2013 Goals Progress Report

We have made it through the first six months of the year, so I thought this would be a good time to revisit my 2013 sewing goals. Here’s my progress report:

50 posts: I made a goal of writing 50 posts in 2013 and so far I’ve written 21, not including this post. I’d say I’m doing pretty well at achieving this goal. I’m a little under half way to 50 posts, but I think I can easily reach my goal if I keep sewing and posting at my current pace. It’s been wonderful to spend more time writing about my sewing.

Sewing at least once a week: I did pretty good at keeping this goal from January through May, which was the hardest part of the year to stick with it. Doing some sewing for my sister’s wedding helped keep me on track! Now that it’s summer break, it’s been a breeze to sew at least once a week. The ratio is basically reversed; it’s unusual if there is one day a week when I don’t spend time at the sewing machine!

Building my sewing community: If you’ve been keeping up here, you’ve probably read about Urban Threads Studio. I found out about this new organization as I was looking for people or places in Chicago where I could work on this goal. I was so lucky that they just happened to be moving into my neighborhood. Through my involvement with UTS I’ve met others who are interested in sewing and I’ve also invited a few friends into my sewing circle. I am very excited to see how this community grows in the second half of 2013!

Teaching: Through UTS I also have the opportunity to accomplish my next goal. I started out by helping at the Mending Cafe event, where anyone can bring in clothing that needs repaired. I have had a great time teaching others to do some basic sewing at this event. I am also going to be teaching a couple of workshops, which is going to be very fun, I think. My first class is how to make a reversible apron and it’s coming up soon on July 9th from 7-9pm. (If you’re in Chicago and are interested in this class or others, there is a coupon deal going on right now on youswoop.com)

Challenging Project: I haven’t really taken on a very challenging sewing project (unless you count teaching). I am still interested in learning to quilt, but whenever I go to the fabric store I end up gravitating towards what I know best, which is garment sewing. I still think it would be great to learn some new sewing skills or put my sewing skills to use in a new way. I just have to figure out what project will help me do that. Any suggestions?

Did you make any sewing goals for the year? How are you doing at keeping them?


Sewing Room Reflection: Routines & Creativity

I admit it. I am the kind of person who likes to-do lists, schedules, routines and calendars. I feel very organized and productive when I can look at my list of tasks to see what I’ve accomplished and have yet to accomplish. I have even gone so far as to create a calendar for the fun and 100% optional activities I want to do this summer, things such as going to the farmer’s market and attending concerts in the park. If you’ve ever taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator test, you’ll know what I mean when I say I’m a “J”.

I often feel a little bit aimless or adrift when a day without a schedule is in front of me. I’m afraid I won’t make good use of the day if I don’t have a list of things to do. I hate the idea of wasting this precious time. Even though I know it’s good for me to have free time to just take things slowly and spontaneously, it often feels unnatural to me.

Lately, even though I’ve had lots of unscheduled days, I’ve had some very creative (in my opinion) ideas and opportunities come to me. If I had had a schedule to keep I would probably have missed out on these moments, which is a very sad thought. I feel like these ideas and moments have “come from nowhere”, which I know is impossible and false, but it’s the sensation I’m left with nonetheless. If my time had been taken up with a schedule to keep, I wouldn’t have had the freedom to just accept certain creative opportunities, with no specific goal in mind. If my mind had been occupied by the list of tasks I had to accomplish, I might not have been in the right frame of mind to solve a problem with a creative solution.

Even though I am excited about this burst of creativity in my life, it’s probably not enough to change my nature as an organized, methodical person. I guess it’s just a reminder that life well lived is about finding a balance. The pendulum may swing from one extreme to the other at different points in my life, but I can be assured of a good measure of happiness and fulfillment if I recognize that I need a good deal of both structured and unstructured time.

Hello Summer!

Summer is here! For me, the arrival of summer means it’s time to catch up on the sewing that during the school year I only have time to dream about. This is the kind of to-do list that I look forward to making and tackling! Here’s a glimpse at what’s on my summer sewing agenda:

1. Catch up on blogging. I have at least four posts to write for projects that I completed during May and didn’t have time to photograph or write about. Among those projects are two versions of Colette Patterns’ new Laurel, the veil I made for my sister’s wedding and my projects from TGIT at Urban Threads Studio.

2. Finish UFOs (unfinished objects) from the past year. I have a pair of breezy linen pants that I didn’t bother to finish once cool weather set in last fall. These should take me no more than one afternoon to finish up. I also have a tweed Chanel-style jacket that has been languishing for over a year because I have been a little intimidated by the project. It’s time now to dive into that project and face my sewing fears. (I’m not really afraid of the project, but it’s the kind of project that I don’t want to rush.)

3. Home sewing projects. I have a few home sewing projects that I want to complete this summer. First up is a set of cushions for my wooden rocking chair. After that I would like to make some kitchen items like dish towels, oven mitts and produce bags. My mom has also requested some pillows to match her living room curtains.

4. Dresses! It seems like there is always a dress I want to make and I have at least three in mind right now. The three I have in mind span from a casual sundress to a somewhat fancy party dress. I have fabric and a pattern picked out and purchased for the fancy dress, but no fabrics chosen for the others. That’s bound to change soon though.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures to go with this post. Hopefully describing my own summer sewing plans has given you a good mental picture of what you hope to accomplish this summer. I’d love to hear what you have planned!

Free Sewing Event in the Chicago Area

I am very excited to share news about a new organization in the Chicago area, Urban Threads Studio. They are a non-profit organization that hopes to use sewing and other textile arts as a means to strengthen the community. They are holding a free event this Wednesday, May 1st called the Mending Cafe. They are located at Bridgeport Art Center – Studio 5405, 1200 W. 35th Street, Chicago, IL 60609.

Mending Cafe Flyer

Urban Threads Studio seems to have many interesting projects in the works, from free community workshops to summer camps to youth outreach programs. I am looking forward to supporting this new organization on Wednesday and learning more about their mission and vision.

If you like what you see, register for the Mending Cafe, check out their other workshops or share the news with others. I will be back to tell you more about Urban Threads Studio after I attend the workshop this week.

Sewing Plans: Laurel Shift Dress

I am quite a fan of the shift dress, so I was excited to see the newest addition to the Colette Patterns line. Laurel is a very classic shift that is billed as being blank canvas for interpretation and embellishment. Over the last couple weeks since the pattern came out I’ve been gathering inspiration and supplies from the Colette Patterns website, flickr group and Laurel Extras e-booklet, and from fabric stores in two states. I’ve finally got a plan for my Laurel pattern and I’m ready to cut into some fabric today. Here’s what I’m thinking.


I have two Laurels planned in two quite different, yet quite similar fabrics. As Sarai, the owner of Colette patterns has said, this pattern is a great showcase for a special fabric. This first fabric I bought is this cotton sateen designed by Amy Butler for her Alchemy Studio Collection while I was visiting my sister. This fabric feels as smooth as silk and has a subtle sheen. It’s a lighter weight than many other cotton sateen fabrics I’ve bought in the past, but it is still substantial enough not to require a lining or underlining, I think. This fabric was a splurge, so I don’t want to cut into it until I know that Laurel is a good fit and match for me and for this gorgeous fabric. I’m planning to make Laurel version 1 (dress length without pockets) or version 2 (dress length with pockets) from this fabric if all goes as planned.


I bought a second fabric so that I could make a practice version or wearable muslin. (I’m not a big fan of sewing things I can’t use, like a plain white muslin garment, so if I need to sew a practice version of a pattern I’d rather use a fabric I still like but that I wouldn’t be devastated if I ruined.) I got a real bargain for such a nice fabric, so I know I won’t feel like the money was wasted if my practice version isn’t wearable, but I still want it to turn out well. It is a striped linen fabric that is a nice medium-light weight. What I haven’t decided yet is whether I want the stripes to run horizontally or vertically. At this moment, I’m leaning towards horizontally because I think it would look neat to use the selvedge (that white stripe is part of selvedge) as the bottom edge, which would also save me the step of hemming. I’m planning to make the shirt version of Laurel, version 4, from this fabric.


When I put these two fabrics in the washer together to pre-wash them, I was struck by how similar and how different they are from each other. Both fabrics have a gray background with a striped design in shades of pink, purple, blue and green. Yet, even though they share a color scheme and pattern, they are very different in “personality”. The cotton sateen is smooth, shiny and very feminine with a floral design making up the stripes. The linen has a slubbed textured, and is relaxed and natural looking. I plan on wearing the sateen dress to the rehearsal dinner for my sister’s wedding and the linen top with shorts or jeans for a casual day around town. If this pattern works well in both of these fabrics, I predict that this pattern becomes a tried-and-true favorite of mine.

Looking Back at 2012, Setting Goals for 2013

I found my year in review stats very interesting and wanted to share them with all of you. I also used them in addition to some of my own personal reflections on the year to set some goals for the coming year. Here are my (somewhat disorganized, sorry) thoughts on those two topics.

  • My most popular post of 2012 corresponds to my favorite project of 2012. I think that makes a lot of sense and makes me want to make more awesome projects that I will love as much as you. 
  • I wrote about 25 posts in 2012. My goal for 2013 is to write 50 posts. I know that doubling my amount of posts seems like a lot, but it still averages out to about one a week.
  • To make the above goal attainable and to create more balance in my life, I hope to sew at least once a week. It might be for as little as five minutes, but I want to make my personal interests a priority. I am so easily overwhelmed by my to-do list each week and don’t put sewing on it. I then don’t end up doing any sewing because I haven’t prioritized it. The trick will be not making myself feel like sewing is another task on my to-do list.
  • I was absolutely amazed that my little blog has been read by people in so many countries! It just shows what a universal skill sewing is, I guess. I’m humbled and awed to be a part of such a diverse and widespread group.
  • My goal related to this statistic is to build my sewing network/community, both locally and globally. I don’t have concrete ideas about how to do this yet, but I’m going to be on the lookout for other sewing-enthusiasts in my social circles and beyond.
  • I want to do more sewing-related teaching. I am a teacher by profession, but I have very little experience teaching anything sewing-related. I think that teaching what I know about sewing would help stretch my abilities as a teacher and benefit those wishing to learn about sewing. So look out for tutorials and/or original patterns here this year as I attempt to share my knowledge of sewing and learn a little in the process. (Doing this is one way that I might be able to use to build my sewing circle too.)
  • I’m going to do a challenging project this year because I know I have a lot to learn still and I think the best way to learn is by doing. I’m not sure yet what this skill-building project will be, but I have a few ideas. Right now the one I’m leaning towards most is making a quilt. I’ve never tried and think I might like it and learn quite a bit through the experience.
  • I also have one more goal for this year that I’m keeping close to my chest for now because I’m not really sure if it’s attainable in one year, but I’ll be sure to let you know if I reach it!

Cheers (a little late) to 2013 and all the possibilities that lie ahead! Let me know in the comments if there was anything that struck you about the 2012 year in review or if there’s anything specific you’d like to see here in 2013.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Jacket Indecision

If you know me well, you know that I sometimes have trouble being decisive. I’m struggling to make a sewing decision right now. I’m planning to use the fabric below to make a jacket. It’s a wool, silk blend with a tan and blue herringbone background and red stripes. It’s a gorgeous fabric and I want the final piece to be worthy of it. I’ve narrowed my jacket choices down to two. Maybe you can help me decide?

Choice A is a classic-looking Chanel style jacket.

Choice B is this Simplicity jacket (view E) with raglan sleeves and sleek lapels.

Let me know which pattern you think fits the fabric best in the comments!

Transition to Spring Wardrobe Plan

I was so lucky to receive wonderful sewing-related gifts this year, including a couple of sewing books, notions, tools and fabric gift certificates. Normally, I don’t buy fabric with a plan in mind for coordinating each project I am making, but since I was able to get so much fabric at once with the help of the gifts I decided to make a coordinated mini-wardrobe. I have been particularly inspired by the spring wardrobes shown on some of my favorite sewing blogs.

Spring 2011 in Chicago

Spring in my corner of the country can be a little hit or miss; it tends to be pretty wintry with a few spring-like days until it’s suddenly summery. For this reason, I wanted my mini wardrobe to help me make the odd transition between winter and summer. For this “season” I’ll need warm clothes that can be layered, but that also remind me that warmer days are on the way.

This is the fabric that inspired my palette:

Isn’t it great? It’s a silk/wool blend that I found on fabric.com.

This is my mini wardrobe palette:

I used this tool on Colour Lovers to identify each color that I wanted to be a part of my wardrobe palette. After that, I looked for fabrics that fit into my palette.

My palette is filled with classic colors and combinations: red & navy, navy & gold, cornflower blue & cream. All the colors have a somewhat muted hue, which I think lends the palette some modernity while maintaining its classic feel. I am very excited about all of the projects in my mini wardrobe, which includes a dress, jacket, skirt and two tops. I’ll be sharing each of these one by one. I hope you’ll check back soon to see my progress.

Hi there!

Hello there visitors! I imagine that if you’re a first time visitor it’s because you saw the gracious reference that Oona of the Sew Weekly made. I just want to say that I’m still around, even though I haven’t had much time to share what I’ve been up to. Since I’ve got a few spare moments now, why don’t I let you know what’s been sparking my creativity.

White felt snowflakes:

Striped sweater dress:

Red corduroy pants:

Thanks again for your visit! I hope to see you here soon.

Sewing History: The pattern

I just read an interesting article about the history of sewing patterns. You can read it here too. I learned quite a bit from it, and it made me think about aspects of sewing that I had never really considered before. For example, I knew that the “walk-away” dress pattern was a popular vintage pattern, but I didn’t realize it was a symbol of prosperity. I had also never considered that being able to sew “democratized fashion” (to use the author’s phrase) because that definitely seems so different from current reasons for sewing. Fashion changes so fast now and the typical woman has a pretty sizable wardrobe–I could never hope to keep up with current fashion by sewing everything. (Just to be 100% clear, I really have no aspirations to keep up with ever-changing fashion trends. I am speaking hypothetically.)

I enjoyed this post quite a bit and I hope you do too. If you learn something new or think about something in a new way, I’d love to know about it in the comments.