The last week or so has been crazy busy here, not just with the website issues (I’m still working to restore images to the blog for the 2013 posts) but with creating all sorts of new items for the shop. A lot of the new arrivals are perfect for Halloween! Here’s just a few of them.

Skull earrings handmade from polymer clay. I have these in pink, blue, green, purple, and black. The colors are all pastels.
Skull earrings handmade from polymer clay. I have these in pink, blue, green, purple, and black. The colors are all pastels. $9.99
Red and teal handmade polymer clay bow earrings. I can make these in other colors as well.
Red and teal handmade polymer clay bow earrings. I can make these in other colors as well. $5.99
Handmade polymer clay rainbow cake earrings.
Handmade polymer clay rainbow cake earrings. $9.99
Handmade polymer clay and glass beaded necklace with square mirror.
Handmade polymer clay and glass beaded necklace with square mirror. $17.49
Halloween cats earring and necklace set with seashell and resin cats and acrylic and glass beads.
Halloween cats earring and necklace set with seashell and resin cats and acrylic and glass beads. $15.49

Okay, maybe not. But there will be a treasure chest!

When our renter moved out, he left a few things behind, most of which we threw out. But this I rescued from the garbage and knew I had to clean it up and save it.

1

 

Its a wooden chest, without a lot of distinguishing marks that you can buy at any craft store. I have a much larger one that I use for storing my knitting needles and crochet hooks in that I keep next to my chair in the living room. This one is smaller, with the internal space measuring about 10″ wide and about 5.5″ across. Its not very big.

It was covered in grease, and was badly painted this awful black all over. Don’t get me wrong. I wear a ton of black, but it just looks bad on this poor little wooden box.

The first step was to sand it down a bit and help its new primer and paint stick and to scrub off those grease spots, so I loaded up a sponge with dish soap and gave it a good once over then hosed it off and left it to dry in the sun. Then I got the sanding block we had purchased to use for some home repairs we still haven’t gotten to, and I gently sanded it all over.

2

 

I wasn’t worried about it being perfect. I want to look good when I’m done but I want this to be a fun project too and not one that I rip my hair out over. The wood is uneven in spots, which you can see because of how th paint sanded off completely in some areas but not others.

Then I hit it with some primer. My good friend Nikki gave me primer, paint, all sorts of stuff along with the larger chest I have and I was supposed to give it this treatment but I never did.

3

 

I let the primer dry for about an hour, and then while dinner was cooking, I gave it a quick spray with the bright metallic gold paint. I initially missed a spot on the inside but got it later in when I was doing the lining.

4b

 

I sprayed the inside and the outside, making sure everything was shining and bright! The paper underneath the chest is just white kraft paper I bought off of Amazon for using in pattern making but so far its been used for everything else. Its not overly expensive and comes in really handy!

4

 

I let that dry for a good hour and then measured the inside to get an idea of how large a piece of fabric I needed for the inside. Unfortunately I did something really, really wrong and ended up with a piece about twice the size of what I needed.I ended up trimming it and gluing one side down into the box, then moving to the the next side, trimming it to fit and gluing it, and working my way all the way around. I used E6000 to glue it in place. I love that stuff, but make sure you use it in a well ventilated area- preferably outside!

I was going to call it good at that point but after Tracy brought up doing the inside of the lid with fabric, I couldn’t resist, so I carefully cut pieces and glued them in place as well. That went a lot smoother than doing the bottom did.

8

 

The next step was making this into a real treasure chest and covering the top in jewels! I busted out my Amazing Clear Cast Resin, my colored mica powders, and I started mixing and pouring. Finally, after working on them for a few days and gluing them in place in small groupings, I had this.

The resin is super easy to work with. Just mix it at a ratio of 1:1 and mix very thoroughly- the package recommends mixing for 3 minutes and I’ve found that to be about right. If its not fully mixed, it won’t set up properly and you’ll have a sticky mess on your hands. Mica powders can be added in small amounts to color the resin or you can brush it onto the molds before you pour- I mixed mine in.

7

 

I used 6 different colors of gems, some of which were single colors of the mica powders and some that I mixed to suit. Pink, yellow, green-gold, blue, purple, and a deep amber color. I used a mold I bought that had tons of shapes in it that were perfect for this, letting me mix it up with lots of options. One of my gems slipped a bit before the glue set and I didn’t catch it in time to re-position it, but otherwise it turned out just like I envisioned it! I’m so happy with it!

And that my friend is how you get your very own treasure chest! Now I just have to decide what to put in it. 🙂

After making yesterday’s post about my old ball gown, I repaired the waistband, and spent a ridiculously long time ripping out the stitches on the two panels that hung down the sides of the bodice. You’d think ripping about about 24″ of stitching would be fast and easy, but apparently the girl-who-can’t-follow-directions not only sewed the bodice together all wrong, but she also kept changing the stitch length on different seams making some of the stitches very tight and very difficult to pick out. That’s not so bad though, right? Just slow going?

Oh wait! And then it gets better. On one side of the bodice, I used pleats to make the panel fit. On the other side, I used gathering. What the hell was I thinking? Oh wait. Not only was I not reading or following the directions, I was not thinking either. I’m kind of embarrassed to have done this, even if it was years ago.

gown1

I remembered as I put the gown on my dress form that when I wore it to the ball, we had to use safety pins to hold the skirt up to the bodice in the back because there was a big gap at the waist. If I had sewn the panels on correctly, they would have made an overskirt, and that gap would have been hidden. Oh boy!

gown3

This afternoon I realized the reason the contrast panels in the bodice are not even on both sides is because I sewed one on upside down. I spent some more tie tearing the bodice apart so I could flip the panel over and put it together right. That led me to a new problem. The lace trim was cut and measured with that panel being upside down, so it stops about an inch short of where it should and I don’t have any of that lace now to replace it. I decided to solve that by creating an overlap of the front bodice pieces where it fastens- something I should have originally done because it kind of gaped before.

There was also the fact that the lining of the bodice was cut larger than the outside, so I had to pleat it to make it fit. I resewed a few seams in the lining and that was taken care of.

gown4

Anyway, after hours of work, most of it spent tearing out stitches, I feel like it looks a lot better then it did before and the fit is better too. I’m hoping someone will want to be a princess for Halloween and grabs this dress up. Its not a bad dress, its just a little rough up close. From a distance though it looks pretty damned good!

Is it exactly like the pattern envelope? No. Probably not even close. But its a lot better and I’d actually be willing to wear it like it is now.

 

 

As you’ve seen, I’ve been working on a truly hideous, absolutely tacky gold lame’ blouse for an 80’s party we were invited to on the 3rd. I am using Kwik Sew 1262, and I posted pics a little way back of the shell without sleeves, but hadn’t gotten much further. Anyway, a few days ago I thankfully finished the blouse. Its not that it was a difficult pattern to sew, or that I was having trouble. Its that the gold lame’ fabric is horrible to work with, and it sheds tinsel everywhere. Anyway, I got it done but was stumped about what to do for my bottom half. Then my good friend Tracy suggested white vinyl for a skirt (I had already decided on a mini) and I was off to Walmart with my last $10 to see what they had. Turns out they only had browns and black vinyls, but I came home with some white satin instead.

ks1262front

 

I busted out the pattern I used for the skirt I sewed and posted about yesterday, and making a few small changes (I added 2.5″ to the hemline and completely lined it because my fabric was thinnish) and left off the flounce. I sewed my zipper in more than once but the final outcome is one i am very pleased with and it went in pretty much perfectly.

ks1262back

 

My entire outfit costs me less than $25 including the cost of the patterns, and only took about 2 hours total to sew them up.

I’ll be doing crimped hair, colorful make up and big bold jewelry, though I may still need to make my jewelry. The blouse is hideous. I will probably bury it in my closet and ignore it forever after this, but for the party, its just right. The skirt I will hopefully get to wear again, as I quite like it.

purse-cutToday’s project was a new, bigger, more fun purse. Weeks ago I had decided to make myself a new purse. I wanted a bigger purse, and I also wanted to add some zipper pockets to the inside. I had modified my purse pattern I have made several of already for myself to be larger, and but hadn’t worked it out yet so wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I had estimated the fabric usage to be about 50% more than what it takes for my original design, but it actually ended up taking almost double that. I barely had enough fabric to cut everything from using the two one-yard cuts I had chosen for this design.

My exterior fabric, pictured at left, was chosen after I had already picked my lining fabric- a cut of fabric that my friend Jami gave me two years ago. I had to hand draw some of my pattern pieces as our printer wouldn’t print half of the pieces, and gave me duplicates of others.

The actual construction went really smoothly, except for the part where I forgot to put the interfacing in. I actually had to partially disassemble it afterwards to put it in because to just wasn’t stable enough without it.

I added a zipper to the inside of both sides in the center panels, and was really pleased with my zipper skills- both went in perfectly the first time, and I don’t think I’ve ever put a zipper in so well the first time, and especially not two of them.

purse-outside

 

One of the biggest design changes I made besides making the purse bigger and adding the zipper pockets was to make the strap longer so it could be worn cross-body, though it doesn’t sit incredible low and it at about hip level.

purse-inside

 

The lining fabric is a cute grey and yellow polka dot flannel, and its a perfect match for my outer fabric.

After stitching it up, I did find a few things I wanted to adjust in the final pattern, such as making the purse body about 2″ taller, and I found the pocket pieces needed to be lengthened by about 1″ to fit better into the design and sewing methods. When I sew this purse, the pockets on the ends are held in place entirely by stitching them into the other seams- the only thing I have to do with the pocket pieces is hem the upper edges before inserting them into the seams.

Am I happy with the outcome, despite thinking it should be about 2″ taller? Yes. Hopefully I’ll be making an official pattern download with instructions for this version and adding it to my shop soon.

After making four new dresses in four days, I decided to try something different today. I opted to give this pattern a try, and my opinions of it are mixed. I chose to do McCall’s 6149 View B, which is the one in the middle there on the right-hand side. What I didn’t realize when I started on this was how cropped this vest is- when I put it on, the bottom edge is just below my rib cage. If I had been paying more attention to the pattern pieces I would have known this sooner and I might not have sewn it, choosing something else to make instead.

I had a feeling from the beginning I was going to have issues with this pattern, so I chose fabrics I had a lot of and no idea what to do with them. The outer fabric is a very pale pink cotton with a darker pink floral design on it- the pattern is very delicate. The lining fabric I chose (and this was where the problems started for me) was a gold colored satin- not yellow gold, but more brownish gold. I need to find a better method for cutting slippery fabrics because my lining pieces were not cut as exact as they should have been, which posed problems getting things to line up properly later on.

After cutting all of the pieces (outer, lining, and interfacing) which took forever, I started piecing things together. The first two panels to be joined were super easy. But when I went to join those to the next panel, the problems started. When a pattern tells you to “clip edges as needed” do not skip this step! I had to sew these pieces together a total of 4 times (left, right, inner, outer) and by the time I got the fourth one I had it down. Unfortunately by the time I got there I was so frustrated with it I said the hell with ripping out the other three and starting over, so there’s some corners that don’t sit as smoothly as they should.

M6149BFront

After that, the construction was pretty straight-forward and simple. I pieced everything together as much a possible before turning it right side out, fought to stitch as much of the remaining openings closed by machine as I could, and hand stitched the side seams of the lining on both sides to finish it off. Then I top stitched the edges all the way around to encourage the fabric to stay flat.

M6149BBack

 

From a distance this vest looks fine. You can’t see the places where seams don’t match up inside and outside like they should, or the places where there’s a tiny crease or fold that shouldn’t be there if we’re standing there having a conversation. But I know they’re there, and it drives me batty to know about them. I don’t think I will work this pattern again unless maybe I did view C because its just not suited to my style.

M6149BInside

McCall’s 5330 view A was one I cut back on September 5th, and I just tossed aside on my sewing table to get to “eventually.” One of the things I wanted to do over the next few weeks is get some serious sewing done. Yesterday I finished of my salvage project on the cherries skirt, and today was the day to finish M5330 view A.

I believe this pattern originally called for belt loops, and it also only had facings, not a full lining. I chose to skip the facings, and add a lining, as well as leave off the (possible?) belt loops. I almost never wear belts, and the few I actually own are more for decoration rather than usefulness.

I honestly have no idea how the construction went as per the directions. I’ve done a few patterns before where I added a full lining, and it basically amounts to sewing the garment twice, stitching the two sides together, leaving an opening for turning, turning, and then (for me) top stitching. The actual skirt only has three panels and a waistband- including the lining pieces, I had 7 pieces of fabric total, plus one piece of interfacing. With only a few pieces, construction was easy to wing, and I did. I had no hang-ups until I got to my favorite part.

Buttonholes. I hate them. With a passion. I have a really cool automatically buttonholer function on my sewing machine, but for the life of me, I cannot get it to work. If I’m lucky it does half of one side, then gives me an error that’s not in the manual, so really the only way to do them is mark the fabric and manually stitch a tight zigzag rectangle, and hope the butttonhole is the right length.

I actually got lucky, and I did get all but two spot on, and when I put the buttons on (those I can use the machine to do) I only had to reposition one of them in the process. The bottom two buttons could have been shifted a tiny bit- maybe 1/4”- but honestly once its on, you can’t really see where they don’t line up perfectly.

M5330-frontFront view on my dress form. I hadn’t tried it on me yet at this point, but it fit the form well, so I was confident it would fit me. I wasn’t disappointed when I tried it on.

m5330-rear

Back view on me. The fit is actually a lot better than I expected, and I will probably make this view again in the future out of a more summery fabric. Maybe a floral print to channel my inner 80’s girl?

All in all I am really pleased with the way this turned out, and the pattern envelope did not lie when it said “Easy” in large red script. This was a really easy one to complete, and I love that it lets me channel my nerdy library girl. 🙂