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Archive for June, 2009

anda dress

I took a sewing class this spring and made a pillow…which was ok. But come on. It was only a pillow. Then I took another sewing class and made a skirt…which did not fit. This was also ok, because it was an actual skirt! With a zipper! So on my own, I made another skirt…which fit poorly. Now I was starting to get frustrated. A good and normal type-A personality may have re-made the wonky skirt, figured out what went wrong, learned from her mistakes. Not I. No, I decided to make a dress, instead!
…Help me, Rhonda.

I used the Anda Dress pattern from BurdaStyle. I printed the pattern at home, which meant I had to tape all those 8.5 x 11″ pieces of paper together into something the size of a human, which was kind of a mess in itself. I started cutting, I started sewing, and then I got completely lost. The fact that this pattern is rated “Very Easy” was not helping matters. I sent several frantic e-mails to Erin, who posesses the sort of kindness and compassion it takes to lie to your friend and tell her the pattern is wacky.

I avoided the dress for a while, but when it came time to start packing up to move, I just wanted to get the thing DONE…one way or another. Moving an unfinished project like this would have surely sealed its fate as The Dress I Started Sewing That One Time.  So I went rogue ont his project. I tossed the instructions (and caution) to the wind. I told myself I’ve been wearing clothes my whole life and by now I have a pretty good idea of how they go together. And I finished it. And it’s…ok.

I like it better with the cardigan than without, which is kind of disappointing since it would make such a nice warm-weather dress, but I get a bit of a hospital gown vibe from it without the cardi. I also hemmed it a little on the short side. Just a little. I’ve worn it twice and received a couple compliments and only one person asked if I made it (at which point I vowed never to wear it again until my sister told me not to worry about it that much). Actually, I surprised a couple people by telling them I made it, so that was pretty satisfying!

I don’t know if I’ll attempt another garment any time soon. Right now the sewing machine just feels like a vehicle for messing up a project faster.  But I hope that someday I’ll make friends with the machine and we will make more dresses together.

The fabric is from eQuilter.com.

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I think I have the upholstery bug…if there is such a thing. I have no desire to tackle anything major, like my sister’s sofa (ahem), but a super duper easy footstool makeover is right up my alley! It took all of about 45 minutes to turn this:

Into this:

The fabric is Amy Butler Midwest Modern 2 – Ivory. And I left the original fabric underneath. Because I am still a chicken.

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Another project for the new house…nothing major; just a little fabric and thread. I embroidered a simplified illustration of the front of my new house. I was thinking of doing something more complex, maybe some kind of crewel design, but my crewel book has already been packed.  🙂

My embroidery skills are a little weak, and the finished piece is a little wonky, but I’m very pleased with the overall look of the simple backstitch outlines and the lovely little French knot blossoms on the tree.

I don’t actually know what kind of tree that is, but it’s one of those that fills with gorgeous flowers for about ONE DAY…and then they all fall off. It just so happens that the tree was in full bloom the day I first saw the house. So in my mind, I will always picture the house with that beautiful flowering tree in the front yard.

For some added kitsch, I did have “home sweet home” embroidered underneath the house, but when I finished, it was pretty much unreadable. (See: wonky embroidery skills.) So I took it out. I think this piece will wind up hanging in the foyer.

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I found this orange vinyl chair at Goodwill a couple years ago. It’s in great shape, it has nice modern lines, and it’s actually pretty comfortable! So I convinced myself that the orange vinyl was groovy and lived with it in my apartment for a while and rather enjoyed this weird little piece of furniture. Now that I’m moving, I have a whole new idea of what I want my home to look like…and it does not include orange vinyl. (Aqua Naugahyde? Perhaps…) Now, I watch more HGTV than any person really ought, but it still took me longer than it should have to realize that reupholstering the chair was the perfect solution for my limited furniture budget! After a few e-mails back and forth with my sewing guru, some ordering and returning of mislabeled fabric with an online fabric store, several trips to good old Jo-Ann’s, and finally working up the courage to just go for it, I have a new chair! It should be noted that I really have no idea what I’m doing, but here’s a little peek at my process:

disassembling the chair.

disassembling the chair.

 

sewed a strip of fabric that fit tightly around the bottom cushion.

sewed a strip of fabric that fit tightly around the bottom cushion.

 

tightly pinned the lid on the bottom cushion.

tightly pinned the "lid" on the bottom cushion.

 

the cover for the back cushion, all sewn up for a snug fit!

the cover for the back cushion, all sewn up for a snug fit!

 

my corners are bunchy. im not skilled enough to know how to make them smooth.

my corners are bunchy. i'm not skilled enough to know how to make them smooth.

 

brand new old chair!

brand new old chair!

At first, I was looking for a fabulous fabric to use, but finally decided to use a plain canvas, since I was pretty sure I was going to mess the whole thing up. And I know all the cool kids would tell me to remove the vinyl and use it as a pattern, but I wasn’t about to take that chance, either. If I botched the reupholstery, I at least wanted my orange chair to remain intact!  Turns out, the chair looks really great. Mass-produced, even! I don’t want to say it was easy…but it kind of was. Being my first attempt at upholstery, I’m not sure if it was easier because the entire chair came apart, or because of the shape of the cushions, or what, but I am completely proud of myself and SO excited about finding the perfect pillow to accessorize my “new” vintage chair!

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So I bought a house. And while that is all very fantastic and exciting, things are a little chaotic right now. Which means that in order to keep my sanity, I have to slow things down a bit with the Small Bird shop—just for now.  Most items (necklaces, bracelets, and earrings) will still be readily available. If they’re in the shop, they’re ready to ship! However, rings will not be available for about a month. Every ring is made to size after you place your order, and I want to make sure that I take the proper time and care with creating each and every ring.  Right now, my schedule and workspace simply won’t allow it.  All rings have been marked “Coming Soon” and should be available again by mid-July. Items that are currently sold out will take about a month to restock, as well.  I do apologize for any inconvenience, and look forward to making more jewelry in a bigger, better, more functional studio space very, very soon!

If you desperately need a ring fix, there are still several rings (of specific size, only) on sale and ready to ship at the Small Bird Outlet! Yes, it’s the old Etsy shop.  But “outlet” sounds cooler. If you needed a gift for someone, Small Bird gift certificates are always available through PayPal. Just click the gift certificate button in the sidebar of the shop!

In the meantime, I’m trying to make someone else’s old house into my new home…DIY-style.  🙂 House projects both large and small are already in the works. My next challenge is finding the time to blog about them!

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