Friday fabric: new goods!

I’ll admit I’ve been on a bit of a fabric-buying binge lately. Now that I’ve attempted garment sewing, albeit rather humbly, my mind is awash with visions of all the amazing things I’m going to make. Someday. But why not stock up now, right?

And last, my favorite of all, three lovely yards of this Globalweave Textiles block-printed linen from Purl Soho. (Sadly, it appears to be sold out now.) I rarely treat myself to such extravagant fabric, but it’s just right for a skirt I have in mind. And, oh, the softness! The color! The drape! Now I’m actually quite afraid to sew with it, for fear that my imperfection will ruin its perfection . . .

Off the needles (just in time for summer)

My, am I a slow knitter. Or maybe it’s not that I’m slow, but easily distracted by shinier, newer projects. I used to be a one-at-a-time crafter, in the same way that, as a child (and still occasionally as an adult), I ate all of one thing off my plate before moving on to the next. Over the past year or so, though, I’ve been training myself away from project monogamy, if you could call it that.

And guess what? I’m enjoying the variety. It’s nice to have a couple of instant-gratification things going and a couple of longer-term things. So I suppose, then, it should come as no surprise that this Shalom Cardigan, started in December as a reprieve from Christmas deadlines, just came off the needles a couple of weeks ago and gained its final gem — an orange button — even more recently. Right as the temperatures topped out at 90 degrees here. A reason to look forward to just one more breezy spring day? Perhaps.

Survey says . . .

It has been a productive and surprisingly smooth night here in the sewing room, so I’m only taking a brief break to announce the winner of my DIY fake-Moleskine giveaway. It is . . . commenter number 10, a.k.a. Regina. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and took the time to comment.

I think I might now be addicted to giveaways, partly because I’m moving out of state in a couple of months and can always reduce crafty inventory, and partly because it’s so much fun to see who stops by. So check back! And enjoy the weekend.

Giveaway: DIY Moleskine notebook

The reception my handmade Moleskine tutorial has gotten from all around the Interweb has been truly flattering. A couple of kind commenters even asked whether I’m taking orders. Well, my teaching schedule this summer (weekends! ack!) dictates that I just can’t, but I did have time this morning to make one more, which I’m giving away to one lucky reader out there.

This one has a sunny yellow cover with a slight linen texture and gray pages made from Paper Source text-weight stock. The binding is sewn in minty-green crochet thread.

The rules: Leave a comment on this post by this Friday, May 21, at 5 p.m. Central Time. (Make sure to give me some way to contact you!) I’ll select one winner at random and mail you the notebook, likely along with some other goodies, too. Good luck, and thanks, everyone, for your readership and kind words. As a writer, foremost, it’s good to know someone’s on the receiving end of my words and crafts.

Sewing trepidation, or, how to make a shirt in 16 weeks

It’s been so long since I first taught myself to knit that I’d forgotten the utter fear that accompanies new crafty endeavors. In particular, this week has been a sewing week. Not just any sewing, though. No, garment sewing. Did you hear that? Yes, I am crazy enough to attempt making clothing that I might actually wear.

Now, I have sewn before. You’ll note in the annals of this blog many small projects, all of which are either square or rectangular. Like this. Or this. The stage I’m at now with sewing reminds me of how I spent my first two years as a knitter: afraid to move beyond simple squares and rectangles in easy-but-predictable garter stitch. Once I took the first step and picked out a pattern that included some foreign techniques, my knowledge and skill multiplied with each project. And today, I can’t imagine knitting something that didn’t require a new technique, that didn’t require a few hours of good ol’ Internet research and time spent on the Ravelry forums.

So, keeping in mind how “quickly” my sewing skills would grow once I tried something new, I set out this week to make a “simple” (by all accounts) shirt: McCall’s 5388. I’ve never made anything from a real, bona fide pattern. Now, I probably should have started with something even easier: perhaps this simple A-line skirt tutorial that’s been in my Delicious queue for years? But I had to go with the pattern. And I’m glad I did. Something about cutting out those onionskin shapes and pinning them down on fabric made me feel like a real sewer. The feeling, however, was short-lived.

For even though the steps are easy to follow and I get the gist of what’s going on, the thought that I might do something wrong is paralyzing. So I suck up the courage to do about one step each day, all the while fearing that imminent garment destruction is just around the corner. I remember this feeling in knitting, this fear that each next step will either advance me or completely ruin all my hard work. Or the fear that I will finish it, but it won’t fit or will just look like total crap.

But nonetheless, I plug along, and occasionally, I forget that I’m so scared of what I’m doing and instead, I just enjoy the easy thrumming of the machine and my foot on the pedal and the fabric running under the presser foot in clean, easy lines, and I know maybe I’ll get this done, sometime.

Pardon the dust. Here’s a quick greeting-card tutorial.

I’ve decided this blog has outgrown its theme, so over the next couple of days, I’ll be making some changes. Excuse me if anything looks completely wrong. It’s probably not what I intended. Although, given my design sensibilities, you never know. It’s also likely I’ll keep manipulating things until I’m satisfied with them, so please forgive my perfectionistic, obsessively frequent changes. In the meantime, here’s a quick tutorial: ridiculously simple handmade greeting cards.

These were another DIY “station” at my birthday party, and they were easy enough for even the most, um, indulgent of party-goers. They’re a great use for extra Japanese-print paper, origami or otherwise.

You’ll need:
• A blank greeting card or cardstock to fold your own
• Decorative paper at least twice the width of your card folded open (I used printed origami paper)
• Scissors, paper cutter, or X-Acto knife
• Ruler
• Pencil
• String (I used cotton crochet thread — but any kind, including embroidery floss, will do)
• Needle
• Awl or 1/16″ hole punch

Step 1: Make your card (if it’s not pre-made)

If you don’t have a blank card on-hand, it’s easy to make one. Just cut out a piece of your cardstock and fold it in half equally.

Step 2: Make the paper overlay

Measure your card. Then, from the patterned paper, cut a piece 1/4″ less tall and 1/4″ less wide than your card. Fold the paper in half in the same direction your card is folded (see above).

Here’s another thought: If you’re planning to become a veritable card factory and make several of these, cut out a quick cardboard pattern for your overlay and use it to trace and cut out the overlay measurements onto each piece of patterned paper.

Step 3: Line up patterned paper on outside of card

Unfold both the paper and the card and align their center creases. There should be about a 1/8″ border on the top, outside, and bottom of the card.

Step 4: Punch holes to run string through

Use either your awl or 1/16″ hole punch (the tiniest hole punch you can find) to punch two holes in the crease of both your card and your paper overlay. (Punch both holes at once to ensure they line up.) I put the holes about 1 inch from the top and bottom.

Step 5: Sew your layers together

Thread your needle, but don’t tie a knot at one end. Starting on the inside, run your thread through both bottom holes to the outside, leaving a 6″ tail on the inside. Keep going around from outside to inside until you’re short on thread, finishing on the inside. (Both ends should be on the inside of the card.)

Step 6: Tie off ends

On the inside of the card, knot together the ends of the thread and clip the ends to about equal length. Ta-da! Now all that’s left is to write your message inside and ship off to a lucky birthday boy or girl, mom, dad, or (my favorite) an unsuspecting grandma.

Anniversary sewing: picnic placemats

It is a really ugly day here, with intermittent rain and constant gray skies — no way to spend a Friday, in my mind. (Especially because I was planning to plant the basil seeds that have been sitting on the kitchen counter for at least two weeks, now.) So I’ll look forward to brighter, more picnic-worthy days by showing you these placemats I made for Pete’s and my one-year anniversary.

The pattern is Lotta Jansdotter’s Picnic Placemat, from Simple Sewing. I’ve had the book for a couple of years, but surprisingly, this is the first pattern I’ve made from it. I found it remarkably easy and the instructions just detailed enough. The apples fabric is from Sandi Henderson’s Farmer’s Market line. I’m down, now, to the smallest bits of it; time to find a new small-project standby, I guess. I did just find Meadowsweet 2. Yum. Other suggestions?