A few weeks ago, Ben and I went shopping at IKEA to get him a new desk. He works from home full-time and had been using two desks, one for work and one for his home computer. In the “before” picture below, his home desk is on the left and his work desk is on the right. You can see how his work desk is so cramped that he can’t even have his two monitors oriented the right way. We decided that we would get him a regular full-size desk to live on the right side of the TV and I would get the desk on the left for my serger. This was very exciting to me because I’ve always wanted my serger to be on a separate surface from my sewing machine. It’s difficult for me to go back and forth between the two when they’re right next to each other – the space gets too cluttered. We ended up getting a table top and legs instead of a proper desk because he didn’t need any of the storage space a desk comes with, and he primarily wanted more space on top of the desk. The set we got was super cheap, and I decided that I’d rather have the same set up. First of all, when I tested that leaning desk out, it was pretty wobbly when the serger was running at full speed. Second of all, I obviously have a thing for symmetry in a room, so I felt like it would look better if we had two similar desks, even if our living room is becoming more devoted to function over form with each passing day.
So below is my new sewing corner set up. As I’ve mentioned several times, we live in a very tiny apartment, so my sewing area has to be in the living room/Ben’s office/our dining room. There used to be a dining room table where my large sewing desk is, but it was sacrificed to the sewing gods and now we eat on the couch. I love my new L-shaped setup, which is what I’ve always wanted. I can roll between serger and sewing machine, and if I ever get my vintage machine cleaned and repaired, I could even set it up when necessary if I wanted to use my regular machine for construction and use my old Singer for top stitching. As you can see below, my sewing corner also serves as a convenient place to charge our stick vacuum and as the home for a cat tree we recently bought and which Desdemona never uses. She’s much more enamored of the cardboard scratcher you can see in front of our TV stand in the before picture, and which cost us a quarter of what we spent on the cat tree. Sigh. But I have made good use of the cat tree for storing works in progress!
When I knew I would be taking over the space to the left of the TV, I wanted to get one of those IKEA wall storage systems so I could organize some things that had been floating around the drawers of my giant tanker desk (have I mentioned that I love my tanker desk, which I got on Craigslist for $25? It desperately needs refinished, but it is so sturdy and so spacious!). I have some tools hanging, like my design ruler, which was so annoying in my top desk drawer because it was always in the way, and the piece I need to convert my serger into a coverstitch machine because it was always getting lost somewhere. I have bias tape in the first white container, elastic in the second, and pens and paintbrushes (no idea why I still have paintbrushes) in the third. I got a set of spice jars from IKEA to organize my buttons, and I put a little flower for some color on the end of the my button jar rack. This system appeals to the crazy organizer in me so much, I can’t even tell you. I could spend my whole life in The Container Store or the parts of IKEA dedicated to storage and be very happy.
Here’s another view of my lovely tanker desk, which is no longer cluttered with my serger. Now, when I want to cut, I only have to move my sewing machine (which I can put on my serger desk instead of on the floor, which later requires a back-breaking haul back up to the desk), my basket full of in-progress patterns (in the back right corner), my little desktop trash can (it’s actually a vase/candle holder), my tissues (because I’m allergic to and also a lover of cats), my hand lotion, my pins, and my huge stack of fabric. Ideally, that huge stack of fabric wouldn’t be so huge or perhaps would even be nonexistent, but this is what comes of being excited about sewing more things than you have time to sew. The thing on the left corner is a bowl full of pattern weights, and that would likely stay on my desk or just get transferred to one of the little side boards that slide out over each stack of drawers while I’m cutting. You can also see my two other new purchases from IKEA here: my floor lamp, which means I no longer have to move a lamp off my desk to cut fabric, and my chair, which doesn’t seem like it would be all that comfy, but really is. Plus it’s turquoise! This chair was out of stock for the longest time, but I was finally able to get it on Sunday, and I’m so happy to have it. My other chair bothered my back and would also sink down over time. This one is much nicer. And I’m so in love with that lamp, which is on sale this month for members of IKEA’s rewards program. I’ve always wanted a floor lamp that looks like a giant desk lamp for some reason, and now my dream has come true, haha.
I moved my old lamp to my serger desk, along with all my sewing books so they’re more easily accessed. And now for the part of this post that’s actually about sewing something! My serger used to be in the back corner of my tanker desk, and I used to cover it with a scrap of fabric. A cover of some sort was necessary because the aforementioned cat that I love so much loves to play with the serger thread if I leave it unattended. When I moved the serger to its own desk, which is right across from the couch, I knew I wouldn’t want to stare at the busted old scrap of fabric I was using to cover it. So I made a serger cover! I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I got my serger, which came with a really stupid plastic cover that looks terrible and isn’t all that functional, either. I just never want to sew anything other than clothes, so I never got around to it. As soon as I brought this desk home, I ordered this sewing machine fabric that I’d had my eye on for some time. I LOVE it. Even though it’s not printed on grain, which means my sewing machines slope a bit, and even though I bought too little of it, which required me to piece some of it together on the back, at which point I discovered that the boxes are neither the same height nor width from row to row. So this didn’t turn out as perfectly as I had envisioned, but I don’t care because SEWING MACHINE FABRIC. Also COLORS.
I used this tutorial to make my cover, but I changed quite a few things. I didn’t sew the outer pockets because I’d never use them, and I didn’t apply piping along the bottom of the cover, instead opting for home-made bias tape that matched the piping. I also oriented my handle differently and just placed it on top instead of making it run down along the sides. Most significantly, I used Peltex on the main panel instead of the suggested fusible fleece interfacing. I used the fusible fleece on the sides, but I wanted my cover to have a lot of structure and I had a huge roll of Peltex from the days when I foolishly thought I’d enjoy making tons of bags, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to use some of it up. Peltex is stiff but pretty easy to use if you just leave it out of the seam allowances, which is what I did here. I did not relish the thought of trying to pull this stiff structure through a hole after sewing in a lining, though, which is why I used the bias tape along the bottom of the cover. I made the lining and tacked it in the corners by hand, then applied the bias tape along the bottom edge, enclosing the raw edge of the lining and exterior in the tape. I love my new serger cover! The bright colors and sewing machines make me happy every time I look at it, and it makes me feel like my serger is right at home in our vibrantly-colored apartment. Yay for a new serger cover and more functional sewing space!
Now a tale of a failed project. A couple weeks ago, I dropped my wallet while getting into my car and some jerk stole it. I wasn’t sure whether I just couldn’t find it somewhere in the car despite searching like crazy, or whether someone had actually taken it from the spot where I’d parked, but I cancelled my credit cards and bank card just to be safe. When I got home, Ben got a notification that someone had tried to use our health flexible spending card at a parking meter. Since it can only be used for health-related things, it was rejected. I felt so relieved that I’d immediately cancelled my other cards! I was so baffled as to why the thief had tried to use my FSA card, of all things, at a parking meter, of all places. The next day, it hit me: he or she must have been trying all the cards in the wallet to see if any of them worked at the parking meter because it wouldn’t raise suspicion if they were rejected, seeing as how there’s no cashier involved. By the time they got around to doing this, though, all the cards had been cancelled except that one.
I wanted to just get another wallet like the one I had, which was from Timbuk2, but they didn’t carry it anymore. I got the brilliant idea to make a wallet. I looked for wallet patterns and couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t look Becky Homecky until I came across these two tutorials: large wallet and small wallet. They were in what appears to be Russian, though, which meant they weren’t so much tutorials to me as much as a ton of photos. I studied them for a while and came up with what I thought would be a good method to make a wallet.
I was pretty pleased with the inside. It had room for twelve cards and two large pockets for coupons/receipts. I had intended to include a pocket in the center like the wallets in the tutorials have, but it turned out way too bulky. I didn’t like it, so I scrapped it. I had wanted it for coins (why do so many wallets lack a place to put coins?), so I decided to just make an exterior zip pocket for dollar bills and coins.
But the outside left much to be desired. My pocket zipper application was wonky, which really irritated me, but I figured I could live with it. Then I came to the edge zipper and bias tape application. I did this a little differently than the tutorials because I wanted the zipper edge enclosed in the bias tape, and I wanted to avoid hand sewing the zipper, which I imagined would be under too much stress to hold up to my hand stitching. I could NOT get that bias tape to go around the corners nicely! I ripped it out THREE times and what you see below is the best I could come up with. It was really driving me batty. I eventually got it sewn on, though, and was in the process of hand sewing the interior side of the bias tape when I gave the wallet a zip test, which is something I’d done like a hundred times during the process to make sure everything was lining up correctly. Well, it didn’t line up correctly this time and goodness only knows why. You can see in the picture how it’s sort of skewed – you can’t see the back side of the wallet on the right side, but you can on the left side. That’s because the whole wallet is askew. I knew that the three problems together would keep me from enjoying this wallet. I threw it down in frustration and went to Target and bought a new wallet. And that Target wallet is exactly the wallet I’d wanted to make from those tutorials with the addition of a pocket for your cell phone (which, no thank you – after losing my wallet, the last thing I want to do is lose my wallet AND my phone!). It’s much sleeker and slimmer because it was made by professionals with the right materials, and this all just reminds me why I don’t sew my own bags anymore. It’s just too difficult to get the right materials and get things properly sewn with home sewing machines. Another thing is that the zipper I was using on my wallet wasn’t great and would give me trouble zipping around the corners. The zipper on my Target wallet is great.
I haven’t thrown that wallet away yet, so I might try to fix it by reinserting the zipper so it closes straight and by narrowing the bias tape so it goes around the corner more neatly. I don’t know. I just knew I was sick of carrying my cards around loose in my purse and needed a wallet for my trip to Savannah, which I took this past weekend. My Target wallet came in quite handy in Savannah – it had plenty of space for saving the receipts I’d need for reimbursement later (this was a trip to a conference for school), and it definitely came in handy for holding the cards I needed to purchase gorgeous fabrics and yarn in Savannah, which you can see below.
I got the gorgeous green yarn from The Frayed Knot. It’s hand-dyed in Savannah by The Copper Corgi, and it’s the most I’ve ever spent on yarn, but I think it’s worth it. It’s fingering weight merino, and I think I want to make a Peacock Eyes cardigan with it. The blue and white knit, the black textured rayon, and the pretty buttons are all from Fabrika Fine Fabrics. The fabric shop was right across the street from the hotel where my conference was being held, and the yarn shop was about a 10 minute walk away. What a great city Savannah is! The blue and gold striped fabric that everything is sitting on is from Joann’s. This fabric has been on display at my local Joann’s for weeks now, but they don’t have any stock of it. I thought I’d check in Savannah since I would be near a Joann’s as well, and they had it! It’s striped on the side you can see, but I’m actually going to use the side you can’t see, which is polka dotted. I want to make a cardigan out of it. Joann’s has really been stepping up their fashion fabric game lately, and I’ve gotten a few pieces of fabric from them. I’m glad I was able to get my hands on some of this blue and gold knit!
I scheduled an interview today for a week and half from now, so all regularly scheduled sewing will be halting while I make my next blazer. My Simplicity 2446 was good enough for a wearable muslin, but for a proper interview I want to make a proper blazer, with interfacing and some proper tailoring techniques. I just need to decide if I’m going to stick with the Simplicity pattern or go with the highly-recommended McCall’s 6172. Wish me luck!