Friday, December 30, 2011

it feels good to finish something!

Got two things done while I've been on the road...

First up, these mitts.  I type lots and lots all day, mostly outside (whoever said TV production was glamorous lied).  My poor little fingers are getting really chilly, so of course fingerless gloves are the answer.

I love the design, I used Midnight Dreary, found on Ravelry.  Yay for free patterns.  I think it was serendipity cause I had just gone to the Edgar Allen Poe museum the day I chose the pattern!  Plus, it's interesting enough of a pattern with the cable to keep my post-work brain interested.

Now, the color tan is usually the last thing I adorn my body with, but I had a bunch of this yarn left leftover from a blanket project and I'm trying to stash bust.  They're pilling up already though, however, I think I'm really rough on my clothing and accessories.

The thing is, they kinda get in the way of my typing, haaaaaa!  I think regular fingerless gloves, not mittens, would work better.  Oh well, it was a fun pattern anyway and I'll wear them regardless.

And look, silly me, I forgot to do one of the cable repeats after the thumb gusset on my right hand!  I could take them apart and fix it, so it matches the other one, but I'm probably too lazy for that, hehe.  Embrace the mistake!

Mission Falls 136 Merino Superwash

Next up, another Ravelry pattern, Orca Tails.  I looooove the color!

goodness, I look so serious, I'm really not!

It was a really, really easy knit.  My only b*itch is that the damn sides are rolling in.  I've blocked the thing 2x and it's still not behaving.  I followed the pattern exactly and everything, grrr.

The yarn is 100% worsted cotton by Blue Sky Alpacas.  It feels great to knit with, and I would totally use it again.

I'm not sure if it will keep my neck super warm when it's really cold outside, but who cares, it's purty!

see? not so serious after all :) (And might I note, rockin my first Sorbetto!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

i got a good deal

On my mini-machine.  Spotted two at an antique store yesterday-without box, clamps or instructions and they were $115 and $140.  They're not even in good shape, pffft.

Plus, found a couple like mine on ebay, and they're ranging from $112-$200, muahahaha!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

for the love of all things mini

I travel a lot for work, and I've been on the road, with a short break in the middle, for almost 2 months now.  I pondered taking my sewing machine with me here, cause it just fit in my carry on.  In the end, I decided it wasn't a great idea, too much to worry about, moving around a lot.  And that was the right decision.  I've been entertaining myself with little spurts of knitting (finished projects coming soon!)

While on the road, if given a spare moment, I love to visit antique stores or flea markets.  It's especially nice, cause I find stuff in SoCal is either picked over or expensive. 

Well,  my favorite find, I'm 100%, head over hills, totally smitten with, is my newest purchase-a wee, mini sewing machine from 1953!  A Singer SewHandy to be exact.  You know that moment, GASP! Eyes lock on the prize, you quickly look around to make sure no other grubby hands are about to reach in and grab it.  Ohhhhh, I can hardly explain how excited I was! (Confession, I was really only one of two people in the store besides the owner, so no one to actually grab it, but that feeling was there!)

Seen here with a lipstick for reference

You attach it with a C-clamp to a table and use the hand crank

I got this beauty for a mere $85, and that may sound like a lot, but let me explain...

Look at all the originals it came with it:

1) box, with only a smidge of water damage
2) instruction manual
3) C-clamp to attach to a table
4) key to unscrew needle

This tiny thing was marketed for children, look, a note for the mom

All the parts

It's even loaded with how to's, like this

What are the odds of having all this intact?  Remarkable!

Maybe this solves my on the road sewing conundrum? Now if I can find time to actually do it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ironing board again?

A dear friend of mine saw my ironing board cover and immediately begged me to help makeover hers.  One fun filled weekend while the hubby was away, she came over.  Armed with copious amounts of Mint Julep Makers Mark and yummy food, we tackled her plain board.


2 cans spray primer (appropriate for metal)
2 cans spray paint in color of choice (appropriate for metal)
2 yards 100% quilting cotton
2 packages 3 yard bias binding
thread to match bias binding
1 package 1/4 inch elastic
medium safety pin or bodkin for threading elastic

optional if making padding as well:

2 yards muslin
72 x 90 cotton batting (NO polyester-things gotta breath!)

I'll spare you all the process shots, cause we essentially did the same steps as mine here.  Plus, don't we really just want to see the before and after?

**oh, and a little tip when spray painting (aka-what I didn't do on mine) wipe down the board really well before applying!



I think it's a resounding success, and my friend is in love with it :) 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

great aunt evelyn

A lot of crafty people have someone that's inspired them in a way.  My great aunt Evelyn is a huge source for me.  She passed away a few years back, but today would have been her 96th birthday. 

She was a funny lady.  The youngest of 13 children, she lived through the Great Depression and WWII both still playing an influence in her life to the end.  I've never met someone that could pinch a penny quite like her.  And boy, if someone tried to rip her off, she let them have a piece of her mind-and loved to tell the story to all of us later, ha!

She had a very matter-of-fact tone, like why she never married:  cause she never met anyone she liked as much as herself (bahahahaha, love it!)  And gave us gems like soaking your fingernails in vinegar will make your nails stronger.  Or propping your feet on something high will relieve constipation (imagine a teenager hearing something like that, ugh!) but damn if she didn't have a solution for everything.  She would reuse tin foil, save a spoon of food and freeze it, and generally harass us if we wasted anything.

It must of sunk in cause my husband says there's a depression era lady stuck in my body.  Pffft.

Evelyn was also big into sewing.  She made everything from curtains to dresses.  I still have the curtains, mid-century amoeba style, hanging in my dining area.

She lived with one of her sisters, my great aunt Gracie and her husband.  When I was little, I spent a lot of time over there while my parents worked.  Evelyn would make me little reversible dresses all the time using this pattern

I inherited her sewing stuff and found the pattern in there!  Looks pretty simple, no?  This is the only picture I can find of me wearing one

I got a couple patterns from her, and tons of binding, buttons, and little stuff like that.  But my absolute favorite is this:

How cool is that?  They are ribbon, and I guess she would just cut it out and hand sew in garments.  I love the simplicity of it!

So, in an ode to crafty inspiration, Happy Birthday Aunt Evelyn!

  (she hated having her picture taken and would kill me for this one, ha!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

to fly or not to fly...with my sewing machine

Happy news to report that I got a job!  I work freelance so there's always the off chance for long periods of unemployment-and it has been pretty dry lately.  But, work is on the table til February, so that's very exciting! 

Thing is, it's a lot of traveling...what am I to do about sewing?!?  I mean, I could take all the knitting I have stalled, as I have quite the yarn stash as well (pretty ridiculous textile addiction I have!)  My sewing machine just fits in a carry-on roll suitcase.  I have a work bag to carry on as well, so my camera bag needs to go in my carry on, too, but both sewing machine and camera bag won't fit.

And I did check the TSA website, sewing machines are not prohibited.  Plus, there are stories abounding on the interwebs about carrying them on the plane.

Anyone else do this?

Ahhhhh, decisions, decisions! 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

happy 4 year anniversary

to me and the husband!


honeymoon in hawaii

my dad and I

I made my own dress using Simplicity 5876, a 75th Anniversary pattern.  Unfortunately, I can't find any great full shots of my dress, just partial ones, haha.  How on earth did that happen?  (I really need to dig around for pictures of the full dress, I must have them somewhere!)   I made the one on the far left.

At that point I didn't really sew much more than home dec stuff and got it into my head to sew my gown.  I had looked all over and online for something with flutter sleeves with a retro flair.  Needless to say, nothing existed unless I wanted a custom gown-which wasn't gonna happen.  Our wedding was a total DIY affair (a.k.a tiny budget) so I figured I'd just sew my own. 

I didn't understand grading patterns, so cut out a straight 12-34 bust, 26 1/2 waist, 36 hips.  My waistline was a little bigger than that, more like 27 1/2 or 28.  And that dress was tight at the waist, lol.  Just thought it would work somehow, ha!

But I did use these really cute pin-up buttons on the cummerbund.  They make me smile.

Also, in my novice-ness, I had tried on the dress during fittings with a bra on, and didn't wear one for the ceremony, so it was a little loose.  Oh well, it looked good and my husband still talks about that dress to this day :)

Maybe one day I'll remake it in another color, perhaps for the 10 year anniversary?

and just because, hehe...


Monday, October 10, 2011

another home dec conquered: ironing board

Our apartment is pretty small and my ironing board kinda lives out in the open.  Thank goodness my husband is so laid back and doesn't really care.

I replaced our old ironing board a couple months ago cause the lining fabric didn't breath and it rusted. I had pools of rusty water on the floor whenever I had a good steam going on.  Really annoying.

So, got a new ironing board, and had been meaning to recover it, well, cause it's ugly.  And the lining is so thin on it, whenever I iron, I can see the diamond mesh depression on my fabric. I've been layering muslin under my projects so not to get that.

already stained (new iron is next on the list-any suggestions??)

I figured if the thing is gonna be out in the open, and I'm taking the time to redo it, it at least needs to be cute and kinda blend with the rest of the decor.

Originally I was going to get a dark gray fabric that would blend with my redone chairs but after I got to the store I found a great gray houndstooth and decided that was it!

At some point, I had a revelation-the legs of the iron don't have to be dark brown (b-o-r-i-n-g), so why not spray paint them something fun?? Off the the hardware store!


Inside while the primer and paint were drying, I used the old batting as a template for my new batting.  I want the board to be really cushy, so I sandwiched 4 layers of cotton batting between muslin and sewed it up.  To prevent it from shifting during future washing, I sewed 3 times around the edge, catching the batting in the seams.  The batting is prewashed 100% cotton needled batting from Joann's, 72 x 90 inches.

Then I used the old cover as a template for my new houndstooth one.  I cut that out, and right sides together, sewed bias tape around the edges for an elastic casing.

I want the cover and the batting to be separate, in case I want to replace the cover in the future, then I don't have to buy more batting.

After getting the bias strip on, I threaded 1/4" elastic through the bias casing, tested it on the board, then closed it up.

And all together!

I absolutely love the finished board and it looks so pretty in the space!  

Disclaimer:  I used a primer and spray paint suitable for metal.  The spray paint got a chance to set for at least 24 hours, and hopefully *crossing fingers* that is enough that when opening and closing the iron it doesn't scratch off.  We'll see... 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

please have a seat

Don't you just love to complete something that's been nagging at you for a while?  This project has been on my case for over 2 years.  TWO YEARS! I mean, we even moved and it still wasn't finished. 

I got these chairs from my great aunt Evelyn, they had been in her house since before I was born.  I figuring they are mid-century.

Before, they had this old tweed on them and as I discovered, no support underneath the seat.  Not sure how that happened...

Seats removed

Aunt Evelyn was a pretty crafty lady and had re-covered them at some point, but her and the family all smoked in the house (ick), you know, how people used to do, and they were desperate for a little love.

I removed the first layer of tweed fabric and found this reddish fabric with gold threads on the back and the green on the bottom. But as you can see, damn gross inside.

Sanded down the seats

And after stained them really dark

I don't have pictures of it, but I wove upholstery webbing on the bottom and attached it with industrial staples.  Then I covered the seats with a bunch of batting for cushion. 

I've had one of the chairs done for about a year, but the 2nd one had been sitting *almost* finished since then.

Poor thing, just hanging out undone

So now, after my bombshell dress I decided I needed something easy to take on.  And after all is said and done...

And with it's mate :)

I got this Ikea fabric as a gift 4 years ago and could never decide what to do with it.  I love, love, love it on these chairs!  

I made the pattern in muslin from the old fabric then traced it on the Ikea fabric.  I used a fusible interfacing, but next time I'll underline for added strength.  Hope it lasts, haha, cause obviously I don't love upholstery projects considering how long this took.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I've said it before and I'll say it again-I should never sew with a deadline-will I ever learn my lesson??  I got it into my head that I needed, needed, to make the Bombshell dress with Gertie for a friends wedding.  The wedding was this past weekend.  Needless to say,  I did finish, but not without a couple casualties.  I blew off my friends, housework (and husband a little) to make and finish (yay!) this damn dress. HOURS upon hours spent sewing, hunched over.  I won't even show you the aftermath to the sewing area and living room.  I'm even ashamed. 

Luckily I have a "top drawer" husband who granted me the time and space to sew my little heart out.  

The wedding was in Big Bear, CA, a couple hours away, and I must say, was so lovely!  We stayed on the lake, the weather was perfect and it was fun to see a new place.

And the wedding was the sweetest,  I cried my eyes out!  But it was the good crying, interspersed with bursts of laughter at all the funny stories.  I can't imagine two people more suited for each other! Aren't they cute?

But, back to the dress.  I did make my own wedding dress (almost 4 years ago), and it was complicated, but this dress seems now, to be the most complicated thing I've ever sewn.  Did I mention it took me forever?

I'll spare you the muslin shots, cause they're a little skimpy. I even added a full inch to the top of the bustline and around the back.  I took cues from this lovely dress maker, here.  I couldn't imagine if I hadn't how R rated it would've been, ha. Here's the bodice, pre-lining. And I've catch stitched all the facings down, inserted the padding, and clipped my seams.

Here's the lining fabric, boning inserted (giggle)

When I got to the hemming (my least favorite part of dress making) I realized I had forgotten to buy any seam binding.  I had a great aunt who was a total depression era/make do and mend kinda lady.  When she passed a few years back, I was lucky enough to get her sewing paraphernalia.  I dug through her sewing box and found my seam binding! Can you imagine paying only 19 cents for a notion?  Thanks Aunt Evelyn! (I'll have to talk more about her at some point, she deserves her own post!)

Here's the finished inside, black polka dot bodice lining and waist stay.   I skipped the zipper guard, cause well, it just didn't seem to need it, and so far, so good.  I just love the polka dot inside.  I also really like the waist stay, so brilliant for strapless dresses.

California gets chilly at night, even during the summer, and being in the mountains, I figured it would get even chillier, especially for early fall.  The wedding started at 3, but it was outside and the reception in a tent next to it.  I needed a jacket.  I had great dreams of making a bolero or short  jacket, and even picked out a pattern, Simplicity 2250.  I bought the main and lining fabric.
However, I just ran out of time.  I bought RTW.  Don't judge please.
The problem was, even though it was my size, it was still too big.  So I chopped it all up.  I unpicked the bottom and part of the side lining, took in the side seams by an inch and shortened it by about 4 inches, then reattached the lining. Unfortunately, I was so time crunched, I just didn't have time to snap pictures.  A jacket re-do sounds like a good future post, too!

It started getting dark at the wedding before we could get a bunch of good photos, so I recreated the look at home :) Not a fan of this picture of myself, but I had to throw in the Ozzie shot, he insisted.

Back to the lake, chasing the sun

And it's gone

Congrats again Claire and Joey!