Wardrobe Plans

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My sewing machines have been whirring lately. I’ve been sewing things that I can’t share with you though. I’ve been hired to do technical editing, which means I get to see and sew sewing patterns before they are released. I really love the work, helping a local company (Colette Patterns) to review and edit patterns and the instructions that go with them before they are released to the public. I have always loved editing, and of course I love sewing, so technical editing is a perfect fit for me, and work that I’m quite familiar with.

I have been able to do a bit of sewing for myself as well. I am slowly working on a bunch of cat head quilt blocks. Yes, cat heads! I saw this quilt pattern (called The Kittens) that Elizabeth Hartman designed, and sent a message to two other bloggers who I knew would love it. Elizabeth was kind enough to send me the PDF of the pattern, and it is wonderfully written, as all of her patterns are. My swap partners and I are swapping blocks sometime in the near future, so I hope they love bright colors in their quilts!

The Kittens Cat Head Quilt Blocks by ReallyHandmade.comEm’s quilt top is finally pieced as well. Of course, who knows when I’ll get it sandwiched and quilted. I think that will be a fall/winter project. Maybe I can get it done by his first birthday? Ha! I do love to machine quilt when it gets colder out. It gets pretty warm in my sewing room in the summer, because I have two big windows that light streams through, warming up my studio very quickly. Add in the additional heat from pressing and steaming and having a lap full of wool batting isn’t so appealing.

Patchwork-Quilt-for-EmI couldn’t resist cutting out another one of my favorite tank top patterns. I have the instructions on this site for making your own pattern and sewing one up if you’re interested! These tops are definitely a staple in my summer wardrobe. I had held onto this fabric for a long time, waiting to design or find the perfect sewing pattern for it, and I finally got tired of seeing it in my stash but never getting to enjoy it. It’s so much nicer to get to wear this rayon print instead of stare at it in my stash.

Perfect-Floral-TankMost of my sewing is being done with items in my fabric stash. I honestly only own maybe 25 pieces of fabric that are uncut yardage, waiting to be turned into garments. Even most of Em’s quilt fabrics came from my stash. It feels pretty good to start seeing some bare spaces on my shelves.  I have two large stacks of fabric that consists of remnants, leftover pieces from dresses and shirts. It may be time to cull through those and be ruthless, throwing out anything that doesn’t have enough yardage left to cut out an actual project. There are lots of little bits that I saved thinking that I’d make baby clothes out of it, but I realize now that most of the pieces are not large enough to even cut out a shirt for Em.

Have you read the Wardrobe Architect series on the Colette blog? A year ago I told myself I was going to do the exercises that they have written up, but I still hadn’t found time for it. Now, as I am beginning to use up my “good” fabric, I want to make sure I am making style choices that I am going to enjoy wearing for a long time. I’m a pretty picky person when it comes to what I wear, but too often I give up on finding a garment with the fit I actually want and then I buy something inexpensive that I don’t love. Couldn’t I buy yardage instead and make what I want? Of course I could. I have false story in my head that I’ll be able to find what I want with the fit and fabric that I love. How often does this happen? Basically never. It’s time for some detailed sewing planning and cleaning out my closet.

fall-fabricsI have been wanting to pick up some new sewing techniques too. I have quite a library of knowledge in the ole’ noggin, thanks to working with such a diverse group of people over the years. But I’ve been trying to find techniques and methods that are new to me, to spice things up. I’ve been looking through the Craftsy sewing catalogue, and I’m going to watch a few classes to see what I can glean. I’ll let you know if a particular class has any really good tricks!

Speaking of Craftsy, they are having a 50% off sale this weekend, through September 9th! If you purchase a class with my affiliate link, I receive a small portion of the proceeds, to help me restock my fabric shelves.


So please tell me, how do you decide what kinds of garments to make out of your “special” fabrics? Do you plan a lot in advance, or just sew it up and hope for the best?

Stripes and Blocks

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The sun has been scorching the earth in Portland. We finally had a gray day yesterday, but before that, we had quite an unexpected heat wave. I am so grateful that our house has ceiling fans and air conditioning. If we were still in our old rental, I’m sure that I would have melted by now. Our house doesn’t have insulation, so it can get pretty warm when the sun beats on the walls, but at least we have a few tall fir trees to keep the heat off of the house during the hottest part of the day.

When it’s really warm out, I don’t want anything clinging to my skin. Most shirts that I find in stores are rather fitted, but I had this super old Gap shirt that had the perfect amount of looseness to it. I don’t want to wear a bag, but I don’t need anything figure-hugging either. The Gap shirt was on its last leg, so I cut it apart and made a pattern out of it. I’d only been meaning to do that for about two years!

Striped-Shirt-3The Annex at Mill End had some nice knits in the last time I was there, so I picked up this gray and navy jersey stripe and bright pinkish-purple. I am so happy with how the shirts turned out!

Striped-Shirt-1 Striped-Shirt-2 Pink-Shirt

I plan on making lots of these, as soon as I can find more knits that I like. I have the hardest time finding them though! They are usually too thin, too thick, don’t have enough stretch, pill too easily… it’s always something! I don’t bother trying to order them online anymore, because I almost always end up returning them, or using the yardage that I bought to make muslins. I am picky, picky, picky when it comes to knits (okay, all fabric).

It was nice to have a project turn out so well after a recent very bad decision. I copied an outfit of Em’s, made a pattern after adjusting it to give him some room to grow, and then I cut out and sewed up the cutest little romper from a very soft bamboo striped knit. I loved it!


But what did I decide when I looked it? That the the head opening was much too small. Mind you, I didn’t even try it on him. Let’s just think about that. I finish a project, and without even slipping it over Em’s head, I decided it was too small. Ugh. Baaaaad choice. So then, I cut off the neck binding, making it a bit wider, and sewed on a new one. It looked a bit odd, but in my sleep-deprived state, I thought it would be fine. When I finally tried it on him, the head opening was now so big, his shoulders could squeeze out of it. NNOOOOOOO! I was so disappointed. It is currently shoved in a drawer until I can figure out what to do with it. He’s probably even outgrown it by now, but I’m so mad at myself for wasting that fabric and ruining the neckline that I want to find a way to make it right.

His next project should turn out better! Remember his quilt that I was unsure about? I agonized about it for the longest time. What pattern should I used, how would I cut the fabric, blah, blah, blah. I loved all of your suggestions in the comments, and I realized one night that i just needed to make. a. stinking. decision! I often do this to myself with fabric. I don’t want to cut up yardage and then change my mind, so I go through every possible idea I have until I figure out what I want to make. Because of this, I end up with fabric on my shelves for years, unable to make a decision. I bit the bullet and decided on simple squares. I have so little time for sewing that I needed a quilt that could be pieced quickly and easily.


I’ve already laid it out and all of the rows are numbered so my blocks will stay in order. I can’t wait to show it to Em! I think he’ll love looking at all of the different prints while he plays on it. That is, if I can find time to finish it before he turns 18!

Spring Color

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Hello! I am alive over here, if not just barely keeping my head above water most days. I am sloooooowly getting back into the groove of sewing. Emmerich has begun to fall into a nap time schedule (knock on wood), which has given me a little bit of time to myself during the day. After I put him down for a nap, I usually come out of his room looking a wild animal, quickly scanning the house for anything that has to be attended to right away. And lately, I’ve decide that the only thing that needs attending to is my sewing machine, because this Mama is not happy if she’s only done laundry and dishes and housework during her short daily breaks.

I LOVED all of the suggestions everyone gave me in the comments on my post about future project ideas. It has helped me to stop thinking of getting an entire project done in one sitting, like I used to, and instead break it into manageable chunks that I can pick up here and there. I feel like it finally took the pressure off, and I have learned to be fine with only sewing in half of a zipper, or maybe cutting out just two pattern pieces before the baby wakes up.

windowpillowsI used a few of his nap times to make a seat cushion and three pillows for a window seat we have at the top of our stairs. Most everything I used I had on had, except for the fabric for the seat cushion. You know how expensive foam is? Ridiculous. Well, my friend told me about camping foam, sold at our local Fred Meyer. It’s made to sleep on top of, but it was only $20 for a piece a little bit smaller than a twin bed. It’s really dense, so I’d say it compares to the $100 foam at Joann Fabrics. Score! I sewed the cover out of a cotton twill and made piping to match, so it was sort of a pain to make. The pillows were easy-peasy though, and used up little bits of mini pom-pom trim I had and three odd colors of invisible zippers that’d been in my stash for years. Now we’ve got a bit of spring color in the house, and it’ll pop even more when we get the trim painted (yeah, don’t look too closely at that awful 70s light peach hue).

There was another project that I really wanted to get to, but it probably took me 2 weeks to finally complete.


For a few years in a row, I have made Rob a birthday shirt out of McCall’s 6044. I always lengthen the sleeves a good 4 inches, and this time instead of doing a two-piece sleeve with a vent along the sleeve seam, I changed the pattern to a one-piece sleeve and used a placket from Vogue 8889 for a nicer finish. The best part of sewing this up? Not having to cut it out! It’s actually been cut out and waiting to be put together for probably a year. Rob cut it out when he was going to learn to sew his own shirts, and lucky for me, he never found the time to finish it up. I told him that from now on, if he cuts out the shirts, I will sew them.


He did a pretty good job of matching up some of his stripes, but it was a bit fiddly to cut out since this reversible railroad denim has stretch to it.


I like this pattern so much better with the placket! It always bothers me when a sleeve vent is created by using the seam on a two-piece sleeve. It feels sloppy, no matter what kind of finishing I do to the seam allowances. This is much cleaner and looks more professional.


Cutting out the back yoke so it went a different direction was a good call on Rob’s part. It looks nice that the stripes follow the bodice fabric on the front, and visually it’s nice to break up the stripes by running them horizontally on the back.

There was one other quick project that was thrown into my machine the other day. Emmerich had outgrown a sunhat we had for him, so I used the free Reversible Oliver+S Bucket Hat pattern to make sure he had something to shield his eyes from our lovely spring sunshine. He’s such a cute little noodle!


Can I say that I cannot believe he is SIX months old already?! Where is the time going?



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I’ve mentioned here before that I don’t have much time for sewing right now. I know that it’s a season in life, and that it will pass, but sometimes I do find myself frustrated at how little I can get done during the day. I had this idea of a baby who would take long naps, or hang out with me in a wrap or play seat while I sewed, worked, cooked or cleaned. I’m sure any experienced mothers who are reading this are having a good laugh at that idea!

I was in quite a funk about it the other day. I put Emmerich down for nap, and I knew I had exactly 30 minutes before he would pop up and call for me. I looked around my studio for something, anything, that I could sew right then and there. I eyed a baby quilt that I had pieced and basted right before we moved. I grabbed it, put a fresh needle in my machine, and used all of his nap times that day to quilt it. It was a tiny project, but my brain felt so relieved to have sewed something!

Em-Lap-QuiltIf only every project were like this. Everything cut and done and I just have to finish a few lines of stitching on it? Why yes, thank you, that’d be lovely. Put that stack of cut out shirts and dresses right over there, please.


I forgot how quick and satisfying straight line quilting can be. On my most recent quilts, I’ve been practicing some different free motion designs, but breaking out the walking foot was necessary to make this go faster and require less thinking. My sleep deprived brain can’t do free motion work right now!

Em-Lap-Quilt-BindingAnd did you think I was going to use my precious free time hand sewing on the binding? NOPE. I cut out single-fold tape and stitched it down with my trusty Bernina #10 Edgestitch foot.

Here’s the funny part about this quilt. It is sooo tiny! Apparently, I can’t do math when I’m pregnant. I had planned for this to be a floor quilt for the baby to play on. Well, my baby is 27.5″ long, so this quilt is not going to work! It’s about 38″ x 26″. What was I thinking?! Thankfully, he can use it as a lap quilt when we go for a chilly stroller ride to the park. I didn’t know what else I was going to do with it!

I’ve been making tiny piles of things I’d like to get started on. Some of them will likely be out of season by the time I’m done with them, but at least I’ll have them for our next cold spell! I have the loveliest chambrays to turn in Grainline Studio Archers, or maybe Sewaholic Granvilles.


But since it’s still cool out, I bet I could whip up a Grainline Linden over the course of a day or two. I have the softest, most luxurious knit I picked up at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store. I wish you could feel how squishy this is!


I have the pattern for this Jalie 3248 copied and ready to go. All I need is a little bit of a longer nap time so I can cut it out and have it ready to zip thru my serger. Those pockets will really come in handy for carrying my phone and a pacifier around.

Jalie3248FabricDo you have any ideas to help me fast-track my projects? I’m thinking I’ll spend one day cutting, another day sewing, and another one finishing, but I only have about 3 or 4 short 30 minute spurts to work with. Any ideas or tips that have helped you to sew like the wind?


Pendleton Love and a Giveaway

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UPDATE: Congratulations, Kelly Marie! Your book has been shipped!
Cape2One of my favorite things to do with Emmerich is to go for walks. I wrap him up in a Moby and we go to the park by our house where he can look at all of the trees and slowly be lulled to sleep by the motion of my walking. I get some exercise, he gets a nap, and we both get fresh air. I don’t have to worry about him getting cold either, thanks to one of my favorite things I own, my Pendleton wool cape.

Cape1No, I didn’t make this cape. I was lucky enough to go to a sale at the Pendleton headquarters in town and purchase it for a steal. It is so fun to wear, whether or not you’re concealing a little snug baby inside! Do you ever get cold on an airplane? Get. A. Cape. I love it when I’m flying. It’s a thick wool blanket that keeps me nice and toasty!

There is a lovely pattern for making a cape in the book Hand-Stitched Home by Susan Beal. Not only is there a cape, but there are quilts, pillows, an ottoman, and a project by me- plant hangers!


When Susan asked me about contributing a project to her book, I knew I wanted to make something completely different than what you’d usually find in a home-goods sewing book. I wanted it to be easy too, because I usually only design or make things that are complicated. How did a plant hanger pop into my head? I honestly have no idea, but they turned out to be fun and easy to make, so I was happy.


PendletonPlant2This book has projects like bags, pillows, scarves, quilts, a belt, and of course that great cape I mentioned.

PendletonCapeSusan was kind and gave me an extra copy of the book, which I’d like to give to one of you! You can enter to win it by leaving me a comment with something you would like to sew out of wool, and the winner will be chosen at random. Be sure to add your comment with your correct email address where I can reach you, to let you know if you’ve won!

This giveaway is open to US residents only. Comments are open until March 4th, 2015. The winner will be notified by email.

UPDATE: Comments and entries are now closed. The winner has been notified (Kelly Marie) and the book has been sent!