Friday, May 25, 2012

Thrifty finds: woah mama!

For all the complaining I do about our local thrift stores on this blog, I was bound to have some good luck sooner or later.
60s fabric
First up, this fabric, which my sweet baby's chunky little wrist is helping to model. To the left is a 100% groovy polyester. It's so totally 60's and much more navy in person.  It reminded me of a more angular Amy Butler print. It's 2 1/2 yards and I paid a buck a yard.

On the right is a whopping 8 1/4 yards of mid-century upholstery fabric. IN LOVE. Paid nine bucks for it, and I can't wait to find the perfect re-upholstery project for it.

I almost titled this post "I will NOT buy more fabric, I will NOT buy more fabric," but it's finds like this that make me glad I don't stick to that mantra. I can't believe I was initially on the fence about buying this fabric!

food pantry
I got this sweet little food pantry, which will be great for storing pastas and canned goods. If I didn't need it in the kitchen, it would be great towel storage in the bathroom, or a sewing stuff holder. It was marked $39 and I was all ready to pay that, but it rang up for $27 including tax. Gotta love surprise sales!

ironrite mangle
Here's the doozy; my husband brought me home an antique Ironrite mangle so I can iron my yardages and quilt tops quickly. I wish I took a picture of the manual-- it has a lady holding an extremely stiff baby girl's dress, like a piece of cardboard. He tells me it was originally $100, but wasn't selling so they marked it 75% off. So he bought it for $25, plus the manual, and the chair.

And, if you're a design freak, yes, it came with the mint condition Ironrite Health Chair (not pictured). Yes, THAT Ironrite Health Chair.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Maternity patterns: are they a good idea, and where to buy them?

I've already said that sewing is realy only economical if you're (or the person you're sewing for is) going to remain the same size for a while, and the garment will see years of use.

Still, there's something appealing about sewing your own maternity clothes... at least for me. Being able to choose fun patterns, and lengthen what needs lengthening. So I've been mentally cataloguing companies offering maternity patterns.

But first; if you're not a mom and don't plan on becoming one, I realize this post is about as fun as watching grass grow. So I promise posts like this will be few and far between. Further, I'm not pregnant now, so I'm not going to be going all boring-blogging-only-about-my-baby on you. Although the baby I already do have is the best baby ever. Just sayin'.

I do hope to maybe have another baby in the future, and the problems I had last time I was pregnant were the same ones I always have with RTW. Pants too short, sleeves too short, this too wide and that too snug. You know.

But. Just nine months of wear, or less than that actually, seems like too short a time to put a bunch of work into making a garment. I'd probably rather be sewing for the new or current baby, or nesting, or whatever. Not to mention the cost involved with buying maternity patterns and enough fabric to stretch around that expanding girth. My last preg belly was huh-yuuuuge!

So even though I won't be sewing an entire maternity wardrobe if I become pregant again, I'd probably like to me-make a couple of pieces.

Here's a list of maternity pattern resources! Did I leave any out? Have you made any? Do you think maternity sewing is worthwhile?


Of the "big four" pattern companies, they're the ones who seemed to have maternity the longest in recent memory. I was going to complain how kinda boring theirs were, maybe even somewhat dated, until I went to the site just now and saw the one I pinned above. Ruching is pretty typical when it comes to maternity wear, but pretty cute nonetheless!

Butterick's selection was limited to just two patterns and labeled simply "maternity" until recently. Sometime last year they added a second, seperate section called "suitable for maternity", which for some reason has just two of their now four regular maternity patterns, plus some of the more loose-fitting regular patterns. Which I must say, does NOT make me want to buy said regular patterns for non-maternity use. I mean, what non-pregnant person wants to wear a dress that's been deemed "suitable for maternity"?

Butterick Maternity & Suitable for Maternity


McCall's doesn't have any maternity-specific patterns, but added the same "suitable for maternity" section that Butterick did at around the same time. McCall's section does denote, however, that "Hem adjustment may be necessary."

Again, not too sure I'd wear these regular patterns for normal use. The one I pinned above is great... if you'd like to channel your inner pregnant Nicole Richie.

McCall's Suitable for Maternity


Kwik Sew offers the standard, basic, maternity fare and is easy to get your hands on if you live near a Hancock Fabrics.

Kwik Sew Maternity


Burda Style Magazine's popular website is another one I don't remember having maternity patterns until very recently.

The handful of maternity pattern downloads they offer are pretty great; basic maternity staples that, if made properly, could be extremely stylish-- which is just how you want to feel when you're heavily pregnant. And while their downloadable patterns aren't readily available during $.99-$1.99 sales like the above pattern-makers, Burdastyle's maternity patterns are reasonably priced in the $5 range.

Burda Style Magazine/ Maternity

Burda has a line of already printed patterns as well, which are easily available at Jo-Ann and other retailers.

Burda actually has one of the more decent-sized selections of maternity patterns when it comes to the major pattern retailers, and certainly the best selection under the Simplicity Creative Group umbrella. That's because Simplicity and New Look don't currently offer maternity patterns.

Burda's patterns tend to look cute in the thumbnails on the Simplicity website. Then you click on them and they... don't. Their maternity patterns are no exception. Case in point, the pattern on the left above, which, once I clicked on it, turned out to be some sort of a belly-baring maternity crop top over a satin jumpsuit. If you say so.

The one on the right, a bonus pattern image to illustrate my point (plus I was too embarrassed to actually pin these to Pinterest), it's likewoahmaternitygeniepants. Not the most flattering look on anyone, let alone a swollen-ankled pregnant lady. Note to Burda: it's not the mommies who need the diaper allowance.

Still, don't let these patterns fool you. Burda offers a couple of great maternity basics, including a winter coat and a maxi dress. At least that's how the thumbnails look...

Burda Maternity Wear


Fear not, Colette, Sewaholic, and Pattern Runway fans! There's an indie pattern company for the pregnant set, too!

Megan also has some of the absolute best DIY maternity wear tutorials on the web on her sister blog, DIY Maternity.


There are a whole host of maternity wear how-to's online... in fact, too many to list. Megan Nielsen's site that I mentioned above is a great starting point. You could also check Pinterest or simply Google "maternity tutorials". Some of my favorites include the various maxi skirt tutorials and ruched T-shirts. There are also various methods to alter non-maternity patterns to include a wider front and longer hem.

Source: via Elisha on Pinterest

Just because some of the big pattern companies don't currently offer maternity patterns, doesn't mean they never did. The usual suspects, Etsy and eBay, are great places to start if you'd like to purchase some of these.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Before & After: nightstand makeover

nightstand makeover before
Shabby chic: ya either love it or ya hate it.

I happen to love it... as long as it's not total overboard like you're living in some countryside Northeastern (1980s) bed and breakfast. I like the muted whites and florals that the look is known for, but I also love color and other graphic prints too much to go full-on with it.

And of course I love vintage, retro, antique... just plain OLD stuff. Always have. So that's perhaps what I find most appealing of all about the SC aesthetic. The aged, loved, worn, and yes, distressed (even it's it's faux distressed) fabrics and woods.

Don't be hatin'.

Among the old things I don't love: 1970s veneer. So when I bought this nightstand, I full intended on painting it all along.

And here she is now!
nightstand makeover after 2
I know you've seen these "white with distressed paint" makeovers all over the blogosphere so it's nothing really special, but I'm really happy with it!

It was my first attempt at making over a piece of furniture. Oh, I've painted plenty of stuff, but I've never sanded, primed, chosen new hardware, done specialty finishes like faux distressing and blue washes, then sealed.

My previous endeavors were "paint over the old paint until you can't see said old paint any longer aaaaannd.. done".

It'll now live next to my bed and probably hold some sewing stuff spilling over from my craft nook. I hope I get to do more projects like this in the future! nightstand makeover after 1
White Nighstand Makeover
Nightstand: veneer and wood nightsand (~16.50 - thrift store)
Hardware: mismatched knobs (~15 - World Market)
Paints: white primer and latex paint in one (husband chose it! $14 for full can used on two night stands - Home Depot), Minwax past wax (~$10 - Lowes)
Total cost: ~48.50

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Colette Sorbetto: purple floral

floral sorbetto1
Here's yet another Sorbetto.

The black floral making up the main part came from Gramma's stash and is probably from the early 90s. I thought adding another floral for the bias tape would make it more contemporary... but to me it looks like I made another old lady Sorbetto!

Not that there's a problem with that, I'm an old lady at heart.

I bought the purple stuff I made the bias tape from at WalMart, when I went there to pick up the Thomas and Friends fabric. I'd already been planning to make this one, and when I saw the purple stuff, I thought it would be perfect! ended up a little off on some of the colors. But, since I made the bias tape just an inch and a half wide (as opposed to two inches on the Thomas the Train Sorbetto), the two work OK together. floral sorbetto 5You may notice the purple strip down the center of the pleat. I had a lot less of the black stuff than the 1.5 yards called for in the Sorbetto, but I knew there was still enough to squeeze a top from it. So instead of cutting the front on the fold, I just cut it twice in two different spots. To stitch it together, I put a strip of the contrast in between, but only decided to do so after I cut it into a 1.5 wide strip. floral sorbetto3The Sorbetto is still a little wide in the hips for me, but I've gotten it to the point that it fits much better than my first Sorbetto. I'm basically cutting a 16 down the sides and at the top shoulder seam, while leaving the armscyce, neckline, and length an 18 (or longer). The darts I put at size 16. floral sorbetto7
1990's Floral Tank
Pattern: Colette Sorbetto (free)
Materials: Purple floral quilting cotton (I don't remember what I paid for this half-yard, but I think it was ~$6/yd - WalMart), black & purple floral fashion fabric (free - Gramma)
Total Cost: Under $8, probably around $5 or less

Friday, May 11, 2012

WIP: craft desk & sewing nook makeover

I can't believe I'm about to show this mess up in here, but I keep it real... so here is the "before" shot of my sewing desk...

In all fairness, this was still unpacking from the move and at a moment that I remembered to whip out my iPhone to snap a "before" shot.

My husband picked up this desk, AND that white desk chair, AND a second, very similar desk AND a matching headboard for $10 at a yard sale. Not $10 each, not "like, ten bucks"... $10 for the whole she-bang. I was so glad he thought of my sewing desk when he saw the dueling desks-- I LOVE the one I picked out! And it fits just right in our bedroom nook.

The prob: that corkboard behind the work area is completely useless. The tacks won't stick all the way in before hitting the back of the hutch, and everything falls out.

So, rather than leave a discolored, useless corkboard, I decided to cover it up.

Behold, the "after"... kinda.
Yeah, yeah, there's still a LOT of organizing to go. I went back and forth one whether to label this postt "WIP" or "Before & After" before settling on the former. Because SRSLY, I still have some spots to paints and some hardware to change out and LOTS of overall organization projects for this area. But I'll keep you posted with the various updates.

This particular "Before & After" was what I was hinting at here, and instead of wallpaper, I used Modge Podge and scrapbook paper.
Ugh, I NEVER thought I would be saying I used Modge Podge OR scrapbook paper, let alone the two together. It's just so... mombloggery.

OK, well maybe Modge Podge, especially after this project. You've won me over, Modge Podge! You do, indeed, "rock".

As for the scrapbook paper, I got a huuuuuge tablet of it at Ross for $9.99, and there's still the majority of it left over. I thought it would achieve the look I wanted without me having to order a wallpaper sample book off eBay... and I was right! I LOVE the color this adds not only to my sewing nook, but to our whole bedroom!

What about you, do you have desk or an entire room to craft and sew in? Do you have any tips for organzing my notions and supplies? So far, I've put my patterns in that Costco chicken stock box pictured above (that'll get Modge Podged too), and used old spaghetti sauce jars to put my spools of thread into (much cheaper and handier than hunting for antique mason jars).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Colette Sorbetto: Thomas & Friends

This is my second go at Colette's Sorbetto.

Yes, it is Thomas the Tank Engine, and yes, I am a 31-year-old woman.

Normally, my frugal ways would have me turn away from a top I can only wear once (my son's birthday party). But I actually justified the time and money put into this top by deciding that I'll also be that nerdy mom who wears it to Day out With Thomas in the Santa Cruz Mountains later this summer, whenever we take the baby to Sonoma Train Town, and when we get around to riding the Skunk Train with my in-laws. Heck, I've never ridden the Niles Canyon Railway, and it's in my own backyard-- maybe it's time I took the kiddo there in my Thomas shirt, too. Are there any other train excursions in the greater Bay Area/NorCal I left out?

Onto the top: I cut a size smaller on the sides and shoulder this time, but left it an 18 on the length, armholes, and neckline. It fits much, much better than the Granny Shorts Sorbetto, but there's still room for improvement. I know what many people like about the Sorbetto is the hip room, but even though I'm plus-sized, I find the hips too roomy and will cut it straighter down the sides next time.

For bias tape I used the stuff I intended to be quilt binding here, so the exposed bias facing is pretty wide and very stiff... it kinda makes the neckline and armhole sit up strangely, which I don't mind. What bothers me more about the bias tape is how the polka dots are just kinda a couple of rows here and there. Oh, well.

Oh yeah, I also sewed the bias tape down either side of the pleat, like flat piping.

Only two more Thomas posts to go-- I promise.
Thomas & Friends Tank Top
Pattern: Colette Sorbetto (free)
Materials: Thomas & Friends quilting cotton (~$6/yd - WalMart), red polka dot fabric (free - Gramma)
Total Cost: Under $10, probably around $8

Monday, May 7, 2012

Completed: Thomas the Tank Engine Toddler Stack and Slash Quilt

Are you sick of seeing Thomas the Train here yet? Because I've got about three more posts to go after this.

But the LO's Bday is today, so I promise we're almost done!

Also done: the quilt! Last seen here and here.

I didn't end up using the dot bias tape I showed you here; I decided it was too narrow. I scrapped together some of that same fabric and the red leftover from this to make the quilt binding instead. I like how the two turned out together.

There are loads of mistakes, but it IS my first quilt in a good 15-20 years, AND my first one all by my lonesome (without Gramma's help). I'll get better... hopefully.

There are six "stacked and slashed" fat quarters, with the seventh FQ providing sashing in between each row of two. It's a combo of tied with red yarn and machine quilted.

Thomas & Friends Stack & Slash Toddler Quilt
Materials: Thomas & Friends FQ Bundle ($7 - WalMart); pillow ticking, yarn, and red fabrics all from Gramma; extra Thomas fabric from here for the border; batting (~$7 - Jo-Ann sale)
Total cost: Under $20, but we all know quilts cost waayyy more to make than just the materials!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Before & After: Grandma shorts Sorbetto

I've jumped onto the Sorbetto bandwagon by making one from a pair of Granny shorts. Literally.

These started out as a pair my late Gramma's shorts... and basically ended up as one of her shirts.

I was hoping that the yellow bias tape and contemporary pattern would make the shirt look "younger", but to me it really does look like something my Gramma would've worn. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm still wearing it-- and I even got a compliment on it, but it was one of those that she might as well have said "wow, that's some top you got there!" compliments.

I'll probaby wear it a couple of times more. Which may be all it lasts-- I noticed a couple of small holes AFTER I'd already cut the pattern and decided to sew it anyway.

As for the Sorbetto pattern, I'm making it again, but I'm cutting it smaller. My bust is 45", so I followed the pattern's advice, which says:
Colette Patterns have less ease than many other patterns to provide a closer, more tailored fit. If you are between sizes, choose the larger size.
Yeaaaah, not so much. I made the largest size and was swimming in it. I had to take it in on the sides, and even then my husband was calling it my "short and wide" top. I could stand to go down one or even two sizes in it.

NOT that I'm complaining about a totally awesome free pattern.
Granny Shorts Sorbetto
Pattern: Colette Sorbetto
Pattern alterations: smaller pleat to fit my fabric and lengthened slightly
Fabric: Gramma's shorts (free)
Notions: Yellow bias tape (.50 cents - thrifted)
Time to make: an afternoon
Total cost: ~.50 cents

Thomas & Friends birthday party bunting (fabric)

Here's some bunting I made for the LO's first birthday party! As I mentioned before, his party theme is Thomas  & Friends.

Not going to write out a tutorial, but here's the method I used:
  • I did some light math and determined how many triangles I wanted, how far apart, and how large they should be.
  • Based on those measurements, drew and cut out my Isosceles Triangle pattern.
  • Cut out twice as many triangles as I wanted to end up with, so that each would have a front and back.
  • Sewed down each of the longer two sides, right-sides together.
  • Turned them right-side out and pressed.
  • Pinned and sewed them into thrifted double-fold bias tape, one seam at the top and one at the bottom of the tape.
I used a red paisley fabric from Gramma's stash. I was hoping it would  give off a train engineer's bandanna vibe, but truthfully, it was the only red in the stash. I bought a yard of the only Thomas cotton that Jo-Ann's had (before I found these fat quarters), but some of it ended up getting used in the quilt anyway. Yellow bias tape was the best match I had, and goes with Thomas's painted on number "1".

It'll hang in his room when the party's over.

I made a paper bunting too (haven't taken pics yet), and the quilt is actually done (camera died with pics on the cam's "hard drive")... watch for both here soon.

Thomas & Friends Fabric Bunting
Materials: red fabric (free - stash), Thomas the Tank fabric ($9.99 with a 50% coupon ~ $5 - Jo-Ann), bias tape (.50 cents - thrift store), thread
Total cost: ~$5.50

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Project inspiration: wallpaper collage walls

UPDATE: here's the project I based on the following inspiration images... enjoy!

I've been in luurrrrve with these wallpaper collage walls since I first spotted them on teh interwebz last year, probably on Design Sponge.

In fact, I'm pretty sure they're among the first things I pinned when I joined Pinterest "40 weeks ago".

I love the quilt-like look it achieves-- and that you don't have to pick just one wallpaper!

They're done using wallpaper sample books, and since you probably don't have to hang them as straight as using just one type of wallpaper, they're easier to hang, too.

While I don't think my husband or landlord would be down with me replicating them in our home, I've figured out how to achieve the look on a much smaller scale. Keep an eye out for that project.

But first, the inspiration...
Source: via Elisha on Pinterest

Mom's mini-stash

My mom stopped sewing years ago in favor of boozing playing iPhone games volunteering on the local rodeo board.

It's a good thing, too; at ages 29 and 31, I no longer think it's appropriate for my sister and I to be wearing matching shorts outfits.

Her stash of fabric floated around for years at my Grampa's ranch (where I grew up) until I finally saved a little bit of it right before he was foreclosed on.

There's actually some really cute calicoes. I don't care what anyone says; I'm a sucker for quilting calicoes for dresses and tops.

Seersucker dots that my sister and I did indeed have matching outfits from, and Care Bear pillow panels from the 80s.
At least I only had to wear the outfits once-- sis had to wear them once as her own and again as my hand-me-downs.

Quite a bit of Western and cowboy themed stuff. Did I mention she volunteers for the local rodeo board?
I actually rather like it, especially the teal one.

She also has quite a few swimsuit patterns, including one or two Brooke Shields swimsuit patterns. A silly shark costume pattern (in fact, in the fabric there's some pink stripes that I recognized as the shark's "cone" to hold his nose up) that mom made for herself, but the costume was later worn by me and maybe even sis. Again with the hand-me-downs. There's also some ruffle-tastic 80s dresses that I'm honestly pretty into, but will have to learn grading to get them to fit!

(Love ya, mom!)
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