Can I wrap busy with a tidy little bow?

I can tell that I’m busy because I spend very little time sitting in my amazing creative space gazing at my favorite tree and planning. In fact, I’m hardly home at all. An hour of awake time before running out the door in the morning and home after 8 three nights per week. I swear it feels like the busy has multiplied.

This does not stop me from adding projects to the list, I took action on some Pin-spiration and my laundry area has been in disarray for two weeks now. Two coats of midnight blue later the peach from eight years ago is finally gone. Then I had to remove all 14 cabinet doors and the hinges, and the knobs for operation white to stained via chalk paint.


I have to distress a few spots, apply dark wax, dry and then the sealing wax. So another week of that and looking at the disaster contained in all of the 14 cabinets until I can put the doors back up. EEK! How will I survive without a Kondo purge? (Add it to the list.) I promise to post photos of the transformation when we’ve finished.

On a different tangent altogether, I’m guilty of walking and knitting. I’ll be damned to sacrifice my creative time just because I’m trying to be healthier and more active. I love the statistics side of wearing a Fitbit, but I still want to create. Currently on the needles a Rose City Roller using up random remainders.


One other loose end on my projects list is a baby gift for my cousin’s wee one set to arrive in October. I have been playing with precut squares and then feeling overwhelmed that it looked too…old looking.


So yesterday morning I gave myself permission to try something different, which led to a bit of risky sewing. So I’ve arrived here…


and I’m pleased with where it’s going. The reward was in pressing and squaring. Once again I promise an update when there’s progress/completion. 

Busy days, and projects that must be finished. How busy is your fall?

~m

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Shift the balance

Although both bowls appear empty, there is an absence of balance.

The inertia required to get anything off the ground carries a weight we can not see. For it is measured in the hours given to work, the plans that support the transition and the determination of the worthy soul charging endlessly forward. I’m quick to recognize the blessings of this work even though the scale seems ill-weighted for the time being.

Sewing makes me happy and there is only so much personal sewing I can accomplish. The repetition of making multiples of the same item in assembly line format truly satisfies my yearning for tangible results as so much of what I have done for real jobs leaves me with little to physically hold/claim. I like that I am finding a rhythm of working to the hum of my machines and the positive energy it builds in my spirit.
But while the scale tips to the side of work more, serve more, my inner summer child screams, “Play! Keep it for yourself.”  So the part of me that says, go ahead buy that new pattern and fabric wins, but also loses since my personal  sewing time is limited. It makes the #sewallthethings tag make perfect sense. I’m trying to work on one personal project at a time, and so choosing is difficult.


Luckily, I handed off another big order of yoga shorts for delivery to a studio yesterday and have only enough fabric on hand to make five more pairs. Say hello to some selfish sewing time until I reorder fabric and get numbers on the next studio orders! I’m also challenging myself to find uses for the scrap from the yoga shorts since it is a cozy cotton/lycra. My brainstorm includes: underwear, colorblocking panels, applique samples, and creative piecing as I design some modest yet feminine yoga tops/shorts.

I wish I had two of me: one to go to the real-world job and one to dedicate to getting my Lamplighter Stitch Co. off the ground. But as I can not split myself, I’ll work longer and with perseverance until that precious shift becomes possible. I’m thankful to finally recognize what I want to do, as the path feels easier now because the map is no longer obscured.

How do you balance your dreams and ambitions in the midst of the real-world grind? 

Duck, duck, goose! Or choosing a new fabric to sew

Looking back on what I’ve sewn since 2008 I’ve noticed a shift. Quilting cotton was a starter fabric. I didn’t know where to source anything so turned to ebay quite often and I began to teach myself by copying RTW. I wanted to use knit fabric, but didn’t know what to do.  Once the indie sewing world showed me the way, I’ve been on a kick of knit sewing for two years or longer. 

When I could find apparel fabric  goodies like suiting from NOLA, swim fabric, rayon, etc. I would be consumed by fear of messing up. Gradually I learned what different fabric thicknesses are suitable for in terms of sewing for, finishing techniques, opportunities to use different machine feet.

All this is to say I bought two fabrics I haven’t sewn with before and can’t wait to stitch them up! And continue to explore what works for my wardrobe, my body & the Texas summer swelter.

Charleston dress (jumping on that bandwagon) in Nicole Miller scuba.

And a stretch sateen or twill to make another Alberta Street, or something else? Ultimate trousers?

Also a challenge to myself to muslin. Keep sewing, keep learning.

Here’s to a new dress this week, somewhere between the real job, teaching yoga and sewing up orders for men’s yoga shorts.

Comment with how you learned to dive into using different fabrics?

Begin to finish

(Or keep the end in mind.) 

Confession: I added a third machine to my sewing desk. Its a coverstitch and I’m equally psyched and intimidated. Just this morning I finished the hem of a dress I made last summer before darting out the door for work in said dress.

Psyched because now I can make all the things and professionally finish them. This is good. This is very good.

Intimidated because now I must finish things. I am that lady, the one who wears handmades that are missing a finishing touch or two. Perhaps in my rush to sew with knits, I told myself it doesn’t matter because it can’t unravel or fray. Perhaps in my frenzy of knit sewing immersion (and subsequent unfinished projects) I just got lazy. So I am intimidated to bring my sewing chops back up to the level where I’m exhilerated to stay up late and follow all the pattern steps to produce an amazing new piece of clothing just for me.

Honestly, I miss that component in my sewing these days. I think I have too many half-finished things and in doing so created doubt that I can finish a garment from start to finish. The challenge I now present to myself is to finish these abandoned projects and complete a garment per week over the summer. (In addition to sewing orders for Lobo MPY shorts.)


The Lobo MPY shorts were the driving point behind my Memorial Day Sale splurge to buy the coverstitch. It feels good to collaborate on this venture with my yoga teacher. I have about 20 pairs to get out the door before a fabric reorder. But at my heart, I still want to be a selfish sewcialist. 

I need a return to sewing with woven fabrics and crisp stitches, but I also need to wrap up a Nettie, a Nautilus, a Lark and a Mississippi Ave top and Prefontaine shorts.

Wish me luck!

Under Construction

Today is one of those beautifully sunshiney, breezy, cool country days that reminds me of summer in Alaska. I should spend the day outside, no excuses.  Its my day to be me. All the other days are claimed by responsibility and Saturday is the last stake of freedom.

Except that my family is still asleep, so to be free also means being quiet, at least until construction is finished.  I want to be writing up there and gazing out to the south in my sun filled loft.  I want to sit outside on the deck with my coffee and paint while listening to City and Color.

  
Not yet, for I must be patient.  And this weekend that is especially challenging because entry to the addition is sealed to keep our pets out of the insulation. The back patio is the staging area for lumber and the roses are blooming. And the front porch is also home to equipment and disarray.

My creative spaces are all Under Construction. I can not wait! Create anyway.  So I’ll work on my Nettie, and then want to buy high waist black jeans and boots to make the outfit.  Except I have my “no buying” pledge.” And I was going to take the kids to the zoo, but my son has Strep. It’s a day to create and to dream and to be outside. Take the Enos to the woods and my watercolors and the kids and the dogs and breathe cool air.

  
(Eno setup at the hideout last weekend.)

Living with Intention v.2016

These posts are flooding the feeds and why should I be left out?  I actually wrote out my short list the old fashioned way:

 These intentions apply to all areas of what I do with my time, whether sewing or cooking, yoga and exercise, being a parent, a friend and employee.  In 2015, I repeatedly said how much technology has shifted the world away from some values that I think best not forgotten, like the value in talking to people or trusting in the resources at hand (looking to a YouTube video rather than the instruction manual right beside you).  I’m certainly not condemning technology, but for me I see where despite the connectivity it provides that I can remain isolated if I don’t adapt, but that I’ll be a step ahead if I remember how to do some things the old fashioned way, too.

Less Distraction

So to apply my resolutions to sewing and other creative endeavors simply means that I always proceed with these intentions at hand.  A friend of mine said that she’s scared of her serger, but wishes she knew what to do.  My response was to take a deep breath, pull out the instruction manual and take it slow. “Treat it like yoga!” she thought it was genius.  Essentially, yes.  When I hit something I don’t understand or where I want to learn more, I’m going to choose the right resources right away instead of squandering my precious time in the distraction zone. For me to turn to the web either less often or with time limit and a specific goal.

More Discipline

To expand on the technology gets in the way mindset I hinted at, I’ve gotten lazy.  I see the abundance of what’s out there and get in the “I’m only a drop in the bucket” mentality that what I do is insignificant so why bother.  It’s an opt out to stay lazy. To talk about things, and make plans and fail to put the plans in action and to live them out and open the door to exponential growth, but also potential failure. It’s also a laziness that pervades by letting other things/agendas become more important than my own.  Being a passenger instead of a pilot.  If anything is to come from my creative side,  I’m the one to make it happen with the gifts and the vision God gave me. I won’t be taking the easy road, and I’ll have to get comfortable with pushing myself to take my projects to the next level – either in sewing or in fitness or showing value.

“Love yourself enough to take care of yourself.”

I’ve fallen into the bad habit of fast forward self-care. Its embarrassing to admit how little time I look in the mirror before leaving the house (on school days or anytime there is a rush, really).  I prioritize sleep and making coffee, getting the kids lunches and petting the outdoor cats over make-up, coiffed hair and confident outfits.  (Insert image of crazy cat lady, right?)  I’ve trapped myself in a pattern of behavior that reinforces the scarcity of time: there isn’t enough time to make a better morning routine and things get skipped or diminished. I am worth taking care of and I will make small changes to accept the abundance of time (if I plan for it) to make self-care as important as the mad rush to get out of the house on time.

Practice Gratitude

The past few months I’ve had an internal discussion about how people show others that they are valued and how feeling valued makes a huge difference in the world.  Remembering this intention through all interactions is one small way to influence the world around me into a better place.

 

Phew: crossing items off the list

Saturday wins:

Motivation to seam rip the dress that wasn’t working. Ironed the fabric, folded it carefully and envision it as two separate pieces, eventually. For now it’s just fabric not an unfinished WIP.

Cool wind inspiring me to attach the button band to Maude, complete with Iris buttons that my mum says she stashed when I was a baby or earlier.

Pairing the Maude with the Camas and rather liking it. (My kiddos are the photographers….need to work on this.)

  

Water colors of spruce trees and the moon.

Losses: 

The clog in the grey water drain that backed up into the house & now (kinda counting as a win) temporarily prevents us from laundry and dishes.

Quilt pieces moved from one table to another. Not a thing was stitched.

High hopes for the few unclaimed hours I can direct tomorrow. Flipping a coin: baking muffins/quilt or the final details on this skirt.

Playing with Sourdough

A few weeks ago I pulled out a cookbook that I have never used and flipped through. What caught my eye??? Why a recipe for Sourdough Starter! I have been wanting to try it for years, but the effort always made me balk. Feeding a jar of living flour and water??? Sounds more like a science experiment that my kids will inevitably add food coloring into.

As easy as pie crust and without much effort I combined the ingredients and gently covered the bowl with cheesecloth. Left unattended I found a dough explosion an hour or two later. At least that gave it credibility. I kept it on the counter overnight and moved it into the fridge the next day. I knew I wouldn’t have time to make anything with it until the weekend.

The companion recipe in the aforementioned cookbook was Sourdough English muffins. So when I had a few free minutes I combined the sourdough starter with the other ingredients. This also had to rest overnight on the counter. Apparently nothing happens quickly with sourdough. More waiting!

Finally, after some improvisation for a griddle and waiting for a rise I found a worthy end-product.

   
 
A few more weeks of feeding the starter and I tried another recipe tonight for rolls. (Sourdough dinner rolls on Food.com)

These are heavenly on the inside! Probably the best texture for bread that I’ve ever made. 

   
 
Sublime with butter and honey! I fed my starter tonight and with a bit more practice, breads like these will become a staple in my home.
Do you keep a sourdough starter? What are your best tips and recipes?

Work with what you have

I’m tidying my digital workspace today. I created a pin board called Pattern Arsenal so I can see which patterns I have to work with as I attempt some capsule inspired fall wardrobe planning. I have some serious holes in there. Seriously! Where are the bottoms??

Sewing bottoms is a fear that I need to face. My struggle comes from not knowing the right fabrics to use abd feeling intimidated by topstitching details.

Planned for some birthday sewing is a Sutton blouse with a lace back panel in  a Cotton & Steel plaid from my stash. I could see it working nicely with the Ultimate Trousers *if* I had the right fabric, but I’m not sure what that is. Maybe a camel colored stretch knit suitable for bottoms? What would that be? Give me your suggestions and links for where to buy it.

Quick weekend projects (7/18)

I am always thankful when a project comes together quickly. Especially when I am short on time and have a specific goal in mind. I was lucky enough that the sewing gods were smiling upon me this weekend as I whipped up a few things before vacation.

I had a large floral print in my Girl Charlee Knit Fix a few months ago that I wasn’t sure about. I like the colors, but the large print isn’t something I would normally pick for myself. I saw a wrap dress that another sewist madr from the same print and decided to follow suit. Even though someone sent me a pattern, I took the quick approach of copying an RTW from my closet. 

  
I am pleased that I didn’t have any isseie with this. There are a two minor tweaks I would make on the neckline if I make it again, but other than that easy-peasy. I used the fusible seam tape for the first time and will never go without it again. 

Last night I pulled out random scraps for the make-up brush roll from Sew for Home. I had pieces that were spot on for size and coordinated to my liking. 

   
 
I may try to do a quick travel jewelry pouch tonight. As that is the other hole in my travel accessories. 

I also made a quick project bag for my travel knitting.

  
Hooray for vacations & happy homemade things to enjoy.

What are some pre-travel sewing success stories of yours?