Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Where Have I Been?

I posted back in late August that I would be having surgery in the fall.  Then I moved, set up a new sewing loft, unpacked the millions of yards of fabric I own, and attempted to sew my first project in the Sewing Loft.

Honestly I thought I would get back to the blog to post an update before I headed off to surgery. However, things did not go as planned and I ended up doing a lot of testing prior to the day of surgery.  After I had surgery, the next 16 days were a blur.  Major surgery is a butt-kicker for sure.

I ended up having a total hysterectomy.  Precancerous cells were found in biopsied cells from my uterus. I'd had surgery earlier in the summer, when NJ finally opened up from lockdown. 

To insure that I would not get any gynecological cancer in the future, I agreed to a total hysterectomy. My recovery has been interesting but I'm alive, back and feeling more like myself than I have in months.

I'm still in the recovery phase but I've allowed my daughters to go home. They stayed with me day and night after the surgery. I'm going to start walking around at lunchtime later this week to gain some stamina back when I will finally be allowed to climb the stairs to the Sewing Loft. I need the peace of spirit I find when I'm in the Sewing Loft.

Scarves and a blanket for the family

There hasn't been much sewing desire here but I can feel inklings of it returning. However, I have been crocheting like a crazy old lady to deal with stress and to have something creative to do.

Since I received a few emails, DMs on IG and messages here, I wanted to provide an update.  There will be more sewing content now that I'm on the mend.

...as always more later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Sewing in the Sewing Loft

I know I said my next post would be a finished garment but I wanted to write about my experiences sewing in the Sewing Loft.

See everything is new.  New sewing machine, new sewing tables, new sewing arrangement...new, new, new! And my sewing muscle memory is for another place and time. So everything is moving slowly as I'm adjusting to all the newness!

First, as a Janome Maker, I am sewing on my new Janome 9450QCP.  While I've been a loyal Janome sewing machine owner for decades, this one is significantly different than all of the other machines I've worked on.  Every process, every consideration, even every foot, has been examined to make the sewing as simple and easy as possible. Now I know it's a quilting machine and even most of the YouTube videos are based on the machine's quilting capabilities. However, I've been using a "quilting" machine for garment sewing for decades - starting with a 6600P, moving onto the 8900QCP and now the 9450QCP.

Another reason I like this machine is because no eyestrain. The lighting is AMAZING. I had an Ottlite behind it and moved it because I just didn't need the additional light. It's all supplied by the machine and the extra overhead needle lighting.

My eyes are older now. It's a fact...so good lighting is a requirement. Just like the automatic needle threader which took me a minute to learn but is one of the main reasons for desiring this machine - ease of use. I have the feature on my 8900 and never quite got the hang of it.  I am having to rethink ingrained sewing processes because they're incorporated in the machine.

For my new make, there is some gathering in the body of the dress/jacket. I did it the way I've done it for years.  Lengthen your stitch, sew two rows of stitching, leave long tails and then pull the bobbin stitches to gather the stitches evenly. As I was reviewing my new Janome Workbook, I realized that there is a button for that. I want to use my sewing machine to its full potential...so I'm going to have to "unlearn" a few things!

See new...

Then there is my sewing machine table arrangement. I sew barefooted. While my sewing machine has a knee lift and a start/stop button for sewing, I still like using my foot pedal. The new table has so many pieces to stabilize it that I don't have the open space under it I had using a folding table. Learning that I can't kick my sewing pedal far out from my machine has been interesting.

Presently - my iron and ironing board are still at the bottom of the loft stairs. I'm making the trip up and down the stairs for now. I'm sure this will get tiring at some point. I do have some other options for ironing on the cutting table upstairs. As I try them out, I will share them.

Added a hook to the utility closet door for hanging projects

More space ~

I have more space to lay or hang pieces of my garments in progress including on Daphne my dressform. This is new. I had run out of space in the sewing cave and operated in very tight quarters with few clean surfaces. Not having my computer in the space definitely helps but the new layout is the real winner. The space astounded me as I worked in it last weekend.

Lighting ~

This refers to the room lighting.  Even as I worked in the sewing loft with natural light (astounding), dimmer light because of cloudy and rainy days, and darkness at night, the light is fantastic.  I still haven't figured out how to photograph things at night but during the day nothing beats the natural light.

I'm presently finishing up a Dover maxidress/jacket and that will be up on the blog next.  However, I really wanted to document this feeling of newness. So I can look back on it in several years, when I've acclimated to the loft and remember when!

...as always more later!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

A Curtain Story

I don't sew home dec.  Nothing about it appeals to me.  However, when I need curtains, I find a few inspirational photos, save them and proceed to try and make curtains. This post is about my curtain journey for my new apartment.

Honestly, I'm not going to make all of the curtains for my apartment.  I've already purchased some floral sheers from Walmart for my bedroom.  I just hate most kitchen curtains in the stores and online. They're cutesy and frilly and that's just not me. I like clean functional designs. 

I really wanted a dark blue & white gingham to make kitchen curtains.  I thought I had some in my fabric collection and I did...but it was scraps.  Enough for accents but not enough for curtains. So I did the unthinkable I broke down and went to Walmart...thinking they would have a very basic blue & white gingham. Well no, no they did not. And the experience of purchasing from them was so horrible that I don't know how y'all do it!

I did purchase a yard of a bluish/grey gingham but once I got it home, it looked dull up at the window.  Because I was unsure about the bluish/grey fabric I also bought a brighter striped shades of blue fabric. That's what I used to make the curtains presently hanging in the kitchen window.  In all honesty though, I don't like them either. However, I do like that the window looks finished so I will leave them for now while I figure out what I want to do.

While in Walmart, I picked up a few other things.  One of them was a shower curtain that I thought cut up would make an excellent bathroom curtain.

Yes, this is bathroom realness...

This one I like much so much better!  I love the gradient stripes of blue and it works for me pulled to one side. I purchased a navy blue bath mat and some navy blue towels to finish the look off.  

The Living and Dining Rooms still need curtains and furniture.  My Dining Room is basically a storage space for leftover fabric bins and other things I don't know where to put yet. While I'm taking my Mom's dining room set when she moves, it will be months before that happens. Even though I know what style of curtains I want for the Dining Room, I will probably make them once the furniture arrives.

The Living Room is still waiting on furniture to be delivered...and I really miss a couch! I have blinds in the living room so curtains aren't a necessity at the moment. This is where I have no idea what I want and will take my time to decide on what to do here. 

Now that the Sewing Loft is done...the itch to sew is back with a vengence.  Last weekend I cut out a Dover Maxidress.

That's what's cut out and waiting for me to work on during this three day weekend...hopefully I will get some pictures next weekend to finally have a new garment to share here!

I'm seriously ready to sew garments! *LOL*

...as always more later!

Saturday, October 03, 2020

My Fabric Collection 2020

When I unpacked my fabric collection one major thing I realized is that I neglected it when it was in the Sewing Cave. See it was so well organized and put away that when I added more fabric bins to handle the fabric buying overflow, I stopped paying attention to the main collection.

I saw that as I unpacked it.

The Fabric in the old Sewing Cave

Also, I own so much more fabric than I've been willing to admit I own. In all honesty, I'm an emotional fabric purchaser.  Meaning it wasn't bought when I was happy...no when I was unhappy with a job I worked at for far too long...I bought fabric.  When I was unhappy with my living situation...instead of dealing with it...I bought more fabric.

I saw that as I unpacked it.

Several years ago I wrote a blog post about how my fabric collection was my retirement fund. The internet gave me a lot of flack for that post. However, fast forward to 2020 and the pandemic...when everything shut down for months...my fabric collection was truly a good thing. For that reason and for the fact that it will take me into retirement, I am thankful for the fabric collection.

I saw that as I unpacked it.

As I put it onto the shelves, I wondered why I have so much green fabric when I don't really wear a lot of green. Oh yeah, it was the pantone color of the year and I bought all of the pretty hues of green. I've found 5 yard pieces of merino wool in red, navy and black - why so much? Oh yeah, fabric.com was having an amazing sale so why not buy all the basic colors.

The Fabric Closet at the bottom of the loft stairs

So much of my fabric has stories behind it. Where I bought it. Why I bought it.  Who I was with when I bought it. How I was spending my last disposable dollars to buy it. It's a living history/testament to my sewing journey...

I saw that as I unpacked it.

  • I found the one piece I purchased as a 18 year old and have held onto for all these years. 
  • I found a few pieces I bought when I made my first trip to the original GStreet Fabrics in Maryland. 
  • There are pieces from fabric stores that no longer exist in the NYC Garment District. 
  • Pieces purchased from Mood Fabric when I was a Mood Blogger and pieces that friends have given me over the years. 
  • There are also pieces from online fabric companies that no longer exist. 

I'm thankful for those memories.

I'm also thankful that I have this amazing collection. I can honestly say that I won't be buying any more fabric this year and probably not into the first quarter of 2021. Even if I start sewing from my retirement fund now, I know I won't make a considerable dent in it before I actually retire! *LOL*

Most importantly though, I've learned a few things about myself by unpacking and situating the collection. This is where I'm at now. Just like my extensive pattern collection (which hasn't been sorted yet), I will be sewing from what I have. It's time to make what I have work for me.

A tour of the fabric collection can be seen here

The new black/brown/shirting shelf

The new pinks/prints/red & purple shelf

The Sewing Loft is finally finished...

...and I'm spending my first weekend sewing.  Sewing in what seems like a very long time! 

Enjoying the view from this lovely window since it's a bright, crisp fall day. 

...as always more later!

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 shelves...it 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...

...as 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!

...as 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!

...as 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 life...so stay tuned!

....as 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.

...as 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.

...as always more later!



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