Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lake Days

Lately, I have been spending some time retreating from the real world into a world of mystery novels, cross-stitching, doodling, canoodling, fishing, swimming, eating, talking, napping, hugging, and laughing: in other words, vacation.

It is a nice break from the near-constant work on our new house, and a wonderful time to reconnect with family and nature. I have decided I really NEED some Adirondack chairs in my life on a regular basis.

I am stitching a pattern out of Anna Maria Horner’s Needleworks Notebook. She really is too precious, and I absolutely love her style. Her color choices are so daring and I wonder in amazement how she makes the choices she does—colors that I think would clash terribly are beautifully balanced.

Here is my little peacock, the start of her pattern “menagerie at midnight.” Of course, I couldn’t find the black Aida fabric so I went with traditional white. I call it “menagerie, around 2pm.”

Traveling with my little mason jar pincushion for all my embroidery supplies
We’ve had some rain, but that doesn't stop us from having fun. The dog is barking at the squirrels intruding on the lawn, the guys are watching Wolverine on tv, and we're all returning as white as we were when we left!

We will miss you, lake! But now it is time to head home and make some more clothes. This trip killed two birds with one stone! This covered list items 3a and 3c: "pool time and attempt to tan" (and fail miserably), as well as "visit family!" If I can just fulfill 3b ("blueberry picking") I will have followed all traditions from last summer and all that will be left will be to expand my horizons and finish my books.

The Roald Dahl book is pretty fascinating, btw. (You should check it out).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Etsy Update

My etsy store is updated with inventory from my craft fair! Check it out if you're interested in cute little key fobs for your key ring, or pin cushions made out of teacups or mason jars. The mason jars are perfect for a little sewing kit and great for traveling! I'll be taking mine out of town on a summer road trip shortly.

If you're local, send me an email, facebook message, or tweet, and I'll give you an Etsy coupon code that will knock the shipping cost off your item!


Thanks for looking!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Homemade Wardrobe: Summertime Tank

When we moved, I realized how much old clothing I had stashed away in my craft closet. Most older clothing goes to Goodwill periodically, but there are several items I have held on to, thinking "that print could still work somewhere" and "maybe I could skinny those pants..." Nothing has happened to the majority of these items, and my interest in refashioning was hid away in the closet with the clothes. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Now that the box is sitting out in my craft room and has even been organized (!) onto shelves, I remember why I saved those items in the first place. At one point, I truly believed I could make them into something new.

And I finally did it. Introducing: my new summer tank top!

The triangle fabric is a quilting cotton, though thankfully not positioned where it will wrinkle very easily. The knit fabric that makes the rest of it was an Old Navy skirt I'd had for a while. I'm not sure why I had it--I'm not a big believer in knit skirts and they have never looked good on me... until now that it is a tank top.

Pictured: Sass

This project actually helped destash in several ways. I had a version of this tank top I had made two years ago, and it was one of the first items of clothing I actually made for myself and wore out. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to finish anything, and some seams came apart in the wash (I didn't know how to care for anything either, apparently.) I put it up thinking I would use the print (it could still work somewhere...) but I'm glad I kept it for the pattern. I have the envelope for this pattern, but no pattern. I'm not sure what happened to it, but thankfully I was able to make a copy for myself out of this old tank and recreate the top I loved so much.

For those interested, the pattern is McCall's 6359.

This one is about as finished as it possibly could be. I like that my facing looks like a little surprise inside the arm holes! I want it to last forever! 

I have a feeling this creation is going to see a lot of summer sun. (which my skin needs to see as well. I'm pale.)

Big shout out to Mr. Kopf who took these photos for me. He said it looked way more natural when I was laughing, so obviously this was my first instinct:

There's a bit of mad scientist in all of us creative types.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Homemade Wardrobe: Finding the Pattern

Homemade Wardrobe:
I am ready to take my wardrobe into my own hands. Here is my experience attempting to sew my own clothes, for better or worse!

I shared earlier that I was looking to stretch myself some more apparel sewing, involving several projects. I have this fun, flirty fabric to work with and I was looking for a new dress pattern with a full skirt and a 60s vibe. I've been feeling a little Mad Men lately...

For that purpose, what could be better than a pattern directly from the 60s? Just my size, I found it on trusty Etsy from seller Hip and Vintage! I am so excited I stumbled upon this store and nabbed up little Simplicity 5086!

Exactly what I wanted! A skirt that's  not too full, but feminine, a nice length down to the knee, and the option for a three quarter sleeve. I think this was made for me to teach in... If this goes well, I can see making a lot of these. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Craft Fair

With help from my mom, my Nana, and with a lot of nightly post-grading craft parties, I accomplished a really big goal: I participated in my first craft fair in early May. It's one I had been attending for years, and for years had been thinking "I could totally do this." I finally decided to stop putting it off and to just go for it! I was rewarded with an amazing sense of accomplishment and some really nice supportive comments from strangers and friends alike. It was a pretty cool two days.

I left right after school on a Thursday, turning in my sub plans for the next day and trying to beat traffic as best as I could. I made the three hour trip to my parents in like 3.75 hours... traffic got the best of me, and I showed up to the convention center to see everything there, ready to go! We got all set up, did one last minute Wal-Mart run, and hit the sack. The next morning we woke up to snow.

Yes, SNOW.

The first weekend in May, in the South, it snowed. I had at least an inch covering my car, maybe more. The mush continued to fall down for most of the morning. It was cold, yucky, grey weather, and that kept a lot of people at home. Friday's attendants were mostly retirees, and other sorts of people that don't have to work during the week. We didn't make our first sale until after lunch, and we were so pumped when it finally happened! One of my Nana's dolls sold, then someone bought one of my little pincushions. I think that's pretty much all we did on the first day. Kind of a bummer.

Pictured: some of my Nana's porcelain dolls. She pours the porcelain, fires it, paints them, assembles them, and makes the clothing. She's pretty neat.

We told ourselves Saturday will be much better. More people, better weather, lots of sales! There were more people, and the weather was better, but the showing was still not normal for this craft fair. People that had been doing that particular sale for 25 years said it was the worst turn out they had seen. I blame the unseasonable and unwelcome SNOW.
Pillows I no longer own... because I sold them!

I sold about 60 bucks worth of merchandise at the end of it all. Of course, it didn't cover my expenses for the booth, the gas, the items I had made... but all that additional money I shelled out was primarily for the experience and for the education that came with it. I learned a LOT! Here's some of my takeaways from the trip:

1. Be friendly! Not just with your customers, but with other vendors. With as much time as we had on our hands, I got to walk around and chat with people at other booths, and do a little shopping myself... and they stopped by my booth and did the same. I also learned about several more craft fairs around the area that would be good to check out. The best resources are all around you!

2. Have a system! For wrapping fragile things, figuring change, all of that good stuff. We needed a dedicated "register" place--I think the best booths have those--but we had gotten the smallest size and didn't really have a much better place than my lap. It was interesting but we chatted up our customers and I don't think it's too big of a deal, just a little unprofessional.

3. Be patient! With the people that walk around your booth, talk about how they're going to make all your stuff, and walk away without acknowledging your presence or answering your "hello." I learned this from sorority PR: not everyone will want your product, but maybe your product is not for them. Keep smiling.

Pictured: My mom and her paper art!
4. Have a buddy! I can't tell how much it helped me that my mom was there with me. We gave each other breaks, got each other food, and allowed each of us some walking around/networking time. It was a lot of fun to have someone to chat with in the downtime too, and a real relief that I didn't have to handle everything myself. Thanks, Mom!

5. Have fun! We had a blast exchanging jokes and stories with the booths next to us, and had several dedicated visitors. Shout out to former students that stopped by and admired our booth! Even though we walked away with more merchandise than money, it was still a wonderful experience, and I'm very, very glad to say I did it.

Afterwards, the family all got together and celebrated my birthday, which was the following week. My parents ordered the cake correctly, but the bakery people spelled my last name wrong! Not even half of this cake was eaten... which means I presented it to my students on Monday who devoured it gratefully. One of the secret benefits to teaching: food disposal! 

A pretty solid end to the weekend, if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Great Summer To-Do List, v. 2

The very second post on this blog (one year ago at the end of May!) was my summer list of super fun books and activities. I made this blog in the first place to track my progress, to keep me accountable, and to recount my sewing adventures, so it's nice to see it live out a full year and come back to where it started.

Last year I wanted to read:

Grace Bonney's Design Sponge at Home... and I did. I think I checked it out from the library like three times last summer. I should just buy it.
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. Yeah, I read that and every other book on a Song of Ice and Fire. I like to call last summer "the summer I lived in Westeros."
The Western Canon by Harold Bloom. That was super boring and I quit so fast.

I wanted to be active by:

Attending movies at the park! We missed every one we wanted to see. Not this year!
Making my own clothes. DONE. More to come.
Host some crafternoons: See above.
Art lessons with my nieces: we never did a dedicated lesson, but we did do some crafts. Two, in fact, which was apparently enough to have my youngest niece asking "did you bring a craft?" every time I come over.

Finally, I wanted to follow tradition by

Attempting and failing to tan: CHECK.
Blueberry picking: CHECK
Float trip: CHECK.
Catch a lightning bug: where was I last summer? Away from all the lightning bugs apparently.
Visit family: done, several times over.

I'm glad I proved to myself I can keep most of a list! Now to move on to this year's:

1. Read Books

1a. Storyteller: the authorized biography of Roald Dahl: Donald Sturrock
I loved Roald Dahl's books growing up. I have already gushed about Matilda here on this blog, but there are so many more that made a mark on me and my imagination: The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (now that's some crazy stuff), the BFG! I was able to sort of grow up with his work; as I moved past elementary picture books, I read his short stories in middle school and still visit them now and again. What was this man like? This summer, I guess I will find out.

2a. The total money makeover: Dave Ramsey
Because I want to save money, ok? Summer is a time for some notorious spending on my part. Maybe reading this, or sleeping with it under my pillow, will help.

3a. Poirot Investigates: by Agatha Christie
I love Christie's mysteries and I love Poirot, so I'm really excited to have found this collection of short Poirot mysteries to tickle my brain. I have a life goal of reading all of Christie's work. I'm nowhere close right now, but this is another step.

2. Be Active

2a. Movies at the park!
2b. Make my own clothes. Specifically finish that Washi dress I cut/new knit Scout tees/a fun fifties style dress with this fabric:

2c: Finish some WIPS. Specifically a picnic blanket quilt I started last summer. It actually just needs to be bound but I hate that part...
2d: Memorize something. I'm not sure what yet, but of course scripture is the first thing that comes to mind. I just feel that I am losing my memorization skills as I get older. I need to pump those up!
2e: Expand my horizons! This summer I will hopefully take an online class on Islam. I am pretty excited about it because I love school and I can't help myself.

3. Follow Tradition

3a: pool time/attempt to tan
3b: blueberry picking
3c: visit family

I hope your summer is filled with lots of fun activities, books, and fun times with friends and family. I'm looking forward to seeing how I do this year! Now that that's done, I'm off to work on list item 2c... wish me luck!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Welcome Back!

This post has been such a long time coming! It is amazing how much time has passed since I last even looked at my blog, let alone contemplated a post. So much happens at the end of the school year for students and teachers alike, and when you add BUYING A HOUSE and MOVING to all of that, life can feel a little cramped... or at least my apartment did. Let's not forget I also did my very first craft fair at the beginning of May and that was an adventure in itself! 

My observant sister added this to her facebook and tagged me. It was pretty appropriate.

Goodness gracious, I was ready for summer. 

Really, I'm still ready for summer. It's hard to believe it's officially started. I still feel like such a busy adult with so many things to do and I have not even had a snow cone! The good news is that I've started to unpack the craft room and will be having some more crafting adventures very shortly. I have several patterns I've been dying to try out/am halfway through and I can't wait to get them all situated! 

In addition to unpacking, there are still several rooms to be painted and the kitchen floor is nonexistent at the moment. Lots of exciting things but it can seem difficult to find the progress when there's so much to do! I feel as if I stop halfway through everything, and one magical day I will finish like five half-completed jobs in a row and feel super good about myself. Come to think of it, I think this is how I sew too...

I'm pretty sure that process is not working. Check back tomorrow for a real update and my annual summer to-do list!