Posted on 4 Comments

Sewcation, Mistakes, and Overbooking

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).

This lining makes my heart happy.  πŸ™‚ 

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. πŸ™‚ 

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.

Look at this TINY Cora!!!  It’s just so small.  <3 

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)

Virginia helping.  Not being sarcastic.  She hung out even though she was tired. <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? πŸ˜€

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.

stephanie xx

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.

Posted on 4 Comments

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.

Posted on 17 Comments

House of Curves – Personal Stories – GIVEAWAY

I hope you’ve been reading from the other House of Curves bloggers this week!  It is always interesting to see how others got started and move about in this crazy sewing world we are a part of!!  (Plus, there’s a giveaway!!  Read to the bottom!!!)

How did I get started, you ask?  Ok, you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway!  πŸ˜€  Way back in the way back, my grandma taught me to sew.  I vaguely recall her explaining how paper patterns work.  What all the markings mean.  How to measure for sizing and fit.  All the good stuff that formed a solid base for me jumping all in to the sewing world!  She helped me make this simple dress and I loved it!  We jumped back in a few times throughout the years.  Plus there’s always home ec in school.  But I didn’t really jump into sewing as a hobby until college!

I decided I HAD to make a quilt while sharing a 12 square foot room with a great friend.  Mom helped me with starter supplies and stuff for my birthday and I sewed by hand.  It was exhilarating!  Being able to take a design from paper to fabric was exciting and oh, so satisfying!!  The downside…I decided it had to be HUGE!  Bigger than king size.  Why?  No clue.  But, I went all in.  Ended up commandeering a common room for an evening, pushing all the couches to the edges of the room, just to pin the layers together!!  Thousands of french knots later (it seemed like the prettiest quilting option at the time), and I was hooked.  Though I might never do a french knot again.  Then there were all the lap quilts and pillows for friends and family.

I’m sure everyone in my family has a shitty project from my early days and I so appreciate the support and excitement for the crap I just had to make.  <3  (I also appreciate that they constantly ask for more, even when I’m ridiculously slow to deliver.  Sorry guys!!)

Once I made it to the real world and discovered there was this thing called free time (a rarity/non-existent in college), I started to become more and more interested in moving beyond quilts.  I started making up my own patterns, picking up $1 patterns during sales, and discovered Craftsy.  (Amazing classes to learn all kinds of art related things.  Even cooking!)  I ended up testing purse/wallet patterns for a company I don’t remember (and I feel terrible for forgetting.  She was a lovely designer and I so enjoyed working with her) and just LOVED it!!  It was so fun to learn new techniques and have input on instructions.  Plus I got to sew for some of my favorite people in the process.  This is where I learned about PDF sewing patterns and the many, many Facebook pages to support them.

What is this magic?  Patterns that aren’t drafted for the exact same body shape?  Patterns without so much extra ease that fit is just ridiculous?  (I completely know that paper patterns have changed significantly and there are so many options now!  Please don’t judge me for previous opinions of older patterns.  Or do, but keep it to your damn self. πŸ˜‰ )

An entire group of like-minded people to share and be inspired by?  Oh yes!  Found my happy place.  That’s for sure!  I learned that lots of companies used testers.  Since it was something I so enjoyed in the past, I figured if I upped my game and started taking better pics to show off my stuff, maybe I could do that for fun.  And it happened!!  Turns out when you’re at the edges of size ranges, it is hard to find testers.  So, I started with Patterns for Pirates when they needed a fill in.  It was delightful!  Such a fun group of women to work with.  Then they asked me again.  Hell yes!!  Finally got added to the regular testing group and I was in heaven!!

From there, I spiraled.  I started testing for any and every designer who needed/wanted me.  If they asked, no way did I say no.  If I saw a tester call, I applied.  Even if I didn’t like the designer’s style.  Mistakes were made.  Beautiful garments were also made.  It was so fun!

Now, I’m a regular tester for quite a few groups.  Some who asked me, some I applied for.  I always try to test patterns that let me learn something new.  (I’ve ranted about this before…).  Since there are so many sewists who want to test, I try not to test for things just to be testing.  If I’m not in love with the design, why not let someone else enjoy that experience?  If I’m testing for a designer, I love working with them and their team!  The “payment” of the pattern for free at the end isn’t much of a payment (if you want to test just for free patterns, it is cheaper to just buy them!).  So, the experience is what I’m in for.  Great people, fun groups, new techniques.  These are the things that keep me in the testing world.  Plus, I’m a procrastinator.  I need deadlines to accomplish things.  Otherwise, I’m down for sitting on the couch, reading a book or twiddling my thumbs.  Now I keep an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the tests and promos.  All the deadlines.  And I love every minute of it.

Testing has also lead to some amazing people.  Not just designers, but other testers and people asking questions on my promotion posts.  I love when you connect with a stranger and they become someone you can chat with.  Reach out to for questions.  Complain about your shitty day with.  Be there for them, whatever they need.  I’ve been lucky to make friends with people all over the world and I can’t imagine my week without them!!

Overall, my world has improved significantly since finding the PDF sewing community and jumping into testing.  I hope your journey has been just as fun and continues to provide satisfaction and much needed relaxation.  Now, tell me how you made it here!  How did you start sewing?  And don’t forget to check out the other bloggers on this great blog tour!  (And enter to win some great prizes below!!)

stephanie xx

Check out the stories from all the House of Curves bloggers!

Monday, Oct 1: Seams Like Style
Tuesday, Oct 2: Twinkle Toes & Co
Wednesday, Oct 3: Sequoia Lynn Sews
Thursday, Oct 4: cut.sew.make
Friday, Oct 5: Sarcastic Sewist

A big thank you to all our sponsors for the Rafflecopter Giveaway!
rafflecopterlogo2
Bella Sunshine Designs | Rad Patterns
Elevated Fashion Fabrics | Sly Fox Fabrics | Surge Fabric Shop

Posted on 1 Comment

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.

Posted on 5 Comments

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