Creative Endeavors

30 04 2010

Those of you who know me or my family are undoubtedly aware of the incredible creativity and textile prowess of the generations preceding me… all 17 of the Z-cousins have at least two quilts (regular and Christmas) from Grandma Z, and I was lucky enough to have her make two of my Prom dresses in high school. Mom (or “Aunt Debbie” as my friends refer to her when we talk about her craftiness and projects!) can do just about anything with fabric or thread or food or paper! And it’s been somewhat of a running joke that this sort of talent had so obviously skipped over me!

In doing little projects with friends over the years – pillow covers, the dreaded French-pleat drapes (J, you know who you are), table runners – I started to get that feeling of “Wait a minute… I could do that!” But it wasn’t until I found an amazing deal on a cute duvet cover and pillow shams at the Pottery Barn Outlet (I mean an AMAZING deal: queen duvet cover $9 and pillow shams $2) that I decided I really COULD do that! See, in my joyful deal-finding haze, I nabbed two pillow shams… one of which is standard, the other is Euro. Drat. But the Grandma Z/Aunt Debbie-ness started bubbling to the surface, and I somehow figured out how I could MacGyver a standard sham from the Euro one. So I trucked my project over to Sunni’s house to use her sewing machine… *an extra trip I wouldn’t have had to make, if I had my own machine, my brain told me!*

The next project inspiration was Aunt Dona’s wonderful Schlep Bags! Mom sent me the pattern, and one rainy weekend my friend Hillary and I decided to try it. It was a VERY long day. Schlep bags are multi-multi-MULTI-step projects. And we were making two reversible bags (meaning four different “sides” with at least four different fabric squares in each side!) using just one sewing machine. *which wouldn’t have been an issue if I had my own machine, my brain told me again!* While there had to be a few tweaks here and there, the bags turned out so great! I used a lighter-weight fabric, so it’s a bit more delicate than the essentially indestructible one Dona made me. But it looks really good, and I made it myself, and now I’m convinced I need my own sewing machine!


So the joke is over! I CAN SEW, TOO!

I got my sewing machine as a pre-Christmas/Birthday gift from Grandma Z and Mom and my Best Friend (Me!) this past Fall. It’s a Singer: Esteem. Which is good to have… esteem of self, that is! And on my fourth re-threading of the needle for some unknown reason, Esteem is a good thing for me to remember! And truthfully, all that (unplanned) practice has made me a very proficient and speedy needle re-threader! (it doesn’t hurt that there’s a very nifty easy-threader device on the machine)

My first project with my new sewing machine was an apron. This is also my first attempt at sewing from a pattern. It turns out I’m a very good visual-learner! All those years of reading the backs of patterns at JoAnns and watching Mom measure and cut out patterns… I already know what to do! And with my friend’s birthday approaching, I thought this sweet apron would be an excellent gift idea! Well, the birthday came and went. Then Christmas passed. And another friend’s birthday. And I was making verrrrrrry slooooooow progress on the apron. Until Mom came to visit in March. No, she didn’t do a single stitch (even though I asked, and might have pouted a little, too) but she talked me through some of the steps that were holding me up, and now I’m just 2 steps away from completion!

One of the steps I’m very excited about… it’s a button-hole! And my magic sewing machine has a special attachment that will do it for me! There will be much practice on many fabric scraps before I try that on my darling apron. I’m not letting myself practice anything button-hole related until after I finish the other step, the one I’m NOT excited about. Hand-stitching the back of the bodice of the apron to the skirt. Booooo hand-stitching! I may or may not have devised a design-alteration that will enable me to avoid the hand-stitching all together… More rick-rack! Haven’t decided if I’m going to short-cut my way out of this… stay tuned.

Pattern-Sewing Project #2 was actually inspired from many sources. Somehow I stumbled across a photo of this cute bag, then (through the wonder of social media that is Facebook) I saw that one of my old friends from high school had made the same bag! So I printed off the pattern, cut and taped it together correctly, and on yet another rainy weekend day my friend Hillary (of Schlep bag fame!) and I each made a fantastic new bag!

Hillary’s (on the left) has a shorter strap that you just wear on one shoulder; my paisley bag has a longer strap so you wear the bag slung across your body, messenger-bag style.

I changed the design slightly from the pattern – originally both interior pockets were to be made from the lining fabric. I immediately knew I wanted at least one of them to be made of the great paisley fabric instead! It was another long day of sewing… but again, we were making two bags, both completely lined, and had access to only one sewing machine and only one iron. We need to start planning our projects better; B.Y.O.SewingMachine. I already have fabric to make two more bags. In fact, all the pieces are cut out and ready for the next step (ironing on the fusible interfacing – probably the most boring of all tasks EVER) so I’m ready for the next rainy weekend day!

The other day I worked a half-day at the hospital. It wasn’t a nice day outside, by any means, so I knew I wanted to work on an indoor project. At the Inman Park Festival last week, WhipStitch Fabrics had a booth and some extremely adorable fabric samples and really cute project ideas. So to WhipStitch Fabrics I went. And found just exactly what I was looking for!

The pattern (from Made By Rae) for an Itty Bitty Baby Dress was simple and darling enough, but it really is the fabric that makes this teeny dress absolutely to-die-for cute!

So… needless (needles?!) to say, I can sew! I have a couple new ideas and patterns in mind for future project-days, and may have reinspired talk of a “Craft Club” with my friends. One thing I know for sure… I’ll be travelling with my sewing machine on road trips, just in case there are any impromptu projects in store!