Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway! (and trip report)

I have returned from a quick (work) trip to Portland and Seattle, and I managed to squeeze in a visit to see DD2 in the new house she is renting with two other students.

This post is photo-heavy, but I always reduce the size of my photos so they should load pretty quickly. And you can always skip past, though I do review a new-ish fabric store in Seattle.



It was so nice to see DD1 in her new digs! We walked around her campus and visited a nearby town. I reminisced about first moving her into her dorm two years ago.

Requisite silly mother-daughter pic

I was only in Portland for one day, but I enjoyed seeing it after many years! I checked out Powell's City of Books, VooDoo Doughnuts, and my daughter and I got henna tattoos at the Saturday Market before heading south.

I resemble that remark

'Cause "good things come in pink boxes"

I looked into a permanent back-of-finger tattoo and learned that it's not recommended, as they tend to quickly fade. So I'll enjoy my henna tattoo.

I first thought that maybe this sculpture, outside of Powell's Bookstore, represented a (stylized) giant pen in an ink holder. That sorta makes sense, right?
But, no.
(It's called The Pod.)

Seattle Bound

I took a train from Salem, Oregon to Seattle, Washington—a 6.5 hour ride (on Amtrak), called the Coast Starlight. (Such a romantic name, eh?) It travels through forest, along rivers, and through towns.

I spent much of the ride in the observatory coach where two volunteers from the Trails and Rails program (part of the National Park Service), narrated the journey from Portland to Seattle.

It was a beautiful ride though, according to Google maps, the 6.5 train ride from Salem to Seattle can be driven by car in 3.5 hours. (Coach seats on the train, complete with foot rests and power plugs for your devices) are much comfier than coach on an airplane!)

Sample scenery

The observatory coach

Watching the sun set

Mt Rainier

The train ride ends at the King Street train station in Seattle. This beautiful station features loads of white marble and intricate mosaics.

Seattle (and District Fabric!)

My two days in Seattle were mostly spent at work, but I managed to squeeze in one visit to a nearby fabric store!

District Fabric, a mere two blocks from work, has been in business just one year—they celebrated their first anniversary five days before my visit. This is a small but well curated store, focusing on fabrics for the garment sewist. I enjoyed chatting with the store owner. I could have easily spent lots of money here!

My colleague and I did a bit of walking in the Fremont district. She showed me the Fremont Troll (suitably located under a bridge), as well as other Fremont sights, including the Theo Chocolate factory. After work we walked to the Space Needle, arriving after sunset, and rode up to enjoy the nighttime skyline. (We also peeked into the Chihuly Museum—sadly, it was closed so late in the day.)

Spotted while walking through the Queen Anne neighborhood, a beautiful residential area atop a hill.
This sign is not confusing!

An interesting building in the Fremont district

The Fremont Troll

Hello, Space Needle! (Built in 1962 for the World's Fair)

Scene from the top

For someone who spends almost no time (and has no patience) for decorating my living space, I sure enjoy a creatively designed space. Here are some of the details I enjoyed at Google Seattle!

Painted tires decorate the hallway to the cafe.

The back of this cafe bench is covered with belts!

The rest of the cafe benches are covered with old jeans!

The wall of the coffee shop is covered with burlap bags imprinted with coffee distributors.

A Google Claw Machine!

My vacuum-packed "Google Seattle" tee from the Claw machine

A conference room wall clock made from a Mac cover and a mouse. I want one!

Blogiversary Giveaway

It's very fitting that YOU, my friends, determined what I might use for my annual Blogiversary Giveaway.

I really had no idea what I might use, then I received some very excited reactions when I showed you the seam rippers I purchased at Treadle Yard Goods in St Paul, Minnesota. These seam rippers are made by Alice M's husband—Alice organized the meetup in St Paul. I quickly called up Treadle a day after my post and ordered the blue resin seam ripper, which I had also admired.

The package was waiting for me when I returned from Seattle.

The seam ripper, when closed.

To use the seam ripper, turn the blade around and slide back into the case. The blade comes with a sheath. If you prefer a smaller instrument, you can use the ripper without the resin case.

If you would like to throw your hat in the ring to win this seam ripper, leave a comment on this post, indicating that you are interested. I will do a random drawing in about a week. This opportunity is also open to folks outside of the U.S.

I returned from Seattle sick, but I hope to recover quickly. I am eager to begin two projects, BOTH are for the fall! Is anyone else sewing for fall yet?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Minnesota Wrap-up

I'm back from Minnesota and (except for some hot, sticky, humid weather), it was a great trip!

The Summary:

  • Daughter is launched and is happy. (Yes, this well-trained traveler simultaneously carries a daypack, a backpack, a ukelele, and two suitcases. Easy peasy.)
  • So mama is happy.
  • Minnesota is awesome. I stayed in 3 different homes, thanks to airbnb, and got to chat with some great folks, including a clothing designer–we had a lot to talk about! I showed her how to make a Tablecloth skirt, and figured out a dress in her lookbook that she's been trying to puzzle out.
  • Minnesota is full of art, especially whimsical sculptures. (Hey, I love the giant spoon.)
  • When walking around a neighborhood in Minneapolis, we saw many wild bunnies. Wild. Bunnies.
  • Most terrifying quote: One of my airbnb hosts was originally from Wisconsin. I asked her if Wisconsin winters were about the same as Minnesota winters. No, she said. "In Wisconsin you get used to your nose hairs freezing, but in Minnesota it's your eye gel."
  • DD2 went to Minnesota without any real winter gear. I think she needs some quick.
  • Minnesotans are nice. I marveled how nice when one of my airbnb hosts mentioned the quote "Minnesota nice." I had never heard that before, but it's apt.

I had only one free day to play, but I squeezed in as much as possible. I first visited Ginny's Fine Fabrics in Rochester (where I saw the front entrance to the famous Mayo Clinic). I drove to St Paul (about 90 minutes north from Rochester) and stopped by Atelier 957 (a high-end RTW boutique). I then went to Treadle Yard Goods for the pre-arranged meet up.


Ginny's Fine Fabrics (Rochester)

with Ginny

I had heard from several folks that I really shouldn't miss Ginny's Fine Fabrics (Facebook page) in Rochester. Of course, one hopes to never need the expert services of the Mayo Clinic, but if one does, then it's time to find solace at Ginny's, just a few blocks away.

Though I got an early start, I had some difficulty finding the store. She moved recently and, when I entered "Ginny's Fine Fabrics" into the GPS on my phone, it took me to her old location. Repeatedly. But, luckily, her old location (which is still vacant) has the address of her new location written on the window. Her old location (12 S Broadway, Rochester) is about 2 blocks from her new location (211 S Broadway, Rochester), so I parked and walked.

What a wonderful store! I'm told that the new location is much larger than the old location. It consists of two levels of fabric and she has some wonderful fabrics! Soon after walking in I was met by Sharon. Sharon is a dedicated customer–she is from Wisconsin–but I originally ran into her in California several years back. I was in Pacific Grove for a private sewing retreat, and she was there attending a Jane Foster sewing retreat, and we met while shopping in nearby Carmel.

The sewing world is a small world, indeed.

Sharon had spied a fabric that she knew I would like: a block ponte with flocked black circles. It was selling fast, so she asked Ginny to set it aside for me. She's right! I loved it. I bought a piece of that, and a piece of a rayon/spandex newsprint piece. I could have easily spent more, but I was on a budget. (Hey, textbooks are expensive.)

Thanks, Sharon!

I very much enjoyed visiting Ginny's, but it was time to hit the road.

Atelier 157 (St Paul)

I knew I was going to have a bit of a window before my 3pm meet up at Treadle Yard Goods in St Paul, so I had emailed Marcy and Katherine Tilton, asking them what else I might be able to squeeze in. They confirmed that I would not have enough time to visit SR Harris and it's 30,000 square feet of fabric. (The closer Burnside location of SR Harris (with 15,000 square foot of fabric) won't be open for another several weeks.) They suggested that I visit Atelier 157 (Facebook page), a high-end RTW boutique on Grand Avenue in St Paul, about three quarters of a mile from Treadle Yard Goods.

They both told me I shouldn't miss it.

They were right! This boutique is exactly the kind of boutique I love (and visit whenever possible). They carry, for example, Planet, Black Label by Rundholz, Crea Concept, Babette, Cop Copine, and IC Collection. They also carry some wonderful accessory and jewelry designers. They have a basement of sale items and also do custom work, though I didn't ask about that. As I chatted with the owner and one of the sales ladies, they were very pleased to hear that I knew the Tilton sisters and I learned that the Tiltons grew up only blocks away.

You should definitely check out this boutique if you are in the area!

After a very enjoyable visit, I walked to Treadle, eager for the meet up!

Treadle Yard Goods (St Paul)

with Mary

When I mentioned on my blog that I would be going to Minnesota, I received three offers for meet ups. I accepted the offer from Alice M, who contacted Mary, owner of Treadle Yard Goods (Facebook page). Mary graciously agreed to let us use her classroom. Delicious snacks were provided by The Oilerie St Paul (Facebook page). (Their Balsamic Vinegar is amazing!)

Some really wonderful, creative sewists were able to attend. Several are members of Treadle's Fashion Sewing Club. In fact, several of them have taken many classes from Katherine Tilton at the nearby Textile Center in Minneapolis. I was also happy to meet a local blogger that I "know" from Pattern Review and from comments on my blog, "Mrs Smith" (aka Charisma, aka Nakisha), from Sew Crafty Chemist.

So, yes, the local water must be full of Creative Juice.

The meet up was a lot of fun! I talked for a bit and answered questions. I had asked everyone to bring one or two items of show and tell, and I'm so glad I did! I snapped a few quick pictures (some too fuzzy to share). The creativity was impressive!

Mary has a wonderfully curated selection of fabrics! After the meet up and the eating, we did some shopping! I really enjoyed watching what everyone purchased. Mary also carries a very special item in her store: Alice M's husband is a wood turner, and he makes gorgeous seam rippers using different types of wood and also with resin. Just look at these beauties!

Above: American Cherry
Below: Resin

The meet up was so much fun! Thanks so much to Alice (organizer par excellence) and Mary (gracious owner) for a fun afternoon!

September Projects

I am happy to be back home! I am eager to dive into new projects–I have two scheduled for September. First up, I have a gorgeous piece of fabric from Marcy Tilton. This one is really special. I know what I want to make with it, but I don't have the right pattern (of course). It's is on it's way and I will make a test version before I cut into this fabric.

Britex has asked me to make another project. I picked up the fabric, a very striking wool, last Tuesday, the day before I left for Minnesota. I know what I want to make with it, but I don't have the pattern (of course). It's on it's way. I'm giving myself another fun little challenge with this one.

Today (Labor Day) is a holiday in the U.S. For today's walk, I headed to the yarn store. More about that later.

Tomorrow it's back to work, but next weekend I will be in Portland and Seattle for a work trip. I don't expect to be doing any sewing-related activities on this trip, more's the pity.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fifth Blogiversary!

Many bloggers do a "year in review" post somewhere around Dec 31st, but I am always too busy sewing over the holiday break. Besides, the end of August (i.e. early Fall) feels more like a new beginning to me.

So, yes, August 25th, 2014 is my 5th blogiversary! Bear with me while I look back over the last year...

(You can also check out my previous blogiversary posts.)


Year in Summary

Yowza, when I look at my 4th blogiversary post, I can't believe all of the changes and events of the year!

What Have I Sewn - Successes

My productivity was definitely down this year, partly because of the competition last fall, but even more because of the new commute-ful job, which takes a lot of time and saps one's energy. I still managed to make some garments that I have enjoyed wearing. The Burda coat (first pic), in particular, is something I wear all the time, but I wear all of these garments. (OK, I just finished the Tablecloth skirt (last pic), but I will definitely be wearing this!)

All of these pics are clickable and take you to the related post.

What Have I Sewn - Failures

What have I sewn that hasn't been too successful?

I know that you guys love to read about my failures. :D

I found three items that fit this category, though the dress (first pic) was rescued when I turned it into a skirt—it just wasn't my style, as a dress. I love the skirt and wear it a lot.

The chiffon top (second pic) was from the FabricMart competition and was the garment that got me ousted. I really really disliked that fabric. I did my best with it, given my very limited time (I also had a substantial writing project the same weekend as part of the interviewing process for my future job), but the final top was pretty awful. I freely admit that. (Did I mention that I really really disliked the fabric?) It's hard (at least for me) to do something great with a fabric that set my teeth on edge.

The third top is a Vogue pattern and I quite like the pattern, but the fabric (from JoAnns) is awful. After one or two washings, this top looks ready for the rag bag—the quality is atrocious. I plan to make this top again with a better quality fabric.

Clicking a pic takes you to the relevant post.

Top 10 Posts

These are my top 10 posts of all time, only two of which are from this year. (I guess I am losing my touch!)


End of Year Number of Posts Number of Followers Number of Subscribers
1 125 130 Was Google Reader in use?
2 107 341 482 (GR)
3 107 505 739 (GR)
4 92 617 996 when GR was retired on 7/1. 611 in Bloglovin.
5 98 695 1136 (Bloglovin)

The Coming Year

What's in store for the coming year?

Mostly, I want to keep pushing the creative envelope—that is what I truly enjoy. I have a long list of projects I want to make that I am very excited about. I have less time to sew (or blog), but I feel committed!

I want to thank each of you, my blog readers and my blogging sisters! It has been a great year and you have all been a big part of that. Thanks for your support, your feedback and comments, and your creativity! I am truly grateful.

I traditionally do a giveaway to celebrate my blogiversary, but I'm not prepared for that right now. (I leave in a couple of days to take my youngest to her first year at university in Minnesota. I'll be seeing some of you soon!) Let me mull it over and maybe I can come up with a good giveaway a bit later this year.