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A Very Belated Tour of My Sewing Room

3 May

Hey! Remember when I moved last year and promised I’d share photos of my new sewing room? Well, we’re almost a year overdue – but I’m finally making good on that promise! Truth be told, I kept putting off the ~big reveal~ because there was a never-ending list of things that I wanted to change about the space – first I wanted a new ironing board cover, then I needed new lights over said ironing board, then I thought I’d wait until I got new sewing tables… like I said, never-ending! I have since realized two things:

1. The list of changes is going to be never-ending. That’s the nature of decorating. Once you’re happy with one thing, you want to tweak something else. Ok, maybe you don’t decorate that way – but I do! Keeps me on my toes, keeps that DIY spirit alive or whatever.
2. I decided to move in June (more on that in a minute!), so I better document this room before it becomes a maze of boxes! Argh!

Anyway, better late that never! I always have a studio in every place that I live, and I like to document these snapshots of my life, so I wanted to include this one on the blog as well πŸ™‚ If you’re interested in seeing my other sewing spaces from past homes, check out this tag πŸ™‚

LLADYBIRD Studio

Here is what you see when you first walk in! It’s an average sized room (11′ x 12′, which isn’t super tiny – but it makes for a small studio, especially when you have a giant cutting table in the middle of it!), so it was hard to get good shots of everything, but I tried!

If you’ve followed my blog for a while and are familiar with my former sewing spaces, you probably noticed that this room is super white! In the past, I’ve always had lots of color on my walls – which I love, especially when it’s turquoise! – but I ended up keeping this room white. The landlord and I had a bit of miscommunication about the painting – he agreed to paint it turquoise, I sent him swatches, he said he didn’t get the swatches, I agreed to just go with white (it was originally that horrible beige-y rental color that no one loves), figuring I’d repaint it myself if it bothered me. But I’ve really grown to love it, it’s so fresh and bright!

LLADYBIRD Studio

The view from the door to the sewing station. I love having a window at my sewing station, even if the bright light makes my photos look awful πŸ™‚

One of the things that I wanted to change about this room – and will change in my next studio – is to exchange those two sewing cabinets in favor of aΒ long worktable that I can roll back and forth at in my chair. I love my cabinets, but they aren’t practical with multiple machines (plus, I can’t use the knee lever with my Bernina! Boo!).

LLADYBIRD Studio

Starting next to the door, on the right-hand side of the room – is my desk (or as they love to say on MTV Cribs “where the magic happens”). Since I primarily work from home, it’s great to have a dedicated desk space where I can keep my computer and all my office and art supplies. I also blog from this desk, and sometimes it holds fabric + pattern overflow when I’m on a giant cutting binge πŸ˜‰

LLADYBIRD Studio

Next to the desk is my ironing station – yes, with a new ironing board cover (finally haha!). The lights over the ironing board are suspended on a cord that plugs into a power strip below. These lights provide two purposes: one, to give me more working light (despite how bright these photos are, the corners of the room are actually quite dark, so it needs a lot of light to be comfortable to work in!), and two, to let me know when the iron is on! I use a gravity feed iron that does not have auto shut off, so I keep it plugged into a power strip with lights above it. When the lights are on, I know the iron is also on!

The shades over the lights are Joxtorp shades from Ikea. They are cheap little cardboard things that I just spray painted a different color. Nothing fancy, but better than a bare bulb! I used paper lanterns in the past, but I lost one of them during the move and figured it was time for a change anyway!

LLADYBIRD Studio

Over the ironing boards, I keep my rulers and cork boards – one for inspiration and general things that make me happy, and one to plot out future projects.

LLADYBIRD Studio

LLADYBIRD Studio

My sewing machines and serger are against the wall opposite the doorway, right by that beautiful window! All my thread is on racks on the wall (serger thread by the serger, sewing machine thread by the sewing machine), and notions in the shelf above my sewing machine. Plus, my dressform!

LLADYBIRD Studio

LLADYBIRD Studio

LLADYBIRD Studio

Continuing toward the right, this wall has a full-length mirror and a few shelves. The floor shelves hold my sewing books and yarn stash (yeah, it all fits in ONE BASKET woohoo), and the wall shelves have bra making supplies and zippers. And also fake plants along the top, cos green stuff is pretty stuff. I also keep a big roll of craft paper on top of the floor shelves.

LLADYBIRD Studio

Next to the shelves is where I keep my printer (FYI there is nothing fun in those drawers – it’s all products and samples that I send out for my other job haha).

LLADYBIRD Studio

Finally, at the end of the room – next to the door – is the closet. Since this closet is really big (like 7′ wide) and didn’t have doors, I just stuck my entire fabric stash in there, shelf and all! The shelf fit in perfectly with some extra space on the sides, plus there is storage along the top closet shelf for all my sewing patterns. My apologies for the bare shelves – I’d already started packing my fabric at this point, and I wasn’t about to unpack it for one photo! Just imagine that those shelves are full of lovely, colorful fabric πŸ™‚ hah!

LLADYBIRD Studio

Since that shelf is about 5′ wide, there’s at least a foot of space on either end to store things. One end has my sewing machine cases and tracing paper (boring), but this end I stuck a tension rod so I can hang my working PDF patterns from! I can clip all the pieces and then hang them from the rod, and that way they don’t get folds before I have a chance to use them (PDF patterns that I’m not currently using are stored in a binder system – which I keep behind one of those doors in the big shelf).

Speaking of printing PDFs – I have started using a local printer to print copyshop versions, instead of cutting + taping a million pages together. My research in the past showed that places like Kinko’s charge about $10/page, which just crazy (especially if you are unfortunate enough to have a pattern with multiple pages!). I found a local printer who will print them for $2.18 per page, and holy shit y’all they are amazing. If you are in Nashville, check out CCAD Reprographics, seriously! If you’re not local, I think they will ship πŸ˜‰

LLADYBIRD Studio

This is on that time wall space between the door and the closet. The hook is good for hanging WIPs (or stuff that I need to do some alterations or repairs on), and I found that postcard at my local yarn store, Haus of Yarn!

LLADYBIRD Studio

LLADYBIRD Studio

The cutting table takes up the space in the middle of the room. On one end, I have a bar where I store my cutting tools. The boxes in the cubes hold silk scraps, leather scraps, Papercut Patterns + Vogue patterns (since they don’t fit in the comic book boxes with the rest of my patterns), and my dyeing stuff.

The opposite end of the table has some drawers where I keep a bunch of tools and interfacing scraps, and the binsΒ at the bottom hold swimsuit fabric and an enormous stash of zippers.

I love this cutting table! I “built” it out of two shelves and a tabletop – all stuff from Ikea – and put it on casters so I can easily roll it around if I need to (the casters also lock, so that shit will also stay put if I need it to). It’s a great size and height for cutting! For more information on how I built this, check out my former sewing room post.

LLADYBIRD Studio

What’s rad about this table, is that the middle is open and tall enough for me to roll this cart underneath, so I can easily pull it out when I need supplies (or shove it under the table when it’s in the way).

hellooooo
Hi!

So that’s my sewing room! I have really loved creating in this room – it’s such a lovely, bright space and it is really the perfect size for my needs. I’m going to miss this room (not to mention THAT CLOSET), but I’m so excited about my new place!

Oh, and more about that! I really love this apartment, and I have enjoyed living here this past year. However, one of my friends got me a great hook-up on an AMAZING house (seriously, look at how cute it is!), which I jumped at the opportunity. I am excited to have yard access again, a private driveway – and I’ll be walking distance to my part time gig at Craft South (not to mention, all the other cool stuff in that area!). The house was built in 1935, which means it is incredibly charming and has really really small closets πŸ™‚ I am seriously SO sick of moving (just thinking about my to-do list is giving me anxiety), but I know it will be worth it! My new sewing room is going to be a hair smaller than this one – it measured around 11′ x 11′ –Β which means I need a bit of an overhaul on my organization / storage (for example – taking advantage of all those drawers!). I am up for the challenge, though! I love decorating new studios haha πŸ™‚

Side note to my Nashville friends – if you are looking for an apartment, this one is available! Send me an email if you want more info πŸ™‚

LLADYBIRD Studio

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My Trip to Egypt!

6 Feb

The Great Pyramids of Giza

All right, y’all! I’m home, I’m settled, my fabric has been pre-washed (oh yes, I bought fabric) and I’ve sorted through the mounds of photos I took during the 10 days I spent in Egypt. Now it’s time to post about it! To be honest, when I originally planned and booked this trip, I wasn’t intending on writing a blog post about it at all – like when I went to Peru, I was anticipating a personal trip that would basically only be beneficial to me (and also, this is SO not a travel blog. As you know!). However, I have gotten a lot of questions about the trip – what I did, how I planned it, did I feel safe, etc etc – while posting about it on Instagram, not to mention dozens of requests for a post. So, here you go. My trip to Egypt, 2017!

In an effort to keep this blog sewing-related, this will be the ONLY post I write about traveling to Egypt. That being said, it’s a looong one. Grab a cup of coffee and maybe a snack, you’re gonna be knee-deep in this one for a while! Those of y’all who don’t give a flying fuck about this content, great. This is the only post you have to skip over πŸ˜‰

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New Vogue Sewing Patterns! (+ a survey)

31 Jan

Hey everyone! I’m finally home from Egypt and nearly settled back to normal life. I will be writing a post about my trip after I finish sorting through the photos – in short, it was AMAZING and I had the best time!!! – and I also have my monthly MSN project to share! But in the meantime, I wanted to give a shoutout on behalf of my friends at the McCall Pattern Company.

MPC Logo

As you likely already know, MCP is responsible for McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, and Kwik Sew sewing patterns. They are a small-ish company (smaller than you’d think, especially considering the massive number of patterns they publish each year) headquartered in NYC (which I visited a couple of years ago and it was pretty freaking awesome!), and make up 3 of what we consider the Big 4 when it comes to sewing patterns. I’ve sewn on their patterns for a long time – the majority of my sewing career, which spans a couple of decades – and the Vogue patterns especially are a key part to getting me where I am now in my craft. I learned so much from those designer instructions, and have made some really cool stuff! I know we – well, I, anyway haha – looove to poke fun at the ridiculous and awful Vogue offerings. It became a regular thing on my blog for a while there, and the only reason why I stopped writing those posts was because the patterns stopped being really terrible for the most part haha. It’s like, I dunno, they actually listened to us or some shit :P. Anyway, two things for this post today.

First, the McCall Pattern Company is currently on the manhunt for some feedback, for their on-going efforts to better support the sewing community. They want to know what you love, what you hate, and how they can better serve the people who are purchasing (or stopped purchasing, for whatever reason) their product. They reached out to me to see if I would share their survey with y’all, my readers, in order to expand their reach to a more diverse audience (and thus give them more data to work with that will result in – we should hope, anyway – a better product that delights all of us!). As much as I like to pick on them for the lols, I do truly love and respect this company, and I appreciate everything they do to keep those sewing patterns in rotation every season (and give us something to laugh at if said sewing patterns are terrible). I want to see them succeed and I selfishly want those products to get even better bc, duh, that absolutely benefits me (and you!). So with that being said – if you have 5-10 minutes and feel like talking about yourself, do us all a solid and fill out this survey. We all love talking about ourselves, this should be easy πŸ˜‰ Click here to take the survey, and we all thank you in advance! β™₯

On a second note – how about we talk about those new Vogue sewing patterns? Because they just released a new batch, woohoo! As I mentioned before, I stopped writing these posts because honestly the patterns stopped being really terrible. Which is great for us – and the company, ha – but not really conductive to those quarterly bouts of entertainment. Fair warning, the majority of the stuff in this collection is actually quite nice, but there are a few wtf ones thrown in there for good measure. Ah, Vogue, always keeping us on our toes.

V1537 1

V1537 2
Vogue 1537 / Kay Unger
LOVE this cocktail dress / jacket combo. It’s like a modern version of those vintage ones that I’m always drooling over. I love dresses’ shape – fitted, high neckline, interesting back view. And I like that the jacket is a slightly more modern shape than being straight-up vintage. The whole ensemble is just beautiful.

V1536
Vogue 1536 / Tom & Linda Platt
Love this one too. Simple dress, somewhat of a statement jacket (looks normal from the front, with a party in the back. Wait. Did I just describe a mullet?). Although I’m not sure if that jacket would look fucking stupid with anything other than that dress, but, it looks AWESOME with that dress so let’s just enjoy that small victory.

V1539
Vogue 1539 / Nicola Finetti
I want to like this, I do, but I also want to hate it. I think it’s the print on the print, which is a good idea in theory (I’ve always loved a sheer layer atop a solid layer of the same print, its interesting, dimensional, and beautiful), but not with that particular print. Also, those shoes are just awful. Go ahead and fight me over that.

V1535
Vogue 1535 / Badgley Mischka
I LOVE THIS AND I NEED AN EXCUSE TO MAKE AND WEAR IT ASAP OMG. I’d be the most elegant superhero in the entire fucking ballroom, y’all.

V1533
Vogue 1533 / Bellville Sassoon
I almost hyperventilated when I saw this dress, holyyyy shit. It is absolutely breathtaking. Ever since I crept hardcore on all the designer clothes at Bergdorf Goodman earlier this month, I’ve a brand-new appreciation for really interesting and artistic garments. This dress falls square into that category, and is exactly why I love Vogue Sewing Patterns.Β  I wish I was fancy enough to justify an excuse to make and wear this. Hell, I might do it anyway, and figure out the event later haha. I don’t use this term often, but homegirl looks fierce.

V1534
Vogue 1534 / Badgley Mischka
Ok, so the pattern for this dress is reasonably simple – it’s just a lined halterneck bodice with a contrast waistband, and a floor-length skirt. There’s nothing really spectacular about it. But I do love the fabrics that were used for this garment – its an absolutely beautiful dress. This is a great example of fabric choice making or breaking a garment. The sparkles are really appealing to my magpie tendencies.

V9241
Vogue 9241 / Kathryn Brenne
Katheryn. What the fuck is this shit. What the fuck are you doing.

V1531 1
Vogue 1531 / Julia Alarcon
I came here all riled up to hate this dress, but honestly, I really love it. It can definitely go terribly, horribly wrong depending on how that cowl gets worn – but when it’s good, it is real good. I love that giant collar and all the ways you can drape it around your neck to make the dress look completely different.

And while we’re talking about horribly wrong things…
V1531 3

SORRY, PALATE CLEANSER:
v1531 2

V1530
Vogue 1530 / Sandra Betzina
Ok, who’s brilliant idea was it to use auto upholstery fabrics to make this dress?

V9239
Vogue 9239
Hey look, another example of fabric choice making or breaking a garment. In this case, broke as fuck. Those bell sleeves look absolutely stupid when sewn up in a fabric that has that much body.

V9238
Vogue 9238
I just hate this so much.

V9246
Vogue 9246
GUYS WHY ARE THESE SHOES BACK IN STYLE, DID WE NOT LEARN OUR LESSON THE FIRST TIME AROUND?

V1540
Vogue 1540 / Sandra Betzina
Ok, Sandra, fine. You win this one. This one is nice. I’ll give you that.

V9245
Vogue 9245
Yikes.

V9243
Vogue 9243
I call this one, ‘Birthday Cake Couture.’

V9249
Vogue 9249 / Ta Fa
Is… this a pattern for a rectangle of fabric? Really? We’re doing that now?

V9248
Vogue 9248
Finally, a version of Trump with hands that are proportional in size to the rest of his body πŸ˜›

 

What did you think of the new Vogue patterns? Anything grab your eye and skip to the front of your queue? Anything make you cower in fear? Did you remember to take the survey? Let’s talk about it!

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2016: A Year In Review

31 Dec

I can’t believe this year is nearly over! 2016 was such a weird year for me – it seems so brief when I look back, but also like it lasted FOREVER.

At Camp Workroom Social!

As with my wrap-up last year, I’m not going to post every single garment I made in 2016 (part of the reason being that I STILL have unblogged pieces lol whoops), however, I do want to touch on my hits and misses of the year! As always – if you’d like to see everything I made during this year, you can always Lurk my Closet. I can’t always guarantee that page is up-to-date, but it is as of this posting πŸ™‚

First, the faves:

T&TB Agnes Dress
Agnes Dress

I am surprised at how much I LOVE this little dress! It’s comfortable thanks to the knit fabric, it’s easy to accessorize to change the look (lately, my favorite way to wear it is with combat boots and a denim jacket, but the look in that post is good, too!), and I just feel pretty when I wear it! When I made it, it was definitely one of those “I have this fabric/pattern lying around, I just feel like making something” situations, but it ended up being one of my favorite things to wear during the fall this year. I made this dress at the end of 2015, so technically it’s not a 2016 make – but that’s when it’s blogged, so we are counting it as so.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt
Sparkly Brocade Circle skirt
Another surprising make (and another from 2015 – I actually wore this to ring in the new year haha). I really just made this skirt to wear out on New Year’s Eve, but it has seen a lot of wear during the holidays this year! The metallic makes it look all festive and shit, and the fact that it’s grey means it looks good with lots of different tops (current favorite pairing: with a white collared shirt and a black v-neck sweater). My friends are all in different social circles, which means I totally wore this to every single holiday party I was invited to haha no regrets.

Silk Top & Corduroy Mini Skirt
Mustard Corduroy Rosari skirt
Might as well call 2016 the year of the Rosari skirt – I made this one, a black one, a denim one, and a plaid one. I fucking LOVE this pattern, if you can’t tell.

McCall's 7351
McCall’s 7351
Probably the dress I wore the most all summer (other than my Chambray Hawthorne, which still gets TONS of love). It is easy to throw on, super comfortable in the heat thanks to the rayon (and doesn’t show sweat, thanks to the dark color + pattern), and also it’s just super freaking cute. I got stopped and complimented a lot while wearing this dress – and introduced a lot of people to the idea of making your own clothes haha πŸ™‚

Sewaholic Pacific Shorts + Dunbar Sports Bra
Sewaholic Pacific shorts
These are the best little shorts for running! The back pocket is big enough to hold my phone, and the zippered top keeps it secure so it doesn’t bounce out. I wore these all summer while running on the greenway behind my apartment building. The Dunbar sportsbra did not get worn as much – it’s just not as secure as I’d like in a sportsbra. I think this could be fixed by going down a size, or using a firm powermesh across the whole front, but I haven’t gotten to the point of testing this theory as I already have tons of sports bras as it is. Maybe next year! It is cute, though, and fine for practicing yoga.

Birdy Scout Tee
Birdy Scout Tee
I am SO glad I finally cut up that birdy fabric and made it into this top! I loooove this tee and actually wore it on Christmas! That fabric makes me so happy!

Travel Backpack
Rainbow Travel backpack
I did a lot of traveling this year, and this lil’ guy was soo handy for that! Since making that pack, I made a much nicer/sturdier waxed canvas backpack (which I haven’t actually carried out into the world yet, so I can’t really review it for it’s usefulness!), which I’m also pumped about. I don’t normally like sewing bags, like, at ALL, but both of these projects were super enjoyable.

Organic French Terry Augusta Hoodie
Augusta Hoodie + Anima Pants
These two also surprised me. I made the Augusta hoodie with the intention of wearing it around the house for loungewear, but quickly realized the snaps and super thick fabric made it feel more like a lightweight jacket. I ended up wearing it a lot this fall, it’s a great transitional outerwear piece. And those Anima pants are amaaaaazing when it’s super cold outside! They look way too ridiculous to wear outside of my house (seriously, they are straight-up Santa pants), but I love them for lounging on the couch as they are incredibly warm and very very comfortable. And no, since taking those photos – I have not worn those two pieces together haha.

B5526 Chambray Tencel
Chambray Tencel B5526
I am all about that B5526! The Chambray Tencel one was my favorite, though. It just gets softer the more I wear and wash it, and it really does go with everything.

MΓ©lilot shirt - front
Melilot Shirt
This shirt makes me so happy, I don’t even mind that I have to iron it every time I wash it.

And now, for the misses of 2016…

Ginger Jeans + Silk Tank
Bias silk cami
Love black camis, love this silk, do not love pleats over my boobs.

Simplicity 1799 robe
Plaid Flannel Robe
I love this robe in theory – it is really beautiful and quite cozy – but in practice, the arm holes are way too low so the whole thing shifts when I move my arms. Also, the way the robe is made means you have to keep it tied, and sometimes I just like a little breeze, you know?

Black Silk Polka Dot Boylston Bra
Silk polkadot Bra
Real talk: I cut this bra up the other day. It’s REALLY beautiful, but I pulled the silk too taut when I was covering the cups and one of the boobs ended up flattened. Totally noticeable from the outside, too. After several months of it languishing in my drawer with me pretending like I *might* wear it someday, finally just took my scissors to it and salvaged whatever bits I could. MOVING ON.

Silk Chiffon Archer
Silk Chiffon Archer
I still have yet to wear this shirt, even though I really love the way it looks. Maybe once the weather dips enough to warrant wearing a sweater, I will try it as a layering piece.

Silk Rite of Spring shorts
Silk shorts
One of the few true fails of this year. These shorts were fucking stupid. Bad combo of pattern to fabric, looks awful, blah blah.

* * * * *

I really cut back a lot on sewing this year, and it’s definitely reflected in my wardrobe. I’m at a point now where pretty much everything I have is handmade and I don’t have a lot of holes to fill in my closet. As a result, I have really slowed down my sewing – mostly in the form of taking the time to rip out mistakes and do things correctly, or alter/repair pieces that I’ve made and loved to death. I’ve also stopped trying to ~power through~ major sewing sessions. If I feel myself start to get frustrated (which is usually when major mistakes start happening because I start getting real careless), I will acknowledge that I’m not enjoying the process anymore and just stop for the evening. Sewing is my hobby, and I want to keep it fun and happy. Stepping away from a project has been immensely helpful in that I have a chance to cool off and re-assess at a later time.

With that being said, I still really really love to make things, and I’ve had a serious struggle with finding that balance between indulging my creative side vs not having a closet full of shit I don’t wear or even need. As I don’t have a lot of wardrobe holes anymore (other than underwear that’s not all ratty – I still can’t bring myself to spend precious sewing time making panties haha), this means that a lot of what I’m making these days is a nicer replacement to things I already had – whether they were starting to wear out, or they weren’t right begin with but I wore them anyway. This has been a good compromise, as I get to continue to make awesome things but don’t feel super wasteful making a bunch of crap I don’t need and won’t wear (except that prom dress, I DON’T REGRET THE PROM DRESS). Slowing down the process has also been going for this – while I can make an entire top in a couple of hours, there’s really no need to. Also, I will make that underwear next year. This is my promise to myself.

Blog-wise, I feel pretty good about where I am currently. Blogging less gave me more time to work on projects – without feeling like I needed to rush to finish them so I could throw them on the blog. Less posts means I also have more time to respond to comments, which always bothered me that I didn’t do in the past. I don’t blog all the stuff I make anymore – some of it just seems too redundant to warrant it’s own post (tbh, you probably won’t see that underwear ever get posted, so don’t hold your breath or anything haha) – but I will admit that I do miss having a catalogue to look back through. A lot of it did get posted to Instagram – not all of it, but a lot of it! – and moving forward, I’m going to start tagging my makes #madebylladybird so I have that catalogue, albeit on a different media source. It feels weird to give myself my own tag, but, whatever haha. I started doing this the other night and it’s fun to scroll through the tag! Of course, Instagram flagged me once I got about 2 years back and I’m currently blocked from tagging (lolwut) so getting back to the beginning might take a while!

I started out this year with a partnership with Spiegel sewing machines, and did that for about half of 2016. As you’ve probably noticed, I am not working with Spiegel anymore, and it’s been a few months since those posts stopped. The reason for this really doesn’t have anything to do with Spiegel or the machine itself – it just ended up not being a good fit in terms of my available time to commit to it. I have been asked by a few people about this, I did want to mention it just so we are clear!

:D* * * *

On a personal note, I know 2016 was a really terrible year for a lot of people, and probably even for the world in general – but it was actually a really, really good year for me. Growth-wise, this might have been my best year yet. I had a lot of baggage that I carried over from 2015 – I was right at the beginning of a break-up and about 6 months into working through all my personal demons that had come up while I was on that ayahuasca retreat. I really feel good about the challenges that I not only faced head-on – but really charged through them and came out triumphant on the other side. I am proud of the person I’m growing into, although there is still a lot of work that I need to muddle through.

Some notable highlights from the year:

  • I traveled a lot this year! I visited a few new places (San Francisco, Charleston, St Louis, Newport, Exeter), a few old favorites (Portand Maine and New York!), and made plans for next year as well. I taught bunches of sewing classes and retreats (both during my travels and locally), and also assisted at Camp Workroom Social for the first time. I promised myself when I left my corporate job back in 2013 that I would budget more time and money for traveling, with the goal of going *somewhere* (even if it’s just to a neighboring state for a day trip) at least every 3-4 months. So far, I’ve been sticking to it! I even got TSA Pre-Check so I don’t have to stand in that line and take my shoes off haha!
  • I’ve been single for pretty much all of this year, and it’s been… interesting. Definitely met some incredibly awesome people, and definitely navigated my way around some real creeps (if you ever meet me in person, please ask me about my date that involved the pigs. It’s really the kind of story that needs to be told in person, and it’s great.). Don’t get me wrong – I actually really enjoy being single (more time for meeee, fuck yea), but having previously been in a relationship for nearly 5 years, there’s been some adjusting to do. Let me also say that Landon really disappointed me this year – our split last year was amicable, but we are not on good terms anymore. He stole several hundred dollars from me and disappeared off the face of the earth. Pretty much the only retribution I have at this point is to publicly shame him, so, there you go. On the flip side, glad I dodged the bullet. He’s the one who has to spend the rest of his life with his shitty self, not me.
  • I bought a car this year! This was pretty exciting, and I’m still super thrilled about it. I have always owned very old/shitty cars – the kind that you’re afraid to drive more than a couple hours away from home, lest you break down on the side of the road – and my last one was so basic, everything was manual and it didn’t even have a tape deck, just a radio. I have been saving my money for the past 2 years to buy something nicer, and spent a few months researching what was available in my price range. In February, I became the proud owner of a cherry red 2012 Prius C. I’ve never bought a car by myself – my dad always found them for me and I just paid him for them – so that was a new experience, but I did it all myself (although I did buy from Carmax, so there was no negotiating or anything). I got a killer deal on what was practically a new car (less than 20k miles) and I am so so happy every time I drive it. It’s the nicest thing I’ve ever owned – there’s a fucking tv in it and sensors on the doors that lock/unlock when you touch them – and it’s all MINE. And his name is Ricky πŸ˜‰
  • After living out in the ‘sticks with my BFF for over a year, I decided it was time to move back to the city. Honestly, I did love living in the woods at first – it was quiet, it was serene, and every single night was BFF night. But I hated the 45 minute commute that was required to get anywhere (even buying that new car did not make the drive more enjoyable), and it became very isolating after I broke up with Landon. It was really hard to make myself go out and do anything, knowing I’d have to make that drive – and understandably, no one really wanted to come out to me, either. I also realized that I really wanted to be alone in my own space, and not have to share it with someone else. So I found a 2 bedroom apartment in West Nashville and moved out here in June. I cannot even tell y’all how much happier I am being back in the city. I love being close to everything – whether it’s a short car ride, a bike ride, or a really cheap Uber. I can order food (or Amazon Prime Now) and have it delivered RIGHT TO MY DOOR. Having my own space all to myself is awesome, especially after nearly a decade of living with someone else (be it a roommate or an SO). Plus, I have all these amazing windows and my apartment is right next to a beautiful greenway! I love it so much!
  • A big part of what afforded me the opportunity to move back into the city was a change in one of my jobs. I was working for Elizabeth Suzann as one of her production seamstresses, and I loooooved that job. I’d just come in, put on my headphones, and sew my way through a stack of pre-cut pieces. I had the most amazing coworkers and a seriously, seriously incredible set of bosses who did everything in their power to make their employees feel valued and appreciated. I still love everyone there and do my best to visit when I can (and when they’re not too busy with orders!), but I was offered a much more lucrative job at Craft South and I couldn’t do both. At Craft South, I am the Education Coordinator – so I plan, schedule, and promote the classes, and handle everything related to them. It is a part time job, which puts me in the store 2 days a week (I also work part time as a personal assistant, which I’ve been doing for the same woman since 2014. I don’t talk about her much on this blog bc it’s completely unrelated to sewing, but I absolutely ADORE my boss. She’s an amazing person and I’m so lucky to be in the position I am. She moved to Newport this year, so now I’m remote and I work from home!). I’ve always wanted to work in a craft store, and I really love it! They are also super accommodating with my travel schedule, so I can take off whenever I need to for my workshops. Its pretty great- I have a wonderful new set of coworkers, an inspiring place to be surrounded by other makers, and an excuse to get out of the house a couple times a week. Plus I get to sew on those $10k Janome machines, which, is a pretty sweet perk πŸ˜›
  • On a more somber note, we did have a big scare with my dad towards the end of summer. He got very sick with pneumonia that quickly went septic, and he ended up on life support for a full week. It was a really bad time and the doctors didn’t offer us much hope. I was preparing myself for the worst – which, even when you know the inevitable is going to happen (my dad has been fighting colon cancer since 2013, and we’re not delusional here), you’re still never really prepared for it. He made this incredibly miraculous recovery, though, and bounced the fuck out of there the second they released him. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an ongoing battle – he’s still quite sick, and we still have scares that make us rush back to the ER – but we are so, so happy to have him back for at least a little while longer. My dad is such an awesome person, and I’m so thankful that we got this second chance.
  • Speaking of colon cancer, I did finally get that colonoscopy that his oncologist had insisted I do a few years ago. The procedure was completely uneventful – it’s really the prep that’s bad, and yes, it’s as awful as everyone tells you haha – and everything was benign. So yay, no cancer!Β  I also just found out the other day that I don’t have any cavities either, so I’m basically on a roll of awesome here right now hahaha.

* * * *

What’s on the table for 2017? Beats me if I know – but I’m ready for whatever it throws at me! I don’t like to make resolutions as I’d rather just jump right into positive changes than wait for a specific date to start – and I hope 2017 brings me more creativeness, positivity, and growth (both personally and professionally). And I guess more handmade underwear, too πŸ˜›

Much love to you all, and wishing everyone a wonderful new year! β™₯

Review: The Janome AMH M100 Sewing Machine

19 Dec

Good morning, everyone! I have a review post today (if you’re not into reviews, no worries – I will have a ~normal~ post later this week, too! So much catching up on projects before the year ends!) – for a sewing machine! NGL, I am pretty excited about this little machine.

As you may or may not know, I started working for Craft South earlier this year. Craft South is an adorable little fabric/yarn/crafty store, located in the seriously hip 12 South neighborhood in Nashville, TN, and owned by our fearless leader, Anna Maria Horner. In addition to our sewing, fiber and other craft supplies, we also sell Janome sewing machines. Now, I am not particularly attached to any one brand of sewing machine – I have several different brands that I use at home myself – and I strongly believe that all brands are good brands, it’s just a matter of what fits best with your budget and needs. Whenever I have the opportunity to try out a new machine – especially one that’s perhaps a little more budget-minded than whatever I have on my sewing table at home (sorry, guys, but I LURVE me some expensive-ass sewing machine hahahaha) – I am ALL about that! This particular machine is especially delightful to me, cos it’s a branded Anna Maria Horner machine *and* it’s our future classroom machine for Craft South.

I will lead with a stock photo from the Janome website, because it’s much prettier than the pile of trash photos you’ll see in the rest of this post, lolz

AMH M100

This is the AMH M100 – designed by Anna Maria Horner, and manufactured by Janome sewing machines. It’s a reasonably basic machine – no crazy embroidery functions, a few decorative stitches – that is easy to use, has some fun features, and is just plan adorable! It’s a fairly small machine, and I think the floral design is so beautiful! There’s also a big honkin’ space that is perfect for having signed by Anna herself, and yes, speaking from experience here.

There are a lot of features about this machine – too many to put in a blog post (well, without making this post insanely boring), so I am just going to touch on the ones that I think are really cool, as a sewist and also a sewing teacher. You can always go to the website and get the full run-down, or, if you’re local – come in our shop and play with the machine.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The machine has 99 stitch designs – ranging from your basic utility stitches (straight, zigzag, button hole, etc) to some crazy looking embroidery stitches that are perfect for quilting and applique projects. They’re all based on Anna Maria Horner designs – so lots of hearts, swirls, girly things like that. I admit, I don’t ever use stitches like this in my projects, but they are REALLY fun to just sew samples on and ooh and ahh over.

As a sewer of garments, the stitches I use most are 00, 01, 04, 06, 07 & 18. That’s your basic straight stitch, the Lock-O-Matic stitch (it will automatically backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam, which I find especially useful for bra making), the triple stitch (which is what I use now for topstitching, instead of topstitching thread + straight stitch), zigzag stitches, and the button hole stitch. There is also a locking stitch (02, it’s the same idea as the lock-o-matic, except it locks the stitches by stitching in one place instead of backstitching), stretch stitches, overcasting stitches, darning stitches, blind hem stitches, the triple zigzag, and all those applique stitches. One thing I do appreciate is that there isn’t a mass overload of decorative stitches – just a handful. It’s not overwhelming, but there are a few cute options to play around with.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The little stitch card fits in a piece that clips to the machine, so you can keep it attached to your machine if you want to reference it. The clip also folds down, so you don’t have to stare at it if you don’t want to. Or you can take it off completely and lose it somewhere in your sewing space, which is generally what I do.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

There are several feet and accessories included with the machine – a straight stitch foot (not shown in this photo, but it’s attached to the machine), a clear satin stitch foot, a 1/4″ foot (PRAISE), an overcasting foot, a blind hem foot (which I use as an edgestitching foot), a zipper foot, a button hole foot, *and* an Even-Feed Foot. The Even-Feed foot is similar to a walking foot, except instead of “walking”, it clamps down on the fabric and moves it. I am told this is more precise than a walking foot, since the pieces are held together when they are moved. At any rate, that alone is a pretty sweet add-on! Those feet tend to be pretty expensive on their own.

The machine also comes with boring but useful things, like extra bobbins, spool caps, a seam ripper, etc. The Organ needles included are a new thing for me – I’d never heard of this brand before I started working at Craft South, but they are just as nice as Schmetz and soooooo much cheaper. I can get a pack of 10 Organ needles for like $2.30, WTF. Janome machines are made to work specifically with Organ needles – they will work with other brands, including Schmetz, but the needle-threader is calibrated to work with the eye placement of an Organ needle. So you can sew on the machine with any brand of needle, but you may or may not be able to use the needle threader if it’s not an Organ brand. I haven’t tested this theory bc Organ is all I keep in my sewing room now (and it’s all we have at Craft South, too).

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The front box opens up so you can store all your feet and accessories in one handy spot. This piece can also be removed so that the machine has a free arm – useful for sewing stuff with a small circumference, such as sleeves and pants hems.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Threading is super easy. For the needle, there are numbers and arrows to direct you the thread path (if you’ve ever threaded ANY sewing machine before, just know that they are all mostly the same in this regard), and then there is an automatic needle threader to pull the thread through the eye if you have trouble seeing / are lazy.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The bobbin winder also has a clear diagram. One thing I really love that about this machine is that the bobbin can be wound without the foot pedal – just unplug it and press the Start/Stop button on the machine. This is incredibly handy when I am setting up for class – sometimes I’ll have all 10 machines winding bobbins simultaneously and I feel like a little Sewing Machine Goddess hahahaha

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The AMH M100 has a drop-in bobbin, which makes it incredibly easy to thread. There is a little diagram on the case cover to show you how it is threaded – just a head’s up, 9 out of 10 of my students always thread it backwards the first time (actually, on my old Janome – I had it threaded backwards for like the first 6 months of use haha). The threading feels counterintuitive to what you’d think, but it’s necessary for proper tension. At any rate, you’ll know if you thread it backwards because your stitches will pull out very easily.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine
To thread the bobbin, you drop in your spool and pull the thread down, with the tail pointing toward the left…

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Then you pull it under the metal piece and up the channel, toward the 1…

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

And pull the thread down toward the 2…

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Where there’s a built-in thread cutter that will clip the tail to the correct length. Then you just put the cover on. That’s it! No need to pull up the bobbin threads, it’s ready to sew.

A word about drop-in bobbins: I’ve used both drop-in and front-loading, and both have their merits. The front-loading bobbins will give you a more even, precise stitch. However, they are also prone to tangling and creating thread needs on the underside of your work. The drop-in bobbins don’t give you quite as beautiful of a stitch (I think this is negotiable, though, since very few people are going to be able to tell the difference just by glancing), but they are a lot more user-error-proof. These bobbins in particular are known for being really really hard to mess up. We rarely have problems with the bobbin in our classes, unless something else is wrong (such as a dull needle, or incorrect threading). Our Janome rep loves to do this trick where she throws a big thread nest in the bobbin and sews a seam – the nest just shoots out of the back and doesn’t affect the stitching. It’s kind of weird and also really amazing haha. I think this sort of bobbin is really ideal for the beginner sewer, or someone who buys a machine for their kid and doesn’t want to mess with fixing it when they inevitably screw something up. Like I said, it’s really hard to jam it up, even if you intentionally shove a thread nest in it.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Here are the buttons on this machine. The Start/Stop can control the machine without the foot pedal – you just have to unplug it first. I will admit I’ve never personally used this button except to wind the bobbin, but kids whose feet don’t quite reach the floor love it. ha. There is also a backstitch, locking stitch (again, same as the backstitch except it stitches in one place to lock. This is really useful for those embroidery stitches), needle up/down, aaaaand my favorite button – the scissors! Press that little dude after you finish sewing, and it will raise the needle and clip your threads! Argh I love that feature so much! There is also a slider to control the machine speed.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The stitch buttons are in the green section. From here you can select your stitch, move the needle position, adjust length/width, make a button hole, and there’s also a “memory” feature for the scissors button.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The throat plate has a ton of markings for measurements, which are especially useful for quilting and applique. This is my only beef with the machine, actually – I absolutely hate the guide markings. I find them really confusing to see which one you’re using, and I don’t like that they are only on one side of the needle. This is easily solved by slapping a piece of tape on the machine along the markings, which is what I do for my classes.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The machine also comes with this giant (removeable) tabletop, which is ideal for quilting.

Finally, here are some stitch samples:

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Just your basic straight stitch. The top fold is the bobbin stitching.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Here is the straight stitch with a triple stitch underneath. These stitches used the exact same thread – just basic polyester Gutterman, the stuff you use to sew a garment. This is why I love that triple stitch – it’s sooo much thicker than the straight stitch, but doesn’t require a special thread or needle.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

I also played around with some of the embroidery stitches.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

And a few of the utility stitches (zigzag, triple zigzag, and stretch/lightning bolt stitch). Sorry the angles are so weird and artsy, it was really hard to take a photo without a huge shadow over it.

Here are some more photos of the machine working her glorious angles:

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

In conclusion, this is a fantastic little machine and I’m excited to bring these into the Craft South classroom! It’s very easy to use (as in, intuitive and user-friendly) and a solid little machine that doesn’t bounce around the table when you’ve got it on a high speed. It’s very similar to our current classroom machines, the Janome 4120 – the main differences that I have noticed thus far is that the AMH M-100 has less decorative stitches (and doesn’t have the stitch alphabet – which, let’s be honest, rarely gets used). However, the AMH M-100 does come with that Even-Feed foot. I love those 4120s and think they are wonderful machines, but I can’t wait to make our classroom just a little bit prettier πŸ™‚

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post (no, I did not get a free machine either). However, if you come to Craft South and buy a machine from me, I *do* get a commission. If you’re not local and are interested in this machine, visit your local Janome dealer!