Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hearts and Flowers Sweatshirt Jacket Transformation

This jacket was a lot more involved than the past couple of projects I have posted on.  I used the method whereby you cut off the sleeves, then cut out an actual sleeve pattern piece and sew it all back together.  The fit is much better using this method. 

If you wonder why even start with a sweatshirt, why not buy fabric?  Buying a sweatshirt is usually cheaper than hunting down the fabric if you can even find the color fabric you want.  Plus you get the color-mtched ribbings to use on your project or save for another use (for kids' projects for example). 

I didn't have a pattern for the jacket, but I did find some on the internet to use as inspiration. 

I have a machine embroidery design set which I used for the heart/flower applique called "Best Friends Forever" by Friend Folks.  It was pricey - $39.99 - by far the most expensive machine embroidery design set I've bought.  I knew that I wanted to use it for this jacket project the minute I saw it.  I also have in mind that I will make a quilt.  There are 9 different designs.  The only thing I don't like is that there's only one size - 6x10, so you can't size it smaller for kids outfits for instance.  Oh, one other thing, the pictures show quilting but the design disk does NOT include the quilting stitches, which I find to be a little deceptive.  The quilt pattern and instructions are included on the disk.  Even without the quilting stitches, I love the way they turned out. I had some buttons which I used as the flower centers.  The designer sells matching buttons, but I just didn't want to spend any more money.

This jacket morphed as I went along.  Since I didn't have a pattern I kept thinking of things I wanted to add.  I decided I wanted a collar, and ruffled edges, and so on.  I didn't have a pattern for the collor.  I just drew one freehand using the sweatshirt neck as my guide.  I used minky for the collar and cuffs.  The collar is lined in pink cotton and the cuffs are lined in minky.  I got hung up on the sleeve cuffs and tore them out and changed my mind a couple of times before I finally ended up with the plain cuff.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sweatshirt to Vest Transformation in Aqua, Grey and Red

Here's another Sweatshirt Transformation project I made at Christmas.  For this one, in the interest of time, I decided to make a vest.  I had bought a jellly roll in taupe, grey, aqua, red and green at the Quilt Festival.  It's called Blitzen by Moda.  (I hoarded that jelly roll but couldn't bring myself to open it up for a long time.) 
I wanted a plain grey sweatshirt as the base, which I didn't have on hand (pink, brown, slate blue, etc etc. I have, but plain grey, no) so I went to wally world for a cheapie.  I found an aqua one, which turned out to be perfect for this project!  I think I paid $5 for it.  I prewashed and dried it, cut off the ribbing and sleeves,  then ironed on stabilizer tapes on the cut edges.  I tried it on inside out and marked and trimmed the arm openings till they looked like what I wanted.   I then cut open the side seams.

I started applying the jelly roll strips in the center back.  I just stitched it down.  Then I added a strip on each side till I had the back covered.  I did the same on the front, starting in the center front. I did 'audition' the strips and had an idea of where I wanted each to go before stitching.  After the strips were stitched on, I stitched up the side seams and serged.  I  made foldover trim for the neck and arm openings out of one strip so they would all match.  No, I didn't make bias strips - I only had jelly roll strips to work with, no yardage and anyway, I'm pretty lazy so even if I had the yardage I wouldn't have made bias tape.  For the bottom edge, I combined a few strips of a similar color to make a long enough piece.  (If anyone wants detailed info on the construction process let me know.)

In the picture above you may note the patch on the back, under the neckline.  The sweatshirt had a label ironed on right there and I didn't want to see "Hanes Size XXXX" so I cut a piece of a strip to fit, turned under the raw edges and used Wonder Under or Heat N Bond to fuse it in place.  Looks a lot better to me.

The bottom edge is shown below.  I used a stitch in the ditch method to finish off the foldover trim.  On the left side you can see the inside of the sweatshirt.  I used a matching thread in the bobbin and a taupe in the needle.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sweatshirt to Jacket Transformation in Slate Blue and Grey

For some reason I am enamored with transforming a sweatshirt to a jacket.  I have no idea why.  In the hot Texas climate I don't even get to wear them much.  Nancy's Notions had a sale a while back on sweatshirts so I bought several, which have been languishing in the fabric stash closet.  I hoard fabrics and supplies until a project worthy of their use comes along (silly to say that about a sweatshirt I know).

We had a trip planned to Arkansas the day after Christmas and I knew the weather would be really cold (in fact it snowed and we drove through an ice storm) so I thought it would be the perfect time to make some sweatshirt jackets.  The one pictured here is so fast to make I literally made it on Christmas Day, after we celebrated Christmas and before I had to pack for our trip.

In a nutshell, when making a quick sweatshirt jacket, you pre-wash everything and dry first of all.  Then cut off all ribbing, apply two strips of iron on stabilizer to center front and neck edge, cut open the front and try on, inside out.  I then pink under the arm to take up the excess fabric so that it fits better.  This is the easiest way to convert a sweatshirt into a jacket.  The other way involves cutting off the sleeves and reconstructing it, which is more work but it fits better.

After the jacket fits, apply the fashion fabrics.  It's basically a quilt as you go method.  I started with the lighter strip at the bottom of the jacket and stitched it directly to the sweatshirt, on the top and bottom of the strip.  I then took the dark grey strip, turned under the raw edges and pressed and then opened out one edge and pinned it, right sides together, over the raw edge of the bottom strip, and then stitched in the crease.  I finished off the top edge with a blanket stitch.  (If anyone wants more detailed info on construction let me know.)

To encase the raw edges I made double fold strips out of another fabric.  I know I SHOULD have made bias, but I was in a big hurry.  The only place this is really an issue is the neckline but for a quick project I just didn't want to invest the time.  I bound the neck edge and sleeve edges first, then the bottom edge, and finally the front.  I had a cool oversize wooden button that I wanted to use and for the button loop I used a brown hair elastic.  I have gotten so many comments on this jacket and the funny thing is it cost about $15 and took about 2 hours!  It works great to layer over a turtleneck but isn't so bulky that I can't wear a coat over it as well. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sewing for Me - Nightgowns

There was a time when home sewing was much cheaper than buying store-bought clothes, but with the prices of fabric these days and so many mass produced clothing items from China available, that's not always the case any more.  So I plan my fabric and pattern shopping when patterns are 99 cents each and fabric is on sale or I have a coupon.  I can sometimes find fabric at yard sales also.

I went to a yard sale of a former crafter, a lady who had a small home based business, and she had TONS of fabric, among other things, for sale.  It was in huge boxes, all mixed together.  She wanted to sell it all in lots so I had to take what was in the box.  One fabric in the mix was a lacey knit in a hot pink print.  I couldn't imagine that I would ever find a use for it, but eventually I realized it would be perfect for a nightgown.  I had some hot pink stretch lace that I'd ordered off the internet for another project which matched perfectly.

At another yard sale I found some batik fabrics which were about $2 per yard.  She had quite a bit for sale but wouldn't bargain on it so I only got two pieces of about 2 yards each cause I really didn't want to pay that much.  I made a top out of one piece (I'll show it in a later post) and used the other for a comfortable nightgown.  I washed the batik and machine dried it so that I wouldn't have to worry about shrinkage later.

I used McCalls 5248 for both of the nightgowns pictured. The pattern calls for lace trim at bodice top so I followed the pattern directions for the pink one. When I was done and tried it on I realized it was too big (gapped in the back but ok everywhere else) so I made a casing and added a piece of 1/4" elastic to the back, which took care of that issue. 

For the batik nightgown, I didn't have any matching lace so I made a bias tape and enclosed the raw edge of the bodice front with it and used it for the straps.  I like the way the stretch lace on the pink nightgown 'gives' for the straps much better than the straps made from the fabric.  I already knew this batik nightgown would be too big in the back but decided to add rows of shirring instead of the elastic.  Because this nightgown is cut on the bias you're supposed to hang it up to set the bias and hem it the next day, but after serging the bottom edge I just didn't feel like it was necessary to hem it. 

Finished edges - stretch lace and bias tape

Back finish

Monday, April 15, 2013

New Handbags

Turquoise Faux Tooled Leather

Brown/Ecru Tweed
Brown Boucle with Leopard Cross Applique

I have been on a purse making tangent lately.  Here are a few that I have made and listed for sale on Etsy. 

When I go to the fabric store I always look in the remnant bin and it seems like I always find something that would work well for a purse so I pick it up for pennies on the dollar.  Now if only I could sell some to help fund my fabric and pattern buying addiction . . .

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Homemade Laundry and Dishwasher Detergent

My homemade laundry detergent
If you're interested in scaling back on the number of cleaning products you buy for household cleaning, you can buy Washing Soda, Borax, and Soap and combine those in different ways to do a lot of  your  regular household cleaning.  The  Down to Earth blog has all sorts of information on how to simplify your cleaning processes.  You should read all of her posts about cleaning, cleaning products, etc. 

You've probably seen pictures or descriptions of people making home made laundry detergent on Pinterest or blogs.  I first started making home made laundry detergent a few years ago.  I've read about how economical it is, but I've never done the math.  Marc is skeptical of "home made" stuff so I do continue to buy detergent but I still like to have home made on hand too.  I find that it cleans as well as the detergent I normally buy (Purex), at least as far as I can tell, but I am sure if you did a scientific experiment and compared it to say Tide it would not do as well.  But then again I don't buy Tide, I just don't want to spend that kind of money on laundry soap.

Some recipes call for Zote soap and some call for Fels Naptha. Up until recently I couldn't find Zote, but now Wal-Mart carries it.  They stock the two soaps, the Washing Soda and the Borax together.  Apparently enough people are asking for these items that they're regularly stocking them.  The last time I made a batch I used Dr. Bronner's soap cause it was half price, and I don't think it worked nearly as well as the Fels Naptha. 

There are several recipes out there, but I just use one bar of soap (grated finely), 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of washing soda, mixed well.
Only a few items are needed to make laundry detergent
You can use a regular hand grater and grate the soap by hand but watch your knuckles!  I've mentioned before that I use the Kitchen Aid mixer as much as possible.  I use the Roto-Slicer attachment with the smallest grater drum to grate the soap.  This is the same drum I use to grate cheese by the way.  The one I have was my Mom's and it's pretty old - around 30 years maybe and has an aluminum housing.  The newer ones are plastic which I'm sure won't last as long.  The drums that fit inside are stainless steel. It takes just a few seconds to finely grate the soap.  I can't imagine how long it would take by hand. 

The Roto-Slicer Attachment which gets a lot of use!

Soap being finely grated
After the soap is grated, I add the Washing Soda and Borax, and then put the mixing paddle on and mix it all up then it's done.  Washing the utensils is easy obviously.  I like to make a double recipe as long as I'm at it.

Mixing it up
The  Hillbilly Housewife Blog has a good liquid detergent recipe.  The first time I made it I doubled the recipe (if one is good, two is better, right?) and ended up with like 10 gallons of detergent and not enough containers to keep it all!  I used all the empty detergent bottles I'd saved, but I still had to keep the remainder in a 5 gallon bucket.  Liquid is convenient in one sense - the ingredients are already pre-dissolved.

To alleviate this storage issue, I just make the powdered version now.  There are a lot of recipes out there with a lot of good information, such as The Family Homestead.  You supposedly only use a tablespoon per load, but I use about 1/8 of a cup in a extra large load.  I always place the powder in the washer first and start the water to dissolve the detergent before I put in the laundry. 

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Not long ago I ran out of diswasher detergent and remembered seeing something on Pinterest for a home made version.  I do buy the more expensive Cascade cause I don't want to have to rinse my dishes.  I just want to put them in and have them come out clean.  So when I was out of detergent and didn't want to rush out to the store, I made up a batch of home made just to play with and see if it worked.  You can find recipes here and here.

Fruit Fresh is Citric Acid.  I suppose not everyone has this in their pantry but I do.  If I didn't I probably wouldn't rush out to get it just to make home made dishwasher detergent. 

As I mentioned, I usually do not rinse dishes but I do scrape off solid stuff.  I use the normal setting most of the time and set it to pre-heat the water so it's hot.  I have a builder-grade dishwasher, not a nicer expensive one like the last house.  I don't have a water softener here either.  I do use a rinse aid since I don't have a water softener.  Since I had all the ingredients on hand in order to make up a batch I am happy enough with the way it works.  I don't think it works quite as well as the Cascade gel that I use, but certainly works as well as the average powdered detergent out there.  I didn't do any price comparisons to see if I saved any money. 

It is nice to know that if I run out of a cleaning product I can make up a batch of whatever I need by having just a few basic items on hand.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trip to Branson

We went to Branson for a long weekend earlier this month.  We flew on Southwest Airlines cause it was cheapest.  We flew on the very first day that Southwest flew to Branson (more on that later).  I'd never been on Southwest before and it was - different.  We had to go to Hobby Airport to fly on Southwest, which was a trip in itself, literally.  You drive through what I'm sure was once a decent part of Houston, but is now Little Mexico. 

When we got into Branson, we looked out the window wondering where the terminal was.... well it was tiny.  What we thought was a hanger was the terminal.  There was what appeared to be a bandstand with a lot of people on it and lots of onlookers.  We deplaned onto the tarmac, which I have done before in small airports, but never off of a jet.  Our flight was the second Southwest flight to fly into Branson that day.  We learned later that the first flight was met with a band, the singer Mickey Gilley, and lots of fanfare.  How bizarre.  People had come from far and wide to witness the spectacle.  There were still some folks who had stayed to see our flight come in.  Marc said he felt like a rock star.

So we walk over to the terminal and walk in and stop immediately with our mouths wide open.  It was as if we'd walked into an Old West amusement park.  The pic below tells the tale: 

The decor was Old West and there was even a small fish pond in the center of the terminal.  It kinda reminded me of Bass Pro Shop.  I never saw any security officers.  All I saw was souveniour shops and tourism booths.  When we flew out we did encounter the security station.  It was certainly laid back.  I had picked up a Pampered Chef order from my niece to bring back and unbeknownst to me there was a paring knife in the order.  The security officer pulled it out and said there's a knife in your carry on, would you like to check it or mail it.  I feel certain that I would have made the news had this happened in Houston.

The pic below may look like Cracker Barrel, but it's just another part of the airport.  This must be the staging area for the Old Fogies.  Note the rocking chairs.

The scenery is so beautiful.  Here's a shot of the town from an overlook:

Our ears popped continually, up and down the hills.  We both ended up getting sick with sinus infections and both of us had to go to the doctor. 

The hotel we stayed in was the Chateau On The Lake.  It was a beautiful hotel with lots of amenities, right on Table Rock Lake.  The hotel stay was a Christmas gift from the kids.  After staying in Branson for a few days we drove down to Arkansas to stay for a couple days and visited with Dana and Mike. 

While flying was certainly faster, I still prefer to drive.  I like being on my own schedule and having the flexibility to come and go as I please.  Our trip right after Christmas was during a terrible ice storm.  We're certainly not used to driving in the snow and ice, much less on mountain roads.  While it was a little tense in spots, it was a beautiful drive.  The snow covered fields and hills were breathtaking.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blogs are like Garage Sales

I love Garage Sales!  I could spend hours poring thru someone else's junk, but I absolutely HATE to have a garage sale of my own.  I also love to read other people's blogs!  I've come to realize I don't really like doing any of my own posts.  My life is so boring - surely if I am not enthused enough to write about it, no one else wants to read about it...

I've learned that I am a Project Person.  I like big projects - I like to break down a big project into its various steps and figure out the best way to complete each step, then work each step.  Then put it away and move to the next Project.  I don't like the "same old same old".  That works great if you're a Project Manager, but if you have those everyday tasks that must be completed, well, everyday, it's not such a good thing.  As I read on someone else's blog . . . I'm a good Starter.  Not such a good Finisher.  At this stage of my life I don't think I am going to change that.   Oh well. 

I got an IPhone which has contributed to my blogging delinquency. I can't blog on the phone (I need a keyboard) and opening up the laptop is just too much work (remember when a laptop was a convenient luxury??). 

All of that to say that perhaps regular blogging isn't my cup of tea.    My sister Kathy pointed out that I had "dreadfully neglected" my blog. So I have set a goal to do 2-4 posts a month.  Surely I can keep up with that.
We decided to move - again.  We have come to the conclusion that we don't like suburban living.  This house is nice enough and it was certainly easy to have a builder complete all the work for us.  We only had to pick colors and finishes.  But that's really boring.  Remember I like projects, so I like having a not-so-perfect house that needs an update here and there.  So the house is up for sale and we've made an offer on a farm in Arkansas, in the Ozarks. 

Why the Ozarks?  A lot of reasons, not the least of which is the cost of living - we can get a whole lot more for our money there in terms of real estate and housing.  Also, the climate.  We would like to experience something other HEAT.  I'd like to see leaves turn colors in the fall, snow, a chance to wear sweaters and coats, a summer that isn't so brutal that we could actually go outside during the day.

The Ozark farm consists of 32 acres, about half of which is pasture and half wooded.  There are two large gardens, barns, sheds, etc., in place already.  A young Mennonite family lives there now and they raise all their own food in those gardens.  I am dreaming of the wood cook stove I've always wanted, and milk goats. 

Surely moving to the Ozarks will provide a lot of fodder for future blog posts. 

We went to Branson on a vacation earlier this month, which I will do a short post on, as well as two trips to Arkansas since Christmas. 
I have completed a lot of sewing projects since I last posted.  I've been making clothes for myself, various children's clothing, and purses.  Pinterest has provided a wealth of ideas.  I find that I don't get good pics of the projects I complete, which makes no sense.  I have umpteen professional photo backdrops and all the necessary gear and editing software... but all that stuff has to be taken out and set up before I can use it.  It's just so much work! I see that I need to add "photo studio" to my wish list.  Marc says I need a building in which to put all my crafty stuff, and I think I must agree.  If it was big enough I could have everything out, set up and ready to use.  

I've done some photography for a few people/groups (family and paying clients), which I really enjoy doing.  I upgraded my Photoshop before Christmas which has made editing SOOOOOO much easier.  I had Version TWO - yes I did say TWO.  The newest update is ELEVEN.  The newer software has so many more user friendly features. It's like a different program.
I will end this post with a few pics from Easter.  

Rylan will still pose with the Easter Bunny
Willow in the Bluebonnets
the Vacante family

Willow's First Haircut!

Marc, me and Caroline