Monday, January 31, 2011

Nothing New Week 4 & Latest Etsy Love

I feel like I'm in my groove with not buying anything new. It's going really well. Although this week I ran into a gray area question. I wanted some gray nail polish. Ultimately I decided not to get it since it was an impulse buy and I don't really think it goes into the household necessities category with things like laundry detergent and deodorant. Oh and the 4 of us local girls who are doing the Nothing New 2011 challenge have started a blog. Hop on over and meet them.

I feel like I'm at a good place to start my annual Spending Fast in February. What's that you ask? Well here's how it works.

You Can Buy: 
$50 per week in food, no eating out
Gas / public transit
Rent & utilities

You Can't Buy:
Anything else

It's very simple. And it is amazing how many things you can do without when you have to. I also find this is the best way to multi-purpose items. If I think I need something I'll look around the house and see what would be a good substitute. If the Nothing New challenge seems like too much, try this out. February is short.

Oh and I have been asked how I do Valentines day if I can't buy anything or eat out. We aren't big into Valentines day. We don't do gifts and we generally go out to dinner but not on Valentines days since it is a really busy time. We will probably postpone it until the beginning of March.

I  keep a running list of the things I want to buy at the end of the month. It is amazing how many things you cross off your list once you realize you just don't need or want them three weeks later.

As a treat for making it this far in the post I will show you some of my favorite finds on Etsy lately. 
This adorable dress pattern from Mani Mina. Really you should check out all of her shop since she has patterns for other cute dresses and hats too.

I love these awesome management signs from John W. Golden.
 
Wouldn't it be cute to have them put a heart in all the places you've lived and loved. My country would be full of hearts. From Sudlow Jewelry.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Latest Thrifting Find

I have had some funny luck with the thrift store lately. It's rather hit or miss, which is fine. since it is really close and I enjoy looking. The other day I went on a whim with a friend and didn't find much but I was lucky enough to see these earrings. They are the old style of clip on that has a screw on back. I love them a lot and wear them almost every day. Oh and they were $2.99! Score.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Five

Here are some of my favorite things seen around blogland this week. 
This amazing bathroom from Design*Sponge. I love the use of yellow and white.

These wall stickers from 41 Orchard. Spotted on Bloesem Kids.

This amazing wooden alphabet spotted on Bloesem is just perfect.

I love the use of bright colors in these pictures. I needed the burst of bright during this cold week.Thank you Design*Sponge.

This beautiful room made my heart stop. I love all the white and that chair is amazing. Their use of the fireplace is perfect since we seem to have more books than we know what to do with. Spotted on Stephmodo.

What did you love this week?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday In The Know: Sewing Cafes


Sewing cafes are popping up all over the place but not close enough to me. I recently read about a cute little sewing spot in Paris called Sweat Shop that offers sewing machines rentals by the hour. They serve cake and coffee while you come and sew. How cool is that? Sewing and cake. I swear it was made for me.

I love that they are taking the cyber cafe idea and making it so cool. Singer donated 10 sewing machines to their cafe as an attempt to increase the interest in home-sewing in France. Sweat Shop also offers classes, complete kits and designer demonstrations. 


There are other cafes just like Sweat Shop. Sewaholic just did a review of one called Spool of Thread in Vancouver, BC. It's actually a fabric store that also rents out their machines when they are not doing classes. Genius. Check it out here.


Someday I am going to open a Sewing Cafe. How sweet would that be? (Pun totally intended)

Potholders for Prudent Baby

Have you heard of Prudent Baby? They have adorable projects, yummy recipes and amazing giveaways. They are currently giving away TWO amazing Brother sewing machines. All you have to do is make a potholder using their potholder tutorial as a basic start. No problem. I made two. You know, double the chances.

 This is the first one. Lets call her Mabel. She is hand quilted to keep everything together and then has adorable cotton rick rack all the way around. I rounded the corners, used vintage bias tape to finish the edges and used an extra large grommet to hang her up. LOVE.

 Here is Ethel or potholder #2. I love her. She is machine quilted in a very cute pattern. I gave her a ruffle along the hand opening and used 1 inch thick chocolate brown bias tape around the edge. I then HAND sewed the rick rack around and gave her a grommet too.


I used green embroidery floss to sew on the orange rick rack. I love the contrast. Sewing rick rack by hand gives it such a special look. You can click the picture to make it bigger.

So, are you going to make some potholders? Check out the giveaway here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Small House Tour Part 1

I'm going to start showing you my house, one part at a time. My husband and I, along with our 2 year old son live in a 715 square feet, one bedroom apartment. It's small but very well designed and if I do say so myself, quite organized. I'm going to start this series with the place where I create. I think it is one of the most interesting places in our house. Lets get started. 

1. This tall but thin cabinet came from Ikea years ago. We actually have two and before we moved here used them for clothing storage (my husband and I don't have dressers). Now this one is purely craft / sewing storage. It holds thread, buttons, sewing gadgets and anything else I can get in there. Maybe you'll get a special tour of that cabinet later. 

2. Small storage. This awesome 10 drawer unit came from The Container Store. And I love it. One drawer holds my 5 pairs of scissors, another holds pens, pencils and my seam ripper. Yet another holds labels for clothes I make and another holds glue and other adhesives. I love that it is clean and modern but very functional. 

3. These boxes also came from the container store and hold my small scraps of fabric. It is nice to have them handy when I need them. 

4. You may have a hard time finding #4. It is between 3 and 5. It's my sewing machine. Our desk has a shelf under the foot area to hold my sewing machine and #3 and #5. 

5. Our cruddy printer. It prints occasionally when it feels like it. If anyone is totally in love with their printer, please let me know. I haven't owned one I really liked. Or heck, I haven't owned a reliable one.

6. Ah, my vintage Samsonite suitcase. I love this. It was a thrift store find. I have been searching for one for years and I love the color. When I bought it the "inspected by" paper was still in it. It holds my current project. Whatever project that may be. My sewing area is in my living room and this makes it so I can throw my project in and close the lid at a moment's notice. I am on the hunt for another one.

7. Sewing books. Old and new. I love them. A lot. And it's nice to have them on the shelf next to my work station.

8. My trusty Ikea chair. I love it too. It is comfortable, height adjustable and very chic looking. 

9. The vintage desk. This desk belonged to Jason's grandpa. It is a library desk and from what I'm told Jason's grandpa believed it was very old. I recently refinished it. I'll show you more on that later. 

10. And last but not least, clear under the printer are two awesome 12 in by 12 in boxes to hold scrapbooking paper. I used to be really into scrapbooking. Now I use the paper for various other projects and the occasional card making. They fit perfectly there and it's nice to have them on hand.

So, there it is. My place to create. What about you? Do you have a specific place to create or do you use your kitchen table, basement or other area?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stroller Sausage

 
It's cold here. I want to continue to go and do as much as possible and I was tired of stuffing a blanket into the stroller so I made a stroller sausage! I used thrifted orange wool for the exterior and thrifted white knit for the inside. It should be toasty warm and soft on the inside. This looks hard but really, it's pretty easy. Every stroller is different and it is much easier to use your stroller to measure. I'm happy to tell you what I did so hopefully you can re-create it if you want. 

1. First, measure the width and length of the seat. Now add 3/4 of that on to the long end. This is going to be the end that you fold over in the bottom to make a little boot to hold your kid's feet. It will also extend up to their chin.
2. Measure the back from the head rest to the bottom of the seat. This helps to keep the sausage in the right spot while you put your kid in. 
3. You'll need two side flaps measuring 15 x 30. Round one edge of each. 
4. Cut a lining of each of 1-3. You'll need 1.5 yards of both the exterior and the lining.
5. Since you'll be using bias tape for the edges remember to keep all WRONG sides together. Sew the lining to the exterior for each of the pieces. This will make it much easier to manuver the fabric. 
6. You'll start by sewing the seat area. Fold the longest piece so there is 1/4 of the total length hanging out on the top. Sew the foot area together from the bottom to the back of the seat. 
7. Next, sew the back part to the seat part you just sewed. My stroller has a rounded headrest, so I rounded these pieces before sewing them together.
8. Sew the side flaps on so the bottom attaches centered on the part where your child's back will be. These arms will wrap around and hug them. 
9. Sew bias tape all around the exposed edges. 
10. Sew ribbon on the ends of the back flap and to the front to keep them from shifting.
11. Put your sausage on the stroller and mark where the straps go. If there is anything else such as snaps or buttons holding the sunshade on, mark those too. Using your buttonhole foot make holes where you marked them. 
12. Put the sausage back on your stroller, making sure everything works. Put your kid in and mark where the velcro goes. There should be one set on the foot flap that comes up under the chin (see the picture below) and one on the right flap. That keeps everything snug. 
13. Sew the decorative buttons on the front and be thankful you're done!


Material list
1.5 yards of exterior and lining fabric. 
16 inches of velcro, divided in half
6 decorative buttons (optional)
20 inches of ribbon, divided by 4 (I used grosgrain but any will work)
12 feet of bias tape


I know these directions aren't as easy to understand as either of us would like. I am considering making another one and would take step by step pictures if anyone is interested. If you're interested, please leave me a comment. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Megan's Dress

Calder has a little friend named Megan who had her first birthday party this weekend I adore Megan's mom and since she is also a seamstress I wanted to do something she would appreciate. So, I whipped up this dress using Simplicity 2574. 

I added an apron to the front and tried my hand at smocking! I LOVE smocking and am currently trying to smock everything I can get my hands on. 

 I found this fabric at a sweet little fabric store called Cottonseed Glory in Annapolis, Maryland. I only bought 1/2 yard of each with the intention of making a dress out of it. I wish I would have bought more. Why do I always wish I had bought more?
 Smocking is one of those things that looks hard but really isn't. My grandma gave my aunt her gathering machine. My aunt didn't use it for a while and handed it on to me with the hope that I would use it. I am so thankful to have this awesome machine.
This is what the machine looks like. I'll give a step by step on how to use it if anyone is interested. It looks like you can still find the machine around. It's a bit pricey but you can also pleat by hand. I'll talk more about smocking another time. Lets get back to Megan's dress.


 Here's the back. I wanted to do an interesting closure so I used fabric eyelets and did a corset back. I love it. And it will allow Megan to wear it for a long time. I think she could even wear it as a shirt when she is older. I only know this because Calder tried it on for me. (Don't tell his dad)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nothing New Week 3 & A Peek

 Here's a sneak peek of something really cute coming later in the week! 

It has been a good week. I found myself at the thrift store twice. Twice! I'm glad I went the second time. I found some cute stuff that I'll show you soon. I'm bummed about this chair I didn't buy. It had gorgeous legs and a green leather seat and back. It was the perfect library chair except it needed recovered and I honestly don't have a place for another chair. Over the weekend I've decided I could fit one more chair in my living room so I'll go back next week and hopefully find it. We'll see. I'm not holding my breath. 

Not shopping wasn't an issue this week. I think I'm over my need to go to Target. That feels nice. I mean, I love target but I'm glad I don't NEED it. 

On Friday night we got invited to go out to dinner with friends, so that was nice and since it was with friends it was okay for the Nothing New challenge.

I am going to enjoy this last week before the Spending Fast of 2011. February will be a great month!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Meet the Johnsons

Sunset magazine recently published an article about a zero-waste family in California. Although I'm not ready to decrease my dependency on packaging to this level I was really impressed with some of the things the family has been doing. 
Photo courtesy of Sunset Magazine

I love that they take their glass jars to the grocery store for cheese and bulk food items. That is so easy. I really want some cute glass jars. I am adding that to my 2012 purchase list.

I like the suggestion of using kitchen tools in as many ways as possible. This may be because I already do this. I use my grater as a zester and my muffin tins for kid snack trays, meatball cookers, individual omelets, individual serving cheesecakes and mandarine orange upside down cakes. You could use them for crab cakes, meatloaf and mini pizzas if you want. 
Photo courtesy of Sunset Magazine.

I love that she outfitted her family of 4 for $40 last year. That is amazing. This is one area I'm not ready to commit to. After going through my closet and getting rid of everything I didn't love I don't know how she does "6 pairs of shoes, 7 tops, 7 pants, and 2 skirts (1 also wearable as a top)." That is amazing. I need a little more variety that that. I'm happy with whatever number I happen to have. But, I do like the idea of getting rid of something if I buy something new. That will keep the number the same and it will be easier for me to make a decision whether to buy a new shirt. If I can't think of the one I will get rid of, I can't buy it. 

I also loved this: 
Question: Living like this must take a lot of time.

Answer: I save time. While other people are zigzagging the aisles of the grocery store, I shop the perimeter. The deli and cheese departments take extra time with my jars, but then I shop the bulk-foods aisle for all dry goods. I do the farmers’ market for produce. And I go to malls only occasionally, for shoes.

I'm starting to feel that way too. I have more time because I'm not shopping as much. The Johnson family would make great neighbors.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shabby Apple + Me = Love

I bought this dress in December and could not be more pleased with it! I have been wearing it almost weekly since then. It is a great church dress but even better, it is comfortable enough to wear every day. I wear mine with tights and boots. In the spring it will be great with a yellow scarf and flats. The sleeves are perfect and the length and neck line are also great. The best thing... it's on sale! $54.40 for a Shabby Apple dress is pretty good. 

My only negative thought is there is a snap to hold the wrap top together but it hit at a funny place on me. So I just unpicked it and don't use it. I've never had a problem hanging out, if you know what I mean. Maybe if I were more busty it would hit at a better place and I could have used the snap better. 

Here's what I wear it with now. 
These brown, flat boots. I love them. Mine are similar to the ones shown. I have been wearing them with black tights but now that I found aqua tights at the thrift store they are my new go-to. If I can remember, I'll take a picture next time I wear it so you can see it actually does work.

Here's what I will pair with this dress come spring.
A yellow scarf. Cute right? Plus this one is super cheap. I'll be looking for mine at the thrift store since I can't buy it new, but hey, if you're getting the dress on sale what's another $6.00. 
And these shoes. Aren't they sweet? I think I might be able to get something similar at the thrift store and spray paint them yellow. What? You've never heard of spray painting shoes? Check out this and this.

So, there you have it, my go-to item as of late. You're welcome.

Thursday In The Know: Jeans


I know we all wear jeans. It is just part of the American wardrobe. They look great, keep us warm and make us feel good. But, after reading a NY Times article recently on how the fashion industry is starting to look at zero-waste options I think it may be a while before I buy another pair.

Okay, before you decide I'm crazy and stop reading, just hear me out.  Or more specifically hear Mr. Collins out. “Jeans are one of the most wasteful and polluting garments that are made,” said Mr. Collins of Parsons, citing not only the unused fabric, but also the dyes added only to be washed out again, the energy used to transport the denim all over the world, the packaging, and the gallons of water used by consumers to clean the jeans. “And of course it’s one of the staples of everyone’s wardrobe.” 

So, I have a few ideas that I hope will make your jeans live a little longer. 

My friend LuAnn gave me this great trick. When you think your jeans are getting too washed out, dye them again using BLACK Rit dye. I have been afraid to try dying my jeans for fear they would turn out bright blue (a la 1987) or solid black. She has a top loading washer and just puts the dye in with her jeans and the water. I have a front loader and didn't want to dye my detergent dispenser black, so I decided to use my kitchen sink. It worked beautifully. So you just put enough water to cover your jeans, 1/4 to 1/2 bottle of dye and a couple tablespoons of salt. Swish them around until you're satisfied (mine took about 30 minutes) and then wash them. The fade and distressed spots stay there, but will be darker.

As I showed you on Tuesday you can made a pair of boot cut jeans into skinnies. Thus expanding your existing jean wardrobe. 

Shopping for jeans is hard. I know. They say the average woman tries on 15 pairs of jeans before finding the perfect ones. That being said, if you're willing to take a little time start at the thrift store. You can find some amazing brands there for pretty cheap. And, now that you know you can dye them, if they fit right but are a little light, no problem. 

There are some basic jeans care rules that you are probably familiar with, but I'll give you a little refresher. 
  • Don't wash them after each wear. If they aren't dirty, don't wash them. 
  • When you do wash them, turn them inside out. It causes less abrasion on the exterior. And use the delicate cycle.
  • Wash them in cold water. 
  • Choose heavier denim. It is just going to last longer. If you're torn between two pairs, choose the heavier one. 
  • And lastly, we all know that drying our jeans wears them out faster, but I just can't bring myself to wear stiff line dried jeans. So I guess I have room for improvement. 
I'm starting a new weekly post called Thursday In The Know. Basically I tell you about something I have either researched or know stuff about. I'm happy to share my bounty of knowledge with you. *wink wink*

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Thrifting

    Monday was 1/2 price day at the thrift store. Good stuff I tell you. Half price day is an experience you have to see to believe. There are probably a hundred or more people lined up outside the store when it opens. Everyone rushes in to get a cart and start shopping. People are everywhere. We were there for the opening but waited in our car. We scurried in after they opened and still got a cart and did our business. But that way we weren't cold. I found some amazing finds. I'm so excited to share them with you. 

     The Thomas backpack and cars are Calder's finds. He was thrilled. He also got a flag which makes him the happiest boy around. I also got 6 pairs of hot pink tights and one pair of aqua, cantaloupe, black and brown. All new and still in the original package. Awesome. Don't worry, I shared the pink tights with my thrifting friends. I'm not sure what those linens are. I plan to use them for little girl  dress accents. You just wait!
     Vintage trims. My favorite for sure. I think I buy more every time I go. They always have such good things. I haven't ever seen such adorable bias tape as the striped ones. My heart skips a beat when I see it. I can't wait to come up with a project for them. I'm thinking pot holders.
     Oh yeah and Calder got these fridge magnets. I have a project idea for these too.
     Large cuts of fabric. The one of the left is 2 yards and the one on the right is 3. They are both 100% wool. Deliciousness. Of course I have a thousand ideas for these.
     This skirt. I LOVE this skirt. It is a Pendleton skirt and fits like a glove. I can't wait to wear it. Like tomorrow and the next day.Maybe with my new aqua tights.
     Here's a close up.
    I also got this adorable, red, real leather belt. I LOVE it. It also fits like a glove. Don't worry. This outfit probably won't happen in real life. I don't think it matches at all. I also got a gold brocade blazer. It is too big and the picture didn't turn out but I am hoping to size it down and make it really cute. I'll show you when I get it done.

    Tuesday Tutorial: Boot to Skinny

    As I mentioned yesterday my focus for the week was to go through my clothes, try everything on and get rid of the things I don't like. I found a few things that had a category all their own. Basically I made a fix pile. These are clothes I don't particularly like for fit reasons but otherwise thought were fine. Among these was a pair of jeans that were boot cut, but were a little funny in the calf area. I'm not too sure why, they just were. It was like they were too wide but weren't flares. And they were too long. 

    I don't know if I've mentioned it before but I'm slow getting into the skinny jean trend. I own a pair of black skinny jeans and that's it. After seeing an article this week on how the flared jeans are coming back but skinny jeans aren't going anywhere, I decided to change the weird bootcut jeans into skinny jeans. Here's how you can do it too.

     First you want to try the jeans on inside out. Jeans all have either the outside seam or inside leg seam that looks like it can be taken in. It's not the one with bulky decorative stitching. So check before you pin to determine if you're taking fabric from the outside of the leg or the inside. My jeans could be taken from the outside. (I think most jeans can be taken in from the outside of the leg).
     So you can see my pins here. I don't want them to be skin tight but I definitely want them to be skinny. Carefully take your pants off and sew along the pins.
     Try them on again just to make sure. When you're happy with the fit, take a deep breath and cut the extra fabric away. Remind yourself you were going to get rid of these pants anyway, so if you botch it you can just get rid of them. To avoid fraying I used pinking shears and then a large zigzag stitch along the edge.
     Try them on again. And mark where you need to hem them, if you do. I definitely do. There are many great tutorials on hemming jeans but since my jeans were sewn with white thread I just cut off the extra, folded up twice and sewed around to make a new hem. I don't think anyone can tell. Seriously. Oh and you'll need a heavy duty needle. I broke one because it wasn't for heavy fabric.
     Here they are. All done.
     And here they are with boots. Lovely. So, try it. I'd love to see what you come up with.

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