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Me Made May!

I, Henrietta, of http://www.bluehippoarts.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavor to wear at least one item of handmade or refashioned clothing, or handmade apron if worn for the majority of the day, each day for the duration of May 2014!

 It might be an interesting one, with a possible move and undoubtedly lots of travel. Oh well! Last one I did, Me Made May ’14 was filled with a trip across country by plane and car and painting the rooms in my house. I was so bummed to miss out last year, we’ll give it a go. Honestly, I’m going to do my best and not beat myself up if I don’t get something EVERY day or miss out on photos of everything worn. 

Here we go!

I can’t get no satisfaction

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the disaster that was Butterick 5261. I think I’ve imagined something that will salvage it, because I’m really quite proud of the work I did. Hate the shirt, but very proud of the construction.

My theory is that I can make short sleeves, crop the shirt, add a waistband, and skirt and have a retro summer shirtdress. Hopefully I can buy some more yardage. I’m sure it won’t exactly match because it certainly wouldn’t be the same dye lot, but Jo-Ann always has that fabric. Plus, I’m hoping for a cool, easy, summery, wear it around the house day dress, so I’m not going to get too hung up on the dye lot. You can see my inspiration pins here. Sorry for the lack of photos, I’m not sure how to blog pins. hmph. Might be worth looking into.
Speaking of inspiration, I’ve found a tool that has proven to be very useful. I got a tablet when we ditched our smart phones in September, and ordered a fine tip stylus to use with it. Then I found this silly app called sketch guru. It has turned out to be so useful! I’ll sit and sketch out some crazy sewing idea whenever the inspiration hits, most of which I’ll probably never sew. It gets it out of my head and onto “paper.” Here’s one example, Iwas lost in sewing blogland one day, ended up watching a video from Gertie, and quickly got lost day dreaming about making a shirt. It really has nothing in common with the shirt she’s wearing in the video, but that was the jumping off point.

sketch guru drawing

I’m not considering quitting my day job to become an illustrator, but it works for me.

I’ve become frustrated with my sewing and clothing. I’m writing a more detailed post about this, but the first step I have taken is to compile a list of sewing skills I wish I possessed.

sewing skills

Making that stupid B5261 has forced me to take a look at my actualy sewing skill level. I mean, buttonholes are NOT hard. I’ve known this for years, but had yet to actually make a series of them successfully. Plus there are so many skills that I’ve read a million times, I know how to do them if I ever have a need. Yet I haven’t found a need, so I don’t feel like I can own those skills. I suppose that’s really the second step I’ve taken, the first was to start a list on the bulletin board over my sewing table of projects sewn. Just to keep track.

Things Sewn list

Happy Valentine’s Day to those of you who celebrate it.

Hello 2014

I’ve never done a year end recap, and I’m not sure that’s what I’ll do today.  2013 was a big year for our little family, and I managed to do a lot of sewing.  Not so much blog worthy sewing, but sewing none the less.

I’ve moved my sewing area to our dining room in the new house.  In the old house, my sewing occupied the largest bedroom, tucked upstairs, all away from noise and people walking by. I was pretty convinced that our too small dining room was going to be the worst thing to happen to my sewing.  I don’t think that’s been the case.  I find that I sew more often now, maybe for smaller bits of time, but certainly more often. I think that sewing in small bits of time is the only way a stay at home mom of a preschooler can probably ever sew.

Its funny, but its been a shift in my way of making. For example, Christmas day, while we’re getting ready to pack up and head to my in laws, I sat down and hemmed my pants.  They’ve needed hemmed since I bought them last winter, and never got worn because of it. But for some reason, that day, I decided to just sit and take the few minutes to hem them.  Things like this, I call them Make Do and Mend projects, are getting done much more quickly than they ever would have at the old house.

I’m revising projects more than I used to as well. Months ago I’d made this little fabric basket to keep make up in that nestles in our medicine cabinet. After using it, I decided that it really needed some interfacing, and something done with the raw edges that were fraying badly.  So as I type this, its sitting next to me, fray check drying, waiting to be taken apart and fixed.

fabric basket - before interfacing

It is certainly a lot harder to organize a sewing room that is also the dining room where we eat all of our meals.  Its actually making me a bit crazy. I think I have way too much fabric.  One of my new years resolutions is to sew through some of it.   I have so much sewing stuff that I just don’t know what to do with it all.  I’m trying out the rolling it up method for fabric storage.  I’m tagging it with how many yards, and tying it up. We’ll see how this goes. I borrowed my mom’s tagging gun that quilters use to baste sometimes, and that stores use to tag clothes with prices.  Should work better than nine million pins constantly stabbing me every time I try to get fabric.

dining room studio

I would love to say thats everything, but its not. There are three giant moving boxes left. One is filled with two space bags of shrunken fabric. The space is a work in progress.

dining room studio

I’d love to sit here and make plans for all the sewing I want to do this year. In real life though, I can’t imagine that I’ll do a lot of garment sewing. My body is changing pretty rapidly, and I get frustrated because I make something, and a month later it doesn’t fit right. Anything I make will have to be easily taken in, so that’s kind of a fun challenge, figuring out how to make something so it can easily be changed in a few months.

I got two really cool sewing gifts for Christmas that I’d like to share, plus various little projects I’d like to blog about.  Oh, and a skirt that I made that I drafted myself.  So expect more posts soon.

My biggest project right now is purging stuff.  We downsized by about half of our living space square footage when we moved up north. I got rid of 4 truck loads of stuff, plus at least 3 car loads before we moved.  And then a couple weeks before Christmas I got rid of two more car loads.  I don’t know how much more I need to get rid of just to be able to put things away. Its really ridiculous. There were boxes that were basically untouched from when I moved out from my last apartment with  a roommate in 2007. I’ve been doing some reading on minimalism, and its very appealing to me.  I stumbled upon The Minimalists right before Christmas, and have been reading their books.  I haven’t been into our consumerist culture for some time, but then there are times when the urge to buy something that I just have to have bites me in the butt.  My rejection of that part of our culture is one of many reasons why I began sewing. But perhaps that journey warrants its own post.  So point being, I’m decluttering on a massive scale, and aside from mothering, cooking, and cleaning, that’s the next big thing around here.

I hope you all have a wonderful new year, and thank you for reading.

Ridiculous Dog Coat for a Ridiculous Dog

Yes. I made a dog coat.  Don’t judge.  My poor ridiculous dog just got a haircut that is just a wee bit short. And she is cold pretty much all the time.  Friday, I was at Jo-Ann’s they had McCall’s patterns for a buck a piece, and I stumbled upon this one.  Its M5776, then I hit the remnant bins, found some horrifyingly pink fleece, and off we went.  I sat down last night and cut it while we were watching The Big Green.  I had never heard of it, but my husband claimed it was equally as great and as reminiscent of our youth as Mighty Ducks.  (Side note: it was actually pretty good.  At one point a goat kicks a soccer ball, and my daughter thought it was HILARIOUS!)
McCalls M5776

It didn’t take too long to cut, but the pieces for “Sweatsuit G” were ridiculous. I think 3 of the like 6 were nested, but the lines were atrocious.  Super confusing.  And this coming from a woman who traces off Burda patterns like a pro.  Then I sat down to sew it up this afternoon. I maybe have a couple hours all in all.  Which, I suppose, is worth saving the $40+ it probably would have cost to buy such a thing ready made.

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The only other con with this pattern is the sizing.  I have a 15 pound shih tzu, whose girth is like 18″ and length I think was somewhere around 15.” And yes, add that to the ridiculousness of this whole thing, I had to measure the dog.  It said she should wear a large or extra large. I looked at the pattern pieces and thought, “There is no way. That would swallow her whole.” I made a medium.  It fits her just fine. I might lengthen it a bit if I make it again, maybe an inch.

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 It has you making one placket sort of thing for a velcro closure, but I accidentally cut 2, and sewed both on. And again, its fine. I got to use a snazzy stretch hem stitch on my new machine.  That was sort of cool, I guess.

McCalls M5776

It is keeping her cozy, and that’s what I wanted.  She hasn’t worn clothes since we’ve had her, so I wasn’t sure how she’d handle that, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

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And I have to be a little proud of myself for the timeliness of it. Its really getting cold here. I bought the pattern and fabric on Friday, cut it on Saturday, sewed it up and blogged it on Sunday.  That NEVER happens! The pictures are yucky, but someone didn’t want to be still for her photo shoot.:-)

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– because every dog needs a coat with set in sleeves…-

Well hello there…

My goodness. I disappeared, as you may or may not have noticed. Life has been CRAZY!

Long stories short, I’ve become a mother, decided to take time off from college, sold or given away 5 sewing machines, gained a serger and a snazy new Viking, moved 3 hours away from everyone one I knew (and to a new state), and am trying to sell a house.

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Obviously, its been a year of changes. I have been sewing, made two dresses for myself and a couple shirts, done lots of “make do and mend” type sewing, and made a boat load of cloth napkins. I think that’s about it!

We have also moved the blog to wordpress. Hopefully it will work out well. We were hosting it somewhere else, but it became rather silly to be paying out so much every few months for a blog I rarely had time to update, and that I was no longer planning on using as a business website. Its certainly a work in progress, but at least its back online!

I have a couple of patterns to review here in the near future, and will hopefully have more time to sew because the little one has started preschool. Also, we have put ourselves on a pretty tight budget to be able to attain some financial goals, so my clothing spending is next to nothing. And I have thousands of dollars worth of fabric laying around waiting to become clothes. I’m also hoping to maybe get into refashioning some things. We’ll see how that goes.

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Hope to talk to you again soon!

~Henrietta

Jamie Dress from Sis Boom Patterns

Jamie Dress from Sis Boom patterns

1st page of the pattern pdf

Jamie Dress pattern pdf at Sis Boom’s website

This is my second attempt at this pattern. The first one was a disaster. It was muslin, and once I tried it on, I took it off and threw it in the trash. That’s how awful it was.

This one is much more of a success! I even wore it out in public today!

So next time, the things I want to change are raising the neckline by 2″, raising the back neckline by a good 4-6″, and taking a WHOLE lot out of the center front of the bodice. I had altered this pattern, more than a year ago. And did not do a very good job evidently. There is just a ton of excess fabric at the center front of the bodice. From strap to strap its only 9″ the way I’m wearing it, but I could very seriously fit a cantaloupe or two in there as well. So that needs fixed. You may notice that mine is not exactly like the pattern, I could not for the life of me get my 3 basting lines to gather the two layers of fabric in the bodice. Broke all three threads. At that point, I was frustrated, said forget it, and made little pleats to attach the bodice to the midriff band. And I didn’t do the ruching on the band either. Too much gathers and ruching going on in a busy print. Oh! And for me, a zipper was pointless so I just sewed up both side seams. Just for reference, I used 35 cm of 5/8″ non-roll elastic in the back, and 31 cm in the front, and started with 11″x4″ straps. Also, I was trying to make a tunic, and once it was done and I tried it on, I said, “Huh. I’ve made a dress.” It was longer than the capri pants I was trying it on over! Oops!

I got to practice a new skill I learned the other day with the hem, so thats snazzy. (PS, I got a “real” job sewing! Its pretty cool!)

Jamie Dress

I love this fabric. Its pretty quirky. My best friend’s mom when I was in elementary school always had bleeding hearts growing at her house, and I thought they were the coolest little flowers ever. Super delicate and dainty, and I always wanted to squeeze them and see if juice came out. (It doesn’t.) Makes me wonder how they’re doing. At some point in the last few years I saw this fabric at Jo-Ann and bought it, having NO idea what I would do with it. I thought it looked a little like something my mother would wear, so it sat on a shelf. Until I recently decided to stop “saving” fabric. I’ve got a huge stash, I need to sew it! So what it a project with beloved fabric doesn’t turn out perfect? I don’t care! That is now my philosophy on sewing from the stash, basically, the money’s already spent, lets make something!

Jamie Dress

As all the reviews I’ve read have said, the instructions are very well written with lots of good photos. I give them props for expanding their size range up to 3x or 26W, we fat chicks appreciate having options. I love pdf patterns as I am AWFUL at keeping track of patterns. My favorite shirt pattern, that I’ve made up about 6 times, has been lost and repurchased at least 3 times. Basically, I really appreciate being able to just reprint that one page of the instructions that misplaced, or whatever piece I’ve lost. On the flip side though, I hate the lack of line drawings and back view. For me, the back is WAY too low. It just is not practical for my life or my comfort. And you have no idea that will be the case since there aren’t any back views. Or line drawings. What pattern doesn’t have a line drawing?! I’m not a huge fan of the neckline. To me, it looks very Becky Home Ecky. I’ve never seen this kind of neckline in ready to wear, so that’s kind of a turn off for me.

Jamie Dress

Jamie Dress

I’d say its a pretty mixed bag on this one. Its ok, not great, and not bad. Very easy to sew and quick to cut.

All that being said, I don’t hate it. It is a breezy, cool, summery, sundress. I’ll probably wear it again. Also, funny how much a cardigan improves it! I think it needs a belt.

Jamie Dress from Sis Boom patterns

Jamie Dress from Sis Boom patterns

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Hey pal. Long time no see.

Sorry to abandon the blog for so long, the last two months have been full of changes. We’ve moved to the house I grew up in, tried to buy two houses, bought one, painted inside the new house, and moved again.

Check out the lovely (sarcasm) butterflies in my new sewing studio! Fortunately they’re just heavy duty paper stickers & came right off.
Our First House

Here are the colors in the kitchen before we steamed off the wallpaper and painted it all.
Our First House

Our First House

Here’s what it looks like now. We love love love it!

Kitchen - post paint

Kitchen - post paint

And a gratuitous shot of the family room. I am SO in love with this color. Its called Himilayan Poppy. Looooove it.

Family room

Since these pictures, we’ve actually put furniture and stuff in the house, so it looks a lot different. But you get the idea 🙂

How about a me made June wrap up?

It was great! I’m so glad I did it. There were two or three days I didn’t wear anything me made, but all the other days I did. Also didn’t take pictures everyday, and clearly didn’t blog about it.

So I have to call my Me Made June a success, but as a blog thing, not so much. And that’s ok!

Side note, you can follow us on Twitter at BlueHippoArts and on Facebook

We’ve been revamping the website. Really, its more than a revamp, I’d say its a complete overhaul.

We’ll see how soon that gets done! I’m not highly motivated to do my part of it at the moment.

More to come soon!