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State Fair and MinneSEWta

September 18, 2014

Two real life events that I wanted to share.  First the Minnesota State Fair was at the end of August and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect!  We ate a lot of (unhealthy) food and walked until it felt like my legs were going to fall off, but it was so much fun.  Mostly I wanted to share pictures from the Arts & Crafts building:

Solid line of people into the distance

Solid line of people into the distance

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The Creative Activities building

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FYI, this is a quilt made of tiny squares

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Weaving demonstration

Weaving demonstration

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Then just last weekend the MinneSEWta group had it’s first meet-up!  I’m not sure the group name sticks since I forget to write it correctly all the time, maybe something more simple like Midwest Stitchers would work better… Anyways the meet-up was super fun!  A lot more people came than I initially expected!  We spent about 2 hours at a coffee shop just talking and a couple people brought vintage patterns to give away, then we headed over to SR Harris fabric warehouse and shopped for fabric I didn’t need.  I’m especially excited that people from outside of MN were able to come, Sheila from Canada and Hillary from Fargo!  If we just kept having meet-ups to socialize I’d be completely happy.  Meeting for cocktails or brew wouldn’t be a bad idea either ;)

These first 3 pictures are shamelessly lifted from the Facebook group

These first 3 pictures are shamelessly lifted from the Facebook group

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Top row: Wendy's daughter Abby (?), Wendy, Hillary, Michelle, Joy, Deborah, and Doreen Bottom row: Tina, Sheila, Me, Nakisha, and Kathy

Top row: Wendy’s daughter Abby (?), Wendy, Hillary, Michelle, Joy, Deborah, and Doreen
Bottom row: Tina, Sheila, Me, Nakisha, and Kathy

I think most people found the group through Pattern Review, I tried to link to as many people as I could but I don’t know everyone’s PR name.

Hillary and Sheila

Hillary and Sheila

Joy, Dorenne, and Nakisha

Joy, Doreen, and Nakisha

And here’s what I took home:

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Some really neat pleated/ribbed poly, southwest printed knit, and purple wool (Nakisha got some of this same fabric)

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~Molly

Writing Process Blog Hop

September 15, 2014
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Kindof a boring name isn’t it?  I almost want to track it backwards to find out who started it and with what intentions (I tried to, I got stuck in a string of mommy/lifestyle-ish blogs…).

(I got Instagram a couple months ago, it’s mostly pictures of my cats (multiple, we adopted a kitten!))

Normally I think random “blog awards” are really annoying, they mean nothing!  So at least this one has a purpose other than sharing 10 random facts about ourselves… and there’s no stupid looking widget to display on your side bar…  Anyways, Carolyn of All Spice Abound nominated me to do this because in her words:

Molly is also one of the very few sewing bloggers out there who isn’t afraid to share her brutally honest opinions on various sewing-related issues.  She recently wrote a post about blogging networks that’s worth a read, and her post on the ubiquity of t-shirt patterns put into words exactly what I had been thinking.  I find her honesty refreshing and thought-provoking.

  • What am I working on now?
    • Since I just finished that jacket that took forever, I am cutting out new projects.  My process is a little more systematic than most sewer’s seems to be.  I have a little set of 10 plastic drawers that are the perfect size for projects, so I fill them up with fabric and pattern combinations as I finish the previous project.  Then once I don’t have any more cut out projects, I cut out 10 new projects all at once.  I call it my queue.  Once something is in the queue it may take a long time for me to get to or it may be immediate, I just pick which ever looks like the most interesting project at the time.  My next project will be a Sew Bossy exchange that I’m really excited about.

  • How does my work differ from others in the genre?
    • I think the main difference in what I do is that I am not girly or trendy or hipster.  I like bold colors, hate pastels.  I like streamlined, professional shapes, and hate puffy gathered skirts.  I like interesting details, but not overly complicated stuff, really dislike all the seen-that-before patterns out there (seriously, no point in starting a new pattern company if someone has already made exactly what you’re trying to sell.  Or repackaging an old pattern with a new number like the McCalls company does).  My dream wardrobe is office chic, not fancy dinner party.  Seriously, in college I would make things that I loved, but were way to formal for just going to class.  Thankfully those things are super useful now that I work in an office!
    • I have a pretty different sewing background than most women my age who blog about sewing.  I learned to sew from my mom and grandma when I was little, starting out with doll clothes, simple quilts, elastic skirts, ect.  But I never stopped sewing (except for my freshmen year of college when I didn’t have space for a sewing machine in my dorm room, it was a dark time indeed).  So I am far from a beginner.  I wouldn’t say I’m advanced just because I don’t do couture sewing, but that’s by choice.  I’m confident I could do a lot more things with my sewing, I just choose not to.  Maybe someday I’ll get bit by the welt pocket or bound button hole bug, but not today.  Anyways, what I’m getting at is I’ve had plenty of time before I started sharing on the internet to figure out my style.  Only in the last 4-5 years has my style “identity” really come into focus (so that’s about 15 years of randomly sewing whatever struck my fancy!  Hope it doesn’t take you all that long to figure out… but you’ve also got the online sewing world which I did not have).
    • And of course as Carolyn mentioned, I say what I mean.  I don’t like sugar coating things if I don’t have to, and seeing as how I’m not pointing fingers directly at anyone in particular (most of the time), I feel like I have the right to call out a little bull shit (especially when we’re being sold a product).  Obviously none of the things I’m talking about are all that relevant to world politics or human survival (we’re pretty much doomed, I think I should get a solar panel to power my sewing machine…), but I don’t hear anyone else saying this stuff most of the time and that really surprises me!  Especially when I do say something and people in the comment section agree… well, why didn’t you say anything?  I guess I’m just not afraid of what the internet thinks of me!

  • Why do I write what I do?
    • I pretty much just write what I’m thinking, so I guess I’m mostly influence by what I’m sewing or seeing online.  Not very deep, but I’m not trying to change the world (I have an aversion to people trying to “convert” me to anything, so I try not to do it to anyone else… except Pedro… ).
    • I do like writing a little about things that annoy me in the online sewing world, but I actually feel like I hold back a lot – I could seriously complain about a lot more stuff than I do!  I’ve thought about doing a critical round up of newly released indie patterns, as apposed to new “big 4″ patterns like a lot of people do, because I feel like people that don’t like these patterns just stay quiet.  It would probably offend people though because these pattern companies are mostly one-person shows, then again, they’re companies trying to sell us stuff so they deserve constructive criticism… I haven’t made up my mind yet.

  • How does my writing process work?
    • I sit down and write.  I usually don’t start writing until my projects are 90-100% complete, and I use a template of questions that I’ve modified from the Pattern Review standard review template so that I don’t forget any major points.  Taking pictures obviously doesn’t happen until I completely finish sewing.  My pictures aren’t very styled or interesting other than showing off the garment, usually I take pictures of how I actually wore the garment in real life, or how I want to try wearing it (sometimes I’m not sure what to wear a shirt or skirt with, so I take pictures of my different outfits to get a better idea).  I attempt to convey my feelings on the final project, the pattern, the fabric, if there’s anything to warn others about or if I’m really impressed with a pattern.  Once I finish writing, I reread the post a couple times and schedule it to automatically post in a couple days (I wait a couple days in case I remember something else I wanted to say).  Easy!
    • My opinion posts about sewing-related stuff take about the same amount of time, but it depends on how long the ideas have been simering in my head.  I definitely go back and reread the post a lot more before posting an “opinion piece” because I don’t want to single anyone out… mostly (I care less about singling out the bigger companies…)

So now I’d like to nominate Catherine of Catherine Daze’s Blog to keep the blog hop hopping.  Catherine has a really cool, modern (maybe futuristic) style that I love.

~Molly

Willy Wonka Workwear

September 2, 2014
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So this jacket is a long time coming.  First I just put off making it (I went through two whole rounds of my 10 project queue before forcing myself to work on it!), then I decided to learn some new “tailoring” tricks, and then I moved and didn’t work on it for a good two weeks.  But it’s done, it’s finished, and I’m super proud of it.  And I feel like the coolest girl woman in school the office, because I am*

Also, check out my new backyard.  It's ok, you can be jealous.

Also, check out my new backyard. It’s ok, you can be jealous.

Pattern: BurdaStyle 03/2013 101 and 102 (it’s the same pattern, just variations of itself… same with #103)

Fabric:  Purple (faux) stretch suede and polyester satin, all leftovers from other projects!  The stretch suede is from my mom and I’m really liking it a lot, it was easy to sew (the nap is too short to make any difference in direction) and comfortable to wear.  I feel like it adds to the professional look of the jacket too, but maybe that’s just me.  The satin is from my wedding dress muslin.

Mr. Husband offered to take the pictures (suspicious), so most of the ones I got were of me talking... At least he took a ton like I asked!

Mr. Husband offered to take the pictures (suspicious), so most of the ones I got were of me talking… At least he took a ton like I asked!

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So you know how a lot of people say their cats know good fabric and like to sit on the good stuff more? Ya, Spot likes the cheap stuff… this satin is really bad, it runs like crazy if you stab it wrong with the needle, but she loves it.  I think I’m going to make her a bed out of the last scraps.

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Design Likes/Dislikes:  I like the clean lines of this jacket, it’s mostly traditional but with some interesting darts in front with a horizontal extension (that are supposed to be covered by pockets).  I’m not sure about the button placement though.  There is room for a third button so I could add it later, but it doesn’t feel weird when I’m wearing it… does it look weird?  Mr. Husband pointed the buttons out right away, thinking I’d missed one.  Pattern #101 had 3/4 length sleeves, but I used the full length sleeves from #102.  In retrospect, the 3/4 sleeves would have been cute and practical since I push/roll my sleeves up constantly.

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Sizing and Fit:  Burda magazine patterns have always fit me really well, good thing too since I have so many of them!  So this jacket is my “wearable muslin” sortof, but I was pretty confident going in that fit would not be an issue.  The sleeves are kindof long and baggy feeling though.  I don’t think they look bad at all, but I’d probably reduce them a little if I make this again.

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I learned a lot while making this jacket.  I’ve made jackets before, but I’ve never taken the time to “tailor” them beyond the recommended interfacing.  I bought Gertie’s Starlet Suit Jacket class (now retired so no link for you) from Craftsy back when it first came out (I waited for a sale of course, because they have 50% off sales constantly) and finally got around to using it.  Obviously I did not use Gertie’s pattern, frankly I don’t like the way her clothes look most of the time, like they’re not pressed well enough or something, and they’re not my style at all.  But half the course was about fusible tailoring!  So that was really nice to see someone make a roll line with fusible interfacing and I really liked her sleeve cap method using a strip of bias strip.

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I stopped following Gertie’s course after completing the outer layer of the jacket though.  My jacket has a different collar (notched) than Gerite’s, so to attach that I turned to my Threads archive.  Issue #68 has an article, “The Foolproof Notched Collar” by Jan Schoen, but it wasn’t extremely helpful.  Then I switched to Jen of Grainline Studio’s tutorial on bagging a jacket.  Straight up MAGIC.  She seriously needs to put out a jacket pattern because the lady definitely knows what she’s doing.  I also took some of Jen’s interfacing advice about what location needed extra support on coats and jackets.  Next time I’ll probably follow this more closely because I really should have interfaced the lapel facings.

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Changes:  Other than not following the Burda directions (useless) and combining two variations of this pattern I didn’t change anything.  Oh I guess I left off the pockets; pockets are nice, but I like pockets in pants more than pockets in jackets.

For Next Time:  It would probably be a good idea to test the sleeve fit before making my next jacket, no matter which pattern.  I’m really happy with this jacket over all though, there isn’t much I’d do differently!  Now I just need a top hat, a bow tie, and a floral vest and I can be Willy Wonka for Halloween!

~Molly

*sarcasm. But really, there are only 3 women out of 30+ engineers in my office so it’s not that hard…

Sewing-sphere Trend: Fabric Store “Networks”

August 27, 2014
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Occasionally I like to rant point out some of the blogging trends that I see going ’round the online sewing world, although this one I’m kindof ambivalent about: Fabric store “networks” or “blog teams.”  First of all, that sounds so ambiguous!  They’re just avoiding saying the truth: advertising.

(click image for source) The spider web is a metaphor… either we’re all connected in a web or we’re all getting stuck in the web. Or is that a simile?

If you haven’t noticed this blogging phenomena, basically fabric stores that have a website they can sell from (I think all the ones I’ve encountered so far have brick and mortar stores also) create their own blog.  Then they enlist a selection of “established” sewing bloggers, possibly from anywhere in the world because of the magic of the internets, to sew projects from their fabric (the fabric is given to the bloggers for free, I believe there is no other compensation) and write up a post about that project.  I am not saying that is bad, I really don’t care what these fabric stores do, but just to play devils advocate here are some things to think about:

Pros:

  • Meaningful advertising for small businesses targeting their prime customers and allowing them to find new customers that won’t be able to visit their stores in person.
  • Product testing. It’s really hard to buy fabric online and know exactly what you’re getting.  These bloggers can basically test out the fabric, tell us how it drapes and wears, and show an example of how it looks as a finished product.
  • Style points.  I assume the people that actually work for these stores are picking bloggers because they make stylish things.  There are some people out there who can make just about any fabric look good, which in turn makes the stores look good!  Having stylish blogging “collaborators” also helps give us less-naturally-stylish folks ideas of how to use their fabrics.
  • It’s possible that these blogs could bring in people that are new to sewing, for instance women that like style blogs or whatnot.  The stylish bloggers point above definitely feeds into this.
  • Free fabric for some bloggers.  No, it’s not benefiting many people, but it’s got to be a benefit to these few people.

Cons:

  • It’s entirely possible that there will be bad reviews of the fabric along with the good.
  • Is it really working out for these stores?  I’d be interested to hear from a business stand point if this is actually drawing people in or if it’s just another advertising expense.
  • Are we getting honest opinions?  Free fabric makes most sewers really happy, heck, fabric we spent lots of money on usually makes us happy too!  So how can we really tell?  If they are truly honest bloggers they’ll tell us when expectations weren’t met and why.  But I always get the impression that sewers blame themselves long before they blame the fabric or the pattern.  That’s not honest in my mind.  However, for a lot of people honesty in sewing reviews seems to come with experience too; the longer you sew, the more you know, the better you can judge a project’s outcome.
  • This is really similar to the pattern testing issue that swept around a while back (which actually kindof pissed me off that some pattern makers were getting so upset about people questioning them.  If you’re in business, you’re making money off of us, so we have a right to tell you when we’re not happy about what you’re doing.  You also have a right to not change a thing… unless it’s unlawful… but that’s a different issue!  Also see my point about sewing cliques below).  Are these people being fairly compensated for their time?  Yes, fabric is usually more expensive than a pattern, but time is even more expensive than fabric if you break it down.  At least in this instance it’s very up front that to get the free fabric, the bloggers are expected to blog about their finished product.  Everyone knows it’s advertising.  Transparency is good, everyone should get with it!
  • It’s more advertising on top of the all the other advertising we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.
  • These “networks” are very selective.  Obviously for good reason: they’re businesses and they want to put a good face forward.  But I really feel like sewing blogs are somewhat cliquey, there’s no two ways about it, and this just adds to it.  And every time I read a dissent on that point of view, it’s always from one of the popular bloggers who are already part of the clique, so of course they don’t get it.  I’m not going to try to change anyone’s mind on that point and you’re not going to change mine, so don’t try.
  • These people are more than likely not sewing professionals.
  • I’d chance a bet that these bloggers get major stressed out over these projects since there are deadlines and expectations.  Stressed sewing isn’t fun sewing.  And all sewing should be fun sewing unless you’re getting paid for your time.

Like I said at the beginning, I don’t care what these people do with their time and money and fabric.  I follow along with a couple of these so called “networks” (the terms they come up with feel so ambiguous, I can’t help but put them in quotes) just because they’re good inspiration sources and I like reading about sewing, that’s why I follow any blog.  I don’t like buying fabric online if I can help it because feeling the fabric is key for me, so they’re probably never going to pull me in, especially when we’re talking about expensive “designer” fabric (side topic: that’s such a meaningless word nowadays.  Everyone’s a designer.  People who design paper clips are designers.  We need more vocabulary apparently).

What do you (honestly!) think about these “networks”??

~Molly

A Tribute Banner

August 18, 2014

One of Pedro’s favorite TV shows is Murder, She Wrote (MSW), a detective series from the 80s and 90s starting Angela Lansbury.  We watched a lot of that type of show growing up because Bia has always been into mystery story lines.  Like most things I make for Pedro, I’m not really sure how the idea got started, but once it was there I couldn’t not make an attempt at it.  In this case, an embroidered portrait of Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher (the main character of MSW) done somewhat in a style you sometimes see on posters for political figures or dictators.

I didn’t free hand draw the outline of Jessica, I just found a picture of her I liked and put a piece of paper on my computer screen and traced it.  Then outlined it in marker and scanned it in so I could make it giant.  So this:

Became this:

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Which then turned into this:

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And finally, this:JBFletcher (11)

It was raining so I had to use indoor lights, and the red is hard to photograph in the first place.  I used a red cotton sateen and some pre-made blanket binding in an appropriately bloody color (it’s probably supposed to be tie-dye…).  The bottom edges got stretched out over time because they’re cut on an angle, next time I make something with this shape I’ll probably try to piece the fabric so it’s easier to handle.  At first I was going to do a flag, but then I came across this wall hanging on etsy and knew I had to make a banner instead.  The proportions of mine aren’t quite how I wanted, it seems too wide, but this is for Pedro so I don’t really care.

Here are some close ups:

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JBFletcher (10)

JBFletcher (9)

And if anyone out there is also a die hard MSW fan, you can download the 8.5″ x 11″ pattern here and the larger 20″ x 24″ pattern here.

I don’t fell like I put a ton of effort into the random patterns that I make so I give them for free, but still please link back to me and share if you make something from my patterns!

and last but not least a photo bomb by Mr. Husband...

and last but not least a photo bomb by Mr. Husband…

~Molly

MinneSEWta Meet-Up

August 10, 2014

Turns out I’m not the only sewist in Minnesota (and surrounding states and Canada) that were feeling the lack of real life sewing contact.  We’re not a huge crowd of course, not thing like what you would get in New York or Los Angeles.

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So here’s the details of our planned meet-up, in case you didn’t contact me after my initial post on the idea (if you did, you probably already know the plan!):

  • September 13, 2014
  • 10am meet at Caribou Coffee for coffee (duh) and introductions.
    Caribou Coffee, 8881 Jefferson Hwy, Osseo, MN 55369
  • 12-1pm make our way over to SR Harris for some discounted fabric shopping fun! SR Harris’ Saturday hours are 9 to 5:30.
    SR Harris Fabric, 8865 Zealand Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445

I’ve also started a Facebook group for easier discussions: MinneSEWta.  Everyone is welcome, so pass on the invitation.  Now we just need a snazzy logo or something, ha!

I’m excited to me everyone in person!

~Molly

In Progress

July 12, 2014
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I’ve been slowly working my way through a semi-tailored jacket project, but it’s a slow process that I’m definitely enjoying.  Unfortunately I’m also moving to a new place (a whole house to ourselves! So much closer to work!) so I’m packing up the sewing cave.  Since there’s nothing else to really post about in the mean time, here is Spot, who has decided my half finished jacket is very comfortable…

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She’s also taken to the habit of sleeping my sewing desk chair and last weekend she snuggled up on my lap as I tried to sew.  That sound cute and all but sewing with a cat on your lap is not easy.  Especially when she pulls pins out of the fabric if they come too close to her face.  So helpful, so cute.

~Molly

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