Tuesday, September 22, 2020

It Was Always There

I think we can all say that it has been quite the summer. Mine began with my friend dying, and me having to completely clean out her house. But, with a lot of hard work, and very long days, I had the house on the market and sold in 5 weeks. I have been told that I should be hired to take care of estates. My answer is, "No Way!!!" Way too much work, and way too much stress to do that on an ongoing basis. My primary goal was to get the house sold as quickly as possible as it worried me having it sit empty. I ended up missing out on being able to work in my garden. But, I am not super woman, and I had to choose a priority. The garden will be here next summer :)

When I initially walked into the house, I felt a little overwhelmed, where do I begin? I decided that the easiest place to start was with her clothes. Get the closets cleaned out, and get the clothes and shoes packed for charity. That in and of itself was quite the endeavor. I thought I had a lot of clothes. One thing I learned is that she really didn't throw anything out. So, there were bags upon bags of clothes and shoes. 

A few years ago, I made this denim cape for a Sew News sew along. It's the Cape Super Express from Islander Sewing. I had a lot of fun with this piece. I lined the hood with a burnt orange velvet. The body is lined with a piece of home dec fabric. And, to finish it off, I used purse snaps for the closure. Sadly, those clamp style purse snaps are no longer available.     

I made 2 of these capes, 1 for the Sew News magazine, and another for the sew along. The cape that I made for the magazine has a lovely silk lining, and is made with 2 coordinating pieces of faux fur. You can see pictures of that cape HERE

My friend saw the capes in the Haute Couture Club of Chicago's fashion show that year and raved over them. So, I decided to give her the denim cape. She was thrilled!!!

After going through all of my friend's clothes, the cape was no where to be found. I thought that maybe she had given it away. But then, that was so unlike her. 

Once the house sold, I began working on clearing out the furniture that I had used to stage the house, and clean for the new owner. The furniture in the 1st floor bedroom had been moved out, and I went in to vacuum and mop the floors. While vacuuming, I closed the door to clean behind it, and low and behold, there, hanging behind the door was the cape. I couldn't believe it, it was there all along.

It was obvious that she had placed it there so that she could quickly throw it on.

The process of closing out one's life is one that I have said that everyone should experience once in their lifetime. It has made me look at objects and possessions in a very different manner. At one point, I was so tired that I told my husband that I wanted to sell everything we have, buy a tee pee, and just sit on the floor of that tee pee, no furniture, no stuff!!! Trust me, I am over that ;)

Along the way, I have also learned so many life lessons. With the cape, I learned that it can be so very easy to overlook things that are right in front of me. In this case, all I had to do was move the door. Just move something that was in the way. 

The cape is back in my possession. The temps are beginning to fall. Mornings are crisp and cool, perfect cape wearing weather. I think that each time I wear the cape, I will be reminded that in order to find what I want, sometimes all it takes is to move a door. Sometimes a physical door, and sometimes a door that I have created.     

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Monday, September 21, 2020

A Sweatsuit With Style

I would usually try and do an inspiration post on Monday morning, but I just have to share a recent make as I am so very happy with the pattern. It's the Off-Shoulder Romper from Ellie and Mac Patterns.

While it looks like 2 pieces, it's actually 1!

I made mine out of a great piece of ponte knit. The top band does not have elastic in it, so the sturdy stretch of the ponte works beautifully to keep the shoulder in place. 

I am not a sweatshirt/pant kind of a person, but I love this!!! As I was putting the piece together, I realized that the pattern is quite versatile. The pants could easily stand on their own, just add a waistband. The top could easily stand on its own. The top portion of the pattern could easily be lengthened to a dress. So, rather than just a romper pattern, it's like a wardrobe pattern. I know that for some, the off the shoulder aspect of the pattern might be uncomfortable. Little straps could easily be added. I have another idea of combining the Chelsea Raglan Tee pattern from Fabrics-store.com and creating a non off the shoulder version, which I think would be just as cute.       
As for the pattern, I absolutely love the pockets. They are just the perfect depth. I walked Berkley yesterday afternoon, put my phone in the pocket and never felt that it might fall out. 

The pattern is on sale!!! Even better :) Once again, you can find it HERE. It's a back to school sale, so I am not sure how long it will run, so if you like the pattern, don't delay. I've already cut a second version. The pattern took me no more than 2 hours to put together, so it's a fast make. That did not include the cutting time. 

I am so pleased with the pattern that I bought 3 more patterns, 1 that was free, and the other 2 were only a dollar...SCORE!!! You'll see those soon, I hope ;)

Have a wonderful week,
And Keep Sewing!!!

I am STILL having problems with sending pictures from my phone. I found that if I copy a picture and paste it into an email, it will go through, otherwise, I have no idea where it is going. If by chance you have any advice for me, I would greatly appreciate it. I do need a new phone, and I will be taking care of that later this week, so maybe that will fix the problem.  

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Tale of Two Tops

A few weeks ago, I posted the dress I made using the Islander Sewing Systems Easy V Express Top. I was very happy with how it translated into a dress.  

A number of you asked about the pattern, and the difference/similarity between the Islander pattern and the Presto Popover Top from Naughty Bobbins Patterns.

While both patterns look similar, there are some very different details to each pattern. The Easy V Express Top has a set in pleat in the back neckline. Look closely at the picture above and you'll see the pleat detail. 

You can easily see that pleat in the picture below.  

The Naughty Bobbins Presto Popover Top does not have the set in pleat. 

For the picture, I left the neckline standing, but once on the body, it will crush and drape a bit, depending on the fabric that is used.

The Presto Popover Top is much more form fitting. It is also has a fully lined front bodice.

The Easy V Express Top is softer. The front bodice is not fully lined, but has a fold back facing. The Express Top is also a much more forgiving fit. In other words, not form fitting. 

Both are great patterns, with easy to follow instructions. Both patterns go together very quickly. I can't say that I have a favorite, I like both and the subtle differences. One thing to keep in mind is that since the Presto Top has a fully lined front bodice, it does take more fabric. One of the reasons I chose the Presto Top for the white version is that it is fully lined.  

I hope that has answered some of your questions. If you have more, please leave a message and I will do my best to answer. 

Until next time...
Keep Sewing :)

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Moving On with the One Year Challenge

Oh the internet, it can be so wonderful, and then when it doesn't work, it's beyond frustrating. I have been waiting all week for my videos to download. None have yet to appear in my inbox. So, I thought that I would do a different post, tried sending pictures, and they won't come through. I have no idea what the problem is. I have a feeling that at some point, it's all going to mysteriously just appear. So, rather than wait any longer, I thought I would at least get you a little up to date on my 1 year challenge. 

All the way back to August 23rd...
I made this dress for a Sew News sew along. It's the Summer Breeze Top pattern from Hot Patterns which seems to no longer be available. Such a shame as it's a rather fun pattern to make. I took the 2 pictures to show that as much as I like those yellow shoes, I did change into my Keds to walk Berkley :) 
One of my favorite skirts. A friend gave me the Picasso panel. I debated for some time as to what I would do with it. Finally, it was a skirt. Since it was such a special piece, I decided to give it a more couture finish by underlining it with silk organza. It even has a silk charmeuse lining. Maybe a little over board as the back is a lightweight denim. I paired the skirt with a Molly Tee from Pattern Union.

This was a fun challenge of sorts. Helena of Gray All Day posted that she had purchased a large lot of fabric and would like to share it with a few others just as a goodwill kind of a thing to do. we were given 2 yards and told that we could do anything we chose. In the photograph, the fabric looks white. It is white, but it has tiny little yellow puffs all throughout. I decided to use the Odgen Cami from True Bias  and add a skirt, making a simple summer dress. The fabric is such a lovely gauze, so it floats all over the place. Fun To wear! 

A friend of mine had told me about the Scout Tee from Grainline Studio, and how much she likes it. I think she's made maybe 10 or so! I decided to give it a try. I too like the pattern. Easy to make, and just a great wardrobe staple. The skirt is the Summer Equinox Skirt from Naughty Bobbins Patterns. I really love this skirt as it has darts that give it such a nice fit. The skirt is part of her Summer Ensemble package. 

The latter part of August was so very warm. I just needed an outfit that looked cute, but was cool. I had the batik, so I did another Ogden Cami from True Bias Patterns and paired it with a pair of basic elastic waist pants.     

We took my mother out for her birthday, and I decided to wear something fun. It just feels so Emilio Pucci to me :) The top is self drafted, a tutorial is coming soon. The skirt is a piece I did for my Fabulous Free Pattern Friday series. You can find the instructions HERE. The leggings are from Sew News, and they are the Loveland Leggings

We're finally up to August 30th!
The tunic I'm wearing is from Alice and Ann. I really like the pattern as it has a lovely front placket. It's the Adley Shirt.Here again, I paired it with an Ogden Cami, and a pair of pants that are really a pajama pant pattern from Martha Stewart.    

The top I'm wearing was one that I made from a free pattern. It's a lovely pattern, but I'm not sure if it's still available. You can see my post on the blouse HERE. I also posted instructions on how to down load the pattern which you can find HERE. Again, it may no longer be available, but it's worth a try. The pants are a favorite, the Barb Pant from Style Arc

The blouse I'm wearing is one I drafted. the sleeves are from my Sleeves on Saturdays series, the Draped Cowl Sleeve. I also did a tutorial on how to draft the cowl neckline, and you can find it HERE.

And finally, at least for now :)
The skirt is from Tessuti. It's their free Libby A-line skirt. It comes in 3 lengths. Another great wardrobe staple pattern. The top is another from my Sleeves on Saturdays series. I especially love this sleeve has it has such a 1940s vibe, and yet quite modern at the same time. It's the Cowl Sleeve and you can find it HERE

This post takes me up to September 2nd. At least I'm finally in the same month!!! Hopefully I'll soon be able to figure out why I can't send my photos from my phone to my email address. 

Until next time, keep sewing!

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday Morning Inspiration/Byron Lars

I have loved Byron Lars since he first appeared back in the early 1990s. First of all, how could you not be drown in by that infectious smile?!!! The New York Times says, "he was heralded by insiders, and overlooked by the fashion system. So he created his own." And did he ever! You can read the full article on this incredibly talented man HERE. A very inspirational read.  

I absolutely love this piece from his current 2020 collection. While it has a vintage look, it is so modern and fresh.

In 2011, Mr. Lars designed the dress below for Anthropologie. To this day, it remains one of their longest running hits selling more than 60,000 and counting. You can find it HERE on the Anthropolgie website.

Designed in 2010, this skirt is just as exciting now as it was then. Talk about cargo pocket inspiration!!!!

I always love seeing a designer's sketches. What a gorgeous dress!

This piece is from Spring 2015. Absolutely love all the detail on the pants.

Mr. Lars is a designer who has never taken no for an answer. I think that you'll find the article uplifting and thought provoking. It would even be a great discussion topic for a sewing/design group. So much to ponder.

Before I go, I thought I would share a piece that I put together last night. It's the Envelope Dress from Cris Wood Sews.

I have this great batik border print fabric, and I thought the border would be fun running down the center of the dress. I ended up cutting the length and making it a shorter dress as I know I'll wear it much more often. It'll be great worn as is, paired with a t-shirt or turtleneck. Pictures of me actually wearing the dress will be coming soon! This is a piece that you can literally put together in an hour. Simply a great, fast make :)

Have a wonderful week!

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Friday, September 11, 2020

Another Hero

One of my favorite pictures from September 11th. One precious man, holding a sign with his blood type, desperate to help. His face speaks volumes. There's an emptiness there, the same emptiness that so many of us felt due to the shock of the event. But, there's also a look of determination. Determined to try and do something, even if it's just to offer his blood. Nestled in with all the other emotions he must have been feeling, I see love, compassion, and kindness.  

Amongst all the horrific pictures of that day, almost lost, is a beautiful picture of the true human spirit. A man who decided to stand up and do what he could, with love and compassion. Another hero of September 11th. 

It is our small deeds, done in the right way that makes us great.

May I show all the love I have,

In any way I can,

Wherever I may be,

Today and everyday,

To everyone~including me,

Since love is what we are,

And why we are here.

Now nothing matters to me more, 

Or gives me greater joy.

May all our world become,

One Sacred Heart of love.

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Feeling Beautiful Each and Every Day

Whenever we set a challenge, I think it's important to give ourselves a little leeway. After all, we aren't perfect, and then there's life. All in all, my 1 Year Challenge is going well, but I have missed 2 days. I was a little disappointed, but in the overall scope of things, this is hardly a problem. I think the most important thing is to just keep going.

Wow, how things can change in a month. I wore this outfit on August 12th. It was a super warm period in Chicago. A month later, we're having a high of 63 degrees. I actually bought the fabric for the skirt at Walmart!!! It came with the print laid out for a circular skirt. All I had to do was figure out the mathematics for the circumference of the waist. I've had this skirt for years,and I take very good care of it as I love it!  

The following day was a flight day. I made this outfit last summer. The top is the Chelsea Raglan Tee from fabrics-store.com The pants are the free pajama pant pattern from Martha Stewart. Just a nice, basic pant pattern.

I flew to Lexington, Kentucky that day. This was just before leaving and coming back to Chicago.

I absolutely love this t-shirt. You've seen it before. I had scraps of both the solid blue and the ruffles. Thought I could get a tee, and it all worked out. I used the Molly Tee from Pattern Union

Be sure to watch the video to the end. You'll see just how human I really am ;)

Because I love a rectangle, I wanted to give the Envelope Dress from Chris Wood a try. Super, super easy piece to do. Just 3 rectangles. It's not an actual pattern, but instructions on how to draft it out. As I said, super easy.

This little dress is STILL puzzling me. I was looking for fabric to make the Envelope Dress, and thought this would be so cute since it has a border. Pulled it out to find that I had already cut it. I have absolutely no memory of cutting it, and I have no idea what pattern I used to cut it. So, all I had was a front and a back, but I decided to make it work. Added some darts, made shoulder straps. and called it a day. So happy I found it as I really love the dress now that it's made up.

This dress has a fun story. I had gone to a luncheon. A woman 
came up to me and told me how much she liked my dress, and then asked, "who are you wearing?" I replied that it was my dress. She then said, "Oh Rhonda, I know the dress belongs to you, but who is the designer?" I replied, "Me!" She was shocked to say the least. Best compliment ever!!!


Another flight day. When there's a jet on the tarmac, I just HAVE to have my picture taken :) Hey, a girl can dream! I'm wearing a top that I made for my Sleeves On Saturdays series, the Square Shoulder Sleeve. I so love this sleeve in a stripe. The pants are another pair made from the free Martha Stewart pajama pant pattern.  

I made this dress back in April and I absolutely love it. It's Vogue 9112, a Marcy Tilton pattern. So perfect for a hot day. A little shorter than I typically like. I'll just lengthen it a bit next time around :) 

Another flight day, and it was cool for a change. In the video you'll see that I am wearing one of my most coveted garments, a jacket that was a gift. I'm wearing a pair of pants made from Simplicity 9017. It's just a great, basic pant pattern, and works beautifully with ponte. I paired it with a long sleeve Molly tee from Pattern Union.

I think that just about everyone who sews has made this Donna Karan Vogue pattern, Vogue 1250. It's out of print. For the life of me, I don't know why because it's just such a great pattern. One that's truly a classic.

We're finally up to August 22nd. I've had both of these pieces for quite some time. I was in a grocery store in Houston, my favorite, Central Market. I had just walked in, and was looking around the produce section when a man came up to me and said, "You are absolutely beautiful!" I stood there rather shocked. He then said that he just had to tell me, wished me a great day, and walked off. I thought, "Wow!!!, I think I need to wear this outfit EVERYDAY!!!" Truly made my day :)
The skirt is nothing more than a rectangle. I will do a tutorial on it soon. I just purchased a tool that will make doing tutorials so much easier. If all goes as planned, once I get it, watch out!!! ;)

So, that's it for the dog and pony show today. 
A number of you have sent notes telling me that I have inspired you to not only start enjoying your wardrobes, but I've also inspired you to do a little more sewing. Oh my goodness, that makes me so very happy. Life is so short, much too short to not celebrate each and everyday. By all means, wear your lovely makes, and allow yourself to feel beautiful each and everyday :)

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday/A Recap

When I was growing up, and would visit my grandmother who had NO air conditioning, there were nights that I thought I would literally melt. I would complain. She would answer my complaint with, "just lay still, you'll cool off." Oh yea, right!!!(Note the sarcasm ;) A number of years ago, before we installed central air in our home, my husband had been out of town, and the temps were ungodly. We had yet to put the window units, and I wasn't going to do it alone. My husband arrived home late that night, came upstairs where I had the ceiling fan as well as floor fans going. But, when it's so hot, they are just whipping around hot air. He got ready for bed laid down and complained about how hot is was. I said, "just lay still, you'll cool off." :) With that, he got up, went to the basement and came up with an air conditioner. I'll admit, I was grateful.  

A few days ago, a delivery truck came down our back alley and tore out our cable line, leaving us without a television. Well, a television with cable anyway. I told my husband that it would be fine. We have a television in our bedroom that doesn't have cable. I usually only turn it on for the news. With that, he went down to my studio and got my little television, along with the antenna, and mounted it up on top of our television cabinet. It's really quite the funny sight :) But, I have admit that even I miss the cable. The repairman is coming today! Hallelujah!!! 


Last Sunday, my outfit of the day was this Shibori dyed skirt and top. A friend gave me the fabric. You may not believe this, but this was the first piece of fabric that I have ever been apprehensive about cutting into. It just felt so special.  

I originally posted the skirt in 2012 :/ Wow, 8 years ago!!! You can find all of the instructions on how to create it HERE. It's really quite simple, 2 rectangles in the front, and 2 rectangles in the back.

In the video, you can see how the rectangular extensions on the top panel causes a drape.  

My top was made with the scraps I had leftover. Fortunately, I had pieces that I was actually able to match the pattern, and look like it was always meant to be.

You can see with the top laying flat that it is literally 2 rectangles in the front, and 2 in the back. So super easy to do. 

I just ordered a devise that will make making videos so much easier. As soon as it arrives...look out!!! I have a lot of tutorials that I have been wanting to do. A number of you asked me to do a tutorial on the asymmetrical knit dress that I recently posted. I know the top pictured above is very basic, but I think it would be a good tutorial to do as it's a confidence builder.

A number of you have sent notes telling me that I have inspired you with my daily outfits. That brings me so much joy. Believe it or not, I get up each morning actually looking forward to what I am going to wear, whether I have some place to go or not. This is the first time in my life that I feel I am really enjoying my wardrobe. Who would have thought that a virus named COVID would make that happen!

Have a wonderful day, and pull on something that you've made :)


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Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sunday Night Reflections


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All the Same, and Yet Different

It's a rainy Sunday in Chicago. A day that feels peaceful, quiet, restorative. I think that days like this are a gift, at least for me, as they are so very good for my soul. It's a day that makes me want to make soup ;) My soup posts are coming back. I don't know what happened. Maybe it's COVID...maybe. I always find it interesting how events have an effect on us. 

As I have shared, my One Year Challenge of wearing a garment everyday that I have made is proving to teach me so much. It's really taking on a life of itself. All good though :) 

The last few days have been difficult, quite difficult. I spent the better of the last 2 days crying. I'll be fine, in time. My husband has been so kind and gentle with me. He came home yesterday and said that he needed me to come to the door. He had purchased 2 containers of yellow chrysanthemums, my favorite color. It was a lovely day in Chicago. He suggested that we go out for dinner. We went to a wonderful Italian restaurant that I have never been to before. We had an appetizer of polenta with mushrooms that made me want to lick the bowl clean. We will be going back. If by chance you live in the Chicagoland area, the restaurant is Osteria Rusticana. Truly amazing food!

So, I dressed for dinner. As I've shared, I'm celebrating everything :) I made the dress below a few years ago. It's a very asymmetrical piece.   

Last Saturday, we were out to celebrate my mother's birthday. While it looks like a dress, I am actually wearing 3 pieces, and the top is exactly the same as the dress above. 

Here's the top paired with a pair of jeans. Each outfit looks so very different, and yet, they are all basically the same.

Here's a flat of the top.

And a flat of the dress. The only difference with the dress is that I added a flounce on the side. I think that with the flat of the dress, you can see how it was executed. I just began with a basic t-shirt pattern. It was cut and spread just under the but area to obtain the asymmetrical form. Other than the flounce that was added to the side seam, the bottom of the dress is just a straight piece. Really quite easy to do. 

If you would like me to do a tutorial on how to make this piece, I'll be happy to do so. Just let me know in the comments, or email me.

I hope you are having a lovely Sunday, and finding someway to celebrate the day :)


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