Friday, April 16, 2010

Rummage sale finds and fireplace progress

I realize that I've started grouping two random topics together in my titles. That's because I get a bit lazy (or maybe it's busy?) and forget to blog about things right after they happen. And so when I do get time to sit down and blog, I usually have a few saved up. Tonight the two items are my rummage sale finds and the progress on the fireplace redo.

Even though my fabric stash runneth over, I couldn't resist the siren song of spring rummage sales. I allowed myself to go to two sales last week, which was all kinds of self control because yard sales were all over the city that week, people. The first was mainly clothes and everything was priced as "fill a bag for $5". And fill a bag I did. With books and old t-shirts for refashioning. At the second, it seems that not everyone was on the same page with the pricing structure. But I dug around and found the cheapie t-shirts, as well as some vinyl make-up- bags at 10 cents each. I plan on cutting the vinyl into applique shapes for t-shirts and such.

Three long-sleeved tees

Two sweaters

Odd strapless dress (ties in the back)

Ugly chenille sweater (to make swiffer cloths)

An assortment of short-sleeved tees and tanks

Kid-sized pajama pants with a fun scooter print

Vinyl make-up bags, scarves, and necklace with gold-painted wooden beads

And a stack of books - some for reading and some for crafting.

Oh, and new short sleeved blouse for me. (not pictured because I wore it for three days this week and now it's in the laundry)

All for a total of $6.70. I've already used some of the t-shirts to make a couple of dresses for Liv. Will post pics tomorrow.

And now for a bit of a progress report on the fireplace.

Mantel is built.

Sheetrock is up.

I'm loving it already! This weekend we'll have to finish floating the sheetrock and then paint the wall above the fireplace to match the walls around. After that, I get to bust out the chalkboard paint to give the wall NEXT to the fireplace a bit of a redo. and then... and then... and then...


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The beginning of a BIG project

There is a long brick fireplace/heart that cuts across the corner of my dining room. Odd, I know. The room used to be a den but in made more sense to the layout of our house to use it as a dining room. And the idea of a fireplace in the dining room is really kind of neat to me. A fireplace says come in, sit down, warm up, have a good meal. It has kind of an old timey farmhouse charm that's a natural pairing for a dining room.

Except not THIS fireplace. It's loooong and it's ugly.

The brick is somehow simultaneously busy, blah, and dark. The floor-to-ceiling aspect overwhelms and makes the whole room feel dark. There are so many colors in the brick it's impossible to put anything in front of it and have the items stand out. And what you can't see from the photo is how narrow the mantel is. It's only 7 inches deep. But it's easily 10 feet long. So whenever I see pictures in decorating magazines and on DIY blogs with these beautiful, creative, colorful mantelscapes, I can love them from a distance but know that they will be impossible to replicate in my own home on my long, skinny, ugly fireplace.

It's only taken 13 years, but we've finally come up with a solution! YAY!!! My original plan was to paint the brick, but sweet husband says he doesn't want to do something that can't be undone. I'm thinking, "When would I EVER want this brick again?" But since sweet hubby lives at this house (and is doing most of the work), I found another solution.

Instead of painting the brick, the plan is to nail sheetrock above the fireplace so that it looks just like the walls on either side and effectively cutting the fireplace off at its knees. That will solve the looming dark aspect. And to solve the long, skinny mantel problem the plan is to create a larger mantel that will fit around the original. Work has already begun. I can't wait until it's all done!!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Scrapbooking, Baby Kitty's quilt, and more

I've been busy in my studio this weekend, though not with sewing. Every now and then I get bit with the scrapbooking bug. So Friday I cleared my schedule and cleaned off my sewing table. In place of the cutting mat, I got out my paper cutter and stacks and stacks of pretty paper. (I hoard scrapbooking paper, too. Sad....)

I don't know that any of the pages I made were showstoppers, but they are DONE. Done and behind plastic page protectors in Liv's scrapbooks. She's always so excited when I make new pages in her book.

And while I've got you here, I gotta share what my little girl made last night. The lead-up to the project went a little something like this:

"Mama, can I make a quilt for baby kitty?"

"uhhh...." (That's me, trying to work up the energy to tackle a sewing project with her instead of finishing up the last of the scrapbook pages.)


"uhhh.... Well.... I'm in the middle of something."

"Pleeease!! Baby kitty needs a quilt. And it would be really small."

"uhhh.... How about when I finish your scrapbook page?"

"...and I can make it myself. And I'll use the fabric out of my own stash."

And that last statement sealed the deal. The little girl has her own fabric stash, but just like her mama she has hoarding tendencies that have prevented her from cutting into any of her gorgeous fabrics. So when she offered to actually USE her fabrics, I couldn't say no.

And unlike previous sewing projects where I let my perfectionist tendencies take over, I decided that I'd take her at her word and let her do this completely on her own. She chose the fabrics. She did the cutting, the design, the sewing, the everything. I take that back. I did do the fusible webbing kitty patch. That whole hot-iron thing.

I could see her confidence increase stitch by stitch, piece by piece as it all came together. The result was a far-from-perfect little bit of fabric scraps sewn together. The fabrics were just layered and stitched, no right-sides-together going on there. The seams are crooked and the threads untrimmed. The sides are wonky and the edges raw. But it's all her own work, her own vision, her own little sewing triumph.

She's written up her own blog post about her project over at her blog, Cool Show by Olivia. Just like her sewing project, the blog post is all her own - phonetic spelling and all. See her post here.

(Baby Kitty snuggling under her quilt.)


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another t-shirt for me

So when I created my sweater-to-scoopneck tank the other day, I cut the v-neck band off of the blue sweater. I don't know if it's a sign of thriftiness or mental disorder, but I save the collars and cuffs and pockets and button plackets and necklines from garments I cut up for fabric or refashion into other items. I have a shoebox full of them just waiting for the right project.

Today, I made use of the neck band from the sweater. See?

I made a fitted tee from some brown knit I had on hand and then stitched the sweater banding down to create a neat v-neck detail. That sounds awfully simple, doesn't it?

Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that. First of all, I had to be sure that the neckline I cut out of the brown tee was the same size as the v-neck band, since the sweater band was a closed circle. This involved first cutting the neckline really small (like, the same as the back of the tee), folding it in half to find the perfect middle, lining up the sweater neck band so that the point of the V was exactly at the middle of the t-shirt, and then pinning up and around. After it was all pinned, I marked the top edge of the neckline, removed the sweater band I worked so hard to pin down evenly, and then cut the neckline slightly larger than the line I had marked. I made it slightly larger to be sure that there would be no brown t-shirt peeking out.

I decided at this point that the colors were a bit drab. To add a bit of "pop", I cut long strips of cranberry red rib knit and ruffled one edge. I stitched them down around the neckline of the shirt before I -once again- pinned the sweater band down very carefully and very evenly. Finally, I stitched all the way around the edge of the sweater band to attach it permanently.


And because I can't get pictures of me without also taking some pictures of Liv...

LOVE those big eyes!!!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Getting my sewing mojo back

Man, that last project really threw me! The Dress That Nearly Kicked My Butt totally zapped my sewing mojo. Everything - from cutting the thing out to binding the apron edges to making the casings - ended up far more difficult than it needed to be. The floral print was so ravelly, the elastic was so cheap it rolled all over itself, and then my measurements were apparently not as accurate as they needed to be.

All of that had me hiding out from my sewing room, until a few days ago. I got my feet wet with some little covered felt brooches. (Still haven't glued the pinbacks on them.)

Then today I got the nerve to finally cut into an old sweater of mine. It had short sleeves and a deep V-neck so it really wasn't practical for winter wear. But the steely blue always seemed too drab for spring. And it's worn out and a bit too big for me since last year's mondo weight loss.

So today I cut the sleeves off and reshaped the v-neck into a scoop neck. I then bound the edges with a cranberry red rib knit. I'm especially proud of how there's no buckling at the neck or sleeve. This was one stretchy sweater!! I used Naomi's binding technique, but I moved the seam in so that there was a 1/2" seam allowance. I think this helped control the buckling.

I'm lovin' my new shirt!!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

The dress that nearly kicked my butt

So this is the dress that nearly kicked my butt. A simple raglan-sleeved gathered dress with elastic at the waist. There was nothing about it that should have been difficult, it was just. one . of. those. projects.

You know, the ones where everything that could go wrong, does? I won't list all the frustrations and things that went south, but let me tell you it was every step of the way. The kicker was the end when Liv tried on the dress and I realized that it was very nearly too small. We'll get to wear it for about 2 weeks before it becomes a hand-me-down.

I don't know if you can see in the picture, but the ruffles at the bottoms of the sleeves are the same fabric as the skirt.

A very solemn pose. I promise that Liv really did like the dress. It just turned out that the only time to get a picture of her wearing it was right before she left to go to school. At 7:00 in the morning. Check out the rainbow ankle socks and black sneakers. Niiiiiice.

See the little applique on the apron? And the black and white gingham check bias trim?