NOPE your eyes are not deceiving you! If you look careful at the dates, you DO see that it has been about a year since I have done ANY sort of entries to this blog. What promises I have broken is that in my entry from last May 2018 I SWORE to myself ( and to you- whoever is reading…) that I was going to “do better” and post a something- ANYTHING, maybe even at least once per month.
YEP – completely didn’t fulfill that promise!! Utter failure. Sorry to those who might have missed me.( OK SORRY to my dear friend CINDY who was the “sewing muse” to start this blog !!! ) I gotta tell ya– this keeping up with sewing and blogging thing is not as easy as it looks when you have a whole other life to meet responsibilities for.
For those of you who may not know I have “another life” as a registered nurse. Just after my grandiose public promise to sew and blog more, I made the decision last summer to go back to school and pursue higher level learning within the nursing field. Was the best decision ever for me, but totally clipped my wings and messed with my time management for having the time for sewing and blogging.
Ok I might make you mad, but I don’t really feel any guilt or remorse for my broken promises. To be honest , the real pain is that I feel like a “shlumpadinka”by not having as many Me Made articles of clothing that I would want to have had by now hanging in my closet and worn on my back.( Shlumpadinka–yeah that’s a real NYC fashion word!! Or maybe check with Oprah’s best friend Gail King who uses it…..) ANYWAY…
What drew me “back to the path” of writing and posting today is that I will be teaching and leading a class this fall at Camp Workroom Social In honor of the fact that some folks might need to know a little bit about me before they decide to sign up for my class track, I put a bunch of pics of past and more current sewing work on my Instagram page. The Gram page leads to this blog page. So here I am welcoming myself ( and you ) back to my blog. In case you missed it my Instagram is @tailorchick
From here on out NO MORE PROMISES ! Well- I promise that if I actually sew and complete a project, I will post it. Again- I am in no rush to get multiple things done just to say I completed X amount of garments in a month. Not in a rush to even get stuff done before Camp in the fall. As you can tell from what I am Graming, I enjoy the process of making and crafting a garment and work at my own pace- CUZ I CAN !! I am content to know that there is no ” shame in my game” for doing so.
Then again there is also the fact that I have multiple papers to write and much research to do for school. No ” shame in my game” for doing that either.
And so CHEERS to a new sewing and blogging beginning. However it may be with “fits and starts and stops”. Stay tuned ( or at least turn on the notifications alert if you’re interested..) for what more to come.
It was Jen Beeman from Grainline Studio who stated in her recent blog post that “photographing yourself and blogging is a muscle that atrophies fast if not used”. I agree! Once you fall out of the habit of blogging and posting, even the haphazard uneven pattern of blogging and posting that I have, you tend not to post. Since my last post, I didn’t even do Instagram good. And no tweet was Twittered. Oh well…
I would add that this past winter was just too darn long for me!! I was ether preoccupied with starting my post Masters degree life (besides working my regular job , I am now adjunct faculty a local college..) or I was sewing just what I needed to keep myself WARM or mildly entertained during the winter months. That means I did not do much of anything, and I also did not do much “pretty” or profound with my sewing machine- just practical. And yet they are all pretty to me!
Now that Spring seems like it has FINALLY ” sprung”, and I am thinking that I might not see anymore snow, I may take the #MeMadeMay theme and run with it. Or at least do a slow mosey walk, with it. I can use some of the new patterns I bought online while I was cooped up inside from the cold.
What follows is me making my own pictorial record on my of what I made or did during the fall/ winter months 2017-2018. It’s purely selfish documentation of very little sewn, but me keeping memory that I did SOMETHING related to sewing during the winter besides feeling too cold for too long.
I did not make the dress but I made the hat pictured for Easter Sunday 2018 thinking it would be something nice for the Spring- but wouldn’t ya know it, we had 4 inches of snow– day after an early April Easter in my town. Cray Cray weather! Anyway , if you’re looking, enjoy the pictures.
Camp Workroom Social 2017: Good friends. A time to assist w/ teaching class. Beautiful upstate NY Fall foliage..
Some practical sewing…
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017
Snow and cold in my home town..
Hangin’ with friends at the grand opening of Gotham Quilts in Manhattan….
Taking inspiration from Gotham, sewing to stay warm, and a start to a Christmas tree skirt to keep entertained…
I wanted a yellow quilt, so I made one…
Attempting to clean out my stash( and stay warm..) made a simple rainbow strip quilt from various yard pieces…
Started a Christmas tree skirt from my own design in December to be finished for Christmas 2017 ( Yeah- that WAS the plan….) Actually did not complete until April 2018. I comforted myself by thinking that in April it’s Christmas SOMEWHERE in the world, and the tree skirt would be right on time. For the few who might doubt my Christmas tree skirt color choices out there… I’m a New Yorker. Black goes with everything. And if Black and red is good enough for Santa’s boots and suit, It’s good enough for me. Merry Christmas!
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2018
Winter still in fill swing in Jan / Feb, but at least I have quilts keeping me warm. Visited a fairly popular bronze statue temporarily located in the city (named “Fearless Girl” ) and got another glimpse of a more full exhibit of Downton Abby costumes temporarily located in Midtown.
Never wanted to live in “Downton World”! Not my thing. ALWAYS wanting to be as goodly skilled a tailor and dressmaker as Downton World. ALWAYS my thing !! That’s why I always go and look…
MARCH /APRIL 2018
Busy months working and teaching for me. Had the moment to spend the day in Edison New Jersey to do charity sewing for an organization called CINDERELLA’S CLOSET. This is a national organization that has local chapters and volunteer organizers. Businesses donate EVERYTHING a young woman might need to wear to go to her senior high school prom, but could not otherwise afford it. The girls meet certain criteria set by their teachers or schools in accordance with criteria from Cinderella’s Closet organization. They come to the site by the bus load and chose gown, shoes, everything- in order to look good for their upcoming prom. I joined up with sewing friends from the New Jersey chapter of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals. Once per year they volunteer to do on the spot sewing alterations for Cinderellas Closet. We set up a sewing shop ( machines sergers, iron etc..) and do simple alterations on site , but then some of the ladies do take gowns home to complete the more involved alterations. We had a men’s tailor onsite as well for the boys and the suits they were able to pick from. This year the event was held in Edison High school gym. It was a busy day. We did the sewing ,laughing , shared sewing skills and tips, and sewing stories. Felt good to donate sewing skills to support young people.
AND LASTLY—For Spring , I enjoyed my hand made tea cozy with tea. A simple quick sew item made to enjoy the simple things in life- like a hot cup of tea on a chilly day. Really I just wanted to use another piece of fabric and extra quilting batting and move it out of my fabric stash and into LIFE use.
And then there was the fresh cut flowers and white ribbon I used to create my Easter bonnet for 2018. I did this THINKING Easter would mark REAL Spring arriving. I was wrong —4 inches snow the next day after Easter. Anyway….
AND NOW IT’S MAY 2018 !!! Yay !!
Weather is finally turning warmer and staying a bit more consistent with the change in season.. That is a boost to my mood and possibly my sewing endeavors.
Will try to get my blogging/ Twitter/Instagram muscle to have more exercise. PEACE !
So last year, as some of you may know or had seen pics of me, I attended Camp Workroom Social in fall 2016( ok honestly people–I feel like the middle “Radio City Rockette” in that current WS camp webpage picture). Anyway…
I took Christine Haynes Ellsworth Coat class at 2016 camp. Fun class to take. Fun group of people to sew with. Good pattern to work with. Christine’s a great teacher. Easy to create the coat in one weekend as you make the time for yourself and follow the instructions given with the pattern( yes even with inserting the lining..) Many in the class did have a finished coat or, depending upon their own skill level, a majority finished coat by the end of the weekend retreat. Or in my case it may have been how much I was being “social” at Camp Workroom Social and didn’t get work done.
But I decided to challenge myself and see how much I could “beef up ” my own coat in one weekend sewing session by adding some light tailoring details to the existing coat pattern. I decided to do this quietly– not disturbing the rhythm of what Christine was showing the rest of the class. Just wanted to have fun with the pattern and see what would become of it all. OK –I WILL OWN IT!! In some ways that was a good idea of mine. In other ways- not so much!
Here’s a bottom line: Tailoring takes time!! Especially if you desire to do the work of hand sewing the details. YES-I was ( and am ) an experienced enough sewist to KNOW THAT going into the project for the weekend, but as I said, I wanted to try and challenge myself within the timeframe I had. Ya know— if you don’t challenge your sewing skills, how do you ever flex that sewing “muscle memory” in your fingers and sewing skill set you’ve got in your head, and make it grow up to the next level?? OK preaching done!
What you don’t know about me in my coat in all the pictures from 2016 Camp WS is that the coat I am wearing is half done: lining not inserted yet, hand stitched twill taping not done, hand sewn bound buttonholes show that they were “rushed” and kind of rough at the edges etc, etc, etc. Sorry if I sucked all of the “magic” out for you, but I am just keeping it real.
On a more jovial theme–Because of my ardent attempts at doing all of the light tailoring work on this coat that I tried to accomplish the one weekend, and for my decision to “go rouge” and do things “outside the box” of the standard sewing instructions given for the Ellsworth, friends at Camp WS gave me the “Queen of Rouge Couture Award”. LOL and So wonderfully “camp-y”. The patches sewn into the front flap of the coat were given out at camp and reflect activities that I participated in while at camp. I think a lot of us “campers” got them. I got similar patches like these when I was a kid camper at sleep away camp. They serve as memories of the experience and I just thought they belonged in this coat. Yes- very camp-y!!
Well now I took the time to finally piece the thing together and it’s done. There are some things that will never be pretty on this coat for me ( YEP- once you cut that bound buttonhole opening, it IS what it IS. And the general rule is that bound buttonholes—those suckers should NEVER be rushed) I tried to redeem the “look” of what I thought were outward flaws on the coat with topstitching or pressing or other sewing tricks I have learned along my sewing journey. MEH– But whatever–the coat now IS what it is.
I now have an early fall coat that I can quickly “throw on and go” and be comfortable in. Love the Burberry stripe lining. I can still claim I made it- even though I know I did not have the time to put my best sewing skills forward into it because of overall too little time and too much ambition in making it. No matter. The coat’s not for a client. It’s mine. I will wear it happily and go apple picking.
Chuck it all up to to another sewing experience, grateful now in 2017 to have another year old sewing project OUT of my sewing room and into my closet- FINALLY , and then move on!!
Well the draping class that I mentioned in my last post 3 months ago when well. I always have a great time teaching at WORKROOM SOCIAL. Jennifer ( the WS studio owner…) has a knack for making both students and instructors feel welcome and comfortable in her studio so that a good time is had by all, and good sewing and draping work can get done. After the draping workshop completed, I finished two things.
First, I finished sewing up an Easter outfit for April -using this vintage outfit as inspiration.
I found this picture SOMEWHERE on the internet and decided I liked it for Easter. I took a pattern out of one of the many books I have on my bookshelf and modified a simple jacket and skirt pattern in it to create the look. The original Jansdotter pattern did not have a lining, so I drafted a facing and lining patten for the jacket and skirt lining pattern and inserted them into the garments. I already had the hat, and shoes, and bag in my wardrobe. I took a 1 1/4 yard long piece of 6″ wide white ribbon out of my ribbon stash and tied it around the hat crown for the look. I used light mustard yellow 100% linen for the jacket and skirt shell and grey silk charmeuse for the lining. Both fabrics from my fabric stash. Did not have enough linen for the dress, so I made a skirt instead. I wore it all with a $20 black and white striped T-shirt I bought at J-Crew. Worked for me ,and was comfortable that day.
Second thing I did was GRADUATE in May!! WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO ! I am finally DONE with my Masters degree. It’s official: After 2 1/2 years I IS EDU- MA- CATED, y’all !! 😉
It is now officially CHILL time for the summer. Will continue sewing of course, but I am not sewing fast for anybody’s deadline anymore. I have fired all my clients. No more “grad student sewing for food” or being “nickeled and dimed” by clients and fighting to be paid for what my skills are worth. It really is sewing for me time. Thanks Mom for the sewing skills. Thanks Mom for the inspiration to pursue higher education! We did It!!
Come on out and play with fabric on the small mannequin!!
I will be teaching a Weekend Draping intensive at WORKROOM SOCIAL on May 20–21, 2017 (Saturday and Sunday)
This is a fun two days where you will learn what I call “3D pattern making”. You will learn how to drape and form fabric on a dress form to create the basic building blocks of all clothing styles— called slopers. Once you gain an understanding of how to create the basic sloper, you will learn how the foundational sloper style can be creatively re-draped, re-shaped, or changed to create style variations. You will learn and understand how your own favorite fashion style is created from the pattern stage up to finished garment.
You will be working on the pin-able, half scale mannequin, and will have all your notes, class handouts and a sample book of all your draping creations to take home as future sewing reference.
Check out the Workroom Social website for details. Looking forward to seeing you in May!
OKAY-OKAY – I’m getting CLOSE to showing garments sewn by me, and made FOR me, with pictures of me in them here, but at least at the moment I get the chance to boast about sewing friends.
SO- the owners at Gotham Quilts decided that they would take a chance on my teaching skills, and allow me to teach a garment class at their shop. They made a wise assumption that people who quilt do not necessarily sew garments nor want to. They also wisely assumed that not everyone wanted to stay home and watch the Superbowl- not even WITH good commercials or a halftime show.
A few brave quilters got the “hankering ” to have a small deviation from the “piecing path”, and a sewing session featuring the Grainline Studio Willow Tank dress was offered. All teaching and sewing went well during the session. One of the attendees named Nancy created her first garment ever. Above is the photo that Nancy to sent me after she finished sewing the bias binding around the neck and armhole openings. She created it from a softly draped linen like fabric with the gentle leaf and branch print. The fabric came from her stash. I like how clean and polished Nancy’s stitching was on this simple garment. Makes me get the hankering to sew up a couple of these for myself for the upcoming summer. Will be sure to post when I do.
Congrats to Nancy on her first journey into “garment sewing land”. May it be the beginning of a wonderful addition to her sewing journey!!
Ya know -I always looked at people who took the time to organize their sewing spaces and became secretly a little jealous. I mean —some people’s sewing space, when you see them on a blog, always look like the space was ready for a photo shoot for THREADS or QUILTING ARTS magazine, or some publication like that. There’s always seemingly a polished, tranquil, organized sewing space, that yielded itself to productive, creative, beautiful sewing work, that the sewist could readily display to the THREADS camera when they showed at any given moment and at the drop of a dime. Not my space– and certainly NOT my fabric stash!!
Heaven forbid that the world would see my voracious addiction to fabric displayed in some unorganized and unruly manner, in a blog post. Lord help me if someone would find out just how much fabric I CRAMMED into that poor wooden cabinet in “anywhichway” fashion. NOOOO—I kept the secret behind closed doors!! Just as long as the doors to the cabinet did not POP open from too much yardages stuffed into it, I was OK !! Even on some days when doors did pop open, I still was OK. After all, it’s MY un-organization.
In the picture shown above and in the sliver of the upper part of the picture that follows you can see a small measure of the cramming of fabric. And that is just the upper cabinet. I have not taken pictures of the lower cabinet, nor of the other opposite room surface areas covered in cottons and denims and wools. Nor a picture of all the fabric I own taken out and put into one huge pile on the cutting table and floor.
Now, I know I am not as bad as some, but I do know I could be a little worse than others with my stash (heck- I got sewing friends in other states who NEVER go into their basements or attics anymore because they hate climbing over boxes of fabric. The NYC friends just don’t have any closet space anymore, as they climb over boxes and boxes of their “good fabric”.)
What I really came to decide is that I was sick of looking at unorganized piles of fabric every time I opened up the cabinet doors. Worse -I was buying more fabric without knowing what it was I already had for a project. I didn’t know because I could not SEE what all of what was in my stash. Well the New Years resolution was not so much to head to the gym. I resolved to head to the sewing room and get organized ( part one), so that I could see what I have in my stash as a whole, and then begin the process of really sewing clothes for myself ( part two ) with some clue or direction of what I am working with out of my stash.
NOW I see why those people like being organized. It’s not about THREADS or QUILTING ARTS. They like to go shopping !! They like to put fabrics together and create a project. I get it!! With my fabric stash organized, I feel like I am going fabric shopping in my own private store ( i.e with all the fabric already paid for..) Maybe not for anyone else, but for me , it feels good when I want to start a project, to shop and combine fabrics at home like I do in the store. (Duh- tailorchick- what a concept?)
And the STUFF?? Fabric Stuff I ain’t seen for years came out of the deep recesses of that cabinet and is now up on that new Home Depot wire shelf. It’s all “new” to me!! Whoo Hoo !!
YEP– Believe what you see in the picture of that 72″ high shelf in the box. I wheeled that sucker home on the subway!! Ok -I call myself a real New Yorker with a deep belief that a small hand truck, couple of bungee cords, and roll of duct tape, fixes EVERYTHING!! We don’t need no stinkin’ delivery charge!! Nobody in the subway thought I was strange. People saw me coming with that box and they moved right out of my way (The answer to the question is : YEP -Rush hour!). I just kept it real ,and kept it moving right along. ( Yeah ,yeah I know– Here is where I pause and allow Cindy ,Terry, and Rosie the moment to finish laughing .. OK! I can pause for that ! 😉
In any event. Part ONE of 2017 New Years’s resolution DONE !! Feels good. Fabric stash organized. Yep– each piece tagged with yardages available and whether or not I already pre- washed it or gave it a preshrink. Not boasting here. Just making sure I don’t get confused in the future and over process the goods before using it.
Now that the fabric stash is done, I now tackle the pile of UFO’s before starting some thing too big and new. But that’s another blog post. The sewing journey continues ….
There is an old Chinese proverb that I have heard quoted, and adapted, and retold many ways. It goes something like this:
” Give a man a fish and he eats for a meal. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime!”
My “sewing version” of that phrase says “Sew a woman a coat, and she wears it for a fashionable moment. Teach a woman how to sew, and she sews for a fashionable lifetime!”
The same can be said for teaching a man or a little boy to sew.
The sewing knowledge usually spills over into that one person sewing for husbands, wives, Aunties, kids + babies, Meemaw’s, Popop’s, or cousin Sue’s— many other of the “lifetimes” that cross their particular path. Better yet, the sewing knowledge of the one spills over into that person teaching others to sew. It really doesn’t matter what level of sewing that you are at, when you teach someone else to sew, even the basics of sewing skills, then those others can have potential to gain “fashionable lifetimes”.
So that is my sewing New Years resolution- Not only to try and be intentional about sewing for myself, but to expand more on the encouraging on of others as they learn how to keep the craft of sewing alive and make it their own.
OK yeah — resolving to do more sewing for myself IS just like making that New Years’ “exercise resolution”, but I will attempt to make it work.
Some of you may be thinking ” Cut the conversation, Tailorchick, and cut to the chase scene!!. Does that mean more sewing tutorials on this blog for the new year?? ” Probably. But be warned, my opinion is that there is fundamentally nothing new under the “sewing sun” that someone else has not done before or executed already on another excellent sewing blog. The sewing machine technology may be new every year, but most sewing skills and techniques needed for the job do not change. Changing technology may change how you do a sewing technique, but having well practiced, experienced, sewing skills in your own two creative human hands is priceless for your own sewing “fashionable lifetime”.
Am I now getting too serious about sewing and taking all the fun out of it?? Hope not. Being serious about sewing and wanting to better my core sewing skills is my form of having fun with it all. But I will try to keep you onlookers interested somehow with what comes out of my sewing room as I attempt to keep my sewing resolution.
Am I an expert at this sewing thing? Not by any means, and I think I have mentioned that within this blog many times. But other women and men have taken the time to teach me the craft. I can only take some time to encourage others and do the same.
I trust that anyone who learns anything from me will take it to the next creative level and make the skill their own.
Happy sewing to you in 2017! May all your sewing resolutions come true!
Went shopping at The City Quilter for the last time this past Saturday. Store closes on Wednesday of this week.
As I was shopping I felt like I was “pickin’ the bones” of once meaty bird. Bittersweet. Had good times with newly met quilting friends in this shop over the years. Also it is sad that yet another store related to sewing and catering to sewing people in NYC is closing its doors. In it’s own small way the shop was an extension of the quickly shrinking fabric/fashion district along Broadway and the garment district area. ( Yeah– Y’all, I am mourning the loss of Paron Fabric [38th st] and CHIC Fabric [40th st] as well. AND I have found out that The Fashion Design Book Store on 27th street lost their lease and is also closing. OY- what a thing!!)
I will say in contrast, though, that I am glad the CQ shop is now FINALLY closing it’s doors, and ending the suspense that it wasn’t closing. This was the LONGEST (4months-maybe ??? Felt like it!! ) store closing I had ever seen. Usually a store will announce it’s closing and then 3weeks or 2weeks later, boom -it’s DONE. Have a BIG sale-Doors shut! End of story. Not CQ. Felt like it was announced waaaay back in the late spring/ early summer ( feels like it..) that the shop was closing and the owners were retiring. I know it sounds macabre, but this felt like the longest wake and funeral of a store closing that I had ever been to. Those who know –know what I mean. Anyway…..
CQ was always a place to go and get great cottons for making summer clothes or great colorful fat quarters for making quick cutesy little projects like the pin cushions pictured above ( and getting cottons usually cheaper per yard than I could get the cottons uptown at Mood or B&J fabrics.) Also a place go hang out with my friend Teri Lucas for a bit and talk Bernina machine stuff. I will see Teri again- friendship doesn’t end with a store closing. Sorry Teri – you’re stuck with me.
Like most others, I will have to find somewhere else to get cottons for clothing or for quilting. After going to Gotham Quilts here in the city, I guess I will have to hit that online trail for fabric or hit Jersey, Queens or Upstate NY for LIVE shops. I will find the fabric to feed my fabric addiction and keep my sewing machine humming.
Farewell City Quilter. Thanks for the fabric. Thanks for the memories of sewing friends.
Been a bit since I last checked in. Had not really sewn much for the summer after the draping class dates of the last post. Have spent end of summer and all early fall enjoying a short break from sewing- particularly a break from sewing for other people. Spent last weekend enjoying a fall season 4day sewing fling at Camp Workroom Social.
For those of you who don’t know-there is no real physical campground named “camp workroom social”. There IS however a sewing studio on Brooklyn NY named Workroom Social. Once a year the studio takes the sewing party to upstate NY to host a fun and relaxing sewing retreat weekend at one of the best YMCA camps on the east coast. I had a great time. Going to this event always feeds my “KIDULT” i.e little kid memories of summer camp and the adult sense of “get the heck out of NYC for the weekend” and enjoy the scenic NY state fall foliage. In addition I got to meet up with people of all sewing levels who sew and want to talk sewing all weekend long. When we weren’t sewing , we were doing real camp stuff like archery, zip lining, hiking, or visiting the wildlife that lived in camp. Kinda wonderful.
OK- For all the feedback I heard from about 6 sewing friends who DID NOT go to the CWS weekend ( feedback like– “It was so expensive to go for just one weekend”, or ” there is not a lot of advanced sewing technique that is happening for the weekend”..) I have this to say about my best moment at camp:
There’s nothing quite like sitting around a relaxed fall evening campfire after dinner, roasting and eating S’mores ( with GOOD quality dark milk chocolate…) and talking fabric, patterns and sewing techniques– all the stuff your non sewing friends think you are crazy for getting excited about. At camp I get to hang out with the “sewing tribe” and do that. It did not matter what sewing level you were when you came to camp. Everyone was bound to learn something new or share a new technique from among all the different types of sewing folk who did come. Even though I already knew some of the sewing technique that was excellently presented in my class by my instructor, I put my own “spin” on what the project was ( Yep-went a little “rogue” and put a little more tailoring in that Jacket than was called for in the pattern, but hey, I was enjoying the class in my own quiet way, and my instructor was not bothered.) For all the camaraderie and sewing good times to be had, it was worth the price. I would say start to save your pennies in a jar starting now ( like I did last year…) and come to camp next year. It’s fun.