Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

2017 has been quite the year. I graduated from college in June and hit the ground (literally - I'm a gardener) working full time. My time off was suddenly my own. It didn't belong to homework; I could nap without regrets. So nap I did. I would come home from work and just sleep, get up long enough to have dinner and do barn chores, then back to bed. Suddenly, starting in September, every weekend and all my time off had something scheduled, and things were usually back-to-back. 

Honestly, I'm surprised that I got much crafting done at all. I didn't realize how much I managed to squeeze in with everything going on until I started going through pictures for this post. :P  

I started the year without much in the way of any grand project planning - just a few things that were stash-busting projects. All I knew is that I needed to whittle down my fabric stash. My rule was to only use materials that I already had on hand unless it was a notion or thread. That's it. For the most part, I was able to stick to that pretty well. :pats self on the back:

Starting in January, we had a ton of snow, freezing rain, or some sort of combo of the two. That left plenty of time for making things because I couldn't get to work or classes due to road conditions. Stressful for that reason alone. But I was able to get quite a bit of knitting and sewing in. ;) 

  Somehow I managed to squeeze in the red poppy dress in February. I've got some altering plans for this. I'm finding that I don't wear it all that much because it is harder to wear as a full dress. Maybe I'll just chop off the bodice and keep the skirt; that way, I can have more outfit options with it. We'll see what actually happens. 
 And that was it for a long time. I was playing catch-up with my classes. I didn't really sew anything until April with the tiny foxes dress
 To continue the stash-busting theme, I did a strawberry dress for my sister in July. This is part 2 of 3 for my fruit dress collection. There was the lemon dress for one sister, this dress for the other sister. Next up, is a blueberry dress for myself. It was started, but there were kinks in the pattern that I needed to work out. I ran out of berry dress steam, and it was thrown into the UFO pile. 
 The next big project that I managed to squeeze in was my first cosplay - the Chewbacca circle skirt. I had plans to get the rest of the ensemble put together for comic con, but I just didn't have the time. All I cared about was that it was easy to wear and a subtle enough reference that people had to be paying attention to catch it. ;) 
  After comic con, I wanted to make a new dress for a dance that was less than 2 weeks later. Somehow a Regency dress was finished in that time. There's some things I want to add to the dress, but it was wearable for the event. 
The same weekend of comic con marked the beginning of the craft fair season. This year, I was able to fit in 4. I learned quite a bit at these events - the biggest being what to look for when scoping out potential markets and making sure that they are well publicized.
 For the first few markets that I did, I was able to get by with what I already had in stock. By the last market, I realized that I needed to have some more Christmas-y things as well, so I threw together what I could in time for the event. I was literally putting in the last stitch during a lull while I was sitting in my booth. 
After the last bazaar, I was able to dive back into paper piecing with a tote for a friend! 
 After the bag came the Christmas sewing craziness. No matter how much I try, I always end up sewing things on Christmas Adam and Eve. Everyone gets pj's. They know that. The surprise is the print. I get the fabric on Black Friday with the intention of working on it through the month, but that never happens. :P 
  After the Christmas craziness, comes the apparently annual tradition with my friend. We wander through a cute downtown (because it's middle ground for us and there's a fabric shop). I've decided that it was my annual trip there, so it was time to stock up. I have no self-control. Maybe a year of fabric-purchasing restraint was a good thing. Now I should be well set for a long while. Since I'm done with school, I have free time (well, sort of), and I have a list of things to sew before the spring planting craze. And I'm desperately needing to restock my inventory for the next bazaar season. 
Until next time! 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wibbly Wobbly Book Bag

Well, this is a deviation from a normal project for me, that's for sure. 
I haven't done paper piecing in a long while, but it felt good to be back in the saddle. 
A friend of mine just finished her masters, and I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what to get her. Suddenly, out of the (TARDIS) blue, the idea struck me - what about a book bag? :D 
It even has pocketsesss.
 The last thing I made that utilized paper piecing was a Star Wars quilt. The pieces of that paper piecing was :much: larger and therefore easier. This TARDIS has many teeny, tiny pieces. Maybe I should have jumped back on the band wagon with an easier pattern, but that's not how I roll at all. 
Not perfectly lined up... 
I got the pattern for the block at Fandom in Stitches. They have tons of geeky quilt blocks that are available for FREE! But read the tiny print though - because they feature licensed characters, products made from the patterns are not to be sold. Please don't abuse this precious resource; I'm rather fond of them. 

I added a border around the block, attached a back, some straps, and an interlining and lining. 
Voila! A bag. The block took longer than the rest of the project :P 
Project Specs
bag is my own pattern 

TARDIS is made from scraps 
The main fabric is from Joann's 

Until next time!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

My Addiction

It suddenly dawned on me recently - I've made a lot of doll dresses over the years. 

 They go together with relative ease. They're so cute. I can put as much or as little detail into them as I want. I can play with quirky prints that wouldn't really work anywhere else. I can use small pieces of fabric, scraps even, and make something with it. I can buy remnants at a deeply discounted price and still have plenty of material to finish a project with. 
I have a problem, and I can't stop.

Want to know what started this entire mess?
This little creation right here. 
My literature teacher saw that I had made a doll dress using scraps from a costume I had made for my sister's doll. That little dress was haphazard to say the least, and yet, she trusted me enough to commission a doll dress for her granddaughter. I was so stressed to make sure that I made it right; my heart was racing when I took the dress to her. Then she loved it. :phew: That was in '09.  
After that, I didn't stop. 

I've played with ethnic dresses
 I've parked in different fashion eras
And all of them are made with either scraps or remnants
Some have a lot of detail put in
Others are simpler.
These ones were all made using the left overs from my pillowcase making spree. 
I've even done matching sets
All that to say, I honestly didn't realize how long I've been making doll dresses or how many I've made over the years, and this is just a small sampling! 
Sure there were breaks in the doll dress sewing craziness and other projects thrown into the mix, but I keep coming back to doll dresses for some reason or another.  

And I don't intend on stopping anytime soon. ;) 

Until next time!

Monday, December 11, 2017

What to Not Say When Shopping at a Show

Things observed at markets and craft fairs because even though I'm running the booth, people treat me like I'm invisible and deaf.
So, while you're browsing through a booth at any sort of fair, show, bazaar, or market, I have a couple things that you absolutely CANNOT say. You might not realize what you're implying by saying them.

1) I can make that!
2) You can buy that at Walmart!

Let me break this down a bit to give you an idea of what you are saying when those words are uttered. 
1) "I can make that" is a slap to the creativity of the maker (who is more likely than not standing right there). They have taken the time, effort, and money to create something. Yes, you probably could go home and make it right now, but will you? My personal rule of thumb when I think that is to seriously consider buying it for the inspiration. In a sense, you're giving credit where credit is due. Obviously, I like what you made. Creativity begets creativity. Thank the artist for giving you the idea by purchasing their product. You will most likely never get around to making it anyway, and you're supporting small business. 

2) If "I can make that" is a slap, then "You can buy that at Walmart" is a punch to the gut. 
I'm going to park here for a while, so please bear with me. 
We have  become so materialistic, such a throw-away society, that we no longer value the skill that goes into making ANYTHING. Electronics, clothing, toys, furniture, you name it, we have traded quality for quantity. We are buying cr-p at mega-stores, and when it breaks in 2 weeks, we go buy the newest upgrade. Yes, you can buy something similar to what I make at just about any store, but mine are unique and made to last. I can guarantee the durability of what I make because I use test them out myself. What you get at the box store will be made with the cheapest materials possible, using the fastest assembly methods available, short-cuts taken everywhere, and is not made to last. Why? They want you to buy more from them, and we've been whipped into shape thinking that this is okay. 

Look at your clothes. The  thread is barely holding on to the seams because it's so thin (corner-cutting #1). The fabric used to make the garment is thin. Just a few times through the wash and it will pill, break, and tear. (corner-cutting #2). Finally, look at how the fabric lays when you are wearing it - to save money, factories will throw the pattern pieces on the fabric in such a way as to maximize the space on the bolt. I get that. BUT. They are sacrificing how the piece of clothing will actually fit. The drape (or bias) will be all wonky and skewed when you wear it, tugging every which way. (corner cutting #3). Fast fashion is just part of the picture I'm painting here. I could keep going, but you get my point.  

My final point on this - lately, I've been seeing a discouraging trend at craft stores: supplies are becoming cheaper in quality. 
Example #1: Go to Joann's with someone who has worked with fabric for a long while so they can guide you through this experience. Feel the fabric. Yes, feel it. Run you hand across the weave. Note the texture, the softness or stiffness, how it holds its shape. Now, go to a specialty fabric shop and feel their fabric. You can't stop touching the fabric, can you? Working with good materials makes all the difference on a project. Materials of that caliber are a dream to work with, and they cooperate with you if you know how they work. This is what it takes to make those masterpieces that you see at state fairs, on display, and at competitions. Those artists know how to speak the language of their media. Same goes for yarn, paper, paint, etc. 
Example #2: I have to check the selvages on the fabric now because they are saying that making a double-width fabric with fabric stiffener sloshed down the middle, and then cut in half is still a selvage. Is nothing safe from corner-cutting? No. A thousand times, NO. I would never use that to quilt, let alone make a garment. My straight line in a sea of fabric is gone. I can't ensure that things won't tug at seams wrong then break and fray or lay weird when you're wearing it. This is just part of the process that I have to do to make sure that what I'm selling you is the best I can offer. This doesn't even include measuring, securing, pinning, measuring again, etc. etc. etc. This is just part of the cost that you see on that price tag - it's because I care.  
I know face-to-face, human interaction for your shopping experience is becoming more and more scarce when it comes to knowing who made the product, but I'm there presenting my best effort, and you just verbally slapped me. What you're looking at when you glance at my booth is hours of dedication to a craft, investment in the supplies, and planning, scheduling, and carving out time to be there to offer what I have. 

This became quite the bee in my bonnet after this last weekend, so thank you for listening to my ranting.

Now that I'm done with shows for the season, I have to step-to and get Christmas sewing finished. I  have the supplies buried underneath all of the mess that I created getting ready for this last weekend. ;)
Until next time!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Another Crazy Weekend

I seem to pack my weekends back-to-back-to-back. I need a weekend from my weekends. Usually they are filled with things that need to get done around the house and farm (or in the case of the last month - social events :P ), but this last weekend was TWO bazaars. And my head decided to throw a migraine into the mix at the end of the first event because it could. I wasn't a happy camper. Thankfully, my sister was with me all day, and her boyfriend was able to help with packing up. I'm not sure how things would have gone if I were by myself. 

The timing of the events worked out perfectly though - set up for boutique #1 on Friday evening, sleep, get to booth to manage by 8:30, visit and talk to people all day, pack up from boutique #1, set up for bazaar #2, get some sleep, get up, grab some final details for bazaar #2, finish set up, visit and talk with people for hours, pack up, and sleep some more. Fit nibbling on things somewhere in the mix. My brain hurts just writing all that.  
There was a little girl at the Saturday event, a daughter of one of the vendors, who essentially did laps around the room all day. Every time she came to our booth, she would stop, look at the doll dress on the mannequin, sigh, play with the skirt, go through every single dress on the rack, sigh again, then slowly walk on. We started talking to her whenever she stopped by, "Do you have a doll?" "Which one?" "Do you have a favorite dress?" And so on. Towards the end of the day, she brought her mom over to show her her favorites of course asking if she could get one. Her mom said not today, and they headed off. Back at their booth, the mom gave her friend the money to buy the dress and one of their own bags to hide the dress in. It was really sweet to watch, and I think I know what she's getting for Christmas. ;)

Saturday's event was rather interesting - most of the vendors there were reps from multi-level marketing companies with only a small handful of us with handcrafted goods. It was my first time at this event, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It all worked out though. And I got to spend a couple hours with one of my besties who is a crazy, amazing knitter. And we got to have our booths next to each other. ^_^ 
 See what I mean? She's been a very busy bee. 
  And she makes adorable geeky plushies. Just take a look at Perry! 
And Pokemon! And Mario mushroom! Eevee and Pikachu sold before the boutique even opened. :P 
 And darling and dapper octopuses! Octopi? Octopum?  
Usually this event is held in December, but the organizers changed the date to be a fall boutique. Hey, I'm game for whatever if my schedule is open! To go with the autumn theme, I knit some tiny pumpkins. I will most definitely need to make more of these because I love them so much (and the orange one sold, so there's that too). ;)  
 Well, until next time! 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tiny Acorns Regency - Finished!

And just in time too! The last stitches were put in the night before the dance. Why do I do this to myself? 
While I was working on it, I realized after attaching the skirt that I had put the sleeves on backwards. So that added some time to the making-of. I'm of the opinion that no project is complete without ripping out at least one seam. Beyond that, the dress went together quite easily. 
 While haunting one of my favorite fabric stores with one of my besties, we found BUTTONS! And in the giant collection of unique buttons - ACORNS! They needed to be included in the dress somehow. I decided that they would do well on wrist straps to help the sleeves to behave themselves. 
 I think my friends told me to look at the ground. But what am I supposed to be seeing there? 
 If you've been a long-time reader, you might recognize the bonnet. Psst - I blogged about it here. ;) 
 The dress was relatively easy to wear and dance in. I cut the sleeves to a larger size to accomodate my farm arm and to allow ease of movement - who wants to their arms and shoulders to be restricted when they're trying to dance?
 My one point of grr with this whole thing was the modesty panel - that thing would not stay put at all the entire evening. Oh well... I'll figure something out for next time. I'm just glad that I had my brown spencer to help keep things in place. :P 
Project details: 
Time: Probably about 2 afternoons including cutting out the pattern, cutting out the fabric, and sewing it all together
Final Thoughts: I like it a lot, but there are things I would change. But that's not surprising at all. ;) Depending on what I feel like, I'll probably tack down the pleating/gathers the shoulder to help the neckline to not look so... fluffy. Beyond that, re-situating the closure, and figuring out the panel that kept peeking out, I think I'll keep it the way it is. 

Until next time! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Top It All Off

My sister has been making ADORABLE baby hats, and I just had to share. I just wanted to show them off for her. ;) 
 They're just too cute to not share! 
 I'm just about dying from cuteness overload over here. 
Interested in buying one of these? Shoot me an email from the messaging link on the sidebar, and we can start chatting!

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sew 1, Knit 2

I have yet to meet someone who doesn't have more than one hobby or craft. 
For me, what I create depends on what I feel like doing or the weather - gardening isn't very fun when it's hailing or snowing. :P Another pastime that could easily consume my days is knitting. 

One of the things I like about knitting is how much more transportable it is compared to sewing. I can go over to a friend's house for some netflix, roasted pineapple, and knitting for an afternoon hang-out. Hauling a sewing machine would complicate getting out the door. :P 

Actually, I learned how to knit long before I learned how to sew (3rd grade as opposed to sometime in middle school). My skills are basic at best (learning how to knit in the round was a huge break through for me), but I still enjoy it. 

Over the years, my taste in colors and yarns have certainly changed (does anyone remember the fuzzy yarn in the early 2000's?). Because of my sensitive skin I have to be careful about what materials I work with, so I've really enjoyed working with natural materials (cottons in particular). I'd like to get into working with more animals fibers, but I don't feel worthy. ;) Another thing that I started to notice over the years - my sensitivity to metals. I turn green wherever my skin touches metal, so I also have to be careful about what kind of needles I use; bamboo fits the bill nicely. 

One of the first things I learned how to make was dishcloths, and my sisters and I still make them using the same pattern that I got from my sweet teacher.
My sister made these particular ones, by the way. ;) 
During berry season, we could easily drown in all the cardboard cartons that they come in. We simply re-purposed some of the clean ones to store and display these dishcloth sets. 

In comparing our simple cotton dishcloths to what we buy at the store is an eye-opener. These little things can stand up to just about anything that we throw at them, and trust me, living on a farm puts very high demands on all of our kitchen linens. The dishcloths from the store don't hold water very well and wear out rather quickly compared to 100% cotton hand-made ones. 
Like I said, learning how to knit in the round blew open the doors to so many new and exciting patterns, so I went a little crazy and made a lot of small plushies. Since I didn't really have anyone to share them with (as toys), I attached a string so that they can be ornaments! The string could easily be removed if you would rather have a plush instead of an ornament. 

I like how each of the hedgehogs have different personalities. It wasn't on purpose, but it's just how their faces came out. They're all still very sweet, but each just a little different. 
It's a pair of pears! 
I don't know why, but I really like knitting food. :shrugs: Just don't eat the red cap. ;) 
I need to make more of these. Like, a lot more. Like, a squirrel hoard more. 
I think that I need to make another one of these but with three small eggs instead of one GIANT egg. The poor bird that laid this. :P 

Are you interested in any of these? You can shoot me an email via the tool on the sidebar, and we can start chatting! 

Until next time,