on book reviews

January 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

I read a lot of blogs that do book reviews but the blogger has actually received a copy of the book in exchange for the review. I know I mention that I check my books out of the public library but I just wanted to say it again and clearly state that I do not receive anything in exchange for talking up a book. It’s just my way of sifting through the hoards of crafting and sewing books out there for you.

So, to reiterate, I don’t receive anything in exchange for my book reviews. If I ever do, I’ll be sure to let you know so you can take my review with a grain of salt.


Weekender Bag Lining

January 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

Lining is done and so are my hands. Now  get ready for a frie... on Twitpic

This is a picture from my phone and I don’t plan on documenting the lining any more than I have here. If you want to see more pictures of the exterior and process, go to this post. One of the reasons is because I’m not that thrilled with how it set into the bag. It was also a bear to stitch into the bag. My hands and individual fingers were really sore after hand stitching it in. Below are some tips on sewing in this lining:

1. USE a thimble. The whole time. Don’t think you’ll be okay without one.

2. Consider the stickiness of basting tape before you use it to baste your zipper. Going thru the layers plus the tape was more than my needle could handle. I’d recommend hand basting the zipper in, but that’s just me.

3. Have several short needles on hand and use a new needle often. I could feel my needle getting dull.

4. You really want to secure the inside first, but if you don’t, you can still stitch the seams together from the right side, as long as you can hide your knot. I actually found it easier to secure the seems from the right side.

5. Take breaks.

6. For some reason, I had to adjust the lining a lot as I sewed it into the exterior. I’m starting to think I might have not sewn the correct seam allowance or something because I ended up having to do a lot of tucks at the corners to fit it all in. I thought I followed the directions and I pinned it in to double check before I started sewing it in but didn’t notice. Take your time. It’s a nice bag and you don’t want to end up with one or two things you don’t like.

7. Show off your bag to non-sewers to help boost your confidence about the bag. I know. It sounds superficial but it’ll remind you that you are probably your worst critic.

I’m taking this bag with me on my upcoming California trip. Let’s see how it holds up in real life.

working on tinymouse designs for 2011

January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment


I’ve been working on designing a collection for my tinymouse label for Spring/Summer 2011. Why bother calling it a collection, or even organizing this way?

Part of it is just how I am. I’m always wanting to make improvements, especially when I’m sewing. Last year, the clothes I made for my tinymouse label were one of a kind (OOAK). In other words, I didn’t make patterns. I would take a t-shirt and just start cutting. I have an aesthetic and I can just eyeball it. Granted, my eyeballing is pretty darn accurate. I do check my work. Anyway, I couldn’t quite keep up with the interest in a particular dress or pair of pants because I had made one. And only one.

Last year was my first year creating kid’s clothes. As you may remember, tinymouse designs was started when I decided to make Podaegis- an infant-toddler carrier- so when I started making upcycled clothes, I just plunged into it.

This year I started to sketch because I didn’t have a ton of thrifted clothes lying around. I also don’t always have time to work on a pattern or cut into thrifted t-shirts, skirts, shirts, etc. A lot of the time, when I’m with my kids, I keep an activity handy for when they get involved in their own play.

The theme for this Spring/Summer 2011 collection is Everyday Dress-Up.

I like the idea of having repurposed/upcycled clothes that you can just toss in the wash without worrying about special fabrics and how they’ll take to the dryer. I like the ease of cotton and its breath-ability.

I’ve got more sketches to share with you but I wanted to pull your interest in this theme of Everyday Dress-Up.

The top image is what I’m calling The Magician. It could also be a Sorcerer or something similar. So far, baby brother isn’t interested in the Magician costume I made for him as a prototype. Maybe the idea of a Magician is for an older crowd.

The image below is a design bilingual baby wanted me to draw. She wanted it to be brown, a color that doesn’t let you see design elements, like the ruffled front seam, but what could I say to her interest?

The dresses specifically for girls are Fairies and Pixies since that’s what my 4yo loves.

I’ll be adding some more sketches so you can see and add your input. I’m in the designing and making mock-ups stage so feel free to comment on these designs.

Corsets and Angry Sewing Machines

January 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

I picked this beauty of a book up from the library. I’m enjoying the history and the patterns are a plus. You also get two patterns with instructions so you can replicate them. The corsets are works of art.

Now I’ve got this idea in my head that I’d like to use some of the jeans Josh has left for dead to make a corset. It’s a practice corset. See, I’m making a Victorian costume and I’m dreading the corset part.

Back to the jeans. These jeans have ripped knees that really make them less pants and more shorts plus some material hanging by a handful of threads in the back. What can I say, the guy has angry knees.

I knew I wasn’t the first to think of upcycling jeans into a corset so I went online to look for images. This is one of my favorites. Such a clean look.

The photo below shows you the pattern I bought.

I finally cut out the pattern pieces. Lots of little pattern pieces. While the Necchi is sitting there staring at me, angry cos I put her in a coma, I’m just leaving the cut pieces for the time when I can approach her without feeling so bad.

I don’t want to make her feel bad by using the Touchtronic, but then again, I just might.

Weekly Special: This is Me Loving You

January 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Josh was out of town at a Librarian conference. He ended up being gone for 6 days. Young children are really needy, so the thought of going without back-up for 6 days was quite the undertaking, in my mind.

The first two days, the kids asked for Papi a lot. Were we going to pick him up from the airport? Where was he? Was he at work? Can we call him? Can we send him a message?

After these initial days of personal stress, not knowing how I was going to deal with no breather, I had a bit of a cathartic break-through. I realized that I was involving myself in a trauma drama cycle.

How does this work?

As you can see in the diagram below, one person plays the victim role, another the perpetrator and another the rescuer.

What I began to realize was that I was making myself into the rescuer of any disagreement between my children. I would assume one to be the perpetrator (the one taking the toy, for example) and the other the victim (the one crying, usually).

I would come in to save the day. I would start getting mad at the kid I assumed was the perpetrator and comfort the kid I thought was the victim. Every time I heard a disagreement, I’d assume my role and make other assumptions about my kids.

I resented their disagreements. I was also exhausted after each episode. Until I saw the cycle repeat itself.

Maybe it was my husband being gone for so long that gave me the opportunity to open my eyes and see that engaging in this trauma drama cycle with my kids wasn’t the best thing for us. Maybe it was just timing all around.

I don’t particularly enjoy hearing my kids bicker, nor do I prescribe to the “let them work it out” all the time, but unless it sounds like they could use some guidance, I wait before stepping in to assist. The truth is that they do come to me when they can’t figure something out. But I’ve got to say that I do get excited when I hear them figure out how to manage the last cookie or the hurt feelings. I feel happy for them.

I do have to remember that just as you can over-design in fashion (doing more to your garment and hurting the overall effect), you can over-parent. What is over-parenting? As this article puts it: “Over-parenting comes from the belief that for a child to be happy and secure, he must be protected from unpleasant or sad experiences.”

Childhood disputes are for childhood. I don’t want my children having to sort through childhood disputes as adults. As much as it pains me to see my children cry over “spilled milk”, I know that it’s part of life. They will have lots of upsets as their lives get more complex. I will be here for them, as I am now.

If I do believe that we are given tests that match our capacity, then I will trust my kids’ capacity to endure the tests that come their way. As they show me how upset they are, I will hold their hand and be present. I can’t fix every sad face and that’s a reality I will hold to.

Weekender Bag: Exterior Done!

January 16, 2011 § 8 Comments

The exterior of my Weekender Bag (pattern by Amy Butler). My Necchi is currently in a coma. I need to take it in to see about fixing it. It’s out of whack and won’t create a stitch. It started showing signs of it’s ability, or rather inability to go thru so many layers of thick and just stopped producing a stitch.

I pulled out back up #1 but the tension knob is not on right and it just won’t work.  Then, I pulled out another back-up, the Singer Touch-Tronic 2001. What a name! It’s a “computer-controlled machine”. The first, apparently. This is what it looks like:

Part of the computer screen doesn’t work but it cut through the layers of this bag like it was one of those knives the ads say can cut through a can as easily as it cuts through a tomato. That’s what it was like. I wish I had thought of the Touchtronic before putting my Necchi (still unnamed) into a coma. Poor girl.

I still have the lining to put in and I’m taking the advice of those who made this bag before me and I’m putting in pockets. Not a zipper pocket, but some open pockets so the inside has some way of organizing my life for me.

Here’s a slideshow with the beauty of this bag, along with some pictures that show that I didn’t rock every inch of it, either. Enjoy!

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Metaphorically Speaking

January 13, 2011 § 5 Comments

A friend commented that he admired my single-focused wall on facebook. To quote him, he said, “Your Facebook page is to fabrics as ESPN is to sports.”

If you know me at all, you know I can’t just sit there and take a compliment. If I’m feeling attacked, I’ll sit and stew. If I’m flattered, I get chatty. And chatty I did get.

I started thinking about ESPN and what I could learn and incorporate from that enterprise. Here’s a list I started. What do you think? I know at least one of my readers, Nicole, will find the first especially appealing.

1. Fantasy Sewing Teams, where you plan out garment sewing but never touch thread, sewing machine, seam ripper, etc.

2. Scoreboard on garment victories, similar to Ravelry’s rating system.

3. Sewing Blooper Reels

4. and an In the News column to keep everyone up to speed on the current trends in the sewing world.

Aside from having an Unfinished Project Party, inspired by the activity on the blog with the same name, I’m thinking Fantasy Sewing will conquer the hearts of all. Imagine all the expensive fabric you can imagine working with. Oh, wait. I already do that.

Watch out world, and Project Runway, Fantasy Sewing is coming your way.

P.S. Thanks Brian for instigating all of these ideas. Even if I never fulfill any of them, the thought of them is just enticing.

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