"Why in the world did you pick this name for your blog?" ...so glad you asked...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Planning Ahead for a Special Day

This is my husband's last year of residency and there is an award dinner coming up in a few months.  Last year, I sewed this dress for it.

I'm already thinking about what I will sew this year.  Here are some ideas for patterns so far.

I don't want to do it in anything shiny because I think that would look too prom.  It could look incredible in a flowy floral and that would be more my style anyway.

I'm torn about this one.  I think the skirt is great, but the bodice is blah.

For the same reason I picked the Vogue of last year, I love this one.... the back.  My husband loves seeing some back.  I think this cut out is adorable.  I would make the skirt longer and do it in a fun color I think.

Or I could go with a more simple, body conscious dress and just accessorize with awesome shoes and jewelry.  Well, I'll wear awesome shoes no matter what pattern I choose... :)

Any comments/opinions from y'all?  

Here is what is on my sewing table right now.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 5 - The Rest

see previous post for explanation and first 3 Top 5's...

Top 5 Bloggers that Inspire Me

Patty the Snug Bug was an awesome blog for me to find, because she showed me that honesty about the shape, size and type of body you have is crucial for building a sewn wardrobe you will seriously consider wearing.  And she's just so sweet and funny.

Erica B's DIY Style is the hit of trendy I crave, mixed with RTW style finds and a good bit of sewing.  The patterns she chooses to sew are always worth a look and often make it on to my own wish-list. Her wardrobe is not in the style I might wear, but the way she mixes RTW with home-sewn is how I see my own approach to being fashionable.  I want to have an individual style with unique handmade pieces, but still have my finger on the pulse of modern fashion.

Green Apples cranks out so many garments and has such good reviews that she has become an important resource for me.  I have bought fabrics and patterns based on what I see on her blog.  I trust her judgement and admire her style choices.

Lladybird is a crazy one.  She's a lot of fun to read and she keeps it real.  She can make fun of a Vogue pattern like none other and, frankly, like I want to sometimes.  She also cranks out a ton of makes and I enjoy her honest assesments of the patterns.

A Fashionable Stitch and Casey's Elegant Musings tie for a spot on my list.  Neither blog do I follow regularly, each of them contributed something important to my sewing journey this year.  I like to pop over every so often and see what they are up to and catch up.  They both have really great sewing tips and links to share.

Top 5 Goals for 2013

I have to admit this is really just off the cuff.  I haven't sat and pondered goals... which I guess is the point.... so I fail.  Oh well.  Here are some goals I have.  They might not end up being the top 5, but they are goals none the less.

1. Sew a coat.  I have the pattern.  I have the fabric.  I've just got other stuff in line before it.

2. Sew a swimsuit.  I attempted panties recently and it wasn't a total fail.  I could see how, with a few more tries and some tweaking, I could come up with some comfortable swim bottoms and that opened up the possibility of making my own swimsuit.  That would be so cool.

3. Sew something for my husband.  I don't even know what it would be, but I know I would bust with pride if he ever actually wore and enjoyed something I made him.  I'd love to accomplish that.

4. Take control of my sewing space.  My sewing has really just become an out-of-control craft.  It wasn't really properly planned for.  It just happened.  This year, I need to recognize that it's a hobby that is sticking around and organize to make it more accessible and enjoyable.

5. Finish the ridiculous postage stamp quilt that I started TWO YEARS AGO!!  I am just going to feel like such a lame failure in the back of my head until I FINISH IT!

:)  Alrighty, time to get ready for church.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Top 5 of 2012

This awesome idea came from Crafting a Rainbow to me via Anna in Technicolor.
I was JUST thinking this afternoon that it would be a good idea for me to do some sort of round up post to cap off the year and get started with new goals and such.


Here is the layout:

  • Top 5 Favourite Creations (most worn, or most loved!)
  • Top 5 Sewing Fails (UFOs, worn once, or complete disasters!) 
  • Top 5 Lessons Learned (either practical tricks and techniques, or life lessons) 
  • Top 5 Blogs and Bloggers that Inspire
  • Top 5 Goals for the New Year 

  • Here goes:
    Top 5 Creations

    1. The zigzag knit shirt from McCalls 6078.  This is certainly not most worn.  I wore it once for a date night and decided it needed special undergarments to make it comfortable to wear again... and then it got cold.  Here's the thing though, this is one of those pieces that I love to see in my closet and look forward to getting the opportunity to wear again.  It's not an everyday shirt (although I may wear it more in hot weather), but I'm just so glad to have it.  I don't feel that way about most of the things I make.

    2. The white seersucker sundress from McCalls 6349.  Yet again, this is not a "most worn," just a, "wow, I love it!" I wore this dress for the 4th of July and that's it.  I thought it would be worn all summer, but, honestly, I just don't reach for dresses that often.  I took the time to make it really well and the fit is superb, down to the straps being perfectly placed to hide bra straps.  The time I took to do it right means it feels like an important addition to my closet.  A white dress isn't the first thing I think to grab, but I've got a great one when I get the hankering.

    3. Ok, those first two didn't really follow the rules... and this one is exactly the same!  Oh my gosh y'all, I promise the last two will be frequently worn!  Ok, Vogue 2899, my crowning glory this year.  This is the most challenging thing I've sewn, not really because any one step was difficult, but just because the pattern looks daunting and there were so many dern pieces and so many different seams and I was using a fabric I'd never used before and, and , and!!  I wore it once, to my hubby's end-of-year recognition/graduation dinner, and felt like a million bucks.  Aaaaand felt like 100 million when I got to mention to a few folks that I'd made it. :)

    4. The Scout Grainline Tee.  I've only made one, but I really love this baby.  I want to make more, I've just not been inspired by the exact right fabric yet.  I throw this on a lot... with my red or turquoise Colette Clovers or with jeans.  It was quick to make.  It only took a yard for my size. The fit was perfect for me.  The cut is flattering and easy to wear.  I happen to love the fabric I paired with it the first go round (which is making it harder to pick for the next one!)  It was an all-around win.

    5.  My red and blue Colette Clovers.  My first pants!  Such an accomplishment and they are both in regular rotation in warmer months.  I think I've lost a tiny bit of weight since I made the red ones, so the darts aren't holding on for dear life.  hahaha!  and I feel more comfortable wearing them.  The blue ones are perfectly comfortable.  yay!  Definitely a goal reached in 2012 to try pants.

    Top 5 Sewing Fails
    (why were these much easier to come by? and harder to pick just 5?)

    1. Simplicity 2281.  I had such high hopes from the pattern envelope.  Read the blog post for the particulars of what I didn't like about this dress.  It's not in my closet any more and I make a yucky face every time I come across the pattern in my stash. 

    2. McCalls 6519.  Nothing wrong with the pattern here, just didn't know what I was doing with the gorgeous silk gorgette I used to make it.  The hem is all cinched in and wonky.  If I could fix the hem... and not be afraid to wash it... I might actually wear it.

    3. The Plumber Jumpsuit, also no longer in my closet.  It turns out that the comment from my husband did seal the fate of this piece.  And maybe the choice of fabric had something to do with it too.  Gabardine wasn't a good choice.  I still have hope for this... maybe in black... or in a tropical print...

    4. The "Please Strangle Me Blouse"  ugh.  I never wore it and it's in a wad in my laundry room.  It's just so disappointing for me.  I HATE this pattern!!! It wasn't all the pattern's fault, but I still am going to blame it on the pattern and continue to HATE it.

    5. The Anthro knock-off.  I was really impressed with myself and then never wore it in public.  It IS still in my closet, but it probably needs to be tossed or given away.  I'm too afraid the fabric won't lay right in the back and it kinda looks funny sewn down in those ripples.  The fabric Anthro used was a little flow-y-er than this voile is.  It just ended up being not that flattering.

    Top 5 Lessons Learned

    1. Sew fewer dresses!!! SARA! Sew fewer dresses!!  I have to tell myself this because guess what is on my sewing table right now.... yes!  a dress!  A dress that, even if I love, I will rarely wear.  I am in love with the idea of dresses, but I do NOT wear them except to church and on dates.  I just don't.  I hope to wear more in the future, maybe when I'm not bending over to pick up Cheerios and reaching across to strap a toddler into her carseat.  Maybe?

    2. Take the time to do it well/right.  This is such a catch 22 for me because the fun in sewing right now is not the process, but the finished product.  I just want it DONE.  But when I cut corners and try to get it done fast instead of taking the time to finish it nicely, I feel like everyone can see the shoddy work while I'm wearing it, so I'm too ashamed to take it out of the closet.  OR It just plain looks bad.  So how's that workin' for ya, Sara?  Seems like the pieces you took your time on are the ones you enjoy.  Let's be logical about this, shall we?

    3. Along the lines of number two, if you have a resource, like, say, a serger, take advantage of it!  Don't let it languish just because you don't want to take the extra half hour to figure out the threading and the tension!  (This one seems pretty much a specific personal issue and not a broadly relatable problem.)

    4. Use the clothing you see at stores for inspiration.  When I first began sewing, I just picked a quilting cotton I loved and a cute dress pattern and sewed it up.  Pretty much what I had been doing with my little girl's clothes.  But, honestly, if I saw a dress in a store like the first ones I made, I wouldn't try it on.  I'm not drawn to easily-wrinkled, stiff cotton dresses.  Now granted, it's easier for a beginner to sew with the quilting cotton that will iron and stay where you put it and cut and pin nicely, but now that I feel comfortable sewing with various fabrics, I'm really trying to take specific note of the look and feel of things I'm attracted to as I walk through the mall...the cut of the pattern, the shape of the garment, the pattern and feel of the fabric.  I'm actually having to educate and inform myself about what I like.  Kinda weird, but it's helping me own my sewing endeavors more.

    5. It's ok to use a pattern more than once.  Tilly and the Buttons had a One Week One Pattern Challenge to encourage getting more use out of a pattern than just one garment.  This really came alive to me in 2012.  I wasn't buying patterns with the thought of them being go-to patterns, much loved friends that I could depend on to make a garment I loved.  All patterns can't be this, of course, but I wasn't really giving them a chance before.  I would buy a pattern to make one garment with a specific fabric and then "mark" it as done.  I used Simplicity 2892 four times, the Sewaholic Renfrew 5 times, the Colette Clover pattern twice and Anna Maria Horner's Socialite Dress pattern twice.  Now I see the potential ahead of time, like with the Scout Grainline Tee or Sewaholic Thurlows.  Incidentally, this was the first year I've really ever bought anything in multiples.  I found a great fitting pair of cropped pants at Old Navy and bought two more pairs in different colors when they went on sale. :)

    Well, this is long, isn't it!?  I'll do the other bits in another post in the next two days.

    Friday, December 28, 2012

    Christmas Photos

    Can you believe I've been working on my Christmas picture concept all year?  Yup.  I got the idea for a neutral palette of colors and some sort of woods backdrop in January of this year and then gathered pieces that fit my theme all year.  We bought my husband's sweater at an end-of-winter sale.  I got the tulle skirt my youngest is wearing at on clearance at Gap and I found my dress on clearance at Belk.
    I was originally going to sew for everyone, but finding things on clearance is just too hard to resist sometimes.

    I did sew a dress for my eldest.
    Here is the Emory Dress pattern from Sew Sweet.  I used a suiting fabric for the bodice and a French architecture fabric for the skirt.

    I drove around town and scoped out a place that had the lighting I wanted and then we waited for the leaves to turn so we could have a bit of color.  On the day of the shoot, we took a bench from our guest room, our camera, tripod and remote shutter release and parked on the side of the road next to the spot I had chosen.
    We told the girls that I was "the director" and that everyone, even Daddy, had to do what I said and sit or stand where I told them.  My four-year-old had to be reminded a couple times that I was the one who was telling everyone what to do and not her. :)
    I had several sleepless nights trying to think of ways to coach the girls to look at the camera and get some natural smiles.  I tried to keep my expectations low and just be hopeful for one good photo.

    As you can see, we got a few good shots. ;)  

    And there was this extra special keeper that is now hanging in our master bath.

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

    Very Inspiring Blogger Award

    First, I have to apologize for not passing on the first award I received.  I'm no good at chain letters, recipe exchanges and now I can add blog-award-passing-on to the list.

    Determined not to let this award get swept under the rug also, here's the thank-you and pass-it-on post.

    The rules of this lovely award are as follows:

    1. Thank the person who nominated you
    2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award / The Very Inspiring Blogger
    Award to your post.
    (I just grabbed it off of the blog post I was nominated from and
    dragged it to my photos on my Mac.  I don't see a link for it or 
    HTML code, so I really don't know how else to do it!)
    3. Share 7 things about yourself.
    4. Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
    5. Include this set of rules.
    6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.
    Now to the 7 things about myself:

    1.  I was homeschooled through high school and my mom wanted
    to do a home ec with me.  She chose sewing.  We bought an a-line,
    gathered waist skirt pattern, some cheap navy blue floral cotton and
    I learned how to thread a sewing machine, cut out a pattern, follow
    the directions and sew a few straight lines.  I hated the skirt (of
    course!) and didn't sew again until I was motivated to try again when 
    I had a little baby girl 5 years ago.

    2.  I was a dance education major in college and have taught ballet
    to 3-9 year olds and have taught ballroom dance professionally.

    3.I have recently decided that I really need to wear my glasses all the
    time.  My mom's been getting on to me ever since I was little for not
    wearing my glasses and squinting all the time.  Well, my eyes have
    worsened to the point where it is no longer an option for me.  

    4. I like to be alliterative with pet/toy names.  Our dog's name is
    My little girl's stuffed dolphin, who I helped name, is Dillan.
    My humming bird tattoo is named Hermes.
    The tiny stuffed Christmas moose that is being used as a Christmas tree
    topper in my youngest's room is named Melvin.  You get the idea...

    5. I do not like to paint walls, but I love to pick paint colors for walls
    and pay someone else to paint them.

    6. I love pretty much everything crafty/creative.  I have taken courses
    in photography, calligraphy, drawing, stamping/card making, weaving, 
    pottery, acting and, of course, dance.  Maybe one of these days I'll get 
    to take a class in sewing.  haha!

    7. I feel like I struggle when it comes to fashion.  I have to really use 
    others' blogs and magazines and Pinterest as textbooks of sorts. 
    I try to pay close attention to things I like and dissect why I like them.  
    Color, shape, texture, print, proportion... these are all things I mostly try 
    to copy from pictures. I don't do a whole lot of never-before-seen stuff. 
    I mostly re-do what's already been done.

    I nominate the following bloggers for the award:

    10. Patty The Snug Bug

    I can only imagine that at least some of these blogs may have received this award before.  Some of them I discovered for the very first time today and they will be added to my list of blogs I check daily.  There are some amazing things being sewn!

    The Renfrew Dress

    When I first purchased the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, I was concerned that I might be wasting $$.  I'm spoiled by $.99 pattern sales and $6 pdf's.  Anything over $10 really seems like a lot to pay. 
    When I bought the Renfrew pattern, I wasn't typically making more than one or two items from a single pattern, so the cost of an item of clothing was fabric + pattern.
    I think this might be the fifth incarnation of the Renfrew now and I can see myself reaching for it again.  
    This pattern has proven it's value. :)
    For this version, I made the neck higher, made long sleeves for the first time, and just sewed a skirt onto the bottom of the tee and added a drawstring.

     I bought two yards of this fairly thin coral and grey knit from Girl Charlee.  I heart Girl Charlee.

    The side seams of the skirt need pressing, but you can see I managed to match the stripes.

    Christmas vacation is in three days, but I have a few pictures saved up that are not yet blogged about, so maybe I'll come back here to visit before Christmas.
    Early Merry Christmas anyway!

    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    Ottobre - My First Pattern Magazine

    I've seen these pattern magazines and I could understand the value of howevermany patterns for the price of what only one pattern costs sometimes (unless you are spoiled by 99 cent pattern sales).
    What put me off from buying one, until now, was the being-spoiled-by-99-cent-pattern-sales and the dreaded tracing of pattern pieces.  Confession:  I do not believe I have EVER traced a pattern.  Not even my expensive (compared to 99 cents) Sewaholic and Colette patterns.  I'm so reckless.  I just cut right into them and hope that my sizing is correct.  It's kinda extra risky for me too because I'm almost always the smallest size by measurements.  I've been really lucky and never really wished I had the option of sizing up after I cut the larger sizes off.
    It's hard for me to pass up a deal and someone was offering some older Ottobre issues at a great price.  I'm really getting into European style design for kid wear and the timing was right.  I bit the bait and bought an issue.
    4/09 to be exact.
    The thing that attracted me to this particular issue the most was a pattern called the Tulip Pants.  My Molly Blossom logo is a tulip, so that always attracts my attention, but the design of them was just so dern cute.  I also had yet to decide on what pants I would be making my birthday girl who was about to turn three.
    As soon as the issue came, I opened it up and poured over all the pages, checked out the measurement chart and tore out the pattern pages.
    uh, yeah, I definitely needed to be motivated by cute pants and a looming birthday to get the gumption to trace all the pieces.  They were HARD to trace.  I got lost and would start on one piece only to find that I'd jumped over to another pattern altogether.
    I finally got everything traced.  To add the seam allowance, I used two pencils side by side and didn't bother to tape them or anything, which was silly because they kept slipping all over the place. My knees hurt because I was crawling all over my wood floor since I don't have a surface large enough at the right height to get a good overhead view of the pattern sheet.
    Ok, ok, cutting to the chase.  Construction was not difficult, for an intermediate seamstress.  I even got the zip fly right on the first try.  (no unpicking!!)
    The result is so stinkin' adorable and, as the memory of my tracing difficulty faded, I loved them more and more.
    Until I decide what to do about photos, you can see them here on Flickr:

    The fit was great and, except for my Buddha-bellied birthday girl causing the zip to buckle under her pooch, they look really cute.  That buckling from the belly overhang makes me twitch.  I just don't like that look, so I won't be reaching for these often, unfortunately.  I'll make them for her again when her belly flattens out a bit.

    I did get a bonus for all my hard work tracing.  I tried these on my skinny 4 year old and discovered that, although hilariously short, they fit!  So recently, while on Thanksgiving vacation, I cut out a pair for her using the same pattern pieces and just lengthening the legs and ruffles by a couple inches.  Hers will be purple baby wale cord.  I simply MUST sew them up before Christmas.

    Speaking of Christmas!... I have Christmas card pictures to show and a couple of Christmas dresses and more in line to be sewn (of course).