Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Refashion to Doll Clothes Round Up

I am participating in Refashion Month on House of Estrela this week.

The kids aren't the only ones who need a knew summer wardrobe. This year we are refashioning for the dolls! Check out my favorite doll clothes refashioning tutorials from around the web. Try one or try them all and have the most stylish doll around. Because your refashioning instead of buying new, you will also be helping your kids learn to be frugal and environmentally friendly without a single lecture. Enjoy!

1. Don't throw away the scraps from all those cut off shorts. Denim is a valuable resource. Among other things you can make a pair of doll jeans with this tutorial from Our American Dolls.
2. With all the new clothes you'll be making for your doll, your going to need to accessorize as well. Try making this duffle bag from an old tote bag. You can find the tutorial at Obsessively Stitching.
3. No summer wardrobe is complete without a romantic maxi skirt. Try out this tutorial from Sews N Bows.
4. T shirts are the most used item in any summer wardrobe. Make sure your doll is has plenty of them with this tutorial form Nest Full of Eggs.
5. My favorite thing to wear with a tee is a pair of yoga pants. Use this tutorial from Peachy Tuesday to give your doll some comfy lounge wear.
6. My girls will try to wear skirts, long after they've become to short. Here's one option to get rid of those skirts while keeping the girls happy from Doll It Up.
7. Are you looking to make a full matching outfit for your dolls. Try this skirt and top from Sew Mama Sew.
8. Every summer wardrobe needs a swimsuit to be complete. Turn last years swimsuit into this years with this tutorial from XOXO Grandma.
9. Last but not least your going to need to accessorize. Make a pair of doll tights from knee socks with a tutorial form AG Doll Crafts.

Which tutorial do you want to try? Do you have a favorite doll refashion project, I haven't mentioned yet?

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Story of Alice

It was one of the last garage sale's we stopped at this memorial day weekend. By the time we had arrived they had already started marking the item's they didn't want to haul back inside as free. The kids picked out a few movies and stuffed animal's and I grabbed a few bed sheets to use as fabric.

The distracted lady who was holding the sale offhandedly mentioned that they had more item's for sale inside the garage.

There you were in the back corner of the garage, camouflaged behind a sea of nick-knacks and cloaked in dust. My heart skipped a beat for a second. What an odd looking dress form you were. Some sort of wire cage with a pin-able form on top. You had large gaps between your sections and what looked like an on/off water valve on your top. I had to have you. 

My finger grievously counted the remaining four dollars in my pocket, and it seemed that all hope was lost. I turned to my sister and said, "I wish I could afford that."

My sister, who is still young enough to be optimistic about most things, but old enough to carry a debit card asked the sales lady how much it would cost us to take you home. "I don't know, the sales lady responded, how much will you give me for it."

I've never been a good negotiator, Alice. I must apologize, because I thought I had lost you for a moment when I stupidly blurted out. "I don't think I can afford it."

Thank God my optimistic sister was there to save the day, with her quick response and cash on hand. "I'll give you $20."

The sales lady paused for a moment. She was thinking about it. She didn't know much about sewing, or dress forms, but I could tell she wanted to free up the space in her garage. "Sounds good." She responded.

And then I started breathing again. I hadn't realized I was holding my breath, but it's a good thing she responded when she did, or else I might have passed out.

I took you home with me, and had to wait a full night and half of the next day before I could find the time to really get to know you. I found over a dozen wing nuts on your inner cage that made you more adjustable than any modern dress form. You also have a large key like mechanism that lets me adjust your height up and down. You can even become a table top form. You have bones of cast iron and solid wood. No wonder your still in great shape at your age.

And then I turned to Google, to learn as much about your past as I could. I learned that you are most likely a tailors form from the 1940's, and that you are a bit hard to find these days. A lot of people are looking for you as decor pieces, and they would pay well over $20 to have you. But you don't have to worry about any of that Alice. You're not going anywhere. You're home now, and I will not let you become some boring old decor piece. We have work to do. We are going to make beautiful things together.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Lost Sewing Groove

Does anybody else stop at the lost and found after every school concert you attend? I do, and almost always collect some sort of treasure. Usually a glove or hat to complete a matching set. You know the one that mysteriously disappeared even though nobody will admit to actually loosing it.

The same thing happens with my sewing groove. I don't remember misplacing it, but somehow it's just not there anymore. Maybe I should check the lost and found.

The Steps I Take to Find my Groove

1. Give yourself permission to take a break

Usually when I loose my groove I stop sewing for a little while, but I feel guilty about it. There is no reason for that. Sewing is my hobby, not my job. I don't owe it to anybody to sit down and sew every day.

According to ProBlogger, creative minds crave rest. So take a break and let your mind rest. Whether you need a day a week or a month is up to you and nobody else.

2. Read all about it, but not to much

If you are a sewing blogger, you most likely have an email inbox or RSS feed that is overflowing with blog posts to read and comment on. I am sure that they are 100% worth the effort, but they can wait. At the moment you are on a sewing vacation, so pick out a list of  your top 5 blogs to read daily. The ones that you look forward to the most. These are your pleasure reading blogs. For me they are:

Coletterie - It's like hanging out with a sewing mentor
Sews and Bows - She shares my love of sewing doll clothes and incredibly friendly
Melly Sews - Tons of inspiration and tutorials
Simple Simon and Co - Great to read, excellent writing style. It's like having a laid back conversation with a friend about sewing, and mothering, and life in general.
Karen Mom of Three Craft Blog - More doll clothes and crafts. All things doll related

3. Clear away the clutter

There is nothing I hate more than cleaning my house. I can't think of anything worse. But it is a proven fact that a creative mind can't function as well in a cluttered environment. Spend a day decluttering your creative space. Even a small improvement in clutter can give you a big boost in creativity.

4. Find the perfect jump start project

Your criteria for a perfect jump start project will most likely be different than mine, but there are a few things that will work well for most people.

  • Fun and not to frustrating
  • Include a new skill (new experiences cause the brain to create dopamine) 
  • Something that you want to make and not something that you were asked to make
  • Can be completed in less than a day and provide instant gratification
A few more criteria that are specific to me
  • No fitting required
  • Includes hand sewing
  • Small enough to fit in a bag and take with me
This time I chose to make a travel sewing kit from Sew for Home. I just loved how well it fit with all of my criteria, and it was something just for me, so I didn't worry about imperfections. In fact I think imperfections add character to this project. 

How do you find your sewing groove when it gets lost?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tough Choices

Browsing Etsy is a perilous hobby. I could easily spend a month's worth of income and still wouldn't be able to order everything I want. The latest risk to my financial stability comes in the form of window shopping indie patterns. I could fill a book with my wishlist. With a significant amount of effort and only a tiny bit of pouting, I've managed to narrow it down to just two shops for now, but I still can't choose which patterns to try from those shops.

What do you say? Could you help a girl out? All you have to do is choose your favorite pattern from each of the poles below. Then I'll do the rest.

First up is the Handmaiden's Cottage

I need the petticoat dress pattern. I am planning to make Bella's birthday dress with it. But there are two options to buy to get a little something extra with it. I could get the dolly and me version and make a matching doll dress, or I could go with the Petticoat and Pinafore and make her birthday dress a little more special. Which one would you choose?
Handmaiden's Cottage
pollcode.com free polls 

Genniewren specializes in doll clothes patterns and has a fun whimsical feel to all of there items. I want everything from this store, but for now I'll settle for the top choice (or maybe top two choices)
pollcode.com free polls 
In order of appearance: Dora Girl and Doll Dress, Sorrell Dropped Waist Dress, Carla Coat, Knit Basics, Rosie Romper

Please help me decide. It's just to many choices. Thanks a lot. I'll check the results of the poll at the end of the month and show you what I made from the patterns soon after!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Signature Style : Casual Romance

Bella's style, and my favorite style to sew is romantic. But of course, flowing dresses and skirts alone, only make up a small portion of her wardrobe. The rest of the time we have to put a more casual spin on things.
I also managed to check floral shorts and a ruffle front tank top off of Bella's Spring/Summer 2014 sewing list list
I used Greenstyle's Baily Tunic pattern for the top. The pattern includes a bib, but I decided not to use it. I also changed the ruffle up a bit and took in the armholes which were a bit droopy. The fabric is Vivacious Pink Solid Cotton Spandex fabric from Girl Charlee. It was my first time ordering from there and I was ecstatic with the results. The shipping was fast and quality was extraordinary. Customer service was incredible as well. I will definitely be ordering from them again.

The shorts were made from a stretch woven fabric in my stash. It was gifted to me a while ago with a few other stretch wovens and some quilting cottons. I used Oliver + S's sketchbook shorts pattern, shortened by about 4 inches. I used a flat front and elastic in the back with a faux fly.

My favorite part is this little bird by the pocket.

I'm always a little sad to see Signature Style Week on Project Run and Play because it means another season is at an end. I can't wait for next season to start, but in the meantime I'll be getting ready for Project Sewn.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Totes for Ta-tas

I was feeling kind of crappy this weekend. My old pain decided to flair up on me. I really wanted to finish sewing my a top for Project Run and Play, but the tracing and cutting was to much to take on. Instead I focused on a project that was already cut, and had been sitting in a pile waiting to be sewed.

MJ of  MJ's Lost Cause has set a goal of collecting 100 handmade tote bags by Mother's Day. She has asked for embellishments to be added as well, but in my current state I was only able to embellish one of my five bags. I plan to add a pretty pin to the other four before shipping them out. I also dug deep into my fabric stash to find the best stuff that I had been holding onto for something special.

Two of the Bags are reversible

 Reverse Side of Hearts Bag

Reverse Side of Pink Zebra Bag

It's very rare that my family agrees on anything, but we did make a unanimous decision that floral bag was our favorite.

If you happen to have some free time (the bags take less than an hour each to make) and some spare fabric you can make a couple yourself. For every five bags you make you can pick one free pattern from  Sew Like My Mom. You also get the chance to make someone who is feeling crappy (like me) feel a little bit happier. The bags are needed by Mother's Day (including shipping time to Texas) so you have a few weeks left. I could barely walk across the house this weekend, but managed to get five bags sewn. It really is an easy project.

If you are looking to do some other crafty good deeds check out my Pinterest board. I try to update it every time I see something new. If you know of any charitable crafting projects let me know in the comments section and I'll add them to the board.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wardrobe Planning Spring 2014

I've been grabbing every spare second I can to get some sewing done this week, but sadly I still have nothing to show you. In the meantime I do have some wardrobe plans to share with you.

I use wardrobe planning to help me decide what to sew, and what to buy. The ultimate goal is to develop a functional wardrobe that reflects my own personal style.

First up is my own Spring Wardrobe. I've been following along with The Colleterie's Wardrobe Architech Series. Below are the results of weeks worth of planning. 

To Buy: 
  • Black Velvet Flats
  • Mint Sneakers
  • Cream Art Sneakers or Sandles
  • Oatmeal Crocheted Cardigan
  • Princess Seam Denim Jacket
  • Cuffed Denim Capri 
  • Aqua V-Neck Tee (I could make it, but I really love the one I picked out)
To Make:
  • Ombre or Tie Dye Hoodie
  • Extra Large Print Sheath Dress
  • Black Lace Embellished Camisole 
  • Dark Blue Open Knit Hoodie
  • Red Short Sleeve Wrap Top
  • Aqua Camisole
  • Aqua Trumpet Mini Skirt (My favorite!)
  • Red Cuffed Shorts
  • Denim Cuffed Shorts
  • Black Wrap Dress
It seems like a lot of new pieces to add to a wardrobe in a single season, but I actually own very little that I love to wear, so I need a lot. Of course I probably won't get half through the list by the end of the season, but it is a place to start. 

I also designed a Spring Wardrobe for each of the girls. In the past I have had the girls pin items that the liked to there Lookbooks on Pinterest and used them to find inspiration when sewing for them. 

This time I took a slightly different approach. I had them each spend a day browsing the internet for their favorite things, an activity they both loved. They clipped hundreds of  items they liked to their own Polyvore collection. Then they were each able to pick one favorite item that would definitely be in their finished set. I used that piece as a starting point for their wardrobe and edited down there picks and added a few of my own ideas to make a complete collection.

Let's start with my girly girl Bella. Her wardrobe includes a lot of white, which makes me nervouse for a girl who loves to play in the mud. We'll have to save those pieces for special occasions.

To Buy:
  • Aqua Sandles
  • Tan Cowgirl Boots (Her Favorite)
To Make:

  • White lace trimmed Cardigan
  • Pink Blazer with White Trim
  • Purple Ballerina Wrap
  • Aqua A line T shirt
  • Feather and Leather Pony Tie
  • Pink Ruffle Tank - completed
  • White Tank with Pastel Print
  • White Camisole with Pink Lace Trim
  • Purple Twirl Skirt
  • White Capri with Aqua Ruffles or Bows
  • Floral Shorts - completed
  • Tan Equestrienne Leggings
  • Purple Flowy Ruffly Dress

And Finally Ashley. She chose a girly punk rock style, with lots of animal prints. Since She doesn't wear dresses I added a few extra accessories to her wardrobe to dress it up a bit. 

To Buy:

  • Leopard Print Flats
  • Silver Sandles
  • Unicorn Cuff Bracelet 
To Make:
  • Open Knit Mint Crop Top
  • Mint Panda High Low Top (Ashley's Favorite, might be moved to they buy list)
  • Mint or Purple Slouchy Cardigan 
  • Black Open Knit Top
  • Simple Purple Fitted Tee
  • Black and Leopard Heart Tank with Ruffles
  • Purple or Black Camisole
  • Zebra Print Yoga Capri
  • Black Sequence Shorts
  • Leopard Print Leggings
  • Black Harem Pants
  • Purple and Silver Fold Over Elastic Hair Ties
  • Silver Hand Bag
So that's it for the girls in our family. I have never done any wardrobe planning for the boys, mostly because they don't have (or want) a defined style. I might attempt it in the future, but for now I'll just stick to planning for the girls. 

Have you ever planned out your sewing for the season, or do you just sew what feel like making as you go along? If you have planned do you find it easy or difficult to stick to your plan?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mackinac Island Lounge Wear

I don't think I've ever mentioned that my favorite flower is a lilac, with lilies coming in as a close second, so it was easy to choose a dream Spring Break destination to inspire my week 2 Project Run and Play look. Mackinac Island in Michigan is known for being covered from end to end with lilacs. Every spring they host an annual lilac festival to celebrate the coming of 
spring, and I would love to be able to attend one year.

Keeping with the spirit of  serenity and relaxation that comes to mind when I'm daydreaming about the island, I chose to make lounge wear inspired by the color of lilacs.

The pants were cut out of a thrifted skirt with the perfect flowey drape and silky hand for the project. I used the front and back pants pieces from the Peek  A Boo Patterns Convertible Pants pattern and eliminated all of the bells and whistles except for the back pocket flaps. I added my own pockets to the back as well and finished the pants with french seams.

While I'm daydreaming about vacations I also dream that this girl will one day smile in a picture!

For the top, I used the beachy boatneck pattern once again, sewing it one size larger this time and adding in the basket weave (tutorial here). The texture of the knit fabric feels like running your finger along a rose petal. I wish I had saved some to make myself a matching set.

I'm glad that I chose to sew lounge wear because it filled a void in Ashley's wardrobe. It's been raining all week so she had no trouble getting into the spirit of lounging as you can see from the picture. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Basket Weave Sleeve Tutorial

Hello again!

Today I'm showing you how I made my basket weave sleeve. I used the Beachy Boatneck pattern by Blank Slate Patterns (affiliate link), but this tutorial will work with any flat insert sleeve pattern you have in your stash. If your skilled with a seam ripper, you could even take apart an existing shirt to add a sleeve insert. You will follow the same steps for either knit or woven fabric, but a bit more patience is required when working with knits to prevent any warping of your fabric.
Step One: Prepare your pattern. Trim 3/4 of an inch off of the long edge of the sleeve pattern piece.
Step Two: Cut your fabric. Instead of cutting on the fold, you will cut two separate pattern pieces for each sleeve.
Step Three: Create your paper guide. Cut a strip of paper 2 inches by the length of the sleeve edge. You will most likely have to tape an extra scrap of paper to the bottom to get your desired length. I recommend paper tape which will tear easier when we remove the paper from the sleeve. Use a quilting square or a ruler to create your grid. You can save some time by making a photo copy for your second guide.
Step Four: Cut and fold your strips. You could make tubes, but that generally leads to warping with knit fabric. Another option is to fold them like bias tape which is what I did. I cut my strips to a one inch width, and then folded the edges so they met in the middle. I then folded them in half lengthwise to hide the raw edges and pressed them closed. I used twelve 8 inch strips to make a size 7. You will also need two extra strips long enough to make a sleeve binding.
Step Five: Create your weave. Use your paper guide to arrange the strips of fabric in a basket weave pattern. Let the strips hang over a little to be sure they get caught in the seam. You can trim them back later. Play around with space between strips. You may prefer a tighter or looser weave. Pin the weave to your paper at each intersection.

Next you will sew it to the paper. Sew slowly along each strip. Stop just before the needle reaches each intersection. Remove the pin and gently guide the fabric under the needle by hand so that neither of the strips get folded over. This is the part that makes this project take so long, but it is necessary so that your weave can keep it's beautiful shape.
Step Six: Attach your weave to the sleeve. With right sides together pin the shirt sleeve to the paper and weave. Sew along the edge with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Repeat with the other half of the sleeve.
Step Seven: Finish the sleeve. Turn both sides of the sleeve to the right side and top stitch close to the edge.
Step Eight: Follow the pattern instructions to insert the sleeve with the paper still attached. Once the sleeve is secured tear away the paper guide. Most of it should come off easily because of the perforations from the needle, but there may be a few areas (such as the double stitching along the edge) where you are left with scraps. Don't force the paper off or you risk pulling up stitches. Instead wait until your top is finished and soak it in warm water. The scraps should pull off more easily.

Once the sleeve is attached you can trim the excess off the ends of the strips. Also check your facing to make sure it doesn't show. If it does you can trim that back as well.
Step Nine: Apply the two remaining folded strips of fabric to your sleeve ends. Use a zigzag stitch and be sure to catch both sizes of the binding. You may want to pin the ends of the weave in place so that they don't shift while you sew them into the binding. Trim the ends and finish the shirt according to the pattern directions.

That's all you get to see for now. I'll reveal the finished shirt with the rest of my Spring Break look next week when I post in on the Project Run and Play sew along.

Have fun with the tutorial. Try different widths and tighter or looser weaves to get a custom look. Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beachy Boatneck Pattern Flip : Basket Weave Sleeves

This month's flip this pattern project was the Beachy boatneck. I fell in love with the design almost instantly and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this pattern. I just wasn't sure if I had the skills to do it.

I had to try a few different methods before a found one that worked well for me and the look I wanted. What ended up working best was creating an insert first, by sewing it to a sheet of printing paper and then sewing it into the sleeve. I also used and extra strip from the weave to create a sleeve binding. I couldn't be happier with the final results and more importantly Ashley loves it too.

I think this may even be one of her favorite shirts now. I choose projects based on what I want to sew, but I can't tell you how great it feels when the kids love something homemade as much as, or more than there favorite store bought clothes.

When I started this shirt I was planning on it being a muslin, but before I was even half way through I knew that it was going to be a keeper. It's cut from an over sized sleep shirt that I was gifted about 5 years a go and never wore.

Even though this shirt didn't stay a muslin, I am still planning to make one more for a Project Run and Play Sew Along. I'll be going up one size just so she has a little bit of room to grow into it. I'll also take some in progress pictures this time, so that I can post a full tutorial. Fair Warning. This is not a quick and easy project. While the Beachy Boatneck pattern goes together so easily on it's own, adding the basket weave insert can take a couple of hours per sleeve.

I think it was well worth the amount of time put into it and I am looking forward to doing it again. It's always fun to learn new skills and I would much rather spend a full day making a shirt that she loves, rather than a half hour making something that will get worn once or twice.

Monday, March 17, 2014

5 Minute Tulip Skirt for 18 Inch Dolls : Free Doll Clothes Sewing Tutorial

Here is the tutorial I promised for a quick and easy skirt for your 18 inch dolls. You can make the skirt with left over scraps of any knit fabric. I like to use an old T shirt. In order to make this skirt work with the least amount of fabric, making it a perfect scrap project I omit seam finishes that won't show on the outside. Because we are using knit you don't have to worry about fraying.


  • Knit Fabric Scrap: 13 inches wide by 5 inches for a mini skirt. Add one inch for knee length or 2 inches for below the knee.
  • 11.5 inches of 1/2 in. elastic
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Any standard sewing machine with an adjustable zigzag stitch.
Step One: Turn 3/4 of an inch of fabric to the wrong side and stitch in place. This will become your elastic casing. 

 Step 2: Insert elastic into casing and stitch ends in place.

 Step 3: With right sides together fold skirt in half and stitch closed with a quarter inch seam allowance. This will become the center back seam. Trim ends of elastic.

 Step 4: Complete the skirt with a lettuce hem. A lettuce edge can be done with a standard sewing machine as long as you can adjust the width of your zigzag stitch. Practice on a piece of scrap if you have never done this before. You will see that you can adjust the size of the waves by adjusting the amount that you stretch the fabric as you sew. You will want to clean your machine out as soon as you are done, because this technique always seems to leave a ton of lint behind.

  • Set you machine to a long tight zigzag stitch
  • Start sewing at the center back seam
  • Line the fabric up so the stitch reaches right to the edge of the hem but does not go over or cause the fabric to curl in on itself as you sew
  • Stretch the fabric while you are sewing
  • When you reach the center back seam where you started you can stop or go over it one more time to fill in any missed areas.

 Step 5: Try your new skirt on your doll

Thanks for checking out my tutorial. Doll clothes are my favorite thing to sew and I planning to add more tutorials for both doll clothes and matching girl and doll outfits in the future. Check out my archives in the meantime. If you would like to see more subscribe to my blog via your favorite method. 

Feel free to post a link in the comments section if you want to share a picture or blog post of what you made using this tutorial. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Dresses for 18 inch Dolls

The great thing about this holiday day is that you can make absolutely anything green and call it St. Patty's Day outfit. So this week I gathered up some green from my stash and sewed up a couple of good luck dresses for our dolls. 

Mia (the dark haired doll) is quickly becoming one of my favorite dolls to photograph I just love her features and the range of motion in her head that you don't get with the American Girls Dolls. If only I could get the pen marks off of her face. I would love some tips for getting ink off of dolls without damaging the paint if anyone knows any.

Her Dress is made from a thrifted T-shirt that has been sitting in my refashion pile for over a year now. I was originally drawn to the beautiful shade of green and the darling little hearts, but unfortunately I didn't think about the the complete lack of recovery in the fabric, so the dress may not last very long before it becomes completely misshapen. Sadly the tights are destined for the same fate. They are made with a cheap rib knit that I picked up from a local discount store, and also has no recovery.

Despite the problems with the fabric, I do love the pattern. I used Eden Ava Couture's Peppermint Snow Pattern for the dress and tights, as well as the shirt on the second doll.

Caroline's tulip skirt was made using leftover scraps from the dress. This is one of my favorite doll skirts to make and it only takes about 5 minutes. Keep checking back. I'll post a tutorial soon so you can make your own 5 minute tulip skirts for your dolls. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Realistic Look At Turning Your Hobby Into a Business or What I Learned from Working On A Boat

If you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Sounds like wise advice. To bad it’s a load of crap.

Of course you’ll work. It’s a job. It will always be something you have to do, even when you’re not in the mood, when you’d rather be doing something else that you also love to do. Whether you do this job for someone else or work for yourself it is still an obligation that you have to complete in order to support yourself.

Chances are that you will only love part of the job, but you will have to complete other tasks as well.

An Example:

I once had a job where I worked on a boat. It was a neat little Air Boat similar to the one in the picture above but bigger. It had a flat bottom so it could go where no other boats could reach, and a Chevy 350 big block engine that made it faster than most of the other boats on the water. This boat was bad ass, at least by Pennsylvania standards. Most people in the area had never seen a boat like ours because they were made for navigating swamps in the south. Everyone, and I mean everyone who saw this boat wanted to ride on it, but they couldn't. Only I could, because I was the lucky son of a gun who got paid to do it.

I loved that job. But it was still work. In order to get to the point where I could go out and cruise around the lake on a gorgeous summer day I had to do all kinds of other stuff first, including get my tired tush out of bed at 6:00 am and drive the kids to the babysitter so someone else could witness all of their milestones like first steps, first words, first high fever and such. 

Once I got to work I had to do inventory and load hundreds of pounds worth of chemicals onto the boat and truck. Occasionally I had to drive the truck towing a boat through insane traffic and terrifying narrow allies with less than an inch of space on either side.

There were other people in this truck. People who liked to listen to country music and only country music on long 4 hour trips across the state day after day. And people who had colds and coughed and sneezed there germs in the tiny shared space, all but guaranteeing I would be sick within a week.

If I wasn't sure that my mother would most likely read this post, I could tell you a rather unflattering story about the day I learned that boats and hangovers don’t mix. It was a lesson that my boss made sure to teach me, and I’m fairly certain she chose the most amusing teaching method she could think of.

At the end of every single day the boat had to be unloaded and scrubbed down. Empty chemical bottles had to be tripled rinsed and prepared for disposal, and paperwork had to be filled out and turned in.

Once my husband got the bright idea to surprise me by renting a boat for a holiday weekend. I was horrified. I finally get away from work for three whole days and he wants me to spend it doing the exact same thing that I do every single day!

Despite all that I still loved the job. Just because you love your work doesn't magically transform it from work to a hobby that you get paid for.

What’s the point of all of this you ask. How does that relate to starting your own sewing business?

  1.     Sewing will only be a small part of your business. At least half, if not more of your time will be taken up by the various everyday tasks of running a business. Including but not limited to paperwork, bookkeeping, marketing, and customer service. Even after your business has become so successful that you can hire help you will still have to oversee most of these tasks yourself because you will be the one responsible if something goes wrong.
  2. It will take up your time. There may be a little more flexibility in your schedule, but you will still have deadlines to meet. The customer is now your boss. This will mean less time with your family, less time for relaxing and less predictability in your schedule. How will you handle it if your website goes down an hour before your daughter’s birthday party?
  3.  You’re going to have to find a new hobby. You don’t necessarily stop loving your hobby when it goes from being something you want to do, to something you have to do, but you can get burnt out. If you want to keep sewing as something you love, you’ll have to remind yourself not to overdo it.
  4. You will deal with people you don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my coworkers. They were great, even when they were oozing viruses into my breathing space, but they had bad days too when they were not the most fun people around. When you run your own business you will have to deal with customers and vendors even on their less than spectacular days. You can’t just hang up the phone. You need them. They are what keeps your business open.

All of this has been on my mind lately. It's been years since I have worked outside the home, but we are at a crossroads in our lives. My medical condition has been taken care of and I am now able to work. Not only am I able, but I need to work if I ever want to buy fabric or patterns again. While I am looking for a regular job working for someone else, I am also thinking about the long term. I've always wanted to turn my hobby into a business, and with all of the resources available on the internet, it seems like an entirely plausible goal.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever considered turning your hobby into a business, or actually taken the steps to do so. What other factors do you think someone should consider before making the leap from working for someone else to working for themselves in a hobby based business? 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Liberty Jane Dress Form for 18 Inch Dolls: A Review

This past weekend I took a little bit of time to sew up the 18 inch doll dress form pattern by Liberty Jane. The pattern has been sitting unused in my stash for a while. Now that Isabelle, the 2014 American Girl Doll of the year, has come out with a dress form as part of her collection, I thought it was time to make one for myself.

The Fit

The pattern description says that it is perfectly proportioned to fit 18 inch doll clothes, which is something I have to disagree with. The clothes do fit on the dress form, and it works well enough for a doll prop or even making some small changes on an existing doll outfit, but it's not quite right for draping and drafting your own doll patterns, if that is what you are interested in. I used an American Girl Doll for the test, but the proportions may be better on a different brand.

After trying the same dress on our American Girl Doll and then on the dress form, it was clear that the dress form was slightly different in both size and distribution. 

The Supplies

I found this awesome candlestick at a thrift store for $2 and fell in love with it. While I was there I picked up a teddy bear for $1 and murdered it for it's stuffing. Thank goodness the kids didn't see or there would have been some serious drama. The fabric and other supplies I already had on hand. This dress form is held to the base with hot glue but I think I will use something stronger for the next one.

The Difficulty Level

This was a fairly easy project to sew. The most difficult part was attaching the top part of the side panel to the shoulder seam, which requires you to sew very slowly and accurately. I would recommend basting that part by hand before machine sewing to keep your fabric edges lined up. Liberty Jane describes the skill level as easy. I would say it is a project for an ambitious beginner who already has a few projects under their belt.

My girls have asked me to make them a dress form to play with. I'm going to see what changes I can make to correct the fit. Once I'm done I'll report back for anyone interested in a more functional doll dress form. If you've tried the pattern please share what you liked or didn't like or changed about it in the comments.

Another doll sewing enthusiast whose blog I love to read, also made this pattern recently. Check out GiGi's Doll and Craft Creations for some more great idea's on design and supplies for the dress form.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This is Not How Camouflage is Supposed To Work

I am completely aware that dark green and brown camouflage against the purest form of white will make you stand out like a sore thumb. Still there is something to be said for using what you have on hand, and I happened to have camouflage fabric with the perfect amount of water resistance and a fuzzy warm lining for snow pants. I also have an 11 year old son with no snow pants and gigantic irresistible piles of snow outside my house.

It’s a good thing that 11 year old boys are incredibly weird and are drawn like a magnet to things that make no sense, like a talking sponge that drives a boat under water, and camouflage prints that don’t blend in with their intended environment.

This refashion project has been nearly 10 years in the making. The pants began their life as a terribly uncomfortable pair of pajama bottoms. When I first started learning how to sew my husband asked me to make him something warm to sleep in. So off I went to the fabric store with a credit card in hand and no clue what I was looking for. I grabbed a few yards of fabric that had a smooth almost plastic feel on one side and a thick fuzzy back.  He did ask for warm after all.

I used a simplicity pattern and even added my own creative touch with a few pockets, because who doesn't need a few bulky pockets while their trying to sleep. He suffered a few sweaty nights in the hot, slightly lumpy pants that didn't breathe before casting them aside. They then took on that magical property that allows clothes that are never worn to make their way back to the hamper almost every time you do the laundry.

Re-sizing the pants was fairly simple. I only needed to adjust the waistband, take in the crotch and inseam, and adjust the hem. Okay it sounds like a lot, but honestly it only took about an hour. 10 years of taking these clean pants out of the hamper, refolding them, and putting them back in a drawer where they did nothing but take up space, all solved in one hour.

Of course had they been any other pair of pants they would have been tossed in the trash a long time ago, but hand sewn items have a sentimental hold over me that make them so much more difficult to get rid of.

If your looking to make a pair of snow pants and you don't have a refashion project to start with, you can find a great tutorial here. I'm thinking about using it next year for the girls. Here's to hoping we don't get anymore snow this year.

What do you do with your failed sewing projects? Do you toss them out or hold on to them until you find a way to reuse the fabric? What is the longest time you have ever held onto a piece of clothing (homemade or store bought) that you never wear?
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