Thursday, January 29, 2015

6 reasons why the thrift store should be your fabric store

It's no secret that my favorite fabric store is the thrift store!  Thrift stores offer a relatively untapped source of materials for sewing, craft and art projects.   While there are thousands (millions?) of Pinterest pins for repurposing everything from old picture frames to luggage, and entire blogs for refashioning clothing, I'm going to focus on general sewing with thrifted materials.

Why sew with thrifted fabrics?

1.  It's cheap.

New, quality fabric is expensive.  You can expect to pay at least $10 per yard for quality cotton fabric, both online and in brick-and-mortar fabric stores. However, let's consider a well-made, name brand (or even designer) men's cotton shirt. . . .

men's shirt, $2.99 at Goodwill

It's made up of about 1 1/2 yards (give or take) of high-quality fabric.  Granted, the fabric isn't continuous yardage, but for most medium to smaller-sized projects, a men's shirt offers quite a bit of fabric to work with.  You might pay $5.00 for the shirt at the thrift store, but usually, you'll pay much, much less.  Now you have high quality, designer fabric at huge cost savings.

Even after removing the sleeves, 
there's still plenty of fabric available.

Sometimes, you can find yardage and fabric bundles at thrift stores.  Those can be excellent bargains. . . .

$4 for 3 yards of new Amy Butler fabric, found at a thrift store

Fabric shopping at the thrift store is also great if you're on a tight budget.  You can sew beautiful things for your home and loved ones, without a huge outlay of cash.  It's also helpful if you are a beginner sewist, and don't want to spend a lot of money on materials on which you're learning and practicing.

2.  It's unique.

You see the same popular prints on sewing blogs and pinterest, over and over again, and that's fine. . . .

I personally like love the Amy Butler, Michael Miller, and Alexander Henry collections, and I like sewing with their fabrics.  But if you want to sew unique items with prints and fabrics that almost no one else will have, sew with thrifted materials.

3.  It's eco-friendly.

By taking an item from the thrift store, like a skirt, and turning it into something new, like a tote bag, you are renewing the material, and extending its life and usefulness.  That skirt was saved from the landfill, at least for a little while longer, and now serves a new purpose.

You can also look at the eco-friendly benefits in terms of less pollution, natural resource expenditure, worker exploitation, and manufacturing costs that new fabric entails, simply by not buying new fabric.  That's going to get a little out of the scope of this post, but it's definitely something to consider.

4.  It's good stewardship.

Good stewardship is about using what we've been given, without being wasteful.  It's using what is so readily, inexpensively available to us, for a new purpose.  It's being a good steward of the already-overflowing thrift stores and putting those discarded items to use... again.

I don't always sew with 100% thrifted fabrics, but I try to whenever I can.  Sometimes an item's design just screams for a new print, or I need a lot of yardage or a specific type of material, so I'll buy some new fabric.  And I think that's OK.  It's about baby steps, and everyone doing what they can.  Everyone doing a little equals a lot.  A lot of saving, a lot of change.

planning a messenger bag, with thrifted pink ticking curtains, 
a Heather Ross print, and some thrifted raspberry corduroy yardage

5.  It's a challenge.

I'll be the first to admit -- it's much easier sewing with fresh-off-the-bolt yardage.  Slap your pattern down on nice, flat fabric, and cut and go.  Sewing with thrifted fabrics takes creativity, some puzzle-solving skills and a little patience.

You have to plan your pattern layout carefully, working around buttons and seams and rivets.  Sometimes you have to plan around stains or holes, or oddly placed prints or designs.  It can be frustrating, but it's almost always very rewarding.

6.  It's FUN.

I enjoy the challenge, the puzzle.  I love seeing an ugly skirt morph into a beautiful, unique purse.  I like knowing that that new purse will be used and enjoyed for a long time.

I enjoy seeing people's faces when I tell them what my sewn items are constructed from!  It gives me a sense of pride, knowing that I repurposed a something old into a something new and lovely.

Next week. . . .

HOW to sew with thrifted fabrics!  I'll cover what to look for in thrifted items, what makes them suitable for sewing, how to care for them, and how to use them appropriately.   And by the end of this series, I hope you'll love sewing with thrifted fabrics as much as I do!  If you have any questions at all, please leave me a comment below and I'll be sure to answer as best I can.

Talk to you soon!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Progress, not perfection

We're making some progress around here.

Brendan, especially. . .

How beautiful is this?  He still persevering in his PT, three times a day, every day.  I still can't believe how well his knee is healing and functioning.  It looks so normal!  He has a check-up this week, and I'm betting he'll be off of his crutch (he's only using one now) and maybe even out of his brace very soon!

Getting some sewing done. . .

more pics to come. 

One diaper bag down, 2 1/2 two to go. . . another one's half-way finished.

I'm also working on a new project. . . 

but I'm keeping it a secret for the moment.  I'm cutting the fabrics for it during school lessons, so I'll have more actual sewing time during my precious few sewing hours.


On Saturday. . .

My sweet Monkey 7 and I attended his First Holy Communion preparation retreat at church.

It was really sweet and meaningful.  His First Holy Communion celebration will be in May, so we still have some preparation to do at home before then.

. . . but not perfection.

I was sitting at his retreat when a migraine struck.  No idea what triggered it, and it wasn't too bad at first.  I was able to get some sewing done, off and on, throughout the weekend, but by Sunday evening, I just couldn't function any more.

my brain last night

So today I'm coming out of a 2-day migraine.

I'm grouchy and yelly and ugly during and afterwards.  I wonder if the pain will ever end, or if this is my life now:  just cycles of pain and not-pain, Jekyll and Hyde.

I suppose I'll just take things a day at a time and find out.  I'm trying to focus on the beautiful things in my life, and not so much the ugly and painful.  I fail at this.  A lot.

But I'll keep trying. . . .

Progress, not perfection.
Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tidy-up Tuesday

Hello, friends!  I spent some time last week tidying up around here, hopefully making this blog more useful for you, my readers.

Just above, you'll find multiple tabs/pages (finally!) so you can easily find my tutorials and patterns all in one place.  Hope that helps!

I'm also planning to post more regularly.  I'm aiming for three posts each week, so hopefully we'll be seeing more of each other.  :)

UFOs. . . .

the current state of affairs

I'm also tidying up my sewing to-do list.  Clearing my backlog of promised sewing projects is my top priority this month.  Once they're finished, my time (and mind) will be open to new projects and tutorials!  First up, diaper bags. . . .

WIP:  two pink diaper bags, using 
new designer fabrics and vintage linens

I had promised to sew diaper bags for two dear ladies. . .  last year.  Then life happened, migraines happened, and Brendan's surgery happened, and now those two precious babies have been earthside for a few months (at least.)  Yikes.

these sweet vintage linens line the pink bags

I'm sewing four diaper bags -- two for my friends, and two for the shop.  If I'm making two, I might as well make four.  The extra time for the additional bags isn't that much.

the other two bags are constructed of 
mostly new designer and batik fabrics.

I'm only sewing in the evenings and on the weekends, so as to not interfere with our homeschooling hours.  I find myself daydreaming of sewing while listening to my 8 year-old read aloud about horses or Viking conquests.  *eyesglazeover*  I also have to work around those blasted migraine days.  So my sewing progress will be slow, but hopefully steady.

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When my skull cracks

I wasn't sure how, or if, I should write this post, as it's anything but crafty or sewing-related, but I've decided to share one of my crosses with you.  Maybe this will help someone struggling, or maybe give some insight into my disappearing acts here, in my shop, and in real life.

After suffering for over 20 years, I was diagnosed last year with chronic vestibular migraines, which basically means that one of my main migraine triggers is MOTION.  Seriously?  I mean, how can you not MOVE?  Long car rides, like our frequent trips to Dallas for Brendan's treatment, are pure hell.  It's not motion sickness.  I'm perfectly fine IN the car.  The hell begins when we stop.

fun for them, hell for me.

When the car stops. . . .

The moment I step out of the vehicle, it hits me.  I can't hear anything but a loud roar, like really loud road noise, as if you were driving along rough pavement in a poorly-insulated old truck.  I'm dizzy, and feel almost drunk and disoriented.  Then the skull-crushing pain slams in, along with other classic migraine symptoms like nausea, neck pain, light and noise sensitivies, chills, body aches.  At that point, I'm done for the day; maybe for a few days.

Ibuprofen chased with a cold caffeinated beverage, and maybe some super-salty potato chips (for the nausea) seem to help the most, if taken immediately at onset.

Don't judge.  It works for me.

I do have other migraine triggers, with hormonal swings being the other biggie.   There are a few other triggers, like heat. . . .

MASSIVE migraine after this.

. . . and loud concerts, movie theaters, MSG, skipped meals, or interrupted sleep (what? with kids? ha!) that I try to avoid or negate if I can.

 interrupted sleep

Pain and postdrome. . . .

I typically have 6 - 13 migraines every month.  If I don't have a migraine, I'm recovering from one.  Migraine hangovers are a thing.  They suck, too, but I'd rather feel hungover than in excruciating pain. On the rare days I'm not suffering from either of those, I'm almost manic, trying to get as much shit done as possible, because I know the good days are precious and few.

As an example, I did all of these projects for our homeschool classroom in one, maybe two days.  I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to do, or finish, so I had to rush. . . .

From zombie to crazy. . . .

So far, preventative medications haven't helped.  They've been nightmarish, really.  I'd prefer a migraine over insomnia, interrupted sleep, extreme fatigue, suicidal thoughts, sluggish thinking, vertigo, horrific nightmares, weight gain, even more frequent migraines.   And did I mention hallucinations?

hallucinations are not cool.

Waking up to find my bedroom engulfed in flames (it wasn't) was SO. INSANELY. TERRIFYING.   And then there was that time that I awoke to see my bedroom walls dripping in blood (it wasn't). . . yeah, that was the time I decided to stop taking medication that was making me batshit crazy.

 never cool.  especially in your bedroom.

My neurologist's solution?  Throw in some anti-depressants!  You know, because if you aren't waking up and seeing horrific hallucinations, are you really even having hallucinations?  I mean, maybe if I were just a little more stoned or catatonic, maybe I wouldn't know I had a migraine?  Maybe?

He's now my ex-neurologist.

Now what?

I'm free of those shitty drugs.  I have Imitrex for emergencies, and it usually works very well.   I use it sparingly; that's some really powerful stuff.  I once used a month's supply within a week. . . SO not good.  Now I try to rely on avoidance and ibuprofen.  I'm considering the botox treatment once I find another neurologist.  Or maybe acupuncture?

 on my functional, less-excruciating migraine days, 
I take photos to take my mind off the pain.

 another migraine day photo.

and another.

Migraines are making me fat(ter). . . .

The medication debacle packed on some pounds, and being a zombie helped kill my workout inclinations.  Remember when I went to the gym almost every day?  Yeah.  Good times.  Then a Month of Migraines happened, and I've just never really been back.  Add eating salty junk food crap, and 20 pounds appear on the scale.

I need to add gym time to my manic get-shit-done days, I suppose.

So that's where I'm at.

That's why I don't (can't) blog much, sew much, interact much.

waiting for me.

I haven't even touched on how this affects my family -- my husband, my precious babies, our homeschool, my relationships.

Migraines touch, affect, and infect it all.  Let's talk about that another time.

For now, I'd love to hear from other migraineurs.  I'm curious -- what's worked for you?  Have you tried botox or acupuncture for your migraines?  How are you coping overall?

Talk to you soon. . . or on my next good day.  :)