Why I Take My Glasses Off…

When I started this post, it was supposed to be about my new dress, yet another simplicity 1620. However, looking at the pics I snapped, it’s just a reminder to take off glasses when taking pictures.

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I guess it kinda looks like I’m from the future, walking around with an HUD embedded in my specs!

To be honest, I never really like pictures I take of myself (and really, who does like pics of themselves?!), and I don’t like taking pictures of me, but I do really like documenting the things I make.

So I am going sharing the bleh pictures, because it beats going back out to my tiny apartment balcony wondering if the neighbors are peering out from across the parking lot wondering what the heck I’m doing, which is what retaking them would entail!

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Look at the usual print! Ignore my glowing glasses!

And of course the one picture where my glasses haven’t censored my eyes is the one where I said, “Whatever. I’ll just act goofy ’cause I already feel like an idiot!”DSCN4763

Oh, and I do love my new dress! This pattern is a go-to favorite, and at this point only takes me about 2-3 hours to turn out, hemmed and everything! And this fabric is a simply silky knit from Jo-Ann fabrics and is a kind-of-dated, kind-of-steampunk paisley print that I kind-of-love, and which I look forward to rocking for a while 🙂

Super Quick Earrings

Spring is here! Almost. It’s still dark when I get up for work, but now there are trills of birdsong swelling up around the dawn. It’ll only be a little bit longer now till everything is GREEN again, and butterflies dance over fields of hay studded with chicory blooms.

But I couldn’t wait for the real butterflies. So I made these!DSCN4738

They are super easy, and consist of exactly one step. Glue shiny things to earring backs. Done.DSCN4750

The shiny things in question are actually iron-on’s from the clearance bin at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I’ve never been prone to use iron-on’s when sewing, as they usually mean hand-washing ahead, but I loved these butterflies so bought them without a firm plan.

Then I realized I already had glue and earring posts, so these lovely spring earrings were born. And they only set me back about 75 cents!DSCN4739

Now I have to look around and see what else I can make to sing out “Spring!”

Thoughts on La La Land

It’s almost spring, so I’m almost out of the dark, snowy funk of winter that leaves me less-than-interested in writing.

And I’m not even back to writing about my usual crafts and sewing. Instead, I’m writing about a movie. La La Land, specifically. Which I know everyone and their dog has talked and written about. So of course this post contains spoilers, just in case you’ve managed to avoid all the other ones out there.

But when I saw it a second time (I really liked it, for the record), something struck me and stuck with me. I need to get the observation out of my head, and, well, I haven’t posted in a while, so why not share it here!

My first watching, I fell in love with the Audition Song. And watching a second time, the song still stuck out. But this time I wondered about the aunt.

The one who “Lived with her liquor and died with a flicker.”

The one who must have had a sister in Mia’s mother. (I keep thinking the aunt was Mom’s sister, rather than Dad’s. Probably because it’s my own mother who has sisters.)

The aunt who traveled the world, and did wonderful crazy things, like jumping into the Seine. And who at some point came home and shared the dream of theater with her niece.

And while Mia and her aunt watched old films at the library, Mia’s mother worried. She worried about her sister, and her increasing drinking problem. She worried what dreams the fools were dreaming; she worried that hearts would break and worried about the mess they’d make. And then mother lost sister, who died with a flicker, drinking too much, perhaps pining away for the lost glamor of the stage.

And mother watched daughter join theater clubs, and write plays, and eventually drive down the dusty road towards Hollywood. Mia’s mother supported her through six years of bit parts and coffee-shop jobs and attempting to be the stand out from the crowd.

And in the back of mother’s mind, there must have been fear. Fear of seeing her daughter fail, of daughter following aunt’s footsteps, not just into the Seine, but all the way to the bottom of the bottle.

In one scene, a one-sided, overheard phone call, Mother is clearly worried, and questions Mia’s life, and her love. She hopes beyond hope that Mia’s boyfriend is successful, and working, and not just living for a dream, like her daughter is and her sister was.

And when Mia gives up and comes home, to an orderly house in a quiet neighborhood across from the local library, to a childhood room filled with carefully dusted triumphs of grade-school acting, did Mother breath a secret sigh of relief as she brewed her daughter another cup of tea?

Did Mom say a prayer of thanks that her daughter came home from La La Land before it was too late, even while comforting her?

How many years of encouragement did mom give? How many doubts and fears hid behind the love?

 

In the end, I love the music, and admire the clever twists on traditional musical progress, and was blown away by the alternate-universe-flashback. But what stays with me is the question of Mia’s mother, and the hidden story of sisterhood.

 

 

 

Last Minute Christmas Scarf

Hi! I’m still alive! I’ve been so busy with this school year that I’ve hardly had time to make, let alone craft. But the past week or two, I’ve finally gotten back into some sort of crafting groove, and I have few things to share. But today, with a week left until Christmas, I thought I’d put together a tutorial for a quick project that makes a great gift!dscn4666

That’s right; today, I’m sharing not just a make, but a tutorial. It’s a super simple project that can be made in under an hour, and makes a wonderfully cozy present. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but still, here goes!

Two-toned Pull Through Flannel Scarf

Materials:dscn4667

  • 2 cuts of flannel, each about 1 foot wide
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • pins
  • scissors

Directions:

  1. Cut your flannel to size. For length, I found the width of the bolt (56″) made a good length, so kept the selvedges the short ends, and cut strips 12″ wide.dscn4668
  2. Pin your two pieces together, right sides facing each other, and sew around using a 5/8″ seam allowance. Make sure to leave a 4″ opening along one of the long sides.dscn4669
  3. Trim corners and turn right side out. When you trim, be careful not to clip through your stitches!dscn4670
  4. Pin all around, making sure that the fabric around the opening in tucked inside. Sew around, about 1/4″ from the edge. If you’re having trouble getting the edges neat while pinning, feel free to break out the iron!dscn4671
  5. About a quarter of the way up from a short edge, mark a 4-5″ line in the center of your scarf. Zig-zag stitch around the line a few times.dscn4673
  6. Cut the line inside your stitching carefully, and avoid cutting the zig-zags. This is your pull-through opening. The flannel will fray a bit. I gently tugged at the cut edges and then trimmed all the little strands.
  7. Ta-dah! You’re ready to face the fiercest flurries!dscn4661

Variations:

  • Use a contrasting thread to make the edge stitching and pull-through really pop.
  • Add pom-pom fringe to the short ends.
  • Use a printed flannel with a solid, or be really vibrant and mix different prints!
  • Add a third layer of flannel and quilt the layers together.

And another one!

I may have to find a new go-to dress pattern. Three of the same may be excessive. But I can’t help myself! I love my Simplicity 1620. And each time I’ve made it (4 total, as I gifted one) it comes out different, as I keep using very different fabrics.dress

This time I made it with some steeply discounted silky fabric from Jo-Ann’s. I tend to avoid their simply silky prints, as they’re tricky to sew, but I couldn’t resist this print. But I knew it’d have to be a simply make with such a fiddly fabric, and, well, another 1620.dress-back

I love how it turned out 🙂

Just Zip and Swish!

A little while I ago, I shared a circle skirt I made out of an old sheet and thrifted zipper. After I posted it, a reader asked for a tutorial on putting a zipper in a circle skirt.DSCN4488

Now, what I’m about to share is neither revolutionary, nor is it even perhaps the best method. But it works for me! So without further ado, here’s how I do it!

Supplies:

  1. fabric, cut to be a circle skirt
  2. scissors
  3. a zipper – I use a 7 inch zipper, but a longer one will work.
  4. thread and sewing machine
  5. zipper foot
  6. seam ripper
  7. iron

Directions:

  1. Cut into your lovely circle, from hem to waist. Try your best to keep it a straight line.dscn4563
    1. Note: You can either attach a waist band using your favorite method before you cut, or after. You can even attach it after you’ve sewn in the zipper, and add a button closure, like you see in the photo up top.
  2. Now sew it back up!dscn4569 With right sides together, use your machine’s longest stitch from the waist down to where the zipper will stop, about seven inches, and then sew the rest of the way to the hem at a regular stitch length.
  3. Press the seam open.dscn4564-copy
  4. Now pin the zipper along the pressed seam.dscn4567-copy The key is to make sure the center of the zipper teeth line up perfectly with the pressed-open seam. If you’re off, then the zipper will be slightly wonky.dscn4565-copy
    1. In the interest of full disclosure, my zippers may sometimes be slightly wonky…
  5. Now hand baste the zipper. dscn4566-copyWhile you can technically skip this step, I highly recommend it. I always get a much better finish, and the hand basting gives you a chance to double check that the zipper is aligned with the seam. It also keeps the zipper in place even better than pins for the next step.
  6. Now, using the zipper foot attachment on your machine, sew the zipper in place. dscn4560Make sure to sew over the bottom end a few times so it’s secure.
  7. Once you’ve sewn both sides of the zipper, remove the basting stitches.dscn4559
  8. Finally, the magic happens. Turn your skirt right side out and grab your seam ripper. Carefully undo the top part of your seam, the bit that’s hiding the zipper.dscn4562 Don’t rip out any stitches from the bottom of the zipper down to the hem – only rip from the bottom of the zipper up to the waist!
  9. And Ta-Dah! Your circle skirt now has a zipper!dscn4557
    1. If you already attached the waistband, you’re good to go! Otherwise, attach the band and then add a button closure above the zipper.

Hopefully you find the tutorial helpful! If you have any questions, let me know. Good luck with your circle skirts!

 

Back to the Kitchen

Happy end-of-summer! DSCN4510

I know, I know, summer doesn’t actually end until mid September. But my students are back-to-school tomorrow, so I’ve been lesson-planning and bulletin board-making and bidding adieu to summer.

Fortunately I was able to do it in delicious style. Now, I’ve been mostly sharing sewing recently, but I have still been cooking and baking. Just not blogging about it.

But this week, one of my co-workers gave me a lovely bunch of home-grown tomatoes, so I made bruschetta to take to a concert at a local park.DSCN4511

I didn’t follow any one recipe. Just blanched, peeled, and gutted the tomatoes, and then chopped them up with half an onion and some chopped basil. I added a generous splash of balsamic vinaigrette and some course salt and ground pepper, and was good to go!DSCN4506

I had some garlic bread on hand, so thin sliced it, brushed it will olive oil and toasted it under the broiler. Topped with the fresh bruschetta, it was perfection!

Make Shorts While the Sun Shines

How many times are you allowed to make the same pattern in row, before being considered obsessed?DSCN4499

‘Cause just a few days ago, I raved about Purl Soho’s City Gym Shorts, and now I have three more pairs.

Yeah. 4 pairs of shorts in a week. All the same thing. But! I love them! And I finally have the perfect excuse to buy cute quilting prints. Like foxes and flowers!

fabric haul

Pardon the blurry phone pic. Also, mystery fabric on the bottom will soon be…well, you’ll have to come back and see 🙂

 

Of course, now I have to go the gym, as I can no longer use the excuse of lack of work-out wear…

DSCN4500On two pairs, I appliqued a scrap of the printed fabric onto the back of the shorts. While constructing the fox pair, I accidentally snipped a hole in my fabric, so the fox was a cover-up patch. But I loved it so much, I added a bit of flowers to my other pair.

DSCN4503The third pair (on top) is fun and zany and made from stash fabric I got for free and had long since given up on, as it was so over the top. Not sure I’ll wear them in public, but they’ll make for wonderful and comfy lounge pants.

Anyone else ever fall so deeply head-over-heels for a pattern?

Purl Soho’s City Gym Shorts

Another re-used bed sheets post here!DSCN4493I pinned this project by Purl Soho ages ago, and every time I scrolled through pinterest, it jumped out. I liked the ease of the shorts, and the cute bias trim. They looked so comfortable and the assembly directions were clear and straightforward. I never actually made the shorts, though, because you have to print out the pattern. It’s a free pattern, and I have access to a printer, but I’m also lazy.

However, I’m a very peculiar brand of lazy. This week, in a fit of sewing inspiration, I looked closely at the pictures of the City Gym Shorts tutorial, took some measurements, made some calculations, and drafted my own pattern. Because I’m too lazy to print and tape. Yeah…

And my first attempt didn’t work. I mis-drafted the back of the shorts pattern, so badly that I couldn’t really get the shorts on and off. But I went right back the drafting board and my second attempt worked perfectly!

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Triumph!

I sewed the shorts up out of the scraps of three different sheets, so all different fibers and what not. But the front is light purple, the back is darker purple, with florals, and the trim has flowers, so it kind of works. And they’re perfect for lounging around the house, and I’m confident they’ll work at the gym that I’m totally going to join. DSCN4491Now that I have the pattern, I’m planning to whip up a few pairs, after I get some better fabric. I would also like to do a proper thick waistband like Purl Soho calls for; for this go, I just used the elastic in my stash. But I think the shorts will be even more comfy, and definitely more flattering if I follow their directions on the waist.

Here’s to practical sewing that will hopefully get my butt in gear and to the gym 🙂DSCN4492

Thrift Score!

With summer drawing to a close and back-to-teaching looming, I’ve been sewing and crafting double-time, while I still have time. Over the weekend, a friend and I decided to tackle making circle skirts and hit up a thrift store for fabric.

By fabric, I mean bed sheets. So much fabric for so little money, and for trial projects, fiber content isn’t too important to me. But I found a sheet I really liked, and I’ve already worn the resulting skirt twice!DSCN4487

But I’ll come back to the skirt. Because I found something awesome. Somethings, rather. I found tons of zippers!DSCN4475

Someone must have cleared out their stash, because in the craft section were about 10 bags, with 6-10 zippers in each. Each bag was only $1.50, and I grabbed them all. I found slightly guilty, but hey. That’s the joy of thrifting. You gotta get what you can while the getting is good.DSCN4477

And I already used one of the zippers – on my new skirt! So I ended up getting all the supplies I needed (except thread, which I already had) for about five dollars!DSCN4480

Now, my friend and I were planning full circle skirts, but this one isn’t ’cause I messed up the measurement. But I was able to resurrect it and now have a perfectly respectable 3/4 skirt. Bonus: I realized my error before my friend cut her fabric, so we had a great learning moment. And then I put in one of my thrifted zippers, and a cute button from my stash.DSCN4488

And I liked the blue/white floral print so much that I used some scrap on another project I’ll be sharing soon! Stay posted 🙂