pictures at the original post. I'm just glad this project if finished! Woohoo!

Telephone Table Restyle

May 5, 2011

Prepping for Me-Made-June

Recently I found myself faced with a dilemma - I lacked a sufficient number of hangers in my closet. To compensate I moved some items to drawers, packed away unseasonable pieces of clothing or clothes which I only ever wear once every three years (ski pants? in Texas? really??) but I'm still short on hangers.

Closet of handmade

But the main point is not how many hangers I have (be them plastic, wire or wood) but why do I not have enough.

The answer is my wardrobe has exploded with handmade clothes. This use to not be a problem because the majority of clothes that I made were just plain awful that I'd never wear them in the daylight but that has since changed and now I need a place to put all of these clothes.


So having a lack of hangers can actually be a good thing? And now that I feel I have enough hand made garments to be proud of I'm going one step further and participating in Me-Made-June. Yes, I know it is still May but I'm hoping to add a few versatile basics to my wardrobe to make my goal of wearing at least one re-styled or totally handmade garment per day for the month of June.

Who knows if all of this will get done but I'm hoping to make -
- A good solid colored t-shirt or two
- A denim pencil skirt that is long enough for work
- Pants, specifically some wide leg, high waist, 70s style pants
- Flowy blouse of some kind
- Shorts - because it is hot in Texas!

Does anyone else plan on participating? I know of some people who have done Me-Made-March and Self-Stitched-September. If you have done it before do you have any advice? Should I plan out all my outfits in advance? I've never done a challenge like this before.


In other news - I'm working diligently on my chevron dress pattern. Only two more pattern pieces to go, then on to sizing, instructions, illustrations, and all the little extras. I still have a lot of work ahead of me.

May 3, 2011

Asymmetrical Neckline Dress Muslin

Asymmetrical Neckline Dress Muslin

Another item on my ever growing sewing to-do list - I've made a working muslin for this Burda 7514 dress. And in true Dixie fashion I used (count em!) 5 different kinds of fabrics for this baby. Oh, and please ignore my poor sewing - it is just a muslin, after all.

Asymmetrical Neckline Dress Muslin
Room for a side zipper under the arm.

Asymmetrical Neckline Dress Muslin
I was bad and didn't bother copying the marks from the pattern pieces to my fabric pieces so the back bodice is a little wonky.

Pinning up the shoulders

I'll make a few changes for the final version. The fit is pretty good except I'm going to add some width to the shoulder seam allowances. The skinny strap likes to slip off my shoulder and the bust line is giving me the dreaded lumpy boob. Raising up the dress slightly alleviated that problem.

I'm also going to change the skinny strap to mimic the cap sleeve on the other side. I'll keep the asymmetrical neckline but I really have a thing for cap sleeves.


You'll notice that my dress doesn't look exactly like the pattern picture. That's because I made a number of alterations.

Pattern piece alterations

First I shortened the bottom of the dress by a few inches partly because I like mini dresses and partly because I'm too lazy to make a side slit in a dress (although, I realize that with a gathered skirt I probably didn't need a slit anyway). I just folded the bottom of each piece so I didn't have to cut it.

Then I sliced each piece along the waist line (three pieces in front and three in back) with the exception of the center front piece. For the muslin I didn't bother to add seam allowances where I cut (which is why the center front piece on the muslin is a bit longer than the other pieces) but I will for the final dress.

Then I slashed the skirt half of each piece along the grain line mark (so I knew I had a perfect straight line) and added 4 inches in the middle to make the skirt portion gathered (a good way of using up excess pattern paper that comes with store bought patterns). Then I attached each gathered skirt piece back to it's respective bodice piece and sewed everything up according to the instructions.

The final dress will have at least a bodice lining. I haven't decided if I want to line the skirt - all that extra fabric gets hot in the Texas sun - but I probably will add pockets because dresses with pockets are awesome!

I worried it would be too big because most patterns add way too much ease for my liking. Since I've only made a knit fabric Burda pattern before I went with a size 12 and hoped for the best. Lucky it fit great except for the shoulders but that's an easy fix.

May 2, 2011

Blog Interview

(image from rebekah's blog)

Rebekah from St. Gemma's Art and Needlework did a rather huge and well written interview with me on her blog today. Check it out! Thanks so much, Rebekah! You make me sound much more interesting than I am in real life ;)

And go visit her crafty blog where she features lots of sewing, knitting, and other art/craft projects and tutorials.

I love getting to know more sewers and crafters on the blogosphere. Gives me the warm-fuzzies inside.

Hanky/Doily Throw Pillow

Hanky/Doily Pillow

I'm knocking out my sewing to-do list. Today and yesterday I worked on this little pillowcase.

Hanky/Doily Pillow

It features a cluster of vintage doilies on one side and a vintage handkerchief on the other side and is trimmed in little white crochet lace with a zipper closure.

Hanky/Doily Pillow

The hankie was exactly 12"x12" and the pillow I bought was the same size. I had to stitch very close to the edge of the hankie and stuff that pillow into the case pretty tight but it fits!


Hanky/Doily Pillow

I found the idea on Smile and Wave and slowly collecting doilies. Since I'm so cheap and didn't want to pay more than a dollar or two per doily and since I was so picky about size and style it took me awhile to collect just four.

I stitched the doilies to a backing fabric  square but some of the doily edges aren't stitched on very well and stick up. I may hand tack them down. Maybe, I say this but we all know how lazy I am when it comes to things like this. ;)