Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year of Firsts

Looking back it has been a year of firsts for me.

I started selling my baby boots and vintage patterns.

I joined the best team on Etsy, Pattern Patter.

I got off of facebook... twice.

I joined WeSewRetro and it didn't take me very long to realize I loved the interaction blogging gave me!

I started Tumbleweeds In The Wind.

I joined Pinterest!! (Still excited about that.)

I started sewing vintage dress patterns culminating in a dress from an unprinted pattern.

I've started to make friends around the world and have already learned so much from them.

I participated in my first craft show.

I made my first pair of real pants conquering a big fear in the process!

I am thankful for so much this year too!

A dear little friend who sews with me.
 This was her Christmas outfit.

Privileged to be a part of these amazing kids lives!
(and their parents too :)

A super special night with my mother at our first
Broadway show. One of my favorite stories!

Living in a place with some of the most stunning skies!
There's so much more but so little time! I am already making big plans for 2013 which you'll be reading about shortly! I hope you'll hang around in the new year to share your thoughts too! In fact I'll end with a question for you! What are you most thankful for in 2012?

Friday, December 28, 2012

After Christmas Parties

This morning is a brief moment of sanity amidst the blood sugar insanity going on against my will and best efforts in my body. While I'm waiting for the Dr.'s advice I thought I'd quickly pop on and let you know of some great things going on online. *(Cause we all need ideas for spending all that Christmas money;) 

I'M SO EXCITED!!! If you haven't heard of Cake patterns you need to hop over to Steph's blog and website to check them out. Her Tiramisu dress pattern was at the top of my Christmas money list BUT she was running an amazing treasure hunt on her new website and I managed to find all 8 pieces of cake and plan to claim Tira as my prize! There are still a few days left to join in the hunt if you want to take on the challenge!
Buy Your Copy!

On a side note: I'm delighted to be able to "eat" cake with others and know it is gluten free and isn't going to affect my blood sugars.

Next up: The 12 Days of Christmas!

Made By Rae is having 12 Days of giveaways on her blog. She also makes patterns with an emphasis on Boy stuff. Today is the cute Charlie Tunic! If you don't win the give away you can purchase it here

Pattern Patter is having their own 12 Days celebration in an effort to clear out inventory before the new year. Check out this thread to see the list of those having sales and scoop up all the coupon codes.

Last but not least there's me!! I too am having a sale. It's a special One Day Only sale on the 31st. I am offering a whopping 40% off all patterns and fabric in my store. I've set it up so the discount is already applied so you can just shop to your heart's content!

So that's it for me now... off to take care of my blood sugars!

*Parentheses in italics mean loud whispers in case ya didn't know.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas Dress Sewing

Lots of playing

More fun and games!

I finally gave in to the Christmas mayhem, let go of my goals and started to enjoy the people surrounding me. I hope everyone is having a lovely time and I'll see you all in the new year! I have lots of big plans!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Creatives

As Christmas quickly approaches the the blogosphere has filled with two sorts of posts. Most are full of ideas and showing off handmade gifts, the others are on why creatives are NOT giving handmade gifts.

So this got me wondering why do I create and what is it about Christmas that makes me kick it into overdrive?

1. I make things. I do it all the time regardless of holidays. There is something in me that must come out, if I can't sew I cook or play music.
2. I love people.
3. When it comes to gifts I have more supplies and time than I do money.

At Christmas time this gets kind of crazy because I keep finding more and more people I would love to give gifts to. After living with a lady with Alzheimers and dealing with some health issues of my own I have realized my time is limited and there is only so much I can accomplish within a certain timeframe. So here's some guidelines I've developed for myself on how to stay sane and happy while Christmas Crafting.

Do they need/want this? Has it been requested? 
The first gifts I made for this Christmas were for my not-nieces and nephew. Since they are small and have a ton of toys I asked their mother THIS SUMMER what they needed for Christmas. She requested vests.
All cut out and ready to be sewn

She wanted solids and basics that would go with whatever they were wearing. I jazzed them up a little bit with some fun appliques that expressed their personalities a bit. I got them finished the end of November.

Does this gift scream someone's name?
One thing I have noticed is the closer it gets to Christmas the less I can creatively think. If I don't already know what I am making for someone they don't get a handmade gift. Unless a project jumps out at me screaming their name. (am I insane? I can't be the only one fabric talks to)
Last year I saw the Koos loop infinity scarf pattern and some fabric in my stash demanded to be made into the perfect gift for a friend. This is a great quick project that allows me to use some of my vintage trims. This year, I was visiting with my good friend from college and she mentioned infinity scarves were very popular in her area, so I asked her about colors and whipped up this.

Surprise!! It's a bit stiff since I used some iron on fusible but it
should break down and be more fluid with wear.
Do I already have all the supplies I need?
 As Christmas draws ever closer I am running out of time but still have people I want to give something special to. I'm not going to run out and buy more supplies to add to my bunny-like stash so it either comes from there or it doesn't get made. I've come to realize I would rather take the time to make something that fits the person instead of pouring my creative energies into something amazing that they wouldn't care about.

Christmas acts as a huge deadline in our little creative worlds, where we so often work at our own pace to deadlines we set. It is a time where our focus is switched from sewing mostly for ourselves to focusing on others. Christmas is a time to gather together with those we love and care about and if the stress of Christmas creating is keeping us from that then maybe we need to rein it in. After all the world isn't going to end if we don't get that tote bag made for G-ma Zee! I had to remind myself of this very fact this week, when some unexpected events came up. It's the little things and the Love that matters.

My parting thought for you is also one of my gifts to another good college friend. She is a creative, people loving, crazy like me. I found this quote in a fortune cookie and LOVED it! I turned it into a pin for her to put on her bag. So enjoy this crazy time of the year my creative friends!
She wins the ugly gift award. I need to work on my embroidery skills!

Monday, December 17, 2012

When The Cat's Away The Mouse Will... Dye Fabric?

Once upon a time a creative girl was left all alone in her little house on the little hill, and as the wind blew outside, she sat and stared at her pile of knit fabric. She inwardly bemoaned the fact that she had no prints in her stash. What was she to do with all these solids? How was she to turn them into something striking and interesting?
Her attention fastened on the most non-commital shade of pink she had ever seen. Why had she bought it? Was it because it had been one of the only knits in the store? It was super soft but the longer she stared at it the more wishy washy the pink grew. It seemed to be whining out of the pile, "Do I have to be pink? Can't I be some other color?"
"Why not!" the girl thought remembering the opened packets of RIT dye she had seen in her father's collection of creative supplies.
After some intense scrubbing and careful reading this is what the girl had!
She even took the time to don the proper safety gear.

The packet said Navy Blue but it looked purple in the sink. The fabric was turning colors though and that was all that mattered. She soon realized she had a lot of dye! Much more than she needed for one piece of fabric. A second mad grab and dash, careful perusal was given to the knit stash and a few more pieces ended up in the dye bath. She forgot the part of the directions that said rinse water through fabric until it is clear part. 
After a careful search for a container without holes the girl had to settle for a bucket lined with a large plastic bag. 
ready to rinse... and rinse

Bright pinks and blues, a terrible white, a bright blue floral that looked like it was ready to stab you, and the non-commital pink that started the whole project were all lovely and varying shades of blue and lavender. 
"I can work with this." the girl thought. Work she did! Squeezing and squishing but trying not to totally pull the knit out of whack the girl rinsed her pile of fabrics. 
After a quick wash and a very hot dry the dye was set and the fabrics were ready to take on a new life! The creative girl went to take a nap after she scrubbed as much purple off the utility sink as she could. She wondered if her mother would notice the next time she washed her hair...

Friday, December 14, 2012

1st Craft Fair Experience

I successful completed my first major craft show!! Through snow and cold my friend and I persevered and had a great weekend full of learning.

Our booth got lots of compliments on set up. We had great height and depth going on and I was pretty proud since we weren't able to do a practice set up beforehand.
Note to self, remember to adjust lighting and retake bad pictures.
We got the largest boot size and managed to fill it up nicely! My friend and her husband built a great display for all her handmade jewelry organizers. Between the two of us we had a nice mix of items that meshed very well display wise.
   We met a lot of amazing people, Caramel Creations was the booth right next to us! We got lots of delicious samples and were inspired by the story of this amazing company started by a mother and two daughters. The other vendors were very friendly and helpful.
   The time flies by! While we were never wall to wall people it stayed pretty busy and time at the table flew by. Between visiting, crocheting rugs, eating and bathroom runs the day was over before we knew it!
   Have a partner. I couldn't have done this without my friend, Natosha from OneBlessedMommie. We found it easier to talk about each other's products than about ourselves and ended up being saleswomen for each other. It's great to have another set of eyes and hands around to bounce ideas off of and allow you to leave the table or chat a bit. It also allows you to run out and nab a tasty gluten free lunch!

Learning Points:
  Get your rest! It makes your time a lot less overwhelming and helps you deal pleasantly with the customers.
   Bring drinks and snacks. While this may not be allowed in all venues it's really nice to have some water to sip on. With my diabetes and celiac, snacks are a must too. Make sure they are easy to eat and don't leave your hands messy.
   DIVERSIFY! We probably heard and later read this tip the most. We had mid to higher priced items so missed those customers looking for something small to pick up.
   Don't give up! Since it was our first show we were warned not to expect too much.

  It was great to get live feedback on our items and see people's reactions as they interacted with our products.
I learned I must get used to hearing, "Oh these are SO cute! But I don't have a baby."
It was great to see that my baby boots are a hit but I need to make something that has a wider target audience if I want more sales. I also need to seek a venue that caters to my boot target market.

My friend heard, "Oh what a great idea!
"That's just a board?
"I've been trying to make something for my jewelry."
We had to learn tact and patience to politely reply to people when we felt like her hard work and great product was getting the short end of the stick.

My favorite jewelry organizer
All in all we had a great time and learned a lot. We made several great connections and leads on some other great shows. We look forward to the next time.

Here's a few links I found the day before or right after our show: Handmade Jane; Etsy Article
This is an amazing pinboard with lots of great display ideas:
Do you have any great craft show tips? I'd love to hear other thoughts and ideas. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sewing Swap!

  The holidays are approaching quickly and our local sewing group, "Tubs Anon." decided to squeeze in one more sewing day before the madness started! After reading about all the lovely fabric swaps on different blogs I suggested we try one ourselves in lieu of gifts.
  We sat in a circle a showed everyone what we had brought. One lucky person drew the special paper and got to choose first, whoever she chose from went next, ect. Those who had brought more things got to choose more times. It went pretty well but some had to wait awhile for their first pick.
  Next time we will put all our stuff in a pile and draw numbers to choose items in that order. That way everyone will get to go once before some get to choose twice.
  Most of us were delighted to get rid of sewing supplies we were never going to use! Some books found new homes and fabric and notions got happy new owners.

  I got rid of some crazy leopard knit, a bear pattern and some sports fabric that I was NEVER going to use. While I was trying to decrease my stash I ended up bringing home a bit of a pile.
Bow fabric is a sweatshirtish fabric for a spring jacket for a not-niece.
The light pink check will be a summer dress.
2 shades of green blue soft and cozy knits I'll eek some warm winter shirts out of.
A fun blue border print I'll make myself a skirt out of
or a dress for the little neighbor girl who sews.
The plus side is I can see the garments I will make out of this stuff so it shouldn't sit around while I wonder what to do with it.
How about you? Have you ever attended a fabric/sewing swap? How did it work? Do you ever go home with more than you came with?

Friday, December 7, 2012


Woke up to winter this morning! I'm off to the Craft show while Fluff and Tough keep a look out. Bet you can't guess which is which!
Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Life, Expect the Unexpected

Isn't that the cutest sewing print!

I know, cliched title. But I really don't want to break my posting schedule so here I am late at night typing away. This week has been busy prepping for my first big craft show and making a late night trip to the ER.
As I was gathering my things I found a box of old inventory/projects and decided to get them ready too. I had to smile to see how I have grown as a seamstress. From purses that didn't need pockets or zippers to those that do; and how the planning of old projects led to skills that allow me to make something more beautiful and polished now. It was good to look back and realize the time and materials weren't wasted. And there was growth! Always nice when you can see good growth on oneself.
So that's it for my serious post. Has there ever been a project that made you stop and see your sewing skills had grown?
See ya all next week where I hope to share how my sewing group's first Christmas Sewing Swap went and my first craft show!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Vintage Pattern Sizes and How To Choose Yours

   In my last post I promised to try to explain a bit about how vintage patterns sizes work and why we who sew should not get hooked up on an arbitrary number called "Size"

   First some history, before Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls and Vogue became "The Big 4" they were simply creative people who found a market for their goods. My favorite is Butterick who started making and selling women's patterns on his kitchen table in 1863 at the encouragement of his wife. To read more, One Yellow Cottage has a great piece on Dating Patterns.

   But with each pattern company came a different measure of sizing. By 1937 a complaint was made to standardize the pattern making industry. Please pop over to this blog and read about the survey the U. S. Department of Agriculture published in 1941. Or Fashion Incubator has a wonderful in-depth 3 part series on the history and evolution of garment and pattern sizing. 

   While pattern sizes have not changed as quickly as RTW there was still a bit of vanity sizing going on and more importantly different UNDERgarments! 
Wonder why those patterns had such tiny waists? Yep, corsets, girdles, Bullet bras! So never fear my friends, women didn't really look that way naturally!
You can expect to do alterations when you buy vintage patterns; but really, we have to alter most patterns we buy, vintage or not, since we are all wonderfully and uniquely made! 
Gertie has the best list of vintage pattern alterations with quick explanations on how to do them! I have used her method of letting out the waist on a couple dresses now with beautiful results. 
   The oldest vintage patterns only came with the bust size printed on them since it was assumed the seamstress would adjust the waist and hips to suit her personally. Most vintage patterns also came only in one size. Don't let that stop you though, there a lots of great tutorials on grading up or down a size and remember you may only need to adjust one part, ex. using Gertie's method.
Here's my online picks for grading:
Casey at Elegant Musings
Megan Neilsen's fast method

  Another thing to remember is Ease. To explain this simply, garment or wearing ease is what you need so you don't rip out of your clothes like the Incredible Hulk when you sit down, bend over or take a breath. Style ease is dependent on the look the designer was going for. Here's an example:
Lots of style ease
Very fitted not a lot of style ease

Depending on the style you may be able to buy a smaller size if it is more loose fitting; or larger if the vintage style is fitted and you don't want to do a lot of changes.

I feel like there is a lot going on in this post, with links sending you here and there. Here's my short list of buying vintage pattern tips.

1. Buy by Bust Measurement not Size. You can use your full or high bust measurement.
2. Decide what undergarments you are wearing and plan alterations accordingly. 
3. Remember most vintage patterns only came in one size which makes cutting and fitting easier. 
4. Consider the garment's ease.
5. Join WeSewRetro, it's a great community, with a vast experience base to bounce questions and ideas off of. Or contact me and I'll do my best to help ya too.

So ends my vintage pattern ramble. Please feel free to leave comments adding any more tips you may have on buying or using vintage patterns. Or correcting any incorrect info I may have posted. I tried to link back to my sources and get accurate stuff but ya never know...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Your Size... And Why It Doesn't Really Matter

  The other day I was having a conversation with someone I care about. She was excitedly telling me how she was beginning to sew for herself again and buying patterns. 
“You know they go up about two sizes from your ready to wear. So if you are __ in RTW you will be around  __ size in a sewing pattern.” I mentioned.
“Ahg!” She gasped. “I can’t be that size.”
   My heart broke a little when she said that. Didn’t she realize her shape didn’t change but the different companies use different systems? A woman’s size, whether she be young or old, seems to be something that stirs up great emotion and struggle. 
   My struggle was slightly different than most, since as a budding 14 year old I was interested in GAINing weight so I wouldn’t look so much like a holocaust survivor. Forced by a disease to count the carbohydrates of everything that came near my lips I wasn’t complaining when I did get to eat. I was more embarrassed about the bruises on my arms from checking my blood sugar than I was about my hair or clothes. I would get angry when I had to run laps to bring down my high blood sugar instead of getting to visit and eat ice cream with friends in the evening. 
   One of the blessings of living as a Type 1 Diabetic is the detachment I can view my body with. It is a piece of equipment I must use to get through my life. Unlike my car or my house which I can’t trade in, or paint whatever colors I want, My Body is something I can decorate however I want, changing whenever I feel like it. And my “Size” is merely a set of measurements that tells me how best to decorate. They are part of a complex math equation and when I get them correct I can create beautiful things! 
   My friends, I care about you and want you to feel as beautiful as I know you are so let’s sit down and have a serious chat about our body measurements and sewing patterns. So put on your best bra and undies, grab a tape measure and lets get the first part of the math problem correct by taking accurate measurements of ourselves.
Here's a few links to the beginning measurements we'll need: 
BurdaStyle with pictures and explanations.
Simplicity with clear picture and instructions.
Threads with a printable chart and comprehensive measurements.
Vintagegirl on choosing a pattern based on full or high bust measurements.
So now you have your homework!
Monday we’ll have a little history lesson on how sewing pattern sizes came to be and tips on how to choose the correct “size” vintage pattern for you!
Wednesday, we’ll take a look at what some modern pattern companies have to say for themselves and whatever else I dig up that is interesting.
Until next time, keep rolling with the wind!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Knitting Master

What a way to replace a hoodie!
I had this in the works for about a year!

A couple years ago my youngest brother came to me and said, “Hey, let’s learn to knit.” 
“Ok,” I said, “I’ll talk to the lady in our church who knits and see if she’ll teach us.” 
Instead I walked away and promptly forgot about it. Yes, because that’s how cool of a big sister I am. 
This happened a couple of times until one day he walked out of his bedroom and said, “Hey! Look what I made!” 
We stared in amazement at the beautiful scarf in his hands. Knitting ladies oohed and ahhed over his remarkable tension and perfect gauge. 
When asked, "How did you learn this?" 
“YouTube.” was his reply.

Fast forward a year and my brother drags me over to a lady and says, “Tell her she needs to learn to knit. She can’t just crochet.”
After a long conversation, in which I learned many interesting things, like the fact that knitting was invented by fishermen and in the beginning was strictly done by men until women stole it from them; or knitting was made for clothing because of it’s built in stretch, I was converted. I picked up my first set of needles and learned to cast on! 

It has been two years since I began to knit and after multiple Interesting knit projects,  I have finished my first full sweater! 

Meet My Joseph's Coat Of Many Colors

It is super beautiful, warm and I love to wear it! It has replaced several old hoodies and is much warmer than they ever were. It is 100% wool from Noro. I adapted two Noro patterns taking the shape from one and the stitch pattern from the other. I took the extra time to knit it to the correct length for me. For the back and front I just added rows to the bottom. For the sleeves, I knit an extra row before every sleeve increase so it would grow in proportion. 

To finish, I did a four strand braid in two colors to match the sweater colors. After some research on the best methods, I used grosgrain ribbon on the back and perl floss to sew the buttons on so I wouldn't rip the sweater with wear and tear.
A cozy collar instead of a hood to keep my neck warm.

I’m so thankful my brother took the initiative to learn a new skill and wouldn’t leave me alone until I learned it too! I really enjoy having someone to discuss a creative process with and watching him create is truly inspiring. Plus I now have some amazing things to wear!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Random Ramble

Hello All,
For those Stateside, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving break. I had a great time with friends and family, culminating in a surprise birthday party my family threw for me! They managed to keep it a secret for a week! I was so surprised and thankful for all who attended. We had a great pork chop dinner and lots of visiting!
We also got a kitten!
First day of terror. All it wanted to do was hide

Second day of curiosity.
We have outdoor cats here in the country but when you first get them they have to come in and get lots of love and pets so they don't make the incredible journey back to the place of their birth. It has the prettiest blue eyes and is rapidly getting SPOILED!
Other random annoucement: in case you hadn't noticed it is Cyber Monday. I am trying to control myself from splurging on the online fabric sales by working hard on my Etsy Store! Stop in, ask me questions, keep me from buying fabric!!!
Here's a link to see all my on sale items: 

In case you can't find anything there my wonderful Pattern Patter team is having another spontaneous blitz and new patterns are going up all day today in this thread! Catch them hot off the presses!

And just in case you can't find anything in either of those places here's a HUGE list of all my Pattern Peeps who are having sales. Most end today, I believe.

 If that doesn't keep you occupied for awhile, you are reading the wrong blog. Looking ahead, I've started on Christmas gifts which puts a damper on posting my creations. So I am planning some posts on vintage pattern sizing and other quirks or historical facts I can dig up on the internet and find interesting. 
Until the wind blows something else by,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Those Who Make Smooth Sailing

As Thanksgiving approaches I realized how timely this post turned out to be. This is a tribute to two different ladies who impacted my life in very different ways. So just read the middle if you don't want to delve into all my heartfelt personal stuff.

So Zoe was the first blog that I followed. The first time I realized that sewing with stuff other than fabric from the fabric store was "Cool" and "Green" The first time I realized others thought shopping at Thrift stores was a good thing to do. That chopping up existing clothes and making something new is responsible consumerism and can have super cute results.
Apparently, I've been cool and trendy for YEARS and never knew it!
She opened up the whole sewing blogosphere to me and made me realize my need for nautical wear even though the only sea near me is of grass and cows. So, when I received a navy blue and white striped knit I knew Exactly what I was going to do with it! Make something that would make So Zoe proud! Not only was it nautical feeling but it counted as a refashion since it had already been cut into a large long sleeve tee shirt.

I cut some of the length from the back and front and added a band of ribbing at my natural waistline. I turned the sleeves on their side and added a bit from what I had cut off from the body. I also added a bit of elastic to ruche the longer side because it curved into my leg because of the sleeve cap.
I love it! It is big and bold. It says "Here I am!" I feel like a piratess in it.

Arrrrgggg Mateys! We'll get you with our needle and thread.

I got this knit from a friend who was very big and bold. You knew when she walked into the room; always sharp, elegant and tasteful; always "Here I am". Apparently she was old enough to be my grandmother but she told me to call her Beth. When I was in that awkward, "I'm an adult now?!" stage she treated me like one and challenged me to think. One of her favorite things to say to me was, "Well, Why not?" when I was making excuses about something. We had such great conversations. She loved Jesus, people, and quality work. She was passionate about everything she loved. She is part of the reason I learned to knit and she did her best to help me excel! When she suddenly passed away her family gave me all her fabric and all the yarn my brother and I could stuff into our van. She gave in life and in her death because she realized life is not about the things we own but those we love.

Because of her I have the confidence to wear crazy things like my Piratess Tunic and because of Zoe, I'm blogging about them.

As Thanksgiving nears I am so thankful for the people who have impacted my life and given me confidence to pursue my dreams. I'm also thankful for my beautiful not-niece and her wonderful Mom who took these pictures for me. Even though Thanksgiving is not an international holiday I hope everyone takes some time this week to count the blessings that surround you and let others know you love them.