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Have you tried Bloglovin? Tons of my favorite bloggers are on there and I was pondering how to get myself more motivated to blog again and thought, I should throw myself in the ring! So, I have. New post coming later this evening!

Tonight's post will share some of the things that have filled the last few months: my engagement, a few of my friends beautiful babies, teaching and learning to make my wedding dress!



More soon!

Creativity, Time Management and Making Time

Have you seen any of the articles talking about the glorification of being busy? That we've evolved to the point of busy-ness ruling our lives and somehow, without feeling overwhelmed we simply aren't doing enough? Here are a few thoughts about reframing the idea of busy and how it applies to creativity. 

1. We make time for what we love. 

It's true. We really do. I live far away from my parents, cousins, aunts and uncles and when the opportunity comes up to see them, celebrate with them, I rearrange other things to make it happen. Last New Year's my uncle had a layover in the MSP airport for a couple of hours. I was thrilled to move meetings and pay for parking and take the time to drive to and from the airport in holiday traffic so I could see someone in my family. 

With Creative endeavors, it is much the same. I love sewing. I love painting. I love drawing. At the end of my days, after we put the kiddo to bed and the dishes are done... I will sew, paint, draw, write. Because these things that we love, they are rejuvenating. Watching TV and turning my brain off doesn't make me feel refreshed. Sewing in a bodice lining and listening to some Netflix in the background moves my brain from the tasks and hub-bub of the day into flexible, excited spaces. For me, sewing is Zen time.  

   Working through the details of a bodice I'd never tried before. Now one of my favorite dresses!

 

Working through the details of a bodice I'd never tried before. Now one of my favorite dresses!

2.How long does it take you to...? (aka, more reasons we tell our selves we can't instead of we can!)

Nothing happens quickly except regret. Skills take time to learn and I enjoy learning. I like investing the time to learn. To practice. With more skills and more experience I earn some speed. Inevitably, though, I want to learn something else and this slows me down again. As much as I want to wear that new dress, use that new bag, send that new sketch to a friend, the time I take to make something is part of the goal. I want to be making. I also want to be enjoying. Making things regularly means getting to have both; I can wear a dress I've made and paint a new postcard. 

Pattern drafting and selfless sewing and my relationship and painting and, and, and...

Pattern drafting and selfless sewing and my relationship and painting and, and, and...

3. Isn't it expensive to...?

Sure, sometimes. Do you know where your money goes? Are you using your money to serve your desires? Or are you letting yourself desire money? I spend less on making a dress than I used to going out for a night of dancing. I spend less painting a stack of postcards than a week of Starbucks lattes. I spend less making my own clothes than I used to spend buying clothes that I never wore and ended up donating before I cut the tags off. 

And you know what? I like going out dancing. I like getting a coffee with a friend. I love shopping. I know that if I spend on one thing I have less to spend on another so I find I am constantly investing in my longer term happiness. Isn't that how everyone thinks of their fabric and notions stash?

   I love a sale! I picked up these patterns for $1 a piece on sale. I try my very best not to buy patterns at full price and keep a running list of the ones I have my eye on so I can scoop them up when a sale descends.

 

I love a sale! I picked up these patterns for $1 a piece on sale. I try my very best not to buy patterns at full price and keep a running list of the ones I have my eye on so I can scoop them up when a sale descends.

4. How do you stop/put it down/get other things done?

I would love to say it's easy to juggle the dishes and laundry and kids and money, my dayjob, my relationship... We all know it's a lot of work. I also know that I am more of my best self when I do things for myself. I am happier and more relaxed. I am less likely to spazz out about how clean the kitchen is or when my kid yells at me. I need the me-time to be better at we-time. 

I also need sleep. I make better decisions when I've had enough sleep, my craftsmanship is stronger, I take better care of my tools and materials. I am a better partner when I've had enough sleep. So even when I am deep in the thick of something I know, from experience, it's better to put it down, hit the hay for the night or even just take a break and do something else for a bit. 

4. a) Because what happens when I don't stop/put it down/get other things done?

I break stuff. I bust needles, spill water, blotch paint, feel achey when I have to get up on too few hours of sleep. My fridge stays empty, I argue with my partner, we rush to get chores done and don't want to talk to each other. Sounds fun, right?

Instead I make sure I get some me-time, a little sewing, get the dishes put away and GO TO BED. I didn't finish that last line of stitching? That's cool, I'll get it tomorrow and it'll make the end of that project a breeze. Didn't pull ALL the dishes away? That's cool, too, the dishwasher got emptied and we have plenty to make dinner with. Give yourself a break, not all of life is a deadline. Love yourself and get some sleep.

   Case in point. I'm not sure how I managed it but I zig-zagged through every hole on my pin and made a new one, too! This is one of those times you put the piece down, get a glass of water, turn in for the night or whatever is right at the time. This was easy enough to fix but I knew I needed to look my machine over, too before I kept going. Best done with fresh eyes!

 

Case in point. I'm not sure how I managed it but I zig-zagged through every hole on my pin and made a new one, too! This is one of those times you put the piece down, get a glass of water, turn in for the night or whatever is right at the time. This was easy enough to fix but I knew I needed to look my machine over, too before I kept going. Best done with fresh eyes!

Making things happen.

It's been a pretty exciting week! Our business cards came, we've had a few enquiries for future lessons and we've gotten a whole heap of views from out event announcement on Facebook! Today I spoke with one of the folks at Studio for Hire and I am spending tonight working on booking out our events for August and September. 

Upcoming!

  1. Mending and Hand-Stitching social- an evening of casual sewing, asking questions and, of course, wine! 
  2. Sewing Machine 101- we'll make a small sampler of stitches to show off what your machine can do, talk through the most common presser feet and when to use them as well as learn how to insert a zipper!
  3. Reading and Using Patterns- bring a pattern to learn about or work with one of our favorites. We'll cover taking measurements, how to pick your fabric and initial pattern adjustments. Learn how to trace off a pattern to customize it to your needs and preserve your originals.

*Happy dance!*



Sometimes I want a sweet.

Often, after lunch, I desperately want a donut. A piece of cake. A crunchy cookie with just the right balance of crisp salty bite and sweet, gooey center... Alas, I musn't eat cookies and cake at every hour of every day. So, sometimes when the fever strikes I look for delicious-looking things that are, in fact, not edible and totally enjoyable on their own.  Happy perusing.

Marimekko fabric cakes!

Looks good enough to eat, though eating it might not bode so well. A painting, not real fruit!

Looks good enough to eat, though eating it might not bode so well. A painting, not real fruit!

Exciting week!

It's been an exciting week for Teach. I met with a woman last weekend to discuss our screen printing and block printing workshops and to generally introduce her to the idea of Teach. She was super psyched and we are taking the week to brainstorm ideas for how she would want her classes structured. 

Then, last night! I went to see a potential classroom space in NE Minneapolis! Indie Business Central is an up-and-coming (like us!) business with a focus on supporting and growing the small- and micro-business community. One of the co-owners Heidi made the time to meet with me and she is so passionate about her vision for the space and how they want to grow it. 

There are a few details still to work out (like whether to invest in portable tables) in order to use the space but I think we will have a few events there over the coming months. Overall, a great visit and so exciting to see other businesses working it out. 

How do you follow your heart?

It wasn’t all that long ago that I realized my wardrobe has become a sea of black, knit, minimalist things. I started slipping toward all-black all-the-time telling myself it was easy, chic. That it was slimming. That it would make dressing for work streamlined and classy. I was wrong, though.

When I really looked at myself and my closet I had to admit that I was buying whatever fit and was black. It wasn’t chic or fashionable. I was giving up, hiding. I would take an enormous pile of things into the dressing room and have to shore up my self-esteem to see my body in the three-way mirror, see how badly things fit and how different the shape of my body was from the garments available to me.

I’ve known how to sew for a long time. At a whopping 4’11” I need to hem or tailor most anything I might buy, anyway. Sewing was as much a life skill as a hobby. I wasn’t happy with the way things were going at work or with my body and I needed a change. So I changed my clothes. I started sewing up circle skirts and peasant blouses. I adopted 40’s and 50’s silhouettes knowing we could embrace each other. I started out wanting to make things that would look good and feel good and not be complicated or uncomfortable.

I started making dresses and falling in love with novelty prints. I started getting comments and compliments when I left the house. I felt amazing. My body wasn’t wrong, my mind was soothed by hours spent cutting, pinning and stitching. I started getting asked if I make my dresses for other people? Still I wanted something more.

I love teaching. I feel like my whole, best self when I am helping someone learn. Whether it’s sharing a new skill, opening up eyes and minds and hearts to new and inspiring ideas or even just tweaking and reinforcing old skills my heart races and my whole being lights up. I wanted to teach other folks how to do the things for themselves that made me so happy. Being self-sufficient is so rewarding and fulfilling. I want to give those skills to other folks and enable them to be rock stars in their own lives.

That’s why I started Teach. I wear my heart on my sleeve and tote my soap box of joy around and get to feel my best while helping other folks get to their best, too.

Funny how a little clothing can change your life. 

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


Outfit post: The Batter-Up! daydress


So this has taken forever! I finished this dress over the summer and have worn it a whole bunch of times. I was pretty damn pleased with the results. I did a post on the making back in August (August!?!?!) and here we are, live in the in the flesh. Or fabric.


I admit that a big part of what keeps me from blogging about my finished garments is really that I have a hard time snagging a good spot to take photos. With a 5 year old in the house and my full-time job plus teaching nights I get caught up with myself and have a hard time wanting to tear myself away from sewing versus taking pictures of the dresses and outfits I so love wearing. 

I am This reminds me of my most-hated habit people have in online dating personal ads: I'm so busy I can't meet people the usual way. Ugh. You're too busy to meet people? Great. Sounds like we have a great chance at making a go of things. *sigh* 

Dear readers, whoever you might be, I promise not to make sucky excuses in future about not being able to snap a few photos. Poor snaps are better than no snaps. Done. Moving on. 


This was my first try at making a dress with a pleated skirt. Like I said at the start, super pleased with the results! I did it free-hand using inverted box pleats. The only thing that really went wrong was the alignment of the front pleats with the waist darts. Fortunately the busy print keeps anyone by me from noticing. Woo?

Outfit details:
Dress- me-made, fabric from SR Harris
Cardigan- Gap outlet, shortened by me, similar here: Kinny and Howie
Shoes- Earth Shoes Solstice
Bracelets- various spots
Necklace- Christmas gift from my stepdad a few years ago





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