Hello, Wisconsin!

At the very end of 2014, Nick and I packed up all of our belongings and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for my new job as a Young Adult Librarian (yay!). We found a cute little apartment in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood that accepted pitbulls and snatched it up as fast as we could. We’ve spent the past month and a half working diligently to make the place feel like home and this weekend I completed a project I’ve had on my plate since we moved in – make curtains for the closet.

You see, our two bedroom apartment only has one closet and it happens to be located in our guest/hobby room and it also just so happens to have no doors (the apartment is missing doors in several key areas, but more on that later…):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see, it’s not the prettiest thing to look at and while I don’t care that my underwear is on display for all to see, it might make some guests uncomfortable. What I do care about is having a room that’s conducive to my creative process and to relaxation and this cluttered mess just doesn’t cut it. I need a place that’s bright, inviting and relatively clutter free!

Luckily I found just the right amount of Jessica Jones’ Leaflet fabric (one of the few fabrics that Nick and I could agree on) at The Needle Shop in Chicago last weekend.

Ian MacKaynine clearly approves and was probably hoping I’d make him some new pillows out of it. Sorry buddy…ianI went with Leaflet, because our hobby room at our old place had a teal accent wall that made the room feel bright and cheery. Plus, I liked the symmetry of the leaf pattern and it seemed fitting since the hobby/guest room looks out onto our yard.

Since I finally had a weekend without band commitments or family commitments, I pulled out the cutting table and my sewing shears and got to work as soon as the sun went down on Valentine’s Day.* OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI haven’t used my sewing machine in a few months, so curtains were a good project to get back into the swing of things, since they’re simple. Most of the work was measuring, pinning and ironing all of my seams, which isn’t so bad if you have good music to listen to…

Closet Curtain Playlist 2015

  1. Adorable – Against Perfection
  2. The Beatles – With the Beatles
  3. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak
  4. The Police – Greatest Hits
  5. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Living with the Living
  6. Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
  7. Saves the Day – Stay What You Are
  8. Common – Be

After a few stabbed fingers and about a dozen songs into The Police’s Greatest Hits, curtain number 1 was done and I was ready to call it a night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy early Sunday afternoon, the closet looked like this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So much better!

I even managed to get the leaves along the center seam to line up fairly well. Not perfectly, but I’ll take it!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow that that’s taken care of, I feel like I can finally figure out what’s going to go up on the walls in that room and clear out the rest of the clutter in there so it becomes a room I want to hang out in and that I’m not embarrassed to let other people stay in.

Next big project – install doors to our bedroom and the guest/hobby room since the only room that currently has doors in our apartment is the bathroom…

*Nothing says “I love you” better than letting your partner do their thing when they feel inspired even if that inspiration happens to strike on a day when you’re supposed to be glued at the hip.

 

Raglan Sleeve Top

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two weeks ago I made my first blouse at the Raglan Sleeve Top class at The Needle Shop. It’s a bit boxy and not quite what I was expecting, but I learned some useful things in the class and am looking forward to tackling my next blouse. Besides, it’s not too bad if I throw a cardigan over it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(My minions were a little confused by my mini photo shoot and kept siting at my feet in the hopes of getting treats.)

The main thing I don’t like about the raglan sleeve top is the sleeve length, because it seems to compound the boxiness. I feel like it would look a little more flattering if the sleeves were a bit shorter, since in theory it would give the blouse a little more of a silhouette.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s hard to tell without actually shortening the sleeves, but here’s a picture with the sleeves rolled up a bit:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still not great, but a little better. I may end up shortening the sleeves and/or trying it out tucked into a high waisted skirt. Otherwise, I know a cardigan will make it wearable for sure!

I do like the gathered neckline, though, because it gives the boxy shape a little bit of a feminine flare. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nick convinced me to go with a “safe” fabric choice for my first blouse, so that I might actually wear it (I have a track record of making things for myself and then giving them away because I don’t like them). The black fabric with white hash marks seemed safe enough and goes well with various things in my wardrobe.

This was my original fabric choice for the raglan sleeve top, but it’s now destined to become another blouse:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m torn between these three patterns (Sencha by Colette, Market Blouse by Lisette or Top 7051 by Burda).

Hmmm, decisions, decisions…

 

 

Owl Tote #2

Since I didn’t take time off around Christmas, I decided to take last week off of work to work on hobby projects, catch up on my reading and avoid dealing with the crummy weather.

Since I took that tote bag class a few months ago, I’ve been itching to make a modified one that better suits my needs and since I had extra fabric, I did just that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hate digging through my purse for things and since my original tote bag was pretty basic and didn’t include any pockets, I spent a lot of time fishing through it for stuff. So this time around I added a pocket, a D ring and a clasp I got from Tom Bihn to use with my modular pouches, which I also got from Tom Bihn.

I made the pocket large enough to hold my Kindle, which I got as a gift for myself this winter. From now on I won’t have to lug so many bags around when I travel since I usually like to bring 2 or more books and they take up a lot of space. Now I can comfortably carry my lunch, my reading material, my wallet, my water bottle and a small assortment of other small necessities in just one bag and it’s easier on my back!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I put the D ring and the hook on opposite ends of the bag to balance it out. Unfortunately, I forgot to change back to black thread when I sewed the strap to the hook, but since it’s inside the bag, no one should notice, but me. I also sewed the strap on the hook the wrong way onto the fabric, d’oh!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s a picture of the hook with one of Tom Bihn’s Cordura Organizer pouches, which I use to hold keys to my desk at work, lip balm and a small pack of tissues. I also have a larger Cordura Organizer I use to hold pens, which isn’t pictured, but will hang with it’s partner soon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The D ring will most likely be used to hold my house/car keys and/or if I feel like knitting on my morning commute instead of reading, it will hold the Tom Bihn Yarn Stuff Sack that Nick bought me for the solstice.

The only other mistake I made with the new version of my tote was that I messed up one of the handles, which is a bit of a bummer, but not super noticeable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The handle on top wasn’t inserted correctly, which is why it twists, rather than laying flat like the one on the bottom. However,  I took it out for a test run this weekend and it wasn’t uncomfortable.

Oh, well – at least these mistakes will remind me to pay closer attention to what I’m doing next time. The original owl tote will most likely end up going to my sister since she was admiring it at our annual family Christmas dinner. It should serve her well for carrying all of the papers she needs to grade home from school.

Despite the errors, I’m happy with my new bag!

 

La Loteria, Frida, Stars and Roses!

Thanks to Sew Mama Sew, I took advantage of a couple of great fabric shops (Fabric Worm and Hawthorne Threads) year-end sales and acquired these awesome fabrics. I’m excited to oil up the sewing machine and start working on projects!

I’ve been in love with Frida Kahlo since I was in my early 20’s. Her story and her art taught me a thing or two about self-acceptance. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this. I’m thinking of either turning it into a skirt or a tote bag. La Loteria (which is kind of like the Mexican form of Bingo) print will probably also meet a similar fate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been wanting to get my hands on the Valentina Ramos print below for quite a while now. I plan to make it into a lovely summer dress. I have several patterns for such a thing, so it’s going to be hard to decide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally, this last fabric caught my eye because it reminded me of the Chicago flag and it will probably end up getting turned into a wallet or pouch of some sort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I probably won’t be working on any apparel items until I’m done cross-stitching Ian’s portrait, but in the meantime I may complete a few small projects like totes and placemats!

Let it Snow

As much as I hate the ice snow eventually melts into, I love the calm, quiet beauty after it’s just snowed and those cold snowy days give me an excuse to stay indoors and work on crafts! Lucky for me we’ve had a snowy December in Chicago.

Life has been a little nutty lately thanks to the upcoming holidays, but I’ve managed to finish a few projects I had in the works and start some new ones that I’m pretty excited about.

Here’s some of what I’ve been working on lately:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sitting on my little wooden chair at my sewing machine for hours can get a little uncomfortable, so I bought some teal fabric to match the craft room’s accent wall and made myself the cushion/pillow you see above, so I can either sit on it or use it for back support depending on what I’m working on.

I made the blanket draped over the back of the chair back in early November at one of The Needle Shop’s mitered blanket classes. It’s baby blanket size, but since I wasn’t completely happy with my top stitching on it, I decided to keep it as a lap blanket for myself when I sit in the craft room since it can get pretty chilly in there, rather than having other people see my botched work. It just so happens that the fabrics in the blanket match my accent wall AND pillow and the little elephants just make me smile every time I see them. Next I’m planning on making some placemats to practice my new mitering skills.

Mitered Blanket

Here’s a shot of the blanket I took, right after completing it in class!

We’ve been dropping into negative temperatures a lot lately, so I recently bought myself these fabrics from The Needle Shop to turn into blouses and shorts for the spring/summer, as a reminder that after this weekend the days will start to get longer and warmth and sunshine are just around the corner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally, since I love stitching AND photography, I recently decided to purchase WinStitch so I can turn my photos into cross-stitch patterns. First up, I’ll be stitching up this adorable picture of my dog, Ian MacKaynine.

ian pillow

I’m on the fence as to whether I should turn it into a throw pillow or frame it and hang it up somewhere – it all depends on how much time I end up putting into it and what the finished product looks like.

We’re supposed to get a big snowstorm in Chicago this weekend, so hopefully I can use it as an excuse to stitch to my heart’s content.

Hope everyone has a Happy Solstice!

 

Sew, Lisa, Sew

Something about fall makes me nostalgic for school, so in addition to my drawing classes, I’ve been taking a sewing class once a month at The Needle Shop to work on my skills and use up some of my fabric stash.

So far I’ve had a review sesh on how to make a pillow and I’ve learned how to make a tote bag!

My dogs, Ian and Harlow, love a comfy pillow to rest their heads on, so I made this one just for them using Peter Horjus’ Doglandia fabric in Ruff Bunch Brown.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here they are, resting their cute little heads.

Ian

– Ian –

Harlow

– Harlow –

A few years ago I fell in love with this owl fabric and bought it intending to make a messenger bag, which I never got around to, since I wasn’t sure what I was doing. It’s canvas, so it’s a great heavy duty tote bag for someone like me who’s always lugging books around and the fabric is adorable. Can’t wait to make another one!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have some more projects in the works, so check back soon for updates!