Cat Pillows

Pattern: envelope pillow case (I like this tutorial)
Fabric: design by me, printed with Spoonflower
Cost: $38 for four pillows

Well, I'm baaack! After a month of studying, no sewing (no fun!), and 645 ignored posts in my blog reader, I'm happy to make a triumphant return to the sewing blog world. 

My first project back ticks the boxes for both selfless and social sewing: cat pillows for one of my bffs and my entry into Miss Crayola Creepy's Cat Lady Sewing Challenge. Who says you can't participate if you don't own cat?!

For my friend's birthday, she requested pillows of her beloved feline, Lucifer "Lucy" Chao. We were inspired by these animal pillows we saw in a shop in Austin, and so I made some up for her featuring pop-art renditions of Lucy. Each pillow has a different image on the front, and a coordinating color on the back. 

The images themselves are actually not that difficult to make. I played around in Photoshop until I found a technique that worked for me, and here's what I ended up with:

Step 1: Select photo
Step 2: Erase the background: Add layer mask - paint in black to erase/white to undo
Step 3: Desaturate: Image - Adjustments - Desaturate
Step 4: Add artistic effect: Filter - Sketch - Photocopy Effect (adjust as desired; may need to adjust contrast on original image)
Step 5: Cut out white pixels: Use the Magic Wand to select and cut out white pixels in image
Step 6: Color: Color fill layer - Choose desired line color - Make clipping mask
Step 7: Fill: Create a new layer behind the lines, paint in with desired fill color
Step 8: Add artistic effect: Filter - Sketch - Halftone Pattern Effect (adjust as desired)
Finish: Can be printed and ironed onto a pillow, or sent to Spoonflower

A zoomed in version of the final product:

I had Mr. Made blow up my images in Illustrator (complete with cutting lines), and sent it off to Spoonflower. While I had heard a lot about the service, this was my first time using Spoonflower and I have to say that I'm impressed! For $18.75 including shipping, they printed up my exact images on a yard of fabric and had it mailed to me in under two weeks. The cotton was a bit more sheer than I had expected, but the colors were true and bright. Of course, the yardage isn't cheaper than most fabrics you can get in a fabric shop, but for a special-occasion custom print I was very happy. Including custom fabric printing, coordinating fabric, and the pillow inside each cover, the total cost for each came to less than $10 per cushion.

The pillow cases themselves are just an envelope design, meaning no zip closures (similar to this tutorial). I used the selvages so I didn't have to hem around the opening, and they came together in under an hour. 

Of course, I couldn't leave our new puppy Beatrix out of the fun (I am most definitely a crazy dog lady now). With three images for my friend, there was space for one more of B. Ours is in a black and white style that more closely fits our decor, with a black backing. I can't tell if B likes it or is just confused!

Dreaming of Sewing

via Little Lapinette on Etsy
Last night I had a dream that Laura Mae (whom I know in real life), Peter Lappin (whom I do not), and I were all sitting around doing some hand sewing. It was a grand old time. And because I normally hate hand sewing, I know that my brain is definitely yearning to get back into sewing and blogging and hanging out with my favorite buddies - the sewing community.

I'm taking a break this month as I study for the GRE (graduate school entrance exam), but I hope to be back soon! In the meantime, please send your positive algebra thoughts my way! (That's a thing, right?!)

Odette Dress

Pattern: Bluegingerdoll's Odette Dress
Fabric: 2 yds chambray + lace insert
Cost: $25

TGIF! I've been preoccupied with GRE studying for grad school and waiting for some new patterns to be released, so blogging has been less frequent this month. But today I am finally able to show you one of my recent projects: pattern testing for the new Bluegingerdoll Odette Dress and a fun photo shoot to go along with it!

The Odette Dress is described as a "one of a kind dress for your wardrobe" with a "fitted, fully lined bodice featuring a bateau 'V' neckline with a distinctive contrasting insert that frames the face." The bodice insert is one of my favorite details, as there are so many ways to customize it with contrasting or matching fabric, buttons, etc. For mine, I chose an eyelet lace and dark blue buttons. 

Because I can't help myself, I also did the pockets in lace. I don't care what they say on the Great British Sewing Bee - I like a little fun pocket detail on my in-seam pockets.

My version has a slightly shorter hemline than the pattern, and I believe my neckline ended up a bit lower than the final version, but other than that I made up the dress as per the instructions. Next time I will do a small bust adjustment because, as you can see, there's a little extra fabric along the bust line for me!

After working on it a few hours every day for  a week, I finally finished it on a Saturday night, popped it on, and took pictures at the lake before going to dinner with Mr. Made. I felt so pretty in my new dress! And I finally had an answer to his questions of 'why don't you ever wear dresses?'

Have you sewn any Bluegingerdoll patterns? What do you think of her vintage-modern style?

Announcing: Jeans Techniques Webinar

When I discovered the online world of sewing, BurdaStyle was the first place I landed. On my first visit, I remember seeing pictures of a red coat that I thought was too good to be true (was it LizaJane's?) and getting to know sewists like Gertie for the first time. Over the years, it has become a place of learning and sharing, and more recently has grown into a US magazine and a place for online classes.

For this reason, I am thrilled to announce that I am working with BurdaStyle to offer you a live webinar! On September 25 at 11am EST, you will be able to join me for Jeans Techniques: How to make elegant, strong, and professional-looking jeans, pants, and trousers. This is a session I've been wanting to share for a long time, and I am so excited to be able to do it in this way!

Over the past few months, I have been hard at work on the presentation. The webinar contains full color photos with step-by-step instructions for each part of the process. If you've ever wondered how I do my seam finishes, what my tricks are for belt loops, or wanted to reinforce your stitches to make jeans that last, this is the class for you! I will be going over everything from necessary tools, order of construction, and various techniques for every step, from pocket construction to zipper shields. Take a sneak peak, below:

If you're interested, you can read more about the class at BurdaStyle. I hope you'll join me!

Our Home

Last year, we embarked on the crazy adventure of owning our own condo. With the help of my amazing realtor Maria, I bought a place just three blocks from where I was living. At 600 sq ft, it was small, but just right for us with an open layout and a nice patio space out back. And being the crazy over-confident DIY-ers that we are, we quickly started putting our mark on the place, starting the very night we got the keys...

So today I'm taking a break from the sewing to share how we're doing a year in. It's nothing quite like Liz's complete home renovation (oh. my. god. that girl can do anything!), but it is a little slice of our life for the past year.

Because I love a good before and after, here's what the place looked like when we bought it. The older woman who lived here had a pretty bare-bones decorating style, but it really allowed us to see the potential of the place, and those beautiful floors! Of course, we could have done without the purple ceiling...

We started out painting the entire place ourselves. The previous owner was a smoker, so not only did we want a fresh color but we also needed to cover up decades of smokey odor. This included washing down the walls, applying a layer of heavy-duty (and toxic) primer, and adding on a few coats of paint. After grossly underestimating the amount of time it would take to paint every surface and go over every piece of trim, we spent our evenings for two solid weeks before our move-in day painting, painting, and more painting. If ever there were a trial by fire way for a couple to move in together, staying up 'til 2am rolling the ceiling is definitely it! Luckily the odor was masked and (most) of the painting was a success.

And then came the moving boxes...

Row one: The bliss of getting the keys was quickly replaced by painting and moving chaos. After two weeks of nightly painting sessions, we moved all the sh*t in. Things got even worse as we pushed everything away from the wall to finish the paint job (that never-ending paint job!). 

Row two: By the end of move-in week, a slight floor space was cleared and we slowly began to put away the boxes.

Row three: By the end of the month, we finally had something resembling a living room! And July 1st is my birthday so we threw a party ;) It was so nice to have everyone over after basically isolating ourselves for a month and a half.

Luckily, we emerged from the other end happy and healthy! And here is what she looks like today:

The kitchen, while a bit dark, is perfect because it opens up right onto the living room and has enough room for us to cook or chat.

You'll also notice the bar stools at the counter, which seat four. We do not have a dining table (which was meant to be on the left) because that became my SEWING SPACE! Obviously this was much more important than a dining nook.

The bedroom was the last to be completed, as we gutted the closet ourselves, installed built-in bedside tables and cabinets, and generally used the room to store all our extra junk as we figured things out.

Check out those newly installed (if not slightly crooked) closet doors! They were salvaged from Urban Ore for $29, spray painted, and attached to the outside of the closet.

And last but not least, our little patio. It may not be much for you country folk, but for us it's a little slice of heaven!

The most amazing part of this whole process, however, has been building a place together. I'm not entirely embarrassed to admit that, as I write this, we are both snuggled into the couch on identical laptops, enjoying some post-dinner downtime. Mr. Made is the better cook, but I'm not half bad at the laundry and keeping things in order. And sewing - I do a lot of that.

I am also very excited to let you in on one more thing that has been in the works since we moved in. After giving ourselves a year to settle in, this week we finally adopted a puppy!! She doesn't have a name yet, but you're about to see a lot more of her! (And some doggy outfits - lots of doggy outfits.)

Thanks for letting me share. Now I'm off to pet that adorable fur ball!