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.

minted-art-prints

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

minted-west-elm-art-prints

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!

 

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.

topo-designs-2

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.

topo-designs-inspired-dopp-kit-4

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!





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!





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.

harvest-workroom-test-print2

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!

I was on a super tight budget this year for Christmas presents and had a time period of about 36 hours to get everything made for my loved ones. Remember…nothing new for a whole year? Yep, that includes gifts for others. And because I continually plan so poorly, I didn’t leave enough time to make something totally unique and handcrafted for each member of my family. I did whip up something pretty stellar though…on Christmas Eve. Aspen tree candle holders…squeal!!!

Aspen Candles

Do you have access to an aspen tree that’s fallen down? How about a drill press and a chop saw? And maybe a drill bit that is the exact same size as a tea light? Then you’re set (and I’m impressed you are so well equipped)! If you’re missing any of these items, it can’t hurt to ask your friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Especially on Christmas Eve at 3pm, they’ll love that.

Aspen Candle Holders

These aspen trunks were cut into varying sizes last spring and have been sitting around my craft room since then. I brought them home at Thanksgiving with the hopes of making these candleholders, but alas my dad didn’t have the right size bit. Magically, when I came home three days ago, the bit had materialized and my dad was willing to show his very accident-prone daughter how to use a drill press. Bless his soul.

Fourteen sections later and I was done! I couldn’t contain my excitement so my whole family found out what they were getting on Christmas Eve. Sorry fam.

And on Christmas morning, despite a balmy 2 degrees, I still got these candles lit outside in the snow. And I just love how woodsy they look and how cheap they were to make. Can you say…basically…free?
aspen candles

How were your holidays? Did you scramble to get things together in the eleventh hour?

Sew Thrifted is coming back at you…stay tuned!

Remember me friends? The talkative, random, sewing obsessed blogger you used to know? I’m here! And I’m free! Let the holidays officially begin!

It has never felt quite so good to have a semester behind me. While it was the hardest 1/4 of this MBA program, it was without a doubt the most satisfying. The hard work this semester will pay off…I can feel it. But that’s another post for another day.

fa la laMy suitcase is packed for my journey home tomorrow, and a cuddly Beagle is going to stay at his favorite aunt’s. I am bringing several projects, including some awesome turquoise fabric and a hideous black frock. Needless to say, things will be rolling your way soon folks.

In the meantime, have a most wonderful holiday season. Hug your loved ones and tell them why you’re grateful for them! See you on the flip side!

 

You guys, this is big. My first guest post is happening today…right now, in fact! And I couldn’t be happier to feature my internet buddy Elena from Randomly Happy for the inaugural post! Take it away, Elena.

Hiya lovely Meadow Rue readers. I’m Elena over at Randomly Happy. It’s such a treat to be here with you. These Sew Thrifted posts were the very first posts I stumbled across and are what hooked my on Meadow Rue in the first place.

If your thrifting adventures are anything like mine, you might be stumbling across some lovely items of clothing that are just several sizes too big. Case in point: this lovely vintage skirt I found in my local thrift store. So hard to resist with it’s yellow polka dots and pleats. But just way too huge. And, trust me, nothing makes you look less attractive than an oversized, pleated polka dot skirt. 

But there’s hope. Skirts are ridiculously easy to take in. And so, I wanted to share two ways you could use to tailor thrifted skirts like this. One way is super quick and works when skirts are slightly too large. The second way is best if a skirt is significantly massive. Both of these work best if the skirt has an elasticised waist (i.e. no zipper), or has a seam at the back centre.

No 1: The quick way to take in a skirt1. Turn your skirt inside out and try it on. Work out where you want the skirt to sit on your waist. Mark this with a fabric pen or tailor’s chalk. Make sure you take in roughly the same amount of fabric on both sides.

2. Wander on over to your sewing machine. With both sides of the skirt together and starting at the top sew over the line you marked and gradually continue down till about half way down the skirt. Make sure you gradually taper the line, bringing it closer and closer to the original side seam. This helps stop the fabric from bulking up and giving you weird seams on your hips (not flattering – trust me – I’ve learned the hard way!).

No 2: When a skirt is huge1. Repeat step 1 above. Now, instead of tapering the line just continue straight down to the bottom of the skirt. Cut away the excess fabric and zig zag the seams to stop them from fraying.See, so easy. And quick too. You might need to hem the skirt – especially if you’re short like me – but even then this can all be wrapped up in an hour.

So, would you be willing to take the plunge and resize your next thrifty find? Or are you strictly sticking to your size?  

Saturday night was the best. I mean, really the best. I was able to spend two hours with twelve lovely Colorado bloggers. Beware: I’m going to show you a million pictures and make you insanely jealous. I’ll go back to being polite and inclusive…tomorrow.

Meadow Rue Readers, meet: (back row) KimAshley, Me, Lizzie, Meghan (middle row) Liz, Rebecca, AnneKeely (front row) Katie, Erin, Elaine, Anne

Kim organized the most awesome craft: fabric printing on jersey scarves. Despite getting yellow paint nearly everywhere, this was totally theraputic. More fabric printing needs to happen in life.

The swag bags. Oh dear, there was nothing lacking in those swag bags. Kim even threw a ringpop in for all of us (flashback to 1992!). If I could only take one thing to a desert island, it would be this swag bag.

This little print is going in a thrifted frame and up on my sewing room wall asap. It’s has been scary, Yellow Heart Art. How did you know?

The most awesome craft kit from Katie at Lemon Jitters was included. I can’t wait to dig into this. That tiny wooden plane will be put to good use, you can be certain of that.

Knitted (or crocheted?) things from Snowdrift Designs! I really should learn the difference. Regardless, this red cup cozy has been planted firmly on my coffee mug since Sunday morning. And I refuse to drink out of anything else. It serves as a coaster too! And the coaster serves as a coaster, also. Imagine that.

A bright and cheerful fat quarter from Fabricate! The event was hosted at their adorable fabric store and sewing studio. The perfect venue for an intimate gathering.

Cards and prints! A fun Thank You from Ashley at Bow & Arrow Art and a Colorado state print from CAPow!

Overall, the night was a small trip outside my comfort zone coupled healthy injection of whoa-I-need-to-get-my-shiz-together. These ladies are big time, and after a bit of blog stalking, I am so inspired. Being surrounded by other people who understand the self-induced stress that comes from getting a post up is a strange comfort. What was even more awesome? Their personalities totally shine through in their writing, something that I continually strive for, but am completely unaware if the effort is working.

Twas a good night, friends. A good night indeed.

My life changed today. My sister informed me of buttonhole elastic. Please tell me you’ve never heard of this. Make me feel just a teensy bit better about my naiveté. And please excuse me while I have a total why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moment.

What is it you ask? Well, it’s elastic with buttonholes. Duh.

Still don’t get it? It wasn’t so intuitive for me either. By sewing a button into the back of the pants where the elastic peeks out, you can adjust the fit of the waist by buttoning the elastic at different lengths. This stuff is perfect for growing kiddos or for adults who have simply indulged in a large meal. This year I’m totally wearing flannel pants with buttonhole elastic to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not a far departure from the usual holiday attire, so I’m sure it won’t be an issue.

Whitney is ready to clad the growing children of the world with adjustable waist flannel pajama pants. Five pairs? This woman is on a roll.

The facts, straight up:
Pattern: dana-MADE-it’s Kid Pants 
Size: 2T-3T
Fabric: an assortment of Jo-Ann flannel
Notions: buttonhole elastic, plus one random button per pair
Difficulty: beginner
Make it again?: I’m a little tapped out after all these, but never say never.

Her words:

“Did you stock up on flannel during the big Jo-Ann sale?  It ended up being $2 and change per yard and I went a little nuts.  There are only so many basic baby blankets with satin binding you can make before you need a break (amen sister).

 Enter kid pants.

 Kid pants are about the easiest thing on the planet to whip up, as evidenced by the FIVE PAIRS I cranked out in one sitting.  Assembly-line sewing is the way to go here, folks.

 Dana’s blog is fantastic and this pattern happens to be free.  If the size doesn’t suit you, you’ll find a link to drafting your own pattern based on an existing pair of pants.  The pattern goes together lickity split.  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably crank out a pair in 30 minutes if you’re doing multiples.

I opted to do buttonhole elastic on these and if you use the link above, you’ll see that the stuff is really pretty inexpensive.  Hopefully buttonhole elastic makes them more wearable, although let’s be honest… flannel is really only appropriate about six months out of the year.  I suppose a kid’s waist doesn’t grow too terribly much in a season?

Here’s a good buttonhole elastic tutorial if you need one. I used a single button instead of two, but the effect is nearly the same.  And no worries about picking out perfect buttons – I raided my stash of those ones that come in the little envelopes attached to new clothing.  Look at me… repurposing just like my little sis!”

I am so proud. Tear.

It has come to my attention that my sister, Whitney, should be writing this blog for me. These Sistershare posts are kicking my post’s butt, in a good way. In fact, I love that she’s letting me share them, because otherwise there’d be a whole lotta nothing on this blog for the next two weeks. And this Sistershare is just in time for Halloween!

The Charlie Tunic, from Made by Rae is totally cute, and such a versatile pattern to showcase contrasting holiday fabrics. Whitney went Halloween with this one, and can I just say? those little orange triangular buttons are perfect. Also, they strangely have me craving candy corn.
The facts, straight up:
Pattern:  Made by Rae Charlie Tunic
Size:  3T
Fabric:  Orange Jo-Ann broadcloth (too thin in retrospect), Jo-Ann holiday print
Notions:  Orange Jo-Ann buttons, black elastic cord
Difficulty:  Advanced beginner
Make it again?:  Already have.  Wait until you see the follow-up!

Her words, not mine:

“So this was my very first attempt at the Charlie Tunic, and I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a stretch for me.  The epattern is great and the instructions are thorough, but it’s a tricky little bugger with a lot of steps.  Give yourself an entire afternoon on this one, ladies.

 Problems arose because I tend to do this thing when I’m sewing where I get frustrated by not understanding a specific step, think the pattern would come together easier if I did it a different way and then just start to wing it.  Hence the reason the sleeve facings are not the same as Rae’s and the addition of the big band along the bottom versus side vents.  In the end, it created a perfectly cute little shirt, but I can definitely tell it’s my first attempt at this pattern.

 Basically, if you’re a new sewist (sewer, whatever), I would advise using some cheap fabric for your first Charlie Tunic.  The half-price holiday fabric at Jo-Ann was clearly calling my name.  Once you’ve whipped  struggled through one, you’ll be on a roll.  The one piece of advice I have to impart:  if ironing the seam allowance (a scant ¼”) on the neck facing (step 7) is giving you fits, sew the seam allowance on the flat fabric first and follow that line to turn the fabric under and then iron.  This is especially useful on the curves.

Stay tuned for my elephant themed Charlie.  You won’t be disappointed.”