Sunday, September 26, 2010

I've Been A Bad SSS Participant...

I'm off on an adventure in Vermont and New Hampshire, playing in mine tailings and acid rock drainage, so sadly the majority of my clothes won't be self stitched. And today I wore not a single self stitched clothing (although I did ride a cow). How could I when I knew I'd spend 10 hours sitting in the very back of a packed 7 seater van?

In short, I've fallen off the wagon.

So I've decided to renew my vows for this last week of Self Stitched September, but slightly altered:

'I, Heather of Sewing On Pins, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-September. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade or refashioned item of clothing every day for the remainder of September 2010'.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project Pajamas: Planning

One of the things I've noticed with Self Stitched September is that I'm sorely lacking in lounge wear and pj's. I've spent a lot of time at home working on The Thesis (Master Thesis? Thesis Master? Yes Ma-ster. Right away Ma-ster), and it would be nice to be A) comfortable, and B) warm.

I found this flannelet sheet at my favourite thrift store, and it's just the right combination of soft and clean, so I think I'll make myself pj pants and hopefully a robe from it using Simplicity 3696. I can't decide if this fabric is cute and girly or something my grandma would wear (no offense Grandma!), but I don't care because it's cozy. I want to make the t-shirt and nighty too, but you need knits for both of them.

Except, I don't want the nighty in a knit. We don't have nice knits at our fabric store (singular). I'd rather it in a flannelet or cool and pretty cotton! Maybe I can alter it so that it has tank top straps instead of the raglan sleeves? Eh, it's pj's, as long as it's comfy, I'll wear it anyways, so why not, eh?

Although considering the amount of time I don't have for sewing, it'll be a miracle if I get even the easy pj pants done in the next few months. Maybe if I get some work done this afternoon, I'll reward myself with some sewing time! :D Wish me luck all!

Happy sewing to those of you with time! *fistshake of envy*

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Beautiful Blogger Award!

I was nominated for this ages ago by Taran at Tanit-Isis Sews, during the final rush of the wardrobe contest. I've been feeling guilty about never doing the post write up for it ever since. And then Patty at The Snug Bug nominated me for it again this evening, so I guess I'd better get on with it! :D Thank you so much, both of you (and sorry for the long wait, Taran)! It's awfully sweet of you guys to think of me for this!

The rules for this blog award is to write out 10 things you all don't know about me. I find this sort of thing hard to do, but I'll give it a shot!

1. I'm a geologist who is studying aqueous geochemistry. Which I find hilarious because I've barely passed every single chemistry class I've ever taken before starting my Masters. I though I was coming to do a environmental geology degree, and Didn't Ask Questions. And then 4 months into the degree I discovered I'd graduate as a geochemist. Cue panic attack. But I've learned to love it, and frankly, it's just a required hoop to jump through to do the type of work I want to do, which is cleaning up old abandoned mine sites.

2. There's quite a few accomplished sewers in my family. My Mom, while disliking the skill, had been known to sew spectacular Halloween costumes for my brother and I when we were younger (I suspect with some help from my grandmothers). One memorable year I wore this awesome Rainbow Brite costume (complete with a home made wool wig), and my bro wore a strong man costume with lots of bulging muscles, all made on her early 80's Kenmore (yay!). My Grandma on my Dad's side used to sew all of her kids clothing when they were growing up (much to my Aunts horror), and she taught me to sew when I was young. She still has her Mom's Singer treadle, that she learned to sew on. Maybe one of these days I'll ask her if her grandmother was a seamstress too!

3. I've been crafting nearly my entire life, in one form or another. I've dabbled in everything. I've learned to knit, crotchet, paint (various things including canvases, ceramics, wood, paper, walls, anything that holds still long enough), tree-top angels and various Christmas decorations, wood carving, dream catchers, metal working (that didn't last long), gluing things to other things (and general crafting - particularly with kids), candle making, sculpting, origami and probably much more. I usually just get it in my head that I can do something, and then I do it. It's only been in the last year that I've gotten into sewing (beyond learning the basics from my Grandma when I was younger), since last October when I decided that I could sew my Mom a scrabble quilt, and I think I've finally found my niche.

For now, anyways.

4. I used to be a voracious reader. I'd read anything you put into my hands, although I loved SciFi and apocalyptic books the best. I had a long time love affair with the Star Wars book series before they killed off a few characters in the New Jedi Order series. Since starting university, I've lost that appetite for books almost completely, and it's only since I started grad school that I'm reading for pleasure again. I just reread Fahrenheit 451, and was blown away again. Why hello there, love of apocalyptic genre, very glad to see you again after all this time.

5. I hate doing laundry. Seriously, it's the worst household chore in the entire history of household chores. I'd prefer to clean out the containers that's been hiding in the back of my fridge for months than fold and put away the laundry. Because of this, my wardrobe is usually empty, with laundry, both clean and dirty, in semi tidy piles on the floor or in a series of laundry baskets/hung over things/piled on a table in my room. HATE LAUNDRY.

(Cartoon from We Blog Cartoons)

6. I look just like my Mom. Well, mostly. It hit home not long after my 18th birthday though, when we were sifting through a bunch of old photos, and came across a picture of my Mom when she was about 16. In it, she looked exactly like me in a picture taken at my 18th. See for yourself! I swear it's not the same person.

(My, was I ever tiny back then!)

7. I've always had an active imagination, and spent most of my childhood (and honestly, most down time as an adult) daydreaming. My best friend and I used to run all over the neighbourhood acting out adventures we made up, usually as Robin Hood and Maid Marion. She was the only one I ever shared the stories in my head with. I wish I had the writing skills to put onto page all these stories and ideas!

8. Despite today's world and the Way Of The Future, I'm a total technophobe. I like my computer for playing on the internet, but I hate learning and dealing with any new programs and features that come along with computer and thesis work. I refuse to own a cell phone (although sadly that may have to change once I start working), especially now with all their crazy, so unnecessary features that people can't live without. My home phone, while a cordless, does not have a display to show who's calling, and my answering machine is a separate piece of equipment that has a big flashing red light when I have a message. In a couple years, I'm so going to be that grumpy old man waving my fist at those disrespecting young'uns and their new-fangled electronic thingers.

9. I love coffee. No seriously, I love coffee. I think the bean and I are soul mates. And my local fair trade coffee shop (which is my new thesis-writing office, btw) makes the best and prettiest coffee in southern Ontario.

10. I love to try new things. I once had a prof ask me why I was applying to work with a bunch of kids teaching them about geology, and I told him I thought it'd be interesting, and that's kind of how I live my life. I've worked in an underground gold mine because "I thought it'd be interesting", I took on a MSc project in the Northwest Territories because "I thought it'd be interesting" (and I'd been dying to go up there my entire life), I went back packing around Europe - well, for various reasons, but it was very interesting. I've recently taken up swing dancing, and I'll pretty much try anything that I find - you got it! - interesting!

And now I guess I need to nominate some people for this award, eh? It's getting hard since this award has been around for a while now. I'm sorry if there's some double nominations here (but maybe this'll help encourage others to stop putting it off like I did). So I choose:
  • Emma Jane at Snuzal Sews is, I swear, the Queen of Jeans! She has inspired me to tackle a pair myself (once things settle down a bit with the thesis). You should go check out the amazing little back dress she made for a contest on PR.
  • Quietandsmall over at quiet and small adventures in ph.d-land. She is a woman after my own heart, with her sassy creations and thrifty finds, and fellow sufferer working on a graduate degree in science (but of course we secretly love it).
  • Schey at Scheryka Sews 41. She creates such stylish and flattering pieces for herself and adorable clothes for her kids, and I just think she's lovely overall.
  • Jenna at Seamstress In Training is just starting up her sewing blog within the last month, but is jumping right in and has posted some lovely garments that she'd made for her "living doll" and an apron for herself. She's hoping to get into garment making for herself soon, too. I'd love to learn more about you, Jenna!
ETA: I wrote this up incredibly late last night or incredibly early this morning, and I forgot to nominate someone that I've been planning to nominate since I got the award myself. So edited to add:
  • Liz at Lizards Little Luxuries! I'm actually jealous of her because she had success at making her first pair of fitted pants this past summer. *fistshake* As I'm sure you've noticed by now from my whining, my first pair of pants were awful. She also makes cute and unique things for her kids, and great casual garments for herself. TAG LIZ, YOU'RE IT!
Thanks again, Taran and Patty!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Self Stitched September: Days 17-22

I know it's been radio silence lately, but sadly my thesis has trumped sewing. Hopefully I'll be able to make some time to do some sewing soon. I plan to make a gift for a friend who is defending her M.Sc. thesis soon, and I'm running out of time!

But in the mean time, here's a Self-Stitched September update. Sorry if it's a little babbly, I'm pretty exhausted. I blame the thesis.

Day 17:

Well, once again I spent the day in self-stitched pj pants and reconstructed t-shirt. What can I say, I spent the whole day on the couch doing data analysis. WHEEE geochemistry! Same outfit as days 3 and 12.

Day 18:

I'm definitely learning which pieces I like the most. I keep re-wearing them. Sadly, I didn't take pictures of this day or day 19, but I headed to Ottawa to cheer on a friend of mine who was competing in a Draftmaster competition, and I wanted comfortable and easy to wear outfits. On day 18 I wore my reconstructed jeans skirt, faux wrap shirt, self-made undershirt, and ruffle jacket, the pretty purse, as well as tights and pink flats. Oh! And I packed everything else in a weekend bag I made from the SEW Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp (not shown but a very cute and fun bag). The picture above is from day 13.

Day 19:

Second and last day in Ottawa. To save packed space, I only brought a change of shirt and underwear. And I wore the exact same outfit on day 8, and since I forgot to take pictures, that's what the above picture is from. Reconstructed jeans skirt, sheety blouse, ruffle jacket, hose and pink flats. Plus pretty purse and weekend bag.

Day 20:

Alright, so I'm starting to fall off the self-stitched wagon. NOT ENTIRELY! But this day was another spent working on thesis stuff in my kitchen all day (i.e. 10 am to 1 am - yes, that says 1 am), and I got sick of dealing with the blanket on my shoulders. So while I'm wearing self-stitched knit top and awful pants, I threw on my geology zip-up hoody. I'm not sorry. This picture was taken right before going to bed in the early hours of the morning, by the way.

Day 21:

And I completely gave up this day. ANOTHER day spent at my kitchen table, obeying Master Thesis, and it was bloody cold in my apartment. Spent the day in a RTW hoody. But at least I'm wearing the self-stitched awful pants (which are quite comfortable, by the way), and I believe self-stitched gotch (not pictured).

Day 22:

I LEFT MY BASEMENT APARTMENT THIS DAY! The light, it burns! Heh. Wore my brown straight skirt, knit top, ruffle jacket (yes, again), pretty purse, black tights and black ankle boots.

I guess I'm broken my vow to only wear self-stitched clothes this month. It's been both easier and harder than I expected. I am getting sick of some of my clothes, and I know what I need to add to my wardrobe. Warm clothes especially, including PANTS! More lounge wear, more tops, and different colours too. And more basics.

Sadly, I'm going to be completely breaking my vow from this Sunday to Tuesday. My supervisor has planned an unexpected and last minute field trip to Vermont, and I can't get away with wearing skirts and short sleeved jackets and t-shirts during field work. I have no self-stitched clothes that can handle wandering outdoors in cool fall (and possibly rainy) weather. Someday, when I'm a better seamstress and willing to tackle the more expensive material (and can sew pants), I'd love to make my own field clothes. For now, I'm stuck with RTW.

I hope everyone else is surviving Self Stitched September! Has anyone else had some set-backs and failures like me? (I won't tattle, promise!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Self Stitched September Days: 12-16

I have never worn skirts so much in my life as I have this summer, and especially this me-made-month. In fact, I think I've worn more skirts this month than I have in my entire life of dressing myself (I don't count the years as my Mom's living doll). And you know what? I love them.

In fact, one of the things I'm realizing this month is that I like dressing nicely. I have far more respect for myself than I ever did while wearing jeans, t-shirts, and sweatshirts, which basically sums up my usual wardrobe in a nutshell.

However, I am noticing more 'lacks' in my wardrobe. For one thing, I am getting sick of my limited selection of shirts. I haven't even worn my ruffle shirt outside of the house because of how badly the ruffles warp and wrinkle after washing them (which requires long finicky minutes with a steamy iron to tame again). And sadly, most of the pieces that I've made outside of my floral romance wardrobe do not go well with anything, not even each other (with the exception of my reconstructed jeans skirt). I wish I had the time to make up a couple new tops, at the very least.

Or even a new pair of pajamas. :)

Day 12:

Despite vowing to put more effort into taking pictures of each days outfit in the last post, I forgot to get a picture on this day. Doubly bad since I wrote the last post on this day, too! Whoops! Anyways, I simply wore the same thing I did on day 2 (although I didn't look nearly as nice on day 12), so I refer you there and pretend this didn't happen.

Day 13:

I spent all this day in various meetings (both formal and informal), working in my office, and swing dancing in the evening. Luckily I wore something comfortable and easy to wear (and wrinkle resistant!) this day, including my reconstructed jean skirt, faux wrap top, self-made undershirt, and ruffle jacket, pretty purse, and flip flops. I know, a lot of my garments are getting a lot of use this month. Don't worry, they're clean! I find I keep going back to certain pieces, and I'm considering making more of these pieces in different colours.

Day 14:

This was another lovely (and productive!) day spend working at my favourite coffee shop, so I wanted to be comfortable. There is no more comfortable skirt in my wardrobe than this cotton petal skirt, and I think it's cute paired with my sheety blouse and ruffle jacket. Hmmm...I'm wearing that a lot these days. Might need to make an effort to wear different jackets.

Day 15:

A good friend of mine came down from Ottawa to visit and do thesis-y stuff, and we spent the afternoon and evening shopping at Fabricland and having dinner at another friends place. I wore my reconstructed jeans skirt and knit top, along with the ruffle jacket, pantyhose and cream floral flats.

Actually, it was a good outfit to wear, since it stood up to running around all day, helping my friend bag up bales of hay and crawling around the floor playing with a bunny! At least, I thought it was playing. Poor bunny would probably disagree.

Day 16:

Once again, the faux wrap top and self made undershirt was featured in today's outfit. It's honestly my favourite top, it's just so pretty and easy to wear. I paired it with my brown straight skirt and jaunty jacket (yay it's not the ruffle jacket!), bare-legged and flip flops, despite the cooler weather today. I'm from Manitoba, I like when it's only 16 or 18 degrees outside.

Despite today's bare-legged venture outside, I actually liked wearing pantyhose yesterday. It made me feel less self-conscious of my extremely pale legs and their various scars and bumps and marks and missed hairs, and reduced chaffing. Sadly, I tore a hole in them by early afternoon. On the up side, there were 3 pairs in the pack I got. On the down side, that means they're cheap, and will run like a trooper.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Self Stitched September: Days 5-11

I've been watching everyone posting all their lovely daily outfits, and cringing because I know I'm falling behind. It started with Day 5's outfit, which I'd planned to photograph at a friends place in the evening and completely forgot. And then I just kept forgetting. It seemed like I'd only remember to photograph every few days or so. I blame my thesis. And my broken tripod, which has made photographing the outfits difficult. And then I kept getting the Guilt, where I know I should post, but I don't want to play dress-up again and re-create the outfits.

So I played around this morning and re-created the missing outfits I wore on the floor. I know, I don't have any proof that I actually wore these, but I honestly did! I've kept track of my wardrobe using a powerpoint presentation, which has been really helpful for keeping track.

Beware, long post ahead.

Day 5:

As you can see, I wore my brown floral faux wrap top, self made undershirt, brown straight skirt, pretty me-made purse, tights and cream floral shoes. I like this outfit a lot, despite the abundance of brown, and I assure you, it looks better on me than on the floor. :)

Day 6:

Okay, this was a horrible day spent ill, mostly curled up on my couch wrapped in a blanket. Hair not brushed, no make-up, awesome fuzzy socks over tights. I did not leave the apartment this day BUT AT LEAST I GOT DRESSED. Wearing the brown straight skirt, light coral ruffle blouse, and tights.

Day 7:

I actually left the apartment this day (yay!), met a friend for lunch and then went to the local coffee shop to work for a change of environment. I wore my denim pencil skirt (which I've discovered an undying love for this past week) and a black cotton eyelet tank top that I made ages ago, along with black tights and cream floral flats. Oh wait, I do have evidence of wearing this out. It's a bad picture from the coffee shop.

Day 8:

Another day that I had to leave the apartment, for a dreaded meeting with the Thesis Supervisor. I wore a denim skirt I reconstructed out of a pair of jeans last March (using this awesome tutorial), my sheety blouse, and a ruffle jacket I made last April. I think this is one of my favourite looks, along with Day 9's, and I think this is more my style.

Day 9:

I escaped my apartment again this day by working at the local coffee shop, and wore one of my favourite outfits while doing it. Petal skirt, faux wrap top, self-made undershirt, and the jaunty jacket. I feel so pretty in this outfit!

Day 10:

I was actually pretty sick this day, had some sort of stomach bug, so I mostly spent the day in pj pants and a reconstructed top. However, I did feel well enough to meet an old friend for coffee, so I'm posting that outfit. Denim pencil skirt, knit top, ruffle jacket, my pretty purse, tights and cream floral shoes. Honestly though, I mostly wore the outfit from Day 3.

Day 11:

Alright, I have a confession to make. I wore a non-self-stitched top this day. Well, this night, anyways. I had a concert and a party to go to this evening, and still feeling off from the day before, spend most of the day resting in pj's. That evening, when I went to get ready for a night out, I realized that I'm severely lacking in nice party clothes. Plus I hadn't done laundry. So with much guilt, I decided to wear something I hadn't made myself. I felt a little more appeased since it was a thrifted top, and I plan to alter it to shorten the sleeves, so I guess it's a future self-stitched top? *hangs head in shame* The only thing self-stitched in this outfit in the denim pencil skirt. Oh well, what can you do.

Anyways, we're now caught up as of yesterday. I promise to take proper pictures from now on. Or I'll try to, anyways.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cleaning and Oiling Maggie Kenmore: Part 1

I noticed while making the fabric belt that Maggie was chugging a bit while top stitching along the edges of the belt, and that she was struggling to get through some of the thicker sections. I've been meaning to clean and lube the poor dear for a while now, so I figured it was time. Especially since I didn't do it when I first brought her home, back in February.

(I couldn't resist adding my own note below the original purchase date when I picked her up. I know that I am the second owner for Maggie, and it's neat to see that she's been loved since 1973, when she was originally bought in either St. Johns, New Brunswick or St. John's, Newfoundland.)

Anywho, I had noticed the dust bunnies were starting to muster in for a revolt, so either way, it was time for a cleaning. And oh man, was it ever! Would you look at that fluff!

I'm almost too ashamed to be posting this, but I figure if I can ignore it so long that it gets to this point, others probably have as well, and this may encourage them to peak under the hatch and ferret out any dust armies gathering forces.

This is the shuttle race, which normally hosts the shuttle, shuttle race cover, and bobbin thinger. Also very fluffy. The whole thing practically fell apart when I pulled apart the levers, and I feared never putting it back together again, but it was easier than it looked.

Ew. Ewewewewew.

So once I got that all cleaned out using a soft (old) tooth brush and lots of paper towels, I moved onto oiling this section. Except, the instructions were a little vague. I didn't understand their little diagram telling me where to oil.

I wasted some time looking online, but nothing pinged. Poked all over PR, with no gold. Finally, I just went and poked around in the machine, putting the whole shuttle assembly back together to see what parts rubbed together, then put a bit of oil on them. I've pointed out the two spots marked above in the follow pictures, in case anyone else wants to see.

The shuttle (half moon shaped piece) slides against the surface the screw driver is touching, so put a drop of oil there, as high up as you can reach in the awkward little space. Maybe they call it the shuttle race because the shuttle races along it! Ooo the things you learn when you poke around and take things apart.

The bobbin holder thinger rubs agains the centre pin of the shuttle. I recommend adding oil after putting it back on the shuttle race, or else you'll get oil all over your fingers. You can guess how I learned that little tid bit!

The pictures above show the shuttle installed on the shuttle race. (Please disregard the little rusty spots. Poor dear is getting on in years; she's developed a few age spots and she's self conscious of them. Ssshhhhh.) Below shows the shuttle assembly put together with the shuttle race cover on and the levers clicked in holding it all together.

Now that's much better! Look how shiny and clean she looks! No more dust bunny armies down here.

Here it is all put together again (except for the needle plate, which I forgot to install before taking the picture).

The next part of the instructions in the manual involved oiling under the arm cover plate, but I've run into a bit of a snag.

See, I can't for the life of me, figure out how to get the arm cover plate off. It's on there tight, not budging at all, and the manual doesn't say boo about how to get the darn thing off.

(Isn't she pretty!)

I can see the seam for where it should pop off, but I don't know how to do it. There's no screws anywhere that I can see, and I'm afraid to start trying to twist off some of the thing-a-ma-jiggies on top of the machine.

Google failed me again, so I'd love to get some advice on this. Does anyone out there know how to remove the arm cover plate on a Kenmore 1410 zig zag sewing machine? Do I even need to oil under there? I did come across one "sewing machine expert" (granted in regards to a different machine entirely) who said that it shouldn't need to be oiled under there. But Maggie is about 37 years young, and anyone's joints could get stiff after a while.

So dear readers, do you have any advice for Maggie and I? I'm afraid I'm too late to get any assistance from Sears.

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