Saturday, January 28, 2012

Freezer Paper Stencils are Pretty Awesome

I learned about this free animal font on Say Yes to Hoboken.  The whale tee she did was so cute so I decided to try my hand at it.

I bought freezer paper, fabric paints and an X-Acto knife and had at it.

I started with the elephant
And I LOVED it!

 So I made a giraffe
And then a horse

 And then my favorite - the seahorse

Then I had a thought.  I was spending all of this time cutting out these stencils and only using them once.  So I used a piece of our tupperware and traced a rounded edge square and created an inverted version of the stencil.
And I like this one even more!
I think I'm going to be doing a lot of freezer-paper stenciling in the future.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lesson 6: Let the Fabric Inspire the Project

I was in JoAnn Fabrics when I spotted this adorable fabric that was reminiscent of Dwell's Gio Fabric like this Gio Hooded Towel.  I checked the bolt and it was in fact Robert Allen for Dwell Studio.  I LOVED it so I bought TONS of it, yards and yards and yards in the different coordinating patterns.

The fabric seemed so perfect for a nursery bedding set and one of my books had the perfect pattern for it.  So I pulled out Amy Butler's Little Stitches and made a fitted sheet, a pillow:

And the quilt:

 It's not really made by quilting, it uses embroidery ties to hold all the layers in place.

I also made a crib skirt out of the green circle fabric so I could coordinate it with the blue and the pink set.

I made a pink crib sheet and a pillow.
The second time around I realized that when cutting the pieces I had to be careful with the print placement and was able to line them up PERFECTLY on the back!

I love this set, and I am glad that I was able to make pieces that would be useful with both sets to move through the set quicker.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lesson 5: Simple and Classic = Cute

Simple silhouettes with cute and classic fabric can be the most adorable.  Simple details like a ribbon tie on a dress can be ridiculously cute.  I love a pinafore I made early on that's one of the easiest to make but turned out really adorable!

Toddler Pinafore Smock Top from One Yard Wonders



I could make a million more of these!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lesson 4: Finishing Details Take Projects from Decent to Great

Little details can make all of the difference in projects.  Sometimes the addition of bias tape, piping or pleats can take an item to a new level.

This really basic jacket for a newborn out of the One Yard Wonders book looks far more finished with the addition of bias tape.
The "Newborn Flyaway Jacket" 

The opposing lines and bias edging on this skirt give it a completely different look than a solid fabric would.
The "Twist and Shout" Twirl Skirt

I was so obsessed with lining up the lines on the skirt

I learned how to make bias tape, how to apply it, how to make pleats and how to line a garment from sewing patterns with those details in them.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lesson 3: A Well Written Pattern is REALLY Valuable

I made a few purchases over the next couple months of 2010 as I expanded my repertoire.  One of those purchases was Amy Butler's Little Stitches.  I also purchased One Yard Wonders an Oliver + S pattern and a couple Butterick/Simplicity patterns from JoAnn's.  By far my favorite was the Oliver + S pattern.  The pattern had pictures at all of the crucial steps the instructions were clear and detailed and the details were meticulous, by the time you were done the garment was polished and beautiful, they looked like they were production level quality.  

I've abandoned projects halfway through a pattern because the instructions weren't clear.  I've stared at the pieces I've sewn, read the instructions 32 times over and said "What?!!?" every time and then I give up on it.  I've realized that the reason I like sewing is that it's a challenge but that when I stop enjoying it, when the enjoyment I'll get out of a project is less than the frustration I'll get from it I can give up on it without regret.  Some of those projects I've come back to and completed others still remain in my sewing room and a small few have been discarded.
This is a snuggly blanket from Amy Butler's Little Stiches which I think is adorable

The instructions were confusing and I wound up with some mismatched corners

This is just a flaw in my capabilities at the point, TERRIBLE buttonhole skills

Lesson 2: Linings hide your icky stiches

So related to lesson 1 I tried things to hide the hideous rats nests that I created with my bobbin threads (obviously this was easier than fixing the problem!).  Lining something completely hid those threads so my next project was a fully lined purse.  This was one of my early favorites.  One of the first things that I made that I really liked and used.
I was really happy with the outside and got compliments on it

The inside lining hid all of those awful balls of thread from the bobbin

However, the buttonhole left something to be desired!

I learned about other tricks like bias tape and tucked hems that could hide my poor stitching skills until I could improve them!

Lesson 1: Bobbins are EVIL

I started with the Singer 2250 Tradition Basic.  Is it sad that I didn't even read the book to learn how to thread the machine?  There were numbers and arrows that made it seem pretty obvious.  I got the top thread all looped through here and around there and down here and through the needle and was set.  Then. Came. The. Bobbin.  Ugg, that thing is a beast!  Not only did my bobbin winder on top of my machine not want to evenly distribute the thread on the bobbin but loading in that area hidden under the plate was CHALLENGING!  I couldn't believe the number of steps to load that thing in there.  

Finally I got the bobbin in and the thread coming up through the underside of the plate and was ready to begin stitching.  I put in some fabric and put down the foot and pressed the pedal gently and the machine whirred along.  I was CRUISING!  I couldn't have been more thrilled I felt like I'd conquered my sewing machine and all that talk about how challenging it was was complete bull.  Then I turned the fabric over.  There was this nasty, hideous rats nest of fabric on the back side!  I was shocked!  That darn bobbin had betrayed me.  So I looked it up and found out that the tension was what I needed to fiddle with so I lowered it and lowered it and then increased it and increased it all to no avail.  No matter what tension setting I used I got a rat's nest.
My lame attempt at curtains

Please forgive the fact that I also went through a phase where I would not change the color of thread in my bobbin because it was just TOO MUCH WORK!

Some of my first projects were simple in concept (curtains, duvet covers, etc) but the scale made them very challenging.
Forgive the picture the quality of the picture matches that of the duvet cover

That bobbin was the cause of about 90% of my vulgar language use during 2010 and most of 2011.

I found certain things were worth the money to me, a better sewing machine was one of them (but not until late 2011) and pre-wound bobbins. 

My Sewing Start

For Christmas of 2009 I asked for and received a Singer Traditional from my husband.  I bought myself a couple of books and some fabric and got down to it.  I was never the type to get into a hobby slowly.  I believe in immersion.  When I started scrapbooking I nearly bought out the local Michaels stocking up on paper and embellishments.  When I started playing with mod-podge I swear I had more glass and wood covered in thin paper than I knew what to do with.  Sewing was no different.  

When I began sewing I didn't look for easy patterns, nor did I read a book or take a class.  I sat down with a pattern I liked and tried.  The first few had straight edges that weren't so straight, pieces that didn't quite match up.  I made mistakes like making shirts out of upholstery fabric and didn't line dresses that were made of lightweight quilting cottons.  I'm still making mistakes, especially when trying to hem difficult fabrics and making sure sleeves line up perfectly with the shoulders but I'm learning.  Each pattern has different things to teach and I think of those patterns as a replacement for an educational book or a class.  

I'm hoping to show that it's not that hard to sew!  I see so many people post about how they wish they could learn and how daunting it seems.  I'm in no means an expert but I'm incredibly proud of what I produce, it's always enjoyable and sometimes maddening.  I'll tell you about my mishaps as well as my triumphs and hopefully we can have a good laugh together!