When should you throw away your sewing project?

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Halloween’s in two days, and I almost abandoned ship on this one.  The helmet.  The eye holes in the helmet.  I tried cutting them a few different ways.  Tried stitching around them (that just made it worse).  Then I was almost out of the blue fabric, so I had to awkwardly piece together the top of the thing.  It’s just not my best work.

I started thinking of what his pre-K teachers would think at his Halloween party when they pulled out this awkward costume I sped through, attempting to upcycle what are, admittedly, kind of ragged old t-shirts.  I thought about how my son might feel when he sees another Captain America looking like this.  And the project was taking too long.  Way longer than I’d imagined it’d take.

But then my son came home from preschool.  And he was so excited.  I finished the project, for better or for worse.  And Captain America is wearing blue jeans, too.  Because he does that sometimes, right?

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But then I look at these pictures and feel the nostalgia that raggedy homemade costumes tend to muster up.  I think about the conversations we’ll have over old photo albums when my kids are teenagers or young adults about how I really might have been a little Pinterest crazy when they were little.  Or maybe they’ll look back and think I was totally awesome at making stuff.  Either way, I’m glad I didn’t throw away that helmet.

-Mac-

Mac had a Little Overcoat…

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The past week I’ve done a couple of those sewing projects that make a big impact but are really just thrifty no-brainers.

First, surely, surely, surely, I’m not the only woman that’s gotten on Pinterest a few times and decided I was done with any scarf that was not infinite.  For almost two years now, I’ve been trying to tie and tuck this scarf in just right so it would look like an infinity scarf, (even though it’s not), but I finally got around to stitching the ends together.

Instant infinity.

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Then there’s my coat.

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I love my coat.  It’s soft and green and made of down.  *sigh*  You can imagine how sad I was when the incident happened:

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Early March.  Suburban neighborhood.  Left sleeve.  Victim of assault by a thorny rose bush.

The worst part wasn’t the tear, which is pretty small.  It was the trail of white feathers that followed me for weeks.  In the house, in the car, up my nose.  One day, we were getting cell phones set up.  It took a while to set up a new account. The associate eventually had to ask for help from her manager.  I tried to keep a poker face when he snatched a feather from mid air and said, “Where did all these feathers come from?!”
“I don’t know!” she replied “But, I’ve been seeing them all morning!”

I love my coat, but rather than send it to the big Cleveland winter in the sky, I thought it best to amputate.

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My coat died a little bit, but was reincarnated as this fabulous vest!  Complete with new decorative stitching on the chest!  I was so thrilled not only by how great my new puffer vest turned out, but also how I managed to take the PERFECT selfie to show it off.  Seriously.  I never look this radiant in real life.

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I guess the moral of the story is, learn how to use your sewing machine.  At least a few basics.  Then don’t be afraid to try your skills on your stuff.  Sewing can be an expensive hobby for some, but if you’re scrappy, you can really save cash by putting some of the stuff you already own in stitch rehab.

And if you don’t have a machine, I recommend starting with a cheap Brother from Walmart.  (This is the one I’ve been using for the past three years!) It’s modern and intuitive and it works right out of the box.  Some folks like to use a vintage machine, or whatever their grandmother hands down to them.  Hang on to that machine, and get it set up later, but after seeing (and experiencing) some of the frustration that can come if your old machine wasn’t serviced and adjusted just right, (which, consequently, can cost as much as my Walmart machine) I just don’t think it’s best to learn on.  Don’t get me wrong, I want one of those big heavy metal machines, myself, some day, for heavy duty projects–but I sew fairly often, and on a pretty wide variety of projects, and my little Brother has never let me down.  I even got the matching serger for my birthday.  I LOVE them both.

So, go sew.  Sew, go, so…  Sew.
-Mac-

P.S. Today’s blog post title comes from this adorable children’s book.  Everything I needed to know about budget sewing techniques came from Joseph. 😉

P.P.S. Just so you know, those aren’t affiliate links or anything.  Sometimes, I just feel all linky about the stuff!  You get it.

DIY Glow Cube Night Light

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Let me set the stage for you.  It’s 7:30 PM.  The grandparents are visiting.  Baths have been administered, teeth have been brushed, pajamas have been applied.  Then, just before the bedtime song, my 4 year old bursts into tears.  “I’m AFRAID of the dark!!!”

I was taken by surprise because 1) in April, the sun is still shining bright as day at 7:30 at night in Cleveland, and 2) my son has just never expressed fear of the dark before.  I blame it on the stinkin’ “Glow Pet” commercials. *rassin’ frassin’*

Well, I didn’t have a night light.  We’ve never had need of it before.  What I did have within 5 minutes of scrounging was a string of leftover LED Christmas lights and an old plastic CD organizer.  I grabbed a scrap of fabric to tuck over it and said, “Look!  Now you have a night light!”

This weekend I got out my sewing machine and made the “Glow Cube” official.  This was a simple 15 minute project that I pulled off without ever really doing any math or measuring.  Here’s how you can make your own!

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You will need a large scrap of fabric,  a rectangular plastic bin or basket with lots of ventilation, and a string of Christmas lights.  My lights were LED.  I’d be cautious about using traditional lights because the heat they create seems like it could be a fire hazard.

NOTE:  Now’s as good a time as any to say your results may vary with this project, depending on the type of basket, weight of fabric, and how many or what kind of Christmas lights you use.  PROCEED WITH CAUTION, watch to see if your lights give off a great deal of heat when plugged in for a long time, and just use common sense.  You do NOT want to end up putting a fire hazard in the room with your precious babies!  I feel quite comfortable with mine, but use this night light AT YOUR OWN RISK!

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(You can click on this picture for a somewhat better view.)

1) Wrap your fabric WRONG SIDE OUT around your basket, pinching along the corners to pin.  You should create 4 flaps, as if you’re wrapping a present, but we’re going to stop short of the part where you’d fold them all in and tape them.  I used two pins at each corner.  One at the top and one at the bottom.

2) Trim some of the excess off each corner and around the bottom of your bin, leaving about an inch around the sides and about two inches around the bottom.

3) Carefully slip this pinned “lamp shade” off your basket and sew FOUR STRAIGHT LINES at the pins, from top to bottom.  To get the fit right, I tried to make my stitching go EXACTLY where the pins had been.  You can then finish these seems or just press them open with your iron.  You shouldn’t have to worry much about fraying with this project, unless you think you’ll want to throw it in the washing machine.

4) Turn the work so that the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric faces you.  If you have a bone folder, use it to make all your new little corners pointy and professional.  You could also just use a pen cap or closed scissors.  Make sure your “shade” still fits nicely on your plastic bin, and tuck in your loose edges where you want your hem to be.

5).  Pin the hem in place, remove the shade from your bin, and press the hem with your iron.  Use that first crease to mark where your shade actually ends, then fold the excess fabric inside of it.  Press, and stitch.

6) Loosely toss your Christmas lights into your plastic bin and thread the plug in out one of the holes!  You are now ready to put the shade back in place and plug in your glow cube!

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Guaranteed to keep monsters at bay!  Well… maybe not the cutest littlest monsters!

Thanks for visiting my blog!  If you liked this, don’t forget to Pin It!   You might also like this DIY Menu Planning Board, or my post about this year’s DIY Christmas.

-Mac-