Variations on a Dream

The American Dream – the white picket fence around the suburban house, with 2.5 kids and a dog and two cars. It’s what everyone strives for – everyone except me! An urban girl, I’ve always preferred renting and letting someone else deal with repairs and maintenance and yard work. I know, I know – renting is wasting money, blah blah blah. I’ve heard it for decades. Homeownership simply hasn’t held the allure for me that is has for millions of others.

And yet – The Mechanic and I are now Homeowners!!! It’s quite the mind shift for me, honestly, and I feel somewhat like I’ve given into that suburban lifestyle I’ve never wanted. But I’m perfectly happy – apparently my version of the American Dream turns out to be a pre-WWII two-story townhouse, trio of very fluffy rabbits, and a fleet of bicycles. We’ve actually been talking about buying a place since this time last year, and we finally found a place we love. It’s a two-story townhouse with a back deck overlooking green space. We will have a yard we don’t have to spend every weekend working on, hurray! It’s not a large place, but thanks to it’s pre-war design, square rooms, one bathroom and a small-ish kitchen, the rooms are larger than the modern apartment we currently live in with the same square footage. We are no longer walking distance to a Metro station, but the grocery store, cafes, restaurants and many bus lines are very nearby. It’s exciting to think of the possibilities of what we can do with this place!

Our new view!

Old townhouse equals old and gorgeous trees

The first thing we did was buy new dishes. New home = new look!The fluffy trio will stay at the foster mom’s until we move and then join us. The Mechanic is busy adding an “attic” to Gaston’s Tavern, so the threesome will have more space to run around when we aren’t home. We’ve been visiting our bunkids as often as we can. Gaston is definitely warming up and getting braver, but we haven’t seen him snuggle with Sullivan and Quinn yet. It’s only been two weeks – I’m not worried.

Oh my goodness, they beg like small dogs!

Breakfasting together

A friend said Gaston picked the angora siblings to be his body guards. I can see it, can’t you?

I’ve had to pack all my sewing stuff of course, so I won’t get anything done for a while. I don’t mind not getting my stuff done (lie, I totally do) but I am disappointed that the baby clothes I plan to make for some friends won’t be done before their different baby showers. Fabric swatches aren’t as fun as gifts as the finished product!

See you soon, my lovelies!

It might be a while before I get a chance to blog again, but there will be tons to update you on when I do!

So much green space around our new home!

 

 

 

 

Hoppy October!

No, that’s not a typo – this is really a hoppy October. I’ve been MIA the last few weeks because Gaston has been dating, and that has honestly taken up all my free time. My sewing projects laying neglected, but I have had some fun reflective fashion arrive. October will be all about the bunnies. Sounds like a hashtag, doesn’t it?

The Mechanic and I decided this summer that Gaston needed a friend. I love how much time he wants to spend with us, but feel bad when we don’t have the time. Rabbits are very social animals and wild rabbits live in warrens with dozens of family members. Why shouldn’t Gaston have a companion? So after much discussion and research, we approached the local rabbit rescue about bunny dating.  We took Gaston two different times to meet some eligible bunny bachelorettes.

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After Gaston met eight females (missed a photo of one) and pretty much ignored most of them, we joked about introducing him to a pair. And of course – he fell instantly in love with the largest, fluffiest angora siblings, Sullivan and Quinn. The Mechanic and I were in shock – we were not really prepared to bring home *two* more rabbits! But Gaston seemed so happy, and after having seen him with the others, well, how could we deny our bun-son? These English angoras are about 7lbs, compared to Gaston’s 3lbs, and just as fluffy and sweet as can be. Their foster mom said that Sullivan, the boy, loves to be held. Good thing too, since we’ll need to brush them every day! The angora’s foster mom took all three rabbits home with her to do the bonding. We hate not having them with us, but luckily, she lives nearby and we have been able to visit. It seems like it is going well, faster than the average of four weeks. Hopefully they can come home soon, one big happy fluffy family.Be sure to follow their adventures on Instagram @fluff_and_ears

In between driving Gaston around on his dates, I’ve lined up my fall sewing projects. I’m only planning two, since there will be so much other stuff going. The first will be a black floral peasant dress with reflective ribbon on the sleeves and hem, and reflective bias in the yoke seams.

The second, largest and most exciting project will be a coat with the Dashing Tweeds fabric I bought in London this past May. I’ve never made a coat, and will for sure be making a muslin first for fit. I don’t have enough for the full coat, so I’ll use it for the sleeves, collar and back belt.

And I finally achieved one of my sartorial goals – I finally purchased a Vespertine NYC blazer (I think I got the last black one). It’s so cool! I love it!

Fits great, good for work, and reflects perfectly on the bike! (sorry for the blurry image…)

I also ordered some reflective fabric, elastic and grosgrain ribbon from Mood Fabrics. That stash arrived the same day as the Vespertine blazer. #reflectivelove !

This isn’t reflective but also super cool – my Lorica Scudamore printed armor leggings finally arrived! I backed these  on Kickstarter months ago and they finally arrived. I can’t wait to wear them (I’m just not sure where….)!

So Hoppy October, everyone! Stay tuned for further adventures of bunnies, sewing and reflective fashion!

Onward to Autumn!

Welcome to the unofficial start of Autumn! Hope you enjoyed the Labor Day weekend!

September started off with a preview of what’s to come this fall – cooler temperatures, rainy weather and pumpkin flavors. It’s not fall without some crazy pumpkin flavored foods, is it?!

I do love pumpkin spice things, similarly to the way I love chai tea, so I do look forward to pumpkin beers and fall flavored things. Yes, unless the pumpkin!

Unleash the Pumpkin!

But I do draw the line somewhere – I’m just not sure about pumpkin spice pudding, and this atomic pumpkin spice beer might be a spice too far for me. I’m not the only one to think this trend has gone on for too long, but I know I won’t bail to the maple-flavored everything trend. Not a huge fan of maple.

I was pretty excited to find Dole Whip at our local Nando’s Peri-Peri, however. I just love this light pineapple-flavored soft serve. I’ve only had it before at Disney World or Disneyland, so it brings back memories of those trips. While this past weekend was Labor Day, it was also The Mechanic’s birthday weekend. He has been sick but we still managed a small celebration. I brought home vegan cookies from Bakeshop VA, a local bakery, not because we are vegan, but because the bakery sells several different kinds of vegan cookies and I was curious. Our highly scientific experiment proved that they are just as tasty as non-vegan cookies. And for his birthday dinner, we both opted for Belgian beers. No crazy pumpkin beers for us! (Yet.)

An unintentional ironic pairing, for anyone who knows their French history….

But before you begin to wonder if I’ve suddenly become a food blogger, not to worry! Sewing did in fact happen this weekend as well.

I made a skirt out of the IKEA fabric I recently purchased and wore it out the same day, to dinner with The Mechanic. It was cool and rainy so I sadly accessorized with boots and a blazer. (When you walk places instead of drive, proper footwear is key.) Although I didn’t quite get the box pleats right, and it only has a token reflective ribbon loop on the waistband, I really love the skirt. I think this will be a great all-season option.

I had hoped to get my Liberty of London Stars blouse completed this weekend as well, but I seem to be battling The Mechanic’s cold (nooooooooo!) and my brain was not thinking right. What I got done took probably twice as long as it normally would. I just need to finish it this month, because it looks like our schedules are going to get busy, despite our best efforts to the contrary. September is National Sewing Month (huzzah!) and I am participating in Sew Photo Hop again. It’s an Instagram challenge with a daily topic. I’m not sure how it will go but keep an eye on my Instagram account to follow along. I really enjoy this more to see what everyone else posts, rather than sharing my sewing. I redid my mood board over the weekend as well, and as The Mechanic said, “it’s so dark!” I’m not sure why I’m so drawn to dark florals and celestial prints when I normally prefer rich fall colors for cold weather. Time for a change, I guess. And isn’t that what a new season is all about?

Summer’s Last Gasp

We all know that at least here in the DC area, there will be a random week at the end of September or mid-October when summer roars back to life and brings on the heat. However, Labor Day weekend is pretty much the end of summer for everyone, even if you don’t have kids going back to school.

And I spent some time last week with local teachers gearing up for back-to-school, which gave me the “summer’s over” feelings even more. However, I did get to see the eclipse with the teachers. Nothing like watching a scientific event with a bunch of educators! I didn’t have a pair of glasses, but teachers shared, and anyway, I almost enjoyed the low tech ways of seeing it anyway. The shadows on the ground from the tree leaves, a colander and a pinhole were really cool. The tree leaf shadows made me think of fabric prints.

I didn’t plan this for back to school but I do have a fun new hairstyle for it. I didn’t realize I had a hair cut scheduled for this weekend, fun! My salon has a light that makes me look amazing, so I snuck a selfie while my stylist took photos for her portfolio. I love changing up my hairstyles.The Mechanic and I took a field trip to IKEA over the weekend as well. And look! They had the IKEA bikes set up! Naturally we spent some time playing with them and analyzing the features. I almost bought the pannier/backpack they sell but as it was plain black, I decided against it. But it’s great that they offer everything from that to helmets to small pumps to U-locks, as well as the bikes and all the accessories. We didn’t buy anything at IKEA, well, not much. I bought a jar and some fabric. That’s right, fabric! I’ve always studied the fabrics when we go but I couldn’t resist this print. It’s on a rather heavy twill so I think I will simply box pleat it onto a waistband and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll line it as well, but I’m not sure. Looking ahead at the calendar for the next few months, I’ve realized that I won’t have much time to sew <weep>. Time to focus on the fall/winter projects. I have several lined up, so I have to make sure I FOCUS on what I really want to get done. I’m taking classes two weekends in a row from the store where I purchased my new sewing machine. They offer “getting to know your new machine” classes, and although I’ve already made a bunch of stuff with it, I’m sure there will be plenty to learn. Then I can focus on my winter coat and a brocade jacket. But first, I just need to finish this blouse, made with the Liberty of London print I purchased in the spring when we were in London. Then the IKEA skirt. But then no more distractions! Winter is coming and I need to be prepared!The other thing that happened this past weekend has nothing to do with summer – it was the first anniversary of Gaston’s Adoption Day! Although he wasn’t feeling well for most of the day, he eventually bounced back and has mostly forgiven us for picking him up and shoving meds in his mouth. It’s amazing how a little fluffy 3lb rabbit can change our lives in one year. I look forward to many more.

Love this sweet fluffy boy!

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Settling the Sewing

Well, that was chaotic! And a bit of a disaster. The Mechanic and I moved into our new apartment, only to discover that it has a fatal flaw: a low, sustained, throbbing noise, apparently from a mechanical closet that backs up to one side of our apartment. It’s like having a very large idling truck right next to your bed. So after we got everything more or less settled, we realized we can’t sleep with that noise, so we swapped bedrooms – now our bed is in the larger bedroom, further from the noise, while our craft equipment is crammed into the smaller room next to the loud noise. I guess when the sewing machine is going, maybe I won’t hear it? I’m not sure what we are going to do but at least we can’t hear it as loudly in the larger bedroom.  : (

Poor little Gaston has had a hard time settling into the new place. I’m not sure how the noise is affecting him, but the other night we woke up to him frantically thumping (a warning or distress noise for rabbits), and came out to find him running around the living room – somehow he busted out of his pen! He goes back and forth between content and unhappy. I’m unhappy at the idea that our noise apartment is bothering him. The low drumming bothers us, how can it not bother him?

I returned from New Orleans to find some fabric orders waiting for me. One was polar fleece for new rabbit blankets, but the other two were exciting. One was the Charley Harper Western Birds quilting cotton I ordered months ago from Fabricworm.com – this new collection was delayed forever and I was thrilled to learn it was finally shipping. However….. the print is MUCH larger than I was expecting. I was thinking the birds were about an inch, inch and a half, perfect for a small print blouse. But no – they are huge!

Not really blouse fabric. Now what do I do with it?!

The other fabrics I ordered after seeing an Instagram sewing friend make a fabulous dress with one. You know me and florals – I can’t resist them! I ordered this wildflower print rayon from Blackbird Fabrics in both the black and the white. I think I know what I want to make with the black, but the white I will save for next summer.

SO lovely! (spotted in the corner – the polar fleece for bunnies)

All the fall clothing is beginning to appear now, even though we probably have three more months of warm weather. I’m amused to see that several companies have denim shirt dresses prominently displayed.

I like the denim button front dress I made last year but I don’t love it, so I’m considering making another one. Maybe something a bit more bike friendly, ie, with a fuller skirt. Although I did bike to friends’ wedding anniversary cocktail party in my bug-bejeweled Victoria Beckham for Target Little Black Dress last weekend – who needs to drive when going to a party?! (PS – Spanx help more than just sucking in one’s tummy! If one needed to, that is… )

I spotted this blouse in Target:

Love this!

It gives me some flashbacks to my childhood and Laura Ashley and my obsession with the Little House on the Prairie books (NOT the TV show), which I loved. The fabric is fun, the polka dotted piping is fun, and obviously you can see where I’d put reflective piping. I just need to find a pattern for this – anyone know of a close match?

I’m anxious to get back to sewing but the sewing space is barely set up. I decided to use the setting up process as a good time to prioritize stuff, sort out fabric scraps, decided if I really need my paper fashion scrap books, etc. Then I need to register for the “Getting to know your sewing machine” classes at the store where I purchased my new Husqvarna Viking. Although I’ve made several things since I bought it, I’m sure I’ll learn a ton from the classes, so I need to do that. But by then, it will be mid-September. I guess I need to start my fall and winter projects, and put the rest of my summer things away for a while. I think I need to sew faster!

My half of the craft room – same stuff, almost the same floor plan.

Questionable Calm Before the Moving Storm

You know the saying, “When it rains, it pours.” Actually, here in the Washington, DC, area, that’s a fact, not just a saying. Saturday AND Sunday both had crazy rain storms with absolutely pouring rain. The Mechanic and I were driving to a friend’s party Saturday (yes, we drive sometimes) and watched that storm roll in. It was pretty cool, I have to say. Until it started to pour.

Doom over DC

The storm I was actually referring to is the upcoming weekend and next week. I am heading to my association’s annual international conference on Saturday (woot, New Orleans!) and then we are moving to a different apartment in our current complex, then we plan to adopt a rabbit buddy for Gaston. All in the span of a week. And since the move is happening while I’m at aforementioned conference, The Mechanic will be doing it all himself, and I need to have all my stuff packed before I head to the conference. Trying. Not. To. Panic.

Time for a bunny buddy!

But before I could pack up my sewing stuff, I had to finish the dress I had started. I didn’t want to move it unfinished, and besides, I might want to take it to New Orleans. Originally I purchased the McCalls 7597 pattern with the idea of doing the contrast bib and back yoke with reflective fabric and the Charley Harper cotton I pre-ordered earlier this year. However, when Britex Fabrics tweeted a photo of this blue fish rayon, I had to have it, and knew what to do with it.

I briefly considered making the waist tie out of the gray reflective camo fabric, then considered putting some of the blue reflective fabric in the yoke seam and front bib seam. In the end, the gray reflective piping I ordered ages ago turned out to be perfect; it blends in perfectly.

I am a bit disappointed by the fit. I very carefully checked the shoulders and the length and the waist location, and altered to what I thought would work better, and of course, I was wrong. I probably didn’t need to widen the shoulders, and I don’t think I needed to drop the waist. I widened the sleeve but in adjusting the armhole to coordinate, something went wrong and the sleeves now are gathered into place, rather than eased. I really wished I’d lengthened it a bit as well – it’s just a tad bit shorter than I’d like. None of these are major problems, and I’m sure it all looks fine on me, but I am annoyed that once again, I tried to get something to fit right, and it doesn’t. But whatever – I can fix these things if I make the pattern again. And anyway, it’s done and it is perfect for summer.

Had to add a straw hat! Here you can see the reflective trim reflecting.

Reflective across the back reflecting as well. Not quite as full across the hips as I’d hoped. Hope I can swing my leg over my bike’s top tube!

So this will be my last blog post written from this apartment <sniff>.  I really like this but look forward to the next one. No stompy upstairs neighbors, as we’ll be on the top floor, and a lovely grassy courtyard full of trees to look out over. I might post something from New Orleans, but the conferences usually are pretty busy, so probably not. Maybe we’ll have a new bunny when I write next! We plan on taking Gaston to a few shelters when we get back, to let him pick out a new friend.

Once this bike is finished being refurbished, it will be perfect with my new dress!

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Spontaneously Staycationing But Not Sewing

Happy July! Hard to believe that 2017 is halfway over, isn’t it? I haven’t gotten anywhere near the amount of sewing done that I’d hoped for this year. My plans for some June sewing while staycationing sort of flew out the window too, due to some last minute, quite spontaneous outings with The Mechanic. Even though I’m sad at the loss of my sewing time, spending time with The Mechanic is never a bad thing. : )

Staycation Day 1 – Part of the beginning of my staycation was dedicated to my volunteer work for my association, but then The Mechanic and I had a dinner date. Walking home from where the Lyft driver dropped us off (because I still haven’t figured out how to update my home location and didn’t pay attention when scheduling the ride…), we saw the teeny-ist, tiny-ist wild rabbit. Of course I had to stop and take pictures of it. Probably a teen bunny, it was smaller than Gaston, and totally unafraid of us. It was adorable to watch it groom, but such an unafraid bunny might not last long in the Arlington wilds. Still, I loved watching it.

Okay, maybe I was stalking it…

Staycation Day 2 – we biked to brunch at our favorite spot, Silver Diner. We love Silver Diner because it has such a range of vegetarian and vegan meal options. Even in the Washington, DC, metro region, it’s hard to find restaurants with decent veggie options. When a previously scheduled conference call was cancelled at somewhat the last minute, The Mechanic and I hopped Metro to the National Mall. Although our destination was the National Museum of the American Indian, we wandered through the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, taking place alone the Mall. I am not a huge fan of circuses, but it was fun to see all the circus exhibits set up – we missed most of the performances, however. After exploring the NMAI, we wandered along the Mall until we stumbled upon a lucky find – the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building was being used for the FolkLife Festival Marketplace! This building is normally closed to the public, due to renovations, but it’s my favorite building on the Mall, and of course I jumped at the chance to go in.

The Arts and Industries Building, opened in 1881. It was reopened as a special events location in 2015, after being closed for 12 years.

Through the marketing place and circus school, you could see signs of renovation work, and a series of photos near the restrooms showed what it had once looked like.

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Staycation Day 3 – This day was completely and 100% spontaneous. A friend of The Mechanic’s texted to see if we wanted to go sailing with him on his father-in-law’s 54′ sail boat. Um, yes!!! (Of course, that did require an emergency run to Target – I don’t (didn’t) own shorts, and figured that they would be more practical on a boat than a skirt – and since I didn’t have time or fabric to make a pair, well, fast fashion it was.) I love sailing, I love the ocean, I love the Chesapeake Bay, and harbors and, well, nautical style, despite my dislike for sun damage. Armed in a rash guard from Lands’ End, a wide-brimmed hat and lots of mineral sunscreen, I enjoyed a quite leisurely sail with three other people into St. Michael’s, MD.

Who needs to know anything about sailing when the hi tech boat does almost all of it on its own?!?

I love the choppy water, too, so I was happy as a clam when we sailed back into the wind. I find it very peaceful, somehow.

Staycation Day 4 – Deciding to invite friends over meant a morning of mad cleaning, but the reward was a spotless apartment when our friends arrived. And an leisurely evening of reading after they left.

Staycation Day 5 – With all the housecleaning done, I had time to sew, but alas, ran into many complications and had to stop. I made a muslin of Butterick 5602 (Version C) and since I didn’t have a long enough zipper, I had The Mechanic help me pin it. Then I realized that the denim lace fabric will need something sheer-ish for a hem faching, to preserve the sheerness. Then I realized that my white interfacing will show, then that fusible (woven) interfacing will be gross and tacky (probably literally), so I need to find something else. And that although I ordered an invisible zipper, the way the lining is constructed isn’t very invisible zipper friendly, and I’ll have to either rethink how to put in the lining, or use a regular zipper. Bah. So – basically I can’t finish my denim lace dress any time soon.

Another muslin from my old bed sheet!

Disappointing to end five days off without a new finished garment, but look at all the fun we had!

It’s now a new fiscal year in my office, and the beginning of the second half of the year. Somehow it seems like New Years all over again. I’m glad I had some time to staycation, because the rest of this summer doesn’t seem to be slowing down! I think every weekend is booked until September. So much for spontaneous!

Mermaids are spontaneous, right? LOL

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Time to Sew and Think

Use-or-lose PTO expiring in June means taking extra time off this month. Initially, The Mechanic and I discussed going back to Shepherdstown for our third wedding anniversary last week, but in the end, opted against it. So I used some PTO for a mini sewing staycation instead.

Mini champagne “tasting” and fancy desserts for a low-key third anniversary

I was probably both overly ambitious with my plans and less efficient than I could be, so I did not actually achieve all my goals for the extended weekend. I did some sewing, made a Shutterfly photo album gift for a friend, visited with friends, hung out with Gaston, and had lots of time alone with my thoughts.

Sewing

I am pleased with my sewing accomplishments, however. I made a fun new dress from McCalls 6886 and the scuba knit I impulsively ordered from Mood Fabrics earlier this year. I call this my crowd-sourced dress because I kept asking questions on Instagram about designing it – fellow sewists recommended this pattern over a more complicated one, and the scoop neck over the crew neck. I think they were right on both accounts. As my second sewing project on my new sewing machine, it was also the perfect way to learn how it handles stretch fabrics. Thankfully and unsurprisingly, it is soooo much better than my old machine! The dress turned out great, and although the fabric doesn’t breathe much (okay, not at all), it will be perfect for work, and probably not terrible to bike to work in if the weather is decent.

Accessorized with my fabulous boots from Cordings London and my Heidi Sturgess rabbit purse, also from London

I even used the label Mood sent with the fabric! #madewithmood

The other sewing project I completed was altering the corduroy trousers I made last month. Although I love the color and super soft corduroy, they were too big around the hips and waist, and the waistband did not lie flat. So I took off the waistband, made deeper pleats in the front, took out about an inch for a swayback alteration, and replaced the zipper. (I totally forgot to get an invisible zipper foot when I bought my new machine!) I redrew the waistband to reflect what I’d pinned out, and although it looked rather extreme, it worked out perfectly. Of course, as these things go, I didn’t have enough fabric for both sides of the waistband, so I used lining for the facing, and then I didn’t have enough interfacing of any kind, so it’s a pretty wimpy waistband. But I’m much happier with the pants now, and look forward to wearing them.

 

They are subtle but they are there! Bicycles on the waistband! I should have used contrasting thread.

Thinking

In between bursts of sewing, I did a lot of thinking. It’s nice to have time to think, not distracted by daily life (aka, work). I always feel frantic, rushing from work to home to work to home, and sometimes I just need time away from it all. (Seriously, how do parents manage it all?!?) The Mechanic prefers to camp when he needs time alone; I prefer to sew and read and watch British television shows. I just needed time to think about where life is going and in which direction do I want it to move.

Saturday night sewing with Gaston and Father Brown, while The Mechanic was camping and mountain biking

I’ve been at my job for just over five years now, and although I certainly don’t know it all, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and I’m sort of ready to move on. I feel like this is a personality flaw – it’s hard for me to stick to just one thing. Through learning about transportation demand management, and doing outreach to people about their transportation choices, I’ve come across so many other really interesting topics and ideas, and I want to explore those. Overall sustainability is top of the list, and through sewing and this growing interest, I’ve learned more about sustainable fabrics, a field I’m definitely interested in exploring. Then there is general behavior change and all the psychology around that; I’ve always been interested in *why* people do what they do. And I can’t help but feeling like I’d like to return to history as a field, or maybe public history and museum studies. And always the thought – how do I make a positive impact on the world?

Alas, all my thinking was merely that, thinking. I didn’t come up with a plan or a decision or a new goal (well, a new goal beyond moving to Europe someday). Do I feel more relaxed, from all my time off and sewing and thinking? Hm…. maybe. Maybe if I’d actually gotten more done, or finished a book or something. I did, however, come up with a plan for my next sewing projects! Between now and the end of July I want to finish my star Liberty of London blouse and a shift dress with the denim lace fabric from Marcy Tilton. Maybe it’s better to just stick to the sewing and do less thinking.

What’s Better Than New Bike Day?

What is possibly better than New Bike Day? New Sewing Machine Day!!!

My “inheritance” from my grandfather, who died last December, was the funding for the sewing machine of my dreams to replace my 27-year-old machine. After some research, and a trip to a sewing machine store, I settled on the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965Q. My old sewing machine has gone many places with me, including three years around the world when I was the wardrobe supervisor for Disney On Ice in the mid-late 90s. But as I’ve gotten more and more into sewing, the 10 stitches and 1 button hole option just weren’t enough. And I didn’t initially think I needed a computerized sewing machine, but boy of boy, what a different world! I was sold after a 45 minute demo of all the features. Okay, honestly, what sold me was that it comes with a pre-programmed bicycle stitch!

The bike stitch on a different model Sapphire

Saturday, the Mechanic and I went out to Bonny’s Sewing & Fabric, in Alexandria, VA, to pick up the machine. Yes, I sat with it on my lap on the way home! It’s so much bigger than my White Jeans machine – look at them all together! One of the other selling points of this machine is the long arm and the wide open space to spread fabric out. I can keep my pin cushion on the machine and still have space left!The first thing I did was to add a travel key chain to the stylus of the machine, to make it easier not to lose it. The key chain isn’t a great fit but I like the way the leaf gives it a sort of elven feel. The machine has a built-in needle threader and a magnifying glass in the bobbin cover – both great features to have, especially as I’m now 27 years older than when I got my first machine, and well, er, really need those features! Other amazing features, which may be more common to less fancy machines, are the auto-tension feature, the fact that I can pick my fabric type and stitch, and the machine will suggest not only the stitch length and width, but also the foot and needle, and show me where the needle will start the stitch. So amazing!!!

I spent the rest of Saturday reading the manual and play around with different stitch options. Not only can I stitch bicycles, I can do my Twitter name, the blog post name, appliques with reflective fabric, stitch on buttons, create mirror images of stitches, and super cool buttonholes. Sunday, I felt ready to put what I’d learned to the test, and what better way to practice new skills than to sew something?!? I had the Salme Patterns Angel Sleeve Top pattern ready to go, so I whipped that up. It was super easy to sew, although I complicated it by doing French seams. In slate blue tencel twill, it is a lovely basic business top that actually coordinates quite well with my wedding skirt. I will definitely make this top again. As much as I wanted to stitch bicycles onto a bit of the hem this blouse, I wanted flowers instead. Ultimately, I went with stars, because I couldn’t quite get the floral designs I wanted to line up with the hem properly. Somehow, these stars remind me of the Washington DC flag… I think, however, that in future, I’ll have to do contrasting thread if I want the design to really show up. Now, of course, all I want to do is SEW!!! All those projects I have lined up? Everything is getting some fun embroidery stitch! And what will I make that gets reflective appliqued pears?!? I can’t get over the options before me, as I gaze upon this new sewing machine. And yes, this could very easily be better than a new bike…

 

UFOs in June

I’m back! Did you have a relaxing Memorial Day weekend? A friend from New York visited and The Mechanic was in Phoenix visiting his friend, so we each got alot of socializing in! My friend and I visited Mount Vernon (by boat from Old Town Alexandria, which I recommend – it was so relaxing!), National Harbor, the Tanger Outlet mall at National Harbor, and the new MGM casino. I’d never been to National Harbor, right across the Potomac in Maryland, and it was so easy to get to from the King Street Metro station – a quick NH2 Metrobus ride across the bridge. We had a blast and shopped perhaps a bit too much. I did fulfill a long-time sartorial goal by purchasing a Diane von Furstenberg dress at Memorial Day weekend sales steal prices. It’s not one of her iconic wrap dresses but it’s pretty amazing and I can’t wait to wear it.

And now it’s June. I have use-or-lose PTO to burn by the end of the month, so I’m going to use up most of it with some mini sewing staycations. All this unexpected time off means I should to focus on finishing up my UFOs – also known as unfinished sewing projects. Technically I only have one UFO, since I already wrapped up a few over the past weekend. I made a quickie tee shirt with the happy floral striped Art Gallery knit, shortened the lining of a skirt that I made too long, and finally added the waistband to my wedding skirt. I still need to redo the waistband on my 1940s inspired trousers, too.

I ended up using the same satin from the train to make the waistband, which actually turned out pretty badly. Thank goodness a much more talented seamstress friend did the zipper and hem! Where will I wear this? Who knows!

My one true UFO is this pair of red chambray pants that I cut out last year. The idea was for them to also be a wearable muslin, but the complicated zipper fly has prevented me from tackling them. And by complicated, I mean more than a one-weekend sewing project. I really need to get these done, but honestly, being lazy with both my diet and with my workouts lately means that I’m not the size I’d like to be for pants. I’d like to put these off a bit more. At least until I’ve gotten my BodyPump gym class groove back and feel a bit less squishy.

Someday, pants, someday….

Other things I need to finish before I jump into new projects include two dresses, pants and a blouse, all of which were supposed to be done by now.

Of course, I have that gorgeous fabric I bought in London, and then I just got this fabulous denim lace from Marcy Tilton….NO!

Focus, focus….

Some of these things should be fairly simple, so hopefully I can have one mad, frantic weekend of knocking those things out quickly. Because I think that denim lace will make a perfect summer work dress, and I need it now!

Time to just grin and bear it, and sew up this stuff before I can move on. Anyone else ever force themselves to get long-neglected UFOs completed? At least wearing my makes encourages me to want to get more done. I wore my new tee shirt and denim skirt with the reflective yoke last Saturday when The Mechanic and I went biking along the C&O Canal. Perfect and inspiring!

 

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