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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.
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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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.