Friday, December 31, 2021

December 2021 Round-Up

There was a time when I created 40-60 garments a year and wore 95% of them. So it seems really strange to be creating only 20 garments this year. I don't believe it's more than last year because I did start 2020 strong before the pandemic set in. It's probably about the same.

2021 has also been the year where one ~ I've sewn more patterns from my pattern collection and two ~ used more independent patterns. This trend will continue into 2022.  As my lifestyle has become more relaxed, the indie patterns seem to be the ones I turn to.  And now that I have a great source for printing PDF patterns (see my last post), I will be using even more indies.

This is a long post so I've tried to keep the descriptions short. If you're short on time, look at the photos and skip to the conclusion at the end where I discuss my goal for 2022.

Here are the items I created this year ~

I finished this duster/maxidress in early January 2020. In all honesty it hasn't been worn since I took these pictures. Not because I don't like it but because I just haven't had anywhere to wear it to.  Once I started going back to work, it was spring and not what I wanted to wear.  Hopefully in 2022 it will get worn.

I tried hard to avoid this trend. But I thought I could wear this at home, something comfortable and cute for zoom meetings. I wore this once and hated it. I AM NOT a Jumpsuit wearer.  This garment just cemented it. I won't be making more. It's not the Style Arc pattern, it's me...

I cut this out in 2019 pre-pandemic. I love this Simplicity Pattern 8687. I've made several of them and worn them off and on this spring.  They were great to throw on the top of outfits as I headed to work.  This is probably the last one I will make but it was fun to stitch it up.

This was my January Janome Ambassador project. I made it over the Christmas break in 2020 and that is a story in itself. I really wasn't ready physically to spend a lot of time sewing but I pushed through. This TNT shirt didn't make it to the blog until March because Janome project.  However, the blog post will tell you that not only did I match EVERY single plaid intersection but I also applied the applique to the front and back of this shirt by machine.

This tiered Verano maxi dress was a fave last spring. It was easy to construct and the very first pattern I've used by Christine Haynes. I love tiered maxi dresses and really need to make another tiered version of this pattern. This began my first big burst of sewing this year.

I made this top as an "Inspired By" garment and totally fell in love with this tunic. It's my most worn piece of 2021. It was so practical, easy to make and easy to wear. It also totally fits my lifestyle now.

These tops were all about the fabric. I bought these knit panel prints from Marcy Tilton and used them for my favorite knit top - Pembroke by Cashmerette. I felt like I needed to add a few of them for layering to my wardrobe and these two fit the bill.

I will admit this is my go-to pattern for a dress ~ my hacked version of the Deer n Doe Myosotis Dress. The dress is comfortable, easy to wear and makes up well in a variety of different fabrics.  In April I shared this sleeveless, midi-length version and this maxi length one with long sleeves made using a border print.

This tunic jumpstarted by journey with border prints. I mean I used one in the Myosotis but I really played around with the print for this garment.  This was the second of four Vogue 9299 tunics I completed this year. It's such a comfortable piece that there are two more in my cut pile for 2022.

Summer came and I was vaxxed, headed to work and even going out with friends. While Covid wasn't beat, we did seem to be living with it. I went to Sew Camp with my friends and made a couple of pieces that I lived in during the summer.

This was my most favorite make of 2021. I loved the flow of the dress, the print and how wonderful I felt every time I wore it.

My second Christine Haynes Verano dress had changes made to it because I'm sewing it. However, I loved it and it was a wonderful addition to my summer wardrobe.

My June Janome Project emphasized a technique that you could do with an attachment on your sewing machine. I had so much fun incorporating the circles into this MimiG shirt. It's another conversation starter when I'm out and about.

Another lightweight linen print Vogue 9299 because this tunic amplifies summer dressing.  Cool, comfortable, easy to wear and stylish.

I said I wasn't making another Myosotis dress because I own a ton of them! But when I bought this gingham print from StyleMaker Fabrics it wanted to be nothing else but a button down shirt dress. So here you go! It was another well worn garment this summer.

This is what I think of when I remember my Style Arc Hope Dress - how big and loose it is! LOL! I made this at the end of the summer/early fall and will probably change my mind about it next summer on the first really hot & humid day. I probably won't make another one but it easy to sew.

Another day, another Vogue 9299 tunic!  This one in this amazing panel print cotton sateen from Fabric Mart's brick n mortar store. I love this tunic and get compliments EVERY time I wear it because it's just fun!

While I made this cardigan and swingy Pembroke tee in late spring, it wasn't photographed until the fall. I wore the cardigan some but wore the heck out of the swingy Pembroke tee. I need to make another one next spring!

Conclusion ~

My sewing definitely suffered because of the pandemic. I worked from home for the first four months of 2021 and only went into work 2-3 days a week from May to November. I owned enough tops to be zoom ready for meetings at the beginning and end of the year. During the summer when I went to work, I already owned a lot of summer maxi dresses to wear since they saw very little action in 2020. So while I made lists and thought of things to sew, they just didn't come to fruition.

I used six indie pattern companies 
       Bluedot Patterns
       Style Arc 
        - Christine Haynes
        - Cashmerette
        - Deer 'n Doe
       Mimi G

There were 2 Simplicity patterns and 1 Vogue pattern used 4x.  This is probably an accurate reflection of my pattern buying too.  BTW, I purchased way more indie patterns than I used this year - hopes and dreams y'know. I had two UFOs and one item I made for Janome but never shared here.

While I bought a lot more fabric at the end of the year, I didn't buy much at the beginning of the I have no in and out totals.  Also with enough storage space I just haven't felt as pressed about my fabric collection.  Though the sting of moving it is starting to wear off! *LOL*

The biggest change this year was to my sewing spaces.  I started 2021 with this amazing sewing loft. Yes, I still miss the room because I spent a lot of time conceiving and setting it up. I was VERY disappointed when it didn't work.  I partially moved downstairs in February, definitely moved all of the sewing machines down in the spring and FINALLY got the Resource Center set up in the loft in the fall.

My Resolution for 2022 ~

I haven't felt like sewing much of 2021. Then I read a book by Jodie Picoult and in her epilogue she talks about HER experience with Covid this year. The isolation, the fear, family members who contracted it, her inability to write (insert the word sew here), how anxious she was and how the isolation caused everyone to make changes to their lives.  She also talks about how romance novels with their happy endings helped her navigate the beginning of the pandemic.  

I felt so seen by her epilogue.  When she described how the isolation caused people to change their lives, I realized I did just that in 2020. I packed up my life and moved to my own place.  Living alone for the first time in my life. I was also dealing with a pretty serious illness that could have really changed my life. 

Pre-Covid when we could go about our lives, I could mostly tuck away any unhappiness. I used sewing and the sewing cave on the weekend as my retreat. So I changed my life, the way I thought and handled things and became a lot happier.  However, I realize that while I had spurts of sewing, I didn't create the way I did pre-Covid. I had started to think of sewing as a necessity instead of the art form it really is to me.  After reading her words, it really hit me that SEWING is ART to me. I need to create and enjoy the artistic process. 

I gave that up in 2020 and 2021. I'm taking it back in 2022. I'm sewing what I want, when I want, if I can wear it out and about or not. I'm getting back to enjoying the process and sewing as the creative spirit moves me. Sewing the things that make my heart sing...Covid has taken way too many things from me in the last two years.  I refuse to give it this anymore.

Now that I'm at the end of this very long ass post, I want to wish you a very Happy New Year! I hope you take many creative journeys in 2022.  I hope that your sewing becomes everything you want and need it to be. I also wish you peace, joy and happiness.  

Please be careful out there because Covid is still raging...and I hope you will join me in 2022 for more sewing adventures! always more later!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Starting my Holiday Sewcation

I'm more than thrilled that I have 10 days off from my day job!  When I look back to 2020 and I was recovering from surgery, I feel so blessed that I'm doing well now and able to indulge in my passion.

A few things before I head in...

My Cut Pile ~

I've made a cut pile. I know the contentious cut pile - LOL! - but this is how I sew best lately. I'm aiming to make 4-5 items out of the pile.

A New PDF Pattern Source ~

Y'all know I hate PDF Patterns for two reasons - one the cutting and taping. Why??? Second - I always felt like printing the patterns professionally made the PDFs even more expensive. But I've been coming around for EXTRA special patterns. Please don't think I've gone over to the dark side but every once in awhile I see something on the interwebs that entices me.

So my friend Laquana has started printing PDF patterns for the masses. Y'all when I tell you this is too easy, please believe me.  The things that challenged me about PDF Plotting was downloading the "right" file, telling them the number of pages and then finding out that the shipping cost more than the printing.  Again Why???

With Laquana you simply send the file and she prints it.  No need to tell her a page count.  She also prints instructions for just 99 cents. Even the mailing is cheaper than PDF Plotting. Now please note that Laquana is a US based printing company only! 

I took some pictures of the presentation so you can see how it comes... 

Packing from Laquana

New pattern plus instructions rubber banded together

I love that it comes folded instead or rolled cause easier to store!

Instructions are printed in color & double sided

I store my patterns in legal size expandable folders and the package fits in no problem!

Next on my cutting table ~

I've started working on my first project from the cut pile.  A shirt of course! LOL!  I'm using a border print from Mood Fabrics and have totally enjoyed the process of constructing it so far. It's nice to see that the prep and cutting have been successful.

This will be my last post before my "End of Year" round up post because I'm enjoying my time sewing.  There will be project specific posts in the New Year! always more later!



Friday, December 10, 2021

Well it's December Twenty Twenty-One

2021 has been a strange year in so many ways.  I had so much hope when the year dawned because there was a vaccine available and a fair and equitable distribution plan was being enacted.  Americans had just elected a new President and it seemed as if we would have a new normal come Summer.

Now as December speeds towards the end of the year, people's choices not to vaccinate or get a booster has meant that we're on to the next variant, another surge which will claim more lives and in some countries more restrictions or another lockdown.  Here in the US, since lockdowns are so reviled, we're learning to live with Covid, people are still dying of Covid and other treatable health issues because hospitals are maxxed out.

Everything about our lives pre-Covid has changed. If you deny it, then you're either oblivious, unwilling to accept the change or delusional. Yes, I did say that because we're entering Year Three of dealing with Covid.

Covid has caused change in my life too. After almost two years of primarily working from home ~ I go into the office two days a week from April to November. Now that it's dark at 4:30pm, I'm mostly working from home. Which of course has changed what and how I much I sew.

Not only sew but buy, too.  I go through stages where I buy no fabric or patterns for months and then I lose my mind and buy all the things.  All this to say that 2021 has continued to be all about change for me.

In January, I changed my sewing room again.

I changed what I'm comfortable wearing at home especially during the winter months.

I changed how I view my hobby.  Solidifying it as a hobby and having a limited role as a social media influencer role. Realizing that route is not for me and better left to the sewists who want to take that on. However, I will rep Janome 'til the day I die! 

I've changed what types of fabrics I'm buying and storing.  My life has changed and while I love beautiful woolens and silks they're not practical for my life now. That's not to say that an amazing fabric might not make it into my wardrobe but they won't be the basis of my wardrobe the way they were before.  Also, while I'm making fabric purchases, it could be weeks, months or years before it actually becomes a garment.

Mostly though, I've changed my attitude.  For years I used sewing and creativity as a refuge from bad job situations, messy relationships issues and as a safe haven from anything I didn't want to deal with.  2021 brought an end to all of that and now I sew as the spirit moves since I have peace in so many areas of my life. THAT in itself has been a learning experience.

My sewjo has come and gone several times this year and sometimes for extended periods which is a new thing for me. It's also reflected here on the blog since this is the first year that I've posted so lightly.  However, as the year comes to an end and Christmas approaches, I will have vacation days to sew and wallow in my craft. I'm so looking forward to the wallowing!

I do have a list.  I've cut quite a few items out and the desire to sew is STRONG! I even have a series of shirts cut out for "The Borderprint Shirt Series Part 2". I'm loving the challenge of puzzling out how to work with and show off the border prints to their maximum advantage.  So there will be more garment posts before the end of the year and into 2022.

While I don't believe this will be the last post of the year, I do hope you will continue to follow my sewing journeys into 2022. always more later!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Another Cardigan + A Swingy Tee

Prior to Covid, cardigans played a huge part in my wardrobe.  I threw a cardigan over a shirt, tee or turtleneck and wore those layers over skirts and pants.  I even wore a lot of cardigans, aka Michelle Obama, over a dress in my Corporate Days.  Add a pair of pearls and pumps, you were professional and ready to go! 

While I was home for 18 months, I only wore the old junky cardis which were also worn as a layering piece.  I haven't actually thought about making more even though I own several TNT cardigan patterns, because they used to be an essential part of my wardrobe.  

So of course in the unsewn cut pile I moved last year, there was one last cardigan cut out. Since it's in my blue color scheme and perfect for back to work wear this spring, I started working on it Mother's Day weekend.

The cardigan was cut from Simplicity 8059.  I've made 8 versions from the pattern.  All but one of them remain in my wardrobe.  The vanilla cable version pilled so badly that I let it go. I love this cardigan because it's a simple throw on, easy wear cardigan that can be made from any kind of knit fabric. I have used ponte, wool jersey, velvet, sweater knit and even made a border print ponte version.

It's everything I like in a pattern. Easy to wear, made for simple variations (changed up the closures) and can be sewn in a variety of fabrics. It's been sitting for a few months, waiting for the temps to cool down so I could photograph it. Like with everything else I've sewn lately, this has already been worn out and about.

Supplies ~

Pattern: Simplicity 8059 which is out of print

Crochet knit fabric purchased from Fabric Mart

Black Silk organza from Thai Silks

Black fusible stay tape from Design Plus

Construction ~

For this cardigan I sewed the sleeves in using the flat application.  My favorite method. It's so much easier to get a knit sleeve in without puckers if you use the flat sleeve sew-in method...well to me!

Also because it was a knit, I used the silk organza facings that I'd use in my last version.  However, I did not add the fusible interfacing. Sewing wrong sides together, flipped in, pressed flat and then the fusible bias tape was added to insure the neckline did not grow...

I also used the fusible stay tape to stabilize the neckline of the cardigan...

Since this is a special knit it needed more techniques to insure that I did not stretch out the neckline or mishandle the application of the sleeves. So I added Seams Great to the neckline to stop the stretch.

Honestly, I have a few challenges with the finished cardigan - I've gained a few pounds since it was cut so it doesn't really close well.  Then I added the ties up too high on the v-neckline.  I've worn it and it didn't really bother me but aesthetically it's annoying.  However, not annoying enough to go in and fix it! *LOL*

A Few Pictures ~

A Swingy Tee ~

This is my Pembroke pattern that I added a couple of inches from the waist to the hemline on the front and back pieces by using the pivot and slide method. When I cut this out, I really wanted an easy slip on top to wear over jeans or leggings while working from home.

However, it pairs so well with the cardigan I've worn it to work this way. Though to be honest I've worn the top more than the cardigan. It's such a great layering piece and I definitely want to make more of them, possibly with a cowl neckline.

Supplies ~

Pattern:  Cashmerette's Pembroke Top

Fabric:  100% cotton knit from Organic Cotton - this has been in the collection for a few years and deserved to be sewn.

Construction ~

o The thing I like about Cashmerette Patterns is that the construction is done with a flat application.

o As always, I add some stay tape to the shoulder seams to stabilize them.

o I omitted the cowl AND the neckband facing.  Instead I turned the neckline down 1/2", pressed and used a twin needle to hem it.

o To make the swing, I did a pivot and slide from the neckline on both the front  and back pieces.  I slide it about 2-3 inches from the fold to gain the swing through the waist and hip area. 

o The sleeves are perfect for pushing up when wearing alone or wearing a little longer under the cardigan.

A Few Photos ~

This is another one of those outfits it's taken me forever to photograph so I've worn this top a few times already. But I love the extra swing in it because it's comfortable...and honestly comfort is more important to me than almost anything else these days!  Comfort with a little style are my guiding sewing lights now.

Finally, thank goodness this outfit has been blogged! always more later!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Do You Presew?

There hasn't been a "Question of the Day" posted in awhile so I thought it was time to have a good question to discuss.  See as I was choosing fabrics and matching patterns for my next cutting session, I started to ponder on this.  I realize that I think about the cutting and sewing process as I'm making my project choices.

To me my most successful projects are when I've thought out the pattern alterations, how I'm going to cut the fabric out and the sewing order BEFORE I've done a thing. I do a lot of "presewing" way before I ever get to my sewing machine to do any actual sewing. And as I was working through my next set of projects starting with making a "To Sew List", I wondered if anyone else presews?

Of course this leads to several more questions.

  1. As previously discussed, do you cut one project at a time or do you make a cut pile?
  2. If you make a cut pile, how many projects are normally in the cut pile?
  3. When you're cutting out your project, do you compartmentalize the process?  You know only thinking about one task at a time?
  4. Or do you visualize your project all the way to the end ~ again presewing?

As always, I'm interested in hearing/reading your and hope you will share them with me.  So talk back to me about the "Question of the Day - Do You Presew?" always more later!


Monday, November 08, 2021

My Sewing Spaces are Done

I've been dragging my feet for months, trying to avoid dealing with the boxes and stuff accumulated in the loft after moving my sewing machines downstairs. The Loft had become a storage space while I dithered on what to purchase, how to get it assembled (does NOTHING come premade anymore!), and then sorting through the boxes.

As each new item was purchased and assembled, the dream of the Resource Center became more apparent yet seemingly even further away! I made my last purchase Friday and spent the weekend, going through boxes, sorting things out and making a donate pile for clothing.  It seems as if it's taken forever to get to this finished point.

A Little Backstory ~

Once I dissembled my "Dream Sewing Room", moved the sewing machines and cutting table downstairs, I realized that ALL of the extras (patterns, fabric, notions) could be stored in the Loft. However, to get it to work, I needed to buy more stuff to organize the items in both the Loft and the Sewing Room.

I bought:

- a 5 shelf bookcase for the Sewing Room

- 2 9'x12" wire grids for the Sewing Room

- 3 filing cabinets to hold patterns in the Loft

- a bunch of totes in various sizes to hold miscellaneous things in both the Loft & Sewing Room

- a 30 lb garbage can on wheels to store scraps in (there were several boxes full of scraps that I had stored here)

The Resource Center Now ~

Patterns and more patterns are stored in and on top of the filing cabinets
as well as the grandkids games, coloring & sketch books and crayons

The table (things on top need to be disposed of) 

A photo with the curtains open so you can peep some of the fabric

There are still two bins of fabric upstairs on the far side of the table holding coating & fur fabric. I emptied nine bins of scraps and fabric that somehow got shoved onto the shelves. Whatever extra fabric space I had is gone now! Look at that tower of fabric on top of the shelf by the doors. Almost every new purchase has been added there. 

I still want to add some better lighting (I already own) just need to move it upstairs and buy some folding chairs. But I believe it works now. It's doing double duty as a spot for the grandkids to hang out, color, play games and watch TV when they visit for the weekend...and a place where I can pull fabrics, patterns and match notions to them.  Most importantly, I can move around and touch all the fabric. Doing a lot of pre-work in the Loft/Resource Center will allow me to bring it downstairs to just cut and sew.

The Sewing Room Now ~

Yes, I primarily work from home here 
Though sometimes I work from the sofa too...

The set up for my Janome 9450QCP which I primarily sew on

Cutting table and bookcase that I use to store pressing 
things, threads, patterns and extra fabric

Just need to add the Mixtiles I purchased last fall and some pictures from the Sewing Cave to the walls and I'm done.

I'm thrilled that the majority of the work is FINALLY completed...just 14 months after I moved in! *LOL* However, having everything in it's place has removed some of the stress I was holding on to. Isn't it amazing how having things out of sorts affects your creativity?  

Anyway, that and a new order of fabrics from StyleMaker Fabrics has reignited the sewjo. 

I bought 3 yards of Abstract Brushstroke Sweater Knit Blue/Chocolate to make a cardigan. This Cozy Wool Double Knit Solid Cranberry is what starting the buying spree and I bought 4 yards of it. No plans for this yet but a few ideas percolating. Four yards of Cozy Wool Blend Double Knit Espresso, I want a warm maxidress from this. Y'know for those cold wintery days in January, February and March when I'm working from home. The last one is a functional piece but you always need black in your wardrobe. At least I do! It's four yards of Soft Reversible Sweater Double Knit Solid Black again no plan but necessary for new sweater pieces this winter.

I'm making a list. Freeing up some weekends and planning to sew to my heart's content. That's what I've been up to the last couple of weeks. 

There is one more garment post from my previous sews and it's up next. always more later!


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