Mission: project table




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!

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!

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!



Found my coat fabric!

After checking all my usual suppliers with no inspiration, this popped up at FabricMart:

Houndstooth suiting

It’s just what I wanted for my coat – I have another houndstooth coat (gray and royal blue) that I wear more than any other.  I wanted something fun, and all the suitings I found were too plain for what I was imagining.

They also had great prices on some ponte knits:

This ponte will become this new Chado Ralph Rucci dress:

I bought a few other colors, one of which will become this new look pattern:

I like the rolled collar.  Finally, they are having 50% off solid knits, so I got this knit:


To make this tunic:

My fall plans are shaping up nicely!  I have cut my shantung blouse and my concert dress.  I hope to finish one this weekend!




Fall/winter sewing 2012

Bet you wondered if I was going to sew curtains forever!  I finished my last 2 sets this past weekend, and while there will be more later on, I want to stop and work on my wardrobe for a few weeks.  Pictures of the completed living room are coming this weekend – I am not exaggerating when I say that it’s like I live in a different house now – I love it!

Having said that, I’m not super excited with the fall patterns, though there were a few that I loved.  And my life has changed so much – I’m working outside the house again, which means I need more professional type pieces than before.  It’s easy for me to fall into the trap of wearing whatever I see first, but I’m really trying not to – I know that I feel better in general if I put in a little effort.  With that in mind, I’m trying to identify holes in my wardrobe and fill them.

I like to ask myself these questions when working on wardrobe planning:

1. What image do I want to project?

I firmly believe that the way you dress makes a difference in how you are perceived by the world.  I don’t want to get into whether that’s fair or not (hint: it’s not, especially as pertains to women).  Having said that, I find that as an introvert (thanks for the comments on my last post – I am feeling better!) that it helps me to imagine myself filling a role.  As a musician and actor, this sort of thinking comes naturally.  Right now my concerns are two-fold:  I want to appear confident and competent, but I also want to be approachable.

2. How do I want to feel?

It’s not just about the outside – clothes affect your mood.  I always want to be comfortable, but I don’t wish to feel messy or sloppy.  I’m not interested in being uncomfortable for fashion, because I think you can be fashionable without torturing yourself.

3.  What are the practical considerations?

I have to walk a fair bit, sometimes in cold weather.  I don’t like to wear anything that is tight around the ribcage (for breathing).  I prefer sleeves, and can’t understand why women’s clothing doesn’t seem to come with them anymore.  If I make something with short sleeves I have to wear a sweater all the time (or not wear the item at all.)  I don’t like to wear black because I have a long haired cat.

I find that these three questions help me to narrow my focus.  After that I go through my closet and donate anything that doesn’t make me feel that way (I always recommend doing this with a friend – I know I’m not objective about things that I’ve made!)  I have that planned for this weekend, and after that I’ll have a better idea of the state of my wardrobe.

Off to think about patterns…


Scattered thoughts

I cannot seem to settle down to do any one thing this week!  Now that graduation is over I seem to have acres of free time, but also tons of things to fill all my free time with.  So it’s time for another post of scattered thoughts – if I wait until I can come up with a single topic I know I won’t post for a week!

– I think I need to sew some tops.  It’s been challenging this month, in part because I have so few tops for warm weather.  I love knit tops, so I need to get up and make some!  I’m having some trouble deciding on what to make next.  Look for a post soon on my plans!

– My husband and I are traveling to Minneapolis/st. Paul in a few weeks for my Godson’s baptism.  We plan to travel through Chicago, Milwaulkee and probably Madison, so  any suggestions for fabric stores along that route are more than welcome – I’m definitely planning on dragging Marc there!   In addition, I might be interested in a meetup, but it depends on my schedule.  Graduation has caused me to be slow at planning!

– I have acquired new electronics again.  It’s funny, because my husband is the computer guy, but I’m the one who always wants all the gadgets!  My Mom bought me a Kindle touch for a graduation present and I love it.  I’ve become a little obsessed with it, to tell you the truth! I’ve downloaded a ton a free classic books to it.  Currently I’m reading “Three Men in a boat“.  How have I missed this book?  Highly recommended for fans of British humor.  I also got a PSP, because I am behind the times, but I figured it would be good for travel (besides the trip this summer I’m looking at a long choir tour in Europe (Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) in the spring.)  I love to travel, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity.

– I finished P90x – woo!  I gained a lot of strength through the program – I went from being able to do 4 pushups on my toes to 18, and now I can do full pull-ups.  I’d recommend the program to anyone looking for a solid strength program.  Be aware though that there are some limitations, as follows:

– I did all the weight workouts as proscribed (3x per week.)  There were a few weeks where I was feeling bad so I skipped the repeat of the exercises.  Most of the videos are structured so that it’s easy to do a half workout rotation just by skipping the repeats (or in the leg workout skipping the back sections, as there is another back video).

– Speaking of that legs video, you will do it every week, and that is a lot.  I got pretty tired of it at the end, but I do think it’s a decent workout.  There were a few weeks I subbed a barre workout instead.  It’s mostly unweighted (or light weights) so I feel that works.

– I only did the YogaX dvd once.  Instead I subbed other yoga (I joined “My yoga online” and really love it!)   It do think yoga helps, and I’m glad this got me started.  I try to do it twice a week now.

– I hardly did any cardio.  The weather has been nice, so I walk everywhere, and I call that good enough.  I didn’t notice any adverse effects from that, though I’m sure I should do more.

– Now that I’ve finished P90x I plan to start Cathe Friedrich’s STS (I have some of her step and strength dvds and love them.)  I probably won’t start until after our trip, as I’m too busy right now!

And… that’s all for tonight.  I haven’t had time to sew this week, but I hope to catch some time soon.  Things are generally slower for me in the summer, but I’m not sure that’s going to be the case this year.

MMM roundup week 2: Style Evolution

So far me-made May has been a tougher challenge than I expected.  I certainly have plenty of handmade clothes, but I find myself reluctant to wear some of them.  I have come to the realization that my personal style has changed quite a bit in the past few years!

When I started sewing I was mainly excited to have more dresses, and specifically pretty sundresses.  I made a ton of them, and while I think they are pretty in the abstract I don’t find myself reaching for them.

Fashion I am loving right now:

1. Graphic prints
2. Black/white/gray with a strong pop of color
3. Maxi dresses
4. Unstructured knit dresses and tunics
5. Skinny jeans and pants
6. Flats and wedges

What I’m not feeling:

1. Florals
2. Dresses/tops with back ties or sashes
3. Super fitted/structured garments
4. Sandals and heels

With those in mind, here are my outfits from the second week of me-made May along with commentary:

Me-made item: Simplicity 2219

Comments: This dress remains my favorite handmade item ever, and no I am not exaggerating!  I love the print, which is interesting without being overwhelming, and the style of the dress itself is very graceful.  In fact, why haven’t I made another of these?  I think I will have to put that on my list!

Pattern review: I loved this pattern, but after making it I do have one comment.  If you use a knit with lycra it will stretch over time.  I’ve taken it up at the shoulders twice, and I’m about to do the hem again.  I reinforced all my seams, but this is just a lot of fabric!

Me-made item: Colette patterns Beignet skirt

Comments: I’m surprised by how much I still love this skirt, and how well made it is (it was my third project.)  Colette patterns have super instructions!  I love this outfit – the stripes go well with the yellow.  I would rather have a different shirt, but I’m eternally low on solid colored tops.

Pattern comments: I would not make another skirt from cotton twill – this wrinkles are epic by the end of the day, and it does not stretch at all, leading to a slightly odd look when sitting.  The lining has shrunk slightly unevenly, and is now prone to sticking out of the bottom when I sit.  I’m thinking of removing it entirely, as it doesn’t help with wrinkling and I don’t wear this in the winter!

Me-made item: Simplicity 2443 (dress and jacket)

Comments: This outfit doesn’t really work for me.  The blue of the jacket doesn’t go with the dress, and both pieces work better with other items in my wardrobe.  I keep trying to wear these sandals, but I just don’t like them (or sandals in general for some reason – I own very few!)

Pattern comments: I’ve made it twice, so I must like it!  I actually wear the grey version of this dress more often, but I love the blue as well.  The jacket never fails to get compliments, but I don’t really like it with the dress in the pattern.  It’s too boxy with the gathered skirt.

Me-made item: Vogue 1179 (dress)

Comments: I like this outfit.  It’s comfortable for teaching but still professional, a difficult balance.  The shoes are keds with wedge heels – love them!  The cardigan is by Rachael Roy and is my favorite in the world.  I’m so glad the style has gone to long cardigans again!

Pattern comments: This pattern is awesome.  I’ve helped a few other people make one as well, and it looks great on everyone!  I want to make another in the future.

Me-made item: the obi belt (and I also altered the dress pretty heavily from its original state.)

Comments:  I wear this outfit pretty often – it’s one of my current favorites.  The dress is a knit, so it’s comfortable, and the belt makes it more interesting (it’s a bit dull on its own.)  I love the bateau neckline – why don’t I own more of them?

Pattern comments: I’ve made this belt twice.  This version gets worn more often, but I love them both.  I want to make one out of leather!

Me-made item: Vogue 8469 (dress)

Comments: This is an example of an outfit that doesn’t feel like me anymore.  This dress is only a year old, but I have to admit that even when I made it originally I had doubts.  I don’t like to use the phrase “too young,” as I pretty much think you should wear whatever makes you happy.  What I am thinking is: not sophisticated enough.  The print makes it cutesy, and the thick black band (and back tie, which you can’t see) make it seem a little cheap to me.  I love color and pattern, but this one doesn’t do it for me – it feels like wearing a costume.

Pattern comments: See the above paragraph.  I think this pattern has a tendency to look a little too home-ec for my taste, and I don’t recommend it.

Me-made item: Simplicity 2603 (cardigan)

Comments: I know, pants!  One thing I’ve been trying to do this year is incorporate more silhouettes into my style, and pants are a big one.  I like them, but I do have a hard time finding well fitted jeans.  These are from NY and Co, and I think they fit me because they are a petite (I am all torso.)  I like this outfit, even the pairing of the pink wrap with the brown top.

Pattern comments: Hasn’t everyone made one of these?  It’s a great pattern, but if I made another I would go for the shorter version.  This one can only be worn tied.

I’ve also used the gel-nail system I bought myself twice more since I posted.  I thought I would post them for anyone interested – feel free to ignore!  The first manicure lasted 2 weeks!  The second lasted only 4 days, but that’s my fault – if you use regular polish between the layers it must be completely dry before topcoating, and I got impatient.

This is a neon purple (by Massini, a brand I can only find at Meijer stores) topped with a Konad stamp in zebra print.  You can see I had trouble getting the black stamp excess off my cuticles, but that’s ok – it didn’t last that long anyway!

This is Misa “Hot People like you,” a sheer neon pink with a little shimmer.  I used two coats of that, then used 2 coats of a black/silver glitter, and finished with another coat of the pink.  I read about this on a nail blog – it’s called a jelly sandwich, with glitter in between.  I really like it!