Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Goals and Failures of 2014

  You might remember that the last couple of years I've posted a list of goals here that I wanted to accomplish through the year. Not resolutions, just things I wanted to keep in mind.
  Here is last year's list and how I fared:

1. Make a hoodie for my husband. Finished! It took me a while, and I had to re-do the hood later in the year because the neck was too tight, but it's his favorite hoodie. =)

2. Make this top with my stretch lace fabric. This one didn't happen. It was about to.... I had the fabric and pattern pieces out and ready to cut when I realized there wasn't enough fabric. Maybe I'll pick some more up and actually make the top, because I still love the idea, but more likely I'll just use bits of the lace for things like this top, which I really love, and wear every chance I get.

3. Learn how to create PDF patterns. Done! I've actually made several PDF patterns for my own personal use. At some point, I may begin selling them, but for now I don't think my drafting skills are quite there. I'd love to go to a proper pattern drafting college and even get a degree, but it doesn't seem feasible right now with three little kids and not much money. I wrote a bit more about the PDF aspect here.

4. Find something I really love making to sell, or more specifically now, actually make them. Done! Sort of. I actually made three coin purses to sell, but one I gave away, so I'm planning on sewing a few more before I start selling. Besides, I don't think I want to sell the blue purse. It's not a good representation of my work, and I'd feel guilty asking someone to pay for it. 

5. Sew myself a circle skirt with a fun trim detail and horsehair braid. I actually did this!! Well, not the trim, since I felt like the fabric was enough without any embellishment. I'll post about it in the near future (which could mean two months or could mean two days, we'll see). =)

6. Host a giveaway. Done! But I probably won't do another one... there were only 3 entries and I think people would prefer to see my regular posts.

7. Make more unique knit tops, for myself and the daughters. This one is a definite win! Quite a few of the shirts I gave away or can't wear in public anymore for various reasons (too tight, faded, torn, stained) but here's a quick list: Handkerchief-Hem ShirtDotty shirt, Floral Tie-Front shirt, Perfect Peplum, Striped Shirt, The Ugly Shirt (which is still unique, even if it is awful) and my all-year favorite Sweetheart Top, as well as this shirt for Booper. Not bad, right?

8. Finally sew the dress my husband designed for me 4 years ago. Nope, not even drafted. To be honest, I'm not sure if I'll ever make this. I'm just not sure how much wear it would get.

9. Sew at least 2 skirts for each of my daughters. Done! I ended up making 3 for Booper, 3 for Gaiw, and 2 for Beckers

10. Continue improving my photography. I think I can say that in spite of camera and lens issues, my photography has improved this year. I've learned how to take photos in a darker room without horrible grain and color issues, I've practiced taking photos when I've had a spare minute, I've worked on making my photos a bit more interesting (although sometimes my laziness gets the better of me and I go back to plain photos against a wall), I've practiced a tiny bit with reflectors and diffusers, and I've read countless guides. So this is Done!

8/10! Not bad at all.

Now this year's goals.... there aren't any. Well, there are some, but instead of posting them on my blog where they get buried under other posts and I forget about them, I'm going to print them out and hang them on my wall, so if I feel like I have no projects to complete I can glance over my list and get some ideas. 

Enough about goals, want to see the worst 5 of this year? Things I didn't love or didn't use. 

From least sad to most awful:
5. The dotty shirt. It turned out pretty cute, but it was just not my style and I knew I wouldn't wear it often. I sent it to my friend Bethany, who I am sure has appreciated it much more than I would have. 

4. The tie-front shirt. I never felt comfortable in this... just awkward. The fabric was thinner than I like and made me feel self-conscious about my belly fat, and the positioning of the upper part wasn't very flattering. That, and those wonky tie ends really bothered me. It got grungy after I washed it a few times with some brightly colored clothes (it was either that or with bleach... I figured the brights were the lesser of two evils), and I haven't really worn it since.

3. The blue coin purse. Not only was it awfully difficult to sew, I don't love the results. It's just kind of bland... this fabric really needed a stronger contrast and more details. It's been knocking around the floor of my sewing area since it was made. 

2. The blue twirl skirt. It could have been gorgeous. I should have let the fabric hang before hemming, and made the front waistband smaller so it didn't gape horribly. As it is, it just looks homemade in the worst way possible. Even Gaiw is ashamed to be seen wearing such a failure. ;-)

1. This green shirt. You knew that one had to make the list, right? It was only worn for the photos, then balled up and shoved in a drawer. It's just awful. ;-)

  Welp, hope you enjoyed my goals recap and worst of 2014 list! =) I'll be back soon with some of the gifts I made for Christmas this year.
Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014: Advent, Ornaments, and Wrapping

I have quite a few things I made for Christmas this year, so I'm starting with the most Christmas-y of them, and working on down to the gifts and outfits. =) I meant to post some of these earlier this month, but I was too busy sewing to blog! First up, the advent calendar I made!

  A couple of years ago this calender was making the rounds on a bunch of blogs, and I loved it. Unfortunately for me, it was made using a Silhouette cutting machine, (at that time I think everyone was using the Silhouette SD), and I didn't have one. As it was a temporary deal, I couldn't buy the shelf and cut files when I got my Silhouette... but the company brought it back for Black Friday this year! I immediately ordered it, but Black Friday was a mere 3 days before December 1st this year, so I was pretty sure it wouldn't arrive on time. It did. It arrived on the 1st! And I spent most of the rest of the day cutting and assembling boxes.

  The only cardstock I had on hand was plain white or pink, and when I tried using kraft paper to make the boxes they were really floppy, so it was all pretty plain when I was done assembling. I'm definitely not an all-white person. I ended up spray painting the finished boxes with Rustoleum Chalkboard and Rustoleum Antique Brass Metallic spray paints. I did it inside, but with a window and door open on a covered surface. I regretted that decision, because that chalkboard paint has a ridiculous amount of over-spray, and I ended up with paint on my kitchen floor, which I proceeded to spend the next two hours scrubbing up. It's still a bit grubby-looking, but luckily it's cheap-y linoleum and I don't care all that much. Anyway, the boxes came out really cute! I just did one coat of either, and for the most part the coverage was pretty good. There are a few spots that could use another coat though.

  And finally, I used washi tape, ribbon, and markers (I should have used a printer for the numbers, or chalk, but I didn't have any) to gussy the boxes up and was done! ...At about midnight, after the kids were already in bed, so we still didn't get to use the calendar that day, but they enjoyed it every day after. =) I don't love all of the boxes... some of them I might re-do, but some of them I really like. This one is my favorite:

  I thought the calendar was only going to be available on Black Friday, but apparently it's still for sale right now, here, and if you use the code HOLIDAY it's 40% off until December 31st, which is about what I got it for.

  By the way, that is not an affiliate link. Silhouette America has no idea I'm posting about this... I just really like it, for the most part. There were two things I didn't love. One, the whole thing is a lot smaller than I expected. Most of the boxes are about 2" high, and even the taller ones aren't more than 3.5". Second, the shelf stank horribly of paint... even before I spray-painted the boxes. Luckily the smell has faded now.

  Anyway, you won't be able to use it as an Advent calendar if you buy it right now, but you could use it for... button storage or... something until next December. =)
  I'm hoping to re-size the boxes and use them for gifts and things throughout the year, so I get a bit more out of the price I paid. =)

  The next project also used the Silhouette! Pinafores and Pinwheels posted these really pretty ornaments with silver vinyl a bit ago, and I used her free cut file to copy them.

  Mine aren't so pretty as the originals... I used ornaments that were already matte black (found at Hobby Lobby), but they were a bit smaller than the ones Stephanie used and I should have downsized the cut file a bit more. I still like them though!

  I was giving these to three families, and only had six ornaments, so I only cut the 'Joy to the World' and 'Peace on Earth' files so they could have one of each. I would have made more for myself, but we didn't end up decorating for Christmas at all this year. Maybe next year.

  I was planning on using the Silhouette for decorations and boxes when I was wrapping presents, but I ended up out of time, wrapping presents in a rush late at night, so I mostly used free printable tags and things I already had on hand.

 I'd spray painted some kraft paper with the same colors I used in the advent calendar a few days ahead of time, so I used that to wrap some of the gifts. I still like the idea, but it wasn't the easiest wrapping paper to use.... kraft paper already requires a very strong tape to stick, and the spray paint reduced its stick-ability even more. I had to use large pieces of packaging tape to make it work at all, so if I were to do this again I'd use a lighter-weight paper like freezer paper as the base under the spray paint.

  I used pages 28, 29, and 41 of the printable tags available at the last page of this online magazine for some of the gifts.

  Other tags I used were these and these from Decorator's Notebook (I printed them on white cardstock and colored some in with a red marker), these from Kelli Murray, these from Lia Griffith, and these from Domestifluff. I think that's all. =)

  I used some fancy plaid fabric my friend Karen sent me for some of the gifts... it's a little glitzier than I wanted to use for this year's Christmas outfits, but was great for wrapping things. It's like two gifts in one, because the recipient then has pretty fabric to use! =)

  Oh, and I made one gift bag. I'd planned on making more but didn't have enough interfacing or heavy fabric... this one was a test bag to see if it would be stiff enough with just two layers of quilting-weight fabric treated as one. It worked well enough that I used the bag, but not well enough that I made more.

  I used this pattern in the large size with the pocket, but made a small change at the sides to make it even more gift-bag-ish. I folded the triangle tabs up to the sides, pinched them together with the side fabric, and edge-stitched the two together up to the middle side seam. I'm not sure that's the best explanation... I'll try to clear things up if anyone asks.

  I managed to stuff quite a few gifts into some small white boxes, which I then decorated with washi tape, baker's twine, ribbon, tags, and pinecones as I saw fit. =)

  The boxes are some of the huge stack I found on Amazon (affiliate link) earlier this year for this baby shower... I knew they would come in handy! =)

  I also used this box, which I got from Pick Your Plum a few months ago. I have a lot more of these in slightly different designs, but all of the other gifts were too big to fit in them.

  And finally, I've had this gift bag hanging around for about 6 years now. I'm very happy to have finally used it.

  Individually, I like the way almost all of the gifts turned out. As a collection, it's a bit lacking. I kind of wish I hadn't introduced the plaid and had kept the wrapping to just two base colors.

  There were a few more plaid gifts in the second set of gifts that didn't make it into the photo. Mostly because they weren't wrapped yet. ;-)

  All right, that's everything for this post!
Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Coin Purse Winner

Time is up folks! The winner of the coin purse is:

  Comment #2 is Janelle, who said: "Makenzie said "Mom, pick the one with the heart!" :) They are darling!"
Congratulations Janelle! I've sent you an email. Please respond by 12/12/14 at 6PM so I don't have to pick another winner. =)

Thanks for playing!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Leather Coin Purse For You

  One of my goals for this year was to host a give-away on my blog. Today happens to be Giveaway day at Sew Mama Sew, (go check it out, all kinds of fun things you can win!) but I've decided not to link up there... I'd rather have one of my regular readers win something than someone who will never visit again.

  Anyway, here's what I'm giving away: Your choice of one of these cute leather coin purses I made earlier this year.

  You can read more about these coin purses here and here. Wouldn't one of these make a lovely gift? Or keep it for yourself and enjoy a less-cluttered purse. =)

  To enter, just leave a comment below telling me which purse you would prefer to win. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. Winner will be randomly chosen on 12/10/14 at 10 PM, Mountain Standard Time. Giveaway is (unfortunately) open only to U.S. Residents age 18 and over. I'll do my best to get in in the mail in time for Christmas. =)

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, December 7, 2014

3rd Birthday Hooded Dress

This little girl turned three the other day.

  For her birthday, I made her a knit dress using the pre-made-t-shirt method. I used a store-bought shirt in her size (though strangely the sleeves are too long), cut it at about waist level, added a circle skirt of dotty knit, and added a tier of flowered knit to that. Then I picked out the neckline binding and added a fully lined hood with a slight crossover in the front.

  The hem is finished with lettuce edging (of course) and the hood is framed with a doubled strip of the floral knit, which is also lettuce edged.

  I didn't have enough of the floral fabric left to make it circle-shaped and had to use straight strips, so I though the skirt might not hang well, but for the most part it seems fine.

  Gaiw was very pleased with her dress. =) The dotted fabric and the floral fabric are both from Girl Charlee, and I've used both of them before.

  Then, in addition to the dress, I made a knit hat. =)

  I used this free pattern from Heidi and Finn, but cut three inches off the base of the hat to make it less slouchy, I used the size 3T-6Y size, but I should have used the smallest size as this one is several inches too big for Gaiw. She still loves it though, and looks like an adorable little thug in it. This fabric is a reversible (and oddly fraying) knit from Joann's... it's super soft and almost pillow-y with both layers. I originally bought it to make a shirt but I haven't had time for it yet.

  Gaiw is a very quiet little girl when there are people around.

  She watches everything we do very intently, and learns quickly what is going on.

  Gaiw is extremely stubborn, and will repeat the same activity for months in spite of any discipline.

  She is a sweet snuggler who loves being held, but wiggles all over the place if she sits on your lap.

  She adores sugar in any way, shape, or form, and will literally run in circles if she's had too much.

  Gaiw will very firmly and loudly protest if you do something that she doesn't like, but she's quick to say that she loves something and will proudly tell you that the food you made is 'delishish'.

  She loves clothes and shoes, and often changes 5 or 6 times a day just because she wants to wear a new outfit. I'm looking forward to seeing her grow in this next year. We love this little girl!
I love this photo. =)
  Gaiw requested a 'black' cake with purple frosting for her birthday, which turned out to mean chocolate. I made a basic chocolate cake with a ganache filling. The ganache was more than a little bit difficult... normally it's just two ingredients, cream and chocolate, but I was short on chocolate pieces and spent about an hour figuring out how to make enough for both layers while having it thick enough. I finally got it almost thick enough, but it still oozed out between the layers until I left it in the fridge for a few hours.

  I frosted it with vines, shells, leaves, and pathetic drop flowers. The house was, as usual, way too warm for the frosting and even when the frosting was fresh out of the fridge it was too soft for the flowers, even though it was so thick it was difficult to pipe. I think next time I'll use half as much butter in the recipe so it will be less melty. That, and I'll figure out what is causing my hands to shake so much. Maybe then my drop flowers will actually look like flowers instead of blobs. ;-)

  I still think it turned out cute as long as I squint a bit! =) And it tasted good.

  I still have a couple of Christmas-y things to show you, but I haven't made any new gifts since my last post, and my sewing machine broke again last night when I was trying to sew some channeling closed... I just hope my backup machine doesn't break or I'll really be in a bind! I still have 9 gifts to make, 8 of which are supposed to be sewn. Speaking of which, I'd better go work on those. =)

Thanks for stopping by,