Jungle January 2015

If you follow sewing blogs at all, you’ve surely heard of Jungle January by now. And it seems that every time I participate I sew up something in a snakeskin print. I guess that even though I have no love for snakes I have a thing for a good snakeskin print. And this year, even though I was aiming for bottomweight zebra for a skirt, I found a gorgeous snakeskin rayon challis in the “red tag” section of J’s for 50% off the red tag price + a discount for it being the end of the bolt–it was destiny!! Guess zebra will have to wait until next year. πŸ˜‰

I was hypnotized by the pretty, it had to be mine!

I was hypnotized by the pretty, it had to be mine!

I used Simplicity 1598 a Learn to Sew pattern. I decided that this was going to be the year of doing simple things very well. Sometimes I do things kind of sloppy, and I decided that sometimes it’s better to do the simple things with precision and skill vs doing more complex things with mediocrity. Plus, it had a cute back detail and looked like it would be as cool and comfy as one can find for summer.

So you know how I just said “do the simple things very well”? I had apparently forgotten that skill and precision isn’t dependent entirely on the complexity of the garment–sometimes fabric can be the sole challenge. I should have starched the absolute hell out of this challis, but I didn’t, so it was tricky to cut and sew neatly. And sadly, it still didn’t have enough drape to keep this pattern from being a “shent” on me. The back of the envelope said I needed a size 16 so I thought; “this is a learn to sew pattern, I’m going to just cut it like they tell me to, they surely wouldn’t misguide newbies, and then I won’t need to make a muslin…” famous last words, my friend. Famous last words. After I cut down about 6 inches total + still keeping the 5/8″ seam allowance (or more), I think everyone can see that it’s still not exactly “fitted”. I tried to add a french dart, but that’s a no go once your fabric is cut (I’d have had enough to make the “flange” if I had thought to dart it before cutting the sides down though). Ultimately, I wore it around the night after I finished it, and it’s comfy (and cool!) and I think it will be great for summer, if not exactly the most flattering item of clothing I’ve ever owned. And hubby and Irish both say it looks nice. πŸ™‚

Finished. HotovΓ½. Complevit.

Yes, that’s finished in English, Czech, and Latin. Saying it only 3 times does not fully encompass my relief and joy at having the spare bathroom remodel completed. Well, I guess we have to hook up the toilet, but NBD. The actual remodel/facelift/whatever you want to call it is done. In case you’re curious, here’s what we did.

  • Primed and painted the ceiling (Color: Premixed “Bright White” Paint+Primer from DoItBest)
  • Primed and painted the walls (Color: Winter Storm from Ace Hardware)
  • Primed and painted the tile backsplash (Color: Premixed “Bright White” Paint+Primer from DoItBest)
  • Primed, painted, and clear-coated the countertop. (Color: Ming Vase from Ace Hardware)
  • Painted the cabinets (Color: Premixed “Bright White” Paint+Primer from DoItBest)
  • Changed the cabinet hardware (I bought these knobs at a “garage sale” that our local DoItBest did during the city wide garage sale, so I got about 20 knobs for $1!! I got another bag of somewhere around 40 handles/knobs in a pewter color too–it was a lot of digging through ugly brass, but who can complain when you get enough hardware to do my entire kitchen, laundry room, hallway “linen drawers”, and spare bathroom for $2?!)
  • New sink (not the actual sink I bought, but similar in price/style)
  • New faucet
  • New lights
  • New mirror (mine is the 24×24 version that I got on clearance from there.)
  • New towel ring and toilet paper holder
  • New flooring
  • New baseboard (mine came from a local DoItBest, so different brand and MUCH cheaper, I think mine cost like $25 for the base and the glue to put it up.)
  • A couple of new towels and a new trashcan

Originally, it was just going to get a new coat of paint, but I think that the rest of the stuff was worth it even though it tripled the cost of the project (I spent a bit over $600 total). They say that paint is an inexpensive way to change up the look in your house, but honestly, it’s not that cheap. In fact, paint and painting supplies were at least 1/3 of my total expenses on this cramped bathroom!! I also bought that expensive paint+primer stuff in the white for the ceiling, tile, and cabinets, and I can honestly say NEVER AGAIN. It was gloppy going on (IMO), and for being gloppy/thick, it didn’t cover nearly as well as I felt it should. Especially on the cabinets–it took 3 coats to get good coverage, and if I wasn’t so ready to just be done already, I’d have done a 4th coat, because it really could have used it. So yeah, don’t waste your money on that stuff–just buy the Killz primer and a can of your regular paint, it’s cheaper, easier to apply, and covers better.

The only think in there we didn’t bother to try tackling was the Shower of Plastication (in case you’re wondering, the plastic came down when we got the shower upstairs working). I flat didn’t have the cash to do anything with it, and it’s about going to take a professional to fix it anyway because of a couple of small (but CRUCIAL) details–like the location and style of the drain.

Anyway, enough words, let’s see the before/after pics, right? πŸ˜‰

Before: (Click to embiggen)

After: (Click to embiggen)

So now, after being so good about finishing this project before starting to sew anything, I’m going to clean the extra crap out of my sewing room (a catchall area for bathroom remodeling supplies/trash) and sew something fun! I’m not set on anything yet, but I’m thinking a couple of pairs of undies and view E of this hat to match my coat from last year (which–so far–still fits.)

Vintage goodness!

I don’t have access to a cool thrift store. You know, the kind where you can find cute clothes in nice fabrics, bedsheets that aren’t stained up, patterns…. I suppose that many people around me are simply more thrifty–stuff doesn’t get given away until it’s used up, stained, etc. Or maybe it’s because I don’t live near enough to one to visit every day.

Since I don’t have a cool thrift store, I am periodically offered stuff from relatives…sometimes it’s nifty, but most of the time it’s just trash (or at least not something I need/want). Grandpa told me to go look through a closet in the back bedroom that had some clothes he used to wear way back when that he thought would fit my skinny hubby. I was actually kind of surprised to find 3 shirts that I wanted, though two of them were for me! (The third shirt is for hubby, and it wasn’t anything particularly special, just a standard cotton button-up.) I ended up with two of the same one, they are just in different colorways–the other one is a kind of rusty red, but I couldn’t seem to get a good picture of it while I was wearing it, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. πŸ˜‰

Cute, right? And they fit pretty much perfect, if you ignore the pulling at the bust; but what’s some wrinkles between friends? Unfortunately, the red one has some holes starting in the front (I’m thinking it got snagged on something at some point), and the blue one has a few tiny stains. I’m having a hard time caring though (even if 1978 is calling and wants its shirt back), I’m going to wear them, and when they give up I’m going to think pretty hard about copying them. πŸ™‚

Bathroom remodel 99% and stalled

Note: All the pictures are in a slideshow, hopefully it won’t load too slowly. It’s really worth the wait though, if you are even remotely interested in how to completely transform a bathroom on a small budget (~$3,000).

You’ve probably forgotten that we were actually even doing this, but there was a bathroom remodel going on here. Even though it’s got a couple little finishing touches that aren’t complete, I’m going to post the pictures and call itΒ “done” for here anyway. The only things we have left are to stain some shims for our window trim (the trim itself is actually stained/urethaned and ready to go up), and also cut and paint a door and the little trim piece for under the sink.Β A smidgen of caulk around the vanity, and it’s completely done. πŸ™‚ But, you know how it goes…..you get to where it’s usable again and you just kind of lose interest and stall out. I’m actually planning to do the caulking this evening though, so that will be one less thing to worry about finishing.

Before I do the pictures, I just kind of wanted to list the things that we did to this bathroom, so you can get the full scope of this project–it definitely wasn’t for the faint of heart!

  • We pulled out an old cast iron tub that weighed a ton….maybe not literally, but it sure seemed like it.
  • We pulled down every inch of the drywall that was on the walls (we did leave the ceiling though, but I suspect it might have been easier in the long run to actually take that out too).
  • Patched in some new subfloor in strategic areas (read: under the toilet and tub area).
  • Put in a very thick underlayment (to match up to the rest of our floors).
  • Installed new vinyl flooring. (I love my new floor, it looks pretty, and it feels AWESOME under your feet–seriously. For as thick as it is, it isn’t as cushion-y as I’d expected though.)
  • Installed the new drywall and shower system. (The shower system was a retrofit kit for an alcove that originally held a bathtub–it had walls and a base that fit our opening pretty decent. We did have to shim out an entire wall, which is why we don’t have our window trim on just yet).
  • New lighting fixtures. Seriously more awesome than the old ones. And as a bonus, we moved our bathroom fan when we replaced it, and it has a light too–right above the shower! Seriously, that’s pretty awesome, no more shadowy showers!
  • New paint on the old vanity/cabinets. (IMO, this alone is what really makes this bathroom “pop”).
  • New hardware for the vanity and we re-used the old mirror and also some old towel bars/tp roller. The mirror was original to the bathroom and in great condition, and the towel bars were some we had bought back when we had a rental that didn’t have any towel bars–I liked them and didn’t want to leave them when we moved out. Since they were mine (no reimbursement), we kept them which worked out perfect for this project.
  • New faucet.
  • New vanity top–isn’t it absolutely gorgeous?! The sink is moulded into the vanity, so no pesky areas for gunk to get into.
  • We re-used the old toilet….it’s from the 60’s, but it still worked, so we put new seals/gaskets in it and stuck ‘er down.
  • New paint on the walls in a pretty shade of blue that really goes nicely with the color of the cabinets.
  • New cabinet hardware–I’m well aware that it’s just plain cheapo hardware from big Blue, but I really like how it looks, especiallyΒ  now that it’s on.
  • New trim in the stain that mostly closely matched what was already in there. I wanted a darker color, but every piece of trim in the house is a more blonde color and I’m not really motivated to cut/stain new trim for every inch of the house. So, I decided to embrace it.

I think that pretty much sums it up. By re-using some of the things we already had (toilet, mirror, etc.) we saved a pretty good-sized chunk of change, though I’m thinking that it would have been smarter to go ahead and buy a set of shower doors, it’s really hard to keep the curtain in the shower now. Hopefully that’ll get easier as we get used to not having a full tub to hold it in. Anyway, enough blathering! On to the pictures! πŸ™‚

Whatcha think? Way better right?

Can I eat my words?

A long time ago, I said that I didn’t think that I would ever wear a cape–not because I don’t think they are incredibly awesome and sexy–but because they aren’t practical, they don’t blend in with local fashion, blah, blah. And, all those things are still true. But now I have to eat my words, because I found this:

I lurve the pink one, and could see myself strutting (because in a cape like this a strut is mandatory, don’tcha know) around in it with a cute dress for a couple of December weddings (which are coming up soon!) and the Christmas party for my husband’s work. And my obsession overcomes the concern about fitting in and my brain’s call for practicality. Besides, Vogue patterns are currently on sale on the website–it must be destiny. Or something. πŸ˜‰

P.S. Update on the jeans is coming tomorrow. Today went by so fast I didn’t have time to work on them!! 😯

Tomato Soup and Sandwiches

Last night I made up the no-knead bread that Nick over at Macheesmo is always raving about. It takes forever, but it turned out pretty good. I think it would have been better if it hadn’t fermented for like 28 hours instead of 20, and because it was so late getting made up I skipped the proofing. I think it’ll be really nice for what I wanted though, and that’s all that matters. πŸ™‚ We’ll definitely be trying it again.

To go with the bread (which I made into grilled cheese sandwiches), I also made up some homemade tomato soup, based on the recipe from EvolvingMommy. Mine is a bit different though–I found some Del Monte Italian Stewed Tomatoes at the grocery store for less than 75Β’ each, so I used those instead of the fresh tomatoes. I also bought really big celery and carrots, so I used one celery stalk and two carrots. My little guy and I both liked it, but the hubster wasn’t totally convinced. He said it was bland…..it’s tomato soup….? Anyway, I didn’t notice an overpowering flavor of celery my way, so I’d probably stick to that for us (I’m not a celery fan), and I may not have cooked the veggies long enough because the soup wasn’t quite as smooth as the stuff from the can.

All in all, I’d recommend both of these recipes. They worked well for us, and made a filling, healthy lunch on a day that started out a bit chilly. πŸ™‚ I’m anxious to see how it reheats so that I can decide whether or not to make up another batch to freeze.

Lekala Nightie v2.0

I finished the second Lekala nightie yesterday. I think it turned out pretty cute, if not a bit risque for the average run-of-the-mill sleepwear. I’ll have to remember that next time I make something that I’m not planning to use for seduction of the hubby. πŸ˜‰ Honestly though, I probably won’t make this one again. There are a lot of other variations out there to try, and this one, while cute, is kind of a lot of work for what it is. Though, I may just be being naive, maybe they are all a lot of work for such a flimsy piece of fabric. That might explain the pricetag they are generally accompanied by in the store. Anyway, here’s the pictures for you.

Same measurements, but my dressform looks skinnier....??


Lace inset that replaced "bows"

This was made using stretch lace and a jersey remnant from the stash. Based on the price still attached to the jersey remnant, I’d say this nightie cost around $8 to make. I still have enough of the jersey left to make a pair of panties and probably a bra if I want. There’s still quite a lot of the stretch lace left too. I used foldover elastic for the straps, and I think I made them about 1.5″ too long (I couldn’t remember from last time, so I just “winged it”.) I haven’t decided if I’m just going to leave it or if I’m going to fix it, guess I’ll know after I wear it a time or two. πŸ˜‰

In other sewing news, I have traced off, cut out and partially sewn the pockets of some Burda shorts (113 of 7/2009 magazine). I think they are going to be a bit too short for my taste, but I really just wanted to see if they’d fit. I kinda traced them based on the Jalie jeans I made up, so I think they should, barring any sort of major miscalculations (which I’m rather prone to). I really hope they work out, because I’d really like to have some decent fitting shorts to wear around this summer, and they seem like they’ll go together quickly, and next time should go even faster. This version will be out of some sort of khaki-colored stretch twill-esque fabric that I had in the stash from Whoknowswhere.

Well, that’s about all for me. Ya’ll sleep tight now, ya hear?! πŸ™‚

Mission(s) Accomplished!

I finally finished my bra project last night, though I have no pictures yet. I’ve never been so glad to finish something ever, which is odd, considering I actually enjoy sewing bras–they are usually a fun challenge. I guess it’s because I felt like I had to make them and get them finished quickly because I need them desperately. Then just because I needed something fun, I decided to make a nightie for myself. My yucky oversize t-shirts are getting holes in them, so I decided to try my idea of making the Lekala pattern from here into a comfy jersey nightie with peek-a-boo lace trim down the sides instead of the bows. I have the pieces cut out (so much faster to sew when you don’t have to trace!!) and the darts sewn/pressed. After that, it should pretty much be a walkΒ  in the park, though I’m still contemplating my plan of action on the straps. I don’t think I’m going to try and make them all one piece with the binding like I did last time. I guess I’ve got a couple of hours to think about that though, so I can surely come up with something. πŸ™‚


In other exciting news, I found my son’s birthday present today. I bought him a “rain train”. It’s used, and most of the paint is gone, perfect for me to repaint it to look like one of those John Deere ones that cost a small fortune and aren’t made quite as heavy as this old one is. (I’m pretty sure it’s cast iron!) You might think this is a silly gift, but it’s like a two-for-one deal–we get the benefit of a sprinkler we don’t have to keep track of/move, and our son gets the cool tractor sprinkler that he’s been asking about to play in. And maybe he’ll even be willing to help put the hose out when he’s ready to play. πŸ˜‰ It’s the holding off until his birthday next month that is going to be a killer….maybe we’ll have to give it to him earlier and get him something small and inexpensive for the actual day.

Garage Sale-ing

Yesterday was the community garage sale (and several surrounding communities as well), so the neighbor and I hit up a bunch of them. I’d never really gotten into going to garage sales–probably because I generally have too specific of an item in mind (cast iron cookware anyone?)–but it was quite a bit of fun this time! We didn’t start nearly as early as we should have, but we still found quite a few bargains and were very happy with our purchases–I got a lot of stuff for less than $30. πŸ™‚ The one thing I wasn’t happy with? My sunburn. 😦 I didn’t expect to be out for so long, so didn’t bring the sunblock with me, and it’s only good for a couple of hours with my sunburn-prone skin. So today, I’m really red-faced in more ways than one.

Strict Fabric Fast

I think I might need an intervention. I got my fabric wall shelving put up today, and it’s full. Literally. I mean, I knew I had a lot of fabric, but not enough to fill 4 shelves that are 4 feet wide and 1 foot high. 😳 To be fair, I do have 4 pieces of fleece and a couple of my storage containers of notion-y goodness on there too, but it’s still pretty crazy. I’ll get a picture of it when I’ve got things organized a bit better, because right now you wouldn’t be able to get the full effect of my hoarding-ness.

So now; I do solemnly swear to buy no more fabric until I have used at least half of the stash currently on the wall.

As a bonus, it was kind of like going fabric shopping today when I was putting that stuff up there, because some of it I didn’t remember seeing before (though I’ve been gifted a lot of fabric that I’m not sure why I kept….) and I have some really pretty pieces that I’m excited to sew up. I wonder if other people feel the same way when they reorganize or purge their stash.

Oh, and cheapskate alert! If you want some of those interlocking foam mats and don’t want to pay the $20+ for them, you can get some that are thinner but still functional (assuming you can deal with the bright colors) at Wal-Mart for $5. I found them with the seasonal cheap kid toys display. They might even handle spray paint if you can’t stand the cheery colors (test it before getting too excited). I’m going to put a couple in front of the ironing board and the cutting table, and maybe even store some somewhere in the kitchen for washing dishes. Something about standing at the counter for more than a couple of minutes is murder on our backs. And so is the concrete floor under the linoleum in my sewing room.