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Grief and Beautiful Fabrics

Sewing is my stress relief. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said this. Even when I’m stressed about the sewing (because deadlines and overbooking my time), it relieves stress in other areas of my life. But, when my Grandma was lost to us earlier this month, I wasn’t sure how to start the grieving process. My go-to is the craft room. But the first project I tackled, a super cute wallet for my sister, took forever! Every step was a reminder of the calm patience she wore like perfume while teaching me how to sew.

Checking my grainlines reminds me of her explanation of the importance of truing them so nothing twists while wearing. Picking up my good scissors (thanks family!) amazes me at how free she was with any of the scissors in her sewing space. At least for me. She never told me to use a different pair or not to cut this or that with the beautiful shears. Should I use binding on the inside of the wallet, or just finish the edges with my serger? Vicki goes through these wallets so fast, I’ll just serge them. But, oh, I have this bin of bindings that Grandma gave me when she couldn’t sew anymore. Now I need to sit for a bit and have a good cry.

The first sew took forever, and wasn’t easy to focus on. So glad I picked a project I’ve sewn a million times. But, as I worked through the first wallet, then the two others, with matching key fobs, I had planned. It got easier and I was able to find the joy in sewing once again.

Then I had to tackle the project with a real deadline. This beautiful Sly Fox Fabrics Heavy Ponte de Roma, in dark rose needs to become something beautiful. This was Grandma’s favorite color. Ok, had a good cry about that as well. Plus Mom telling me she feels Grandma is with me while I’m sewing. Yeah, that helped. I want something I can wear regularly, not a special occasion piece. I was thinking pants, but I adore the new Made for Mermaids Dione Jacket. Grandma would have loved seeing me in this! She would have touched the sleeve and told me it was beautiful. Decision made! But, this two yard cut shrank. Significantly! Now I can’t quite squeeze this out!

Instead of moving forward and picking something else, I blanked and reached out to a friend. Becky suggested a color blocked jacket! I’d been meaning to make one with black on shiny black, so let’s see what I have on hand. Oh look! I have this great charcoal Ponte de Roma, also from Sly Fox, that I already made a Dione out of for Virginia!!! Just enough scraps for the facings and some sleeve color blocking. Plus, a bonus skirt!!

This is the Rebecca Page Peggy with just a few changes. I obviously color blocked due to fabric limitations. The waistband is the gorgeous rose, then I couldn’t quite get the bottom front and back pieces cut on the fold. So, instead of adding just a bit of seam at the back, I made it a focal point! I cut at an angle across where the center fold would be, hemmed that edge, then aligned the center back on both rose pieces as well as the main skirt piece before attaching. I LOVE how this turned out. It is a bit sassy and super fun. Plus, way easier than most vent construction, so if you’re scared of vents, this is a great alternative.

The only problem with this project? Other than the tears and distracting memories, of course. I ended up hemming everything by hand. I didn’t want the smoothness of these pieces to be interrupted but hem lines and my machine blind hem stitch just did not like this fabric. I think it was totally worth the effort!! YAY! I’m done!!

Now, what the hell do I wear this with? I had planned on a solid jacket that matched a few of my other Sly Fox Fabrics floral tops. But, with the color blocking, I’m not in love with the pairing anymore. So, back to the fabric cabinet to see what matches. Low and behold, I have this great glittery black knit from the same order as the charcoal ponte! What?! And I know just what pattern will be great with this!

I’ve been wanting to make a Rebecca Page Chloe Cami since I first saw Becky wearing one in testing. I was scared of it until then. SHE IS STUNNING IN HERS!! And I already had it printed and handy. This pattern is drafted for wovens, but, this sparkly stuff (ok, so it is black and silver metallic jersey.  Sly Fox has black and gold right now!) doesn’t have vertical stretch, so as long as I cut my straps with no stretch, I won’t have to stabilize them.

I am so pleased with the entire outfit. And how easy it is to mix and match with other pieces (like the DIBY jeans above). The whole process was rather cathartic and really helped me keep moving while waiting for our flight home. While I was initially nervous that the reminders would be too much, jumping right into the sewing room really helped me feel connected and loved.

Hold tight to the ones you love.
Stephanie <3

DISCLAIMER – The dark rose ponte was sent to me for free. The sewing, opinions, and recommendation that this fabric is amazing, come completely from me. This post also contains some affiliate links. These don’t change the price for you, but the designer does give me a small percent if you buy something. I use this to buy more fabric.

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5oo4 Eleanor Cardigan

It is FINALLY FALL!!!!!  If the weather would catch up with the calendar, I’d appreciate it.  But, until then, I’m diving into my great stash of sweater knits.  We super stocked up last year and I’ve sewn so little of it!  This test was a great excuse to make some ridiculously comfortable cardigans out of some even more ridiculously comfortable fabric.

When I picked up with gloriously soft sweater knit from Sly Fox Fabrics, I had no idea what to do with it!  The coral was a bit more vibrant than I expected when I ordered it and it is very drapey and soft and I love it.  I’m so glad I bought enough for this tunic length cardigan.  It is a slightly dropped shoulder, making it extra cozy.  Plus, there’s an option for an EXTRA LONG SLEEVE!!!!  WHAT?!  Do you love squishing your hands up into your sleeves?  I know I do.  This sleeve is perfect for cozying up on the porch, on a chilly fall morning, with a cup of coffee and a great book.  (Dammit weather.  Cool down!!)  Plus these pockets are super cute. <3

Virginia also needed a comfy cardigan.  So she picked this great wide ribbed sweater knit from Sincerely Riley!!  In a beautiful grey, it is perfect for matching every outfit, ever.  She also picked tunic length, but I gave her the hooded option and the slimmer fit extra long sleeve, just because I could.

Now, there are lots of other options included in this pattern!  There’s knee and duster length.  Plus a regular sleeve length.  And a belt!!  Do you need a cozy robe cardi for lounging in the house?  This is PERFECT.  I have a couple on my to-do list for comfy cool weather, in house (but cute enough for outside) layers!  And, if you like to match your kiddos, there’s a girls’ version as well!!

Can’t wait to see what you do with these gorgeous patterns!

stephanie <3

 

 

 

 

 

This post contains various affiliate links.  Purchasing patterns using these links does not cost my readers more, but the designer does provide me with a small commission from any sales.  This commission helps to fund my fabric addiction and is greatly appreciated.

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Sly Fox Fabric – Back 2 School Celebration

I love reading Back to School blog tours and posts.  It means Fall is upon is (and we all know how I feel about fall!).  Kids are jumping back into school.  Temps are maybe thinking about possibly starting to drop (dammit Atlanta!).  Football starts up.  Everything is great!  But, I never know what to say for back to school blogs.  I don’t have kids.  No nieces or nephews either.  Graduated from my master’s program a couple years ago.  So, I was going to write about Virginia going back to school.  Her being out of the house more, and generally more busy, and what that means for me.  But, I realized today, back to school does mean something to me.  It is a reminder of how much I love school.

I might be in the minority there, but school has always been something I enjoyed.  When I was young, it was exciting to go every day and see my friends; learn something new.  As I got older, it was a way to get out of the small town I grew up in.  Experience more of the world.  And now that I’m in my 30’s, learning new stuff is still one of my favorite things.

So, I’m taking this opportunity to remind myself (and all of you) that learning doesn’t have to stop because we’re not in school anymore.  There are so many resources available to learn new things.  I don’t mean signing up for another degree (though I’ve considered it).  But, small, everyday things to learn and grow.

Sewing

I’ve transitioned a bit in the tests that I’ll tackle from any and everything to more challenging sews.  If there is a new technique, or a cool feature, I’m in!  If I know the designer will help me with better fitting tips or has a really unique construction for something, that is the best!  I love trying challenging patterns that push me to try something new.  The best part of this – the technique doesn’t even have to be new for me to learn something!  Maybe I’ll be able to try a new shape for me.  This dress is certainly out of my usual comfort zone!  Maybe I’ll see a different combination of basic shapes.  Whatever allows me to expand beyond what I know.

Beyond tests though.  I love learning new techniques and always enjoy taking classes.  Craftsy is my fav place to learn new sewing techniques.  It is where I learned most the techniques I’ve picked up as an adult.  YouTube is a wonderful resource for random things.  Reading other bloggers!  They have such great tips and resources to expand what’s available.

Sewing-ish

I am always trying to improve my photography.  It is so helpful to the designers I test for if my pictures can just be a little better than they were for the last test.  Or if you can see the fabric just a bit clearer, brighter, more true to color.  I love reading tutorials about my camera.  How different settings change my photograph.  And now I’m jumping into Photoshop.  I haven’t dived into post-processing pictures since college.  My time ended up filled with other things and I stepped away from it.  But, I still love it!  Small tweaks here and there to really make a photo shine.  And Adobe has some awesome tutorials available to really help me get comfortable with the software!

Fabric too!  I’m loving diving deeper into how fabric is made.  The different types of weaves are endlessly fascinating.  The Sly Fox reveal videos lit a fire in me to learn more and share that knowledge!  (Seriously.  I’m doing fabric how to videos in the Rebecca Page Facebook group.  What?!)  How is this fabric made?  What patterns will be a perfect pair?  How does weight related to drape for different types of fabric?  Endless questions, with answers available with just a few google searches!

Even blogging is something I’m spending time learning new techniques to improve on.  I started this so I can look back on projects and enjoy where I started and how I improve.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to bring creative, useful content to those that read it though!  And reach more people who might find it useful.  So, I’m reading all about SEO and what people want to read.  Social media is an ever changing area, with so many resources to learn how to better interact with other people around the world.

Not-sewing At All

Stepping outside the craft room altogether!  What else can I learn?  What other resources are available to frugal (ok, cheap) Stephanie to expand interests and keep learning?  Little things?  Big things?

I LOVE cooking!!  When I’m sewing (I know…I said not in the craft room), I usually have a TV program on in the background.  I’ve been loving the Netflix cooking shows!  No commercials, but I get to see fun new techniques.  Back to google for a recipe or more in depth video, and I’ve learned a new technique or recipe!!

But also, Netflix has a great nature program called Round Planet that I HIGHLY recommend if you like sarcasm and animals.

Speaking of google.  How many resources are available online to learn all kinds of skills?  There are free coding classes.  I’ve got Bruce for my website needs, but it is still fascinating.  Lynda.com has tons of classes on Microsoft and various software.  Want a step up at work, check that out!  The internet has woodworking videos, gardening videos, workout videos, organization videos.  Literally anything you want to learn is available.  (What a fascinating world we live in.)

Prefer to learn in person?  Google some classes!  I love paint nite.  Bring a bottle of wine (or two) and paint with your friends and some strangers.  It is fun, you get to learn new techniques, while supporting an artist, and bring home some cool shit for your walls!  Take a cooking class in person.  A friend of mine did an ax throwing class.  You read that right.  She learned how to throw a damn ax!  Step outside your comfort zone and remember that nothing keeps you young like learning new stuff.

To bring this full circle, if you haven’t tried binding, or working with Liverpool, this could be a fun project for you!  The 5 out of 4 Jessie is a super versatile pattern (one of Virginia’s favorites) that I hadn’t sewn for myself yet.  This GORGEOUS Sly Fox Fabrics Mad Love Liverpool needed to be a dress to really show it off.  So the Jessie as a fitted dress (oh my) is perfect.  I’ve got more evenings free with Virginia back in school, so it is fantastic for date nights.  I get to show off a little of my tattoos, which I always love.  And it is the perfect length that I can throw a jacket on top and wear it to work!

Have you worked with Liverpool?  It is one of my favorite fabrics!  I was just talking about it with a friend (hey Sequoia!) and realized just how much I use it!!  It is easy to sew and easy to wear!  Plus it is tough!  It has outlived all my other knit pants.  If you haven’t tried it, I definitely recommend it.  (Pants are my fav in it!)

So, welcome back to school.  Don’t forget to learn new things, right along with your kids, if you’ve got them.  And I’m not talking about that common core shit, either!  Learn something fun.  Something that sparks your soul.  <3

stephanie xx

PS – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Sly Fox Fabrics is an amazing company.  They are doing an entire Back 2 School Celebration.  There are giveaways in the Facebook group.  I highly recommend you check them out.

 

I received the Mad Love fabric for free in exchange for sewing and photographing it.  The rest of this mumbo jumbo is all me and not influenced by the perk at all.  This post does contain some affiliate links.  These don’t cost you anything, but if you click them and buy something, I receive a small commission.  Which I use to buy more fabric, so I can keep sewing and writing about it. <3

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Two Cheers for Made for Mermaids Women’s Avery

This top was so cute, that even with my stupid sprained ankle and not really being ready to jump back to sewing, I threw my name in the hat to test and hoped with all hope that I’d be chosen.  Clearly I was, win.  And dang did sewing hurt.  Worth.  Every.  Minute.  (Don’t worry.  Mostly healed now.  Also back to sewing too much.)

I LOVE unique pieces.  I’m trying really hard to step back from testing the same thing over and over.  I just find it difficult to be genuine and thorough while recommending something when I already have a great pattern for.  Please don’t misunderstand!  I’m not trying to say anything bad about any designer at all!!  Just because I’ve found the perfect basic tank pattern, doesn’t mean that pattern works for everyone or has the options everyone is specifically looking for!!  So, I hope designers keep releasing all these beautiful patterns until everyone has exactly what they need and want (read: never stop!!!  MAKE ALL THE PATTERNS).  But for me, if I already have a similar pattern, why test when I’ll have less enthusiasm?  The designer deserves more.  So does anyone reading my promo posts or blog.

But LOOK AT THIS BACK!!!  I don’t have anything like this!  So much potential!!!!!!  It is so simple, but just fantastic!  (Say fantastique with a French accent.  It’s better; I promise.)  When we started, I was pumped to tackle such a complicated twist (pun intended) on a basic tank.

Like any good tester, my first step is always to read the instructions from beginning to end.  Every.  Damn.  Word.  Usually more than once, just to make sure I’m going to sew the way the designer wants me to sew.  (This is also one of my favorite ways to learn new techniques.)  This initial read made me so damn happy.  The twist is super easy!!!  It makes sense and isn’t complicated.  Construction is clear and I wasn’t going to *need* wine to make it through.  (This, of course, does not eliminate wine from being consumed in the sewing process in any way!)

To jump topics here, I have also been meaning to sew more solids.  I LOVE PRINTS!!  Dots and stripes.  Florals and geometrics.  BRING.  THEM.  ON.  I wear them on top.  I wear them on bottom.  I mix and match them.  I just can’t get enough.  This means I always need some solids to pair with them.  Always.  I’ve had this green mystery knit for quite some time (pretty sure it is rayon spandex.  Too lazy to do a burn test and don’t really care).  Whatever it is, I loved it so much, we bought the rest of a bolt when Hancock Fabrics was closing.  I used a smidgen for this lovely Made for Mermaids Mama Sommer last summer.  (GO PACK GO!!)  But, this meant I had quite a bit left over and wasn’t sure what I wanted with it because it is quite lightweight and I wasn’t filling my closet with rayon spandex just yet.  This lightweight fabric was exactly what I needed for Avery.  Win!!

This was possibly the fastest sew ever.  I think it was faster than my usual simple tank.  I truly was expecting at the very least, the first one to take a bit of time.  Four or five hours maybe.  But, Avery went from a stack of pages to this gorgeousness in about two hours.  TWO HOURS!!!  Quite a bit less the second time (no gluing, since we wear the same size in M4M).  And only about an hour for the third.  (I imagine this is about as quick as it will get for me.  There are only so many steps that can be quicker with practice.  Also, I’d bet it’ll actually be closer to two hours each sew unless I’m making multiples in one sitting.)  So, if you’re looking for cute, unique, and you have limited time, check out Avery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I loved it so much, I had to make one for the sister.  She looks amazing, as always.  I do love it in this wonderful Sly Fox Fabrics Brazen single brushed poly.  The extra structure hangs so beautifully.  I definitely want to try Avery in an athletic fabric.  I think the structure would be lovely and it is so fun for workouts!  (Cute workout clothes are my favorite motivation to actually go to the gym.  Anyone else use this technique?)

 

 

 

 

Have I mentioned that I have amazing friends?  We recently traveled home to celebrate the Fourth of July (check out our matching shirts!) and had to leave our kittens for an entire week.  We’ve never left them for this long and were nervous about it.  So, a couple amazing friends made time to swing by our place and check on these cute jerks.

I wanted to say thank you and the best way I can do that is give them my time and fabrics.  One sitter loves black and red and sleeves.  So, I went with the Patterns for Pirates Slim Fit Raglan and this lovely striped French Terry from Fine Fabrics (an amazing local place).

 

But, our other cat sitter loves tanks and unique pieces and peacocks.  This fabric seemed a subtle peacock inspired print.  Could be flowers.  What do I know? (Don’t tell anyone it is called Teal Rose, ok?  Definitely Peacock-y.)  This tank was perfect for her!!  We gave it to her the other night and she tried it on immediately!!  <3  Best reaction ever.

Do you need the Avery?  Are you going to sew it up?  Don’t be intimidated by the fancy twist!  Check it out and let me know what you think. 🙂

stephanie xx

PS: Virginia and I both paired our tanks with Made for Mermaids Mama Lexi shorts, because we are living in them these days.  They are ridiculously comfortable and I talked about them a ton here.  My tank is tunic length.  Virginia’s is top length.  The peacock tank is the curved hem.  (BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!)  Just in case you needed more.  It also has a dress length option.  Do remember that the sisters like us to show off our legs, so it is a short dress.  I’m not complaining.  They forced (ok…assigned) me to sew dress length so often, that I’m much more comfortable showing them now.  I’m not perfect, but I am me and that is perfect enough.  <3

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Two Yard Cuts

SFF Unforgettable (9)1One of the most common questions I see in so many fabric and pattern groups is, if you don’t have a plan for it, how much of a fabric do you buy?  I’ve also seen answers that run from 1/2 yard if it’s for the kids or 1 yard for me, to, I just buy X yards, just in case.  There are SOOO many answers that can be helpful.  Is the fabric knit or woven?  Are you sewing for an adult or a child?  Is it bottom weight or top weight?  And, honestly, there is no right answer that works for every person for every situation.

SFF Unforgettable (6)1For me personally, I most commonly sew for my self and my sister.  And I most often sew with knits these days.  Unless I’m planning a specific project, I almost always prefer 2 yard cuts.  Now, this is mostly because I sew curvy sizes.  I can’t quite get every top out of 1 yard, so I need a little extra fabric.  (Ok, there are a few fabric companies that I KNOW send generous cuts.  Sometimes I order 1 yard cuts if I know I want a simple top.)

SFF Unforgettable (5)1This is the downside for having a bit extra time in my hourglass. 😉  So, I am always keeping an eye out for patterns that take less than one yard.  Now, one of my absolute favorite basic tee patterns is the Favorite Tee from Patterns for Pirates.  I adore the fit.  It is hella flattering on me.  And is has some great options to fancy it up, if I’m in the mood.  Of course, it is takes just over one yard…

However, I’ve now found a couple of patterns I can sew up out of just UNDER one yard!  Now that is winning!!  AND they aren’t even tops. 🙂 My default was to check if I have enough for a Made for Mermaids Mama Chloe skirt.  I just need enough fabric to get a length I am comfortable with.  Plus, the waistband can always be a different fabric, since I never wear it out anyway.

SFF Unforgettable (10)1Now, though, I am living in Made for Mermaids Mama Lexi shorts.  I LOVE THEM!!!  They are comfortable, super fast to sew, have pockets, and I can get an entire pair out of just about one yard of fabric.  This one also falls in the waistband can be a different fabric category!

So, how in the world does this pertain to the outfit I’m sharing today?  I got this GORGEOUS Sly Fox Fabrics Unforgettable double brushed poly and started weighing my options. I considered quite a few different patterns.  Some that would just squeeze out of the 2 yards.  Some that would comfortably fit and leave me with tiny scraps.  I hemmed and hawed while it was shipping to me.  Then while I was washing it.  Then I sprained my damn ankle and couldn’t sew.  So, more time to consider, I suppose.

I sewed up a practice top to see if it is what I wanted.  While I love it, it wasn’t quite right for this fabric.  Back to the drawing board.  Then, I realized I knew exactly what I wanted.  This DBP was the perfect weight to flatter and be comfy.  I can wear it in this hot Atlanta summer without melting.  Obviously, I needed another (non basic, but fabulous) basic tee.  And I hoped there would be enough to squeeze out a skirt or some shorts.  I need more summer bottoms in my life.

Now, I knew I needed a top that would match these gorgeous new summer bottoms and I had the perfect Sly Fox Fabric in my stash!  The Peach double brushed poly matched perfectly and it meant I got to sew up something from my shelf!  Plus, the Made for Mermaids Mama Ava is another of my favorite go to basic tees.  Win.  Win.

SFF Unforgettable (8)1So, now I have three lovely new pieces in my closet and I can’t wait to start mixing and matching them to everything I already had.

stephanie xx