It feels like I've been a bit slow with posting these past few weeks. I think the Singapore trip sort of turned our routines upside down somewhat. Before we left, we had this nice, workable pattern to our day - manic, non-stop chauffeur duty from 830 am to about 4 pm every other day to get the kids to and from preschool, then tea-time at home (while the dishwasher got emptied and refilled), followed by cleanup (by the kids), and then a movie while I prepared dinner. We were like a well-oiled machine! And then we flew off to foreign lands and had zero routine (other than swimming daily). Now, a month after we got home, the jet lag has worn off and I'm back to my mad chauffeur schedule, but the kids - oh! They're insane. They won't watch movies. They want to do stuff all the time with me. All the time. Every day. Today I needed to finish something on the sewing machine and I begged them to watch a movie. BEGGED. Almost had to bribe them. It went something like this, "Look, if you watch a movie now, maybe I can finish sewing this. When I finish sewing this, we can put away the fabric and take out the cardboard and make the Barbie house for Kate's birthday, OK? Please watch a movie now, yes?"
Only two of them agreed. The third wanted to help me with the sewing. Finally convinced her to make something out of card stock instead.
And then this beautiful weather! 60s over the weekend, and 70s tomorrow. I can't stay indoors when March is behaving like May!
This is why I haven't actually made anything in a whole month, apart from one laundry hamper and one mermaid tail. There aren't even spare moments in the day to sneak in a few seams at the sewing machine. Good news, though - I'm getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow. Hurrah! An excuse to act sick and be horizontal on the sofa and not play with the kids. I might claim to be well enough by tea-time to be vertical at the sewing machine and finish what I didn't finish today (reason: various children needed help with Perler beads and tuning a guitar and the bathroom).
Do your days feel completely cuckoo, too, or is it just us in our vacation aftermath?
Anyway, wanted to check in and respond to some requests and questions I've been getting in the email. First, I am thrilled that so many of you have come to visit after reading my cardboard article in this month's Family Fun Magazine. Welcome! All you need to know is that there are two main kinds of projects on this blog - cardboard, and sewing, and I swing violently between the two. Some of you wrote to ask where to find the projects featured in the magazine, and if there are patterns. The short answer is no, I don't provide templates for my cardboard projects, largely because many of them are huge, and almost all of them have dimensions entirely dependent on the cardboard boxes/sheets I have in the house at the time. I also think it is good practice for people to try and make their own templates because, rather than just trace around somebody's pattern and follow their method of construction, one can learn so much by figuring out on one's own, how something is done. For instance, Emily watched me make a cardboard stand for a cardboard computer once, and since then, she's used that same basic technique on her own for many other projects of her own, including a music stand, a microphone stand and a table for her dolls.
I do, however, provide as much instruction as can be documented, for many of my cardboard projects. There are two ways to find them on my blog.
One way is to go to my sidebar and click on the picture of The Cardboard Tutorials, which will take you to the unabridged version of that magazine article:
Scroll to the end of that post, where there is a montage of 40 cardboard projects. Each photo is an individual link to that project so click on the one you want and it should take you to the post in question.
Since I wrote that post (last year), I've added more cardboard projects, so the more updated way is to click on the "Paper" category in my sidebar and it will pull up all the posts related to paper. Why I categorized cardboard stuff as "Paper", I don't know. Back when I started my blog, I had only three categories: Fabric, Paper and Foam. I would never have guessed that someday I'd have odd projects like "Smocking", "Pockets" or "Circuits" that would need their own category.
The second kind of question I've been asked is about fabric, and how to build a stash when one is a beginner. I thought I'd answer that here, too.
To begin, I very seldom buy fabric I don't know what to do with. By that, I don't mean I know exactly what project I want a particular fabric for. Rather, I mean that when I see, covet and purchase a piece of fabric, I know what kind of project I want it for e.g. the other day I saw a peacock blue home dec fabric with white scrolls on it, and immediately I knew I wanted it for a large bag (design as yet unknown). So I bought a yard of it. Another example: some weeks ago, I saw a brown printed cotton fabric that I wanted to use as a trim or accent fabric for small pouches. I bought half a yard of that.
It is very, very rare for me to see a fabric in a store and think, "I really like that! I don't know what it will be good for, but I should buy it so I won't go home and regret not buying it." If no project comes to mind when I look at a fabric, I will not buy it. Conversely, whenever I see a fabric, a project - sometimes vague, and sometimes with all the details in - immediately comes to mind, which then makes me covet it, and subsequently fork out money for it. For that reason, I also very rarely buy fabric online, because I can't touch it. The descriptions (e.g. 100% cotton, 45" width, or 97% cotton, 3% rayon) mean nothing to me if I cannot touch it, because there is so much variation even within those 100% cottons.
So, assuming I actually want to buy some yardage of a fabric because I have a project in mind for it, I will then ask myself a sequence of questions that goes like this:
Q1 Is it for clothes or not?
These are apparel fabrics, the ones of which appeal to me are almost always a solid linen or something equally plain but with a nice texture. I very rarely buy print apparel fabric.
If yes, go to Q2. If no, skip to Q8.
Q2 Is it for the entire garment?
If yes, go to Q3. If no, skip to Q6.
Q3 Is it for a
- Shirt (short sleeves, long sleeves)
- some other garment?
If so, work out the yardage in head according to these rules.
Q4 Is it for me or for the girls (sorry, husband)?
Again, estimate the yardage according to these rules.
Q5 Does this garment also need lining? Interfacing?
If so, estimate yardage according to these rules, and head over to the lining/interfacing aisles and pick those up too.
Q6 Will I need it only for part of a garment (like the sleeves)?
If yes, estimate the yardage according to these rules.
Q7 Will I enjoy having remnants/leftover yardage for a second (or third) garment?
If so, I'll double the yardage. If not, I'll buy exactly what I need, to the nearest quarter yard.
- I very, very rarely buy extra if it's costume fabric. I hate having remnant costume fabric, because they're not versatile at all, and can hardly be used to, say, trim an everyday-wear summer dress.
- Certain basic colors, especially in knit, are always worth buying more of. I often buy 2 yards of white, grey or blue knit if it's for a garment for me, or 1.5 yards if it's for the girls. That 2 yard cut usually allows for one adult garment plus leftovers for the girls, and the 1.5 yard cut is usually enough for 2 kid garments.
Q8 If it's not for a garment, what is it for?
These are usually the funky designer quilting cottons or home-dec fabrics whose prints are more likely to stop me in my tracks and tempt me.
- If it's a bag, I usually buy a yard.
- If it's for small pouches and miscellaneous small items, I'll buy a yard if it's not expensive; otherwise I'd buy half a yard.
- If it's for trimming or an accent fabric on a more solid background, I'll buy half a yard.
Q9 Is it on sale?
If it is, and it's a basic solid, like white twill, natural canvas etc, that I usually use a lot of anyway, I'll buy 2 or more yards.
Q10 Is it one of those pre-priced remnants?
I'll buy not less than half a yard and not more than a yard.
And that is how I've built my stash over the dunno-how-many-years it's been since I started sewing. I've also inherited fabric from Mum, so some of the stuff in my fabric closet is older than even me.
Keep sending me questions, folks, if you want to know anything! And now, off to the sewing machine - ugh. Perhaps I'll actually finish something soon and take photos of it!