Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hits and Misses of 2014

I feel like 2014 was a good sewing year for me. I had a lot more hits than misses and I had a hard time narrowing it down. So here you go in no particular order....

Cake Patterns Cocoa Shrug
I wore this ALL summer and fall. It's perfect for those dresses I wear
that sit at my natural waist. I want to make another!

Maritime Shorts and Pants Hack
I'm so tickled I attacked my trouser fear and made these up. They are still
worn frequently!
Japanese Pattern
Chiffon Top. I love this top! I'm so happy I got to sew with chiffon and
it turned out to be an enjoyable experience. 
I made this ADORABLE vintage dress pattern up in one day because
I had a birthday deadline. She loved it and I loved it. 

Sewing Cake Hummingbird Skirt
This plaid wool skirt has to be one of my favorites of the
year. I refashioned an old aline skirt of my mother's
into this. I wear it until it's too warm to wear.
Love love love.
 Two others that have to be mentioned even if they haven't been blogged are my black plaid Lola and my blue floral sweatshirt top. Both have seen lots of wear and are pieces I reach for  again and again.

Now for the misses...

Athena Top Pattern
I really wanted this to work out. It had some of my favorite features,
pleats and a cowl. I don't know if it was pattern or fabric error but
it stretched and gaped like crazy. I wear it for pjs.

This is my second Athena top with a not such a cowl back.
The neckline was still to gapey and the facing wouldn't stay put so it never
got worn. I'm going to have to remake this into something else because
I like the fabric.

My other miss wasn't a garment but something I do feel badly about. I feel like I really dropped the ball on the Stashbusting Sewalong. With camp and the move I wasn't able to encourage or promote as much as I have in years past.

So what have I learned? Well that will have to wait until my Reflections and Goals post... :) Stay tuned.

How about you? Any terrible fails this year?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 5 of 2014 My Highlights

It's time to celebrate the past year and I thought I'd start with our new category: Personal Highlights!
I had a few doozies this year! Warning, Sappy personal stuff ahead... read at your own risk!

Going to Camp
I spent almost three months in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana and LOVED it! My official title was Craft Coordinator but I did a ton of other stuff too. It was so wonderful I'm going back again this coming year. I'm working on a crafting binder so things will be more organized. It's so exciting! If you really want to see more here's a clip of me doing crafts for Horse Camp. It starts at about 1:50. You can also see one of my Stripy Cabarita loose in the wild.

And this is our goofy staff video with great panos of the country we were working in. I'm posting this one more so I can find it again than for anyone else. It's long and sentimental. 

I've been wanting to move to a more populated area for a long while. It's finally happened and I couldn't be more excited. My parents and I moved to Montana and are renovating an old building built in the 1930s. It's got a great art deco look and we'll have a shop in the front and live in the back. I'll get to teach sewing lessons and have all sorts of goodies for sale in the shop.

This year has been one of the most painful yet one of the most blessed years for friendships in my life. What do they say? People; you can't live with them, you can't live without them. Or more accurately in my case, "Open arms leave the heart unprotected." Letting others into our lives, loving those we meet can be a very scary experience. Because of some sad things I was ready to run away from people but God directed my feet to camp where I was surrounded by people who graciously and unconditionally loved me. Recently He has shown me I cannot live my life in fear, anger or suspicion of others but in His strength and wisdom I can continue to bravely face the world and love those I find in it.

I am a Type 1 diabetic with Celiac Disease. Celiac was a more recent diagnosis and the path to wellness has taken awhile. When I look back on how well I survived camp and all the heavy lifting I'm doing on the house I am so pleased. All the healing my body has accomplished and the ability to grow strong again is so exciting. To have the confidence to walk to the grocery store or go on a hike without worrying whether I'll be exhausted halfway through is a wonderful thing! 

Thus ends my sappy roundup of 2014. I'm so excited to see what new adventures 2015 has! How about you? What have been your personal victories this year?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Make It With Wool Last Garments of the Year

Hello Sewing Buddies!
  I figured it was about time I posted these! I came home from summer camp, found out I was moving and found out I was not only helping my friend enter SD Make it With Wool contest I was entering it too. Cue the exacting frantic sewing, because this was for a contest!

Why yes, I am a perky librarian. 
Notice the flowing sleeves that are so in style as I display how green our leaves still are.

I did add a high waistband to show off my tiny waist with different tops. 
How I'll probably wear this outfit since it is SO MUCH green together!

So fun! Now you can see the guts which were all stash busted! I had to add color somewhere.

Since red is my favorite color and I think topstitching that can't be seen is a waste I opted for this dark magenta. A little spice but not super loud.

This was actually my second top and I loved how it came together. Even if it involved a lot of hand stitching to hide all my seams. 

  • I used Cake's Hummingbird pattern for the pencil skirt since I'd already made it up several times. I used my shaped waistband and simply pleated a silky remnant I had for the skirt lining.
  • For the final top I used a vintage Butterick 6856. I knew this era fit me pretty well so I made it up without muslining. Next time I'll lower the bust darts a smidge because I'm not going to wear bullet bras and things quite passable but not quite perfect.
  • I really like these as a whole outfit but even more as separates. It's Italian wool and I didn't know wool could feel so nice!
  • There was a lot of angst because of the deadline and the perfection needed in sewing but I'm glad I've got these pieces made because they will be nice to wear once we're done working on the house.
  • I'm kicking myself for not pretreating the wool. The lady I got it from said, "No, no. You must always dry clean wool" so I just took it home and started cutting.
Any ideas on how to wash wool at home? 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stashbusting Sewalong IMPORTANT Updates!

Hello Stashbusters!
I'd like to start with a big thank you for everyone who has participated these last two years. Especially as Cindy has had a shb and I've worked at camp and moved. Lots of changes and we've sewn through them all. I'm so proud of how everyone has continued on without our active participation!

You're all AMAZING!

We're in discussion about a Stashbusting 2015, because the fabric elves have been hard at work and we've still got fabric! There are going to be some changes though. To that end I've got a handy little survey for gathering more information about the future. Please take the time to fill it out so we can get a more accurate view of how to continue.

Thanks Everyone! I hope to see you all in the new year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stashbusted Knitted Christmas Cowl

Look! It's a bird. No, a plane. It's a....

Giant sling! No! A papoose carrier?

Sillies! It's the GAP-Tastic Cowl by Jen Geigley. Brought to you using my best model poses and faces. I've been taking notes!

Drown yourself in this fabulous texture! 


  • A mindless knit was just what I needed in the middle of all this moving. It gave me something creative to do while sitting on the couch in the evening absorbing the new move or resting my aching muscles. 
  •  I used Jen's pattern as a jumping off point. I added the contrast bands and kept knitting until I felt the proportions were right.
  • This is my one handmade Christmas gift!
  • I used some stashed Lion Brand yarn I bought in my teens. It had been ripped out twice before...
How are the holiday preparations coming for you? Are all your gifts ready to go?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

La La La Lola!

It seems 2014 is quickly coming to a close so I guess I better get my bum in gear and finish blogging about my makes! Here's one I whipped out and photographed right before the move. It's my first Lola by Victory Patterns.

Nananananana, Disco! Or maybe Ninja! 
Dog, how did you find me? 

Obligatory, all around view.

  • So this is very bright and I'm not sure I'm brave enough to wear it around in public... but it makes a smashing around the house dress.
  • I'm 5' 10" and I added 3 inches to lengthen the bodice pieces and skirt. I probably did something to the sleeves as well but I can't remember what.
  • Between adding the length and the stretch of the pink fabric I'm feeling proportions are a bit off?
  • The pink fabric is probably too light for this design as I can see it really stretched and bags a bit. 
  • When I was researching this pattern a lot of people questioned the amount of pieces for a knit dress. Well it's superb for color blocking which gives you the look of a body con dress with the comfort of your favorite sweatshirt. (Don't believe me, wait till you see my second version.)
  • Pattern went together super easily and really pretty quick for all those pieces. ;)
  • These both came from the stash and I'm pretty sure this was one of my FESA makes!
I think that's about it... any questions please ask and I'll try to remember... 

Question for YOU! Would you wear something this bright out in public? Are you a solid or a print fan?

Monday, December 1, 2014

My Free Fabulous Fabric Organization System

Hello Sewing Friends,
  I found a blog post intended for June but never published so here you go! Enjoy! I'm so excited to share this fabulousness with you!

Oh Fabric! How we love to pet and look at you. The problem is we can’t always find the exact piece we’re looking for, as we wade in the depths of the piles and totes or poke into the nooks and crannies we’ve stashed our preciousessss in. 

I don’t know about you but if I can’t see it, I forget it’s there and it languishes deep within the pile collecting who knows what as it lays on the floor. I wanted a better way to organize my fabric than folding and refolding on my shelves or scooting piles along the floor. I believe fabric is meant to be used as more than dust collectors and bug nests.

I read lots and lots of articles and spent hours on Pinterest looking for storage solutions but for everything I saw I had to buy something else so the piles stayed. Until I was reading Miss P’s blog one day and her method clicked! Here’s why I like it 

  • Utilizes shelving you already have
  • Uses cardboard you can get for free
  • Able to see the fabric from all four sides of the board
  • Makes every piece of fabric the “same” size
  • Allows you to store more fabric in the same amount of space ;)
  • Doesn’t cause an avalanche when you pull a piece of fabric out 

Two points I want to hammer home are by contrast are: this is superior to the bolt at the fabric store because the cardboard is thinner and the fabric is wrapped around ALL four sides so it is VISIBLE however you stack it! 
 While this is similar to using comic book boards this method uses free cardboard you cut for YOUR shelving, allowing you to maximize what YOU already have!

This was not something I did all at once, in fact I’ve been working on it for about a year. As boxes come available I cut them up which makes it very manageable and less overwhelming. It has been glorious! Everything stays neat and it is so easy to grab things in and out of the stack. It has also been frustrating because I seemed to keep pulling pieces I’d already rolled out to use. I guess that means the visibility thing is working! 
If I was really organized I’d have written the yardage and attached it to the piece but when do I ever pay attention to my yardage requirements? :)
Grandparents helping for the first big cut and sort.
Getting Dad in on the cardboard cutting.

This worked wonderfully for all but my smallest pieces of fabric which were overflowing the smalls tub. My mother couldn’t sleep one night and discover pinterest for herself. :) The next  day she offered two file tubs that were stored away unused. This works just like the file cabinet system only these fit on my existing shelving and didn’t cost me anything but cleaning time. It’s easy for me to pop the lids off and see all the pretties crammed in a row because you can bet I was cramming as much as I could in them. :)

I’ve finally found a storage solution that works with what I have; and once it is set up, requires no maintenance to keep up. It’s always ready to go and is easy to add new pieces to. (Bonus: it was super easy to pack up in the move, slotted them into garbage sacks and filled in the cracks.)

I never expect to use up all my fabric nor do I want to. I just want it to be in a manageable form and not take up all my space. This is what works for me.

Odds and ends I rolled and stuffed into a box.
How about you? What are your feelings about your stash of fabric? How do you organize it? Do you have a favorite method?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving Sewing Blogging World!
Oh my! How I’ve missed chatting and sharing projects with you all. I was naive in thinking just because this move was a very good thing didn’t mean it wouldn’t be a time of huge change and big adjustments. 

I have some projects backlogged but no brainpower to put a decent post together…. so they are waiting until I can do them justice.

Today, as I was learning to use a screw gun as we put in the new floor for my bedroom, I was struck by the similarities between remodeling and sewing. This remodel has been like repairing a very fine but very damaged vintage dress. (Although for the record I’ll take armpit stains over crystalized animal pee any day!) You walk seam lines and measure for floor boards. You true up the grain line on pattern pieces and true up and level the walls. You even use tape measures! Screws and nails instead of pins and threads but the same principles apply.

I’ve decided to hang out my seamstress shingle for mending, alterations and custom sewing. Lessons and classes will have to wait until we are finished our building. Life takes time which is hard to remember as we read blogs which only show the beautiful finished project or a watch a house get renovated in a 30 min. time slot.

I’m thankful I have this opportunity and support from my family and friends. I’m thankful for the sewing blogging world that inspires me to keep sewing and shows me that it is possible to bring in some income doing what we love. I’m thankful; as I ache from getting glutened, I only have chronic diseases that allow me to function normally most of the time and not something terminal. 

I could go on but my battery has finished charging and the screws and floor joists? are waiting… 
Until soon,

PS. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Oompaloompa Tunic

Hello Friends,
  Life is crazy. We all know this. And we all know the best cure for crazy is some sewing time. I stole some time from all the packing and made up this tunic that had been bubbling away in my head all summer. I used the super simple pattern from Happy Homemade Sew Chic and promptly made it as complicated as I could.

  Since it was a plaid, of course the yoke had to be cut on the bias, and I had to ignore Sanae's advice (which I can't find now) on how wide in the body it was and cut it according to the pattern measurements, also ignoring my own gut saying "That's really wide!!!" when I'd seen what I'd cut. A massive maternity moo moo was not the look I was going for.

  Despite all this it was the perfect soothing project I needed to work on. The gathers made me look like I was expecting, so I changed it to big chunky pleats across the front and back then shirred the life out of it to give me some waist definition. What makes playing with fabric so relaxing? I really enjoyed working on the puzzle of this top and am VERY happy on how it turned out. Even if it doesn't look so fabulous in the photos.

Look at the great poof and flare this has! 
Steam your shirring afterwards and it really makes it gather! This fabric was probably at the top end of gathering weight because it didn't really do much on the pleat sections since it was three layers of fabric.

Another random fact is look how much bias tape I had left over! Talk about a perfect stash bust!
Look at that little tail! Whew!
Tada! Another project off my FESA list!  When my guys saw it they promptly dubbed it the Oompaloompa tunic. It reminded them of this.

So how about you? Do you ever love something that maybe isn't the most flattering thing to wear? Is working on a sewing puzzle soothing or frustrating for you?

PS! It's the last day of 50% off my entire Etsy shop! I promise I'll stop spamming my Twitter and Facebook accounts after this. :) I know how much we all want more patterns and fabrics and how hard it is to resist a sale!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Big News and Big Fabric Sale

Hello My Sewing Bloggy Friends,
  Just in case you've been wondering why, after not being able to sew all summer, I didn't immediately come home and go on a sewing binge, it's because I'm MOVING!!! I've been wanting to leave these prairies that have cradled me through my adolescence for the last couple years but because of my health it has never worked out.

The little house on the little hill...
When I arrived home from camp it was quickly apparent the Lord had suddenly opened all the doors and I and my parents are going to be moving to a tiny town in Montana. It is a super creative community and I'm hoping I'll have lots of opportunities to teach sewing to individuals and groups. Opportunities of all kinds abound and I'm filled with delight as what I have been long hoping and dreaming of now seems to be taking shape.

Before I ride off into this new adventure I want to take a moment to say thank you and make a request. 

Thank you, you Wonderful Sewing Community, 
who gave me friendship and participation in community at times when I couldn't get out of bed, 
confidence and encouragement in front of a camera, 
and acceptance. 
Even if it is just in the realm of sewing, encouragement and kind words
 can impact a person's entire life. 

While I wish I could invite everyone to a huge sewing retreat or give hugs and cookies to you all but we live all over the world and I can't. What I can do is, between now and the 22nd, give you 50% off all the inventory in my Etsy shop, EmSewCrazy. Use the coupon code: 
(BF stands for Bloggy friends not boyfriends, just in case you were wondering. ;)

My request is that even if there is nothing in my shop that interests you could you please share this information with all your other sewing friends who might be interested in vintage sewing stuff? All my Dad's done is talk about how much crap I have and even though I let him know it's all his fault for dragging me to Antique shops as a child, I believe him. It's a dangerous place when a girl's business and hobby overlap. :) 
But as you all understand, I wouldn't have it any other way! I hope you all have a great weekend full of sewing fun! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How To Decide What Patterns To Buy

Otherwise known as My Pattern Wishlist...
I blame Gillian for her post on cold weather Inspiration and seeing photos of her cute winter style. I want cute winter style! Plus the time is quickly approaching when I may actually have to go out in cold weather and look decent. So I rounded up my pattern wish list. Buying patterns is a big deal for me so maybe talking through it will help...

Named Dakota Dress
Thanks to pinterest I stumbled upon this plaid version and was surprised to see what pattern it was actually from. I like this much more than the company's version because I didn't even give that image a second thought.

Yuki's Plaid Version
Then I saw Rachel's Winter Dakota in my favorite color and really really liked it!
Rachel's Winter Dakota
So how does it measure up?
PDF Price: $15. USD

Versatility/MMP (multiple make potential): It could be made up in different fabrics for different looks with the CF sewn open or closed. I can see tunic potential in this as well.

Layerabilty: I could wear multiple tops underneath it and my Espresso leggings. So warmth and cuteness!

Style: I have a feeling this could be dressed up or down depending on fabric choices and what I wore with it. Definitely could wear it to teach sewing classes!

Another less than compelling pattern illustration but I have really liked all the versions I have seen made up. Plus it's a favorite of Gillian's who I've officially decided is my cold weather muse.

PDF Price: $16.40 USD

Versatility/MMP: This really changes depending on fabrics used! There are super color blocking possibilities.You can leave off the pockets and bands for a dressier look and I don't have a knit pattern for princess seams. 

Layerabilty: I have the leggings and I think this might work with skinny jeans. You can make this from sweatshirt fabric so it would be warm and cozy! I could probably throw on a tshirt underneath if I wanted.

Style: Casual but could still be presentable as long as it doesn't look like I made it from pajama fabric. Could I teach in this?

Deer and Doe Bruyere!!!
I am not a fan of button up shirts but I LOVE THIS!! It is so pretty! I love the waistband and the skirt bit that makes it like a tunic and all the buttons down the front. So lovely! Classic shirt without being a classic shirt.

Bruyère shirt

Paper Pattern Price: $16.21 USD

Versatility/MMP: Um this looks like a statement piece to me so I'm not sure how many I could get away with making... No brilliant hack ideas are coming to me either...

Layerabilty: Pretty sure I could wear this over jeans and throw sweaters over it just like a normal shirt. I think it's more of a fall/spring piece anyway.

Style: OODLES!! LOADS!! I love it so much!

I've finally been bitten by the unmentionables bug. How can we resist all those cute patterns Measure Twice Cut Once put out?

PDF Price: $9.00 USD

Versatility/MMP: Obviously these could be made up a bajillion times and none of you would be the wiser! ;)

Layerabilty: I think they should layer with my other garments nicely. I'm also wondering if the boy short leg will get rid of the every present VLP issue..

Style: Never worn Boyshorts. Want to try. 

With all the wonderful and new independent patterns out there I have to have some criteria to decide where to best spend my limited funds. I also consider if I have something similar in design already in the pattern stash but these all passed that preliminary test.

What do you consider when you're pattern shopping? Any criteria I should add to my list? Any other great winter/fall patterns out there? Which do you think I'm going to spring for?? 

PS. The Bronte Top! I want that too...

Friday, October 3, 2014

October Stashbusting Theme Announcement

Oh Hey There!
  Look at all you ambitious stash busters! I think I say this each month but I'm so proud of all of you using your resources responsibly, putting thought and effort into your fabric collections and sewing up a storm! While things have conspired to keep me from my sewing machine I continue to be inspired by what you are creating!

So... October's theme... anyone taken a peek at last year's? Let me give you a hint..

Source: Christmas Countdown Clock

That's right friends! Christmas is coming! October's theme: Christmas Creating

Before things get too crazy let's get a head start on our Christmas Lists! What do you want to sew this Christmas? How can we cleverly use up the stash and make special gifts for those we care about?

Or do you? Do you believe in making Christmas gifts?

I usually stick to those who I know will appreciate the handmade goodness. Since the family has started to fly the coop and spread out I've been thinking for a couple years it would be neat to make ornaments each year. Something small to not add to the clutter but special. Mostly I'm going to try to rein myself in and not get the Christmas crazies!

What are your plans? I want to see your lists! Cause we're all procrastinating on those Halloween costumes and anything we get done now will seem like a bonus when we hit that Christmas rush.

I'll stop now before you shoot me for using the word Christmas a million times before it's actually here!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stripy Fall Stashbusting

Yippee! I finally got to sew something fun! It fits into my FESA plans and it is Stashbusting! Win Win Win! Do you want to see it?

 There are those mornings when you drag yourself out of bed and don't want to fight with your clothes. I was spoiled with all my easy throw on summer dresses and wanted something for fall and winter. When I found this gorgeous teal and grey strip remnant at a thrift store I thought it would make a nice cropped sweatshirt or something. Then I got it home and realized it matched perfectly with a remnant of gorgeous cotton interlock in my stash!

Yes, I'm feeling full of sass in this!
I used Cake Pattern's Hummingbird Top for the bodice lengthening the sleeves as much as I could with the yardage I had. As you can see it wasn't much. I cut 2 inch wide strips for the bands for the neckline and sleeves. I really like the neckline on this top. 

For the skirt I kept it simple. I serged all the remaining fabric into a tube, quartered it and pleated the front and gathered the back. I just eyeballed the pleats and kind of like how the five little pleats turned out. Easy peasy.

I didn't hem the bottom and the sweatshirt fabric had enough body that I didn't need to reinforce the waist seam. I sewed it on just my serger and it took about an hour. I can't tell you how delighted I am with this color combo and comfort. I think this will see a lot of wear with my Espresso leggings and sweaters!
How's your fall sewing going? How often do you reuse your patterns? I find myself often reaching for this top or the Cabarita pattern when I'm wondering what to do with my knits.