Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Calendar Card

I almost didn’t make any holiday-related design for this year. Thanksgiving rolled around and I hadn’t done anything (and was feeling rather uninspired and lazy). So I was on the fence on creating anything…but then I decided to just do it. Make something. I wanted to make something simple and useful—so I made a calendar recipe card.

I chose four recipes from blogs that I thought would be fairly easy for anyone to make (and would hopefully appeal to most palates). Admittedly, I haven’t made all of the recipes myself, but I trust that they’re delicious. I realized that they were all either sweet or spicy recipes and decided that that would be the theme for the card.

I wanted the card to be fun and have a slight retro vibe with the type and color. The only art I really did was the cover—I had to draw that by hand. It didn’t come together quite as quickly as I would have liked (it practically never does), but overall it didn’t take too long. A couple of hours here and there (and there) and it was done.

I also created a bellyband as my “tag” so I could put the recipient’s name on it. It also has a correlating message on it that ties in with the card itself.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pattern Fabric and Sewing Patterns

I went to a thrift shop a while back and got some elastic, fabric and sewing patterns. While I sort of needed the elastic, the rest were all unnecessary purchases that came to a grand total of $16.50.

I got 1½ yards of the blue with white triangle fabric for $3. It feels like polyester (and not a particularly nice polyester). However, I like the pattern quite a bit.

This Japanese red fabric was the expensive purchase (and maybe I shouldn’t have got it…although it’s too late now). It was $10 and it’s a very narrow fabric that feels like polyester. Taking a closer look at the paper tag attached to it, it reads: raincoat. Truthfully, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this fabric.

Then my patterns. I know I don’t need more and I probably could have left without any, but for 25 cents each it’s hard for me to resist. I couldn’t find years on a couple of them, but I’ve ordered them by price (since the newer the pattern, the more it generally costs).

First up is a Simplicity jacket, skirt, blouse and pants pattern from 1967. None of the pieces seem particularly special; they’re all very basic pieces. But I do like the drawings of them.

Next up is a Vogue blouse pattern by Calvin Klein. They’re very simple blouses that look a bit looser than I would like in the photos. It’s a “very easy” pattern that may be worth trying out.

This is a Vogue skirt pattern by Perry Ellis. This pattern popped out at me and was the one pattern that I really wanted. Looking at the sketch of skirt B, it reminds me of a skirt from the early 1900s and has a high almost corset-looking waistband. I really like the photos of the skirt (although admittedly, the skirt’s so dark very little detail can be seen in it).

This Vogue dress pattern looked interesting me because of its use of directional lines.

Finally this La Fred pattern from 2005 I was on the fence on getting. I just like the angled pocket detail of the skirt.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sample Sale Cards: City Letterpress

Out of all the cards I got at the Egg Press sample sale, I have a particular attachment to the city cards. I think they’re all adorable and just love it for the art.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sample Sale Cards: Love and Various Letterpress

These cards I got at the Egg Press sample sale have a variety of drawing styles. I especially love the simple silhouettes of the first two cards. I also love the graphic lines of the last card.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sample Sale Cards: Holiday Letterpress

The next set of Egg Press’ sample sale cards are fun holiday cards. I love the metallic ink that helps to make everything feel so festive.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sample Sale Cards: Cute Letterpress

I like going to Egg Press’ sample sale (of often older or slightly off) letterpress cards that are all $1 each. I love letterpress cards, but I’ll admit, I’m generally too cheap to buy them full price and I rarely use cards in general. So getting the cards for less is great because I buy them because I like them and want them (not so much that I’ll actually use them—although I’ll be ready if a situation presents itself).

I bought more cards than I anticipated. There were a lot of different cards there, some I liked and some I wasn’t crazy about, and in the end I bought 28 cards for $28. The cards look better in real life as the color is much better; this is especially true for all of the cards that use metallic ink. I scanned the cards instead of photographing them, so the metallic ink looks dull and not so metallic-like anymore.

I’m going to break them into sets (for this and following posts). The first set are the cute cards that quite cheerful.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

But it’s Free…

Free! This magical word instantly piques people’s interest. Who doesn’t love free stuff? Even if you don’t want the thing that’s free, somehow you’re still willing to get it just because it’s free. It’s a popular ploy to draw you in. There are buy one get one free offers. There are free gifts with purchases. There are free trials. There are free store reward cards. There are free songs and books to download. There are movies and TV shows that can be watched for free. People just want something for nothing.

But the cost of “free” can be higher than anticipated. Do you spend the extra money to push you over the minimum purchase requirement in order to get the free gift? Do you have a free trial of a service (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) and forget to cancel it before it charges you? Do you spend more so you “save more” on your store rewards card? There are a lot of ways that “free” doesn’t equate to free.

Now that the Christmas season is upon us, I’m sure I’ll be seeing more “free” stuff that tries to entice me into spending money. I’ll admit that “free” may initially grab my attention, but I try to ignore it and buy items I would get regardless of the “free” aspect tied to it. I like free stuff as much as the next person, but it always comes down to: is it worth it? Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t—it often depends on whether or not you find the strings attached to it acceptable. [Pause.] For me, I usually forgo the freebie to avoid the strings altogether.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Altered: Navy Coat

When I got this navy coat at an estate sale months ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep it. I bought it (along with everything else), mostly on a whim. I think I tried this coat on and thought it fit well enough to get, even though I wasn’t necessarily happy with the entirety of its design. But for 50 cents, I wasn’t going to be super picky. As it was summer, I didn’t have an immediate need for it so it just sat in a corner for a while.

Once the weather started to cool down, I was more motivated to take a look at this coat again. I decided I liked the general shape of the coat, but disliked certain design details that I felt dated it. As is, the coat looked like it’s from the early 1980s. I didn’t like the stitching detail on the collar and the cuffs. In fact, I didn’t like the cuffs at all; I just wanted a straight sleeve, which meant I needed to sew fabric to the ends of the sleeves.

I didn’t want to try and match the navy color of the coat because I thought it was bound to be off, so I decided using a different color would be best. And while I thought a cream color would make an excellent color combination with the navy, I decided to go with black because it’s more practical. I can easily see a cream sleeve brushing against a wet dirty car and getting dark smudges all over it (and no doubt that would happen if I were to wear it). [Sigh.]

I removed the stitching on the collar and removed the cuff part of the sleeves. I just attached the black fabric to the ends of the sleeves in a way that made sense to me. It wasn’t very difficult and took an afternoon to do. Overall I’m pretty satisfied with the result; it’s a small change but I think it makes a large difference.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

DIY: Spool Banner

When I went thrift shopping with a friend, she bought a bag of thread that had older and newer spools. She just wanted thread and didn’t want the empty wooden spools, and I gladly accepted them when she offered them to me.

Looking at the spools, I thought I could make a cute banner with them. They could be used for place setting names on a table for a party or a special message for someone.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Forgotten Sweetness

I don’t eat candy often. Gummi candies don’t really interest me. Some hard candies I like but don’t eat often. When I want candy, I want chocolate, and I’ll occasionally have it, but it’s dark chocolate. I tend to avoid the mainstream cheap candy bars that are just too sweet for me. I’ll see TV commercials for them and feel nothing (well, maybe just a bit skeptical at their claims). When I’m at the supermarket I never look at these candy bars (that are supposed to be “tempting” at the checkout line) with desire, so I don’t buy them or eat them.

A co-worker brought unwanted Halloween candy to work and left them in a bowl in the kitchen for anyone to take. These free small candy bars were sitting there and I’ll admit, my resistance was low. My brain said, “Don’t eat them. You know they’ll be too sweet.” But my stomach said, “Go ahead, have some. It’s been a long time.” And it has been a long time. I’m guessing the last time I had any of these sugary concoctions was last Halloween. [Pause.] I’d actually forgotten what a lot of these candies taste like.

So I ate some Halloween candy. The Almond Joy was pretty good because I like coconut and almonds enough that I could over look the milk chocolate coating. I’ve always been ambivalent of Snickers, but when I had them this time, I liked them even less—they’re just too sweet. As a child I liked Kit Kats, but when I had them this time I was overcome by its cloying sweetness. Luckily, Halloween candy is smaller than full-size candy bars, so I only had a couple of bites of these “fun-size” candies—which was more than enough for me. I came to conclusion that, yes, my brain was right: stay away from these overly sweet sweets. If I’m going to eat candy, I’m getting chocolate that actually tastes like chocolate, not candy that just tastes like sugar.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nothing Looks Good. [Pause.] Good.

On Monday we often have pastries at work (perhaps to help lessen the blow of a Monday morning). The actual assortment varies, sometimes it’s doughnuts, danishes and muffins, but often it’s English muffins and bagels and sometimes fruit. I’m always curious to see what the selection is, but I rarely eat the pastries because I’m a snob. If these pastry goods are from the supermarket then I ignore them. I turn my nose up at cheap overly sweet doughnuts and mediocre bagels. They don’t look delicious. They don’t taste delicious. And any time I breakdown and have some, I always regret it because they’re just not worth it.

However, once in a blue moon there are good pastries from an actual bakery. There are flakey buttery croissants and slightly sweet muffins and scones. I know I shouldn’t partake, but good pastries are difficult to resist because they’re tasty. After careful consideration I’ll often select a pastry to eat. And while I don’t regret these pastries for their delicious flavors, I often regret my lack of restraint of eating something so bad for me that inevitably spoils my lunch.

So I always have mixed feelings on Monday morning when I see supermarket pastries. A part of me is disappointed because I want good pastries, but another part of me is relieved because it’s easy to say no to supermarket pastries. I certainly don’t need to be eating pastries and it’s rather nice to have a reason not to eat them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Revamped: Black and White Skirt

From my pile of garments that I got at the fantastic estate sale I went to in August, I selected a black and white skirt to alter. It was a dry clean only garment that lacked a fabric content label (but it may be wool or at least in part); I hand washed the skirt and afterwards saw that it had shrunk. The lining of the skirt could be seen peeking out from under the hem of the skirt. Luckily I was tearing up the skirt, and as long as it didn’t shrink again in the future, I didn’t care about this shrinkage.

I loved the fabric but hated the skirt design. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the skirt in its entirety; just the top portion of it can be seen in the above photo. The worst part about the skirt was the four pleats in the front—it’s just plain wrong. I think it would make just about any woman look like she has huge hips. The length of the skirt was about mid-shin; it was likely meant to be a loose pencil skirt with a slit in the back. Basically, it was an incredibly unflattering skirt.

My first step was tearing up the black and white skirt. I ended up cutting off the top section, below the pleats, because I didn’t want to deal with those pleats. I undid all the seams (including the zipper) because I had to take out the lining as well. So it took a bit of time.

Once the skirt fabric was taken apart, I used a skirt pattern (that was actually the skirt portion of a pencil dress) to cut the fabric down and add some darts. I sewed the zipper in and then sewed the sides together. [Pause.] I admit, I’m terrible with using measurements to my advantage, so I just sewed the sides together (through trial and error) until it looked right to me. I repeated this process for the lining. And then I attached the lining to the skirt at the top and around the zipper.

I wanted to have a waistband because I tend to prefer skirts with one. I didn’t want to use the fabric that my skirt was made of because I thought it would look too busy. I decided to use fabric from the pile of clothes my mom gave me. I selected a black wool jacket as my fabric. I hand washed it before I tore it up. Although I didn’t like the style of the jacket, as I took it apart, I could appreciate its craftsmanship—it was well made. [Pause.] I wish I could sew like that.

I used a slightly curved waistband from a skirt pattern because I thought it would fit better (since when I use a simple rectangle strip of fabric for my waistband, I’ll often have a bit of a gap, which I find annoying). I did my best to align the seams of the waistband to the skirt seams; this took me longer than I anticipated, as I messed up the alignment a couple of times. [Sigh.] The last step was hemming the skirt.

I’ve made a couple of blouses sleeveless, but I kept the basic integrity of its design. This is the first garment I’ve really revamped, breaking it entirely down before building it up anew. I took my time with it; one weekend I tore the skirt up; a second weekend I sewed the skirt section; a third weekend I added the waistband and hemmed it. There was no rush (especially since the weather wasn’t quite cool enough to wear it yet). I was pretty happy when I finished. Although I can see its flaws, I’m overall satisfied with this skirt. At least it looks better to me than it was before; it’s wearable.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shopping Depression

I often feel depressed when I go shopping at stores selling brand-new items. It didn’t use to happen. Once upon a time I liked to shop at these stores, and I would often go to the mall, discount stores, craft stores, your all-purpose has everything stores—just about any store (except thrift shops—this was during my pre-thrift days); I enjoyed browsing and impulsively buying things I didn’t need. Now I tend to go to stores selling new items when I’m specifically looking for something. I don’t enjoy window-shopping the way I used to anymore.

The problem is I often just see a sea of crap; just poorly made items made of low-end materials all for a “low low price!” [Sigh.] Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen for this before. I’ve bought my share of cheap crap. Besides an array of cheap clothes, I’ve bought a lot of craft supplies. I like to make stuff, and I would go into a craft store and there were beads, chains, yarn, wood blocks, drawing pads, paints, pencils, containers and pretty much any craft supply you could imagine. I bought enough stuff that I feel like I became my own little crafts store.

But no more. I feel like I hardly buy anything new any more. And I’m just surprised at the 180 I did. It started off slow. A few years ago, a friend took me to a thrift shop and I’ll admit, I was skeptical. [Pause.] Okay, I was a snob. I didn’t want used items. Other people wore it? Ew, gross. But of course I found something I wanted: a cream Ann Taylor top. I think I got it for $8 and I’ve worn it with skirts and jeans; and with that one top, I think I was hooked. At first I went to thrift shops infrequently, but as time went on, I became used to thrift shops and started to prefer them not only for the price, but also for the constant influx of different items.

And now, when I go to the mall I almost feel full of resignation. It’s just not fun for me anymore. I won’t really want to go in, but I’ll want to go to that one store where I may find a good pair of shoes. And sometimes out of shear curiosity, I’ll briefly check out the clothing they’re selling at the mall, but I quickly get depressed at the monotony and low quality of it all. I just don’t see anything I want to buy. [Pause.] On the up side, it makes shopping a much quicker and cheaper experience for me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Tortoise or the Hare of Sewing

Sewing tends to be a solitary experience for me, but not long ago I sewed with a friend one afternoon, and it was interesting to see how our approaches were so glaringly different. I go slowly at every step of the way. I usually try to follow a pattern’s directions and I’ll often look up how to do something that I’ve never done before or haven’t done in a while. When I make a mistake I’ll undo my sewing and do it again (which happens more often than I would like). I tend to be more cautious, so sewing consumes quite a bit of time for me.

My friend on the other hand, sews quickly. She does it her own way. She takes short cuts. She’ll finish a circle skirt in an afternoon using the selvage edge as the hem. She’ll sew a dress and only have one pocket (in the side seam) because she was too impatient to put in the second pocket. I don’t know if she bothers to finish her edges or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she thought it was unnecessary. She just wants to be done with a project. She doesn’t want to spend days or weeks on a garment, and I understand this desire to be finished.

When I first started, I sewed more quickly (or perhaps I should say with less care) because I too, just wanted to get it done. I would sew for long periods of time, determined to finish a garment over the weekend. However, I often became frustrated and would more mistakes because I was tired, and this in turn made me more irritated. [Pause.] This wasn’t so fun. And in the end, I had a lot of messy garments that I wasn’t particularly excited about.

I came to the conclusion that as much as I wanted to get a project done, I’d rather have something that I actually liked in the end, which meant I wanted things to look right. I want my garments to be somewhat well made (at least as well as I can do). So now I sew more slowly. I’ll sew a bit on a weekend here and a weekend there. I don’t give myself time constraints any more. Believe me, I’d like to sew faster (with accuracy), but I’m a tortoise and I go slow.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Absent-Minded Lesson

It’s often the mundane tasks that I’ll make a stupid mistake because I’m not giving it my full attention. It could be because I’m in a rush or feeling tired or I’m thinking of something else, so I’ll mess up unbeknownst to me (and will later kick myself over it).

Somehow grocery shopping will get the better of me; it’s the bagging of groceries that I’ll make a dumb mistake: I’ll forget a bag. This time is was some meat. A few months back it was a bag of apples. The time before that was meat (but I remembered about it in the parking lot and went back in the store and luckily it was still there—which was nice).

I suppose this time I could’ve gone back to the supermarket to see if my meat was still there, but considering the time and drive, it just didn’t seem worth it. Fifteen minutes to get there, park, go inside and find the cashier to ask about my forgotten meat and then drive back seemed like a lot of effort—especially if my meat was no longer there. It was late and I was tired, so I cut my losses. It sucks but maybe this time the lesson of forgotten groceries will finally stick. [Pause.] I’d really like not to relearn this lesson again. [Sigh.]