Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Upcoming knitting project

Hello everyone!

I had a nice weekend cleaning out my sewing closet. Since I am a person who likes to clean up in spurts, with lots of breaks in between, I approached this task in the same way.  My son helped with some of the work too, and he told me he wants to help again next time.  To be honest, I did not know that the room was in such disarray.  I figured a little organization and decoration would spruce things up a bit, but now that I am "all in," trying to update this room, I realize that I am in for a lot of work.  But...the end result will be so worth it!!!

I also got a chance to do some shopping for yarn at Joann's Fabrics and Craft store.  I was waiting until I finished my scarf in order to begin a new knitting project, and since I am done, I can get going on what I really want to do--a baby blanket for my sister's baby due in April.  It will be a girl, and her colors are brown and pink.

Here is a picture of the lovely pattern I found online for an easy baby blanket:

Weeks before I found this online, I had been searching and searching for the perfect baby blanket, to no avail.  As soon as I saw this one, I knew it was perfect.  

Anyhow, while I was at Joann's, I could not find the right color brown.  Really there were only two choices, a light tan color, and a dark brown one.  Neither or them looked right with my pretty pinks, so I decided to forgo the brown.  My sister will have to find another way to work brown into the room decor, which I figure won't be too hard, right?  I hope she's happy with what I decided:

Here is some information about the yarn:
It is from Caron, called Simply Soft.  The top color is Strawberry, middle is Off White, and bottom is Soft Pink.  The Off White really almost looks like a buttercream, or pale yellow, I love it sooo much!  They are all synthetic, 100% Acrylic, but easy to wash and will hold up with wear and tear.

I already knitted a test swatch to gauge my stitches, and will be starting the first set of panels soon.  I'm not sure of my finish date.  I would like to have this done before the baby gets here in April, so maybe by the first week of March.  I have to sit down and set a plan as to how many rows I would need to knit each day in order to be finished by then (does anyone else do this).

I'll keep you updated on my progress with this.

Stay sew-filled!

Friday, January 25, 2013

SCM Item # 1

Hi everyone!

Hurray for Fridays!

This week was a great one for me!  I feel like I accomplished a lot of things, and I experienced a lot of little things that brought a smile to my face.  I hope your week went well too.

Anyhow, it is time to show you my SCM (Sewing Closet Makeover) Item #1:

I created this fabric bulletin board from some leftover 100% cotton home decor fabric.  I bought some coordinating brown ribbon to "frame" the project, and used a stapler and hot glue gun to put it all together.  The rectangular shape is an old cardboard box with two sheets of batting stapled to it (you could also use a foam pad). So, in essence, a cardboard box side, batting stapled over it, decorative fabric pulled tightly and stapled or glued to the back, and ribbon hot glued to the edges.

I will be using this board to post things for projects I am currently working on, with possible inspirational photos and/or informational items hanging there as well.  I didn't want anything huge, so it measures about 20 inches long by 13 inches wide.  I know that this piece will fit perfectly with the mood I am trying to create in my sewing room.

By the way, I am NOT currently working on Simplicity 2147!  I just have it shown as a model so you all can get an idea of what I was trying to create.  This weekend I plan to de-clutter my closet so I can figure out how to organize and label everything I have haphazardly thrown in there.  It is truly one big mess!

Just a quick cute story to add: When I finished my bulletin board, my daughter asked me what it was.  I explained that it was a board used for hanging pieces of paper on it, and how I was going to put it in my sewing closet.  My little one (3 1/2) then said "Oh mommy! Let me get a piece of paper then, and make some sweetness to hang on your board!"

Here is my daughter's "sweetness":

Isn't that just precious?

Stay sew-filled!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reveal: Double Bump Scarf

Hello everyone!

A few weeks ago I showed you a picture of a mystery item that I was knitting.  Well, here it is...

Yarn color: Red Ochre

I like to call this my waffle scarf because the design reminds me of the classic marks you get from a waffle iron.  However, the appropriate name of this project is Double Bump.  I found this scarf to be a fairly easy project for me, a beginner knitter, and I would HIGHLY recommend it!!  I followed the instructions mostly, and used a chunkier yarn by Deborah Norville, that I purchased from Joanns.  I think it was an acrylic yarn, but I am not sure (I will have to pay more attention next time).  It took two skeins for me to get a finished length of 62.5 inches, and I used size 10.5 knitting needles.  

Overall, I love it! It is so soft! And it feels incredibly nice next to my skin!  I think this scarf would also be a great item to gift to a friend.

My only "con" is that this scarf took me most of the winter to knit!!  But that is my fault really.  I probably could have finished it in a couple of weeks if I had dedicated more of my time to it, but I wasn't pushing myself.  Thankfully, there is still enough cold weather here in Georgia for me to wear it.

Here are some more pics:

So that finishes another knitted item!! Woo Hoo!!

I am still working on my sewing closet makeover, and have started creating the first piece for the room.  Hopefully I can show it to you on Friday--it isn't anything elaborate, but I want to make sure I can finish it by then before I say it will be ready.

I will also be starting another knitted project soon for my one and only sister, who is expecting a baby girl in April!  This project will be a lengthy one that I hope I can finish in time. 

That's all for now!  Take care, and stay warm (or cool, depending).

Stay sew-filled!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Operation: Sewing Closet Makeover

Hello all!!

My hope is that your week has been well.  It is still raining here in Georgia, but I have found time to get my "house in order," so the rain has not been so bad.

Speaking of organization, I came across a wonderful blog called Cation Designs earlier this week.  She is having a Stashbusting Sew-Along, and I immediately became intrigued in participating.  The purpose of the Sew-Along is to challenge yourself to sew a certain amount of items for the year from your fabric stash.  

Sadly, this is my fabric stash:

It is by no means abundant or boastful only because I usually buy what I need, and don't venture into adding plenty of more (unlike my pattern envelopes).  Still, I like the concept of using what I have on hand before adding to my collection.  

So...I was thinking...my sewing closet is looking like a jumbled, crazy mess!!  I mean, how can I be inspired to sew when I have to look at piles of scrap fabric, sewing needles, and other out-of-order items?  I can sew, but it would be so much better to clean it up first.

That being said, I am deciding to use my stash to creatively come up with a sewing closet makeover!
This way I am able to participate in the Sew-Along, and finish a new project all in one!

I'm not sure how long this will take me, but I have already been perusing Pinterest in search of ideas.  I definitely want to convey a sense of  "oasis" when I walk into my closet to sew.  I'd like to be able to have a practical solution for managing all my pattern envelopes, labeling all my notions, and housing all of my books and knitting things.  For the closet decor, I would love to paint, but I know that will not be possible since I share the space with my hubby.  But I'm sure I'll find a way to bring in color some kind of way!

In the meantime, here is my pledge for the Stashbusting Sew-Along:

I,Vanessa, commit to using 8 pieces of stash fabric in 2013. 

I am looking forward to this!  I will keep you updated on my sewing closet progress, as I plan to be making most of the items I use for my room.  And if you are interested in busting a little of your own stash, check out the link to Cation Designs above.

Stay sew-filled!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sewing books

Hello everyone!

Today is a dreary, rainy day in Georgia.  I know we need the rain, but why does it have to make me feel so down in the dumps?  It is cloudy, foggy, and wet.  A good day to stay in.

But I didn't stay in.  I ventured out with my 3 year old because, as dreary as it seems, I like when it rains.  Mostly because I can get out and get my shopping done with minimal crowds.  On early rainy mornings, I often find that hardly anyone else gets out.  So, if you are looking for optimal shopping days, there you have it!

On the other hand, shopping with a 3 year old is another story entirely...

In the midst of running errands, I stopped at the library to get a look at the sewing section.  It has been quite a while since I checked anything out, and I saw that they added some great titles (I'll have to check out their online selection as well).

Here are some books I ended up with:

Teach Yourself Visually Fashion Sewing by Carole Ann Camp

This is a book I have checked out before.  I like it, mostly as a good reference.  It's nice to have on hand to refer to, but I never use it nearly enough because I don't sew as often.  I am hoping to change that.  I also enjoy the multitude of photos.  I am a visual learner, so the more photos, the better!

Threads Fitting for Every Figure by editors of Threads

I grabbed this one because I usually sew any garments for myself with minimal adjustments.  Not because I want to, but because I am not as skilled in figuring out how to achieve a better, more pleasing fit to my body.  I thought the pointers in here would really help.

Another choice for fitting is this one:

The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen

This book came highly recommended from online reviews, so I thought "why not?"  It too, has lots of great photos.

And just in case I had any questions...

Dressmaking 200 Q&A by Mary McCarthy
This next book seems a bit more on the basic side.  Though, I don't turn my nose up on the basics because I always feel as though I am learning, and I may learn something that will help to improve or simplify my own technique.

The New Sewing Essentials Updated and Revised Edition
And last, but not least:

Garment Construction A Complete Course on Making Clothing for Fit and Fashion  
I have also browsed through this before, but never read it to see if it contained anything beneficial.  The title drew me in with it's emphasis on fit and fashion.  

Anyhow, I'll have to see how useful each of these books are over the next month or so.  If you have read or used any of the ones I selected, please let me know which one and your opinion of it.  If I find any of these books to be beneficial, I will do a book review next month.  

Thanks for reading!

Stay sew-filled!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Burda style Spring/Summer 2013 faves

Hello everyone!

I am excited to be exploring some of my favorite patterns from the Burda style Spring/Summer collection.  As some of you may know, I enjoy taking trips to Joann's, often with a cappucino in hand, perusing the various pattern catalogs.  It is heavenly...I look at patterns, and dream about what to create next.  I study the line drawings, and try to decide which details I like, and which ones I will omit.

So, come along and dream with me as I take a look at the newest patterns Burda is offering:

This first pattern reminds me of a wrap dress. I love the wraparound top, and how it creates the cinching of the waist. View A is my favorite, but I do appreciate the flowiness of the one in View B.

I think the dress pictured above is so cute!  The Peter Pan collar, with a more vintage feel is perfect for summer!

Moving on to another dress, this one is neat because of the twist on the bodice.  I have seen tops with a twist, and I think this translates nicely to a fun summer dress.

This is another top I love!!  I mean, I just love it!  I love the billowy shape with the V-neck slit, and the length that hits just at the hips.  It seems like it would be a nice staple. The dress is nice also.

Burda 7066 is yet another staple.  Do you like staples?  I do!  I don't always have to buy patterns with a million different features.  Sometimes it's nice to find a tried and true gem that can translate into wearable pieces in my wardrobe instead.

Here is another style I like, but my only concern is the wrap around the neck. I'm not sure if that would be a flattering look for me.  

Switching gears a bit, I also saw a few neat patterns for menswear.  If my husband would let me (he's a real stickler when it comes to his business attire), I would love to try out one of these patterns:

And, just for fun, here is a cute jumpsuit for babies:

Well, I hope you enjoyed checking out these patterns with me today!  I have a few Burda patterns in my stash that I plan to attempt sometime this year.  For now, if you are interested in any of the rest of the Burda style Spring/Summer collection, you can click here.

Stay sew-filled!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cotton flannel hats for everyone!

Hello everyone!

I hope your week has started out well! I am back with a finished project!!

As you know, I have really gotten into jogging.  Well, it appears that the weather here in Georgia has been mighty cold these last couple of weeks, and my last jogging excursion did not go well--my ears were soooo cold!!  Because of this, I decided that I needed to find a way to keep my ears warm while jogging, or I would not be able to jog for long.

Last week while looking at my Youtube channel feed, I came across a video by the Crafty Gemini, Vanessa Wilson, entitled Fleece Hat with Ear Flaps DIY Tutorial.  As soon as I watched the video I knew I had to make one!  This is Vanessa's own pattern that she lets you print for free, and she even has an adult and child size!

Here is how my hat came out:

Now I must tell you that I did NOT use fleece for this project.  I didn't have any on hand, and I did not want to buy any.  So, instead, I found some cotton flannel in my stash that I cut on the bias to add the appropriate stretch to the hat.  I wasn't too sure what the final result would look like (or if it would fit over my head), but much to my amazement, it fits perfectly.  I even got it over my curls!!

Now you know I can't make the adult hat without making the child size too, right?  Actually, I started out only making one for myself, but then I thought it would be cute to add another one in the same materials for my daughter.  When my son saw my hat he immediately told me that he wanted a hat too (of course).  So...I scrounged around and found some fabric for him too.

This entire project took about an hour once I had all my pattern pieces cut up.  I followed along with Vanessa's video for instructions, and they were very clear and easy to understand, especially if you have a basic knowledge of sewing.  Also, you can even add trim to your hat to make it more festive, and Vanessa walks you through that too. Overall, I give this pattern a "thumbs-up!!"  I love wearing my new hat, and can't wait to run in it!  It is always nice to solve a problem and finish a cute project all in one!!

Stay sew-filled!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Knitting away!

Happy Friday!

I wanted to check in and give you all a quick look-see at how I've been doing with knitting.  I started knitting approximately four months ago, with the help of a wonderful friend.  Actually, I saw all of her amazing projects (shawls, scarves, hats, socks) and became inspired myself.  Then when I heard that there were only two stitches in knitting (knit and purl) and everything else was a combination of those two basic stitches, I knew I was up to the challenge of learning a new skill!

So I borrowed a DVD on learning to knit from the library.  I popped it in one morning, sat down with all of my supplies, and learned to knit!!  My friend helped me to work out the kinks of my knitting technique (I was making my stitches way too tight) and I blossomed from there.  This is the DVD that I used:

I really liked this DVD, and found it extremely easy to follow along.  From the time I turned it on, to the time I knitted a swatch was only about 30 minutes. Also, the projects included on it were easy and adorable!!  It was not overwhelming to learn at all, but actually a pleasure.  My favorite part of the DVD was the stitch-alongs.  It was like having an instructor right there with you while you did your project.  For example, Melissa Leapman would show you how to cast on the stitch, do one row with you, then the screen would tell you how many rows you needed to finish before you continue to the next set of instructions (by pressing your remote).  

I used the stitch along feature to create a mini-version of their basket weave purse.  I created this one for my daughter, and even added a lining from some old baby fabric I had in my sewing room:

After I finished this project, I was happy to find out about the site Ravelry.  It is an AMAZING site for knitters and crocheters alike, with fun projects for every skill level.  On this site I found some really cute cozies:

 If you are curious as to what I am working on now, I will give you a sneak peek:

I hope to be finished with it in a couple of weeks, and then I'll reveal it to you!

If you are interested in knitting, I highly recommend it!  These days you can find me knitting just about anywhere I can.  My favorite place to knit is in bed, an hour or so before I settle down for the night. It is very comforting and calming, and it puts me in a relaxed state.

If you already knit, please share your favorite sites to visit.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I look forward to touching bases with you next Tuesday--with a finished project even!!!!

Stay sew-filled!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, and where I've been...

Oh me, Oh my!!

Hellooooo everyone....is anybody still out there??????????

If so, I've got a great announcement for you: Happy New Year! I am back!

I think the last time I posted was sometime in May.  At that time I was working on sewing a whole month of tops for summer, yet did not factor in that summer vacation was close at hand for my two children.  Before I knew it, I got sucked into a summer of fun, and it was August.  My son started Kindergarten, and my daughter went back to preschool, but I became busy with other things...(like PTA, friends, and volunteering).

I kept thinking back to my unkempt blog, and asking myself if it was time to hang it up for good. Whenever I thought for sure it was the end, I just couldn't do it.  I love this little nook of cyberspace!!  I have met a lot of  wonderful people, and been able to share a lot of the things I love through this blog.

So I am back, but with a new plan (more on that later). In the meantime, here are some of the things you have missed in the months I've been away:

First, I went natural!!!!

For those of you that do not understand, I will quickly explain.  Since around the age of 12, I have always chemically processed my hair to change the texture from curly to straight.  This process is called relaxing your hair.  Once you relax, you can't go back.  You permanently change your hair texture, and lose the texture you had before, until your new growth grows in.

In December 2011 I decided to begin growing out my processed hair, and "transition" to my natural texture via rollersets.  It was a long process, but I grew my hair for a year, and cut all the processed hair off Nov. 2nd, 2012!!

Even though I planned and prepared for this big day, I was still shocked to see that I had CURLS--tight, springy, loopy curls!!  After an almost lifetime of straight hair, I had to learn to take care of what God had given me.  I have since learned that curls have a mind of their own!  Somedays I have the most fabulous hair day ever, and then other days my curls seem like they are fighting one another!

However, I have never been more pleased with my decision.  People go natural for different reasons, but I did it to accept myself, and teach my daughter and son to accept their curls.  I love when my daughter looks at me and says, "Look mom, we are both curly!"  Yes, indeed we are, and it is marvelous!!!

Second, I ran a 5K!!!!

Now this might not be a big deal to some people, and that is ok.  But to me, it was huge.  You see, I am not a runner.  I have never been, and never thought I would be.  I would look at runners, admire their physique and drive, but just did not see myself as one to ever do anything like that.  I would rather have fun and do Zumba instead.  I definitely wasn't trying to do something as monotonous as running...

That was until I met a friend who challenged me to see things differently.  She had signed up for a 5K, and I told her I would train with her (only wanting to be a supportive friend, since I worked out already).  Week after week we jogged together, building up stamina and endurance until I started to experience runner's euphoria.  All the adrenaline and "feel good" hormones your body releases when you run began to change my mind about the whole thing.  In fact, I now loved to run!!  Ha, ha!  I love to run!!

And so it only seemed natural to run the 5K with my friend.  So I did.  I finished with a time of  just under 44 minutes, and I am training for another 5K this year.  I tend to hit my "wall" around mile 2.3, and pushing past that feeling to cross the finish line made me feel like I could do ANYTHING! I trained for the race, but I had to pray to get through it!  Here is a photo of us on the race day:

Third, I learned to KNIT! 

I will be showing you pictures of the beginner items I have knitted a little later on, but yes, I am now a knitter!  As my husband told me once I got the hang of it, "Okay, Vanessa, now all you need is a rocking chair!"  

True, but knitting is not only for grandma's anymore.  I have found such joy and freedom in being able to start a project and take it with me so I can knit during down time. All of those short bursts of knitting come together nicely with the finished project.  Being able to pick up and go, and not deal with a lot of equipment is something I can't do with sewing but I have grown to love with knitting.

So that has been some of the things that have happened in my absence.  This brings me to my sewing plan for the year of 2013: take it easy!!

I was freaking myself out trying to think of the next new sewing technique to learn, or finding the next sewing item that would fit well with my wardrobe, or deciding what Christmas dress to make for my daughter, etc, etc. Basically, I was turning my love of sewing and blogging into a job.  Yes, a job!  It was no longer a place of love and creation, but instead, a time where I got annoyed and frustrated.  I will not do that anymore.  Even if I only finish one amazing garment every few months, that is ok with me, as long as I am enjoying the process.  Life is too short to not have joy.  And I choose joy.

I will still be posting about things in my life, though I am not sure how much will be sewing and how much will be other things.  I am honored for the people that would still like to read my blog and see my journey.  So, in essence, this is my effort to find an effective balance for the year of 2013.

Thank you so much for reading this!  I wish you all the best in this New Year, and I hope there are a lot of exciting things in store for everyone!

Stay sew-filled!