Taking a shot at sewing


I don’t know what possessed me to think I was up to the challenge of taking in the sides of a blazer but that’s what I’m currently trying to accomplish. I do own a sewing machine and know enough to be dangerous. Meaning I know enough to get myself into a mess but not enough to get myself out of one. HOWEVER. I’m halfway through my little project and can report that I have successfully taken in one seam without too much damage done!

I didn’t go into this without research but I’ve been struggling to find good tutorials on what I specifically wanted to do. I tried searching for videos and blogs with detailed instructions and pictures but couldn’t really find much. If anyone knows of any tutorials or good sewing websites, please show me the way! I tried to take pictures of how I took in the seam but I’ve been working on it at night and the lighting is terrible for pictures. Believe me, I tried. I’m hoping the second seam will go smoother than the first now that I basically (marginally) know what I’m doing.

It’s SCARY to take out a seam. Once you cut it apart, there’s no going back. I actually had to look up a video on how to use a seam ripper because I’d never used one before. I thought taking out a seam was straightforward but there are multiple ways to do it. I learned to be very careful because at one point I actually ripped through the delicate material (the jacket is made of crepe fabric). Luckily it was on the part of the fabric that was already taken in and hidden on the inside. Like I said… I know enough to be dangerous.

I’m on the fence on whether I’d embrace this undertaking again rather than taking my projects to a tailor (whom I now have MAD respect for). But I know if the rest of the jacket turns out positively then I’ll have more confidence to take on other alterations myself.

Here are some general observations on what has made this project easier yet also somewhat complicated.

Black fabric: The dark color is more forgiving when it comes to mistakes. I ran into some difficulty with my first seam when I got up to the top, where the sleeve attaches to the bodice. Obviously the seam had been sewn first, followed with the attaching of the sleeve. I was too scared to detach a portion of the sleeve so I tried to finish the rest of the seam by hand to avoid further unstitching and reattaching. I’m sure pro sewers would flinch if I showed them my work but since the jacket is black and the area is in a more hidden spot, no one can really tell. The disadvantage to black fabric is that the stitches are much harder to see. My sewing area must not have been lit enough because I was really struggling to see the tiny stitches I needed to remove.

Thinner, unlined fabric: My jacket is thinner than most blazers because it’s made of a light crepe material.  I had no problem feeding the material through, but the delicate nature of the fabric was more prone to ripping. One of the reasons I wanted to attempt this alteration myself was because the jacket is unlined, making the seam much easier to access. Linings are awesome but they do complicate things!

Tips are appreciated if you have any!

Curtains: to make or not to make?

I had grand plans of making my own curtains for all of about 48 hours. I had done SO much research on how to sew them, add a lining, or even make a no-sew version if I wanted. I was in a crafty mood and I knew I had a short window to take advantage of it, or I’d move on to other grand plans. That’s kind of my M.O. I know now to take advantage of my moods because who knows how long they will stay! So I went to Joann’s in search of fabric and with a 40% off one item coupon on my phone. There I had the depressing realization that fabric, especially the home d├ęcor kinds I was interested in, is certainly not cheap. Even at 40% off, making my own curtains wasn’t a bargain. Especially when you consider that you can get pretty cute curtains at Target or West Elm for equal the price or even less than what it would cost to make yourself. But Heather, you may ask, can you really put a price on something you make with your own two hands? Isn’t the accomplishment worth something? Sure, it can be. But I think it depends on the cost difference, especially when you factor in the time spent.

I realize it’s a little unfair to make comparisons to Target prices, but I want to be realistic in that Target is one of the first places I would go to search for housewares like this (and no, they’re not paying me).

Take these curtains from Target, currently on sale at $23.79 per panel.
I knew I wanted something similar to this color scheme -- a little cream, a little yellow. Neutral, if you will. So I went to Joann's to check out fabric. I can't remember exactly what print I was looking at, only that the brand was Waverly and that the colors were similar. Something like this, which I found on Joann's website: 

How much do you think this would cost per yard? Naive Heather would've thought, what, $10 a yard? Try $59.99. PER YARD. And fine, it was on sale for 40% off. But that'll still run you $35.99 per yard, and I needed about five yards per window. $180 curtains were not in my budget, especially when it would've taken me at least a couple hours to iron and sew everything (and that's highly optimistic).

I know you can find cheaper fabric. But isn't the point of making your own curtains getting to choose exactly what you want? And apparently my tastes run expensive. But don't worry, my hopes were dashed for all of about a minute. I flew the white flag and ended up at Target, like I usually do.

And done.
They took a while to grow on me (all patterns do) but now I think I love them. I don't know what it is about me that finds it so hard to commit to housewares. I just keep thinking that something better will come along (a cuter pattern, a better sale) and it keeps me from pulling the trigger. But sometimes I find that you just have to bring something home and put it up for a while to see how it melds with your space. As I like to say, you can always take it back!

Nail art!

I treated myself for my birthday to a beauty product I’d never bought before because of the price. And that price, folks, is $10. No cheapy here! Right. You’ll see what I mean, though. One of the new trends in nail polish is a nail polish strip – like a decal – you can adhere to your nails. They’re often patterned, giving you a nail art look that appears as if you spent hours on it. But really, you peel off the sticker, stick it on your nails, and file off the excess. BAM, instant nail art. I tried Essie Sleek Sticks, but you can get this type of product from a few other brands too like OPI and Sally Hansen.

The pros are strong. You don’t need base coat or top coat, which saves time. The stickers are obviously dry to the touch, which means you don’t have to sit around waving your hands and saying things like, “Can you grab that for me? My nails are wet.” That, in my book, is a huge plus. Removal is also easy: they peel right off. But strong as these pros are, they can’t make up for the big detractor.

Nail strips are obviously only a one-time use, and packages only come with enough strips for one application. At $10 a pop, there’s not enough bang for your buck to make nail strips a regular in my nail rotation. Especially when you consider you can buy a bottle of polish for the same price (or perhaps two) that will last you years. For special occasions though, I can totally see myself buying these again! The factor that does help justify the price are the designs: you’d have to put a lot of work into creating these nail looks yourself. If you think of it as a manicure (minus the spa treatment and convenience of having someone else do it for you…) then you can sort of justify the price. Sort of. But it’s a fun treat! A word of caution though: your patterned nails will be very distracting! Really, I can’t look at my keyboard without admiring the cool lace design I’ve currently got on my tips.