…hem some pants?

So in my last post, I mentioned that the world had given me lemons. I’ve collected a few more fruits since that post, and the road has been bumpy.

And then yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a relatively long time. I took out my sewing machine. I wasn’t tackling a new project or some great creative idea; we switched from khakis to black pants at work, and I had to hem a pair before I went in to close. It was a simple task, but I found the physical work soothing. Concentrating on measuring, placing pins straight, winding a bobbin…all of these easy and seemingly mundane tasks, well, I felt more real than I have in a long time.

I have another pair that need hemmed, and I close again tonight, so I hope to find that same simple joy this afternoon before heading in for the chaos.

It also amazes me still how even just bringing up the legs of pants I bought at a store can boost my confidence. I walked into work yesterday thinking “yeah…these pants look so good because I made them look good.”

I’m still not feeling ready to explore crafts more deeply again. I took out the sewing machine because one pair of pants for working a full time schedule is just not enough. It was a labor of necessity, not one of love, but if I have to force myself to do these things and then find joy in them, then so be it.

If I had to sum up what I’ve been feeling most lately, it’s foolish. For years I was wrapped up in trickster mythology – Coyote, Raven, Hermes, etc. The idea of the Fool was one that I was drawn to; a wise character whose wisdom blinds them to wise choices. Fools and Tricksters were often revered as a marvelous teachers. It falls to us to learn from their follies. They were stark reflections of our own poor choices, and our own need to learn from mistakes, no matter how smart we are.

Coyote, specifically, was one of my favorites. Coyote laughs when he should cry, and he cries when others laugh. I have cried a lot lately, and this morning I thought “perhaps I should laugh instead.” I did, and it lifted my spirits. So the Trickster proves again his wisdom, and I learn once again that I have much to learn.

Today I’m going to pick myself up enough to hem that last pair of pants. It seems trivial, but in a strange way, for me, it is the most important thing in the world.

Got a few hours to spare?

I’ve traded my 5am part time shifts for full time work and occasional late nights. That means, of course, that instead of leaving work, coming home, and being too tired to do anything, I get up at a reasonable time and don’t go to work until the afternoon. I also need more pairs of khakis that I previously owned, so I bought a new pair. Alas, they were too long.

Luckily, I have a sewing machine!

For whatever reason hemming pants is a difficult task for me. It seems easy enough when I start – measure, cut, sew. Once I get into it, though, I start second-guessing and fretting over details and length and such. So I re-measure, hesitate about  cutting, and then measure again.

Today I spent 3 hours working on the pants, and they came out okay, all things considered. I mean, the length is right (that is a first for me!). But this wouldn’t be a Crafty Polymath post if something hadn’t gone wrong with the whole process, right?

My sewing machine decided, somewhere at the end of the second leg, that it didn’t like…sewing, I guess. I’m not entirely sure what it did, but it started making a weird noise, and then when I looked at the finished product, there is a knot of thread just kind of…there. I’m not sure what went wrong, and honestly, I’m not that upset. The pants are the right length, and the knot isn’t that obvious.

So I’m quite proud of my accomplishment. Pants all hemmed and with an hour to spare before I leave for work.

In other news, Ann Coulter is at it again, being a big, mean-spirited source of evil. And I mean evil.

Anyway, there we have it. Ann Coulter is evil, and I hemmed some pants. I guess things sort of balance out…maybe.

Twofer Tuesday 2: Scarf start

This is a short post because I am cooking dinner and need to shower after a run.

While thinking about how to make the messenger bag work yesterday, I made a little felt(ish) embellishment for my sound effects fleece scarf.

I haven’t sewed it together yet because I’m not sure how I want to do it. But when I do, I will attach it to the sound effects scarf, and it will be, well, pretty awesome.

Perhaps I will make a second one?

Look at me being patient and not having to finish the scarf immediately.

Next on the docket: Spider Man Duck Tape wallet?

Twofer Tuesday 1: Messenger bag, polymath style

Solve this equation:

(2 yards of Spider Man fabric + approx. 2 yards of black fabric + aida cloth + bias tape)Sam’s frustration = ?

You probably guessed, based on the title…

A Spidey messenger bag!

A few posts ago, I mentioned making a tote bag out of the remaining fabric from the Super Birthday Project, but then I remembered that I don’t like totes, and I rarely use them. Besides, using a Spidey tote for grocery shopping seemed, well, sad – Spidey deserves better.

The reason I don’t like totes is that I don’t care for bags that sit on the shoulder and hang down. I much prefer them to across the body. You know, similar to a messenger bag.

But, as usual, there was a problem. Messenger bags are generally sturdy, and they tend to require thick cloth. I have a ton of cotton prints and some fleece. Show me a messenger bag made with thin cotton and fleece, and I’ll show you another item that does not exist anywhere. In answer to this, I wallowed in self-pity for about an hour, bemoaning my lack of good fabric.

Then I got crafty because that’s what I do.

About a year ago, I purchased some black aida cloth for a cross-stitching project that never happened. If you are unfamiliar with this type of cloth, it can be fairly rigid, but it is also riddled with holes, since it’s for cross-stitching. Of course, it’s also easy to wrap in other fabrics.

So that’s what I did.

For whatever reason, I don’t generally use patterns. For better or worse, I just go forward with my ideas when I get them.

Pictured here: fabric about to be mauled

I trace things, sure, but I am not a stickler on perfect cuts or anything. This is probably where a lot of my problems start, but until it becomes a major issue, I seem to fake it fairly well.

I did trace the aida onto the cloth for the panels

I could have done three completely separate panels, but I opted for one large panel in which I sewed three pockets, essentially. I used black for the outside and Spidey for the lining of the insider of the bag. I lined them up on the wrong sides, sewed around the edge, then flipped it back right-side and sewed the smaller middle pocket (which became the bottom).

The flap for the opening

My thought was that having one panel of fabric with three heavy inserts would be stronger than three panels sewn together. Once I had the main panel done, I just had to sew the sides together.

Luckily I had not finished sewing it all up before I remembered I needed a flap for the opening, otherwise it would not be a messenger bag. It would just be a cross-the-body bag. So I made that rather quickly.

Kids, this is what happens when you rush

I did it so quickly that the bias tape is not actually attached to the fabric in one spot. This is a relatively easy fix if I ever bother to do it.

And besides, you can’t tell it’s there unless I pull the bias tape up and out, and even then, you have to be close to it.

The other part that is rushed and looks bad, though I forgot to take a picture, is where the flap attaches to the bag of the purse. To cover the spot, I added a bit of bias tape (why did I not use this stuff before?!), but my sewing machine went a little crazy in the middle of it, and there is this fine curve right in the middle. Luckily, that is the side that rests against my person, so it’s not noticeable.

New Holland shirt courtesy of Pa.

The straps I made with *gasp!* bias tape and Spidey fabric sewn together. I had not planned on making this, so I didn’t have anything stronger. To ensure it can hold up, though, I sewed probably close to a bazillion stretchy zig-zag stitches.

Things I might change if doing again:

1. I would actually buy some heavy cloth, though making the aida pockets worked great!

2. I would have made the pockets with all black fabric, sewn the straps on, then made a liner of the Spidey fabric, so that it would be reversible!

3. Had something more strap-appropriate.

All-in-all, I did a Happy Dance when I finished this project last night. I had a pretty important meeting today (more on that later this week), so I didn’t break it out today, but I definitely will tomorrow to see how it works. But seriously, I can’t believe I made that!

Super Birthday Project Complete!

Last week, I bought the initial materials to make my brother’s birthday gifts. I have officially finished the project, and it is sitting at my dining room table, waiting for a box, so it can be shipped.

As I was making some finishing touches last night, I started musing on the benefits on homemade gift-giving. Apart from the obvious “it comes from the heart” bits of the homemade preference, I started wondering about cost, etc. So I am breaking that down using this project. Just as a preface, I think the homemade thing is cooler in general, and I will continue to make gifts if I can. I was just curious about this bit.

The Cost of Store-Bought

  • Spider Man Curtains with drapes and valance: combined $16 on Amazon.
  • Marvel Fleece Throw: $14 to $30 on Amazon.
  • Comic Sound-Effects Pillow: $13 to $25 on Etsy for most similar item (smaller throw pillow).
  • DC logo wall art:  $13 per logo x 3 logos = $39, not including framing.
  • Frame for ordered art: $7 and up

Total: $89 to $130ish

The lower end is not bad, obviously. Online shopping lends itself to lower prices, but for some of the items that I made, I would have had to move into the online hand-made sellers (art prints on Etsy) or art galleries online. The cost would have come from some of the more stream-lined items that I made (pictures at the end!).

Of course, the other issue is that I would have had just clicked a few buttons to get these items, so not much care would have gone into them. Also, I would not have ended up with the extra fabric that I now can use for other projects, which brings me to…

The Cost of Hand-Made

  • 4 yards of Spider Man fabric: $30 at Joann Fabric **2 yards left over = $15 for fabric used
  • 2 yards of Sound Effects fabric: $15 at Joann Fabric **1 yard left over = $7.50 for fabric used
  • No-sew fleece throw w/ Marvel Heroes: $20 at Joann Fabric.
  • Polyester Filler: $3 at Joann Fabric.
  • Frame for hand-made wall art: $5.25 w/ discount at Michaels.

Total: $50.25 for used items, $78.25 total

Even without taking out the cost of the left-over materials I have, I spent less by making the gifts. If you don’t count the extra fabric, then I spent a little more than  half of the lowest cost of buying pre-made goods.

One might argue that I should calculate the cost of my time. I spent, all told, about 10 hours working on this project. In order for me to calculate the time, I need to determine what that time is worth based on what other tasks I might have been doing otherwise. The answer of course is…nothing. I love to craft. Had I not been making curtains, I would have been making something else. If anything, I would say that the added benefit of doing something I enjoyed for ten hours in one week would drive the cost down.

All told, I am happy with how most of the items came out. I hope they look good in his room.

The final bit was this:

Is that the Justice League calling?

Last night, I decided I wanted to make something that would grow up with him a bit more – something that had a little bit of a modern feel to it. I cut up some card stock into 4×6 rectangles, and since I had already sent some money toward Marvel, I thought I would show DC some love, too.

These were relatively easy to make, all things told. The hardest part was the Superman logo because I wanted to make sure the proportions were right. Nothing a ruler and protractor can’t help with, though. I also did not have my Crayola green marker, so I had to improvise and use a Vis-a-Vis wet-erase marker for the logo on the Green Lantern’s and a Sharpie for the background. It still came out okay, though. The best part? With the exception of the frame, this part of the project cost nothing. And the frame, as I noted above, I got a discount on, so it was less than $6. It came out better than I’d hoped, and I think it will make a great final touch.

So that’s it!

One week, 10 hours’ work, and $50 made my brother some nice new additions to his Super Bedroom.

Next on the docket: a tote bag.

The only gift I didn’t make – some Super Stickers!

Curtain, valance, blanket, pillow, and wall art – made by me!