Gift Ideas For The Sewist That Has Everything

The first thing you need to do is get it out of your head that your friend has everything. She most definitely does not. There are basic tools that everyone needs to get started sewing (I shared some here), but there is a whole world of notions beyond that, specially designed to make all the tricky little techniques of sewing easier. And don't forget a lot of the basics need constant replacing. Take it from someone who has collected many tools over the years, sometimes in doubles and triples, here are some things I would love to find in my Christmas stocking this year.

Fall/Winter Sewing Plans

Considering I just came in from shoveling snow, I think it's time to bring this blog into the present and discuss fall/winter sewing. Well, just winter at this point, I suppose. If you haven't noticed, I'm pretty passionate about sewing clothing this year and with that comes an equally as passionate search for patterns and apparel fabric. It can get rather overwhelming (and expensive) and I've realized that a little planning can go a long way towards maintaining some peace of mind and getting shit done!

Choosing what I want to sew is a pretty organic process. I keep ongoing lists and Pinterest boards of styles and patterns I like. The mood board above is an example of things I've been pinning lately. At the beginning of each season, I mentally take note of what is missing from my wardrobe, return to my lists, and start to make connections between wants and needs, patterns and fabrics. At that point, I usually assess my stash and see what I can use that I already own before heading to the fabric store. However, it is usually a trip to the fabric store that really gets my sewing mojo going. I love me some freshly cut fabric, especially if you know exactly what you are going to make with it. So exciting!

Once I've gathered all my materials and pre-washed all my fabric, it's time to prioritize. I have two long Ikea shelves in my sewing room and I lay my fabric out on top of those in piles according to garment and put either the pattern or a little index card with a pattern idea on top. I love seeing everything laid out in front of me. It gives me such a clear picture of what I want to make and whether it's a realistic goal. If I can't fit any more piles on the shelves, for example, it's pretty obvious that I'm trying to sew too much.

My method is nowhere near as intricate as Anna's spreadsheets. I hesitate to even call it a method, it's so basic, but it's been working for me so far. It helps me to sew pieces that I actually need and will wear, to rein in my spending on both fabric and patterns, and to physically see my timeline and progress.

Anyway, would you like to see what my sewing piles look like at the moment? 

Megan Nielsen Dove

While I was gallivanting around Spain, some people were being productive, like Megan Nielsen who released another pattern, the Dove blouse. I had the privilege of pattern testing it in June and I'm so happy to finally get the chance to tell you about it, because I like it and because I have a lot to say. I hope you're ready.

Summer Makes

I know its weird to be reading about summer fashion in December, but bear with me OK? I had a productive sewing summer and it must be shared!

There seems to be a phenomenon among garment sewers, where an upcoming trip inspires us into a kind of sewing fever: everything we've been wearing all season simply will not do and an entirely new wardrobe must be made. Stat! It's weird, but we all seem to do it. 

Case in point: I made these five garments in the month before I left and I was halfway through a sixth when I came to my senses and decided there were more important things to attend to before leaving home for a month than making another sundress.

On the upside, a large portion of the clothes in my luggage were handmade. I want to say 80%? I'm so proud of that, I'm tempted to repack just so I can count. I had big dreams of photographing them in various beautiful locales throughout my trip, but obviously this didn't happen. I quickly fell into vacation mode and I forgot that I even had a blog. Haha! So these photos were all taken post-trip. At least you can see that they all held up to a month of backpack travelling really well!

My Month in France and Spain

As some of you may know, at the end of August, I left on a month-long trip to France and Spain. Paris and Bordeaux for 10 days, and 3 weeks through Spain (San Sebastian, Laguardia, Madrid, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, and Barcelona). And it was just as beautiful and delicious and inspiring as you would imagine a month-long trip to France and Spain would be.  

Before I left on this trip, I remember my mom asking why we chose the cities we did.  What are they famous for? What were we going to see, exactly? Besides the Alhambra, I didn't have anything to tell her. 

We were going to eat and drink, sit and relax, walk and explore, then stop to sit and eat and drink some more. We've done the whirlwind tourist thing before, rushing from one site to the next just to snap a photo and say you were there. I'm not knocking those kinds of trips. We had a blast on those trips. But there's a time and place for them. We wanted this trip to be different and we designed it that way, with more room for cafĂ© lounging, afternoon siestas and evening wandering. It was exactly that. And it was the most happy and relaxed trip we've ever shared together. 

Anyway, as you can guess from this already-too-long introduction, summing up a month-long vacation is tough and my procrastination game is fierce. I could easily write a separate post for each city. So, in an effort to keep this to one post and to get it bloody well done already, I've decided to just focus on a few of the things that really stood out and made an impression on me during the trip. As you might expect, these could be boiled down to the food, the wine, and the architecture. These also happen to be the same reasons that drew me there in the first place... or travel anywhere, for that matter. Haha!


New House, New Workspace

It's been just over a year since we moved into our new house, so it's about time I show you where I've been sewing all this time, don't you think?

As you can probably tell, I've claimed the attic. I'm not going to lie, it's pretty wonderful climbing up to this private space of mine every day. Add a window seat and it's pretty much my childhood dream come true.

What my 10-year-old self couldn't imagine, was how unbearably hot attics can be in the summer. With this year's constant heat warnings, I haven't been up there much since June. I've set up a folding table in our spare room for sewing and I do my editing work at the dining room table. It works, but it's irritating having to run back up there for one thing or another. Hopefully I'll figure out a solution to that problem next year. But let's be honest, I might not. Maintaining a house is hard, guys.

Me Made May Recap + Lessons from a Crash Course in Sewing Knits

Staying true to my lazy blogger status, here I am writing about Me Made May in August. I could just blame summer (and summer cocktails), but honestly, when I had some free time, I chose to spend it sewing. And that's a good thing. One of the reasons for my little creative hiatus is to reignite my love of sewing again, so it's working! Me Made May definitely had something to do with that. Let's talk about it.

Closing Sale

You may have guessed this was coming, but did you know it would be this big? A certain U.S. politician might even call it HUGE! 

50% off everything in my Etsy shop! Woo!

That's robes for $40, aprons for $20 and $25, tea cosies for $15 and zipper pouches for $7.50. A few surprise gifts will be tucked in randomly selected orders as well. 

Get it now or get it never, guys. Seriously. I'm not making this stuff again. Click here to check it out.

And regarding the Canada Post strike that may or may not happen tomorrow, I'm still taking orders, but know that it may be delayed getting to you as a result. 

Riding High: Darling Ranges

The Darling Ranges dress pattern by Megan Neilsen is definitely a favourite of mine. I've sewn two sleeveless versions in the past that may need to be retired soon, as they've started to show exactly how much I love them. So a third DR has been on my mind, and I was itching to try the version with sleeves. Then I spotted this adorable horse print in my stash. It's super soft and slinky, which would also be a first for me, but it seemed to have the perfect drape for these billowy sleeves. And I was right! Yeehaw!

Colette Laurel: The Tops

And then there were four.

In addition to the two Laurel dresses I showed you last week, I also made two Laurel tops that have had a ton of wear this Spring: one in grey chambray and another beautiful nani IRO print in double gauze.

Colette Laurel: The Dresses

Shift dresses are not my friends. Every shift dress that I have ever tried on in a store has looked and felt like a large sack swallowed me whole. "Swimming in it", as my mother would say. That's why I have always been wary of the Laurel pattern by Colette, despite seeing so many lovely versions pop up online over the years. Good for them, I thought, but there's no way that's going to look good on me.

Flash to four years later. It's the middle of winter and I'm craving something new and cute that will be both comfortable and warm -- a dress with a looser fit, with sleeves, and that can be worn with leggings. The Laurel immediately came to mind. After a few years of practice, it seemed I finally had the confidence to tackle this pattern and the adjustments I would need to make it work for me.

I'm so happy to say that with some patience, and several yards of tracing paper, I ended up with a dress I absolutely love. In fact, I loved it so much I immediately sewed another dress and two tops. Four garments is definitely worth the effort.

Me Made May 2016

Happy Me Made May! That time of year when your crafty friends flood your feed with selfies. Hopefully that pleases and inspires you. If not, you may want to find something else to do for the next 31 days.

If you'll recall, last year I participated for the first time and it was so successful in motivating me to sew more wearable garments that I doubled the size of my handmade wardrobe! I'm excited to join again this year and, although I still don't have enough pieces to wear handmade every day, I have some lofty goals.

I'm always been really intimidated by knits, even though I love to wear them, so I've decided to face that fear head-on and only sew with knits this month. I'm hoping to make a couple t-shirts, leggings and a maxi dress.

I'm also promising to kick-start the blog again and post all the makes I haven't written about since I fell out of the blogosphere last year. Better find that tripod.

Finally, I pledge to wear handmade as often as I can and to supplement with vintage or repurposed the rest of the time. Let's hope that the weather warms up soon, so I can break out my sundresses.

You can follow along with my progress on Instagram and all the other people participating by checking out the hashtag #mmmay16.

Let's do this!

Quit is Such a Dirty Word

I've been struggling to write this post for so long. But now I've started to tell people in person and it's stalling some other projects... so today is the day. Time to take a deep breath and rip off the band-aid.

I'm stepping away from my business.

There. I said it. No take-backs.

I came to this conclusion at some point last year, although I've been thinking about it for much longer. There are a lot of reasons. Six years of reasons. And, as as any business owner will tell you, those reasons are confusing and complicated. Why else do you think it's taken me so long to put into words.

What it all boils down to is this: I'm just not excited about what I'm making anymore.

You know what happens when you're not proud of what you're doing and you keep soldiering on? Bitterness and negativity with a side of guilt and shame. Don't talk to that lady at the craft show. Ha!

I wouldn't say I'm quitting. Quit is such a dirty word. I've always thought that a creative hiatus sounded like a dreamy concept. So let's call it that.

Basically, I'm taking a break to explore some projects and processes I've been wanting to pursue since I started down this crazy entrepreneurial path. And to give them the time and patience they deserve. I deserve. I feel the need to step up creatively -- study textile design, printmaking and pattern drafting and build my sewing skills. If something in there sparks another business, great. But if not, that's cool too. It's time I take the pressure off myself for a little while and just make things.

What does this all mean for Dear Edna as you know it?

My Etsy shop will remain open, at least for the time being, while I still have product on my shelves to sell. In fact, I just updated the shop with a bunch of new items! What I won't be doing is re-creating. So if there is something in my shop right now that you have had your eye on, don't hesitate to snap it up, because it is very likely that I will never make it again.

This blog is also staying put. As much as it can feel like pulling teeth at times (like today), I enjoy writing and want to continue to stretch that creative muscle. I've had some serious writer's block lately, but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of weekly posts again very soon. We have so much to catch up on!

So that's the plan, Stan. I'm sure it will be a journey full of ups and downs, as with anything, but it should be interesting, at least. I hope you'll join me for the ride!