So, yeah, I know I’m a little late for Halloween jokes. And that’s not the only thing I’ve waited too long for… Sorry for dropping off the planet for a while. Suffice it to say, unpacking turns out to take significantly longer than packing. Not to mention assembling two full carloads of flat-pack Ikea furniture. And painting. Man. Painting. is. terrible.

But! The house is “done”! I put “done” in quotation marks because, as everyone who’s ever bought a house has told me, it is never, ever really done. But! Our house is done enough to have had a housewarming party, which in my book makes it done enough for now. Most everything’s put away, there are no boxes left lying around, and I’ve gone back to work, so let’s just call it good. And now I’m really optimistic that I can get back to my regular schedule of, ya’ know, sewing something every once in a while.

But for now, I thought I’d do a recap of the meager sewing I’ve done in the last month… all in my new sewing room(!)

The weeks leading up to my birthday last month were incredibly busy, but the Crazy Sewing Monster in me absolutely demanded I make a new dress for my birthday dinner. Left with just 2 hours before dinner on the day, I pulled out trusty 2-pattern-piece Vogue 1250 and some ITY from the Loft and I just. did it. That pattern is truly miraculous. I literally cut it and sewed it in an hour and 20 minutes. No joke. My last version is a little, uh, clingy, so this time I gave myself a smidge more ease along the back skirt seam and it was perfect. Here is a not-great picture in front of my new front door (it is a totally awesome 15 panel solid wood door, which might actually be original to the house – I love it, but it’s not light enough in the morning in the entryway for good pictures):

Vogue 1250 stripesThe second thing I made in my sewing room (I’m just gonna keep saying it cause it sounds so good) was another down-to-the-wire effort. At 11pm the night before our housewarming party I whipped out a cushion cover for our new bench (it’s an Ikea Expedit 1×2 shelf with casters). For the cushion, I cut a piece of fabric (it’s a cool home dec print from – home dec fabrics have such great prints! Why can’t garment fabrics be that cool?) that was as long as the piece of foam and twice as wide plus a bit. Basically, I folded it long-ways right sides together, sewed the back (I inserted a zipper) and the sides, then squared up the corners just like my messenger bag. I wanted to take pictures for a tutorial, but, well, it was midnight and it just wasn’t gonna happen. I’m happy to provide more details if folks are interested. Anyway, the Orange Terror sure likes it:

expedit bench cushionAfter that there was no sewing for a while, until I was invited to a baby shower rather last minute, and I realized that I kind of had to make a baby-something in one evening with supplies I had in the house, since I would have no time before the shower to actually go to a store that sold baby-somethings. To the internet I went! And found this pattern/tute for cute knit baby hats. So I made a couple:

knit baby hatsAnd that brings me to my most recent last minute make (are you sensing a theme here? I’ve said it before, I work best with a deadline!) This one wasn’t really urgent, it’d just been so long since I’d made an easy everyday garment, I just wanted one. This has gotta be the fastest fabric-purchase-to-garment conversion I’ve ever done. I bought the fabric at Jo Ann (I know, I try to avoid buying their fabric, but once in a blue moon something acceptable pops up) last Sunday during their crazy sale, and I cut and sewed the shirt on Tuesday evening (and wore it Wednesday). The pattern is Simplicity 1716, which is my holy grail of cowl neck tops. I love this pattern. It’s such a quick sew, the cowl is just the right depth, and the fit is great right out of the envelope. I don’t imagine this one will be my last. (Here is my first one, with more pattern details.) This time I cut the second-longest length and did the ruching detail on the sides. What can I say, I like long shirts.

IMG_9778I was trying out another photo location here – this is a redwood screen we put up on the side of our back porch for privacy. I like it as a background, but the morning light was even worse here! This picture was manipulated a lot to get me even visible. Ah well, it’ll probably take me a few more projects to find a good photo spot…

Just one final piece of sewing news: a friend who deals antiques brought me a box she found at an estate sale recently – a box full of random sewing goodies! Granted, about 70% of the box was ugly trims, but there was some good stuff too. Here’s my haul: a big box of zippers, lots of snaps and hooks (most of them antique – love those labels!), bias and hem tapes, a grommet setter and bias tape maker, horsehair braid, and some cool pre-cut waistband interfacing (self belts, much?). Oh, and it looks like another household member is interested in learning about “Stitching the Knits”…

vintage notions haul

vintage chanel tweed…and from the same estate, about 2 yards of a beautiful white and blue loose weave fabric with a label reading “Chanel Tweed”. Originally $175 a yard! My friend said she maybe paid $5 for everything. My first vintage fabric find! Now what should I do with it? Before you suggest the obvious – a Chanel jacket – know that I am utterly not the sort of person who would make and/or wear one. I’m nothing but impressed with those that take the time to create a beautiful couture jacket – it’s just not my thing. As you can probably tell by …basically everything I’ve ever posted. Plus when would I wear such a jacket? But – perhaps some other kind of coat? A sheath dress? Just leave the fabric in my closet and pet it every once in a while? Help!

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Not a lot to show for two months, but there it is. I feel like I’ve missed a whole season, and now I’m way behind on fall-appropriate sewing. Luckily I have a lot of stuff I made last year to wear now that the weather’s changing (yes, here it’s basically summer until November. Not complaining). But I want shiny new things! So I’d better get moving (figuratively, of course. I don’t want to literally move again for a very, very long time). I just dug out the doubleknit Cordova jacket I started last winter (by “started”, I mean cut out one piece), and finished cutting it out finally. Also on the “urgent” list: pants. Because I currently own one single pair of long pants that fits. I had the shorts bug this summer, hopefully that will translate into the pants bug… Now to get sewing!

For realsies this time.

Well, I didn’t want to get your hopes up. Yes, once again the time has slipped through my fingers and I have not accomplished all the things I planned/hoped/thought I could in the last few weeks. So while the end of April has arrived and I have no further stash sewing to show for it, I thought I’d better fess up and also at least share something about what I’ve been up to besides sewing.

First awesome news: I was lucky enough to win Amy’s Drape Drape 3 giveaway! I’ve been casually entering these giveaways as they’ve popped up around the sewing blog world because I’m morbidly interested in making at least one of the designs – I’m fascinated by crazy knit draping methods and this would definitely fit the bill! A quick flip through the book (it came so fast – thanks, Laurence King Publishing!) shows that my all my complicated pleating needs have been forever met, and I’m already daydreaming ways to modify the giant crazy pattern pieces to make the garments more, uh, my everyday style. It’ll certainly be an education in draping, if nothing else. And happily, the knot-neck dress seems to be just my thing as-is (though of course it’s one of the non-jersey patterns, so I suppose it’s not totally perfect… but I do so like to make woven patterns from knits), so hopefully I will be attempting at least that one sometime this summer.


Thank you Amy!

But the arrival of this book (by the way, as the third book in the series I keep feeling like it should be called Drape Drape Drape, right?) is not what has been keeping me from my sewing machine. No, sadly, it’s this: I have discovered another new hobby. And unlike my last new craft adoption, knitting, this one I’m really excited about! (Sorry, knitting, I just don’t think we’re going to work out. It’s not you, it’s me.) So what is it, you ask? (Or maybe you don’t – apologies, sewing will resume shortly, don’t worry.) I am making jewelry! Simple, modern silver jewelry! And it’s (relatively) easy!

I never intended to make jewelry. I’ve made some forays into beading in the past and it’s never caught my fancy, probably because I don’t wear beaded jewelry. I’m pretty picky about my jewelry – I basically only wear necklaces (no pierced ears, watch instead of bracelets), it must be silver, and I gravitate toward simple, modern geometrics. It never occurred to me that I could make that kind of jewelry without taking up silversmithing or something, so I was totally satisfied amassing said jewelry slowly, mostly at museum gift shops and local craft galleries. Then, last month in LA at one of said local craft galleries, I bought a necklace that the clerk informed me was made with “silver clay”. I had never heard of such a thing, so I googled it. It’s totally a thing. It’s actually called precious metal clay, or PMC. There is even – get this – a Craftsy class on using it. (Man, there’s a Craftsy class on everything now, isn’t there?) Basically, tiny particles of silver are suspended in an organic binder material that makes it a clay-like substance that can be rolled out and shaped, then it’s fired with a handheld torch for a couple minutes, burning up the binder and fusing the silver together. You then shine it up (or not) with a series of fine sandpapers. It’s pretty cool. So I took the Craftsy class and went for it. Here are a few of the things I’ve made so far:

first PMC necklaces

On the left is a shiny square with a brushed circle on top of it – they’re two separate pieces on one jump ring. On the right is a string of three circles, the center one is shined up and the outer two are matte, though it’s kind of hard to tell so I just may make them all the same (and I need to get smaller jump rings to connect them, but this was all I had at the moment). In the middle is a piece I textured by stamping the clay with a rubber stamp before cutting out the square shape. After firing I patina-ed the piece using the hard-boiled egg method and then scrubbed the patina off the surface with fine sandpaper for a brushed finish, leaving it in the indentations to make the pattern more obvious.

I must say I’m having fun coming up with all the jewelry designs I’ve always wanted but have never been able to find for sale. With sewing, I’ve never considered myself to be a designer at all – I’ve always been good at seeing something and duplicating it, or modifying something to be what I want, but not ever pulling a design wholesale out of thin air. So it’s been interesting that with the silver clay I do seem to be thinking of a lot of original designs, which is exciting for me. Or maybe it’s just a subconscious backlog of all the jewelry I’ve ever seen and liked but not bought? Who knows? It’s cool either way. But seriously, like I really needed another crafty suck on my time… gah.

I’m hoping anyway that the jewelry making and the sewing can happily co-exist. And after spending the last couple weeks immersed in the world of PMC, I miss sewing. So return I shall to the two items I cut out before the jewelry lark began (one of which is where the scrap of gray doubleknit the necklaces are sitting on came from). But I think I’d better stop making promises about when things are going to be done, since I just seem to break them immediately. May will be a mixed bag, with another Los Angeles work trip dominating the month (meetup, anyone?), but I’ve also signed up to participate in the curious kiwi‘s Burda Sewalong, to attack that magazine I bought last month. So there will be clothes, sometime. That’s as specific as I’m willing to get right now – for your own protection.

And finally, here’s some proof that not everyone in our house is sad about my temporary sewing hiatus:

OT stash bedHow nice of the Orange Terror to help initiate my newest fabric into the stash! Because, obviously, it’s not real stash fabric until it’s been shed on. Thanks, buddy.

I have recently realised that I have been remiss as a sewing blogger… I have not introduced you all to my furry orange assistant! Luckily, the fantastic Cindy of Cation Designs (if you don’t read her blog, you must – she makes amazing whimsical dresses! she draws! she makes me laugh out loud!) has created the Best. Blog Award. Ever. which has reminded me of my responsibility to the sewing world at large. I am the honored recipient of the Sewing With Cats Blog Award!

So without further ado, meet Malcolm, aka The Orange Terror:

Yeah, I know, he doesn’t seem very intimidating, but trust me. He is a stalker of moving objects, a knocker-down of items from tables, a consummate getter-into of bags and boxes. He is afeared of nothing except the terrible Vacuum Monster (he is certainly not afeared of me). I have found that most other cats I’ve met seem to think they’re people, and as such they are entitled to equal rights in the house. Malcolm’s entitlement works differently – I’m pretty sure Malcolm doesn’t think he’s people… he thinks we’re cats. The hierarchy in our household is as follows: my husband is the alpha cat, Malcolm is his second in command, and I am some kind of minion to be ordered around and arbitrarily attacked anytime I turn a corner or enter a room. Weirdly, despite The Terror’s dominion over me, he doesn’t insert himself too much in my sewing. Perhaps he is too lofty to be concerned with the doings of the lowly serf-cat of the house? Whatever reason, I’m glad that he mostly hasn’t ruined any of my projects or fabric (yet!), though he has contributed a generous amount of hair to everything I’ve ever set down anywhere in my house. He does really enjoy sitting on pattern tissue, but I can usually enlist the aid of the alpha cat to yoink him off the table and distract him while I cut. The weirdest sewing item he likes to mess with, oddly, is pins. Though I’ve never seen him do it, I have found pins in rooms far away from the sewing table, and I can only assume he is carrying them there in his mouth. All right, weirdo. It must be a natural outgrowth of his love of twisty-ties and wire and cut-off ends of guitar strings.

Here’s one last “aaawwww” picture for you:

This is from about a week after we adopted him, almost 9 (!) years ago. (It’s black and white because I used to shoot film and develop/print it myself – until the idea of a “rental darkroom” went the way of the dodo – and there was a time when we didn’t have a point-and-shoot type camera, so all our pictures of Tiny Malcolm are scans of black and white prints from my ancient Mamiya-Sekor SLR.) He was so little and floppy and orange and furry and bitey… and not much has changed except he now takes up much more space on the bed. We’re still waiting for him to stop acting like a kitten and for-God’s-sake-stop-waking-us-up-at-daybreak-by-knocking-things-off-the-dresser, but I have a feeling he’ll just always be The Orange Terror no matter how old he is. But he’s our Terror and we love him… as long as he keeps his claws off my fabric.

Thanks Cindy for making me share him, and for a badge that will make me smile every time I see it in my sidebar! As far as passing on the award, I don’t know of any sewists-with-cats that haven’t already been honored, but if you have a Terror of your own you’d like to share, grab the badge and consider yourself awarded!