Summertime (& Beyond!) Goals

bitmoji-20170602125601I often wish I had a job where I was off for the Summer! As a former preschool teacher, I appreciated those few months that I had to just have some really good downtime. While I miss that, I do not miss the pay. I remember driving around Austin and seeing the marquee signs of fast food restaurants, advertising starting pays of more than I was making as a preschool teacher! But anyway – Summer is coming! As I think through the Summer and what I would like to have accomplished by its end, I think of sewing, reading, and health.

Last Wednesday night, I was chatting with two close friends about reading. We were discussing books we’d read lately and how they are becoming better readers. Because being a better reader is something I want to grow in, I made a small list of books I would like to read this Summer. I am a frequent visitor at my local library branch and have these books on my virtual bookshelf. I have “Rise” in my possession and have started it already. “Brave New World“, “The Explicit Gospel” , & “Fahrenheit 451” are on the way, being transferred from other branches.

My list for the Summer consists of:

“Rise” – Trip Lee
“Brave New World” – Aldous Huxley
“Fahrenheit 451” – Ray Bradbury
“The Explicit Gospel” – Matt Chandler
“1984” – George Orwell
“Amusing Ourselves to Death” – Neil Postman
“The Screwtape Letters” – C.S. Lewis
“Til We Have Faces” – C.S. Lewis
“The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce” – John Piper

What do you have on your Summer reading list?

Another thing I want to get done this summer? I’d like to continue to grow in my sewing skills & sew at least 10 garments. At least! Sometimes I wish I could have dedicated days to sew, but I have to sew when I get a moment. In one of the sewing books that I have read recently, the author suggests sewing everyday, even if it’s just 15 minutes here and there, and eventually you’ll be done with that new garment. Right now, I am in the process of dropping 20 – 30 pounds so I am focusing on outer garments like this Simplicity 1318 pattern & items that will adjust along with me like a nice maxi dress. I dread making a dress for my current measurements & doing necessary adjustments just to not have it fit me in a few months! So – that is the plan for now. Hopefully, by the end of August, I will be sewing some dresses. I have my eye on completing several patterns, especially some from “Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book” (soooo many that I want to make!)

Do you keep a sewing to-do list?

That leads me to my health & fitness goals. A couple of years ago, I was running & exercising pretty regularly, losing weight & feeling pretty awesome in the process. I had surgery in May of 2015 which sidelined me for some time, then a series of events happened – injuries (patellar tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, hip pain) allergies, moving, and the list somewhat goes on! I have had a hard time being able to exercise consistently which bothers me. I felt so much better when I weighed less. With the injuries & such, the weight came back on and it’s been hard to get it to go away again. My husband and I have goal weights we want to reach and have come up with an ultimate reward, so in addition to the reward of having good health, I have a monetary reward in view. I often look at it like this – the next few months are going to pass whether I am active or not. Either I will weigh the same, weigh more, or weigh less. I’d much rather weigh less & be healthier! I want to be a much better steward of the health & body that God has given me. And so that is my goal for the Summer as well – consistent exercise, weight loss (& maintenance of that weight loss this time!)

Do you have any Summer goals? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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My Latest: Fabric, Books, Feet, & More!

Fabric from Austin Creative Reuse
I learned about ACR on Instagram, following a user with the name kmakesthings. She posted how she’d donated some fabric there, and of course, I visited as soon as I could! Fabric is often just $1 per yard and you can find SO many types of fabric. I have purchased cottons, knits, denims, chambrays, crepes, rayons, and so much more. I have also purchased notions & tools such as bias tape, rings & sliders, buttons, a 45m Fiskars rotary cutter, bobbins, rotary blade replacements, and more. It has been so economical for me to get some of the things I need as well as some beautiful fabric! While Hobby Lobby & Joann’s have their place, the price point is a bit much for me currently (I love to budget!) and it makes it easier for me financially as a beginning garment sewist.

Bias Tape Maker Set
biastapesetIn one of my books I purchased recently, these were recommended. I’d seen information on them on several blogs (such as Make It, Love it) along with instructions, but seeing that I had never used bias tape, I didn’t see the need for it at the time. Now, as I am making various garments, I am seeing the need for it! Sometimes it is difficult to find that perfect color, so why not make your own? It is easy and fast and saves you so much money in the long run. And per the previous post, I am all about saving some money!

32 Piece Presser Foot Set
presserfeetI saw this on another blog (So, Sew Easy) and I must admit – I wasn’t buying the hype at 1st. It seemed too good to be true, especially since one foot can start around $10 and go up from there. I posed a question about it in a Facebook sewing community that I am part of and several ladies attested to these! I was surprised. The only downside is that many of the sets have the feet names in Chinese from what I understand. Mine hasn’t arrived yet (should arrive today! YAY!), but I will be sure to share my findings when my set comes. Also, if you order them and need a legend, there’s a YouTube video for that: Which Foot Does What? Some of the feet included: 6mm round rolled hem foot, edge stitch foot, gathering foot, adjustable bias binder foot, and so many more! Now, it is important to know that the feet are for a low shank machine. If you are not sure what this means, check out this link: Will This Presser Foot Fit My Sewing Machine?

The Magic Pattern Book  (Amy Barickman)
I found this book at Half Price Books while looking for something else. This book, in one word, is amazing. There is an overview of methods, tools, and notions. Seam finishing, pattern marking transferring, and so much more are included in the beginning. I think it is pretty thorough especially for a beginner as you prepare to create from the patterns included (or whatever patterns you may own!). It’s also a great wardrobe starter including patterns for skirts, dresses, coats, tanks, jackets, sweaters, and other pieces. It comes with a CD that you use to print off the patterns and the URL for pattern printing is also in the book. My only drawback is having to print out each of these patterns. Some of the patterns I viewed on the CD have 92 pages. NINETY. TWO. That is a lot of ink and a lot of paper! I do wish the patterns were delivered in another way. I likely will be taking my time working through the patterns in this book specifically because of that reason.

Clotilde’s Sew Smart (Clotilde Lampe)
Another Half Price Books find! She details how to make your home sewing look more professional. Needle type selection, hem & seam finishes, and more. There are SO many invaluable tips & tricks in this book! I recommend it for any beginning sewist / seamstress. It will become your go-to as I can definitely see it becoming mine.

Dressmaking Step by Step (Alison Smith)
I bought this one from Half Price Books the same day that I bought The Magic Pattern Book. Patterns are included in this one as well, but they are traceable and must be blown up. Another additional cost on top of things like notions & fabric, so like the MPB, my usage of the patterns will be a slow process. However, the book is very thorough, also discussing how to mark patterns, darts, stitching, etc.

All in all, I am extremely pleased with my latest purchases and am looking forward to seeing how they help me grow in my sewing. Hopefully this list is helpful for you! Have you had any experience with any of these items? I’d love to hear about it!

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1064

(Click images to enlarge)

Pattern Link:
http://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-pattern-1064-misses-tunics/1064.html

Review Link:

https://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?readreview=1&ID=134093

Pattern Description:
Misses’ easy to sew tunics with length variations and tie belt. This versatile mock wrap tunic pairs well with leggings for an easy on-trend look. Make it with a long sleeve, short sleeve or sleeveless with a front flounce.

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a 12, but actually feel like I could have gone down to a 10 to make it a tad bit more well fitting in the top.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I didn’t dislike anything major. I liked that it was very clear with instructions and there were no guessing games involved. Personally, I wish the cut were a little higher in the bust area, but it is nothing that a tank or cami cannot solve. Also, the darts did not seem necessary with this particular pattern. I also really love the hem. That is what drew me to this pattern from the start!

Fabric Used:
I used a poly interlock from Walmart. The exact description: Shason Textile Poly Interlock Floral Print.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I plan to make it again! This one is view A. I plan to make B and C, and a C with short sleeves. Not a fan of flounce, so not doing D.

Conclusion:
This was a very easy, quick sew. It took me the course of a few days due to other obligations, but I love it! Cannot wait to make it again. Great wardrobe builder!

Understanding & Dealing with Pattern Ease

gertie-easeWhen it comes to patterns and sizing and fitting, it can be tricky. An important thing, I have learned, is pattern ease. Gertie, creator of the most wonderful retro patterns (!), has a great article written several years ago on just that – understanding pattern ease.

This helps me a lot as it assists me in knowing how a garment will really fit once it is completed. With so much to learn with pattern making, this article was great to come across!

Sorbetto by Colette Patterns – Sewalong

sorbettoI have always wanted to participate in a sewalong, but have always come along so late in the game. Recently, Colette Patterns released an updated version of their free pattern, Sorbetto, and are having a sewalong where you sew it together, receiving lessons along the way. There’s an email list, blog, and Facebook group. The Sorbetto is touted to be a beginner friendly pattern and it definitely seems that way! I have seen so many Sorbettos on ‘the insta‘ and on Pattern Review and they all look great!

For the fabrics that can be used, one suggestion is quilting cotton. As that is my current fabric of choice for clothing, I have plenty of that! I am hoping to do a ‘hack’ of sorts as I like the longer length of the Sorbetto version with the high-low hem, but that version has no sleeves, and I must have sleeves!

(above 2 images from Colette Patterns)

Absolutely cannot wait to participate in this sewalong! The cool part is that they are also running a contest:

Sew the New Sorbetto and win! We’re having a contest. The winner will get a handpicked bag of sewing goodies and a $50 gift certificate to the shop.

How neat would it be to sew this, enter, and have not only the sewing goodies and gift certificate, but also 3 new me-made shirts in the process! And if I were to win that gift card, I’d definitely be purchasing the patterns for the Dahlia, the Zinnia, and the Violet.

Looking forward to this sewalong and the learning and growth! Yay!

Patterns, Problems, & Perseverance

As a late year ‘resolution’ of sorts, I told myself that I would finally start using the patterns that I own. At the time, I only owned a few which turned into several as it just so happened that Joann was having a sale on patterns as was Hobby Lobby. I picked up some retro Butterick patterns and added some others to my stash!

My first pattern that I decided to make was the Butterick 6318. I loved the way that it looked! It looked easy enough, but once I started, it was so difficult for me! My pattern was missing some symbols it seems because at one point, it told me to gather between circles that were not there. I did learn some techniques such as under-stitching and dealing with facings. This was new to me! My mom was such a huge help and available at every point to help me figure things out. However, after one too many moments of confusion, I put that dress aside and decided to work on something else.

My current project is the Simplicity New Look 6434 pattern. It looks like a good start to launch into pattern following! Talking with my mom, we agreed that as I start making patterns more and more, my mind will become accustomed to thinking in a ‘pattern way’. So, I decided to backtrack some and start off with something a bit simpler. I have the pattern pieces cut out and will cut out the fabric later today and hopefully will have it assembled by the end of the day!

Hopefully, I will be able to look at this day 6 months from now and see loads of progress. Until then, I will keep trucking, learning new terminology, and filling up my closet one garment at a time.

Bibs, Skirts, & Lace – Sewing for Friends

There is nothing like being able to give someone something unique and handmade with love. While store bought gifts are wonderful, I do enjoy being able to create things with my own hands.

Recently, I had the pleasure to celebrate the upcoming birth of a sweet baby girl! With her and mommy in mind, I went through my stash of fabric and trims and created a few simple things – a bib and sweet little skirts.

The bib is fashioned with Michael Miller’s petals seafoam garland and backed with blue flannel I’d purchased from Joann’s. I used velcro to create the closure.

I also made some girly skirts complete with lacy, frilly trim! As I was sewing these things, I texted some images to some close friends and one responded, “If I was a baby, I’d wear that!” Love my Maeghan!

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The material from the skirts was purchased at Hobby Lobby some time ago so it was a perfect find in my stash as I set out to make some skirts! I had a pacifier clip in my stash that I’d made so I included that as well.

There is nothing like giving handmade, homemade gifts and I have more projects up my sleeve for the babes and their moms and dads in my life.

What are your favorite things to give at baby showers?