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.

 

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.

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.

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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!

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.

makefixborrow

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.

Today on Meadow Rue, an awesome guest post by a blogging buddy. I will be back at blogging in a few short days. For now, enjoy Elena’s killer transformation!

Hiya guys! I’m Elena and I spend most of my days blogging over at Randomly Happy. But today there was so much sewing goodness, that I had to break it down into two parts. You’ll find half here, on the ever-lovely Allie’s blog. And the other half waits for you on Randomly Happy.

The idea was to come up with a really simple way to transform a shirt. Taking it from zero to hero. And since I’ve been a bit obsessed with statement collars and cuffs for a few months now I thought I’d give it a go. It’s nice and simple. And super quick, so do give it a go.titlebefore and afterThe How To

You will need:

  • an unloved shirt
  • fabric for collar and cuffs (20 inches x 20 inches or 50 cm by 50 cm should be enough)
  • pins
  • sewing machine

1. Put your cuff down onto your fabric, right side to right side. Draw around your cuff. FYI you should probably use tailor’s chalk for this, but I was out!

step 1

2. Add about 1/4 inch (3/4 cm) of seam allowance around the boarder of the cuff you just sketched.

step 2step 3

3. Cut the fabric and pin loosely to the cuff of your shirt. Make sure the right side is facing out. Line up the outline you traced to the edge of the cuff.

step 4

4. Going around the edge of your cuff, fold the 3/4 seam allowance in place under the fabric and pin in place.

step 5

5. Take to your nearest sewing machine, and sew a straight stitch around the edge of the cuff. Try and get as close as you can to the edge for the neatest finish.

step 6step 7  ps How great would this look with gold leather? That’s going straight to the top of my to-make list!

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First of all…thanks! Thank you, all 100 of you, who filled out my automatic pin remover survey. Your feedback is invaluable and it’s clear that, well, nobody wants an automatic pin remover. I’m not sad. Actually I’m rather excited to focus on another new business venture. One that involves a 1965 Cardinal camper trailer. And music festivals. The next six months are going to be rad, folks.

1965 Cardinal camper trailer

I’ve also chosen a winner of the Tiny Pocket Tank giveaway and her name is Amanda. She’ll be receiving a Tiny Pocket Tank in the coming weeks. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see photos.

Speaking of festivals, if you follow me on Pinterest you’ve probably thought I’ve gone a bit batty. I’ve been pinning fashion that does not entail stripes and neutrals and classics. I’ve been pinning some weird stuff. I’ve fallen in love with festival fashion.

Festival fashion

What I love most about festival fashion is that it’s entirely functional. Festivals are usually hot and dirty and require lots of dancing. Flowy skirts, lots of layers, and comfortable shoes are a must. What’s even better? Thrift stores are the perfect place to find festival fashion waiting to be repurposed. It can be weird…but what better time than a music festival to bring out your hippie side?

So a vintage trailer, hopefully a few friends, and I will be making our way to some music festivals this summer. Teaching people to sew, and possibly selling some stellar music festival fashion. Mostly we’re just looking for an excuse to travel the country and checking off the music festivals we’ve been eyeing for so long. Stay tuned for an update!

P.S. I have two weeks until I’m officially done with grad school. Oh my goodness. But with the excitement comes a crazy number of to-do’s that require my full attention. I may be absent for a few weeks, but I’ll come back in May with some HUGE announcements. Thanks, friends, for being such awesome readers.

Peeps. I have returned. From Austin, from SXSW. I am changed.

Austin SXSW collageChanged how? you might ask. Well my new favorite band is Lord Huron, and I plan to court and marry every member of the band. I am a teeny bit more tan, and approximately 25 tacos heavier. I am energized for the 2013 Red Ants Pants Music Festival. And I am so darn happy.

SXSW was craaaazy. So much music, so much walking, so little time. I was completely inspired by the awesome festival fashion every where I looked. And I was so happy to connect with the festival team that I am so thrilled to be a part of. Austin and SXSW shall now be an annual thing. For sure.

I’m catching back up on school and getting my rear in gear on several business ideas I have in the works. I am so ready to launch my own business that it’s all I can think about. Today, if you’d be so gracious (and you’re a sewing machine user), you can help me out!

Click on the photo below to take you to a survey that will test a new product concept I am developing. A product concept that, in my opinion, is a long time coming. I hope you think so too! Make sure to enter your email address at the end of the survey and you’ll be entered to win a thrifted refashion courtesy of me! The lucky winner will receive a Tiny Pocket Tank refashion from a thrifted shirt of your choosing!

Meadow Rue survey giveaway

If you want to share the survey with your sewing friends, feel free! Here’s the link: https://cuboulder.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3mF5ELzGx9PxiiF.

As always, I am so appreciative of your honest feedback. And I can’t wait to reveal the winner and their refashion!

I’m off to the land of bearable temperatures tomorrow. I will break out the tank tops, and skirts…and deodorant. Life is going to be real good in about 24 hours because tomorrow I will be in Austin, Texas at SXSW. Wearing my new navy tank with polka dot bias tape of course…

thrifted navy shirt before and after

Now, you guys, this is without a doubt my favorite Sew Thrifted ever. I see many a hot summer day spent in this little tank top. You know why? Because this puppy fits like a charm. The secret? I used a pattern…on an oversized thrifted shirt…and it worked. Like, it worked really well! The pattern was (can you guess?) the Tiny Pocket Tank Pattern from Grainline. If you been reading my blog since this summer (and thank you to the moon and back if you have!), you know that I was a wee bit obsessed with this pattern as evidenced here.  And then my favorite sewing loved ones made a few more here. The Tiny Pocket Tank is a winner for sure. And it works on oversized shirts too!

navy thrifted shirt with polka dot bias tape

I basically laid the pattern over my carefully deconstructed thrifted shirt and cut out new pieces. I chose to leave the neckline as-is, remembering that my previous Tiny Pocket Tank was a little revealing. I also went sans pocket again. I have an aversion to pockets.

thrifted navy shirt side

Then I carefully applied some vintage polka dot bias tape I thrifted about a year ago around the armholes and to the bottom hem. It worked like a charm!

polka dot bias tape

My new obsession? Putting bias tape on everything. Obviously.

I will be back from Austin in a week with lots to tell I’m sure. Then it’s back in the sewing saddle for more Sew Thrifted and some guest blogging!