read more posts by

Emily

sew ready with studio designs: furniture for sewists (and giveaway!)

I’m a big believer in doing the best you can with what you have. I’ve been the recipient of many a hand-me-down in my life – everything from clothes and furniture to tools and appliances – and most of those things have come in quite handy over the years. When I first started sewing as a teenager, I parked my machine on our dining room table – having to move it every night for dinner. Later, it moved to a side table in my bedroom, which was cramped and awkward. In college, my mom gave me a table after she got a new desk, and I have used that table (and added two more hand-me-down tables from my husband to it) for the past 15 years. Those tables, along with things my dad made for me, rolling racks I’ve gotten on sale, and dress forms I’ve purchased for a bargain from local sellers or stores’ going out of business sales, have moved from about a dozen different houses over the years and been set up in a variety of spaces: teeny, tiny spare bedrooms, formal dining rooms, closets, and loft spaces. They’ve been used nearly every single day, and I’m lucky I have them.

I believe in doing things like that: cherishing what you have and making it work. But I also believe in investing in good quality tools and equipment when you can, and having functional furniture and thoughtful spaces in which to use it. In December, I got a new sewing machine, and I found myself in need of a new table for it. I’ll be using this machine mostly for embroidery so the embroidery arm will always be attached, which means I needed something long with plenty of workspace. In a very, very lucky sequence of events, Studio Designs reached out and asked me to pick a table I liked, review it, and share my thoughts with you. Oh, and one lucky winner will be getting a table too – eeee! (Entry form is at the bottom of this post.)

Studio Designs is a leader in the art accessories and art furniture field, and they have a number of specific furniture lines, including pet furniture, sewing furniture, home furniture, and office furniture. Like most everyone else on earth, purchase price is a big deal to me, because I’m in no position to dump endless cash on all the things I’d love to have (as much as I would like to). The Sew Ready collection is super affordable, and it’s one of the main reasons I was excited to partner with Studio Designs. This stuff is great quality and easy on the pocketbook.

After looking over the dimensions of the different sewing tables, I decided that the best match for me was the Eclipse Hobby Sewing Center. With the shelf on the left side up, it measures 60.25″ wide, which is more than enough space for my machine and supplies – and plenty of room for the embroidery arm to move freely. I also love the three drawers. I really like hideaways for supplies and all the things we use on a regular basis but don’t want to see or have cluttering up our workspace. Prior to getting this table, all of my embroidery thread was in big plastic bags in a box. Not exactly ideal. Now I can store them in these drawers and see exactly what I have and organize everything by color – which you know I love to do.

There’s also a platform under the table that is great for fabric or other supplies, and I’m using it for rolls of stabilizer and interfacing. Pretty much everything I need for embroidery can be stored in this table, and I just think that is beyond handy.

The tables are delivered in pieces, but it’s incredibly easy to assemble. I put this table together all by myself in about an hour one afternoon.

The tabletop itself is two pieces, one of which can be lowered so that the arm of your sewing machine to be level with the table. It’s adjusted by loosening the bolts, which isn’t difficult – but I do wish there was some sort of spring or latch mechanism that allowed you to raise and lower that shelf just by sliding it into place.

The left side of the table can swing down, giving you more or less tabletop depending on what you’re working on.

This table is solid and sturdy and everything you need a sewing table to be. It is a welcome (and much needed) addition to my studio! Be sure and check out the entire Sew Ready Collection (I love this cutting table too). The Comet Sewing Table is a great table for beginners or anyone short on space, and this Multipurpose Sewing Table is handy too.

Now, for the best part! Studio Designs is graciously giving away a table for one winner! To submit an entry, fill out the form below. Entries will be accepted through Monday, January 29th at 11:59PM CST. One, randomly-selected, US-based winner will be picked, and I will announce who that is on Tuesday. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Studio Designs for kindly sending me this sewing table. It will be used for many years to come!

the do-over: mccall’s 7627

The title of this post should really be “if at first you don’t succeed . . . ” because that’s ultimately the message today: try, try again. A couple months ago I made a wrap dress, and there was plenty to love about it – but it landed on the misses list in December. The issues with this dress had less to do with the pattern itself and more to do with the scale of the print combined with all that dress. So, I got to work removing the sleeves and replacing the belt with a solid black sash to break up the print a little. I think doing those things does the trick: now this is a dress that I feel good in and makes sense to me. It’s also more wearable, because I can easily throw on a cardigan or blazer without trying to cram the sleeves into another sleeve – or “smoosh” as I like to say.

I’m currently working on a black and white collection, and when I was putting it together a few weeks ago I knew I wanted another crack at this pattern. It’s just too good (easy to sew, fit is great), and I was excited about using the last little bit of a black and white tropical floral cotton I’ve had in my stash for a long, long time. I made a shirtdress out of it a couple years ago, but that particular dress went to my momma’s closet. I had just under two yards of fabric left over, and I had a feeling it would be a lovely version of the peplum top (view A) from this pattern.

I’m wearing it with jeans here, but it will also work well with summery linen pants or a black skirt or shorts. In this case, the sleeves work because the scale of the print is larger and the top isn’t overwhelmed by so much pattern. I went with a black belt again, for two reasons: I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the ties out of the floral, and I liked the contrast of black around the waist.

This fabric is another great find from Fashion Fabrics Club, but I got it years ago so it’s long been sold out. If you’ve been following this little blog for any length of time you know that I don’t particularly care for black – it’s just not a color that usually inspires me. I’ve also learned that solid white isn’t necessarily the most flattering thing I could wear, but the combination of black and white is what’s on my mind right now. It’s so classic and versatile, and while I have no plans to introduce a lot of solid black into my future sewing, I can appreciate having a few black pieces in my closet like a great pair of pants or skirt. If you’re a fellow fan of black and white, I found a few other options that would make great tops and dresses. I love the fact that great floral prints like this can work year round because they’re in neutral black and white. Plus, looking at those tropical prints in the middle of winter is motivating – spring is on the way!

Kaufman Sevenberry Island Paradise Flowers Black

Finespun Dianthus Black 

Telio Carmen Rayon Crepe Floral Print Black/White

If you’re looking for a flattering, easy to sew blouse, I’d recommend this pattern. I think it would be darling in gingham, but I’m really interested to see the dress in a solid color or something with some texture like an eyelet. Because the shoulder seam has been dropped (this makes “setting” in sleeves much easier than if the shoulder seam hadn’t been lowered), the armhole is quite large without the sleeve. I like the fact that there’s a little more coverage than a traditional sleeveless bodice, but your arm (and the surrounding area) is much more exposed than it normally is. Not a big deal, but it’s worth noting.

I finished the armhole seams with bias tape I made with what fabric I had left over. The pattern may include armhole facings – I honestly can’t remember – but I would never use them anyway. Bias tape is a much cleaner, less clunky finish.

Sometimes – especially when a project is a total loss – I can walk away knowing it couldn’t be fixed. This dress was different, and I’m especially happy with the black ties around the waist. I’m smitten with the peplum top too – that one will be especially fun to wear this summer with my favorite Panama hat and sandals.

Do you fix the so-so projects or just move on? It’s been a while since I’ve altered or changed a garment like this, but I’m glad I did. I can finally wear it!

Be sure and come back on Thursday. We’ll be talking all about a special line of sewing furniture, and there will be a giveaway for one winner. Can’t wait!

-Emily

P.S. This is the dress I made a couple years ago out of the black and white floral cotton. I used an older Vogue pattern, and I really loved that dress – but I ended up giving it to my mom because I knew she would be adorable in it. I never took proper pictures of this dress, so maybe my mom and I will take some photos together next time I’m in Nashville. (Hey, Momma! We’re taking pictures together next time I’m in town!)

This post contains affiliate links.

january fabric & pattern hauls

Let me begin this post by saying that I really miss this. I haven’t started 2018 in the most gangbusters way in terms of posting regularly, but it’s not for lack of motivation or inspiration. Quite the opposite: I’m bursting with new ideas, and I’d love a couple free days to just sit and write and stay on schedule. But things are a little crazy here at the moment. We’re so close to wrapping up the bulk of the work on the kitchen/first floor renovation we’ve been in the midst of since September, and a few big deadlines are finally upon us. Drywall is going back up this week, cabinets will be installed at the end of the month, painting happens after that, and then it’s all the finishing touches like countertops and lighting and flooring. Ty and I spent the weekend finishing demo at the top of the stairs and working on putting the insulation back in the walls and ceilings. It’s been really time consuming, not terribly fun work. It’s kind of a small miracle that I’ve been able to sew even a little bit the past week. All of this to say that my resolution to establish and maintain a consistent blogging schedule will just have to come in time. There’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel! And thank goodness, because I’ve recently started to curse this house and turn sour on this project. I need walls and a kitchen again!

One thing I’m always able to stay on top of is fabric shopping. (If you laughed at that statement, it’s okay. I laughed too. What a thing to be really good at, sheesh.) My after Christmas shopping is focused on fabric, so around this time every year I like to add a few new things to my fabric stash. The thing with having a sewing blog is that quite a lot of time can pass before the cuts of fabric become actual garments. I’ve never really dedicated a post that highlights my recent purchases, but I think it’s something I should do more often. I can’t tell you how many times I posted a finished garment last year and the fabric was already sold out, and it bummed me (and everyone else) out every time. So today I’m going to show you the fabrics I’ve gotten lately. That way, if you want some too you can get it before it’s gone.

I buy fabric from lots of different places, because the good stuff can come from anywhere. I’ve bought super expensive pieces and found nice fabric at Goodwill – there’s no right or wrong place to shop. I first shopped with fabric.com years and years ago before they became the destination that they are, and their inventory has only gotten better over time. Fabric.com carries a huge selection (the biggest, I believe) of TÉLIO fabric, so I usually start my shopping there. I recently got two things: a gorgeous navy floral rayon print, and an emerald green double wool stretch suiting. The rayon challis will make a great dress or separates combo this spring or summer, and the stretch suiting is going to be a dress in the spring.

Rayon Challis English Floral Navy/Mauve/Coral

TÉLIO Double Weave Stretch Suiting Emerald

Vogue 9279 is a pattern I picked up on Monday, and it’s what I’m going to use to make the dress I have in mind. The Duchess of Cambridge wore the most gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana dress during a tour in Canada a while back, and I have kept that dress in the back of my mind ever since I saw it. The stretch suiting is a perfect match (if a little more teal than emerald, but it will do), and the pattern is a close enough copy of the dress that I can modify it slightly to get an even better match to the D&G dress. (I’ll go the route of the Duchess and opt for a dress without the clock embellishment.)

Yesterday, fabric.com launched a Grab Bag Giveaway, where 50 lucky winners will receive an assortment of 10, 1-yard cuts of fabric. There’s no purchase necessary to enter, and you can submit an entry every day. To enter, click on the photo below and fill out the form. It’s so much fun to win things, and it could be you – good luck!


Like everyone else, I shop at Mood from time to time, and I found the most darling cotton/linen print a couple weeks ago. It’s another piece that won’t get used until later this summer (you know I like my navy in the summertime), but I simply could not resist this. It’s so charming and playful, and the pineapples are huge! They’re about 18″ tall, so whatever I make with this will have to be something that shows them off in the right way. This fabric is a print from Sea NY, and it was originally a zip-front midi skirt. Definitely a possibility!

Sea NY Navy and Ivory Pineapple Printed Linen Woven

 

There’s a Hobby Lobby close by, so it’s my go-to when I’m in a jam and need thread or a zipper. Over the past couple seasons their apparel fabrics have gotten quite good, and I’ve found a few things there in that time, including a couple chambray shirtings and a blush sequin fabric. I popped in a couple weeks ago, and the seasonal rack was already filling up with pretty things for spring. There were quite a few fabrics I could have gotten, but I decided I couldn’t leave without one in particular: this cotton lawn lemon print shirting. It would make a lovely, floaty spring dress, but I have two lemon print dresses (see here and here), so this will become a blouse. How great will this be with a yellow striped skirt or white, wide leg linen pants?! It wasn’t on sale when I got it, so I just pulled up a 40% off coupon. I especially love that’s it’s cotton. Easy to wash!

I also picked up a few things at Fashion Fabrics Club earlier this month when they were running a $20 off a $100 purchase promotion, and one of them is this showstopper sequin fabric. You know I love the sparkly stuff, and this is a perfect addition to the black and white collection I’m working on right now. You’ll see this made into a skirt in a couple of weeks. And it was a steal at $5.25/yard! It’s got some stretch to it, and it needs a lining, but I love the combination of black and white and the various sizes of the sequins.

Silver Texture Sequin Stretch Mesh

I’ve had my eye on this striped raw silk for ages. The colors are so pretty and perfect for spring. I think this will make a gorgeous jacket or skirt. Great price for silk: $8.95/yard. By the way, if you ordered this after I posted it on Instagram Stories and got the wrong thing in your package, the same thing happened to me. The item number was listed incorrectly on the website, but the nice folks at FFC made it right and sent me the right item two days later. It happens, no biggie!

Beige Multi Stripe Silk

There have been a few pattern sales lately, and I added a handful to my collection, with a few coming from the brand new Early Spring collection from McCall’s. I’m loving the pants and the shirtdress with the high-low hem!

I’m slowly making progress on all the pretty black and white pieces I’m working on, so expect new project posts soon. (You can follow along and watch the progress on Instagram.) You know I love making things in colorful collections, but I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying working with black and white. Most everything I’m making will be a piece I’ll wear a lot, so that feels good.

Let me know what you’re working on! January is my birthday month, but I always feel like it’s such a bummer time of year. The holidays are over, the weather is dreadful, everything is brown and grey, and it’s just generally uninspiring. Thank goodness for sewing to get us through!

-Emily

P.S. This was me at almost 1am last night, putting the insulation back up in the ceiling. Ty was on a work trip, so it was just me and my coveralls, with Friends re-runs on the background. Wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t the worst night of my life either. Drywall starts going back up tomorrow – YAY!

This post contains affiliate links.