Posts tagged: sewing
May 3, 2011

Giveaway: Built by Wendy Coats and Jackets

I’m a sucker for these Built by Wendy sewing books because I am a sucker for Built by Wendy. Not only are her clothes cool, pretty, and effortless, but Wendy Mullin is like the WordPress of designers: with these sewing books, she’s open-source. I’m giving away one copy of her newest book on coats and jackets. FYI: This is probably best suited for intermediate sewers. To enter to win, leave a comment about sewing––your first project, your favorite thing to run up, or your worst disaster––by midnight EST, Friday, May 6. One winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!
Update 5/9 And the winner is Linda! Thanks so much to everyone for entering, and happy sewing.

April 11, 2011

Giveaway: Sewn by Hand

One of the greatest impediments to my sewing is the hauling-out-and-threading-of-the-sewing machine. Each time, I have to read the directions and take it one slow step at a time. Sewn by Hand is the very beautiful antidote to that. Another antidote: the author herself. In this Q&A, Susan Wasinger reminds me that the effort of creation is an offering back to the world. I hope she inspires you to create beauty in your own corner of the world in whatever way feels right for you. Enter to win the giveaway by leaving a comment with an answer of your own to any of the giveaway questions (whichever one strikes your fancy) by midnight EST Friday April, 15. One winner will be chosen at random. Good luck, and happy beauty-making!

What most inspires you to create, to write, to live well?

I have been given many lucky things in my life. I’ve had a great family, incredible friends, and I’ve been lucky enough to live in some of the most beautiful places on the planet. I feel like the way to honor all of that good fortune is by working hard, and taking on creative challenges, and spreading around the things others have taught me. When I get cranky about how full my inbox is or all the impending deadlines, I remind myself how often the fortunes have smiled on me, how often jewels have been laid at my feet. It would be unthinkable not to pick up those boons and blessings and hand them on to others.

What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Well my daughter picked this up in her travels through the world and I think it is very good advice: “It will all turn out okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” The other good advice is that you have to show up. You have to stand up, go out, and meet your life. It is no good sitting around thinking about things you want to do, places you want to go, the person you want to be when you grow up. You have to make that effort, and take that first step, even if sometimes that first step is a real leap.

Continue reading “Giveaway: Sewn by Hand” »

June 23, 2010

Easy, Breezy Wrap Skirt and The Meaning of It All


I used to have a very clear sense of personal style, and it involved a cadre of $20 vintage sundresses. But as my early twenties turned into my late twenties, sometimes these bare dresses seemed a tad too costumey and young. My style needed to grow up, if only by an inch or two.

I have been slow to convert to separates, in part because I do not have that magical skill of grabbing this, grabbing that, and putting something together that is chic and surprising and utterly right. I like the grab-and-go appeal of dresses. But after a long visionary planning session with a friend, I now see the virtue of a-line wrap skirts and crisp cotton blouses and low-v t-shirts. Especially because I am in love with the wrap skirt in Diana Rupp’s Sew Everything Workshop.

This one turned out a little less perfectly than my first try, made last year in a light summery linen. Perhaps I was less confident without my mom at my side to troubleshoot. I did learn some important sewing lessons, though, ones I will swear by on all future projects.

  1. Tackle a project bit by bit, an hour here, and hour there (that 5-hour window of free time never seems to materialize anyway).
  2. When you start to get frustrated, do not soldier on. Take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes.
  3. A sloppily cut pattern will result in sloppily pinned fabric, which will in turn, end up as a sloppily sewn seam. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but slapdash work along the way will turn into a slapdash looking skirt.

Wonkiness aside, I’m proud of this skirt. I am consistently amazed by the miracle of sewing. What sort of genius invented that machine, which makes no sense to me in its separate parts, yet somehow works? I do not, apparently, excel at spatial reasoning, my brain working overtime to envision the flatness of the fabric being transformed into a new form with shape and movement. It is so cool. And then there is that sense of involvement that just never gets old to me: having a hand in creation, actively crafting instead of mindlessly purchasing. I love that feeling of hunkering down into a process, sinking my teeth into the making of a skirt, and in some small way, the making of a life.

A big leap there, I know, and I hope I didn’t lose you. But it’s the same thing we’re always talking about here in roundabout ways but which maybe hasn’t been explicitly mentioned lately. These “lifestyle blogs” aren’t just trying to make you feel like your life should be art directed and perfect, that you should be taking the time to squeeze a gallon of lime juice for your next fiesta and if you’re not you’ve got your priorities all screwed up. At least this one isn’t. This blog is about bringing attention the thing things we care about, creating a life that means something because we’re actively creating its delights.

When we’re making dinner and making things, we’re engaged in a process––slipping in via small, unassuming access points to bring a meaningful attention to our lives. We can certainly bring that same attention to waiting in line at Taco Bell for our nachos bell grande, but somehow––maybe it’s the hairnets and the muzak––it’s easier to tune out there. But when we have the cheese grater and the knife right in our own hands, when we hold the scissors and sharp pins, there’s no choice but to pay attention, to bring awareness to our days and how we’re living them. Which, at their ordinary best, can involve chowing down on homemade Mexican food in really cute, imperfectly-sewn skirts.

February 16, 2010

Whimsical, Colorful, Scandinavian(ish) Fabrics