Thoughts on long term projects

My galaxy quilt is progressing very quickly. I’ve actually completed three more blocks since I took this photo! This is only the second quilt I’ve made – the first was my very first sewing project, back in (gulp) November, 2009.

After I made that first quilt, I started sewing garments, and pretty much didn’t look back. I didn’t have the patience for large scale projects (See: the endless parade of winter coats that I started and never finished). When I decided to start sewing again, I knew the first thing I wanted to sew was a quilt. First, it’s a matter of necessity – I’ve got a friend staying with me for the Kentucky Derby this week, and I literally only owned one blanket.  He will have to sleep under a cheap target blanket, but future guests will have nicer things. Second, I wasn’t necessarily eager to actually measure myself and find out what size of sewing pattern I need to cut these days. But, ultimately, in this season of my life I was looking for something to focus on.

This is the first time I’ve lived alone in twelve years, and perhaps the first time in my life that I’ve been truly dependent only on myself.  After separating, I lived with a friend with a spare room for some time, until things were settled and I felt I could decide what the next chapter of my life looked like. I didn’t really want to live alone – I’m something of an extrovert, and the thought of all that time with myself wasn’t something I felt comfortable with. But I fell in love with the apartment, and with the vision of myself in it. With, I think, the life I could lead as this theoretical independent single lady.

And it is, at times, lonely. I have friends, and a social job, but I ultimately come home to myself (and to my kitty, Dionne, my other cat Leon having sadly passed away from liver disease a few months ago).

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Dionne

I find that quilting has a certain meditative quality to its precision.  From starching and ironing, to cutting, to sewing with an exact quarter inch seam.  It’s distracting, and it’s soothing, for those times when my brain starts to run away from me.

This week, and the Derby madness that is this city in the first week of May, marks one year since I decided to go.  Within the space of that year, nearly everything has changed.  I am no longer who I was then, even if I’m not always sure who I am now.  When the quilt is finished, I hope it will be a reminder of this time, when everything felt new.

 

 

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Lighting for Sewing

After multiple trips to Joann’s and the local sewing shop, I’ve finally amassed all the notions that I need to start sewing again.  It’s amazing the number of things you need, when you’re starting from nothing!  I even had to purchase a straight stitch foot for my machine, as I could only find the walking foot.

I’ve been cutting my quilt pieces for my first block, using my kitchen island as a cutting table.  It’s not the most convenient, but it’s close to the machine, and I don’t want to purchase anything else right now.  It’s working nicely!

I’m not super experienced as a quilter, so it’s slow going doing all that cutting. The specialty rulers definitely help!

I’ve finished the triangles for the first two blocks, and I’m getting ready to sew. Which leads me to my dilemma (and the title of this post): What to do about lighting? The room I’m using as my sewing room does not have any overhead lighting.

As you can see, the ceilings are really tall. Like, 14 feet tall. So hanging a light isn’t really a viable option. I guess I’m looking at task lighting, then, for the sewing desk and the ironing station. Since I’m using the island as a cutting surface, I don’t need to worry about that. I was going to head to target and pick up some lamps, and use daylight bulbs, but I thought I would ask first if anyone has suggestions. I used to own an Ott light, but I’m hesitant to purchase another – mine developed a flicker pretty early on, which made it impossible to use for long periods.

In other news, I’m still looking through garment patterns.  I want to sew some cute summer dresses, since I have a job that runs year round now (I’m the organist/choirmaster for a large Catholic parish.)  But I’m a little overwhelmed with the number of new patterns and companies.  Soon I will make a post with my summer sewing plans.

Thanks you so much to everyone who left me a kind note – they are so appreciated!  I wasn’t sure, honestly, if anyone would remember me at all, and it was so gratifying to realize that I haven’t  been forgotten!

How can it be 2017 Already?

Greetings! I know, it’s been a literal age since I’ve been here – nearly two and a half years!  Where have I been?  Well… experiencing a total upheaval of my life situation.  I’ve gone through a divorce, and a major career change.  It’s been unimaginably difficult, and I’m only now reaching a place where I feel like myself again.  And part of reaching that place, was realizing exactly how much I missed sewing and knitting, and my little place here.  So, here goes – I’m a little rusty, so please forgive!

I’ve just moved into a fantastic new loft apartment, and I’m in the process of setting up a sewing room.  I did not leave my marriage with all of my things, but I did take my sewing machine:

I had to take her to the shop to get worked on – it turns out, if you leave this model of Bernina sitting for too long, the power supply can go bad. But now I’m up and running again! I’m going to start out with a few home decor projects for my new place, since they won’t require a serger (I plan to pick up a serger soon… recommendations are appreciated!)

I’ve been knitting a Hue Shift afghan for a few months, and I’m only now 1/4 of the way finished. I’m a slower knitter than I used to be, mostly because I have to play piano and organ for my day job, and I can’t afford wrist issues. I love the colors!

I also just bought the kit to make the Gravity quilt from Jaybird quilts.

I love the colors of both these projects! My apartment, being in a converted mill with concrete floors, can feel a little cold, so I’m trying to get some color in to brighten things up.

I’m also thinking about sewing my dress for the Kentucky Derby in a few weeks, but I haven’t decided yet on a pattern. I’ve missed so many new releases!

There’s going to be a re-learning curve for me – the first time I used my machine again, I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work – and the presser foot was up! Oops. And I had to remember how to cast on for my afghan, necessitating Youtube tutorials. Sometime in the past few years, that info just fell out of my head, but I’m excited to learn it all over again.

Finding Balance

Current project: Colette Patterns Hawthorne dress

 

It wasn’t until I started sewing that I realized how much I missed it.  I have difficulty finding balance in my life because I’m pretty much “all or nothing” about most things.  But I have to tell you, I don’t want to have another semester like this past one.  I was busy, of course, and I like to be busy, but I didn’t have any time at all to do things for myself.  I found myself falling into unhealthy habits simply because I was so busy that everything was hard.  I didn’t read, I didn’t sew, and I barely had time to make it to the gym once a week.

My goal from this point forward is to make time for myself, and to not allow myself to fall back into my stress habits.  I don’t want to feel this way every summer, but I love what I do.  Here’s what I plan to do from this point forward:

1. I’m not teaching at home this summer.  I usually have private students at home in the summers, but this summer I’m going to focus on only my classes.  No one wants to come to piano in July anyway!  Come fall, I’m keeping the students I have but not adding more.  I’m teaching through our preparatory program now as well, which is less stress because it’s at school and can fit into my normal schedule and not have to run from place to place.

2. I’m keeping my house neater.  I have always struggled with neatness.  My house was pretty much a disaster growing up, and while I figured out how to be pretty OCD in my own place, I’m not good at being that way while living with someone else.  We had a cast party here in April, and I neatened the place considerably.  I’ve been keeping it up since then (much easier when you do it over time) and I keep pointing out to my husband how much less stressed I am when things are clean.  So far my strategy is working!  I need to paint the trim/walls in my bedroom, but I think this may be a time to hire a painter (blasphemy!) because I just don’t want to right now.

3.  Make it to the gym more.    I’m happier when I get some exercise.  We have a gym at school… perhaps I should use that on my lunch break rather than eating unhealthy cafeteria food?

4.  Make time to sew and read.  These are my primary hobbies, and I did zero of either last semester.  I’m not saying I have tons of time, but I need to carve out time – maybe on weekends – to sew every week.  I know I can find time to read… I just have to remember to do it.

5.  Take time to do something for myself.  I’ve been getting Shellac manicures.  It keeps me from my bad OCD habit of picking at my cuticles til they bleed, and it makes me feel better to do something for myself.  I always thought it was silly, but now I understand why women enjoy going to the salon!

6.  Schedule my time more carefully.  I am lucky in that I have a lot of control over my schedule.  So I need to make sure that I’m making a schedule that works for me, not one that works for every person in the world except me.  That’s hard, but I think I can do it.

I love what I do… and I’d like to keep it that way.   I know I won’t succeed with everything right away, but I want to try and keep these goals in mind so that I don’t burn out.  In the meantime, look for plenty of sewing posts this summer!  I’m going to start doing book recommendations again as well, maybe once a month.

Is this thing on?

Hi there!  I know, I know… I’ve been MIA here.  My life kicked into high gear at the end of summer, and it hasn’t slowed down a bit!  I haven’t had time to sew, and I really miss it, but right now I have other things to focus on.  I thought I’d post an update, so people didn’t worry that something terrible had happened to me!

I’m still in graduate school, and I’ll be getting my MM in December.  At that point I’m giving serious thought to staying for a doctorate (I can’t believe I’m actually saying those words… so many things I never thought I would (or could) do!   I’m conducting a choir and directing a musical this semester, which as you might imagine leaves me little free time. 

I even have an official, conductorly (note: not a real word) head shot!

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I still love my haircut, and I never thought I would have hair this short!

I’m hoping to have time to do a little sewing before summer classes start – I have 6 weeks free.  No guarantees though – I now realize that you never know what life will give you.  We might go to visit my in-laws in that time, or I might finally get around to painting the woodwork in my bedroom – who knows?  I will be spending most of the summer in class every day, so maybe I will just rest and prepare.  But I do hope to be back – I miss sewing, and I miss the interaction with the sewing community.  I try to keep up with your blogs, though I feel so behind.  There are so many patterns I have pinned to my “want to make” board that I will never finish them all – ah well!  Farewell for now, hope to be back in a more reasonable amount of time!

 

Dropping by

Grad school is intense so far. I am taking 2 classes right now, one of which (musical form and analysis) is taking basically all my time and attention to get through. As it turns out, 10 years is a lot of time in which to forget things like counterpoint. Ah well… I love it so far. I didn’t realize how much I missed school until I came back! There is something so wonderful about being rewarded for being opinionated.

At the end of June one of my best friends got married, and I spent a lot of time preparing (I was in charge of all the music. I also cut all my hair off! It was sort of a whim to be honest, but I really love it. I don’t have a ton of pictures, but here is one from the wedding:

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These are my friends Malia and Althea, and when I saw this photo I just thought “Too much pattern!”  Aren’t we colorful?  Anyway, the hair is basically a pixie with extra length on the top.  I can do it like a regular pixie with bangs (think Michelle Williams) or in a fun quasi pompadour (think the singer Pink, but without the sides being shaved.)  That’s how I have it here.

I haven’t been sewing, and I probably won’t do much until this session is over (August 1st!)  We’re going to see my best friend get her PhD from the University of Florida in August (yes, Florida in August) between sessions.

I did buy myself a Nintendo 3DS for my birthday this week:
3ds xl

Pink/white naturally.  I’ve been gaming more because it’s something that doesn’t require concentration after hours of writing or studying.  Well… at least not frustrating concentration.  I do want to make myself a zippered case for it, so hopefully I will get to sew that this week!

I’d also like to make a quilt for our bedroom – we are buying a new bedroom suite and redoing everything in the fall.  I’m thinking of buying a latex foam mattress, so if anyone has any feedback on that let me know… I specifically don’t want memory foam because of the heat issue, but I like the feel of the latex.

I hope you are all well – I will be back soon, even if it’s without any new sewing!

Simplicity 1615

Simplicity 1615
Pattern:Simplicty 1615

Fabric:: Swiss Dot lawn from Joann Fabrics

Notes:

This was one of my favorite of the new Summer Simplicity patterns, so I knew I had to make it up right away!

I’ve seen a lot of woven tops in the stores this season.  There are still plenty of knits of course (and my next top is a knit!) but the blouse seems to be having a moment.  I hardly own any blouses, as I have a very hard time finding the right length in the quality I prefer.  I have a long torso and shorter legs, plus I’m pear shaped and I prefer tops to cover past my widest part (if I’m wearing with slim pants, as I am here).  Making tops means I can add length.  I added 3 inches to this one, though I might remove and inch.  I’m undecided, as I pretty much love it the way it is, even if it is a little longer than some of my shirts!

The collar, which is invisible on the pattern cover, is the nicest bit:
Simplicity 1615

It was much simpler than I thought it would be!  I constructed the straight seams on the serger, and made my own bias tape to enclose the neckline.  The shirt has a really nice clean finish on the interior.  I like the sleeve detail:

Simplicity 1615 detail

The fabric is a lightweight cotton lawn/swiss dot that I found on the clearance table at Joann’s.  It’s slightly sheer, but not too bad.

I really love this top – it feels modern, but with the print it still feels like me!   This is not an outfit I would have ever worn 2 years ago… it’s funny how things change!

Next up: Vogue 8866 (the skirted version) in a kelly green bamboo jersey.

 Simplicity 1615