Thursday, April 17, 2014

I want to hang out with you in Los Angeles!

Whenever I read about the sewing blogger meet ups that are organized in London or New York I get super jealous. I want to hang out with other ladies that sew too! Well, I'm going to get my chance on Saturday, June 14th.

Kathy, Jill, Laurie, and I have been scheming for the last month and have decided to organize a get-together for the ladies in southern California. We are going to meet up at 11:30 at the restaurant next to The Fabric Store, Cafe Midi, and have lunch, do a pattern/fabric swap (if you want to), and talk sewing. Afterwards we are going to The Fabric Store and then Mood for some shopping. If you are in the area I hope you will join us!

Just a couple of FYI things: you don't have to join us for lunch, although we hope you do! You can always join in for the shopping part of it, however I don't have an exact time on when we will be done eating. If you DO decide to join for lunch please comment on this post or e-mail me to let us know. I'm going to make reservations for Cafe Midi a week beforehand, so if you could please e-mail me before June 7th I would really appreciate it.

Feel free to post the button above (designed by Kathy) on your blog to spread the word :)

Hope to shop and buy some fabric with you! xo

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Project Sewn

Did you guys hear the news? I'm a contestant on season four of Project Sewn! To those of you who aren't familiar with the site, here's the gist: six ladies are chosen to sew garments for challenges. The challenges were emailed to all of us at the beginning of this month (April) and in May we start debuting looks each week. The only catch is that there is an online voting process and based on the final scores someone is eliminated after each challenge. Kinda nerve-wracking, huh?

I was super flattered that Liz and Elizabeth (the ladies behind Project Sewn) invited me to participate, but I had my reservations. My first thought was, "I'm not good enough. Why would they choose me?" Ewwww, what a lame attitude! I thought about it for a few days, called Lauren and picked her brain (guys, her voice is so cute and she is just as hilarious as I thought she would be!), and ran it by some of my other friends. In the end I (obviously) decided to do it.

One of my main concerns is staying true to myself. I don't want to make a bunch of clothes that are fancy and cute, but will sit in my closet untouched. I want wearable and comfortable garments that will fit my lifestyle, not elaborate ball gowns. Sorry! However, sewing will still be a challenge for me, as I am making an item I haven't made before and I'm also trying out a fabric type that is new to me.

Project Sewn starts in May and I hope you guys will watch my progress. Cross your fingers for me, throw some pennies in a wishing well, and collect some four leaf clovers in my honor. I need all the luck I can get. xoxo

Monday, April 7, 2014

A wild Laurel in honor of Megan Draper

TEAM MEGAN! I love Megan Draper! I am hesitant to say that because the writers for Mad Men could have her do something super shady this season, but as of April 7th, 2014 at 12:15 pm PST I am a Megan fan. She's a super rad chick with an awesome wardrobe, so when Julia announced another Mad Men sewing challenge I knew I was in and I knew what look I was going for.

I got this wild fabric from Mood Los Angeles around a year ago. Originally, I had planned on making an Edie Sedgwick inspired look with it and never got around to it. I do think this fabric can work for Edie or Megan though.

The sewing pattern is Laurel by Colette Patterns , one of my all time favorite patterns. It's so straightforward to sew and with the clean lines it is perfect for letting a wild print take center stage. It's actually the third version of the dress I have sewn (see version one and two), so I don't have anything new and exciting to write about it, but it's definitely one of my TNT patterns.

Megan would rock those cuffed sleeves, don't you think?

Much thanks to Melissa for taking all of these photos. She's seriously the most amazing friend ever. She sews with me, tolerates my extreme motion sickness, chats with me about blogging, and drives me to cool places for photo shoots. For this photo shoot we went on a quick trip to Guadalupe, the town where The Ten Commandments was filmed. I guess there are still movie props from the movie buried in the sand! I'd like to go back and have a look sometime... and maybe take some Dramamine before I get in the car.

Peace, love, and Megan Draper.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Giveaway Winner

Not only does was the winner of the giveaway get the Christine Haynes Chelsea dress pattern, buttons from Liberty, and a Cath Kitson pincushion, but she was promised a ***mystery*** surprise. When I wrote up the original post I didn't even know what the mystery prize was going to be, that's how mysterious of a gift it was haha. A week ago I went to The Fabric Store in Los Angeles and bought 1.5 yards of this lovely (mysterious) cotton polka dot fabric and am happy to say that it is going to Nadine.

Thanks to everyone for entering the giveaway and to Christine for supplying the amazing pattern! xoxo

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A visit to Birch Fabrics

I've been to two awesome fabric stores that I would like to blog about, one in my hometown and one in Los Angeles. Today I'm going to talk about my visit to Birch Fabrics in Paso. Where is Paso Robles? Paso is a cute little town halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It's known for it's wine and boasts close to 200 different wineries. There are cute shops and amazing restaurants and, most importantly, it's the home of Birch!

When Melissa informed me that Birch was having a sale I invited myself to tag along with her for the forty five minute car ride. FYI I have no shame and totally invite myself places, especially when fabric is involved!

There were three girls working the sale. Unfortunately, the sidewalk sale landed on one of the few rainy days of the year and had to be moved inside. Despite that extra stress I thought the girls handled it well. It was pretty busy and they all provided great customer service.

Melissa got some awesome stuff! 

You can't go wrong with Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe!

If you're not familiar with the store, they carry primarily quilting cottons and even design their own line of fabric. There were even some Colette and Sewaholic patterns!

You know you have been partying too hard when you are covered in little bits of thread. I guess I shouldn't wear all black when I'm fabric shopping haha.

Pretty tree in the rain.

We finished our fabric shopping extravaganza with lunch at my favorite restaurant in town, Odyssey. We both had the artichoke and brie sandwich (YUMMMMM) and I had a cup of carrot bisque. Fabric + good food = amazing day!

Have any of you been to Birch? If I lived closer I would try and get a job there, I love it so much!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stray knitted beret

After knitting Tasha's Victory beret pattern I realized how much I enjoyed color work knitting and immediately got started on another project, Andi Satterlund's Stray beret. It's probably not a surprise to anyone that this was my next knitting project, my love for leopard print is well documented throughout my blog. I have leopard clothes, so of course the next step would be knitting a beanie :)

This beret may not look as complicated as the last one I knit, but trust me, it definitely took awhile to get the hang of things. With the Victory beret there were many different colors used throughout, but while knitting there were only two colors used in each row. With Stray I learned how to knit with three strands at once. In my right hand I held the tan (main color) and in my left I held the dark brown and black. As I went along it seemed like the dark brown yarn wasn't being held tight enough and looked a little puffy. Luckily my problems blocked right out for the most part.

I would like to inform everyone that I have since gotten my bangs trimmed, so no need to stress over that situation!

The yarn was purchased online at Knit Picks. I used the Swish DK Yarn  which was nice to knit with and was super affordable. I tend to knit pretty tight, so I used needles a size up, a 3 for the ribbing and a 6 for the color work. Knitting with double pointed needles drives me crazy, so I used magic loop to finish off.

 Knitting guts!

Every knitting project that I have made so far has used the same cast on method and when I saw that this one required a stretchy cast on I was excited to learn something new. I wasn't sure how to go about starting it, so I lurked around on YouTube and found this tutorial to be super helpful. The finished edge was super stretchy (mission complete) and I can see how it's perfect for a hat.

I enjoy blocking berets because they are so easy! Soak them in water for a half hour and then stretch them over a dinner plate to dry.

Lebron doesn't know what to think.

Overall, the pattern was great to knit. Andi did a good job of designing something that looks difficult, but is actually really straightforward to make. Now I just need recommendations for another color work pattern. What's your favorite? I think I'm addicted.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Clothing Construction by Christine Haynes - review and a treasure giveaway

When Christine Haynes announced she was writing The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction I couldn't wait to get my hands on it! When I read her blog and sew her patterns I am always introduced me to a new technique or skill that is easy to do and results in a flawless finish. Now, after reading the book cover to cover (no joke), I am confident in saying that this is a book you will want near your machine at all times. Seriously! She covers so many topics and has included tons of beautiful photos to make following along super easy.

See, I wasn't joking about having this next to my machine!

You probably don't know this, but I have a BS in Graphic Communication from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Graphic Communication is not necessarily graphic design, it focuses on different printing processes, publishing, packaging, etc. With that said, I nerded out on this book so hard because there are photos for every step described and the book layout is so clean and organized. The typography is beautiful, the text flows nicely, and the use of white space on the chapter introduction pages makes my GrC heart happy!

There are so many little details I appreciated, like the color coded bars along the top of the pages to differentiate between chapters and the little images next to the page numbers.

I thought I would demonstrate a technique that Christine covers in the book on pages 98 and 99 on sewing pivots. Most of us have sewn pivots before, but the tutorial in the book introduced me to a more precise and exact way of sewing them.

First, I marked my pivot spot with my fabric pencil.

 Next, I sewed until just before my marked line and kept the needle down in the fabric. Normally I would eyeball it, pivot pretty close to the marked line, and move on with my life, but this lazy bad habit of mine wouldn't always produce a nice, crisp corner. On something like a collar, a focal point on the front of your blouse or dress, a perfect corner is important to having a nice finish.

This is where I had an epiphany thanks to the book, manually turn the hand wheel until the needle hits the pivot line. Ahhhhhhh! Why haven't I ever thought of this?!?! Christine, you are a genius!

 If your stitch still isn't hitting the line perfectly, she suggests making the length shorter. Here I went from 2.5 to 2.0. Lebron the cat (not the human, but it would be pretty cool if I was sewing with Lebron James. Maybe he is into sewing idk) was watching this happen in the background and he approved.

With the needle down, turn the fabric and continue sewing.

Clip the corner.

Turn the fabric right side out, give it a press (which I didn't do for this photo :(  sorryyyyy) and get pumped on that good looking corner!

If you are ready to blow your sewing mind, then I highly recommend this book. It's a book I wish existed when I first got my machine and it's the perfect book for me now as I expand my knowledge. I can try new skills and techniques and learn them correctly with this sewing encyclopedia at my finger tips. You can't go wrong with this book.

To celebrate the release of The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction, Christine was nice enough to send me a Chelsea sewing pattern as a giveaway prize! I've sewn it up twice (one and two) and can vouch that it's one of the most comfortable dresses I have sewn.

I'm also adding some buttons that I got at Liberty and a Cath Kitson pincushion. I got both of them when I was in London over Christmas and was holding on to them for the perfect giveaway :) There is also a ***mystery*** prize that is not pictured.

To enter the giveaway leave a comment below with a pattern you wish Christine would design next or take a guess at what the mystery prize will be. Giveaway is open worldwide and will close on Tuesday, March 11th at 5:00 PST. Make sure to leave a way for me to contact you (e-mail address, blog website, etc.)
Oh, and don't forget to check out the other blogs on the blog tour. They are also giving away some awesome treasures and books!

Monday, February 24 - City Stitching with Christine Haynes
Friday, February 28 - Sew L.A.
Monday, March 3 - Coletterie
Tuesday, March 4 - Miss Crayola Creepy
Wednesday, March 5 - Whipstitch
Thursday, March 6 - Lucky Lucille
Friday, March 7 - Grainline
Monday, March 10 - Oonaballoona
Tuesday, March 11 - Paunnett
Wednesday, March 12 - Sewaholic
Thursday, March 13 - Lladybird
Friday, March 14 - House of Pinheiro
Monday, March 17 - Flossie Teacakes
Tuesday, March 18 - The Sew Convert
Wednesday, March 19 - Craftsy
Thursday, March 20 - Sublime Stitching
Friday, March 21 - Sew Stylish

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Papercut Patterns Ensis Tee

When it comes to knit t-shirt patterns I'm a total sucker. They are relatively quick makes, they're comfy, and they're what I wear to work. A lot of the patterns I own are pretty similar, but the Ensis Tee by Papercut Patterns has a different look to it due to the awesome color blocking.

Both fabrics were purchased at the Mood Los Angeles store. The green is a lightweight knit (love this color!) and the tan is a little thicker, almost a sweater weight. I regret not buying more of the tan because it has the most beautiful drape and would make an amazingly comfy dress. Both were affordable at about $10 a yard. Funny story, at the time of purchase I was not 100% pumped on these fabrics. I knew that they were great quality, but I wasn't completely feelin the colors because I was in a pastel phase. Then, a few weeks ago I had this epiphany and suddenly decided that I hated pastels and was sooooo happy that I got the green and tan haha.

Ensis was a straightforward sew and I highly recommend it to people who are experienced or novices when it comes to sewing with knits. I chose to do the version with cuffs at the wrists and along the bottom. The only part where I struggled was attaching the cuffs to the sleeves. It was hard for me to line everything up and sew without accidentally sewing in little puckers. Annoying! I also had trouble pressing the seams open where the two colors meet, like the pattern recommended. I tried doing that, but couldn't get a good press. The end result isn't too bulky, but be careful if your fabric is heavier duty!

The sleeves were a bit long for me and in my next version I plan to shorten them. They might not look too bad in the photos, but that is because I had to cuff my cuffs. It has caused me to wonder whether I have T- Rex arms.

Two random notes: One, the weird dots on my shirt are water! It actually rained in California, yes! For those of you that don't know, we are in a drought and I could not be more grateful for the rain. My photos were taken under a tree in my yard, so it blocked a lot of the water. Two, my husband thinks I am a hippie, so I do peace sign poses as a joke haha! Expect to see more peace signs in the future.

Does anyone else have T- Rex arms? :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How I learned how to knit

It seems like there are a lot of people who have expressed an interest in knitting, but haven't known where to get started. I'd like to share how I went about it, it's not as intimidating as you think!

A little over ten years ago I decided I wanted to learn how to knit. This was before the days of YouTube, so I found a website and printed out step by step directions. I only ever learned how to do the knit stitch, but it made me happy enough to churn out a few scarves. Fast forward to April 2013 when I was dealing with crazy anxiety. It was suggested that I knit to help combat some of the stress/anxiety that was overwhelming me. Even though I had not picked up my needles since I initially learned a decade ago I decided to give it a shot.

My completed projects from the Knit Lab class.

Rochelle turned me on to the Stefanie Japel Knit Lab class on Craftsy. Once I tried it I was hooked! I loved the Craftsy platform and how I could rewind/skip back to re watch techniques that I was having issues understanding. I loved the projects and I especially loved the instructor Stefanie. It's true that I could have just watched some YouTube videos, but I can't express how helpful it is to watch someone work on the exact same project as me and guide me through it step by step. Or stitch by stitch, rather ;) Plus, it is awesome being able to bookmark the techniques I struggle with and watch them when I need them.

I sewed myself this needle roll to hold my supplies. Leopard print is my neutral!

After getting down the basics I purchased other Craftsy classes by Stefanie and have since learned how to knit in the round, use double pointed needles, and use magic loop! I joined Ravelry, got addicted to Andi Satterlund's patterns, and made my first big color work project. All this knitting has been great for my anxiety and of course I don't mind the finished products either :)

My knitting bag. It goes with me everywhere!

There are so many amazing resources available on the World Wide Web and it's exciting to learn about a new hobby, especially a crafty one. I hope that any of you who are hesitant to learn how to knit will take the plunge. Whenever you learn something new there are bound to be mistakes (you don't even want to know how many times I've said, "shit!"), but the best part is that yarn will unravel, so you're not "out" a bunch of money, you're just out a little of your time.

To the knitters out there: how did you learn to knit? What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Knit for Victory - A Victory Beret

My first knitting project was nine months ago. Nine months! I haven't shared anything about my "knitting life" here on the blog, but today I am changing that.  Let me introduce you to Victory, a 1940s style beret pattern designed by Tasha at By Gum By Golly.

I'm not going to lie, when I first saw the pattern I was initimidated. Other than an easy color work beanie from one of Stefanie Japel's Craftsy classes I didn't know a thing about this style of knitting. Thankfully, Tasha hosted a knit-along for her pattern with really really helpful information. If anyone out there is interested in learning color work I highly recommend learning with Tasha's pattern teamed with her knit along posts! 

Knitting with two balls of yarn was a struggle at first and the stitches at the beginning of the hat are far from perfect. I wasn't sure how to to hold the yarn and how to have consistent tension. In the end I held one strand of yarn in my left fingers with the ball of yarn on my left side and one ball of yarn on the right side with a strand of yarn in my right fingers. Keeping everything separate was really helpful because it prevented tangles. Originally I was a British style knitter, but after this project I can kind of knit continental too!

Blocking this was pretty fun. I soaked it in lukewarm water for about a half hour and then carefully soaked up the excess water with a towel. To get the beret shape Tasha recommended blocking the hat on a 10.5 inch dinner plate. Luckily, our dinner plates at home were the perfect size and I let it sit overnight.

Finishing this beret has been such a boost of confidence and I feel much more comfortable tackling new  techniques. What are you waiting for? Go get this pattern!!!!