Month: July 2013

calling all chicago sewing folks

(If you even exist?) ANYWAY – I just found out that Groupon is offering a deal to my most favorite fabric store in the Chicago area* – Textile Discount Outlet!  The coupon is $20 for $40 worth of merchandise.

The store itself is ENORMOUS and has a ridiculous inventory.  If you’re looking for hip quilting cotton prints (or just super hip prints in general), this probably isn’t the store for you.  The store stays pretty close to its outlet name with cheap prices, but has some good apparel and specialty fabric (sooooo many sequins and ruffles and strange spandex prints).  Their affordability + the Groupon (which I bought for the first time last year) really helped me branch into apparel fabrics beyond quilting cotton – thank goodness.

The link to the Groupon can be found here. I’m not sure for how much longer it will be available, but I thought I’d alert people to its existence while it lasted.  Happy sewing!

*I’m not receiving any compensation for promoting this store/Groupon – I just think this is a good deal I wanted to share with y’all (:

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birthday festivities

What a weekend it’s been – my last totally free days before second year starts, US Secret Classics (I am not at all ashamed to admit I am a huge gym fan), knitting, cleaning, and last but definitely not least – David’s birthday!  I don’t enjoy my own birthday, but I love celebrating others’ special days – mostly because it means I get to make fun handmade stuff (:

Another reason I get so excited about David’s birthday (besides the fact that, you know, I kinda like him) is CHEESECAKE.  I love having an excuse to bake and eat this delicious creation (recipe here).  I really recommend using this – it’s been our birthday treat of choice many times over.  This time I didn’t have any sour cream so I substituted nonfat Greek yogurt (soooo healthy, I know) and it actually made the cheesecake very light and fluffy in a good way.

To make up for not giving David a really cool handmade gift, I also made this thing (seen on Little Baby Garvin and reproduced with a six pack, a grocery bag and some mailing tape) and filled it with Trader Joe’s hot sauces and supplemented a delicious beer from our favorite brewery just down the street. Mmmm.

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a product of my sewing frenzy

Hi all.  Remember how I basically fell off the face of the internetty earth for two weeks?  It was because I haven’t yet fully mastered the art of balancing blogging with making things for the blog.  Here’s something I actually managed to make (in FIVE DAYS, which is just record time for me) – Simplicity 1873!  Sorry for the blurry iPhone photo, but David and I are terrible at remembering to take photos of ourselves.  It looks a bit wrinkly, but that’s what happens after a very sweaty dinner + cab ride and a few glasses of wine.

reunion1Even though it gave me some trouble, I loved this pattern.  Since the fabric I chose to use was the nicest fabric I had ever purchased (and I only had JUST enough to make the dress), I decided to make a muslin of the bodice first just to check the fit.  I was really pleased I had done that because the original size was too small for me to have zipped and still breathe. Feeling very clever and proactive, I cut out a size larger around the waist only to discover that the bodice was now comically large on me.  I ended up taking it in quite a bit and also shortening the shoulder straps considerably because the bust darts were quite saggy for my shorter torso.  Conclusion? I need a dress form.

All struggles aside, I was so happy with this dress.  The cotton sateen was a delight to sew and I am now resisting the urge to break my nonexistent bank and buy all the sateen I can get my hands on.  I’ll definitely be using this pattern again – possibly the bodice pattern + a modified skirt pattern to recreate one of my all-time favorite Mad Men dresses: Peggy’s peekaboo pleat dress.

looking a little beady-eyed

I can’t help but feel a little sad that I’ve reached the end of my last summer break.  At the same time, I feel incredibly satisfied with how I’ve spent my vacation.  Of course, knitting and sewing took up a lot of my time, but I also tried some new things!  A few weeks ago I started an adult gymnastics class – twice a week I go to a gym and bounce around on mats with other like-minded bouncy adults.  I love it and I think I’m going to continue until third year.

I also have been trying out some new stuff in the crafty department. I just had my first glass beadmaking class at Lillstreet Art Center!  I’ve been very fascinated with glasswork ever since I was young and read an article about Dave Chihuly and fell in love with his bizarre, exuberant pieces.  I even wanted to be a glassblower for a period of time (and here I am in medical school…).  At art fairs, it was impossible to tear me away from the beadmaking booths.  Last month I was cleaning up some craft supplies and saw a few handmade beads.  One thing led to another, and I ended up registering for a class on a whim!

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my first (lopsided) beads!

We’ve mostly just gone over the basics so far – the history, tools, materials, and a little bit of science behind the beads.  Once I (sort of) got the hang of the basic round bead, I played with some shapes and even tried some polka dots!  Of course, my ambitions for this class run from pretty normal (learn how to do spirals and improve my polka dots) to comically ambitious (make chickens and jellyfish).  We’ll see how it turns out! (:

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playing with polka dots and color

(late) WIP wednesday: more juggling

But first, a story!  Once upon a time, I started knitting.  Shortly afterward, my boyfriend (at that time unaware of how long it took my novice hands to make anything) volunteered me to make two scarves (for his mom and grandma) for Christmas, with just a little under a month to knit them.  At the time I was also a bit overloaded with schoolwork and extracurriculars. Cue the panic attack – it was terrible.  Fast forward to two years later, I’ve created my own Christmas to-do list that makes those two scarves look like child’s play.

In order to prevent the feverish knitting and near-breakdowns (read: actual breakdowns while knitting at 3AM for the third night in a row), I started early.  Like two weeks ago early.  I’ve also decided to do some mass production of cowls in order to reduce the insanity that would be knitting eighteen separate gifts.

  • Tuesday Night Cowl – This is one of my mass production project of choice – I think I’ve got somewhere between six and eight of these planned for gifts.  I’m just finishing up my second one right now.                                       Slide4
  • Cowboy Booties – A friend requested knitted cowboy booties for her baby, due in December.  I couldn’t help but oblige, especially since the Giddy Up pattern is so cute!  I had one side of one boot all the way done but I realized the cables were a bit wonky, so…ribbit?  The pointy toe looks cute at least (: Slide5
  • Hunger Games cowl – I’m still fairly early on this project and nowhere near the experimental portion, but things are progressing nicely (:      Slide3

copykat(niss) part 1 – sketching and such

Not too long ago, Rachel posted a rather inspiring call to action on her blog.  She had seen the new Catching Fire promotional posters, and Katniss was wearing a very interesting (and also very tempting) cowl.  After reading her post and all of the excited comments, this was a project I just couldn’t pass up.

I know that I’m not alone in this endeavor – a few other blogs are doing the same project, and it’s a safe bet that a pattern is brewing somewhere in the depths of Ravelry at this very moment.  Regardless, here’s what I’ve come up with so far!  If I don’t lose my knitting mojo and I like what I create, I’ll put up a full pattern here/on Ravelry for everyone to use.

Yarn selection: Being poor and inexperienced, I chose a bulky acrylic yarn (Knit Picks Brava).  I really wanted this to be soft (hence the acrylic over Wool of the Andes), but I don’t have the cash to shell out for a super-soft bulky yarn in a natural fiber.  The warmth wasn’t as much of an issue for me as I see this item as more of an accessory that you’d wear over long sleeves anyway, not so much as a protection from the winter elements.

Pattern design: Hoo boy. I spent quite a bit of time with my nose 3in away from the computer screen for this one.  From the poster, I would say that the top bit of the cowl looks crocheted.  However, I don’t know how to crochet and at this time I am 100% unwilling to learn (too many hobbies, too little time).

Instead, I decided to fake it and knit something ribbed in the round to create a vertical orientation of vv knit stitches.

I haven’t 100% figured out the body of the cowl yet.  In order to create the diagonal rib appearance, I think I’ll start with really short rows and gradually increase with right- and left-leaning stitches.  I’ll create two right triangles and then seam them on to the bottom of the cowl.  They’ll be fastened by toggles or buttons.

Right now I have the beginnings of the cowl – just a few rounds.  I’m super excited to keep working and see what happens!