Sunday, April 29, 2012

An adventure in papercutting.

A year or two ago, I stumbled across the idea of papercutting because of this gorgeous Alice in Wonderland template. It was so beautiful that I bookmarked it.

Paper cuts amaze me. I love the way they look (probably because I love silhouettes). Even the simplest ones are pretty, but have you ever seen the extreme 3D ones like this or this? Wow.

I came across the Scherenschnitte blog again a few days ago. There's so much lovely inspiration there! And Cindy has Template Tuesdays, when she posts a free papercutting template. Since I already had the few necessary supplies (paper, a cutting mat, and a craft knife), I decided to give it a try.

Here's my first attempt, from the Woodsy template.

Isn't the design adorable? I love the whole woodland animal thing that's popular right now, so I think the deer, squirrel, and owl are too cute. I also love green and purple together, so I glued the papercutting onto a purple background. The purple is much darker in real life, so it's more subtle and less Tim Burton-ish. :)

The girl is supposed to have three or four other little dots cut out near the flower in her hair, but they were too tiny for me to attempt with the craft knife. That dark spot next to the flower was my abandoned attempt to use my hole punch instead.

Papercutting is supposedly relaxing, but I can't say that it was for me. :) It was a very interesting process, but my craft knife was too dull and the blade kept falling out (I finally hot glued it in there), so I was a little stressed. That, combined with the fact that this is my first time, left me with rough edges on a lot of the details. You can't tell until you get really close, though.

The poor little squirrel got the worst of it. He also almost lost his tail during a particularly sloppy cut.

I've not yet seen any close-ups of real papercutters' work, so I'm not sure how smooth you can actually get the edges and curves. But I'm assuming they look much better than mine. :)

I bought a new X-acto knife with a fine point blade yesterday, so we'll see if that makes a difference. I might try using thinner paper, too, instead of cardstock.

I found the perfect shade of green paint at Hobby Lobby and put two coats over a black 8x10 frame. I'm really excited about having another quirky piece of art to put in my room. {My room is like a small, crowded museum of oddities and collections of things I love.}

P.S. The bookbinding tutorial is in progress! The journal is made and the photographs have been taken, so now I'm just in the process of writing everything out, trying to decipher my sloppy notes. It should be up sometime in the next week. :)

Until next time,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Retro red blouse.

I'm sort of picky about my clothes. I'm just not impressed with what most stores are selling these days. So when I find a shirt that I like, I tend to buy at least two of them. Last year I found two floral, princess-seamed, button-up (or snap-up) shirts on clearance from Old Navy, in two different colors, and they've become my favorite shirts. I wear them all the time. So...I thought that I'd like to try to recreate them so I can sew more like them when they wear out.

My first thought was to try and make a pattern from them, but I wasn't going to take my seam ripper to them because they're still wearable. Then I realized that I had a princess-seamed shirt pattern in my pattern stash, so I decided to start with Simplicity 2447, and work from there.

This is what I ended up with:

And just because the very idea of me doing an outfit post is hilarious, here goes. :)

Shirt: Handmade, White Cami: JC Penney, Trouser-style Jeans: Old Navy, Red Flats: Payless, Bamboo Deer Necklace: Cheshire Kat (I have the deer and the fox necklaces, and I love them both

I made so many alterations to this pattern that I don't think I can remember them all. :) I started off by making a muslin from the pattern as-is, so I wouldn't make any unnecessary changes. {I basically started off with view D, but cut at the length of view E and without the ruffle.} I did add four inches to the length right from the start because I knew it would be too short. The pattern was one or two sizes smaller than I usually make from Simplicity, but that ended up working well because there was about 7.5 inches ease in the pattern! {Why anyone would need a shirt like this with 7.5" ease is beyond me, unless you're going to be wearing it while you do gymnastics or something.}

It actually didn't fit too badly from the start, but there were some things I wanted to change. It was a little too snug at the bottom, across the hips, and at the bust. The sleeves were too tight at the upper arm and it was the armholes were too small. Also, I couldn't move my arms much, between the sleeves and the back being snug.

I worked on adjustments and muslins for about a month. I would get motivated and work on it for a couple of days, and then get frustrated when things weren't working out properly and put it aside for a week or so. I wanted it to fit just as well as The Favorite Shirts so I could use the pattern over and over again. Here are some of the adjustments I made to the pattern:

-Added four inches to the length.
-Cut up the back and made princess seams (a very intimidating experience...originally, the front had princess seams but the back didn't- it was just a yoke with one little pleat at the top like most Western shirts. I left the yoke, and just made the seams up to that point).
-Widened the pattern at the hips.
-Widened the pattern at the back and the front at the princess seams (sort of using this article).
-Made the armholes at least 1 inch bigger (again, with the above article).
-Did some sort of slash-and-pivot adjustment to the sleeves to make them bigger at the bicep.
-Shortened the sleeves and narrowed the bottom (and added elastic, instead of hemming them).
-Changed some of the seam allowances...some became 1/2 inch and some became 1 inch.
-Measured and marked new spots for the snaps to go.

As you can see, I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to making technical pattern alterations. :) I just studied my sewing books and did some Googling and then tried to incorporate what I learned. I know I didn't always necessarily do things the "proper" way. And the fit still isn't perfect. But this shirt fits just as well as The Favorite Shirts and that's good enough for me.

I always roll up the long sleeves of my button-up shirts to my elbows, because the sleeves are too short. For this shirt, I shortened the sleeves to be just below the elbow, and then I added some thin elastic into a casing. It looks basically the same as rolling them up- very casual and there's much less bulk at my elbows. :)

I'm really happy with how this shirt turned out. It's comfy and just my style and a bit retro-looking. And it's red. I think I need more red clothes.

The fabric is a polyester shirting (like this) that I got for a couple of dollars a yard at in a sale back in January. It's so busy that all of the seams and details sort of disappear in the crazy print. I like it, but it's very lightweight and thin. And even though I sewed with a thin-fabric needle and everything, some of the seams at the hips are already pulling. So my next garment sewing will be a couple more of these shirts in cotton, thank you very much. :) Plus the shirt turns my white cami pink every time I wear it underneath.

It gives me an almost ridiculous amount of satisfaction that the inside of my shirt looks just as good as the insides of the Favorite Shirts.

I'm still not comfortable with using the buttonhole foot on my machine yet, so I decided to go with snaps on this one. The snaps were the very last part of the shirt to complete. When I'm setting pearl snaps in my wallets, very often they don't go in correctly, and I have to start over with new fabric and new snaps. That drives me crazy, because I hate to waste stuff. I realized that if these snaps messed up, the whole shirt would be ruined because I didn't have enough leftover fabric to cut out a new band. No pressure.

I prayed over these snaps like I've never prayed over a sewing project before. :) They all went in perfectly.

Here is the new shirt, next to one of the Favorite Shirts that inspired it.

Until next time,

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Yesterday was my birthday. :) I turned twenty-one.

I don't feel as wise and mature as I thought I would by this age. I mentioned this on my last birthday, but when I was younger, I thought people who were in their twenties were so grown up. Ha. :) I am one-and-twenty {as our beloved Austen heroines would say}, and I don't have all the answers. Most of the time I feel like I don't have any answers.

Sometimes I still feel so young. And other times I feel sort of old. Like when I realize that if I were an item of clothing, I could be sold as "vintage" on Etsy. Or when younger cousins can't seem to wrap their minds around the idea of being twenty-one. Or when I find grey hairs (boy, does that make me nervous. Don't tell me if you or your aunt or grandpa or whoever started going grey at twenty-one because I don't want to hear it. I'm too young for grey hairs. :).

I don't know what the next year holds. I don't know what things will be like when I turn twenty-two or thirty or any other age. But I'm trusting God to write a magical and quirky story for my life. And for now, twenty-one seems like a pretty nice place to be. :)

"Every man's life is a fairy tale written by God's fingers." - Hans Christian Andersen

Anyway, I had a lovely birthday. It was a busy day, full of food {Mexican food and frozen yogurt and birthday cookie}, a movie, a museum, and time with my parents.

{A family friend, whose birthday was also yesterday, made me this amazing birthday cookie! It was so good and so pretty-yellow flowers are my favorite. I'm not too crazy about traditional birthday cake, white cake and white frosting, so I always get a cookie instead.}

After lunch, we went to see Mirror, Mirror. I've loved fairy tales for as long as I can remember, so you know I couldn't pass up a Snow White film. :) It was a pretty good- just sort of a silly, goofy, fun movie. A bit over-the-top at times, and sometimes it seemed like it was trying too hard to be funny. The dialogue wasn't always great or clever. But overall, it was good. It was silly and random in a way similar to The Princess Bride, only not as completely unforgettable. :) Sometimes the movie throws in these modernish comments that seem to be spoofing fairy tales, but then again, sometimes it goes full-fledged into the whole dramatic fairy tale thing.

The movie was visually gorgeous, with all of the incredible costumes and colors and lighting and everything. Lily Collins (Snow White) looks so much like Audrey Hepburn in certain scenes, especially when she has short bangs. The seven dwarves are amazing and pretty much carry the film. :) {I want a pair of their stilts.} Also...Snow White and the prince swordfighting- each other? Interesting little twist there.

Did I mention that the movie was just really fun? :)

After the movie, we stopped by a little museum in town. Because I'm the sort of person who goes from one extreme to the other...fantasy fairy tale film to historical house. :)

We stopped by the museum because they're currently having a small Titanic exhibit, and I really wanted to see that. The house is the birthplace of Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in the British House of Commons. She was related by marriage to the John Jacob Astor who was the richest man on the Titanic. Her sister, Irene, was the wife of artist Charles Dana Gibson, and the inspiration for the iconic Gibson Girl.

{Our little town has quite a bit of interesting history. It used to drive me crazy when I was a teenager (as I can say now that I'm *ahem* an adult :) and kids my age always talked down about our hometown and about how it had nothing to offer. You just have to know where to look.}

 {My mom's going to get me for posting this picture.}

Some historical costumes of the period:

Part of the Titanic exhibit.

A poster advertising a benefit concert for Titanic victims, with an illustration by Charles Gibson.

An exercise machine similar to one on the Titanic:

The parlor of the house (and the gorgeous piano).

So that was my birthday. :) I came home and cross-stitched while watching Andy Griffith. It was a good day.

P.S. Thanks for all of the amazing feedback on my handbound journal! I will definitely do a tutorial soon. I won't promise when, exactly, but sometime over the next couple of weeks. I'm feeling motivated and inspired with ideas for my Etsy shop right now, and I need to take advantage of that, so the tutorial may have to wait a week or two. But it will come. :)

Until next time,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Handbound {faux} leather journal.

I usually need a new journal about every six months to a year. I used to just buy journals (this was my favorite store-bought one ever...I got it right after high school graduation), but I'm sort of picky about what I like and I could rarely find one that was perfect and in my price range. For example, I don't like lined journals- I like blank ones.

So I started getting interested in bookbinding. I think it's incredible that you can basically make a book using only leather, paper, and thread (and a tool to punch holes with). No glue required. You can make books as simple or as elaborate as you want, and you can make a journal exactly like you want. And there's just something special about writing in a book that you made yourself.

I haven't quite made one that I'm perfectly happy with, but this is the closest one so far. :) I think this is my third handmade journal, and my sixth handbound book.

I used fake leather for the outside and fake suede for the inside. I'm not one of those people who has anything against using real leather...I would have preferred it. This synthetic stuff is kind of yucky to sew (the wrong side of it is terrible) and it frays in a weird way. But Hobby Lobby is really limited on their leather and they don't sell the size pieces I needed. The tie closure is real leather, though.

It wasn't pleasant to sew, but it does look nice with its fake embossed design.

The binding. I just used the waxed thread (from the HL leather section) that I always use. I learned how to do this kind of binding from the video tutorials here.

The journal is about 6.5 x 9 inches closed. I finally remembered to do the cover flap on this one! I always forget to account for that when I'm measuring. :) Actually, I still accidentally cut the fabric a little small this time, but I had enough left over to redo it.

There's a little pocket on the inside cover. I also cut the tail of the binding thread long enough to make a bookmark, like usual.

There are six signatures, and each one has six pages folded in half. I use this art paper for the pages.

Making the book was fairly simple. I've thought about doing a tutorial on how to make a book like this...would anybody be interested in that? Let me know in the comments, and if enough people are interested, I'll see what I can do. :) I'm itching to do a real tutorial here on the blog, and I have a couple of ideas, but I'm sort of undecided so far.

Until next time,

Monday, April 16, 2012

Crafty characters.

I didn't get around to rewatching and reviewing '97 Titanic this weekend...sorry! But I had a very good excuse- a wedding in the family. :) More on that in a later post. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed my reviews of the lesser known Titanic films.

I've made several things lately that I want to share this week, so I guess I'll start with these sweet little sewing and crafting notions that I recently embroidered {they're now hanging in my sewing corner}. They're from this Wild Olive pattern.

More patterns than these came in the set...I might go back and do more later, like the cute pair of scissors. I didn't have any colors in mind going into this- I just randomly picked colors that I liked. :) And I knew that I wanted to frame them all in different ways and different colors. So I painted one of the hoops, wrapped ribbon around two of them, and wrapped fabric strips around two of them. They're all in 4 inch hoops except the rotary cutter/embroidery floss one, which is a 6 inch hoop.

I used at least a little metallic floss in every hoop, except the yarn one. Because sometimes I just like for things to be a little more complicated. :) Can you see it? I used mostly silver but a little gold.

I don't know why the tape measure is sad, but he's probably my favorite (tied with the yarn one). That's why I used yellow for him. :)

Is is weird that, with certain ones of my finished embroidery pieces, I can remember exactly what I was watching when I was stitching them? I made these while watching While You Were Sleeping (twice- I had never seen it before and got it through Netflix, and I loved it) and Sleepless in Seattle (didn't like that one very much. A little too stalkerish). This one I stitched while I watched Hitchcock's Psycho for the first time last fall. :)

I don't know why I have memories like that ingrained in certain pieces. I know which two I worked on in the waiting room last year when my brother was in the hospital for surgery. As for some of my other ones, I really have no idea what was going on at the time. Strange.

{P.S. Sorry these photos are dark...I took them about two weeks ago, and I can't take any new ones yet. Because my poor little ancient digital camera messed up during the wedding on Saturday, and unfortunately I'm going to have to buy a new one this week.}

Until next time,