Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wigs and Birds and Rock Icons!

So, I have been awful about posting lately, but don't worry, I have a lame excuse! Once again, I'll be crying, "I've been busy!" and hoping it will be good enough for my readers. I've been working a lot more than usual at the day job, with longer shifts, more customers, and more side work. I'm not complaining, just saying that I have been a little more worn out after work than usual. I am also currently working as an actress for a dinner theater production later in June, so I've been spending a lot of my free time learning my lines and attending rehearsals and wearing a wig.

See, my character is a bit of a sexpot, and an awkward, half-grown out pixie cut does not fit the description, so I will totally wig it. Dinner theater (and wearing a wig) is a huge time commitment, but it is pretty awesome to call yourself a paid actress when living in a small city in Montana, so again, I'm not complaining. But let me say this: I am tired, you guys. Even so, with all the things going on in my life, I am still sewing! I'm not sewing nearly as much as I would like to be, but that's a combination of lack of time and lack of money. I have come to love the remnants bin at Jo-Ann, where I can find enough inexpensive fabric to make practical things, like covers for my awful throw pillows.

You're looking at about $12 total in that photo, and I'm proud of that fact, but the work itself is not that great. These envelope pillowcases are a simple project, but I somehow managed to mess it up. It came down to a problem with impatience while measuring: I cut things too short and left other things too long, and so the cases are baggy and weird and ill-fitting. I will fix them at some point, but right now, they are good enough as long as I keep the envelope openings turned to the back. 

I was going to keep sewing things like pillows and aprons and curtains, but I decided to forge ahead into clothing, since that's the skill I'm most interested in honing. Check it out; I made a skirt!

This Debbie Harry/Joan Jett tee was the last article of clothing I bought before the massive clothing purge. It's pretty much the greatest thing I have ever purchased. I think it go nicely with the birds.

I love, love, love this fabric! The color, the print, the drape...what's not to love? I bought only half a yard of this, which I am regretting now, especially because it's probably going to sell out before I can afford to buy more. Still, half a yard was enough for this simple elastic waist skirt, which I happen to be very proud of. This skirt took about an hour, but only because I was trying not to mess up. It's not like a pillow or an apron, where you can get away with shoddy work. I'm going to wear this thing; people will see it.

Check out that French Seam action! So crisp! So...French? I love it! It's almost a shame that it's on the inside of the skirt, where no one will ever see it.

I thought I'd have to wear the belt to disguise the elastic waist, but honestly, it doesn't look bad at all, just more relaxed. It's all good, because Debbie and Joan are pretty relaxed, too. This skirt is pretty comfy, and this fabric is so lightweight that it almost feels like I'm not wearing anything...so I might go back and add a liner, just to make it feel a little more substantial. Or, I might not. I might just move on because this skirt is pretty good as is. I'm actually wearing it today, as I type this! It's pretty exciting to make something I really want to wear. It makes me want to make more things! And make more things, I shall...as soon as I get some more free time.

For the curious: The awesome bird-print fabric is cotton poplin, purchased online from Mood Fabrics. I love Mood Fabrics; they always seem to be in such a great mood! When I ordered from Fabricworm, I didn't get a shipping confirmation until the day I received my order, nearly two weeks after I placed the order. With Mood Fabrics, they were all about the communication. They were like, "Hey, thanks for your order, we'll ship that soon!" "Guess what? We totally just shipped that awesome fabric for you!" "Your stuff is on its way, lady!" "Oh, hey, we just dropped that off in your mailbox, and also, we think you're cute!" It is always a pleasant experience, and the shipping is a little pricey ($9.95) but everything gets to you fast, so it's worth it. Plus, they have some incredible stuff, stuff I can't find at Jo-Ann. No offense to Jo-Ann, of course. My tee is from Nooworks.com, who also emailed me to ask if they could send it in white instead of gray, and that was awesome because I could tell the email was written by a real-life human being. It always excites me when an actual person writes the emails.

Monday, May 11, 2015

I'm getting better at this!

I made more things! I finished two projects on one day, and though they were simple projects, I am proud of myself. At this point in my sewing journey, I'm trying to get into the habit of always having a project going, and always finishing a project before moving on to another. I'm also trying to build some faith in myself and my ability to relearn all of this stuff, and I think the best way to do that is to start small with projects I can finish without getting frustrated. So, behold, more stuff I made: A pillowcase and another apron!

The pillowcase was a no-brainer, and it would have taken me maybe twenty minutes to make if I hadn't run into problems with my bobbin. I was sewing along like it was nobody's business, then BAM! Thread jam. I'm still not sure exactly what happened, but I was able to fix it somehow. I think the experience of trying to fix my sewing machine was so traumatic that I blocked it out of my memory. But hey, the only thing that really matters is that the project is finished, and now my daughter's massive body pillow has a decent pillowcase. 

Since the pillowcase was so quick and easy, I decided to go ahead and start the next project right away. Remember my first sewing project from a few weeks ago? It isn't terrible, but it isn't great, so I gave myself a do-over. This time, I slowed way down, which ironically made the entire process go faster, since I didn't have to go back and redo anything. It also helped that this fabric has some built-in lines that I could use as guides to make everything straight and crisp. This second apron is worlds better than my first apron; I'm actually proud of this one! I am so unembarrassed of the quality of my work on this apron that I would give it as a gift, if I weren't so selfish. I am totally keeping this thing and using it every day. Sorry, not sorry. 

I have to keep this apron because it is not just an apron. It is proof that I really can do this, and do this well. This apron has bolstered my confidence and has made me eager to learn more and to try more difficult projects. Next up, I will be making some simple envelope pillowcases for my throw pillows, just because they are awful and could use some pillowcases. I might really challenge myself and add some piping, because why not? Honestly, I am dying to jump into clothing construction, but I am fighting my own impatience and starting small and simple first. After the pillowcases are done, I might try an elastic waist skirt before graduating into more complicated things like buttons and zippers and finished seams. We'll just see how things go, eh? 

For the curious: I bought both of these fabrics online, simply because I'm so impatient that I would rather pay extra for shipping than stand in line for an hour at the local fabric store, where there are always no fewer than a million people waiting to have fabric cut. I am not ashamed. Both fabrics are 100% cotton from the sale section on fabricworm.com. My impatience ultimately got the best of me, though. It took almost two weeks for my fabric to arrive, and I had no idea when to expect it, since I didn't receive a shipping confirmation email until the day my order showed up in my mailbox. I got tired of waiting and ended up going to the fabric store, anyway. I have learned nothing from that experience and have ordered more fabric online for my next few projects. I am still not ashamed. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Purge!

It has been a minute since my last post. This time, I'm going to fall back on the best excuse ever, the ubiquitous and unquestioned, "I have been busy." It is true; I have been busy! I have been busy working, of course, and taking care of my kids. I also took a little trip to Missouri to see my boyfriend, and though I originally planned to blog while I was away, I decided to make it a real vacation and didn't do any work at all. I've also been busy clearing out all the excess crap in my life, and I do mean ALL the excess crap. Check out this before and after action with my closet and dresser:







That's a huge difference, right? A little disclaimer: These "after" shots do not include the clothes in the laundry basket, so just imagine a few more tops and some pants, and that is my entire wardrobe. I managed to fill five garbage bags full of unwanted clothes and shoes; I sold some of it to a consignment shop, and donated the rest. The best part of this purge has been donating my wedding gown. It hung in my kids' shower for two years because I didn't know what to do with it. It is amazing how much power such a thing can have over a person. I allowed it to take up space in my home and my life because I felt like discarding it would be disrespectful of my ex-husband and the relationship we once had. I thought it might hurt my kids to see me get rid of such a thing. Plus, it was the most expensive piece of clothing I had ever owned, and even though it was such a tiny size that I would never even kind of fit into it again, it was a gorgeous gown. So, I kept it. Even though it was out of sight, stuffed into my kids' unused shower (they still prefer baths), it was not out of mind. It stressed me out, having this awkward, giant pouf of white in my life. It was useless, and though I don't have any regrets about the one day I wore that dress, the dress itself did nothing to make me happy. It was a piece of my past that wasn't relevant anymore. Once I made the decision to just let it go and donate it, it was suddenly the easiest thing I've ever had to do. I feel relief now, and it's good to know that I have an extra shower readily available, should I need it.

Clearing out all the clothes I don't love and don't wear felt so good, I have decided to go ahead and get rid of anything and everything that does not fit into my life anymore. The day after I donated those five garbage bags filled with clothes, I was back at Goodwill with over 200 books. Usually, discarding books is difficult for me, but not this time. I kept only the books I really love, and I still have over 200 books. I finally got rid of my tattered old literary anthologies from college, but I kept my Shakespeare volume because that thing is amazing and I still get excited when I hold it in my hands. My house feels larger and more streamlined now, and as exhausting as this process has been, I'm looking forward to going through every little thing in this space and keeping only the most important things. No more clutter, no more mystery boxes that haven't been opened in years, no more unnecessary crap piled in corners or shoved into cabinets. If I ever move again, it will take me ten whole minutes to get totally packed. I'm only half joking. :)

For the curious: If you're wondering where this seemingly sudden urge to purge came from, well, it came from my sister. She started talking about having a ten-item capsule wardrobe, a concept she first learned about from The Daily Connoissuer on YouTube. At first, the idea of such a simple wardrobe bothered me a lot. What about variety? How can you possibly have a fun wardrobe if you have just ten pieces of clothing? After some thought and some serious looks at my own closet, I realized it made perfect sense. Of the piles and piles of clothes I had, I found myself reaching for the same few pieces over and over, while I had to talk myself into wearing other outfits. I was wearing only a small percentage of my clothes, anyway, so why should I keep all that extra stuff? My sister also directed me to the work of Marie Kondo, who has become a celebrity thanks to her amazing tidying abilities. If you're unfamiliar with her or her philosophies about home life, I highly recommend taking a look. All you have to lose is everything, and that can be pretty awesome.