Monday, April 28, 2008

An early Mother's day weekend...

A mother-daughter bonding experience (commentary by Mom)

-Take mucho apron pics for Mom's website, some of which entail hanging aprons from dogwood trees in from yard. Makes for super cute pics, but pretty sure neighbors now KNOW I'm nuts. ("I love your dogwoods!")

-Venture out to the Tennessee Flea Market ("Oh my stars, look at all this stuff")

-Have oodles of fun pawing through all the junk ("I used to have that")

-Score with the vintage patterns ("Oh how cute--and a vintage aprons pattern, I'm so excited!")

-Take a trip to the super quilt shop in Franklin ("So much fabric!")

-Inadvertently run into the Main Street Festival in Franklin...which, like any good suburban event is overrun with children and giant strollers. ("Awww, look at the cute baby!.....I wish people would keep control of their children!")

-Read thank you note from boss re:quilt Mom made for his new baby. Spend 15 min hearing how cute said baby is and getting a small dose of "Grandma" guilt. ("I'll just be Grandma to Rascal" (the cat))

-Casual mention repainting living room ("I love to paint! Let's go buy some paint!")
-Buy paint. Paint living room. ("It looks like springtime in here!")

-Make tentative plants to paint more on next trip. ("The hallway would look pretty in a different color...and your mantle would look great in jet black enamel!")

-Send Mom home way to early, wishing it could be every weekend. Well, almost. That much fun is exhausting! :)

Back to life as usual (and lots of sewing!!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

While every day SHOULD be Earth day, today's the official one. Here's to thinking a little more about our human footprint and thinking about how what we do effects everyone on this planet.

In honor of Earth day, I didn't want to make another list of the same things that everyone says we should do--compact fluorescents, check; turn off the computer at night, check; filtered water instead of bottled, check. We know we should, and we try, right? Instead I wanted to share with you the little things that I'm doing to try to live better, saving energy and MONEY in the long run. Despite what the Al Gore-haters say, the little things do make a difference (but I'm not discounting the need for big things too...)

Anyway, here goes.
Kim's list of her own environmental efforts:

1. Read Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Reflect on how much of our modern life is built specifically to be unsustainable and make a conscious effort to support products that adhere to the Cradle to Cradle philosophy.

2. Don't idle. Ever. Well, maybe for stoplights, but that's pushing it. It really does take less energy to start your car again than let it idle for anything longer than 30 sec. Forgive me that I don't have the data for it, but believe me it's true. Nothing irks me/feels more ironic than people idling behind another car waiting for a GAS PUMP! Hello?!?! Oh, and the idling that takes place in the line for the emissions testing is the most asinine thing I've ever seen. So I don't do it. (Oh wait, the info is here)

3. Recycle even when it is not convenient. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, you just have to get a bottle of water or a take out container, or you have papers to get rid of but there is no bin nearby. I carry that crap home and recycle it! Oh, and there is no excuse for throwing trash out windows. Why do people still do that? Were they born in a barn? Hold on to that junk for 5 min and put it in the trash can outside of wherever you are going... Phew, done ranting! :)

4. Try to ditch the car whenever possible. I'm fortunate to live just over 3 miles from work, which is a decent bike ride (except for the fact that it is uphill all the way to work) so I'm working on getting these thighs in shape so I don't arrive a hot mess every day. And I'm taking the bike to the local Target (and soon a new Publix grocery store) for errands. Hey, this is just economics cause gas isn't getting cheaper anytime soon!

5. Bring back the concept of a Victory Garden and actually grow food. And herbs--do you know how expensive fresh herbs are?!? Okay, the boy mostly does the gardening, but I help! Oh, and we're joining a CSA to support our local organic farmers and supplement our veggie load. Do you know how much "food" is grown that isn't edible? Watch King Corn and you'll know what I mean...

There's my top 5 everyday lifestyle changes that I'm doing to try to help my body, help my community, and help my planet. What are yours?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Vogue Pattern Sale!

I've got a whole bin of cute patterns I haven't had time to sew, but how can you resist a sale? Vogue patterns are on sale today at their website $5.99 each. JoAnn's doesn't put them on sale much anymore, so now would be a good time to stock up. Plus, how cute is this dress? Hurry, sale is only good today (4/21/08)!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday distractions - ombre

As grown-up cousin of tie-dye, ombre (aka color gradient) has always appealed to me. Something about the orderly blend or fade of color is just so soothing and exciting at the same time.
This year I found myself actually paying attention to fashion week because I had become enthralled by Project Runway runway despite the nauseating overuse of the word "fierce." I learned two things from this. One, most designers make clothes that are either hideously ugly or insanely impractical for a casually cosmopolitan city like Nashville--jeans and cowboy boots are acceptable red carpet wear here, even if you aren't a country star. Two, many of the cute designs were ombre!

Alexander McQueen - I especially like the print overlay on the second dress

6167 - Love the shape of this one!

A.F. Vandevorst - Not withstanding the horrible socks with heels on the second model

So I already had plans to try this sooner rather than later, but was super excited when I opened the latest issue of substitute-for-Blueprint (aka Martha Stewart Living). What's Martha up to now, you ask? OMBRE! Whee!

Her directions are in the article, available here. However, I'm skeptical of the whole dip-fabric-slowly thing as it doesn't always provide as smooth of a gradient as I would like (I'm a little crazy like that).

After some searching I located an alternate method, see here, here and here. Basically, the fixing (or the soda ash in Martha's directions) is left until AFTER the gradient is established so that the color can migrate freely on the fabric. Also, you can mix up different combos of your colors, ie 100% color 1, 80/20 color 1 and 2, 60/40, and so on. Seems more labor intensive and probably messier, but likely the way I'll try it as I'm a sucker for doing things the hard way.

And to top off your new ombre outfit? How about some gradient tights? Okay, that might be a little much, Nashvegas or not!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Review: Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques

I love a good used book store.

Last weekend I stopped in to the local McKay's, a chain-esque used book store great for when you are trying to find used books that are pretty common. I needed a manual for Adobe InDesign as I heard it's the way to go for pattern instructions (they are coming along, I promise), but ended up walking out with this:

Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques by Nancy Bednar and JoAnn Pugh-Gannon

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed!

I consider myself relatively proficient on a sewing machine, and I'm not afraid to dig out my manual or just screw around with the machine until something cool happens. But this book takes the guess work out of it. Covering a whole range of techniques like applique, smocking, bound buttonholes, eyelets, hem stitching, and zippers, it's a quick little reference for a lot of cool things.

Just to be clear, this isn't a highly detailed technical manual at all. Each technique pretty much gets two pages: one has suggested settings, needles, etc. while the other has generic step by step pictures. You'll have to have your sewing machine manual handy too as you need to know how to reset tensions, change needles and the like. But I'm already seeing how this will be useful for a quick lesson or refresher on how to do different things.

If you are looking for a reference book that will help introduce you to new techniques and give you a starting point for some really cool creations, then I'd definitely recommend this one. There are a ton of other books out there I'm sure, but at least this one has value and some pretty pictures going for it! :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More crafty fun

Hope you all had a good crafty weekend! Mine was not as productive as I had hoped between "working" at my (unpaid) second job and the continuous requests of the boy for help in finishing our basement storage room. But the room sure does look pretty (I've got me a handy one!) so I'll have to brag on that when it's finally finished.

In case you didn't see, Rory shared some of her crafty goodness in the comments on Friday. Love! I've got limited time to surf the net for cuteness, so it is always appreciated when it falls into my lap. I'd love to see more, so if any of you out there in blogdom have stuff to share, feel free to add it in the comments or email me at the address in my profile and I'll spread the love.

Speaking of crafty fun, did you see the new site from the Taunton peeps? CraftStylish is the reformed of BeSewStylish which was the somewhat disappointing website that followed the disappearance of the SewStylish magazine. I've continued to be disappointed by blogs that attempt to take over magazines that I actually enjoyed reading. The Blueprint blog is one such example. They promised greatness but I'm not seeing it yet; maybe the zine was just too cool?

Anyway, CraftStylish looks promising. It'll be interesting to see what happens when they have all the functionality up and running. I did enjoy the post that was on top when I stopped by: Handbag Hardware Resources.
Some I had heard of and had my own opinion about [M&J Trimming=somewhat overpriced, UMX=horrible website, great customer service and pricing] but others were new. You can't have too many options when you make as many bags as I do! :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday distractions for a crafty weekend

Phew! What a week!

I've been very sparse in my postings this week--Sorry! My real job got really busy, and I'm still making serious progress on the Tremendous Totes. Those babies take a lot longer to put together than I thought! But they are reeaaaalllly pretty :)

It's going to be all rainy and cold here in N-ville this weekend. You know what that means? Craft time!

Leaf printing tutorial from one girl design wrks
Tiny terrariums from Cottage Living (so cute!)
Shrinky Dink Rings from Planet June
Elephant purse from Dabbled
Fabric Flowers from Wise Craft
Freezer paper stencils from The Domestic Diva (oh I've got a whopper of an idea using this technique. Can't wait to try it out!)

Go Crafting!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mini pincushion turned cocktail ring saves the day!

I have a pin problem. The problem is that I never have anywhere to stick them while sewing! Pincushions wander around the studio: on the ironing board, on my desk, knocked on the floor by the cat...but never by my side. And then I realized that the solution was staring me in the face:

mini pincushion 2
I made a bunch of these mini pincushions when I was visiting family over the holidays. Hey, a girl's gotta have something to keep her hands busy! They are made from plastic bottle caps and felt, and turned out really cute. Most of them stayed with my mom, as she really loved them, but I managed to sneak one out for myself. But it has sat, somewhat unloved (except by the cat, who thinks it's a toy) until now. When I had this genius idea:
mini pincushion ring
A little elastic, some craft glue, and my mini pincushion has become the handiest cocktail ring ever! Fun!

In other news, I've been having way too much fun with the new machine. Aren't these great? (they will appear again in the Tremendous Totes!)
key loops

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pattern Kit now on Etsy

Hey folks! Got to be quick today but wanted to let you know that the Mini Stuff Stasher Pattern Kit is in my etsy shop

Yippee! Now I've got to get back to sewing those Tremendous Totes :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The mini stuff stasher - free pattern!

That's right, loyal blog readers, I've finished a pattern! And I want to give it to you for free! Hurrah!

This pattern is for the mini stuff stasher that I showed you earlier. It's a great little bag, and a fun way to use up scraps and play with color combos (so you'll be all set when the Tremendous Tote pattern is available!) Check out the cute one my tester made:
Okay, so how do you get this pattern? I've posted it as a pdf download here. Save the pdf to your computer to aid in the printing process. And how do you print said pdf? Glad you asked, as this is important.

1. Make sure you have the free Adobe Reader. If you don't, you can download it here.
2. Open the print dialog box (File->Print) and set page scaling to NONE like so:

3. Verify that the test square on the pattern page (page 4) is exactly 2 in by 2 in (5 cm by 5 cm for my non-US friends).

4. Get stitchin'!

But Kim, you say, I don't want to mess with all that printing nonsense! And I don't want to have to go to the store and find the little key clip and twill tape so that I can clip my creation to things!

No worries, my friends. I'm going to have a lovely color printed pattern plus hardware kit available on my etsy site starting tomorrow. Yippee! All you'll need is to dig up some fabric (which I'm sure you have plenty of...), a 7 in zipper, and some interfacing if your fabric is lightweight and you'll be good to go. Aren't I the nicest?

And the Tremendous Tote pattern? Patience please, it's on the way!

Have fun!