Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Basic sewing machine maintenance

When's the last time you cleaned and oiled your machine? Or took it in to have serviced?

If the answer is "never", then now's the time to do it! I made a sewing tutorial video if you've never done it before... and if you have done it before, hopefully this post will serve as a little reminder to do it right now!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Waste Not Weekly #6: fabric stashbusting

The have: old lady Mary Engelbreit (-ish?) fabric (sorry, Engelbreit fans), and a new FREE pattern I'm itching to try. The need: new pajama shorts for summer.

The end result:
For this week's Waste Not post (I did, btw, change the post day from Wednesday to Friday!) I decided to do a little stash busting while fulfilling a need. I inherited this not-quite-my-jam Mary Engelbreit quilting fabric from my Grandma. I briefly considered donating it to the thrift store before deciding that it's cute enough that I can live with it, and that I could use it for a lining or muslin or something. When this free pattern was released, I knew it was destined to become something that wouldn't be worn out of the house: PJ shorts.

This is Purl Bee's City Gym Shorts pattern. I don't have a whole lot to say about the pattern, especially considering that it's a free pattern that Purl Bee generously provided to the sewing blogosphere. I have a couple of other pairs I cut out at the same time, which aren't yet finished, and I'll type up a full pattern review when I post those.

(I really tend to overdo it on the free patterns, don't I? Especially considering I spend so much money on NOT free patterns.)

Waste Not Weekly is all about my efforts to avoid fast fashion and heavy consumption while being as frugal and sustainable as I can. Once a week, I dedicate a post to checking off projects on my to-do list by using up my fabric and craft stash instead of buying new supplies, or refashioning and repairing clothes I have instead of buying more clothes.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Waste Not Wednesday #5: little fixes

On Waste Not Wednesdays I share my weekly attempt at trying to whittle down my pile of clothes slated for altering, repairing, and refashioning, as well as tackling my cache of sewing UFOs and my fabric stash. It's my attempt at avoiding Fast Fashion while remaining frugal and sustainable.

This week has very little to do with avoiding fast fashion, but everything to do with tackling those little "to fix" projects. Those kinds of projects that just may've sat around forever unfixed if I hadn't promised myself to tackle a project a week, and now that they're done I can move onto better projects without these ones nagging me.

Seriously? Boring, unblog-worthy stuff, but stuff that might not have gotten done if I didn't blog about it.

I ordered a bulk batch of teething necklaces (also called silicone nursing necklaces) for my nursing 10-month old and I. If you're not familiar-- I wear them, but they're for my son to chew with or play with while nursing (instead of my hair). A couple of them were too short, and I didn't like the knots in between each bead. Some came without knots and I liked that look better, so I switched them. Here are the three I fixed.
Obviously, it was as easy as pulling them off the ribbon and re-stringing them. I did have to buy new ribbon (after buying satin cording or "rat tail" {*cringe*} that ended up being too wide for the bead hole).

I also had a purse my mom asked me to fix staring at me in the face every time I walked past it. This one was a doozy. Basically, my mom can't buy a purse in a store like a normal person. She bought it from a vendor at the Reno Rodeo, so once she saw there was a defect, she couldn't return it. A zipper on a pocket hadn't caught completely in the stitching. It was hard to fix without removing the entire lining.
I unpicked the stitches above the pocket and then re-sewed it with the pocket open, with the zipper sandwiched between the lining parts. It worked? The zipper sticks a little. But I think I've fulfilled my unselfish sewing requirements for the year.

Finally, I had just one string to re-string in a mobile my sis bought for my sons in Mexico. She'd already fixed it once, but it came out again and required me digging through an extensive needle stash to restring it. So it sat untouched for eight months, until I decided to tackle it are part of this week's "small fixes". This time, I hit it with some crazy glue to keep it from coming apart again.
I also got it hung in their room! See the ceilings? My husband scraped off the popcorn. The re-texturing and painting are still on his to-do list.

Friday, July 25, 2014

DIY Superhero Cape from an Upcycled T-shirt {Waste Not Wednesday #4}

In this week's YouTube video, I show you how to make a superhero cape out of an old T-shirt. This is a super easy and fast project with satisfying results. All you really need is an adult-sized t-shirt and some scissors-- everything else is optional!

Two weeks in a row with projects for son. I'm about to lose my "Selfish Seamstress" cred!

(I know, today is... not Wednesday. I'm thinking of changing this little endeavor to Waste Not Weekly.)

On Waste Not Wednesdays I share my weekly attempt at trying to whittle down my pile of clothes slated for altering, repairing, and refashioning, as well as tackling my cache of sewing UFOs and my fabric stash. It's my attempt at avoiding Fast Fashion while remaining frugal and sustainable.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Waste Not Wednesday #3: boys tank + reflections on slow fashion so far

On Waste Not Wednesdays I share my weekly attempt at trying to whittle down my pile of clothes slated for altering, repairing, and refashioning, as well as tackling my cache of sewing UFOs and my fabric stash. It's my attempt at avoiding Fast Fashion while remaining frugal and sustainable.

I'd started this big long post for this week's Waste Not Wednesday post (I took last week off because my son had surgery on Tuesday), but figured I should just scrap it and keep it short and sweet. Basically, I was only three weeks into this little project and am already having reflections about what it means to have a thrifty and sustainable wardrobe.
Weird jeans are weird.
It started when this week's original project ended up getting FUBARed. Basically, I was trying to let one of my pairs of shorts from week one out in the waist, and because of the bizarre construction of those pants, they ended up getting wrecked. I mean, I could've soldiered on and continued to work on them, but at some point it just becomes not worth it. So, I was feeling all this guilt because before I got my hands on them, the pants were still wearable. And that just isn't sustainable to take a wearable article of clothing and ruin it. It's not really thrifty either, even though I already possessed the pants, since I wasted thread and time on the effort.

So then for this week's project, I decided to make my son a tank... which also ended up being something I don't think he'll end up wearing. Even though I used a men's Jersey tee shirt for the fabric, when I made it into a little tank for my son, the drape seemed kind of flowy and feminine, or just off. So I also ruined a wearable tee-- but I've since gotten over the guilt on that one. I'm chalking it up as a loss to pattern making/muslining and also a chance to practice sewing knits on my current machine AND use my brand-new twin ballpoint needle for the first time ever. Plus, I got to make a video for my YouTube channel, which I always enjoy. And it's not like the thrift stores are running out of t-shirts any time soon.


I'm also having some reflections about my purse from week #2. I can still buy some more heavy-duty leather conditioner and get the leather looking a little better, but how much will that run me? Ten dollars? Twenty? Factor in that the bag has an L-shaped hole, which will be hard to repair considering the bag is lined, plus I'd have to purchase materials to replace the straps, and then construct the straps. Or, I can spend about $150 for a brand new leather bag on sale (I'm eyeing traditional British styled ones from Zatchels, the Leather Satchel Co., or Cambridge Satchels) that look as if they'll last me a very long time. And they're handmade in the UK, where the employment standards and environmental standards are higher than if I were to purchase something made in a traditional manufacturing country.
Probs going to dismantle this one for the hardware. What can I use the leather scraps for?
So, I've been going through my stack of clothes-to-refashion pile and sending a little more to the thrift store. Things that are still wearable, just not for me. And I've made, and plan on making, some fast-fashion purchases... Because of how much I liked the fit of those weirdo men's pants from week 1, I bought a pair of men's jeans from WalMart of all places, with the intent of making them into cut-offs. They were a very thrifty purchase at $10.62, and even though they're from WalMart, I don't feel bad purchasing them. I didn't have to do a time-consuming and gas-wasting thrift hunt, which often turn up nothing for me. And even Elizabeth Cline condones making fast-fashion purchases (kinda-- "shop where you're going to shop") as long as you plan on keeping it for the life of the garment, rather than treating it as disposable.

So that's where I'm at. It's a tiny bit of a relief to divert a little more to the thrift store, even though so much of what gets sent to the thrift store ends up being recycled or sent to other counties, which is why I try to limit my thrift store cast-offs. But as I'm starting a closet re-org project, my Waste Not Wednesday pile still seems to keep growing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Waste Not Wednesday #2: I put a leather purse in the washer

On Waste Not Wednesdays I share my weekly attempt at trying to whittle down my pile of clothes slated for altering, repairing, and refashioning, as well as tackling my cache of sewing UFOs and my fabric stash. It's my attempt at avoiding Fast Fashion while remaining frugal and sustainable.

This week's rescued item is actually not from my refashion/repair pile. In fact, I use it every day.

It's my purse. Some candy got spilled in the bottom. And it melted.

No probs, I'll just throw it in the wash, right? Yeah, my purse is leather.

I was already debating a new purse. I mean, I really really want one. My "purses and bags" Pinterest board is probably one of my most active ones. When the candy spilled in there, I was like, "yes! An excuse to buy a new one!"

But, I am a strong believer in buying very nice quality things so that you only have to buy one of them. I paid close to $200 for this Lucky Brand blue leather crossbody purse and have used it everyday for four years. If I was going to buy a replacement purse, I would want it to also last me another four years. But shelling out that kind of dough right now just isn't in the cards.

So I wracked my brain for a solution to this sticky, icky mess. Because spot cleaning just wasn't going to work. I wondered, should I cut out the lining? The bag needs more support than just the leather. I suppose I could've sewn in a new lining, but who knows when I would've gotten to that.

Ultimately, I Googled "put leather purse in washer" and found that someone had done it. Lots of people have. And the world didn't end. Besides, what did I have to lose? As it was, I had to buy a new purse either way.

So I went for it, and it turned out OK. I did not use a gentle or special soap (Murphy's Oil is suggested), but probably should have. I used a delicate cycle and regular soap, along with the baking soda I use for fabric softener. The navy blue dye leaked all over everything. Duh, I should've known better. The purse is a little stiff and wrinkly. BUT. The candy mess is gone.

So I'm back to carrying it. I actually saved it from the garbage! But it's a good thing I like the boho look and no longer work in a corporate environment, because it's a little... raggedy.

I picked up some Kiwi leather cleaning and conditioning wipes from Target. I think they made a difference? I think I actually need to go get some actual leather conditioner or something a little more heavy duty from the local tack store.

I'm also going to replace the straps and handles, which I was thinking of doing before the bag came dangerously close to a demise. I just can't decide what to replace them with. Leather would be ideal, but I have never done any leather work and don't want to invest too much time if my bag is going to bite the dust soon anyway. (Did I mention there's also a large L-shaped hole on the side, how do I fix that?) I can also use nylon or cotton webbing, or a heavily interfaced floral fabric. Or it may not matter much since the bag is looking so shabby anyway.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Waste Not Wednesday #1: jeans "refashion" (OK, they're just cutoffs)

There are many reasons people blog. For fame, for money.

I mostly like to blog to document and share my projects, and as a hobby. But another good reason is for accountability. If I tell myself I'm going to do something IRL, I often don't follow through. If I write in on my blog...I still don't tend to follow through. What can I say, I am the Queen of not following through for myself. But blogging about it at least makes it easier to remember that I said I would I do it.

That said, I am going to try to start making headway in my pile of clothes I need to refashion, alter, and repair (in the name of frugality and sustainability!) by working on it a little each week. And I'll try to blog about it on Waste Not Wednesday.

I need shorts right now, so I'm tackling three pairs of jeans first. Denim cutoffs are definitely something I wouldn't be blogging if it weren't for "Waste Not Wednesday".

Once, I saw a sewing blogger post denim cutoff jeans. I was like, OK? You took some scissors and cut off a pair of jeans. I did that when I was a kid, so, can't be that hard.

Now I know better. It has a lot to do with how indecisive I am, and a lot to do with my age and lifestyle. I actually Googled "denim cutoffs after 30" before taking the scissors to my jeans. To be certain, I'm of the "wear what makes you happy" camp and don't tend to subscribe to the people of certain age should only wear certain things camp. But, what personally makes me happy is dressing appropriately for my age, haha.

The problem is, what IS right for my age? I'm 33. I don't consider myself old and always thought my 30s would be the best years ever. And so far they are. No more college, no more stress pertaining to getting my career off the ground, a little more stable financially (not quite where I envisioned it though). Right now it's all about my family, and I'm still young enough to enjoy it.

So I'm not too old, but I am too old to be wearing distressed/studded denim with the pockets hanging out the bottom. (Again, if you're 33 and that's your jam, get it girl, it's just not for me). And I'm definitely too young to be wearing elastic-waisted hemmed jorts.

So, after not having worn cutoffs in years (decades?), but wanting to, thanks to all the cute "boyfriend shorts" available from places like the Gap, I decided to take the plunge. Also, having some jeans in my Waste Not Wednesday stack that wouldn't really work as much else helped.

But seriously? It wasn't as simple as taking some scissors to them and having at it. How long do I make them? Do I hem them? Do I kinda, like, "distress" them?

I thrifted these jeans and a similar, lighter pair, last summer when I was pregnant, with the intention of turning them into more maternity shorts like these (oh hey, these jeans are actually shown in that post, possibly even mentioned!). They are seriously some of the weirdest jeans ever. I modeled them for my husband, calling them "old man jeans", as in jeans for old men to wear. He took it as old (comma), man jeans... as in men's pants that were old. He informed me that they still make them, and indeed, they do, and you can get a pair for just $20.

Anyway, these Grandpa pants have an expanding waistband for when you eat too much at the 4:30pm dinner buffet. Spolier alert: in the video they are turned into shorts! Really nothing special to see there, the point is that I'm getting through that refashion pile! I'd grab a still shot to show you... but it ended up out of focus.

I also chopped off the legs of these jeans, on which the mending job mentioned in that post did not hold up too well. I've since come up with a better method for repairing my jeans, to be shared in another #WasteNotWednesday... provided I keep it up. ;)

This week's garment refashion tally: 3
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