Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Completed the Grocery Bags!

So here was the plan for sewing tonight.....finish a half started project of recovering the dining room chairs.   More on that later (below).  Here is what actually happened, you'll be so proud.  I actually finished a project.  The grocery bags!  Remember from last post, I said I have several more to finish with putting the handles on.  Well, I went down to start the chairs, figuring I'll grab a bag every so often and finish a strap here and there.  Then I decided, NO MORE....must finish projects.....MUST!

So I am proud (and tired) to say, I completed all the grocery bags.  I ended us using old blue jean legs as straps on several but I love the rugged quality it gives to the plaid.  I left a lot of raw edges too, so they would fray over time.  I started out sewing tubes to turn them and encase the seams but that was a bear to turn such a thick fabric, so then I started to just leave a raw seam.

Several of these are oddball bags that are short and squat and should be perfect for carrying cans....or maybe even casseroles, hmm?  I put a pillow in them to show how they are more square in shape than regular grocery bad shape.

These are the regular type grocery bags.  I went with longer handles on some...

and shorter handles on others.

It is actually funny....I usually am sewing away on a project and then say "OMG, it's after midnight!".  Tonight, as I was finishing up the last one (because I refused to quit), I had the feeling of "OMG, it is probably around 1:30, oh well, I am finishing these!".  So then I came upstairs to find it was only 10:30.  Just goes to show, not all sewing is is a frame of mind.  They were really easy to sew, but did I mention that I did 16 in total?  Whew, glad to be done.

So on to the dining chairs project.....tomorrow.  I'm tired now.  Here is a little peek to get you interested.

I had a little story behind these chairs in a previous post  and if you compare this photo with the previous photo, you'll see why white chairs just don't work with kids.  Probably nothing my carpet cleaner won't cure, but I really want to go with some color.

So what do you think?  Too much?  This is just draped on and I've actually had the bottom red fabric stapled in place for several months now  (I know, total clash), but I have yet to sew and attach the checked fabric to the back and legs.  Maybe still a total clash....

I'll admit it is a little loud but I think I love it.  Call me crazy.  Hopefully I'll be able to finish these tomorrow and you can see how I've "pared down" the dining room to get ready to list the town house.  Hopefully right after Christmas!

Cloth grocery bags

Say it ain't so.  

Me....the thrifty one, the upcycler, the frugal fanny, the sewer, the make everything yourself person, the owner of enough fabric to officially be considered a hoarder....yes me.  I must admit, I still use the store provided plastic bags.  Until now.  I am almost done with 16, yes 16 lovely, handmade cloth grocery bags.  Could I have bought reusable grocery bags at the store long ago?  Yes, but that is not the point.

Although I have over 60 sewing projects lined up (cut out only) for this blog, I chose to ease my way out of my recent slump with a project that has been on my to do list for a long time.  I actually had several bags started from over a year ago just lying in a box with all the other fabric I had planned for the venture.  When I was unloading the sewing room to move some things (okay, everything) to the storage unit so we can list the town house for sale, I came across a banker box of the fabrics.

I mentioned before, in my recent attempt to get going again with sewing, I cut out a ton of projects at once and noticed how the cut out projects take up so much less room.  My thought was the same here.  I have a whole banker box full of single curtain toppers and table clothes that will end up yielding a pile of bags that will easily wad into a small corner of the trunk.  And I mentioned it as a "make everything pretty" project long without further ado, this little stack that previously filled an entire banker box.  16 bags in all.

This one is actually doubled fabric, so super strong, since it was a single window valance.  It is one of the ones that I started a while back and just needed to find something to sew on for a bottom.  Looking back, I should have cut it apart and been able to make four bags instead of two (thinner, though).    But these will be perfect for heavy cans.

I sewed on the handles using a triple stitch on my sewing machine in an X pattern like you typically see.  I like that this handle is a reversible so it gives a peek of a different look.

Another valance, so doubled fabric and two bags.

And another valance that yields 2 bags.

The rest of these are a single fabric layer but nice thick woven fabrics that started life as a table cloths.  I did try to use a piece of blue jean left over from another project for the handles on this one.

I just used an existing shopping bag as a pattern for these, very loosely used.  I didn't sweat it if my fabric came up short, I just made a shorter bag, for some of these.  So I had one long rectangle for the front, back and bottom, and a skinny short rectangle for each side.  For the single layer bags, I folded over a hem on the top for strength.  For the already double layer bags, the top was already a fold, so no need to hem.

As you can see, on most of these for the handles, I was able to turn to another stash of thrift store items that I had been saving for another purpose...belts.  No more saving things for later unless later is already on the to do list.  Nothing is sacred any more....that's how things never happen.  Besides, I can always buy more if that other project comes to life.

I have a ton of these belts that are lovely colorful gross grain slide buckle types.  I have them for straps on the daughters dresses that I make, but like I said, I can always find more.  Upon closer inspection, most of these are just nice thick gross grain ribbon sewn double, or even with a strip of pleather in the middle for strength.  For the purposes of these bags, one ply handles should be fine.  It is really thick ribbon, not a the thin stuff used for hair bows.  So I got to work with my trusty stitch picker and was able to made a single belt work for two bags.  I also like the way the colors worked together.  Not a perfect match but just close enough to make the bags interesting.

I still have a few to sew handles on, but these will be my new shopping companions.

I always felt guilty for not using reusable but insisted that I could make my own.  Follow through feels great.  I am not sure what they cost to buy, I guess it depends on where you buy, and in the long run, these may have cost me more.  I highly doubt it though.  I don't look at it that way anyway, I'll be able to use these for everything, not just groceries.  And they are unique and I can say I made them.  And hey, one less box to store.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The slump and grind

So where have I been?  I hate to get all boring with details but since this blog is supposed to be about me getting on top of my procrastination problem, I'll spill it.  I've been in a slump and that I mean a slump of finishing projects and the grind of getting ready to list our town house.  We are so ready to buy a house just not ready to sell yet and yes one MUST proceed the other.  


We have a few repair projects to finish to get the town house ready and of course the holiday season is not the time to list.  But I've mainly been busy on the project of making the place look HUGE.  By that I mean, we are a family of four, with the stuff of four in the town house most likely to sell to a family of 2, maybe 2 plus 1.  And our "stuff of four" includes a confessed clothes collector,  fabric hoarder and an avid CD, movie and game board collector (not me)...oh yeah, and kids toys.  Oh it all fits, but a nice newly-wed couple would never see themselves fitting their stuff in the closet if I can't even fit in the closet.  Remember, I took over the loft as my closet.

So I've been undoing all the things I've done to make the place work for us.  Such as putting linens in the linen closet instead of his huge CD collection.  He needed to see the CD's not the sheets, so the sheets went into the top of the kids closet.  A buyer needs to see where the sheets will go.  And just because I cook huge meals like a crazy Southern mama, doesn't mean that a normal person needs to store all their pots underneath a table in the kitchen.  The cabinets have to look like they will fit the average cook's supplies.  And they will, I am just not the average cook, with all my cast iron and pressure cookers, and stoneware.

I had to take up the living room rug to show the laminate floors.  Remove all the stuff I love that someone else might not.  Box up all my fabric in my overstuffed sewing room.  It has to look like I could actually sew in get the picture.  So now I have boxes stacked everywhere, like we are about to move but no for sale sign in the front yard.  It was the only way to do it, you can't get it ready without moving the excess out but you can't move the excess out until you have a place to move it too.  Yes, we'll get a storage unit but not till the last minute to avoid the expense.  Who knows in this market, we could wait months before a sale.  Why store before we even list?  Besides it gives us time to really give all this stuff some I really need three huge boxes of pots, besides the ones I still have in the kitchen?  Right now, absolutely!  Ask me again later.


So enough of that....we are working on getting ready to sell.  So what about the project slump?  Well I am proud to say, I took several evenings and matched up fabrics, picked out patterns as needed, and cut out around 60 projects.  I decided that a big part of my problem was getting so excited about a fabric, and then delaying the actual project until I figured out another fabric to go with it, or a pattern to use or taking the time to cut out the pieces.  The actual sewing is the quick and easy part.  And I also realized that I was very hesitant to actually cut up an item.  I always want to be super sure of where I am going with a piece and save that waistband or neckline, ect.   Therefore the hoarding.

Once I came to grips with that, I decided to just do it.  I matched up a ton of items, actually some of these a friend had helped with a long time ago and I never got back to them.  Then I pulled out my patterns that I was most likely to use.  I don't always use patterns but I have a few that I rely on for basics like bodices and pants.  Then I started sketching ideas for each project.  As in, these two skirts will be a sun-dress, this one the skirt and this one the ruffles.  Once a sketch put the purpose in writing, it didn't matter that the one skirt could also be a was now easy to just let it be chopped up for the ruffles.  I felt so liberated.  Crazy huh?  I cut out projects for days.  And it is funny....what took up boxes before, ended up as a nice little stack to be sewn.  Of course I have a huge bag of scraps for future projects but the actual projects are a very small part of what was taking up tons of space.

So anyway, what happened to those 60 projects?  Well, I broke the auto threader on my sewing machine and I am as blind as a bat, so that was one delay to get it repaired.  Then the serger started snagging a thread here and there so I had to take that in for an adjustment.  And then I had to basically unload my sewing room to pack up all the fabric.  And did I mention that I am half packing up my entire house?  So anyway, I have 60 blog posts lined up, ready and waiting details and final photos. And hopefully this blogpost to get me back in there sewing....who knows maybe I'll actually sew through the 15 or so boxes of fabric sitting in my living room now before we have to store them....

welcome back! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Soft pants

Since I've sewn several pairs of lounge pants, the son doesn't like jeans any more.   The lounge pants are really sewn to be pyjama pants but since he wears them around the house all day, I call them lounge pants.  At his age he could probably get away with wearing them to school and around, but they are silky and thin, so I say lounge pants only. We've gotten away from jeans during the summer, but with the weather cooling, he is resisting the jeans and only wants "soft pants".   Well, have you ever found decent sweatpants or gym pants at the thriftstore for a boy?  Usually they are stained, snagged, torn, etc.  What is a thrifty mom to do?

I always buy nice flowy jersey dresses for the fabric to make shirts, leggings, palazzo type pants, etc.  But the material seems too thin and stretchy for a boy.  So I decided to check out the men's section to see what I could find in the way of "quality" winterwear.  I found nice thick sweatshirts (not the cheap type), thick knit shirts and pyjama pants, polo shirts (that nice waffleweave type material).  I basically went crazy.  I found some really nice fabrics and some interesting colors.  I plan to make a ton of winter pants for both kids.  I also found several stripe print polo shirts that I plan to make into pants for the daughter.  I am so excited!

Here is the first pair I've made so far.  These are for the son.  Notice the little I that ended up right around the crotch.  I for Izod.  That was not planned but I just rolled with it.  Adds character.  I have to laugh.  He could care less.  I guess he could turn them around and let it hide under his buttcheek.  I told him it is I for Intelligent.  Maybe I'll try to work harder to avoid that next time.

Here are the steps and missteps.

Nice quality sweatshirt, really thick and soft.  Green tags were half off that day, so double score!

 First I cut off the waistband to use as a guess what?......Waistband.

Then I just used a pair of his own sweatpants for the pattern.  Notice I let the waistband hang off and am still right on the edge of the fabric (which I will need to hem).  Yikes!  These pattern pants are a little long so I am just going to risk it.  Worse case, I end up using the waistband or the arm cuffs to make leg bands for more length. 

*Note to self, extend life of too short sweatpants using legbands.  More likely, fix sewing screwups with legbands.

Notice at the last minute, I remembered to turn the sweatshirt inside out before cutting.  Whew, close one!

 I left a little seam allowance up the side and left the waist straight cut since it will be attached to a waistband.

Same thing for this side.

 I trimmed away the seam on the waistband so I'd have less bulk to work with and besides, the serger will be finishing that edge nicely again.

Here they are, all serged up.  Now I must say, typically the back on pants are cut a little bigger and with a longer stride than the front to make room for the butt.  But I couldn't see much of a difference between front and back in the pattern pants.  That and the fact that these are forgiving sweatshirt knit and for a bootyless boy, I didn't fret over making adjustments for the back pieces.  I will not be able to get away with that for the daughter.  Baby got back.

And here is the waistband attached.........backward. Oh well, I never said I was perfect.


Here is the waistband, attached correctly.

Since the waist only took half the existing shirt waistband, I cut it so it would have a finished edge on both ends.  Then I decided to just slightly overlap them where they joined so I could run a cord through and call it a day.

Then I came back to reality.  I had visions of rethreading those darn things over and over and also remembered that cords aren't really safe for kids.  So I ran a piece of elastic through and stitched them up like this with an X.....not exactly professional but basically unnoticeable.

And here is the waistband completely installed.

And all that is left is to hem the bottom.  I just flipped under and stitched with a stretchy zigzag so it would have some give.  No need to roll under because I don't want the bulk and knits don't ravel.  By stretchy, I used the zigzag that looks like it is elongated, and appears to be a straight stitch on fabric.

And that's it, pair number 1.  So nice and soft, actually too warm for the odd weather that we had for a while there, but now that it is cooling off, the son is super excited to wear them.

And I am left with half a waistband (enough for another pair), a neckband, and two arms.  Those arms are big enough to make a pair for a baby.  Hmm....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall garden

Pitiful ain't it?

Isn't this a sad excuse for a flower bed?  I swear I've been looking at it every day for over a month, wanting to put some plants in, hating to spend the money since it is so late in the year.

And yes, if you've been following my posts, those are the same plants that I showed several posts ago, when I was so super excited about making terrariums.  Good thing those are the types of plants that can take abuse.

And you may be asking why I have a dvd stand in my flowerbed.  Well, I can tell you that has only been there for a day or so, once I finally got tired of walking around it in my dining room.  I bought it on a thriftstore trip with the intent on making a plant stand of sorts.  Perfect for outdoors since it is metal.  You'll see.

Notice how dry that soil is.....the very same soil that I paid to have delivered months ago so I could laboriously shovel it in to plant some nice annuals in the bed.  It has been so dry and the annuals just never happened.  At the very least I wanted to put some mulch down to keep it from washing away and keep weeds down.  Then I did a little research on Pinterest on "fall gardens" and of course they had me at hello.  I decided it was more worthwhile to be happy for few months than to cringe every time I pulled up to my front yard.  Besides, our yard had us looking like the Clampetts (holler if you get the reference.)

Since I have been furloughed and got to see what it feels like to be a stay at home mom for once, I was able to see just how productive I could be if left to my own devises (kids are in school!).  I justified spending the money that I have no clue if I can really afford at this point (day 2 of the furlough) to buy some plants, a bag of potting soil, mulch and a few misc. items.  I ended up spending around $100 (with some plants, pots and bulbs left for the back yard - a later post).

Well, was it worth it?  I think so!

 Amazing, isn't it, what a few plants and some mulch will do for some curb appeal.

And there is that lovely dvd, I mean plant stand.  Pretty cool huh?

I even got to finally finish the terrarium project.  All thiftstore buys.  Sorry for the wetness in the photos but I figured I better not wait or they'll be dead by the time I get around to it again. :)  I just gave them a light spray.  I didn't want to shock them too bad by actually giving them some water.....just kidding, they only take a little water.

You can barely see it but that is a rock plant amongst all the rocks in the pitcher and it has a single bloom.  How the heck does it bloom as dry as it has been?

Since I used the daughter's rock collection for this project, I had to include the rainbow rock she made in school last year.  I actually think it is the perfect touch.

The rocks are actually supporting this poor pitiful one.  It'll make it, these things are tough as nails.

This one is my favorite, not really a terrarium but such a pretty plant and planter.

Now you just watch, after all the abuse they've been through in the heat with little water, I'll bring them inside and kill them within a month.