Friday, May 24, 2013


When I started this blog, I was at a very different point in my life. I had more time, and I did more sewing. Over the past year or so, this blog has changed from a fun way for me to document my progress and projects to a burden that makes me feel guilty for not posting enough.

A blog shouldn't be a burden, especially if it makes no money. I have started another blog, which has a much broader focus. It's called Transfigure Nature. You are welcome to follow me over there, but I will warn you that it isn't a sewing blog. It's a blog about my life, which encompasses sewing, but also traveling, studying, having fun, and talking about my Catholic faith.

It's possible that if I get to a point in my life where I do more sewing, I will resurrect this blog, but I don't think it's likely. It has been a fun ride, and I don't regret taking it, but I think the sewing blog season of my life is past. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you elsewhere in the blogosphere.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee!

I watched it! Thanks to Karen for letting me know it was on YouTube. I had just assumed it would be blocked because every other video I've tried to watch here has been unavailable in Germany.

(possible spoilers ahead!)

I must say, who won was completely not a surprise to me. Ann had the most experience and was very good at picking projects that were within her capabilities given the time she had.

I was astonished over and over at the difficulty of the patterns Lauren picked, and then even more astonished when she finished them! I only wish I were that good. Or half that good.

I also felt bad for Stuart. He has amazing design ideas, but doesn't yet have the skills to turn them into perfect reality. I hope he comes back in a year or two. I think he could win.

And lastly, I want to be on that show! Maybe I will move to Britain. Just kidding. Sort of.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Random musings from the haze of antibiotics

Having acquired a bad case of tonsillitis, I find myself unable to do much of anything productive. Most of my spare time has been spent sleeping, whining, or watching TV. With that said, here are my random musings.

The sewing blogosphere seems to be quite the fan of The Great British Sewing Bee. I would love to find a way to watch it in Germany, but I am rather wary of trying anything less than strictly legal. All moral issues aside, the German government has been know to track down and then fine or arrest people who download illegal things, and I don't really feel like risking that.

It suddenly occurred to me that I can buy a Burda magazine from the kiosk here! I'm rather tempted to buy one just so I will have bought one. Without fabric or a sewing machine, of course I can't sew very much.

However, it's apparently possible to borrow a sewing machine from somebody who lives in my student village, which is something I might have to check out. Maybe I could buy a Burda, find something easy, buy fabric, and go on a sewing sprint. Once I'm better.

And last but not least, I wish I could participate in Me-Made-May, but given that my capsule wardrobe includes two hand-made things, that seems rather silly. Next year!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Capsule Wardrobe, part two

Here is part one.

I put this wardrobe together with the help of my mother. We aimed for compact and flexible. A lot of the pieces can be dressed up or dressed down depending on what I wear them with, for example. Almost everything matches with everything else, and I tried to keep within the same color palette mostly. I picked a pink-purple-blue color palette because that's what I already own most of. For neutrals, I went with gray and black, because I had black ballet flats. Really the only exception to this color palette is my running sweatshirt, and OH WELL if my running clothes don't match!

Overall, this wardrobe has worked really well. I rarely run out of clothes (and when I do, it's my own fault for not having done laundry). One of the things I love about having a wardrobe this small is that when I have nothing to wear, I can tell. At home I would regularly pull open a drawer half full of clothes only to discover nothing that was clean matched with anything else. Here, chances are very high that if I have two pieces of clothing in my closet, they will match each other.

Another thing I love is that I am not struggling to make myself wear things that don't fit or don't look good. Not everything I have here fits perfectly, but I did try hard to bring only things I knew I would wear.

This brings up the age-old question: quantity vs. quality. I have to admit, I don't really have either here! I certainly don't have quantity, but honestly, my clothes are not very high quality either. Almost everything is either from a store like Ross or TJMaxx, or years old, or from Kohl's on sale. I didn't want to buy an entire new wardrobe, but I can really see why someone would go for quality over quantity. In fact, I decided even before planning this capsule wardrobe to be much more discerning in my clothing purchases. I would rather have one dress that fits well and is good quality than three dresses which fit badly and which I won't want to wear.

I don't have the money to go run out and buy a bunch of $100+ dresses, but I do think that as the clothes I have now wear out, I will try to replace them with higher-quality things, if only in the hopes they will fit better. Alternatively, one of these days once I get back from Germany I *will* learn to fit things properly!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My capsule wardrobe

I forgot to update you and tell you the results of my capsule wardrobe for Germany! I guess this way worked out better, though, because now I can update on how it has been working as well as what I decided. I was reminded of my capsule wardrobe my two posts, Peter's post on quantity vs. quality and Ashe's post at Already Pretty on developing a color palette for your closet. In an effort to prevent a giant post from taking over your computer, I'm going to introduce my capsule wardrobe in this post, and then talk about why I picked it and how I like it so far in the next post.

Here are two shots of my closet:

Moving from left to right, this is what you see:

Three scarves: Red pashmina, yellow decorative scarf, and purple wrap.

Two dresses: Gray and black, and black and blue.

Seven shirts: Black turtleneck, blue T-shirt, pink blouse, black T-shirt, purple half-sleeve shirt, navy blue blouse, striped tank top, and add one purple T-shirt, which I was wearing.

Three sweaters/sweatshirts: Black sweater, purple sweatshirt, and burgundy sweatshirt.

One pair of black chinos

Three skirts: One blue and green ankle-length one, one gray knee-length one, and my VHC skirt.

One slip

One running sweatshirt
One running skirt
Two pairs of running pants (one not pictured)
One pair of pajama pants, which I was wearing

That's 25 items. Not pictured (or counted) are socks, underwear, and tights. Also not pictured are things that I consider outerwear. So, for example, I have a few hats, a coat, gloves, and so on. I also have three pairs of shoes: my ballet flats, a pair of boots, and a pair of running shoes. What's pictured here is basically the things I consider it important to match.

Before I get into the big-picture opinion in the next post, here are a few thoughts:

*A lot of these things double as other things. Running pants, for example, can be pajama pants, and my purple and blue T-shirts triple as regular wear, sleepwear, and running wear.

*Almost everything here was something I already owned. I bought the black chinos and the purple sweatshirt for this trip, as well as buying a new coat.

*Some of these are pieces of clothing I have owned for years which are still holding up. I bought that pink blouse in 7th grade, for example.

Next up: The reasons behind this wardrobe, and how I think it's been working!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


So, without a sewing machine, my sewing has been very limited. However, I have discovered that a large number of people in our study abroad program knit. (For example, there are eight of us in my neighborhood. Seven of the eight can knit.)

So, I wanted a project that would take a while, but not be too expensive. Enter a pair of socks! Now I don't really like wearing handknitted socks, because I prefer my socks to be stretchier. So I made them for K, who is not as picky about socks as I am.

I used a random pattern off the internet, which I have now lost. It was a super simple toe-up pattern where the toe was just increases and the heel was done with wrapped stitches. I have to admit I wasn't a big fan. I prefer the slightly more complicated but nicer looking heel I have done on other sock patterns. The main issue I had was that the socks, when not being worn, look so incredibly strange. They look fine worn, though. It's odd. Anyway, without further ado, here are the pictures!

The last two pictures are much more accurate color-wise. It was a lovely variegated yarn that I found at a local yarn store, which I thought was a little local place, but I have since found another branch of it, so I think it's a chain. Sigh.

I have another pair of baby socks almost completed, which I made with the leftover yarn.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Disintegrating fabric

I have a doll, which I love dearly. My mother made her for me when I was little. So of course, I brought her to Germany with me. However, she is starting to move from "well-loved" to "falling apart" and I am getting a little bit worried. Her arms look like this:

The fabric is disintegrating horribly, but I can't think of a way to fix it! I have applied fray check dozens of times, but that hasn't helped. I think if I tried to patch or darn it, it would just pull away from the stitches, right? Does anyone have any ideas, or should I relegate poor Laura to a display item only?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sewing machines in the ground

One of the great things about Freiburg is how old and beautiful it is. One of the ways in which Freiburg is special is these stone designs:
There is one in front of almost every store, and the design usually tells you what is inside the store. (There are a few cases where the stone sign is wrong because the newest store didn't want to spend the money to replace it.) This is the sign in front of a little store called "The World of Handwork" where I bought a ball of yarn. I hope that I will be able to be finished with that project soon, so I can show you all. I will be doing some traveling in the next week, so perhaps when I get back I will be all done!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Technikmuseum in Berlin

There is a museum of technology in Berlin. It's incredibly large! I agreed to go because I thought K would really enjoy it, and I had nothing against seeing old trains, airplanes, and so on. To my surprise, there was a lot of sewing related stuff as well! Here are a few photos from the day.

 This enormous loom can create several ribbons at once. Each ribbon has a different pattern, too!

 The loom runs on punch cards. I had no idea that was a thing.

 One of the finished ribbons.

 A vintage Singer you could touch.
 It also had a description of how sewing machines work.

 This machine turned the threads from the spools below into a thicker cord.

 A machine for hat making.

 This machine was so pretty. I wanted to keep it. I believe it was used for making sails.

This machine is the monster one. Those proportions you're seeing in the photo are real. It was huge! This one was used to sew multiple layers of thick sailcloth. Imagine what you could do with a machine this size! (Answer: anything!)

That's not all my photos, of course, but those are the sewing highlights of the technical museum. If anyone is ever in Berlin, I would recommend it. (Caveat: the signs are mostly in German only.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Settling In

I am finally starting to feel properly moved into this place. There are so many things that are new and different and so many things that are just the same. With that said, I can handle the differences, even the ones that I think are objectively bad rather than just different, like cat vomit staying in the stairwell for a week.

I have several sewing-related pictures to post which I acquired over the course of my travels. German tailor shops like to put vintage sewing machines in their windows. It's adorable. And I spent a day at a museum of German technology which has some incredibly interesting old looms and things.

Lastly, I am working on a creative project which some of my new friends inspired me to try. It's not a sewing project, but not totally off-topic either. Once my camera batteries are charged I will post pictures of that too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I fail Fearless February

...and to top it all off, it took me three tries to spell February right!

Sorry, people. I haven't done a single buttonhole. I was traveling, and moving, and packing, and unpacking, and making new friends, and staying up to ungodly hours and going to bed early.

There are four days in February left, so I will try. But I make no more promises, because this moving-to-Germany thing isn't quite as easy I had thought it would be.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

This post is for my sister

...who is engaged! So of course now we're thinking about wedding dresses.

Teresa wants a wide flared skirt so it can twirl when she spins. She also is hoping for a dress that she can wear again after the wedding, if she shortens the skirt and dyes it. And lastly, she wants more coverage up top than most RTW dresses offer nowadays--either wide straps or sleeves.

Given how low I think the chances are of finding this, I'm thinking it sounds like something best to be sewn. So I'm turning to you for help. Does anyone know a pattern that fits all these characteristics? The easier the better, since Teresa would probably have to do a lot of the sewing herself.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fearless February!

Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing
I'm joining Fearless February over at Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing! Here's my challenge to myself:

In the month of February, I will learn to sew buttonholes by hand. I will make as many as possible in order to improve my speed and my technique.

Anyone else want to join?

Monday, January 21, 2013


As some of you may know, I've been having joint pain issues for years now. Today, I finally made it to a doctor who would listen to me, and I have a diagnosis. Actually, two. I have the beginning of osteoarthritis in my hands and misaligned kneecaps.

I'm relieved. I had been thinking this was worse, because something that caused pain in so much of my body must be bad. It never really occurred to me that I might have two different problems! I have a nice conservative doctor who doesn't want to rush to medicine, and so I am under the following instructions: "Don't worry. Live your life. But come back in six months so I can check on you, ok?" He wants me to strengthen the muscles around my knees, which I will do, and other than that, not to take any serious steps. When I get back from overseas, we'll reevaluate.

Where does this leave my sewing? I don't really know. But he said not to worry, and he knows I sew, so I will continue to live my life, sewing and all, and we will see where that leads me!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Anonymous comments

have been disabled. Blogger's spam filter isn't blocking most of the spam any more, and I get a ridiculous amount of it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mending is sewing, right?

Well, probably not this mending! My grandfather is visiting us for Christmas break and he brought me a few mending projects to do. He tried to cut a change pocket out of the pocket of a tweed jacket and chopped a hole in the pocket lining. Also, he tried to get my 13 year old brother to cut through the stitching stitching the back pocket of his pants closed and my (well-meaning but sewingly moronic) brother chopped a slit in the pants pocket instead.

Mending tape to the rescue! It's nice to be able to do such a useful repair with so little trouble. And now I have a reputation as a sewing magician because I fixed them so fast. Haha.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Working on a running skirt

 I'm am trying something new this year. I'm trying to sew myself a running skirt! This is new for me because I don't have a lot of experience working with knits at all, and a really unstable lycra knit is a whole new ball game for me. I'm using Jalie 2796, which has the benefit of having a million sizes, but the disadvantage of having them all on one piece of paper, which is larger than the floor of my room.
 I used my new Sharpies that I got for my birthday to trace the pattern pieces.
 This is the fabric I'm using. I actually don't know what it's made of, because I got it at the sewing blogger fabric swap, but that's ok. I'm using it for a muslin, which I suspect won't fit me very well anyway.
 I couldn't figure out an efficient way to lay out these pattern pieces. This is the best I came up with, but since the fabric was free I wasn't so terribly worried. I have some ideas of what to do with the scraps, which I'll probably experiment with later.
This is the pattern for the shorts that go underneath the skirt. Cut two, sew them together. Whoever came up with this one must have some serious 3d to 2d skills. I still haven't really figured out which edges turn into what...and I've sewed it together! Haha.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Success of a non-textile kind

Yesterday, my father and I spent the day at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We had a great day and saw about 30 species of birds, some of which we'd never seen before! Here are a few pictures that I took.
This is the sign you see at the beginning of Wildlife Drive. Apparently they have Delmarva Fox Squirrels, although sadly we didn't see any.
There were so many Tundra swans and Snow geese there. When you got out of the car, you could hear their wings from several hundred feet away.
I have no idea what this is. Ideas?
There were lots of Bald Eagles flying around. We saw one on probably six or eight occasions.
J had begged me to bring back a picture of an eagle "in the wild" and luckily for her, I managed to bring back some adequate ones. (My new camera has a very nice zoom!)
Freedom! Democracy! All that jazz!
And this snake, whatever it is. Anyone a snake guru?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Final shelf

Here, in all its glory, is my finished shelf.
I tried to do an up and down version of a panoramic photo for you. It sort of worked. Just let your eyes go out of focus when you see the transitions, ok?

I am really pleased with how this worked out. I'm going to make a real label for every box. Then I'll work on organizing all my non-sewing stuff, and on moving my sewing machines back upstairs.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Major Reorganization

A few days ago, I just got so frustrated with the major mess that is my bedroom. No, I refuse to show before pictures. Let's just say it was bad.

I sorted almost everything out. It was then that I realized that the current space I had for sewing stuff was simply inadequate. I had this:
On the other side of the room, where I had heaped all my sewing stuff I had found while tidying that didn't fit into the shelves or the drawers, I had this:
So much stuff that didn't fit. I knew it was hopeless, so I went to my mother's pile of extra storage boxes (I didn't know she had one, but apparently she does!) and pulled out a bunch of boxes. Then I set myself to the daunting task of sorting that enormous pile of stuff out and deciding what to keep, what to toss, and how to sort out the stuff I was keeping.

Of course, once you spread a giant pile like this out, it looks horrible. Especially since I hadn't vaccumed! But here are the results of my labor:

I am super pleased to say that I got everything sorted into boxes and stored on that shelf you can see in the background of the 3rd picture. But I think there are enough pictures in this post already, so for the final finished project you'll have to wait until tomorrow!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Major facepalm

Well, I have been on a massive organizing kick recently. I did post something a while back about how I had purged my patterns and fabric, but I didn't really do anything else. I've spent the last few days getting my sewing stuff really in order, and so far it's working very well. I have a whole shelf devoted to my stuff now, rather than a few boxes. But I think I screwed something up.

I think I gave away the wrong box of patterns.

Fail. I'm still not sure how I managed to do that without noticing, but I know I wouldn't have kept some of the patterns in my pattern box, so I can only assume I got out the wrong box when I was giving patterns away. Luckily, my favorite patterns weren't in the box I got rid of, but I'm still pretty frustrated.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sewing meetup haul

Wow, I totally forgot to post about what I got at the sewing blogger meetup! Fail. Here it is:

8 patterns, an older edition of the Vogue Sewing book, and three fabrics. The one on the far left I bought from G Street Fabrics.

The baby fabric is for various random baby projects. I didn't really have a plan for it, it was just cute. The other two fabrics are stretch fabrics and I am going to use them to sew up the running skirt from Jalie 2796. I think it will require a fair amount of alteration, but it's the only running skirt pattern I could find. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 wrapup?

I don't know. I don't really have the energy to post a complete wrap up with beautiful pictures and deep thoughts. I'm on antibiotics now, so perhaps that will change in a few days, but just in case it doesn't, here are my scattered thoughts.

*I have no idea what 2013 will bring in terms of sewing. In about one month, I'll be leaving the country (eeek!!) and spending 6 months abroad without my sewing machine. I don't know what will happen to this blog. I do hope to continue on with some handsewing, so maybe that will take over. At any rate, expect my posts to be far less frequent.

*I have now reached a point where my standards are higher than my skills can get me to. Mostly, I need fitting skills. I would love to make myself a form that is actually shaped like me, so I could try to fit myself better.

*Maybe I should do more alteration of RTW clothes? I'm a little torn on that.

*I'm making fairly good progress on my capsule wardrobe for Germany. I just bit the bullet and bought a new coat. It's a 3-in-1 coat, so it will be fleecy, winter coat, and rain coat all in one. It's bright pink, which I am very pleased about. It's made by LL Bean, so if it doesn't last the whole time I can send it back. It will probably last for ever. Nevertheless, it cost $100 on sale. I know that's a good price for the use I will get out of it, but ouch.

*Oooh, I know. I should make hundreds of hand buttonholes in Germany! I can be a hand buttonhole master. Maybe practice other hand techniques too. What are other things done by hand? Zippers, I know.

Ok, I think I'm done introspecting, so here's a pretty picture that also works as a signoff!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

No sewing

Happy New Year! In my house, we are celebrating the New Year, and the Redskins' victory in the NFC East, through a fog of prescriptions. We seem to be getting better, and then someone else goes down. It's pretty tragic. Needless to say, there has been no sewing. I do hope, though, to show off the results of my Christmas present from my grandparents soon.