Just over four years ago, my sister and I bought a house! A HOUSE!! Super exciting purchase, which is also super scary. We love most things about our house, the kitchen is so much bigger than in any apartment I’ve lived it, there’s a whole room for crafting, we have a fenced in yard, so we can get a puppy, the craft room rocks, no sharing walls with strangers, craft room. You know? Good stuff.
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There were also a few things we didn’t love about the house. Some of them we can change, like the faucets in the bathrooms and the hideous, baby diarrhea color on the walls. But, some of them were outside of our wheelhouse. Thankfully, we have a pretty handy dad! He has definitely helped us with a lot of projects around the house. (To be fair, he also taught us how to change out the faucet!)
There was one safety change that we were actually quite concerned about. Our water shutoff valve was way inside the crawlspace, on the outer wall, in a super dark area, with lots of dirt, and through some crazy narrow space. This is definitely not ideal positioning if we need to turn off the water FAST! You know, in emergency type situations…
This is for sure something Dad can help us with!! (Super Dad to the rescue!) He can install a new water shutoff valve near the door to the crawlspace, within easy reach, without any crawling at all. But…someone is going to have to crawl over to the valve, and either crawl back in when he is done, or chill there for half an hour while the Pops installs a new valve.
Here is where the deal comes in. Virginia and I agreed, she would do the dirty work if I sew her one shirt, one bottom, one pair of undies, and one bralette, with an option for one cardigan added in, if I was feeling it.
Since the valve fixing happened in March, while I was napping post-surgery, I have sewn exactly nothing off of this list. Every time the items made it to the top of the list, I either didn’t have the info on what options she wanted (lists got lost, ok?), or something prioritized higher and pushed it down the list.
But dammit, a deal is a deal! She held up her end, she deserves a whole damn outfit. (Yes, I have sewn MANY things for her between March and now. But, this is a special sew. Not a random sew. Not a test. SPECIAL, dammit.) Since I’ve spent the first part of this year getting myself organized and prioritizing my time and energy, I spent the end of last week making sure I had the list of what she patterns wanted and which options and fabrics she wanted used.
It is a new year and it has been a rough start so far. Typically, resolutions aren’t my thing, but new years and rough spots are always good times to evaluate and focus on what is important. So, that’s what I’ve been working on during my last few days off work. What do I want to accomplish this year? What priorities need to shift? What can I do to better myself for those around me?
I’m not jumping into all the details, but every goal starts with much better organization than I currently have. Keeping track of all the projects, responsibilities, side hustles, and just stuff in life is an ever present struggle. I think it is for most people.
I’m super lucky in that my family gave me this kick-ass calendar this year. Since it is bang on theme, it also has spots for projects, ideas, fabric swatches, all the good stuff for us sewists!! I splurged on some delightful new pens to go with it (they even match all the pretty colors inside!) and got started documenting my entire life.
Boy, did writing it all down really bring into focus just how much I cram into my days and weeks. (Totally not complaining! I love it!!) Just the act of writing stuff down has always helped me remember my list. And a friend of mine was just telling me about the benefits of writing stuff down, so this seems like the perfect start!
I’ve got my list of tasks for the month. Due dates for tests and strikes. Depositions for the day job. Even books I want to check out from the library written down and ready to go. I just really need to stay motivated throughout the year to build and KEEP these habits.
So, how in the world does this pertain to a sewing blog? Well, I’ve got a super cute sewing calendar and pretty pens, but I clearly need a little pouch to carry the pens with the calendar!! I used the Made for Mermaids Zip Up Pouch freebie, which is just perfect for the handful of pens I want to carry with me. Plus, my sister gave me this gorgeous vintage sewing machine fabric forever ago!
Being indecisive, I used a team of four amazing seamstresses and one very annoyed sister to help me choose a lining fabric (which I didn’t even take a picture of) and the right zipper. Then, halfway through sewing, I realized I really wanted to up the game on the little carry strap the tutorial shows you how to add. So, I added some hardware to a little loop and made myself another key fob to attach to it!!
I figured, they’re so easy, why not quick tell you guys how to make them too?! They are super simple and the only thing you might not have on hand is the hardware (which I ordered on Amazon super cheap). All you need is a bit of fabric, some interfacing, your machine, the hardware, and a hammer! (Yeah, a hammer. You also get to work out a little frustration with this project.)
Cut out a 3×12 inch piece of your fabric. I usually fussy-cut so that a particularly pretty bit is showing. Iron on interfacing to this piece (1). Fold each long edge in 1/2 inch and press (2). Then fold in half, matching folded edges, press, and pin (3a, 3b). Do whatever topstitching you want at this stage (4). I just did 1/8 inch from each long edge. But it is fun to get fancy with it!! Use your crazy stitches or extra pretty threads. Go nuts. Then just fold your fob in half, slide it into the hardware (5), and hammer in place!! Be sure to use a couple layers of your pressing cloth to protect the hardware from damage.
That’s it. You’re done. They’re crazy easy to personalize with embroidery or vinyl, and make wonderful (and fast) gifts! I’ve given away quite a few so far and they’ve always been well received.
So, let’s all be a little more organized and work toward our happiness a little bit more this year. And let’s support each other while doing it.
This year has been full of ups and downs for me, as I’m sure it has been for most of you. Between surgery, long weekends, a whole week off for the Fourth of July, and losing my Grandma, I have taken a lot of time away from the office this year. Which is weird for me. And to top it off, I’m using a TON of leave around the holidays this year. Most of this is just for me. We are flying my sister down after Christmas to spend some sister time and just hang out. Though, she wants me to sew her an entire new wardrobe while she’s in town, so there will be lots of fabric time too. But the two weeks I took off in between Veteran’s day and Thanksgiving were mine. I really wanted a break. A real break. Time to sleep in, lounge around the house, sew whatever I wanted. Hoped to have no deadlines to worry about.
Yeah. If you’ve ever met me, you know that was a laughable goal. If I see a break in my schedule, I immediately fill it. So, the 17 days away from my day job quickly filled to the brim. I ended up stressing myself to the max and working tons of hours for my second job. Does anyone else do this? I stressed myself so much, I made a TON of sewing mistakes. Real ones! I picked up the recommended fabric for one project, plus an extra 1/2 yard, just in case. Got home, washed it and realized it was 52″ wide instead of 60″ and I was WAY short. Back to the warehouse for me and hopeful to find the same fabric (which is almost impossible).
On the SAME PROJECT, I cut directional fabric upside down for half the damn pieces. What am I even doing with my life? Off I go, to a weird Joann’s, since I already cleaned out my Joann of this fabric. I mean, the end result was WAY worth it. This is the SUAT Riding Hood for a friend to keep her baby bump warm during the cold Philly winter. I quilted the kick-ass Wonder Woman liner with some batting for more warmth, and it is so very soft. A few extra minutes to add that layer really took this from comfy, cute to a cozy, effective winter jacket. I love the designer’s self-welting pockets and the little sleeve ties. Just a really nice layering piece with super cute little details. Plus I made a cute little key fob to match! (Which I forgot to take a pic of.)
Then I was working on some Christmas jammies and cut two left legs. What am I even doing here? I had just enough fabric left to cut a right leg and have the scraps left for the little projects we wanted to do. But, damn. I did use the Patterns for Pirates Walk the Plank pattern. It is free and quite the quick sew. Perfect for very beginners! I’ll share pics laters. 🙂
This isn’t to say I didn’t have great successes while I was on my sewcation. I sewed all the pieces for the #comfytown blog tour early on. Then lived in those pieces as soon as we took photos. After making that super comfy Cora, I immediately made a second one. (You’re getting craft room, jim-jam, 2 AM pics of this one!) That’s definitely my new fav cardi pattern!! Everyone needs a Cora in their life. I also finished off a couple of pattern tests and a pre-test. I forgot to blog about them, but you might have seen me sharing my Made for Mermaids Jamie Poncho and Hudson Hoodie. If you need some comfy, warm, cute pieces, these are lovely choices!
A few Christmas presents were also sewn, which I obviously can’t share yet, as well as a few more pieces for my Philly friend (with another cutting mistake, ugh), including a little set of Cora cardis for her and her two little girls. Totes can’t wait to see how she likes her box of goodies! And I really need to figure out some cute guy gifts I can make. I always feel bad leaving Dads out of these little matching sets. Maybe I’ll ask Bruce what he would want.
I also managed to CLEAN the craft room. Reorganize everything. As well as finally tackling the scrap pile. It was INSANE. And now it is so neat and easy to find what I need and what is useful. The only downside is that Gus Gus really liked sleeping on the pile. Now she feels she has nowhere to be comfortable. Despite the multiple cat beds and comfy places I’ve set up to keep the kittens happy. They are too expected for this little mischievous bugger. She’s been awkwardly moving about, trying new, ridiculous places to sleep. Then STARING at me with disappointment in her eyes, clearly blaming me for her missing comfy spot.
The to-do list didn’t really get any shorter, so I’m hoping to not pick up any other deadlines before the end of the year. We’ll see how successful I can be with that goal. But, I’ll try! Even without a shortened to-do list, I am working through the projects. Virginia is helping where she can. A few more Christmas presents to sew first. Gotta get those in the mail. Then, a few promo patterns to sew up that I’m just really excited about! I love trying new patterns and these should be fun, so I’m hoping to write up my experiences with them as well! Keep an eye out! <3
Now we’ve made it to December. I have a few weeks to prep some patterns for the sister, so we can power through some beautiful pieces while she’s in town. She always gets the short end of the stick when it comes to my sewing time. She doesn’t live with me, so it is harder to fit anything that isn’t knit and forgiving. Plus, I haven’t found a designer that drafts just so, that matches her shape, like I have for Virginia and I. This means a good bit of altering before I start cutting. Which is a much bigger time commitment and since she isn’t sitting there with the sad eyes, making me feel guilty, her projects end up near the bottom of the to-do list. I’m truly a terrible sister. (LOVE YOU, VICKI! <3 <3)
Here’s hoping the next few weeks can be a little calmer and a little more productive. I really, really, REALLY want to have patterns prepped and ready to go, so as soon as Vicki walks in, she can just pick a project and we’ll start cutting!!! Anyone want to come help? 😀
As the year wraps up (seriously, how is it December?!), it is great to look back at what we’ve done and what is still to come. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but, I do like to evaluate goals and priorities moving forward. So, I’d like to blog a little more, celebrate little things a little more, and sew a little bit more in the coming months.
Focus on you today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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