Melanie- E-mail Marketing: November 2009 Archives
I made the mistake of ending my lovely, long Thanksgiving weekend by sewing. Well, at least I thought it was a mistake. I started the day off with a small stack of Silk Velvet Burnouts - the same ones we used as a wrap when we played dress-up with the cowl-neck top - and the goal of making as many different styles of scarves I could. Attempt number one was a success, and you will see the results in a post in the next couple days. Attempt number two, on the other hand, brought my creativity to a screeching halt and my patience to a severe low. Despite everything, it gave me a chance to learn a lot about sewing, perseverance and the joy of failure.
The offending project was a double-layered burnout scarf with beaded trim on the edges. Immediately, the trim proved to be much more than my poor little amateur sewing skills could handle. I wanted to just toss the fabric aside and move onto the next project, but I pressed on. To my surprise, it started to look kind of, sort of okay in a way. So I kept going. Just as I finished turning the scarf right-side-out, I heard the pitter-patter of dozens of tiny beads hitting my floor. Alas, I failed to make sure the ends of the trim were secured, and now I had lost too many strands to even fake it. It was basically 3 hours of work right down the drain, and all I had to show for my efforts was a muddle of beautiful silk and pretty beads.
My blood pressure started to ascend and so did the urge to push my machine off the table in an overly-dramatic fashion. Before I could cause too much damage, I remembered that I'm supposedly a big girl now and should probably act as such (I know - where's the fun in that?). I took a moment to calm down and realized that, really, I didn't feel that upset. Yes, it's certainly frustrating to spend all day working on a project that doesn't pan out; we can all agree on that. However, this was different because I at least did everything I could to ensure that the project was doomed before I gave up. I wanted to quit after sewing in the trim, but by continuing on I was able to see that there was some hope, yet. There's something weirdly comforting knowing that a project really is a flop and not just because I was too lazy to work it out. I'm so positive about the whole experience, I might actually pick it apart in the the coming days and try something different with the silk instead of just throwing it in a box somewhere to collect wrinkles.
I guess the point to this long rant is that sewing, like other arts, is a creative outlet from which we can learn so much about ourselves. For me, my sewing has always been a reflection of where I am in life. When I was younger I was impatient, overly-confident and sloppy. I would start projects, get to the half-way point, and toss the mangled mess into a box with plans of one day fixing them. Now as I sew, I see glimpses at my progress towards being a semi-sane adult. I can now finish a project, although the urge to throw in the towel halfway still haunts me. I take my time, read the instructions, pin everything and try to do things by the book. I still mess up (a lot) and have tons left to learn, but I think I recognize that more now than I ever did when I was younger. Most importantly, while I always liked to sew, I don't think I ever truly loved it until now. The literal act of sewing was fun, but all of the implications of creating and learning and growing truly make it an enriching experience. I get that now.
So as you tackle your holiday sewing list, unless you are the Wonder Woman of sewing (or Martha), chances are you are probably going to mess up at some point. If you are like me, you going to mess up a great deal and will ask yourself if making things is worth it when you can just run down to the store and buy the same thing (or something better, which is often my case). I invite you to stop and take a deep breath - and slowly back away from the sewing machine, lest you do some real harm - and remember that it's more than just stitching pretty things together. It's about relaxing and learning and enjoying what you do. It's about growing with every stitch and putting a little bit of yourself in every finished piece. This time of year I find myself more and more likely to throw in the towel on my projects, but this year I'm resolving to stick it out, see it through to the end, and see what I can learn.
Plus, in my case, it's a lot cheaper than therapy.
Happy stitching and happy holidays!
Last week I showed you the various looks of the Cool, Calm and Cowl-Neck top, a free pattern from the fabulous folks at Hot Patterns. This week I tackled the Nomad Hobo Bag. While I can't show you 3 different looks to dress this bag up or down, I can tell you that it is fantastically stylish and fantastically easy to make. I already have at least 5 people who have either laid claim to it or have hinted that it would match their new pair of shoes...
This pattern wasn't quite as simple as the cowl-neck top, but it was still a breeze. From print to final stitch, it took me about 4 hours, but I included the optional pockets and did some extras that I wanted for myself (an extra pocket and some top-stitching). Now that I have the pattern printed and cut and know how the bag is assembled, I could probably make it in 3 hours or less.
For the outside of the back I used the Premium Faux Suede in Merlot for the outside and Alexander Henry's Nicoles Prints No Guts, No Glory Grey. When I pick bag lining, I like to use cotton prints that are wild and fun but not something I would use everyday.
If you are considering making this pattern but aren't quite sure what fabrics to use, I have a couple suggestions to get you started. Don't forget, we've also created a section in Creativity Headquarters witheven more fabric suggestions for the outside of bag. Please note, the first fabric pictured in the pair is the suggested outside, and the second is the lining. The linings are all cotton prints.
Lastly, I would go so far as to suggest that this pattern would be perfect for gifts. The Nomad Hobo Bag is stylish and easily customized for each recipient but won't take you ages to make. As I mentioned earlier, many people have hinted that they would like the one I made, and my mom seems to think she's getting it for Christmas. Looks like I have some sewing to do...
Thanks to Jenny in Merchandising for modeling for me!
During a recent fabric-related meeting (why yes, we sometimes have meetings where we discuss nothing but fabric) the topic of holiday fashion came up. This led to a conversation about the free Cool, Calm and Cowl-Necked Top pattern the by lovely folks at Hot Patterns. This top is perfect for you holiday and every day wardrobe for a number of reason, the first being that it is extremely versatile. The second reason I happen to love this pattern is that it's very easy to make. Also, did I mention it's free? To prove that the above reasons are true, I made the shirt and asked Crystal in marketing to play dress-up.
First, let me reiterate that this pattern is very easy to make. From the time I hit the print button to the last snip of the scissors, it only took me roughly 40 minutes to put the pattern together, which isn't significantly more than what it takes me to comprehend, cut out and press pieces from one of the "big three" pattern companies. From there, I was able to cut my fabric and sew the shirt together in one evening in less than two hours after putting my toddler to bed, and I still managed to get a full night's sleep.
The fabrics I used are our Bamboo/Cotton Jersey Knit and the Bamboo Cotton Baby Rib Knit in lovely Lavender. I chose this fabric because it's super soft and can be used in both a casual and dressy styles. Plus, the various bamboo cotton knits are all coordinates which took the guess work out of picking a fabric for the waist band. It's light enough to wear in Spring or Summer, but can also be easily layered to wear in cooler climates.
The first look we went for was business casual. Crystal wore the top with a nice pair of black slacks and a black suit jacket. We added some simple jewelry, and her look was complete. We all noted that the shirt is a lot more comfy than some of the fussier dress shirts you see in stores.
Next, we took the look from day to "night out with the girls" by switching the black suit jacket for a fitted denim dacket, replacing the necklace with scarf and swapping her black pumps for ankle boots. Easy and fab.
Lastly, while playing dress-up, we remembered that Fabric.com just got in a shipment of some absolutely gorgeous Silk Velvet Burnouts that would be perfect for a shawl. After some hunting, I was able to borrow two pieces from Jennifer in customer care (Thank you again!) that coordinated wonderfully with the purple top. We used the burnout velvet as a shawl and paired it with a long skirt, nice jewelry and nice shoes to give Crystal a dressier look. Not only did our last-minute creativity work out, I think I might have to divert some of my own fabric funds for enough fabric for a couple shawls...
To summarize, this pattern really is easy, fantastic and versatile. Plus, it's free. As usual, I would strongly advise you to make a muslin prior to chopping into your nicer fabric. We found that the top part wasn't as full as we thought it would be, which was fine, but you may want to play with various levels of room in the top and fit in the band. Also, if the jersey isn't dressy enough for what you need, this pattern could easily be made with another knit with a bit of shimmer to it. Either way, have fun with it and get the pattern soon - it's only available until November 12!