Remembering

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Some mornings, it’s too quiet around here. Once Rob leaves for the day and Emmerich goes down for his nap, I’ll sometimes sit on the couch and catch a few moments to myself before I either start working or attack the dishes in the sink. It’s in those moments that it hits me the most that Dax is gone.

Dax from ReallyHandmade.com

Back in July, I found a few lumps on Dax’s throat. A couple of vet visits told us what I didn’t want to hear. Dax had cancer, lymphoma to be specific. We tried chemotherapy for many weeks, and it did seem to help. He didn’t have as much energy as before, but at least we could cuddle and enjoy walks together still. A few days before Halloween, Dax let us know it was time. We put him to sleep in the comfort of our living room, so I could hold him and he wouldn’t be stressed out. After he was gone, I went to sit in the car and sob, where I could cry as hard as I needed to without waking up the baby.

I think I’ve been gone from this space for so long because I knew I’d have to write about this, and I wasn’t sure how to do that yet. Every time I’d sit down to write, about anything at all, my brain would stop the words. I can’t even type this out without crying. I miss him so much, and it’s hard that Emmerich does too. When he hears a dog barking outside, he immediately gets excited and exclaims, “Dah-daw!”, his version of “Dax dog”. When you tell him it’s not Dax, he cries. I didn’t expect Em to remember him so well or to miss him so much.

It does help to have such an active and adventurous little love to help me smile every day. Emmerich turned a year old in November, and he loved his cake!

Emmerich from ReallyHandmade.com- quilt by Elizabeth Hartman

I spend a lot of my days taking care of Em, but now we have a wonderful nanny who comes a few times a week so that I can get more work done. I have been working a lot, doing technical editing jobs and writing and sewing for a new secret adventure that I will be able to tell you about in a few more weeks.

I do want to share some of what I’ve been making. It hasn’t all been for work, some of it has actually been for me! There have been 3 Linden sweatshirts, 2 Morris Blazers, 1 Lark (I love Grainline Studio, can you tell?), 2 knit hats, 20 different dresses/shirts/skirts/pants for different jobs, 1 wedding capelet, 3 Christmas stockings, 1 quilt  and several other in-process items. Yowza!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer from Reallyhandmade.com

I honestly haven’t had a chance to wear my  Morris Blazer yet. I had thought I would wear it to the symphony recently, but then I was cold and wore a sweater instead. I made the blazer longer by 2″ because I think that will look better on my frame, but for my next one, I think I’ll keep it short.

Also- gray? Ugh. I have got to buy more COLOR! Going through my closet recently, I decided I am banned from buying any more gray. That’s going to be a challenge for me!

Grainline Studio Linden by Reallyhandmade.com

My navy Linden (made out of a Pendleton fabric I’ve had for a good year and half) is deliciously soft. The French terry fabric does tend to grow a bit during the day though. I made a second one of these for my Mom, but I didn’t have much fabric and had to put 3/4 length sleeves on hers. It turned out really cute!
Grainline Studio Linden by Reallyhandmade.com

Of course a made a gray one- ha! This is a double knit from Mill End, which was super soft when I bought it. Within 2 wears and one wash, it is completely pilled. It’s relegated to my “wear around the house only” rotation. Guess I’ll just have to buy some more French Terry from Hellgate Fabrics and make another one!

LarkNavy

I found this navy sweater knit with a faux cable at Mill End too (I love that place, can you tell) and made a Lark. It was the last of the bolt, so I got a really good deal on it. I like the shirt itself, but this fabric is pretty itchy. I don’t see me wearing it very much, if at all, because of that.

Ravelry- Basic Baby Hat

I have knit two little hats for Emmerich. Baby hats are great projects for using up bits of leftover stash yarn. I made him a little yellow one from some cotton I had on hand, and then this burgundy one out of baby alpaca to match my own Jul hatEm&MamaHats

Yep- I’m that mom! On one of our Fabric Depot trips, I hadn’t noticed that Em and I had on similar sweaters, navy pants and our matching hats. A little girl checked us over carefully, and then exclaimed, “You guys match!” I had to laugh, because I hadn’t done that on purpose! Pretty soon I do hope to make he and Rob matching flannel plaid shirts though. That’s pretty high on my sewing priority list!

WeddingCapelet

One of my fun work projects that I can share is this vintage inspired wedding capelet for a winter bride. It is lined with a navy satin and has a very sparkly diamond clasp at the neck. I don’t mind working with faux fur because I know the tricks to use to make sure it doesn’t shed too much. I’m happy to say the bride loves it!

WeddingCapeletClasp

One super fun project I snuck in was making Christmas stockings. I told myself that it was okay to buy them, I had enough on my plate already. But then I saw this buffalo plaid and faux fur at Joanns and the next thing I knew I was cutting them out. I’m really happy I made them. I finally have stockings in the colors and fabrics that I want! Plus, I love that Em will use something that I made for him every year. Watching him pull toys out of his stocking was really fun!

stockings

It feels so wonderful to write again. I think it will help me with the loss of my dear Dax, and I have many more ideas for tutorials and projects that I’d like to share with you soon.

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.

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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!

Striped-Bamboo-Romper

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.

Em's-Quilt-Blocks

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.

Rob-Shirt1

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.

PocketDetail

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.

PlacketButton

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.

ShoulderYokeBackYoke

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!

Em-BucketHat

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

Em-6months

Daydreaming

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Em-Lap-Quilt-Lines

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.

Baby-Lap-Quilt-Straight-Lines

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.

ArcherChambray

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!

LindenFabric

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?