Friday, January 31, 2014

January Stashbusting Link Up

Hello Stashbusters!
  Whoohoo! Our first month has flown by in a flurry of plans and quite a bit of productive sewing! Our new Facebook group has exploded with 62 members. We weren't sure what you guys would think of it but obviously it was a good choice. :)  You can still join the group we just closed it so the posts would be private.
We still have the Flickr group going strong as well. Remember it is never too late to join and start using up the stash!

I made four projects that fit under January's Itty Bits Theme, the birthday dress, peanut babies and these two things:

I made a new cover for our bean neck pillow that ripped out and I used up a special itty bit for a padded electronics pouch
The blue was a free sample that came with
my Japanese sewing magazine! 
According to my pledge, I've completed 5 of 35 garments and 4 miscellaneous projects. I also accomplished one of my wishes or goals for the new year by sewing my chiffon blouse from my new Japanese sewing magazine.

What have you been making? Share a link in the comments below! Any stash busting you got done in January is eligible even if it doesn't fit the month's theme! I'm looking forward to seeing what's been made!
See ya in February!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicken Sewing Hummingbird Skirts

Earlier this month I got on Twitter... why I don't know because now I have yet another place to browse online for inspiration and temptation. Sometimes it can be helpful and productive, though. Like when I dared HeatherB to sew up a brand new skirt pattern in the time it took me to make three skirts from a TNT pattern. She wasn't sure about it so I asked if she was a chicken and the race was on! (The older I get the more I realize we never really grow up :)

My three skirts were going to be from Sewing Cake's Hummingbird pencil skirt pattern. I had to make one for Mom's Wardrobe UpGrade from a wool blend, one as an skirt and nighty up cycle, and one out of a BEAutiful brown and cream pinstripe fabric I've had for YEARS!

Thankfully our measurements were close enough that I didn't have to trace out a new size for my Mom. I just had to actually put a hem in her skirt. Her skirt was the Only one made according to the pattern. I used a wool polyester blend fabric so she could throw it in the washer. It has a bit of gold thread running through it and an almost nubbly texture. I love it!

It's a great basic neutral that pairs with tops she already has as well as with some I've planned to make her.
The straight skirt silhouette is such a good look on her too!
Happy with the skirt,
Getting comfortable on camera...
My next skirt was this lovely wool plaid from a skirt taken from my Mom's closet. I had all these dreams about turning this old nighty into a cute summer top but decided to quit kidding myself and use it as a lining.

Sorry guys, indoor camera is having some issues. Trying to learn fast...

I had to cut what I could cut and hope the plaid would match. Thanks in part to the pattern itself all I had to do was a
bit of fudging on the side seam to get them to line up! I love this skirt a bunch!
I pleated the "lining" to fit into the skirt, basted and stitched on my waistband. I simply cut a slit for the zipper and so far it hangs free and far away when I go to zip it up! As you can see I had to take in the side seams after the fact. I think there
is some stretch in this wool.
Oh! I also used a snap to close the back waistband since I did some piecing to the old waistband so I could reuse it.

Lastly, I added my TNT waistband to my new summer staple skirt! I love my neon floral skirt but I needed something a bit more neutral to pair with the summer tops I already had. I decided to use this stashed favorite.
It was so fun getting to play with the subtle stripes! I cut the top pocket pieces on the bias and interfaced them with a featherweight interfacing so they would not stretch out of shape, I love how they almost chevron with the waistband.

The insides are as pretty as the outside! I used some vintage iron on seam tape to hem it.
FINALLY I had an invisible zipper I could get to insert! Up until now I've been putting lapped zippers in because I never had the right color...
The pocket and waistband fabric I absolutely love and am happy to get to finally use it in a successful project.

The pockets in this skirt will never cease to please me! I love that I am able to use fun fabrics!
Whew! Three skirts in about six days. All of them successes! Hurrah! In case you're wondering, Heather beat me by two days because I had no hook and eye closures and by adding the waistband and working with the challenges of up cycling I had to rethink things which slowed me down a bit. It was great fun and great motivation for me to get them done! That's three projects knocked out of my stash busting and three fabulous garments ready to go!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Japanese Chiffon Top

Look what I got for Christmas!! My fabulous parents gave me an IOU for a Japanese sewing book of my choice! After several delightful evenings browsing, I decided on Cotton Friend Autumn 2012. As we know magazines have more patterns than the books and as I looked at all the photos I could find online, this issue won with the most designs I wanted to make up! It was also one of the few I could actually find for sale on an English website. :)
You get what you get and you don't throw a fit! Welcome to my tripod-less indoor winter photo shoot. So unlike
the clean uncluttered Japanese photo shoots. I think my model face is coming along though.
I chose a simple top pattern with raglan sleeves; gathered at neckline and cuffs. I knew it would be a perfect match with the chiffon I splurged on last November. But hey! It's all stash busting now! ;) I traced the pattern, added seam allowances, and simply because I chose chiffon as my fabric I added an inch to center front and back for fuller gathers.

I need to make some proper undershirts to wear with it this summer.
I'm delighted to have another top I can wear
with this fabulous skirt!
I am Size LL for this pattern, which I find highly amusing. Only in Asia or Hollywood would I be considered an LL size. THIS is why SIZE NEVER MATTERS and MEASUREMENTS ALWAYS DO when you sew!
I'm 5' 10" and added several inches to the length so it would be semi tunic length on me which was easy peasy since they had already drafted this pattern to dress length; all I had to do was draw in my hemline.
I'm a 37 inch bust and I flat pattern measured to make sure there was enough ease, and there was, since this is a looser style. Most of their stuff is looser. How do they manage to look so put together and stylish in all these loose and flowy things? The magic of Japanese style!

I took my time and did french seams on all FOUR of the seams in this top. I also "tagged" my back with a bit of lace
since I knew there was no way I was going be able to tell the back from the front!
I did that hem where you sew it three times.
1/4 in. to mark the allowance around
Folded up along stitching line and basted
Rolled 1/4in. of fabric up neatly encasing the raw edge and stitched.
This gives one line of stitching on the front and two in the back as seen in
this photo. Supposedly this is supposed to help give the hem some weight
so it falls better or something...
I'm delighted I got to accomplish one of my goals so quickly and practice a new skill! I'm delighted to finally get to try some of these Japanese designs I've been drooling over for years! I even have enough chiffon left over to try something else too!
I know NO Japanese but I found it easy to put together because most of the instructions are in PICTURES! Besides, how many of us, who have been sewing for awhile even read the directions on most patterns anymore? If you've been sewing for awhile and want to try something new give a foreign country's patterns a try! Oh yeah! I'm so pumped! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Birthday Dress In A Day McCall 8128

Pebbles had a birthday on Monday. I was kicking myself for forgetting again when I realized this is only her third one and only the second time I've had to remember to do something for it. Initially, I was going to make this adorable tiered skirt that she would be able to throw over tights in the winter and transition easily into summer. When I opened up the fabric there was just a bit over a yard and since I'm stash busting I switched plans when I remembered this darling vintage McCall 8128 I've been looking for an excuse to make up.

I love the contrast yoke! And all those tiny pattern pieces are so cute!

Just a heads up the pattern envelope said it was a Size 2 for a 21 inch chest. I measured the flat pattern and it only measured 21 inches so it gave just enough ease for her 19 inch chest. I don't know if that was just this pattern or something from this time period. I'm just glad I measured!

Since I had to deliver this that night I knew I wouldn't have time for several of these little details plus I didn't have enough fabric so the first thing I did was eliminate several details.
No Collar
No Bow Ties
No Piping
Used bias tape instead of facings on the neckline.
I also pieced the skirt a bit differently so I could get all the pieces to fit.

Instead of trying to join two pointy seams, when I basted the lace to the fabric I did it right along the seam allowance and attached the yoke with a lapped seam I carefully topstitched down. Much faster, neater and with much nicer results.
Right and wrong sides half pressed.
Next thing I did was get rid of the button back and insert a simple zipper. In about four hours I went from fabric to a dress; just in time for us to walk out the door to her party. I was kind of amazed at how quickly this "detailed" piece came together.

She was thrilled to have her own dress and I was thrilled it fit her. My Dad even said it's one of the best pieces I've made.
Fits so well and she loves it despite the weird faces...
Without intending to I managed to make this fit January's Stashbusting theme. One down, many more to go!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Things I Learned Stashbusting Interview

Good Morning World!
 Today we have an interview from the lovely Cari Homemaker. I met her through the Stashbusting 2013 and she happily agreed to share what she's learned from a year of stash busting. I hope you enjoy it and maybe pick up a few tips! Psst, you can peek at her fabric stash here!

"In January 2013 I pledged to use 25 pieces of stashed fabric for projects before the end of the year. I met my pledge, just barely squeaking by in the last week of the year. That’s 25 pieces I might not have otherwise used, so that was a win, but on the other hand, my stash continued to grow throughout 2013, despite pieces getting used. I plan to continue on into 2014, after all, I did learn some stuff during my year of stash-busting.

1)  Goals are extremely helpful. Even though I did keep adding to the stash through the year, there were pieces that did get used that probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been actively working on getting them made up.
Pink Lace Leggings!

2)  I have some lovely things sitting around in my basement. They look even better when turned into something useful and brought out into the light.

Banana Anna

3)  Having stashed fabric isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. Maybe the fabric really would work for something that I didn’t need at the time I stashed it. Maybe the person that fabric is perfect for wasn’t even born when it went into the stash.
Hoodie and a total stash bust!

4)  If I give myself permission to buy more fabric, I will end up finding a reason to buy more. I didn’t impose a fabric-buying ban on myself during 2013, and the stash grew. I don’t know that the opposite will be true or whether denying myself permission to buy fabric will keep me from buying it, but given last year’s results, that’s what I’ll be trying.

5)  Stash-busting is much more fun when done in a group. Thanks Emily and Cindy for hosting us last year and for keeping it going this year."

Can you guess the literary character? See Here

Thanks for joining us for our second year Cari! We look forward to seeing what you come up with this year. 
How about you? Did anything change after a year of stash busting?

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to NOT Buy Fabric!

Hello Again Stashbusting Friends,
  Once again I did not photograph my new favorite blouse, or do my tutorial for you, or any of what I had planned. My Korean language classes started up again and my little brain is feeling squished or like part of it is being rewritten as I try to fit another language in there. I'm not complaining though, I've always wanted to learn another language and it's exciting to see it start to take shape but it leaves very little brain power left over for writing the comprehensive, informative and madly witty blog posts I had planned to start doing this year.

Before I start I just want to say this isn't meant to make anyone feel bad and I don't want to sound harsh because that's not my intention. I want to help you and me live in freedom with our stuff.

Everyone on twitter is going through withdrawals, (Hi Guys! I also got on twitter! Come find me!) so I thought why not post something already partially written. Finally! Time for some photos!
Look it's my itty bits stash and my ribbon and elastic drawers.

More small pieces and sadly I do serge in that mess. 
Oh look! Some coherent thought:
It has been a great year and I’ve learned a lot about my fabric buying habits. If your goal was like mine, to use up all the excess fabric you have accumulated and not buy any more than my existing space can hold, you don’t want to go back out and make the same choices that landed you in that situation in the first place. Here’s some tips I’ve learned to keep the stash under control 
Delete all the emails! No matter who they're from; Connecting Threads,, Girl Charlee, etc. Don’t even read them. It's marketing at work!  If you can’t see it you can’t realize how necessary it is to your life and you can’t purchase it. 
Ask yourself, "Will I live long enough to sew all this fabric up?" Cindy's tip on thinking of fabric as sewing time explains this clearly. 
Only Shop with a plan or plans. Depending on what you sew you may only need one or maybe all of these plans. 
Personal Sewing: Know what you love to wear/sew with. Make a list of the holes in your wardrobe that you want to fill. List the patterns you have and want to make and the kind of fabric you need to make them.
Basics list. Those go to colors or neutrals or staples. The cream knit you always need for undershirts or leggings. Buy it when you see it. But don’t be like my Alzheimer's lady who bought a tube of toothpaste every time we went to the grocery store. She had ten, twelve, brand new, still in the box, large tubes of toothpaste under her bathroom sink. Don’t have fabric Alzheimer's.

Random Sewing for Others: If you don’t already have what you need in your stash make up personal lists for the individuals you sew for or buy only what you need for that project. I know the not-nieces and nephew’s favorite colors that I may occasionally buy but otherwise I buy what I need for the project I’m going to make for that person only after I've found.
Quilting/Home Decor: Keep a list of what you have so you can make an intelligent buy. Think about how much fabric you have now and how many quilts you will have to make before it is gone. 

Some other things I do,

  • Start a Pinterest Board. Mine's called Fabric I Want To Wear. For some reason when I pin it it makes me all happy and it feels like it's mine!
    I just realized this may be a good way to figure out my colors too..
  • Remember the pieces you love already at home languishing away unused in piles everyone kicks. Remember those you live with giving you the hairy eyeball as you truck more fabric into the house. Remember your checkbook balance. Remember whatever you need to remember to guilt you into not buying more fabric. Just try to make it positive cause according to Inception, "positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time."
    I'm not even sure what all's in this pile... but I sew right next to it.
  • Just say NO! Just say, "No". Say it with my guys, "No." 
  • Remember you'll forget! Hehe, really though in two weeks or a month we won't remember that fabric we had to have. We will remember this!
Oh yellow fabric I still haven't used... I'll get to you eventually. 
Sadly this isn't even the bulk of my stash. I can't show you it cause it would give away part of the curating challenges coming up... I counted and there's over 150 pieces of fabric not shown. 

So do you have any tips for NOT buying fabric? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Crazy Costume Critiques: The Marvelous Moonacre Edition

Well today didn't go at all as planned so I thought we'd might as well drift off into another land and discuss the world of Moonacre. This whole movie felt like a forgotten dream which I later realized was because I HAD read the book as a teen. (Check it out, much better than the movie. "The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge)
As soon as it opens you're faced with a mode of dress that has never been seen in our world...

Is this what the framework of a bustle looks like? They just chose to wear it on the outside? 
 Highly decorated backsides seems to be a theme of the movie because if we're not running around in one of the backward bustles we're running around with a small fabric store tacked on the back.

Unless were escaping and have to leave our hoops behind then we must run around with the pillow attached to our bums.
(upper right corner)
 If this wasn't enough the highly detailed use of accessories would let us know we're not in Kansas anymore.
"I have the scariest mask you've ever seen" gives way to "Cameo Momento" to "it looks spiky but it's soft and tender like my heart"
I have a feeling the costume department must have had a lot of fun with this movie. Every thing is so lush and layered when it's not totally random.

Tons of beading and embroidery! This movie gives love to the men of the cast as well
 Everyone gets a jacket and waistcoat and don't forget the cravat. After all we are on a safari.
When we're not distracted by the back of the gowns the fronts present an equally
dazzling array of embellishment and detail.
But the real masterpiece of this movie is this red velvet beauty. I couldn't narrow down the photos because it moves and drapes so beautifully. You can almost feel the weight of this dress in the way she moves and the velvet glows, begging to be caressed.

Sorry about the quality of this one.
I had to play with the settings a bit so you could
see the dress silhouette better.
You can also see the backgrounds are just as lush as the costuming. I love everything about this story. Have you ever seen it or read the book? Psst, it's on Netflix...
After seeing it I dare you not to pick up any beading or embroidery on your next sewing project!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sewing WITH Kids

Kids and sewing. The opinions on this subject are vast and varied. "Yes, I love it." "No, I hate it." "This is the proper age." "No, they need to be older"... and on and on it goes. I am one of those who greatly enjoys teaching kids to sew and think no age is too young if the child shows aptitude and interest. Last week the not-nephew and two of the not-nieces came for a visit and we worked on a project together. I decided to share some tips I've learned to help make everything go smoothly and be enjoyable for the whole group. Enjoy!

Have the Proper Mindset.
This has two key parts. 1. You and the kids WANT to do this and have patience today for it. 
2. Don't expect the same results as the pattern maker or what you would make on your own.

I chose ImagineGnat's free Peanut Baby Pattern.
They thought the photo was really neat
 and wanted to make them!

This is what their's actually ended up looking like. :) 
Be Prepared
Before I even called the kids to the crafting table I had traced and pinned the pattern to the cardboard so it was ready for them to color. Next time I would draw the hairline and the "neckline" before I gave it to them because they didn't know where to put the face or the best area to color.
We had a talk about the "special fabric markers" so they needed to be gentle with them. I gave them free reign on colors and design. I did help the 2 year old color her's as she was having trouble with the fabric and marker pressure.

Overall they moved through this project much quicker than I expected so having everything at hand was key to keeping the momentum going.

Take Breaks (if needed)
After we had finished coloring our bodies, heat setting the fabric markers and choosing the fabric for their hair I sent them off to watch a movie while I finished cutting the dolls out and sewed on the hair. (I did change the pattern here by making the dolls only one sided and the hair is unflippable.)

They came back recharged and ready to sew their peanut babies together. They each took a turn sitting on my lap, pulling the pins as we sewed around the doll. Sometimes I put their hands under or on top of mine so they can begin to feel the rhythm of the fabric and machine but this time we were in a hurry to get these babies done! 

I clipped the curves and they turned them right side out and stuffed the dolls. I helped make sure the stuffing was going in smoothly and they weren't balling it up into knots. Once they were stuffed they eagerly watched me invisibly sew the holes shut to finish their peanut babies.

I think they look pretty pleased. 
Have Fun
This is a time to introduce/infect others with the same love and joy you get from sewing. If you're having fun it doesn't matter so much how the project turns out because it's been made with love. You are filling a child with knowledge of a useful skill, the joy of creating, plus time and attention. Embrace it.

Final Notes:

  •  I was working with a 5, 4 and 2 year old on this project and they all did very well. I had to help the 2 year old the most. This teaches all sorts of great motor skills and all that jazz!
  • This is a great time for them to realize the length of time it takes to make something which may eventually curb the "make me everything" syndrome that kids seem to go through
  • Choose the comfort level you and the child are at. They all helped me use the iron to heat set the colors. We discussed irons and it isn't the first time they've ever been around one.
How about you? Do you like or want to teach children? What do you think are some of the benefits of crafting with kids can have? Do your kids have the "MEE" syndrome too and if so how do you handle it?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Stashbusting Pledge and Thoughts

Hello my name is Emily and I'm a Stashbuster! I was so excited to see there was a desire to continue this because I still have fabric piles that need to be taken care of. I've really enjoyed seeing everyone's pledges and they have given me ideas on how to better do mine! So without further ado here's my pledge

I, EmSewCrazy, commit to making 35 garments and various other projects from stash fabric in 2014. I also commit to not buying any new fabric/patterns/notions except for what is necessary to finish a project until all my fabric fits on my existing shelving. This excludes any birthday or Christmas money or gifts.

Why do you sew?
I sew to create a fun and better fitting wardrobe for myself. I sew to save money and my sanity. So, mostly garments with an occasional quilt, toy or anything else that can be created with cloth.

Why are you stash busting?
I'm sick of the piles and am tired of feeling guilty about buying new fabric when I have other fabric sitting around. I also really want to be a good steward of what I have.

What's on your list?
Last year I made a list and it really helped me focus. Out of the 48 projects listed I sewed 28. There were lots of projects sewn that weren't on the list but I'm too lazy to go back and count them. My list hangs on the wall where I have easy visible access.

My list for this year has several pieces carried over from last year and a bunch of new fabric projects that I'm super excited about. I'm going to write it here for my own records, feel free to scroll to the bottom if it bores you. 

For Me
  • Sparkle Denim Bootcut Jeans
  • Brown Corduroy Jeans
  • Madras Plaid Shorts
  • White & Pink Floral 50's dress
  • Blue Flocked Rose Vogue Dress
  • Brown Velvet Jacket
  • Purple Hummer?
  • Shelf Bra Tank Top
  • Turquoise Corduroy Jacket
  • Turquoise and Burgundy Colorblocked Dress
  • Crazy Paisley Velvet Jumper
  • Tan Stripe Hummingbird Skirt
  • Red Plaid Upcycled Hummingbird Skirt
  • Chiffon Top from Cotton Friend pg. 40
  • Twist Neckline Pleated Dress from Cotton Friend pg. 58
  • Cat Print Apron
  • 2 or 3 Novelty print tops
  • Floral & Tan blouse
  • Brown & Black Dot Dress
  • Polka Dot Cabarita
  • Navy Stripe Cabarita
  • Red & White Red Velvet
For Others
  • Green Twiggy Dress
  • Grey Long Sleeve knit shirt for Dad
  • Upcycled Dog Tee
  • 5 matching Cowboy print outfits for the kids
  • Finish Pavlova Top UFO
  • 2 Knit Tops for Mom
  • Brown Wool Hummingbird Skirt for Mom
  • Navy Wool Skirt upcycled for Mom
Ok, that's it for now... here's the small button if you want to put it on your blog. We haven't figured out how to code it yet... but you can copy and paste it into your posts if you wish.

Do you make sewing lists or are you like Windbreaker Heather?

Monday, January 6, 2014

January Stashbusting 2014

AGH I just love this kitty pouch!
January's Theme is Itty Bits to ease us back into sewing after the holidays. Our focus is on all those small pieces we keep around. If it's under a yard of fabric it counts!

Our Stashbusting Facebook group is up and running so do come join if facebooking is your thing. There's already an album set up for our January Projects.

We have the already inspirational Flickr group and our January Pinterest board that I've continued to collect fabulous small project ideas on all through the year.

I promised something new to keep you on your toes so here's January's Curating Challenge
I thought I'd start you off "easy". This month all you have are some questions to ponder. But questions that are building the foundation of a fabulous collection of sewing supplies! :)

Why do you sew?

For fun? For business? Quilting? Garments? A specific goal?
Take some time to think about this because your answer to this question will guide your sewing this year. It's time to bring this reason out into the open so we are conscious of it; because whether we realize it or not we are sewing to this reason. This reason should also dictate the fabric we buy. If we're buying fabric that doesn't match our reason it's probably going to end up a depressing ball cluttering up our space.

What's on your list?

Make a list! Even if you don't end up making everything on it. Right now we're fresh from analyzing all our sewing in 2013 so sit down and make a list of those things you know you want to make. Decide what you want to do with those pieces of fabric that have been crying out to you for the last few months.

Why are you stash busting?

If you've already written your pledge this should be an easy answer. But knowing this answer will help guide your sewing efforts and give you the fortitude to say, "No" when new fabrics start to tempt you.

So let me know! I may not be as scary as the Mistress of the Jar but I may sic the Sewasaurous Rex on you. Leave a comment or a link to your blog post with the answer to these questions. Me, the Fabric Elf and Sewasaurous Rex want to know... I'll be back Wednesday with my pledge, my list and my answers to these questions.