Saturday, May 23, 2015

Retreat: what to take with?

I am so distracted lately, can't stay put on one project or one goal, it seems.

I have a quilting retreat coming up the end of this month, so I started thinking about what I might bring along with me to work on.  I always bring too much, because ADD.  Plus, you just never know what you will be in the mood to settle down and work on.

Made a little list: 20 items on it.

Well no wonder I'm distracted.  Sheesh.  Who could concentrate on anything with that much quilty noise clattering around in their head?

Going back to goals has helped me to narrow my focus in the past...
Goal for May - finish 3 home decor items
Goal for year - use up 100 yards of fabric

Well, apologies to Sweetie, but I'm not working on home decor at a quilt retreat.  Therefore, I need to focus on things I can finish, so that I can count some of the fabric I used in making them in my 100 yard destash.

Ok, wanting to pare down my list to 5 items--I think I've decided on 7.  I'll just sit on those seven choices for the rest of this week and see how that makes me feel.

1.  Block Challenge
Each year at retreat there is a block challenge--your option whether to participate or not.  I have made some fun blocks in the past, and even won one year.  This year the challenge is to make a 12" block with gray and yellow.  I have this long-stashed fat quarter of elephants.  Gonna make at least one block for the challenge.

2.  Wordy Wallhanging
This is a pretty old UFO (2011 was its humble beginning) that has been waiting to be sandwiched and quilted.  Gonna do it--I even have the batting and backing all stored with the top.

3.  Binding for Technicolor Star
This has been quilted and is just waiting for the final step.  Can't wait to pick it up from the long-arm quilter and see it!

4.  Crochet Rug
This project is actually past its deadline (a March birthday), but will definitely provide me with an alternative activity if I get tired of sewing.

5.  Red/Pink/Black baby quilt
Finish the quilting, which is already in progress, and really needs more space for me to spread out.

6.  Barnyard Play Quilt
A long-stalled UFO.  Too many steps to complete this at retreat, but maybe I can get the sky and the grass quilted.  (And just maybe, by the time there are grandchildren in my future, I will have this baby completed.)

7.  Sew Together Bag
A new project!  Bought the pattern from SewDemented on Craftsy, and have a thought to maybe teach its construction at my LQS (I heard that quilters can be hesitant around zippers).  If that is to be, I would need to have constructed it myself, right? 

Seven little projects.  Are they the proper projects for retreat?  If I get hives or can't sleep because these choices are stressing me out, I will know I need to revisit my list.  True?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sneaky Scraps

Scraps can be pesky--always underfoot, multiplying with abandon (despite your best efforts to eradicate them), mocking you from the safety of their bins and baskets.

One particularly intrepid band of scraps found its way under my sewing machine's needle this past week and demanded I stitch them up.  Cheeky bastards!

These particular scraps were given to me by my stitch-n-bitch friend Pam, after she completed a 1930's quilt for her daughter.  I spent some mental energy in January coming up with a plan for sewing them together, but put them aside as a project for later.

Apparently, *later* is now.

Love those 1930's prints. Sigh.

Made 25 simple 16-patch blocks.  Woop, zoop, sloop!

And, since Monday is vacuuming day and the rugs are all clean, I hadta lay out a few of them to see how they might look with a stash fabric in alternating blocks.

Hard to see, but the stash fabric is actually a very light, small-scale yellow stripe.  Since the only thing I made from it was a couple of baby bibs (and my youngest child is now 22), I'd say it has been in my stash long enough.

Mmmhmm, those sneaky scraps have done it: blindfolded me and made me start another quilt.

What am I to do?  I am helpless in the face of such a coordinated assault...

Linking up with Oh Scrap! hosted each week by Cynthia over at Quilting is More Fun than Housework.
Quilting is more fun than Housework

Check out some of the inspired scrap-work that's going on over there!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Finished: table topper

Celebrating a modest sewing finish: reversible topper for the buffet.

Side 1: blue striped

This was the fabric I bought in February because it was my Mom's favorite color.  I used all of the 1/4 yard remnant, then bordered it with a long-stashed (where were you in 1994?  I was at the fabric store!) navy blue twill to make the topper an appropriate size.

Side 2: celestial print

Looking for an idea for the reverse side that would still make use of the navy twill, I found a celestial print within my scrap box.  The way this side is pieced was very much dictated by the size and shape of the scraps I was working with.  I love how the copper/gold touches in the fabric go so well with the color of the wood in the buffet.

Happy that this home decor item got made entirely from stashed fabrics!  Also happy that I didn't go too crazy with fabric choices; this actually complements the dining room, rather than calling attention to itself in a flamboyant way.

Yardage Used: 1/4 + 1/4 + 3/4 = 1 1/4 yds

Feeling accomplished on a Monday.  What are you working on today?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Eyes Wide Open: Fast Fashion

Fast Fashion: here is the video that opened my eyes. Not that I didn't know some of this, but that I hadn't incorporated this knowledge into my own little bubble.

Busted: I am a consumer of fast fashion.  I have always been a huge thrift shop buyer, and have often altered clothing I find there.  But maybe that inexpensive taste for eclectic clothing morphed into a taste for more and more (cheap) clothing in general, with the result that I am buying tons of clothes--just like everyone else, it seems.

Quotes that broke my heart--yes, people, I got to researching; so should we all:

Today a fashionable dress is cheaper than a bag of dog food. How did we get here?
Our closets are larger and more stuffed than ever, as we’ve traded quality and style for low prices and trend-chasing. (Esty article, The History of a Cheap Dress)

The mass production of so much cheap clothing is an enormous waste of resources such as fuel and water. While many people donate their clothing to charities and consignment shops, fast fashion tends to be so cheaply made that no one wants to buy it... — generating the term "landfill fashion."  (NPR series, The Fast World of Fast Fashion)

A Cambridge University study reports that in 2006, people were buying a third more clothes than they were in 2002, and women have four times as many clothes in their wardrobe than they did in 1980.  (from Ethical Fashion Forum, a group working to change the paradigm of fast fashion)

How bad am I?

Well, my closet and dresser are stuffed, for one thing. 
I have bought numerous clothing items just this year, with my most recent retail purchases being at Marshall's/Ross/TJMaxx--in the clearance section!  (Clearly I was going for cheaper-than-cheap.)

Today's outfit demonstrates both the good and embarrassingly not-so-good in my wardrobe.  Jacket is one I stitched myself (Indygo Junction pattern; Me-Made May win!)  Camisole underneath is one of those $1.80 can't-pass-em-up fast fashion clunkers from Forever 21.  Jeans were purchased at a thrift store--a pair of just-barely-worn Old Navy brand (another person's discarded fast fashion).  Belt is from a discount retailer (Ross maybe?) but is already coming apart in the back, leading me to swear off cheap belts in the future.  Earrings are from a local artist/craftsperson who sells at Saturday Market, and were made from re-purposed computer chips.

Shoes (Naturalizers today) are the one area of my wardrobe that feels the best.  My bunion started insisting about 10 years ago that I not wear uncomfortable shoes, and I started paying attention.  Comfort brands became my thing, with my Dansko collection leading the pack.  I still have too many pairs of shoes (and sadly, am *always* drawn to looking at more), but at least they are quality shoes that are meant to last for many years.

What am I gonna do about this?

Sweetie reminds me that we, the little guys, influence our society en masse in 2 ways: our vote and our purchasing habits.  Well, my habits have gotta change.  I can't continue to buy clothes at this rate--even from thrift stores, even if I am getting rid of equivalent garments from my overstuffed closets.

I pledge no clothing purchases for the remainder of 2015.  This includes thrift shop purchases and clothing accessories.  Exceptions: underwear, athletic gear (if it is needed, like a new pair of running shoes), a costume for Halloween, and the possibility of a special need (like maybe a new belt?)

I also want to rid myself of those items that I don't really wear.  I feel like I declutter my clothing more often than any of my other belongings, and yet I know there are unworn items lurking in there.

Finally, I want to make my own clothes.  Garments that fit me, that are well-made, that are unique and flattering.  Sewing from my abundant stash!

How about you?  Do you have a "good closet"?  Are you a fashion gourmet...  or a fashion gourmand?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Clever Halter Apron

Cute & Clever!  That's what I present to you today: an apron made from a men's collared shirt.

The upper pocket area

When I saw this design (wish I had kept the name of the book I saw it in! So sorry for not being able to give credit), I knew I had to make it.  I am such a fan of the clever.  And the recycled/repurposed.

Pretty simple: cut the sleeves and upper back away from a basic men's shirt (this one from thrift store, naturally; but I did search carefully for the fabric and design that said "apron" to me); slice the back into 2 halves; hem all the edges nicely; make and attach waist ties (I made mine from the leftover shirt fabric).

My only tweak was to add a couple inverted box pleats to the back waist.  I had chosen an XL shirt, because I wanted the longer length.  This made it too big around for me, so I debated between gathers and pleats, deciding on the pleats because of the box pleat traditionally at the center back of men's shirts.

Unless you think it needs lower patch pockets?  I have the extra fabric, but I am undecided...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May: Home Decor... and More

Do you set goals?  Do you deviate from the goals that you set?  Like, almost as soon as you say them out loud?

So close... and yet so far away

Said out loud: "For May, I'm just going to sandwich and quilt some of these many tops I've got going.  I could have 5 wallhangings (or whatnot) done by the end of this month!"

Immediately, that goal got sidetracked into a series of home decor items.  I mean, after all, we are living in a new home; and it needs to get to feeling homey before those UFO's need to be completed.

Here's the list: shouldn't be a problem to actually get these done in May, right?

1.  New cover for Ikea Poang chair.

Basic black = basically boring

There are numerous sewists on Etsy (like this one) who would happily stitch me up a cover--I just didn't really like their fabric selection.  So, with this actual project in mind, I will be buying more fabric.  (Dang, going backward in the Fabric Destash yet again.)

2.  New topper for buffet.  Must be blue.

Old topper, even though it was two-sided, was not gonna work, color-wise.  Fortunately, I am pretty sure I can make this from my stash.

3.  Topper for new sofa table.  Bling encouraged.

I was really pining after a mirror-topped sofa table, but the compromise involved buying an inexpensive (Ikea!) sofa table and then me sewing something with some shiny in it--using leftover fabric from our wedding last summer.  Again, sewing from stash: win!

What do you think?  A worthy adjustment of the goal for May?
If I manage to get all 3 projects pumped out (given the fact that I am traveling out of state two different times this month), I will feel pretty successful indeed.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Fabric Stash Reckoning

Waaaay back in January, I set 15 quilty/crafty/bloggy goals for 2015.  Seems like a whole lifetime ago, given the way my year has unfolded.

It's about time to check in on goal # 1: Use up, donate or dispose of 100 yards of fabric.
Can't help but think I've gone in the wrong direction on this--given my postings to Sunday Stash this year.

I am estimating that Pam gave me about 1-1/2 yards of scraps/strip sets (although I didn't actually measure).

The memorial shopping trip netted me 4-1/4 yards of fabric (plus patterns and books).

Online shopping for Have a Latte fabrics increased my stash by 3-3/4 yards.

Well, that covers the fabric in category; has any fabric gone out?  Well, it so happens that I made a donation to the Children's Quilt Project of 3 yards of a fine-but-unloved fabric that had been in my stash for many years.
Gone to a worthy cause!
There is a donation site at New Pieces Quilt Shop in Berkeley; they also have pre-made fabric "kits" free for you to take home and stitch up donation quilt tops--fabric and instructions all packaged together.  Makes me happy that this crayon-stripe is going to a good home.

Used up?  In order to count a fabric as "used up" for my 2015 Destash, the project that it is in must be done done--quilting completed, binding on, everything.  This gives me incentive to actually finish an entire project (not just a flimsy, of which I have many).  For the month of April, I am counting the "Java" mat as done, having met all of the criteria.

10" by 17", plus binding and applique = 1/2 yard total
 Also finished: fabric bowl with Grandma's Cheesecake recipe inside (how did I forget about that already?  Oh right, it happened before my move to California and the subsequent loss of mental functions) 

15" circles + binding = approx. 1/3 yard

So... where does that leave me in the Great Fabric Destash?

Fabric In:  9-1/2 yards
Fabric Used:  5/6 yard
Fabric Discarded/Donated:  3 yards
Net Destash:  +5-2/3 yards
How far to meet my goal? 105-2/3 more yards

Yup, just as I had predicted: so far this year I have taken in more than I have used/donated.  That really will change soon.  I have several things so close to finishing--this month, even.

How about you?  How is your stash looking?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Me-Made May


Checking the list of monthly sewing challenges, sew-alongs, and contests over at Modern Vintage Cupcakes, I found out that 'So, Zo... What do you know?' is again highlighting Me-Made May. I'm in!

What is it?
A personal challenge to wear items you have made (or refashioned) yourself during the month of May. Dig into those drawers and pull out the lovelies that get too often neglected--in my case, in favor of jeans and t-shirts.  Show those beauties the light of day!

My personal pledge: I will wear something Me-Made every day during the month of May.  Whew!

That sounds like a lot, and it will be a challenge, but here's my ace in the hole: I have 5 pajamas and 3 pair of lounge pants to fall back on when it all gets to be too much.  Yep, my Me-Made wardrobe tends toward the cozy at-home-wear.

But really, this is supposed to be a challenge.  So I will endeavor to wear things that I don't get around to pulling out regularly--and that includes accessories: scarves, bags, jewelry.  It's all fair game.

Also, since it seems I haven't really done much garment sewing in
the past <ahem> decade or so, I include in the Me-Made designation those ready-to-wear items I have refashioned.  So that allows me to wear sweatshirts I have embellished or turned into jackets, hems I have jazzed up with trims, and the like.

I am doing this so I get maximum mileage out of my paltry choices in Me-Made items.  I really need to get more garment sewing done this year.  This is my year!  (Otherwise, part of my pledge to rid myself of 100 yards of fabric will include donating all those languishing tweeds and knits and silkies to someone who will love
them and sew with them.)

Anyhow, May is just starting, so you, too, can take a pledge to get into your dresser and pull out something you have made.  C'mon, wear that item proudly!

What Me-Made item are you gonna show off this month?

[Blog posts about some of the items pictured: flamingo top, embellished sweatshirt, infinity scarf/bobble cowl/knit cowl, lace-sleeved-blouse, twill skirt, misc. jewelry]