Friday, September 30, 2011

30 Days: Final Week and Goals recap

I decided to wait until today to post the rest of my lists, instead of posting a week's worth on Wednesday and then the last two today.  I must admit, I'm glad it's done.  I enjoyed some of the topics, and those lists were quite fun to make.  However most of them, as I've mentioned, I found a bit thoughtless (not that they weren't well-thought out, but that they didn't provoke much thought from me) and dull. 

With that said, here are my remaining nine lists:

Oh, remember Day 1?  'Goals for this month'  I honestly thought this list was going to be a washout, but I went back and looked at it today, and I didn't as bad as I thought at first.  Here we go:

1. Make lists!  *check* - made at least 30 of them, along with the other bajillions I made for other things.
2. Learn something about myself - um, not sure I completed this one.  I was hoping to learn something about myself through the lists, and I definitely didn't do that.
3. Not stress about my lists *check* - I used to have a tendency to be obsessive about certain things.  I would go crazy nuts with something for a while and then drop it altogether.  I certainly never would have finished 30 Days of Lists had I been that freakish person about it.  I'm glad I didn't.  Some days I didn't complete a list until the next day.  Not stressing is good.
4. Start our family conversion to healthy/fresh eating *um, half-check?* - I still need to finish reading the book I started about this (more on that later), but I've been extremely conscious about what we're eating lately, and I'm starting to make smarter choices.  Again, not wanting to go all gung-ho and then just drop it.  So we're headed in the right direction, just reeeeaaaally slowly.
5. Get a haircut.  Nope.  I had an appointment for Scooch and I, but had to cancel it due to Mr. R being out of town.  I never rescheduled.  And Scooch still has to walk with his head back so he can see out from under his fringe.  Poor boy.
6. Make pants for both boys.  Nope.  BUT, in my own defense, I did do a LOT of sewing this month.  And, my mom sent a boatload of clothes for both boys (thanks, Mom!!), so now I think Monkey is the only one who might need a pair or two. 
7. Lose five pounds.  *check* (sort of, hrrmm...) - So, I weighed myself yesterday, and I had totally lost 5lb.  I checked in again this morning to make sure, since today is really the last day of the month, and I had gained a whole pound since yesterday.  Not quite sure how that happens (especially after two trips to the park and sweating in the sun at the park both times), but I think I'm marking this one completed, because the scale DID show that at one point in this month, I had indeed lost that blasted 5lb!
8. Sew something for me *check*  - See evidence here and here.

So four and a half out of eight.  That's better than my usual track record for goals. *grin*

Next Friday I'll have my regular Friday Moment post again, and hopefully a new selfie and some other good stuff.

Happy Weekending blogland!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Fall is my favorite season.  I love the crisp air, the crunchy leaves, the hot cider, the fall festivals.  I got married in the fall, and fall colors were my palette for my wedding.  I especially love fall in upstate NY.  The colors are amazing up there.  People travel to the area just to see the colors.  Since I can't see the colors this year, I found some local color instead.

Oh, and while writing up this post, I enjoyed the end of another fall favorite of mine: maple sugar candy from the NY State Fair.  Thanks again, Mom and Dad, for sending me some!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

i heart pouches

I finally finished the two pouches last week that I was making for myself.  I had to wait on zippers to arrive since I didn't have any in the right color.  It was nice because I had them all completed up until the zipper stage, so I was able to get them finished in about an hour each once I had the zippers.

First up, the flat-bottom pouch by the split stitch in large.  I LOVE this bag.  Since I normally carry around a big diaper bag these days, I plan to carry this inside it with my own things (including the camera pouch) so I don't have to dig through the kids' stuff anymore to find something.  Plus it's so lovely that I could even carry it on it's own.  I showed it to my husband and he asked if the pleated panel was supposed to be uneven.  Um, yes.  However, now that I look at it, I should have made it more uneven so it really looks intentional.  Ahem.

Recognize that fabric?  I used the same Amy Butler print that I used for the diaper clutch I sent to my sister-in-law here.  The lining is, dang it, I can never remember what this fabric is called, maybe a chambray?  I snatched it from my mom's stash a while ago, and it's probably 10+ years old.  I love the weight it has to it, I might need to make myself a skirt or something with it...  The striped fabric is also the same fabric that I used on the inside of the diaper clutch.  I really liked how those two prints looked together.

To help keep it organized, I added pockets on each side.  One side has just a wide slot, and the other side has an ID slot and phone slot.

I didn't like the idea of attaching a strap to the zipper, so I added a side tab to attach my strap to.  This bag is the perfect size for what I planned on using it for, so I'm really excited to use it!

Neeext up is another flat-bottom pouch, but with the alterations I mentioned here to make it a camera pouch.  I used the same Amy Butler print as in the big bag above, but in a different color.  The inside and ruffle are a blue/grey chambray, and the wrist strap is scraps I had.

I made almost all of the changes I said I was going to make.  Instead of an interlining, I used fusible fleece.  The pouch still has nice body to it, but is a little more squishy to protect my Lumix from bumps.  I added slot pockets inside for two SD cards and an extra battery.  I meant to also include an elastic band for the card reader I use, but I forgot.  I also took about 2 inches out of the width of the pouch.  I couldn't have judged that any better.  My camera fits in the opening perfectly, I wouldn't have wanted it any narrower.

I added the side tab again for the wrist strap, which I love.  I might need to make another strap, if I have enough scraps, for my camera too!

And here's the camera pouch next to the original, so you can see the size change I made.  The only thing I didn't do, was supposed to be a surprise.  I was going to either embroider a little camera, or I was going to add a little iron-on embellishment, but I couldn't find a camera image like the one in my head, and the iron-on looked too busy with the ruffle, so I left it out.

This has all been great practice since these pouches will be showing up in my Etsy shop soon!  Those wrist straps will also be available for cameras and mobile phones.

Friday, September 23, 2011

baby love, day 5: knitted blanket and wrapping up...literally

Phew!  Last day of baby love!  If you're just checking in, this week I'm showing off the gifts I made for my SIL who is having a baby soon.  Here's what you missed:

Day 1: Embellished Tops and Embroidered Ornaments
Day 2: Diaper Clutch and Burp Cloths
Day 3: Eye Mask and Clothing Labels
Day 4: Dress, Hat and Bloomers

Today is a knitted blanket.  I had to throw something knitted into the mix.  I was going to make a knitted summer hat as well, but being that the family lives near Miami, I don't think a knit hat would get much use.  So instead, I went with a white version of the blanket that I made for my own little Monkey.

I decided to go with a soft, washable and dryable yarn since baby things always seem to be in the wash.  I went with white because it's what I already had in my stash.  [Did you catch onto the stash-busting theme going on this week?  I love how many things I was able to 'shop' for in my existing stash!  My serious fabric and yarn buying obsession comes in handy when money is tight and I want to make nice gifts.  I already have a huge 'store' to pull from!]

And now that I've got all these gifts to send, I need to wrap them up.  I love natural and reusable wrapping.  I always love getting a gift with wrapping I can save to use again for something else.  I had a bunch of vintage sheet scraps I got in a scrap pack online a while ago, and they all turned out to be the perfect sizes for my handmades.  I kept everything really simple.  Of course, if I had all my rubber stamp supplies I would have gone crazy on the gift tags.  Since I didn't, I just played with my new Pilot Hi-Tec-C pens and doodled on the tags instead. *cheese*

I layered everything gently in a box, and then surrounded it all with wrapping tissue.  Then, for fun, and something for the new daddy-to-be, Mr. R gave me some newspaper highlights to stuff into the empty spaces.

And lastly, a card.  It was the first time I've stitched on paper I think, and it was quite fun!

Whew!  That's a lot of baby goodies!  I hope you've enjoyed this week of baby love.  I can't wait to meet my new niece, even if it is over Skype!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

baby love, day 4: dress, bloomers and hat

It's day 4 of baby week here on Scooch Monkey!  Up today is the cutest of baby outfits.  As I have two boys, I don't have many patterns for girly things at my immediate disposal.  Luckily, I have purchased a few books of projects that also contain girl patterns.  My favorite being Amy Butler's Little Stitches.  I just love this little dress and bloomer set.  This was one of the first things on my project list when I put together this baby love set.  I even chose to use Amy Butler's fabric from the Soul Blossoms line.  She is my favorite fabric designer, after all. 

This one started out as a sewing fail.  Well, not a sewing fail really; more like a style fail.  It's quite evident that I'm just getting back into the swing of sewing, as I forgot to fussy-cut the fabric (english: line up the print on the fabric with the pattern).  You can see what I mean in the above photo, the circles aren't centered, and the pattern in the skirt isn't centered.  In the end though, it turns out that I didn't even care for these two color schemes together anyway.   Luckily, this was fabric I bought just for this dress, not something pulled from my stash, so I was able to order more.  Speaking of buying fabric, some designers are really really hard to find in England, so I end up ordering a lot of fabric from the States.  The original dress is still pretty cute, and might show up at a discount in my Etsy shop if I can ever get it up and running.

I really love this little dress.  So many nice details.  The skirt is lined and the bodice is faced.  There is elastic in the back to help it fit better.  I took extra care to make sure all the edges were finished off nicely.  I serged all the exposed inside seams (which is SCARY! see note after jump about my serger issues).  And see how the fabric print is all nice and centered now?  Muuuch better.

The only place I altered from the pattern was with the snaps.  The pattern called for buttons, but I just love using my snap press, and since I chose to lug it all this way in the move, I decided to use it.  I really like the way the snaps look too.

The bloomers and hat turned out lovely on the first try; except for that silly butterfly, but more on that later.  I made a smaller size of the bloomers previously, and remember something about the elastic lengths being way off.  Too much in the top and not enough in the bottom, or something like that.  I didn't have that problem this time.  Everything looks about right to me.  Not that I would really know, having two boys I don't have much experience with bloomers.

This little hat is cute, and I'm so glad I figured out a way to sew the points where they all line up perfectly!!  I might just have to do a tutorial on that actually...  The butterfly isn't my favorite, but I think the biggest reason for that is because I put the wrong side of the velcro on the butterfly portion.  Have you ever tried to stuff toy filling through an opening flanked with velcro (the scratchy side)??  Oy!

Tomorrow is the final day of Baby Week.  I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.  I'll do a review of the week and I'll show off the final piece (a baby blanket), and show how I wrapped it all up to send off to my family.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

30 Days: week 3

In case you're just popping in for the first time (in which case, HI! and Thanks!), I've been doing 30 Days of Lists, and each Wednesday I'm posting my lists from the previous week.  I'm likely boring everyone to tears with these, but only one week left! *grin*

Here's this week's lists:

baby love, day 3: relaxing eye mask and clothing tags

This week is all about the baby gifting.  My SIL is having a baby, maybe now!, and I wanted to spoil my new little niece the best way I know how: handmades!

Today's gift is all for Mum though.  Time to relax is hard to come by as a mum, and when you add to the number of children you have, that time gets even more precious and hard to find.  So, to help make the most of those fleeting moments, I made the eye mask from Sew Liberated.  I used bits of satin I had leftover from a 30's style dress I made several years ago, and several other scraps.

The pattern called for flax seed, but I could not find flax seed here in the UK.  I ended up using something that can be found in great abundance here, lavender.  There are so many lovely lavender farms here, and what better way to relax.  Since my big bag of lavender arrived, I've been really enjoying walking into (and staying in) my studio.  It's one of my favorite scents.

I didn't care for the design on the eye mask in the book, so I came up with my own, which I quite like.  I actually hand-appliqued this too.  I was afraid I would really mess it up on the machine with such small curves, so I did it all by hand.  I don't have any thimbles here (I have no idea how they could have become separated from the rest of my sewing gear in the move, but hopefully they'll turn up again someday), so I ended up with a really raw finger by the time I was done, but worth it!

You've been looking at photos of tags with my new logo all week, and I said I'd let you know how I made them.  It's really quite simple!  A friend of Mr. R made the logo for me (Thanks, Pete!), and I took the image, shrunk it in GIMP (which is free) to the size I wanted (you could also use Picnik).  Then I created plain old address labels in MS Works (yea, I can't even afford MS Word).  Paste the image in the label, finagle the spacing a bit to get the image where you want it.  After some thought, I bet you could do this in a spreadsheet too, and perhaps have even more spacing flexibility.  Next, print it out on printable fabric.    I used Crafter's Images Silk Habotai that I found here (scroll down to find it).

Here's my take on THIS particular fabric (forgot to take photos of the process, sorry).  I've never used any other so the following is specific to THIS brand.  I think it's a great tool for crafts that you will not wash.  The fabric is super soft and lovely and sews surprisingly easily.

I test printed with regular settings, and then with photo settings.  The photo settings bled a great deal more than the regular, general/everyday-use printer settings.  I let the fabric dry over 24 hours.  It's not necessary to wait this long, but since the labels will be put on things that will be washed, I wanted to let the ink set for as long as possible first.  When the ink is dry, peel off the paper backing.  I thought this would be hard since there is no tab or corner left to grab onto, but the fabric separated from the paper quite easily.  Then you rinse the fabric to get the excess ink off and to pre-shrink the fabric.  The fabric frays a little when doing this, so I recommend not cutting up your tags until after this step.

After rinsing I dabbed the fabric between some paper towels, and then ironed dry.  I used my rotary cutter to cut them to the sizes I wanted, then pressed the edges over, and sewed them into the pieces I made.

Now here's the tricky part.  This fabric states that it's washable.  That was something I specifically looked for when choosing a printable fabric.  However, it's only hand-washable.  Several online shops that carried this fabric didn't mention that.  So I tested it myself, and here are the results:
Warm wash, normal agitation: all colored ink is washed out, black ink remains
Cold wash, normal agitation: colored ink faded slightly, black ink still crisp
Cold wash, gentle cycle: colored ink barely faded, black ink crisp

So, with normal use, the labels won't last long.  Luckily, this batch of labels is going to family, and I think they'll be able to remember who made them.  Looks like I need to save my pennies in order to purchase the woven labels that I've had my eye on for months now.

Update: Since first writing this, I decided to try facing the labels.  This time I didn't rinse the fabric after the ink had set.  After peeling off the backing paper, I ironed the entire sheet with a steam iron on high - you'll see the sheet shrink up a good bit when doing this.  Then I ironed on some lightweight fusible interfacing on the back.

It really helped to keep the labels from wobbling around when cutting them, and made it easier to press the edges under.  It did take a little away from the beauty of the silk, but they're still soft and pretty.  I haven't tried washing any yet to see if the interfacing helped with the colorfastness issue, but I'm guessing it didn't.

Anyway, it's a good cheaper alternative to the pricey (yet very lovely) woven labels that I will continue to swoon over until I can own my very own. *smile*

Tomorrow: dress, hat and bloomers