Wednesday, April 29, 2015

my sewing corner {& stash!}

I've been having fun the last couple of weeks participating in Gray All Day's link up of finished projects.   This week Helena decided to do something different -- a "show-your-stash" link up party.  I once showed a part of my craft room (ahem, three years ago?) here on this blog -- but that craft room, which I never got around to completely documenting, is now gone.  It was the fourth bedroom in my house, and when organized and tiny, though it is a small bedroom, it was glorious.  I loved it!  But, when it become untidy it became a place where I shut the door, and did my crafting in other places.  It became a reminder of everything that I *don't* want in my crafting -- obligations (of things I needed to make for others), unfinished objects (that I didn't really want to finish), and languishing piles (which were a result of not having enough time in my craft room!).   You  may or may not know what I'm talking about here. ;)

Enter the decision to turn the guest room back into a guest room, and the random back corner of my basement into my crafting area.  This is, in fact, a much longer story, but let's leave it at the point in Spring 2014 when my basement flooded, and we decided to take everything out and put it all back -- in a more re-organized way.

Now -- I'm left with a craft room I can use, and when it's tidy, I love!  The "tidy" part is ongoing, by the way, so excuse the "in-progress" look of my following photos, which were taken after about 30 seconds of tidying.

First, I have my "yarn wall."  Who doesn't want a yarn wall? (Okay, maybe a non-yarn addict wouldn't, but still ... )  This is the wall that divides my basement from my crafting area and it houses a good portion of my yarn and my crafting books.  Stuffed into cubbies are the "significant" amounts of yarn, and in the boxes are the smaller amounts of yarn (generally 1-3 balls), sorted by weight.  This is of course catalogued in ravelry (my for-sale-stash is located here if you are interested!) and I frequently consult my stash to see what's there before I make an impulse buy (thank you, Dizzy Sheep, for the enabling moments you've given me).

Next, I have the area to the right of my sewing table (in which my sewing machine is a Pfaff from almost 20 years ago -- my first big purchase after getting married!) ... Here, I have my collection of "garment-amount" fabrics.  As I've dived into making a handmade wardrobe this year, this has grown ... a bit.  I'm cutting myself off at the space in which I have to house fabric.

It's getting tight, which means I need to start making stuff again!  (That is good.)

Then, I have my old Apple computer on a dresser that was once in my daughter's room but now houses assorted crafty goodies (wrapping supplies, shipping supplies, zippers & other notions ... ).  And, to the right of that is my "smaller insignificant" fabrics.

These are generally 1/2 yard, or less, and folded as per the ruler fold in order to fit into the cubbies.  I actually just moved these from the spare bedroom into this space recently and was unsure what to do when my ruler folding trick didn't work -- then decided to move some extra books into this space as fillers.  I think it works pretty well.  Here's a close-up of the scrappy goodness ...

To the right of that is the craft room-turned guest room, though I still keep my scraps of fabric on the door to the guest room.  When we have guests, I'll move it, but for now it makes an easy spot to store extra fabric scraps.  If you can't tell, it's overflowing right now ... I need to get on that whole "using-my-scraps-thing" soon!

All of this reminds me of my favorite quote on housing a "stash" of fabric / yarn / what-have-you.  The question is : How much is enough or too much?  The answer : "Enough" that keeps you creative, but "too much" stilts your creativity.  You decide where you are at!  In my current crafting space, I'm just teetering over the edge, which means I need to do some sorting and some making.  (That isn't a bad thing.)

So, thanks for taking a look at my little crafting haven in my basement!

What about you -- do you have a space to create?  Do you have a way to organize your supplies?  And, most importantly, do you have a favorite scrap quilt or scrap project to use fabric scraps in??

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Everyday Skirt #4 : the denim version

Thinking ahead to MeMadeMay, and my first time participating in the event, I was wondering what basic items I could add to my wardrobe.  A staple for me are denim skirts that I wear once or twice a week -- so it was a foregone conclusion that I would need to add a me-made denim skirt to my handmade wardrobe.  It was an equally easy decision to use my favorite skirt pattern -- the Everyday Skirt!

Being a heavier denim (8oz?), the skirt is rather full and does not drape terribly well.  Without the elastic gathering in the back, I think this would be a perfect weight for this skirt.  With the fabric gathering, however, the skirt comes off as a little too large.  Not so large that it will keep me from wearing it, of course, but something to consider for this pattern.  

Overall, I still feel very pleased with the fit.  My husband snapped this shot in our garden before we left for work one morning.   (Here I'm wearing it with my color affection scarf, tied as an infinity scarf.)   I still need to figure out how I am going to manage a daily photoshoot of my Me Made outfits, if I decide to even go the daily-photo-route.  (But, why not try?)  I'm not so sure the "early morning photo in the garden" is a strategy I'll be keeping, however.  

I don't have a lot to add about this pattern that I haven't already said, except that in going with the denim-clothing theme, I added a gold thread in a wide zig-zag stitch.  Though my zig-zag is a little uneven, it turned out pretty well and was a fun addition to this skirt.  I think I'll keep the zig-zag topstitching around!

Notes :
Pattern : Everyday skirt by Liesl & Co
Fabric : Heavier denim (I'd like to try this in a chambray!)
Notes : Size small 
{{on kollabora here}}

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Purl Soho Quilted Vest

In all of the things I've knit for myself, I have to admit that there are a few garments I've never made ... I'm talking about things like : 
  • knitted skirts (this one and this one are both high up in my queue, though I should probably just make this pattern first)
  • knitted dresses (not sure I'll ever make this one but I'd like to)
  • knitted underwear (okay, I'm joking, I have no plans there, though I do find this pattern intriguing as a layering piece)
Likewise, in sewing, I'd like to make:
  • a coat (this one has caught my eye!)
  • undergarments (though this simple bralette is high on my list of to-dos)
  • athletic wear (or my favorite new term, athleisure wear) ... and this may change one day.
So, I'm excited to share that I just completed a Purl Bee reversible quilted vest!  You can imagine my overjoyment with my most recent garment, not only a pattern that is totally new to me, but also one that leaves me only two sleeves away from completing an actual coat one day.  
In addition to the place that I anticipate this vest taking in my #MeMadeMay15 wardrobe, it is simply an amazing thing to have made.  I wanted to make this when Purl Bee came out with the first version a year ago ... then when they updated the design this year, I had to cave.  I mixed elements from both vests to come up with my final version.  Here, I'm wearing the vest over a sweater I made ages ago (really!) but still love -- so the warm vest over a handknit sweater is a match made in heaven.  It's only upon blogging this pair that I realize how perfect they are -- the hourglass sweater is a pattern by Joelle Hoverson, owner of Purl Soho, orignator of the quilted vest pattern.  

I used a simple horizontal line quilting across the denim I chose for the outer fabric paired with wool batting for the middle.  How have I never purchased wool batting before?  I'm in love, and am dying to make a winter bed quilt with wool batting now.  I used a fabric I had been coveting for the interior -- a simple geometric print by Carolyn Friedlander from her Doe collection.  I just love her aesthetic!  I could make an entire wardrobe out of her prints and be happy.  (Okay, with some key Catnap, Nani Iro, and just a few others thrown in ...)  I did not quilt the interior to the exterior, but followed the instructions on the second quilted vest so the lining would not be attached.

By far the most time-consuming aspect was hand-stitching the binding on to finish the vest.  Luckily I had been saving the Creativebug series of "How to Design Fabric" for a rainy day, and this was my chance to binge watch three of my favorite fabric designers talk about their process while I slowly slip-stitched the binding.

This was actually my first time to sew in snaps -- such a simple task, and I couldn't believe I'd never done it before!  It's fun to slowly check those things off my list of skills or garments that I hadn't ever accomplished, and then I do accomplish them.   Quilted garment? Check!  Snaps? Check!

In the end, I thought I might like the lining-side out better, but I find the denim-side more wearable. Either way, I just love this vest and can't wait to plan for a second version!

Notes :
Pattern: Purl Soho Quilted Vest version one and two
Fabric: dark denim outer / Carolyn Friedlander Doe "Sharp in Black"
size : medium
Mods: mixture of elements of both vests
{{on kollabora here}}

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Finished skirt! : Everyday Skirt #3 : the "far out" one

I made a skirt a while ago but haven't blogged about it yet -- it's an outer space skirt. 

The Everyday Skirt by Liesl & Co. has become just that for me -- an everyday skirt.  This was my third, and I've settled in on the size small as the best fit -- though I am generally a solid medium in RTW.  I have a fourth everyday skirt to blog about, and I actually just showed you my fifth version as well.  I have even more planned!   Though I haven't made seven of these (yet) -- when I do, I'll have one for every day of the week.  (Here I come, MeMadeMay!)  

My son snapped a shot of me wearing the skirt in the morning on the way out to work.  I might need to come up with a better plan of taking photos of my Me Made outfits ... In this photo I am wearing the skirt + my "winter bandit" scarf.  Though it's hard to take photos of a black scarf, it's a great addition to my wardrobe.

What is my most favorite thing about this skirt?  The weird looks I get when I'm wearing it!  ("Are those ... planets on your skirt??") And, the fact that all my girlfriend science teachers at my high school want one.   Geeks unite!

Project notes :
Pattern : Everyday Skirt by Liesl + Co.
Fabric : Something from Hobby Lobby
Mods : Size small
{{On Kollabora here.}}

Friday, April 10, 2015


So, as I write this, it is April 10.  I've been slowing adding garments to my handmade wardrobe this year in anticipation for something I haven't participated in yet, but I've been eavesdropping on for the past two years ... #mmmay15, otherwise known as Me Made May 2015!

Chances are, you've heard of this crafty phenomenon -- sewists, knitters and crocheters (who did I miss?) deck themselves in their finest frocks, their simplest scarves and their awesome accessories to celebrate the handmade garment.    This year, there's a pinterest board to keep your eye on, as well as a flickr group and the #mmmay15 hashtag on instagram.

This year, I'm taking the pledge.

  • I, Jen @ thecalicolover, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear two or more handmade items each day for the duration of May 2015.  

I'll be honest ... most days I wear something handmade, simply because as a knitter I've made a gazillion scarves before.  However, I am hopeful that embarking on this challenge I'll identify the holes in my wardrobe so I can focus more mindfully on filling those, rather than creating a lot of "fluff," which I'm sometimes apt to do.  (Oh, those colorful hand-dyed skeins of yarn and clever quilting cottons ...)

I'll check in periodically with a round-up of my outfits ... How about you?  Are you participating in Me Made May this year?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter coord : Sorbetto Top #3 and Everyday Skirt #5

I came across a post on Ada Spragg with coord inspiration a while back ... it's not a new concept, but the general idea is to make a matching top/bottom set that look cute together but can be worn separate.  It came in very handy recently when I ordered 3 yards of fabric from a vendor on eBay at a super bargain price ... but what came in the mail were two pieces of fabric -- one a single yard, the second only two yards.  This didn't really work out with the pattern I had in mind -- but when I considered the option of a coord outfit, I felt like I could make it work!

I cut out the two patterns and made them in time to wear for Valentine's Day ... and then we had a blizzard and I ended up wearing something totally different for my special date night with my husband.  I've been wearing these pieces independently (the color looks great with denim or chambray), but decided to wear the outfit out for Easter today.  (Happy Easter!)

I ended up cutting a Sorbetto Top (without the front box pleat) from the one yard piece, and an Everyday Skirt from the two yard piece.  I had enough fabric to cut sleeves for the top, as well, so I added those.  I also added a commercial bias binding to the edge of the top, and I like the little pop of color it adds.

The skirt, which has become a real go-to pattern for me, turned out super cute (I think).  If I had paid more attention to the cutting of the pattern, I would have lined up the sides with the front/backs.  It's wearable, of course, as it is, and I kind of think that had I tried to match them it might have been a disaster and it would have been more obvious.  So - I'm going with the flow and ignoring that detail for now!

Though I'm wearing the top & bottom together here with the top not tucked in, it's also a cute outfit together with a big belt to make the outfit look like a dress.    However, I think the pieces are even cuter worn separately -- again, the color of this fabric looks great with denim or chambray.    So, three different outfit possibilities in one outfit -- gotta love that!

As for the fabric itself, it's an Anna Maria Horner quilting cotton called "Banner Days," celebrating the Mexican art of papel picado.  I'll admit I also have this fabric already in blue, in voile weight.  What can I say? ... It's perfect for a Spanish teacher to wear!  I love the design.  (I see there's another colorway I don't own yet ...)

Notes :
Pattern : Sorbetto top by Colette and Everyday Skirt by Liesl & Co
Fabric : AMH Banner Days in magenta
Mods : no box pleat on the top, and added sleeves to the Sorbetto (instructions here)
{{On Kollabora here}}

I'm linking up to's Sew It Chic link party -- check out what other sewists have been up to if you get a chance!