Monday, August 31, 2015

Blogiversary Giveaway and SewPhotoHop Roundup

Blogiversary Giveaway

My Tablecloth skirt, made with one of the pleated Paris stripes from Smuggler's Daughter.

On my sixth blogiversary post I promised a giveaway, and here it is!

Susan, of Smuggler's Daughter Fabrics has generously donated a $50 gift certificate to one of my readers!

If you would like a chance to win the gift certificate, please leave a comment below. I will draw a name randomly in a week or so. This contest is open to international folks.

Thanks for your generous gift, Susan! And, if you haven't checked out Smuggler's Daughter yet, please do! (You can also follow Smuggler's Daughter on Facebook.) The story of why Susan used that name for her business is rather interesting...

Good luck!

(Do remember to check back to see if you've won. If I have no way to contact you, and I don't hear from you within a week, I will draw a new name. Thx!)

SewPhotoHop Roundup

I've mentioned that Rachel, of House of Pinheiro, organized a "SewPhotoHop" event on Instagram. As you can see in her announcement photo above, each day featured a theme topic.

Hundreds of people participated. In fact, as of this writing, almost 15,000 photos have been posted using this hashtag.


Here are the photos, with text, that I posted. I really thought about each topic. Though, on some days, I felt a bit rushed getting the image made and posted. While I enjoyed it, I'm glad it's over!

And what did I learn? What did I get out of participating?

Well... a couple things.

First, I quickly learned that Instagram prefers a square image, and it (very annoyingly) crops images that use a portrait orientation. I googled and discovered that Instagram's ideal image size is 1080 by 1080 pixels. OK, I can do that. I started cropping, collaging, and resizing my images, as well as adding text on top, mostly using Preview and Omnigraffle. This helped me improve some of my meager graphic skills!

Secondly, I "met" new sewers on Instagram. IG is a lively community with lots of enthusiastic sewers! If you've found my blog through Instagram... Welcome!!

Without further ado... the pics.

Day 1. Introduction. Hello! I'm Shams and I'm 57... Or 56. I can never remember and who cares?! I've been sewing since a little girl and blogging at Communing with Fabric for almost 6 years. I work as a tech writer but sewing for my uber busty body, in my kinda weird aesthetic, and blogging about it, is my passion! This is going to be an interesting month on IG! #sewphotohop

Day 2. Things I can't live without. In this order: 1) inspiration, and plenty of it, 2) time to create and 3) my beloved tools! (This is just a sampling.) #sewphotohop

Day 3: Colorful. I wear a lot of black but love to throw in a pop of bold color, especially red and lime green. Today I am wearing red tennies and the other pic shows a chartreuse poncho I just bought from Ping Wu, a contestant from season 7 of Project Runway. Long live color!

Day 4: Work/Play. I work as a tech writer for Google, so I am on the computer pretty much all day. The pic on the left was taken on May 2014 as I worked at a walking desk. At home, I am online much of the time, being a blogger, and all. The pic on the right was taken today. In between, I squeeze in as much sewing as possible! My kids, who grew up watching me work at home for most of their lives, pretty much declared they didn't want such a "boring" job. Little do they know! #sewphotohop

Day 5. Silhouette. I often say my shape is that of "a potato on toothpicks." In other words, lots up top and little below. I can wear skinny pants, leggings, and short pencil skirts made from wild prints or white. But I have to avoid wrap tops, waterfall designs and excess fabric or frills up top. I spend a lot of time on FBAs and altering top and jacket patterns but, for me, pants are easy. A recent study in the UK showed that only 8% of women have my shape and I sometimes envy pear shaped women with actual waists who can wear so many fun tops that look atrocious on me. #sewphotohop

Day 6: Pattern that changed your life. I think it would have to be my Tablecloth Skirt. Several years back a friend saw a Lynn Mizono dress on Artful Home's website for $500 and asked me how to copy it. I didn't know. But months later I was looking at it online and a flash went off in my head and I realized it was quite simple. I posted the instructions on my blog and it was a hit. I've made at least five of them myself. About a year later #VoguePatterns came out with a pattern for Lynn's dress, though it is now OOP. But you can use the pattern for the dress or the instructions for my skirt. It's a win-win! #sewphotohop

Day 7: Sew up close. A closeup from my last make. You can see the fringed bias edging (fringed with my thumbnails) and one of the snaps covered with a scrap of lining. #sewphotohop #winsewphotohop @fabricgodmother

Day 8: Sewing playlist. I listen to TV shows or movies, generally things I have seen before or programs that don't require my eyeballs. Here is a sampling. #sewphotohop

Day 9: Stash. <ahem> Enough said. #sewphotohop (Note, I found this cartoon on Facebook without attribution, so I don't know who created it.)

Day 10: Who would I exchange closets with... While I wouldn't exchange closets with anyone, these women own the closets I would most like to plunder! Margy, Dorothy, Ann, Heather, and Sarah have exquisite taste and own wonderful shoes and accessories, including many art pieces, as well as stunning clothes, many of them self made. I am fortunate to have these women in my life! #sewphotohop

Day 11: Bucket List. I don't have a bucket list but I didn't have to think more than 2 seconds for today's topic. One day I hope to travel to Paris with Marcy and Katherine Tilton!!! #sewphotohop

Day 12: Motivation. I am equally motivated by garments I see in real life and by garments I see online. (Pinterest, anyone?) #sewphotohop

Day 13: Sewing space. This is where it all happens, baby! #sewphotohop

Day 14: Style. It's hard to choose but this pic, and outfit, sums up my style fairly succinctly. I am a bit goofy, geeky, funky, and don't mind standing out when I dress to my aesthetic. My clothes need to feature interesting "twists" and/or details; they must be at least somewhat flattering on my uber busty, waistless, and tiny-hipped figure and, above all, they must be comfy. This coat, which I call my "grommet duster", is made from pinstriped denim and features almost 300 grommets and funky bellows pockets. I started with a Butterick dress pattern. You can read more here. I have been twirling since I started blogging 6 years ago, and that represents me, too. :) #sewphotohop #winsewphotohop @stylemakerfabrics

Day 15: Secret corner of shame. Oy. Some sewists collect buttons. Not me. I collect zippers. I adore zippers. Here is a pile of my zippers. Confession 1: These were on the floor. So after taking this pic, at least they went into a bag. Confession 2: They had outgrown the previous bag! Confession 3: THIS IS NOT ALL OF MY ZIPPERS! #sewphotohop

Day 16: Tiny vs Big. Did I mention that I collect zippers? #sewphotohop

Day 17: Proudest achievement. This was a tough one for me. My proudest achievement is raising two great kids. (Raising them is much tougher than giving birth to them!) And I wouldn't call this an "achievement", exactly, but I was mighty tickled when Vogue Pattern Magazine asked to feature me as a "Star Blogger" in their Dec 2013/Jan 2014 issue. #sewphotohop

Day 18: Sewing resolutions. I am not a fan of making resolutions which can quickly lead to a sense of guilt and failure. I have lots of ideas and I choose a project based on what has the most "juice." I like a challenge...even though they often intimidate me. :) #sewphotohop

Day 19: Boldest fabric. It would have to be this beauty, which has been aging in my stash since buying it six years ago. 100% wool, it has the look of Yohji Yamamoto. The large holes are the size of dinner plates. #sewphotohop

Day 20: Learning & Practicing. I am ALWAYS learning and practicing. ALWAYS! It's important to be fearless in taking on challenges. I learned this smocking technique and then used it at the hem of my pants. #sewphotohop

Day 21: Shades of summer. One of the summer-iest things I've made. I used a rayon challis border print from @britexfabrics on a 60-degree angle bias, and I sewed the entire thing by hand to control the bias better. It is one of my favorite things to wear on those rare days I find myself in hot weather. I also included a literal pic of my summer shades! (This pic was taken this summer when Mari of @Seamster patterns came to visit!) @plushaddict #sewphotohop #winsewphotohop @ddisciplines

Day 22: Last thing I made. #sewphotohop

Day 23: Favorite sewing technique. This was almost impossible to narrow down, but I guess I choose mixing! Mixing fabrics, fibers, elements. The coat used a wool from @britexfabrics and I knit the sleeves and collar. The shirt used a fabric panel from @marcytilton as well as a rayon challis and two quilting cottons, one a batik and the other a Japanese fabric. #sewphotohop

Day 14: Worst part of sewing. DITHERING! Dithering is a huge part of my process. I also dislike taping patterns together. #sewphotohop

Day 25: Behind the seams. I finished this linen duster with bias tape. I positioned the Geisha's face so that she's "got my back" (on the back facing). #sewphotohop

Day 26: Labor of love. I guess I'd have to say my wedding dress, though I made an even more involved dress for my SIL a year later. The year was 1989 and I was 29. We had a garden wedding so I didn't want a train. I used glass pearls for the back because they had a better hang. I spent ages beading the lace with more glass pearls. I used boning, horsehair braid, the works. 'Twas a long time - a lifetime - ago! #sewphotohop

Day 27: It's been awhile. Several years back I decided to do at least one needle felting project per year. Its been several years! #sewphotohop

Day 28: Trims & Haberdashery. I don't use trims much except using a selvedge as a decorative edging. I am a fan of zippers, but I've covered that in other posts. So here I've decided to acknowledge some of the other hardware I've used. I love hardware! Toggles and closures of all kinds. Rivets. Grommets. (The denim duster has 2 gross of grommets.) Studs. Weird ass metal thingies-I never did figure out what those were for but I put them in my self drafted cowl. I love it all! #sewphotohop #winsewphotohop @girlcharleeuk

Day 29: Eye level. This is what I'm looking at today. I'm hand sewing a binding. #sewphotohop

Day 30: Favorite era. This one! I'm not enamored with any particular decade and I love that today we can wear whatever we like, pretty much. But, if I could, I'd climb into Issey Miyake's brain and watch the 70s, 80s, and 90s unfold. Miyake, born in Hiroshima, survived the bombing as a child, worked under some of the biggest French designers, and opened his own design house in 1970. He started publishing patterns with Vogue in the early 80s. His designs were completely new and incorporated origami, complex pleating, and technology. His innovations are still being copied today and continue to look avant garde and fresh. He retired from his design house in 1999 to pursue research. He also created 100 black turtleneck shirts for his friend, Steve Jobs. :) I love you, #isseymiyake! #sewphotohop

Day 31: Last thing I bought. Some fun fabrics! The colors in these photos are a bit misleading. A) Perforated purple wool coating. B) Tattered white linen. C) Black (yes, black) textured cotton with mesh between each square. --- @houseofpinheiro, thanks for organizing such an interesting photo hop with such thought provoking topics! #sewphotohop

Bonus play: Buttons or zippers. I did mention that I love zippers, right? Even my glasses have zippers! #sewphotohop

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sixth 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, 2015 is my 6th blogiversary! Bear with me while I look back over the last year...

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

I have less time to blog than I used to have. In that spirit, this blogiversary post is shorter than my previous posts!


Year in Summary

  • I was featured in the December/January issue of Vogue Patterns Magazine, as their "Star Blogger." That was quite an honor!
  • I finished my first full year as a Britex blogger; I made 5 garments for Britex this year. (Clicking an image takes you to that post.)
  • I made three videos this year! The first two were made with the help of my pal, Sarah Bunje. Then I made one on my own showing the Zirkel magnetic pin cushion. We'll see if I do more of these. The jury is still out. ;)
  • I did a bit of sewing-related travel:
  • I met sewing friends in real life! In particular, a number of folks came to visit me at Google Mountain View:
    • Elizabeth, whom I have known for years on Stitcher's Guild and who is a blogger in her own right, visited from Sweden with her husband and daughter. (She brought along her niece to visit Google, too, but left her toddler son with a relative.) It was so great to meet her in person, though I was definitely a bit distracted as a tour guide. I hope we have another chance to hang out in the future!
    • Mari, of Seamster Patterns, has created some very nice patterns, such as her Rose Hip Tights and her easy-breezy Summercrisp Skirt. She specifically asked to see the Bison wearing the Noogler Hat I made more than a year ago.
    • Michelle Paganini, of Paganoonoo Patterns. Have you seen Michelle's patterns yet? She specializes in creative clothing design that begins with clothing, rather than fabric. Refashioning is hot, it's in, and you should definitely check it out!
  • Started using Instagram.
    I created an Instagram account some time ago, but didn't use it until I started posting pics last February from Puyallup. I then started using it from time to time to post pics I had snapped when window shopping, or when looking at a fashion magazine while at the hairdressers. But I'm now using it more often. Right now I'm participating in a "Sew Photo Hop" - each day throughout the month of August, each participant posts a photo according to a daily theme, like "Secret corner of shame", or "Favorite sewing technique", or "Tiny vs Big". I like how it makes me think! You can follow me on Instagram, if you are so inclined.

    No worries, Instagram will never replace blogging for me, but it serves a purpose. Sometimes I take photos that I'd like to share without the burden of creating an entire post. It's a more "lightweight" way of sharing.

Top 10 Posts

These are my top 10 posts of all time, only two of which are from this year. I wish blogger would tell me the top 10 posts of the last year, but they don't provide that info.


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)
6 51 737 1561 (Bloglovin)

This year I exceeded 2 million page views on my blog. WOOT! But you can also see that my rate of posting has steadily declined. Oh well. (I do tend to write longer posts than I used to, with more topics, so that's something.)

The Coming Year

What's in store for the coming year?

Mostly, I want to keep pushing the creative envelope. More, more, MORE!

I do have a few projects and activities in store that I am excited about. I haven't yet talked about most of these on the blog.

  • I have made plans to attend Diane Ericson's Design Outside the Lines retreat in Ashland this October. The guest teacher is Carol Lee Shanks and the theme is making a coat. Coats are my favorite things to make and I am really looking forward to my second DOL and my first in Ashland. (Though it's not my first visit to Ashland—I love that town!)
  • I have been hired to teach a workshop next February. In January 2017, it will be almost exactly 2 years since leading my last workshop. I love these challenges, though they can make me bite my nails! I have to start making samples soon.
  • I'm planning to attend Puyallup again. (You can see that I need more vacation to fit everything in!)
  • It looks like I will be visiting Munich for work next April. (Though these things can change...) Can anyone tell me if there are interesting fiberly things to do in Munich or in the surrounding area? Once the work commitment is over, I might travel, but I'd have to travel on my own. Would it make sense to fly to Paris? Spain? Italy? I'm wide open, though I have limited vacation.

Thank you, dear blog readers! Thanks for being part of another great year. 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—this blogiversary kind snuck up on me. Let me mull it over and maybe I can come up with a good giveaway in the near future.

And, just to leave you with a chuckle... One of my local sewing friends, Lisa M, has been sewing "diapers" for her chickens. She likes to let two of her chickens (who are better behaved than their sisters) visit inside her house from time to time and, thanks to the diapers she has made, it's possible!

It's official! Now I've seen everything!

(Thanks to JillyBe—her chicken pics were better than mine!)