Archive of ‘books’ category

inspiration :: tuesday

~a week-long highlight of bits and pieces of inspiration.~

I saw it on the map and my excitement must have been palpable because he agreed to stay at the hotel with the kids while I walked over on my own to the textile museum.  and after ogling the kimonos with the added insight of a docent, I bought this book so I could keep at little bit of that afternoon with me at home.

I’m so glad I did because everything in its pages is a breath of inspiration.

I can’t look at that picture on the left without wanting to quilt or sew a shirt dress.  it’s my favorite.

got something that inspires you? link to it in your comments.  I’ve love to have happy inspiration buzzing around.  that would be nice.

 

the heavy boots

it turned out to be a long week last week.  I was home with the boys, which was fun except I was killing myself to give each day a theme…like ‘art day’, ‘word day’, ‘race day’  and then we would have an afternoon activity related to the theme. (I promise to share more on this later.)  the boys loved that the day had a clear agenda even if they had to wait until the afternoon but I grew exhausted by the planning and clean-up.   I’m trying to minimize meltdowns especially given the hot temperatures around here.  not to speak of roughhousing…there is so much roughhousing and I don’t have a good idea of how much is too much. anyone? but, I’m not convinced that structured activities is exactly the right answer.

we also learned that our neighbor, whom the boys both adored, passed away.  he lived alone and his sister has needed some help here and there going through his house as well as someone to talk to.  then, a surprising flood hit my hometown, Duluth, MN.  it’s a town made of hills and really should not ever flood but it did and it left neighborhoods flooded, zoo animals displaced and some of the precious natural places of my childhood underwater.  thankfully there don’t seem to be any human deaths.  but, it was shocking and I realized that as much as I love new experiences and change within my present life I really want my childhood places to stay locked in time. not very realistic but it’s true.  all in all, I had what my husband calls heavy boots.

there were great bright spots, of course, including tons of wonderful moments with the boys including quite a few classic games of go fish.  they have lots of questions and ideas about death right now and it has been good to have a chance to explore that, too.

there was, of course, my fantastic sewing class.

and, I was lucky enough to steal away to the inaugural meeting of the North Jersey Modern Quilting Guild. it was wonderful to be so inspired and with so many accomplished sewers.  everyone was excited and friendly and nearly giddy with enthusiasm. I felt very at home.

and, in the cleaning out of items our neighbor’s sister gave us a stackful of wonderful books, mostly kids books and cookbooks, as well as some furniture most of which needs a bit of refinishing that I’m excited to undertake. I will be sure to share that later, too.  both of the boys are as in love with books as my husband and I and I was heartened to see them devour the big stack of kids books.  they aren’t reading yet but sat next to each other and looked at pictures and made up stories. I even got to put my feet up and peruse the cookbooks.

the boys are in summer camp now for a few days a week and it’s giving me a chance to get some work done, prepare for an upcoming festival, and hopefully get enough time to shake off the heavy boots.

 

lucky day

 as a fabric lover and sewing teacher there is always a small part of me that is oh-so-tempted to design my own fabric. to get it just right, ya know?

so when I saw this book from the people behind one of my favorite textile blogs True Up, I knew I wanted it.  but, I played it a little too cool and it wasn’t in my stocking on Christmas morning…darn that Santa! so, you can only imagine how excited I was to find out that I won it from Christina at A Few Scraps.  and, it is just as fabulous as I imagined it was going to be. it includes great coverage on different fabric types in general and thorough, thorough discussion on the different ways to make your own fabric from stamp-making to screen printing to digital printing.  it’s very inspiring.

 

and, because Christina is just plain awesome she even threw in a fat quarter of the first fabric she designed.  it’s called ‘selvedge on steroids’, she made it on spoonflower, which is one of the digital fabric printing studios.  (one warning: it is incredible and if you click on the link and head over the spoonflower, I cannot be responsible for the many lost, happy hours that may result.)  isn’t the fabric perfect!! especially given how much time I spend discussing selvedge! now…the find the perfect thing to make with it!

the year 2012 and some sewing goals

yes, I realize that it is mid-February and a little late to be talking about 2012 as if it were still on the horizon.  nope, it’s here and fully happening already but I’ve always been a little slow when it comes to these kind of things.  I am hoping that is part of what you love about me. right?

so, here it goes…deep, deep thoughts about 2012.  first, I’m so excited to be teaching so many amazing classes (by the way 2 spots still remain in the beginner–super tote class!).  it really has been a fantastic, inspiring adventure already.  I love the way that different people bring different and creative ideas to everything.  I find that it helps to fuel my creativity too.  so, I’m looking forward to lots more of that in 2012.  second, I’ve got some great commissions underway that are making me really happy.  I mean really, really happy. I’m like a humming, buzzing bee around my studio these days.  I can’t wait to share the details about these but later because I have too much other stuff to share today.  last, 2012 really feels like it holds so much incredible potential especially after how incredible 2011 has been.  feels like I’m starting on this incredible platform and ready to launch into a smoother-running sewing-teaching machine!

and, as a smoother-running sewing-teaching machine I have a plan.  this little plan started out as what felt like an ambitious idea and then it just grew until it started to take over my brain and became ESSENTIAL and something that I MUST DO.

the plan is to sew all my summer clothes this year! here is my justification: summer clothes can be simpler and so can be finished a bit more quickly than other season’s clothing; summer clothes are full of fun prints and so allow for use of fun fabrics; summer clothes include things like ‘beach dresses’ which can be loose and flowy rather than perfectly fitted; summer is a time for whimsy and fun clothes so I get to play, play, play; and most importantly, summer is months away so I have some time, right? RIGHT!

here is my list of things I want to make am going to make:

wow.  that is looking like a lot.  my rules are that I can only purchase summer shoes and no clothes.  if I want it, I have to make it.  we will see how it works out. I will certainly be blogging about it as I go.  but, I hope it turns out to be a splashy summer, my friends.  there is always the risk that I will just become that crazy patterned lady, too.  interested in joining me? we could do it together and keep each other updated?! let me know and I create a little blog button.  I’d love company.

alright, I do have a confession.  the truth is that I have already made the two skirts on my list.  they are the same as the skirt we make in my a-line skirt class.

this one is made from a japanese cotton-linen blend that I bought nearly a year ago and only just recently cut into.  I love the pop of colors on the soft gray background.  this skirt has just the right amount of structure to it that it is comfortable but still looks clean with smooth lines. I added a little red piping to the area near the waist hem and finished it with a blind hem stitch. I happen to be a big fan of the blind hem stitch, I like the way it looks professional and clean and not so becky home-ec-y.

  

this one I made a while ago…so I’m cheating just a little bit. it’s made from a table cloth that I got at a yard sale.  I cut it on the bias to combat how stiff the fabric and I like the way it drapes and the way it looks like a vine is wrapping around me.  it also really effectively hid some stains!

a-line skirt I’m a big fan of this pattern from wendy mullin’s sew u book.  it seems to fit everyone really well and even though it is a standard skirt, the a line shape is maintained better than other skirt patterns I’ve used.  that said, there is one gaping problem with this pattern and that is the sizing.  it runs so unbelievably small that the smallest size seems better suited for children, to be honest.  it really could benefit from some bigger sizes.  to teach it in my class, I’ve had to create my own size up, which is crazy.  that said, that’s my only gripe. the instructions are clear and include a great, foolproof technique for inserting a zipper.

ok, wow.  that is a long post. but, I’m very excited and very amped on caffeine.  I had better go direct that caffeinated energy on a few other important things…like tonight’s class!

the year 2011

sometimes a blog post is like an imaginary friend.  it’s living and breathing and writing itself in my head for so long that I actually start to think that I’ve written it already.  but when I sit down to actually write it all my ideas are scattered and my attention span is short and….well, it doesn’t happen.

this is one of those posts.  I’m late in writing it because, even though it is already written imaginar-ily, it’s a breathtaking reflection for me.

how to begin to look back at the year 2011?

I’ll start with numbers:

1 conventional job left behind

1 home life and 2 small boys with lots more mama time

1 website created and 8,003 html codes gone wrong

9 sewing classes taught to a revolving ragtag group of 28 amazing people (and growing!)

at least 10 sewing machines newly nestled into to the homes of that ragtag group

28 new, crafty, creative friends to obsess about sewing with

2 craft fairs

2 very special quilts

100 cups of coffee, 145 (or so) yards of fabric and 310 (approximately) spools of thread

here it is in pictures:

work hard, sew hard max.quilt.sneakpeek            

thanks so much to everyone that made 2011 a stupendous year.  every single person that has waltzed through my classes has not only been a natural sewer but also become a friend.  you all make the *work* behind a happy stitch worth it. I’m guessing there are easier ways to make new friends but none are nearly as fun as this.

2012 is already swinging with an incredible skirt class under foot and a bag, beginner, and superhero cape class up ahead.  plus, I got a few soon-to-be-revealed sewing goals in mind as well. maybe you will want to join me with those? huh? huh?

 

book review :: patternmaking for a perfect fit

a while back Steffani Lincecum sent me her book “Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-Off Technique to Re-Create and Redesign your Favorite Fashions”.  Steffani is a sewing instructor who has taught costume construction at the University of Wisconsin and has worked on shows like Will & Grace and 3rd Rock from the Sun in addition to crazy things like sewing wings for a trapeze artist in a Tom Petty video. she is the real deal. I was more than a little thrilled when she asked me to discuss her book on the blog.

the book covers two different methods for making patterns with the emphasis being on re-creating existing items.   both methods are what is called ‘rub-off’ methods…one with paper and the other using fabric. the book takes you through both techniques and show you how to create patterns for skirts, dresses, blouses and handbags.  every chapter relies on a ‘source garment’ meaning a single garment used to make an original pattern.  it then outlines the best method to use; walks you through sewing the simple design and then provides more advanced options.  for example, her skirt chapter starts with a basic pencil skirt then provides the information necessary to alter the pattern to a casual denim skirt; a wool tweed pencil skirt; a striped a-line skirt; a wrap skirt; a bias-cut cotton skirt; and even adding in pockets. so…essentially working from one simple skirt to any kind of skirt you could imagine.

she does the same thing for the chapters on dresses, blouses and handbags…it moves from basic to advanced.  if there is one word for this book it is THOROUGH and I mean that in a good way.  some patternmaking books skip over how to sew it all together once you have created a pattern and others don’t really provide what you need to make your own patterns.  this book is doing everything from ‘cradle to grave’ as the expression goes.  by that I mean it includes 1) a discussion on the basics of fabric construction and tips on tidy sewing (anyone who has suffered through my beginner sewing class knows how near and dear to my heart both of these things are!) 2) how to measure yourself properly and how to estimate the amount of fabric you will need 3) making a pattern and then altering the pattern and 4) sewing it all together for each and every alteration as well as the basic pattern.  it takes you from from beginning to end.  in all, I’m very excited about this book. I’m proud I own it and I’m excited to dive into it…probably in the new year.

that said….

  

it is a ‘diving in’ kind of book.  when I open up this book I get the sense that I have to COMMIT to this book if I’m going to get anything out of it.  I think there are a lot of books out there right now that are ‘project-based’.  you can pick up those book and browse through them…get inspired and bang something out.  they are fun and inspiring. if those books are twilight this book is anna karenina…and not because it’s stodgy or hard to read, it’s an easy read, Steffani has a very friendly and real voice…but it’s because it for real. for real, for real.  it’s a college education in paperback form.  there is a lot in this book and a lot to be gained from having the discipline to really work from this book.  I’m genuinely hoping that I can set aside time in 2012 to work my way through this book and pick up every gem of wisdom that Steffani lays down.  maybe I’ve been eating candy and it’s time for some broccoli?!

 

stay tuned.

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