Subversive Sewer

{November 22, 2011}   Continue or not?

Being someone who has always enjoyed writing, you’d think I’d be a prolific blogger. But nope. Maybe its because other things in life have taken priority. Yep, that’s it.

I’ll try to post some recent projects, but if you enjoy seeing what I make, I’d recommend following me on Twitter. Really, its a fun place, and its perfect for people with ADHD tendencies like me. So here you go, retweeted off color humor and all:


I haven’t felt like sewing much lately, but my stepdaughters needed Halloween costumes, so that’s what I did this weekend. However, when I started by trying to wind a bobbin, it was a no go. The winder on my elna wouldn’t spin. After a few minutes of panicking, I remembered the simplicity sidewinder and decided it’d be a good fix till I could afford to have my machine looked at. I sent my fiance to joanns with a 50% off coupon and wrote the name of the product on it. While waiting in the check-out line, he asked the cashier about my bobbin problem. She suggested that the bobbin itself may be the cause. I put on a different bobbin and wouldn’t you know, it worked! So, no sidewinder review here… its getting returned!

{October 13, 2011}   Checking in


I just haven’t felt like blogging – or sewing – lately. I’ve started an accessory business called Orange Blossom Accessories, which has been taking all my free time. The website will be up soon. I’m doing mostly hair bows to start with.
But there will be a lot of sewing on the horizon. I’m very happy to announce that I am getting married late next year! Since I have a small budget and a lot if time, I’ll be DIY-ing everything, including my dress, the maid of honor dress, and 3 flower girl dresses! Wish me luck!

So yeah, I’ve had back problems since I strained it working in a factory in 1995. That convinced me to go to college, but I’ve been living with pain about 50% of my waking hours.  I’ve tried a variety of things, but doesn’t really help. The most effective seems to be improving my posture.

Anyway, I end up with horrible back pain after less than an hour at the cutting table or sewing machine. I think I’m going to try having my machines at counter height and see if that helps.

Anyone else have this problem?

I made a whole bunch of clothes this month prior to my vacation to Wisconsin. However, between being camera shy and not being able to figure out the pc version of WordPress (bf updated my laptop and wiped everything out), it’s slow going. I’ve got 3 dresses and a top to post, plus a dress for my daughter. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting. I’m posting on the WordPress android app, but I can’t figure out how to post more than one picture with it. Plus the pics I do have aren’t on my phone.

{April 17, 2011}   Not sure about blogging.

My posts have become so infrequent over the past year that the few readers I did have have probably moved on. Blogging about everything I sew has felt like a chore most of the time, and I don’t have any tutorials or impeccable construction photos to show you, so what point is there to post? This is the question I need to answer.

I did make some super cute coordinating dresses for my girls.  I will most likely post those after Easter when they make their debut.

Beyond that, I’m not sure. I have been sewing a lot more as of late, but I make mostly quick stuff that doesn’t warrant much commentary, and I have no intent to fish for compliments via an online brag book masked as a sewing blog.

If I do feel compelled to continue, I’ll likely focus on saving money on sewing projects, general commentary on sewing stuff, and life as part of a new blended family. 

We’ll see.

{April 17, 2010}   Relocated.

I have a house with 2 living rooms situated on opposite ends of the house.  I’ve been using one as a living room and the other as a sewing/craft room for the year and a half I’ve lived here.  However, it finally dawned on me that the reason I don’t sew as much as I could be is because that sewing/craft room is dreary and unwelcoming.  Because I’m under contract on a short sale and thus should be moving any day now, I’m not going to do anything to that room to make it welcoming.  Instead, I swapped my sewing furniture with 2 armchairs that were only used by the cats so I can sew in the living room.  This room has windows on 3 walls, plus this is the room I spend all my waking hours, so it should feel more comfortable than the other room.

Here’s what it looks like:

When I move, I’ll have “only” 1 living room, so everything will be in that room there as well.  It’s not “typical,” but when have I ever been typical??

I’m going to test it out now… I’ll let you know how it works out.

{April 10, 2010}   Where to find me

…. besides here, if you’re interested.  After reading Gigi’s post about Pattern Review, it really got me thinking.  For the last 7 years, I’ve faithfully reviewed almost every garment I’ve made there, hoping that it would help others.  I also enjoyed the feedback.  I’ve had a paid membership because I like the pattern catalog feature (a good way to see if any of my patterns had been reviewed.)  However…. There have been very few reviews that I’ve benefited from on PR in a very long time.  I find my commenters here, plus their blogs, much more helpful.  Also, after thinking it over, I’ve decided that I’m no longer comfortable with someone benefiting financially from content I provided.  At 356 pattern reviews, plus a dozen or so other types of reviews, I might actually have posted the most reviews of any member (if anyone has a way to find that out, let me know).  If it were a nonprofit community, I’d happily continue posting.

You can call me whatever you want, but this is how I feel.  I feel pretty strongly about this; I’ve also made a point of spending my career working for non-profits (with a few exceptions in college).  If I’m going to help a for-profit venture be successful, I expect to be compensated.  Therefore, I have begun to delete each of my reviews on PR.

I have set up an account at Stitcher’s Guild, and if I feel the desire to post on a message board, that’s where I’ll do it.

{January 16, 2010}   Update

Well, I don’t have any new sewing projects to show you, but I wanted to post an update.  For years now, I’ve been trying to figure out something I could make to sell that I wouldn’t mind making lots of.  I think I got something:

Sorry for the bad pic; I’m just now learning about the settings on my camera.  Stacy of Stacy Sews posted a link to You Can Make This on her blog, which I hadn’t heard of before.  Turns out they have lots of patterns and tutorials that you can download for a fee.  I found this e-book and ordered it.  It has all kinds of little hair clippie and headband instructions.  While I don’t seem to have the aptitude for the more complicated bows, I did make the basic styles  you see above.  It is so much fun!  And it’s not that repetitive because you can use an infinite number of ribbon combinations.  I priced them at $2 each and took them to work with me.  I barely mentioned their existence and made $24 in a week!  When I told my daughter I was making them to save money for a house, she told me she would make necklaces for the same cause!  She is such a thoughtful child!

I’ll be listing these on Etsy once I figure out what to call my store.  I have one set up as “Subversive Domestics and Jewelry” but it doesn’t seem to fit the baby clippies!  It’s a real bother to change your user name, which is part of your shop’s URL, and mine is subversivedomestics.

I have another idea of something to make, and I even got a coworker willing to partner with me on it.  It’s sewing related, which I normally wouldn’t be interested in for selling, but I think having a helper will make it fun to do.  I’ll share the details when the plans materialize.

Today I took advantage of the fab pattern sales at Hancock Fabrics and bought about a dozen of them!  One was the Vogue fitting shell that I’ve been forgetting to buy for the past several years.  I have some major fitting issues that I can’t identify, so I’m hoping this will help.  I read over the instructions, and it looks like I’ll need a helper for the measuring.  Since I’m seeing my mom tomorrow, I’ll ask her to do it.  Precise is not her thing, but I think if I can convince her it’s crucial in this endeavor she’ll be more careful in measuring.  Once that’s out of the way, I’ve got the 1/4″ checked gingham ready to go!  Stay tuned!

{December 30, 2009}   2009 Year in Review

I was inspired by all the year-end posts to do my own.  You can either interpret that as imitation=flattery or copying=lazy.  Your choice!

I didn’t set any formal goals, but I did set out to relearn how to install an invisible zipper.  I did one maybe 10 years ago and it turned out just fine, but for some reason it didn’t silence my fear of them.  I actually accomplished this, and now have a box of standard zippers I don’t know what to do with! I can’t use anything but invisibles now!

In 2010, I want to make either a bound buttonhole or a welt pocket, and make pants with a waistband that don’t look crappy.  I’d also say I want to learn how to fit a jacket, but I have no way of doing that since the books are not helping me.

I didn’t sew as much as I would’ve liked this year.  I’m not sure there’s one particular reason for this, but I’ve been picking up the pace lately.  It did help to get a lumbar support contraption for my chair.  My back gets sore if you look at it wrong.

My favorite garment I made was Vogue 8581, which I happened to cut another of last nite:

The garment I get the most compliments on is Simplicity 3833, which is my second version of it:

I also did a bit of home dec sewing this year, since I moved to a bigger house.  I love these pillows.  The appliques are from the sadly defunct Adorn magazine:

I made a total of 46 items this year.  Here’s the breakdown:

Aprons: 2

Dresses: 13

Pillows: 5

Slips: 1

Curtains: 2

Tops: 8

Skirts: 7

Bags: 2

Pants: 2

Cardigans: 2

Crafts: 2

Well, it’s not as bad as I thought- a little less than one item per week.  However, I’m hoping to do more this year.  And the year is not even over yet, and I cut out 5 garments last night, so I might be updating this post before the New Year!

{December 28, 2009}   Play Kitchen Set

This is not about sewing, but I have to share it with you anyway.  After seeing some homemade kitchen sets on the Ikea Hacker blog, I was inspired to make one for Sofia.  The problem is that I have no carpentry skills.  My friend’s husband kindly agreed to help.

He just happened to be getting rid of some old cabinets that we both agreed would be perfect as the base for a fridge and stove/sink unit:

Gary used some 2x4s and 1x4s to build a platform to raise the cabinet to a comfortable height.  He also had the idea to include a backsplash and upper shelf for small appliances.  There is also a shelf on the bottom for storage.  We continued working on the stove/sink unit first, starting with turning the left door 90 degrees to simulate an oven door.  Gary moved the door catch and tied a shoelace to 2 screws to prevent the door from opening too far.  Gary cut a hole in the door and placed a piece of plexiglas for a window.

For the counter, we got a premade laminate shelf, which saved ourselves a lot of work.  For the sink, I found a 9×9 brownie pan at Dollar General.  Gary used a jigsaw to cut a hole in the counter and attached the sink using clear caulk.  For the faucet, we used a PVC pipe from the electrical section at Home Depot.  It was gray, so I primed it and painted it white.  Gary had leftover wall board from his and Alicia’s kitchen remodel, and the pieces were the perfect size.

At this point, I started painting it.  I first primed the pieces with Krylon spray primer.  Then I used Krylon spray paint in Gumdrop (light purple) to paint the outside.  I felt the inside looked OK the way it was, but the shelves did get a little painted.  I  probably would  have painted the inside had it not been 4 days before Christmas!

Finally, the wallboard was glued and secured with a few finishing nails.  Gary drilled a big hole in it for the faucet, using an elbow joint type thing from the plumbing section at Home Depot to secure it in back.  For the burners, I measured and then traced circles with a peanut butter jar lid that was in their recycling bin- handy!  I used black paint, which was from a tester bottle of house paint.  I think I need to varnish over it, because it’s been scratching off.  The burner knobs were Attest knobs from Ikea, and were attached loosely to the backsplash so they could be turned.  Finally, the oven and cabinet handles (Lansa handles from Ikea) were attached.

Next, the fridge.

This piece underwent a big transformation.  First, The doors were removed and discarded.  I didn’t want 2 doors, and they had grooves in the front, so that wasn’t going to work.  Next, Gary cut some pieces of thin wood for the sides.  As you can see in the photo above, the edges of the wood stick out further from the side, so it’s not flush.  (I’m sure there’s a better way of explaining that, but I don’t know what it is.)  I primed the front edges while he did that.

I decided to paint the inside of the fridge because, unlike the other cabinet, the inside was pretty ugly.  To attach the shelves, Gary cut grooves in 2 pieces of wood and attached them to the insides.  You can see one of them in the photo on the right, above.  The paint made everything uniform.  The shelves just slid into place.

Besides my amusing cat, Mr. Bonkers, in the above photo you can see the shelves, plus the baskets on the door, which I found in the bathroom storage section at Ikea, for $2 each.  Gary attached 1x2s to the door to screw the baskets to, since the door was 1/4″ MDF and thus  too thin to screw things into.

We got it done on Christmas Eve and loaded everything into my Hyundai Santa Fe.  The next morning, Alicia and Gary came over so they could see Sofia’s reaction as she saw her present.  I was very appreciate of Gary’s help.  He actually told me that he really enjoyed building it!

And below is Sofia with “Miss Alicia” and “Mr. Gary.”

{November 14, 2009}   What a haul!

The local Dillard’s is closing, so I decided to go take a look.  I haven’t been able to go clothes shopping in probably a year due to finances, but I had a small amount of money and my wardrobe has dwindled to little more than dresses and t-shirts.  So, I went.

Boy, what a great sale!!!!  I got clothes I otherwise could not afford.  I have to share:

009Buffalo by David Bitton knit top, MSRP $69, paid $10.35

010Kenneth Cole blouse, MSRP $59, paid $8.85

012Michael Kors rayon knit top, MSRP $69.50, paid $10.20

013Michael Kors cotton jacket, MSRP $159.50, paid $23.92.  Check those MK buttons!!

014Kenneth Cole Knit top, MSRP $59, paid $8.85

015Design History viscose knit top, MSRP $49, paid $9.99
Steve Madden sunglasses, MSRP $40, paid $6

016Kensie cardigan sweater, MSRP $68, paid 10.20

011Michael Kors silk blouse, MSRP $89.50, paid 13.42

This is some of the nicest clothes I’ve ever owned.  In fact, the last time I had nice stuff like this was when I worked at Marshall Field’s department store in college.  And that silk top above is the first silk garment I’ve owned in ages.  I know that clothes shouldn’t make me this happy, but it’s just so nice to have some things that fit me, and I can’t sew fast enough to make a whole wardrobe, especially since my size keeps changing all the time.

{September 6, 2009}   Espanol

I signed out the Rosetta Stone software from work, and started it today.  So far, I really like the program.  It’s much less intimidating than First Semester Spanish was in college.  (I dropped it after a week!)  I got pretty far on unit 2, but it was hard!  I’m going to do it over.  Strange thing is, I can’t remember anything I learned!!!  That’s why this post’s title isn’t anything clever.  But I’m going to keep working at it.  It’s really important to me because Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group, and a significant portion of that population speaks Spanish only.  I don’t want to be cut off from such as large number of people, especially being a social worker in a county with a large Hispanic population.

So, maybe next time I post, I’ll be able to write something in Spanish!

Well, I’m ‘feast or famine’ when it comes to posting, aren’t I?  Anyhow, I picked up the latest issue of Threads and quickly paged through it.  There’s an article “reviewing” patternmaking software.  I’d like to draw your attention to pages 32 and 33, pictured below:


Now I have very little fitting knowledge, but even I can tell that the fit of this shirt is atrocious!!  There was no indication that the author of the article felt this was a BAD fit, but this definitely doesn’t convince me to buy the $399 software!

{April 4, 2009}   Happy Birthday, Sofia!

My daughter Sofia turned 5 on April 2!  It’s so exciting how much she can do and comprehend with each year.  All of her options are open; she can become anything she wants.  This year we continued our new tradition of going to Lowry Park Zoo, but this year Grandma came along too!  We ate at Sweet Tomatoes afterward, which we all love.  This afternoon was her “kid party” with friends from school and a couple family friends.  I was very nervous because I’d never thrown a party before and it was at my house!  But everything turned out well and everyone had fun!  No one cried, and no one died, so that’s success 🙂

Here is the cake I made.  It’s based on a cake from Taste of Home magazine (I’ll be happy to scan it and email it upon request).  It’s a “Candy Land cake” and it was a blast!


And here are some “pupcakes” that my mom and Sofia decorated (based on a Family Circle recipe):


Before you think I was so focused on the treats that I ignored Sofia…. my mom took all the party pictures and hasn’t emailed them to me yet! 🙂  So, here’s a picture of Sofia riding a camel at the zoo!


et cetera