Sunday, December 30, 2012

Weekend Happenings

The cats are settling into their new home quite nicely!  Even though they're both misbehaving on a daily basis.

Their favorite rooms are my sewing room and Nick's office.  Eleanor prefers the office because there's a bed; Puddin' has made himself a bed in my sewing room closet with an extra blanket.

He also apparently likes the ironing board!

Remember when I mentioned wanting a new machine and how it probably won't happen?


They were on sale!

I bought a new Bernina 550 QE!  It was $1000 off retail, with all sorts of perks thrown in.  I'd like to thank Lauren for inspiring this very large, unexpected purchase.

Finally, I'll have an item in the online Handmade for Newtown auction, held in mid-January.  If you head to Squaring Up tomorrow, you can see more details about my quilt.  I'll have more information about the entire auction soon!

handmade for newtown button

Adios folks!  Happy New Year's Eve tomorrow!

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Beginnings

It's really funny to me how blogs are such a big deal in my life.  I read them every morning and night, I make friends through them, and I write for them.  It's this little space on the internet but it weighs pretty heavily on me, in both good ways and bad.

For the past month or so, I haven't felt connected to Lemony Fresh anymore.  It seemed too cutesy for me, and I didn't know that the title was something I wanted connected to my name anymore.  Emily Sposetta, author of Lemony Fresh...yeah.  I just don't associate that with my sewing, my crafting, or even my life.

I talked with Nick about this for, like, two hours.  I needed a new blog name.  I'm not good with names, though.  I was terrible with paper titles in college and I'm pretty bad at blog titles too.  Nick suggested names having to do with Charlotte, the Queen City.  I loved Queen City Craft, but there's a craft show in Vermont with the same name, and they already own the URL.  I also liked Queen City Stitch, but it sounded more like a command than a description.

Finally, I decided on Queen City Stitcher.  We live here now, and plan on living here until we retire, at the earliest.  We really love Charlotte, even though we've been residents for only a month (and not at all in the eyes of the DMV--that'll come in the new year, I guess), and I need to adopt my new city as I didn't my old city.

I'm hoping the new name and look help with some inspiration.  As I said in my last post, I'm ready to look at other aspects of my life than sewing.  We're new here, and it'll be fun to explore the city and document more than what I wore that was handmade.  2013 is going to be a really fresh, new year, in a new city and a new marital status.  My blog, as little as it may seem, needs to reflect that.

So long story short, I spend way too much time thinking about my blog.  But I hope you'll stick around while I figure this chapter out.  Thanks for being there so far!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


How was everyone’s holiday?  Ours was so quiet, it made me miss the craziness I usually can’t stand.  We did visit my parents in Beaufort the weekend before Christmas, but we didn’t exchange gifts (my parents bought everyone something, and we did stockings) and we were back to work Monday and Wednesday mornings.  As great as no presents sounds, because it’s no-pressure/cheap!, it was boring.  I saw all the pictures of people getting and giving gifts and felt so left out.  Hopefully next year will be back to normal.

Now that Christmas is over, I can think about resolutions.  As you probably remember, last year I created a list of to-dos, a list that changed frequently but always hovered around 35 projects.  (The final count was 29, after being honest with myself about time and money.)  Out of these final 29, I completed 23, as well as over 35 projects not on the official list.  I’m not going to do a retrospective here, because I think the small group who read my blog have seen the projects they want to see and skipped the projects they don’t. 

However, I will say that I loved this project.  Loved it.  I work really well with boundaries and specifics, and until things went off the rails in late spring, branching out to embroidery and eventually quilts, I would pretty much only sew patterns on my list.  I got a lot done fairly quickly, and learned with each project.  I’ve conquered the front fly!  I realized I hate making shorts!  My invisible zippers have become less visible and my buttonholer is well-worn. 

Before we moved, I started thinking, “I really need to gather the 2013 patterns soon.”  Because this year went so well, and because I had a few left over I still wanted to make, I just figured I’d continue this tradition.  But then I realized that my blog had slowly become a checklist.  I was only updating to say “look what I finished!” and ignoring the rest of my life.  I don’t like that.  While I don’t have a super interesting life, I do other things than sit at my sewing machine until it’s time to go to bed.  For readers who don’t sew, those other things might be interesting.  Nick then suggested I make a resolution list of places to eat in our new town.  I considered this for a day or so, and looking back, it would’ve been really easy: we’ve lived here for a month and have already crossed four places off our list.  But that’s cheating, right?

So I guess I’ll just be sincere and actually make resolutions this year.  Not only will it give me something besides sewing to talk about (which is really difficult for me sometimes) but maybe I’ll actually be held accountable for this if I have to report my experiences on my blog. 

Without further delay, here are my plans:

Comment more on blogs and Instagram
I find that I’m very introverted when it comes to this sewing and crafting community.  While I feel very connected to so many women I’ve never met, I don’t ever make an effort to even tell them good job or just say hi or whatever.  It’s no wonder I don’t have a ton of feedback on my posts.  (Blogging, to me, is a sort of karmic experience, and yes, I’m a total asshole for saying that.)  I worry about looking dumb, and I need to banish that.  Blogs exist, for the most part, for feedback: we put it out in order to get something back.  I need to stop being insecure and just say hi.

Buy the nice fabric—Nani Iro, Tana Lawn, silk—while I can afford it.
Not everything can be unrelated to sewing.  I’ve been admiring Liberty and Nani Iro since I started sewing, and still don’t own any of it.  It’s pricy, definitely; living in D.C., making tiny amounts of money, it just wasn’t going to happen.  But now that we’ve changed our lives and lifestyles, I feel like I can splurge a bit and buy a few nice cuts this year.  As much as I’d love to make all my clothing from these fibers, that’s just crazy, so I have to have a sane medium.  I don’t sew with polyester, and try to buy the best I can afford—and because I don’t have kids or large obligations, I can afford these.

Date night once a month, at least.
I know I’ve talked about this in the past.  Nick and I are homebodies and get very comfortable very quickly.  Saturday nights are usually spent sewing (me) and playing video games (Nick), not going out or treating ourselves.  While there’s a certain level of comfort needed to be in a stable relationship, I do want to employ my nice tights and my fun skirts and actually do something with Nick.  I’m very excited to try new restaurants in Charlotte with him, and maybe even expand this to day-dates?  There are plenty of museums, parks, and breakfast spots around here, and I don’t want to limit us.

Invest in sheets, art, and perhaps a new sewing machine?
God, that would be amazing.  I really dislike my sewing machine and would love to buy a Bernina.  Will that happen?  I don’t know.  Anyway, we desperately need new sheets for our bed.  Ours are very worn (because they’re my favorite) and we lost a set in the move somehow.  I don’t need Irish linen or anything fancy, but it’s been two years since I’ve bought sheets, and about four years since I bought our duvet.  It’s time!  I also want to buy art from Etsy for the house, now that I’m intent on making it a home.  Unlike our Maryland apartment, we like where we live, and I want to make it seem like it.

Try to give more of a shit about your wedding.
Because I honestly could not care less.  We have a date, a photographer, and each other.  Nick wants our parents and Jake and Kali there, which is too much for me, but besides that, I don’t care.  I don’t care about a dress, shoes, flowers, hotel, or anything.  That’s bad!  I shouldn’t feel like this!  I don’t want to turn this into a wedding blog—ew—but I should probably try to put some effort into this.

Visit new and old places.
Living in Charlotte, and being close to family, means more day trips and not saving all of our time off for Christmas.  I fully intend on using it this year!  We’re getting married in Asheville, so that’s a given trip right there, but I want to go back to Charleston and Savannah, and also visit Winston-Salem, Spartanburg, Athens, and maybe other places!

Demolish all credit card debt!
I don’t want to go into specifics, but I don’t have a ton of credit card debt.  However, I hate paying those bills, and I know if we want to buy a house in a couple years, it needs to be low or gone.  I’ve paid off two cards in the past year, and need to pay off the other two in 2013.

Paint those damn Ikea frames already.
I bought really cheap frames in February 2011, with the intention to either paint or cover them in fabric.  Then I bought cute greeting cards to put in them and hang up.  Last December I bought lots of Martha Stewart craft paint to paint them.  And they’ve been sitting in a shopping bag ever since.  I need to paint them, hang them, and buy more!

Finish my quilts!
Three quilt tops are finished and waiting; one is unfinished and waiting.  Time to back, quilt, and bind those suckers!

So that’s it!  Hopefully this will be manageable.  What are some of your resolutions?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Project 23: the Colette Rooibos Dress

You guys!  I'm back in the saddle!  I haven't embroidered in a week and I completed something on my to-do list.  I feel like my old self again!

We're all moved in and we've caught up on all the sleep we lost in November.  The boxes are all put away--there's one left in the bedroom--and we even have a Christmas tree up!  If you've been following me on Squaring Up, you saw my sewing room last week, which is amazing and wonderful and I love it so much.  I don't regret moving here for a second; we're so much happier, we have more room, and we can afford to eat!  Yippee!

Okay, let's get back to business.  It's still 2012, and I'm still working on my New Year's Resolutions.  I don't think I'm going to finish the whole list--unless some miracle drops all the patterns and fabric on my doorstep tomorrow, and that didn't happen with the Minoru jacket--but let's focus on the positive.  I completed another project this week!

I bought my Rooibos pattern and this wool gabardine in summer 2011.  Since then, I've been planning and hemming and hawing over it, too anxious to actually make a cut.  Finally, after organizing my sewing room, I decided to just jump into it!  I had the skillset and I wanted to wear a wool dress before spring came again (which would happen sooner here than in D.C.).  I cut everything out last week and finished it about an hour ago.  Here we go!

Pattern description
Sleeveless dress with collar and defined front pockets

Pattern sizing
0-18.  I cut an 8 for the bodice and a 10 for the skirt (my usual Colette sizes).

Did it look like the drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?

Funky wool draping
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, and I'm not sure if that was because it's a Colette pattern or because I'm more advanced than I was a year ago, when I first wanted to attempt it.  But everything went smoothly.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It's the Rooibos dress!  There are a thousand out there, and the inspirational pictures on Flickr just made me want my own more and more.  The lines, fun details, and clear instructions made this a really enjoyable experience.  I really love the front and back necklines as well.

Fabric used
Aubergine wool gabardine from Denver Fabrics for the shell; FreeSpirit Solids in Nugray for the contrast; poly lining from Joann for the skirt lining (yeah, this baby is lined!)

Pattern design changes or alterations made
Besides the sizing, I don't think I changed anything!  I didn't do a blind hem, as is recommended; if I have a blind hem foot, I don't know how to use it, and today wasn't the day to learn!

Would you sew it again?
I'd love to!  Maybe in something brighter for spring.  I think the wool is great but I'd like something I can wear in warm weather. This is definitely a winter dress.

I'm so happy I finally took the plunge!  I inserted piping for the first time with this dress, and added a little rhinestone button at the collar for some fanciness.  I think this will look great with a cardigan or even a turtleneck under it--I have a bunch from Target that have three-quarter sleeves.  I rocked the jumper in first grade; I think I can do it again.

The only thing is...I haven't finished the seams!  I really need a serger, but I'm wondering if pinking won't cut it and I'll need to bind these seams.  What do you think?  How would you finish them?

I'd also like to note that this dress was sewn while watching the first season of the Mary Tyler Moore show on Hulu.  I truly believe that if more young girls watched this instead of the Disney channel, there'd be way fewer hoebags out there.

Yay!  It feels so good to be back.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Moving Anxieties

November has been chock-full of anxiety, hasn't it?  Sandy was here right before Halloween, so I started stitching my feelings during the storm.  The election followed, and though I didn't have any embroidery to work on, I wish I had because watching the returns surely gave me an ulcer.  At one point, Florida had a difference of 193 votes between the two candidates, which blew my mind.

We've also been in the process of moving, which means we've traveled to Charlotte and back in one weekend, finding a house (!!!) to rent, as well as coordinating movers, buying assloads of boxes, and packing, packing, packing.  In times like these, my focus can't be disturbed.  So I packed up my fabric and patterns first, before ever even considering another route.  I didn't--couldn't--be distracted by the sudden need to make a dress.  We also designated our dining room as the holding spot for all boxes, so the logistics of space disappeared quickly.  At this point, we're five-high in boxes, waiting for Friday.

I thought I could do it.  I really did.  I thought, as long as I keep my eye on the prize, I can get through this rough spot and get to Charlotte.  I decided my sewing room would be top priority, as Nicholas could unpack the kitchen easily.  That way, I would be able to work on a few things in between unpacking, getting new licenses and registrations, and just generally getting things back in order.


It didn't happen that way.

I think the breaking point came over the weekend.  I realized moving before Thanksgiving, so I could go to my parents' house for the holiday, just wasn't going to happen.  Nick's dad is graciously driving our U-Haul, and he couldn't get here until Thanksgiving day.  I had to cook a Thanksgiving dinner and dessert and then pack to leave the next day.  My plans were falling apart.  Dramatic?  Yes, but the holidays are of great importance to me, and not spending them with my family for the second year in a row was too much for me to deal with.  I looked around at our boxes of crap, of the dust piling up in the corners, and realized I had to do something.  I had to get my mind off of our depressing holiday plans.

So I started stitching.

Hand embroidery is great, at least for me, because it requires very few tools.  Even though my hoops, needles and floss were somewhere in a taped-up box, I knew I could go to Michael's at any time to buy a few things.  For under $10 I left the next morning with a seven-inch wooden hoop, about 15 colors of floss, and a pack of needles.  I spent Saturday night buying a handful of PDF patterns so I could stitch as much as I wanted.  Sunday morning I bought the supplies, and after we had run our errands and packed a few more boxes, I started embroidering.

I started with the Erin Paisley collection for Sublime Stitching.  I had been eyeing these since they debuted and, because the PDF was extremely affordable ($3.50!  For eight patterns and the reverse!), I finally bit the bullet.  I don't own a printer, so I used my iMac as a lightbox and traced the pattern on some Moda Bella solid white with a water-soluable pen.  Super easy.  

 In three days, I traced and embroidered all four animals.

I used similar methods for all four.  For example, the wreaths or frames around each are stitched using satin and stem stitches.  All four names are stitched with split stitches.  The animals themselves have two colors in their outlines: I used two lengths of two different colors for each, and stitched them with stem stitches as well.  All have pink noses, except the owl.

My problem is, I don't know what I'm going to do with them.  My mom pointed out they'd be good for a nursery, but I'm not having a baby anytime soon, and anyway, they're a little creepy (in my opinion) for kids.  I like them for adults, but the rabbit might be the only suitable one for children.

So I have two more days (we move Friday morning as soon as everything is loaded), and while I do need to bake brownies, roast a chicken and some root vegetables, mash potatoes and simmer some cranberries, I'm sure I'll have more time to stitch.  The closet and the kitchen are the last rooms to pack, and neither are bigger than my Yaris, so I think I can handle it.

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!  I wish I could spend it with my family.  Next year, I suppose!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

French Knots and Sandy Stitching

As of Friday night, all my fabric is packed away.  I think I'm clinically depressed now.  No projects, no plans, nothing!  I like to keep busy and I like to have something to work on at all times, and while I'm technically working on setting up a whole new life in a different city, there's nothing to distract me.  That was my plan, after all; if my fabric was away, I could focus more on the task at hand.  But that task kind of sucks and I wish I was making a dress instead.

While Sandy was blowing through early last week, I started on a couple hand-sewing projects, as I didn't know if/when the power would go out.  I didn't want to rely on my machine if we wouldn't have electricity for days.  Thankfully, D.C. was lucky and we didn't lose power for even a minute.  But I still had plenty to keep me busy while I watched the news coverage of the storm.

I'll have a mini quilt up on Squaring Up tomorrow, but this was the embroidery project.  My cousin Jesse graciously let me sleep in her bed while I was in Charlotte a couple weeks ago, so I made this as a thank you.  I'll give it to her whenever I see her next, which could be very soon!

Jesse had a lot of blues and greens in her apartment (minus Grace's room, which is all pink, all the time), and I remember she picked up something chartreuse while we were out and mentioned she liked that color.  I chose four blues and a bright green I had in my floss stash.

French knots are...tedious, and for a long time, I didn't think this would ever come together.  Because I'm dramatic.  The knots are three-ply, if anyone was wondering.  To get the "j," I cut out a piece of stabilizer in the shape of the letter, ironed it on, and started knotting.  Once I had the basic idea of the letter's boundaries, I removed it and just went with what felt right.

My original plan was to do the entire hoop.  I now realize I was crazy.  This many knots took me two days.

But, I do like it, and it certainly kept me busy while I was worrying about the storm, and then the job, and then the move.  I'm still worrying, but now I have nothing in my hands.

On a different note, we've had a bit of trouble finding somewhere to live that fits our living criteria and is affordable and is in a safe neighborhood.  We wrote out everything we wanted today and we're hoping the universe takes note, because we'd like to move!  Please!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Queen City Living

Happy Halloween!  I completely forgot it was Halloween until Matt Lauer mentioned it this morning on the Today show.  To be honest, I've been sorta-sick/sorta-allergic and was mostly focused on breathing out of my nose this morning.  My Halloween plans are making chicken parm and watching the Great Pumpkin.  Right now, I'm watching Barefoot Contessa and honestly, this is what Halloween is all about for me.

So, I have some good news and some bad news!  What do you want first?  Hmm, let's focus on the good news: we're moving to Charlotte!  I got a job with Nick's company and he'll transfer to a program down there.  We're both so excited; we've had our sights set on Charlotte for a year and it's finally happening.  Goodbye, moldy apartment!  Goodbye, expensive rent!  Goodbye, WMATA!  I won't miss any of you!  Wheee!!

So the bad news, and I know you're all terribly disappointed, is that I probably won't get to sew for the rest of the year.  I need to bind a mini-quilt I made my mom, and then all my fabric, patterns and notions are getting packed into Rubbermaid containers, awaiting their new home.  This is extra disappointing to me because I am so close to my goals for the year!  But sometimes sacrifices have to be made, and this will be mine.  Honestly, it's worth it, because we'll be in a bigger place, making more money, and spending less on groceries.  And I'm setting my sights on a sewing room!  Yes, that's right, we can afford something bigger than a one-bedroom apartment.  Can you believe it?

So hopefully I won't forget about this blog completely in the next month, but things are going to move pretty quickly, as I'm supposed to start November 19.  Whoa.  I don't even have somewhere to live!  Even if I do forget about you next month, know that I'll return.  I'm already starting my plans for 2013.  I can't give up yet!

Happy Halloween everyone!  And if you're in Charlotte, say hi!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Little Fall Projects

I've officially given up on my Minoru.  The fabric and pattern never magically arrived at my door, so I took it as a sign.  I'm two for three (is that the saying?) on my fall projects.  Sigh.

I've been doing a few other stitchings lately, though.  Nothing too exciting.

My mom's been helping me out a lot lately, quilting and now she's knitting an infinity scarf, so I'm working on a few things for her.  First is this little owl scene.  The close-up of that owl makes me think it's making this face: O___o, probably because I gave it a crew cut.  Sorry, little buddy.

These might turn into another gift for my mom.  At first I thought I'd make her a mini Modern Maples quilt, but now I'm considering making one of the Barn Bats blocks from Elizabeth Hartman.  Opinions?  

I was boo'ed this week at work (before you think I'm being bullied) and my job, in exchange, was to boo two more co-workers.  I don't have a ton of money to go out and buy fun things this week, so I used what I had and sewed up two Perfect Zip Pouches and stuck a Cadbury Dairy Milk in each.  The whole aim is to remain anonymous--like a ghost?--but, because I'm an idiot, I wore my Flea Market Fancy shirt today, not even connecting the two.  I don't know that my co-worker saw me, but lord, I really wonder about myself sometimes.


I'm heading to Charlotte for a quick trip Thursday and Friday, so I guess it's a good thing I'm no longer making a jacket before Halloween!  Speaking of Halloween, does anyone else think it's awesome ABC is showing It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on the 31st, instead of weeks before?  For those of us who don't get trick-or-treaters, it's a blessing.

See you soon!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Project 22: The Colette Sencha blouse

Two for two on my fall sewing goals!  Woo!  Unfortunately, something tells me I'll miss my Minoru jacket deadline, but you know what?  I'm going to stay optimistic and hope that the fabric and pattern land on my doorstep this month.  I've stopped buying fabric for the time being because I want an iPhone November 1 (when I'm eligible for an upgrade) and I don't want to eat ketchup packets because I can't afford real food.  So far, I'm doing okay.  I went to Joann's today (and saved crazy amounts of money) and didn't come home with a single cut of fabric.  However, I came home with thread, stabilizer, batting, and rotary blades instead.  This may not excite you, but damn, it gets me all wound up!

Okay, on to the pattern review.  But first, a question: if you haven't made a Sencha yet, well, why not?

Pattern description
Button-back blouse with cap sleeves and waist tucks

Pattern sizing
0-18.  This is a 6, as the size 8 (my usual Colette top size) would've been too loose.

Did it look like the drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?
Yes! (I always consider that a success.)

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Oh my gosh, yes.  This shirt went from start to finish in about 2.5 hours.  I bought buttons today--that was the only thing holding me back from completing it Friday night.  

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
As happy as I am with the outcome, and the fact that it was a quick sew, I do have a couple things I'd alter:
  • When I have it on (see below), there's a lot of extra fabric between my armpits and my bust.  I'm going to guess this is because I have such narrow shoulders.  I should look into working on that.
  • It's very short!  I have a short torso and normally everything is too long on me, but I'll need a camisole under this to wear it to work.
I can't wait until I have a house where I can actually take pictures of myself.  This is BS.  Also this photo makes me look so hippy.

Fabric used
Woven in Poppy from Lotta Jansdotter's Bella line.  I originally bought this with a Macaron in mind, but I really like it as a Sencha.

Pattern design changes or alterations made
Very minor ones: I didn't catchstitch the inside of the sleeves or the back placket.  For the back, I decided the buttonholes and buttons would keep the placket in place, and on the sleeves, I topstitched the edges.

Would you sew it again?
I might!  I'd like to try the other necklines, with the tucks or the tie.  Maybe in a fancier fabric, though.

I think this is a great fall blouse!  Yay orange!

Yesterday we had big plans to go to a pig roast in Palmyra celebrating the new By Hand magazine.  Well, that failed after we sat in traffic on I-95 for what seemed like forever.  Please tell me why we live in a region with rush hour on the weekend.  Okay, turn around, get back on I-95 north--we decided to head to Sur La Table and Total Wine, and then up to Frederick to check out the area.  Neither of us had been, except to drive through on our way to Ohio.  It's such a pretty drive up I-270: once you're in Frederick County, the mountains come into view, and at this time of year everything is red, yellow and orange.

Downtown Frederick is a cute area with a sweet downtown.  I mean, first you have to drive through the ghetto to get there, but once you're there, you're fine.  We stopped in a record store and walked through the main strip, and tried to get dinner at Brewer's Alley but they had other ideas: our wait was over twice as long as they originally estimated and when we told them we were leaving, they weren't the most sympathetic.  By that point, I had been hungry for five hours, so we drowned our hunger sorrows in Five Guys.  Thank god for French fries.

Today has been busy: besides the aforementioned trip to Joann's, I also went grocery shopping and have been baking like a crazy person all afternoon.  I have a potluck tomorrow at work and offered to bring the desserts.  See below: doughnut cake (thanks to my oven being uneven, it got a bit too brown) (also I don't have a cake tester, which explains the knife mark!) and chai tea cookies, and I just pulled some pumpkin bread out of the oven.  Isn't fall the best?

Have a good week, everyone.  Hopefully I won't be a stranger as much soon!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Inspiration Conundrums

Have you noticed everyone is at Sewing Summit this week?  I feel like I should have registered when I had the chance.  I'm missing out on everything!

Because Sewing Summit is such a large group of women I admire and look to for inspiration, I thought today I'd talk about said inspiration, and when does it become more than my own?  If you're anything like me, you read dozens of blogs about sewing, crafting, embroidery, quilting, whatever.  You follow the bloggers and creators on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest.  You buy their books and listen to their podcasts.  (Yes, I listen to modern quilting podcasts.)  I credit these women with the reason I stuck with sewing and took up quilting and embroidery, and for my current outlook on what I buy versus what I make.  Their creations are amazing!

The flip side to this is I get my ideas from these women.  When they blog about a pattern, I check it out.  I also buy their patterns and fabric.  I have pinned so many projects, most of which I reference when I'm looking for something new to make.  This is how I've always worked, but in the past, I mostly relied on magazines and books instead of blogs, because in the past, I wrote poetry and shopped a lot.  But regardless of my creative outlet, I've always looked to external influences to guide me along.  I'd love to be one of those women who is effortlessly creative and original, but I'm not, hair withstanding.

I learned as an art history student that art doesn't exist in a vacuum, so it's natural for bloggers and Flickr users and what have you to bounce ideas and projects off of each other.  We all understand that what we're doing is part of something bigger, not to sound completely pretentious.  Our quilts can be described as "modern," for example.  Modern quilting is a movement that wouldn't exist if only one person was doing it.  But I'm starting to wonder where their ideas start and mine begin.  If I use the same pattern and fabric as another blogger, is it truly my creation?  What if I embroider text on fabric like Merriweather Council--am I copying her?  It's my handwriting, on my fabric, spelling out the words I want--but is it too close for comfort?  What if I want to sell something?

This is such a sticky topic because we all want to get along and none of us wants to create a riff between perfectly nice bloggers.  But at the same time, I see projects everyday that I love and want in my home or closet.  Because these quilts and clothes are made for personal use, is it so terrible to copy them for myself?  And considering the quilt (and quilt designs) were invented long before blogs, if I'm not using a pattern, am I able to sell it if I want to?  I feel like I'm oversimplifying this, because it's a very gray area.  My friend Melissa and I discuss all the time the ethics of blogging and selling, and how we don't want to be "that person."  I'd rather get comments telling me I did a great job than comments saying someone is going to take legal action. And obviously I'm talking about this on a small scale, though we've all heard stories about Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters stealing designs from Etsy sellers to sell to the masses.

Where's the line, or is there one?  Can more than one person sell similar products without someone getting their panties in a twist (and in some cases, rightfully so)?  I'm asking a lot of questions because I don't have a definite answer, if there is one.  I think this is a very gray area of blogging, as we all take a risk when we put ourselves out there.  Sometimes that risk pays off--blogs have gotten people book deals, fabric lines, etc.--but there's always the chance someone will "copy and paste" your entire idea into their own internet space.  And if their followers don't know better, you're out of luck.

What's your take on this?  And why do I have heavy thoughts on Fridays?  For the love of God, I'm watching Say Yes to the Dress, I think I can take it down a notch!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Project 21: The Serendipity Studio Sabrina Tunic

I followed through on something!  Woohoo!!  My fall sewing goals didn't fall through the cracks (yet) and I completed my first project ahead of schedule!

Granted, this isn't the most exciting project.  It's pretty basic.  But sometimes a girl needs basic.

Pattern Description
Boatneck tunic with zipper closure in three lengths.  This is the shortest length.

Pattern sizing
XXS-XXL.  I made a medium.  Because I am medium.

Did it look like the drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?
Well, not as insane.  That woman puts a hell of a lot of quilting cottons together.  I just stuck to one, because that's about my level of interest.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Honestly?  I didn't read them.  I've made enough tops in my time; I know to sew the facings, make the darts, sew the bodice to the skirt, insert the zipper, sew the shoulders and side seams, attach facings, and then hem.  I got this.

What did you particularly like or dislike about this pattern?
It was easy.  I didn't have to think about it much.  However, the facings are awful.  I don't know why they're drafted so small, but this is true for all Serendipity patterns I've used.  I should know by now to just finish with bias tape, because the facings are such a giant pain in the ass.

Fabric used
Scattered Sand in Warm Grey from Lotta Jansdotter's "Bella."  I pre-ordered a bunch of prints in August and I knew this would make a great top.

Pattern design changes or alterations made
I left off all the options: no waist band, no ties, no ruffles.  I also used a 7-9" zipper instead of a 20".  I've found that just having the bodice open is more than enough for me.

Would you sew it again?
Maybe, but I'd remember to change the facings to bias tape.

I love polka dots and this will look cute with a cardigan and jeans.

So what's everyone been up to?  I'm currently researching wedding photographers.  While we aren't having a wedding, our parents and Jake and Kali will be there to eat pizza with us in celebration, and I'd like someone to take a few pictures.  Trying to explain the cost to Nick is impossible: while, yes, the photographer is going to cost more than the rest of the celebration combined, this day happens once, so once it's gone, we can't get pictures again.  I'm pulling for my favorite, who I'm insanely excited to work with, but he wants to see more pricing before we settle.  Men.

What are you sewing this weekend?  It's going to be a gorgeous one here in DC--enjoy it!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Sewing - For Real

Almost two months ago I laid out my plans for fall sewing.  I hate to say it, but wow, I was naive!  I also hadn't yet started quilting, or I was in the very early stages of my newest obsession.  I believe we've seen the effects since that new hobby took off: I'm spending less time here and more time on Squaring Up, I've finished three full-sized quilt tops and three mini quilts, and my clothing plans are falling apart--quickly.

This is an attempt to put things back into perspective.

Of the four patterns I listed in August's post, I've made two, and I've blogged them.  Okay, so that's not terrible.  But when I look at my project goal page, I see a lot missing.  I've come to accept that there are quite a few patterns that will never get made, and I think that's fine and, in fact, normal.  What seamstress doesn't buy patterns and then just file them away?  But there are a lot of garments I want to make, and I simply need to get my priorities straight.  Hopefully, that won't be too difficult.  Though I have another quilt I'd like to make, I am not on a deadline for it.  We also aren't exchanging family Christmas presents this year (Nick and I are still exchanging, though), so any handmade presents have dropped off my radar.

So, let's see if we can get a plan for this.

1. Colette Rooibos

I don't actually know what my problem is here.  I've been flirting with this pattern for well over a year and just can't seem to seal the deal.  I have the shell and lining fabrics, so all I'd need is a zipper and maybe some piping.  This is something I just need to do.  I'm going to put a deadline of Thanksgiving on this.

2. Serendipity Studio Sabrina Tunic

Wow, there is a lot going on in that picture.  Wow.  Anyway, this is another project that I have no excuse for.  I bought some Bella with this tunic in mind, and it's been sitting--unwashed, however--since before we went to Beaufort.  This top will take me maybe an afternoon to complete.  I give it a deadline of next Sunday.

3. Sewaholic Minorou Jacket
This is a new addition to my sewing goals.  When it debuted last year, I felt very "meh," because the line drawing looks like a weird puffer jacket or something.  I have one of those, and I love it, but I most definitely don't want to make one.  However, now that a million people on Flickr have made it, I want to make one too.  If we do get to move back south this winter, this is the perfect weight for most of the fall and winter: a few days need a heavy coat, but lined canvas will cut the chill pretty effectively.  I'm giving this a deadline of Halloween.

4. Colette Sencha blouse
I bought this before we went to Beaufort with intentions to make something for the Beer Fest.  Well, obviously that didn't happen, but I still got a good deal on the pattern.  I'm a bit torn on what to make this with.  On one hand, I have some Flea Market Fancy that I've been saving for a blouse, and version 1 would be adorable.  On the other...more Flea Market Fancy, Emily?  It's a good thing you've got a ring on your finger, because most men would be scared.  I'm giving this a deadline of October 15.

5. Oliver + S Jump Rope dress
Obviously, this isn't for me.  It really isn't for anyone, but it's a cute dress.  I have view B in mind, which has front pockets and a tab collar, but no tie.  I bought the last of Aneela Hoey's puppies from my LQS in August, and this would be cute in it, maybe with some red chevron as an accent.  This isn't high priority, so I'll give this until December 1.

6. Oliver + S Hopscotch Skirt
Again, this isn't for me, nor do I have anything in mind for it.  I'm mostly interested in those pockets--I love the shape and think they'd be great to adapt for something for me, but first I'd have to learn how to make them!  This is getting a priority of December 15.

7. Colette Patterns Macaron
I'm not gonna lie: I'm a bit terrified of this dress.  I've heard about fitting issues and I struggle with the fabric choice.  I don't even have fabric waiting for this because I've been so nervous!  I'm open to suggestions, if anyone has an idea.  I'll give this a deadline of November 15, but that's flexible.

Two patterns--Sewaholic Alma and Sew Liberated Ashland--are nice but I don't know that I'll have time for them, or really even a need.  I don't own them yet, and it seems that, the longer I wait, the less I want to follow through, at least at this time.

Finally, all those Simplicity patterns at the end of the list--1880, 1873, 1885, 1872, 1877--are so off my radar right now that I don't even want to deal with them.  I bought them last winter, thinking they'd all be great for spring.  And guess what?  Nothing was made!  So forget it, I say.  I'm tempted to delete them, even.  I feel like that's cheating, but if they aren't going to get made, they're unnecessary.

What do you think--is this doable?  Sorry the post was so long, but I needed to get everything out so my mind could organize and plan.  My friend told me about last week, so I might set up a to-do list there in order to meet all my goals.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why We Aren't Having a Wedding (Or, Please Go Away, Wedding Blogs)

This post is a bit more personal than I like to get, but whatever, this is my blog, I can write about it.

Okay, everyone knows we got engaged, right?  I announced it a couple weeks ago, so I don't want readers to think I'm some weirdo who is pressuring her boyfriend.  Wedding "stuff" is on my mind, almost more than sewing, even though we do not want a wedding.

That's right.  I'm a young, engaged woman who does not dream of a white dress.

I wanted to elope.  I always have.  It freaks me out to think that other people might see me get married.  I'll pee in front of my mom before I have her adjust my veil or choose flowers.  It makes me uncomfortable to even sit here and type it out because I hate that idea so much.  But Nick brought up that we might regret, when looking back, not having our parents with us.  Or Jake.  I said I can guarantee I wouldn't, but marriage is about compromise, so I caved: we could invite our parents, and Jake, but no friends.  And parents would not be obligated to come.  Even Jake has been told about 100 times that, if he can't make it, it's really no problem and we will catch up at Thanksgiving.  Or Christmas!  Whatever.

So Mom and Dad, and Jake, and Dad (Nick's dad, this time) have all been texted with the details: next Columbus Day weekend, we'll head south to get married and have beer and pizza to celebrate.  No, we won't have a ceremony; it's $20 to do it at the courthouse.  No, I won't wear white; I am pale and it will be fall.  No, I don't want you to pay for it; we have a budget and we are both adults.  Yes, we will notify other friends and family with marriage announcements, but no, we will not accept gifts, and no, you may not pay for those either.

So why?  Why do I continue to read 100 Layer Cake, A Practical Wedding, Martha Stewart Weddings?  Besides being some sort of masochist (I'm flogging myself with Vera Wang ads), I guess it's because it's expected.  My ring (from Etsy) is on my finger.  The date is set.  The spreadsheet is active.  Now I'm supposed to worry about details like napkin monograms, right?  But I don't.  I read these blogs and magazines and think...ew.  Ew to all of it.

Here's what I've gathered:

  • Nick and I aren't special enough to have a big wedding.  I don't mean this in a sad, woe-is-us way.  I mean that I read these blog posts about weddings and I think, you guys think you're so special!  That's sweet.  But our friends don't wear ironic glasses and I don't have an affinity for the work of Marc Johns.  We're just a couple.  We work a lot and I sew and he drinks beer.  That's it.  Truth be told...
  • We don't have a lot of friends.  We know a decent amount of people, sure, but I don't have "my girls" and he doesn't have "bros" and I think Eleanor and Puddin' would have to be our witnesses.  Again, this isn't a pity party.  I'm spitting out facts.  These weddings, the ones with coordinating dresses from an unknown designer who will blow up next year, require people to be there.  They require people who get excited about the proposal, and who want to hear the story over and over.  That's not us.
  • I am uncomfortable with attention.  So it's weird that I have a blog, right?  Well whatever, I have like 10 readers, I'm okay with it.  I guess it's also because red hair gets a lot of attention, but I've always shied away from it.  I had a long awkward phase (from like age six to age twenty-two) and that's who I picture.  That's who I am.  The thought of walking down an aisle in front of people I don't really care for (truth) and having all eyes on me is enough to make me vomit.  Right here.  And then while walking down the aisle.
  • We have better things to spend our money on.  Being completely honest, my dress budget is $200.  I would like to spend no more than $50, but I know things happen and sometimes you have to spend more.  That $150 could be spent on fabric, or groceries, or allergy medication--I don't know, anything but a dress I will wear once and then never wear again, in fear of staining or ripping it.  We don't make a lot of money, we don't have a lot of money, so whatever we do have goes to things we need.  Cats gotta eat!  And so do we.  I plan on doing this as cheaply as possible, so we can move on and get started with our lives.
  • This shit bores me.  I'm not a girl who loves weddings.  I don't love wedding showers either.  I also don't love babies or baby showers.  So as much as I like thinking about what kind of dress I'll wear, I also think, who cares?  Because, honestly?  I don't.  I would walk down the aisle in jeans, if I could find a pair that fit decently.  (Maybe yoga pants?)  So debating over the details--do I use lamb's ear or baby's breath?  Will anyone notice the programs are printed in gold instead of bronze?--just blows my mind.  You know what happens after a wedding?  A marriage.  Yeah, get ready for that.
So obviously I'm not saying all brides are crazy, nor am I say that if you don't fit the above criteria, you are a bad person and should re-evaluate your life.  I'm just saying, where's the website for me?  I want a website that says "here is your dress" and it's $47.99, comes in ivory or purple or whatever, and offers shoes that fit too.  I would order that, do my thing, and get back to work.  Even the "sane" wedding sites focus so much on the minute, ridiculous parts that I feel like I'm terrible for not considering them.  Really, we need to invite his great aunt who he doesn't get along with because weddings are "for the family"?  Well, the family isn't paying for it, so they can all suck it.  Oh yeah, did I mention I'm a bride who says "suck it"?  Because I am.

So I hope no one is scared of me or thinks I'm a freak now.  The wedding stuff is no joke, and it can often be lonely, because, unlike graduation or whatever, you're the only one getting married.  Even if your friend is also engaged, chances are you're having completely different weddings and the only thing that is the same is your current marital status.  So I had to get it out there.  I'll get back to sewing soon, but this had to be said before I cried tears of both exhaustion and frustration.

Sorry if I offended anyone.  Honestly.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Project 20: Colette Beignet skirt

Phew, it's been a fun weekend!  I'm definitely not ready to go back to work tomorrow, but I'm feeling good about this week, y'all.  Let's put that positive energy out there, okay?

I didn't plan on making the Beignet next, but yesterday was Quilters Take Manhattan in New York (duh) and I wanted something new to wear.  Something that would make my $6 Target tank much more fashionable.  I know that sounds impossible, because how could that become even better?, but regardless, I love a challenge.  The Beignet has been on my to-do list forever but I've always been really nervous about it.  I'm so short-waisted, and definitely not thin, that I thought it would look dumpy.  I've seen some versions that make me question the maker's cognitive skills, and I didn't want that.

Okay, okay, I'll get into the review, so you can find out what I really thought!

Action shot!
Pattern Description
High-waisted paneled skirt with twelve front buttons as the closure

Pattern Sizing
0-18.  This is a 10, but I think I could've cut an 8 in the waist and graded for the hips.

Did it look like the drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Surprisingly, yes.  For an intermediate pattern, I was thrilled that it went so quickly.  I suppose it was rated that for the lining and buttons, but neither of those are new to me, so it was easier than I expected.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Hmm...I love the lining.  It looks so great inside.  Besides that, I felt pretty even-keel toward everything.  Nothing was frustrating, but I also didn't make stupid mistakes because I wasn't paying attention, which happens when things are too easy.

Another action shot!  This is one of my favorite Denyse Schmidt quilts.
Fabric used
The shell is wool corduroy from Denver Fabrics.  I bought it last fall when I planned on making a lot of skirts.  I love it as a skirt, but it was a beast to work with: it frayed, shed, and linted (is that a verb?) everywhere.  What a mess.  The lining is just poly lining from JoAnn's-nothing special there.

Pattern alterations or design changes made
I left off the belt loops and the belt.  This comes up way too high for me to tuck anything in, so a belt was unnecessary.

Would you sew it again?
I'm not sure!  Maybe something fun in twill for the summer would be cute, and I did like the cut, but the waist is just so high!

I like it!  I'm looking forward to wearing it with tights when it gets a bit chillier.

We had a great time in New York Saturday, and it made me forget all about my sewing machine pissing me off on Friday night.  I met Denyse Schmidt and just about died--I'm sure I made a fool of myself.  Liesl Gibson sat behind us and I regret not saying hi, but I feel bad approaching these "celebrities" (to us), you know?  Also, my blood sugar had bottomed out and all I wanted was some cookies before I flipped a table.

I'm going to have my full recap of the event on Squaring Up tomorrow morning, if you're interested!  Next month, we're venturing to Palmyra, Virginia, for a fall festival and By Hand magazine launch party (and pig roast!  Mmm).  After that, who knows!

How was your weekend?  What'd you sew?? 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Happening

Today is my twenty-fifth birthday and I saw this outside.  I am taking it as a sign of good things to come.

I also just typed "twenty-first," but that's beside the point.

I promise some clothes will be here soon.  I promise!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beaufort and an Announcement

We went to Beaufort over the weekend!  The Savannah Craft Beer Fest occurs every Labor Day weekend, and we missed out last year.  This year, because Mom and Dad are so close, we headed down to let them watch Eleanor while we drank lots and lots of expensive beers.

Here's just a hodge-podge of pictures from my new awesome camera.  Nick bought an Olympus Pen for my birthday, which made me just about die.  I love it!  I need to make a camera bag and strap for it, though, so if you have any good tutorials, let me know!

(Stick around to the end.  It's worth it!)

Shelton church in Yemassee, South Carolina

Senior pic time

At my parents' house:

Downtown Beaufort:

Blue moon on Nick's birthday!

Back at the house, looking at the dock:

Nick is a trooper and held up my mom's Sparkle Punch quilt so I could get pictures:

A mistake!
 The marsh during low tide:

So while we were in Savannah Saturday, Nick asked me to marry him!  We've been talking about it for a long time but it finally happened.  (I say "finally" like it's all I dreamt of.)  We don't plan on having a wedding--elopements are more our flavor--so I hope you aren't too disappointed that this won't become a wedding blog!  Ha ha.  This most I might share is my dress; I'm planning on making it, once I get some ideas.  Please feel free to share yours!

Did you have a good Labor Day weekend too?

Images by Freepik