new stuff: serger edition

Is there anything more fun than a new power tool? This magnificent machine gets ish done.

Truth be told, I was hesitant about it at first. I already have a sewing machine that I love, and it has a serging stitch, so what more could I need? I’ve been able to finish most of my projects pretty nicely.

What I didn’t realize until yesterday, when I finally pulled the Singer ProFinish serger out of the box, was that my 2-4 step “finishing” process (sew garment, trim seam allowances, go back and sew over the allowance with a serging stitch, then clean up any stray threads) that got me a nice, homemade-looking product was a major part of why I have trouble actually finishing projects. It takes a long time to do the final steps that make a project look good, and I don’t always have the patience.

Sergin' it.

Example of sergin’ it with my sewing machine. This is a Christmas stocking. I had already sewn this once, and had to go back and finish it up, thereby sewing it a second time.

Not anymore!

This puppy does it all in one fell swoop, and it does it with a more professional look. I’m sure this is old news to anyone who has a serger, but good grief, this is going to change my crafting life FOREVER.

What a beauty!

What a beauty! Note the differences between this and a traditional sewing machine: two needles instead of one, and four spools instead of a single spool and a bobbin.

The learning curve is a little more steep than a regular sewing machine (it took me about a half hour just to thread the thing), but once I was finished with that, I quickly realized how magnificent it is. This is one Christmas gift I will be taking excellent care of so I can have it for a very long time. Thanks, Mum and Dad!

Threading this sucker took some doin'!

Threading this sucker took some doin’!

The results! I still need to play around with tension, as the loops are a bit loose, but that's all with practice. I can think of a million projects that will be easier and more polished all in one go. Hooray!

The results! I still need to play around with tension, as the loops are a bit loose, but that’s all with practice. I can think of a million projects that will be easier and more polished all in one go. Hooray!

Do you have a serger? Any tips or tricks I should know? I can’t wait to give it a real spin this Friday night with my cousin Bethany!

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one day lad, all this will be yours…

What to do about kitchen curtains?

I haven’t been able to find a decent set for a reasonable price anywhere. The styles aren’t right, the prices aren’t right, the colors aren’t right…it’s been obnoxious. But, now that we’ve fixed up the sink area with a new IKEA pendant light, we really need to do something about all this white.

Lots of white, with a hint of hold lady butter-yellow.

Lots of white, with a hint of old lady butter-yellow.

The cabinets are white, the wood trim is white, the mixer is white, the paper towels are white…it’s too stark for my sensibilities. And white only looks clean when it’s, well, clean…so it’s a lot to live up to (pay no attention to the sink, although I promise that those are clean dishes).

Readers, what I need is some color up in here.

Enter: my brilliant idea!

When the going get’s tough, the tough get going. In my world that means: if you can’t find the curtains you want, make them instead! Yesterday on a whim I decided to pop into Pier 1 to see if they had any fun cloth napkins; I wasn’t disappointed.

The yellow is in there, along with a host of other fun colors like orange and green.

The yellow is in there, along with a host of other fun colors like orange and green.

I bought three napkins in the striped pattern above, and three more in a lighter-colored floral motif. I wasn’t sure which I would like better, but since I’m trying to keep the space from feeling too frilly I think the stripes are the way to go. Pete likes the stripes better, too, because they’re more colorful and fun. Right now the plan is to hang them so the stripes are horizontal–this will require some more cutting and sewing than I had originally anticipated, but I think when all is said and done the project will be an “easy” on the difficulty scale.

Not only do I think it’ll be easy and fun, it was fairly inexpensive. Each napkin was $3.95, and I think I may only need to use two for this project. That takes the grand total to just around $8. Considering that a set of kitchen curtains usually retails for over $15, I’m feeling pretty frugal.

Have you gotten crafty in repurposing fabrics? Please share!

 

 

big ol’ beach bag

From the first beach day of the summer, I knew I needed a new beach bag.

Scratch that. I knew I needed A beach bag.

We’ve set a record for beach-going this year (I’d say an average of once a week), so I was able to envision what I wanted every time we plopped ourselves down on a fresh patch of sand.  No bag that I currently own could fit what I wanted: two large towels, a beach blanket, a lunchbox for snacks, reading materials, sunscreen, cases for sunglasses, and a change of clothes for at least two people.

Our most frequently used bag was actually Pete’s backpack. It barely fit both towels, never mind all the other stuff.  So, we were those people at the beach: slowly galumphing along with a backpack, a bag, two chairs, a blanket, a cooler, and an umbrella slung to our backs. If it is this annoying for two people, I can’t imagine how it is with children. No wonder people buy those (admittedly smart) metal beach carts.

I went to a few stores trying to find a bag big enough for my purpose, but I found that large bags can be a little pricey and all the other bags are just too darn small. Finally the crafting lightbulb went off: of course! Make my own! I found this tutorial online for an enormous bag and decided to give it a whirl.

Bag in progress.

Bag in progress.

I tweaked the pattern a little because I didn’t want to make my own straps (I also didn’t feel like dealing with that secret waterproof pocket, although  it is a cool feature). I figured I’d do it L.L. Bean tote style, and have the straps go on the outside all the way down the side of the bag. This proved to require a little more thought than I’d anticipated, but in the end turned out just fine.

This beach bag took about 5 hours to complete, but I did it over two days and I made a few mistakes that I had to go back and correct.

That is one oversized beach bag.

That is one oversized beach bag.

It’s fully lined and has an inner pocket. It’s dimensions are about 19″w x 21″h x 9″d. In other words, IT FITS EVERYTHING. I had to run around the house trying to find stuff to put in it just to keep it from being too floppy for the pictures.

Currently holding: one lunch box, two oversized beach towels, two changes of clothing, a magazine, a kindle, a purse, a bottle of sunscreen, and there's still room for MORE!

Currently holding: one lunch box, two oversized beach towels, two changes of clothing, a magazine, a kindle, a purse, a bottle of sunscreen, and there’s still room for MORE!

Too bad it took me this long to get myself in gear and undergo this project! Luckily, I’m sure there are still a few decent beach days left this summer. As a bonus, now that Labor Day has passed the vacationing crowds will have finally left and we’ll have the beach to ourselves; there will be no end to our Frisbee-throwing and kite-flying! And what’s more, the Frisbee and kite will fit in this magnificent bag.

Pardon my jammies.

Pardon my jammies. But this bag is as big as I am!

Fall might already have unofficially arrived, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to the beach just yet. 🙂

 

On a semi-unrelated note, we’re going on a mini-vacation starting TODAY! Lakes, kayaks, an adorable motel, a wedding with friends…it’s going to be a great New Hampshirey time. And we’ll give this here bag a test-run.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

let’s pretend this is “young house love”

Hi!

It’s been so long! You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve been busy. You see, we’ve moved. We bought a house to call our very own, and now it’s one big ol’ never-ending project (Love from the Project House?). We may no longer be in apartment three, but we’re still makin’ stuff (and fixin’ stuff, and puttin’ stuff away, and hangin’ stuff up…). Scroll to the bottom for photos of our new space!

Also, a few months back I mentioned I’d be interested in starting a crafty club. “Makin’ Stuff Monday” has been going on since March, and it’s a big success! People come the first Monday evening of the month with their own projects to work on, and we’ve seen lots of cool things come out of it so far. My friends and family are so creative! I wish I took pictures of all the previous projects. I only remembered to use my camera today, and we only did one project: I helped my mom turn a men’s tee shirt into a more feminine, close-fitting style. The sleeves were long and baggy, and so was the rest of the shirt. I trimmed it on the sides using a second shirt she had as a guide. We also used the second shirt’s sleeves as a kind of pattern for the baggy sleeves. All in all I’d say it was a success, but the armpits were a real pain. As usual, I was winging it, and the armpits just came out weird. Oh well. At least nobody sees them much.

Mumsie working on ripping out some stitches in those pesky armpits.

Mumsie working on ripping out some stitches in those pesky armpits.

The finished product! I wish I had a "before" shot, but believe me, it was not flattering. Also, go B's!

The finished product! I wish I had a “before” shot, but believe me, it was not flattering. We cut about 4″ off the sleeve length. Also, go B’s!

More about the house: I’m so, so excited, but also slightly overwhelmed. The previous owners did lots of nice things to spruce up this 1956 Cape-style home, but it still needs our loving touches. And that’s okay, because that’s what’ll make it OUR home! But until then, I think you can expect to see lots of posts relating to home improvements. Any and all advice that you’ve got will always be welcome–we’re new at this! I think this summer’s big projects will be the upstairs bedroom (future project room!) with that nasty old faux-wood paneling, and maaayybeee a patio. We finally have a yard so it’d be great to have a space to eat and use our new fire pit. On to the pics!

Dining room!

Dining room!

Kitchen part 1. I love the 1950's flare.

Kitchen part 1. I love the 1950’s flare.

Kitchen part 2. Thoughts on that corner? I think it's kind of crowded.

Kitchen part 2. Thoughts on that corner? I think it’s kind of crowded.

Porch! So many windows!

Porch! So many windows! A sofa would be a great addition.

Living room!

Living room!

Future project room that is a giant project in and of itself.

Future project room that is a giant project in and of itself.

Our bedroom! Needs...something.

Our bedroom! Needs…something. Curtains? Rug? Wall art? All three?

My favorite piece of art in the whole place. Can't wait to put this crazy cat up somewhere.

My favorite piece of art in the whole place. Can’t wait to put this crazy cat up somewhere.

Chair that I am determined to reupholster.

Chair that I am determined to reupholster.

So many future projects just waiting to be tackled! Until then, we’ll just keep unpacking. 🙂

-Courtney

sewing paper

This morning I thought I’d try doing a paper-only craft, since most of what I’ve done with this blog so far has been all sewing. Today at work I’ll be doing an origami program with 3rd-5th graders, so I thought that might be appropriate. The only problem was that I wasn’t really into doing origami. Truth be told, after doing an afterschool enrichment program with elementary-aged kids, I’m a bit origami-d out at the moment. That’s okay! It’ll come back to me! Today is going to be great and we’re going to make some fun projects. That said, I did not want to spend my own precious Thursday morning folding paper into frogs or boxes.

So, as I always do, I came back to sewing. I’ve been reading through a new book we got at the library called The Best of Sewing Macine Fun for Kids, by Lynda Mulligan and Nancy Smith. One of my coworkers and I will be starting an after-school sewing club and I was looking through the book for some ideas, even though we’ll be primarily presenting hand-sewn projects. The first few pages of the book recommend sewing on paper bags or other paper scraps to get the hang of machine sewing (feeding, using the pedal, etc.). A few pages later, the authors offer simple straight lined, big zig-zagged, and curvy lined patterns to “trace” over with your sewing machine needle. The idea of sewing on paper was a revelation to me!

I figured I’d give it a try today in the easiest way I know how: straight lines on lined paper.

Paper heart banner.

Paper heart banner.

It turns out that sewing on paper is much easier than sewing with fabric. This might be my new favorite thing! I decided to use some scrapbook paper and make a pennant banner, but instead of triangles I used hearts. Good for every day, but especially good for the upcoming Valentine’s holiday (also nice for a wedding or birthday party, perhaps?), hearts are the bomb. I used the same heart pattern that I used for my d.i.y. heart warmers. They might be a little big/fat for this kind of project, but I think they’re pretty cute. Obviously, you can do this project with whatever shape you desire.

I wish I could tell you some secrets to this, but it’s really the easiest thing I’ve done in months. Cut your shapes, place under needle, press pedal, and you’re golden!

IMG_0570

Up-close look at the stitching. Super easy, right?

Up-close look at the stitching. Super easy, right? Also, I love metallic paper. There, I said it.

I’m sure there are some awesome sewn-paper crafts out there. Got any ideas for me to try?

As always, thanks for reading!