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Ever since I started this blog I had visions of diving into learning html and designing my own blog layout........LOLZ! ......obviously that never happened. I know very, very basic html (how to add a link, make things bold), but creating my own blog template was way out of my reach. Honestly, you guys, I don't know what I was thinking. I started my first blog back in 2004 or 2005 and even then I wanted to learn html, so yeah....I should have known when I started this blog that wasn't going to happen.

I found Dana's blog, Wonder Forest, somehow through the internets awhile back. She has such an interesting story in regards to web design. I was happy to see she designed blog templates for blogger that were in line with my aesthetic. I find that most people design for Wordpress, but it's not my favorite blogging platform.

The other day Dana had a sale on her pre-made blogger templates and I couldn't pass it up. I would get sad every time I looked at my blog because it was just so blahhhhh. It desperately needed a face lift! In case you always read my blog through a reader, here's a screenshot of what my blog looks like now:

I chose a very minimal design, but there are other more artistic looking templates if that's your jam. I still have plans to change my header, but I need to take a course or two to figure out how to do what's in my head. Anyone want to take bets on when that will happen???

Anyway, I haven't had any direct interaction with Dana, but I've always liked her designs and knew from the first time I saw them {at least a year ago} that I would eventually buy a template from her. She has several different pre-made blogger and wordpress templates and I think she also does custom designs as well, so check her out if you want to change your blog layout.
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Day 6/365

I skipped a week because I haven't done much online reading recently. Here are 5 things that caught my eye the past two weeks, including some non-sewing links.

1. I've been very fascinated lately with how nail salons do some of the intricate nail art these days. The other weekend I got sucked into the nail art YouTube and Instagram blackhole for several hours. I was really into painting my nails and using nail decal art when I was around 12 years old. My mom was super strict when I was growing up, but she begrudgingly let me do this. Although, I distinctly remember her saying I looked like a prostitute one time because I used pearly/silver nail polish. LOLZ!! THE HORROR!!! {Buzzfeed//Nail Art Tutorials}

2. All you sewing bloggers talking about making your own lingerie has almost convinced me to try it too. I've always wondered whether I'm wearing the correct bra size and I was shocked, SHOCKED to find out my size based on this bra size calculator. { The Sophisticated Pair//Bra Calculator via The Nerdy Seamstress}

3. Handy tutorial for adding an Instagram widget to your blog's sidebar. {Xomisse}

4. Well....if Cynthia Rowley is saying 'get designing', then I better get at it! Also, she has a line of Band-Aids and a patented bracelet that doubles as a flask???
{Cynthia Rowley // CNN Money}

5. The podcasts I listen to have been so varied over the years. I used to listen to a bunch of different hockey podcasts, but now I'm more into NPR ones (Planet Money and This American Life). I didn't think I would enjoy a sewing podcast, but I gave The Sewing Affair a shot and I'm totally hooked! It's not very structured; it's more like two friends just shooting the shit. I highly recommend listening to the episode with Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch because she talks about her shop in a bit more detail. {The Sewing Affair Podcast}
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ok so not really an entire day, but a couple minutes.

The other weekend I took out my camera with intentions of photographing some in-progress sewing projects. However, as soon as I held the camera in my hand I thought, 'in-progress shots? ugh, so boring.'

Bailey inspecting the laundry

And that's when I saw my cat, who diligently followed me into our sewing room. Yes, it's his room too because he's a cat and owns everything.


It was just me and the cat that weekend and he was being adorably playful without the bipolar tendency to suddenly bite me. In other words, he was being just perfect that weekend. And too cute not to photograph.

Overstimulated Bailey
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super late to the "claim your blog on bloglovin" party.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
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Focusing on one project at a time is not my strong suit. I love working on one project, then starting another, then another, and another. One reason why I have multiple projects in the works is because I don't like doing things like buttonholes, buttons, hems, bias binding. Things that usually occur near the end of the project. Things that complete a project.

Another reason is that I like the variety of working on multiple projects. It might seem like I'm unfocused (I admit that I can be), but really it's just that my sewing life mimics my working life.

Especially at my last job, it wasn't unusual for me to work on multiple projects every week. One time a colleague mentioned he had only charged his time to four projects in his 5+ years of working for the company. Another colleague and I were shocked; we routinely charged our time to more than four projects in a single week. Juggling multiple projects is not something I was just forced to do, but I also loved doing it. In fact I hated working on a single project day in day out, every single week, month, year. It would get boring, dull, monotonous. Being bored at work is the absolute worst.

To avoid becoming bored with sewing I tend to jump from project to project. 'Ahhh, shiny new pattern/fabric/technique!'. I eventually finish projects, but it's not unusual for them to sit on my ironing board or in the closet for some time waiting for the final details. It's usually only when I *need* to finish a garment that it gets completed in record time.

The photos here are the ones I'm currently working on. The cat sleeveless shirtdress (McCalls 6696) may get finished first because I'm really excited to wear it. It just needs buttonholes, buttons, the hem, and sleeve binding. It may also require a narrow shoulder adjustment, but that decision will be made once I can "wear" the dress all buttoned up and get a feel for it.

The vest (Simplicity 4762) is for my husband and is awaiting buttonholes and buttons. It also needs another good press; unfortunately I didn't understitch it and the fabric isn't pressing as well as I would like.

I started the Colette Moneta (the striped side) months ago, but had to wait until I found the right "lining" fabric to make it reversible. Just this week I sewed the black side. Both knits are very stretchy so I'm letting the dress hang for a couple days to ensure the hem will be even for both fabrics.

And then there's the vintage reproduction blouse (Simplicity 2154). I started this blouse at the beginning of the year, but it's sitting on the sidelines because I'm actually stumped with what to do with it. I finally scraped off most of the interfacing from the bow, but I still don't like the bow because it's enormous. And I don't like the collar pieces that are in the pattern. And I don't like the blouse as it currently sits. The keyhole looks odd without something tied around it. I may cut it open at the neckline and make a slight v-neck on the front. I really like the fabric so I don't want to toss this blouse into the failure pile just yet.

I anticipate more works in progress will join these guys because I recently bought more patterns and I'm dying to make this Simplicity 2145 pattern. I initially thought it was made for knits, but when I got home and read the back of the envelope I discovered the pattern is actually made for wovens. I think it would look great in a stable-ish knit, so hopefully I can make it work.

What's in your 'work in progress' pile?
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Another week, another round-up.

1. Have you heard of 'Fashion Camp'? It's a business in Orange County, CA offering sewing/fashion classes, workshops, and private events to kids and adults (although I think it's primarily geared towards kids). I think it's funny that I learned about this business through an article in 'Inc' magazine. According to the article I read, the owner is trying to decide whether to expand to Los Angeles or San Diego. It's an interesting business concept. Instead of a store that focuses on fabric, notions, and patterns with classes and events, Fashion Camp is strictly focused on the teaching part. {Fashion Camp // Inc Magazine}

2. I came across this tutorial for inserting in-seam pockets with french seams at just the right moment. The pockets in the photo above are the ones I'm using in my shirt dress for the Cat Lady Sewing Challenge; I definitely wanted to enclose those raw edges. {Deborah Moebes on Sew Mama Sew}

3. Dressing in only color. Seems like it would be easy, especially if you pick black or grey. But after reading about 5 different people who each dress in only one color, it actually seems like a lot of work. From keeping whites white, sourcing the correct color blue or green, not attending events because the required attire doesn't fit your color palette....woah, these people are dedicated to their wardrobes. {NY Mag}

4. I discovered another 'new-to-me' sewing blog with a very lovely aesthetic. Her post about the Colette Albion has given me hope that I can eventually make it. I'll dust off that muslin one of these days. {Evolution of a Sewing Goddess}

5. I've always wondered how people add a custom "signature" to their blog posts. {I Can Build a Blog}

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Little Apples Pillow Cover - Back

Another week, another round-up.

1. As if we sewists need another reason to sew and avoid fast fashion. {Medium}

2. Mise-en-place. A phrase associated with chefs and their insane organizational efficiency. Can sewists take a page out of that set-up to become more efficient with our practice? I know I definitely could (*goes looking for those shears and chalk pen and ruler I was JUST using*) {Organize Like a Chef//NPR}

3. Charlotte's post this week had me re-thinking the term "handmade" among a handful of other topics. The discussion in the comments is equally good (and I discovered more great sewing blogs!) {Seam Ripped}

4. My head was spinning while reading about all of Brooke's freelance gigs. Costume design sounds so exciting! She also linked to a video "what's in a ballet shoe". I did pointe for one summer when I was 9 or 10 just to get a taste for it. I never would have been able to hack it as a pro ballet dancer, but I've always been incredibly fascinated by ballerinas and the very personal and methodical relationship they have with their shoes. (Custom Style}

5. Ok, not sewing related, unless I can tie this into the sewing construction of tutus, but speaking of ballerinas, this video showcases the process three ballerinas go through to break-in their pointe shoes. I first watched it without sound and I still thought it was beautifully breathtaking. My mom always said dancers have the most injuries behind NFL players. And I bet that doesn't even take into account the destruction of their toes and feet. {The Australian Ballet//YouTube}

What articles/blogs have you come across that piqued your interest this week?
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quilting, quilting, quilting......I don't know what to think about it anymore. I really enjoyed quilting when I first started (maybe because of the newness of it all), but now that I'm really into apparel sewing, quilting has kinda lost its luster. That's not to mean that I don't want to do it ever, but man oh man, there is so much repetition in quilting and it really takes A LOT of patience.

Baby Boy Quilt Top

Anyway, onto the quilt. You may not believe it after what I just said, but I really did want to make this quilt and I am so glad I did. This quilt is for a very good friend of mine from high school. High School! ....that was so long ago! When I found out earlier in the year she was expecting her first child, I immediately knew I wanted to make her a quilt. Then I found out she was having a boy and I was able to start shopping for fabric, probably THE BEST part of quilting! And seriously, there are some ridiculously cute fabrics out there.

Baby Boy Quilt Backing

I subscribe to Sew Modern's email newsletter and as soon as I saw the white New York City fabric I knew it was going to be the backing. My friend and her husband lived in New York together for years before recently relocating outside the US. Even though this quilt is technically for the baby, I thought my friend would appreciate the nod to NYC. I considered doing some embroidering along the building outlines, but I was worried it would look weird. {ok, I'll be completely honest. I was also running out of time to finish the quilt and was concerned about how long the embroidery would take.}

Hourglass Blocks

While I knew what the backing would be, I had no idea what I would select for the front of the quilt. I walked around Sew Modern looking at every single bolt of fabric until I saw a quilt hanging in the store with a rocket theme fabric and instantly knew I had to have it! The fabric would probably play a bit better on a larger scale (which it did on that sample quilt), but I kinda like being able to read and see bits and pieces of it all over the quilt.

Hourglass Blocks

I had a difficult time selecting what quilt block to make. While I really like the "plus" design I made last year, I didn't want to make it a second time. {I also realized this is the third baby boy quilt I've made. My friends need to start having girls.} After looking through the archives of some of the quilters I totally admire, I ended up being inspired by Rita's (of Red Pepper Quilts) Ohio Star quilt, which uses the hourglass block with a plain square. I used her tutorial for making the hourglass blocks and changed the sizes to accommodate the finished quilt size I wanted to make {36"x42"}. The finished blocks and plain squares in this quilt are 3"x3".

Hourglass Blocks

I kept things simple {and easy} by only quilting in a simple grid. I didn't want anything to distract from the city print in the backing so I used white thread in the bobbin and navy for the top. I made the binding on the cross-grain using this tutorial.

NYC Fabric

I have always made bias binding, but after reading a couple arguments for cross-grain binding, I decided to give it a try. And then I machine-sewed the binding on by stitching in the ditch. I think this method will provide a more secure binding than if I hand-sewed the binding on {oh and it was easy and quick}.

Hourglass Blocks

After procrastinating for over 4 months, I rushed through this quilt in a couple weekends. I think in order for me to really enjoy quilting, I need to not rush myself. Seems pretty obvious, huh? I had a lot of fun learning how to make hourglass blocks, which is something I had wanted to make for awhile, probably for a year or two.

Finished Quilt for a Baby Boy

Here are the details in case you're interested. I bought most of the fabric in Spring 2014, so it's possible some of it isn't available anymore or has limited availability. Instead of linking to a specific online store, I included the designer's website and the full name of the collection and print so you can search for it and buy from your preferred vendor.

Timeless Treasures - Great Gotham Cityscape
Riley Blake - Rocket Age - Captain
Riley Blake - Rocket Age - Ads
Sarah Johnston - Mod Geek - Molecular Impossibility
(I didn't realize until I was searching online for the proper names of the fabric collections and designers, that this particular print was part of Sarah's winning collection for the Spoonflower/Fabric8 Geek Chic Challenge)
Andie Hanna - Fox and the Houndstooth - Dashing Bowties
Kona Navy Solid
Geometric Print (bought at Jo-Anns)
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Bias Tape and Piping
Bias Binding and Piping from Momen+
I'm going to try something new here. A weekly round-up of sewing related blog posts, articles, and snippets from the internet.

I know a lot of us subscribe to a ton (ok, hundreds....maybe thousands??) of blogs and we don't always have the chance to read through every single post. And some of us carefully curate our feed to a select few as not to be overwhelmed. I follow a bunch of blogs through Feedly and I like the "saved for later" feature because it allows me to easily select blog posts that I want to reference later. I know there are so many blogs out there that I haven't heard of so hopefully I link to something new that you may enjoy!

1. Ever seen Spool Blocks and thought, 'how the heck do you sew that?' Well, check out Rita's tutorial on spool blocks and nine-patch blocks. Every single one of her posts, and especially her tutorials, always makes me want to dig into my stash and get quilting. {Rita//Red Pepper Quilts}

2. This isn't entirely sewing related, but I know a lot of sewists use Twitter so this might be of interest to you. Apparently Twitter changed something recently about how your page looks, so here's a tutorial for adding a background to your Twitter Status Updates. {Dana//Wonder Forest}

3. This article/review about The Fabric Store and its LA location is from March, but I just recently came upon it when I was trying to find additional info about the store to send to my mom. I was very surprised to read about how they come about acquiring their fabric. Regardless, that store has amazing fabric that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. {The Fabric Store//LA Times}

4. Another LA Times article to share, but this time about highlighting a garment broker.....what the what is that?! I was incredibly fascinated by this article. There's so much business related stuff that I just can't comprehend. Like, how does somehow even know how to get into that sort of stuff? {Garment Broker//LA Times}

5. Here's a tutorial for installing a metal zipper. As I was reading this I realized I have never used a metal zipper in any of my projects. I shall have to try it soon! Another thing to mention in relation to Chase's post, is that she showcases a lot of projects that use small scraps. I have a bunch of scraps laying around, mostly because I can't bring myself to throw them away, but I never know how to incorporate them into my projects. I should take inspiration from Chase and start making some scrappy projects! {Chase//1/4" mark}

Hope all of you had a relaxing weekend. The temps have finally dropped here in LA from the 90s to the low-mid 80s so I was definitely much happier this weekend. That may not seem like a big deal for most of you in locations where 90s are the norm for summer. However, in LA most houses don't have central AC because you really only need it for maybe a week or two out of every year. But ohhhh shiiiiiit, when that week hits, you wanna die.

Have a good week, everyone!
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I could sense my iron was on the fritz when the digital temp guide wouldn't stop blinking, indicating that it was still heating up. Unfortunately, my cottons never got very crisp in the past month or two.

Recently I noticed that whenever I pushed the button to select the next temp level the once loud 'BEEP' was now a feeble, barely noticeable 'beep'. At first I thought my hearing was going bad ('oh for the love of gawd!' I thought), but then I came to my senses and realized my iron was nearing its death. And at the worst possible moment. I was in the midst of making a quilt as a gift for my close friend's first born! A quilt requires many seams. A quilt requires much pressing. A quilt requires high temps to get those seams pressed open!

I lugged out my vintage GE iron that I scored for $5 at an estate sale a year ago. I didn't know at that the time whether it worked, but for $5 I figured it would at the very least be an inexpensive decoration. I found out soon after that it did work (with a slight smell of something burning!). However I didn't use it much after that first test, because hello, burning smell. don't want to burn the whole house down.

But I was desperate for an iron. Thankfully the burning smell eventually dissipated and I was left with a sturdy, heavy hunk of metal that heated up quick and stayed hot! It got me through the quilt and some lightweight blouse making. And then one day. Poof. The heat disappeared and I was left with a cold iron.

Around this time I saw Heather Lou of Closet Case Files write about needing a new iron. I saw either on my blog feed or instagram that another fellow sewist was without iron too. I read through all of the comments on Heather Lou's post hoping to find a consensus on what iron to buy. However, despite a resounding love of gravity feeds, which I am not in the market for, there was so much variety in the reviews of irons. It's a similar scenario on other review sites (Amazon, BBB, Target, etc.).

Funny enough, one iron that has a ton of reviews and a fairly high average on Amazon is the exact iron that felled me: the Black and Decker Digital Advantage. I never thought it was that amazing, but then I remembered that I bought it sometime before September 2008. (I was still living in Long Beach when I bought it and I moved out of LB in 9/2008). For simplicity's sake Let's say I bought it in 2007. That sucker lasted almost 8 years. I don't know what the median age is for irons in the modern era, but I think anything over 5 and close to 10 is pretty good. Sure, I couldn't put any water in it the last year of its life or else risk leaking water everywhere. But since I wasn't trying to win any ironing awards I did without any steam function and resorted to a separate spray bottle to get out tough wrinkles.

I've been putting off buying a new iron for about a week or two. But as any sewist knows, you need an iron! I finally sucked it up and went to Target during my lunch break this week. Target doesn't have a big selection of irons in-store so my decision was already halfway made at that point. Thankfully my cell service was working pretty well to help me find some reviews. The online reviews (from Amazon) of the three Black and Decker models offered in-store were terrible. A couple Shark models were available, but I couldn't find many reviews so I passed on those. There were three Rowenta models and, while Rowenta seems to be a love it or hate it brand, I decided to buy the most expensive one, the DW8061. I don't have any good reason for why I put down the $50 model and grabbed the more expensive one. I guess I'm just hoping that more money means better product.....*fingers crossed!*

90 bucks later (ugh!) and I'm the proud owner of a new iron. I partially regret not buying the cheaper model, but I'm going to submit this purchase into the Citi Price Rewind program (with which my husband has had good success) and see if the price goes down low enough to get some sort of refund.

I have no idea how this iron will work. I really just want something with steam (I really have missed this function) and an iron that will have reliable temperature, especially a setting hot enough to get my cottons and linens crisp! If I remember, I'll do a proper review of this iron in 6-12 months once I've had adequate time to discover any nuances.

What iron do you have? Are there any brands that you absolutely love or stay away from?
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