I have been absent from this blog for awhile. It’s true.

But it’s not because I haven’t been sewing, writing and, in general, being completely preoccupied with the online sewing world. In fact, I have lived and breathed every element of handmade clothing for nearly six months. I have sent more emails to this network of creative makers than I ever thought was possible. And I have met some of the coolest people to date.

steve-allie-indiesew

I’ve partnered with a rock star web developer to create a platform to take the frustration out of sewing your own clothes. We are pretty darn proud of the result. And today we finally get to tell you about it!

Take a look folks. Eat your hearts out. Indiesew.com is LIVE!

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For the past six months my co-founder, Steve, and I have been conducting market research, coding a from-scratch website (him), talking to designers and sewing women’s clothes (me)…literally nonstop. It has been the most rewarding and terrifying six months of my life. And we’re ready to let our little baby take it’s first steps into the world. The first people we wanted to tell? Meadow Rue readers of course.

We invite you to head on over to Indiesew and take a look at the shop. Create an account and upload a creation to one of our patterns. Leave a review for a pattern that you’ve used. Send me an email at allie [at] indiesew [dot] com and let me know what you think about the site!

indiesew-banner

We have many, many more patterns and designers coming to Indiesew within the next couple of weeks. Below you can see a sampling of our current pattern lineup. Our goal is to create an online space you can read honest reviews on indie sewing patterns. You can view custom creations of patterns you might be considering buying. We hope Indiesew is a place where you come to connect with your online sewing buddies and make new ones along the way.

indiesew-patterns

If blogging is what you came to Meadow Rue for, not to worry. Indiesew will be posting tutorials, style posts and general thoughts about sewing. You can read Indiesew just like Meadow Rue, by navigating to the site, in your feed, or via email.

Creativity and collaboration are the values that have driven the idea behind Indiesew from the beginning. We believe in making things by hand and supporting independent designers and business. We’re working to bring it together, by supporting small makers everywhere.

 

Look who was featured on Pink Chalk Studio’s blog?! I’m so flattered! That Tiny Pocket Tank Pattern was indeed a good one. These pictures have me craving an 80 degree day in a bad way. Soon, friends. Soon.

tiny-pocket-tankGo check out the post and drool over the awesome creations! Pink Chalk Studios is counting down the Top Ten Downloadable Patterns for the year 2013. It was certainly a year for the books, with so many new designers launching their own lines. I love every bit of this creative, entrepreneurial sewing community.

 

This post was sponsored by Minted.

Hola lovely readers. How’s your love day hangover treating you? The day following a lovey, dovey holiday is always sort of a downer, no? It’s cloudy in Boulder, I’ve got a to-do list about a mile long, and it’s no longer appropriate to give affection away freely. Such first world problems.

I’ve been busy as a bee for the past month or so. I’m enjoying being back in the sewing-instructor saddle, and working on some potential patterns that are taking up way too much time. And I’m okay with that. I’m starting a business endeavor with an MBA friend that I can tell you about soon! (Very, very soon!). Things are good, but a little reminder to stay focused and compassionate never hurts. And I’ve been missing that for a few months.

If you’re a Pinterest follower, you’re probably well aware that I’m a total sucker for a styled inspirational quote. A little piece of word inspiration goes a long way when you’re feeling down, unmotivated, or just less than stellar. So to help me stay focused and positive, I’m totally following the Minted Wall Art trend and ordering some awesome art prints to adorn my walls.

I have my eye on these two sweet little sayings, found here and here. What I love most about Minted is that you can order the prints with super modern frames. All of my current wall decor is framed in simple black frames, so Minted frames match perfectly.

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And when you didn’t think it could get better…it did. Have you seen the new Minted + West Elm Collaboration? Total swoon.

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My sister ordered her entire wedding suite (save the dates, wedding invites, and thank you cards) from Minted and has nothing but stellar things to say about their customer service! In fact, when she’s bored she confessed to me that she often peruses the Design Challenge page and votes on new designs. A totally productive time suck, in my opinion.

I’m off to keep the wheels rolling on all my different projects. Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Howdy folks. Happy New Years…only 21 days late! Have you created lifelong healthy habits in these past three weeks? Are you a changed person, renewed with the optimism that only another year can bring?

Yeah me neither. But I have made dog beds. And for me…apparently that’s enough.

diy-dog-bed

I’ve been back from my travels down under for almost two months, which seems impossible. It feels like yesterday that I was walking around in nothing more than a sundress, meeting awesome people, not worrying about a single thing.

And life is dramatically different now. I’m experiencing a definite transition period. It’s anxiety inducing, but a total thrill at the same time. I have no idea what tomorrow or next week will look like, let alone months down the road. It’s exhilarating and terrifying. So to calm myself, of course I sew. For my dog.

I’m working on reconnecting myself with the sewing community that I so dearly value in Colorado. And I’m working busily on a new venture that will be launched in a few short weeks. Also, I’m teaching again! Well, I’m preparing to teach sewing classes starting in March at Fancy Tiger. And I literally cannot wait.

I spent a few hours last week creating a rather luxurious dog bed for a small tricolor canine to serve as prototype for one of those classes. When it was unveiled to the little guy, Buckley actually chose his new glorious overstuffed dog bed over a spot next to me. He circled three times, flopped down with a sigh, and immediately started the Beagle snore I fall asleep listening to every night. I can’t say I wasn’t a little bit hurt. But also proud. Insanely proud. He may have no idea how awesome this made in the USA fabric is, but the boy knows comfort when he sees it.

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So if you’ve ever wanted to know how to sew a box cushion with an envelope cover, come to Fancy Tiger and take the class! I’ll update you with the dates and times when that information is available, but I was just too antsy not to share these photos.

In the meantime, let’s keep up this sewing thing, mmkay? If you’re in the Denver/Boulder area and want to talk about sewing, let’s do that too. I’ll be back soon with more sewing, big news, and more empty promises. You have my word.

For years, the ladies in my family have been gifted mostly handmade gifts for Christmas. Because, let’s be honest, it’s a whole lot easier to sew for someone who also likes modern quilts, handbags, and zippered pouches for all your colorful markers. It’s just easy.

But men? Gah. What do you make for men? For men who are practical, and have little need for things like skinny ties or tailored shirts. Well, you make them dopp kits. Because these men travel occasionally and shave daily. And, yes, technically it is a zippered pouch. Just a more masculine one.

topo-designs-inspired-dopp-kit-1

When I returned back in the US a few weeks ago, I was determined to get all of my Christmas presents made within one week. (Not entirely realistic, I confess, as my family has recently grown from five to eight people.) And I decided to start with the boys. I had been eyeing the Portside Travel Set from Grainline Patterns for quite some time, so I decided to take the plunge and purchase the digital pattern. It was printed, taped, and cutout within an hour. Thank goodness for the instant gratification of digital patterns.
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I was determined to use up some of my growing fabric stash on this project. I purchased eleven yards of a natural cotton canvas this summer with plans to block print and upholster the cushions for my vintage travel trailer. The upholstery never was completed, and I was up against a deadline with these dopp kits. So…I made do. And the cotton canvas worked great! This fabric is burly, and needed no interfacing like the pattern called for.

My good friend Michael, gifted me about ten of his father’s vintage suits last spring. And I knew they’d be the perfect contrasting material for a masculine dopp kit. The only items I needed to buy were the zippers. Contrasting zippers for the win!

The result? Totally unintentional, but Very Topo Designs-esque. And I couldn’t be more happy.

topo-designs

Source: http://topodesigns.com

Topo Designs is a Denver company that makes backpacks, outerwear and accessories right here in Colorado in an amazing color palette. Red, blues, oranges, and often with a plethora of contrasting zippers. I’ve been eyeing one of their packs for awhile…and I’m patiently awaiting the day that they make coats for women. They just opened a physical storefront in Denver, so if you live in the area, check it out! I have no affiliation with the company, I seriously just can’t stop raving about them.

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The details like the fully lined interior and the outside zipper pocket are just adorable. And surprisingly easy. By the time I was sewing the third one, the pattern took me only 2 to 3 hours to finish. That’s a pretty quick project in my book for a pattern with so many pieces.

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I did tweak the pattern slightly by resizing some of the pattern pieces. And, next time I would add some tabs on either side of the zipper so it’s easier to zip and unzip. But overall, this project provided great experience in learning how travel pieces are constructed.
topo-designs-inspired-dopp-kit-2

So 2013 will be the first Christmas where the men in this family will be gifted handmade and the women won’t. The rest of those presents never were completed. There’s always next year.

Also! I want to send out a big heartfelt thank you to those of you who have participated in our market research interviews! We so appreciate all of your honest feedback. It’s not too late to participate if you’re still interested, and we’re happy to schedule the interviews after the New Year to accommodate busy schedules. The only requirement for these interviews? You must be a user of digital (pdf) sewing patterns. Sign up below!

digital-patterns-research

Sign up here!

  • ”Name”



Hello folks! I love a good pdf sewing pattern, you know this. And so many independent designers are jumping on the pattern bandwagon and publishing some seriously awesome stuff! But the digital sewing world has become disjointed. Thousands of us are blogging, sharing photos on Flickr and pinning the heck out of patterns we have put our own creative spin on. We’re all out there, but we’re not connected beyond platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We need to bring it together.

So, we’d love your help! If you are an avid user of digital sewing patterns from pattern makers like Grainline, Wiksten, Victory and April Rhodes, we’d love your feedback! I mean, we really, really, really want to talk to you.

What’s in it for you? Well, by providing us with your invaluable feedback, we’ll bring you into the proverbial “fold” from the get-go. You’ll get the inside scoop on our idea and become a group of first users to test the heck out of it. That means you can influence the design, functionality, and even the features of the biggest development in the online sewing community yet! Sound interesting? Sign up below.

digital-patterns-research

Sign up here!

  • ”Name”



So yes, you last heard from me exactly 109 days ago. It’s true. I would say that’s utterly pitiful, but I’m working on this thing called positive self-talk. I’m working on accepting everything exactly the way things are. And well? Right now, it’s apparent that my blog has been neglected. It’s just the way it is.

But you know what? I have SO much to tell you all. I have almost two months worth of travel stories to share with you. I have sewing projects. I have hopes and dreams and business plans that I’m literally bursting at the seams to tell you. I’ve spent 109 days really living. Like, really living. And I want to tell you all about it. But first I want to tell you about this.

welcome-to-harvest-workroom

As you know from my late summer about-face, I was in need of some big life changes. I was in one of those inevitable weird, restless, overall-I-feel-like-crap places. We’ve all been there. So it makes sense that my best friend and I decided on a whim to take a not-so-little trip. We packed our bags, abandoned adult life responsibilities, and spent almost two months in the Southern Hemisphere; specifically Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. And the impetus for this trip was a screen printing workshop that I had been eyeing for years. Seriously, years.

If you haven’t heard of Harvest Workroom, you’ve been missing out on endless drooling over their awesome textile designs. You’ve really been depriving yourself of some serious, good ‘ol American material wanting. Good on ‘ya.harvest-workroomHarvest Workroom had just relocated when I took the Design and Screen Print Your Own Fabric workshop in early November. The teaching space was a giant warehouse in the Brunswick district of Melbourne. The natural light, white walls and concrete floors made it difficult for me to refrain from asking if I could set up a small studio here. I wanted to live in a corner of that warehouse and for a few minutes, I was seriously contemplating how I could make that happen.
harvest-workroom-stencil-cutting

Our instructor Sophie was incredibly adorable and kind. Like all Aussies, she would check in on each of us by asking, “How ya going?” I just loved that. She was a textile designer with a real talent for teaching total screen printing newbies. She led us through the process of printing using acetate stencils. I’ll be honest, at first I was a little disappointed we wouldn’t be burning our own screens. Then I realized how much easier and faster this method was. With the exact same results. I will forever be sold on screen printing with stencils.

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We printed several prints on our first day, testing out transparent inks and design motifs. I was literally in heaven. I wish I could take classes like this on the regular, because it is 100% my happy place. Harvest has the most amazing, waist high, 10 meter printing table (that’s, like, 30 some odd feet) where all ten of us could print simultaneously! It was every designer’s dream. We worked in groups of three to help hold each other’s screens and dry our prints with hair dryers.

harvest-workroom-test-print

The second day, Sophie taught us to design a Swiss repeat. I have seen several tutorials around the interwebs on Swiss repeats and have always steered clear of them for fear they were just too complicated for someone like me. Someone who doesn’t like to read instructions or really take their time with things. No Swiss repeats for me, no thank you.

Then I realized that it’s seriously the easiest way to create a repeat. Like…easier than Photoshop. Easier then eyeballing it and totally hating the outcome. And I’m pleased as punch at my result.harvest-workroom-swiss-repeatIf you find yourself in the sun-burned country down under, and you have a few days to kill in Melbourne, you’d be doing yourself a disfavor if you didn’t check out Harvest Textiles/Workroom. I mean it. Every person in my class was a printing newbie, and the stuff they were churning out was seriously awesome.

I’m sure I’ll be back to the blog soon with more content. Maybe I’ll share some travel stories. Maybe I’ll show you a few sewing projects I just finished. I might even divulge my latest entrepreneurial obsession.

But most importantly, I want to thank all of you folk who have been checking in on me, waiting patiently for my next post. And all of you who have come over from Pinterest. Welcome!

28. August 2013 · 5 comments · Categories: Travel

Transitions. I tell people I love change. And I mostly do…when I know what’s coming next. I am one of those people that loses sleep over exciting events or life changes to come…when I can plan around them. I’m a Type A gal who gets bored quickly. Not always a good thing. Right now, I’m in a totally terrifying transition.

red chicken

Rest in Peace Red…you’ll be missed

This past summer was a total ride. Literally. It was a ride akin to those wooden roller coasters where you’re not entirely sure you’ll make it back to pavement alive. For once in my life, I felt like I just went along with whatever came my way. I truly experienced life. I laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed. And I sure as hell cried harder than I’ve ever cried. It was, without a doubt, the most emotional summer of my life. Emotional, because for the first time in my life, I didn’t try to numb a single feeling. I let myself be washed over with every fleeting thing I was feeling. And it felt good. Mostly.

But I regressed. Yes, I did. Life is peaks and valleys, and I can say that right now (and for the past month or so) I’ve been deep, deep in one of the darker valleys of my life. I have no idea how I got here. Maybe that emotional roller coaster crashed down here while I was too busy covering my eyes to notice how far I was getting from what I previously referred to as “such a good place”. Before I knew it I was a closed up shell of a person, who was literally worrying about everything. I haven’t worried much in two years. And ain’t nobody wanna welcome back worry after ridding themselves of it for so long. I abandoned my blog, started drinking in excess, and became nonexistent to the people who care the most about me. I was, at times, the life of the party, but mostly…an irritable wreck.

Literally. What. The. Hell?

I’m not beating myself up. I know better than that by now. I’m whispering positive affirmations to myself, that seem to be less than effective. And I’m so antsy to get back on a good track. I have a million goals. I have visions of a complete personal about-face. And I figure if I make it public…maybe that’ll help. Capiche? So without further ado…three goals to get back to “such a good place”.


Goal #1: Get my ass into yoga shape

handstand

There is nothing I love more than a good hot yoga class. Vinyasa, I’ll take it. Kundalini…feeds my soul. Last spring I was going to yoga on average 3 to 4 times per week. And I was getting some killer arms.

Then I broke my leg and it all went to shit.

But I’m healed now! And I have crazy visions of handstands and backbends. So I have a goal of getting my handstand by year end. I want to live a yoga lifestyle in the coming years…I’m soooo smitten with all that mindfulness stuff. So I’m going to slowly transition into more yoga, and less inactivity.

Source

 

 

Goal #2: Get out and see some shit
We’re doing this! My best friend in the entire world and I are heading down under to Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia in October for an undetermined amount of time. I love the freedom of not knowing when we’re coming back, because we can stay as many days as we like in one place. I plan to do a lot of handstand practicing on Australian beaches. Sounds like a dream.

Other travel goals for this year? Ski some epic mountains. Jackson Hole, Big Sky (haven’t been back there in ages), Tahoe?. I did not ski enough last year. This year will be different. Snow or none. But hopefully snow.

 

Goal #3: Run the hardest half marathon of my life…again

Snow Joke Half Marathon
I would say that approximately once every couple weeks I think about the Snow Joke half marathon. About how, in 2011, my good friend and I started running in -9 degree weather around Seeley Lake, Montana on a February day…on snow packed roads. I was totally undertrained for running in those conditions. But I finished. Definitely one of my prouder moments. It’s happening again in 2014 with two of my best running buddies. And I cannot wait. Literally, I get giddy thinking about it. Hell, maybe I’ll even handstand walk over the finish line.

So that means I will start training…now. And this time I’ll train a lot smarter. I’m joining a running club in Boulder and hitting the pavement at least 3 days a week to start. Since Boulder gets dumped on often, I’ll get my fair share of running in a snow-packed environment.


It feels good to get this stuff off my chest. And makes it real, instead of just a crazy idea floating around in my head. Yes, I love change. But change is even better with awesome dreams mixed in. Of course, I’ll be sewing and making websites along the way, which I’ll tell you more about that later. But first, I gotta get myself right. And it starts today.

How do you sum up a year? A year that changed you, that delivered you an entirely different person. You don’t. You ramble. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Yesterday marked my one Year of Nothing New anniversary. It passed almost unknowingly, as I was making the long trek from my family’s cabin back to my summer residence. I was heading back from a most marvelous second annual Sew Weekend. It passed quietly because buying nothing new wasn’t my daily focus anymore, even though I was sticking to my self-defined rules of not buying a single new thing (save for food and toiletries) for twelve whole months.

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I reflected, I thought about what 365 days of nothing new has taught me. How to articulately put into words how changed I am. But I can’t. Why? Well, I think maybe its because I created a habit…possibly. My buying habits, even my day-to-day habits are vastly different from last year at this time. But I barely notice that anymore, because it became my norm. I have seen a giant shift in my values, but I’m still the same person.

ladies

People often ask me what is the first thing that I am going to buy. Last night at midnight, I purchased these sandals I’ve been eyeing for months. I am coveting a pair of Banana Republic sunglasses, and homegirl needs some new undies like nobody’s business.

But I have come away from 365 days of Nothing New with a new understanding of our country’s “throw-away” culture. I realized just how blind we are to the impacts of purchasing and discarding. I’m saddened to learn how employees in some foreign factories work in deadly environments. I’m horrified to know how many chemicals are getting pumped into foreign rivers and how much pollution is being released in our precious air. We are killing our planet, and ourselves, by over consuming.

But who can we blame? Consumption is an addiction akin to smoking a pack a day. It’s hard to stop buying, when it feels so good. We shop to cheer ourselves up. And it works.

I can’t say that I won’t buy anything new ever again, but I’m choosing to be a bit smarter with my shopping choices. My top five new consumption commandments are:

  • Buy Made in the US. When possible, which can be rare. Despite the high price tags, you can be sure that these items were produced with regard to people and places. US regulation ensures it. To top it off, US made goods are usually higher quality so they’ll last longer!
  • Thrift shop. Macklemore totally trendied up thrift shopping, but he’s on to something. People in thrift stores seem happier (from my experience), and thrift shopping will get your creative juices flowing. Plus, for me, it’s an even better substitute that shopping-for-new-things rush.
  • Borrow shit. For real. Especially borrow the stuff you rarely need. If you need an air mattress ask your friend if you can borrow hers. Because more than likely you won’t find a domestically made air mattress on the market, and who really needs an air mattress more than a few times per year?
  • Wait. If you identify an item that you’re coveting like a madwoman, wait. Wait a few weeks to make sure it’s something you really want. If you’re still thinking about those jeans a month later, you have permission to buy them. You’re welcome.
  • Say no. We live in a culture where people really want to pawn their stuff off on other people. Their thrifted clothes, old furniture, water bottles…junk in general. Even if something looks exciting, if it has never crossed your mind to purchasing it, don’t accept it. You’ll just end up taking it to the thrift stores weeks later. Trust me.

It's okay to say no quote

So I’m sticking with parts of this nothing new thing, but not entirely. Things I will continue to acquire secondhand:

  • Most clothing. Because I’m still passionate about repurposing.
  • Dishware. Because thrift stores have some awesome vintage dishes.
  • Furniture. *Crossing my fingers* Because upholstery is fun, and because I’m still not a grown up with grown up furniture. This may change in the coming years.
  • Vintage sheets. Because I’m addicted.

Four fabric napkins from vintage sheets

There are some things we just need to buy new. Things I will probably buy new from here on out:

  • Shoes. At the thrift store they’ve been worn. It’s usually gross. And the pickings are slim. Luckily, us Americans are blessed with some great domestically made shoe companies (like Oakstreet Bootmakers!).
  • Bras and underwear. Obvious. At least I hope. I have yet to find a Made in the US bra, so I’d love to hear suggestions!
  • Paper products. Cards, envelopes, and printer paper is next to impossible to find at the thrift store. Also, sometimes you just really need a paper towel.
  • Craft supplies. Same as above. And I can justify buying new thread, fabric and paint if I’m creating something that I’d otherwise be buying. Sustainability will still be a focus here.

I don’t feel like I’ve been released from the theoretical shackles of this project. Not at all. But I am excited to explore some new manufacturers doing things the right way. I’m excited to settle into life with a clearer vision of my values.

But what I’m most excited for? New underwear.

30 days is a long time. In 30 days your world can shift so dramatically it has you feeling dizzy and disoriented. In 30 days a little piece of you character is whittled into place by several life changing events.

For example, you can break your left fibula bouldering. Yes, that can certainly happen. You can participate in half of a digital media bootcamp…until you’re forced to drop out due to said broken left fibula. You can have not one, nor two, but three tearful goodbyes with some of the best people you’re certain you’ll ever have the pleasure to know. You can pack up all of your belongings, shove them into a tiny (like fifty-square-feet-tiny) storage unit, and you can drive yourself 800+ miles home to Montana. You can move into your summer place, start your summer job, and cut all of your hair off in a fit of frustrated frenzy.

You can look back on those 30 days and realize that they were by far the most difficult, and the happiest 30 days of your 27 years of life. I say this, because it happened. And besides the broken leg portion, I wouldn’t take a minute of it back.

30 days of instagram

So yeah. I’m back in Montana for the summer, living in the tiny ranching town of White Sulphur Springs. It has become such a familiar and comforting place, and Beagle loves it too. I’m working with awesome people, doing work I love, and seeing family on a weekly basis.

I’m getting around better these days, with only occasional pain in my leg. I was lucky to escape with the damage I did. I think I’ll start wearing a rope when I climb.

But most of all, after these 30 days, I’m craving creativity like a pregnant woman craves bacon…or pickles. Besides throwing together a few quick Wiksten tanks (you can see my tutorial here), I have completed zero creative projects, despite a to-create list that is growing exponentially. I want to get back to blogging, connecting with readers and continuing to develop the new direction that this site will go.

Thanks for hanging with me as I took a 30 day hiatus. I can’t promise that I’ll be posting more than once or twice per week, but I’m ready to reenter blogland. Let’s do this.