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Thursday, March 17, 2016

I'm Sew Fancy

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

One thing you should know about my husband: he is the ultimate gift-giver. He always figures out the most thoughtful and generous gifts, and they're often things you didn't even know you wanted or needed. And it doesn't matter what's on your wish list; if he doesn't think it's a good gift,  you're not getting it (at least not from him). For example, when we were dating he got me a guitar and an instructional set so I could learn to play. I was thrilled because it was secretly one of my bucket list goals. I started learning right away, but then eventually life happened. I love that guitar, and I mourn the fact that I don't have enough time to dedicate to building the callouses necessary to play. I can't fathom trying to change gross diapers with raw blistered fingers. Ew. It also isn't exactly conducive to nap time. So my poor guitar is currently gathering dust in the basement until I can show it some love, perhaps when I'm done with my Masters.

More recently, my hubby has given me a few gifts that I have been able to consistently put to good use. One such gift is my sewing machine. I've done a little sewing in my life, mostly just learning the basics in middle school home economics and a dress with my Grandma. So when he gave me the sewing machine for Christmas a couple of years ago, I was excited and more than a little intimidated. It also sat in the basement and gathered dust for quite a few months until we were able to get moved into our home and get used to our new status as a family of 3 (well, 4 if you include Cooper dog). I desperately wanted to try it out, and as you saw in my nursery reveal ("A Nursery for L"), I finally got the chance.

And now I'm ADDICTED to sewing. I mean, I've really got the itch to stitch! I made Christmas pillow covers, an accent pillow for my hubby's office, and I started making a blanket out of scraps. In my first-ever attempt at a clothing item, I made L a little dress using a very basic pattern. I learned a TON just in that little project. Here are a few tips:
  • Make sure your needle isn't chipped/burred/broken. If it is at all damaged, it'll catch on your fabric and create tiny little snags. "They" (the sewing experts I guess) recommend that you get a new needle after 8 hours of sewing. I'm not sure how you're supposed to keep track of that, or maybe it's just a conspiracy to get everyone to buy more needles. Either way, I didn't do that so I learned that old needles damage fabric. Oops.
  • When doing a zig-zag (or overcast) stitch, make sure to adjust your tension. If you don't, it'll bunch your fabric and make the stitches all uneven. When done right, this stitch is great for finishing the raw edges of cotton woven fabric to keep it from fraying with normal wear.
  • Iron, iron, iron! It's generally a good idea to wash and iron your fabric before sewing. This prevents shrinkage and ensures more accurate measurements. Ironing helps your stitches to be more even and straight. Just make sure you have the iron on the correct setting for your fabric.
  • If you're going to use binding tape on your edges, use as many pins as possible and make sure you catch EVERY layer of fabric. If you don't, you'll end up with little gaps between the binding and the main fabric. It is a royal pain in the derriere to have to rip those tiny seams and start over. 
My last tip - make sure your model is emotionally stable before attempting a photo shoot. L had an emotional breakdown when I tried to get photos of her in the dress. Overall I think it turned out OK. I'm proud of it as a first attempt, and I definitely learned more than I anticipated. 
This pattern is called the "Sophia" or "Pillowcase dress pattern" and it's available from Pixie Dust Patterns on Etsy
I've also started making burp cloths out of pre-cut flannel kits from a local store called Hen Feathers Quilt Shop (check them out HERE). I have to say, I love working with flannel so far. It's sturdier than normal cotton, but easier to work with than knits, and it's so much more forgiving than anything else I've worked with. Anyway, I'm going to keep a stash of these burp cloths (or at least the kits) on hand for baby gifts. They're so easy and great for practice! 

I've now got enough fabric stashed to start a small store, and I've got so many ideas, plans, and pipe dreams! Who knows, maybe eventually I'll be good enough to take requests. 

In other news, someone should inform my wonderful gift-giving hubby that I've updated my Amazon Wish List to include a serger, cover stitch machine, vinyl printer, and various other crafts-y supplies. He'll just be happy it's finally got more options than just books...I'm so motivated, I must sew all the pretty things! I'm off to sew some sweet little pants and shorts for L. Wish me luck! Oh, and if you haven't already - check out the new Facebook group "Hapless Housewifery." Let me know if you'd like to join for daily encouragement, tips, and updates. 

Hapless but hopeful,

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