Monday, January 30, 2006


I haven't been sewing since before Christmas for two reasons, or so I thought: the lift in my sewing machine table broke and we were busy remodelling our living room. Well, we replaced the lift in my cabinet and the living room is nearly complete so I have time to sew again. But I'm stuck. Why do I not feel like sewing?

I walked into Sewing Room #2 (the supposed guest room that houses my cutting table and overflow fabric and other craft stuff), with the intent on getting started on a project, but I just lost my inspiration. It did perhaps have something to do with the mess that is Sewing Room #2. Before I can embark on any project, I must organize. Well, Sewing Room #2 became Christmas Wrapping Central before the holidays and some bits and pieces of Christmas still remained. There's also my yarn stash, doll house, collection of Martha Stewart Living and Threads magazines, and other odds and ends to contend with. I tried to tidy up a bit but the more fabric I uncovered, the more agitated I became. I want to make the jackets, tops, pants, and skirts I envisioned when I bought the fabric...I just can't get going. I'm stuck.

I think part of the problem is that I have too much fabric and I'm a perfectionist who doesn't want to fail at the item I'm making, so I'm scared to start. Another problem is that I'm overwhelmed by too many projects. I have a lot of fabric. I don't know what to start working on. Do I just pick the nearest piece of fabric and make what I planned to make with it? Do I go through my patterns and find something that's appropriate for the season and then find the fabric (out of my stash of course) to go with it?

At least the fabric buying has slowed. I have been sticking to my fabric buying diet, more or less. The last piece of fashion fabric I bought was in early November. I did go to Thai Silks on Saturday with my internet friends but bought only a little bit of fabric to embellish a blouse I plan to make out of fabric already in my stash. I say that doesn't count because it's like buying interfacing, elastic or lace. I've also bought some cotton quilting fabric for either quilts or small projects such as a laptop case. In my mind that is only straying a bit from the diet, like having a small bite of a fattening dessert. Because just like with a food diet, if you exclude all taboo things from your diet, you will surely fail.

Of course I really should finish the pink rayon Jalie top I started. But I can't seem to get motivated by it. Am I just not motivated to sew right now? Is that ok? Except for the Christmas gifts, I haven't made anything since last fall. The cooler weather drove me to pick up my knitting needles and I feel more content knitting at the moment. But my sewing machine(s) sit idle, my wardrobe is in need of some new clothes, and the fabric reminds me of the clothing I want it to become. I go to my sewing meetings and have nothing to show off. I have the fancy machines and more than enough fabric and patterns but I'm not doing anything with them. What a waste!

So I think I will not push it. If I make myself sew, I may be unhappy with the project and unhappy with sewing. I will not be without clothes if I do not sew. The fabric is not going anywhere. No one will die if I don't finish the pink top just yet. They won't kick me out of the sewing guild. I don' t have to sew. Whew. Ok, I feel better.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I've been drooling over Laura Foster Nicholson's ribbons for quite a while but they're rather pricey and I don't have a specific project in mind. So far I have been resisting the temptation to order them just to have them to look at. For now I just look at the photos on line for ribbon like this one (click for a big view):

or this:

I could use the ribbon on cosmetic bag such as they did here, although mine won't wouldn't be as large (check out the dimensions...snicker).

Another source for fun ribbons is trimfabric. I ordered from this on-line source a few years ago and had fairly good response from them. They've since revamped their website but I think they still deal in mostly mill-end textiles, so their stock changes. I do think their multiple-view pictures of fabric, buttons, and trim are some of the best for an online store. Here's one of their vintage ribbons (I don't know if it's really vintage or just a vintage look):

And finally, mjtrim has a wide selection of ribbons, lace, buttons, and other baubles to adorn your projects.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Here's what's been going on -

Home remodeling:
This is where my time has been spent of late, besides going to work of course. And sleeping. We started working on redoing the living room shortly before Christmas and we're still plugging along. I'll have pictures of the whole thing once it's done, or at least mostly done. Rooms in our house are never completely done.

The lighting is done - 4 recessed lights and a lighted ceiling fan. That took more work than expected because there were a few "while we're at it" projects related to electricity.

The walls have been either re-sheetrocked or skim-coated. We replaced the insulation in the exterior wall and added some to an interior wall. After two coats of primer and two coats of paint, they're done...well, there is some touch up to do.

The floor is sanded and just needs some touch up sanding along the walls and in a few low spots where the rented sander didn't do a great job. Next step is to vacuum thoroughly, run a tack cloth along it and then stain and apply multiple coats of polyurethane - and keep the cats off it. We hope to get that done this week so I can call the furniture stores and schedule delivery of the couch and bookcase.

We picked up some of the trim we need. We purchased the oak window sill and trim piece for the step (the living room is lower than the hallway by one step that runs the entire width of the room). Ka-ching. Those pieces run $5/foot, so we took advantage of a 15% moulding sale at the expensive lumber yard. We still need moulding for the baseboards and ceiling, which we'll get at HD, where they're cheaper than at the expensive lumber yard, even with the sale. All the trim will need to be stained, cut, and installed.

Drapes and wall decoration will take a while. I will probably make drapes and pillows, which means expect them sometime in 2010. Well, let's hope not. I'd also like to make picture ledges. I like these ledges sold by Pottery Barn

and Target

But I'm not buying them from Pottery Barn or Target. When you knit, sew, or cut wood, it's hard to buy something that you know you can make. Target's price was much better than Pottery Barn but they're only available in black. Ours will be in oak, stained to match the rest of the woodwork and furniture in the room.

I haven't been doing any personal sewing since before Christmas, but I did help out with some charity sewing with my sewing guild. We made pillows for mastectomy patients. At my last neighborhood group meeting, we cut the heart-shaped pillows out of yards and yards of pink, purple and yellow fleece and flannel. I donated some pink flannel to the cause that had been in my stash for ages. I was glad to put it to use. At our chapter meeting on Saturday we made the pillows in assembly line fashion. There were 23 of us, so a few sewed a pink ribbon to one side, a few sewed on a small American Sewing Guild patch, and some sewed the pillow seams (I helped with that). Then there also were women stuffing pillows and doing the final hand stitching, which I also helped doing. We completed 142 pillows.

I hope to get back to more sewing once my sewing machine cabinet is back in service. The new lift I ordered arrived last week. I really hope the lift fits my existing cabinet without any modifications to the cabinet. I think it should but we haven't checked it out yet because we've been preoccupied with the living room right now.

I've been doing really well (I think) at not buying more fabric. I've written in this blog before about my monumental stash. Someday I may dare to post pictures of the tower of fabric-filled, plastic storage boxes in our cargo trailer. I have bought some quilting fabrics and just bought four fat quarters of Valentines Day prints last Saturday, but at least I haven't bought any fashion fabric since November. Well, I had to buy the fleece panel from Hancocks because it was the Penn State logo...and the Christmas craft fabric panels were a moment of weakness too. But I have withstood the temptations of luscious fabric at Emmaonesock, VogueFabrics, and Textile Studios and the always present good deals at I look but I don't click.

I've been doing knitting whenever and wherever I can. My main project right now is a gift for a friend. It's rather large and I chose to use the seed stitch on it, so it seems like it will never end. I've been working on it while we watch TV and during my morning commute (don't worry, I carpool with my husband and he drives). I'm happy to report that I think the end is in sight on this project. Probably another week or two, depending on how much TV watching we do.

Since I had a business trip last week, I started a small project that was more portable. It's a felted handbag that uses one skein of Noro Kureyon. I'm nearly finished with it. Small projects are good!

And just like I have to find willpower not to by sewing fabric, I now have to find the strength not to create a huge stash of yarn. I came close to buying a sweater's worth of Rowan at a LYS sale a few weeks ago but managed to only leave with the Noro for the purse. Stitches is just a few weeks away and I'm saving my buying for then. Oh no, Stitches is a few weeks away!! I have homework to do for my classes! I better get to it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

So what's wrong with sewing your own clothes?

In today's Life Magazine newspaper insert there was an interview with Q'Orianka Kilcher, the actress playing Pocahontas in the movie The New World. The interviewer asked:

"Word is you like to sew your own clothes. Are you worried what Joan Rivers might say on the red carpet?"

The 15 year old actress said, "Oh, I'll just smile at her and tell her how lovely she looks."
Good for her.
Why do people assume if you sew your own clothing it must look like a 7th grade home ec project? And what a thing for the interviewer, Brantley Bardin, to say to a young girl. But I guess if she's in a business where she is constantly critiqued for her looks then she'll get used to harsh comments about her. Even if the comments are a dig at her sewing.

And speaking of celebrities getting harsh comments on their looks, Mr. Blackwell announced that Brittany Spears was the worst dressed start of 2005. Was anyone surprised? I especially liked his description of her as an "over-the- hill Lolita."

Monday, January 02, 2006

When the lights go out

I'm thankful I can knit.

We awoke on New Years Day to no power. Winter storms, with high winds and lots and lots of rain, are moving through the Bay area. Thankfully we live on flat land, about 3 or 4 streets from the nearest creek (more like a large drainage ditch), so we don't have to worry about mudslides or floods. We also don't have any large trees nearby that could fall, but our pond is sure getting full! The winds were pretty fierce yesterday so it's no surprise the power went out. We had a string of outages last fall caused by birds, so high winds are surely going to knock the lines out...and they did. The electricity went out around 9:30 am and was back on about 1 in the morning. Thank you to the men and women of PG&E who went out in that mess to fix the lines. The gas fireplace kept the family room warm while I sat on the couch and knitted all day - or as much as I could stand. I also read a few magazines, catnapped with the cats and listened to the storm reports on the radio.

I was bummed I wasn't able to watch some of the Mummers Parade. I was all set to tape it - WGN shows a few hours of the parade - but no electricity means no TV. I grew up near Philly and remember the parade. We never went to see it but we always watched it on TV every year, mostly to see the elaborate string bands.

Without electricity, we also didn't have hot water. We installed a tankless water heater last week, which will save us about 1/2 on our gas bill. The downside is that since is doesn't store hot water (it heats the water on-demand), there is no hot water when there is no electricity to fire up the burners. We do have a gas stove though, so if I had to have hot water I could heat some.

If there was ever a day to lose power, yesterday was a good one. No bowl games on TV. Lots of knitting to do. I'm thankful to have a solid, dry roof over our heads, warm clothes, a gas fireplace and stove, and plenty of food in the pantry. Life could be a lot worse. A lot. Of course looking out across the street to see that the neighbors had electricity was a bummer, but what can you do?

Today the electricity is on and so are the bowl games. It's back to work tomorrow so I think I'll just enjoy another day on the couch with my knitting and the cats.

Happy New Year!