Monday, July 30, 2012

Guest Post by Gillian: Sharpies, Fabric, and Fun!

Hi folks! While I'm away on vacation, I've asked two excellent bloggers to step in for me this week. Up first, we've got the lovely Gillian who is a pretty creative lady! Not only does she sew up a storm and make the cutest clothes (that I want to steal and stock my own closet with), she also dabbles in other crafty pursuits. Take a look at one of her latest awesome projects!
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Hello! My name is Gillian, and I blog at Crafting a Rainbow

I really enjoy following Sue's blog, so I was thrilled when she asked to write a guest post while she is away! Thanks for thinking of me, Sue! 

Today's project includes two things I've always loved: a bright rainbow of colours, and very little planning! My favourite projects are spontaneous and fun, and not too fiddly. (Which is why, incidentally, my me-made wardrobe  consists almost entirely of the same simple patterns made over and over with busy prints to distract from my, uh, lazy sewing skills! Why only make a pattern once when you could make it many times in different prints!?) When I saw 36 rainbow coloured permanent markers on sale for about $20, I knew just what to do! 

Sure, it's not ACTUALLY sewing... but don't we all need a cute pair of shoes to complete the perfect me-made outfit? Here's what you'll need: 

Now, there are a lot of options for markers. There are special fabric markers, and the classic Sharpies... I chose these Bic permanent markers because of the lovely range of delicate colours. These shoes are $10 from Walmart, but you could choose any fabric surface to work on!

As my inspiration, I choose one of my favourite pieces of fabric: a vintage roll of Japanese yukata (cotton kimono) fabric that I bought a few years ago while living in Japan. We have panels of this fabric hanging in our bedroom, and it makes me happy to see it every day! I thought the bold colours and painterly quality of the print would be a good fit for marker-art. 

The upside of choosing an organic, loose inspiration design was that I didn't have to be *perfect* in my interpretation. Quick and easy! 

Before you start, take some time to sketch and get to know your markers. I found that different fabrics reacted quite differently to the inks: My shoes bled way more than the cotton I'd practiced on, so take that into account in your design! I stuff the shoes with sports socks to keep the fabric tight. The great thing about these markers is that they blend really easily... you can colour on top with a lighter colour to blend two shades together, and there is such a wide spectrum of colours that it is easy to fade from light to dark.

This really is such a simple project that I feel silly talking about it. What's the next step? Doodle until you have finished your shoes! That's it!

This is one of those great projects where you never have to think too hard, but in the end, you somehow get something wonderful! I really love these shoes: They match EVERYTHING I've ever sewn, and are comfy to boot. I wore them to a wedding shower a few weeks ago with a me-made dress , and it was so fun to be handmade head-to-toe!

In fact, I loved working with these markers so much that I pulled my Mom and sister into creating too - and we didn't stop with fabric!

My mother put some awesome colourful embellishment on a shirt, and decorated some clay Easter eggs too. I decorated the cotton pillow on my computer lap-desk , and my sister tried out this widely-pinned idea by drawing on dishes. 

This would be a perfect project for a crafty social night with friends or party idea for older kids... low pressure, great results, no skills required, and everyone can put their own spin on it! In fact, I found it so addictive that pretty soon I was pacing around the house looking for anything, ANYTHING else that I could draw on! 

Wanna know what I found? Head over to my blog today for Part Two of this tutorial: Sharpies + Fabric = Fun!

Thanks so much to Sue for inviting me to hang out here on her blogspace! I hope you are all have a great summer so far. Happy crafting!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bon Voyage!

Just checking in before I leave for a week of fun and sun and frolicking on the beach...
in my new swimsuit that I got for my birthday!

Check out that anchor - love it! The more nautical, the better, I say. This swimsuit is a little different for me with its open back and low front because most of my suits are one piece, Esther Williams style maillots and don't show as much skin. I'm excited about this new one because it's kind of somewhere in between wearing a one-piece and a bikini.

Now, I obviously didn't sew that swimsuit (maybe I'll get there someday...), but I did finish sewing my polka-dotted wedding guest dress! I'll have the full post with more details soon, but here's a sneak peek of what it looked like while I was putting on the final touches.

Oh, and don't worry you guys - I've got some fun posts scheduled for this next week while I'm at the beach, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Sewing Swap

One of my favorite sewing bloggers, Kerry over at Kestrel Finds & Makes, has hosted a sewing swap! As someone who loves to 1) give gifts, and 2) receive packages in the mail, I signed up straight away. I lucked out and was matched up with the lovely Debi as my swap partner.

Kerry's Summer Sewing Swap

Since I like to brag (sometimes), I couldn't WAIT to reveal the contents of my mysterious sewing swap package.  I'm here, I've got my sewing goodies, and I'm ready to rub it in your faces. Sound good?

Behold this awesomeness:

Pretty green, satiny bias binding!

An adorable, light pink vintage(?) collar with little embroidered flowers! (poorly photographed)

Oh, you know, just some Liberty Tana Lawn. No biggie. THIS STUFF IS LIKE BUTTAH! So soft and I love the colors/design.

Simplicity 3785 - looks early 1960s (i.e. perfect) to me

Simplicity 8642 c.1970 - ADORABLE and wearable! (though, unfortunately, I'm not glamorous enough to pull of that cape). Also, this is "DESIGNER FASHION," people!

Let me just say THANK YOU! to Debi again - and Kerry for organizing the swap! -  and, just so you know that I am able to give as well as (obviously) receive, you should keep an eye out over on Debi's blog today to check out the sewing goodies I sent her way.

p.s. ...
you may have noticed a mysterious (not really) white/red polka-dotted thing being used as the backdrop in these photos.

Yes, it's my wedding guest dress. Yes, it's NEARLY finished. And, yes, I completed the secret special mystery fancy back closure that I made up last night and literally the only thing left to do is hem the dang thing.

But, it's a circle skirt, which you may recall I've never made before. On my last post, Neeno recommended bias binding to encase (I think?) and finish the hem, Johanna recommended this faced hem, and Joanne emphasized the use of MANY pins. I must say I'm a bit intimidated, but I'm going to give it a try and make it work ASAP. The clock is ticking!

Monday, July 23, 2012

On my sewing table, on my mind

My brain is scrambled. I'm adjusting to finally completing the training program for my new(ish) job, trying to finish my polka dot wedding guest dress (never hemmed a circle skirt before) by Friday, contemplating some recent birthday gifts and the seamless pledge, doing a little last-minute planning for an upcoming trip, drooling over my sewing swap goodies that just arrived in the mail, and trying to keep you all in the loop. More soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy Birthday to Meeeeee!

So, it's my birthday and as a present to myself I did a little vintage pattern shopping on Etsy (I'm 25 today, I can do what I WANT!). One of my favorite shops on the site is MissBettysAttic. She has SO many adorable patterns to choose from (hundreds!) and they are ALL cute. I follow her on Pinterest and get the scoop on her new additions (obsessed!). Really, now that I've scooped up some of the patterns I couldn't live without, you all should hop on over there and check out her store. She's currently having a 25% off Christmas in July sale. I could you say no to that?

Anyway, here are the two lovelies I picked up:

Simplicity 4986
McCall 5470

Eeeep! I'm so excited for these patterns! Apparently, early 1960's patterns are my jam - I feel physically compelled to POSSESS pretty much any one I come across. Cuteness overload.

The Simplicity number is an adorable little wrap dress with gathered skirt and hidden pockets and I just LOVE the bodice on the McCall pattern - such a snappy look, and check out that cute collar! Excellent purchases, if I do say so myself.

Also, let me say THANKS! to the lovely Johanna over at Making It Well for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. If you'd like to check my list of random facts about me, click over here, and by all means, give Johanna's blog a visit if you've not been before! She's just knitted the cutest sweater that has totally re-ignited my mission to learn to knit in 2012.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Progress & plans

Firstly, thank you all for your cheery, supportive comments on my 6 month bloggiversary post!

And, to the five lucky winners of my giveaway, just a heads up that your prizes are officially in the mail and on their way to your doorsteps!

Now, on to the sewing talk. It's been a little while since I've shared my progress with you all for my current project. I'm working on the second wedding guest dress I'd planned to make. If you recall, I decided to go with the red/white spotted rayon and vintage McCall 4581.

In case you were wondering about my sketching skillz...I think they speak for themselves.

It all sounded great and I was excited to get started, but when I finally did I was kind of like... meh. Perhaps this project fell victim to my tendency to over-plan things, but somewhere along the line it lost the excitement and just didn't seem right! I forged ahead, telling myself that I'd like it more and more once I saw the dress underway, and started to make a (hopefully) wearable muslin out of some thrifted fabric. I thought I could make the top part of the circle skirt to test the waist measurement on the pattern, in addition to sewing up the bodice, and end up with a cute blouse with a peplum. Something along these lines:

top with peplum -

Well, I had a few issues constructing the bodice, though the fit was actually just right, and by the time I had the thing mostly put together I realized it just wasn't for me! Boo, right? Well, after being disappointed, it was actually a relief to know that I didn't have to force myself to make it! I love the spotted fabric I'm going to use for the final dress and I decided I'd be happy going with a simpler bodice, keeping the circle skirt, and making something a little more laid back and easy to wear.

Here's what my muslin/top ended up looking like:

peplum top/muslin

The left side of the bodice turned out ok, but the right side is all bunchy and weird.

I probably should have traced the stitching line (that's why it's there!) from the pattern onto the cut fabric, but I didn't want to! That ended up making it rather difficult for me when trying to attach the sleeve thingy to the bodice and keeping the little cut-out things the same size/shape on each side. It just wasn't really fun and I wasn't in love with the look anyway.

Since I've thrown out this plan for something simpler, I decided to go with a dress bodice already in my stash, McCall 5845 , which I'll pair with the circle skirt from the vintage pattern. I might even opt to add the bow belt shown.

I've sewn this pattern up once before, pre-blog, and promptly abandoned it once I put in the zipper and realized the dress was too big. Based on that experience, I've got a few adjustments I'm planning to make this time around, but you'll just have to wait and see how it all comes together. Hopefully I'll have it sewn up in time to wear to the wedding - eeek! More details soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The winners of my trifecta of awesomeness giveaway have been determined!

First off, let me just thank you ladies for all of your congratulatory entries! There were a total of 46 of you who entered, and as you know, 5 winners. I opted to go the old school route of putting names on slips of paper and drawing from a hat (bowl-thing), rather than using that new-fangled random number generator thing to pick the lucky winners.

drawing the winners!

Prize #1 - vintage sewing supplies - goes to Lenora Jane of TheBigDipperSaid

Prize #2 - vintage sewing patterns (bust 43") - goes to Kate Price of TheWorldIsAChocolateCupcake

Prize #3 - vintage sewing patterns (bust 38") - goes to Josephine

Prize #4 - vintage fabric and a Craftsy class - goes to Mónica of ColorDeLaSuerte (Girl, what is your email address!)

Prize #5 - "sewing is good for you" top - goes to Elizabeth of TheCataloguer

Congratulations to everyone and thanks to all who entered!

You winning ladies will all be hearing from me very soon if  you have not already, so I can get your mailing info and get these babies shipped out to you post-haste (get it? post? mail?).

packages getting ready to go!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

6 months later...

You guys, my official 6 month bloggiversary is here!! When I set out to start this blog 6 months ago,  it was a  little bit of a new year's resolution. I felt like my sewing was very disorganized and I kept getting distracted and losing motivation for projects. Starting the blog has really helped me buckle down and stay more focused and has also given me an outlet for my sewing obsession that's even more satisfying than I'd imagined!

Meeting new sewing friends (you!) who share thoughts and ideas as well as helpful advice has made a huge difference in my life - sounds corny, but it's true! I cant thank you all enough for reading and participating. :)

my first ever, wearable piece!

Sappiness aside, I thought I'd do a little revisit to check in on the goals I'd set for myself when I was getting started.
  • tackle my mountain of mending! - I did some small chipping away at the mending mountain, but haven't really made a lot of progress recently...and none of it is really interesting or blog-worthy.
  • try some new techniques - I've definitely tried some new techniques/skills since setting this goal. Some that come to mind are: making collars (for my violet blouse, my mad men dress, my estate sale dress....and more, I'm sure - they're kind of my favorite thing to add to a garment), sewing from a vintage pattern (my easter egg blouse), gathering (gathered skirt and my wedding guest dress), buttonholes (violet and easter egg blouses), lining (my mad men dress), underlining (my peony and violet)...and more!

my mad men dress

  • de-stash! - This one is a little weird to address - in some ways I've done a horrible job and in others I've done great. I've kind of stopped randomly buying fabric and patterns online without a project/purpose in mind (for a while it kind of took the place of impulsive clothing shopping for me - now I don't do too much of either!), and I've been able to de-stash a lot of stuff by giving it away, but I've also collected a rather sizable pile of new-to-me stuff from yard sales and estate sales over the past few months. I can say, though, that I really try now to plan projects from my existing stash, only purchasing new supplies if totally that's....good!
  • sew actually wearable pieces. - I think I've definitely made progress in this area! When I started out, I only had one piece of wearable me-made clothing, and now I've got several. I've really tried to make practical pieces that I can use in my every-day life. Some things do get more wear than others, though, (like my gathered skirt and estate sale dress) while others are honestly somewhat neglected (like my violet and easter egg blouses), so I still have room to improve here. It can be hard to know if something will turn out the way I want it to and if the way I plan to use a piece will actually work. (my easter egg blouse was really fun to sew and was my first foray into vintage pattern sewing, but is not as wearable as I'd expected and doesnt look as great tucked into my skirts as I'd hoped, but that's how it goes!)

my gathered skirt

  • learn to make properly fitting garments!- I think I've made some steps in this direction, though I'm still intimidated by fitting. I have learned more about how to pick the appropriate size for me for a pattern (something I'd thought I knew, but apparently didn't really) and some of the types of adjustments I'll likely want to make (or at least keep in mind) to certain garments (like shortening the waist slightly). I'm definitely expecting to work on the whole fitting thing more as I continue to gain experience sewing different types of pieces.
  • start learning to knit by the end of 2012. - Here I can frankly say I've made no progress at all. I do really hope to get started learning to knit by the end of the year, though. :)
  • sew at least one thing each month - this idea came after I'd officially made my list of goals, but I'm happy to say it has been accomplished successfully each month so far!
Not too bad, though there's always room for improvement!

my peony dress

While I've been working towards those goals, I also participated in a few activities with other bloggers, like making a mad men inspired dress for Julia Bobbin's mad men challenge, participating in Kerry's summer sewing swap (which you'll hear more about soon!), hosting my own giveaway (yay!), being a featured seamstress at Coletterie for my peony dress, making the seamless pledge, and posting a project on

Not too shabby, eh?

Thanks for sticking with me through my first six months, and here's to the next six...or twelve...or hundred! :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hooray for a Giveaway!

So, you may have noticed we've reached a hundred followers in these parts. That's exciting, if you ask me. Something else you may or may not have noticed? This little blog's 6 month birthday is coming up on July 8. Oh, and one more thing? July is my birthday month!!!!

This trifecta of awesomeness clearly calls for a celebration. Therefore, I am hosting a MAJOR giveaway. Hold on to your hats, ladies. I've got FIVE awesome prizes for you try your hand at winning. That's right, 5. If you like any combination of vintage + sewing, I think I've got you covered.

#1 - Vintage Sewing Supplies


mystery pile of vintage sewing goodies! - there's quite a bit hidden in that stack


#2 - Vintage Sewing Patterns (all around bust size 43")

vintage sewing patterns in 43"+ bust sizes


#3 - Vintage Sewing Patterns (all around bust size 38")

vintage patterns in 36" and 38" bust sizes


#4 - Vintage Fabric and a Craftsy Class


You'll get this fantastic vintage tropical floral fabric (it's soft and drapey!) to try your hand at making Gertie's Bombshell dress through her amazing Craftsy class! The prize will be good for any Craftsy class, though, in case you've already taken Gertie's. I've been wanting to try the bombshell dress ever since the class debuted, but I can just never seem to get my ducks in a row. This way I can live vicariously through whoever gets this prize, so we both win!


#5 - Your very own "Sewing is Good for You" top

This shirt was designed by me at The design is printed on an American Apparel Girly Jersey T-shirt, Size L (click for size guide)

Is your mind blown by that amazing array of options???! Mine is.

Now, with so many potential prizes we've got to have a few rules for entering the giveaway:
  • To enter, leave a comment on this post no later than 11:59 PM (EST) on Saturday, July 7th.
  • Make sure your email address is linked to the account you comment under so I can get in touch with you if you win, or just type it in with your comment to be safe!
  • Everyone who comments will be entered for all 5 prizes. If you would like to be excluded from one or some of the options, just say so in your comment.
  • There will be 5 randomly picked winners - one for each prize - to be announced on Tuesday, July 10th.
  • Anyone can enter and I'll ship to any place in the world.
  • That's it - good luck!!