Saturday, July 30, 2011

Just Aren't Enough Hours in the Day

And actually, that can be a good thing.  Life is good when you're busy.  Couple of weeks ago, I was beginning to wonder who I was and what place in the Universe I occupied, because it seemed like I'd fallen off the radar.  Now I'm so busy I need to figure out a system so I make sure I'm not falling behind somewhere!

Unfortunately, that means that I haven't been able to get to any refashioning, knitting, crafting, or personal sewing lately....I have another order for more maternity dresses for one of my new clients (and in bright orange, too - the pleating should show up REALLY well in the next batch of photos), and have another new client sending me a large order next week.  All of this is simply FAB-U-LOUS and has reaffirmed that I do actually have a part-time parking slot in the cosmos (LOL) - it just means that any crafting for myself has to get put on the back burner for a bit.  So, my list for July?  I'll just have to re-tag it for August, I guess.

So while I'm sewing for clients and fitting band students for uniforms (Yeah, I know.  I was supposed to retire from that.) and won't have many photos to upload of crafty goodness, I thought I'd leave you today with one the band photographer took last week while I was double checking the roster as we were prepping to fit students.  And as luck would have it, I'm wearing the very first t-shirt I ever refashioned.  Awwww......ain't it cute in all it's crookedy, wonky glory?  (LOL!!!!)

Just don't set a level anywhere near this woman.

You'd think the kids would be nervous, having me in charge of making sure their uniforms fit correctly & were hemmed straight.  I mean, just LOOK at the inset.  (Look up crooked in the dictionary - this is the illustration photo.  Go on, I'll wait.)  But, it was a learning experience.  And it was a far cry better than the huge bleach stains that were the reason for this t-shirt transformation in the first place.  I credit Marisa Lynch for giving me the courage to give this a shot.  If you've never heard of her, scurry on over there and take a look at her archives.  This young lady has done more for us Refashionistas (oldies as well as new crafters) than anyone else in the blog-o-verse.  Just an amazing body of work.  And a lot of spunk, to boot.  

The t-shirt I've had forever and love the fit - just didn't love the stains, and I still don't know how they got there.  I found this fabric in the dollar bin over at my local fabric haunt (Jenny's Fabrics in Fountain Valley, CA), so the total refashion probably cost me around 25 cents.  Gotta love that.  It's an inset in the front only, which meant I had to pick apart the commercially serged seams (using a scalpel - best thing ever for unpicking serger stitching), measuring, careful placement (ha.  ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  ha, ha.  Look at the photo again.), and re-serging.  Figured I'd lengthen those sleeves a little bit while I was at it, too.  I'd recommend if you are going to add fabric like this that you cut the sleeves so that you have at least about a half inch above the bottom hem, and open the sleeve up to the armscye.  That way, you can serge the new piece in flat, you have room to serge the new piece to the bottom hem, and then you can serge the sleeve closed again.  A little Fray-Chek or seam sealant of your choice, or even threading the serger chain back through the stitching for security, and you're good to go.  

Wish I had pictures of the process, but I think I was too afraid it wouldn't turn out.  

Don't usually wear this one out in public, it reflects too much of the grey upstairs, LOL!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Note Goes Home

Dear Chronicles:

Ms. Eileen has been absent for the last three weeks, and we have yet to receive a note from home.  Unfortunately, these accumulated absences cannot be excused.  Please contact us as soon as possible, to avoid further embarrassment and potential anxiety caused by her absence.  

Amazingly enough, people are still reading the blog in spite of it.  


Ever get caught in a funk?  My muse abandoned me lately, stuck in the corner like a refurbished Roomba, repeatedly bonking her head into the wall.  Or maybe that was me, come to think of it.  I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself, worried that since both (BOTH!) on-call jobs hadn't called me in in over a month, I was slowly going broke again just when I'd started catching up.  I know what did it - I was actually thinking that I was going to get ahead for a change.  Danger, danger, Will Robinson!  How can you have two on-call jobs and still be out of work?  I had made merry plans, with all kinds of things I wanted to accomplish this month.  Yet at every turn, things just weren't working out the way I had planned.

I did finish a couple of UFOs...and now in the middle of a heat wave my sons finally have their flannel PJ pants.  (Yeesh, Mom.)

I haven't gotten started on the porch swing yet.  Which was probably a good thing, considering we just had a freak early morning rainstorm a couple of days ago.  Still wondering if I dreamed that....

I pulled out tons of shirts and even bought a dress with an overskirt at the Assistance League to refashion using that Vogue V7883 pattern, only to find out that it required copious amounts of fabric which the shirts and the dress wouldn't yield.  Argh.  Thinking I might mix and match bits and pieces instead, but I don't have enough shirts & fabric that I like the look of together.  So I'm still ruminating on that one.

Haven't pulled out the paints yet to try my hand at painting the purses, though I did manage to find another one to work on at the Assistance League.

Still haven't gotten brave enough to try the free-motion stitching, though I can clearly hear it calling me night and day.  And I'm looking forward to doing some hand-beaded accents once I get going.

It's the Getting Going that's the trick, especially when you feel like nothing is going your way.

Tell you what DID get my butt up and moving, though.  I answered a couple of ads through Craigslist for a seamstress, and lo and behold, they both got in touch with me for potential work.  One wanted to come to the house to bring a test sewing sample, and the panic set in - I haven't cleaned up in my workroom and the living room (a.k.a. the cutting room) in ages...there wasn't even a place for her to sit!  Thus began a whirlwind of clearing out and cleaning up, aided by both my sons and my older son's girlfriend.  After the interview, I decided that I really liked being able to get to the things I need to get projects done, so now we are in the process of figuring out the most logical way to rearrange the entire house in order to make this a more permanent change.  Even though I have to travel a bit more to get to some of my stash & supplies for the time being, it's worth it.  And when I finally get everything settled, it will REALLY be worth it, as I will have reclaimed the workroom for its original intended purpose.  If all goes well, it will STOP looking like a cave and START looking like a more professional workspace, perhaps even with seating for future clients.

In the meantime, one of the new clients does maternity wear and sent me home with a pattern & some lovely navy knit fabric to make it up in.
Floor length maternity dress with tons-o-pleats!

A close-up view of the crossed horizontal & vertical pleating.

I think maybe this shot shows the pleating a bit better.

Not to be outdone, the back had some AWESOME starburst style pleats as well!
Even the shoulder straps are pleated where they meet the bodice, front & back.  The client was so thrilled with it, she sent me home with some coral knit fabric to make another one!  You can see her gowns here:

I sure could have used beautiful dresses & outfits like these when I was expecting 20 years ago - most of what was available back then was either frumpy or far too pricey for my pocketbook.

The second client sells through Etsy and does appliqued onesies that are just adorable:

Her work has also been picked up by a couple of local stores, which would have swamped her and her business partner with orders, so they needed extra help.  That's where I come in!  Only problem is, I really need to keep the Sewing Assistant away from this project, as they requested smoke-free and pet-free sewing area.  He just doesn't understand the new rules.  (No, he doesn't smoke. Neither do I.)

Things are looking up - two new clients, a big sewing project to work on for Son #2's fall field show (more on that later), a cleaner place to work (and actually be able to get to more UFO conversions), a clearer head, and - now that I have work - more excitement for getting some things crafted for myself during the breaks.  Because that's just how my Muse rolls.  When she's not rolling into corners, anyway.

By the way, the Sewing Assistant is still trying to ship himself out to Grandma, probably hoping he'll get more sympathy (and more kitty treats, I'd warrant)....
(HMPHH!  Pet-free, indeed. Send me to Grandma's house!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thank You, Mr. Serling

Ahh...spent most of the last two days in the Twilight Zone.  This time, it was entirely by design, as opposed to wandering through there by accident.

While I was watching, I was working on finishing up at least the first sock that I showed you ages ago.  Since I was watching TV, though, I mis-knit the toe of the sock and didn't even notice it until I had grafted the toe together, cut the yarn, and had woven all of my ends back into the sock body, then tried it on.


Sigh.  I frogged it (or tinked it, depending on your preference) back to the beginning of the toe decreases and proceeded to knit it in the appropriate fashion (meaning, I knit it from the contrast yarn instead of continuing the stripe pattern).  I was pretty proud of myself for unraveling that much of two very fine sock yarns and managing to pick up all the stitches without dropping any.  Too far.

But in the end, it was worth it.  Now the toe coordinates with the contrast heel and looks a lot better.  I knit this sock minus one pattern repeat and am really glad I did - it would have been quite nearly a knee-sock length if I hadn't.  I haven't worn knee-socks since high school (except for the one time I dressed up as a German goat-herder for sign language class, and I'm determined not to go into that here), and wasn't planning to start wearing them again any time soon.

So here is my new sock, courtesy of Mr. Rod Serling and his amazingly entertaining stories:

This pattern was such a great way to use the lone skein of
color-change sock yarn I found in the bargain bin.  I had kept it for
years thinking I'd be able to scout other stores in the chain to find
another skein, but no such luck.  It was truly one-of-a-kind.

I am SO GLAD I dropped that extra pattern repeat - it would have
added another two inches to the length of this sock!  The real reason I
dropped the repeat?  I was worried I'd get to the end of the second sock
and run out of that lovely colored yarn!  Tragedy averted!
Love, love, LOVE the way this yarn makes it look like I have crazy mad Fair Isle skillz!

Now to cast on that second sock, before I lose my nerve....

P.S. - More Photoshop Elements (PSE) fun:

I look like I'm either going to Rio or I'm on an acid trip, LOL!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Hard to believe July is here already.  Seems like it was New Year's Day just a little while ago....I'm celebrating July 4th by watching a Twilight Zone Marathon on TV and working on my poor, neglected sock at the same time.
Poor, neglected sock.  Now with a turned heel and most of the foot done,
thanks to Rod Serling.  Photo to follow.

Didn't get as much done during UFO month as I was hoping to, but I still got a few things completed.  Which is better than none, right?

So for me, July is Extended Education Month.   I've set more than a few goals for myself, and hopefully I'll get further through my list this month than I did last month:

  1. Finish more UFOs.  (Might as well see how many of these I can clear out of my workroom.)
  2. Painting purses & fabric.  I have tons of examples in my "style file" on my computer.  Just Google "handpainted purses" and you'll get an idea of what I would like to try my hand at.  (Sorry for the dangling participle.  I couldn't help it.)
  3. How many ways can I use Vogue V7883?  That is the question.  First up: using an oversized shirt I bought at the Assistance League for about $2.50.  It ought to look pretty awesome in its new incarnation!
  4. V7883
  5. Revamp the porch swing.  Oh, you're gonna feel so sorry for this swing when you see the Before shots.  Hopefully you won't feel so sorry for it while viewing the After shots!  I've already got the new fabric to make the cover and some assorted coordinating pillows, the new seat foam, and a plan.  And I sure hope I can get new canvas for the awning part of it before that completely disintegrates! 
  6. Unzip and reformat all my purchased, downloaded embroidery files, and learn how to use my embroidery software (Husqvarna 4D Embroidery Pro) to make a catalog of sorts.  Because several hundred unavailable (and currently unviewable) embroidery files do not a happy camper make.
  7. Experiment with free motion stitching, to be used in upcoming purse projects.  Maybe I can even put No. 2 and No. 6 together. Oooh, that sounds like a plan!  My Husqvarna came with a free piece of equipment called a Fabric Mover that is something quilters can use to regulate stitch length while free-motion stitching.  Time to get it out of the closet. 
  8. Mastering Wacom's Bamboo Craft Tablet - I just bought this new "toy" with money I've been saving from all those hemming/mending/alterations I've been doing this year and am already having a lot of fun learning how to use it.  Not only can I use this with my Husqvarna embroidery software (using it for graphics files to digitize and for "drawing" my own embroidery using a module called 4D Sketch), but the tablet  also came with bundled software of its own: Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 and Corel Painter Essentials 4.0.  Having fun with that already:
There are no blinds in this room, believe it or not.
It's a figment of my imagination (via Photoshop Elements).
Got the idea from this book:  Photoshop Elements drop dead lighting techniques by Barry Huggins.
(And for those of you who teach or wish you could teach English - I did not mistype that title.  I think it was some sort of affectation on the author's part.)  This book, along with several others in my ever-growing stash, ought to make life a little more interesting in terms of making some improvements in my sad little photography skills.  While I don't really have a reason to produce mock mini-blinds in a self-portrait, it was certainly a fun thing to try.

I just wish I hadn't given myself that wild Uni-brow.