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Announcing the 2015 OAL!

15 May

Happy Friday, everyone! I just wanted to pop in and let y’all know that the Outfit Along is back for a second year! WOOHOOO!!!

OAL_Banner

Once again, I’m joining forces with Andi Satterlund of Untangling Knots to combine a sew-along with a knit-along. The idea behind the Outfit Along (OAL) is to make a complete outfit by sewing a garment and knitting a garment. This is a great opportunity to stretch your crafting skills, and we’ll have two official patterns that we’ll help you with along the way.

The official sewing pattern will be McCall 6887, and the official knitting pattern will be Andi’s newest cardigan pattern, Vianne. I will be blogging about the official sewing pattern and Andi be blogging about the knitting pattern so we can all sew and knit along together. If you don’t love the official patterns, you can still join in! The Outfit Along is about making an outfit you’ll really wear, so to participate, all you need to do is to sew a garment and knit a garment to make an outfit. You’re more than welcome to pick projects that fit your own style and skills. You can look through the 2014 Outfit Along FO thread in the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry to see the variety of patterns people chose to use last year.

Vianne

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!

You can read all the juicy details over at Untangling Knots, but in a nutshell:

– We will be kicking off the OAL on June 1, 2015.
– The deadline for completion is July 31, 2015, which gives you two months to finish both garments.
– Did I mention that finishing within the deadline means you are eligible for PRIZES? Yes! We are cooking up some fun pattern giveaways to reward those of y’all who complete their outfit within the allotted deadline, so stay tuned for more information!
– To be eligible for said prizes, you must finish BOTH garments by July 31, 2015 and post them in the OAL Finished Outfit thread in the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry. Prize winners will be randomly selected from those who finish both their knit and sewn garments and post pictures in the appropriate thread by the deadline.

Vianne_Back
The official knitting pattern, Vianne, is a seamless, top-down cardigan, knit using DK weight yarn on US 8/5mm needles, which makes it a lovely lighter weight cardigan for the summer months. The v-neck cardigan features a set of mirrored lace panels that run along the front neckline and frame a large mesh panel on the back. To celebrate Vianne’s launch, Andi is offering 20% off up until the official OAL start of June 1. Use the code OAL2015 to snag the discount! You can read more details in the Untangling Knots shop or check Vianne out on Ravelry.

McCall 6887 - Pineapple dress!
The official sewing pattern, McCall 6887, is a fun little summer dress with a surprise cut out in the back! You probably remember my Pineapple Delight version from a few weeks ago – well, I’m dying to make more, and I want to drag all y’all down with me (mwahaha). The pattern features front princess seams, skirt variations (flared or fitted) and the optional open back (there is also an option for a non-open back if that’s your jam!). I will be covering basic construction of the dress, and including tips swapping out the lining for a clean bias facing, and adding pockets. The pattern is rated as “easy,” so y’all beginners should have no problem tackling this! Also, just a head’s up – I just checked my local Joann’s and it looks like all McCall’s patterns are on sale for 3/$5 through 5/16, so go save some dollaz!

Since I’ll be traveling around Peru during the first couple of weeks of the OAL, we won’t start the sewing portion until June 22nd. Of course, you are welcome to get a head start and begin sewing on June 1; there just won’t be any sew-along posts until the 22nd! Andi will be managing the knitting posts over on her blog starting on June 1. If you knit and sew along with us, you’ll get your projects done in plenty of time.

Help spread the word and grab one of the badges below or use the hashtag #OAL2015. If you want to hang out and chat about the OAL, come join the OAL2015 Discussion Thread in the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry. You do need a Ravelry account to view and post on the thread, but it’s totally free and totally worth it if you do any knitting at all :)

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Y’all, I am SO EXCITED. Who else is joining in the Outfit Along this year?

Why I Sew

16 Apr

Sewing room sneaky peek

“Why do you sew?” This is the question that I get asked on a near daily basis – evenly distributed between curious blog comments, emails, face-to-face introductions, and random strangers who compliment something handmade that I happen to be wearing. Obviously, I am happy to talk about sewing until I start seeing eyes glaze over (oh, who am I kidding, I’m not gonna let that stop me one bit), but it’s not really something I’ve ever discussed at large on this blog. Since I’m currently in this weird blogging purgatory where I have finished projects but can’t take photos due to the current torrential downpours going on right now, let’s talk about it! And have some new sewing room sneaky-peeks while we’re at it :D

As some of you may know, I learned how to sew through self-teaching. I’ve been around sewing my entire life – my mom made a lot of curtains, stuffed bunnies, and Easter dresses throughout my childhood, and I even had my own little sewing kit that I’d use to fashion Barbie-sized clothing and quilts. I started using her sewing machine when I was around 13 or 14, as someone on my favorite AOL message board (haha YEP) mentioned that they would sew up the sides of their band shirts to make them fit better. MIND. BLOWN. I used sewing strictly for alterations for a few years, and it wasn’t until I was 20 that I started trying to use sewing patterns. I learned everything – from threading the machine, to deciphering the pattern jargon, to learning new techniques – from books and the occasional internet research (I didn’t have internet in my house 10 years ago, so most of my early knowledge came from reading the Vogue Sewing Book cover to cover, like a freaking novel). That was back before blogging really took off, before sew-alongs were a thing, before I even knew that there was a site like Pattern Review and definitely during a time when we gave indie pattern companies a wary side-eye because we weren’t sure if they were to be trusted.

When I started sewing, I never had any intentions of eventually having a 100% me-made wardrobe. I never imagined that sewing would ever earn me any sort of income, not outside the random $10-$15 for an occasional pants-hem. I never really thought about it while it was happening – it was just, oh, great, a new hobby to immerse myself in! I did eventually start selling the clothing that I was making, as a way to offset some of my costs and give myself the go-ahead to sew up looks and fabrics that I’d never personally wear. That lasted for a few years, and it was pretty fun! I ultimately closed down the line because it was taking up too much of my selfish sewing time (NO RAGRETS).

noragretsI’ve been perfecting my craft for nearly 10 years at this point (I don’t count those early days pre-20 because, honestly, the only action my sewing machine got was nipping in the side seams of whatever random band shirt I’d bought the night before. Seriously. Soooo many band shirts), which is kind of crazy to me! I’ve had a lot of hobbies in the past, but this one has definitely stuck around the longest, and turned into an actual passion as opposed to something I do every few weeks so I have something to chat about at parties.

So, with all that being said – I give you my top 5 reasons (in no particular order) as to why I sew.Sewing room sneaky peek

REASON #1: Mood-Altering Abilities

I love sewing because it’s a good mood-changer for almost any situation I encounter. If I’m bored, it’s entertaining. If I’m feeling stressed, it’s relaxing. If I’m angry, it calms me down. Everything about the entire process – from planning, to cutting, to prepping, to stitching, to finishing – makes me feel drastically better than I did before the project started. Truth, if I go too long without getting some creative release taken care of (such as those couple weeks during our recent move), I start getting angsty and upset. Sewing just makes me feel really good, which is more than I can say about other hobbies. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t peel myself off the couch after an afternoon of TV binge-watching and think, “Man. That was a productive day.” And hey, since sewing is considered entertainment – it’s REALLY easy to justify spending money on it :) Ha!

 

REASON #2: Problem Solving

I am a problem-solver at heart. Give me a dilemma, and I’ll roll it around in my head for a few hours (or days) and try to come up with the most effective solution. I was one of those math nerds in high school who loved both Algebra AND Geometry. Figuring my way out of puzzle keeps my brain active and happy, and sewing is a really good way to incorporate that into my every day life. I love being presented with a challenge – whether it involves fitting, fabric, or finishing – and kicking that challenge right in its big, stupid ass. I’m not really a brain expert here or anything, but I like to think that exercising that part of my brain that solves problems and figures out puzzles makes me a better problem-solver overall, in all aspects of my day to day life. Whether or not that’s actually true, of course, is up for debate, but again – it makes me feel good. I like feeling good.

 

REASON #3: Level 10 Bartering // Income

When my sewing skills were still in their infancy, I learned a lot of what I know just from hacking away at alterations (first, my own, later, everyone else’s). I hemmed pants, I shortened bridesmaid dresses, I repaired couch pillows and cushions, I made custom curtains (fun fact: one time I made curtains for Emerson Hart. Those celebrities in Nashville, they’re everywhere!), I made dog clothes and Halloween costumes, and I also made about 100 flat-sheet sleeping sacks for a local hostel (you wanna know why I can sew in such a straight line? I had a LOT of practice making those sacks! ha!). I advertised on Craigslist and charged low rates, and made some decent money over the years. Not enough to quit my day job, obviously – but enough for a night out of drinking, or to pay for gas for the week, or to add to my savings for an upcoming trip. I was pretty poor during most of those 10 years – I was an irresponsible 20something with loads of credit card debt who spent way too much money on cigarettes and alcohol – and these random little alteration jobs kept me afloat when I needed it most. This is something I can always fall back on – and I still do, from time to time. When I was jobless during the last month of 2013, you best believe I was hawking the alterations like a crazy person. Not only was I able to cover my rent and bills – I also was able to tuck some money into savings. Yay!

I do pretty all right now with my current work, so I’m not dying for additional income right now – but I still using sewing as the bestest bartering tool. Like that one time when I had to take to small claims court that asshole who hit my car (AND THEN LIED ABOUT IT) – I bartered with my lawyer friend, who agreed to represent me in court in exchange for making him a Princess Peach dress for Halloween.

Check out the finished man-sized Princess Peach dress that I made for my attorney (yes, he's awesome)! Last year, I was in a minor car accident that the insurance refused to pay out (despite none of it being my fault), and this guy was nice enough to repr

I cannot make this shit up. Again – sewing is the best bartering tool evarrr. I wouldn’t have been able to afford a lawyer otherwise, but I *can* afford my time! Also, I won the case. Mostly because it was total bullshit, but, I digress.

 

REASON #4: Makes Me A Better Consumer

Y’all. For as much as I’m a bleeding hippie about a whole myriad of aspects in my personal life, I used to be a really really terrible consumer. I spent way too much money (see above RE: credit card debt) and I treated most of what I bought as disposable. I didn’t have a lot of control in a lot of really important parts of my life (early 20s were a very dark time for me, to put it mildly), so I shopped. A lot. Sewing helped me get out of the funk in two ways – for one, it gave me something to be happy about and have control over (see reason #1) and it did a number on curbing the consumerism. Once you see how much effort goes into making a single piece of clothing – even a simple fucking tshirt – it becomes a bit mind-blowing to realize that there are stores selling that shit for as little as $2. How? I also started noticing just how crappy the quality is on a lot of the stuff we buy – awful fabrics, pieces cut off-grain, horrible seam finishes, bad fit – especially when you compare it to vintage pieces, or hell, even shit from 15 years ago. All that being said, I really drastically cut down on the amount of stuff I was buying – mostly because it seemed ridiculous to pay $$$ for something horribly made that I could do a better job of myself at home. Once I started getting picky about fit and realized that I was going to have to alter everything I bought, it made clothing shopping even less appealing. I gradually pulled back from buying new clothing over the years, and as of now, I’m rocking the almost-entirely handmade wardrobe.

Also, I read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion when it was published, and it totally blew my mind. If you’re one of 3 people who hasn’t yet heard of this book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It will change your (shopping)life.

Sewing also played a part in getting that credit card debt finally paid off once and for all. I spent nearly an entire year living as shitty as possible and funneling the majority of my income into that stupid debt. When I say majority, I really mean it – I gave myself $20 per pay period (so, $40 a month) to spend on fun money after my bills were paid. Everything else went back into that looming debt. It obviously sucked and I’m definitely planning on not ever going through that again. Also – what can you do with $40 a month? That’s like 2 movies, or a month of REALLY shitty cable (or, for me – one night out at the bar). Lame! I sewed my way through my stash, and re-upped with monthly trips to our flea market (where $40 actually does go pretty far!). Instead of going out to the bar, I stayed home in my sewing room. Not only was I keeping myself entertained, I was also contributing to my wardrobe (because, again: $40 a month.). I made additional income from alterations, which I also dumped right into that debt. I was able to pay that shit off about a month earlier than I had anticipated, and I’ve been debt-free ever since! Yay!

 

REASON #5: Complete Wardrobe Control

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is why the majority of us sew – it gives us complete control of our wardrobe! It’s pretty awesome to be able to choose what you wear based on what you want, and not what’s just available in stores. It’s mind-blowing to be able to finish a garment and know that it is going to fit you just the way you like, without needing a bunch of alterations. And don’t even get me started on the merits of having control over the fabric – how many of us have used novelty bedsheets or ridiculous quilting cotton to make a crazy dress?

New garment sneaky peek

I started sewing specifically for the wardrobe control – beginning with those band tshirts, and making my flares into skinny jeans (because I couldn’t find them in stores, because it was 1999 and everyone worshiped The Flare). I started using patterns because I wanted cotton sundresses made out of ~quirky~ fabrics (mostly those novelty bedsheets, of course). I used vintage patterns because I wanted a vintage wardrobe without paying a hefty price for my pieces. I continued sewing and honing my craft because I want clothes that fit my body and are made of natural fibers, in colors and patterns that I like (versus whatever is available at Express this season). I want clothing with special details and one-of-a-kind designs. I am inspired by the clothing I see- from designers on the runway, to costume design in movies and television, to rando people walking in front of me on the sidewalk – and I recreate it in ways that work for my wardrobe and lifestyle. While I do occasionally complain about how there are RTW fabrics that I never see available for the home sewer, that’s a pretty small drop in the bucket compared to the choices we DO have over the typical clothing consumer. Sewing isn’t exactly known for saving you money these days (I mean, unless you’re ripping off really expensive designer shit), but it certainly puts you in charge of wearing what you want, which to me is worth far more than saving a little bit of cash. I always think back on those skinny jeans that I wore when I was 14, surrounded by a sea of flares, and it feels pretty good to know that I don’t have to put myself at the mercy of whatever is currently in style. I wear what I want, and I give no fucks.

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So that’s the story of why I sew – in a nutshell, it makes me happy! I like being happy :) Now tell me – why do you sew? What gets your little (sewing)motor going? Do you aspire to the eventual 100% handmade wardrobe, or are you content just pushing out the occasional fiber art because it makes you feel good? Time to get our chat on!

Vogue Spring/Summer ’15 Sewing Patterns

10 Apr

New Vogue Sewing Patterns were just released the other day! What better way to celebrate their arrival (and give myself a little more time to procrastinate getting my shit together, mostly because I CAN’T FIND MY CAMERA REMOTE, ARGH), than to rip apart the latest offerings? :D
V1451Vogue 1451 // Donna Karan
“Hey, Ambular. Was that you going through my laundry?”
V1450Vogue 1450 // Guy Laroche
“As if! Like I would really wear something from Judy’s.”
V1444Vogue 1444 // DKNY
I know there is a whole class of sewists dedicated to making sure that their insides look as pretty as the outside (both hands raised bc I’m totally part of that camp!), but this shit is taking that to the next level.
V1446Vogue 1446 // Rebecca Taylor
Did seriously no one bother to tell this poor girl about the toilet paper stuck to her shoe?
V1454Vogue 1454 // DKNY
Vogue 1454: Includes butt canopy.
V1447Vogue 1447 Tracy Reese
REALLY cute dress pattern, awkward fabric choice.
V9100Vogue 9100
koolaidFirst thing that comes to mind every time I see that damn ripped paper background.
v9108Vogue 9108 // Marcy Tilton
As usual, Marcy Tilton does not disappoint.

V9117Vogue 9117
I’m having a really hard time trying to figure out the storyline behind this photo. Was she working on home renovations before going to lunch?
V1452Vogue 1452
Ladies, if this ensemble isn’t fabulous enough for you, just know that you can also make it out of stretch velour.
V1453Vogue 1453
Sandra Betzina, what the fuck have you done now?
V9115Vogue 9115
Kimono-no-no.
V9114Vogue 9114
The perfect pocket for stashing your extra tots.
V9111Vogue 9111
“I have given up.”
V9120Vogue 9120
Introducing the Bellow Bag: For all your accordion-hiding needs.
And finally, check out this trifecta of fuckery: Vogue 9121
V9121aA) Tragic fabric choice? Check.
V9121bB) Unnecessarily long dangly? Check.
V9121cC) Saggy boob illusion? Check.
Vogue. Please don’t ever stop.

 

(psst! If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to enter the Sewing for Fashion designers giveaway! Entries close on Monday morning ;) )

Domain Issues

5 Mar

deal-lladybird

Hey everyone! Just a quick post to let y’all know (well, those of y’all who can actually see this – I’m not sure how many there are) that I’m currently having issues with my domain and that’s the reason why the blog has been quiet. The short story is that the domain is registered in someone else’s name (a friend who originally help me set all this shit up a couple of years ago when I moved to my .com), and he let it expire and I cannot do anything to turn it back on until he releases it to me. This process is taking a LOT longer than it should, pretty much everyone is dragging their feet, but there’s not anything I can do until he sends in the documentation and the domain company transfers everything over (trust me, I’ve spent hours on the phone talking in circles – I don’t have this blog set up as a business, so I have no legal right to it as far as what the company is telling me).

I haven’t abandoned blogging – just waiting to fix this hiccup so I can go back to posting. I miss you guys! I’m sorry this week has been so quiet, but if it makes you feel any better – I’m having a rough time of it right now. Fingers crossed that we can get this back up and running as quickly as possible! In the meantime – lladybird.wordpress.com is still 100% working and active. It’s just lladybird.com that is down. If you’re having problems accessing an old post (or the blog in general), just add the wordpress to the url and it should work fine. In the meantime, I won’t be publishing new posts until I get this sorted out.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks to everyone who has contacted me about my site being down. I really appreciate it! Here’s to hoping we’ll have this back up sooner than later :)

Bra-Making with Madalynne

9 Feb

As you no doubt already know by now (mostly because I’ve talked about it to death by this point ahaha), I recently spent a long weekend in Philadelphia with Maddie, to help her set up for her bra making workshop – as well as attend the damn thing myself! I was obviously really excited for this adventure – for the hangs, to explore a new city (truth: the only time I’d been to Philly prior was for a one-way flight back to Nashville after helping my friend move to NYC when I was 22. A 14 year old boy hit on me while we were waiting for the plane to take off. I think he was the most traumatized between the two of us, though), and of course, because of boobs. And now you guys get to hear/see a recap! Yay!

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I won’t bore y’all with a full weekend recap – I flew in on Thursday afternoon, and spent nearly the entire time up until Saturday morning with Maddie to help her prepare for the workshop. We ran errands, we prepped handouts and the (adorable) little kits, and helped with getting the machines set up in the space the night before. I was able to sneak away for a few hours with Andrea, who took me to the Mütter Museum (my request – and also this is your head’s up of knowing that Andrea is an amazing sport when it comes to visiting weird places with an almost total stranger haha) and her favorite yarn shop (where I bought sock yarn. It’s red. That’s about all that’s worth knowing :P).

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No, what we are here to discuss is a recap of the workshop! Actually, I don’t think this post warrants too much typing – you can get a good sense of how things went just based by the photos alone (and yes, those were professionally taken. OBVIOUSLY my hands didn’t go anywhere near the camera that weekend, ha!).

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Honestly, the entire day was more of an event and less of a workshop. I knew Maddie had something special planned when we were cahooting about this shit months ago (well, my side of the cahooting was just being a personal cheerleader. I love cheerleading my friends while they are doing amazing things :) ), but I was surprised when I started seeing things coming together. Of course, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised – anyone who’s lurked up Maddie’s blog knows that that woman is all about turning everything around her into beautiful art (y’all should see her condo. I couldn’t even DEAL) – but yeah, it was all lovely. The production for the workshop, as well as all the styling and catering, was handled by The New Old Fashioned, and the event took place in the Love Me Do Photography studio. There was beautiful vintage furniture everywhere, fresh flowers, a never-ending supply of coffee (and later, prosecco. Yay!), a catered lunch, a light breakfast, adorable cakes, a photo booth – even a freaking spot to get your make-up professionally touched up. I’m telling you, this shit was an EVENT. It was amazing and there was obviously a lot of love and attention that went into every detail. Definitely not the kind of half-assed workshop that I’d throw together – but that’s what you get when you are dealing with Maddie. You get something that’s just as beautiful as it is useful.

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To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting to learn a whole lot at the workshop itself – I’ve already made a couple of bras at this point, and I have an ok handle on how they come together. I knew I’d be hitting Maddie up for fitting advice outside of the classroom, and I knew that the environment itself would be amazing and fun. I’m happy to report that I was wrong, at least in the subject of “learning new things.” I definitely learned a whole bunch of new tips and trips – a more effective way of cutting the fabric and lace, when to use certain zigzag stitches and widths, a way to beautifully finish the top of the bridge, amongst other things. And duh, of course the class was fun as HELL! I had such a great time meeting everyone, talking boobs, and making bras together. My kind of awesome day!

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(I am sharing this photo because I have no idea why I’m making that expression! At least my hair color doesn’t look like swamp sludge haha)

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Oh yeah – and the food was fucking fantastic!

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Here are some more photos so that you can be good & jealous of our fabulous day. Our take-home goodie bags included those beautiful cookies, a tiny bottle of prosecco (again – yay!) and a fresh bouquet with a handmade medal.

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We also had temporary sewing-themed tattoos – which, by the way, who else thinks Maddie should get a pair of shears tattooed on her neck? Amirite?!

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I was REALLY excited to see that Carolina and Jen were also part of the class! I met both of these ladies last time I was in NY – Jen was one of my students in the Pants Making Intensive at WORKROOM SOCIAL, and Carolina randomly asked me for coffee (which clearly ended up being a match made in heaven – I mean, we make a pretty adorable prom couple). It was great to be able to see both of them – in a completely different city than before, even.

I know that my friendship with Maddie does make me a bit biased, but this workshop was seriously fabulous. I’ve never felt so pampered while in a class – it’s kind of a nice feeling (I might be kind of spoiled now! Ha!)! And, hey, the bra didn’t turn out so bad, either :) Want to see?

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If you recognize the fabric, it’s because I used it before on a Bambi bra; it was originally given to me from Maddie. Let me just say – the kits that we got with this workshop were seriously nice. Everything was included – all the fabric, notions, hardware, even a tiny rotary cutter and a really nice marking pen – and it was all super high quality stuff. I think most of it came from Bra Maker’s Supply – which, if you’ve ever ordered from them before, you know how nice their products area. No cheap plastic sliders or questionable elastic here! I would have found this very helpful had I been making my first bra – it gives you a good idea of what the good-quality stuff feels like, so you know what to shop for (plus, it’s easier to sew!).

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We used the Marlborough pattern for our bras; I brought my own copy (everyone got a copy with their kits) since I already had some fitting tweaks done. The lace we used is really stretchy, so everything is backed with power mesh to make it more stable. It still has more stretch than the duoplex I get from Bra Maker’s Supply, but the resulting bra actually fits pretty nicely! I’ve spared y’all the floating ghost bra photos for this post (mostly because I’m feeling lazy haha sorry), but, just trust me.

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Our tableware at the workshop was tied with this cute twill tape that looks like a measuring tape – I saved a little piece to make a bow for my bra. Love it :) And check out that pretty gold hardware! Honestly, that’s my favorite part of the whole damn bra. Looks so luxe.

Let’s see, what else? Sunday, Carolina & I walked all over Philly (ok, seriously, maybe 5 miles, tops. haha) and it was cold but also really fun! I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with her and get some bonding done. We visited Andrea at Butcher’s Sewing Shop, where she was teaching a class. Actually, we crashed that shit and drank their mimosas, but everyone was really friendly and the shop is just adorable. No ragrets. Finally, I made it home just before the next snow storm – and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t hit on by a 14 year old this time. Also, the Philadelphia airport is WAY nicer than I remember.

I had an amazing time – the workshop obviously being the highlight of the trip, but it was so wonderful getting to hang with everyone and meet some great new people (and reunite with people I know I already love :) ). If you were interested in taking the workshop, but were put off by the price or didn’t know what to expect – hopefully this revs your engine a little :) It’s definitely an experience! For a more in-depth recap, with lots more photos (as well as a run down of all the vendors who contributed to all the pretty that you see), check out Maddie’s blog.

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I am just gonna leave this picture here, because I think it really illustrates the class well. There is alcohol and cookies on that table – and we can’t tear ourselves away from the machines. TYPICAL.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ticket to the Bra Making Workshop, in exchange helping with prep, set up, and trouble shooting – as well as keeping Maddie’s nerves calmed for her first class (I shit you not, she started VACUUMING her condo like 30 minutes before we had to leave that morning hahaha). I paid for all my travel and food expenses, but my workshop ticket was gratis! This review is just cos I think the class was awesome, and I wanted to talk about it.

2014: A Year In Review

31 Dec

Well, it’s the end of the year and time for another wrap up and review! I can’t believe 2014 has flown by as quickly as it did – I feel like every time I blinked, a couple months passed! Crazy! Anyway, it’s been a really really really awesome year. Let me start by showing you a collage of all the crap I made~

2014 - year in review
2014 - year in review
2014 - year in review

And by collage, I mean 3 collages, because all the photos wouldn’t fit in just one. Those 75 garments (yes, ugh, borderline embarrassing?) don’t actually cover everything I made this year – I left a few things out, like multiples (such as tshirts or leggings), anything that wasn’t clothing, and obviously anything that didn’t make it to the blog (since I make all my clothes, a lot of stuff doesn’t make the cut because it just seems pretty redundant). I’d say I probably wrapped up the year with just under 100 garments under my belt. I’m not going to link to the individual stuff I made, because that would take forever – but you can lurk my closet and click on whatever strikes your fancy.

Before anyone starts asking me if my closet is the size of a house, I should point out that I actually don’t have a lot of clothes anymore. Of course, I have most everything I made this year (and anything I’ve retired has been noted in the blog), but a lot of stuff from previous years is gone – purged for various reasons, but mostly because of size and style discrepancies. My weight, while pretty stable at this point, has changed a lot over the years, and the sad fact is that a lot of the stuff I made last year just doesn’t fit anymore (and isn’t worth altering to save). On top of that, I spent a LOT of energy making things that just don’t fit my lifestyle – either they no longer do (such as office-appropriate clothing), or they never did (such as silk party dresses). And then, of course, there’s the smattering of garments that I made just to make – but haven’t actually worn because they just aren’t me. And that’s ok, I think, for the most part. I don’t want to get into a habit of making stuff I don’t wear, but sometimes you want to make something just for the experience of making it (and then find someone to gift it to :P).

Anyway, that came off like a big apology and it certainly isn’t! The ongoing trend for my 2014 closet was basic, wearable ~cake~ clothes, replacing things in my closet that needed to go (for aforementioned reasons). I love almost everything I see in these collages, and I’m excited to continue this for 2015.

Here are some of my favorite/most worn pieces of 2014. Like last year, this was REALLY hard to narrow down – I love all my makes, they are like my baaaabies! But there were definitely a few that stuck out above the rest~

Vogue Coat - Done!
The Vogue Coat
All right, technically I made this in 2013 – but it was posted and worn in 2014, so it totally counts. I wear this coat as much as the weather allows – I love it! It’s warm and snuggly without being heavy, it’s easy to squish into a suitcase, and I love the bold plaid with the gorgeous red silk lining. Total win in my book. Coming up in a close second is the Rigel Bomber Jacket!

Chambray Buterick 5526
Polka Dot Chambray Button down
Butterick 5526 //Top
Butterick 5526 //Bottom
Obviously Butterick 5526 wins the Pattern of the Year award from me – I made this shirt soo many times! These two are my favorites (couldn’t pick just one, sorry!). The plain chambray version is just lovely for summer – it’s soft and lightweight, it goes with *everything*, and I really loved making it up. The polka dotty chambray version is basically my pinnacle of shirtmaking – everything on the inside and out is a personal best for me.

Chambray Colette Hawthorn
Chambray Hawthorn
This isn’t a super special make by any stretch of the imagination (and, um, also my third make from chambray wtf), but I wore the shit out of it this summer. It’s comfortable in the heat, looks pulled together, and it a basic enough staple that you can accessorize it a bunch of different ways. Yay!

Vogue 1395
Vogue 1395
THIS DRESS THO. This is probably my favorite – I wore it soooo much this past year! It’s fancy enough to wear for casual-ish weddings, but it’s also lovely for a day of daydrinking in the park with friends. The print is so pretty and the silk make it feel really special. Plus, the elastic waist + tie mean I can eat a buffet’s worth of food and still feel comfortable (but look like I’m trying!).

Marlborough Bra
Marlborough Bra
Didn’t see that one coming! This bra – while not 100% perfect by any means – makes me so happy whenever I wear it. I can’t wait to make more, to tweak the fit to perfection, and to start playing with fabrics and trims. Making this one bra has really opened my sewing to another level (the level of “oh yay I can keep endlessly sewing and not worry about filling my closet too full because EVERYONE NEEDS UNDERWEAR AMIRITE”), and really challenged my skills and given me something new to work toward. I’m really really excited to take s Maddie’s bra making workshop this January, to really polish up and learn from someone who’s skills and expertise I really trust (and, of course, get to hang out with Maddie! Pretty pumped about that too ;) ).

Now let’s talk about what an awesome year 2014 was! Holy shit! I love these kinds of posts because I love looking back and reflecting on all the good stuff that happened. 2014 was a SERIOUSLY good year for me – just on the heels of a crappy 2013, and much needed. SO many things changed for me this year, and I went through a lot of firsts as well! Here’s a sum up of my year~
– I participated in Project Sewn, but I didn’t make it past the first round. That’s okay, though, because I also learned that sewing contest things are NOT for me! Too much pressure, too many deadlines, too many rules! I don’t like being told what to do, and I prefer to work at my own pace.
– I went to NY twice this year – in March, for a short weekend with Clare, and then again in August. MAN, I love that city! Don’t think I’d ever want to live there, but it’s pretty fun to visit :)
– On the subject of travel, I also spent nearly 2 weeks in London this year! That was the first time I’ve been out of the country in over a decade, and the first time I did it solo! AND I had to get a new passport and everything! Traveling internationally is kind of stressful and terrifying, but it’s also really fun and fulfilling. Already planning my next big adventure :)
– 2014 was the year I started teaching – I taught a few classes at the local community college here, Watkins, and also at WORKROOM SOCIAL in NY and at Tilly Towers in London!
– I also taught an online class at The Sewing Party, which we got to film (that was fun, especially since someone else did all the work haha). That week was also the first – and probably only, ever – time I’ve had my nails done professionally haha :)
– I got to visit the McCall Pattern Company offices while I was in NYC, which is something that I’ve wanted to do for a few years now. It was cool to meet the people behind such an iconic company (whether or not you like what they produce, you can’t deny that they are pretty iconic for the sewing world!) and see all the cool behind the scenes bits, as well as learn some history! Big highlight of my year :)
– I co-hosted an Outfit Along this summer, where we made dresses and knit cardigans! That was fun!
– I also co-hosted a sewalong for Vogue 1419, along with Meg from the McCall Pattern Company, which was intense and exhaustive and absolutely awesome. And I love my new coat! :D
– I organized my sewing patterns, which took forever but I’m glad I did it. As of this posting, they are still organized (yeah!) and I still haven’t created a digital catalog of them. Oh well :)
– Sewing firsts – first bra, first socks.
– I never posted this on the blog (bc it doesn’t relate to sewing at all), but this year was the first time I had to sue someone :) Haha! The result of a traffic accident (100% not my fault – the other guy ran a stop sign), I had to chase that piece of shit down for over a year and take him to court before he finally paid up. All for about $1,000 worth of damages, which was paid through his insurance – even my lawyer was surprised (most companies write off about 5x that much, but I’m telling you – that guy was a total piece of shit).
– My hair went through some interesting color choices this year – starting with brown, then bleached orangey-yellow (that was supposed to be immediately covered, but I liked it so much I kept it for a few months haha), then turquoise, then purply-blue, then just blue. I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep this color – I like it now, but that can change quickly. At any rate, my Driver’s License is due to be renewed this year so I need to figure out a good color for the photo haha :) I do need to be better about posting photos in order, though, because right now the color varies wildly based on how much it’s faded in the picture – and since I don’t always post in order, my hair looks like the result of Photoshopping madness (I wish I knew enough to change my hair color that way – might save me some bad color choice drama in the future haha oh well)
– By the way, my dad is officially cancer-free! He had 12 rounds of chemo throughout the year, which was brutal for him (especially since his stubborn ass kept trying to run those ultra marathons he loves – he was just waitlisted for Barkley, which he claims is the hardest race in the world because of course it is), but they’re over! Now we are just going through lots of genetic testing to see what caused it, and if it’s a concern for us kids. The good news is that it’s not Lynch Syndrome, which it was we initially thought.

Day 6: Me! 😁 at my sweet sewing job, with my sweet sewing machine boyfriend, Turbo (don't tell my Bernina!). #bpSewvember

One big change that happened this year was my job situation! At last posting, I had just left my gig at Muna’s (after quitting my long time job in advertising that I worked at for 6+ years) and I was kind of floating on no employment. I haven’t written an update since because I wanted to wait until I’d worked this new job for awhile, then, it seemed unnecessary since I do mention it from time to time. But anyway, I’m working 2 solid jobs now (on top of occasional teaching and other freelance work), and I just love them both!

My main job that pays the bills is being a personal assistant. My boss isn’t anyone famous – she’s just a normal 36 year old woman who makes really good money in network marketing. I am pretty much her paid mom/girlfriend – I clean and cook for her, help her pack for trips, do her grocery shopping and laundry, help with some administrative stuff, take care of her cat, etc. It’s a really awesome job and she’s a really awesome person to work for. We both get on really well together, she takes care of me, and my job is super flexible. I’ve been doing this for about a year now (started Jan 2) and I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon :) I also only work part time – but it pays better than the office job. So there’s that! Only downside is that I have to do my own taxes now (booo, but on the flip side – write offs! :D), and I can’t ride my bike to work because of distance + need for a car (gotta have a car to be a PA!). So I do miss my bike, but that’s about the only negative. Everything else is a benefit, woohoo!

My second job is as for sewing production at Elizabeth Suzann. I started this in January, working a couple hours a week. Elizabeth was initially concerned that she couldn’t afford to hire a seamstress – SO MUCH has changed in such a short time; she now has 3 of us (Nashville sewing friends, if you’re interested in part time sewing work, Elizabeth is always looking for new people to add! Email her and maybe we can be co-workers :D)! I work 3 hour work days, 2-3 days a week. Someone gives me a pile of cut fabrics and I just sew as much as I can :) It’s really fun and I really enjoy it – we’ve got awesome machines at the studio (Turbo, my main industrial, is all foot controlled. You use the pedal to raise the presser foot, backtack, *and* clip your threads. It is amazing!!), and we listen to ridiculous music or watch movies while we work. My coworkers rule, Elizabeth & her husband are amazing bosses, and there are always dogs around and lots of coffee and cookies. Love my job!

Officially the proud owner of a shiny, new, CURRENT passport! Woohoo! ✈️

So yep, that’s a good sum of my year! Lots of great new things happening, lots of positive change – I feel pretty good about it!

So what’s in store for next year? Honestly – I’m not sure! I have a few things to look forward to – Bra-Making in January, another Pants Making Intensive in March, a Weekend Sewing Retreat in September, and my best friend & I are going to Peru in June! So there are definitely some exciting things in the plans :) Other than that – I dunno! One thing I know I don’t want to do is bog this blog down with a lot of deadlines and schedules and promotional things. One big mistake I made last year was to treat my blog like it was a job – which is kind of bizarre because it certainly doesn’t pay like a job! :) As a result, all the deadlines and scheduling and writing posts for other people’s businesses really made maintaining this blog the opposite of fun. I don’t like that, and I don’t see why I should have to subject myself to something that isn’t really benefiting me positively (not the blogging part, obviously, but driving myself crazy trying to have an 8AM Monday posting of a book review, you know?). Pattern testing is also losing it’s luster because it’s a lot of work that you’re basically doing as an unpaid favor – which, I’m not opposed to helping my friends, but I don’t want to do it for people I don’t know because my time is very precious to me. It’s hard because I fall into these habits and I can get a little obsessive about how I do things – and that includes blogging – but I’m giving myself permission to let go and relax a little. I’m going to keep blogging – and I might even keep up with a regular schedule, if that’s how it works out – but I’m not going to let this blog govern such a large part of my life anymore. When you have to skip hanging out with your buds in order to schedule a post for a no-profit blog, that’s crossing a line for me.

With that being said, this blog has really gone through some wonderful growth over the past year. I’m continually surprised at just how many people keep up with this shit, and I love and appreciate every single one of you. The comments I get on my posts are such a treasure trove of information – if you haven’t made it a point to read through them, you should! There are always so many tips and input and a lot of times, the comments are better than the posts themselves :) Thank you for all your wonderful emails & comments, and thanks for making my blog into what it is! Y’all are the best!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to a wonderful next 12 months! I want to really focus on my bra making, and I want to work on projects that require a little more time to complete (like… more coats! Yay!). I loved learning watercolor painting this year, and I want to explore more of that next year. I do want to travel more – just depends on how my budget works with that :) I want to continue spending tons of time with people who are important to me, and I want to have great experiences :)

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Here’s to a bright and beautiful 2015!

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