A new tee plus a lot of thoughts


I made something! I actually had to force myself to do it; this sewing block/loss of mojo is intense. I did enjoy it, though, and I really like the top! It’s an October Burda pattern–101 from 2016, minus long sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric. The fabric is a super light ITY that was not easy to deal with. Finishing is not perfect, particularly the neckline. I may redo it but it’s just invisible enough to not be noticeable.

It’s also the first sewn item toward my newly defined style goal of athleisure. I know that term bothers some, it used to bother me too but I’m used to it now, but it’s what’s happening.

I’ve been having some trouble dressing after starting my new job a little over a year ago, more than I expected. It didn’t seem that different, just a little chillier and more casual than my last office, but I that particular combination seems to have essentially eliminated a significant percentage of my clothes from my daily life. I think that’s why sewing has been a challenge too. My fabric and pattern stash, and more importantly, my dream to-sew list and even styles I favor, supports my former life, not my current reality, which, by the way, is amazing. On good-clothes days I feel so whole and cohesive, not just with clothes and style, but with my job, my location, everything.

I love clothes that can do anything I want to do. I can go hiking or to yoga after work with minimal outfit changes, weekend wear is the same as weekday wear, everyday pieces can be dressed up if needed but aren’t entirely different. My biggest source of inspiration has been Athleta. I had a meeting in the city and took the opportunity to try a few things on in person and look around, and it works. After realizing these types of clothes are what I’m missing, I did order a few pieces off Poshmark and am not disappointed.

There are boxes of envelope patterns to look at, but to start I went through all my burdas and took photos of promising designs, and I’m going through my closet, pulling items that aren’t working. It’s tough because I do like these pieces, they do fit well and are a match with my style, but they simply don’t work anymore. I need to do the same with my fabric stash. I don’t know if I’m going to donate immediately, may just store the clothes and fabric out of my sight so I can better focus on the here and now, and hopefully have some inspiration again.

So here are my current alterations lists and sewing/knitting guidelines.

  • Knits in natural fibers plus rayon/tencel are the focus, except for activewear fabric. We recently got a Class Pass package at work, and taking a yoga class in one of my beloved 100% organic cotton tees was awful! The only other class I’ve taken in recent months is in a drafty NPS building facing the ocean at work, and I totally forgot that you do sweat in the average studio!
  • Unless the fabric is really special, no purchasing of wovens for a while.
  • Whether purchased or sewn, clothes need to have more than one function (work, yoga, hike/run).
  • If an item is not warm enough to wear alone, it must be easily layered. No more long sleeved button downs, as much as I like them!
  • Sleeves on already made woven shirts are coming off. It’s almost never warm enough to go without a sweater and it’s often too warm and bunchy worn under a sweater (seriously, on the Bay Area coastline a difference of 5 degrees can take you from freezing to sweltering, I don’t know why).
  • Sundresses may become something else. I have a couple that I really like that I’ve worn maybe once in the last year. I think they’re destined to be chopped into separates or harvested for fabric.

We’ll see how this all plays out, but I have hope my inspiration drought might end…


Dress Like Your Grandma

I love this challenge that Tanya hosts so much, but have felt like I can’t really participate as I don’t have a photo to go on. It’s silly, the sewing community is so inclusive, but it took reading a note that the inspiration photo can come from anywhere that allowed me to give myself permission to participate.

There’s a photo I saved years ago that makes me think of my grandma, who grew up in Minnesota and loved skating. I love skating too, and that link to her seems special to me.

Image from http://www.prettyoldpatterns.etsy.com, where you can buy the pattern. Which I did, naturally!

The pattern is dated from the late 1930’s, when my grandma would have been in her early 20’s. At $3.60 I went ahead and bought it, but am actually on the fence about the sweater. It uses 8 colors, and that’s just a lot of fair isle, especially in confusing vintage instructions. The fair isle patterns are charted, but the pattern doesn’t actually indicate when you should start the chart. I could always leave off the charted design or sub something simpler.

I have a pattern booklet that actually belonged to my grandma, and may choose one of these instead. I love the cowboy sweater, and could extend the arms, and maybe change the motif. Super cute, but I would be self-conscious in real life!


Both the original and the cowboy options look like they’re knit in fingering weight, which means a lot of knitting! Way too much to finish by April 30. I think even a sweater in worsted wouldn’t even get done in time!

I am considering a few other options in heavier weights. These are all modern, and honestly would probably get more wear. Most would need shortening a bit.

Boundary | Grettir | Carbeth | Snowfall

The skirt of the inspiration photo is also knit in fingering weight yarn. That’s not happening! I do want to make a similar a-line skirt out of fabric, though, and I could use one in my real-life wardrobe too.

I don’t think I’m officially entering the challenge, because I do want to knit the sweater and there’s no way I could finish in time. I could whip up a sweater on the serger, though, we’ll see 🙂 Thanks to Tanya for this special challenge!

February Plans

The month is half over and I’m still working on that motorcycle jacket! I swear I’ll finish this weekend. I’ve said that the last three weekends, but I mean it this time. Of course, we do have other things going on, like making this beautiful Ikea-hacked light fixture!

On to February plans. The February Burda was only okay, unfortunately. The only piece that grabbed me was this beautiful coat! I don’t have much need for a knee length coat in SF, though, and I don’t like the shorter versions. This one is destined for my Someday list. I may try to make the boucle jacket if I can find suitable fabric in my stash. I’ve been enjoying wearing casual zip-up jackets to work quite a bit lately and this has lovely, classic lines. If not, maybe the skirt. Meh.
I also took a look at my Someday list to see if anything grabs me in the moment:
Lots of buttons! I’m leaning most toward the DKNY dress upper right. It’s been on my to-sew list for ages!
Finally, knitting. I’m almost finished with the front of my Stonecutter, and need a break. I’m weary of cables, and am definitely not knitting a complex design in black yarn again, ever. Mark my words. I wanted something easy mindless, but instead cast this on earlier this week:
It is easier, though certainly not mindless, and the bright blue yarn is a welcome change. I love knitting again, which was really the goal!
Happy February!

January Plans

It’s already halfway through January! I’ve been all over the place with work, and holidays, and goodness knows what, but am still slowly working on my December Burda project:

I just need to attach the hood and do the finishing–almost there!
I hope to complete a January Burda project, though nothing really stood out to me in the 1/2017 issue. Nothing except that cropped motorcycle jacket. I want it… but four dots worth of difficulty? Not sure I want to face that right now! I would also have to go to JoAnn for zippers. Horrors. The sweatshirt is an easy, but not very exciting, backup, or I could go back to the 2016 issue for this sloppily-drawn long skirt.


Or, maybe it’s time to take a break from Burda and revisit my neglected envelope patterns. It’s been a while since I’ve looked through them, but I know there are some great ones waiting to be remembered!

To Sew Someday

Last July I started keeping a Bullet Journal, and turns out I love it. The system basically has you set up a custom planner, with the added flexibility of keeping any other lists or collections in the same place since there is no pre-made structure. I keep it pretty simple, but if you do a search on Pinterest you’ll see that some people really go all out!

At any rate, over the summer and fall I sketched out a few patterns that I want to make, but not at this very moment. I always have a running list in my head, but designs are forgotten, patterns and magazines are all in different places, and it sometimes my to-sew list feels totally overwhelming. Putting the line drawings on paper was surprisingly liberating! Taking the care and attention to do the sketch also made me give the design thoughtful consideration. I’ve since had to change notebooks, and last week sketched out some more designs. So far they are all burda (❤), but my envelope patterns are coming up next!

Now I’m putting them all together here so I can really see them in one place, with a tag!






Burda plans for October

I’ve been receiving the Burda magazine for almost two years and it’s been a revelation. I love my Burdas. I’ve found that I make patterns I wouldn’t normally choose, and that I almost always end up loving them. I am relatively confident in the fit, and don’t even mind the tracing process now that I have a roll of medical exam paper.
I’ve been really trying to do the Burda of the Month Challenge — sewing up a pattern from the current issue before the month is up. I actually didn’t for September because nothing in the magazine really grabbed me. There was a nice blazer, but September is so crazy at work that I knew it wasn’t the right time for a big project.
October, however… what a fantastic issue! There are four things I want to make right now:


I am thinking the lower right top or skirt might be first. I have fabric for both, just need to decide if on an easy or harder project.
There’s no way I’ll finish all this, but I also have my eye on a dress from last year’s October issue. This is one of those dresses that I would hardly look at if it came out in a Vogue collection, but something about Burda has made me think about it for a solid year!


We’ll see if anything comes of these plans.
Happy sewing!

New year, new me

Thank you for all the comments on my flowercat shirt! I may never make such an amazing garment again. I’ve been sewing away in between work responsibilities and holiday obligations, and I have a lot to share. Sharing has been hard, though, for enough different reasons that it became overwhelming and exhausting. Lately, though, I’ve made a few changes that I hope will get me sharing and participating more in the new year.

IMG_5785 (1)

First up, I covered my dress form! I love my gifted dress form but the purple/maroon color has always bothered me in life and in photos, especially since I favor navys, purples, and other darker colors that just blend into the unnatural shade. I bought some light beige cotton knit from Mood with the idea of making some Alabama Chanin inspired camisoles, but within an hour it had been sacrificed for my dress form. I love the new form. It fits into the feel of my home, clothes look so much better on it, and I feel like it even improves the clarity and exposure of my photos.

The other improvement is that I bought a new computer! We’ve been limping along with phones and my husband’s aging, overloaded macbook, which is slow and freezes constantly. I can hardly read blogs on it, let alone write my own posts (or work from home, manage photos, watch Netflix, and so on, and so on). Any posts from the last six months have been written entirely on my phone. The new machine is just a little Samsung chromebook. I was a little nervous moving to a cloud based, non-traditional OS, but so far it’s been great. And it’s lightweight, has an anti-glare screen that can be used outside (I can work while Dandelion roams the backyard!), charges fully in about 15 minutes, the battery lasts for 10 hours, and it was about as inexpensive as you can imagine.

I’m looking forward to 2015 for all sorts of reasons, and these small but significant improvements have been more inspiring than I expected. Many thanks to all of you who follow this modest space and my corner of Instagram. Interacting with the sewing community has been such a blessing to me in a challenging year. Happy holidays to all of you!