Sunday, August 28, 2011

Garage Sale: $415

Spent a large portion of the past week getting ready for the garage sale.  Culmination of all the summer's decluttering.  All of Friday was pricing, placing and cleaning the stuff merchandise.  One day sale was Saturday.  Made decent money, mostly selling small-ticket items (some of which surprised me: old basketball hoop, sad skateboard). 

The miracle occurred *after* the sale was over.  We didn't sell out.  Didn't even come close.  Some truly "valuable" items didn't sell; ditto with some "useful" items.  (A dozen wineglasses, still in their box.  Brand new king-size sheets.  Myriad of unburned scented candles.)  There was a yard full of stuff: what to do with it all?  Well, I would have thrown it back in the garage to go through and portion out later.  End of a long, hot day; who wants to deal with all the stuff?

Fortunately, I was saved from myself by Sweetie and her pickup truck.  I was allowed to "rescue" one small box full of items (no bigger than a shoebox), and the rest went into the truck.  That truck was FULL.  Drove straight to Goodwill, and it's all now gone.

I feel lighter.  So much less stuff to think about, obsess over, have to clean or store or repair or trip over.  And the Born Organized person sitting next to me in the pew says, "Time to get back in those closets and start saving up for next garage sale."  Aargh!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blue Ribbon @ the Fair!

My friend Dwynn spilled the beans in an email to me, but I went to the County Fair today (on the last day) and saw that I won a Blue Ribbon for my tote bag!  Category: any recycled article.

Also, since I didn't have any pictures of it from before, the queen-size quilt I entered in the Fair.
Largest quilt I have ever made (big difference for me between twin size and queen size).  Scrappy Christmas prints, made from fabric my sister-in-law gave me when she moved.  The pattern is called Circle of Friends from Miss Rosie's Quilt Co (a 2006 pattern); taught in a class at Something to Crow About, and the first time I used Triangle Paper to make half-square triangles.  At one point, the partially completed quilt top was hanging in my classroom, and I calculated 1,440 individual pieces.  That count was before the side borders, which are more half-square triangles.  A three-year labor of love, I gave this away as a Christmas present (to my dear sister-in-law).
Category: quilt, amateur pieced, machine professionally quilted (by Quiltmasters, in an adorable snowflake pattern).  There were at least ten quilts entered in this category.  Stiff competition - there are some great quilters in Lane County.  So, imagine my surprise that my quilt got an Honorable Mention ribbon.  I am quite pleased.  I think it's a darn pretty quilt.

And just like that, the Fair is over.  I am dreaming of next year already...  Creativity never sleeps.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Last of the Value Village alterations

Recall: 4th of July sale at Value Village.  I bought black pants for work.  Black *wow* pants for going out.  Two blouses (going out) and a tunic (work).  Dansko sandals. (score!)  Six items.  Of these, four needed some sort of alteration in order to be wearable.  The sandals were the easiest: I took them to the Shoe Doctor, who got them back to me in less than a week.  I have already mentioned the sleeves on the tunic: Sweetie talked me into keeping things simple and just removing, not adding.

Today I completed the sleeve hem on the other blouse, and fixed the belt-loop situation on the smokin' hot black pants.
Before: too-tight band with ugly ruffle
In the vein of "keep it simple", I was just trying to put a hem on the sleeve.  But, once the lower band had been removed, it was a fluttery mess.  I severely shortened it into more of a cap sleeve, then hemmed.  Darn slippery fabric it was.  The black pants had a decorative fabric belt in the front only, and no belt-loops in the back.  I removed belt at the side seams and chopped a bit of it up to make into belt-loops.  Yay, it's now wearable.
After: can you see the belt-loop?  I made that!

Now I just need an occasion for this cute little outfit.  I was so excited by my progress that I treated myself to another Value Village visit; and this time I wouldn't even consider buying anything that needed work.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letters into words. Now what?

I made all the letters I had planned to make.  Put them into the words and the phrase.  It was fun!  Now what?
I didn't have a project in mind.  I just wanted to play with making letters, following the instructions in my new book.  I'm not looking to start a whole quilt around this phrase...  So where do I go from here?  (Uh-oh, a half-baked idea.  Rushing ahead without a clear plan.  Dropping the things I was going to do this week to sneak time in front of the sewing machine.  Sounds like I need to recalibrate my ADD meds.)

Honestly, I think I have the beginnings of a cute wall-hanging.  Could be fabulous.  But--big hesitation here--I don't do wall-hangings.  I wouldn't hang such things in my living space (even if I was living in my own space; but I digress).  My roommate even had a great idea for being able to attach alternate words after the "about".
So... how do you feel about glamor? 
So... how do you feel about chocolate?
So... how do you feel about politics?
So... how do you feel about armadillos?

But what *is* this thing to become?  I'm into practical items, with a touch of whimsy.  Bed-coverings, pillows, curtains, tablecloths, tote bags, garments.  That sort of thing.  Not wall art.

Hmm... Suggestions, anyone?  The display above finishes to about 20" square.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Words. Quilts. Yummy...

In the midst of decluttering (which has stalled a bit; if I mention it here, will I feel obligated to get back on track with it?), I bought two new quilting books.  Tiny wince face...  But I had a coupon for that I needed to spend!

Ah, the creative juices that get flowing with a new book or pattern or piece of fabric.  *Heavy sigh*  One book, "Word Play Quilts" by Tonya Ricucci, I had first seen at the Sister's Outdoor Quilt Show back in July

I couldn't stop thinking about that book.  I love words.  I love the sound and feel of them, but also love to see text in all different contexts.  I have a block pattern that requires a few words before it becomes the fabulous wall-hanging that it is meant to be.  I was resigned to using applique to make those words--even though I don't do applique. 
I finished five letters in a leisurely hour!  I started with the "o's", because that letter is on the easier end of the scale.  I have a whole phrase in mind, but I'll save that reveal for later.

What am I doing starting a new project?  Making myself happy, that's what!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fleece Booties in August

Sewing fleece in August... Never tried it before, and perhaps now I know why.  I cut out a pair of fleece booties last November, when Sweetie was learning to sew fleece pants.  For whatever reason, I didn't get around to sewing them together.

Well, it's anti-procrastination week in my sewing room, so I'm trying to work on the long-neglected.  (Full disclosure: less-than-a-year doesn't really count as "long neglected" in my sewing pile, but you get the idea.)  Thought to myself, "It's a Monday morning, I'll just whip these puppies right up."  I don't care how easy a pattern is, I can complicate it, or otherwise make it take waaaay longer than it should to finish.

My complication here was to use the recommended non-skid dot fabric only on the ball of the foot portion of the soles.  I figured that was a safe choice, as my house is almost entirely carpeted.  I therefore needed to interface the fabric sole, and find a way to secure the non-skid to it.  After some experimentation I recommend a walking foot and a zigzag stitch for this.  (Although, by the end of sewing the bootie, my walking foot was getting in the way of the needle--broke 4 of them today.  Sad face.)

Booties are finished.  Won't mention how many hours it took, but it is clearly no longer Monday morning.
I never really thought of myself as an "instant gratification" person, but I'm disappointed to have a newly finished item that will get no use in the foreseeable future.  Would you wear fleece booties in August?  Me neither.  Darn it all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Robe + slippers @ the Fair

So, of my 2 County Fair entries, one was the restyling of a child's robe and fluffy pink slippers into a tote bag.  I started with a McCall's pattern for a tote bag.  This was just to make things easier, since I had spent many hours fiddling with the robe, trying to figure out how big a bag I could actually make.

In using this pattern, I knew I needed another fabric to add to the amount of robe fabric I had available.  I chose a fleece with flowers on it that seemed to complement the flowers on the slippers.  Instead of the tote bag straps shown, I wanted a handle more like a purse; plus, I wanted it to tie at the top.  (Blame a girl on the bus who had a really cute carryall with the style handle/strap I am describing.  So cute!)
This photo shows the side view: you can see the lower pocket (part of the McCall's pattern), the coordinating fabric (which I seamed in to extend the pink robe fabric) which extends straight up into the handle/strap, and the fabulous slipper pocket (ditto on the other side).
Front and back views.  I managed to keep the collar attached to the front of the robe (tricky!) and then used it as the "clasp", by putting a piece of velcro at the back of the collar and the back of the bag.  The entire front button placket of the robe still opens, and thanks to being fully lined, it forms another large, flat pocket (I thought of putting loose papers or a spiral notebook in there).

The original tote bag pattern called for a full lining and two internal pockets, which I made in three coordinating fabrics.  You can see a bit of the madras plaid inside the straps. That is the lining of the entire bag; there is also a stripe with roses and a soft yellow gingham lining the pockets.  So much fun mixing fabrics.

The true hair-ripping portion of the project was sewing the slippers to the fabric (of course).  I removed the rubber backing and a foam footbed lining from each slipper, but saved the binding and reattached it by hand.  I was able to shove the entire assemblage under my sewing machine presser foot and sew around the edge of the binding using a size 16 needle, machine quilting thread, a very long stitch length, and much high-volume cursing (no small children were about).  I stopped at least 3 times to consider whether I wanted to continue fighting with the sewing machine or give up and sew the remainder by hand.  But I persevered!

An idea brought to life.  Yay!  I feel creative and accomplished.  Maybe an "honorable mention" ribbon at the fair?  (Which I equate to: great idea, less-than-perfect workmanship)

Monday, August 8, 2011

County Fair: half done

Today was the day for fair entries to be delivered. I had hoped to finish 4 items, but am settling for just 2. I always know that my sewing for the fair is aspirational: I *hope* to have xyz completed by then. I am often motivated by external deadlines. (It is one of my tricks for dealing with ADD procrastination: find a way to impose a firm deadline.)
Queen-sized quilt, ready to go

But this year I just wasn't feeling it. Couldn't make myself work on the "wedding dress redux" items. And, when it came down to the wire, I left a lot of the finishing details unfinished on my tote bag--I just didn't care to put forth the effort. Given my perfectionist tendencies, this may not be such a bad thing: allowing the "good enough" to slip in and save me from the obsessively perfect.

I'll upload photos of the bag soon. It turned out to be pretty clever, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Robe + slippers: a great idea?

Picture a child's bathrobe: pink, soft, fluffy faux fur trim on the sleeves and collar.  Now pair that with some pink slippers
...and you have my latest idea.  What if the slippers were like pockets?  What would that look like?  Is it possible to sew a pair of slippers onto other fabric?  Would the finished product be just an embellished robe, or something else?

A woman with ADD and a new idea: a dangerous combination.  I am reading "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson, and came across a passage that I think applies to my creative process.

The main character, Lisbeth Salander, has a photographic memory, a quirky flair for computer hacking, and a penchant for doing recreational mathematics at an elevated level:
"She had spent several weeks in the Caribbean last winter working herself into a frenzy over Fermat's Last Theorem.  When she came back to Sweden... she had kept on playing with the equations... [But now]  she did not have the least interest in it.   Fermat's theorem no longer fascinated her.  That was ominous.  That was just the way she usually functioned.  She would be fascinated by a problem, but as soon as she had solved it, she lost interest.  That was how she felt about Fermat.  He was no longer a demon riding on her shoulder, demanding her attention and vexing her intellect.  It was an ordinary formula, some squiggles on a piece of paper, and she felt no desire at all to engage with it."

So often, when I get a creative idea, I spend so much mental energy figuring out how to make it work.  I dream about it at night.  I buy the materials to implement my idea-- but I often run out of steam long before the idea is put into finished form.

Robe and slippers?  Stay tuned...

Monday, August 1, 2011

More sleeve news

I don't know what it is about sleeves this summer: they're everywhere in my mending/restyling pile.  After much frustration with the progress on my County Fair entries (which must get done this week: aack!) I went back to the mending pile and put a new sleeve on an old blouse.

Blouse is a lovely textured coral silk.  Sleeves were the same fabric, basic short sleeve.  But the blouse had sat in the back of my closet for years, hardly ever worn because raising my arms caused gross bust gaposis.  Should have taken a "before" picture, but I removed the sleeves months ago; I had actually worn the blouse once under a jacket with no sleeve at all.

Anyway, the removed sleeves served as a pattern basis.  I slashed the pattern 3 times and added 2" of ease at the lower edge.  Bought a matching stretchy lacy fabric to use for new sleeves.  Tried it on, and decided the new sleeve looked "unfinished".  So, instead of hemming it, I am adding a bias strip from fabric in the original sleeve (I made it bias so that the bottom edge would stretch a bit along with the lace; remembered to sew it on with a zigzag stitch for this purpose.) 

The picture above is "in-progress".  I wasn't at my ironing board to finish it.  Will post "done" picture soon.