Monday, October 20, 2014

I Love Overalls!

Seriously, I have always loved overalls!  I would wear them as often as I could when I was younger.  I even got a couple pairs when I was pregnant with my kids, although I didn't end up wearing those ones much.  I love overalls!  They are comfy and who doesn't adore all those pockets, right?
Years ago I bought some adorable blue corduroy fabric with little cows on it with the intention of making overalls for my then-pre-school-aged cousins.  Yeah, there's a serious age difference going on!  So I cut my tissue paper patterns, laid out the pieces "just so" and cut my fabric, then I put it all away to work on when I had more time to devote to putting them together.  Fast forward, um, well, let's just say it's been more than ten years and those overalls are still sitting in a bag, waiting to be made.  I did actually pull the fabric out about a year ago, thinking they might fit my own kids, but honestly, the directions to put them together were just more than I wanted to deal with.  I think I actually got the pockets on the fronts, maybe the backs, but they never looked quite lined up, and I just didn't want to keep going if they were going to be crooked.
Recently I found Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop and when Amy, the owner/designer, started posting previews of her overall jumper, I was smitten!  It was exactly the look I wanted to make for my kids!  The great thing about PAB is that she offers a few free patterns on her website to try out.  I can't even imagine what it takes to figure out and put together a paper pattern but these are amazing!  What I didn't realize was that I have actually been wanting to pick up her Classic Footed Pajama pattern for about a year now but never thought to really look at her site, I had no idea what I was missing out on!
First of all, you get the pattern for an incredibly reasonable price and most patterns come in sizes 3 months to children's size 10!  You can't get a single tissue paper pattern in that many sizes!  Plus, since it is a digital file, you can print it off as many times as you need!  For me, I print the pattern in black-and-white, then I use pattern tracing paper to trace the size I need.  I prefer using the pattern paper (similar to interfacing) over printing a new pattern only because my printer uses up ink very quickly.  I am planning to purchase some accordion files to store the original printed pattern and each traced size in the same area.


The directions for the patterns (well, for every one that I have gotten so far) comes not only with detailed instructions but lots of photos for easy reference.  The photos are great because they are not those black-and-white diagrams of what some manufacturer thinks the items should look like, PAB instruction photos are full color, actual project photos, some include additional markings.  Again, in a effort to not allow my printer to force me into bankruptcy, I actually use my Adobe Reader on my tablet to scroll through instructions.  I am even able to "mark up" my notes using Reader, so if I decide to go out of order (which is something I do a lot) I can mark what steps I have done so I don't miss a thing!

I have to say though, one of the greatest things about these patterns is the support from not only the designer but also from her testers and other sewists!  Amy has a blog where she shares tutorials for patterns, updates followers on new patterns or news, offers free tutorials (and patterns) for designs not in her store and also shares mash-up tips where you can take patterns and mash-them-up to make your own hybrid patterns!  There is also a Facebook page and group (this is a closed group and you must request to join) to get help with patterns, ideas, even great places to purchase fabric!
So!  When the Oopsy Daisy Overalls Jumper was being released, I just knew I had to have it!  The great thing is, there are lots of ways to get a discount!  I not only got the jumper during a Thrifty Thursday special sale, when I added the Okie Dokie Overalls (pants/shorts) there was a coupon code for $3 off!  I did happen to have twill fabric that I wanted to use for these patterns, and in the Facebook group, Amy was doing a sew-along, which is fabulous because it helps to break down the pattern and addresses any issues people might be having with making the patterns.
I had every intention of sewing along with everyone else, up until I found out my iron was broken.  I was so bummed!  At the end of the sew along, people were encouraged to post their completed photos for a chance to win a store credit!  Even though I didn't finish in time for the "contest" I was able to borrow an iron in order to get the overalls made.  After making them, I will never (well, at least in my foreseeable future never) buy another tissue-paper pattern again!  Even as a work-at-home-mom of two little girls, the jumper took me about four or five hours, including cutting time, although it was spread out across a couple days.  When I was ready to make the overalls, they took me significantly less time to put together!





 I seriously can't wait to make my next patterns!  In the next week I have plans to make Halloween costumes for my kids!  Be sure to check that out here.
I have about a dozen patterns now from PAB, and I love the variety.  Since Samie loves dresses so very much, I have a feeling my next few projects are going to be for her.  I also bought patterns to make snow pants and jacket, a zippered hoodie and a camisole and panties pattern, since Samie is so hard to shop for when it comes to undergarments!  I have to admit, my wishlist includes pretty much every pattern on the site, but from what I have seen in the Facebook group, most of these patterns go together incredibly quickly!
Happy crafting!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Halloween is Coming! Do You Make or Buy Your Kids Costume?

I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween costumes.  First of all, I love making costumes!  I love being able to "play" with colors and fabrics and create something fun and playful.  Halloween however seems to always creep up on me just a little faster every time I decide to sew my kid's costume(s).  There is just something about a handmade costume though, that makes it last just a little longer than a factory made, store purchased costume, not to mention the love and attention (and a little blood, sweat, tears and swearing) that go into it.
This year, with all of the Frozen-fever going on, my kids asked to be Elsa and Anna.  We have kept an open eye for pre-made costumes as they are pretty much everywhere but had yet to find a set that we were willing to pay the retail price on.  Some stores only have Anna, others only have Elsa, some are poor quality, some were more expensive than I am going to pay for a "play" dress!  I finally convinced the hubby to Let It Go and let me make the girls their costumes this year.  This is also the point at which I hear about how we can't spend a fortune for me to make the costumes either...  Fine!
Starting with Elsa was a no-brainer.  Not because I thought she would be easier to make, but because Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop had a blog post on how to make it along with a free pattern (for size 4T, which will fit approximately 3-5 because it is made of knits) and I just love the way hers turned out!  The best part is, I did not need to go out and buy any new fabric!  Yup, I had more than enough fabric to choose from, and even had a "precious" piece of fabric I have been holding onto for the perfect project.  I must tell you, that fabric has been around since before Anna asked "Do you wanna build a snowman?"


Anna is going to take me a little more work.  I knew I could go out and buy a pattern from a big-name company but I am kind of a cheap-o when I buy patterns and I won't spend more than $2 for a tissue paper pattern.  Not only that, trying to find the right pattern, in the right size, on a sale day would be a lot of work.  I decided to go with the option of finding a pattern online (I looked for free patterns but didn't find any I liked) and I wanted something that I could use again for everyday clothes.  My first choice was to go back to PAB Pattern Shop, where I found the Poppy Polo!  I liked this pattern because I can modify the collar to stand up and be more rounded, and after making the dress two-tone, I can just add a vest!  I considered buying a pattern to make the vest, but I'm going to just use the Elsa bodice to make the front of the vest.  I was very excited when I found some baby blue knit gauze fabric for $3/yard, and I only needed 1/2 a yard for the long sleeve bodice, although I didn't know that when shopping, so I splurged on the full yard to be sure.  While cleaning my sewing room, I found a terrific blue knit for the skirt and a simple black woven for the vest.  Once I start getting my fabric cut I will be heading on over to Frou Frou by Heather Sue to pick up some embroidery files for the Anna vest and skirt!

I have seen all of the cute accessories out there for both Elsa and Anna but to be honest, neither princess, or queen, is much for accessories, so why load my kids up?  The last little touch will be something for their hair.  I have seen some adorable crocheted hats with braids themed for Frozen characters, but I just don't know if I want to attempt to make them myself, spend the money and hope they get here, or just grab some yarn and make braids and attach them to hair clips and call it done!
All-in-all, I will end up spending less than $40 (not counting whatever I spent on fabric and thread years ago) to make these, but the bonus is that I will be able to make more tops and dresses out of the pattern as well as being able to use all of the embroidery designs again and again!

I can't wait to share my progress with these costumes!  So, what do you do?  Do you buy pre-made costumes or have you ever made your own?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I Have Missed Blogging... Sort of...

Let's be honest, there is a certain amount that we all like to "hear ourselves speak."  I am no exception, in fact, I have been told that I talk more than anyone in my family.  I think (as my grandfather would say) that I come by it honestly, as we have a lot of "talkers" in our family.  The truth is, I work from home while watching my two little girls, and I don't talk nearly as much as people may think...  Especially since generally, I can barely get a word in when it comes to my customers or my kids.  That's okay, it's all part of "the job" and I do enjoy my days mostly.  Blogging though gives me the opportunity to get my thoughts out there, into the world, whether anyone is listening or not.  I actually have a couple blogs, one more about personal stuff and this one, that I try to keep more about my sewing.  The thing is, lately, I have mostly just been making notes to myself; things to get done, stuff I want to do around the house, projects that need to be worked on, but I haven't been very productive...  I have all these ideas in my head and no focus or motivation!  UGH!!!
That's kind of where I get the "sort of missed blogging".  You see, if I take time out to blog, it's time I have to find, and take away from my other daily happenings.  So, while I love hearing myself speak (so to speak) and I certainly enjoy sharing my thoughts with all of you (or no one maybe?) I will do my best to at least get a little bit of blogging done each week.

So, I belong to a few groups on Facebook that have to do with sewing and embroidery...  A while back someone in one of the groups mentioned that a shop-at-home network would have a sale on a certain embroidery machine that I have been drooling over.  I tuned in to watch, knowing I couldn't actually upgrade to a new machine quite yet, but GOOD GRIEF it gets the creative bug moving in my brain!  I had plans to do so much for this year with sewing and my machines!  I haven't even scratched the surface for what I wanted to get done.  I went into my sewing room for a few minutes and each time I just go in to look around I become overwhelmed with all the projects to get done, and at the same time, I learn something new about what I can and should be doing!

What have I been doing?  Well, there are some super cute embroidered felt dolls I have been making, you can see a few of my dolls over at my Instagram page here.  I have made over a dozen dolls and outfits, most have been gifts and for my own Littles, but I am hoping to get dolls listed on my site for sale soon!
I also worked on an adorable 1st Birthday outfit for my squishy little niece!

I got the tutorial from Just Add A Bow be sure to check out her DIY videos!  I actually didn't follow the tutorial exactly, but it was filled with great information to get me going!

So, other things I am planning to work on?  My sewing machines!  Every time I go to look for something I find a feature I didn't know the machine did before!  With a little help, I am going to do some video posts of using my machine and what the different presser feet do.  I also am going to attempt some reviews of products I have purchased, everything from my machines, patterns, accessories, whatever!  And of course I am working on projects, or for now I am at least getting a schedule down with my family so that I can get projects done!
This last week I have been making the Oopsy Daisy Overalls Jumper and Okey Dokey Overalls from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop!  Let me tell you, I am completely addicted to these patterns!  Not only does the designer give lots of tips and trick on her Facebook page, she also has a blog and does sew-alongs!  While working on the overalls I used my Kenmore machine with my 1/4" foot, buttonhole attachment and a presser foot that keeps the fabric steady while I run a zig-zag stitch!

Is there something sewing related that you would be interested in seeing?  My general sewing machine is a Kenmore (from 1976) and my embroidery machine is a Singer Futura SES1000.  Eventually I am hoping to upgrade to a Singer Quintet and to get myself a serger, but for now I'll work with what I've got.
Feel free to leave a comment of anything you might be interested in, tutorials, sewing, whatever, and I will see what I can do to GET IT DONE!
Thanks for visiting!  Be crafty!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Meeting Goals!

I am one of the worst people at meeting goals, especially for myself and when it comes to sewing...  I started following Project Run and Play a year or two ago (side note, when I went to get the web info to link, I totally got distracted!) and I have always wanted to participate in the sew along.  I'm going to be honest though, I don't create my own patterns and I am terrible with time management.  Seriously, PR&P tends to even post all the challenges for the "season" in the beginning, so it's not like they don't give you enough time to pull it all together!  I don't have to use my own pattern, as long as you give credit to the source of the pattern, but I find that my pattern collection and my fabric stash tend to never see eye-to-eye.  I have even tried to use the time of year to my advantage as I have always loved the idea of making holiday outfits for my kids, and with two little girls, the possibilities are endless!  I'm not sure how long you have been following my adventures in sewing but I have made only a handful of holiday wear for my kids in the last four years, and even in those instances I have run out of time and had my kids wear the partially finished product!
I recently came across Peek-a-boo patterns and instantly fell in love!  Printable patterns, reasonable prices, great range in sizes, blog posts with tips and tricks, Facebook (this is a closed group, you must have a Facebook account and request to join) page for extra support, and sew-alongs!  I have been watching the other Facebook fans jam out project after project in admiration and envy!  I decided I wanted to participate in the overalls sew-along, advisory; never get your hopes up to get sewing projects done the Monday after you get back from a vacation!  So, I bought the Oopsy Daisy overall jumper when it was released on special and even picked up the Okey Dokey overalls with a $3 off coupon!  I found some twill that I have been holding onto for far too long and printed my patterns.  That's where it all went downhill!  Although the patterns are in color, my printer just doesn't print color well, so I hit the button to print in grey scale.  Too bad for me, the computer decided to print in color anyway, so I had to go back and print the pages again in black and white!  Then the fabric...  I was pretty sure I had washed the fabric at some point, but since it is cotton, I wanted to make sure I had washed it.  All this happened on Monday, I am typing this up on Wednesday and the fabric is still in the drier and my pattern has not been cut!  This is what I am talking about when it comes to getting things done!  My cutting table and ironing board are loaded up with different projects, so I will need to clean all of that before I can get started as well.
I am really hoping that I can get caught up tonight so I can join back up with the group, although I am foreseeing a time consuming process of cutting in my future as one of my fabrics has a directional print that I will need to match up.
My fabric choices:
















I'm going to do my best to get these worked out and done by the end of the week.  Not only does peek-a-boo do a fan photo contest, Project Run & Play is having a denim week!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I Am Addicted To Felt!

Here's the thing, I have never liked sewing with felt.  It was never "pretty", it didn't feel nice, and everything sticks to it, hair, fur, fuzz, whatever!  If I was going to sew, it was going to be with pretty fabrics that feel lovely to the touch!
Then I had kids, and kids are rough, and I bought my first felt patterns.  Felt food, because what little girl doesn't want to pretend to make cupcakes and have tea parties, right?  I found the cutest patterns on etsy here, be sure to check out her blog, the link is in the store info, she is wonderfully creative!  I got the Cookbook and Baking Set, the Blue Plate Special Restaurant Pattern and the Breakfast in Bed pattern, plus I got some free patterns from her blog.  The patterns are PDF files that include amazing instructions, including photos for assembling, as well as the pattern pieces.  I actually printed them off, got them all nice in a binder, and never made a single one.  Don't get me wrong, I still look at those pages and patterns and know that I will get to them, but they are for felt, and I don't sew with felt...  I don't have the hidden stash of eco-fabric or wool that I imagine other crafters must have.  I made lists!  I must have at least half a dozen floating around by now, lists of all the felt I want/need to get in order to make up each and every one of these patterns!  I even considered making them out of fabrics I already do have, satins, silks, lames, confetti dot knit!  I have a feeling those fabrics just won't hold up, so I will just have to get those felts...
Then there is deciding what felt to use!  I'm all about budget friendly when I make something for myself, or for my kids to play with, and eco-felt is cheap and pretty good supply locally.  Sweetie Pie Bakery suggests wool felt, as it "wears" better, meaning my kids can play normally with it and it won't all fall apart in minutes.  Wool felt can get confusing though, there are different percentages of wool in felt, and the price can get up there...  With the time it takes to make those small pieces, I created a monster in my own head that it wouldn't be beneficial for me to make them at all...  Then I found something made of felt that has changed my entire outlook!

So we all know I got an embroidery machine years ago.  Beauty (my Singer embroidery machine, to the left) and I have had a slow courting.  I don't like to sew with her very much.  Beast (my Kenmore machine, on the right) is my go-to for sewing.  Beast will sew through anything like it's warm butter.  Beast has been around since before I was born!  Alas, Beast is missing some parts, a few of which I was able to order, but still, he just doesn't have all his feet, and Beauty came with so many fun feet to try!  There is simply no muscle to Beauty.  She sews nicely, and the presser feet make for more options, but I really bought her for the embroidery, and the embroidery has been an uphill learning battle!
"I will create my own designs" I thought!  There is so much that goes into creating embroidery designs, even when you have Singer's super software, it became easier to just buy designs from trusted companies.  I joined some groups on Facebook which have been life-saving when trying to figure out embroidery, and my collection of designs grew!
I'm pretty good with creating and stitching out basic fonts with my machine, and that has really been her main function, until recently.  I moved quickly to applique as there are not as many stitches as with a fully stitch-filled design.  Plus, applique is fun because you get to add fabrics and threads to a main project!  It wasn't until I found felties and non-paper dolls that my truly addictive nature reared its head, snarled its teeth and took a huge bit of my newest addiction!
My kids were given some "paper" dolls from an aunt of mine.  They are actually magnet dolls with clothes that have been printed on magnetic paper.  More stable than paper, I was sure these would be great!  Then the outfits started getting rips in them.  How do you rip magnetic paper?  Well, my kids come from a long line of boundary breakers, like when companies started putting peanut butter in plastic jars and saying they were "unbreakable"...  Yeah, my little brother put that myth to pasture with our first jar...  So I got to thinking, there has got to be something better, and not as expensive, but with the same idea of paper dolls.  A Google search found a few links for how to make felt dolls, but I either had to draft the pattern myself and sew them with a machine or they really looked handmade.  Then I found Dejah Vue Designs, my search was over and an addiction was started.
Somehow I ended up finding her just as she was offering a free non-paper doll design on her Facebook page.  I couldn't wait to make Oliva!  I had a few sheets of felt that I picked up for some other project that never panned out.  My first attempt, while not perfect, was all I needed to light a fire!  I joined her fan group and took notes on what other people were doing.  The first time she offered a sale (she hit a milestone and offered 50% off) I picked up TWELVE dolls!!!  Slowly I have acquired more designs, and in September I bought my very first membership which landed me every design released for the month!  What I ended up getting was far more that I could have imagined!  Yes, there were a few non-paper dolls, and the communication with everyone in the group was fun, but I was turned on to an entirely new world of felt, embroidery sewing!  More felties, puzzles made in the embroidery hoop, key fobs with snaps, felt play sets for the dolls, stuffed animals made in the embroidery hoop, cases for electronic devices made in the hoop!  Yeah, it kinda blows my mind too!
If you want to see what I have made, feel free to check out my Facebook page, for designs I have purchased and plan to make see my Pinterest boards, and look for items I will be selling over on etsy, hopefully I will be listing items for sale the first week in October.
I do plan to go back and sew up those patterns I got for felt food items, my goal is to have them done in time for them to be Christmas gifts for my kids!
I have a lot of projects in the pipeline right now, from classes I have enrolled in over at Craftsy, practicing with all of the options of my current sewing machines, as well as new patterns I have been purchasing from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop!  My goal is to share my experiences, but as I am living life in the crazy lane, I will post as frequently as I can!
Feel free to check out the links, send me questions or comments, or visit me over at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Operation: Easter Dresses...

You know, I have been sewing for a VERY.  LONG.  TIME...  And I have a horrible addiction to fabric and patterns!  Even before I had my own two girls, I was buying fabric and patterns on the off chance that I had a girl of my own or nieces.  Then the real world interferes and I have to earn that paycheck that helps to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs.  But oh, wouldn't I love to be able to SEW those clothes!  I always believed I would sew for my kids, especially if I had girls.  I'll be honest though, it is really hard just to keep up with the day-to-day!  I'm lucky, most days I get to work from home, and my kids get to be with me whether I'm at my office or at home.  I have been able to take care of them when they are sick and not miss out on work.  I am able to play with them in between my other tasks.  I just can't make it to the sewing room as often as I need to in order to get the big projects done.
This year I made a list of the things I really wanted to do.  So far I have done none of them.  In January I wanted to whip up some felt "paper" dolls for the girl's Valentine's Day surprise, you know, instead of candy.  I got one done, on Valentine's Day!  For St. Patrick's Day I thought I might make them some embroidered shirts, since I have that fabulously fun machine.  Nope, I don't even think I dressed them in green that day!  Then I got busy with some other sewing projects, a paid project even, and I didn't end up making anything for Samie's 4th birthday like I wanted.
I vowed to make the Easter dresses.  I bought the fabric too many years ago to remember.  I lucked into purchasing the pattern and just enough fabric for two dresses in the sizes I need.  Now, here we are, five days from Easter and I hadn't even started yet!  But I am a machine when it comes to being under-the-gun, so we are going to give it a try!
First step, I have to trace the patterns...  I have one pattern and need to make two dresses in two different sizes!  I have been watching some sewing shows and learning a bit, even took a Craftsy sewing class, so I knew I wanted to transfer the pattern from the store-bought tissue type to something more stable.  I got this from Joann Fabrics.  So, that is pretty much where I am right now...  I have about half of the pattern traced and labeled, which took about half an hour.  By tomorrow I am hoping to have my pattern pieces all traced and cut and my fabric washed, dried and pressed.  The goal is to have all of my fabric ready for sewing by Friday.  I have a lot to get done, especially since we offered to have Easter dinner at our house and we still have a lot of housework to do to be ready!  And of course I don't really have dress shoes for the girls, and I hate buying them at this time of year because they won't wear them again, so I did find a pattern I am dying to purchase to make matching fabric sandals!
Wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Switched Store Sites

I had an Etsy shop...  Actually I still do, and I may plan to still list small items there, but I just get so overwhelmed by fees!  You see, everyone wants to charge me in order to sell my Stuff N Junk, which makes it so much harder for me to figure out how much to charge!  Etsy has fees, Paypal has fees, Ebay has fees, shipping costs fees...  There is an upfront fee and a percentage fee, and sometimes the percentage fluctuates depending on the amount of purchase or transfer.  Confusing?  Yeah, I agree!
You see, right now I am not making items to get "rich".  I am making items from the heart and selling them in order to be able to put money back into my business.  I am not making much profit on my sales, definitely not making oodles of extra cash on labor, that's for sure!  I even looked into creating my own online store, but I simply don't have the kinds of sales to support that.  If nothing else, I can be completely honest about that!
Recently I came across a website called Storenvy and I couldn't believe what I found!  NO FEES!!!  No listing fee, no percentage of my sale, no randomly hidden fee once I made a sale.  They do offer additional options if you want to pay for your store/site/marketing but that should be expected, after all, they are providing a service!  How did I come across this fantastical site?  Well, I know someone that sells hairbows...  Lely's bows has both an Etsy store and a Storenvy shop and it is very important for those of us just starting out to show some support and put up links, you see, even for those sites that charge fees, they don't advertise for you, you really have to promote yourself.
The benefit to changing over, I don't have to stress out about raising prices to make money on my Stuff N Junk!  You see, I save receipts, check online prices of my materials as well as competitor products and I try really hard to keep my prices fair and reasonable.  I put a lot of love and time into each item I make and while I always consider my time precious, I also value my prospective customers.
So, feel free to check me out over at Storenvy and check back often because over the next few weeks/months I will be doing my best to list new items!