Sewing room complete (for now!)

22 Apr


It took a month, but I’m happy to say that my sewing room is complete for now!  I painted all the trim white, and then painted the walls Benjamin Moore “Misty teal,” a pretty pale aquamarine.

I really love the color – it’s such a change from the old purple (seen here, in the process of being covered.  I’m sure my husband appreciates me showing his painting shorts to the world!)


The chandelier and curtains are new:

The chandelier came from (link in my last post) and the curtains I bought at Target.  I thought making my own, but the cost for 2 windows was a bit much, so when I found these fabulous border print curtains for $15 a panel I snatched them up!  I found the thread holder at a yard sale for $5, and I had one of those jumbo packs of Guttermann from some day after Thanksgiving sale at Joann’s.  I love how pretty the thread looks on the wall!


My machines are sharing an extra long desk (Malm from Ikea, very sturdy!)  I have a sewing table with my Rocketeer downstairs, waiting to be repainted and added to the room.

I bought a new ironing board.  Mine always seem to rust out every year – does anyone else have that problem?  My dress form (which, admittedly, is mostly decorative, as it doesn’t adjust down to my bust size) is happily sitting to the side.

I’m still planning to build my project table, but for now I’m ok with my portable table from Joann’s.  At least it doesn’t take up much room!

Now the only question is, what to make in my new room?

I’m starting graduate school this summer, so I’m hoping my things being more accessible will make sewing in small bursts possible.  It was just too depressing in the attic.  But I love my pretty room, and I’m hoping it proves inspiring!


Sewing room update

10 Apr

Painting trim (if you wish to do it correctly!) takes quite a long time.  If taking trim from bare wood, I use 2 full coats of primer (I like Zisser Coverstain) and 2 full coats of paint (I like Behr ultra premium in semi-gloss).  I sand between each coat, and fill all nicks and holes with a good filler (not the cheap DAP stuff) between coats of primer, and caulk between coats of paint.  In the past week I’ve done all that, and now the room is ready for real paint this weekend.  It went from this:

Windows before

to this:


the trim in this room was in pretty awful shape – I replaced half of it because whole pieces were missing (the people before us had dogs, and they shredded the trim.)  The windows need to be replaced, but that’s not in the budget right now.  The trim on this floor was originally painted when the house was built, but in the 80s (when everyone wanted natural trim) someone stripped it, and never bothered to finish the wood.  Wood is never the same after paint is stripped anyway, and after 30 years of weather exposure, it was especially bad (not to mention it wasn’t stain grade to start with!)

Anyway, I’m very happy – and now I’m picking paint!  I want a pale blue green, sort of a tiffany blue:

This color is scuba green by Benjamin Moore with just a little more white added.  It looks a little strange on the wall, since the purple reflects on it, but it looks great when painted on a swatch or poster board in the room, so I think it’s good!  I may end up just getting the next lighter shade on the card.

It’s important for me to choose a lighter color because I sew at night a lot.  With dark walls, there isn’t enough light in the room.

Speaking of light, I’m replacing this awful ceiling fan:

Old ceiling fan

I hate this thing.  It only takes one light bulb (max 60 watts) so it isn’t useful, and I think the design on the blades looks like evil sheepdogs.

I ordered this replacement from


I figure, if you can’t have a chandelier in you sewing room, then where can you?  It takes 4 bulbs, which should be an upgrade.  I have ott lights for ironing and cutting anyway.

I’m still considering my project table options.  I like the idea of using the expedit cubes, but I’m thinking building my own might be better – then I can have the size and height that I want!  For now, I will probably bring my foldable table down and use it while I try to decide on my options.

So, I haven’t done any sewing, but I’ve made great progress on my new space – I am so excited!



Mission: project table

23 Mar




I’ve been clearing out my spare room this week, in anticipation of all the painting and repair work that I start next week (easter/spring break are going to be my work days!)

My biggest issue has been what to do with my desk.  I currently have an old target computer desk that is on its last legs.  I thought about painting it, but to be honest I just want to move on.  I’m considering swapping my desktop computer for a laptop -we bought my best friend’s macbook, so I’m going to try it out for awhile.  If I can ditch the extra hardware, that frees up a ton of room.  My only concern was the mouse – I like a real one – but my husband pointed out that we have a cordless, so never mind that.   Then I won’t have to have piece of furniture dedicated solely to the computer.

I have in mind something like this:


Bedford Project Table Set

This is the Bedford project table from Pottery Barn, which can be yours for the low, low price of $1100 plus shipping.  Seems like a lot to pay for something that is basically a few storage cubes topped with wood.  I’m certain I can make my own for less.  Then I can place it in the center of the room and use it as a combo desk and cutting station.

I found full plans for a knock-off here.  I am reasonably certain I have the skills for this, and my Dad (an actual professional carpenter) will help me.

I would ultimately like a new corner sewing desk, so that I can make my serger and machine easily accessible, but I can wait on that.  My current desk is an Ikea Malm, and it serves its purpose well.

Plans are shaping up – now I’m considering wall colors (I’m thinking a pastel?  Something light and bright…)


Back again!

18 Mar

Well, I bet you thought I had gone off somewhere and died!  Nope – I’ve just been traveling for the past month and haven’t had a bit of time to do anything!  My husband and I traveled with the choir and jazz ensemble of the University where I work.  It was a fabulous time – it was so great seeing my students experiencing Europe for the first time!  We were in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.  As always, Prague remains my favorite city in the world.

I won’t bore you with my photos, but here is my favorite – Marc and I in the gardens of Schönbrunn Castle


I also went to the national conference of the American Choral Director’s Association in Dallas last week.  This was my first time going, and it was overwhelming but wonderful.  I was not, you will note, happy to come from 85 degree weather back to snow yesterday!

Obviously I haven’t sewn, since I’ve only been home 2 days this month, but I really miss it!  I’m planning to get my new sewing room painted during the easter and spring breaks this month.  I also want to sew an ipad case (soft pouch, not one of the one that makes a stand) so if anyone has a tutorial or pattern to recommend that would be great.

I love to travel, but at this point I’m glad to be home – I hope you’ve all had a great month!


Slow sewing, and belated Valentine’s day!

18 Feb

I’m still working on Vogue 1317.  I will tell you all the truth – I never would have started this dress if I’d realized just how much work it was!  Every seam is sewn, edge stitched, and top stitched.  In addition, every edge is faced instead of hemmed.  I’ve eliminated the back zipper, pockets, and hem facing, and it’s still taking ages!

I’m pretty unhappy with the way the ties are sewn – they call for making mitered corners on the back, hemming, and trimming close to the stitching.  There’s no way that wouldn’t look terrible in my fabric (ponte) so I eliminated them entirely.  If I were making it again, I would cut two tie pieces and sew them together.  I don’t have enough fabric to make that work, so mine will do without!  Ah well though – I’m nearly finished, so hopefully I will have photos as soon as I sew on the neck facing.

I know my posting is sparse, but I am incredibly busy this semester.  I have rehearsals three nights a week minimum, sometimes more, and I’m maintaining my teaching studio at home along with my teaching at the university.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything though – I love my job, students and colleagues!  We leave for Europe soon, and after that I am going to Dallas for a conference.  After that my schedule should settle down a little.  I am not complaining – I know how lucky I am to do what I love for a living!

In the meantime I’m trying to get together my travel wardrobe, reading a lot, and sewing when I get a chance.    On Valentine’s day Marc and I went to Skyline chili as per our tradition:


Yes, that is red wine in kid’s to-go cups!  Our Skyline has a 3 course meal every year, complete with fancy desserts.  Since Marc is from Cincinnati, he’s always happy to go, especially since most of our friends don’t care for Cincinnati chili. Not to be gross and sentimental, but as each year goes by I am reminded of how lucky I am to have found him – I know I’m not exactly normal, but he’s never expected me to change who I am!  And just to be increasingly sappy, here is my favorite photo of us: we don’t celebrate anniversaries (I’m not a fan of them) but I love this picture from our wedding five years ago!

I always tell my friends this: It’s totally worth waiting to get married until you meet the right person.  I could have gotten married younger, but I’m happy that I didn’t!  It’s worth the wait for someone who will understand you – someone who will never expect you to change into their idea of a perfect spouse.  I never had that before, and now that I do I can’t imagine going back.

Happy belated Valentine’s day!



Book recommendations: January 2013

2 Feb

Before I get to my book recommendations this month, I wanted to show off my new haircut:
New hair

I had 6 inches cut, and ended up with a nice layered bob.  I’m pretty happy with it – it looks good curled or straight.  I grew my hair out because I hadn’t had it long in a decade, but as it turns out I prefer shorter hair – it suits my personality, and I don’t have to spend nearly as long fixing it in the morning, which was becoming quite daunting.

Cutting my hair also set me off on revamping my wardrobe.  I have a new job and new goals, so it was time.  I will post about that later this week, so look for that.

I didn’t have a lot of time to read this month, but I did finish four books, three of which I would recommend.  This month I delved into young adult fantasy and Swedish crime novels.  As always, you can friend or follow me on Goodreads!


The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

I technically finished it early in the morning on February 1st, but I say it counts for January.  This was my favorite book this month!  I’ve previously read all of Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next novels.  I loved the first, but became a little less enamored of them as they went along.  I got a bit of quirkiness overload, and quite frankly the ideas got a stretched a little thin.  So I wasn’t certain I even wanted to give this a try – YA novels from established authors often overdo the simplification of their style.  But to my surprise I loved it!

Jennifer, the narrator, is a teenage foundling.  She has been apprenticed to Kazam, where she spends most of her days watching over and taking care of wizards.  Yes, I said wizards.  In the universe of the book (an alternate United Kingdom) magic is very real.  It is not, unfortunately, very fashionable at the current time.  Indeed, it appears that for years the source of magic has been dying off, with most wizards unable to perform the feats they could have in their youths.  This, naturally, makes them rather cranky.  The wizards are easily the most amusing part of the book, with their self-proclaimed titles and childish jealousies.   They earn their keep by taking on mundane duties – delivering takeaway by flying carpet, predicting odds at the races etc.  One of the precogs has a very vivid vision – that the last dragon is about to die – and that’s where the book really takes off.

I won’t spoil things for you.  If you enjoy humorous fantasy a la Terry Pratchett then it’s a safe bet you will like this book.  It’s worth the price of admission for the Quarkbeast!  What is that, you ask?  Well… I will let the book explain:

“Quarkbeasts, for all their fearsome looks, are obedient to a fault. They are nine-tenths velociraptor and kitchen blender and one-tenth Labrador. It was the Labrador tenth that I valued most.”

There you go.  The book is the beginning of a series, but unlike some it has a real conclusion.  My only quibble is that it is very short – under 300 pages.  I wanted more, but there is another in the series out, with the final book to follow this year!


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

That’s a great cover, right?  I’ll admit I wasn’t excited about this book, but a book club I am sometimes part of was reading it, so I picked up a copy.    I cringed starting it, remembering the time I had to read Wicked for a similar club.  I know, I know everyone loves Wicked, but it tops the list of my most disliked books.  Blah.  So I fear retellings, which often try too hard to be different from the source material.

I’ve been reading more Young Adult novels, mostly because they are what’s being published right now.  Although I initially dismissed them all, I found that there is plenty of good in the genre.  Of course, because there are so many being published, there is also a lot of dreck.  And since there are plenty of women willing to give 5 stars to anything involving a love triangle, it can be hard to find the good ones.  This, let me tell you, is one of the good ones.

Cinder is a loose (very loose) retelling of Cinderella.  Cinder is, as you can tell from the cover, a cyborg.  She has no memory of her early life, but she’s spent the last decade living with her stepmother and two stepsisters.  She supports them by repairing electronics at a stall in the market.  One day Prince Kai, the soon-to-be Emperor of New Beijing, stops at her stall, asking her to repair his childhood tutor android.  This sets Cinder on a path to unwind the secrets of her own path.

There is plenty here that was not in Cinderella, from a deadly plague sweeping the country to a race of beautiful aliens who live on the moon (The Lunars).  Cinder herself is a great character – independent, outspoken, and not the sort of heroine who makes moon eyes at the prince.  The Prince himself was a really decent character – he’s funny and resourceful, and I understood why she would like him.  It was a little more of a mystery why he was so drawn to Cinder, but that’s the fairy tale aspect for you.

If I have a complaint it’s that the central mystery of the book was laughably easy to guess – it’s basically thrust in front of you within the first 50 pages.  So by the time Cinder gets the big reveal at the end, it was a little anti-climactic.  I would have also liked a little more resolution – I know Cinder’s story will continue (the second book is out soon!) but I do like real endings.  Highly recommended!


Let the Right One In by Jogn Ajvide Lingqvish

Let me start with the summary from the back of the book:

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

I’ve come rather late to Swedish novels.  My grandparents were from Sweden, so it would seem I should be interested in them, but I don’t read many crime novels these days.  I decided to explore the genre this month.  I started with The Ice Princesswhich I found disappointing – there was too much love story, not enough crime.  This book was recommended to me as a really great vampire novel for adults.  And you know what?  I think it is.

It’s also quite disturbing.  I feel the need to point that out, as it is so very different from the sort of thing that I usually recommend.  I didn’t find it scary in the traditional, Stephen King sense.  It was more that it gave me a creeping feeling of being unclean.  Eli is the little girl mentioned in the summary above.  And yes, clearly she is a vampire, but she’s not the monster of this book.  There are many, many humans who manage to be far more monstrous through the course of the book.  Perhaps this is the point – that we are scarier ourselves than any monster we might make up?  Every character in the book feels real.  They have motivations and back stories outside of their purpose in the novel.  This makes the setting and characters feel absolutely real, something that I cannot say I have experienced before in a novel about vampires.

I’m not even sure I would read it again, because it is rather not my thing, but I still feel as though I want to recommend it.  If you like thrillers and dark fiction, I highly recommend this book.  I understand there is a movie, which I may see now – it appears to focus more on the relationship between Oskar and Eli than the book.

Vogue patterns, Spring 2013

26 Jan

Yesterday was the longest workday known to man.   I got to work at 10 am (hey, that’s early for a musician!) and didn’t make it home until midnight.  So I was super happy to see the new spring Vogue patterns awaiting my return.

I think it looks like a decent crop.  There is a nice basic trench coat (which I won’t make, but it is nice!) and even a few men’s patterns.  There is, of course, some inexplicable posing, but there you go.  I can mock Vogue, but the truth is that they fit me the best out of the Big 4, and they generally have the most current patterns .

I’m thinking of joining Club BMV.  Does anyone have any feedback on that?  I feel kind of bad because I do live in driving distance of Joann’s.  But with my schedule the way it is now, I don’t have any time to.  Or rather, I do, but if I spend the time to do that I don’t have sewing time.  Or they are out of my size, or I can’t make the days they are on sale.  I think I’d rather just spend the postage.  Maybe it would keep me from buying shoddy Joann’s fabric as well?  Because I need to stop doing that.

Let’s start with the designer patterns.  Sadly, Donna Karan has let me down here.  I usually love her designs, but these are too fussy for me.  I do like the red one from the front, but not the back… and besides, I’ve sworn off pencil skirts for a bit.  Here is what I do like:


Vogue 1344, Rebecca Taylor

Go ahead, laugh at the “thinking” pose, because that model does it many more times.  This dress is really cute!  The details are lost in the print, so here is the line drawing:


It calls for light fabrics (crepe de chine, voile) etc.  I think I would use a rayon challis.  I like that it’s lined.  Should make a great summer dress!


Vogue 1343, Tracy reese

I call this her “spying on someone around the corner” pose.  This appears to be a mock wrap style, which I prefer.  The pattern calls for crepe de chine or jersey.  I think this is crepe, and that’s what I would use.  Jersey might be a little loose.

Other Dresses


Vogue 8871

Not that you can tell from the modeled photo, but this dress has cute lines.  I like the middy length and the fact that it calls for a knit!  I’d use a lighter doubleknit or ponte.

V8872 (1)

Vogue 8872

According to the ladies on Patternreview, this dress (with the straight skirt) is a knock-off of a famous design.  I would be more likely to make this version, though I might make the top symmetrical.  I’ll have to see some completed versions first!  It is designed for wovens.  I am imagining a dark gray lightweight suiting for the body, and a contrasting band in the middle (I might use a color, as once I tried a contrast band out of black and it looked super homemade.


Vogue 8873

This is different enough to pique my interest – maybe in a plaid because I have no imagination.  The description reads : Dress has bias overbodice, fitted, lined bodice and back zipper.

What, pray tell, is an overbodice?  I’m assuming that’s the cowl bit, and the piece behind (looks like a dickie, sorry!) is the bodice.  I would assume that the overbodice attaches at the waist and sides to the back, so I don’t really understand the descriptions.

Vogue 8870

Hmm… maybe.  I think this looks breezy and fun as pictured, with cute flat sandals.  Of course, that totally ignores the fact that I basically don’t wear sandals at all, no way.  Especially not that kind, which I think make my feet look enormous.



Vogue 8881

I love this!  I lack tops to wear with skinny jeans and leggings in the summer – I pretty much only have sweaters!  I think you would need to take care and reinforce the neckline and armholes, otherwise the longer piece would stretch unevenly.


Vogue 8880

Guys, this isn’t even the same model, which means they were directed to do that gesture!  Anyway, I like that there are pleats instead of a gathered neckline.
V8877 (2)

Vogue 8877

Not setting the world on fire, but I want it to replicate a top I saw at Saks.

That’s it for now – I will buy the two designer patterns and the last top first.



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