Sewing Goals

A few weeks ago, I made a shirt. A real shirt that I’ve worn to work. My first real attempt at making outerwear and it turned out nice.

As soon as it was finished I thought, “you know what would be super helpful? a coverstitch machine.”

Then I started doing research into coverstitch machines, knowing it was ridiculous to spend $600+ on a new machine that really only does one thing* just because I had made ONE SHIRT. But I’m impulsive like that. I talk myself into things. That’s why I bought a cricut on Black Friday a few years ago. It was near my counter and I looked at it all day and talked myself into it.

And so I’ve done the thing I am best at. I’ve made a plan. At first I was trying to think of how many shirts I needed to make. I thought about it realistically and figured out the only way I can buy myself a new machine of any kind is to make room for it. That means I need to use a bunch of fabric! By the time I’ve cleared that space, I’ll know for sure if I need a coverstitch machine, right?

In order to hold myself accountable, I am going to post a picture of my currently extremely unorganized fabric shelves. There’s really no rhyme or reason here:

Yikes! That’s a lot of fabric. I would say it’s about 85%-90% of what I have. (I have a bunch of faux fur and wool in my closet.)

Here’s a closer look at the bookshelf that I would rearrange to keep my machines in. (My main sewing machine, a Janome New Home 8077 named Lance Reddick, resides on my desk.)

I need to clear this out. Time to get sewing!!

I haven’t given myself a time limit on this, but I hope I can get this under control by the end of the year. I will post updates and show some of my projects, ideas, and helpful hints on getting your act together as I figure out how to get my act together in the coming months.

 

* I would only use it for one thing.¬†Maybe it does more than one thing. (By the way, I’ve already named my possible future coverstitch machine! Isn’t a great cliffhanger to make you want to check back on my progress?)

ūüôā

-Brandi

Spring Cleaning

When I put this site together, I intended to have a place where I shared how to use all of the bits & odds & ends that many of us accumulate over the years. That’s not really happening, is it? I’ve been seriously, seriously organizing and cleaning my work space and my head. Re-evaluating what’s important and what needs to go. Perhaps the reason that I’ve totally slacked on updating this site is the fact that my original plan really isn’t the path that my mind truly needs to go on.

I think I’ve made a breakthrough on what I really need to share with the world and it’s something that is slightly different than a lot of the other crafty type sites I visit- because my brain is slightly different. I hope it’s something that will be valuable to others, as well.

It’s all coming soon!

Labeling a serger

If you follow my Instagram feed (98% chance you don’t, but here’s a link if you want to check it out) you may have seen that I labeled the threading order on my serger a couple of weeks ago.

There’s no shame in labeling the threading order.

A post shared by Brandi Holt (@shorterscreenname) on

When I bought my serger, a Brother 1034D that I named “Sergio Pizzorno”, I thought I was going to be using it all of the time! Cut to me using it every few months, and forgetting what all of those dials and knobs are for. It happens- you can read that manual forward and backward, but if you don’t use the information in real life something else is going to take it’s place in your head.

This morning I got out my manual and my trusty label maker and went to work.

 

You can do this, too! Use a label maker, a sharpie, or cut out some vinyl on your cricut machine if you’re feeling extra fancy/motivated.

What are your thoughts on labeling your machines? Do you prefer to keep them pristine?

Thread Hack

I remember when I got my first sewing machine it came with TWO bobbins! Simpler times… ah…

Now, I have, like, 100 different spools of thread and I never get close to using up a bobbin most of the time.¬† Here’s a little tip or “life hack” as the kids call handy tips nowadays that I’ve been using for a few years-

In order to keep track of which bobbins go with which threads or whether or not I have a bobbin wound for a spool, I use reinforcement labels and dot stickers. Check it out-

I put the reinforcement labels on the top side of the bobbin and the dot stickers on the top of the spool or inside of the thread cone. I label the matching bobbin and spool with the same color sticker and same number. I use yellow for anything on a cone but I’m kind of willy-nilly about the rest of them. Maybe I need a system. As long as I have the same color on the spool and bobbin I think It’s fine.

 

I recently unwound every bobbin that I had when noticed things were getting out of control. I gave myself a fresh start- and a baseball sized knot of 40 different colors of thread.

5 Minute Project- Quick and Easy Mousepad

For years, I’ve been using my laptop’s mouse ON my laptop. Right there next to the thing where you can use your finger to move the cursor around. It really didn’t make much sense, but it did sometimes make a weird buzzing/humming noise.

It takes 5 minutes or less to make a fully functional mousepad with only a few simple ingredients.

(yeah, I moved the mousepad on to my bed to take the picture so you couldn’t see how messy my desk is at the moment.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A nice scrap of cotton fabric for the top of your mousepad.
  • A different scrap of fabric for the bottom. I used a knit with a bit of texture so it wouldn’t slide on my desk.
  • A rectangle of Bosal In-R-Form Double Sided Fusible Foam Stabilizer in the size that you’d like your mousepad to be.
  • Iron/ ironing surface
  • cutting utensil

Make sure your fabrics are nice and wrinkle free. Place your bottom fabric right side down on your ironing surface. Place your In-R-Form stabilizer on top of that- it’s the center of your sandwich. Finally, add your top fabric, right side facing up as your top piece of bread.

Then steam iron that puppy for about 30-45 seconds.

Lastly, trim the whole thing to the size you want your mousepad to be.

Done.


Bosal In-R-Form Double Sided Fusible Foam Stabilizer¬†is a great thing to keep a stash of if you make bags, boxes or cases for glasses. The price fluctuates like the stock market, so I always keep it in my “save for later” shopping cart at Amazon and buy a couple of packages when the price is low. At the time of this writing, it was around $8 for a package, but I’ve seen it as high as $15. There’s really a ton of uses for it and I’ll be adding some more projects with it (like my matching machine covers) in the near future.

Sit-Upon Floor Mat

Festival season is in full swing and sometimes you need to sit on the ground! Is there a way to do this without messing up your sweet festival outfit? Sure! Here’s a quick, easy to make mat. It’s pretty self explanatory, but let me see if I took any pictures while I was making it. (I’m still not in the “I’ve got to make a tutorial for this” mindset.)

Okaaaay… So I didn’t step-by-step it. Here’s a picture of what it looks like when it’s finished!

How I made it- I came up with my dimensions. How much room do I realistically take up when I am sitting down? You know how you go to tutorials on how to make a circle skirt or something and the writer’s like, “So, I did the math. My waist is 16 inches around so I divided that by 3.14″ or whatever? Right. How much space am I going to take up on the ground? With a couple inches on each side to make it look like I didn’t just pick up any old napkin to sit on, I decided on a 24″ x 24″ square.

I cut an approximately 25″ square of this floral rayon/linen blend for my top side fabric. I ironed a 24″ square of Heat & Bond Fusible Fleece to the wrong side.

Sewing the whole thing together- I put a 25″ square scrap of sunflowery quilting cotton right side up. Next, I layered a 25″ square sheet of thin clear vinyl. Finally, I put my rayon/linen blend right side down on top of everything with the fleece side at the top. I wonder clipped the whole sandwich together and, using a walking foot, sewed around the whole thing (besides an 8” gap on the top for turning the square right side out) using the edge of the Heat & Bond fleece as my guide.

I clipped the corners, turned the whole thing right side out, gently poked out the corners with a pokey stick, and smoothed the whole thing down with my hands.

I put a length of cords I’d made out of the outside fabric into the gap and then topstitched around the entire square using a teflon foot.

Rolling it up to put in your bag-

With the cords to the side, fold the bottom third up and the top third down. Next, roll the mat starting at the side without the cords and then tie.

Then you end up with this little fabric burrito that takes up about the same amount of space as a water bottle. And you can totally save yourself from sitting on the slightly damp ground while you eat your $17 gourmet grilled cheese and listen to couples having critical conversations that they will bring up in 2 months when they eventually break up because he spent a lot of money to come see Ice Cube and she just wanted to go home. But he couldn’t let her go home alone. But she says she wouldn’t be alone because his brother would be there. And you’re thinking, does fried egg on a grilled cheese still make this technically a grilled cheese? Isn’t this an egg sandwich with cheese at this point?

Enjoy your Summer! Remember you can adjust this pattern to be bigger or smaller depending on how many people you wish to accommodate or how big the people sitting on the mat might be.

Finished Projects- Basic Tote Bag

Catching up!

I made the first project from the wonderful book The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu recently. This book is a course that starts with a tote bag and then moves on to other very different bags by showing you how to modify a single basic pattern.

Tote bags are pretty much the quickest, easiest bags to make. But Nicole Mallalieu gives some really detailed instructions on how to step it up with understitching and topstitching to make you work look super professional.

 

 

I’m really proud of how this first bag turned out and I look forward to building my skills through the rest of the bags in the book.

I like to try to give the names of the fabrics I use for my projects. The outside of this one is a pre-cut I originally saw at the Craftsy store but then found for less at at the Fabric Mart website. “Azure/White Retro Floral Print Linen/Rayon Blend.”

The lining was from a mystery bundle that I got from Fabric Mart. I don’t know what it’s called, but you’ll see it again in my quick and easy mouse pad tutorial that will be posted up shortly.

Quick Question

This is a question I hope to address in the future of this website-

How small is too small for a “usable scrap”?

more to come…

Lunch Bag!

What a hectic month or so getting ready for inventory at the store! I suppose it was a good thing for it to happen right as I was inheriting the department. Now that inventory is over, I can finally feel like it’s my department and I am working hard to get the area as sorted out as I can. Exciting times.

With all the hard work and long, funky hours, I haven’t had a lot of time for projects at home. That changed this weekend when I finally found a pattern for what I was looking for in a lunch tote from Zaaberry.

I’ve had it in my mind that I could save so much money if I would bring my lunch to work. (And, I’ll probably post about some of the exciting things that I’ve spent my money on recently that prompted me to have more of a sense of urgency about saving money in coming weeks.)

I took my time and followed the directions. That didn’t stop me from seriously having an anxiety attack as I was stitching the last couple of seams in the lining before turning the whole thing right side out. It was weird. I don’t know why that happened. I guess it might stem from the same thing that makes people afraid to make the first cut in their fabric at the start of a project? I mean, I picked this fabric out especially for my eventual lunch bag. I spent full price on it and everything. haha

Well, here it is! It turned out! People at work made nice comments on it and everything.

this angle makes my room look so clean and organized
this angle makes my room look so clean and organized
and the back. This fabric is Robert Kaufman's "Bento Box"
and the back. This fabric is Robert Kaufman’s “Bento Box”

Coming soon: more baby sun hats! I made a couple for my great niece and I am going to deliver them to her when I see her in a few days. In other words- Coming Soon: A cute baby in a sunhat or two.
[This post was originally published at my other site Time Map 2003 on July 1, 2015.]

Sun Hats!

I saw my baby niece Addison today and gave her the sun hats that I made for her in a little tote bag that I took spent about 20 minutes on. Of course, I didn’t get any pictures of the baby wearing a hat or a picture of the little tote bag.

166

167

They’re reversible! I made them from a pattern at Made by Marzipan. I know, I’ve made one of these and posted pics before! It’s just such a fun thing to make.

The baby loved the tiny tote bag that I made as an alternative to bringing the hats over in a plastic grocery sack. There are a million tote bag tutorials online because they are just about the easiest thing you can make. I used two fat quarters- a print for the outside and little handles and a solid for the lining. Addison loves looking through purses, so I think next time I come over I am going to give her a little wallet and a fake I.D.

(I’ve made fake I.D.s for all of my nieces when they were toddlers. I take an unflattering photo and put a ridiculous birth date and address on a card and laminate it.)

[This post was originally published at my other site Time Map 2003 on July 13, 2015.]