Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Top 5

Things have been quiet on the FO front lately, but I did finish 38 projects this year! Everyone else has done great Top 5 posts (thanks, Gillian!), and I thought it would be fun to look back at how I did in 2012.

HITS: (Clockwise from the top left)
Almost Goldilocks Dress: I worked hard on this one, and it came out just how I wanted it to - plus the fabric is super soft.
Sweet Chantilly Dress: How can I do a Top 5 Hits without this? It was one of my most popular posts, and even though I don't wear it often, when I do I always feel good.
Red Clovers: Sadly these are looking a little bit worn now.  They've been re-fitted at the side seams multiple times, and the fabric is not top notch.  I'm proud of them though anyway.
McCalls 6507: A newer make, and one that I have worn nearly once a week since I finished it.  
Check Mate Shirtdress: I wore this a ton during the summer - it was good for work, lightweight, and looked good with a cardigan.

MISSES: (Clockwise from the top left)
Mad Men Dress: I never wear this.  The armscye is a little too long, and it drives me crazy.
New Look 6097: Ugh.  Terrible quality fabric + bad pattern = yuck.
Artist Top: This has been sitting in my closet for ages.  The neckline feels a little too low for work, and it's not a style I wear on the weekends.
Black New Look 6107: Itchy fabric.  
Sorbetto: I like this top, but for some reason I always end up wearing something else.  Maybe I'll try to get it back into rotation in spring.

I started my blog on New Year's Day 2012, with a finished project, a few blurry photos, and goals for the next year.  How did I do?:
  1. Goal: Build up enough of a me-made wardrobe to participate in Self-Stitched September in a serious, nearly all of my outfit is me-made way.
    Outcome: I participated in Me-Made May, with at least one me-made item for each outfit.  Since this was four months earlier than I expected to be doing one of those challenges, I'd say I can check this one off the list.
  2. Goal: Learn some patience. As in, make muslins, don't rush it, and put it down if I'm tired or thinking anything like "who's going to notice?"
    Outcome: Eh.  I made a few muslins, but I could certainly stand to take my time and step back from a project if I feel inclined to rush things.
  3. Goal: Make a coat! (I have a vintage pattern I'm really excited about.)
    Outcome: Nope.
  4. Goal: Make a good dent in my yarn stash. My fabric stash took a serious hit about six months ago, when I didn't have a machine for a while and then moved and had to make some tough choices. So, there isn't much fabric to stash-bust.
    Outcome: HAHAHAHA.  I knitted very few things this year, and my fabric stash has exploded.  Oopsies.
With all of this in mind, my goals for 2013:
  1. Stop when things aren't going well.  All of my Top 5 Hits were projects I worked on over multiple days.  
  2. Buy better fabric.  I'm not going to start making everything out of silk, but spending a couple extra dollars for the better quality fabric makes more sense than buying the cheap crap and never wearing the clothes.  BUT...
  3. Don't buy fabric. My stash is enormous.  Aside from linings and interfacing, I really don't need more.
  4. Make a coat!
  5. Post more frequently (& sew more frequently).  My monthly post count really took a nosedive in November.  I didn't make much, so I didn't post much.  I'm going to try the "Sewing for 15 Minutes" approach from Tilly, and maybe that will help.  
I'm looking forward to 2013, since I know my sewing has improved drastically from when I started this blog last year.  I can't wait to see where I am a year from now! And, since my blogiversary is coming up tomorrow, stay tuned for a giveaway soon!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

FOs: Unselfish Sweater & Hat

I'm baaaaaaack! Very groggy from the red-eye flight from San Francisco, but back.

In addition to every day life stuff, this blog has been rather quiet the last month because I was busy doing some unselfish stitching for Christmas.  I made my sister a sweater, and it went something like this:

Early November: Oh look at me, I'm casting on so early! I'm going to make gifts for EVERYONE! 
November: New job, while excellent, is exhausting and turns me into a vegetable after 5pm.  
Thanksgiving: So I've only done half a front... there's still a month until Christmas! 
Early December: Knit, knit, knit the front.  Wait, I'm supposed to decrease along the neckline? Rip, rip, rip.
Mid-December: Knit every free second of every day. 
Plane ride home three days before Christmas: Put sweater down to knit Mom's hat.
Up until 11pm Christmas Eve: Knit, knit, knit.  Seam, seam, seam.
6am Christmas morning: Seam, seam, seam.  Wrap. Collapse.

I didn't block it, though she doesn't seem to mind.  The pattern is #49 Milk from Verena Knitting, and I would not recommend it - it's terribly written.  I used Berroco Vintage DK, a machine washable blend.

And here's the aforementioned hat I made for my mom - the Lavender Cables Hat in Classic Elite Magnolia.  This is probably the 4th hat I've made for her, and I think I finally got it right.  

Was anyone else gift-making down to the wire? I'm not even actually done yet... still owe my boyfriend some pajama pants! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ornament Exchange: Holiday Display!

So, over the past few weeks, eight other bloggers and I made and mailed ornaments for each other.  You can see my ornament here.  Receiving seven little packages in the mail was such a nice thing.  Everyone's attention to detail was fantastic, not only with the ornaments but with the packaging as well.  Sadly my mailman does not have much respect for this, and squished a few of the packages into my little tiny mailbox.  So, I do not have a fun photo of all of the packages together for you.  I do get to share where they are in my apartment though!

The view from my front door

We don't have a tree this year, since we won't be celebrating Christmas in Brooklyn.  My boyfriend bought a wreath (for the requisite tree smell), and we hung the ornaments in the archway leading to our living room.  
Each ornament is so different, and so clearly reflects the blogger who made it!
Miranda's, Suzanne's, Megan's, and Jen's ornaments.

Madalynne's, Kelli's, Sonja's, and Dixie's ornaments.
Thanks again to all of the bloggers who participated, and especially Kelli for organizing it! If you're interested in seeing where everyone else hung their ornaments, don't miss their posts: 

Sonja of Ginger Makes
Suzanne of Beau Baby
Miranda of One Little Minute
Megan of Megan Nielsen
Jen of Grainline
Dixie of Dixie DIY
Kelli of True Bias

I know things have been very quiet around here for a while... life has been packed with things to do, and outside of Christmas present making (which I am still working on!!) I have not had time to do any sewing or knitting.  After the holidays I'll get to share the gifts I made though, and you can bet as soon as I have a little time to spare I will be back to selfish sewing.  

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ornament Exchange: Beaded Peace Dove

To be honest, I'm not really one of those people that gets really excited about Christmas decorations.  I enjoy them, but I don't really put effort into decorating at home and I don't seek out fancy displays in Manhattan.  My boyfriend, on the other hand, is a huge fan of all things holiday-related; he drinks egg nog, loves seeing the decorations and plays Christmas carols at home.
When Kelli invited me to be a part of the Ornament Exchange, I thought it would be a good way to get me into the holiday spirit.  Plus, who doesn't like a good swap, especially with these ladies?

Sonja of
Suzanne of
Miranda of
Megan of
Jen of
Dixie of
Madalynne of
Kelli of

Click through to their blogs to see their ornament posts today!

It took me a looooooong time to decide what to make, but I finally settled on a beaded peace dove - not so Christmas-y, but still holiday-themed.  And it's sparkly, a must for holiday decorations.

Want to make your own? Here's how.

You'll need:
  • Two squares of the main fabric, large enough to fit the embroidery hoop.  
  • One square of muslin or sew-in interfacing
  • Piping made from your main fabric. (Learn how to make your own with DesignSponge's tutorial.)
  • Ribbon (4 inches is all you need for one ornament)
  • Image to bead, centered in a circle.  This circle determines the size of your final ornament.  Any simple dove image (or any other image) will work.  
  • Embroidery floss for olive branch
  • Small beads
  • Beading needle
  • Beadstring or thread.  I ended up using sewing thread and it worked fine.  
  • Not pictured: A circle of batting (preferably high loft, poly fill would work fine too), the size of your final ornament.

I am not a beading expert.  I'm sure I broke every cardinal rule of beading.  But this is what worked for me!
1.  If your fabric is semi-sheer: Trace the image outline and circle onto muslin or sew-in interfacing.  Center the image behind the main fabric, and put into the embroidery hoop.  I just used pen, because I knew the marks would not be visible once it was done.
2.  If your fabric is not sheer: Transfer the design onto your main fabric using a water soluble pen or another erasable method.
3.  Find a comfy seat and a good movie (or 6, if you're making nine of these!!) Bead the outline of the dove onto your main fabric.  Then fill in the outline.
4.  Backstitch the olive branch on to the fabric with the embroidery thread.

5.  Trim around the circle, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance.
6.  Pin the piping around in a circle around the right side, with the piping edge inward.  Overlap the piping at the top, sandwiching the ribbon between the piping and the main fabric.
7.  Sew the piping to the circle.
8.  With your second square of main fabric, cut a circle the same size as your ornament front.  This second circle will be the ornament back.
9.  Place the ornament back on top of the front, right sides together.
10.  Sew around the circle, leaving an opening of 1.5" at the top (where the ribbon is attached).
11.  Turn right side out through the hole.
12.  Stuff the circle.

13. Take the loose end of the ribbon and put it into the gap.  Then sew the opening closed.

That's it! Now swear off beading forever and admire your ornament.

Thank you Kelli for running the swap, and all of the other bloggers for swapping with me and putting me in the holiday spirit.