Welcome to my Crafty Blog!

an overjoyed sam at the statue of a giant thimble and buttons in toronto

I'm Samantha (Sam), a mechanical engineer, seamstress, crafter, & entrepreneur. Enjoy perusing photos of my sewing and craft-related adventures. I hope my blog brings inspiration and happiness to your day!

Tutorials & Free Projects

Tiny Thread Spool Pushpins Tutorial X-Stitch Throw Pillow Tutorial
Starburst Wrapper Bracelet Tutorial Vintage Hassock Reupholstery DIY
Safety Eye Installation Tutorial for Plush a guide to sewing in your dorm room
Sewing Basket Essentials for Beginners a gift guide for the seamstress who has everything

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Handmade Wool Alpaca Plush Tiny Handmade Plush Cactus
Annual Ladies' Board Rummage Sale orange sewing machine from germany
Marietta Big Chicken custom plush tiny narwhal graduation gift

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handmade gray button-sleeve tee

handmade heather gray tee with button sleeves (at the Full House house!)

Happy Friday!

As part of the discussion on sewing for your style, I wanted to share this little t-shirt I finished a few months back. It’s neutral, it’s comfy, and the little sleeve buttons make it a little bit exciting. It fits all my “wearable” criteria, and I wear it all the time.

handmade heather gray tee with button sleeves

The pattern was simple: I had a t-shirt that I loved, a simple 3/4-sleeve tee with little button tabs at the end of each sleeve. It had seen years of constant wear and was on its way out of my wardrobe. But since it was such a favorite, it skipped the Goodwill pile, and I chopped it apart to create a new pattern.

handmade heather gray tee with button sleeves (at the golden gate bridge!)

I love using an existing article of clothing as my pattern, because I know that, if I sew it correctly, it will fit. And this little tee was no exception.

You can see here the best proof of its wearability: I packed it on my trip to San Francisco! Any handmade shirt that makes it into a suitcase is a winner, for sure.

handmade gray button tee - gold button detail

The buttons… can you guess? They came from my stash of Aunt Jeanie’s buttons. That little green Stride Rite box is my go-to, and it sure didn’t fail me this time: I love these buttons. They’re thicker than a standard button, with a gold edge and an opalescent center. They’re perfect for classing up this plain gray tee.

And do you see that cover stitch around the neck? My serger is my favorite thing in the whole world.

handmade gray button tee

The pattern’s all ready for my next attempt, and I think I’m going to strive for something closer to the original: stripes!

Have a great weekend!

wiwo wednesday: storm photography

lightning storm photography

Here in DC, our classic humid summer has started to peek through in spurts, and I’m not looking forward to the muggy mornings, the muggy afternoons, and the muggy nights. But yesterday, I had something to carry me through the day: the promise of a big summer storm.

I got home safely from work, cooked dinner, shut down my desktop computer just-in-case, then waited. Without even looking outside, I could feel it in the air: an electric tingling, a tense anticipation.

pre-thunderstorm gray

The sky, and the world, darkened rapidly as the clouds moved in. Then, the rain began.

I stopped everything I was doing and sat on the balcony, living in the storm. I sat, and watched, and thought, with lemon tree safely at my side.

When the world calmed down, and cooled down wonderfully, I went back to my projects. Not long after, I realized that my apartment, and, again, the world, was bathed in yellow. Not the golden yellow of sunsets, but a nearly neon, turmeric yellow. I can’t remember seeing anything like it in my lifetime. I felt like I was looking at the world through filtered glasses (or, you know, instagram). It was delightfully and beautifully absurd.

post-storm yellow glow in the sewing room

Above, an unmodified shot of my sewing room. The world was glowing.

For the second time this year, I was compelled to set up my tripod on the balcony and shoot storm photos. In the shot below, I was lucky enough to catch myself and some of the prolific post-storm lightning – see the bright white in the low center? The sky was pink, the world was yellow, and the clouds were constantly flashing.

post-storm magenta sky

Yesterday’s magical storm held a downpour, but these other photos are from a storm in April that was nothing but lightning. No rain, no thunder, just lightning shooting across the sky every minute for an hour.

lightning storm photography

It was magical to watch, but even more magical to capture. I snapped away with the camera, blindly hoping for the chance to keep a few of those lightning streaks forever.

lightning storm photography

It was with this last photo that I said to myself, “okay, Sam, you can go to sleep now. you caught them.”

This week’s “what i’m working on” isn’t so much about the impromptu storm photography as it is about my mindset. There are many things that I love, and many things that I get excited about. It’s easy to try and shrug these things off in an effort to be more serious, more grown-up. But what I’m working on is rejecting that urge. I love thunderstorms. I’m often amazed at the beauty of the sky. I’ll grin at every fresh, cool summer morning.

It’s easy to stop being excited; it’s harder to realize that these things, no matter how common, are special.

I’m working on cherishing the small moments that bring me joy.

see the rest of the wiwo wednesday posts here.

wiwo wednesday: sewing for my style

fabric pile: t-shirt knits, neutral colors

Nothing beats a good pile of fabric. These cozy knits all came from an especially fruitful Sunday at the G Street Fabrics $2.97 table. It’s hit-or-miss, but when it’s a hit you can’t beat $2.97/yd for a comfy apparel fabric. The pile is usually made up of bolt-ends, sometimes even factory rejects or misprints. They’re always tangled into a mess, and very rarely labeled. It’s fabric archaeology at its finest. Beyond all that, the cutters are generous, so if a piece is uneven, or there’s a run or a misprint, they’ll grant you a huge margin. Magical.

Since the fabrics aren’t marked for content, I end up smelling each of them, trying to detect the percentage of natural fibers. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at the sniff test. For t-shirts, especially, I steer clear from 100% synthetic fabrics, since they don’t handle sweat well. Some of them even trap sweat+deodorant and it never washes out! I hate it when that happens to my store-bought clothes, and it’s even worse to make myself something with the same feature.

What this pile of fabric best represents, though, besides magic and a steal at under $30, is my most recent attempt to sew clothes that I will wear. I’ve realized that I like to buy pretty fabrics in bright colors and fun prints, and I like to dream about sewing dresses, skirts, and fancy shirts, but I like to wear neutral colors and dependable, casual tees with jeans. I think Sewaholic says it best: many of us are sewing Too Much Frosting, Not Enough Cake.

maxi skirt sewing in progress

All the recent talk of “capsule wardrobes” and “defining your style” has given me a lot of thought on my personal style. I don’t have many clothes that I love, and I want to fill the gaps in my wardrobe with me-made garments. I want to sew clothes that are cute and stylish; while maintaining a classic, basic feel; while ensuring they’re easy to care for; while keeping them just unique enough that I know I made them myself. It’s a lot to ask, and it’s a little intimidating.

Just like eating healthy starts at the grocery store, sewing in a practical manner starts at the fabric store. Despite the $2.97 price tag, on that Sunday at G-Street, I held each fabric up in front of myself in the mirror, testing its practicality.
Neutral? Check. Easy to care for? Check. Comfy? Check. Cute? Check.
And I assembled a healthy stack of fabric from the “checks”.

The photo above is another from the stack, already removed and begun. This fabric, a lycra/spandex, was made to be a maxi skirt. When a fabric leaps out at me and I can instantly think of a project, it goes in the cart. And when I start the project as soon as the fabric is out of the wash? That’s an absolute win.

knit fabric with camping forest animals: raccoon, squirrel, hedgehog

Of course, some fabrics don’t fit within the rules. They’re not neutral, and they’re not something I’d wear often. But it’s not the 2.97 table if there’s not a surprise. And camping forest animals on a stretchy pink knit? Hedgehogs roasting marshmallows with their birdie friends? That’s the best surprise of all. I see a pair of super soft pajama shorts in my future!

Is your sewing style the same as your personal style? How do you keep the two aligned? I’m still at the beginning of this journey and I need help staying on track!

Marie started wiwo wednesday: What I’m Working On. I try to join her as often as I can to give you a peek into my creative process and my works-in-progress. Feel free to join in! Comment with what you’re working on, or blog it and leave me a link! See all my wiwo wednesday posts here.

wiwo wednesday: the messy sewing room

wiwo wednesday - messy sewing room

You’d never believe it from my sewing room tour photos, but this disaster zone was my sewing room last week. What I was Working On was… a little bit of everything. On my cutting table I have a roll of linen for photographing the samanthasnap necklaces; a few graduation narwhals also leftover from a photo shoot; an ironing board for (gasp!) ironing my clothes (who does that?!); and a swirly knit that’s about to become a t-shirt.

Taking up the entirety of my floorspace is a chair I brought home from an estate sale last Sunday, along with the mess that occurred during its dismantling. Thankfully, I had already vacuumed the foam dust + staples – those aren’t allowed to stick around, even on the messiest of sewing room days.

Friday night, after work, I immediately swept through the room, picking up and rearranging and throwing away. I turned on an audiobook and didn’t stop until the room was picture perfect.

wiwo wednesday - clean sewing room

I dusted, I vacuumed… my sewing room is nearly spotless. It’s ready for any possible project, and it’s absolutely ready for the next mess. This is how my creative process works: I’m all mess for a few weeks, then I whirl in with a cleaning frenzy. It’s not a mess unless you can’t clean it up.

Marie started wiwo wednesday: What I’m Working On. I try to join her as often as I can to give you a peek into my creative process and my works-in-progress. Feel free to join in! Comment with what you’re working on, or blog it and leave me a link! See all my wiwo wednesday posts here.