Category: Sewing

Stashbusting, go!

Stashbusting sewalong 2014

It’s that time of year again, time for another Stashbusting Sewalong pledge! EmSewCrazy and Cation Designs started this last year, to challenge sewists to look at and use our fabric stashes. (Who sews and doesn’t have a stash, right?)

Here is my pledge for 2014:

I, Gretchen, commit to using 12 pieces from my stash fabric in 2014. I also commit to turning at least half of them into wearable objects for myself.  

I participated last year and had a blast, even though my sewing plans were quickly derailed by The Pregnancy and The Baby. My fabric stashbusting goal this year may be lower than last year (I pledged 16 pieces from the stash last year), but I think it may be a bigger challenge, at least in the first few months. I currently have a 10 week-old baby and no functional sewing space (it became the nursery), so I don’t reasonably expect to get any sewing done for a few months yet. Add in a breast-feeding bust line and post-partum tummy and hips, and that’s enough challenge for me for now.

Why do I sew?
I love to make. Whether it’s a good meal, a great loaf of bread, or something to wear or use in my home. I also love the fun and challenge of turning a 2D pattern and 2D fabric into something that is (hopefully) wearable.

Why am I stashbusting?
Because I own so many lovely pieces of fabric that I want to turn into something! Honestly, if it weren’t for my friend’s Japanese fabric store tempting me from time to time, I would rarely fabric shop. I’m such a knits girl and good knits are hard to find here in Portlandia. (At least where I know to look.)  Most of my stash is from shopping trips in Tokyo, so the fabric has added meaning.  It’s time to stop looking at it and make something with it.

What’s on my list?
Easy separates. Because that’s what I wear. As much as I’m attracted to a nice dress, when it comes to my lifestyle (pre-baby at least, and I don’t expect any change now) I grab a knit top and pants. Or maybe a skirt. That’s what I want to concentrate on this year. Go-to separates. I would like 2014 to be the year that I tackle woven pants (probably Thurlows) and succeed in making a pair that fits me. This will be a challenge, as I continue to shed my baby weight. I also want to challenge myself to make some woven tops to wear, as I do tend to gravitate toward knits.  I also want to make an Anna dress, because I have yet to see one that isn’t flattering on the sewist who made it. (And I have the perfect fabric in my stash for it!)

We shall see. And that’s the fun of this Stashbusting sewalong. Seeing what you can make out of what you already have.

Happy stashbusting everyone!

September sewing

With the return of cooler autumn air (or, actually, with the departure of the hot summer air) I got my sewing mojo back a bit this month.  However, being in my third trimester, the sewing I could do for myself is a bit limited, as I’m trying to hang on until the end without buying or making anything new.  I did sew two items for me this month, which I’ll blog about in a separate post (the items in question are in the wash hamper and haven’t been photographed yet).  Mainly I did some some sewing for my Munchkin-to-be.

One of my friends runs an etsy store specializing in imported kawaii (cute) Japanese fabrics. A few years ago *ahem* 5 years *ahem* she was in Portland showing/buying at a Quilt market and had some leftover 1/2 yard cuts of that she didn’t want to take back with her. She left them with me, and they made their way to my stash, where they’ve sat ever since. Since I don’t quilt and I have enough bags already, I always wonder what to do with 1/2 yard cuts. Hooray for the impending SHB! I picked up a couple of infant/toddler patterns at Joann’s during one of their pattern sales and decided to make some toddler-sized outfits for Munchkin. I’ve been avoiding making newborn/infant clothes, since I know she’s going to grow so fast that I don’t really want to invest my time in those clothes. (Although I totally respect those moms who do.) I grabbed my stash and got to work. Now Munchkin has a better coordinated wardrobe than I do. 🙂

The first pinafore I finished at the end of August, so not technically September sewing.  However, it is totally a stash buster, though.  Both pieces of fabric (the Eiffel tower print and the nautical anchor print) have been in my stash since spring of ’08.  Eep.  The pattern is Butterick 5625.


And the reverse side.  I actually made this same fabric (a lightweight cotton) into a great summer top for myself last year.


And here are the five September makes, using New Look 0184.  The white with vertical stripes and the blue denim fabrics were ones I purchased at Fabric Depot in Portland when I first visited the city in 2006, so, yeah, they are really stash busters.  The middle tunic (natural cotton with musical score) and the red polka dot cotton are both bits that my friend left me in 2008.  I used some of the leftover Eiffel tower print for the neckband of the middle tunic, though it’s hard to see in this photo.  The last tunic print (on the right) I bought last year just because it was so darned cute.  (Click on the image for larger view.)


And here are more photos of the various combinations. I hope that the sizes work out so that she can wear them at the same time.  *fingers crossed*  And I’m also hoping that when she’s the size to wear these it’s  summer here in Portland.  If not, I’ll make some tees for her to wear underneath and she’ll be rocking the Parisian nautical look in greyest, rainiest February.



IMG_2982Below is my favorite combo of the bunch.  I’m not a print girl myself (or so I think/tell myself) so perhaps I’m living out my print fantasies vicariously by making these outfits for Munchkin to wear?  (Or maybe I just wish that I could get away with wearing a blouse made from tiny smiling flowers.)


Detail of the tiny smiling flowers, from the Lecien collection tiny prints. IMG_2985

The short-yet-long summer

I still can’t believe that it’s September already.  Where did the last two months go?  While it doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything, there has been a lot going on Chez Spiceweasel.

At the beginning of July we headed to Minnesota to visit my family for over a week.  In addition to spending a lot of time just relaxing, my mom and I also dug through boxes in the garage and unearthed treasures for Munchkin.  Treasures like this Fischer-Price record player that my sister and I played with when we were munchkins.


And my sister gave us this piece of art for Munchkin, which she purchased in New Orleans.  It totally goes with the creature theme that seems to be developing for Munchkin’s room.  I love it so much!


After we returned from MN, both hubby and I caught colds on the same day.  Thank you very much, airplane air!  It took me almost two weeks to get over that, so my productivity in July was pretty much nil.  I did, however, manage to finish my “diaper” bag.  I used the Amy Butler Sunday Sling pattern, which is reversible.  I made the large size, and now wish I had made the smaller size.  I think I’ll be able to fit my daughter AND her stuff into this bag.  Still, I love it.  No one else has one just like this.

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I also got a little mobile made for Munchkin’s room, out of scraps of felt, ribbon, and fabric I had laying about.  I live in Portland, so there had to be a bird in her room, right?


In early August I went down to Austin, Texas, (yeah, am I crazy or what?) to help a friend do inventory for her etsy fabric store.  She sells the most adorable Japanese fabrics, so I was happy to help.  Thank god for air conditioning, though.  I think the highs averages 104F or 106F every flippin’ day.  OMG, how do pregnant women in the South deal with the summer heat?  We worked hard and I ate as much Tex-Mex as I could, as Tex-Mex is one area where Portland is severely lacking.  Just looking at the photos of the food now makes me so crazy hungry for it.  (Below, my last dinner in Austin: Chuy’s Chika-chika boom boom with Hatch green chile rice and refried beans.  A girl would pay a lot of money if they could deliver this fresh to her doorstep every so often.)1116244_707222092627265_796533763_o

After returning from Austin, I had another regularly scheduled OB visit, where I was told that my iron levels were low; borderline anemic.  So, my doc put me on extra Iron supplements, which have really helped improve my energy this last month.  Thank goodness, too, as my energy pool already is limited as it is.

Since returning, the crafting and sewing mojo has been returning, though I discover I can’t spend all day at it like I would in previous trimesters.  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

I appliquéd some scraps of Japanese fabric to some scraps of IKEA fabric and embroidered around the edges to make an ABCあいうえお block for Munchkin’s room.  I had planned to frame each one in a little IKEA frame, but in spite of measuring three times, I still made the squares too small.  Feh.  I stitched it into a single block and it’s now getting framed.


I made a ton of diaper inserts.  Well, ok, maybe only about 56, but it felt like a ton.  I am planning to use the Flip diapering system and rather than spend US$5 per insert, I did some research on-line and found a place to buy pre-cut diapering blanks.  I slapped them together and sergered (serged?) the edges, and for a fraction of the price of name brand, I (hopefully) have enough diaper inserts to last me for days.1073985_714029231946551_1049471620_o

I also made this cute little reversible skirt for Munchkin out of a scrap of Heather Ross knit given to me by my friend from her store.  I’m trying to avoid pink overload, but sometimes you just have to give in to the cute.  Right?11181_710298918986249_23250149_n

And the latest off the sewing table is this little reversible pinafore dress made with some fat quarters and half yard cuts given to me by that same friend.  (Albeit these she gave me five years ago… ^ ^;;)1184968_719840351365439_341160205_n 1011652_719840644698743_954416441_n


And in addition to this, we’ve been working on house remodeling projects: hubby got the entire basement and garage rewired (to code, yay!), we had some pros in to remove the last of the asbestos wrapped ducting in our basement, we removed the last of the ducting in the house, decommissioned our air conditioning unit and removed it, removed our aged furnace, had our old natural gas pipes removed and replaced, ripped out the nasty late 70’s brass fireplace insert from our fireplace, and started making holes in the main floor walls to get the main floor total electrical rewiring project started.  So, yes, it’s been a bit of chaos around here.  All part of the larger plan to get the house insulated before winter, and get a room ready for the Munchkin before she arrives in the world.  (Full term, munchkin, you hear that?  Full term, please.)

More sewing awaits on the sewing table, but more house projects also await.  We’ll be making progress in both this month.  More posts to come.

Happy September, everyone!

Pyjama party

Karen, the funny and talented lady behind the popular Did you make that? blog, announced last month that she would be hosting another pyjama party this year. Cooincidentally, the wonderfully talented Sewaholic released her Tofino pyjama pants pattern this spring.  Even before I knew of the pyjama party, I snapped up the Tofino pattern, as comfy pyjama/lounging pants are always something I can use. Many patterns don’t fit quite right on me, mainly because their rise and my rise are not the same.  I had high hopes for the Tofino, based on tester and earlier sewers reports.

However, I took my sweet time in making them up for the Pyjama Party, knowing that every week makes a big difference in my waist size.  At 5 months pregnant, I wasn’t even sure I’d fit in them when I finished them.  I sewed on, using the largest size provided in the pattern and using up the oldest piece of fabric in my stash.  I didn’t want to go out and buy new fabric for this make, since I wasn’t sure how they would fit a pregnant, inflated pear shape.

photo I looked at the fabric selvedge when preparing it for cutting and saw that it was from the Alexander Henry collection in 1999.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy it then, but it could very well have been 2000 or 2001 when I purchased it.  ^_^;;  I did use a length of the fabric for curtains when we lived in Texas, but it’s been sitting in my stash since we moved to Portland six years ago.  It’s not a very, um, subtle pattern, so I didn’t have any idea what to use it for.  However, with pyjama pants, it almost really doesn’t matter how loud and obnoxious they are, since only hubby and I will be seeing them.

Without further ago, here are the finished Tofinos on a definitely pregnant me.  (Apologies for the crap photos, as I was doing self-timer in the sewing/guest room.)IMG_2922

I opted to do without the trim on the side panels, as the fabric was busy enough itself.  I also opted out of the fabric tie waist, and just went with some buttonhole elastic, to allow me to expand their current length of use (hopefully).  IMG_2926

Overall, I am in love with this pattern!!  I can’t wait to make a pair (post-pregnancy) in flannel for the long Portland winters.  The fit is great, even with my inflated pear shape; these don’t gape in the back at all.  The only surprise I had was the cuffs on the legs.  I guess I must not have read the pattern correctly or something, but I ended up with 4″ (10cm) cuffs on mine.  Perhaps it’s because I had to size up a bit to accommodate my belly and thighs?  In any case, that’s more my mistake for not measuring properly beforehand.  Overall, LOVE for these pants!

Thanks, Tasia, for such a great pattern.  And thanks, Karen, for motivating me to make them through your Pyjama Party!

Stash pieces used in this make: 1
Stashbusting goal: Use 16 pieces in 2013
Stashbusting progress: 26 pieces used to date

Sewing for SHB

Although the month isn’t quite over, I’m well behind on posting my makes for the month.  It’s been a busy month of sewing here, as proper summer weather continues to elude us here in Portland.  I certainly don’t want to complain (too much) about the lovely rain that is keeping everything green in the yard, but I could really go for a week of unbroken sunshine right now. Really, I’ll take 70F (20C) any day, but let’s cut back a little on the grey and rainy, could we?  Pretty please?

In any case, lots of makes for the month, mostly pregnancy clothes and things for the SHB (aka Munchkin).

Back in the early part of the month when we did have a couple of sunny days, I stashbusted an IKEA duvet cover I’d picked up a year or two ago.  Hubby and I were walking through the store and I spotted this in the kid’s section.  It was so cute, I had to buy it.  I added a little (non-stash) navy cotton to the top to make a rod pocket, and whipped up curtains for Munchkin’s room.

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Then I finally got around to turning this piece from my stash into a noren (Japanese fabric divider, hung in doorways or on walls).  It’s Japanese fabric from my friend and depicts a Japanese lion dance, which is said to bring good fortune and luck.  I love the colors in this; it’s hanging in the doorway to Munchkin’s closet.  (Well, what will be Munchkin’s closet when we get around to transforming the guest room/my sewing room into the nursery.)


Next up was a pattern I had seen in an older issue of Burda Style magazine (03/2011 #149), a travel baby blanket/mat with some pockets at one end.  I used a piece of fabric from my stash, a wonderful Japanese cotton print from my friend’s etsy store.  For the knit, I used up the last of some waffle knit given to me by one of the lovely stashbuster Sewasauruses.

IMG_2865Completely rolled up and tied with a self tie.
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Unrolled, with three pockets at the bottom.  (The top is folded over, so you get an idea of the overall make.)  Whether this will actually be handy when traveling with Munchkin, I don’t know.  If nothing else, it will be a germ-free surface to set her on.  🙂IMG_2861

And the most recent make for Munchkin’s room (and later my sewing room when she gets tired of them), a pair of appliquéd pictures to hang on the wall.  I had the picture frames in the closet, so I wanted something to work with the blue and pink of them.  (I basically made cute things that I will enjoy looking at.)  The first is the cutest depiction of Aspergillus oryzae, a mold that ferments soy beans and sake, amongst other things.  This little guy is character in the Japanese manga and anime called Moyashimon.IMG_2875

Next up, Moomin Troll, the main character of the Moomin series of books.  Which, until we happened upon a Moomin cafe in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2008, I had never heard of.  Our Norwegian friend and traveling companion educated us, and we’ve since bought some of the Moomin books.  We don’t want Munchkin to have to wait 35+ years to discover the love of Moomin, so some wall art to start her off right.IMG_2877


And yes, there are a lot of creatures going on in Munchkin’s room. Rather than being afraid of strange things, I figure if she grows up surrounded by them, she will be fearless.  😉  I should probably hang a spider in her room, too.  Then only I will be terrified of them.  ^ ^;

Next up, I did some sewing for me and my ever-expanding pregnant belly.  The first make, finished early in the month, I dub the Third Trimester t-shirt.  It’s the knit top from Burda Easy pattern 8376.  I wanted to make it up to see how it differed from my favorite t-shirt pattern, the Renfrew.  It’s just bigger all over, is the answer.  Again, I used some of the waffle knit given to me, so while not a stashbuster, it did get rid of the very last of that fabric gift.  It’s very comfy, but huge on me right now.


Next up, another stashbusting top, made from some poly that was my first purchase after I moved to Portland in 2007.  I loved the print, then realized that baby blue isn’t my best color.  I also realized that I preferred natural fabrics that could breathe.  So, in my stash it sat, neglected until now.  I used Simplicity 3799 for the top; while not a pregnancy top, I figured if I made a large enough size, the front gathers would help accommodate a pregnant belly.  Sure enough, it’s super cute.  Now I just have to wait for weather to wear it in.  (You might have noticed that A. oryzae’s picture, above, uses  the same fabric for the background. I’m really working the stash this month.)

And next up were two necessary makes, though not from my stash.  The 100% organic cotton beige twill was a steal, though, from Fabric Depot and their clearance corner.  I used a 35% off coupon for one cut in the clearance corner, and managed to get three yards (60″/150cm) for about $4/yard.  I also got a little beige double knit for making the pregnancy panels.  I had enough to make both a pair of shorts and capris, using the Burda Easy pattern 8376.IMG_2930 IMG_2932


They’re not much to look at on the hangers, but they’re super comfy.  When warmer weather returns, I will be living in these for the summer.

There’s one more finished make to report on, but that will be in a separate post, coming soon.

June stashbusting, so far: 5 pieces
Stashbusting goal: Use 16 pieces in 2013
Stashbusting progress: 25 pieces used to date!!