A New (Awesome) Shirt! Simplicity 2255 in Cotton + Steel Paper Bandana

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Hi, sewing friends!  It feels like forever since we’ve had a good old basic sewing post.  So that’s what we have today.  I love doing special projects and field trips and, honestly, taking a break from blogging has allowed me to build up a nice backlog of projects to share with you, but it’s also nice to get back to the normal, everyday type of sewing stuff.  A little break makes it feel more special, and it makes me excited to share things with you.

So, all that to say, I made a shirt!  And I love it!

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

The pattern I used was Simplicity 2255, which first came to life in my closet in an orange iteration last year.

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

This time I made the same view (View D) in the same size (16 at the bust, 18 at the waist and hips), but I left off the pocket, and I didn’t mess up the bias binding on the armholes!  Progress!

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

I will say that the shirt feels different in the quilting cotton I chose this time around than the voile-like mystery fabric I used last time.  I think I would like the armhole to be slightly larger, so I looked in some fitting books and, if I make this again, I’m going to try scooping out the bottom curve of the armhole just a bit, although I’m open to other suggestions if you have them.  It’s not uncomfortable exactly, but it feels a bit high and like there should be more room.  This wasn’t something I noticed in the first version.

I’d had my eye on this fabric for a long time, but what I didn’t see until my friend pointed it out, was that the pattern on this fabric almost makes a sort of plaid.  (Thanks, Maggie!)  I haven’t really delved into much pattern matching, but I decided to try to generally match the horizontal lines, and it turned out pretty well!  I’m happy with it.  I’m also really in love with the vintage buttons I used that came from my mother-in-law (Thanks, Mom!).

Simplicity 2255

I’m trying really hard to pay attention to what I most like to wear in each season and what I feel good in.  For summer, I’ve decided I like looser things so the breeze can keep me cool when I’m wearing them.  (In contrast, I find that I want to be wrapped up in blankets in the winter, hence “secret blanket clothing”.)  This shirt is definitely loose and breezy, and I feel super cool when I’m wearing it (literally and figuratively).

Here are a few detail shots.

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

So, that’s about it for this shirt!  I’ve worn it two times this week, and I washed it yesterday so I can wear it again today.  Don’t judge (or if you have to, keep it on the inside)! 😉

Simplicity 2255

How about some Recommendations?

  • When I get the chance to watch TV these days, I’ve really been enjoying Atelier, a show created by Netflix and Fuji TV about a girl just out of school (college? grad school?) who goes to work in a custom lingerie store in Tokyo.  Unlike an American show, this isn’t smutty or racy, but is a really heartwarming story about learning to take pride in making quality work and to prioritize your customers, co-workers, and friends above your bottom line.
  • Hila’s blue dress over on Saturday Night Stitch is so cute.  I love it!  She copied a ready-to-wear dress, and I’d say she nailed it.
  • Allie J. interviews Deborah Kreiling of Simplicity, and they talk all about Simplicity’s vintage rereleases.  It’s really fascinating to get an inside look at Simplicity’s process.
  • And because I try to share the new things I find with you, I bring you an Olympic sport I missed the first time around:  ballet skiing.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide if the world is better or worse without this in the Olympics.

The Refashioners 2016

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It’s finally time to talk about The Refashioners 2016!

Refashioners 2016

I’ve been waiting a long time to share my #jeanius project with you.

The Refashioners is a challenge created by Portia Lawrie of Makery that showcases creative ways to refashion whatever the chosen garment for that year’s challenge is.  If you’ve been following along, you already know that this year’s garment of choice is jeans (#jeanius!).  Check out what I made!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

I’ve written about my creative process over on Makery, but if you want more details on working with the particular pattern I chose, Vogue 8750, you’ve come to the right place.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

As soon as Portia sent us our brief for this year’s Refashioners challenge, the gears in my mind started turning.  My local big box fabric store was having a pattern sale, so I went down there with notebook and pencil in hand, sat down in front of the big pattern catalogue books, and started making list.  Lists and lists of patterns that I might be able to create out of different pairs of jeans.  I decided to look for something that had multiple narrow pieces so I could cut them out of jeans legs.  I finally settled on Vogue 8750, a skirt pattern.  I chose View A, which is the shorter (but not actually short) pencil skirt.  This looked like it had a lot of possibility for color-blocking, and I was hoping to find some super-cool denim at my local thrift store.

With the help of a pattern and all the inspiration on my then-secret Denim Pinterest board, I went to my thrift store looking to find some railroad denim or…something inspiring. (I have a little railroad denim obsession at the moment).  No railroad denim.  But I did find…THIS!  Yellow denim, white, denim with hearts, and my own older pairs of dark blue.  Now it was all coming together!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Last year’s Refashioner’s contest helped me make a move up from beginner to intermediate sewist. However, still not being super experienced, I don’t always make a muslin.  (Who am I kidding?  I skip it whenever I can.)  I know…I know…  It’s helpful, and I’m moving in that direction, but I’m not there for every project.  I actually DID make a practice garment for this one, though.  I made two, even!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The first showed me that I needed to size down.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

A lot of people say they find this with Big 4 sewing patterns–I typically don’t, but in this case it was necessary, so it’s a good thing I made a muslin.  I used the second muslin to try lowering where the skirt sat on my hips and practice putting it all together a bit more.  The pattern tells you to ease the top of the skirt to the ribbon facing, but I had a lot of trouble with this and didn’t really want the skirt up at my natural waist.  I found that skipping the easing and just cutting a ribbon to match the top of the skirt solved both problems.

Muslins can also be a great way to procrastinate on cutting into your final fabric while appearing busy.  ;)  I finally got up my courage, though, and found that I could easily fit my pattern pieces onto the jeans I had chosen (large men’s jeans for the white and yellow).  I tried out using one pair of children’s jeans for my middle panel, but had to backtrack when I saw that it just didn’t work.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The thing I wish I had done (and I’m still not sure how or why I didn’t after two practice garments) was think about how and when I was going to finish my seams.  I realized part way into my final draft that I really wanted to bind the edges of the seams with bias tape.  This is something best done as you go along and before you join various parts.  You can see a few places where my bias binding doesn’t go all the way to the edge of the seam.  Lesson learned.  I actually contemplated starting over when I realized that (plus, I was getting pretty good at making this pattern after a couple of versions), but it seemed to defeat the purpose of refashioning to throw an otherwise good garment-in-the-making out because of one little detail.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The other interesting thing I discovered was that sometimes, in matching up seamlines (namely on the sides), it wasn’t about moving the pieces up or down to get them to match, but making the seam allowances the correct width for them to match. One of my sides matched immediately, and the other took several passes through the machine, taking the side in millimeter by millimeter in order to get it to match.  The skirt in-progress looked messy and crazy, but as I got things lined up, trimmed and bound my seams, and finished edges, it came together into something that looked polished.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

When I finally finished, I had a thing of beauty.  It’s certainly not perfect, but I’m proud of it.  I think the best compliment I got was when I was in Rockport, Massachusetts shooting pictures, and I stopped in an art gallery.  Rockport is famous for its artists, and one of the artists in the gallery complimented me on my outfit.  When a person who spends their life looking for beauty compliments you on your outfit, you know you’ve done something right! 😉

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

My favorite thing about this challenge is that it makes me think like an artist. You get your parameters, but within them you have freedom.  How far can you push it?  What will you do to make your garment distinctive?  Will it be simple and sleek or heavily embellished?  This is what I talk about in more depth in my post on the Makery blog.  If you haven’t already, I hope you check it out and look through all the other posts as well to get some inspiration.  What do you think?  Will you be diving in?  There’s a pretty tempting prize package!

Last, but never least, thank you to my photographers–my husband Scott and my friend Colleen.  I appreciate your help SO MUCH!

Field Trip: Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

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Hi, everyone!  I hope you had a good July.  It’s been good to have a blogging break, and it’s good to be back.  Despite my break from blogging, I haven’t taken much of a break from sewing…except for during the road trip we took out to the Midwest.  We visited family and friends in Michigan, which was really nice.  My Mom is a long-time quilter (and an apparel sewer before that), and we often make the rounds of the fabric stores where she lives.  We didn’t have quite as much time to do that this time, so instead, she took me on a little field trip to learn about Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana, where she has been helping out as a quilting mentor.  I thought I would share our trip with you.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved is located in downtown South Bend.  Here is what they say about themselves:  “Sew Loved welcomes all women to our Center.  Our mission is to teach sewing and quilting to underserved women and teen girls in the South Bend, IN area.  We provide a positive ‘hands on’ program for women to learn and practice a variety of life-enhancing skills, nurturing each woman’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Our sewing, quilting and other programs are offered free of charge.”

I had an opportunity to meet Vicki Miles, the director, as well as a few of the ladies who were at work organizing supplies or working on quilts.  Sew Loved is a nonprofit organization that uses sewing to empower women, teach new skills, and form community through sewing.  I was really impressed by Vicki’s dedication to the organization as well as how deeply she had thought through the best ways to serve the women who participate.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

It was really fun to see the new space they had just moved into.  They are still organizing and sorting through donations, but what organizing they have had a chance to do is really impressive!

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

I got to look around at all the quilts, including several from “ugly fabric” challenges, and talk with Linda, a woman who has 30 years of apparel sewing experience, but has recently fallen in love with quilting (you can be sure I took the opportunity to ask her all my apparel questions!).

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

(The two quilts below are from the “ugly fabric” challenge, where two participants used the same fabrics that they thought were ugly to make two completely different quilts.)

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Linda also showed me their mid-arm quilting machine, which was really cool and something I hadn’t seen before, as well as the new lighting system that one of the ladies’ husbands had installed.  It’s amazing what a big difference a simple change like good lighting can make!

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Linda had made a number of the quilts hanging on the walls.  She also showed us some of the quilt tops she had recently finished, which were amazing.  When you talk with Linda about quilts, you hear an artist talking back to you.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

I also met Janet who finished her very first quilt while we were there!  The women in the program make a table topper they can keep as their first project, followed by two quilts for donation.  The fourth project is a quilt of any size that they can keep if they choose to.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

It was heartwarming to see some of the fabric donations, many sent by husbands whose fabric-loving wives had passed away.  Many people had spent large amounts of time organizing and systematizing all the donations so quilters could easily find what they were looking for to achieve their creative visions.

Next year Sew Loved will be partnering with The Crossing School for at-risk youth to teach a sewing class for girls, and they are currently writing a grant in the hopes of getting enough matching machines so that everyone will be on the same page equipment-wise. (UPDATE:  Since I began writing this, they have met their funding goal for these machines, thanks to donors and generous discounts from the company they are buying the machines from!)

My Mom (who is also a mentor at Sew Loved) showed me the Christmas Trees that they make as a fundraiser for the organization.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved sells the trees at various craft fairs and other events as a way to raise money for the organization.  These ones have been assembled but are still waiting to be decorated.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

All equipment and supplies at Sew Loved are free for participants to use, which translates into a lot of hard work for Vicki tracking down donations and supplies.  She definitely seems up to the task, however.  I got the impression that Vicki was a force to be reckoned with in the best possible way–the way that means she is fiercely loyal and devoted to the ladies she works with and the organization as a whole.  She also has some seriously amazing quilting skills!  She showed me some of her quilts in progress…and they were mind-blowing!  Clearly, she knows her stuff.

Despite my trip to the Midwest being light on fabric shopping (only a visit to Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI), this trip to Sew Loved helped prevent any sewing withdrawal I was in danger of.  ;)  If you find yourself cleaning out your fabric stash or sewing supplies, and want to make a donation, they accept 100% cotton quilting fabrics (fat quarter size or larger), Christmas fabrics for their annual fund-raising project, sewing machines in working order, sewing/quilting tools, or monetary (tax-deductible) donations for overhead expenses.  If you happen to be in the area, you can get involved as a participant in their sessions or as a sewing mentor and friend.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Here is all the contact info:

Sew Loved

Women’s Center

103 W Wayne St., Suite 400

South Bend, IN 46601

 

Mailing address:

1320 De Luna Way

South Bend, IN 46614

 

Website:  www.sew-loved.org

Facebook:  facebook.com/sewlovedinc

Vicki Miles, Director:  vicki@sew-loved.org

Phone number:  574-329-2639

Vacation! And a Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

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Hey, friends!  Happy July!  I can’t believe it’s July already.  I feel like summer is just starting.  I’m going to take the rest of the month of July off from blogging (although you can still find me on Instagram @lisa.poblenz).  I’m coming off a number of complicated sewing projects (Refashioners 2016–which you’ll get to see in the not-too-distant future, bathing suit sewing, jeans, etc.), and it’s time to regroup, create some new garments, and do family stuff.  I don’t know about you, but when I finish a big batch of projects, I feel a little discombobulated for a while until I figure out what direction I’m going to pursue next and get going down that road.

I finished one wonderfully quick project on Wednesday, however–a Deer and Doe Datura Blouse.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

I’m finding that while I am most drawn to bright colors and fun prints, I need a few neutral garments to wear with the fun and crazy stuff.  So, to test out this pattern, I chose the most basic view and made it up in a white linen-look fabric from Joann’s that I’ve had forever, and a khaki linen that a good friend gave me.  I also took the opportunity to use some vintage buttons from my mother-in-law.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Before beginning, I measured myself to see how high the dart should sit on my body and then checked it on the flat pattern.  It seemed perfect, so other than grading up a size for the waist and hip, I used the pattern as it was.  There were a few tricky parts, mainly having to do with sewing together the shoulders, but once I weathered those, it was a quick sew.  (I used Part 1 of this sew-along to help me out, in case you are considering making this top as well.)  The only potential issue is that the neckline seems to gape just a bit, but I’m going to wash and wear the shirt a few times before I decide if I need to deal with that in any future versions.  They’ve updated the pattern since I bought this one, so maybe they fixed that.  I’m not sure.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

(Thanks to my Instagram Husband for taking these pictures of me!)

Expect future versions of this, though.  I want to try the one with the triangle cutouts next…and in crazy fabric.  One neutral garment at a time is about all I can handle! 😉

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Do you ever wish you could sew at super speed?  I’ve never really had a handle on my summer wardrobe, but after sewing for a few years, and thinking seriously about what I actually wear (rather than just what I like to look at in fashion, which are often two very different things), I think I’m getting closer to the essence of how I like to dress in summer.  And now I want to sew it all up!!!!  I’ve been stocking up on fabric, but I can’t yet sew at lighting speed or fit garments to myself with shocking perfection.  Alas, my reach exceeds my grasp (but I think they are getting closer!).  Ah, sewing problems!  Ha!

Well, have a great July.  I look forward to more writing and talking with you in August.  We’ll find out then if I spent my time sewing or not! 😉

Recommendations

  • This Piped Floral Shirt Dress from Making It Well is amazing.  I’ll have to pick up some tips from Jo when I finally dive into the wonderful world of shirt dresses.
  • I just have to recommend The Great British Sewing Bee.  As much as I love Project Runway, sometimes it’s just so…ruthless!  The GBSB has a much kinder tone as well as an educational one.  I’ve only watched Season/Series 1 in its entirety, but Series 4 is on now!  You can look at the show’s website here.
  • If you are in the greater Boston area, I highly recommend the magazine edibleBOSTON.  If you aren’t in greater Boston, you may have an edible magazine covering an area near you.  edibleBOSTON is a fun way to learn about farmers, restaurants, small batch food makers, and other foodie things in your locale.  Magazines are free from subscribing businesses and come out quarterly.  You can also read issues online.
  • Aaannnddd…..we’re TOTALLY making this spaghetti and meatballs recipe this summer!

Bathing Suit Finished!

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It happened!  I finished my bathing suit and…I think it works!

Bathing Suit Finished!

When we last met here, I had finished the bottom, but not the top.  During this week, I worked on joining up all the pieces and adding elastic to the neckhole and armholes.  That last bit wasn’t a part of the pattern, but I really like the look it provides, and I was hoping to solve a few problems with it.

Bathing Suit Finished!

There was a small part on the front neckline where I didn’t catch my outer fabric very well when I was sewing all the layers together.  There was no invisible way (that I could think of) to fix that.  Even using clear thread, it would have been visible.

I also wanted to stabilize those openings and give them more support so that they would be stronger and hopefully not gape when wet.

Finally, I was hoping the edging would magically tighten and take in the little bit of excess under the arms.  So…that didn’t happen (which I expected, but you always hope for that happy accident!), but I’m more optimistic about the other things.

When I began to apply the elastic, I realized it was a make-or-break moment.  The suit would either be much better for the addition or it would be ruined.  I bet on the side of better and went for it.

It worked!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Bathing Suit Finished!

After letting go of my perfectionism, I ended up with a swimsuit that isn’t perfect, but is actually finished and is, I think, a wearable first draft.  I’ve tested it briefly.  Now to see how it does over a whole day at the beach.

If you happen to be working on your own bathing suit and want to try applying elastic like I did, check out this tutorial on the Kadiddlehopper blog.  I used the advice here on both the stitched and turned elastic for my leg holes as well as the bound edges in the top.  I actually have this blog post printed out and saved in a binder so I don’t lose it!

As for the few other details on this suit, here they are:  I fully lined both the front and back of the top and bottom.  I also used powermesh from the Imagine Gnats shop as the lining fabric in the built-in bra of the top.  I have nothing but good to say about buying from there–super fast shipping and great service.  All my elastic was 3/8″ swimwear elastic, and I used wooly nylon thread in my bobbin, with 100% polyester Güttermann thread in the top.  I used a walking foot, plus a stretch needle and Jalie’s method (found in the pattern) of sewing a long zigzag stitch first (width: 4.5, length: 0.5) and then going back and doing a straight stitch while stretching the fabric slightly (length: 2.5) at the actual seamline.  For pattern and fabric details, see my first post on this swimsuit.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Bathing Suit Finished!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me!  It means so much, and it really helped me finish well.  My neighbor’s mom, who I just love and who is an amazing seamstress herself, is now convinced that I can sew anything.  Little by little, right?

Here’s some fun for your weekend.

Recommendations:

  • I have really been loving the Instagram feed of @suzyquilts.  There is something about her bright and beautiful pictures and her patterns…and I don’t even quilt!  (Well, I do have a quilt that’s been in-progress since 2008, but I’m talking quilting as a regular practice.)  I love the stripes she uses in her Kris Kross quilt.  Tempting…  You can also find her website here.
  • If you like the crop top look, but not the idea of baring your midriff, Allie J. will show you how to “make your own (fake) crop top” in this tutorial.
  • We like thinking games in our house, and one of the games we play on the iPad is Monument Valley.  They bill it as “an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness”.  It feels a little bit like trying to figure out an M.C. Escher visual puzzle with calming, completely non-scary background music.  Good for any age.
  • Explore.org has links to lots of wildlife cameras.  It’s pretty cool that you can see African wildlife, ospreys in Maine, or pandas in China any time you want.

Bathing Suit Progress…and a Breakthrough

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I think it’s time for a progress report.

Making bathing suits (year three)

But first, how about some mental anguish?  ;)  As I was procrastinating and freaking out about this project, I had a breakthrough that now seems completely obvious (funny how that happens sometimes).

I expect to create the perfect suit.

Despite the fact that I rarely allow myself to be a perfectionist in my sewing, despite the fact that I understand that skills take time to build and ‘finished is better than perfectly unfinished’, I’m putting a perfectionist’s pressure on myself with this project.  Of course I’m procrastinating and freaking out!  That’s completely unrealistic!  I may have made suits before, but it takes time (and considerably more practice) to become skillful.

I guess it just goes to show that perfectionism can sneak up on anyone.

Once I realized this, I decided it was time to chill out.  So, I put on some surfing to distract me and psych me up to sew bathing suits and got going.  Now we can talk progress.

This is year three of attempting to create a bathing suit that I love.  The last two years have (sadly) been fails.  Year one was a pretty spectacular fail due to my not clueing in to some very awful print placement, forgetting to add in the necessary internal support, and the fact that it came out too big.  That suit just got cut up to become bottoms.

Making bathing suits (year three)

Making bathing suits (year three)

In year two I made every iteration of the Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns.

Soma Swimsuit Test Suits

I wanted to practice and then hopefully create a tankini by hacking my favorite bikini view.  Unfortunately, I have no practice constructing bras, so I couldn’t create the desired support well.  I wore the tankini once, but by the end of the day, the structural elements started to come out of their places, so…no good.  I also decided I wanted bottoms that offered fuller coverage.

Soma Swimsuit Hack by Pattern and Branch

So here we are at year three.  I finally found a fabric that I completely love at the Fabric Fairy (she has a lot of excellent swimsuit prints), but I can’t find a tankini pattern that I’m really excited about.

Making bathing suits (year three)

I’m using the bottoms of the Jalie tankini (#3023), but I’m not jazzed about the top.  It’s good, but I wanted something a little different.  So my solution (which I realize may lead me to another fail) is to use lisette/Butterick 6295, a work-out top that I really like, and to add extra elastic to the neck and arms.

Making bathing suits (year three)

Here’s where I am as of Wednesday evening:

Making bathing suits (year three)

After putting so much time and energy into searching for a pattern I love, I’ve decided that this is what I really want:

I want a pattern designer to create a tankini pattern that has interesting details to set it apart from the crowd, offers full bottom coverage and the option for internal support up top (in the form of underwires).  I think you could (please!) also include a sports bra pattern as another view with the same optional underwire support and cool details.  That would make me so happy.  Jalie?  Fehr Trade?  Closet Case Files?  Someone?  Please?

Until then, I’m working away at this as well as several bathing suit experiments that will not be for me.  After this, I just want to make something easy for myself.  I want to return to my selfish, simple, sewing ways.  Well…until I find the next exciting challenge.

Recommendations:

  • I’ve mentioned how much I like the podcast Thread Cult and I’ve also mentioned the 3-D printing company Nervous System.  Guess what?  In episode #40, Christine interviews one of the founders of Nervous System about 3-D printed clothing, and it is FASCINATING.  The dress Nervous System made is a thing of beauty (and wonder!).
  • It’s been so much fun to discover new artists via Instagram.  One of my current favorites is Anisa Makhoul (@anisamakhoul on Instagram).  I love her saturated colors and cool style.
  • Watching surfing movies has helped me make it through the last few winters, but now it’s bleeding into other parts of life as well.  I’ve decided it’s my new figure skating–fun to watch when doing projects (as I mentioned above–good for when you are sewing bathing suits!).  If you want to start down the surfing rabbit hole, let me enable you.  The World Surf League app, which is free, lets you watch surfing live when events are on (or you can go to their website).  I follow them on Instagram (@wsl) so I always know when an event is happening.  My favorite is when I can watch the women surf.
  • I have to dedicate this video to my husband’s family.  I think they played this song a lot when he was growing up, but I doubt they did it like this.

The Sewcial Sew, The Refashioners 2016, and Me-Made-May 2016 (Whew!)

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Hey, friends!  It’s time to get back to some sewing!  A lot has been going on in the sewing arena over here, and I wanted to share some exciting places my blog has been popping up as well as give you a quick progress report.

In May I linked up my jeans post with Allie J.’s blog for her Sewcial Sew:  Basics challenge.

Every month she puts out a challenge, and if you sew something within the month that fits the theme, you can put a link to your blog post on the page.  At the end of the month, she posts a round-up of all the links.  It’s a great way to discover new blogs and it’s really fun to look at everyone’s projects.  As Allie says, the theme is general enough to allow a lot of latitude, but should give you some guidance if you aren’t sure what to sew next.  This was my first time joining in, and I really enjoyed it (plus, Allie said some very kind things about my jeans, so that doesn’t hurt!).  Thanks, Allie!

The June 1st blog post over at the Makery revealed the blogger line-up for this year’s Refashioners 2016 challenge…and guess who’s on the list?  Me!  I’m so honored to be included in this group.

Refashioners 2016

The Refashioners challenge is a chance to take a specific type of garment and refashion it into something entirely new.  Creating clothing in this way is really fun.  It takes a lot of thought to decide how to refashion the item(s) you are working with, but the end results of everyone’s creativity is truly fabulous.  Last year’s theme was men’s dress shirts and I made a lined jacket from four shirts for the competition.

The Refashioners Challenge 2015

(You can read about my entry here.)

This year’s theme is jeans.  You can use one pair or you can use ten!  What do you think?  Are you game?  If you want more details, either about the blogger series or the competition that follows, check out Portia’s blog.  There’s plenty of inspiration on my Denim Pinterest board if you need a little help getting started.

For extra reading on the idea of refashioning, you can also find Portia and fellow participant Marilla Walker in this Seamwork article.

Last but not least on the sewing challenge front was Me-Made-May ’16.  I made my pledge to wear at least one me-made article of clothing daily, wear two me-made clothing items in the same day at least once a week, and not to repeat items within a week.  I also decided I wasn’t going to make a big effort to take daily outfit photos this year since that was a lot of work last year.  I took some quick and easy photos here and there for Instagram, but that was it.

Me-Made-May 2016

So how did it go?  I would say it went well.  I decided pretty quickly that I was going to throw the no-repeats-within-a-week restriction out the window.  It wasn’t because I didn’t have enough clothing that I had made, but because sometimes I loved an item so much that I wanted to wear it multiple times in a week.  I was amazed at how much easier it was to do the challenge this year over last year.  A full year’s worth of sewing has really filled a lot of holes in my wardrobe and/or replaced garments that didn’t fit as well and that I didn’t love as much as those I’ve made.  It’s a great feeling to see that accumulation of skill and accomplishment.

While it may seem like I haven’t been doing much actual sewing lately, the opposite is true.  In addition to working on my Refashioners project behind the scenes, I’ve been gearing up to face down one of the (many) areas of sewing that I have yet to successfully master:  swimsuits!  I am deep in the trenches of swimsuit making.

Making bathing suits (year three)

Cut out bathing suits, jeans remnants, and mending are piled everywhere!

I had a whole long section in this post giving you an update on where I’m at with all that, but I decided to cut it and save it for another post.  This one is getting long, so let’s wrap it up with some fun recommendations instead!

Recommendations

  • If you want to try your hand at making a bathing suit, you might like to look at the many suits featured on the Curvy Sewing Collective’s Curvy Swimsuit Sewing Pattern Round-Up.  There were several pattern companies they featured that I wasn’t familiar with.
  • Are you mourning the death of David Bowie?  Do you like puppets of the Jim Henson type?  How about Jennifer Connelly?  If any (or all) of these apply to you, may I humbly recommend a blast from the past?  I put before you the movie The Labyrinth.  I didn’t listen to David Bowie’s music, but I LOVED him in The Labyrinth.  It’s still one of my favorite movies.
  • My favorite book growing up (starting sometime in elementary/middle school) was Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  I knew I had finally found the perfect iteration of this story when I saw the edition illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.  His illustrations capture the essence and feel of the story better than any others I’ve seen.
  • I think I need to start using this method to cook my shrimp.

Do you think it will work on chicken?

Outside in May

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Spring!  Fickle, right?  And doesn’t that just make us love it all the more?  One day it’s nice and warm, and the next it’s cold and dreary.

As hard as that is, I think it makes us love those gorgeous days more vehemently.  And all the flowers!  We checked our lilac bush every day until it opened, and now we smell it each time we walk past.

I hope you enjoy these spring pictures–flowers and non-flowers alike.

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Outside in May

Here’s one more that my husband took of me when we were out on a walk.  Just prepping for this post! 😉

Outside in May

See you next week (hopefully with some sewing to discuss–it’s been too long!)!

The Brimfield Report: May 2016

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It’s Brimfield time again!  I love Brimfield!  What is it?  The Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, MA is the largest outdoor antique market in the United States.  It happens three times a year in May, July, and September from a Tuesday to a Sunday.  Usually my wonderful husband takes a day off to watch the kids so I can get up long before the crack of dawn to head out there for a full day of antiquing.  I love it!

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Unlike some people who go to Brimfield, I’m not a serious collector of anything.  I keep a list throughout the year of antiques I’d love to find, but I’m usually looking for things that are maybe mid-century, on the smaller side, and something I can use.  I save up Christmas and other money, but I don’t think I’ve ever spent it all.  I love to look at everything, hunt for treasures and gifts, and get lessons in both history and the psychology of Brimfield.  It’s never dull.  I walk all day, and then I enjoy some good food.

This year, for the first time, one of my friends was a vendor.  Laurel’s business is called Retromat Vintage and she sells vintage clothing as well as other things that are interesting and cool.  Here a just a few pictures of some of her goods.

Brimfield Antique Show

I vote for bringing gloves back.

Brimfield Antique Show

Or how about hats?

I got the chance to work for her for about 20 or 30 minutes and, despite my nervousness, it went well.  She gave me some sewing goodies that I wanted in return…and a lobster roll.

Brimfield Antique Show

I felt richly rewarded for my minimal work!  Thanks, Laurel!  Laurel also gave me this Necchi-Elna catalogue, which was fun to look through since I have a much-loved Elna.  I had no idea they were one company at some point.

Brimfield Antique Show

The pattern was a freebie from another vendor.  It has no instructions, but I’m working on tracking those down…

I also got to see my friend Maggie from my favorite fabric store in NH, and we had some fun checking out the vintage sewing goodies.

My strategy this time, since I wanted to be available to Laurel if she needed me, was to hit my favorite fields first, and then walk through whatever other fields I could get to.  All the fields have interesting names.  Because I love to delve into whatever I am really interested in, I started a notebook to record favorite fields (currently New England Motel, Quaker Acres, and The Meadows), notes to remember, etc.  Inside I have directions to Brimfield, a page for each field with notes, general notes about where I like to park (in the middle), and my wish lists for the current year and years past.

Also included are a few Bingo lists I’ve made.  My husband creative Brimfield Bingo when we went together one year:  think of the craziest things you can (because you never know what you might find at Brimfield), and then check them off if/when you find them.  While I didn’t play Bingo this year, here are a few of the weirder things I saw:

Brimfield Antique Show

In case you lose an eye…

Brimfield Antique Show

or become a cook in a giant’s kitchen.

My notebook started to get so full of vendor cards, that Scott got me a little accordion file so I can keep track of which vendors are in which fields.  Yes.  We ARE cool.

Brimfield Antique Show

Want to see what else I got?

Brimfield Antique Show

Owl scissors!  At $2 apiece, I wish I had bought a bunch more for gifts.  Maybe next time.

Brimfield Antique Show

A sleeve board for pressing sleeves.  Don’t worry–I’ll clean it up before using it on my sewing projects.

I also got some fun jewelry:

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

And I got some gifts, some of which have to remain secret, but here’s one that doesn’t:

Brimfield Antique Show

And finally, here are some pictures of things I saw as I walked around.

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

A Singer Featherweight sewing machine complete with case!

Brimfield Antique Show

Not everything is antique–some things are upcycled from antiques or are handmade goods like these jeans or supplies for making other things like the yarn below.

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

It was a great Brimfield, I have to say.  I had a lot of fun looking for treasures and hanging out with Maggie and Laurel.  If you’ve gone to Brimfield, I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips, or favorites.

For posts on Brimfields past, see these links:  2014 and 2015.