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.

Monday, November 18, 2013

seriously, how many black pencil skirts does a woman need?

TGIM!  Happy Monday! Woke up this morning to see that I am the featured Pattern Review Member! How nice!

I have something to tell you that is very exciting. Recently, I've been in touch with a sweet lady named Ella, who has a fashion consulting and styling business. And well, to be honest with you, I've been a little obsessed with Ella and Start Close In Styling since I read about Miss Mustard Seed's wardrobe transformation.

I've read every blog post, drooling over her fresh eye and loving every transformation. In one of  her posts Ella mentioned she was interested in styling for women over 50,  I immediately contacted her about getting together...virtually.  So we've been emailing a little, and set up a date to get together and talk about my wardrobe...all via video. I AM SO EXCITED!

See, since my weight loss, I feel like I've lost a little style, too. Part of that is that so many of my clothes don't fit, true. But once again, I'm finding a closet full of black, black-gray, gray, and white and black. Well, let me re-phrase that.  I find that even though I have some color in my closet, I end up wearing the same stuff all the, black-gray, gray, white and black.

I've started to wonder if I have too many clothes..does that make sense?
That maybe I need to simplify.
AND fill in the missing pieces. Because seriously, how many black pencil skirts does a girl need?
I'm spending far too much time in the morning deciding what to wear and becoming frustrated.
I'm bored. and busy.

So we're getting together on November 25th and I plan to share every detail with you...because let's face it, it's fun to talk about clothes and styling.  And I really want to see Ella grow her dream and her business.

I'm ready for something new...I'm ready to mix things up a little and get a plan for my sewing and shopping!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I need a crockpot

Well here it is Tuesday. And I’m going to make dinner two nights in a row.

Somewhere drifting in the back of my jam-packed mind are memories of baking and cooking for my husband. I think I used to do that. I’m sure I’ve shared the recipes here, along with tempting photographs of my best attempts at buttermilk biscuits and homemade soup and grilled veggies and apple crostada and pot de crème. In fact, it wasn't that long ago that I made a loaf of bread every week!


I think I used to have a life!

At least more of a balanced life. But these past months, with hours at the shop on weekends, and preparing all week for the weekends, I have seriously put my home life on the back burner.

Bad wife…baaaaaddddd wife.

And do you know that I happened to be married to a guy that doesn’t complain? That’s how awesome he is.

So, while I haven’t been sewing much for myself, and I haven’t been fussing with my own decorating, and I’m woefully behind in blog reading and I let too many weeks go between haircuts, I am most sorry about the fact that I haven’t been making dinner for us.

I think I need a new crockpot. And some ideas for easy quick dinners.

Can you help a girl come back to some important balance in her life?

 (image: Anne Taintor)

Friday, November 1, 2013

because i have the most interesting girls

I've been obsessed with bag making lately. And I'm a little obsessed with my girls. Each one of them is unique and interesting. They are brilliant, energetic, practical and lovely women. So I started thinking that I wanted to make a bag to represent each of them. The first style I came up with?

The Meghan Bag: 
The description?
A perfect eclectic mix of textiles and patterns. She's a classic sling bag with a lot of personality that just dares to be worn inside out! Two roomy pockets,k one inside, one out, with a vintage button closure. Surprise! This bag just might have pompom trim!

SO happy that all but one of the bags that I've made has sold at the shop and at a recent show. I love these bags and being able to play around with lots of different fabrics.

A few weeks ago, for Amelia's birthday, we sent her
The Amelia Bag:

The description?
Cotton and linen, sleek lines, classic style and full of practicality. She can go to the market, a game or family outing and hold special finds and necessary stuff. Don't let the simple style fool you....inside, this bag is loaded with functional pockets to keep things neat. But the best part? An up-cycled leather belt as an adjustable strap!

I loved that JR got to be a part of this bag construction. I have more on the cutting counter right now, ready to be made up in navy and smokey teal fabric. LOVE this bag!

Coming next? The Katie Bag and The Rebecca Bag. I just can't wait to put them together!  Making bags is so much fun...a nice departure from fitting muslins and making buttonholes!

Friday, October 25, 2013

this and that

To sum up the week? This and that.  Painting continues...creating cool stuff for ellen j goods. By the way, I finally started the ellen j goods blog. In it's infancy, but will be more home and vintage lifestyle related posts. Please take a look and let me know what you think!

Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I actually stopped on a bridge, much to my fellow commuters’ dismay, I’m sure. I just had to capture this  glorious “Good Morning World!" moment.

Last night, I had a bag full of alterations to do. I really, really don’t like doing them, even for someone else who is paying me. I've found that no matter how careful I am, it just looks like an alteration to me. Removing a waistband, taking in seams, re-finishing seams, re-attaching the waistband, top-stitching. Ugh. I’m sure with more practice and certainly with more passion, my skill would improve, but I’m really not into making this a career.

I have to remember too that most of these customers are not looking at the alteration with a critical seamstress eye.

Speaking of stitches, is this not the MOST adorable Halloween necklace ever??? It's made by Kerri, at Weirdly Cute and Unique Jewelry.  Not surprisingly, she's closed up shop to fill her orders right now. I really think Augie needs one. He wants to be a zombie for Halloween this year.

Are you making any Halloween costumes this year? I have one request… Augie wants to be a cute zombie..who carries a cute zombie, which I am knitting. By the way, when did zombies get to be cute?

And I made another in the hobo bag series, inspired by my girls... The Amelia Bag. Here's a peek:

Here's to an inspiring, productive and relaxing weekend ahead! I hope you find special moments in your day!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

it's a cardi, it's a jacket...

It's that time of year, and layering is a necessity. Yeah, there's a chill in the air. Finally.  But pretty much, I always wear a layering piece. I jacket, a sweater, a shirt...over something.  So this week I got busy with some wardrobe builders.  I've been imagining a cardigan, which is also a jacket. Which has faux leather. It's got a drapey front, it's comfy knit, and can be worn in a variety of ways.

The mixed textile trend is still hot. And who doesn't love a little mixed textile trend in a jacket?  Like a mad chemist, I gathered my materials.

I had some faux leather...which is drapey.
I had some soft, lightweight ponte knit. Which is drapey.
I had a few patterns.  But none of them really worked on their own. So I tied combining them, and it wasn't coming together. So finally, I  ditched the patterns altogether  Trying it on, adjusting here and there. It's a good thing I started with something very over-sized! I just did my own thing.

With these happy results:

I can wear it open...

or with the help of a hidden hook and eye,


So, now I think I'm ready to tackle some actual fitted patterns. A sheath, a jacket, a shift... here I go!

Friday, October 18, 2013

i wore track pants and a sweatshirt to a dinner event!!!

Well, I started out thinking this would be a great weekend look.

Which it is.
But then I had a dinner function to attend, which, while not at a church, requested a "Sunday attire" dress code. So, I thought, why not?  (At my church, pretty much anything goes as long you are respectably covered in the important places)

I am about crazy for these luxe sweatshirts... how they can be dressed up or down.

And this time, I paired the sweatshirt with some track pants made from Vogue 8909.  With modifications, of course.

I cut the size small, using gray ponte knit. I eliminated the pockets and the front fly. So what we end up with is a pretty simple pair of pull on pants with no fuss no muss.  

With some jewels and crazy fun heels, it makes a pretty decent fundraising dinner outfit!  I wore the pants at a more appropriate ankle length instead of jushing them up.

No one rolled their eyes at me, so I think it was okay.
Must. Make. More.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

the luxe life

I was watching a program the other night, sort of like the old "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" but a more modern, and even more decadent version.

It was slightly uncomfortable watching the abandon at which millions of dollars are spent on the luxuries of life. And while I do dream of the big lottery win  ( and I never play the lottery) I do have to wonder what it would be like to have a closet that's as big as my house.

And then I wonder if these women, who can have anything they want any time they want somehow miss out on the anticipation of saving for a special item, or the thrill of finding an amazing skirt at a thrift store. Or the joy in creating a thousand dollar look for under fifty bucks.

I recognize that it's all relative...depending on your budget, your desires and your abilities, but geesh...when I see the price of some of the designer luxe sweatshirts out there, it's almost perplexing!

They are a hot trend and a very cool look. They are everywhere from designer to budget store prices.

from harper's bazaar
from lucky magazine

I was All Over this much fun to make a sweatshirt that you can wear to work?

I used a combination of about three different patterns, and ultimately ended up with something self-drafted! I couldn't even tell you which patterns were used.

The sleeves are a cotton interlock, and the front and back are cut from a polyester silky print from Joann's. The necklace is a vintage piece from my mother-in-laws jewelry chest. 

I can think of about a hundred different ideas for making this trend... for work, for weekend. And I love it. I'm digging through my fabric stash to see just what I can use to make a few more!