I’m so excited I can hardly think straight. Last night I got accepted to Bazaar Bizarre Holiday in San Francisco, baby! Oh yeah!
On December 3-4, over 200 artists will gather at the SF Concourse to sell their hand-crafted delights, and I am so honored to be a part of it. It’s surreal; I’ve always dreamed of being a vendor at Bazaar Bizarre, way before the thought of Nothing New even entered my head. It was a juried fair, and the competition is steep, so I will need to step up my game. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have the chance to connect with other local artists.
So if you are going to be in the Bay Area the first weekend in December, attending this fair would be a real treat. It’s free to attend, and the creativity will blow your mind. San Francisco is teaming with such talented and creative individuals. I’m making sure to drag James along so I can have adequate time browsing the other booths.
Now I’m going to close the curtains and do a happy dance, if you’ll excuse me!
Yesterday was one of the first gloomy days since we moved to Boulder Creek. At around 3, I walked outside to get the towels off of the line and was treated to the most amazing experience.
It started raining all around me (Lucky timing with the towels!). I was sheltered by the trees surrounding our deck, so was completely dry. I could hear the drops falling on the creek and the leaves in the forest around me, and it sounded like a chorus of quiet crickets.
Our neighbors warn us that the river will rise quite high in the winter. I can’t get a straight answer as to how far it will rise, so here are some “before” pictures of the view of the creek from our deck. I’ll check back in mid-january!
The cement piece is a bit of the dam that broke off upstream. James and I have walked up and down the creek as far as we could without flotation devices, and found a few of these dams. Apparently, when this was a logging town, the dams were used to hold up water and logs. When the time was right, the dam would be unblocked and the logs would be sent downstream to the next dam, where the same process would be repeated again. No fossil fuels necessary, I think this method of transportation was pretty clever. Now we use giant trucks that guzzle fuel and cough out smog, so the dam lays forgotten in ruins.
The story of how I learned to sew is long and complicated, and is still unfolding. Throughout my time as a seamstress, I’ve been very promiscuous with my sewing partners, teaching some and always learning. This post is an ode to my very first sewing buddy, my baby brother Nicholas.
My brother is almost four years younger than me, and is the closest in age to me of all 6 of my siblings (I’m the oldest). To keep us entertained when we were wee things, my grandmother would give Nicholas and I a needle, thread and small scraps of fabric. I quickly learned how to tie a knot so I wouldn’t have to ask grandma every time, and Nicholas and I would sew to our heart’s content. Granted, our initial methods were quite primitive. Instead of weaving the needle in and out of the fabric, we would pierce through the center of the scraps and treat them like beads. I distinctly remember Nicholas holding up a long snake of scraps and proclaiming “Look, mama! I’m going to make you a dress!” I bet if he had finished that beauty and shown it at Fashion Week, all of the critics would proclaim it “very avant-garde.”
Today is his special day, so happy birthday bro. Thanks for encouraging my crazy sewing endeavors from the start, and letting me know that in sewing, anything goes. Even crazy fabric-snake dresses.
So has anyone else ever there wrangled their siblings into their crafty projects? Perhaps even from the very beginning?
I know, I know. I missed last week’s frock, and I’ve got great excuses up the wazoo, but I think I might just put them in my pocket and deliver them as surprises in the weeks to come. But it’s gonna be good, and it’s gonna be worth it.
This baby was once a horrible late 80′s/ early 90′s dress, complete with shoulder pads and a lace insert. Those shoulder pads were each the size of a small child. I have GOT to start taking pictures of the garments before I cut them up, because this was one for the books. Here is a little taste of how truly lovely this piece really was:
It’s 100% rayon, which is technically a natural fiber. Rayon is made from wood pulp, but there are so many chemicals used to beat it down, I don’t like to put it into the “natural” category. It usually wants to be dry-cleaned, which is always a downer. But the colour, oh the colour! The dress was in good shape, but I don’t know what was going on with the fabric on those sleeves. Something funky, I’ll tell you that much. With thrifted clothes, if I have a bad feeling I just toss it out. Not worth it. So those sleeves? Gone!
With that large lace inset in the front, the bodice wasn’t of much use either . All I had left to construct a new bodice with was the skirt. So I trimmed it, ripped out the hem and used the extra length to piece the top together. The skirt already had pleating, pockets (bonus!), and a gorgeous waist band, so it only required a new hem. I didn’t have a zipper long enough to go down the back, so I sewed that baby up and I’ll worry about it later. As my mother says, “put your hair down and no on will know.” The waist has elastic in the back, so for now I can wriggle in and out of it with minimal discomfort.
The belt is from an adorable dress I got from SallyAnnK designs. More on that beauty to come.
So, voila! This is now my favorite dress! What do you think of the colour? Is anyone else insanely attracted to electric blue?
Inspiration comes to me in the most interesting forms. Something deeply inspirartional doesn’t usually engage me immediately; it takes a while to sink into my core. It’s something that sticks with me, that I chew over in my mind for indefinite lengths of time. Recently, there have been quite a few inspirational tidbits floating around in my mind:
A few weeks ago, I was working at the register, flipping through a magazine when this ad caught my eye:
Too lazy, too scared, it got me down in these bones. I can’t stop thinking about it, it makes me want to get up and get going! I didn’t even remember who the ad was for (Piperlime), but the words kept bouncing around in my mind.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about the interview Etsy did of artist Linda Monfort. The interviewer asked what the name of her memoir would be, and her response has been running through my mind again and again:
“I Used the Gift God Gave Me. I have always known that I was blessed with the wonderful gift of creativity. Even though I sometimes struggled to earn a living as an artist, I couldn’t imagine my life without the ability to create.”
Check out Linda’s shop!
The last bit of inspiration came from a much quarkier place. I was writing reviews for Bookshop Santa Cruz’s winter newsletter. Sometimes, the publishers send out an advanced copy of the book, and sometimes they don’t. In this case, the book had yet to be sent, and I was just reading online reviews and writing about why I was so excited about the book. The book was “101 Things to Learn in Art School” by Kit White. Her whole book is composed of advice to artists, and the first is “Art can be anything.” And I’ve heard it a million times. That along with “be who you are,” etc. But it just sunk in when I read it from White.
After these three things finally sank in, I thought about who I am in my complete and utter happiness. It made think again about what I want to do with my life, and it kind of kicked me into action. I’ve been thinking a lot about what exactly i should take advantage of and what I should do with my carefully earned time. After these hidden gems, I snapped out of a daze and decided to work really hard at what i love and be completely and utterly happy. I know everything else will fall into place.
Throughout my creative existence, I have heard many great things about sergers, including what an amazing feat threading one is. For this reason, (and lack of funds) I had been holding off on buying one for years and years and years. Then, about two months ago, I visited an old friend who used to work at Hart’s Fabric with me. She learned how to sew while at the store, and within a year not only became an amazing seamstress, but also bought and mastered a bottom of the line serger (‘bottom of the line’ translates into more complicated threading procedures and a more attractive price tag). And 4 years later, she’s still pumping out amazing delights with it. She inspired me to put on my big girl underpants.
So I bit the bullet, did my research, and came out with my new pride and joy:
My Brother 1034D
It doesn’t replace my sewing machine, no way. I need both. But now that I have the serger, I wonder what in tarnation I was doing all those years when I could have been serging! This machine works like a dream. Yes, it took a second or two to learn how to thread it. And yes, it takes a second or two to thread it properly. But it’s completely worth it, completely. My serger is dreamy, and my garments all have a professional finish.
It’s only been a handful of weeks, but I don’t know what I did without the serg. This holiday season I’m making my mother pull out her untouched serger and we’re going to learn how to thread it if it’s the last thing we do! I can’t let her continue crafting without this amazing device, it just wouldn’t be right.
Remember my fort? After cleaning and admiring those lace beauties for weeks, the time has come to liberate them from their monocromatic existance. Most of the table cloths and curtains were made out of polyester, which can be rather hard to dye. Lucky for idye poly, which has worked like a charm every time I use it. The only down side is that instead of pouring some hot water into a bucket and stirring it out on your back porch ( like I can do when I dye natural fabrics ), you must cook the fabric on the stove for an hour. Which requires a rather large pot…
Being the impatient little beast I am, I went right ahead and used our stock pot to cook up the lace. I could only fit one curtain at a time, and the pot suffered some cosmetic damage…
So the next day I went straight to the thrift store, and for $9 I picked up this big mama. Look at how gigantic this baby is! She is a lovely speckled black, and I don’t care if she turns into a rainbow delight with all the dying I’m planning. All the lace is looking delicious, keep your eyes open for the upcoming treasures they become!
I left the middle lace in the black dye for only 10 minutes, and it turned into a lovely blue-grey. I’m in love!
So…I have this bunny…
Her name is Emily Dickinson. She used to be but a wee thing, but lately she’s been packing it on. When we moved from our old house (last month), we wanted to build her a bigger hutch, and solve a few cord-biting issues. It has always been a dream of mine to have a little bunny hopping around me while I sew. And for a while, she did, and it was great. I didn’t mind her laying on my patterns. I didn’t mind her chewing on my scraps. But I did have a problem when she bit through cords with no mercy! She’s done some damage to my computer cord and the cord to my iron so far, so naturally I’m feeling quite protective over my sewing machine and serger cords. So with the help of my accomplice I devised a plan…
On our “staycation” James and I built this beauty. We were feeling so proud until we tried to fit it into the sewing room and had to cut off the legs to get it in. But in the end all was well, and I measured perfectly…
Do you see that bunny to sewing maching proximity?! I can shut her into the cage while I sew and still enjoy her company.
I’ve been holding off on this for a long time, but today was the day. I had to model my clothing for the camera. It makes me feel a bit weird, especially posing for pictures and intending to show them to the world. Luckily, I’m not the focus of the picture. And even better, my boyfriend James was the photographer, which put me at ease. And you know, they didn’t come out too bad.
The biggest issue was my hair; it kept covering up the dresses!
I’ve obviously never had any modeling experience, and I kept striking different poses to show off the clothing. When it was James’ turn to model the ties, he started making fun of me and doing sexy poses as well.
He sure knows how to show off that tie!
And after staying up way past my bedtime, my etsy site is up and running in full force. Check it out!
Wendy Mullin begins her book “Built By Wendy: Dresses” with this wise advice -
“There’s one surefire was to solve a fashion emergency: throw on a dress.”
It is so true, is it not? When in doubt, I always throw on a dress! A great dress can show off the best assets of anyone’s figure, and I especially love waist-hugging dresses for myself. But this week I was hit by a wave of bloat (you know) and I wanted to feel as covered as possible, while still feeling stylish and confident. Hence, the dollman dress. I can literally swim in the fabric on top, and a mini skirt bottom balances the bulk of the dress. Voila! Perfectly concealed.
I copied this pattern from a shirt I already owned and added a skirt to the bottom. The fabric was this amazing ribbing I found at the thrift store about a year ago. The colour is so delicious, I’ve been saving it for a very special occasion. What an easy dress to throw together!
Want the pattern? Here it is! So easy, it’s like the bottom half of a snow angel. The body was only one piece of fabric.