Monday, November 30, 2015

Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - Faux fur Christmas Stockings

I'm trying to get all the Handmade Christmas presents done before the end of Nov! With the remaining grey faux fur that I used for the faux fur pillows, I made a pair of Faux Fur Christmas Stockings with a self-drafted  pattern:

I'm not too enthusiastic about sewing with faux fur because of all the mess. However, I saw that lots of the medium to higher end home decor stores have lots of faux fur stockings. So I guess that is trendy right now. I hope my family members like them! Now I need to get on with making the other gifts.....

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - A Refashion and an Applique

Amid all the ranting about paring down my wardrobe, I have been continuing making handmade Christmas Presents. This time, I made a Mickey Mouse pyjama set for my boy. I used a thrifted a pair of women's mickey mouse pyjama pants that I bought at my local thrift store for $1.99 to make the pj pants. I used the hem of the original pants so it was a super easy refashion:

PJ pants before

Then I cut a silhouette of the head of Mickey Mouse with the remnant fabrics from the pants, and did an applique on a plain boy's t-shirt:

Excuse the messy topstitching!
So here is the final pj set:

I hope he likes it! I have a few more gifts to make.......better get on with it!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Wardrobe Stash Cleansing - the Plan

Since ranting about wanting to pare down my wardrobe to a sustainable level a few days ago, I decided to set a self-challenge: to cleanse something from my wardrobe stash every week between now and the end of the year. To accomplish this challenge, I need to put a plan in place.

First, I will deal with just the Fall/Winter garments and accessories. I will lay out all the wintry items, photograph them, and wear different items each day for the next month to test their wear-ability. I will then evaluate each items in with the following questions:
  1. Does it fit?
  2. Is it comfortable?
  3. Is it warm?
  4. Is it practical for day to day purpose (e.g. driving, grocery shopping, taking care of young children, running after children, carrying heavy loads, cooking, etc)?
  5. Is it beautiful?
  6. Does it have great sentimental value (e.g. given to me by a special person, me-made items that took lots of sweat and tears, etc)?
I think I'll probably falter at the last question regarding sentimentality since most of my wardrobe consists of me-made items. Perhaps I will end up purging all the store purchased stuff from my wardrobe once and for all! LOL!

Also, once I have catalogued all the items in the wardrobe, I will be shocked at the actual volume and be shamed into purging at least some of them.

I have called a couple of local charity shops and sadly they have confirmed that they would sometimes throw away donated items that didn't have tags on them. They said that the tagged items (especially the known brands like H&M, Gap, Zara, TopShop, etc) were the ones that sell well whereas the custom made stuff (no tags) stayed on the racks forever. So they would rather not receive them. How sad! I will need to find a good home for them somehow if I do decide to purge them.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall/Autumn Winter Packing list - Minimalist Style

We have dear family and friends who live far away. I have become more efficient in packing when we go to visit them a few times a year. The kids obviously need more changes of clothes than adults (e.g. getting car sick or spilling spaghetti on their clothes). Recently we just came back from a 4 day visit with friends/family and this is what I packed:
Plus socks, underwear, a pair of boots and coat.
I packed:
  • A recently refashioned grey sweater dress and a wool jersey dress (both thrifted and refashioned)
  • 1 flannel shirt (thrifted)
  • 2 scarfs to change the looks of the dresses - the red one was a handmade gift and the infinity scarf was made from thrifted fabric
  • 2 pairs of fleece lined leggings in different colours (both thrifted)
  • A belt (thrifted)
  • Plus socks, underwear, a coat and a pair of boots (I don't bother with packing more than 1 pair of shoes/boots if I don't absolutely have to)
The whole lot took up very little space in our family luggage.

These are the outfits from the 4 day trip (the first and last day were driving days):

This is very typical of what I would pack for a 4 or 5 day trip. If it's a 6 or 7 day trip, I would add another sweater dress, probably a comfortable and more roomy one like this one that I layer (refashioned from 3 men's sweaters):

My girlfriends are always curious as to why I wear dresses so much in the winter since I'm usually a tomboy. For me, it's the perfect garment for cold weather: it's warm and cozy from my neck to my knee, it's stretchy and comfy to wear (no woven waistbands to dig into my waist), it's easy to wear as you just throw it on and you're dressed (yes I'm lazy). What's not to like?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Help! I'm trying to pare down my Wardrobe - A Rant

I feel like I'm sounding like a broken record: I have too much clothes in my closet! I need to pare down! But most of the stuff in my closet are me-made or me-refashioned items, I have a hard time parting with them. (See the same old rants here and here). And even if I donate them to the local charities, they may just throw them in the garbage bin because my me-made clothes have no tags that indicate brands or sizes. That would defeat the purpose of donating and recycling my clothes!

So when I read a recent post from one of my favourite bloggers Zoe Edwards about trying to achieve a 'sustainable wardrobe', I was nodding all the way! However, I still don't know what to do with my very large me-made wardrobe.

What do you think I should do? Should I have a online yard sale/car boot sale of sorts to pare down my wardrobe? Any ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Yet Another Break from the Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - Sweater dress Refashion

I can't help it but I just have to go back to making things for myself! This time I'm doing another easy refashion for a thrifted sweater dress. I bought this wool blend Monsoon sweater dress from my local thrift store last year. I loved the colour and I had planned to make an asymmetrical hem tunic.

It was a little too slouchy on me. I decided to keep it as a sweater dress and pinned the sides of the dress slightly to make it more fitted. After less than an hour, here is the result:

It doesn't look too different except a little bit too fitted for my liking. It highlights my protruding lower abdomen a bit too much. I wear a low belt to try to disguise it. However I may just do a re-refashion with this dress at a later date. For now, I have yet another sweater dress to wear for this winter!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - Faux Fur Pillows

Yes we are back with the Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge. A couple of close family members are moving into their new home. So I thought why not give them some home decor presents? I searched through my fabric stash and found this grey faux fur that I bought a few years ago when a local fabric store was closing down. I thought that this grey colour should go with almost any decor or style/colour of their sofa:

There was a good 2 metres of it. I debated whether to make a faux fur sofa throw or pillows. In the end I figured that people probably wouldn't mind having different textured pillows on their sofa. A big faux fur throw could be too much a commitment for them. So in 2 hours I made these pillows:

I am always hesitant in making faux fur stuff because of the fluff they produce during the making process. I swept and vacuumed along the way and I wore a face mask. But I think it was worth it for 2 hours of work. I hope they like the gifts!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Another break from the Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - Sweater Dress Refashion

Yes I'm taking another break from making stuff for others and concentrate on moi! :-) This time I'm also doing a very quick and simple refashion.

I thrifted this wool blend grey long sweater dress last year. It's nice and soft and grey is an excellent neutral colour for me:

It's down to my toes - not practical at all!
I heard that long sweater dresses are in fashion right now but it really is not practical in knee deep snow. So I just cut it about knee length and hemmed the dress with 2 rows of narrow zig-zag stitching. It took about 30 minutes of work. And this is how I am wearing it:

I am wearing it with a thrifted belt, an infinity scarf made with thrifted fabrics, purple tights and rainboots (it's rainy right now). I'm happy to have added this to my collection of very useful, refashioned sweater dress for the winter!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Random thoughts: Gwen's embellished boots

As I have mentioned before on my blog, I'm really grateful that I sew. I love having this kinda useful hobby (better than a gambling hobby perhaps? ;-), I can replicate a lot of things that I like or my kids like at a fraction of the cost. My creative outlet relaxes me and is very therapeutic for me. My hubby is happy when I sew which means I'm not buggy him or complaining about things (sewing is vital for marital bliss! LOL!).

As for copycat fashions, I saw on an entertainment blog about these boots that Gwen Stefani wore recently. Apparently lots of fashion blog readers were salivating for them:
They are really not my style but I thought it wouldn't be difficult to replicate those embellishments on a pair of plain black ankle boots. I don't know how much these actual boots cost but I think any seasons crafter can do a DIY version of this. You need some chevron ribbons, some knitted band and then some zipper tapes, sew them together and add some lose yarn at the back. Then slide the whole 'cuff' on top of any plain black stiletto ankle boots and you have the look of these probably very expensive designer boots!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Short Break from the Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - Skirt Refashion

I had been so immersed in making Christmas presents for other people that I felt like I needed to create something for myself (yes deep down I'm a selfish seamstress too! ;-). I looked into my to-be-refashioned stash and found this thrifted green suede midi skirt that I bought earlier in the year. It was too tight on me - I wasn't able to zip up the top 2 inches of the zipper. I was going to make a purse with this skirt. However, I like the a-line shape of the skirt and I read that midi suede skirts are on trend this Fall/Winter. So I decided to do a quick and easy refashion with it!

First, with my trusty seam ripper, I took off the too-tight waistband:

Then I cut off about 2 inches from the top of the skirt and bound the top edge with some remnant black knit from my stash:

Now I can comfortably zip up the skirt. Voila! A quick and easy refashion!

And this is how it looks on me:
I look like a Christmas tree with the red sweater and the green skirt! LOL!
I'm very pleased with this quick and easy refashion. The skirt now fits and the knit binding at the waist makes the skirt really comfortable to wear. The suede skirt is very warm and blocks the bitter cold wind we have here in the winter. And most important of all, I made something for myself after concentrating on making stuff of other people! Yay!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - Knitted Infinity scarves for Adult and Kid

Since my daughter was bugging me to knit her something, I quickly knitted this neck warmer/infinity scarf for her with the same thrifted yarn. Knitting for kids is just as quick and satisfying as sewing kids' clothes!I finished her scarf so quickly that I had time to knit one for an adult. These 2 scarves only took a few hours to do. Now who should I give the bigger scarf to for Christmas?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - Scarf for Mom Done!

I am finally done with the knitted scarf for my mom! As mentioned before, I thrifted these Alpaca/mohair blend yarn from my local Salvation Army. I used 2 balls of yarn for this scarf. My mom doesn't like the scarves to be too long because she wants to be able to stow them in her coat pocket easily. I just used the basic knit technique since the yarn has it's own texture. I hope she likes it! And here it is:

And here is how it looks on me:

Of course, once my daughter saw me knitting, she said she wanted a scarf in the same yarn too. Thank goodness I have 2 more balls of the same yarn left. I guess I'll have to knit her something as well for Christmas! Note to self: don't make Christmas presents in front of the kids! ;-)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Handmade Christmas Presents Challenge - Quick and Easy Neck Warmers

With some fleece scraps in my scrap box, I decided to make some quick and easy neck warmers (neck gaiters) for hubby and the kids. to match the fleece hats I made them. Luckily I had just enough fabric scraps. It was such an easy and quick project. All three neck warmers only took an hour from cutting to finishing! I used fold over elastics that I already have in my stash to bind the edges. And here they are:

I am happy with the progress of this handmade Christmas some far. I have more gifts to make. Let's get on with it!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Hand made Christmas Presents challenge - Keepsake boxes for Kids Done!

The Kids' Keepsake boxes are done! It took 2 colours of craft acrylic paints, Mod Podge, and cut out characters from my kids' favourite colouring books, and some rhinestone stickers.

From these:

To these: 

I hope the kids like them!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hand made Christmas Presents challenge - Keepsake boxes for Kids

My kids have these little treasures that they like keeping which puzzles me as an adult. My daughter kept a bunch of party decorations from a friend's Frozen theme party that she refused to part with. My son has a bunch of little Lego figures, mini flashlights and Pokemon cards that he treasures from birthday loot bags.

Last week my son was talking about wanting a treasure box big enough for all these little treasures. That gave me an idea to create some keepsake boxes for my kids. That way, when their boxes are full, they will have to learn to edit things out in order to put new stuff in. I am hoping that it will help them to learn not to hoard, but to keep things that have real significance to them. (Note to self: I need to learn not to hoard fabric and notions too! LOL!)

I thrifted these 2 wooden boxes from my local thrift stores last week for $2.99 each. The decorations are not my cup of tea but the boxes are solid. I plan to use my kids' colouring book covers to decorate them.  These are my kids' favourite characters. After all, they have already coloured all the pages so the colouring books are about to go to the recycling bin. Nothing is wasted!

I already have ModPodge and acrylic paints in my craft stash. So let the upcycling begin!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hand made Christmas Presents challenge - Yarn and Needles

I learned basic knitting in Home Ec class when I was 12. I have never liked it as I am slow and not good at it. And most of all, I feel it's a very slow way of making a garment when I already have a sewing machine and a serger! So it's surprising that I would  willingly choose to knit a present for someone.

I spotted these mohair/alpaca blend yarn at my local thrift store last month. They were in very good condition and very affordable so I bought a few, without knowing what I was going to do with them until this week. I decided to knit my mom a nice and warm scarf with this yarn. She had always liked this pinkish-burgundy colour. I thought it would be a nice thing for me to knit her something to thank her for all those wool cardigans that she knitted me when I was a child.

Since I'm a poor and slow knitter, it may take me a full 20 days to knit this scarf so I'd better start now!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hand made Christmas Presents challenge - Fleece hat for Hubby

I chose a practical and easy to make Christmas present. I have lots of fabric remnants, including fleece remnants. Hubby is a big guy with a big noggin. It is always difficult to for him to buy RTW hats that fit him properly. I thought I would use my remnants to make him a simple fleece hat. I had just enough of this green plaid fleece. There were loads of tutorials on the web regarding how to make simple fleece hats for adults and children. I quickly measured his head and after less than an hour, he has a new fleece hat for this winter!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hand Made Christmas Presents- a 28 day challenge

My latest challenge is not about my outfits. I have decided to hand make at least one Christmas presents for each of my dearly beloved family members. Yes I mentioned the 'C' word and it's only Nov 1! But in order to hand make them myself, I really need to start now. So I will be blogging about my hand made presents plans, my progress on them, as well as whether I'll be able to make my own 28 day deadline or not for each present. Should be nerve wrecking and motivating at the same time!

Refashion: Adding side slits to tight sweaters

I love this really warm and soft thrifted merino wool sweater. I refashioned the neckline last year so that it doesn't choke my neck anymore:

But I still find the bottom ribbed band too tight. It 'showed off' my bulging lower abdomen a bit too much for my liking. So I decided to go 'on trend' and created side slits for this sweater. I carefully ribbed out the yarn that sewn the side seams together all the way up the ribbed band. I think it looks a little better and I don't have to constantly pull the sweater down because the ribbed band was creeping up my waist:

It took less than 30 minutes to do. Another easy peasy refashion!