Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Sewing Loft Progress

I've spent a large amount of time getting the pieces just right in my Sewing Loft.  The size of the space was challenging because of the low walls and limited wall space. However, after sitting in the room with the basics for a few days, then moving a few things around, this is my starting place to sew & create.

Here is the Sewing Loft in Pictures so far ~

The new Janome 9450QCP

On the second table - the serger & my old Janome

This is the sewing machine area. I LOVE the natural light here.  I've set it up so that my daughter and I or my granddaughters can all sew together. It was one of the things that bothered me about the Sewing Cave.  Only I could sew there. It was on the top of my list of items to change.

I also found all of the sewing doodads I had in storage.
So I put them out too.

Moving on this is the storage where I have my trims, elastics, extra serger thread (not including the serger thread in bins underneath the sewing tables) and patterns...

Then there are the fabric shelves which while covered in the curtains are completely empty. This will be the longest & hardest part of putting the Loft together. Loading the fabric took me two weekends last time, but since I work from home now, I think it will take about a week this time...

My button collection is on the two top shelves because they're 
too close to the ceiling for fabric to work on them.

The other side of the room holds more plastic storage with patterns and supplies and there are bins on the top of the fabric shelves where more patterns will be stored.  I've also added a fabric closet to the mix. It's located at the bottom of the stairs to the Loft. This should allow me to get all of my fabric onto shelves.

The niche will hold more fabric, my thread & zipper collection and Daphne my dressform.  I'm looking for an ironing board to place on the wall that will fold down when I need it and be put away when I don't. Right now the shelf is storing pattern boxes too...something else that needs to be put away.

Finally a look at the Sewing Loft from my sewing machine area...

If you've made it this far...I'm including a list of the items I purchased for the Sewing Loft. Most of the items were brought from the Sewing Cave to this new space.  However, I really wanted new sewing desks since I was sewing on regular folding tables. As I stated in my last post, I will be updating my cutting table but it works for now.

The New Equipment ~

The sewing desks are Costway Adjustable Sewing Craft Table with drawer from Amazon. 

The lamp at the end of the table is from the Daylight Company also purchased from Amazon.

The two smaller black wire shelf units were purchased from Home Depot.

All of the floral baskets were purchased from WalMarts. They come as a set of 8.

The Ottlite by the old Janome while not new, hadn't been take out of the box so I'm including it on the list. I bought it as a Today's Special from HSN so I don't believe that's the price I paid for it.

Otherwise, everything else was in the cave. I've repurposed the use of quite a few of the pieces. Something about packing all your stuff up and then unpacking it, allows you to see the pieces differently.

I'm sure as I add things to the Sewing Loft, I will revisit and share.  But this will probably be my last Sewing Loft post for the minute.  Hopefully, I will actually sew in this amazing room that I'm so grateful for and have a finished something to share!

BTW, there are still a lot of books to be put on shelves in my main living area. I'm also waiting for a closet unit to arrive so I can hang all of my clothes up! The only area that I would call completely finished is my kitchen. But it's only been a week and I have time... always more later!

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Moving Update - 2020 Version

I've been in my new place since Saturday.  I'm surrounded by boxes & bags but have managed to carve out an oasis in my bedroom, the kitchen and the bathroom.  The majority of the boxes/bags remaining are mostly related to my book collection and the Sewing Loft.

BTW, I posted a short tour of the Loft on Instagram as it appears now. I'm highly unmotivated to open boxes or bags and have no idea why?  Maybe the stress of the last two weeks...maybe because I don't have a deadline...or anyone living with me to push me to unpack...or even the desire to sew?  I don't know but while I don't want to unpack, the boxes/bags are annoying the heck out of me! LOL!

A few things ~

o  While the Sewing Loft is quite a bit bigger than the sewing cave, the layout is considerably different.  As well as the fact that there are very few full walls.

o  I love my new sewing tables!  They will allow me and someone else to sew in the loft at the same time.  Something I was definitely missing in the sewing cave.

o  I can walk around the cutting table. This was an important change for me. Although this table is temporary.  I will be upgrading it.  Am presently looking for a replacement - something sturdy, wider and with some storage.  Not one of those flimsy tables that the craft store sells.

o  I own a lot of sewing paraphernalia. Packing it up on a deadline pushed me. Without a deadline now, I'm a little challenged to get it back together. Especially since I have no desire to sew either.

A few pictures ~

If you follow me on Instagram, you will see real time updates in my stories. It's easy to snap a photo as I'm doing something to share but it will probably be a minute before I have another blog post. However, I did want to give an update and let you know that I've moved! always more later!

Sunday, August 23, 2020


The Pandemic has caused many changes in my life since March.

o I work exclusively from home now with no return date to the office in sight.

o I stopped getting dressed for a couple of weeks because it was difficult to deal with the quarantine.

o When I found my style again, I sewed some things that I won't be able to wear until 2021 when hopefully I will head back to the office...

o I learned that I like wearing those big full maxi dresses at home, so that's what I'm making and wearing.

o I realized that trying to work full-time in my sewing space wasn't happening and I needed more space to live in.

o I had a cancer scare in the midst of a pandemic which was considered elective surgery so I had to wait for things to reopen before I could be tested.

o I had surgery...found out I don't have cancer...just precancerous cells in my uterus...

o So my Dr. scheduled a hysterectomy for me this fall.

All of this caused me to look at how I was living my life and how I wanted to live it differently. At 61, I have more years behind me than in front of me and I NEED to enjoy the life I have NOW.

So I'm moving...

Yes, I rented an apartment about 10 minutes from where I'm presently living with a walk-in closet (Gawd how I've missed a walk-in closet) and a sewing loft. I'm coming out of the basement, y'all. I'm 5 minutes from one daughter and 15 minutes from the other. My home can be a hangout for my grandchildren which I want more than anything. But most importantly, I have more space to sew and create.

I move in September 1st so it means that I'm packing up the sewing cave during the next three weeks.  Posting will be scarcer here for a minute because PACKING THE WALLS OF FABRIC!  

My daughter and granddaughters helped me empty all of the fabric shelves and move the extra bins of fabric out of the sewing cave...

I packed the majority of my fabric in garbage bags because I'm not moving far and it's a whole lot easier to swing garbage bags than it is to tote boxes! I have NO idea how many bags are here...but it's a lot!

I will be back in a little bit and will definitely share pictures of the new sewing loft because I've bought all new furniture (except for a cutting table). It's also a much larger space! always more later!



Friday, August 21, 2020

A New Title - Janome Maker!

I've been having conversations with Janome America for several months. As you know I am a loyal and faithful Janome sewing machine user. I've written several blog posts about them. I love the machines and their ease of use.  So I was thrilled when Janome America invited me to be a member of their Maker Team!

Now I don't know if you've read or heard about the resurgence of sewing in America due to how much time we're spending at home.  Not only have we started to cook more but we're also crafting, sewing and knitting since we're home a lot more. Because of that sewing machines in both beginner and more advanced models sold out in the early days of quarantine...and it took a minute for them to be restocked and for me to receive my new machine.

Y'all I did a jig yesterday when the UPS truck dropped off my new Janome 9450QCP sewing machine...even though I was in the midst of packing up my sewing cave...and since I'm packing we took it out to ooooohhhhh and aaaaahhhh over and then I packed my machine back into it's box.

A Few Pictures ~

Taking the Styrofoam out of the box!

Sitting on my current sewing table

Showing the pieces to the granddaughters

The grands sharing the pieces for the gram!

Holding the cover and the extension table

The 9450QCP also comes with a knee length, 3 different needle plates, 23 standard feet, plus an extra large foot pedal and separate thread cutter. This is the evolved version of my 8900QCP and I can't wait to explore the upgrades!

I really wanted to devote this post to my new Janome sewing machine and becoming a member of the Janome Maker Team.  My next blog post will discuss a few changes that are coming to my stay tuned! always more later!

Friday, August 07, 2020

Apples and Oranges and Lemons ~ Oh My!

My TNT version of the Myosotis dress has been my go to this summer. I've made them in chambray, stretch cotton, linen/cotton blend and shirting cotton and each one has been worn for zoom meetings and grocery store runs. Gawd has Covid totally affected everything!

I have nothing new to share with this one. I bought the fabric back in February during a Sewing Weekend at UrbanSewciety in Westfield, NJ, a local fabric store. We had a weekend of sewing with raffles. I won one of the prizes, a gift certificate, so I purchased two pieces of fabric with it.

I actually thought that I would have sewn the knit before the rayon print but Covid changed that. Anywhoo, I purchased 4 yards of this print because I knew it would make a fantastic Myosotis and it does. It's so stunning that I'm thinking about rambling through the collection to find more rayon fabric to make another one.

The buttons are made from 3/4" covered button shells. I used the lemons in the fabric to cover the buttons. I really wanted yellow buttons and didn't have a dozen in the button stash. But I own dozens of covered button shells so I made 12 of them. I love that they match the fabric perfectly.

That's all I have to share about construction or notions. So how about a lot of  pictures. Once I got my daughter involved in taking the photos, you know she glammed me up. Then since she was taking the pics, I got a lot of good ones making it harder to choose, so I decided not to.

Since it's the first week of August and I probably won't be going back to the office before January 2021, there will be more of these. To me it's the perfect dress to wear at home. always more later!

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

A Bold Floral Maxi

It's hot here.  It's August and we've recently gone through several heat waves.  August in the Mid-Atlantic states mean heat, humidity and high temperatures. With that in mind, I made the Lafayette 148 V-Neck Maxidress again.

Now even though I'm working from home, I still get dressed for Zoom meetings and for trips to the grocery store.  Plus I'm a little more nonchalant and slouchy at home with easy to throw on pieces getting the most wear. This is why I repeated this maxidress. It's comfortable, easy to wear and perfect for the heat!

I went deepstash for this one. The floral rayon fabric is from GStreet Fabrics in Rockville, MD. It's about 9 years old and it's from the last time I went to a GStreet Fabrics. I think this was in the first incarnation of the store and while it had nice fabric, it was not like the original GStreet of old. It was part of a fabric road-trip with Shams & Peggy in April 2011.

This piece of fabric was on the expensive side for me at the time - $12-15 a yard. I bought 4 yards of it. The tag only had GStreet Fabrics on it and the yardage. I remember loving it so much I just couldn't leave it. Otherwise everything else from that trip was from the $2.97 tables.

I used the pattern pieces that I'd altered with the changes described in my original Lafayette 148 knock off post.

The notions for this version are:
24" white invisible zipper
Design Plus Bias Fusible Stay Tape
Self made bias binding

The things I changed on this make:
o Made bias tape from the fabric scraps to bind the armholes
o Added stay tape to keep the neckline stable
o Omitted the neckline facings and used the self made bias binding instead
o There are no pockets in this one either

How the way the fabric drapes and moves makes this a favorite look!

The best thing about sewing repeats is that it's just about the sewing. I don't have to worry about fit or if pattern pieces go together because they do. I've already made it!

These photos were taken by my daughter too. Normally she travels in a group but today only one 9 year old little girl came with her. Of course she got in on the pictures too...

I have a couple more pieces to share before the month is out so they will be coming to the blog soon. always more later!


Saturday, July 25, 2020

An Embroidered Sleeve Shirt

I don't normally sew shirts in the summer because it's too dayum hot to be wearing a lot of layers.  But work from home Carolyn, sits in air conditioning every the sewing cave is extra cold what with air conditioning and being underground.

Some days I grab a shirt and a pair of leggings to work in. The other day I had to run an errand during the middle of the day, so I grabbed the QVC Denim Shirt and my white denim leggings to wear. When I got home I wore them for the rest of the day and they were perfect for the Zoom meeting I had later that afternoon.

So when I saw this tunic on JJill, I knew I owned a piece of embroidered shirting to reproduce it.

Actually I only used the sleeve idea from the tunic, matching it with the pattern pieces I used on the QVC denim shirt. I wanted more of a shirt than a loose tunic. There are no construction changes for this one. 

The challenge was to use my fabric to it's best advantage to make the shirt I saw in my head. I've had this piece from Chic Fabrics for a minute (longer than a year but not more than two). I've pulled it out multiple times to use but the fabric and idea never worked well together. So back in the fabric collection it would go. Pattern placement was the key to making this shirt work.

Supply List ~
3 yards of embroidered striped shirting from Chic Fabrics
10 white buttons from Nancy's Notions in PA
Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller
20" of 1/4" elastic from the notions collection

The best thing about this supply list is that everything was already in the sewing cave. Yeah, I'm throwing in that justification for my overstuffed sewing cave every chance I can get! *LOL* Believe me I'm not complaining because all of this stuff was comforting and allowed me to sew when we were quarantined.

A Few Pictures ~

While this is a comfortable and easy shirt to wear, the polyester in it makes it more a three season shirt than four. I was definitely warm taking pictures outside today. However, it does fit perfectly in my shirt wardrobe and will be worn at home or when the weather cools a little.

I love how by just changing the pattern pieces from my TNT shirt pattern that I've got a really cute shirt to wear. This is how I like to sew. It's the perfect example of what I meant in my previous post.  Expect to see more of this type of sewing! always more later!


Friday, July 24, 2020

So What's Next?

If you follow me over on Instagram, you know after the murder of George Floyd, I became active with the Black Makers Matter Group. I also wrote a blog post on the Sewcialist blog about how it feels to be a black maker in the sewing community. If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know I've been quite vocal over the years about how the pattern companies and sewing community treats black makers.

Along with BMM's boycott of JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby and Michaels, I'm also boycotting the Big 4 pattern companies. I've railed against them over the years for various reasons and after supporting them with my precious dollars for 50 years, I'm done. Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into another post railing against them. This is a post to say that I own hundreds of patterns from the 60s/70s through present day so I don't need to purchase another one. I'm no longer a customer.

I will use the patterns I already own because they're mine.  Also because the Big4 pattern companies don't celebrate you when you don't use the latest and greatest it's not like I'm encouraging you to spend money with them. Because of this my blog titles will no longer have pattern numbers in the titles. I know this will make them harder to search on Google but right now I don't care. I may change my mind on this later. I reserve the right to do so but for now no more pattern company names and numbers in the titles.

I will also no longer tag the Big 4 pattern company's name, numbers and/or names on my Instagram posts. Pattern numbers will be included in blog posts and even if they're still in the pattern catalog, I won't link to them.

My sewing going forward will emphasize what I already own. Fabric that is presently in the sewing cave, patterns that live here and the notions that I have. That's not to say I'm not going to add more notions or trim because sometimes I NEED something I don't have...can we say pink buttons! 

I will be sewing more interpretations or "inspired by" garments. I love making these garments, the challenge of figuring out how to use a pattern I presently own, matching it to a fabric in my collection and picking trims/notions to make the design work really ignites my passion to sew. I haven't done much of that recently because I was redetermining my style. However, I'm coming back around to that so there will be more garments like the QVC Denim Shirt and the Lafayette 148 Maxi Dress.

I have a notebook full of ideas and a ton of fabric (LOL!) so that's what's next in my sewing journey! always more later!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Stripey Linen Maxi Dress

I knew I was going to make a couple more versions of Simplicity 8888 when I made the first one.  However, I thought the next one would be a solid version but me being me I went with a stripe. Why? Because I wanted to manipulate the stripes on the bodice...

Fabric journeys enthrall me. I love how if you cut the fabric on the bias or the cross grain it gives the fabric and the final garment a totally different look. So I love taking those journeys...and that's what this dress is all about. I mean besides the comfort and ease of wearing factor the dress provides.

Supplies ~
o  3 yards of a striped linen purchased from Fabric Mart - from the collection purchased in the last five years

o  22" orange invisible zipper from the notions collection

o  Remnant of orange bias binding for the armholes

Construction Techniques ~
This dress is all about manipulating the stripes. I really wanted to make them meet at the center front and then chevron through the side front and back panels. Well it didn't exactly meet at the front seam but it does seem to work in a weird way.

I cut the center front, front and back sides on the bias.  The center back is cut on the straight grain. I didn't want to deal with putting a zipper into a wavy back.

However, in the pictures of the back of the dress, it seems as if those side back pieces are poufing out a bit as I move around. Honestly I don't care and no one but a sewist would probably notice but "truth in sewing" here, folks! *LOL* If I realized they hung that way I probably would have done something different during construction.

The other thing to note is because I used mostly bias pieces for the top and the waist seam is heavy (full of gathering) I added some twill tape to stabilize that seam. I didn't want it growing and causing the dress to hang funny.

The inseam pockets were omitted from this version, not enough fabric to cut them out. All of the fabric in the skirt seemed to make the side slits featured in the pattern unnecessary.

Otherwise the construction is the same as the original Simplicity dress.

A Few Pictures ~ 

This one seems fuller with the drapier fabric than the original one does. Even though I was contemplating a solid version, I'm packing this pattern away for now. Two journeys with this pattern seems enough. 

When I took these pictures this morning at 9:30am, it was already hot and humid outside. With the amount of fabric in this dress, as well as the weight of the fabric, this is NOT a hot & humid kinda day dress. But 100 degree days don't happen much in the spring or late summer so it will be perfect then. 

I made this dress back in late April/early May when I thought I would be going back to the office this summer. Because of that it hasn't been worn except for these pictures and it probably won't be until next spring. I'm wearing the throw on dresses, Katie tops, Myosotis dresses and wide legged pants that work with my stay at home style since I won't be going back to NYC until the fall.

I've been pulling fabric to match with maxi dress patterns. Although I'm falling back on a couple of TNT patterns for my next two maxi dresses. I finally broke down and bought a 6 yard piece of fabric and just like I thought, I'd moved on by the time it arrived. Since I'm home there hasn't been a lot of fabric purchasing going on BUT a lot of digging in the fabric collection.

My sewjo is back. I'm sewing so more garments soon! always more later!


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