1.27.2016

january blues

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Wow you guys! It feels like it has been FOR. EV. ER. since my last post! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! So much belated happiness! My holidays were lovely, with a nice long visit with family on the East coast. Since coming back to Texas (and real life) I've been a bit slow to find my groove. If you follow me on instagram I've been trying to give little peeks at what I've been up to, but honestly my life feels pretty boring right now! I started a new knitting project (the Riptide pullover from Brooklyn Tweed's new Winter 16 collection - and I'm in luuuuurve with it). And I also joined a local gym which feels like a big step since my last post on my fitness journey. I decided I really wanted to lift heavier weights, which just isn't feasible in my apartment.  So far it's been good! I've never been so sore, or hungry! Seriously, I'm like an eating machine... I also got a new lens for my camera (Christmas present from Nick, he's good to me) - a Nikkor 35mm. I love having my camera back in action, but I'm still getting used to the new lens, so forgive me if some of my pictures are a little out of focus. But when the focus is right - oh it's good!

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And now we're all caught up! You will note that I didn't mention too much about my sewing plans in the above paragraph. That's because my sewing room has felt a bit stagnant as of late. Perhaps it's the winter blahs and the fact that they really promote couch time and knitting, or that I feel like I'm constantly schlepping from home to gym to work (a choice I willingly made) but I've been feeling a bit uninspired in that department.  It's happened before and I know I just need to ride it out and it'll pass, but it's always disconcerting when the sewjo plummets, ya know?

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However I did manage to pull these two pieces out for my latest Mood Sewing Network make (I can always count on those MSN posts to get me into my sewing room!). They're not going to set the world on fire or anything, but they are comfy, cozy, adaptable to my wardrobe, and together look quite chic. 

The sweater jacket uses Mood's Italian Black and White Double Cloth Blended Wool Slubbed Knit (phew! that's a mouthful...). I bought a yard and a half of this stuff back in the fall with the intention of making just such a garment. It's really lovely and thick and because of the wool content it's very warm, however since it's a blend it's not scratchy at all. Basically an ideal snuggly layer. After seeing Sarai's Oslo cardigan hack over on the Coletterie I knew that I wanted to use this fabric to make my own.  However for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to cut the pattern pieces out of my yard and half! I'm actually still scratching my head about how Lauren managed to do it. Granted she did not do the kimono sleeve variation but still... clearly she's a wizard. Anywho. Long story short I had to order another yard. It was worth it. Even if it did mean that this garment got pushed back into the new year.

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The Oslo cardigan is from Seamwork magazine.  The variation that I did involved a little bit of pattern manipulation to create the cut-on kimono sleeve, but nothing too difficult. And rather than the buttons in the front I added belt loops and a tie.  The only thing that I'm slightly bummed about is that I forgot to add width to the sleeves to get that cool kimono look that Sarai's has.  I thought the kimono sleeve looked kind of dumb at the regular slim sleeve width so I chopped them off at the elbows.  I say this was a happy accident as the shorter sleeve is kind of cool and makes for an interesting layering option.

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Construction wise this was pretty straightforward. I used my serger for all the seams and my sewing machine's 3-step stretch stitch for the hems.  The only place where I got a bit creative was in attaching the collar.  The way the instructions have you do it would have involved me running three layers of fabric through my serger. Since this fabric is quite thick I didn't think that would be the best idea so instead I used my sewing machine to sew the right side down, then attach the underside by stitching in the ditch.  Which was really a breeze on this fabric because the stitches just sank right in! No one can tell how accurate (or, ahem, inaccurate) I was.

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The dress I'm wearing is a Closet Case Files Nettie dress made up in Mood's Black Cotton-Viscose Jersey.   I used this same fabric previously to make leggings and I love it. It’s very stretchy and soft. This dress feels a bit revealing when I wear it alone because of the negative ease (I’m not comfortable in skin-tight dresses) but I love it as a layering piece.  I added length to the sleeves to make them nice and long so they bunch up at the wrists.  Construction wise, this was the same as for the sweater jacket – serger for the majority of the seams and a 3-step stretch stitch for the cuffs and hem.  

I love that stitch for stretch fabrics. It's really the only conventional machine stitch I’ve found for knits that doesn’t pop with wear. For some reason my machine’s zig-zag stitch never really seems to have any give, but the 3-step straight stitch does. Plus it looks super clean and professional. I highly recommend you give this stitch a try for knits if your machine has it. I'm sure most do. I have a very rudimentary machine.

Mood Fabrics | Italian Black and White Double Knit

As a whole, this outfit works pretty well as secret pajamas. Especially because they're like pajamas and a robe! And when the winter blues come a-knocking it's really all I can do to not wear my bathrobe to work (I wish I had my life together enough to own actual pajamas but...)  This is a decent second best in my opinion.  And both pieces work really well with the rest of my wardrobe. So even if I'm not blowing anyone's mind with these makes, I give them an A+ for wearability and the kind of thing I'll reach for again and again.

And there you have it! My first post of 2016. Feels good to dust off the cobwebs. I missed you guys. Anyone else in the midst of the January blues? Let's all hang out on the couch underneath a heating pad and commiserate...

xx

11.10.2015

momma's got a new pair of jeans

Mood Fabrics | Chambray Popover

What the What?!?! Two posts in one week?!?? No need to check for air born piggies, dear readers, and no, it is not The End of Days.  I'm just getting caught up on a few posts here on the old blog. I've actually been fairly productive behind the scenes this past month or so and am wrapping up multiple projects in fairly quick succession. Nice to breathe some new life into this space!

I was about to title this post "Canadian Tuxedo" but then I stopped myself... why is denim on denim called a Canadian tuxedo? If recollection serves me correct, the implication was that wearing denim on denim was trashy, or redneck-y, neither of which are things I associate with Canadians... All the Canadians I know are chic as hell! So my friends, if you have more insight into this particular slang phrase, please, do enlighten me! 

Mood Fabrics | Chambray Popover

Regardless, this is my take on the denim on denim look and I think it's pretty darn sharp! This chambray popover was my most recent make for the Mood Sewing Network, however what I'd really like to talk about today is my new jeans.  I thought to spice things up a bit I'd split the sewing talk between both sites, that way I'm not posting the same rigmarole twice. Well... it keeps things interesting for me at least!

So just to give you the quick rundown on the chambray popover - I used chambray from Mood (obviously, duh Sallie) and altered my Grainline Archer pattern to a popover style rather than a full button front shirt.  this was a pretty easy alteration to make, I just cut the front on the fold and then inserted a partial placket.  To read the full details, head on over to the MSN site!

Mood Fabrics | Chambray Popover

But my jeeeaaannnnzzzz!! Guys, I think this might be my favorite pair of jeans that I've made yet! So many things came together for me for this pair! But let me back up real quick here... This fall I've been pretty focused on fleshing out some fresh wardrobe basics.  Jeans and shirts get worn pretty hard around here, and I feel like I can never have too many.  And what with all the exercising I've been doing I didn't really feel like my old jeans were fitting me quite the same.  They felt very tight through the thigh and bum, and were gape-y at the waist.  The jeans that fit the best were my high-rise white Ginger jeans, which I adore, but sometimes you don't want to wear white jeans! So a classic, dark-denim pair of jeans was quickly rising up my sewing queue.

Mood Fabrics | Chambray Popover

As much as I love the high-rise version of the Ginger jeans, I really wanted something with a more casual feel.  So I decided to give the low-rise version of the Ginger jeans a try.  Ugh. You guys. I freaking love this pattern. I didn't even make a muslin, and I barely did any fitting. It just works for my body.  I made a straight size 6 with no alterations except to sew the waistband a bit snugger.  I was initially thinking I might peg the ankles a bit because, well, I've been a die hard skinny jean wearer for the past... oh... ten years? And yes, I suppose these would still classify as skinny jeans in the grand scheme of things, but to my swaddled ankles they feel downright bootcut! But after doing a test fit I decided I really liked the silhouette. It seems to work for both dressier occasions and casual ones... or maybe that's just the secret of a good looking pair of jeans?

Mood Fabrics | Chambray Popover

I would be remiss if I didn't wax poetic about this denim.  This is the Cone Mills s-gene denim that I got in the Ginger jeans sewing kit Heather and Jen were selling after the pattern launch. (fyi - they just did another sale of denim kits about a month ago - supplies go fast so I think they're all sold out now.  I have no idea if they'll be doing it again, but it's worth it to follow them on Instagram if you don't already so you can get the heads up in case they do) You can't really find Cone Mills denim sold by the yard as it's really only available for wholesale, so if you happen across it somewhere, definitely jump on it! I think the "s" in s-gene stands for sorcery. This fabric is... sigh.... ah-mazing. It's soft, and has an amazing amount of give - perfect for comfy, close-fitting jeans that flatter and hug your curves, but it also has incredible recovery, which means that you don't get baggy knees and a saggy butt after wearing your jeans for a day.  Honestly, I wore these jeans for a week straight without washing them (because that's how I do) and every. stinking. day. they looked fresh and crisp. I just can't even. You've probably heard the hype before about this denim, and guys, believe it. It's seriously that good. It's spoiled me. I don't know how I'll ever go back to other denims. I don't want to, that's for sure!  Thank goodness I still have another bit of yardage of the lighter weight denim for me to love on!

Mood Fabrics | Chambray Popover
Mood Fabrics | Chambray PopoverMood Fabrics | Chambray Popover

One of the most fun things about sewing your own jeans are the myriad of ways you can customize them.  I generally err on the side of classic finishing with my jeans, but I couldn't help getting a bit creative with the topstitiching for this pair.  As you can see I used a standard copper/gold thread for all the topstitching, but then I used red for all my bartacks.  I remember on a recent pair of Lauren's jeans she made a little "L" on the side seam bartack that holds the pocket in place and I thought that was so cute! Since bartacking an "S" would absolutely be beyond my skills I decided to create a bit of a theme with these diagonal red bartacks.  They're used on the back pockets, the coin pocket and the front fly, and again at the base of the side seam topstitching for a little extra flair. The little red touches make me super happy, and the jeans still have that classic look that I like. 

Mood Fabrics | Chambray Popover

That's it for jeans talk! They've already been in heavy rotation, so that must be a good sign!

Before I head out I'd thought I'd just mention that perhaps you guys have noticed that my photo setting has been the same in the last two posts. That's because I sadly broke my camera lens and am saving up money to replace it.  In the meantime, my boss has been kind enough to let me shoot blog photos with the work camera, but it means I have to keep it at work.  Luckily, my "office" is a pretty lovely setting in itself - including those two little white kitties that are hopping around in my photos! Allow me to introduce you to our work cats - The Ghost and The Darkness (who I'm holding in the picture above).  They're brothers.  If you don't have cats at your work I highly encourage you to bring that up at the next staff meeting. Sure, they may not be great for productivity, but they're a huge morale booster, and they pull their weight in the pest control department too! 

Okay lovelies, until next time!

xx

11.07.2015

Knit Fix

Girl Charlee Knit | Sallie Romper

Hey guys! I hope everyone is having a good start to your November.  This month is actually going to be crazy busy for me at work and as much as I like to appreciate the moment and all that jazz I'll be extremely grateful to see the back of November! But enough about my "real life" (my "Clark Kent" if you will) let's talk about something equally as fascinating - the weather! In case you're wondering - yes, it's totally still warm enough to wear this getup! Summer 4eva!!! Actually this warm weather is putting quite the damper on my Fall/Winter sewing plans.  Eh. Who am I kidding? It's putting no damper on my sewing plans, only on my wearing-what-I-sew plans. But, like, it's gotta get cold at some point, right? Lifelong Texans don't answer that...

Girl Charlee Knit | Sallie Romper

Well now we got the chit-chat out of the way, let's move onto the good stuff - this romper! Do you call it a romper or a playsuit? Or just a short jumpsuit? Well whatever it is, it's pretty freaking fun to wear!

A little while ago Girl Charlee contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing a sponsored post with them.  Y'all know that besides my deal with Mood I don't really do that sort of thing.  I get approached a lot, but often say 'no' because I'm just not really interested. But, like Mood, I always liked Girl Charlee and it's been one of the places that I've bought fabric from in the past. I think they have a great selection of affordable knits.  They carry woven fabrics too, but I'll always think of them as the place to pick up knits in cute patterns.  So I said yes because, duh, free fabric! And for the sake of transparency I'm just gonna put it out there that, yes, this post is sponsored. I received free fabric in exchange for making up something of my choosing and writing about it. Obviously all opinions are my own.

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So what did I get?! Okay, this is why I was really intrigued about this particular idea. It wasn't just "hey pick some fabric and we'll send it to you and you make something".  The lovely people at Girl Charlee wanted to send me one of their monthly KnitFix bundles.  This is a selection of fabrics that they cull each month and send to you in a very cute tote, and it's totally a surprise! You don't know what you're gonna get! But chances are, you'll like most of what they send you, and the element of surprise itself is kind of awesome.  It's really like receiving a present in the mail.  I'll admit I kind of had a fear that they would just send some bolt ends and odd things they were trying to get rid of, but after receiving my bundle I can vouch for the fact that what you receive is a thoughtful curation of knits in a variety of fibers and prints, and all in a very useable 2 yard cuts.

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In my October bundle I received (from left to right) a fuschia and teal floral jersery rayon spandex, a blurred magenta print jersey rayon blend knit, a brown and white stripe cotton jersey, a red and blue plaid jersey rayon spandex, a floral on black baby hacci sweater knit (which I turned into the romper in this post), and a multicolored and metallic dot jersey rayon blend.  Out of the bunch I think there's only one that I'm kind of like "nope, I'll never use that" and two that I'm like "these are nice but I'm not quite sure what to do with them" and then there were three that I was really pretty excited about. The metallic dots and brown stripes are going to be used for sure - perhaps to make some Grainline Lark tees.  And I think the red plaid could make a really cute pair of knit Carolyn Pajamas.

Girl Charlee Knit | Sallie Romper

But my favorite fabric, and the one I chose to focus on for this post, was this pink, blue, and black floral baby hacci sweater knit.  This stuff is so drapey and soft! It lured me in immediately with it's fluid drape, super stretchy hand, and the floral print which felt very 90's-in-a-good-way to me.  I had one of those moments where, upon meeting a fabric for a first time, you know exactly what you want to turn it into. And for me it was this romper.

Girl Charlee Knit | Sallie Romper
Excuse my bra band!
Girl Charlee Knit | Sallie Romper

For the pattern I used (what else?) the Closet Case Files Sallie Jumpsuit.  I've been meaning to revisit this pattern ever since my first dress version and this was a great excuse to pull it out again.  This fabric was quite sheer so I knew that the only way for it to work was if I doubled up the bodice and the pants.  The Sallie pattern calls for a self lined bodice anyway, but I didn't have enough fabric to cut a lining for the wide leg pants, so shorts it was! And I actually think this is crazy cute as a little shorts set.  To do this I simply measured down the inseam two inches from the crotch curve and drew a horizontal line across. Then I eyeballed a little curve at the side seam because I think that's such a cute, flirty little detail on shorts.  And this romper is nothing if not flirty!

Girl Charlee Knit | Sallie Romper

The shorts are finished with a little self-fabric binding.  In retrospect I kind of wish I would have interfaced the hem and done a standard folded hem.  The binding got a bit wavy, and no matter how much pressing and steam I gave it, it still doesn't want to lie completely flat.

Girl Charlee Knit | Sallie Romper

And speaking of my less-than-perfect sewing skills, I really really wish I would have listened to Heather Lou's instructions about interfacing that v-neck! Total sloppy error.  The neckline (of course) gapes.  To fix it somewhat I gathered the excess at the point of the "v" and sewed a little dart.  You can't really see it in these photos, but it looks kinda intentional.... yeah... that's it. It was intentional. But, you know, I'm certainly not perfect, so this garment is just proof that sometimes I rush through things and ignore important steps.  But hopefully it's also a lesson in shaking off your mistakes, and wearing your me-mades proudly regardless of their flaws! I mean... I still got he wolf-whistle-of-approval from Nick so... that's something!

Girl Charlee Knit | Sallie Romper

So all in all, what do I think of Girl Charlee's KnitFix? I think it's a really fun idea! I especially think it would be a nice idea if you're sewing for kids, because kids can always use some knit cozies, and, at least in my bundle, there were a couple of those prints that I thought would make adorable kids clothes.  And chances are there will be a couple of fabrics in the bunch that you'll want to keep for yourself too. I also think it's a great way to beef up your knit fabric stash.  Sure, there are bound to be one or two fabrics you're not crazy about, but those are great to trade with other sewists.  And, I have to say, the surprise of receiving a package you have no idea what it contains was novel and... well... fun!

If you want to get the November KnitFix it'll be going on sale this coming Tuesday - the 10th. You can find out all about it here.

That's it from me guys! I'll be back in a few days with another post (I know! two in one week?! Well, let's not count our posts before they, er, hatch) but until then, Happy Sewvember!

xx


10.01.2015

pumping iron

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

'Sup dudes! It's the first day of October (as I'm writing this)... how did that happen? September, where did you go?

This post is going to be a bit different for me.  I'll just be talking about sewing briefly before I begin quite the ramble... This past month I've been experimenting with making my own activewear.

I go into a good amount of detail on the construction of each of these 4 makes over on the Mood Sewing Network blog, so I thought it might be nice to change it up a little bit over here and talk about making fitness a part of my life.  Hopefully this doesn't send you all running for the proverbial hills! As I said, there's lots of sewing talk going on over on the MSN site, so no hard feelings if you click over now and skip what's to come! I promise I'll be back with more shop talk next time.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

I began working out in earnest a little over a year ago and it's become a pretty important aspect of, if not my life than certainly my daily grind! I know a lot (erm.... all) of you come here for the sewing talk, but I thought today I might talk about my fitness journey and a few of the tips I've picked up along the way, as well as my philosophy behind the whole 'fit' lifestyle. I'm always nervous to tread off the beaten path and talk about my other interests on this blog, but I've also received so much inspiration, knowledge and even comfort from reading about others fitness journeys this past year that I thought it might be nice to share my own.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

Okay, so let's get physical! 

It was around this time last year that I decided I wanted to do more than the occasional, half-hearted attempt at yoga, and my daily bike commute in terms of activity.  This decision was brought on for a number of reasons, but mainly I just wasn't feeling great. And I also realized one day that I had sort of decided the whole 'working out' thing was not for me without ever really giving it a chance - like really really committing to it and seeing how it goes. I had been scarred by a childhood of always being picked last in PE and being the benchwarmer in every team sport I ever played.  I just thought I was un-athletic and that was that.  But with the distance of adulthood I realized that I always approached physical activity as a chore rather than a privilege, or - god forbid - something I could enjoy. And somehow this didn't seem fair. I figured if I was going to write something off as being 'not for me' I had to at least give it the good ol' college try.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

So I started working out. Every single day. I started small, doing a little circuit I made up around the house that involved me running up and down the stairs and doing a series of bodyweight exercises. I vowed to work out for at least 20 minutes every day.  Slowly I upped my game to more intense workouts. I discovered Fitness Blender (I'm probably going to mention them a lot in this post - please know that I am in no way associated with them, other than the fact that they have helped me immeasurably in this past year) and began incorporating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and weight lifting into my workouts. By Christmas I was hooked and I even asked for a set of dumbbells from Santa. Now, a little over a year later, I work out, on average,  1 hour 5 days a week with two days of 'active rest' (yoga, stretching, walking the dog, going on bike rides etc.) I now know (oh! how I know...) what a burpee is (it's not what happens after you chug a beer...) and the proper form for deadlifting, and I look forward to leg day!!!

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

I workout hard. And, at the risk of sounding evangelical, I've seen changes in my body that I didn't think were possible. But I also have to admit that I've struggled internally about feeling good about all of this. See, I'm a proud feminist, and I believe vehemently in body positivity and that size does not dictate beauty, worth, or health.  I spent many years trying to undo the damage of my teens and early 20's and the near starvation I put myself through in order to be... what? More worthy of love and respect? And I was very proud of myself that even though my weight might creep up on me, I still felt beautiful. That was a huge mental hurdle for me. So why was I now throwing myself headlong into this exercise thing? If I can be beautiful at any size, than why do I want to lose weight? I asked myself if feeling good about your body, and wanting to be more fit could coexist together?

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

Prioritizing your health is always a good thing, but I wanted to be sure I was really doing this for my health and not my vanity.  The fitness world is strange. It's easy to go from affirming, body positive sentiments like "You can do this!" "You're powerful!" to body shaming stereotypes like "Bikini Body Workouts" and overly cheerful trainers yelling at you to "Banish the Jiggle!" And then, oh god, there's the diets. So. Many. Diets. How does one navigate all the bullshit without losing their sense of self - and finding yourself, mid jumping jack, thinking about how if you do this you'll be skinny and isn't that the ultimate goal?

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

I realize I'm rambling now, but these have been real concerns of mine! And I suspect I'm not alone. Here in the sewing community we're a beautiful, diverse bunch and I'm proud to think that we foster a sense of body positivity.  In fact, I know I've been part of many discussions about how sewing has been a major factor in helping women feel good about their bodies, mine included. I didn't want all the good that the last few years being a part of this wonderful and supportive community have brought me to slip away for the sake of toned arms.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired WardrobeMood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

Obviously I needed to work on my own mental hangups surrounding exercise. For so long I've thought of exercise as a punishment, not a reward. Something you have to do because you ate too many oreos. Again. So when I decided to really give fitness a place in my life, in a healthy way, I had to change the way I thought about my body and movement. Over the past year I've come to see it like this - our bodies are like dogs (stay with me here).  Dogs love to have a job to do, and the more physical that job the better. We show our dogs that we love them by taking them on walks and letting them run and jump and play. The worst thing you can do to a dog is ignore it.  Bodies aren't so different. They were made to move, and by letting them move, even challenging them, you make your body happy and are showing it that you love it. Essentially, exercise is a form of self love. And I'm all about the self love. I also don't mind a good belly rub.

Mood Fabrics Mini Athletic Inspired Wardrobe

SO! Now I got all that off my chest, I thought I'd share a few of the exercise tidbits I've picked up in case anyone else is thinking of taking the plunge! Clearly I am not an expert, nor a professional, just an enthusiast who would like an outlet to talk about some of this stuff!

In no particular order, and accompanied by a few progress pics, because - what can I say? I'm proud...

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9 months in
1) Exercise doesn't have to be expensive
The fitness industry is just that - an industry. If you want to spend money there are a myriad of ways to do it. Me? I'm cheap. And broke. I used to love yoga but couldn't afford to go to a studio and never felt like I pushed myself very hard on my own.  When I decided to commit to a fitness routine I needed it to be cheap. No gym membership. No personal trainer. When I first began I had an old pair of sneakers and I wore the rattiest, oldest stretch pants and t-shirts and mismatched socks. And it worked.  Eventually, once it became clear that this wasn't just a passing phase I decided to invest in a few new things. First up were 2 good sports bras. Then for Christmas I got a new pair of running shoes and a super nice set of weights. Oh and socks (because no one deserves blisters - no matter how thrifty you think you're being). Over the past year I've added a few legitimate workout clothes (besides making my own as you see here) and a pair of ankle weights. And that's it! I work out 100% at home (besides going on walks and the occasional run) with Fitness Blender. As I said, I can't recommend these guys enough.  All their videos are available for free (theres over 400), but they also have 8 week programs for an insanely reasonable $10 and 4 week programs for $6.  Once you buy a program it's yours forever and you can repeat it ad infinitum. And the programs are good. My favorites are the 8 week fitness program and the 4 week mass building program, although I haven't tried them all.

2) I don't believe in dieting
I know that diet and exercise seem to go hand in hand, but I try to avoid diets like the plague.  This is because a healthy relationship with food is something I value and I feel like diets completely undermine that relationship (for me).  And at the end of the day, weight loss isn't my goal, living a healthy life is, and food in all it's glorious forms is part of that. This doesn't mean I haven't seen changes in my body composition - I have - but those changes happened very very  slowly. So slowly that if I didn't have pictures as proof I probably wouldn't even know it. But slow and steady does win the race. 

3) Make it a habit
This is that thing that everyone says and it's so much easier said than done. But it's true. When I first began working out I decided I was going to work out every day.  In the past I had tried to commit to a 3-days-a-week schedule and I always gave up after awhile. It's just too easy to put it off if you give yourself those extra days in between. Working out everyday got me in the mindset of "this is just something I do" - it was part of my day, like showering or breakfast, or feeding the cat. Once the habit was established I began working out harder and doing more intense exercises (like weight lifting) that require some recovery time. I give myself one full day off a week, and one light workout day.  And you know what - I kind of miss working out on those off days!

4) That being said... it never gets easier
Anyone who tells you differently is a crazy sadist! (Unless you're one of those people, then high five man! You go git em!) I still have to talk myself into working out everyday. My body still whines during my warmup "Why are you doing this to me?!? We were just sitting on the couch! What was so wrong with that???" If it's the weekend I'll still spend all day procrastinating on my workout.  But every. single. time. I realize that I've spent 3 hours being unproductive and avoiding my workout which would only take up 45 minutes of my day.  It's always a better use of your time to just get it done. It takes longer to come up with excuses.

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5) Come up with non-appearance-related goals and focus on those
The first, oh, 3 months I was working out I saw no physical changes. As a matter of fact I even felt bigger for awhile.  It would have been so easy to get discouraged and give up. But I was determined to make working out part of my life regardless of my physical appearance. I took on a "come what may" attitude and decided to accept whatever changes, or not, that my body decided to deliver. Instead I made myself small, performance related goals to judge my success. I worked on upper body strength. I worked on cardiovascular endurance. My current goal is increasing weight for my lower body exercises. These things keep me going. And occasionally I'll poke my head up, look in the mirror and go "Hey, that muscle wasn't there 2 weeks ago... cool!" It's fine to have appearance related goals but remember...

6) If you want to work out solely to look better, stop right there
In the past I would work out to lose weight for an event, like a wedding, or because it was swimsuit season, or to make my ex regret he ever let me go. If you've ever been in a similar mindset my advice to you is to forget about working out and work on being comfortable with where you are.  Buy (or make!) a beautiful dress that fits you as you are right now. Wear your dream swimsuit, whatever it looks like, and whatever you look like, and forget about your body and have fun at the pool or the beach. And your ex is dumb. Exercise is a beautiful thing, and as I said, can be all about self love. But in order for it to be that you have to get the basics of self love down, otherwise you'll be coming at it all wrong.

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7) Weight lifting is awesome
This is my final bit of advice, and it's one of the things I've really taken to heart from my Fitness Blender workouts.  When I used to go to the gym I would spend the majority of my time on the treadmill.  When I vowed to lose weight for whatever reason I would go for a run. I hate running. Hate it. For a few years there I got deep into yoga in search of that mind/body connection, but I always lost steam when I saw no physical change.  I've weighed less than I do now, but didn't look it, if that makes sense. It wasn't until I started lifting weights - like really lifting weights, not doing 50 reps of bicep curls with 2 lbs - that I began to see any change in the way my body looks. Don't get me wrong, cardio is important and yoga is wonderful, and I still incorporate both into my weekly routines, but weight lifting  is where it's really at for me.  And when it comes to building a stronger, more capable body that ages with grace, the importance of building muscle mass can't be overstated. It's also a great way to stay curvy while you lean out - should those be things you care about. This is why the only "investment" into my fitness routine has been a set of adjustable weights - so I can lift heavy.  Obviously 'lifting heavy' is relative - my heavy is not Rhonda Rousey's, is not Arnold Schwarzeneggar's! But you get the idea.

Oh! And one last thing! Don't look at the scale! In fact, stop weighing yourself altogether. It's not an accurate depiction of fitness. I only weigh myself when I go to the doctors.  Besides, we sewists know to put our trust in our measuring tape!

Okay everyone. If you've made it to the end of this ramble, thank you for sticking with me.  I hope for some of you it was interesting and not just a bunch of navel-contemplation! And if you feel like it, please leave a comment telling me about your own fitness journey - sharing is caring, afterall!

xo

8.29.2015

the dust that pancho bit down south

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Hey everyone! Long time no... post? Can you believe that summer is winding down? The mornings and evenings have cooled off slightly around here which has my brain thinking about Fall - even if the weather is, by all accounts, still sweltering! 

I felt like I've been in a bit of a weird place with my making this summer.  Blame it on a lack of sewjo, or what have you, but I've been feeling pretty uninspired. What's worse, is that I wasn't even enjoying wearing my handmade clothes either! Between the heat, and some gritty tasks for me to tackle at work, my uniform became the same old pair of cut off jeans shorts and my grungiest of tees and tanks.  Not only did the people around me notice my lack of usual polish (and by "people" I mean Nick and my boss, because let's be real, that's about the extent of my social circle!) but after a while it started to do a number on my head! I was questioning my identity - was this sun-bleached-frayed-hem-sports-bra-Sallie the new me? While I certainly fit in with my lazy island surroundings, the thought depressed me. So I resolved to try to kick myself out of my rut in the only way I knew how: by making something so darn pretty I couldn't resist wearing it!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

This dress came about sort of slowly. I bought 2 yards of this delicious Liberty of London silk-cotton voile using my Mood allowance a few months ago with no plan for it.  I had never touched Liberty of London fabrics before and I feel like it's the stuff of legends among the sewing community, so my interest was certainly piqued when Mood started carrying a selection.  This particular print really stood out to me.  It reminded me vaguely of a certain period of Disney animation - like the Sleeping Beauty era - where everything is highly stylized and you kind of suspect all the animators were experimenting with hallucinogens... I believe I described it in my Mood Sewing Network post as a "fantasy garden on acid" which I still feel is an apt description!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Well my 2 yards sat while I pondered what to do with them - I thought maybe pajamas, but it's so pretty I wanted the world to see it.  Meanwhile I was trolling some of my less traveled haunts on the internet looking for a pattern or a look that would get me excited about sewing again and I came across this dress on Burdastyle.  I don't know why I always forget about Burdastyle - maybe it's because they release such a deluge of patterns, many of which are just variations of the same rectangle, that it's easy to forget that there are some honest to goodness gems in amongst that deluge! I consider this dress (07/2015 #110) to be among those gems. The only problem was this pattern called for 5 freaking yards of fabric!! So I waited until my next Mood allowance rolled around and picked up the remaining 3 yards.  I have to be honest, this is definitely a project that would not have happened if it wasn't for my partnership with the Mood Sewing Network! No way in hell could I have afforded 5 yards of Liberty on my own dollar! So thank you Mood!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Working with the Liberty silk-cotton voile was at times both heavenly and oh-my-god-gouge-my-eyes-out-with-seam-rippers awful! If you've never crossed paths with these fabrics, let me try to describe it for you. In weight, this is somewhere between a cotton voile and the finest silk habotai. It is silky smooth and fairly sheer with a lovely drape that I would describe more as "floaty" than the fluidity of, say, a silk charmeuse. Basically it was the kind of fabric that if you bat your eyelashes at too hard it might flutter away! It does have the "stickiness" of cotton, so it didn't slip all over the place, but it could get kind of limp and wimpy when you wanted to get a crisp press.  I found that to get any kind of structure, like throughout the bodice, I had to utilize a liberal amount of interfacing, which I did. It also frayed pretty terribly with handling, so serging the raw edges was a necessity.

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

But oh my goodness if it doesn't make an exquisite finished garment! For eating up 5 yards of fabric this dress is remarkably light weight and easy to wear.  I self-lined the bodice for opacity and left the sleeves and skirt as a single layer.  This means that I have to wear a half-slip with the dress, but I'm okay with that.

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

There are so many details about this pattern that I absolutely adore: The slightly raised, cut-on collar, the deep, curved v-neck ending in the sweet button placket, the little fabric button loops, the yoked waist, the raglan sleeves, and oh my god that skirt! I had actually debated switching out the skirt for another pattern because I was worried it would be "too much" but I'm so glad I didn't! Yes it ate up yards of fabric with all that gathering, but the effect is a little bit Stevie Nicks, a little bit 70's folk singer, a little bit Little House on the Prairie, and a whole lotta stuff I love.  Let me put it to you this way, after finishing this dress I put it on to get the good ol' nod of approval from Nick and then proceeded to spend an inordinate amount of time swaying around the living room listening to Emmylou Harris sing "Pancho and Lefty".

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle DressMood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Working with the pattern was the usual head-scratcher that most Burda patterns are.  I've learned not to trust the Burda sizing, but since the patterns don't come with seam allowances it was very easy to measure the waist and bust (the only measurements I needed for this pattern) and I ended up cutting a size smaller than my measurements on the size chart.  The instructions were... an adventure... In retrospect, there wasn't anything in particular that tripped me up, but I'm grateful that I have a few years of sewing under my belt to help decipher the cryptic descriptions. Par for the course with Burdastyle, really.  But again - the result is utterly lovely so I'm willing to forgive any moments of confusion I might have had! In fact, this pattern is most definitely going into my "to make again" pile.  The pattern came with pieces for a long poet sleeve - you guys! Can't you just picture the ultimate fall boho dress?!? Perhaps not in Liberty... but in a more affordable fabric I might even be tempted to make it maxi length...

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

You guys. I love this dress. It was just what I needed to fall in love with my sewing room again. Give me a good romantic design and delicious fabric with a complex floral print and I'm happy as a pig in shit!! 

Now excuse me while I go sway around my kitchen barefoot...


xx