Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Grey Wool Trouser Challenge: a few results...

Last week, I had challenged myself to incorporate a more earth-friendly approach to my sewing.  Don't get me wrong, I am usually quite conservative when using my fabric and I do not care for waste. Measuring twice...cutting once...  If you recall, I had decided to repurpose a pair of grey wool trousers (destined for the charity bin) into as many new items as I could conceive.

The process was actually quite fun, I began carefully ripping away at the seams and making well thought cuts in order to yield as much fabric as possible.  Thus far, I have been able to produce a number of items (four, to be exact). Today, I will share two of them with you.

This scarf was made from the better part of one trouser leg. I lined the back with some soft brushed cotton fabric featuring a lovely botanical print in an autumn colour palette. Ruffles were added (of course!) to the ends of the scarf.  I used three buttons from the original garments waistband to embellish the edge and to give it what I think is a more distinguished look. It am quite pleased with the way this one turned out! It is on the shorter side for a scarf, but it is perfect for my fitted jackets, when I don't want to have excessive bulk tucked in at my chest. Though, I would not want to ever tuck it in and hide the super-girlie ruffle action!

This wristlet was fashioned from the bottom quarter of the same trouser leg.  It is lined with the same cotton fabric noted above.  Inverted pleats were added to the centre to create some visual interest.  Once again, this features some ruffles to create a matching set (why not?!).  There is an interior pocket to house a cell phone, lip gloss or keys.  I added some felt floral embellishments, using one of the many buttons as the flowers centre. I am pleased with this creation as well. I can't wait to use it on my Saturday morning walks with my sweetie-pie, when we go out for our weekly chai latte.

 More to come, stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Now Read This: Weekend Sewing

Another book borrowed from the local library...  Weekend Sewing , More Than 40 Projects and Ideas for Inspired Stitching, by Heather Ross.

I have to say that I somewhat am on the fence about this one. This is actually a very nice little book.  The projects are quite lovely and can satisfy the novice as well as an advanced sewer. It offers a little bit of everything from sewing for the home, accessories, as well as apparel.  The projects range from very simple (drawstring travel bags, aprons and dish towels), to slightly more complex projects (pajama pants, shirt dress...).  The book offers inspiration on setting up a sewing space in your home, which I enjoyed thoroughly.  You will find basic sewing terminology and techniques as well as some recipes. It's a neat little mixed bag of everything. If you wish to live creatively and aspire to make something, this book would definitely appeal to you.  The projects are nicely photographed, have clear illustrations and instructions and are very pleasant to look at.

So, why am I on the fence about this one? The sizing of the patterns are quite limited. Yes, you are offered a generic S/M/L range, but even for the large sizes, they seem a tad small, so you have to be adept in re-sizing to fit correctly . I was also able to catch several errors with regards to required yardage. This I realized when attempting to lay out pattern pieces on my fabric for more than one project. Thankfully, Heather has posted some errata pages on her blog.  I highly recommend that you print out and refer to this information before attempting some of the projects. But, like any sewing book I suppose this is par for the course.

My final caveat, the pattern pieces themselves...they come on 2 large sheets of paper, tucked into the dust jacket of the book. The thing is, they are printed on both sides of these sheets and they all overlap. That said, if you want to attempt more than one project you cannot simply cut away. I feel that you really only have 2 options... Get your hands on a tracing wheel and transfer these pattern pieces onto some manila paper, or go to your local print shop and ask them to make several copies of the pattern sheets.

All in all, I do feel that this book is a great first attempt and at the very least is certainly inspiring.

I give this book 3 1/2 pink buttons out of 5.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grey Wool Trouser Challenge!

While cleaning out my closet last week, I came across this pair of grey wool trousers. They were given to me by a friend, but never really fit me quite right. They were far too big in the waist, yet were extremely tight in the thigh area. I meant to donate them to charity but kept holding on to them, something about them just held my interest. Despite the fact that it is unwearable, I love the texture and colour of the garment.

So then I thought, what can I make out of this? Afterall, there is plenty of fabric to be salvaged from this... In my effort to remain earth friendly, my challenge is to repurpose this garment into as many new items as possible. So far, my ideas are to create a scarf, clutch purse... Well, I won't give away every idea!

Inspired by the Sewing Green book, by Betz White, I am going to make an effort to incorporate a more earth friendly approach to my projects, repurposing where I can.  Stay tuned to see what I come up with. I would like to complete a project each week, but we will see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Amy Butler Sew-it Kit

I made this fabric cover for a tissue box today.  I have actually been meaning to get around to it for over 2 years now. It is quite sad really that it has taken this long. I was itching to make something the other day, but was not fully committed to pulling out any bolts of fabric and pattern drafting paper just yet. The edge of the Sew-it Kit caught my eye and provided me with a good enough morsel to tranquilize my urge long enough.

I had ordered the Amy Butler Sew-it Kit at least 2 years ago when I was trying to refresh my sewing library.  It is a neat little box that houses 15 simple sewing projects for your home. It contains pattern pieces, a reference booklet as well as individual instruction cards for each project. And, as a cherry on top, you have the added bonus of  a small sample of Amy Butler fabric and matching thread to create your very own tissue box cover, the very cover that I have successfully created and photographed here.  Note that it is fully reversible (the other side is solid brown in colour).

I like it and I think it turned out pretty well... Personally, I would have gone about the construction a tad differently, as there were corners that gave me grief. I also would omit the reversible feature all together.  In spite of this, it all worked out in the end. Yes, the tissue boxes available today are very funky and brightly coloured or patterned so you may feel that there is no need for this effort. Some even have unusual shapes...but I like this option far better.  You will definitely have the most unique tissue box on your desk at the office.

It was fast and easy enough to do that I was able to whip up a few more (using my own modifications). I will just swap them out with the seasonal changes, or when I grow tired of  a particular colour or print.

As far as the kit itself goes, I was a bit dissapointed. Most of  the projects overlap from Amy's In Stitches book from 2006 and I was expecting a bit more variety. I do like the portability of the project cards however, as it is nice alternative to having to tote around a large book.  The projects are beautifully photographed and the packaging is rather cute.  I think it would make a very nice gift for a novice sewer or anyone that likes to dabble in home decor as a hobby.  I think this is something that my teen-aged niece would find quite appealing.  The fact that you do receive the materials to create the tissue box cover perhaps saves this kit from being a total loss. All in all, I really cannot find anymore fault with the fabulous Amy Butler, as I do love her fabrics!   

I give this Sew-It Kit 3 pink buttons out of 5.

Now, I feel compelled to cover things with fabric. I spent a good 30 minutes staring at boxes, bins and just about any vessel to see what I could cover next.  Come to think of it, I really do need a proper sewing machine cover. I don't like my options out in the stores.  No, the task of making one is not nearly as fun or easy as sewing up bottomless cubes to cover tissue boxes, but it really should be done for once and for all. Perhaps I will finally settle down and make it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm sew excited!

While out jogging this morning, I came across a poster in the window of a local knitting shoppe. I have passed this shop on several occasion, but the advertisment caught my eye from some distance away. It advertised the Creativ Festival , taking place in Toronto, October 16th to 18th, 2009 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

I am not sure which rock I have been living under for all these years, but I had never heard of this event until now. And get this, they have a Spring and a Fall festival each year! How on earth did I manage to remain oblivious to that? I was never a hard-core crafter, but I have been an avid sewer for most of my life. I dabble in crafts when the need arises or simply out of curiousity and the desire to experiment. 

Established in 1988 as the Creative Sewing & Needlework Festival, this event has gained tremendous popularity and boasts being the worlds largest event of it's kind.  It appears that they exhibit everything from sewing, beading and knitting, as well as decorative painting and even scrapbooking. Further details on the event can be found here.

While studying the poster in the shoppe window, a woman (whom I assume was the owner) was opening up for business. Upon noticing that I lingered in the window, she was kind enough to discuss the event with me and raved about just how fabulous it is.  Workshops, free demos, door prizes... Not to mention other artisans that share your passion as well as information on starting home-based businesses.  It appears that, if you are creative in any way this is the place to be... and I am taking her word for it. Sounds like a blast! 

Those of you in or around Toronto should check it out. I am sad to have missed so many past shows, but I hope to make this an annual must-do going forward.

Guess which chickee will be attending?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pretty Maids All In A Row...

It is no secret that I have a slight obsession with pin cushions of all shapes and sizes. If it is cute, I will buy it, or even better make one of my own.  It is also no secret that I hate to waste fabric. If I have some scraps laying around that are too small to construct a garment or accessory, I try to think of other ways to use them. 

These matroyshka doll (also known as a Russian nesting doll) pin cushions came about as a result a fabric remnant.  I had received a small sample in a fabric order from Pink Panda Fabrics and I fell in love with the design. These ladies were just too cute to be left in a fabric stash pile.  I started off creating 3 doll cushions last night, and quickly became addicted to creating more little friends. I even scented one for my teen-aged niece so that she may use it in her school locker as an air freshener. I added a coordinating ribbon loop to the tops of each to hang them from.

I am not sure what I am going to do with all of them, as I have churned out quite the collection (a total of 10) in a very short time. I think they will look so cute lined up in a row on a shelf in my sewing room. Of course, one is already cozied up to my sewing machine.  Perhaps I will give a pair to my little niece who is nearly 3 years old, as she loves her dollies.

I just think they are just so charming. I may embellish a few with some buttons or add a tiny flower to their heads.  I hope you like my little creation.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Project of the Month: Cutlery Rolls

It's back to school time! Applause to those that brown-bag lunch to school and work, good for you! You savvy gals and guys! I must say, it is quite impressive to see the increasing number of people (women and men) carrying lunch totes on their morning commute. I assume that within these totes, meals are carried in re-usable, earth friendly vessels?  And the utensils required to eat said meal, what is it housed in? Why, cutlery rolls, of course!

You may believe that this very idea is silly, or dimiss it all together, but I have a bit of a need to accessorize just about anything that I can. I have several unique bento boxes and various containers for my meals that I cycle through on a regular basis. It is actually quite embarrassing to state the amount of containers that I own, but that is a whole other blog post. 

At any rate, I feel that the pretty bento boxes require equally pretty companions. The idea of a matching cutlery holder of some sort emerged.  I believe that meals should be presented in an appealing way that is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palette. (Yes, even if it is last nights meat loaf). The prettiness of this will just add an extra little bit of civilization to what many of us experience as a hurried lunch hour and a hectic day.

Rectangular pieces of fabric were sewn together, featuring narrow pockets to hold utensils. I have included 3 pockets to house your chosen forks, spoons or even chopsticks. An additional larger pocket has been added so that you may neatly tuck in your serviette or (even better), cloth napkin (made from fabric remnants). This rolls up to a compact little bundle and ties with a ribbon to neatly tucks into your lunch bag.

Like it? Instructions for this project can be found here.  These are easy to make and can be whipped up in no time. Make several in various colour combinations. These would also be great to carry along to a picnic.
Happy sewing!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Now Read This: Sewing Green

I am building quite the collection of sewing and craft books in my personal library. For the most part, I am thoroughly pleased with my choices.  The odd time however, I am drawn in and tricked by a pretty cover and a few projects with lovely photographs, only to be disappointed by the lack of  originality or skill required in the remaining pages of the book. 

I have taken to the habit of borrowing from the local library if I see that they carry a book of my interest. A 'try before you buy' method, if you will. In some cases, I've been known to borrow the same book several times because of just how great it was, only to just cave in and purchase it out-right. Sewing Green by Betz White will be one of those books.

Released in April of 2009, Sewing Green is a fantastic book chock full of 25 projects that utilize repurposed and organic materials. Betz provides easy instruction for each project, handy resource listings, as well as tips and techniques for living a greener lifestyle. (I loved the powdered laundry detergent recipe provided). You will also find interesting fast facts about repurposing efforts throughout.

The projects are beautifully photographed and clearly outlined. A novice sewer will be excited and capable of any project, while an intermediate sewer will still be challenged and inspired.  The cute cafe aprons made from men's dress shirts as well as the natural produce bags will be the first projects that I take on.  Though the felted foliage scarf appearing on the books front cover may materialize just in time for the Autumn weather.

Sewing Green will be the newest addition to my sewing reference libary in the very near future.  Lovely book!

I give this book 4 1/2 pink buttons out of 5.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cloth, Paper, Scissors...Progress...

After an hour of mapping out my overall dimensions, determining the patchwork dimensions and then the placement of each fabric, I came up with a satisfactory design. I was not going for a deliberate pattern in the placement of a given colour of fabric.  It took a bit of fiddling here and there, but I mapped out 5 rows and then mirrored the balance of the quilt. The 5th row (middle) of the quilt breaks it up enough that you don't see an obvious symmetry.

Here she is, all pieced together, and then all 9 strips sewn... I am pretty pleased so far.  =)

Next steps...battting, trim and backing. I must make it out to the fabric store to get these in the next few days, though I wish I had them at the moment. I am not sure if I should just bind this quilt in one of the existing fabrics, or if I should just use some eyelet trim. I happened to place this shell of a quilt on top of some washed bed linens the other day. The edge of a white pillow case with eyelet trim was peeking out from the corner and it looked quite lovely!

In the mean time (and to keep the momentum going), I will work on the matching pillow (case). I am just trying to figure out if I want a standard 18"x18" square or if I want to make a 15"x18" rectangle. I am leaning toward the rectangle option... but I will see what options the fabric store has in the way of inserts. Their supply may very well dictate the finished dimensions.
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