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.
topo-designs-inspired-dopp-kit-3

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!





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.

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.

We went for a bike ride the other day. My dear friend, Jen and I hopped on our cruisers and we rode our way through a herd of cows. Mama cows and babies.

And a whole lot of cow pies.

cow

My mom asked me to collect some of these seed pods that dot the countryside near my house. She wanted them for art card inspiration, and to put in her flower pots at home. They really are beautiful, despite their thorns and spikey round heads.

They’re also noxious weeds. I once spent several hours in a sweltering heat, pulling these things out of a some Boulder open space. So there’s that.weeds 03

Nevertheless, they are fun to photograph on an overcast May day, against Colorado mountains that still have snow on them. It truly has been the most beautiful spring.weeds 04Thanks for hanging on with me friends, as I post rather infrequently. Life has thrown a few curveballs (most of which are good!). For now, my erratic posting will continue, but I’m itching to get back to my sewing machine and to a regular blogging schedule.

Peace, love, and noxious weeds.

 

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.

I don’t know if you’ve figured it out yet. I have a new complete and total obsession. A total fixation on five boys akin to my Leo DiCaprio crush that started in 1996 and stretched well into 1999. I am completely enamored by a new band. Lord Huron is where it’s at, people.

lord huronSource

I caught these fellas at SXSW a couple weeks ago after listening to their entire album on repeat while sewing. Such great sewing music. I had no idea what to expect from their live performance, I didn’t know what they looked like or how many were in the band. I now know all of that, including their middle names and their favorite foods. Yes, I said I was obsessed. Quit judging.

I got the chance to catch these fellas again last Wednesday night in Denver. We were standing in front of some rather enthusiastic girls that knew every word…and apparently couldn’t hear themselves singing. But, alas, it seemed the entire theatre was alive with this crazy energy the band exudes. Seriously, the lead singer plays the drum while he sings. Insane.

lord huron collage

But something has been bothering me, along with the people I tell this to. So prepared to be bothered. Now that this band has blown up, I’m less into them. Still obsessed, but thinking about moving on. This crush will not span years. The reason? I’m a total hipster. I have a horrible habit of losing interest in certain bands that go big, and I have no idea why. It makes sense that I would want to support and take joy in seeing my favorite music reach the mainstream. I think it’s the idea that I won’t get to enjoy them in the tiny venues I’m used to. It’s not like I uncovered this band from the depths of indie music…I absolutely did not. I trusted a friend’s music recommendation, and I fell in love.

And now I’m quickly falling out of love and I hate that. Yes, I lose interest quickly. It’s my nature. At the very least I can hold on to one awesome lyric:

“What good is a livin’ a life you’ve been given, if all you do is stand in one place?”

Now, someone go create this stylized quote with a woodsy, etheral background. If you don’t, I will. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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!

30. August 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Travel · Tags:

Portland. Home to amazing vintage stores and awesome food. Home to my best friend.

I thought my year of nothing new would save me money. Portland proved me wrong. High-end consignment stores are the way to go.

I’ll be back soon with some new before and afters!

I know. I’m terrible.

Leaving you all to wonder where I went for a month. With no warning. Without even a call to check in, or a text to tell you all was okay.

You’ve probably moved on, realizing my loyalty to consistent blogging is less than half-hearted. You were mostly right.

But wait! There was a perfectly good reason for my absence, I promise!

That reason was a little river trip. Just a little time on a little river in a little canyon with a little group of people. Nothing big, you know, besides floating 226 miles of the Colorado River in the GRAND CANYON!!!

16 days, 16 people, 4 rafts, 8 kayaks, literally tons of gear rigged and derigged daily. 2 full bottles of sunscreen, one turquoise long sleeve shirt worn every.single.day. No showers, no makeup, no repurposed flannel shirts.

This trip was the time of my life. Literally. Some of the best memories I’ve made in my 26 years. It was a vacation full of amazing people, the kind that make you laugh so hard it hurts…even the next day. It was the kind of scenery that literally leaves you silent, only because words do absolutely zero justice to its grandeur. It was hilarious, terrifying, peaceful and frustrating all at the same time. And I won’t hesitate to tell you that it changed my life. It did. For realz.

But I’m back! And I’m ready to get back in the swing of things. I’ve missed my blog, my sewing machine and my beagle baby.

And I have a new undertaking that I will be announcing very soon. I hope you can join me!