Looking back, looking forward

Now that the end of 2020 is in sight, I figure it’s as good a time as any to do some reflecting about the year and my sewing life.

I didn’t really feel great about my sewing productivity this year. I felt the same about the outcome much of the time, but writing this out actually helped my outlook on it. Here’s the list of everything that I’ve managed this year, starting with the things I’ve showed:

  • Visby Henley (Itch to Stitch, fairly successful. I think it could use some fitting tweaks, but I overall liked it.)
  • Mila shirt (Itch to Stitch, successful)
  • Mimi G chambray shirtdress (McCall’s, flop. I wore it once and it’s been sitting in my refashioning pile since. )
  • Lucy dress (Peekaboo Pattern Shop, successful, though not for its intended purpose. The update is that I used it for an at home first birthday photoshoot, since the opportunity for her baptism still hasn’t happened yet.)
  • Colorblocked Pony Tank (Chalk & Notch, one of my most worn me-mades for the remainder of summer)
  • Shenanigans Skort (5 Out of 4 Patterns, successful, though could probably use a bit of a fuller butt adjustment)
  • Chemainus top (Itch to Stitch, see last post.)

And a couple of things that I didn’t show here yet:

  • Two Blackwood cardigans, from Helen’s Closet. I already knew that I liked the pattern fit, though I haven’t worn my first iteration much due to the extremely light weight/ limited coordinating options. I had fabric for two more that I got last Christmas, and sewing them up within the year is actually good, for me! I cut both out near the end of winter. I made the charcoal one from a hatchi knit, near the end of summer, while my serger was still appropriately threaded. The ivory one is my most recent make, from this cabled quilted type knit. In retrospect, I should have added a little more ease to the sleeve on this one, since it doesn’t have nearly the stretch that the hatchi does. But it’s still quite wearable, and so warm!
  • I made dinosaur tails for the boys, instead of full Halloween costumes since I wasn’t sure if going out in any form would be an option. We ended up cobbling together costumes from things on hand for our church’s trunk or treat, and a spaced out Halloween parade with our usual trick or treat buddies. The Harry Potter costumes from a few years ago made a reappearance. And though I seem to need to add a little more velcro on the waist ties, the tails have seen some use for play at home. Also, not pictured, the boys were so excited about getting to pick out the fleece for their tails that they also requested blankets. So they each have one of those no-sew tied edge blankets made from these fabrics, too.

As I said, I haven’t been feeling great about my sewing, largely due to the timing/time suck of making my big flop of the year. But realistically, 10 projects over 11 months with 3 little kids in the house really isn’t bad!

There are other factors, though. There’s been a lot of grieving this year, and it’s definitely affected my enjoyment of this craft. Thankfully, everyone I know personally who got sick during the pandemic has survived, including an aunt who caught it while working as a hospital nurse. My entire immediate family has stayed healthy, thank God. But my flute teaching career vanished overnight, since neither of the two remaining students I had after my last maternity leave were situations that worked virtually. At this point, I still don’t know if I’ll get any students again, or if the tentatively planned involvement I’ll be allowed to have in my community orchestra this season will even work. I’ve never lived in a world where simply being a musician makes me considered to be dangerous. And since there’s always been ensembles to play with for the entire time I’ve played the flute, there’s been a lot of mourning over that loss, as I try to figure out how to learn to enjoy playing alone. (And trying to brush up on the piano, as the kids let me.)

My husband also lost his job suddenly. That one turned out for the best, as it was a constant source of stress for him, and he’s since found a new job that he’s much happier in. But it still caused a lot of uncertainty.

I’ve spent a lot of time on school this year. I’d already been doing preschool at home with my oldest, and had already planned to continue with him for kindergarten. It’s a good thing, because my state ended up being completely noncommittal to a plan for the current school year for a really long time, like until 2 weeks before school started, and I know I would have been panicking if I’d had to make the decision about what to do at the last minute. It’s been a bit of a learning curve, and it’s not all idyllic days at home, but I do think it’s been the best choice for us. We’ve also still been able to meet with our small co-op community in person, and that weekly interaction with other kids has been so good for him.

There’s been other stressors, too. Our remaining golden retriever died, and we’ve been having to adjust to not having a pet for the first time in our marriage. (Hopefully in a few years, but we want to wait until we’re done with diapers.) I didn’t see my closest friends in person for over half a year. The kids have obviously been affected too, as I’m constantly being told that they miss going to playgrounds/library storytime/playdates. It’s just a lot, as I know it’s been for everyone.

More specifically about sewing, I also had to get rid of a lot of favorite things that just don’t fit anymore, and it’s left me struggling to put outfits together on a near daily basis. I realized that a huge portion of what I sewed was for things like church and teaching, and both of those were gone for months. On days we’re just at home, I’m mostly just being the stereotypical frumpy stay at home mom in joggers and tees, because that’s what fits and can hold up to messes. But I’m not really enjoying getting dressed these days, which is having a major impact on my desire to do the thing that will help me fix the problem. Go figure.

To be perfectly honest, the Instagram sewing community was a tough place for me this year, too. Between the endless chatter about masks back in the spring, and all of the shaming of people that wanted to keep politics out of our sewing, I had to take a big step back from it. Frankly, I think it’s inexcusable to shame people for needing one place to have a break from all the chaos, given how many of us use sewing as a mental health aid, and I’m still irritated about it. I’m not entirely sure where this will lead, as I’ve still had very little desire to spend much time on my sewing Instagram account, though I’m still using my private one regularly to share photos with family and friends. I do know that I’m feeling more of an urge to write here instead, like I used to. I started this blog more as a project journal for myself, and the interaction was a nice perk. It’s hard to get that on Instagram now anyway, with algorithms and the hashtag disabling they did, so I haven’t missed being on there like I once expected to. I’ve also been helping my friend Brooke to get a new community off of the ground on Locals, and while it’s not very active yet, it’s been nice to have that smaller community feel again. What can I say, I’m an introvert, I get overwhelmed by all of the crowd noise. But I’m still hoping that it will pick up.

So in lieu of sewing, and aside from the obvious things like raising kids and homeschooling, I’ve been reading lots of books. I’ve gotten really into digital scrapbooking this year, to the point where our family album pages are pretty caught up most of the time and I’m starting to work on redoing some of my old paper albums. I also got asked to join a designer’s creative team on Pixel Scrapper, which is where I’ve been sharing my pages. So that’s been a fun challenge, and a good craft for me on days where I don’t have much brainpower at the end of the day, or want something creative to work on that I can do while the kids are awake and I can’t have sharp objects out.

I think this step back was needed for me, since this year has basically been a forced midlife crisis for me. (No, really, as I’m turning 40 in a few months.) I’m beginning to feel more motivated to get my wardrobe back into a better place again, that hopefully fits both my new stay at home lifestyle and my personal style. I’ve also been taking baby steps to get myself physically in better shape, since between the last sedentary-out-of-necessity pregnancy and quarantine weight gain, it’s not been a great combo. I have plans formulating, and I hope to share more soon.

Sewing Top 5: Real life highlights

It’s the year end roundup season again, hosted as always by the fabulous Gillian! This is an odd one to start with for me, but since I’m in the middle of a project, I’d like to reserve judgment on my best and worst makes of the year. So instead, here’s what has been occupying my (mostly) real life in 2018.

20180507_1927431. The Two Toddlers. (Can you tell I’m on a Lord of the Rings bender again? Technically, I guess Hobbit is really more of a preschooler than a toddler now, but since he started this year as a 2 1/2 year old, I’m going to roll with it.) Seriously, it has been a lot of fun to watch their personalities and relationship with each other growing this year. Hobbit is super-chatty and enthusiastic about learning, especially when dinosaurs are involved! We’ve actually slowly been starting to work on learning letters and numbers since the summer, starting with the ones in his name, and he’s been doing very well with it so far. I even caught him writing the first letter on our chalkboard wall downstairs recently, so not bad at all for a 3 year old! As for Padawan, it’s crazy to think that at the beginning of this year, he was just starting to pull himself to standing, and 12 months later, he’s not only running and climbing all over everything (so much climbing!), but he’s also starting to put together two word sentences. They mostly play very well together, aside from when one of them has a toy the other wants, so I’m thankful for that.

2. Facing challenges. While I wouldn’t exactly call this a highlight, it was a major part of our family life this fall. We found out at the beginning of October that the banking corporation that my husband works for would be outsourcing his job to India, and he would therefore be laid off in 45 business days. It was a scary prospect, especially the thought of losing our health insurance with two young and very active kids. But the whole experience really did help to strengthen our faith in God as a family, and it was good to see how our families and closest friends were so willing to step up to help, both by praying and with some financial support. Doug worked his tail off applying for everything he could find in the area that he thought he was remotely qualified for, and had a string of interviews, and even considered a major career change (trying out for the police). In the end, he got hired back for a different position at the same bank, in just enough time that he was able to end his old position on the last day and start at his new one the following Monday. And he even got a raise! Plus the process of getting ready for the physical test that he was required to take before being accepted for police training did make him take a very serious look at his health habits, which I think will be beneficial for both of us in the long run. I can hardly ever motivate myself to exercise, because frankly, I hate it. But I think if it’s something we’re able to do together or as a family, it’ll be easier to take care of myself, too.

20170122_162433The other sad/challenging event in the fall was having to put one of our golden retrievers to sleep. We discovered back in April that he had a tumor growing in his leg, and it was already huge enough that there wasn’t anything we could do, other than make his last months as comfortable as we could. I’ve lost pets before, but I’d never been in the room, and that was really hard. (I’m tearing up just writing this, and it was 3 months ago already.) So we’re a one dog family now. Hobbit still comments out of the blue that he wishes we could get Malkin back, which is so sad.

3. Sewing community involvement. It’s sometimes hard not to feel isolated from it when you’re not a very prolific blogger, or you can’t participate in challenges, or even sew the new popular pattern that everyone is making. But I did get to do a few things this year that I’m proud of. Like participating in Elizabeth’s Day and Night dress challenge, and Instagram challenges like #sewphotohop and #bpsewvember. I also got to write a guest post for the Sewcialists blog (something I didn’t think I’d be able to do, since I am ridiculously average by sewing community standards), and even got a response read on the Love to Sew podcast! (The Sewing Struggles episode, if you’re curious.)


4. My reading life. Reading was my first hobby love before sewing was even an option due to my age, so I spend a lot of time being torn between the two. It hasn’t been quite as much of an issue this year, since I’ve gotten greater audiobook access, between LibriVox classics, library app loans, and when a good friend with similar taste granted me access to listen to her Audible account. (Though now the issue is distraction by podcasts and music!) I also had the opportunity to join a book club this year, mostly made up of women from my church, Though I wasn’t able to attend every meeting, I think it went a long way towards both diversifying my reading and helping me finally start making some better friends there (always a challenge for a shyer introvert). There was only one book I disliked, and several that I ended up continuing the series on my own, or plan to when I can. I’m ending the year with a Tolkien reread, since that’s a comfort book for me and it was a hard autumn. I’m feeling pretty good about how many books I was able to read on my own, on top of the many, many picture books!

20180707_1043155. Outdoor adventures. So you know how I just said that I hate exercise? Hiking is the exception. Doug and I decided to start a tradition with the kids early on where one of their Christmas gifts is an experience instead of a thing. We weren’t sure how to handle it last year with a toddler and baby, so we got a state parks pass, because being outside is good for everybody. It ended up being a good choice! We did some family hikes, attempted paddleboating (we’re saving the next attempt for when the boys are older!), and discovered a new to us beach park that was actually amazing, and we wished we’d gone earlier in the summer. We’re not doing that as the experience gift this Christmas, but I am planning to get the parks pass again for next year so we can do more exploring!

I think that pretty much sums it up! I’m still involved in music things, of course, like the community orchestra and the flute choir (though I’m taking a hiatus from the latter at the beginning of the year, because the next concert is scheduled for the day of Padawan’s birthday and I’m not missing that entire weekend with him.) And I’ve kind of rediscovered one of my older hobbies this year, as I’ve been teaching myself digital scrapbooking on a dinosaur version of Photoshop Elements. It’s actually made it so I’m starting to catch up again, because it’s so much easier to sit down for 15 minutes and work digitally than to haul out tempting glue and scissors with the boys around. I’m actually very strongly considering doing one of those 100 days challenges early in the year to knock some more out! I’ve also discovered a site that lets me download 5 free supplies every day, and does monthly themes where people who enjoy designing create digital papers and stuff that they give away for free! All of that stuff except the zoo pictures came from there. I’m thinking that redoing my blog header may have to be a thing next year, now that I’m starting to get the hang of this better. I don’t share about scrapbooking much on here anymore, but here’s a recent page that I’m proud of, from a morning we spent at a zoo with Doug’s family over the summer.

2018-07 Cape May Zoo 2

So that’s it! I’m looking forward to reading about more of what’s been going on with all of you this year!

9 months in the making

Believe it or not, I can actually do a small June round-up. Although I haven’t had a chance to take pictures yet, for the most part.

So this month, I…

  • Finished all of the hand-sewing on the second quiet book, thanks to a week where I literally had nothing left to do except hang out at my parents’ while Doug was at work and wait to see if I’d go into labor. All that needs to be done is to sew the finished pages back-to-back with the machine, and assemble the book.
  • Finished knitting a scarf from a Craftsy class that I started last year sometime. And I have quite a bit of the second ball of yarn left, but I do have an idea for a project to use it on. Just need the time.
  • Did not use up any of my fabric stash. But I did order 7 yards, because Fabric.com suckered me in with geeky novelty prints.
  • Got the scrapbook that I’ve been working on almost completely done, minus a few pictures that just got ordered. (Since I got married, I’ve been doing one per year, running from June to May in order to coincide with our anniversary. I seriously love the pocket-style scrapbooking, it makes it so much easier to keep up!) I even managed to finish up some older unfinished album pages, too!

Oh yeah…and I finished this project.

He was born on June 22 (a week and a day past his due date), 20 3/4″ long and 8 pounds 10 ounces. He’s 10 days old now, and though it’s been pretty exhausting, it’s been fun getting to know this little guy, too. He’s usually pretty happy, except when he has to get a bath or I take too long in getting ready to feed him.

Of course, when I do feed him, then he looks more like this:

Speaking of feeding, he’s ready for that again. Hobbit was a very accurate nickname.
Back later…

2014’s top 5 Highlights

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5
Continuing with the lists… I was originally intending to lump the last 3 topics into one post, but this particular category ended up being pretty wordy. So I’ll spare you the mega-post.

The new category this year is “Highlights”, which is pretty much anything not sewing-related going on in our lives. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to share life stuff on here, mostly for fear that I’ll bore people. So this seems like a pretty good way to keep it real! (Of course, I have actually talked about some of this stuff on here…oh well.)

IMG_28411. Travel. This was a really good year for that, and I’m really enjoying that I can say that I went fabric shopping in both New York and Paris this year! And there was also my girls’ geekout weekend in Atlanta for DragonCon. Aside from those three trips, Doug and I took a day trip down to Washington, D.C. for our first anniversary, which was also a lot of fun, and I also got to spend a day hanging out with some of my cousins down at the Delaware beaches. That’s been a tradition since I was a kid, and I’m glad I found some time to go down this year, even though I wasn’t able to stay overnight at all this time. (The picture is me and Doug at the Eiffel Tower, because why not?)

piano2. I got a piano this year! Both of my grandmothers have been trying to downsize their belongings recently, because it’s getting difficult for them to live on their own since both of my grandfathers passed away in 2013. So one of the big things going on in my family right now is that my parents are building a new house, and both of my grandmothers will be moving in with them in the spring. My mom’s mom had two pianos, so she asked me if I wanted one. She actually gave me the bigger one! So this is a baby grand that my great-grandfather originally purchased in 1928. It’s horrendously out of tune, which I’ll need to remedy at some point, but I like the family history behind it, and it’s been fun brushing up on my other instrument. I took piano lessons for about 7 years when I was a kid, but my parents didn’t want us overloaded with too many extracurriculars, so once I got to 7th grade, they asked me to choose between continuing with the piano or the flute, which I’d been playing for about 3 years by then, for my music lessons. Obviously, I picked the flute, though I still played the keyboard at home for fun when I could, and I also had to take one semester of basic piano as part of my music degree. (Which, since I already knew how to play scales and stuff, I basically spent learning the “Linus and Lucy” song from Charlie Brown specials. The professor didn’t care as long as we tested well.) The other thing connected to this is that I’m actually teaching one beginner piano student now at a local school, in addition to the flute. So in the long run, this could be a very good thing for my music teaching career.

3. In the category of non-sewing/knitting hobbies that I don’t talk about on here much, I am still scrapbooking. The Project Life system has turned out to be a really good fit for me–I can save photos without feeling like I have to make a layout for everything, and the pockets make it really easy to finish pages quickly. I still do “real” scrapbook pages from time to time, usually for bigger events. And I still use my older supplies, usually in the form of cutting down big pieces of paper to make cards when I don’t have a color I want. But aside from still needing to write in a few notes and paste down a few pictures, I’m basically done with everything from the wedding to our first anniversary. And I already have some stuff in an album for year 2 as well. That’s a nice feeling.

4. Meeting writers. As if I didn’t have enough to do to keep myself busy, I’ve always loved to read. And I got to meet two of my favorite living authors this year! A couple of friends and I went to see Brandon Sanderson at a quasi-local bookstore signing, and I briefly got to meet Jim Butcher when he was signing books at DragonCon. (I was wearing my Belle costume at the time, and when he saw me next in line, he sang one of the lines from her intro song: “Look there she goes, that girl is so peculiar…” So that’s a fun story.) One of the friends I went to Atlanta with is a published author herself, and she introduced us to another writer friend, Diana Peterfreund. I bought two of her books and read one on the plane on the way home from Atlanta. I have yet to read the second, but I quite enjoyed the one I read, so I’m sure I’ll get to it before too long.

5. Family stuff. Being able to say I’ve been married for a year was pretty exciting for me, since I wasn’t sure I’d ever get married in the first place. And, of course, what’s been mostly occupying my brain lately is being pregnant with our first child! (And all the nausea that goes along with it, which is sadly still going on. I thought the second trimester was supposed to be better!) I’m sure this will be occupying a LOT more of my attention for 2015.

What about you? Anything exciting going on for you this year?

haven’t done this in awhile

One of my post-wedding goals that I had in mind was to try to carve out some more time for crafting. So I spent some time this past week playing around with the 30-minutes-a-day sewing thing. I managed to do so 3 out of 5 weeknights. I couldn’t sew yesterday because I spent this past week teaching the flute/oboe section at a middle school band camp held at my alma mater, and last night was the concert. I also didn’t make it to sewing Wednesday night because my best friend and I went to a performance for a Shakespeare festival that’s held here every summer.

So yes, I’ve been sewing. I’ve also been knitting. But aside from a gauge swatch, what I’m working on in both realms right now are gift projects, which means I can’t show anything yet. Suffice to say, I’m pleased with the progress so far, particularly with the sewing, since I did get a few hours of that in today.

The other craft time I’ve been attempting to work in is for my long-neglected scrapbooking. I’m keeping my target time a little easier on this one, and aiming for just 15 minutes, because it’s better than nothing. But that means I do actually have things to show for that, which I haven’t in a long time.


First of all, I finished this layout, which is from a backpacking trip that I took back in 2008. (Told you I’m behind.) This one was actually really easy to finish, because the only thing I had to add to it was the writing strips up in the left-hand corner. The rest of it had been done for some time.

(I’m pretty proud of that tag–it was recycled from some jeans I bought a few years ago, with just a little lettering added.)

IMG_0694I’m also playing around with a new-to-me scrapbooking idea. It seems these pocket-type pages are really popular right now, and I wanted a way where I could quickly throw things together to scrapbook newlywed life. Not to say that I won’t do regular layout pages again, I am definitely planning on doing some for the honeymoon pics, and possibly some of the non-professional wedding pics that our friends and family took and put on Facebook. But I think this system just might work really well for me for events that aren’t quite so picture-heavy! The cards are a great size for Instagram photos, and I like that I can decorate the cards a bit if I want to make them a little more interesting, like the card with the flower, or just slap a couple of photos and some writing on them and say I’m done. Plus, even though I did get an actual kit, I can (and am) mix in homemade cards cut from my own hoard of paper–that’s where two of the cards here came from. This page isn’t 100% done yet, I have to do some playing around with it to fit in some larger photos and see what I can do with those pockets. But it’s coming along well, I think. I mostly see these albums done online where each layout is just one week, but I don’t want to force myself into that box. So I’m just going to write down and throw in pics of whatever everyday stuff I want, and see how I do with keeping up with this thing. (And hopefully still catch up on some older layouts, too!)

Sewing Surprise!

It’s reveal day for the Sewing Surprises swap that Nova is hosting!

I received a package from the lovely Kerrilee, from Sew Exhausted. (The sewcialist that I sent to was actually her co-writer, Laurie!) My package got a bit lost in transit for awhile, but arrived just in time for reveal day, on Friday. Which was great, because the end of the week was pretty stressful and it was the perfect fun surprise to cheer me up! So here’s what was inside:
IMG_0533The package came all tied up neatly with a pretty ribbon. It was much neater than this, but then I repackaged it when I realized that I needed to take pictures–I was too excited and had torn into it right away!

There was a card with the cutest little cat sticker to seal it up.


There were two packages of wedding-related scrapbook stickers. Which is perfect, because of course I’m already plotting to make a scrapbook so I can hoard all of the candids that my friends and family make, as well as professional shots that we can’t necessarily fit into the album that comes with our package!

The latest addition to my stash of sewcialist-given chocolate. I’m still working on the first of the two bars I got from New Zealand for the stash swap (eating them verrrrry sloooooooowly so there won’t be any last minute dress-fitting panic issues!), but sea salt and dark chocolate is completely yummy, so I’ll be looking forward to this for sure.

IMG_0537And finally, there were two coordinating pieces of super-lightweight jersey, and a pattern to make them into! I’ll have to see if I can squeeze this in before the wedding, because wouldn’t this be great for a tropical getaway?

I had a lot of fun putting together my package for Laurie, and it was very exciting to see what I got in return! Thanks again, Kerrilee!

2012 in review, part 2: In which I talk numbers and stuff

Jeans 1
I know I’ve posted this picture before, but it has two of this year’s finished projects, so I thought it would be appropriate!

2012 totals:
Fabric in: a whopping 63 yards. I blame the wedding dress. And my future curtains. Also, since I’m posting this a few days before Christmas, obviously this doesn’t count anything I might receive there.
Fabric out: about 27 yards
Stash total: about 248 yards
Total number of finished projects this year: 21, if I count the dress muslin. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Garments sewn: 13, + one very time-consuming muslin. Actually, make that 2 time-consuming muslins…the jeans took awhile, too.
  • This amounts to a raincoat, 2 fully-lined corduroy jackets, 5 tops (2 of which were reconstructions), 1 skirt (also a reconstruction), 3 dresses and a pair of jeans.
  • Knitting projects completed: 3 (Doug’s hat, my Camille shrug and a scarf)
  • Other projects: a bridal shower gift, a baby shower gift, a knitting needle case and a scarf.
  • This total did not count scrapbook pages, though I did finish several. It’s just that most of them were ones I’d already started a year or two ago. And I’m too lazy right now to actually pull them out and count them.
  • The sewing project that I’m proudest of is obviously the jeans, since finishing a pair of those successfully has been on my yearly goal list probably every single year since I started this thing. The knitting project that I’m proudest of is the Camille shrug, because I think that is the most complicated pattern that I’ve followed so far, minus that sweater I mentioned earlier. And this turned out to be a really fun knit, which surprised me!
  • UFO projects from this year: I have 3 knitting projects (Doug’s scarf, the “Branching Out” handwarmers and a “Gap-tastic” cowl that I started ages ago to use up the yarn from my Cadence sweater. (I’m not counting that top that ended up getting completely frogged.) I also have a Vogue knit top that I cut out back in the spring, but set aside because it would be too warm to wear it for months and I never got back to it. And I have a pillow that I started making at a craft day at a friend’s house, which won’t take me too long to finish but the wedding stuff is higher priority now, and a patchwork skirt for my sis-in-law that I only work on when she’s around so I can make it exactly to her specifications.

Things that surprised me: 

  • I made absolutely zero jewelry all year. I guess this is making up for the year of the ill-fated craft fair/Etsy shop?
  • I barely did any reconstructing, but considering how few finished sewing projects I had, period, I guess it’s to be expected.
  • The sewing projects I did do were rather complicated and involved, for the most part. Due to this, I made a lot more muslins this year than I think I ever have. Which is definitely a factor in the next point…
  • My sewing has slowed way, way down, since I only averaged about one project a month. But I think that has the potential to change after the wedding–I’m sure it will be easier to work in creative time once we’re actually living together and therefore see each other on a more regular basis. Plus there won’t be all of that travel time between my place and his.
  • Apparently I like knitting complicated lacey patterns. See above. I also really like brainless knitting for tv-watching purposes, but that’s not a surprise.
  • A recent surprise is that I’ve really been in the mood to pick up my scrapbooking again lately. This is probably because I’ve also been thinking that should be the next major supply stash that I should sort through/pack up/move.
Anyway, that’s pretty much it for this year! In the meantime, I’m trying to push through the last week of 2 jobs for awhile, reading up on any tips and tricks that will help me actually get this dress going for real, and going through the flurry of activity that inevitably comes with Christmas! So I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very merry Christmas, and to thank you for your time spent reading and commenting on this blog–it really means a lot, especially knowing that I haven’t had a whole lot to show this year!

2012 in review, part 1: Life happened.

I know it’s not quite the end of the year yet, but since there is going to be absolutely nothing that changes anything I’d write in this post between now and New Year’s, I thought I’d just get this out of the way early. (Gives me more time during the Christmas-New Year’s week to focus on actually, you know, working on my wedding dress.)

One of my long-time favorite quotes is this one, from a John Lennon song: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” I think he hit it pretty spot-on there (even if I tend to not like his post-Beatles music). Obviously, this year did not go as planned–but in the best possible way. If you’d told me this time last year that I’d be engaged, I probably would have laughed in your face. So since I generally review the goals and plans I made at the end of the previous year in this traditional post, I’m going into this with the disclaimer that life definitely had other plans. On with the show!

Since I basically have nothing crafty to show right now, in order to avoid this being a massive text-only post, I’m breaking this into two parts. So this part is basically a review of my goals from this year, and looking ahead to the next.

Part 1: My 2012 goals, as stated here: 
1. Continue chipping away at the fabric stash. And whatever other stashes.
The verdict is: Mixed success. On the one hand, I did use up several pieces of fabric, including several that had been around for years. (The lining being the piece in the latter project.) On the other hand, I did end up purchasing several things. They’re mostly things that will get turned into curtains for the townhouse, since I haven’t really been in the habit of stashing home decor things. And, you know, yards and yards of fabric for a rather unplanned wedding dress. I’m ok with that, because like I said, these are special circumstances, and these high-yardage projects will take huge bites out of that total all at once. (After the dress, it’s back on the wagon for sure!)

As for those other stashes–I think I used up one type of yarn. I did get rid of some beads by giving them away. So that counts, right? 

2. I have a handful of specific projects I’d like to sew. #1, the jeans. It WILL happen this time. #2, a jacket or two. #3, the Lonsdale dress I’ve been envisioning for at least six months. Aside from that, I want to leave things flexible for seasonal sewalongs and the like.

Now this one I totally nailed! Exhibit A) Jeans!! Exhibit B) Two jackets (and a raincoat!). Exhibit C) Lonsdale!

I guess it’s a good thing I left that flexibility loophole in there, since I am now on month 3 of total sewing monogamy.

3. On the reconstruction end of things, I’ve had an idea simmering in my mind for a couple of months now. Since I’m already an Anthropologie fan, I’m setting a little mini-challenge for myself. Once a season, I’d like to choose a garment from the current catalog, and make a recycled piece inspired by it. Perhaps even with a tutorial, if the interest is there. (I was originally thinking once a month, but again, I’m trying to avoid over-committing myself. And once every 3 months sounds reasonable.) Also, I’d like to reconstruct often enough to stay a part of the Refashion Co-Op.

Total fail. Not only did I not do this mini-challenge at all, I got shuffled out of Refashion Co-Op months ago. Oh well.

4. Continue working on my knitting. Specifically, I’d like to make something with a cable that actually looks like a cable, something with multiple colors in the same project, and at least start that afghan that will take me years to finish.

I did not make a cable project. But I did make a striped hat.  In the most technical sense of the word, I did start the afghan one night…. I just had to rip the entire thing out because the gauge of the yarn was waaaaaay off with the size of needles that the original pattern had called for, and I haven’t gotten smaller needles with a big enough cable yet.

5. Keep chipping away at the scrapbooks as I feel inspired to.

I did finish a couple of pages here and there. So I’ll call this one a win.

6. Get better at picking projects that will help me make complete outfits. (I have a couple of orphan pieces that I still love and I want to wear them.)

I kind of feel like I haven’t really had an opportunity to test this one out, to be honest. But I do think that things like Me-Made-May and my “fashion diet” this fall and winter has made me much more aware of what holes in my wardrobe need plugging.

7. Make some more things for others. I can be a terribly selfish crafter.

And for the most part, I still am. I did make a few gift projects this year, though, and I did spend some precious sewing time resizing t-shirts for my bestie and crafting a skirt for my sis-in-law (which is nowhere remotely close to being done, since I’ve only worked on it when she’s been around.)

In 2013, I’d like to….

  1. …finish my wedding dress, obviously. Nothing like an immovable deadline and the pressure of everybody that I know being aware that I’m making it to motivate me! There’s also other handmade things planned as far as reception decor goes, so I’ll lump that in here too. 
  2. ..find a way to work craftiness in on a more daily basis. As I was preparing to write this, I was struck by how few things I’ve made this year, compared to every other year since I started this blog. I understand why, because I’ve never faced a year where I was dealing with starting a new relationship, getting engaged, starting the biggest sewing project of my entire life, and having virtually no time to sew for an entire season due to regular 6-day workweeks. But it still saddens me a bit. I know that things will get crazier right around the wedding, and I may not have time to sew or craft at all then. Aside from that, I think I’d like to try Tilly’s thought about just taking 15 minutes every day. Surely I can do that, even if it’s not necessarily sewing. (It’ll probably be way more than that for awhile, now that I’m almost done with the retail job for a few months and will be sewing like my life depends on it so I can finish as much of The One Dress as possible before that starts up again. So this is more for when I go back to more regular work.)
  3. …get my craft stuff organized. It’s pretty much a necessity, since I’m also going to be moving all of my stuff within the next 6 months. Some things, like the majority of my jewelry-making supplies, are already at my fiance’s townhouse. Thankfully, I do get an entire room, and a guy who actually thinks organizing is fun and is excited about the challenge of getting my stuff in there in a way that is both neat and functional. (He already spent hours of evening time getting all of my beads organized and consolidated into a few containers, even though I told him that if he’d wait a few days until we could hang out again, I’d help him…did I get a great guy or what?)
  4. …make the townhouse ours. It’s already started, since we’ve repainted several of the rooms, and as I just mentioned, I did move a few things there that I don’t foresee needing before the wedding. I am looking forward to having a place to decorate, and already have fabric for two rooms’ worth of curtains–as well as plans to reuse some stuff so I don’t have to make all the curtains. So yes, I’ll probably be talking decor a little more than usual, at least for a little while. Hope you all don’t mind.
  5. …still keep chipping away at those scrapbooks. Which will probably be easier after the wedding, since we’re setting up the closet in my sewing room to be a scrapbook/jewelry-making nook. Complete with a table so I can leave half-finished layouts out on it instead of putting everything away all the time!
  6. …sew a few basics–or cake, if you will–that will help tie various parts of my wardrobe together. I’m thinking specifically about some pants of the Thurlow variety, assuming that the pattern works on me, since I am in dire need of some pants that aren’t too short for me. And maybe another pair of two of jeans, since I very well may wear these jeans out within the year from constant wearing! (I already have several pieces of fabric stashed for this purpose, so I shouldn’t need to buy too much there.)
  7. …as mentioned before, get back on the stashbusting wagon. Some stash purging will definitely be in order!
  8. …IF time permits, try another mini-wardrobe. I’m thinking specifically for the honeymoon, and that I’d like to pull it together using mainly pieces that I already have in my wardrobe. If I finish the dress in enough time, making one or two things would be great. (You know, since I basically have zero pairs of shorts that fit me and we’re going somewhere tropical. Thurlow test, anyone?)
  9. On the knitting front–I started this sweater months and months ago, kept picking it up and putting it aside because it was giving me all sorts of issues, and finally just put it into complete hibernation once The One Dress came up. I know that if I can just get through this top part (enough to make sure this will look good), it will be a great learning project. So I would like to either finish this particular sweater, or find another use for that yarn that will work for me. (Either way, it would be nice to get through one sweater next year.)
  10. On the blogging front, I really would like to make some changes around here–a new blog design, if I can figure out how, and most definitely improving my photographs. I know that’s a huge weak point, and I’m hoping that having a little more space (and a better chance of having a photographer on call) will help me out there.

That seems like a lot, doesn’t it? But I do know that at least some of these things will happen out of pure necessity. I’m trying to leave these goals mostly open-ended, since I don’t really have much way of predicting what sort of effect this sort of Really Major Life Change is going to have on my crafty life!

Next part to come later this week…

A mending experiment

I made a sad discovery last Saturday morning. (I meant to post this last week, but it kind of got away from me.) As you can see from my last post, I wore a brown shirt that day. My original plan was to wear my Engagement shirt, since it was supposed to still get pretty warm that afternoon, but then I found this when I was about to put it on:

IMG_0006Holes! Four of them, right in the lower back! I’m not sure if this snagged on something in the wash or what. But this made me very sad, because I’d only worn this about twice so far!

I had other sewing plans for that morning, but I decided to try and fix this first, lest it end up sitting under my bed with holes in it for months and I forget all about it until next summer. (Now that I think about it, immediate mending is probably a better strategy for me in general.)

I’ve mended jersey knits before. The problem is, you still see it. And one of those holes is particularly large for this type–pretty close to a full 1/8″ in diameter. So I decided to try a little experiment to minimize that as much as possible.
IMG_0007I ironed a little bit of double-sided fusible onto a scrap leftover from the shirt–fortunately for me, I hadn’t emptied the trash by my sewing machine since I made it! (Incidentally, I think the problem might be with the fabric itself, because the scrap had holes too. Yikes.)

IMG_0008Invisible patch!! Then I just cut around that piece and fused it to the wrong side of the fabric over the holes.


It’s not perfect. I was afraid that just ironing the fabric on would make it fall off again the first time I watched it. So I did secure it with some hand-stitching as well. The biggest hole (all the way to the right) is still kind of obvious. But the smaller holes ended up pretty well-hidden, I think. Hopefully it will stay.

I have been doing some sewing lately, but it’s a gift project, so I can’t share it yet. I’m hoping I can finish that up in the next day or so, because I’m getting very antsy that I haven’t started The Dress yet! I also got as far as I could on said gift project on Friday night– I was having a Once Upon A Time/craft marathon with my best friend so she could get caught up before the season premiere next weekend. So I also did a little scrapbook work (trimming page protectors to allow access to pockets and the mini-albums I like to make on pages that I have a lot of photos for). And I even attempted to start knitting that afghan that I want to make, with a modification that I liked even better. The bad news is, I discovered that the needles I’d bought, which is what it called for in the pattern, are too big to make a good afghan–they’re just way too big for the yarn I ended up with. The good news is, turns out I was doing the background for the trees wrong anyway, so unraveling it wasn’t a huge loss. I guess knowing that I need to buy smaller circular needles is still progress, right?

Which leads me to the question…I’m trying to figure out what on earth I should work on when tv-watching with the fiance over the next several months, because it sure isn’t going to be The Dress. So I’ve been debating whether I should knit some simpler/smaller stuff like hats and handwarmers, or work on catching up on some scrapbook type stuff. They both have their pros and cons–knitting doesn’t need a whole lot of stuff out, but following the patterns would mean that both the shows and Doug would get less attention. Scrapbooking takes way more stuff, but writing aside, it would be more of a brainless thing, I think. (And I’m probably way more behind on that, so catching up some would be a pro….but then, I have to take the time to match a bunch of papers to my printed photos, so that’s a con.) Hmm.

April in review

I figured I’d go ahead and do this month’s writeup now–I know there’s still a day left, but honestly, I’m not going to make any progress towards anything tomorrow, between work and teaching and finally getting my car into the shop to get repaired from its fender-bender. I had to get two estimates thanks to the insurance run-around, and then I couldn’t get an appointment at the shop for well over a week after that.

On the plus side, I do get to pick up Bernadette and the unnamed serger from the shop tomorrow. (Christina suggested Sergio, which is a great idea. But I already have a friend who is somewhat “real life”, since I know her from the internet but did meet her in person once, who named her serger that, and I don’t want to steal her thunder. At the moment, I’m considering Molly, after the somewhat temperamental apprentice wizard from The Dresden Files book series.) Oh, and before I forget– turns out that the reason that Bernadette wasn’t doing so well with the newer buttonhole foot was due to the foot itself. I guess it was defective. So I have to get a new one again, but if it means I get my automatic buttonhole feature back, it’s worth it!

So, enough of that….on to the review. This month was a lot less productive than I’d hoped, due to having little to no weekend time to myself. I knew I’d have extra Sunday afternoon rehearsals since I have a concert next Sunday, but I wasn’t expecting to end up having to work a bunch of Saturdays in a row and lose my prime sewing time as a result. But I did get some stuff done. Let’s see how I did, shall we?

#1: Finish the blue corduroy jacket. Check. This also enabled me to check bagged linings on my Check the Technique.

#2: Go through the Jean-ius class that I have from Craftsy. A partial win, as I’ve only gotten through two of the videos so far. But I’m hoping that maybe I can at least start on part 3 this week and get cracking on that pattern.

#3: I’d like to get a quick project in between the jacket and the jeans. Which I did, with the convertible dress. I also cut out and have about halfway sewn the blouse for my Colette Palette Challenge, since I got stuck on the jeans. 

#4: Get my Onyx sweater sorted out so I can continue that. I did at least get an answer on Ravelry for something to try. But I honestly haven’t touched this one in about a month. Fortunately, my KAL buddy has also been busy, so I’m not holding her up.

#5: Cast on my Strafford Tee. I have done this, and have knitted about 2″ so far. See, progress!

#6: Finish putting my fabric swatches in their new notebook. Yeah, I think I did about 2 swatches this entire month. Fail.

#7: Make one scrapbook page. Now this I actually did do! Since they were very simple pages, I actually managed to get three 2-page spreads assembled. Nothing exciting design-wise, but it’s something.

I guess I did better than I thought, but on the sewing front especially, I still feel rather behind. I’m anticipating this month being similarly nuts, since I already know this weekend is shot between rehearsals/concert and having to work before the Saturday practice, I already know I’m going to lose a good chunk of Memorial Day weekend due to having to work yet again on the Saturday, and I’m very much hoping that I will be out of town (and therefore not working) for one of those weekends. (But in that case, the girls I’d be hanging out with are my crocheting buddies, so there’s a fairly decent chance I can get some knitting in between rounds of board games, and it wouldn’t be a total loss of craftiness.) So I’m going to keep things fairly simple this month. Here’s what I’m hoping to get done:

#1. Not flake out on Me-Made-May. If I have limited time to create things, I want to at least enjoy the things I’ve made already. And since I need to add some things to the Handmade Closet page on here, I am going to try to keep up with the daily photos, with the goal of posting those outfit photos a couple of times a week. (Besides, my boyfriend was excited to hear that I’ve taken on something that involves taking lots of pictures of myself that he can steal for himself later!)

On a side note, before I continue, it occurs to me that I never actually posted my pledge on here. So here it is:

I, Becky, of Sew and So, pledge to wear at least one me-made or refashioned piece of clothing a day, and aspire to wear at least one handmade accessory, for the duration of May. I also pledge to aspire to do better with taking photos this time! 

#2: Finish the three pieces of clothing for my Palette Challenge:
      a) the blouse, which as I mentioned, is about halfway done
      b) the jeans, which I need to make the pattern for and then actually make, as per the class instructions
      c) the skirt, which I’ve only started in my head about a dozen times when work gets boring, but haven’t touched in the real world.

#3: Make some visible progress on my Strafford Tee. This shouldn’t be too terribly difficult to accomplish, since I’m sure I’ll at least have some tv-watching time with my guy on our lower-key hangout nights. (Thankfully, he is completely cool with me keeping my hands busy with crafty stuff while we watch movies or hockey or tv shows. Hey, maybe I’ll do something totally crazy and finish that next step on the Onyx too! We’ll see how it goes.)

#4: Finish weeding out my wardrobe, and get the things I’m getting rid of out of here and to the thrift store so I don’t have a huge pile of laundry lurking just behind my door!

So, yeah, I’m going to just leave it at that. Hopefully once I get past the spring, which is the busiest season at a garden center, I won’t be working 6 days a week anymore and can actually get some of my personal stuff done. If nothing else, I should be able to get some Sunday afternoon craft time in there, once I get through the concert next week.