Saturday, February 27, 2016

Green Dress

Have you ever found that once you learn the "right" way to make something you can't go back to doing it "wrong" even if the wrong way is faster and easier and you are in a hurry? That was totally the case for me on the green shirt dress that I posted about briefly last Monday. I wanted to wear it on a Saturday and I started it Friday night, but I still made sure that every seam was fully finished even though it doubled the amount of time it took to make.

It's McCall's 7084 view D. I'm really happy with how this dress turned out. I feel like it's professional enough that I could wear it to work meetings, but it's not too dressy to wear hanging out with my friends. Here is a shot showing the sleeves and collar a bit more.

And I added pockets!

The pattern included pockets for the version with a narrower skirt, but I wanted a full skirt and pockets, so I just went ahead and added them. I'm really glad that I did because pockets are awesome. 

If I were to make this dress again (and I might because I really like it) the only other change I would make would be to make the button band wider or to not add interfacing to it. I had some problems with the buttonholes/sewing on the buttons because of how thick the band ended up. You end up having to sew through 5 layers of fabric and two of interfacing with the narrow band. 

I used french seams for all the straight seams and clean seams for the curved seams, except the seams with the pockets, that one I zig-zagged because it was late at night and my brain just wasn't processing right and wrong sides for the seam finished. I used quilters cotton for the dress and the lack of right and wrong sides can make things both easier and harder. But I just couldn't resist the green. I'm not normally one for posting selfies, but look at the way the color makes my eyes pop!

Oh, I almost forgot, I did change the sleeves a bit. They are meant to be folded up and then buttoned in place. I was running out of time, so rather than do a button hole and sew on the button and make it so the sleeves could be rolled down I just sewed a narrow hem, folded up the sleeve and sewed the button on through all the layers. I would not do that next time, not that I would ever wear the sleeves unbuttoned, but I think it would be easier to iron if they could be unbuttoned.

This is totally my new favorite dress and I think I am going to wear it so much that Fiance is going to get sick of seeing it. It fits well though and makes me feel gorgeous, what more could I ask for in a frock?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thread Spool Holder

Hey, it's Wednesday morning and I got up early so I could post before work, see I am trying to stick to my new posting schedule.

Anyway, this is sort of a weird post. I actually started writing it back in May when I initially had Fiance start this project. But in the choice between things he gets paid for with money and things he gets paid for with my gratitude, money tends to win, so sometimes making things for me takes a long time. Especially when I insist on photographing the process. So I wrote about half this post. Then in October, I wrote a little bit more. Then we moved and got busy, and on Valentine's Day Fiance finally finished my spool holder, because we were both sort of sick of the pieces just laying around. To be honest I didn't really have anywhere to put it until then anyway. So, the instructions aren't great, but I'm going to post what I had written, and show you the finished object and sorry that by the end there aren't any pictures. I put prices for the materials that I had to buy, so you can see that if you live with a woodworker this is a delightfully inexpensive project.

Here is what I had:

We interrupt your regularly scheduled fiber arts posts to bring you something slightly different. I got tired of digging through an unorganized pile of spools of thread and trying to remember while in the fabric store if I had the right color or not for a project so I enlisted my wonderfully talented Fiance to build me a thread holder. Today I'm going to share, roughly, how "we" (which here means he) made it.

3 1x2x96 Pine boards (about $9)
4 3/16" dowels (roughly $3.50)
finishing nails
wood glue
Self-leveling picture hangers ($1.49)
A tool which allows you to make miter cuts
tape measure
marking knife or pen

I wanted four angled "shelves" that would hold 15 spools each inside of a frame. Fiance and I laied out the spools in order to get our rough measurements.

We figured our dimensions inside of our frame would be about 26.5" long by 12.5" high. This allows 1.5" for each spool and .25" space between each spool with .25" on either end as well. The height was harder to figure out because I wanted angled shelves to make it easy to remove the thread, but hard for the thread to fall off. Our shelves were .75" thick and we needed to allow for the space that they took up as well.

One of the things that Fiance has taught me is that when you cut a piece of wood you end up losing some of the length (about the width of your blade), so you only mark one cut at a time. He used a marking knife so I don't have good pictures of him measuring. A marking knife is nifty because it doesn't leave ink behind, but a pen, pencil, or sharpie works just as well.

This is what he used to make his cuts. I'm honestly not sure what it is, but it allows him to easily make straight or angled cuts, like the hand tool version of a miter saw. (When I read this bit to Fiance he informed me that it was a miter saw, just not a power tool. Apparently they have the same name.)

Fiance does this professionally so he has all kinds of nifty tools. We live in a small basement apartment and don't have a garage so he uses all hand tools in order to be quieter (we are trying to pretend that the neighbors don't know that he uses our living room as a shop space. And yes, it would be easier without the carpets, but they help muffle the sound (that is also why they are sooooo ugly)).

Pictured above are the shelves right after he cut them. Our next step was to drill the holes that the dowel would fit into. Our first mark was 1" from the edge because half of 1.5" is .75" plus .25" for spacing equals 1". Each subsequent mark would be 1.75" away from each other to allow for the 1.5" spools and .25" of space in between them. It's a little hard to see the marks in the picture, I know.

Once all the holes are marked you need to drill them out. Fiance used a friend's drill press, but it can also be done with a drill and more time and concentration. I forgot to take pictures of the holes before I put the dowels in.

I cut the dowel into three-inch pieces and fit each piece into a hole. I didn't use glue, the holes were tight enough that the dowel isn't going anywhere. I actually used a piece of wood to help pound them in. I broke one of them, so Fiance will need to drill it back out at some point.

Then Fiance made the miter cuts.

The short sides are 12.5 inches on the inside and 14 on the outside, the long sides are 26.5 inches on the inside and 28 on the outside. Nothing is fastening together yet in this picture, but for the first time I was able to lay it out almost like it would be when done.

And this is the point when we catch up to real time, from this point on I don't have any pictures of the process.

Fiance used wood glue and clamps to fasten the sides to the top of the frame. Then he spaced the spool holders (I think he eyeballed it initially then measured to make sure they were all the same but I don't know what that measurement was). He used small finish nails to hold the spool holders to the sides of the frames so they were secure but the fastener barely shows then he glued the bottom of the frame in place. 

I nailed the alligator tooth style picture hangers to the corners of the top of the frame and I hung my spool holder yesterday. Eventually, I will paint it, but, for now, I'm just happy to be able to use it.

Here is it, hanging on my wall all full of thread and being awesome:

And here is my new craft corner in all of its glory. Fiance built me the sewing table shortly after we moved in. It is not super pretty, but it did cost less than $50 and it only took him an afternoon to build. I'm really happy with it because it's the first time I've ever had a dedicated table just for sewing. I'll probably paint the table legs white at the same time I paint the spool holder, but, for now, they are both functional and I'm feeling a couple of steps closer to organized.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Quick Catching Up

So much for my goal of posting every weekend. Monday is at least weekend adjacent though, can I have partial credit for that? No? Okay.

I've been crazy busy the last couple of weeks and I have a bunch of projects that I want to share with y'all. I'll probably do in-depth posts about them later, but for right now this is what I've been up to:

Three weeks ago I made a new laundry bag as part of my goal of decorating my bathroom. I was going to write a tutorial on how I did it, but I forgot to write down the sizes I cut the pieces to, and I forgot to take pictures as I made it, so now you just get a picture of the finished object. I like it because it's fully finished (my obsession with French seams continues) and it has handles. I don't have a washer/dryer in my apartment so the handles are particularly helpful.

I wanted to make something that would stand up on its own, I had hoped the canvas was stiff enough too, but alas, it only stands when full of clothing. I think I'm going to make a couple of channels and insert some dowels, see if that does the trick, but for the moment, it works just fine. 

And speaking of bathroom projects and black canvas here is the project I just finished today:

There will definitely be a tutorial on how I made these in the future. In the meantime, I am just so stoked about them. This is probably the most organized my bathroom has ever been, and I think they are cute to boot. 

In between these two projects I had two jam-packed weekends. 

Last weekend I spent Saturday at a friend's house for her birthday. It was a potluck dinner. I brought rolls, they were a big hit. It made me realize that I need one of those quilted casserole carriers that I made for Fiance's Mother and Sister, so I'm going to have to bump that up the priority list. 

On Sunday, I went to a Cork and Canvas event with my Mom. It was way too much fun. We each had a glass of wine and followed along with an instructor to paint Mount Rainer! I had never painted before and I had way to much fun. Here is me with my mom holding our finished paintings:

I added a sailboat to my painting because Fiance builds them when he has enough space. I hung my painting in my kitchen. I feel a bit silly about it because the rest of the artwork in my apartment is all original done by professionals or my friends who have BFA's in art. Mine looks like the first attempt that it is hanging near the rest, but I'm proud of it, so I'm going to display it, silliness be darned!

Two weekends ago was Madrona Fiber Festival. It happens in Tacoma every year, but this year was the first time I had ever gone. I had a total blast. Everyone was wearing their most impressive knitwear, I've never had so much fun ogling people's clothes. This is what I wore:

Again, there will be a longer post about the dress. I made it on Friday and woke up early Saturday morning so I could sew on the buttons before heading out the door. 

My tax return came just days before Madrona so as a special treat I allowed myself to purchase enough Brooklyn Tweed Loft to make a sweater. I've been lusting after the yarn for ages. It's a tad pricey, but it is 100% made in the USA and that is a quality that I am willing to pay extra for. 

In real life, I think the color is a bit lighter than this. It's really lovely yarn. I spent ages debating between Loft and Shelter (fingering weight or worsted) and between this color (Faded Quilt) and Long John (a lovely brick red). They didn't actually have enough in one dye lot at Madrona so I ordered it there and it was shipped to me later. It came through Churchmouse Yarns on Bainbridge Island and let me just say that that is a business I will happily be going back to. Probably for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Long John. When I ordered the yarn I gave them my name, number, and address and was told they would call for my credit card info when the yarn was ready to ship. Well, I ended up getting the yarn on Tuesday but because of a miscommunication with their shipping department I hadn't paid for it yet, so I called them up. Today I got a note in the mail from them thanking me for my honesty! The woman that I talked to on the phone was really lovely and so was everyone I met at Madrona. 

I'm not letting myself start knitting with it yet though. I've got two projects on the needles to finish first. 

One is a sweater in Rowen Felted Tweed. I've got the back done, and most of the front. I feel like I'm using up the yarn at an alarming rate, though. Even though I have the yardage that the pattern calls for I think I'm going to need at least two more balls of yarn. 

This is the back of the sweater:

I also need to finish the mate to this pair of socks for Fiance:

And be on the lookout for an upcoming post about my new wooden sock blocks, my new sewing table, and my thread holder. I have so many exciting things I need to share. I recognize that I'm saying this in a post that should have come two days ago, but I am really going to try to increase to two posts a week and stick with Wednesday and Saturday updates. Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bath Mat

Moving is a pain in the rear, but I have been totally enjoying going from room to room in my new apartment making lists of the items that I need and sprucing up my decorating. When I was living in Everett I didn't really bother to decorate, I barely even hung any pictures because our apartment was small and dark and I just couldn't muster up the energy to care. The new apartment is awesome though, and totally worthy of decorations. 

I'm starting my redecorating in the bathroom for a number of reasons. When we moved I threw away our old shower curtain. I had had it since I was nineteen, so I was kind of bored with the pattern on it, and the contractors that had been working in our bathroom stained it with I don't even want to know what. So our first purchase for our new apartment was a new shower curtain. I would have liked to have made one myself, but it was a sort of immediate need. Fiance and I are both trying to internalize the idea that just because we can make something ourselves, doesn't mean we have to. 

So I got a cute new red black and cream shower curtain and hung it up. But the new curtain made the space seem colorless and washed out. I didn't want to shell out for new towels yet, but I did want something to bring in more color and I was given a JoAnn's gift card for Christmas, so I bought two cones of Lily's Sugar and Cream cotton in red and knit a new bathmat. 

Using two strands held together I did a three stitch wide seed stitch border and moss stitch for the middle. The texture is wonderfully soft on my feet and the red really livens up the space nicely. Using two strands of worsted weight yarn together made the knitting go super fast, it took me less than a week to knit. 

I also hung my cross-stitch cat above the toilet because it was matted with the right colors. I'm taking the red and black color scheme and running with it. Next week I will post about my new black laundry bag. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Coffee Filter Flowers

Well, Fiance and I are mostly settled in from our move, although my sewing area still needs some attention, so this week I started working on wedding related projects. I've got two really big time-consuming type projects, one is bunting and the other is paper flowers for all of the tables. Seeing as I don't have a sewing table set up yet, I decided to start with the paper flowers.

I started off using this tutorial by Michella Marie for white paper peonies. Although I really like the look of her "peonies" I found that if I used only 5 filters instead of 10 I got a product that I think looks more like a rose and I like it even more (plus it uses half as much material which makes me happy!) So I thought I would write down how I made my coffee filter roses.

This is what the finished product looks like:

Drinking wine while making the flowers is totally optional, but I highly recommend it. ;) I would not recommend the wine that used to be in the bottle holding the flowers, though. I picked it because I wanted boat and book themed labels for the wine bottle table but the wine itself wasn't very good.

Anyway, for these flowers you will need:

- Paper coffee filters; five per flower (I bought the cheapo Kroger brand packs, $2.00 for 200 filters)
- 16 or 18 gauge wire (Confession: I'm a vendor for a company that makes wire (among other things) so I didn't pay for my wire, I just marked down some damaged packages, but if you buy the wire at a home improvement store it's only like $3.50 for 50 feet, but if you buy it at a craft supply store you will pay more for fewer feet of wire)
- Scotch tape
- wire cutters/pliers
- ruler
- scissors
-craft glue (optional)

To begin: cut a piece of wire to your desired stem length. I used 9 inches for my long stems and 6 inches for my shorter vases. Use your pliers to make a loop at one end of the wire to stop your "petals" from sliding off. 

Now grab two or three coffee filters. Two can easily be managed, three takes some effort to cut.

Fold your filters in half to create a semi-circle:

Now fold them in half again, try and get a nice point at the bottom so your center point is easy to identify later

Now fold in half again

And one last time

Now use the scissors to round the corners so you have an ice cream cone shape. This part will take some effort if you are working with three coffee filters but it's pretty easy with one or two. I also recommend cutting over a garbage can or bag or something so minimize needed clean up later. This was by far the messiest part of this project.

Now open your filters back up. Use the wire "stem" to poke a hole in the center of the filters and slid it up to the loop.

Pinch the center of the coffee filter and twist it. It takes a mix of force and gentility. You don't want to pull too hard because the loop can still rip through the filter, but you do want to get a good tight twist or your "petals" won't look right. If your filter does rip you can use a drop or two of Elmer's glue to secure it back in place. I had to do that once or twice and now I can't even pick out which flowers I fixed.

So for each of the five filters slid them on and pinch and twist the filters. After a couple of flowers you will get a feel for how to do it. Here it is with two filters:

Three filters

four filters

After you get filter number five twisted onto the wire take a piece of clear tape, about an inch and a half long and wrap it tightly around the base of the flower and onto the stem. You don't need to get a ton on the stem, I found about a quarter inch or so worked fine and keeps the petals from sliding down the stem.


I like the look of these flowers a lot. I only took pictures of the flowers I made with unbleached filters, but I've made a few with white filters as well and they look nice tucked in among the brown although I think they would look too white if it was all I used. Not sure why, but I'm not into really bright white anything. I've made about 55 flowers so far and I probably need about 200 more, although I won't know for sure until I finish collecting the other stuff for my centerpieces.