Category Archives: Inspiration

Sew Grateful Giveaway Winner and Awesome Things You Ought To Know About 2/12/12!

I have no photos for today, so here is Maru. God, I love Maru.

First of all, I would like to thank each and everyone one of you who commented to win my giveaway prizes. Not only did you remind me of a plethora of cartoons that delighted me as a child (Hong Kong Fooie? Was the best. THE BEST.) but your ideas for these items and descriptions of what you are currently working on made my day(s). I really do love to see what other people are doing with this sewing and crafting business, it’s so inspirational and activates my own creativity. So thank you, for letting me shamelessly rip you off. You guys, you make it happen.

Second of all, congratulations to the randomly selected winner, number 26, Mokosha! (I don’t know how to show you the randomizer thing so you will just have to trust me. I promise I really did find a device on the interwebs and enter in the parameters and make it spit out a number, I’m not lying to you! I’m just not good enough at life to figure out how to grab that image and post it here!). Mokosha is a knockout on many levels. She is a phenomenal seamstress. She is whip smart and gorgeous. And she is probably one of the funniest people writing about sewing across whom I have come. She is effortlessly cool (I assume, I really don’t know how much effort she puts into being super awesome), she’s an art historian, an archaeologist, a great photographer, and a generally stand-up human being. All of her posts come in the form of poems, which is just plain delightful, and she wears the hell out of a blazer. So, Mokosha, forgive my gushing, but I have a sewing crush on you, and I am happy to contribute to your crafting adventures.

And honestly, I think I have a sewing crush on every person who commented. You people, you are the best. Thanks for stopping by, and come back again soon, I’ve got more giveaways planned for the future.

And now for the awesome things about which you should know.

1. Okay, this is going to sound absolutely insane, but, um, do you guys know about Ebay? I literally just found out about Ebay. Of course I knew what it was, but I swear, I have never used it before this month. Long story short I really liked the bags from the Jason Wu for Target collection, but of course it sold out within minutes. So I went to the internet for guidance, like you do, and I was like, wow, a plethora of bags exist, out there, online! In fact, the whole collection is available, online, you can buy it, today! Which I just found to be stunning. And then I found out that there is FABRIC on there. And PATTERNS. And NOTIONS, probably, I haven’t actually checked. Now, I’m not really someone who should be purchasing fabric, but, yeah, it’s there, if you need it. How cool is that? Yeah, obviously I’m rather behind the times. Just go with it.

2. The first two seasons of NewsRadio are currently streaming for free on Hulu. Obviously I don’t need to say anything else.

3. I’m sure you’ve seen this, but Casey’s tutorial for Valentine’s day strikes me as a gorgeous way to embellish a sweater.

4. I am not a fan of the Maxi dress. I honestly think it’s a garment that has been designed to make ladies feel negative about themselves, like harem pants, or drop-waist dresses. HOWEVER, two separate but equally delightful people have created/displayed maxi-dresses lately that actually make me say, wow, I want one of those. Would I wear it outside? No. No I would not. But would I swan about my apartment in it, feeling lithe and ten feet tall? Yeah. Yeah, I would. So check out this Maxi dress by Cirque du Bebe, and this Maxi dress by Cation Designs, and tell me you don’t want a piece of that. Yeah. Thought so.

5. Very little has every described how I feel almost all the time as much as this amazing post by Hyperbole and a Half. Read it. It will not make you feel better about yourself, but it will reassure you that everyone else feels the say way you do.

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Filed under Giveaway, Inspiration, Sewing

Sew I thought you should know…

How grateful I am to all of you. Every single person who stops by and reads this thing. Seriously, it makes me a little dizzy sometimes when I consider how three years ago I didn’t know a thing about sewing, and now it’s this huge part of my life. It has become a form of therapy, an outlet of creativity, a way to be part of a community and a continual delight for me, so despite the long nights of hemming and the occasional (frequent) “what the hell does that instruction mean I hate facings/zippers/basting/the world” moment, I am so grateful for my little sewing addiction. Through sewing I’ve been introduced to so many amazing people and ideas, primarily digitally, and yet I feel connected with people across the world when they say, seam rippers, AM I RIGHT? And I’m like, bitch, please, I totally get you on every level.  Some of us serge and some of us hand stitch everything. Some of us love synthetics and some of us swear by naturals. Some of us love punk, some prep, some (a lot) vintage, some modern, some cutesy, some chic, but I have learned so much from so many people out there, and I can’t help but be insanely grateful for every blog, comment and query I’ve discovered along the way.

Brother Cadfael, contemplating how hard it is to measure stuff without opposible thumbs.

As a mostly self-taught sewer, I’m sometimes embarrassed by the gaps in my crafting knowledge. That’s why I’m so thrilled for each and every tutorial and tip that drifts my way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone post something about “look how I finished this seam” or “easy buttonhole tips” and I’m like, seam finishing, eh? What’s that, then? (I do know what it is now, but it’s sad how long it took me to realize that A. fabric frays and B. you should do something about that.) So I’m grateful, deeply, to everyone and their blogs, because my god have you saved my sewing ass, as it were.

I’m also so so so grateful to my mom. And my grandmothers, both of them. Not because they taught me how to sew, but because they didn’t.

So many people out there have these amazing stories of sewing at their mother’s knee or knitting along with their grandmother. I don’t have that, you know what? I got My maternal grandmother, Isolda, could barely sew a button. And honestly, she never had to, she was the daughter of wealthy Russians who emigrated to Iran, then Persia, in the 1920’s. She had maids and pet bears (true story!) and several fiances. She was, in a word, amazing. And when she met my grandfather and moved to the States, she brought a bunch of fabric with her. And, somewhere along the way, bought more. And never used it, ever ever ever. Instead she bought bags and bags of clothing from American department stores and considered herself under-dressed in less than four pieces of jewelry. She read me Pushkin and took me to get manicures and made me eat weird Russian foods (which I in turn grew to love, and to this day am bonkers for borscht).  She has a sense of style that was essentially Parisian, but with that Eastern European taste for the gaudy (what? It’s true! I lived in Moscow! I would know!). And she never ever did anything with all the fabric and thread and buttons and snaps she had bought. She was a buyer. And it all sat, unused, until my mother unearthed the box from Iran and I discovered the yards and yards of shirting and boxes and bags of notions. My grandmother never knew about my sewing hobby, she passed away before it became such a big part of my life. But something tells me she would have liked it. She liked everything else I did (what else does a grandmother do?).

My father’s mother died when I was very small. But as it turns out, she was an embroiderer. I never knew.

And then there is my mother.

My amazing unbelievable delightful mother, who suffers through kickboxing with me and puts up with my bratty bitchy abuse when I force her to take my picture and lets me know gently, but in no uncertain terms, when I’ve made something that just doesn’t look awesome one me. My mother who, unlike her own mother, hates shopping and make up and buys small batches of really good quality clothing once or twice a year, at most. Thanks to her guidance and my ever-expanding pattern collection, I’m trying to erase the Forever 21 and H and M that have long littered my closet, and instead replace the crap with a small collection of great quality highly flattering garments. She is always willing to put up with me babbling about work or life or sewing techniques or why I think standing on an escalator should be illegal (it really should).  She watches Downton Abby and she laughs at Parks and Recreation so hard she once cried. She bought a fedora because she wanted a hipster hat (her words). She loves I Am Maru almost as much as I do. And she doesn’t think it’s weird that I jumped headfirst into making my own clothing and devoting a lot of my time to grainlines and pinking sheers. So while my lovely father just says, “nice” when I model a new blouse or skirt or hand dyed shibori inspired jacket, my mother actually stops, looks, and tells me how she really feels. And I am, and will forever be, grateful.

And of course, I must thank all the cats.

Tiny Tiger and Mr. Malevolent, who live with my parents.

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And Brother Cadfael, who lives with me.

Thank you all, everyone, I am sew grateful. And as for anyone who actually read this 1000 word post, thanks for that too. I’m sew grateful for you, too.

Don’t forget about the giveaway! Debi listed 4 rounds of links here, and you can still enter my grand giveaway here! I will be drawing a winner on Sunday, so enter by Saturday, February 11th at 11:59pm and you will get a shot!

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Filed under Inspiration, Sewing

Knickers In A Twist

So, it’s that special time again, the time that single people and coupled up couples…also hate, I assume. Yes, that’s right, folks, it’s Valentines Time! The big day is just a scant 14 days away and already Etsy and CVS and Godiva have teamed up to make everyone feel bad about themselves at all times. It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiime, of the YEAAAAAR.

Oh, that’s just the bitterness talking. Really, I don’t actually hate Valentine’s day, I think it’s sweet if it’s done in an understated way and HILARIOUS if it’s not. And I look awesome in red, so I don’t really mind the color-scheme. But given that as a single woman I’m entitled to, nay, SUPPOSED to, EXPECTED to hate this holiday, I figure I might as well act the part. Which is a shame, because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sewing my own unmentionables.

Which brings up two questions. One, as a single person, why am I expected to always be sad and bitter and especially angry about couples? I’m happy for people in relationships, if that’s what they want. I’m especially thrilled for people like my friend Jenny, who is getting married this summer, or my cousin Jessie, who is getting married this spring. Not only are they celebrating their love, but I get to make some new dresses! It’s win win!

And number two, what do you call your undergarments? Underwear? Panties? Knickers? Immortal Enemies? Best Friends? And, perhaps more importantly, would you make your own? Would you make your own slips, your own negligees? Would you, in fact, make your own Valentine’s day/Friday night/Tuesday morning (what? I don’t know your life or your, um, schedule) ensemble?

Now, I’ve made my own pajamas, and even a half-slip for an event, but I’ve been more and more interested in breaking into the world of what-to-wear-under-there. Luckily, BurdaStyle just released a couple of new patterns to that effect including this retro-charmer:

Cute, right? But they have a zipper which is just odd. Who has zip-up underwear? Burda has also released this business:

Which is not exactly my cup of tea but I could see many a woman or daring drag queen rocking it. They actually made 9 bedtime inspired patterns, and why any person needs a boudoir bolero escapes me. But apparently they do, and you can see all 9 patterns here.

I recently bought a few downloadable patterns off of Etsy, too, from the lovely Anna Depew, who blogs at A Few Threads Loose and offered a sew along based on these patterns:

Is it weird that I really want to make myself tap pants? Maybe I just like the NAME, tap pants? But really, I’m sure I would wear them with everything. All the time. Of course.

And there is a matching slip/camisole. But say you don’t want to spend any money? Personally, I never want to spend any money. Well, then you have this amazing slip pattern/sewalong from Sherry at Patterns Scissors Cloth (clearly I love this woman, I keep linking back to her, she’s just inspirational and helpful, why isn’t everything in my life like that?)

Behold, the Ruby slip. It’s a FREE PATTERN.  Actually, in these shades it looks spot on, as Sherry might say, (she lives in New Zealand, they say that there, right?)  for Valentine’s Day, but you could also go with classic cream or chartreuse or cerise, whatever. Life is about choices.

But really, if we want to get right down to it, there is also underwear. And I found a world of tutorials and patterns of how to make your own.

This one from Drumbellina has a host of cute illustrations. This FREE PATTERN from BurdaStyle is mighty cheeky. And this classic layout teaches you how make a hanty (panty from a hankerchef. If I didn’t hate the word panty so much I might find it cute.)

The question is, should I? Would you? Is it worth it? Honestly, it might be the most cost effective sewing possible, you can cut up old t-shirts, make cute undergarments out of mere 1/4 of a yard of nice knits and luxurious stretch silks and laces, and really be able to make your own outfit, from the foundations on up. So, what do you think? Would you get your knickers in a twist? Or make a slip? Or join me in tap pants adoration? Or do you leave that the professionals at Victoria’s Secret? Discuss.

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Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Inspiration, Refashion, Sewing

All Jacked Up

Something just happened to me that never happens to me. Let me just say that I am not a winner. Oh, I don’t mean I don’t achieve things, because I am a little achievement bunny and I live to achieve. But I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly lucky. Well, I live in the first world and have a loving family and my health and the ability to pay for my life, so yes, I’m very lucky, blah blah grateful blah. But I don’t win, like, contests. Or free prizes. Or quizzos. (That’s quiz night or quiz bowl, for those of you who don’t use the term quizzo. Which you should. Because it’s awesome.) The last two things I have won include a basket of Avon products I won last summer, and the one and only quizzo I’ve ever won last December, all because I guessed the best on the question “what is the population of Latvia”. It was at the Latvian Society. You don’t have one of those? Tough luck. Move to Philadelphia.

Anyway, the point of this is to set the scene, as it were, for my shock, surprise and delight when I was recently contacted by a lovely person from onlinefabricstore.net, and asked if I would make a spring jacket in one of their fabrics and post about it right here, on this very blog. It took me all of two seconds to respond with a resounding YES PLEASE THANK YOU. And then giggle to myself happily at my desk for the hour before it was time to go home.  What? Fabric makes me happy!

And even though I promised myself I would under no circumstances get any more fabric in any manner, I feel strongly that I can/will make an exception in this case.  Because, guys, this fabric is really nice. REALLY nice….

Oh, it’s linen. And it’s pretty. And it’s burlap. And it’s pretty. Did I mention it’s pretty? Fun fact about this fabric, I emailed several close friends and was like, which color should I go for? And then I completely ignored most of their suggestions and went for Black. Black goes with everything. I like black. What you gonna do about it?

Now the only question is, which jacket should I make with it?! And that’s where I need your help. I’ve never made a jacket before, but it’s very much a goal for 2012. Now, given that this is a linen fabric, which I will line with cotton, this is of course going to be a spring jacket. So I want something lightweight and stylish that provides a nice layer for spring in the Mid-Atlantic. And I want something that isn’t going to take me more then a month to make because A. I have no patience and B. I actually want to wear the damn thing in this spring. So here are some patterns I’ve come up with that I thought might be nice, and I would very much welcome your opinions on the subject.

This is Simplicity 4494, a pattern from 1943 that I recently purchased on Etsy from this lovely seller. I just adore the collarless version, what do you think? Pros, adorable pattern, cons, might be hard to fit being vintage and all. Thoughts?

BurdaStyle’s Stella Jacket. I’ve seen several BurdaStyle members make this and I’ve really liked their variations. Pros, lovely simple shape, shouldn’t be too hard to whip up. Cons, I might not really wear this all too often. It doesn’t really seem like an every day staple, now, does it?

BurdaStyle’s 3/2011 Peplum Jacket. No one seems to have made this pattern on BurdaStyle, which perturbs me, but it’s fairly adorable, don’t you think? I I love me a Peplum. This one seems pleated, which is interesting.

Not the long coat, but one of the short jackets, with the princess seams. It kind of reminds me of this BurdaStyle jacket:

The Steffi. Cute, no?

 

So what do you think? Any one of these strike your fancy? Any other suggestions? I would love to do something from an independent designer but I haven’t come across anything I straight up adored. Right now I’m leaning towards the vintage Simplicity or the modern Simplicity, but I’m open for suggestions! I really need your guidance on this one, so any comments would be highly appreciated!

Incidentally, the population of Latvia is, according to a highly scientific google search, 2,242,916. Just so you know, for quizzo.

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Filed under Burda Style, Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

Don’t Be The Bunny, (or why I can’t buy any more fabric for a long while)

Struggle, you might be asking yourself right now, what’s the deal with that title? You don’t have any bunnies. You like bunnies. Why wouldn’t you want someone to be a bunny? Well, honestly, I have nothing against rabbits. This is actually the title of one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals (of which there are not many, because when it comes to musical theater I’m pretty dead inside, despite how many showtunes I can sing, word perfect). But this song comes from Urinetown, which I adore. And the first time I saw it I got so into this one particular song that I tortured my friend Bix with it for, like, a year. And really that all has nothing to DO with what I want to be writing about right now but I have recently been thinking about another song from that musical, The Cop Song, when I think about my fabric stash.

Why? Well, there is this line about a hoarder. And as I recently got two large garbage bags full of fabric from a former tenant who was, in fact, a hoarder. Which is sad. Really sad, actually, hoarders make me very sad.I don’t watch the show, because I know I would find it unbearably disturbing. But we did have a hoarder tenant, and he did leave many many many things behind when he left. Including fabric.  A lot of fabric. Some of it was scrap, some of which I saved for a pre-school class or something (coincidentally, if you know of one that needs scrap fabric, do let me know…). Some of it wasn’t my style, so I gave it to the good people at the Resource Exchange (seriously, if anyone is from Philadelphia or the surrounding area, check this out, very cool). But most of it I kept. And most of it is AWESOME. Wanna see?

One yard of this vaguely Japanese pattern from, one must suppose, 1980.

Two yards of this gorgeous knit. Hello, Ballet Dress Number 2.

1 yard, sadly of this awesome feathered blue cotton. What to do, what to do….

3.5 yards of this woo plaid business.

It was a crowd pleaser, clearly.

Fleece. Koala Bears. 1.5 yards. What else can I say?

2 yards of green bottom weight, whose content is unclear. I’m thinking 40’s style shorts. Thoughts? I don’t wear a ton of green, as it turns out, but it’s never to late for now!

3 yards of this plaid, that is actually a knit! WHAT? Crazytown.

2 thin yards of this chiffon.

Two yards of stretch velveteen. This one is pretty pimp, I must say.

3.5 yards of this funny speckled knit. What do you think, cute, or muppet? OR BOTH?

About 3.5 yards of this lace, which is only 20″ wide. I have a bit more in white, about 4 yards, same width. This will be a cut carefully kind of fabric. Clearly, Tiny Tiger approves.

This is just awesome. I have 1.5 yards of this, which must be a upolstery fabric but never mind that. The only thing printed on the selvage is “His Majesty”. The hell? It’s all part of the awesome.

2 yards of this candy-colored mid-weight cotton. This will be my Meringue skirt fabric. Get excited.

1.5 yards of wide canvasy (not a word) bottom weight.

Just under two wide yards of this tan knit. I’m thinking a shirt for my mamala. She’s an autumn.

Around 12 yards (12!) of this polyester chiffon.

3 yards of this floral rayon from 1969! How awesome this this? It might be my favorite one!

I love it. I LOVE IT! What can I make with it? The possibilities are endless.

So now I have all this fabric. And this isn’t even everything, it’s just the most photo worthy objects. I also go a bunch of lining fabric, and a fuzzy wool knit that I have already transformed into a stretchy skirt. I couldn’t resist! It wanted to be SEWN! I’m helpless before fabric.

But of course, this means I can’t really buy anything for a while. So my winter/spring plans are to exclusively shop my stash and try to use up some of this immense yardage by May. But I must say, I have to pat myself on the back for wandering through the sea of stuff in the hoarder’s abandoned apartment and salvaging all this fabric. It would have just gotten thrown away, and wouldn’t that have been a real tragedy? What a waste of gorgeous stuff, and of perfectly usable fabric! Instead, I’m going to take all this and make something pretty. Many somethings.And to think, two years ago I wouldn’t have known what to do with all this. Now, I’ve got all kinds of plans. I know we say this all the time here in the sewing blog world, but man, isn’t sewing the best?

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Filed under Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing, Vintage

It is on in a manner that might remind you of Donkey Kong

I don’t know about you people out there, but personally, I like a good challenge. For example, right now I’m in the midst of knitting my first sweater. Is it a simple topdown stockinette stitch creation appropriate for someone who has been knitting for just over three months? Ha. That’s funny. No, it’s a cabled cardigan with blocking and seaming and all kinds of things I’ve never heard of before (and you can find out more about it here). Because that’s my personality, you see. You gotta learn to run before you can walk.

So when I found out about a couple of brilliant ladies who are sewing through Colette Pattern’s Sewing Book, I was like, bring it on. I want to sew every pattern in the book, so I might as well do it with a group of talented and lovely seamstresses, led by Miss Crayola Creepy and Rhinestones and Telephones. So in sum, this winter/early spring, I will be participating in Sew Colette. And we begin with the Meringue! I should really make my muslin, given that they were “due” today. Oh, well, that’s what the weekends are for, right? So I promise to display a Muslin by Saturday. That’s the plan, Stan.

The goal is to take it month by month, and make one garment, in the order Sarai and God intended, at a time. I will be posting my fabric choices later, and I’m happy to announce that they all come from my newly inflated stash. You see, circumstances have conspired to dump bags and bags of free vintage and thrifted fabric upon me, and I must simply live with the consequences. Poor me. Cue the violins, please.

That’s actually all I’ve got for right now. You can check out the flickr pool (even though I really don’t know how to use flickr, it just seems weird) here. And to sign off, gratuitous cat photo. Like you do.

With a handmade toy. Duh.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing

Awesome Things You Ought To Know About: Holiday 2011 Edition

(This is from Handmade Ryan Gosling. Like you do.)

In honor of the upcoming holiday, I thought I would compile a little list of things that are delighting me right now, as well as some goodies sprinkled over the internet that you might not be aware of, currently.

1. The irreplaceably excellent Dixie has done it again. Not only has she posted a series of helpful tips to help newbies like myself sew with knits (which is something I’ve never done. But I’m about to do it. Wish me well.), but she’s given the world a free dress pattern! What? I know! Cannonize that woman right now. It’s called the Ballet Dress and it’s comfortable looking and adorable and available fo’ free from now until the 23rd of December. Download it. NOW.

2. Somehow, who knows how, via Pintrest, I stumbled across this list of photography tips, most of which actually seem quite helpful. As someone who struggles with getting great shots of my creations, this seemed like an excellent resource! Check it out here.

3. The Victoria and Albert Museum has an archive of free 1940’s knitting patterns. Of course, there are many free vintage knitting patterns out there, but I just really love that the V and A has them online. I wish the Met would publish patterns inspired by some of their famous dress-portraits, or even their fashion wing! How cool would that be? (If the Met does decide to do this, you heard it here first, see?) Anyway, you can check out these wartime-approved knitting patterns here, and make someone you love a knitted waistcoat, or a balaklavah helmet. Like you do.

4. I don’t really know what you do with your time, but I spend a lot of mine on this website, Animals Talking In All Capitals. If you asked me to pin down why I find this so hilarious I honestly couldn’t tell you, it just is. The same goes for Louis Vs. Rick. The same person turned me on to both of these, (thank you VERY much, Sarah Y.) and I love her eternally for that.

5. You know what I like about the holidays? Everywhere you go, there’s a lot of booze. And it’s the perfect gift, really, when you go to a party or an event (unless it’s thrown by Mormons, or something, in which case, it’s a huge faux pax, don’t do it). But how much cooler is MAKING your own booze? And if you don’t have a pocket distillery, you can at least infuse it on up with these recipes. Try Martha’s method, or make some peppermint vodka to warm the cold nights! I bet you could make as many kinds of infused liquors as there are holiday themed candles at Anthropologie. Who wants to accept that challenge? Anyone? Buller?

That’s what I’ve got for you today. Don’t forget to enter my pattern giveaway and win your own holiday gift!

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Filed under Clothing, Fabric, Giveaway, Inspiration, Knitting, Sewing, Tutorial