Sewing Project #2

After my last sewing project, I was very nervous about doing another one, but as this one is for my best friend, I wanted to try harder to get it done for her for Halloween. This time, however, I chose to go into the store to pick out some of the fabric so I wasn’t as overwhelmed as my first adventure.

This will be my first cosplay attempt. I’m making a Pokemon trainer outfit that includes a romper, half jacket, and belt, and today I bought the fabric for the jacket, jacket/romper trim, and the craft foam for the belt. The pattern is already cut out so I just have to pin the fabric and get it cut out.

The difficulty in this project lies in the type of fabric we’re using. The sweater fleece should be ok, as it’s not too stretchy, but the romper fabric and the trim is an activewear type of fabric, which means it stretches a lot. The pattern calls for stretch knit, specifically activewear, but in getting what I got, it was simply a happy accident that it was the right type and color I needed. Now, I didn’t get all of the fabric I needed. The color that my best friend wanted is considered a fall color so I went in with the intention just to see what, if any, fabric was available in the desired color. Since it was, and there was so little of it, I decided to get it and it was also on sale. I still have to get the black stretch knit for the romper and I’ll do that next week.

But my mother and I have never worked with anything stretchy before so we’re hoping to get some help from a fellow seamstress/sewing teacher, either to help teach us how to sew this fabric without it stretching too much or to commission her to sew it for us. Given the time crunch, it might be more ideal to have her sew it for us, but I personally would like to learn how to sew with stretch knit fabric because I intend to work on several cosplays in the future that may require stretchy fabric. I just need to find time.

Until then, you’ll find me cutting out patterns and watching anime. ‚̧

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On the plus side, I finished my massive crochet blanket, at least for the moment. I’m still deciding on doing crocodile stitches on the straight edges, but I want to see how they look on the blanket before committing to that particular design. Here’s what the finished product looks like:

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And it’s warm, cozy, and big enough to wrap myself up like a burrito, exactly how I wanted. ^_^

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Facing the Future Part 2

On a different, but related subject, today while dredging through my workload, my mind wandered to a variety of other tasks I would rather be doing instead of my daily grind. Things like cutting out patterns, playing video games, trying to catch up on recorded anime while crocheting, sleeping (which I actually did before noon; I took a half hour nap because I was so drained), etc.

As it was, I managed to push through my work so that I could spend the rest of my evening watching Netflix and cutting out a pattern. But these wandering snippets got me thinking on how much I dislike my work. Lately, it really does feel like work. Whereas other things like crocheting and gaming make me feel energized and alive. Even the prospect of cutting out a sewing pattern was more appealing than working.

Which got me thinking on how much better (or worse) life would be if I could actually spend my time making things for other people. I love crocheting blankets especially, but I can also make hats and I recently began making amigurumi, but as long as I have a pattern, I could make pretty much anything, because crocheting soothes my anxiety. And I might still be learning how to sew, but I think once I became skilled enough, I could probably do some cosplay stuff for other people beside myself. I think I would enjoy creating beautiful cosplay items.

This also comes on the back of someone close to me wanting to make and sell jewelry on Etsy, and this makes me want to do something similar because I have this love of creating things. I already work on my own schedule, but it would be nice to not have to be at a laptop all day since I also have problems with my eyes. Still, there’s no guarantee of success there either, especially not right now. Crocheting blankets is great and all, but blankets take time and on top of my other work, they take that much longer.

So while it was a nice thought to get me through my day, I’m not sure it’s quite right for me at this particular moment. Still, I’ll continue to make things as a hobby to soothe my anxious mind. Until next time…<3

Writing on Command

Does anyone else have issues writing on command? I can bet that in at least every single creative writing class, you’ve been given a subject and five minutes to write about it. And I don’t know about you, but for at least the first 30 seconds to a minute, I stare at the page and my mind goes completely blank.

It could even be about something simple like apple pie. I’m sure there are a lot of people whose first thought is about the smell or the taste. Me, I’m trying to come up with the “Why” of the matter. Why apple pie? Why not blueberry or peach or cherry? And then half a dozen other questions arise, like who’s making the pie, who are they making it for and why, etc. and I’m being battered by all these thoughts.

Eventually I’ll come up with something plain like “Grandma’s apple pie sat on the windowsill waiting to cool off while the grandkids played outside and grandpa slept in the recliner in front of the tv.” And that will be all I can do in 5 minutes. Now, given ample time to think through all the random questions, and more than 5 minutes to write, I can make a paragraph that’s completely different and more descriptive.

“Grandma set her freshly baked apple pie on the windowsill to cool off. Its warm, spicy scent wafted through the house, as she had added a little extra cinnamon, just how grandpa liked it. She and her grandkids, Todd and Lily, had picked the apples that morning at the orchard just down the dirt road. Todd and Lily were still outside playing a game of hide and seek while grandpa dozed in his recliner in front of the old tv with the wire rabbit ears. Grandma smiled as she started to wash the dishes in warm soapy water. Once those kids smelled the pie, they would abandon their game and come running inside, begging for a piece of it while it was still hot.”

This paragraph covers more of the senses and is more descriptive that the initial sentence (and yes, it took me about an hour to craft just this last night). This is something that plagues me as a writer. I can work with writing prompts, but not time limits. My brain needs time to process and think through all possibilities and even then, I may not actually perceive ALL the possibilities.

It doesn’t help that I’m mentally bored with my job so naturally my mind kicks in to autopilot halfway through my day. There’s just not enough stimulation there, and then when I’m done with work, I need a break from the mental monotony and instead I dive into more hands-on crafting like my crochet projects.

I know I said I would work more on my writing this year but the last month I’ve really slacked off and I need something to jolt my creative juices again.

Over to you guys! How do you break out of your own ruts and get the creative juices flowing again? I’d love to hear your suggestions and tips!

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And now for a special update!

The past couple days, I’ve been working on one of my mother’s crochet projects because I thought it would be small and easy to crank out in a few hours. Well, it’s turning into a few days, but it’s not all that bad. I needed a break from my blanket and this has been fun. It’s my first amigurumi, the Bumble snow monster from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He still needs a face and arms, but I’ll work on those later.

Bumble Amigurumi

In addition, I have to commend my mother on starting one of her own sewing projects, which is a quilt of valor for my godmother’s son, who’s a Marine, and she is making considerable progress on it without my prompting. I’m really proud of her for putting as much effort in as she has over the past few days, whenever she had some free time. What she has done looks great. I’ll try to get pictures for next time.

Finding the Silver Lining

It’s another one of those days. Those slow days of work that I’m starting to unfortunately get used to. And yesterday, we had a conference call that indicated an eventual possibility of limiting hours so that our night staff has some work to do. Which I totally understand; I wouldn’t want to not have any work at all just because I work nights. But limiting hours means less money coming in and I’m seriously considering looking for other work, even though I have no idea where to start looking because I’ve been doing this for four plus years and I’m no longer well trained to be around people. Plus waiting to get busy again is testing my patience.

So instead of looking at only the negatives here, I’m trying to find the silver lining to this mess and “enjoy the break,” as our supervisors told us. For me, enjoying the break is likely more difficult than for others because of my anxiety issues and needing a set routine as opposed to just going with the flow. But anyway, I guess my silver lining is being able to work more on my crocheting, which I’m also actually thinking about doing as a side business, because if I have all this time, I can get a lot more done than I have in past years because I was purposefully taking my time on those projects. Currently I have three or four blankets in the pipes, one of which I’ve started and had to restart because it ended up being bigger than a king size bed and I only want full size. But I have yarn for three additional blankets, one of which is going to be a reversible blanket, so it’s basically like doing two blankets and sewing them together into one. Additionally, in the past couple weeks, I’ve finished three hats and although I don’t wear hats myself, I’m happy to make them for someone else. I can also do scarves and probably whatever else gets thrown at me. I’m pretty adaptable with crochet items.

I could also do more weekly gaming and free up some of my weekend time for watching anime (or playing catch-up as it is now) or hanging with family. I’m two dungeons away from beating Final Fantasy V, but seeing as the second dungeon is the last dungeon, it’s likely going to require a bit more time than the other ones and I just want to be done with it. I can hardly wait to move on to Final Fantasy VI because it’s one of my absolute favorite games, probably tied for first with Final Fantasy VII. It’s also the one that got me started on Final Fantasy so it has an extra special place in my heart.

And I could probably be doing more writing, especially in working on revisions for my novel, which desperately needs my attention, and there are a couple character profiles I need to finish working out yet.

But most importantly, I need to focus on taking care of myself and getting back to a more normal sense of balance. With my aunts here last week, and my dad home this week, I haven’t really had much time to myself to mellow out since going off my birth control and I still have the lingering twinges of a tension headache and some stiffness in my neck from yesterday. (I also wanted to punch my dad in the nose when he said he should be telling me to “suck it up” whenever I have a migraine or headache of any kind. Even though it might have sounded like joking, it wasn’t funny. You don’t just “suck it up” when you have a migraine. Unless you have really good meds to make them go away, you basically have to wait for a migraine to pass and hope it doesn’t eat up too much of your day because you really can’t do much with a genuine migraine. Or at least I can’t. Nothing helps except laying down in a dark, quiet room.)

So my silver lining in not having much work and being limited on hours is finally getting time to take care of me and make sure my body and soul are nurtured and soothed before I try to take on anything else. As Albus Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Easter Musings

Happy Easter to all of you! Sorry it’s been a while. I just recently went off of the birth control I started because it was giving me migraines and I basically lost a week’s worth of time to them, and I’m still trying to get back to feeling more normal and am not likely to get there until at least next week because my dad has vacation this week. I’m foreseeing a lot of time in this back room sitting at my newish desk with the door closed trying to enjoy my solitude.

Normally¬† I enjoy holidays because my family is pretty close-knit, but today was just draining. I don’t know if it was just the chaos of getting dinner ready, which I’m not normally a part of, or if I’m still adjusting to my own hormones again, but I am exhausted. I spent a few hours in the basement trying to finish my stupid game so I can actually move on to one I like and I’m still not where I want to be, so I’ll probably be playing that all this week too. I think once I get past the stress of feeling behind schedule with this gaming challenge, even though I’m still a little ahead, I’ll start to feel more relaxed. Although having steady workflow would definitely help too.

The past six weeks, I’ve only had one full work week, and since I only work about 25 hours a week, that’s pretty sad. It’s throwing off my whole schedule and making me seriously consider looking for a different job that can give me more consistent hours. And I love my job, I love what I do, I like a small group of people I work with, but after being promised to have more consistent work coming in, as opposed to this super busy, super slow roller coaster when we were bought out, I’m feeling seriously let down that we now can barely get a full week’s hours in.

And to show just how slow and intermittent we’ve been, I finished crocheting two hats and I finished my first ever sewing project in the last two weeks. The one hat I did in three days between our “busy” hours. I even started a blanket, which I then had to rip out because it was WAY too long, and am now currently on the third row of a significantly smaller blanket with the same ripple pattern. I decided to try and help my mom with her project list by creating my own and so far, I’ve gone through three of them in the past few weeks because we’ve been so slow at work. And I have to admit, even though she didn’t get any of the projects on her list done this past week while she was on vacation, she did get several smaller projects done with the help of her sisters, and I’m proud of her for that.

Aside from this blog post, which was kind of spur of the moment because I needed to clear my head a little and I did want to write something, the only writing I’ve done lately is daily to-do lists and filling out my weekly schedule. There’s been too much chaos to focus on anything, and that could be from the anxiety. Even growing up and going through middle and high school, I had issues with writing when people were around. I especially didn’t like having to write on command for my creative writing classes. It’s gotten better, the writing with people around, but I still need to be in a quiet place by myself and then left alone. Like now. I’m sitting in the back, media room with the door closed and music playing quietly in the background, which is allowing me to focus on this entry and slowly complete my weekly schedule.

I hope all of you had a happy Easter with your families and until next time, don’t be afraid to be yourself and do what makes you happy. Especially when you need to calm yourself and focus your thoughts just to get through the next few minutes.

Hoarding

**TRIGGER WARNING; Please read with cautious.**

This is kind of an awkward topic for me to discuss, not because I myself am a hoarder, though I will admit I may have some hoarding tendencies. I mean, I have an entire dresser full of random miscellany that some people would probably ask, “Why are you keeping this stuff?” Some of it is books I bought for research that wouldn’t fit on my bookshelf because of how tall they are. Some of it is coffee mugs I can’t use until I move into my own place again. And some of it is random collectibles from my childhood that you can’t find anymore and I can’t bear to part with it. However, all of these things have a place that is out of sight and not cluttering up my room, and I know what’s in each drawer respectively. I have obtained my father’s OCD about organization and I can’t stand a lot of clutter so my room is fairly organized with a minimal amount of chaos, and I do get rid of things from time to time. Like the half a dozen scented candles I’ve never burned that were given to me and I can’t use often because of my mom’s allergies.

That being said, my mom is the total opposite, though her hoarding hasn’t yet gotten to the point of looming towers of stuff and a foot of garbage, etc. But she has a crafting room which used to be an office downstairs. Her crafting stuff has spilled out into the rest of the basement in various locations. Now, her stuff is semi organized because I have tried on multiple occasions to help her sort and organize everything so it has a place in the crafting room, or the large “playpen” which is just like a wire crate on wheels. Yesterday, I was helping her clean again (this being probably the third or fourth time) and I wanted to start small, since I recognize her hoarding and I’m not sure she does and I didn’t want to push too hard because I know it’s not something she can necessarily control. So I decided we would start with the bookshelf, because it’s full of books I’ve never seen her read. Most of the religious type books did leave the room and she’s intending to donate them to a religious organization just two hours from us. Which is good; I honestly wasn’t expecting her to get rid of those. She also found a bunch of books and supplies that went to our local elementary school. I was also watching her go through huge stacks of paper detailing various crochet and quilting patterns, deciding which ones to keep. Now, she did throw a bunch away, but she also kept a few that I separated into two binders for her, one for crochet and one for quilting.

What really bothered me, though, was the fact that she wanted to keep what I estimated at being around 20-30 hardcover books on quilting. I’m not a quilter. My mom is fairly new to quilting; I think she’s made two or three quilts, with help from friends. I couldn’t understand why she wanted to keep ALL of these books and her excuse was, “They have a bunch of cool patterns in them.” My first thought was, “That’s not a reason to keep ALL of them when you have so many other projects to do.” (Although, having read through this again, I realized I might have 10 or so books on writing and improving my writing craft). One of mom’s projects is the “confetti” quilt. -_- She has a small bag of random, tiny, tiny bits of fabric that to a normal person’s eye, looks like garbage. It’s not usable because it’s so small. It’s her bag of “remnants” and I don’t know why she wants to keep them other than for this quilt she hasn’t even started yet. It almost felt like she’s afraid she’ll run out of projects.

But she also has at least 40 projects going on right now and between her job, my grandma, and her work at home like dishes and cooking, she’s stretched pretty damn thin. And I’ve been trying to help out more so she has time for these projects. I’ve done their laundry the last several times. But the thing is, she’ll start a project, leave it for a couple weeks because she’s too busy, forget she has it, and then start on a new one entirely. It’s maddening. So I’m going to try something with her, and we started it yesterday, where I have her make a list of her top five quickest, or highest priority projects, and she’s only allowed to work on one of those five projects at a time. When she’s finished all five, she can add five more to work on. I’m not sure whether it will work, but she’s made the list and agreed to it, so we’ll see what happens. And I’m a huge fan of this to-do list idea; it works great for me and I try not to fret when I don’t finish everything on the list (usually my lists are for daily accomplishments). So I will try to be patient with her, and I know that in starting to sew myself, I can see how this becomes a dangerous and slippery slope, having been in the store picking fabric twice already. But my plan ideally is to use fabric she already has before going to get more, because my mentality is do I need this right now, and am I going to use it right away?

To the untrained eye, her crafting room looks like chaos. To me, it still looks like chaos, but chaos that has been semi organized by me. As a whole, it’s still not ideal, but for now, most everything has a place and it’s not as all over the place as it was. And that’s a good start.

My First Sewing Project…Ugh

Part of this blog is about describing my own personal “reinvention” and part of reinventing myself is finding new things that I enjoy and not things I enjoyed because other people around me enjoyed them. One of the things I’ve wanted to learn how to do is sew and make my own costumes, because I’m kind of a tricky size and I don’t trust clothes made by other people because I don’t know how they’ll fit once I get them. So I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes just to be able to see how they fit as I’m making them, and then I can make my own adjustments. So the other day, I mentioned in a previous post about how I was playing with my “new” sewing machine, which was a rejected item for my grandma who decided she didn’t want it after the return date had passed. My mom and I spent about 45 minutes just learning where everything was on the machine, how to thread it, etc. and just how to change the style of stitches.

My mom had come to me a few days ago with a small, easy project for me to do as my first sewing project and as a birthday gift for my best friend’s daughter. So yesterday I had quite the adventure. First off, I decided to go to the mall to spend some time before popping in on this supposed journaling “class” my mom had told me about (which actually turned out not to be a class, but rather a hands-on demonstration to showcase fancy paper and glitter gel pens). Anyway, one of my stops in the mall was the Disney store to look around, maybe buy some birthday gifts for my adopted niece…The cell service in the store is spotty, so I had to keep walking around while I was texting my best friend asking different questions about what was available in the store. I probably spent half an hour in there just walking around kind of slowly, holding a bag of dolls and waiting for responses in the spotty service. Doing this made me feel a bit like a creeper, because I don’t have a kid that I could’ve brought in with me, like all the other parents were, and I was just taking laps around the store.

Eventually I made my purchases and was on my way to the store where my mom works to check out this “class” she had told me about. When I got there I was a little disappointed to see that the journaling stuff was just on a table at the front of the store with stickers, pens, and other random things. And then, my mom told me, “Why don’t you go find some fabric for your first sewing project?” Which is a little girl’s skirt for my best friend’s daughter. Ok, not a big deal. I wandered over to the kids fabric section and started looking around for stuff this girl likes, like My Little Pony and Shopkins. After a lap, I found the perfect fabric: Shopkins with rainbows, since her favorite color is all of them. I take it back to my mom and she tells me to go find a second piece…

By this point, I’m already tired from walking around the mall. My feet and back hurt. But I nod and smile and look around. The only problem is, even for a small store, there are TONS of fabric options and all I know is what fabrics not to match with the one I chose, like no fleece or flannel, etc. I spent the next 15 to 20 minutes walking around trying to find something to match, but I didn’t like anything I found. It was either too dark or too light, or just not right for the fabric. And after my experience in the Disney store, my anxiety was already pretty high. So now I’m even more overwhelmed and scared I’m not going to find a matching fabric, and my inner monologue was on a continuous loop of, “I just want to go home. Let’s go home.”

After 20 minutes, I go back to my mom with this look of disappointment on my face, desperately trying not to show her or anyone else how panicked and desperate I feel inside. She’s talking to this lady, another customer, who then suggested I take a strip of each color of the rainbow and sew them together. I really wanted to tell this person, “You know what, lady? I’ve played with my sewing machine for all of 20 minutes just learning my stitches, and 45 minutes just trying to learn the ins and outs of it, like threading the damn thing. This is too much work for me.” Of course, I’m cranky and tired and overwhelmed and I hold my tongue. When I tell my mom I couldn’t find anything and I don’t want to do this strip idea, she suggests this type of ribbon, which I had to ask the other manager, who I actually like and like to bother because it’s funny, where to find this ribbon. I finally find the ribbon and start looking through what’s there and I find the perfect one. It’s Shopkins themed and it fits with the fabric I picked out. It’s perfect.

I take both items back to my mom, having now been in the store 45 minutes just doing laps again, and she asks if I want her to get it cut later or if I want to get it cut now and pay for it myself. And now, I’m mentally exhausted. My back really hurts and I need to go home. So I tell her I’ll put it back behind the counter for her to do later, which I do, and then I went home and spent my day in the basement gaming just to calm myself down.

She comes home later that night and says she forgot the ribbon I had picked out. -_- I was very upset about that, even though I didn’t show it. After all that work and effort I had put into finding something for this project, she forgets one of the pieces. Needless to say, this was not a good start to what could potentially be a great new hobby and experiences like this make me not want to start anything new. One of the drawbacks of being a perfectionist is I don’t like to make mistakes, even when it’s something I’ve never done before. And I need things explained to me like you would a child, and in a visual way, since I’m a visual learner. In any case, having all of this information thrown at me and being surrounded by a thousand choices was way more overwhelming than I thought it would be and I’m almost not looking forward to making this skirt.