Investing in Quality

linen-pillows1Good morning! I’ve always appreciated the finer things in life — some might call it “expensive taste” (“some” is actually my husband). But I also have a cheapskate side, or maybe it’s this sense that I don’t actually deserve certain high quality items yet.

One of those someday-when-I-feel-deserving items is linen bedding. We have a small closet at the edge of our upstairs landing where I keep all our sheets and pillowcases, but most of them are from Target. I’m pretty sure that the fiber content is indestructible synthetic that will float out into the galaxies completely unscathed should our planet ever combust. I’ve salivated over the thought of drifting off to dreamland nestled upon 100% flax linen sheets and pillowcases since I was a little girl. I was an odd kid, what can I say?

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So, today is my birthday and I thought it was high time I treated myself to some linen bedding. I’ve had a linen duvet cover for a while now, but I finally bit the bullet and ordered this linen sheet set last week. Once it arrived, it was a beautiful expanse of white on my bed, but I felt an urge to add a little extra…grey.

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Using the instructions for the most basic pillowcase from this tutorial, I whipped up a couple of grey linen versions and it was so fast and so easy and so satisfying, I couldn’t believe I’d never made simple pillowcases for my bed before. The only modification I made to the tutorial was to fold the pillow edge 3″ instead of 4″ since I wanted the insert to be completely covered. The French seams are tres luxe. I’d like to try this Purl Soho tutorial with the envelope edge next. I’m already starting to iron other neutral-toned linen. Highly addictive and beautiful to boot. Love.

The gorgeous peonies were a birthday gift from a friend. My adoration of pink flowers is well-documented on Instagram and these make me so very happy.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about investing in quality. I’m no stranger to bargain-hunting and a good deal is always worthy of celebration, because cost doesn’t necessarily dictate quality. Yet sometimes paying top dollar is totally worth it. After reading this book and a slew of other minimalism books, I’ve been reevaluating how I approach everything in my home and my notions of taste and style and quality. I’ve been guilty of wanting pricey, brand-name stuff in the past because of course it’s a way to impress others and it was an easy way to feel better about myself even if it wasn’t altogether healthy. There’s also a kind of safety in established brands. A particular logo may say: “Look, I have good taste.” And though I’m well aware that filling life with expensive things isn’t all that meaningful in the end, it wasn’t until I stopped buying clothes four years ago that I started to examine what was meaningful. I discovered that without the crutch of trends and my go-to stores, I didn’t know what my style was at all, and this wasn’t limited to apparel.

I’m still exploring what “investing in quality” looks like for me. I guess there are certain elements like my love of linen and neutrals that have been unchanging over the years, but I’m still forging my own style and learning what my personal tastes are (and yes, they will continue to evolve). You would think that after living over 40 years, it would be a no-brainer, but no. Maybe I’ll never know for sure, but it helps to shrug off the little voices in my head that blather on saying things like, “you should look like this at this age,” or “you should own these things because ‘successful’ people have them,” or…anything with “should”.

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Hm. I’m almost always surprised at what I start typing when I create these blog posts. My plan was just to mention the linen pillows, but I suppose I’m feeling contemplative on this 13th day of June, now that I’m 45. It feels like a significant age somehow, and I’m excited to see what will unfold.

P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Dora, congrats!

Monday Outfit: Puperita Colleen Dress

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Good morning!! It’s good to be back! I have to warn you, though. I’m jumping the gun because the husband is still murmuring about adding another security measure or two, but I decided I just needed to get back into the blogging groove or I would lose all motivation and this little space would die a quiet, unacknowledged death. There’s a small chance that the blog will go down again, but I think it’s safe to proceed with caution.

Later this week, I’ll do a roundup of some fun things going on with Sewing Happiness and Little Kunoichi, but for now, I want to share a post that is long overdue.

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I was supposed to partake in the celebration of Annalisa of Puperita a few weeks ago, but then the crazy hacking thing happened and…well, here we are. I discovered Puperita earlier this year when I made the puffy jacket. The pattern was excellent and it was fun to modify the hoodie into a puffer — Annalisa is amazingly prolific!! I took note of several other patterns I wanted to try, and when Emi of Just Add Fabric contacted me about participating in this lovely tour spearheaded by Jenya of While She Was Napping, naturally I said yes.

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This is the Colleen Dress for knits. If there’s even a smidgen of woven fabric involved, I’ve learned that K won’t wear anything I’ve made. I had a feeling that this super simple style would appeal to her and I offered her several choices in knit fabric:

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I was betting that she would choose the second one from the top with the turquoise and yellow. I was wrong; she immediately selected the navy and white stripes (inwardly I was hoping she would bypass it so I could use it for myself).

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With such a straightforward pattern, there’s not a whole lot to say, but as per usual the Puperita pattern came together nicely. Also, I made this so long ago, the details are pretty fuzzy in my brain. One thing I do remember: I didn’t add the little bow on the neckband since K seems to be drifting away from “cutesy” details.

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Highly approved, this is a dress that’s going to get much love. I tell you, tween sewing involves a lot of hit or misses, but both Puperita patterns I’ve used have proven to be hits!

I feel terrible that I couldn’t get this post up in time, but better late than never, right?? Did you already check out all the other wonderful blogs that participated? Here they are:

 

Emi ~ Just Add Fabric     Jaime ~ Made By Jaime
Janice ~ So-Cal Sewing Mom     Soso ~Moineau & Petit Pois     Ula ~ Lulu & Celeste
Nuala ~ clootie dumplings     Pam ~ Threading My Way     Maria ~ Fairies, Bubbles & Co.
Shelly ~ Sew Shelly Sew     Chari ~ Take time to smell the rose     Helen ~ The DIY Fox
Karly ~ Paisley Roots      Melissa ~ Rebel & Malice
Janet ~ 7 Pine Design     Jenya ~ While she was sleeping

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P.S. It’s Me-Made-May time! Are you in? Like last year, I am unofficially following along — I already wear something me-made 99% of the time, so I’m in the Me-Made-May spirit all year long!

P.P.S. Furoku members, #14 has gone out!

Monday Outfit! The Spring Thea Dress

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K must be reading this blog, because after I posted about the dearth of kid-sewing around here, she began to pepper me with requests for handmade clothes.

As luck would have it, Mel commented on that post and introduced me to Blaverry (I’m salivating over Mel’s denim Decklyn jacket, by the way). K and I browsed through the site and she chose the Thea Dress. “Make it tight, Mama,” she instructed. She’s really into tight clothes.

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I branched out and used a floral print knit. Isn’t it pretty? This here is an Art Gallery knit designed by my friend Frances Newcombe and it goes by the name Tree Fleur Blanc. I think I bought it some time last year? The minimal, modern dress pattern with the feminine, vintage-y print, it’s a winning combo. If this doesn’t say, Spring is here, I don’t know what does.

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Well, it’s not quite as form-fitting as K would normally like, even though I went down to a size 6 based on the finished measurements, but the fashionista’s declared the dress spectacular. “It looks extra good with blue tights, right?” she asked.

I added 2 inches to the skirt hem, and I’m glad I remembered to do that or else this would have been a tunic.

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I like the binding method of the neckline and how clean it looks. This is a thin, 95% cotton + 5% Spandex blend that’s so easy to sew — hardly curls, presses beautifully, drapes like a champ.

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The key to the Thea dress, which is easy to construct, is in the pleats. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever pleated a knit fabric before and I don’t think I have. It upgrades the style factor and K enjoys how swingy the skirt is.

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Yep. We’re in love.

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K loves this style so much, I’m going to make a couple more in different colors/prints. Thank you for directing me to Blaverry, Mel! I ordered a few more patterns and I can’t wait to try them out!

McCall’s 7251 in Black + White Knit

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As I tossed on my new top, set up the tripod to take these photos and wrestled my out-of-control hair into a braid, I had a major realization: I am at ease in my body. I don’t say this lightly because…well, until now I’ve NEVER been at ease in my body.

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I won’t belabor the point, but when I finally got over all the excuses I built up and sewed my first pair of Ginger Jeans earlier this year (I’m wearing them in these pix — they’re my favorite pair of jeans ever), something shifted. I’m even going to say it was seismic in scale. It’s not like I’ve lost weight or have become super fit, though I do exercise regularly and that’s part of it. Sewing is another part of it, for sure. I’m convinced that the jeans-making was a significant turning point, but this burgeoning ease has been going on for a while in a nearly imperceptible way. I have many thoughts on this but I haven’t yet consolidated them into anything coherent, so I’ll have to mull over this a bit. Or not. It’s nice to feel comfy in my bod (and sort of weird since it’s not a familiar feeling) and maybe I don’t have to analyze it to death like I do with everything.

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Today, though, I’m featuring a knit top I made using McCall’s 7251, view A in a size 12.

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It’s so incredibly comfortable, I may just head straight to bed in it. Don’t I look sleepy up there? The fabric is a rayon jersey from here, and it handled easily without curling or slipping all over the place.

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Now, I know that this demure shirt isn’t going to turn heads, but it was deceptively time-consuming. What with all the pintucks and hand-stitching of the neckband facing and placket, I was pretty wiped out by the time I finished hemming it.

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I like the hi-lo hem. There were supposed to be slits, but I’ve decided slits just aren’t my jam. To accommodate for the change, I curved the edges of the back piece where it meets the front piece.

Other changes:

  • This pattern is meant for a woven, but I knew I wanted it in a knit.
  • Instead of snaps, I added faux buttons (I couldn’t find enough black ones in a small enough size so I settled for dark blue, which I think is a fashion no-no? Who knows)

I messed up the neckband a little where it meets the top of the placket pieces, causing the neckband to curl inward, but it’s not too bad.

One of the hilarious parts of keeping my camera on continuous shooting is that it captures candid moments. Like when I spotted an errant mosquito in my house and started to chase after it:

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OK! I have other sewing in the pipeline and I’m scheming up marketing plans with the publicity team at Sasquatch Books in a couple of days, so I hope to have some cool and noteworthy updates for you next week! I will try to post this Friday, but it might be iffy…

M7251-blackknit9At any rate, I love my new top!!!

WIP + Lamenting the Lack of Tween Sewing

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I remember this same feeling last year as I prepared for the book launch of Little K. Full of anticipation and bursting with ideas, terribly intent on creating elaborate behind-the-scenes blog posts and the whole shebang.

But all I have for you today is a work-in-progress shot, making it look ever-so-slightly less mundane with some shallow depth of field photography of a cool print fabric and even cooler pair of Gingher shears.

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Easter was a big success, though we had to delay the egg hunt due to the pouring rain. Luckily, a sliver of sunshine and a respite between showers gave the kids just enough time to find the dozens and dozens of eggs we hid.

I felt a little sad because I realized that this is the first year that I didn’t make an Easter outfit for K. I’ve hardly sewn for her these past few months. Her closet and dresser are overflowing with RTW hand-me-downs from our neighbor and she rarely wears the clothes I’ve made her now. She keeps asking me when I’ll take her shopping so she can choose clothes that she wants. I’m told that the clothes I sew are never “quite right,” which I can understand. I knew this was coming, and I thought I was prepared, but I’m still a bit deflated. She’ll come around again, I know, and I’m going to build up my couture skills for prom-dress-making in the meantime. Wait. By the time she’s in high school, maybe school dances will be held somewhere in the universe so my time might be better spent studying space suit engineering and design.

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So what you see here is something I’m making for myself. A nice and stretchy and comfy top if all goes well. One of the benefits of sewing in my bedroom is that the bed provides ample surface area to spread out fabric pieces. I hope I’ll get around to finishing it this week. Things are revving up on the book promotions front and I’m doing everything I can to keep up.

I will most likely post a little more erratically this upcoming week and beyond, but I’m incorrigible and my brain is firing up more and more ideas, begging me to make them happen. We shall see…