Accountability

Here’s the thing: from time to time I make bold declarations on this blog and then miraculously never talk about them again. By way of example, I’ve committed to deadlines that have come and gone with no further mention of them, I’ve been known to announce I’m joining a sew-along to later never produce an item for it, and I have even been known to make resolutions that never come to pass. What can I say other than life has a funny way of getting in the way of the best laid plans? This post is my attempt to tie up loose ends, introduce some accountability (i.e. fessing up), and to get organized in general. In other words, pure.administrative.joy.

seamless

First up, remember the Seamless Pledge for which I signed up last year? My initial pledge read as follows:

I, Andrea of Stitch Parade, am taking the Seamless Pledge for the duration of the year 2012. Between January 1 and December 31, 2012 I will abstain from buying any new clothes. I will fill the gaps in my wardrobe with clothes made or refashioned with my own two hands. I will place emphasis on quality over quantity and will avoid, to the best of my ability, contributing to the cycle of fast fashion fuelled by consumerism. On that note, I will shop for materials from my own stash first. If I find myself in need of a garment that I can’t make myself, I will trawl through second-hand shops.

At the time I promised to give you monthly updates with my progress but after two updates I never mentioned the pledge again. That doesn’t mean I didn’t (for the most part) stick with it, but somehow I just never got around to posting about it. The good news is that I think I did mostly okay with the RTW portion of the pledge: but for a pair of jeans and some running shoes (which were excluded from my pledge) I managed to steer clear of RTW.

I also pledge to “shop for materials from my own stash first”. Even though I didn’t outright promise to abstain from buying fabric, I feel I could have done better on his point. You see, at the beginning of last year my fabric stash was 146 meters long. Yesterday I did a bit of a calculation and discovered that I sewed up 25 meters of stashed fabric in 2012 – yay for me.  The problem is that I also managed to stash another 36 meters of fabric. This means that I actually gained a total of 11 new meters of fabric – a net gain!

Stashbusting Sewalong Challenge Button with Text

Now, I’ve decided not to formally renewing my seamless pledge because avoiding RTW has become part of who I am and I’m making way better consumer choices on this point. I’m also not renouncing fabric shopping altogether because there may be items for which I will need to look outside of my stash. I will however make a point to be more careful about mindlessly stashing fabric this year. On that note, I have joined the Satshbusting Sewalong organized by Cindy of Cation Designs and Emily of Tumbleweeds in the Wind and have committed to using up 15 pieces of fabric from the stash in 2013. I’m happy to report that I’ve got one down already. Baby steps, my friends.

inthejar

On my first Seamless Pledge post I announced I would “master the art of making trousers”. In the spirit of fessing up, that was not the first time I had trouser making on my sewing goals. Then in October of last year I announced I was joining the Turlow Sewalong hosted by Lladybird. And yet, still no trousers. Nevertheless I have added another impossible goal to the list: making a jacket. With both of these goals I went as far as putting them in Karen’s jar of 2013 Sewlutions.

Here I go making bold declarations all over again: I’m going to do my best to get the trousers and the jacket checked from my to-do list this year, but with the caveat that (a) another cross Canada move and a return to work in the fall are in the cards, which may have an impact on my sewing time; and (b) I’m not going to be to hard on myself if I don’t get to accomplish these things (because this is supposed to be fun, remember?).  I’ll hope to report on my progress in January of next year when you’ll be the judge of whether or not I can put my money where my mouth is this time around.

Tell me, how do you stay on track of your sewing goals? Do you manage them quite well or do you get swayed along the way?

Bits and Pieces – SP Update No. 2

The only items of clothing I bought during the month of February were two bras. Friends, I may have tried my luck with hand-made undies but bras are out of the question.  I just won’t go there.  Other than that, and a bit of fabric (it could not be helped) there were no purchases outside the four corners of the  Seamless Pledge this month. 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about waste in general, which led me to think about waste in my sewing and knitting, which led me to think about fabric scraps.  I’ve read a few blog posts discussing the merits of saving fabric scraps.  It seems that people who save scraps fall within two camps: they either save them because they can’t bear to part with them but have no idea what they’ll use them for, or they save them with a purpose. Saving with a purpose is especially true of quilters who can use scraps in all sorts of patchwork projects. It seems to me that I fall into this camp.  In fact, I may just be a borderline fabric scraps hoarder. 

Until recently I kept my scraps in a disorganized mess inside a cardboard box, but during my January organizing frenzy I took the time to fold them all into neat piles, arranging similar colours together.  I then tied each pile with yarn and placed them neatly inside a plastic see through storage box. Some of you may be wondering why I’d go through all that trouble, but the truth is that I use my scraps regularly and having them in a somewhat organized fashion helps me get at what I need when I need it.

Cushion covers: the denim came from an old pair of jeans; the colourful bits from my scraps

I’ve used scarps to make small coin purses or flex frame bags, iPod cases and even internal pockets for various handbags. Scraps have been my go to material for the patchwork I used to decorate tea towels, a few of the cushion covers in our family room, and even a picture frame for our enclosed front porch. 

My favourite thing to make with scraps, hands down, is greeting cards.  Sometimes I cut a shape with pinking shears and simply glue the scraps of fabric on to a blank card, and sometimes I create a patchwork collage that I sew directly onto the cardstock.  Some cards are crisp and clean while others involve a medley of irregular shapes and contrasting colours.  Digging into my scraps pile for a piece of fabric that catches my attention and building something around that theme gives me great pleasure.  I never know what I’ll make and the finished product is always a surprise to me.

One other reason I keep scraps is that I have a burning desire to make a quilt from them.  It would be improvisational patchwork – no pattern, no plan, just piecing of fabric next to fabric as my mood demands it.  I bet by now I have enough scraps to do it… all I need is the time.

Do you guys keep your fabric scraps?  If so, what do you use them for?

Unmentionables

You guys, I learned how to make underwear! For some reason this makes me feel very proud of myself.  What possessed me to try this out, you ask?  Well, for starters I figured this skill would come in handy during my year-long commitment to the Seamless Pledge – a year with no new underwear is a long time.  Also one of my local fabric shops, The Workroom, has a roster of really interesting classes and the teachers are always great so when I saw this class come up I jumped at the opportunity.

 

We used a commercial pattern for this class: Jalie 2568.  During the first of two sessions, I learned how to work with stretch lace to make a “Brazilian hipster”.  The name says it all – these are some sassy panties! It all started with a piece of stretch lace about 6” wide

Before this class I didn’t even now stretch lace existed.

A couple of snips and stitches and I made these little panties in less than two hours

The trim on the lace acts as the panties’ top and bottom edges so no need to stitch seams there.  The lace I chose was pretty basic because I didn’t want to dish out cash on my first pair in case they turned out to be a disaster, but you should have seen some of the really nice lace my classmates used:  velvety red, soft blue, scalloped edges, oh my! The only seams here are at the centre front and back, and the crotch seam.  The crotch area has a bit of cotton jersey stitched to it for extra softness. I was so surprised by how easy it was to put these guys together and we didn’t even use a serger!

During the second session we learned how to work with jersey to make bikini style, everyday undies.  Before you get all judgemental about the colour I chose, let me just say I’m glad I used this leftover fabric for my practice pair.  This style was way more difficult than working with lace. Personally I found it hard to control the fabric under the presser foot to achieve uniformity, so much so that the stitching on my knickers looks like it was penciled in by a 5-year-old. 

Don’t judge me by the colour of my underwear... or by the uneven stitches!

There were also a lot more steps involved in the construction of this pair. More seams, hemming, attaching of trims, etc.  In other words, a lot more attention to detail, something I’m not very good at after a long day at work (yes, yes, I’m full of excuses).

Trim for future attempts at undies

The good news is that both pairs fit quite comfortably. Because the bikini style turned out a bit dodgy, I’m planning on practicing some more using nicer fabric and some of the trim that I have now added to my stash. I may even alter the pattern a bit to copy my favourite pair of RTW underwear. Despite the fact that these are less than perfect, I’m still feeling proud of myself.  

Have you ever tried making underwear?  If so, do you have any tips for me?

SP Update No. 1 – The Stash

You may recall that I’ve signed up for the Seamless Pledge for the duration of 2012 and that I promised to give you updates once a month, so here goes the first one.  As far as purchases go, they appeared to be virtually non-existent during the month of January.  The extent of my shopping can be summarized as follows:
  • Three patterns (Chloe and Anouk by Victory Patterns, and Renfrew by Sewaholic)
  • Elastic trim for handmade underwear (more on that soonish)
  • Two skeins of yarn – purchased using a gift certificate
  • A pair of shoes – also the product of a gift certificate I received in 2011

[image source]

There were no purchases of RTW clothes, fabric or anything else falling outside the scope of the pledge.  So far so good, although I have noticed that my refrain from purchasing clothes has me tempted to pick-up items I don’t usually look at, such as make-up and bubble bath.  “Tempted” is the key word as I have resisted these purchases, but nevertheless it’s been interesting watching this need to buy play out. 

Another interesting development with the pledge so far has to do with my stash.  My organizing frenzy during the moth of January helped me take a good, long look at it and frankly I was a bit surprised (and embarrassed) by what I discovered.

Yarn – As it turns out, my yarn stash is not as large as I thought it was. Most of this stash was made up of bits and pieces of yarn not long enough to make even a pair of mittens.  I suppose I could have made granny squares and stitched them together into a blanket but that’s not my thing.  Instead, I donated most of these odds and ends to a knitting charity, gave away some more substantial quantities on this space, and only kept yarn for which I have a specific project in mind. 

I even took the time to upload all my yarn stash information to Ravelry.   Which leads me to a random thought: Why is there not a Ravelry equivalent for sewing?  Wouldn’t it be great to have your catalogue of patterns and fabric all in one place, along with access to projects and modifications made by thousands of users?  I’m not a computer whiz, but some sewist out there must surely be.  Major business opportunity here, people! But I digress…

Fabric – On the fabric front I discovered that not only do I have an awful lot of fabric but the bulk of it was purchased last year.  I was surprised and a bit disgusted by this – I thought I had more self-control… clearly not so much. This discovery has served as a good reminder that I don’t need any more fabric. In fact, there are a total of 146 metres of fabric in my stash, the equivalent to 160 yards!  Now, some if it was gifted to me and a lot of it is quilting cotton not suitable for garments, but there is certainly more than enough fabric there to keep me busy for months on end without the need to purchase any more.  Then why, oh why, do I get distracted by shiny new cloth?  Note to self: Must. Exercise. Restraint.

Partial view of my fabric & yarn stash

Because of the colour and warmth it conveys, I like to keep my fabric organized on a shelving unit in my sewing room. After folding it in neat piles by fabric type, I went one step further: I modified the Sew Weekly’s fabric swatch chart to make it more applicable to my needs (e.g. since I’m not really into vintage fabric, I’m not tracking what “era” fabric comes from).  Once my current inventory information was all typed up I organized it in a binder by fabric type: wool, quilting cotton, polyester, voile and lawn, linens, interfacing, lining, etc.  I can always refer to this in a jiffy when trying to determine if I have enough of a certain fabric for a specific project.

 

There is one other area of my crafting space that I went though with a fine tooth comb: my patterns and books, but that’s a story for another time. 

Tell me, do you buy yarn and/or fabric on a project by project basis or do you stash it by the truckload?