Minnesota

Holidays in recap, no such thing as too late!

This post is crazy late but oh well. Can't thrash myself too much for that or I really will never blog again. Who knows who reads these mutterings, anywho, right?
This year marked the first time I stayed in MN instead of traveling home to NJ and Philly. I gotta say, it was a little weird. Here is a view of walking into work Christmas week. Minneapolis is home to the great Skyway, a human habitrail... Usually hoppin' with people in the morning. Bustling along to work, furiously thumbing their smartphones. On this day, however, I saw exactly 2 people in the Skyway. I dub this season in the habitrail, the sky-pacalypse!


Outside of the working world, though, it was all twinkle lights, wrapping paper and cookie dough. The night we decorated the tree we snapped a few pictures and I have to say this one of the three of us is my most favorite of us ever. It’s pretty much how it feels when we are home together.

Christmas Eve the Pickle had neither school nor un-school coverage so we got to spend the day home in our pajamas. I tried in vain to work and found myself being pulled away from my laptop by an overexcited 5 year old many times. Go figure. It must have been a holiday or something…! We made two batches of chocolate chip cookies and holey moley I thought the spooning and baking would never end! The recipe made enormous batches. Next time we’ll know better. Batter. Dough.



It was my first year playing Santa and I only snagged this one shot of the wrapping paper bonanza. I loved her exclamations of, “He knew just what I wanted even if I didn’t write it down!” Yep, that Santa’s a sneaky one…







The New Year brought a new vintage hat, an airport visit with my Uncle Evan(!) and seeing in the change with a smashing of plates at a friends’ house. I won’t say that we were wild or unruly but I wouldn’t deny that alcohol may have made us more enthusiastic. My friend’s lady friend didn’t like those plates anyway and was happy to see them go. Hurrah! *smash



We rounded out the holiday season with a trip to Racine to see my dude’s family. I was enjoying the couch and the company too much to be snapping pictures the whole visit but I did happily snap this one of the Pickle and her cousin building one of the largest forts I have seen in all my fort building days. They told me it had two floors. And No Grownups. Except for a brief tour for daddy.






 










Some of my favorite bits included my first purple Bakelite, this stunning and large brooch from the Pickle and a necklace,  and my first ever Malco Modes petticoat! My mom also sent out a package with some very sweet, thoughtful treats. Watching my dude and the kiddo opening the packages was fun and the items she sent made me a little teary. She included a cast iron bottle opener she’d found with dad on their honeymoon antiquing trip, a maiden size Bakelite bracelet for the Pickle and a carved black bangle for me. Each item felt laden with sentiment and I missed her more than anything seeing each item emerge from the tissue.

It was a great holiday season and it was nice to have everyone trickle back in to work after the holidays wrapped. Now we’re looking forward to the end of the month when we depart for a two week adventure in… South Africa! So pumped! Capetown and an intrepid trek to Lesotho to visit the village where I served in the Peace Corps. Just days away. And I promise there will be more pictures when I get back!

xo,
Sarah


Choosing Patterns, some how's and why's

My closet is a dense forest of me-made wardrobe items. Crammed and straining. And yet, i cannot stop myself from sewing more things to wear. I used to get sad and wistful looking into my closet, wishing I had something I was excited to wear. After I started making my own gear my closet visits transformed! Now I stand before my closet flooded with excitement about which awesome, exciting, well-fitting outfit to wear today

On the right you can my sweater bag. Cardigans in many colors and shapes, organized into warm, cool and neutral stacks. In truth, my sweater bag lives in my dude's closet. Mine, although the larger of the two bedroom closets, isn't big enough. It's love. 

So with so many fun choices how do I decide what to make next? How do I balance pattern selections? What makes a good scale, color, texture choice? Below I'll walk you through some snaps of a recent trip our to my favorite fabric warehouse! Most of my fabric choices are a variety of quilting cottons, which simplifies things a bit. I like working with quilting cottons, easy to sew, easy to care for and SO MANY CHOICES!!!


Here's a stack I had gathered up, trying to work out what I should get and what wouldn't make the cut! If you ever see that weird lady in the fabric store draping fabric over herself... think of me. I'm that lady. It's really one of the best ways to understand how a pattern will be affected by the curves of your body, whether the scale will work for you, if the color is flattering. 


This pretty light yellow-green fabric was a definite thumbs-down. Looking at my skin next to this fabric I felt super washed out. I love the scale and that the pattern offers fun possibilities for using on-grain or on-bias. Sadly, it didn't make the cut.


I struggle with feedsack patterns. I really liked this color but this particular fabric was a plaid crepe with varying levels of sheerness/opacity. I don't like to line my skirts so this one didn't make the cut either. 


Oh man, I went back and forth on this fabric for a long time. I think I worked through the stack and came back to it 2 or three times. I so love the energy of this print, it's a little wild and fireworks-y and the shade of pink is nice and versatile. I loved the idea of the fabric in a skirt and kept imagining twirling in a circle skirt of pink fireworks... but I could not get a good image in my head with the fabric for a bodice. Who knows, perhaps next time I will see the boom boom pow pattern again. Didn't make it this time. 


At this point I am guessing you might be wondering well... what did you get? I loved this crosshatch. I like the smallness of the different elements in the pattern and how it is balanced out by the all-over, irregular cross-hatch. From a few feet away the pattern did not break into distinct boxes or stripes, also a major plus. The dots here are green, blue, white and brown. The background is pink with a darker pink crosshatch. Very flexible for cardigans. We had a winner!


You can kind of see it in my secret-excited little smirk here; I loved this fabric. It said, Barbie Throws a Party or Donna Reed's Summer Shindig or Please Wear Me With Little White Gloves!!! I brought this one home. Classic polka dots with bold pink roses breaking things up. I like irregular polka dots as I find that straight polka dot matrices make my eyes water, they look like they are vibrating. So this was a perfect solution.


Sadly, one more that did not make the cut. These are the kinds of fabrics and patterns that I really love and really wish worked for me. You can see how wan and washed out I look next to it. The pattern has a fun Deco look but I just couldn't get something that would look so blah in color next to my skin. 

I regularly make another round through the store after cutting my initial choices. First off, they ask you to reshelve your fabrics yourself. Second, I almost always feel like I will find one more thing now that I am in the zone. Here is a shot of all the lucky home-comers from the last go-around. You can see a whole bunch of things that didn't make the pictures. Some of these I felt so strongly about I didn't both with pictures for. I have finished 4 dresses from these fabrics so far. The Lemon Surprise fabric was a 2nd round find as was the chambray with discharge print roses in the upper right hand corner.  


I finally got a tripod for my camera so more outfit posts on the way! Hurray! Hopefully this helped expand your horizons of print and pattern possibilities! 

xo, 
Sarah



Great fabric in Minnesota

When I moved to Minnesota I really did not know where to go for good fabric. I knew there were a number of Jo-Ann stores in the metro but Ho-Ann is not my usual cup of tea. So you can certainly see why I was super excited to start learning about the less commercial options available! Two places in particular have become my regular stomping grounds: S.R. Harris and Crafty Planet.

S.R. HIMG_2699arris is an enormous, 30,000sq.ft. warehouse fill in every square inch with all manner of apparel and home fabrics and cut rate prices. Their typical set up is to offer 50% off of all shelf prices with occasional additional sales on specific categories (linen, silks, upholstery, etc). I had lived here more than 2 years before I went the first time. I has little knowledge of what I was getting myself into. I spent HOURS there. I know now to set a budget (usually about $100) for a visit and to go in with my little book of swatches and a plan. Otherwise I'll just go bonkers. These two fun projects came from quilting cottons I found there.
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Crafty Planet is a small, independently-owned fabric and yarn store that specializes in all manner of sweet, novelty prints and unique quilting weight cottons. I got my stepdaughter this amazing KABOOM fabric for a circle skirt of her own!  They are a little on the spendy side but it does my heart good to support local businesses that support our enthusiastic maker/sewist community around these parts. If you happen to be in Minnesota I strongly encourage you to hit these spots up. It'll stoke your stitching fire!
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