Falling in love with sewing again

8.25.2016

I've been sewing for myself for a long time. I grew up around sewing machines but finally got the sewing bug one summer, I think right before I started college. I made myself a halter sundress from this pattern and a light bulb went off in my head and I was hooked. Oh, so THIS is how garments are put together!


Fast forward a few years. I asked for sewing machine as a graduation present from grad school and when now-husband and I got our first apartment together, I set it up in our office. I had a lot of time on my hands for a while there, and I played around with mending, refashioning, sewing from scratch, making slipcovers, many Anthro-inspired embellished tees (very hot in 2009), and learning new DIYs. I started this blog (then called Adventures in Dressmaking) and found the online world of seamstresses like me!

I've made a LOT of garments since then. Two years ago I counted 119 dresses, including my wedding dress and my 5 bridesmaids' dresses. Plus tops, a few costumes, lots of home dec items for so many color schemes and room styles... a lot of sewing.

I really enjoyed and got good at refashioning and making store-bought clothes fit and look better! So I wrote my book, DIY Wardrobe Makeovers, on that topic. (Please check it out here!)

In summary... you could say I'm into sewing. And yet, not long ago, I found myself really in a sewing rut. Not sewing much at all. In all of 2015 I only made 13 dresses or tops, most of them in the summer (so for months I wasn't sewing anything for myself). I know it's seriously seasonal, since in the winter and spring here in Oregon I really hunker down and wear the a really basic jeans/riding boots/sweater uniform most days. No room for full-skirted cotton dresses or lightweight halter tops, some of my favorite things to make. But still, I could definitely be sewing some things, and recently I haven't been.

But it all changed this summer. You'll notice a much more populated dress/garment gallery for 2016. I made some pretty fabulous dresses even in winter (see this and this) and I think it kicked me off for the year. That and, when it comes to sewing for yourself, body image has a lot to do with what you want to wear and if you feel like wearing fun, pretty things--and this year I've been feeling really good about myself. (Win!)

I realized I've fallen in love with sewing, again! This year not only have I made a lot of clothing, I've made a lot of favorite new pieces that I really love wearing!! It's such a good feeling to have a closet of options for dressing up on weekends, trips, or date nights and knowing each opportunity is a chance to wear something I put a lot of love and time into!

I think another thing that's helped is my sewing resolutions back from January 2015... I realized I really need to slow down, "read the manual," and do things right if I want to love my projects. (Another recommended reading is my post about getting into a sewing groove.) 

Here are a few of my favorite projects from this year! But honestly, I love them all! (Check out my dress/garment gallery to see the clothing projects I've done in chronological order, most recent first.)

I really messed with and made up this pattern and this FABULOUS fabric made this dress even more special. I got out of my comfort zone on the bright color and short length and it paid off! I love it!
Buffalo check gingham is just the best. I LOVE this dress and it's so comfy and easy to wear!!
I've since shortened this dress, making it more wearable for everyday and with flats. I love the off-the-shoulder look and soft stripe!
I've made... well, several off-the-shoulder projects lately. This denim one and this gauze top (which I shortened after blogging about) are SO fun to wear.
MORE gingham. I told you, it is the greatest. Look how happy I look in this ridiculously simple top!!

It's honestly hard to pick, though, because I love so many of my recent creations in my garment gallery... a chic LWD, a super comfy knit romper cover-up... hard to choose. 

I'm feeling really happy with my sewing skills, motivation, and practical/wearable creations this year. I wanted to share in case any of you are in a sewing rut, and if you're not, hear what motivates you! Have you had phases with your sewing journey? I'd love to hear about it!

Ocean prints & paintings, and easy DIY wall art

8.23.2016

Sometimes I do crafty projects other than sewing or cooking!!

I've been inspired lately by the beachy art print trend. Maybe because it's summer, maybe because it goes so well with indigo patterned pillows and house plants which I've also bee into lately... I wanted to bring it into my home!

Here are a few of my faves. Common elements between them are saturated, bright colors (or pastels) (mostly blues), plants, and natural wood, leather, or rattan, and fabric textures. Aren't these rooms lovely??
1. Amber Interiors for Framebridge 2. Amber Interiors 3. Domino Magazine 4. Amber Interiors 5. Amber Interiors 6. Emily Henderson 7. Amber Interiors 8. Amber Interiors 9. Emily Henderson (Bri Emery's home)

Large photo prints can be expensive but I had an old square canvas that had been in our guest bathroom at one point. It was a clearance Ross buy of some pink flowers on aqua. Pretty, but too girly for my taste now. I figured I could remake it into whatever I wanted!

So, I pulled out my easel and paints (which I use about once every three years--other paintings here and here). I drew a horizontal line 8" or 9" up on the canvas so my "horizon" line would be straight, and then just started mixing colors and painting!

I mixed blues with grey to make them a little less bright and white to lighten. I also like to do the technique of mixing the colors on the canvas a little; it adds texture. Particularly to the wave-ey portion.

We really needed some more color in our bedroom! I love the blue.

This was a super fun weekend project and I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick DIY and room refresh!


If you're inspired, pin this post to save for later!

Versatile denim ruffle off-the-shoulder top

8.18.2016

I just love the off-the-shoulder trend!! I've worn this top quite a few times, particularly after shortening it, and it was so fun and easy to make, so I made another! This time out of a lightweight denim and with a very different proportion to the ruffle!

I used McCall's M6558 for the ruffle and super basic loose bodice with armholes, but it's pretty basic and obviously mine doesn't look like any of the options on the pattern! I tweaked it a lot. (See below for details.)

I seriously debated between wearing it with white jeans or cut-offs or black jeans. I went with black to be more sleek ;) but it would work so well with either!

If you're inspired... pin from this post to save for later!

Pattern: McCall's M6558
Modifications:

  • Extended the bodice of view A rather than giving it an elastic waist and skirt
  • Made the ruffle 2/3 as long
  • Cut the armholes a little higher since I knew from wearing this top that sometimes I want to pull the ruffle down a little lower than the armholes will allow without some bra showage!

And if you don't feel like sewing... now is a great time of year to buy fun, lightweight tops! Here are some similar ones at great prices!


Celebrating our anniversary two ways--and a giveaway!

8.16.2016

We celebrated our FIFTH wedding anniversary last week. FIVE years ago we became married people! FIVE years ago I made my wedding dress and bridesmaids' dresses, made vintage-inspired decor for our wedding venue, gathered our friends and family for a very personal service, and danced the night away. (See all my wedding posts here.) SO much has changed since then in our relationship and we're happier than ever and excited to celebrate!!

We've done little getaways around our anniversaries in the past but this year we got to celebrate in grander fashion on two weekend getaways. One of which you can win for yourself!

Last weekend we went to Central Oregon with my parents for a two-night stay in Bend with a trip to Smith Rock. It was super fun. We've been there before but not in the summer! We had such a relaxed time, just doing a few touristy thing with my parents and relaxing at the hotel. We were pretty disconnected and didn't take many photos at all so I don't have any to show you here... but you can see a few snapshots on my Instagram!

Then this past weekend we did a staycation just for ourselves. We went to The Heathman, which is pretty much the quintessential historic Portland hotel in my eyes, and is beautiful and super centrally located in downtown.

We each work within a mile of downtown Portland, and have been driving through on the regular for most of our real adult lives... so downtown on its own is not too special, but we've never spent the night in a central, easy location and not had to worry about parking or traffic or finding a place to eat! We really, really enjoyed having a little oasis/home base and got to enjoy our favorite city like tourists! (The best of both worlds!)

Our room was lovely with both historic and modern touches. The Heathman recently went through a huge "landfill-free" renovation, making it one of the most eco-friendly hotels in Portland!

The room came with neat little touches like this literary companion to Portland and really nice quality soaps/toiletries.

We had drinks at the hotel bar (1927, a speakeasy open only to hotel guests)--such a treat because going to bars together is something we literally never do!! I don't drink hardly at all, and we don't eat out much, so having a glass of rosé (husband tried an Oregon line of scotch that was excellent) was a very decadent experience!

We also had room service for dinner--more locally sourced choices on the food menu, and my salad with tangy dressing and baked lemon slices was excellent. So were my roasted Brussels sprouts (one of my all-time favorite veggies!).

In the morning, we did what we do on most of our little vacations away--got up slowly, wandered around to find some coffee for husband. Except this time we got to go to his favorite downtown coffee shop, and wander around downtown Portland at 9am on a weekend, seeing a totally different crowd and vibe than usual! Other tourists, some early shoppers... all in the beautiful summer weather as stores were opening and the market was going on. We did a little shopping, also something I almost never have time for.

The Heathman is an excellent place to stay in downtown Portland, in the heart of the financial and cultural district, right around the theaters, park blocks, Pioneer Courthouse Square and mall, downtown Nordstrom, and more. It was so fun for us to spend a night away there, and would be great for anyone visiting from out of town!

The Heathman is offering a night stay there as a giveaway to one of my readers--just head over to my Instagram for a chance to win!! The details are in this photo. Winner will be chosen Sunday, 8/21. May you enjoy a stay as relaxing and refreshing as ours!!

Thanks to The Heathman for providing us covering all of our accommodations at our stay. I received no other compensation for this post.

White oversized polka dot shift dress, new LWD

8.10.2016

I love the LWD (little white dress). There is just something special about an all-white lacy top or dress for summer! I've made quite a few. (I think my favorite is this one from last summer.) But I tried something new this time around with a simple shape and a very cool woven textured huge polka dot voile!

I used my go-to plain shift dress pattern, Simplicity 2584 (see all my versions of it here). You could use any basic shift dress pattern. I am used to doing major modifications to this simple little pattern, and this dress was no exception! It doesn't look anything like the original Cynthia Rowley finished dress versions.

The fabric is from a wholesale company my mom shops from for her business. It's some kind of voile, Maggy London brand. (She didn't realize the dots were so big when she ordered it, so she gave it to me!) Not sure of the fabric content but it's a little stiff and resilient to pressing! Perfect for a dress, though, with a full lining.

Pretty cool print-matching on the back, huh??

A plain LWD is so elegant! Definitely just more dressed-up than ones I've made in the past.

Oh, also, the fabric is just barely off-white, but I couldn't find a lining that was the right color. So I used a pure white lining, which makes the dress look lighter overall. I'm good with it! It's an LWD with texture and multi-dimensional color.

Pattern: Simplicity 2584 (see all my versions of it here)
Modifications:
  • Did not cut the slit at the neckline; cut the scoop neck wider
  • Made it a little shorter
  • Gave it a full lining instead of a facing

Shop my all-time favorite summer heels and some other options & accessories here!


Decor trends and faves from Street of Dreams 2016!

8.04.2016

It's time again for Street of Dreams in Portland! This year's event features five homes (WAY bigger than last year's, though I didn't think that possible) in a beautiful vineyard-centered private neighborhood outside West Linn. I went to one Street of Dreams right after high school, and then last year's, and now that I've been to two recently I love comparing them and analyzing why we're seeing the trends and changes for this year!

The event runs July 30 through August 28, 2016 and you can buy tickets online or at the event. Husband and I went last Sunday morning and had a fabulous time wandering through all the homes and picking our fave elements! We also noticed some consistent choices in some of the homes that I SWEAR are inspired by Fixer Upper, with all the popularity it's gained in the past year or so. (Fair because it is possibly the greatest reality show ever. We both love it!) I don't follow all the home decor trends too much, but we did marathon Fixer Upper this year!

I wanted to share my analysis of the big trends in fancy homes from this year's show! Along with some photos of my faves.

Popular elements from Street of Dreams 2016



Not every house had all of these, but... all of them had most!

  1. Beams. Usually in living rooms and master bedrooms! Sometimes in guest suites or dining rooms, too. There was one house with wood beam lines alllll over the ceilings in the living room/great room area, going multiple directions, kind of silly.... but there were also quite a few basic beautiful oak beams in bedroom ceiling vaults that I liked!
  2. Barn doors. Sliding barn doors (wood or white) on dark metal tracks were in every home, pretty much. They're cool for smaller homes because they don't take up the space of a door swing, but they were all over in these mansions, too! 
  3. Antiques. I loved seeing a few really beautiful antique wood dressers or tables mixed in with the new pieces! They add so much character. My favorite home had a lot of west elm and some great antique wood pieces.
  4. Craft rooms. Most of these homes had multiple offices last year as well, but a couple this year had a dad's office, mom's office, kids' office, and big craft room with counters and storage.
  5. Mother-in-law suites. Three or four homes had some kind of guest quarters complete with kitchen. One had a mother-in-law unit attached to the pool house. Another had a whole separate wing of the house with two bedrooms as well as a (very nice) full kitchen and two-car garage! At least this trend is very practical--I know a lot of people who've thought about having a parent or relative live with them at some point.
  6. Outdoor showers. You know, because the 6 bathrooms and 5 half-baths aren't always close enough, or something...
  7. Pool houses! One of them had a second massive BBQ and a drinking fountain. I don't remember any pool houses, or many pools, from last year's event. This year's homes had much bigger lots, that might be part of it.

Here are some photos of a few of my favorite spaces!

This kitchen had painted brick rather than subway tile as a backsplash. Added nice texture.


It was impossible to get a shot without at least a couple people in it!

I loooved this home--some midcentury pieces, some modern west elm furniture, that very cool textured faded rug, neon in art throughout the home...

I think this was the same home, a Jack-and-Jill bathroom between two kids' rooms upstairs. A really old-fashioned feel, actually!

Most of the features that appealed to me were things I could see wanting in my own home. To break the trend, here's the coolest pool deck with slide and natural rocks, plus (outside the photo) a dramatic cliff-like infinity pool on the other side looking out over the vineyard and Mount Hood!

Five was about a perfect number of homes to see in a morning! We were able to keep them straight (pretty much) and got some ideas and inspirations, and of course couldn't quite imagine how you could live in such a huge home and possibly use all that space. And, we were happy to come home to our nice, quiet, manageable (and relatively easy-to-clean) townhome!

We were house-hunting earlier this summer but have tabled that idea again for now, though seeing Street of Dreams did make me excited for our next home, whenever and wherever that is, and maybe some DIY decorating projects!

Street of Dreams is going on in West Linn through August 28! It's a super fun outing and a great way to get inspired!

Thanks to Street of Dreams for the media passes they provided for me and my husband to go tour. I didn't receive any monetary compensation for this post; I just wanted to share it with you in this depth because it's fun!
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