Sewing Machine

New Project, Old Project

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 treats us well and that we treat each other well. 

Let’s quickly review 2015, because it’s the thing to do:

In January of last year, I taught myself how to use my sewing machine. It was frustrating and tear-inducing and it sucked. I did it. 

A lot of my sewing project sucked. I spent a lot of time ripping stitches, swearing so loudly that I woke the dog. I completely ruined at least three things to the point where I never want to see that fabric again. I made myself bleed a bunch. I have scars from my iron. 

But I’m stupidly happy with how both my project and my year turned out. Little Something arrives in April, my cats have never been snugglier, our dog is an adorable idiot, and Mr. Something got a promotion. 

So. 2016. 

In 2016 I’ll continue to sew something new every month. I’ll also make two new (to me) recipes a week, with at least one being a crockpot recipe. At the end of the year, I’ll compile our favorites into The Something Family Cookbook.  

Sound good? I can think of infinite ways this could go sideways. It’s going to be great. 

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Butterick 5317

July’s Project: Another dress/Project Tango Zulu Hotel

Twenty Crafteen is moving along at a nice clip, I think. The projects I’ve completed so far include:

  • coasters (January)
  • tote bags (February)
  • zippered pouches (March)
  • skirts (April)
  • dresses (May)
  • more dresses (June).

Well, I guess May and June could be compressed into one harried and frustrating month of attempting to make one dress, but I also do things other than sew. (But WHY?, you ask.)

For July, I want to make another dress. I have a pattern picked out, which I think is pretty cute. I haven’t done sleeves yet, and I suspect those are going to give me a raging case of Sailor Mouth. That… sounds like something else.

ANYWAY. I’m also working on something that, for now, I’ll call Project Tango Zulu Hotel. That should be ready to go by the end of the month, when I’ll give you the low-down.

June’s Project: More Dresses (An Update)

I am absolutely determined to finish this dress before the end of the month. It will get done. 

 

Butterick 5554, view A

It’s a knit pattern, which means it’s OBNOXIOUS AS HELL. I have not mastered the wily ways of knit the way I’ve mastered the simple, non-stretchy proclivities of woven. This dress also has a zipper in the back, which should be interesting. 

I’m making view A, the sleeveless version. And of course, I’m making it in leopard print (the middle section) and jade (the outer sections). I showed the fabric to Mr. Something and he said, “Well, that’s perfect for you.” This is something that I love about sewing my own clothes; I can make them in my size and in my favorite colors. 

I hope (hope hope hope) to have this done by this weekend so I can wear it out. Photos to come! 

May’s Project: Dresses (Another Update)

Guys. This dress is proving to be pretty annoying. Bias tape can bite me, and sewing buttons is the worst. 

I might not get it completely done by the end of this month, but it’ll get done eventually. Ugh. 

The other thing I worked on this month was an adorable tiny tutu for my friend’s 3-year-old daughter. It is so itty-bitty! Working with tulle is heinous, but once I figured out that it’s a pain, it got slightly easier. Just another thing to add to my sewing resume. 

There’s another dress pattern I want to tackle… once I find it in my sewing table monstrosity. 

Broken Needles, Bird’s Nest Bobbins, and Other Sewing F*ck Ups

Oh guys. Today was not my sewing day. It started out fine–I was just making a mini zippered pouch for myself, so nothing I haven’t done before. Then I sewed over the metal zipper teeth and broke my goddamn needle. Sigh. Of course I don’t have another regular needle, so my project will have to wait until tomorrow when I go to the fabric store. 

This shit happens a lot. We don’t really talk about the fuck ups in Sewing Town, but between broken needles and Bobbins Gone Wild, sewing can be super annoying. But no, we take pictures of the final project with all the extra threads snipped and the messy parts covered up. Because seriously, it’s embarrassing sometimes. I know to avoid sewing over metal because in middle school sewing class, our teacher specifically said, “Hey, don’t sew over metal, small idiots.” And then a boy in my class sewed over his fingernail and we forgot all about her sage advice because blood is fascinating. 

You might notice that I’m using more colorful language lately and that’s intentional. From now on, this blog won’t be a cleaned-up version of my thoughts; I’m going to curse and be annoyed sometimes. That’s who I am. I’m salty. I curse a LOT. If that isn’t your jam, goodbye, friend. Authenticity is pretty great, I’m pretty great, and sewing can be great (except when you want to throw your machine at the wall). 

Here’s another sewing foible I encountered the other day. I bought the last bit of this gorgeous fabric I’d been eyeing for a while with the intention of making yet another circle skirt. Then I fucked up cutting the fabric and now I have three-quarters of a circle skirt cut out and no way to salvage it. Goddamnit, guys. I actually hid the pieces I cut under another yard of fabric because I didn’t want to look at it. These are the times I make a low growl and eat a bunch of jam out of the jar. 

So hello, friends who like a bit of pirate language in their lives, and so long, friends who prefer “gosh” and “dang.” Here’s to better sewing days!

April’s Project: Skirts (Circle Skirt Edition)

Circle skirts are adorable. They’re those super twirly, full skirts that invoke garden parties, meatloaf, and martini lunches. Wear one with heels and you look like Donna Reed. Wear one with ballet flats and you look like Briar Rose in Sleeping Beauty. tl;dr: THESE SKIRTS ARE SUPER CUTE. 

I used this tutorial. It’s not so much a pattern as a guide. Warning: you need to dust off the geometry portion of your brain and use pi. I’m serious. But I also promise that I’m terrible at math and these still turned out great. 

You need lots of fabric for one of these. If you’re a curvy lady like me, get about three yards. Extra fabric is better than not enough. Follow the elastic sewing instructions closely. It’s another situation where everything seems like it’s going to fail but it won’t. It won’t. You will succeed, but go slowly. I hemmed the raw bottom edge by folding the fabric and slowly feeding it into my machine. Pinning a curve is a pain in the ass. 

  

The hardest part of the entire process is figuring out the measurements and cutting the fabric. Everything else goes quickly–so quickly that you could make two in an hour if you had your measurements figured out and oodles of fabric.

I want to make hundreds of these and wear nothing but circle skirts. They are so comfortable and flattering. Make one with fancy fabric and wear it to a party. Make one with gingham and wear it to a picnic. Make one with every kind of fabric you can buy. Trust me, you’ll want to. 

March’s Project: Aprons

Yes, it’s only February 19. And yet… I’ve already made two projects for March. March’s project is aprons! I cook and bake a lot, and as my friend Natalie reminded me, aprons are a great way to practice various techniques. Binding, ruffles, pockets, straight lines (my old nemesis), curved lines (probably my new nemesis), etc.; aprons are a more varied lot than you’d think.

My first apron is this little beauty. Instead of using a dish towel, I hemmed a piece of fabric to measure 27″x21″, the size of a typical dish towel, and went from there. I added patch pockets to my apron, too. The final product is absolutely adorable and functional, two of my favorite things.

I’m still making lined totes like crazy, and I want to make a few fun full aprons in the next month. Every project I do makes my sewing skills better, so who knows? Maybe I’ll make a skirt in April or May!

January: coasters

February: totes

March: aprons

Crayon Rolls (and Sautéed Spinach)

Do you know any kids? You probably do, because you are, presumably, a human person. If you are not a human person, I’m impressed.
Anyway, kids like crayons and stuff. And you know what crayons do? Get everywhere. And break. And get everywhere. There is a solution! A crayon roll!

I’ve made a few of these so far, and they are surprisingly easy and fun to make. They don’t take too much fabric, and the only extra things you need are a hair tie and a button. The roll holds 16 crayons. I put in a few shades of red, orange, yellow, etc., in ROYGBIV order (because, why not), and added black, gray, and pink. You can’t draw a bunny without pink.
These make great gifts. Throw it in a coordinating pocket tote with a coloring book, and there you go.

If I was slightly more awake, I’d put a segue here.

Spinach! It’s delicious when prepared correctly, by which I mean, with lots of garlic.

Sautéed Spinach

  • bag of spinach (or if you get the huge bag from Costco, a few giant handfuls)
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oil over medium low heat in a big saucepan. Press the garlic into the oil and stir, cooking until the garlic just begins to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Stuff the spinach into the pan. It will look like you are making way too much spinach, but it’s fine. Trust me. Stuff that in there. Don’t worry about stirring just yet. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. In about 5 minutes, uncover and start slowly turning the bottom spinach to the top. It will seem slightly impossible for a few seconds. Once it’s kind of moved around, cover again and cook 2-3 more minutes, until the spinach is mostly wilted and coated with oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.