...So Far in 2023...

 Obviously, when I mentioned in my last (long ago) post that I might not be spending as much time blogging in the future, I wasn't kidding.  It is funny, even though I am a technology luddite, I have moved with some modicum of grace, to using Instagram.  When my boys set up this blog eons ago (in technology years...kind of like dog years, but a much bigger multiple!) I never imagined that I would be able to do it...and I felt the same way when I was introduced to Instagram.  I guess you can teach an old dog something new.  I am sure that there will be a new 'sharing platform' at some point, and we'll see if the dog is too old at that point.  But for now, I am enjoying being able to share my sewing adventures and peek in on other creative adventurers quickly and without having to spend too many minutes a day in front of a screen.  If you are interested in peeking in on me, I am at "beckysewsalot" and I do pop in some pictures with a bit more regularity there.  

Since it's been a while 😉 I'll do a bit of a whirlwind tour of what I have been working on so far in 2023...

My British son came to visit over the Christmas/New Year holidays and, as usual, had a sewing project for me.  While this corduroy and flannel vest looks completely out of place in our palm tree lined back garden, he assures me that it is "the best vest EVER" for wearing while cider making in the English countryside.  It is always fun to see what he wants me to make, and it is nice that he actually uses and likes the finished products.  

You may recall that for the past few years I have given myself a creative challenge to keep my making spirit entertained throughout the year.  It started during Covid when I really needed the creative nudge, but it has become a bit of a tradition at this point.  My first challenge was to make a white shirt each month during 2021.  In 2022 I decided I would make a variation of the same pattern each month and chose the Tabula Rasa Jacket by Fit For Art as my starting point.  I had a lot of fun last year working with Threads Magazine and Fit For Art creating the garments and posting them as part of the Threads Insider online "magazine."



This year I am again working with Threads to post my monthly projects, but this time around I am calling it "The Year of RE."  I realized that I really don't need many clothes at this point in my life, but I really do need to have the stimulation and fun of making them.  So...I am taking something that already exists, like a garment that I made that was not all that successful or that I am not wearing, or a tea towel, or vintage linen of some sort....and "RE" something it.  I made 12 cards with "RE" words that will be my inspiration each month and I will choose a project based on the word I pick from my cards.

So far in January I chose "reinvent" and took a linen jumpsuit that was languishing in the closet and turned it into a pair of shorts and a top.  I also "reinvented" a bias cut scarf that I wasn't wearing any longer and ended up with a halter top that is really great on warm days here in my southernmost spot.

In February I chose "remake."  I started with a wrap top that I really liked, but found too "fancy and fussy" for most of my days at this point.  I "remade" it into an easy to wear 'boxy' top that feels much more like my style.

January and February have been posted on Threads and March has been submitted (hint, hint....I started with Turkish towels) and will be up soon.  I am very much enjoying 'revisiting' some of these projects.  It is much more challenging than just starting with new fabric.  Figuring out how to take the original thought and turn it into a new one is keeping my monkey brain busy for sure.  We'll see what the northernmost closet has in store as I make my way north this month.

Here are a few other fun things that have been keeping me happily sewing this year....

Bridgerton inspired outfits for a charity benefit....

Baby mermaids outfits for a new little Conch...(that's what we call folks who are actually born on Key West.)

A new travel tote bag (because I can't NOT make a new bag!!!!) for my first airplane trip since 2020.  

I went to a Design Outside the Lines retreat with Diane Ericson and Carol Lee Shanks in Ashland, Oregon in March.  It felt really good to be among my "tribe" creating again.  I worked on a zero waste dress design that I did all by hand.  Sitting and stitching with the group in Ashland was just the therapy I was needing.

I'm becoming more comfortable with our North/South routine and do find that I love being in each place and miss each place at the same time.  Right now I am ready to leave the too warm days in Key West and head for the cooler, springtime days in Michigan.  I know in November I'll be ready to leave the snow and head back to my orchids and I think that means I am in the right place (s) for me right now. 


Bags, Hats and Transitions

 I have been "blogging" here since 2016.  It was the year I retired and my clever sons helped me start "Trial Balloons" to keep me out of trouble as I navigated the transition from working stiff to retiree.  I have shared my sewing room adventures and my journey to full fledged retired person, which was not always a smooth ride.  But, as with all my life transitions, sewing has been the steady rock that keeps me connected to my creativity and often to my sanity!  I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed writing and sharing my projects here and with Threads Magazine.  I wasn't sure if I would like it or be any good at it...I have confirmed that I like it...I'll have to let you all decide if I am actually any good at it!  

Recently I have been sharing my projects on an instagram feed. (I think that is the right name for it?)  You can find it at @beckysewsalot.  I am finding that by the time I have posted something on instagram and maybe written a post for the Threads site that another post here feels quite repetitive!  I do try to share different things in different places but, it's a lot of sharing and I need time to actually sew!  I am liking the instagram format and how quick and easy it is to post something.  I find that I am using it much more often than I have been posting here...you may have noticed the lengthening intervals between my blog posts..... I have noticed that many of the blogs that I have followed along with are making the same observations and some have completely moved from the blog format to the instagram platform.  While I haven't decided yet if I will wrap things up here and move completely to instagram for my sharing, I do want to recognize that I am not here as often as I used to be and hope that those of you who have been following along on this adventure with me will be willing to come on over and see how instagram works.  For now I will keep both, but may not be as active here as before.

...alright...now for some sewing!

You all know I am a total "Bag Lady."  I love making me a bag!  This past year I think I may have added a new accessory to my list.  HATS!  Yup, I have been making hats.  Mainly, bucket hats.  My son likes to wear them for working outside and has asked for some.  And I love making the cute little ones as baby gifts.  I finally got around to making one for myself which I love.  It's not a bucket, but I really enjoyed using the same techniques from the buckets to make a sunny hat version.  As with my bags, I think there may be lots of tweaking and prototyping to get to the "perfect" hat...but that's the fun!  

Here is the last batch of buckets for my son...

Here is the latest baby version...I have a little pea head, but this is even too small for me!  

Just so you don't think I have completely abandoned my bag fetish...here is the latest bag adventure...my sewing buddy wanted to make her own version of my convertible back-pack...she was a trooper!  I can figure it out but writing the instructions is a whole other skill set...maybe some day!  But she hung in and got a great little bag.  

....And my sunny hat!  

I am also having a moment with a new pattern that I made for using jersey and woven fabrics together.  The dress in the picture with my new red bag is the long version and the shirt in the sunny hat picture is a short version.  It has cut-on sleeves, is finished with ribbing at the neck, hem and cuffs, and takes about a half hour to make!!!!!  There will definitely be more of these down the pike!

Please also check out the Threads Magazine site for the series I have been doing this year, "Riffs on a Tried and True Pattern."  I don't post those projects here until Threads posts them so that's the best way to see them right away.  

I am very grateful for the comments and thoughts that have been shared here and hope we can continue to share here (though not as often) at Threads and on @beckysewsalot!  Thanks for coming along!


Two Special Dresses for Special Memories

 A friend called me that other day and asked if I was OK?  I'm fine!  She said, "Well, you haven't updated your blog in a while, and I wondered if you were still around."   

Ooops!  I guess it has been a while...

My sewing challenge this year is to make a garment each month starting with the Tabula Rasa Jacket pattern from Fit For Art patterns.  It is going very well.  I am really enjoying the different things I have made and still have some ideas that I am excited to sew.  The tricky part is, that I asked Threads Magazine if they would like to follow along and they did.  Great!  BUT...they ask that I not post something that will be on their site before they post it.  That means, by the time they get the monthly challenge garment posted, I am a month or two ahead of them.  By that time I have moved on and forget to go back and post the garments here!  ANYWAY....it's all good and I will try to remember to share them here.

My April project was an Easter dress.  I can't remember the last time I actually got a new Easter dress.  Growing up it was a huge spring ritual.  The dress, new shoes, the hat, the gloves and the coat.  All very proper.  Many of my projects are inspired by a particular fabric and the minty green linen that had been languishing in my stash, called out to be an Easter dress.  

Truth be told, it was basically a shirt dress. Pretty darn simple.  But the collar that I chose and the ceramic buttons really made the simple lines seem very special.

I spent most of an afternoon drafting a cut on facing that would hold the collar only to realize that there was no way I would have enough fabric to do a facing.  Plan B....

I found a really lovely cotton batik that looked just great with my linen.  Not only did I get the facings that I needed, I was able to add pockets to the dress as well....yeah for plan B's. 

I am really pleased with the final dress...Easter Parade here I come!

...so that was April...My May creation has just been posted on the Threads site so I can share that one as well....

In May I made another dress.  This time it was an homage to my birthday.  I decided I would make a dress that  referenced my birth year.  195? ahem.....OK, yes, I am old!  It would have a fitted bodice with a cut-on wing collar and a full 'twirly' skirt.  It was a bit of a breech of protocol, because I started with the design before I had the fabric.  This usually does not end well.  

I figured that cotton broadcloth would be a great choice for the given idea, and that I would have no trouble finding something I liked in one of several quilt shops in my area.  Hmmmm...think again!
I just couldn't come up with anything that had the 1950's color vibe that was in my head.  Another Plan B...

I ended up finding a lovely tablecloth with just the right color quality and even came up with vintage buttons and a belt buckle to complete the dress!  The Tabula Rasa pattern worked really well to make the fitted bodice.  I was worried that the large scale print would be hard to match, but it turned out just perfectly...I think!

I have no idea if I will ever have an occasion to wear my birthday dress, but it was so much fun to create.  

An homage to the 1950's would not be complete without a hula-hoop...so I will leave you with this...

Happy Birthday to me!!!!


Home is Where the Cat is!

 Yes!  I did make it back to Michigan!   I am still feeling my way through this snowbird life that we are living.  I get my notes out to remind me how to hook up the outside shower and call the garbage service to let them know we will be making garbage for them again....I know I will figure it out, but it's still pretty new and I have to remember that I am on a steep learning curve!  Like....running out of white thread!!!  I didn't even know that was a thing!?  This unlikely situation happens when you are quite sure that you bought two spools of white thread recently, BUT they happen to have been purchased in the OTHER state! ...and please, know that I am immensely grateful for all of these non problems that pop up in my very blessed life.  I do know how truly lucky I am.

The one member of this snowbirdy group who seems to take it all in stride is our amazing 22 year old cat! (I also didn't know that 22 year old cats were a thing?!)  She has learned to tolerate riding in the car, not always her favorite thing, and while she does have a cozy felted basket to ride in, her preferred spot is right under my feet.  

...and she has no objections to hotel stays, as long as there is a king sized bed to curl up on....

We're not sure but we think she might be immortal!

I have done a bit of sewing but some of it is for my Threads online series, "Riffs on a Tried and True Pattern."  I am making a garment each month starting with The Fit For Art Tabula Rasa pattern.  Threads is posting them on their website, but while I have just finished my May project, they are just getting ready to post the April installment.  I'll share more of them once they are posted at Threads.

I have been surprised at how much time I am spending on these projects.  It has been really fun, but also means I don't have a lot of other sewing projects to share.  I did make a new shirt to wear on our trip north.  I have been trying to figure out how to use a cotton jersey panel that I got from Marcy Tilton's website.  It looks like a Matisse painting...I'm not even sure if I have it the right way up!  I used my Merchant and Mills Fielder Dress hack and combined the panel with a turquoise jersey and a grey and white striped jersey to make the seam inserts.  It's a bit 'festive' but I like it!  It was the final project of the Southernmost season...

My first project of the Northernmost season was a trial balloon of a skort.  I have a few skorts that I wear ALL the time and have had trouble finding new ones.  I decided I could probably figure out how to make one...I devised a gored skirt with a wide stretchy waist band and hooked a pair of leggings to the inside.  This go is a bit rough around the edges, but I think it is a definite proof of concept.  I'll try again with a few tweaks, but I think this one is actually wearable.

...and I couldn't have done it without my favorite assistant....

I am patiently waiting for the rainy weather to give way to the lovely Michigan summer that I know is right around the corner.  I will be happily rooting around in my Michigan fabric stash for a few more summer projects....I might need to make a few notes so I remember where the white thread is!