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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Life Gives Us a Present, and It's Called Today

Come to find out, the typical person wears 20% of their wardrobe, 80% of the time. 

Since last July, I have been on a journey to wear my handmade wardrobe each and everyday. There have been a few days here and there where I just didn't feel like dressing, stayed in my running pants, no shower, no makeup, just me in the raw ;) But, I think we all need a day like this from time to time. 

I have learned so much about myself, about my wardrobe, what I like, what don't like, and what I need. As extensive as my wardrobe is, I think most would wonder what I could possibly need, but by being so focused, I have seen the holes in the puzzle of my wardrobe. 

It's no secret that I absolutely LOVE Ted Talks.They inspire me, make me laugh, and give me so much to think about. I recently came across a talk that was done by an emergency room nurse. Her talk is entitled, "Change Your Closet, Change Your Life." She talks about how we "save" things for a day that may or may not come. There's a comment that she made that I so loved. She equates clothes, our good china, a special bottle of alcohol, even a candle as presents that we leave wrapped. But, what's on the inside is always better than the wrapping. In other words, using what we have is a better gift than saving it, and potentially never using it. If you have a few minutes, I invite you to grab a favorite cup of tea, or coffee, and enjoy her video.


With me posting my outfit of the day, each and everyday on Instagram, what I have found most interesting is that so many want to see inside my closet. I had forgotten that I did a video peek into my closet 4 years ago. In the video I talk about Jennifer Scott of  the Daily Connoisseur, and 3 of the books she wrote on living well. You can find her YouTube channel HERE. I also showcase a few of my favorite pieces from my wardrobe. If you missed it 4 years ago, or would just like to see it again, I have included it below. When you grab that cup of tea, make sure it's a big one ;)


Another "closet" video is in the works, so it should be up soon :)

What I have found interesting is that COVID is what inspired my journey, and it is what has prompted me to live as I really want to live. I do my best to dress each and everyday because I know all too well that this could easily be my last day. I have learned to focus on what I can do, and not on what I can't. Many or shocked when I saw that this past year has actually been one of the best years of my life. 

I love this quote from Gillian Dunn;

When we put excuses on hold, we find that the other side is joy, confidence, and freedom.  





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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Languishing Project Finally Finished

I have been lazy!!! As my grandfather used to say, 

"Pure dee ol' lazy!" 

That just might be the worst kind of lazy!!! I just love when some of those old sayings come back to me :) Not so much though when they fit me to a tee :/

But, here I am, back once again :)

Back in January, I was doing a bit of cleaning in my studio, emphasis on "a bit." Trust me, it is FAR from clean. I came across a jacket that I would like to tell you how long ago I cut it out, but it was so long ago that I have absolutely no idea! So, a long time ago. But, the good news is that I finally got it together, and I actually wore it out to dinner last night. 



The fabric is a double-faced faux fur. I was actually able to make the jacket so that it's reversible. For the edging, I pulled away the faux fur and just used the wool. The seams were basically done the same way. I cut 1 side of the seam down to the stitching. On the other side of the seam, I pulled away the faux fur, cut it away, and then stitched down the wool so that it's similar to a flat-felled seam. The wool does not fray, so I didn't need to turn it under. 


I know that the pattern has to be long out of print. And no, I am not a size 18, but I liked the pattern, so I just cut it down to fit me.


I forgot to add that I made a loop and covered a button for a closure. You can see that in the video. I really didn't want a tie belt. It just seemed as though it would be too much.  


I had enough left over to cut a little pencil skirt. The pieces are so interchangeable with other pieces in my wardrobe. I keep kicking myself about allowing this to languish for so long. But, it's done now, and I guess that's what really counts :)

Hopefully I have inspired you to pull something out that is long overdue. It's just the greatest feeling when something old finally comes to life!

Have a wonderful day!
Rhonda




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Saturday, February 13, 2021

A New Writing Adventure!

Over the years that I have been writing this blog, I have shared that I am involved with the American Opera Society of Chicago. I was president for 6 years, the first in the history of the organization to hold that position for that length of time. And too, a position that I felt quite honored and humbled to have held as Mrs. Rockefeller McCormick was the first president. The organization has evolved over the years, but what has remained the same is the desire to promote young artists.

Each year, AOSC holds a scholarship competition in March, well sadly, except this year. In fact, when COVID raised its ugly head back in March, we had just completed our competition for 2020. So, we were quite fortunate to have gotten it in before everything shut down. 

Like everyone, figuring out how to function during COVID posed quite the challenge. Thanks to Zoom, we have continued to have board meetings. But sadly, we have not been able to hold any of our events, and showcase our scholarship winners. So, what to do?

The answer was to start a blog, and once again, I am quite honored to have been asked to write the blog. I love everything about music, so I see this as a wonderful addition to my creative life ;)

This past summer I had the opportunity to fly with and become friends with our top vocal award winner for 2020. He has an over the top personality that just draws one in, the kind of person that makes everyone in his presence feel special. The board felt that a video of the 2 of us talking about opera and what he has been doing during COVID would be especially interesting to our membership. 

So many of you have been so very kind to me over the almost 11 years that I have been writing this blog. You have stuck with me during the times when I just haven't felt like writing, and encouraged me to keep going. Don't worry, I am not abandoning this blog, but I wanted to share that I will be writing a weekly blog for the American Opera Society of Chicago. And, I felt that the best way to make the announcement would be to share the video that I made with the amazingly talented Christopher Kenney. The video is about 28 minutes long. Be sure to stay to the end as Chris will have you laughing...at me ;)       


I hope you enjoyed the video! 
If by chance you too love opera, and would like to follow my weekly posts, you can find the AOSC website HERE. The blog is entitled "Bravo," so just click on that link in the header. 

Before I go, I would just like to once more say thank you to all of you who have followed over the years. Your support has meant the world to me!

Rhonda




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Friday, February 12, 2021

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday/The As You Choose Top, Wrap, Skirt

I can't remember the last time I did a Fabulous Free Pattern Friday post!!! At any rate, it's been quite some time, that's for sure :)

This is not a new post. I actually did this skirt 9 years ago :/ Wow, how could it be that long ago?!! I wore the skirt just a few days ago, posted it on Instagram, and a number of people commented on the shape, and loved it. So, I thought I would do a reminder post of the skirt. It is nothing more than a rectangle. It needs to be made in a knit. The end result is a piece that is quite versatile, and packs like a dream. And too, it's quite easy to wear.

Here's the picture I posted on Instagram. Since I originally made the skirt, I wear it with the drape on the side.   


Me 9 years ago ;) As you can see, I am wearing it with the drape in the back. 


I really like that I started doing videos to go along with my Instagram posts as it gives you a better idea of how the garment looks on the body, and how it moves.


And here's the magic of it all. It's just 2 rectangles with 2 ties. It cannot get any easier!!!


If by chance you would like to make 1 of your own, you can find my original post HERE.

Over this upcoming year, I am going to revisit a number of the pieces that I did for the Fabulous Free Pattern Friday series. It's been brought to my attention that they can be a bit difficult to find. In the event that you would like to take a look at some of the pieces I've done, you can find most of them HERE on my Pinterest page.  

What I love about this series is that it shows that fashion does not need to be complicated. Of course, complicated can be fun, but easy and fashionable is always a win, win situation in my book :)

Enjoy!

Rhonda




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Friday, January 29, 2021

Creatures Great and Small

Can you believe that January is almost over?!!! It seems like this month just started and now it's over!

Over the years, I have received some lovely messages about the little Christmas Creatures that I make each year for my husband. I absolutely love doing this, and he especially looks forward to what the new creature will be. So sweet. He now has quite the collection.

In the fall, while I'm out walking Berkley, I pick up seeds that catch my eye. When I get back home, I have a plate that I keep on my kitchen windowsill where I place my little treasures. They all sit there waiting for a couple of months. I usually put the little creature together on Christmas Eve. Talk about pressure!!! But, I have found that when I don't have time to think, the little creatures tell me who they want to be. I know that may sound silly, but that's how it seems to work.

This year I was determined to only use what I had picked up over the previous months. After years of collecting seed pods, I have quite the collection! So here's the little guy that came to life :)


His little furry tail came off of some sort of weed. 


He seems so happy :)


A few years ago, I found this old box. I had shelves and a glass front installed. So now all the creatures have a quirky place to live. The guy on top is just too large to live inside, so he keeps watch over everyone ;) 


I so enjoy looking at the collection!


I took all the creatures out of the cabinet and placed them on my mantle so that I could do a little video. 


All of the creatures seem to have a happiness about them. I think it's because of how I feel when I help them come to life. Who knows? ;)

I love sharing these fun little guys. Hope you've enjoyed seeing them!
 Rhonda




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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Sewing With Friends

With the pandemic looming large over our lives, we have had to figure out new ways to connect. Maybe I'm being a little too honest here, but I just don't like Zoom meetings. I know I am not alone as a friend of mine and I were talking about this and she too just doesn't like meeting via Zoom. It takes less time, true enough, but there's just something to be said for getting up, getting dressed, going to a meeting, and having physical contact with those you enjoy being with. 

Back in the late fall I returned home and found piles of fabric in my garage. At first, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was as if a fabric fairy had snuck into my garage and left me an incredible gift. Even the tooth fairy was never this generous!!! As I stood there dumbfounded, my mind began to race as to how the fabric could have gotten there. So, whoever did this had to have a key to my garage. There's only 1 person other than my husband and I who has access to the garage. I called my friend, and sure enough, he had been the fairy!

In the pile of fabric were 3 bolts of wool, beige, pink and a light blue. The beige/camel bolt had the most yardage. I divided the bolt into 5 yard increments and washed it. I even dried it! It felted a bit, but not so much, so I knew that it wasn't 100% wool. But, it is still lovely.

I gave 5 yards to a friend of mine so that she and I can do coats. Our coats will be similar, but different. In an upcoming post I'll share her coat pattern.

Since I have quite a bit of yardage, I decided that this was my opportunity to use a vintage pattern that I have had for quite some time.

The wool did not photograph all that well. I still need to steam it.


I absolutely love this pattern!!! I plan to extend the sleeves as I will not wear a short sleeved coat.


You can see from the pattern diagram that lengthening the sleeve will not be a problem.


My friend and I are talking once a week about our projects. Some of our conversations are face time, and others are just regular telephone conversations. The project gives us a great excuse to talk, and in the end, we'll have something fun that we worked on together whether we could meet in person or not. 

My friend who gave me the fabric is so excited about the project, and that I was able to find something fun to do with the wool. So, this is a win, win project all around :)

My friend with whom I am doing the project has an embroidery machine. She is making dragon flies for us to attach to our coats. The project just keeps getting better and better!!!

If you are missing having interaction with a friend, or friends, maybe you can take a little cue from us and do a project together. Like I said, just having an excuse to talk makes such a huge difference. 

Keep Sewing!!!

Rhonda          




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Monday, January 25, 2021

Monday Morning Inspiration/Carolina Herrera

One would think that with a pandemic going on that I would be blogging like crazy. But, it seems that my time gets used in other ways. I do miss blogging, so that's a good thing :) I have lots and lots to share this week, so hopefully I'll stay focused :/ Think good thoughts for me!!!

I have been so impressed with the Carolina Herrera Fall/Winter 2020/2021 collection. What initially caught my eye was the dress below;


I'm sure that what initially caught my eye was the color combination, that shade of teal blue and green are my favorite! I love the drafting of the 6-gore skirt, the tied sleeves,and the neckline. I have attached the fashion show video below. Be sure to watch for this outfit. It's rather simple in design, but oh so pretty, and moves like a dream.     


There were a number of baby doll pieces in the collection. The piece above reminds me of an old Donna Karan piece that became a Vogue pattern. If I ever get to go to another black tie event, I want to make this!!!  


There were a number of gorgeous sleeves in the collection. Yes, I know that the ties are much too long for everyday wear, but they are still pretty :)

The sleeves on this top/tunic are similar to a sleeve design that I shared quite a while ago for my Sleeves On Saturdays series. You can find the directions for the sleeve HERE.  


As I said, there were a number of baby doll like dresses in the collection. For most of us, the dress below would be just too overwhelming. It's lovely, just a lot.


Vogue came out with this sweet little baby doll dress. I've made the dress 3 times, and I have plans for another. I absolutely love this pattern. It gives you the same feel without being so over powering. You can find the pattern HERE


I have noticed that pantsuits are coming back!!! But, they aren't the overly structured suits that we knew in the 80s and 90s. I so love putting on a jacket. It just seems to finish off an outfit.


Friday Pattern Company just released a lovely, relaxed jacket, the Heather Blazer. It's on sale at the moment, 20% off. The jacket is also being offered as a bundle with the Chandler Trousers of Untitled Thoughts. You can find the bundle HERE


I so love this this piece, the color, the draped bustier. Just glorious! 


I included this dress as it it so Carolina Herrera, the giant rose embroidery, the empire waist, the bare shoulders. So very pretty. 


I've included the fashion show below. Take a few minutes to watch as I think it will add a little sunshine to your day :)


Have a lovely day! Just remember, you can add a little sunshine to your day in such easy ways, making yourself a special cup of tea, and serving it in a lovely porcelain cup. A true confession...
While cleaning, I have been known to strap on a pair of my favorite shoes and dust my bedroom. Amazing what those shoes can do for my spirit!!!
Rhonda 



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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Unique Vintage Opportunity

I received a message from a sewing friend who has decided to let go of a few of her vintage magazine treasures. Here's a sampling;  


The above photograph is from the book pictured below, an entire publication devoted to furs. While many no longer wear the real thing, I think the pictures provide inspiration for working with faux fur. 

The pictures below are from Les Parisiennes, such lovely French magazines.




The collection includes 8 magazines, including Vogue and Simplicity. Such a lovely opportunity to develop a library of vintage fashion.

You can find the Ebay listing HERE. If you go to the site, you'll see other pictures that I have not included. If you think you're interested, don't delay, the listing ends on Tuesday, January 19, 2021!!! 




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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Keeping a Record

 A few years ago I started keeping a record of the books I read throughout the year. What prompted me to do it was while looking back over the year, my first thought was that I had not accomplished much, and that I had not read anything! :/ But, once I began to really think about the past year, I realized that I had done more than I gave myself credit for.  So, for the last few years, I have kept a record in my yearly planner. I also keep a record of what I've knitted. But, I have not kept a record of what I've sewn. Go figure!!!

So, this year I've decided to not only keep a record of my completed sewing projects, but I've decided to keep a lovely notebook with details about each garment. 

I went online and searched free sewing planners, and found a few that I really like.

The planner that I will most likely go with is from Simple Simon & Company. You can find it HERE.  I like that it's very clean, and detailed enough, but not overly so. 


So far this year, I have completed 3 projects. Trust me, they were all quite simple. I have the swatches on my pages, and I'll get the details filled in later today. I think it's best to do it right away while the project is still fresh in my mind.


Another planner that I found that is quite nice is from Sewing and Quilting Club. With this planner, they have included a notions and accents section where you can just circle rather than having to write out everything. You can find their planner HERE


I also found a wonderful planner from Seamwork,which is free. This planner is based on developing a collection rather than just 1 garment.


There are pages that can be used as a sewing record.


But, if you would like to actually plan a mini wardrobe capsule, the planner will walk you through the entire process. You can find the Seamwork planner HERE
   

I'm really excited about keeping a sewing diary of sorts. I have a feeling that I am in for a learning experience. We'll see!!! :)




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Monday, January 11, 2021

Monday Morning Inspiration/Purpose

A very late Happy New Year!

When our world as we knew it seemed to end last year, I had my moments of shock, and then I decided to focus on what I could do, and not on what I couldn't. As it turned out, I had a spectacular year. Yes, there were moments that were especially difficult. Some of you may remember that a friend of mine died on May 6th(not from COVID), and I am the executor of her estate. Trying to get anything accomplished was so very difficult with all the COVID restrictions. There was one moment when I felt that I just could not do it. But, I allowed myself the moment, then grabbed my boot straps, and figured out ways to accomplish what needed to be done. I'm not finished yet, but close.

Although I had a wonderful year, I have questioned my life, and have had moments where I have felt great despair. Maybe you have as well. I came across this, and it spoke to me in such a profound way, so, for my first post of this new year, I thought I would share it. I hope that it will touch you as it has me :)


"What is my purpose in life?" I asked the void.

"What if I told you that you fulfilled it when you took an extra hour to talk to that kid about his life?" said the voice.

"Or, when you paid for that young couple in the restaurant? Or, when you saved that dog in traffic? Or, when you tied your father's shoes for him?"

"Your problem is that you equate your purpose with goal-based achievements. The universe isn't interested in your achievements...

Just Your Heart.

When you choose to act out of kindness, compassion, and love, you are already aligned with your true purpose."       




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