Thursday, September 26, 2013

Free Needlecushion Project

I'm sure this has happened to all of us at one point or another: You swap out your regular needle on your sewing machine for, say, leather or denim, and then cannot remember what's in your machine! And I don't know about you, but even with my glasses on, I can NOT read the tiny print on the needle shaft. So, here is my scrappy needlecushion to the rescue!

This is super easy... so easy in fact, that I'm not even sure I need to give pattern dimensions. I simply made a small heart template out of cardboard, and used it to cut hearts out of different sorts of materials from my scraps. You may have guessed it… I used some leather, some denim, some knit, and the base of the cushion is made out of medium weight cottons. When I pull out a specialty needle, I will simply stick it in the heart that corresponds to its recommended fabric! Genius, yes? :) You can thank me later, but for now...go pick up your scraps and get busy!

I used a medium weight mini gingham for the top and lightweight denim for the bottom, stitched them wrong side together (doing all the appliqué hearts first!) and leaving a gap. 

Note the gap!

I then turned it right side out and stuffed it like a holiday goose. Being of a thrifty nature ( because it's not hoarding if you actually USE it, as I tell my husband frequently) I happen to have a lot of cashmere scraps around from my upcycling business. 

I used these scraps to stuff my cushion, being extra careful to pop out those pesky little corners first. 

Here you see it filled to overflowing with odds and ends - this pincushion is 100% scraps inside AND out!
When it's stuffed to the gills, do a quick little hand stitch to close the gap up. My stitching wasn't pretty, I must confess. I wanted this sucker DONE!

Yes, folks, that's MY stitching, not my daughter's. I'm so proud. Not. it is, my scrappy little needle cushion dumpling!

Please feel free to share and re-post this, as long as you credit my blog and link back here. Thank you! :) Romy

Friday, September 20, 2013

Coming soon to a store near you!

Well... only if you live in the Berkeley area, but still!

I've been hard a work upcycling more fabulous old cashmere sweaters into these one-of-a-kind fingerless mitts. They will be available at 3 local stores in about a week; names, addresses etc. to follow. I will also have a selection up on my Etsy store.

I will also be offering reusable coffee mugs with cashmere cozies, PVC-free sandwich bags for lunch boxes, and leather wallets upcycled from old coats. 
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jam Day

Making jam with Audrey and Rosalie today, because you always need helpers on jam day. 

We had SO many plums this year! My tree is still full. 

Pulled out all our canning supplies, plus the cute new 'vintage' Mason jars I found at the hardware store. 

My little helpers, in homemade aprons. 

I've never been quite so thankful that my husband installed a pot-filler by the stove top. This made things SO much easier!

Tea break, with my favorite thrifted teacup in my (small so far) collection. 

Our plums are so tiny, the girls used a cherry pitter and worked for quite awhile on our first 4 pound batch. 

I had time to hand stitch the collar facing down while my minions stirred the pot!

The return on our investment - not bad for a morning's work! Note to self: you can't actually see the cute blue glass when the jars are full of jam, it just looks like a mysterious black substance inside. Oh well!
I still have about eight more pounds of fruit to go...perhaps I should invest in another cherry pitter?!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vintage Roses and Pattern Give Away

This is my favorite piece of fabric, which I found while doing birthday shopping at a fabulous vintage fabric store in Point Richmond. There was only an odd-sized remnant, roughly 1 1/3 yards on one side and a bit longer on the other. 
Today is the day I muster all my sewing mojo and finally cut into it! It's going to be my third version of Gertie's Bow Tie blouse. I found great vintage buttons to match in my stash, from a scavenging trip to the Mysterious Button store. Wish me luck!

In other news, I revisited my abject failure, otherwise known as Simplicity 1692. Whoever drafted all those godforsaken pleats needs a firm talking to. I ripped the Sleeves Full of Poof off and added bias facing, after which I detached the collar and took out all the Random Boobie Poof by stitching down all that excess fabric. 

I basted vintage lace to my black bias facing prior to attaching it as the new collar. Then I added a buttonhole and a self-covered button for the back closure. 

And here it is, MUCH improved by a day's worth of judicious editing!

Please ignore my messy studio, I tend to throw everything around when I'm working!

Would anyone be interested in a vintage pattern giveaway? I have a LOT of patterns and want to share the wealth. Do you have suggestions of what types of patterns should be included? I have a lot of fit & flare dresses, sheaths, coats, skirts...

Friday, July 5, 2013

A year later

My ever-patient little brother asked me for a custom shirt. A year ago. He has trouble finding shirts that fit, as he is 6'3" with broad shoulders and long arms from years of surfing and a slim build. Off the rack shirts fit his shoulders but billowed around his middle, or he always had to roll his sleeves to conceal how short they were. He was dutifully measured, questioned, and sent to buy fabric. Did I mention he has fantastic and expensive taste? He came back with yards of the softest white Egyptian cotton from Britex in SF, thinking it would be such a treat for me to sew such otherworldly fabric.

Uh....the receipt fell out of the bag when I was unpacking his fabric, and I had a panic attack. He wanted me to cut into THIS?! Oh good grief. I was scared to touch it, for fear of making a tiny mark and just general fear of screwing the whole thing up. Also, once I mustered up the courage to try, ALL my chalk marks were visible from the right side and I was fearful that they might not wash out all the way afterward. This is SERIOUSLY sheer cotton! And even though I had made a muslin, there were enough fiddly bits to alter that I was, shall we say, a bit nervous.

So it's not a surprise that this project sat for a bit, oh, say thirteen months or so! He gave up asking about it after six months, nice guy that he is. Meanwhile, the guilt was killing me! So, just in time for his birthday on June 26th, I bought the Colette Negroni pattern and used some blue cotton oxford cloth I has thrifted months earlier and whipped up a shirt for him in about ten days. I used his earlier measurements and did some alterations (without fear, I might add, as I have about two yards of fabric left over). The sleeve packets were a bitch, but I religiously referred to the Male Pattern Boldness sewalong and made it through. 

Anyway, here it is. Sadly, I don't have photos of him actually wearing it, yet, but I hope to post one soon. It fit great, although it was a little long for his taste. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fun at the Hardware Store!

Being obsessed with sewing, I can find inspiration just about anywhere, including the local hardware store! On a recent trip I found the following items that will be so useful in my sewing studio:

First, I picked up fine grade sandpaper for all of 87 cents so I can sharpen my scissors. I just make small parallel cuts so that my snips are sharp and crisp. 

Next I grabbed big rolls of craft paper for $2.79 to trace my patterns. I keep my paper patterns rolled into old cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels, with details written on the tube to make everything easy to find. 

This is one of my favorite tools. It's a retractable piece of string that is pre-chalked. You simply pull it out, line it up, and give it a little flick. It then deposits its chalk on the straight line. Fantastic! It makes tracing vintage patterns so much easier, at least all those with straight lines! The metal canister is refillable and chalk comes in red, blue, and yellow. Test your fabrics to ensure it washes out first!

I love love love these flat round washers for pattern weights! They are 45 cents each and are easily stored in an old yogurt container. I always pick a few up each time I'm at the store. 

This cushy sticky plastic is great for under my serger, so it doesn't walk itself off my table when it really gets going fast! Shelf liner also works well for this purpose. 

And finally, good old fashioned clothespins are wonderful if you're sewing leather and don't want pin marks left behind. I also use bobby pins sometimes to hold my delicate fabrics together without pinning them. 

I hope this has been a fun and useful trip to the hardware store! Does anyone else have untraditional tools to share?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome Back!

Wow, what a hectic spring it's been! Between travel, family health issues and construction on a new deck, I haven't posted in quite a bit. I'm back though, with a fantastic new tool to recommend. It didn't even come from the notions aisle!

Please meet the wrapping paper cutting tool from the Scotch Company. I purchased this during the holidays to help wrap gifts in a hurry, but just recently realized it could be used to cut patterns too! I've been pretty good at tracing my patterns (although you wouldn't know it from the photos) and this little razor cuts through heavy craft paper as well as delicate pattern tissue.
I cut a small snip to get it started, then switch to this tool to just zoom right through my big straight cuts. So fast and so fun!