09 November 2010


Sorry I sort of disappeared! A lot of things have changed in the past month, nothing tragic or anything, but things are very different now than they used to be, and I haven't really felt like writing here at all. Probably maybe I will feel like writing something here sometime soon, but I don't have a ton to say right now, at least in a public space, and I haven't been doing a ton of crafting. So yeah. Okay. I hope you are well!

09 September 2010

self-stitched-september update

mustard cowl

So, hi. I am a week into this Self-Stitched-September thing, and also a week into school and fall hockey and having a hundred things to do. So far, everything (all at once!) is going great. Well, SSS is a bit weird. I thought wearing 2 self-stitched or thrifted items would be a manageable challenge; turns out it's way more than manageable. I have no photos to share (I'll get to that in a second), but I have quite easily managed to wear mostly non-new clothes. Yesterday, I went almost entirely non-new (black self-made skirt, awesome striped polo that I got a few weeks ago at Goodwill, awesome striped cardigan from a summer Goodwill trip). So this challenge has not actually been especially challenging, which shouldn't surprise me as I haven't bought new clothes (except for basic & on-sale items at Target) in probably 2 years. However! It has been making me think a lot more about what I wear, so that's good, I guess. It has definitely made me realize that I would really like to make some more clothing and finish refashioning some of the thrift store clothes I've bought recently. (I've found two different vintage wool skirts in the past few weeks!)

It has also made me realize I am not nearly as okay with my body as I thought I was. That sounds dramatic, I think, but what I mean is that taking photos (or, trying to take photos, really) of my SSS outfits was... calling it traumatic would be an insult to actual traumatic situations, right? I hate feeling superficial like this, but between the normal 10 pounds and the other pounds which are coming off SO SLOWLY, me on camera is not a version of me that I like. Soo yeah, I don't know. Probably there will not be many outfit photos this month, which makes me feel like a jerk. But there will be some, eventually? Maybe that will be the actual challenge for the month--wear at least one entirely self-stitched outfit that I actually like, in person and on [digital] film.

Yikes. I don't know. For someone with a blog, I really do not like talking about myself. Feelings, gross. The photo above is the cowl I just finished. Yellow wool/acrylic yarn, boring stuff but cheap. I entirely fucked up the cast-off the first time around, so I had to improvise. Totally messy, but it is technically a finished thing that won't unravel, so whatever. I will definitely do better next time. I've been a knitting fiend lately; in addition to this I finished my first Christmas present scarf, with five or six to follow. I'm determined to be prepared for Christmas this year; everyone is getting handmade presents this year! I'm making socks for a few people, so I'll need to learn how to make socks. I will totally have time to do that and the eight hundred other things I have on my plate, right? Right. This did not finish where I thought it would when I started, but whatever. Tons of things going on, but I'm keeping up with all of them. Self-stitched-September is a pretty cool thing, and with any luck, I'll have a few more self-sewn items to wear by the end of the month.

01 September 2010

tmi maybe?

FlickrDroid UploadOkay, so maybe this is weird, but today I made some underwear. Small photo to the left, because posting a photo of my underwear is weird enough. Normally this is not something I would post (didn't tell you about the yellow and black pair I made in the spring, did I?), but is that not the best fabric that has ever existed, ever? EVER? It's t-shirt fabric (is that a thing? It has a weird sort of texture, not jersey or anything else I've really seen) purchased at Hancock last spring, around the time I bought my serger. I think it was $1.50 a yard; I bought two yards but wanted to buy 10. I don't know what the hell I'm going to do with it; maybe just make more underwear?

I made them from a pattern I drafted myself, based on the instructions at So, Zo, which turned out fairly well. I did not adjust for the fact that you have to fold the elastic over, so they ended up a tad short but otherwise super comfortable. I think the materials were probably under $1. I bought the elastic at SR Harris in Brooklyn Center, MN; I want to say it was $.15 a yard (before their normal 50% discount on everything). Once I adjust the pattern a bit, I will likely be able to crank out at least 4 or 5 pairs this week, which will make my Self-Sewn-September thing much more realistic. And while making my own underwear is admittedly something I feel a bit weird about (I am turning into such a dirty hippie, for real), it also sort of gets directly to the point of why I want to focus on either sewing or thrifting all of my clothes. During college (and after...) I definitely got into the habit of just buying more socks and underwear when I didn't have time to do laundry (I'm sorry, that's gross, I don't do that anymore), so I now have roughly fifty or sixty pairs of boring underwear that was probably mass-produced in factories with awful labor practices. I like the idea of getting out of that cycle of unthinking consumption and making my own underwear, preferably out of fabrics with awesome star-burst patterns. Or polka dots? Or maybe dinosaurs? Someone must make knit fabric with dinosaur prints. Whatever, I like the idea of having my entire wardrobe, underwear and everything else, made up of a few things that I really, really love and have a direct connection to, rather than having so much boring crap that I wear because I'm too broke or busy or whatever to find anything else.

Does that make sense? I've been alone in the apartment all day, working and sewing, so I'm starting to feel a bit stir-crazy. It was worth it though, not only did I make a new pair of underwear, but I finished two weeks of prep for teaching, and I'm nearly finished with my thesis reading list for the semester. Exciting stuff!

i can do it all

It's been awhile! Sorry, I have been stupid busy. My sister and her boyfriend moved to Milwaukee a few days after my last post (I didn't post during August at all?), and I spent most of August helping them move and settle in. I also had to finish one of my summer classes, and I had hockey games every week. (I also tried out for the fall league and made the 2nd team at my club. Still got it!) Oh, and I did a craft show in the middle of the month. Holy hell, it was a shitshow. Not the show as a whole, just my entire participation in it. I was completely unprepared, and the audience at the show was not the audience who will buy what I make. The less said the better, but I am definitely going to refocus on other things for awhile.

Okay, but hey, that is not why I'm posting. I'm doing this thing, Self Stitched September. Basically people commit to wearing either entirely handmade clothing, or perhaps some compromise amount of handmade/refashioned clothing, every day for the month. For me, this is more about having a reason to make more handmade and refashioned clothing (since I have almost none), so I am actually going to throw in thrifted clothing too, otherwise I don't think I could commit to it. I really want to start making more of my own clothes. I already have thrifting down--I can't remember the last time I bought new clothing--but there are so many things I've been thinking about making, I'm hoping this will be the push I need to actually finish some pieces of clothing. So, my pledge--

'I, Marina, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-September. I endeavour to wear two  handmade, refashioned, or thrifted  item(s) of clothing, accessories, or jewelry every day for the duration of September 2010'.

So yeah, this will be interesting. Hopefully by the end of the month, I can do two pieces of handmade clothing with relative ease. I've been working on some tank tops recently, so that should help. Of course, in addition to this sewing thing I've committed to, school starts this week. I also have a whole lot to do to prepare for going to Laos in January, there's a hockey clinic this month that I said I'd go to, and practices for fall league start at the end of the month. I'm double-rostered on the 1st team as a backup, so I'll have two sets of practices to go to. Okay, actually that doesn't sound so bad, does it? I'll totally have time to do all of those things. It's too humid to sew today, so I think I'll go do some schoolwork.

(Oh, and I think part of the point of doing this whole Self-Stitched-September thing is that you take photos of your outfits every few days. That seems horrifying, and I sort of want to back out of the whole thing now that I realize that's the case, but I will try to soldier on. Maybe I'll just post photos of the really good outfits? Ugh.)

30 July 2010

thesis party

No photos, but I've been doing a whole lot of sewing this week. I'm slowly, slowly working my way through the entire ridiculous mountain of fabric that I've accumulated over the past year. I've been on a self-imposed thrifting moratorium (partly because I really do have a mountain of fabric cluttering my sewing room and partly because I am so, so broke), and I'm getting tired of it! I want to go dig through some bins of clothing and maybe find some new glassware. I am dying to start a vintage/thrifting resale shop, but I need far more merchandise, but I can't buy anything new until I reuse and/or sell what I have.

So! In order to make some space and also some money, I have been making so many things. Craftacular is in about two weeks, and I am actually on track to have quite a bit of things to sell. I've been cutting and sewing assembly-line style, so I don't actually have many completed items, but I will soon. Working this way is ultimately going to be good, as it saves time and allows me to keep my prices low, but it's a tiny bit of a downer to sew for six hours and not actually 'finish' anything. Of course, the feeling of finishing 20 bags in one day will likely outweigh that, so that's something to look forward to.

Okay, actually, I should go do schoolwork. Realized this week that the final project for my summer class is due the same day as Craftacular. Awesome!

26 July 2010

suddenly i am very busy and productive

I would like to talk about how productive I've been the past week or so, but I've learned that is a very good way to completely jinx myself and get nothing done for a week, so instead, here is a photo of something I made.

green dots

It has a polka-dot lining, which is pretty much my favorite kind of lining.

polka dot lining

It is also one of a few zip pouches I made using a new construction method. I have been trying to figure out the perfect zip pouch for ages, and after going through at least four different methods, I think this is it. It's lined with twill, which is both sturdy and non-bulky and allows me to use lightweight and quilting fabric that would otherwise be unsuitable. Awesome! Now I just need to make 30 or 40 more for Craftacular next month.

24 July 2010


stripe tote

Nathan gets back from a week-long tour today! Exciting. Aside from the first day or so, when I was feeling a bit lonely, this week has been ridiculously productive, both with sewing and with school stuff. This is one of the things I made; it might be the best bag I've ever made. I love it so much, SO MUCH. The exterior was originally two pairs of overalls (there's still a bit of denim left, enough for some zip pouches or maybe striped accents on other bags), and the interior is a white-on-yellow polka dot that used to be a sheet. I attempted top-stitching on the outside of the bag at least four times with two different machines; apparently top-stitching through four layers of denim is not actually a thing that can happen, at least not with my current machines & needles. (Maybe if I had a denim needle? I could swear I bought some the last time notions were on sale at Hancock. I should really organize my sewing room.) I eventually gave up on top-stitching, but I think it looks okay without it. I will likely list it on Etsy on Monday, though I am sort of hoping no one buys it so I can keep it.

Oh, and this is one of the machines I used during my top-stitching attempts.

Singer 239

It's a Singer 239. I bought it last summer for $25 at a thrift store up north, but this was the first time I actually used it. Winding the bobbin was ridiculous--I ended up winding it on my Janome. Threading took forever, but once I figured that out, the machine ran fairly well, though it smelled a little funny. I can't tell if there's something wrong with the engine or if the smell is just from using the machine for the first time in probably twenty or thirty years. I'll probably take it in to be serviced whenever I can afford it. I think it might be good to use for quilting, if I can find a vintage walking foot that isn't too expensive.

21 July 2010

purple + blue

cut squares

I'm working on a new quilt! Exciting stuff. It's made entirely from thrifted fabrics so far, though I'm still not sure what I'm going to use for the backing + binding. Planning ahead is for suckers.

possible layoutanother possible layout

Seriously, I haven't even figured out what the layout of this soon-to-be quilt will be. I'm pretty sure I want to do half-triangles, though I have no idea which design I'll use. Two options are pictured, and I also have been wanting to do a pinwheel quilt for awhile now, though I may give up on the triangles entirely and just stick with squares. (But that's boring, right?) The blue flower fabric is vintage quilting fabric, I think, and the purple fabric is probably garment fabric. I only have two rather oddly-shaped remnants of the purple, so in order to get the most use out of it, I'm cutting mostly 6" squares, but also some 4" squares. Originally I intended to just cut everything out, make a bunch of half-triangle squares (there has to be a better name for that), put it all together, and hope it was at least baby-quilt sized. However, after seeing this post on 36 Shea, I'm thinking maybe I should add some white? I have a few different pieces of white fabric that I could recycle--backing for a set of drapes and fabric from a bedskirt--and it would be nice if I had the option of making this lap-quilt sized. I obviously won't be copying the design in the post exactly, as that would be so disrespectful to the anonymous woman who made it, but I'm glad I saw that post this week. When I'm designing quilts, I tend to forget that adding solid color blocks or sashing is an option. We'll see; probably I'll finish cutting out the purple + blue flower fabrics and then see how I feel.

Of course, just like I do every time I make a quilt (because I have thus far been unable to ever plan ahead, ever), I am second-guessing every decision and permanently convinced I'm going to waste all this fabric and end up with something awful. Because I'm a crazy person! Actually, no, that's not fair, I am doing far less worrying on this project, mostly because I know what to expect by now. I have pretty much decided that I really need to start choosing a design first and then choosing fabric, but I am also okay with the fact that when you're recycling thrifted fabric rather than buying it new, you have to be flexible and figure out what's possible with what you have.

16 July 2010

what did i get myself into

So! Things are happening. I did some sewing this week, though I have very few photos to share as I stupidly forgot my camera at my parents' house. But still, sewing happened! Awesome.

I went to an amazing show last night. I missed the first band (Stacian) but Manic Zamboni and Bzybodies get better every time I see them (NB: both started out awesome) and Possible Fathers was pretty great. Bzybodies is one of Nathan's bands, and I don't want to get all cheesy or whatever, but every time I see him play, I'm kind of blown away by how great he is.

Today has been less awesome! It is getting super hot again (kill me now), and I finally had some time to sit down and work on my thesis proposal, which reminded me how much work I still have left before it'll be ready to submit. And then I'll still have to write the thesis itself! (Kill me now again.) But at least I'm actually getting some of that huge mountain of work done, I guess? I stopped by the studio arts & craft center on campus, and apparently I can stop in whenever I want to work on sewing, so that's kind of amazing. They have AC and large tables, both of which my sad little sewing room lacks. The Madison Craftacular is now less than a month away (which I just now realized and okay I'm sort of freaking out), so it'll be nice to have somewhere to work on super-hot days.

Alright! I have so much to do, so maybe I should go work on things? Yes, definitely. Oh, and the photo is of the two ducks that live at my sister's house. They also have five chickens! Moving to Milwaukee next month will be a bit of a change for her and her boyfriend.

13 July 2010

back in mke and it is not quite so hot

eventually most of this mess will be cat toys
I went up north last weekend for rather unfortunate reasons. We had to go to a memorial service for someone in Nathan's family, and my mom had knee surgery. However! The memorial service was super beautiful and I think brought some closure to his family, and my mom is doing awesome. So! Yeah. We are back in Milwaukee now, and it is now just normal hot, not brain-meltingly hot. (Meltingly isn't a word? LAME.) I was actually able to do a bit of sewing yesterday, which was super amazing and also kind of messy, obviously. I'm hoping to have 100 cat toys to sell at the Craftacular next month, and after working on them yesterday, I have decided that I need to work a lot faster. Also, I learned that cats can smell catnip stored in a metal filing cabinet, but they can't smell catnip stored in my sewing table's cabinet. Possibly because that cabinet smells really weird? Like new-car smell, except new-cabinet smell? I don't know, that's what happens when you buy discount cabinets, I guess. Anyway, my new favorite game is to shake the bag of catnip, watch the cats freak out and try to jump up in a vain attempt to claw it open, and then sprinkle a bunch of catnip around them and and watch them roll around in it, hissing at any person (or cat) who gets too close. Hilarious!