Friday, May 15, 2015

It's a Cottage Collection

There's no doubt that when I'm arranging stuff and dreaming about new rooms, I think collections. What looks good together? What kind of theme is going on? What do I already have that would work back to an inspiration piece?

This week, it all started with a queen sized headboard. It's not that old, but it's charming . The creamy yellow, the faded floral finish . It's my inspiration piece. 


Can I pull together a decor style by supplementing with pieces from around the shop? Yes! And you can pull it together too! I immediately thought of a pretty buttery cream and white dresser that's in our shop. Perfect!

Then the fun really starts! Imagine chenille bedspreads, a funky chalkwear lamp and a vintage luggage rack for your robe or an extra pillow...

Or a sweet little white outdoor chair to pop in the corner? And a white hobnail candle from Sweetwick Candles. 

Another adorable option for this collection is this chest with decoupage floral on the door panels ! I painted it with this queen sized headboard in mind. It's a warm golden yellow and the florals relate to one another without being matchy-matchy. No matchy-matchy. 

I can't imagine a sweeter room for a girl, or for a cottage.  And just as I was able to start with an inspiration piece and then accessorize by pulling from things on hand, you can, too! Or, we can help you! 

It's a Cottage Collection! (All pieces are available for sale at ellen j goods.)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Want to see some of what we've been doing?

Today, I realized that it's been a month since I've blogged. Or sewn anything. Or done much of anything other than work on the store. So here's the lowdown on the last month's major news.

We were sharing a space with someone to get our feet wet with the whole retail shop thing. Which was probably about the best thing that I could have done, but the worst thing I could have done! Worst because, it didn't take long at all to realize that I wanted our own space and that I had far too many ideas and limitations to stay where we were. Which turned out to be  good thing and a best thing!  For someone who is not much of a risk taker, it was really evident to me that if we weren't going to try to make a go of our own retail vintage shop NOW, we were never going to. My husband was totally on board.  Another opportunity came up and before you know it, we had two weeks to move, and six weeks to start renovations.

On Saturday, we open for our first day of business here:

This little cobblestone front 150 year old building on Main Street in a little historic village where we raised our families.

What JR and I had really hoped for was that we could acquire the space next door ( the yellow building) which had been in his family for three generations. But that didn't work out. And that's okay. But now I'm in love with  433 Main Street and can't WAIT to get up and running!   Want to see some of what we've been doing?

In a nutshell, demolition, re-building a window display and vestibule, restoring counters and shelves, stripping wall paper, plaster, and carpets, along with painting. Re-wiring and marketing . Just to name a few things! 

So, here we are. A million ideas, and even more butterflies.  I've never felt more sure and unsure about anything in my life!  Home and nesting and decorating and re-purposing are my passion. Helping others to see beauty and comfort in the things that are discarded has always been what makes my heart swell.  Creating a comfortable home from unique and interesting things is what we have always done. And I'm a little thrilled to have this opportunity to share it with another generation.

On Saturday, we'll be open for Wine About Winter.

On Sunday, it's my prayer that we will continue to have guests come through the door.

For inspiration, for treasure hunting, for classes and workshops. 

And the other best part? I'll have my own sewing space right there on you know what I'll be doing !

Thanks for hanging in there with me during this transition. I'll let you know how it goes! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

what? a plaid flannel skirt???

I sewed! I sewed!  With a few extra days off of work, I did buckle down and get a few skirts made. I would suggest that if you have changed sizes, and are a bit tentative about all the fitting of patterns thing again, try a simple skirt first.  I wanted a full skirt. I also wanted a pencil skirt.  In my stash? Two fabrics with "skirt" written all over them. But do I make a plaid pencil skirt and floral full skirt? Or do I make a floral pencil skirt and a plaid full skirt?

My decision? Go with the more modern and unexpected choice. For me, that meant a full skirt made from plaid flannel.

                                Using Kwik Sew 3794.  I know, I know. It really IS a basic pattern.

Made even easier to fit because it has elastic in the back waist.  I'm okay with that since I knew I'd wear this in the cold weather with a layer over it.

But here is what I discovered.
Because I was trying re-size and re-fit in a pattern, the elastic back gave me a sense of general fit and what size I should be. It allowed me to feel my body in a new way without having to fiddle with a multi-piece fitted pattern.
I measured my waist and cut that size per the pattern chart.
Turned out it was too big. Which meant it was an easy fix.

And here's another tip:  the thicker your fabric, the more fullness you'll need to remove. I probably had to take out a good 6 inches of fullness for this plaid flannel to work. Now, if I make this same skirt from a vintage bed sheet or a silky Charmeuse or Georgette with soft drape, I would probably leave the fullness in.

a little more unexpected-ness...polka dot pockets. I added these, since the pattern didn't have them. And because I love a skirt with pockets.Especially polka dot pockets.

It's cute, and comfy and warm. And I got to wear it belted with polka dots. 

Happy Happy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I need a little Christmas

Hi! Happy Wednesday!
It's two weeks til Christmas. Do you know that I don't have a Christmas tree yet?  My daughter basically called me a looser this morning!  So, that means I better deck some halls pretty quickly or I'll be on the naughty list.
There's something to be said about being so busy that we forget the important things. Like making home festive. And inviting people in to share a warm fire and a cozy drink. Or a cozy fire and a warm drink! Starting a business is exhausting...and time consuming. And while I'm super excited about what's happening in our lives in that respect,  good grief....we don't have a Christmas tree!

Shopping is done, and that's a huge relief.
Contract sewing is done, and that's a huge relief. I just finished the last of the American Girl dress sets and shipped them away!

How nice it was to attack my alterations pile! Two jackets down and three to go!  I swore I would do the alterations before making anything new from scratch and I'm sticking to it!


Because a cute co-worker walked in this week wearing a duffle coat. And I was instantly in love. Such a classic, timeless coat! And I remembered that Collette has a new duffle coat pattern..The Albion.  and now I want it.  And I want it in this color:

Isn't this sharp?  
Or how about this?

I do need a new coat.... but first, I'm going to make some Christmas tonight.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

lessons on style from Ella

Karl Lagerfeld said, “Reinvent new combinations of what you already own. Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step.” 

Karl Lagerfeld is a pretty smart dude. He has influenced the style of countless millions of women over the years.  Ella at Start Close In is a smart dude, too. And she has influenced my style.

Some lessons on style that I learned from Ella.

I think the best thing for me about this whole experience was learning that it is:

A. Okay to wear lots of different styles on different days depending on my mood and my creativity.
B. That by doing that, it makes it my style!
C. A layered, collected look demonstrates exactly the person that I am and how I live. It’s interesting and individual and reflects my love for textures and vintage elements.
D. I can do a layered and collected look that’s age appropriate and doesn’t look like I’m an actual Pre-Raphaelite Bohemian Gypsy

Some other things Ella taught me:

As I prepared for our session, I started to think about what I was going to wear for my very first virtual introduction. Then I thought, well, let's give it to her straight. I just wore what I wore to work that day... my basic uniform of skirt and jacket. Let's just see what she has to say about that.

Well, this is what Ella had to say...

Make a waist, even when you don’t have one. Belt or button at the smallest part of your rib cage. TUCK in!!!! What a difference! This creates an hourglass, especially for people like me that have a very straight torso/hip/butt region. I was never a tucker. I think I'm becoming one.

we also played around with the necklace placement  and the other MUST:  Push up those sleeves!!!!

Repeat patterns and shapes in your outfit. Blogger Audrey asked "What was the rational behind using a scarf in the same sort of print as the dress but in a different scale?"

Well, Audrey, I think it brings interest to an outfit and the ability to mix prints with some cohesion...without it being too busy. At least that's what I think. By the way, be sure to check out all of Audrey's entries in the  Fabricista Challenge..this is a woman who knows how to mix prints with style!

See those polka dots? See that bubble necklace?

See those geometric pointy shapes in the dress? See the same pointy angles in the necklace?

Ella seriously changed my thinking in three hours flat. She simplified my life, too. One of the things that stressed me out the most was spending time in the morning selecting something to wear, and then changing it. Repeatedly. Select, dress, change, repeat. As we talked, she revealed to me that one of the reasons why I do this is because:

a. Many of my clothes didn’t fit properly. I was wearing them too big. I can see that now.
b. I wasn’t wearing them in a way that was fun or flattering.
c. I didn’t have a plan for the week.

So, on Sunday afternoon, I selected all of my outfits for work for the week. And the accessories. And I hung them all in little bundled groups so they were ready for me for the week ahead.  Today is Wednesday. I have not stressed about getting dressed in the morning. That’s a really, really good thing.

And you know what I love?  Each of these outfits includes something I made! 

I have loved this whole process. And I have a sewing/shopping plan to fill in the blanks:

A floral skirt
Some stripes and polka dot tops in colors other than black and white to play with some pattern mixing.
A polka dot skirt    okay, mission accomplished as of yesterday...a polka dot dress that will double as a skirt when layered under other things.
A crisp white shirt that fits
A red skirt.
Jeans that fit.

And the one of the other bests parts is, we have that shared Pinterest board as a reminder that I can take with me on my phone wherever go so that I don’t forget what I learned. My husband is happy, and proud that I am not hiding in my clothes. Life is simpler and at the same time, much, much more interesting!

So, for the logistics of the whole session…
Ella and I emailed quite a bit to share some ideas and to get to know each other before our session.  And on the day of, I set up a portable clothes rack from the basement into my bedroom and hung a variety of colors and shapes of garments from my closet.  I set up the iPad so that she could see me and the clothes on the rack.  It was a blast!  It totally works!  And then the next day, Ella shared her notes from our evening together, with reminders of favorite outfits and our plan for what I needed.

I would encourage you  to contact Ella at Start Close In Styling  if you find that you are in a rut, need a fresh perspective, have had a weight change or need some ideas about how to dress for your body. I AM A FAN!!!!!!

We are teaming up for a bag giveaway on her blog keep checking her out to get the details!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I am not a rectangle. I am a woman.

                                                        The aftermath of Hurricane Ella: 

I've got to confess, I was excited and nervous for my Start Close In video styling session. Monday night  was a little emotional for me. I began to fully realize how very differently I see myself vs. how I really look.  As we explored shapes and styles and fit that were best suited to me, it was like little flashes of truth and inspiration bubbles started happening in my head!  I think I’m starting to connect the disconnect that I have with my body.

At the end of our three hours, I wasn't at all nervous. In fact, I was stripping down to my foundation garments with glee!  Ella helped me to see my clothes in a whole new way. Truth be told, she helped me to see myself in a whole new way. I already have great clothes and a good eye, I just needed to see the truth of my body. No matter how many basic black pencil skirts I own, if I’m not wearing them correctly, they are just a basic black skirt…blah, ho hum, boring, sad.
Until I create a waist, and...

I am not a rectangle. I am a woman.

As the evening went on, I was feeling like that moment when Stacy and Clinton give their client the $5000 credit card for shopping…except I didn't have to leave my house! The pile of donations grew larger…like peeling off baggy layers and as we explored my closet, she helped me to see the pieces that should be altered...not only for smaller size, but shorter length. And so the alterations pile grew larger too!

Remember when I fell in love with Collette  Laurel?  In my Laurel, Version Two post, I actually said "Now, is this the most flattering style for me? Probably not, but I have to admit I am crazy about the ease of this dress for summer. I can't imagine it getting any breezier for work or weekends" 

Ella would disagree.  Before:


Before Monday, I would have disagreed with Ella. I had already taken in the side seams of this shift dress. And I need to take them in more. Add a belt and it becomes an even different way to wear the same dress.

So, I'm going to share more of our outfit transformations, because I am a total believer in wearing smaller clothes now!  And, because so many of us sew and have lost weight, I plan to explore and post about altering our own stuff and what a difference it makes. Expect to see some crazy before and afters!

Until then, I'm not going to buy another black pencil skirt. I'm going to make a floral pencil skirt. And I am going to go hog wild crazy buying belts and scarves! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

I may never be a schlumpadink again!

Well,  tonight I have my virtual styling session with Ella. Am I excited? Yes. I've told her about a hundred times!

But I’m a little nervous too. I know that part of this whole process will be the inevitable fact that I won’t be able to wear some of the things that I've been comfortable wearing.
And I know that also means I will have to face my brand new all over again fear of the pattern fitting process!  It seems like a rather daunting task, but I’m up for the challenge. I’d rather be up for the challenge than give up and where leggings and a big tunic!  Not that there’s anything wrong with leggings and a big tunic.

On Friday night, I did a major closet clean out, pulling all the stuff that doesn't fit me any longer and that I don't have the enthusiasm or inclination to alter. And we'll go from there. 

So tonight’s the night. Closet is ready, iPad is ready and I'm ready... and of course, I’ll keep you posted on this whole event.  You can check out the Pinterest board that she created for us to bounce ideas around HERE.

Please, please check out Ella’s page. She’s a real cutie with a great sense of style and a big heart for helping women change their look.

And after we've completed this fun, she and are a sharing in a give-away of one of my bags on her blog.

I did make some stuff this weekend...

Yup. I've been obsessed with pom poms lately and thinking of all the fun ways to use them.

We also decorated the tree at the shop, using some DIY pom pom garlands. 

Okay girls, that's it for now! Let's get this week off to a great start...feeling thankful, feeling blessed, feeling loved.