In-between times

It’s been a few weeks since my sister’s wedding, but it’s still weird being done with the dress. In the month leading up to the wedding, I spend 30-ish hours a week on the dress, kicking up to about 60 hours in the week before. And in the six months before that, I spent anywhere from 5-15 hours per week on it.  The time I spent sewing was the tip of the iceberg, however, compared to how much time I spent thinking about it. Given a construction problem (when and how to underline, boning channel placement, sew-in cups, neckline stabilization…), I’ll chew it over and over like the ruminant I am. A perpetual internal dialog about construction and 200+ hours of sewing is a commitment of a completely different scale than what I’ve invested in any previous project, including my coat. I loved (almost) every minute of it, but it’s left me in a rather odd state.

For one, I’ve come to the realization that I bought a bunch of sewing stuff while in my wedding dress trance – vintage/used patterns and some new (and rather vibrant) fabrics. I got to hang out with Sanae this week and she hypothesized that my sewing wishes were coming out in the form of purchases. I completely agree. Even though I loved sewing the dress, I still lusted after other projects that had to be put off.

il_fullxfull.674768025_o755

il_fullxfull.727338948_k2c3

Paradoxically, with all the fabric and patterns and projects ready for me, I’ve found it a bit hard to get sewing again since finishing. I’ll get excited about it when I’m at work, but will end up happier spending time in our until-now neglected garden or watching Star Trek TNG with Nathan. I did plod through a black linen Gabriola last weekend. I love wearing it, but the sewing felt a bit like a chore.

crabandbee.com|garden

So I’m rolling with that feeling. I’ve gotten less and less good at forcing myself into things, which I’m taking as a sign of personal growth. “Disciplined” and “motivated” were words that people used to describe me when I was younger. Those compliments were like food to me at the time, but when I look back I realize how little I trusted my own instincts and interests at that age. I worked for good grades in every subject because that’s how I viewed success and I logged miles of running and ate low-fat foods because that’s how I viewed health. I try to ease off sewing when I get that duty-bound feeling, that I should be sewing because it’s the only way to enjoy myself. When that beyond-excited-to-sew obsessive feeling comes rushing back, though, you’d better believe I’ll be following into my sewing room.

So for now, I’ll leave you with a peek of the lace draping for my sister’s dress bodice. Still trying to figure out how to blog about this project…

crabandbee.com | wedding dress lace draping

What do you do after finishing a large project? Any rituals to share?

Some thoughts on 2014

I typed this title and started blankly at the text field for awhile. How do you sum up a year?

Maybe it’s best to consider how it began. I started this year blissfully unemployed. Then I went back to full-time work as a contractor. It was a rough transition, but it happened at the right time. I’d done all the reflecting and rejuvenating I possibly could, and I needed to hatch from my cocoon before I started stagnating. There’s a part of me that feels like if I’d just stuck with those feelings a little longer I might have found the perfect balance of employment, free time and 100% fulfilling work but that’s probably untrue. Being at home for so long was starting to shake my confidence in my ability to interact with other humans, which has never been that strong.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.53.56 AM
Hiding from my office party

So I went back to work and my sewing changed. The “thinking” part of sewing lessened in favor of the “making” part. I spent the early part of this year working on my bodice sloper and adapting a pleated pants pattern into a jeans pattern, but my spring and summer was full of dresses and tops and wearing the jeans enough to realize that a) they would need future improvements and b) they should be given to my sister.

crabandbee.com
Unblogged V.2 jeans

Now that I’ve become re-accustomed to working, my desire for longer projects is increasing again. I made a jacket. I fitted and sewed a button-down for one of our best friends who doesn’t fit RTW. After a year of talking about it, I’m sewing a coat that should be done by the end of this month. It’s been a slow process, with the construction interspersed with lots of book flipping and internet scrolling, but to me that signals I’m learning something.

crabandbee.com

Next year, I’m slated to sew a wedding dress for my sister and I’d like to renew my quest for awesome pants. The quickest way for me to develop an aversion to something is to set a hard goal to complete it, so (aside from the wedding dress) I’m not going to do that. I’ll just say this: I’m excited for another year with you people, shared through the magical lens of sewing and creating.

Dressing like a feminist

Since I posted last, I finished my jacket (snapshot at the end of this post) as well as a Pierrot-style clown costume for Halloween, but neither has seen any wear! The weather has turned quite cold and rainy, and I came down with a gnarly head cold that prevented me from any Halloween reveling. I hope to have pictures of one or both soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share some reflections on a topic near and dear to my heart.

When I was a sophomore in college in the early aughts, my uncle and parents visited me. We went to the mall, because that’s what we did back then for fun. As we walked through the perfumed air, my uncle said something I never forgot: “You know that women’s fashion is all about vulnerability, right?”

The more I thought about it, the more examples I came up with. Tight waists that restrict breathing and make eating difficult. Long hair and jewelry to grab. Exposed skin. Constricting skirts and pants that limit range of motion. No pockets, which necessitates carrying a bag. Shoes that prevent the wearer from running, walking or sometimes even standing in for more than 20 minutes. Sizes and shapes that make people feel like genetic aberrations. And, perhaps most debilitating, the expectation that women should be gorgeous, fashionable or at least “current” at all times so you have a hard time thinking about other things.

I’ve worn all of the garments and accessories I’ve listed above. Skinny jeans that were so tight I’m pretty sure they gave me heartburn? Yep. Painfully tall, cheaply-made, blister-inducing heels? Yep. As I get more comfortable in my skin, my tolerance for these particular sorts of pain has declined dramatically. Physical comfort is on par with aesthetics for me now. I’m done with skirts I need to keep adjusting or shirts that cut into my armpits. I tend to wear shoes that I can walk at least a mile in. At the same time, I’ve never been more certain about what I want to wear and look like.

I think making your own clothing can be an act of resistance to the shortcomings of mainstream fashion – I’m empowered to make the clothes I need and want, and I can make them to fit me. I know techniques to make my clothes last longer than the store-bought items I could afford, so I’m not always scrambling for replacements. My imagination, skill level and free time are the constraints I work within. I feel lucky.

I still think a good deal about fashion and clothing, and sometimes I question the amount of time I spend on sewing and sewing-related activities. Aside from work, it’s without a doubt what I spend the most time doing. “Sewing” has come to encompass a whole range of activities for me, however: learning, writing, working with my hands after a day of digital work, challenging myself, relaxing, meeting people and being creative, with the hope of a useful object at the end of the process. I like new clothes quite a bit, but would they be interesting enough on their own to sustain my sewing practice?

On the flip side, my interest in clothing and sewing looks dramatically different from others’. I have friends who enjoy the performative aspects of fashion.  Playing with gender and identity through clothing can be extremely powerful and, I think, a feminist act as much as dressing to suit your body and comfort. That exploration may include the 6″ heels, a three-piece suit, a shaved head or cleavage for days. Why a person wears something can easily be as important as what they’re wearing.

Given how much time and thought most of us invest in our home-sewn garments, do these sorts of considerations enter into what you sew? Has making your own clothing changed how you dress yourself?

All about ME

Last week, Lisa G of Notes from a Mad Housewife very kindly tagged Melanie and me in the blog hop on writing that’s going around. Being something of a rule-follower, I tried to find the origin of the blog hop. I traced it back, 6 blogs deep – Lisa, Heather, Leila, and three new-to-me blogs – without any mention of the original hopper. This sewing blog land of ours is vast! Without being able to reference the original post, I don’t know what the intent of the hop is, but what swayed me to participate was just how much I enjoyed seeing these posts popping up in my reader.

Why do I write?
I don’t remember why exactly I started a sewing blog. My first few months of consuming sewing content on the internet are hazy. I wanted to make things and I needed a lot of help. I would look up projects on the internet and invariably end up mucking around Burdastyle without understanding how it worked. I joined the now-defunct Wardrobe Refashion because I was just so interested in what people were doing. After a few months of lurking on WR, I shared my first project with great trepidation – a Burda dress made from a thrifted sheet with some of my illustrations screenprinted on it, shot in Photo Booth on my computer – and people were both kind and helpful. I guess eventually I felt the pull to contribute my own content to the online sewing world in a more involved way. I started two other blogs before Crab & Bee – originally a collaboration with my sister – really took shape.

crabandbee.com

I’ve continued blogging because I really enjoy reading about sewing and the creative process, and it’s so heartening to know that other people share those interests. It’s about documenting, too: it’s exciting to have a tangible way to track my progress in and attitude towards sewing over the years.

I write in general because I’ve always written. I started a journal at age 5 and have kept one ever since. I don’t really understand something until I’ve written it down, whether it’s how I’m feeling or my grocery list.

How does my writing process work?
I suppose the writing process starts with the sewing process, when I start narrating to myself. It’s hard to justify my narration habit if I don’t blog, so at this point, I’m committed. Once my project is finished, pictures are next. I take the straightforward approach to photography – I’m most interested in capturing the look, fit and feel of a garment. I make sure to capture the details I want to discuss, and then order my photographs in a way that feels natural. By then, writing feels like a mad lib. I don’t try to control much of what I’ve written.

For someone who frequently shares pictures of themselves on the internet, I tend to be a private person with a tendency towards brevity. I think both of these qualities are fine, even admirable in certain situations, but I realized a couple of years ago that one of the things that makes a sewing blog more meaningful to me is the connection I feel with its writer. In the hopes of creating the kind of blog I’d want to read, I’ve been trying to put more of myself into my posts beyond just how large of a broad back adjustment I need. It’s a work in progress – as is the broad back adjustment.

How does it differ from others of its genre?
One of my fantasy projects would be doing a big affinity diagram of sewing bloggers. There are a lot of overlapping themes and interests in the sewing blog world. My main interests are sustainable sewing (and exploring what that even means), fitting and adapting patterns, durability and the techniques to achieve it, and sewing my entire wardrobe in styles I love, with a little textile art thrown in. This isn’t the ambitious affinity diagram, but I did want to share a few blogs I look to for inspiration around these themes:

Sustainable sewing: So, Zo, YoSaMi, A Handmade Wardrobe, Gloria & Me
Adapting patterns and pattern-making: Heather B, Madalynne
Durability and technique: Notes from a Mad Housewife
Creating a wardrobe: Fabric Tragic, What Katie Sews, Handmade by Carolyn
Styles I love: Sew StylistOh, She Dabbles
Textile art: Rolling in Cloth, Liza Jane Sews, SallieOh

I think what makes any blog unique is the combination of the writer’s personality and interests, their approach to the creative process and what they create.

What am I working on?
Too many things! I’m playing with a couple of Scraptember ideas as well as sewing scrap undies, making a couple of mens’ shirts as gifts, and muslining and planning some early-fall sewing so I’m not as cold as I was last year. That’s plenty, but I’d love to make another pair of jeans and play around with my newly-completed bodice sloper.

crabandbee.com

Nominations
I’d like to nominate Ebony of Sew Stylist and Sarah from Fabric Tragic. I can’t get enough of Ebony’s style these days – I can imagine looking in her closet and seeing a harmonious wardrobe sewn up in a beautiful mix of solids and tasteful prints. I love Sarah’s intense focus on wearable workhorse pieces, with the occasional Sound of Music singalong costume thrown in for good measure. Also, she cracks me up with her choice phrases – “lady garden” comes to mind. (Ebony and Sarah – no pressure to write up your own post!)

What are some of your sewing interests, and which other bloggers share them?

Monochrome

 

crabandbee.com

I took a 6-week collage class recently. I felt a little silly signing up (was there more to collage than glueing paper cutouts onto other stuff?), but I felt very drawn to it, and it turned out to be a fantastic class. I learned all kinds of cool new techniques, and my teacher and fellow students were very inspiring. We got to raid an enormous pile of salvaged art supplies and the wood shop scrap pile.

My teacher noticed that I was making a lot of work in black, white and grey. This seems to have been true for my more recent sewing projects, too, so I thought I’d share a little color-coded photo essay.

crabandbee.com

Paste-paper mobile, now hanging in our living room.

crabandbee.com

Shredded knit fabric scraps on a wood background. (Video tutorial on how to shred t-shirts here, by Childhood Flames).

crabandbee.com

 

Python leggings, with swap fabric gifted to me by the lovely Heather B.

crabandbee.com

Collaged wood blocks for my nephew.

crabandbee.com

 

The most basic of basics, a white tee for my husbo.

crabandbee.com

Collage and paint on wood.

crabandbee.com

Medium transfer (teeth), shredded fabric pieces, dot collage, vintage magazine collage. I think my multi-talented sister made the ceramic piece?

crabandbee.com

A work in progress.

I noticed that it was really hard to keep the photos themselves monochromatic! The lighting colored the whites yellow or blue, I have some earthy wood backgrounds on a lot of my pieces and furniture, and I apparently like blue accents. As soon as I look at my photos with a white background, it becomes apparent how much tone is behind them.

I know I won’t be creating in monochrome forever, but there is something liberating about it – I’ve been focusing more on texture and composition – even as I’m looking forward to the colors of spring.

 

The grand experiment

Last year, I took stock of my lifestyle with regards to sustainability. Just over a year has gone by, and it feels like time to re-visit this concept. That said, I can’t really re-visit this concept without mentioning that I decided to take a few months off of work, starting last November. While I adhered to a lot of my personal sustainability goals (buying used clothing, reducing packaging waste, eating mostly veggie, etc.), here are some of the most striking areas ways my life has been different in the last few months:

Creativity
Focusing on creative projects was my main goal during my time off. I’ve been drawing and sewing like crazy, and educating myself about pattern-making and fit. I’ve been taking art classes (in the day time!) as well. It’s been dreamy, and I don’t think I would have had the energy and focus to embark on these longer-term projects while I was working. Sewing was therapy when I was working, which (for me) tended to entail simpler projects.

crabandbee.com | illustration, copyright crabandbee.com

Emotional capacity
I feel infinitely more capable of giving my whole attention to the people in front of me. This includes the usual suspects – my husband, my friends, my family – but also people I happen to interact with.

Food
While I loathe food waste, it was much harder to keep on top of it last year. I’d find little produce bags of spoiled cilantro every week in our fridge. Since November, we eat all of our fresh food, all of our leftovers and make significant dents in our bulk staples like oats and rice. We’re on a skeleton budget right now, with time to cook, so we focus on produce and bulk food instead of packaged foods (which are both expensive and create lots of waste). I’ve even been making bread for Nathan!

Health
Hand in hand with eating changes is how I feel. Before November, I would have estimated that my stomach was angry about 40% of my waking life; recently, it’s been felt like 5%! And, for the past few years I’ve favored sewing, cruising the internet, and most other activities over exercise or sleep, but I’ve been putting myself to bed before midnight and actually making time for yoga.

Spending
It behooves me to spend less money when I’m not making any, of course, but I noticed that a lot of my discretionary spending dried up more effortlessly  than I would have expected once I’d left my job. Purchases made out of convenience, lunches out, and transportation constituted a lot of my spending, not to mention the online fabric and pattern shopping I’d do to distract myself during breaks at work. I think most of us aim to net more than we spend when we work, but I found it eye-opening to see which expenditures were tied to my working lifestyle.

So what’s next?
As you’ve probably guessed, this life isn’t sustainable in the literal sense of the word. This experiment has a shelf life. I’m not independently wealthy – I just saved up for a long time, knowing that this was a gift I wanted to give myself, and I’ve managed to avoid long-term financial burdens. I feel unbelievably lucky to have gotten to do this.

After three months, here are my conclusions. I haven’t minded trading full-time income for creative time. Time to take excellent care of myself and others has also been worth it. Conveniently, I’ve found I also enjoy a frugal lifestyle! My next career move has yet to be solidified, but I will be incorporating my learnings into my search.

Have you ever had a dramatic change in lifestyle? What did you learn about yourself?

Also! Those of you interested in clean beauty will be excited to hear that I’ll be hosting a joint giveaway with my sister (of Pollen & Wax) next week. Stay tuned!

Top 5 inspirations of 2013

I decided to share some of my inspirations outside of sewing this year. I’m not sure if any of these will found their way into my sewing but all of them have changed me in some way this year.

1. The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde

IMG_4213_b

This book really changed how I thought about creativity, economy and mythology. It’s hard to imagine a book that can say so much on such broad topics, while still being specific and well-researched, but it does. (The book was so good, in fact, that Orson ate some chunks out of the cover.)

2. Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…”

03FIONA-popup
Photo source: nytimes.com

I’ve been listening to “The Idler Wheel…” non-stop for the entire year (it came out in the spring of 2012). I liked and loved her previous albums but this one is a work of genius (and I don’t say that lightly). Musically and lyrically, it’s sad, funny, bitter and jubilant. Lyrics I didn’t fully grasp from listening will pop into my head at appropriate moments in life.

3. Minimalism

crab&Bee
My fabric stash in early 2013

This was my #3 inspiration last year, too, but I mean it in a different way. Last year, stylistic minimalism was on my mind. This year, I started focusing more on de-cluttering, organizing, and focusing on exactly what it is I need to live happily and creatively. Philippa introduced me to some excellent minimalist blogs that I refer to frequently for inspiration. I still tend to attract clutter, and my scrap stash is contained but large, so this will continue to be an area of focus in 2014 for me!

4. Dance

Chouinard Chopin

I’m pretty surprised to find dance on my list of inspirations this year. I danced ballet throughout my childhood and dabbled in modern at college, but could never learn choreography quickly. Nonetheless, I found myself very drawn to dance this year as a spectator. I saw Compagnie Marie Chouinard and Les Ballets Trockaderos live, and watched documentaries (Pina, Ballets Russe, Paris is Burning). I’m probably not going to start up any kind of dance practice, but I’m starting to appreciate the creative language and possibilities of dance.

5. Kiki Smith’s drawings

Kiki Smith Pool of Tears
source: ULAE, Inc.

I had become familiar with Kiki Smith’s sculptural work in college but hadn’t realized how much she worked on paper until I found the book  “Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things” at Powell’s last January. Her work is really visceral, sometimes confrontational, but always compelling to look at. I also learned that she silkscreened her drawings onto fabric and clothing when she was younger.

Back soon with my last Top 5 post: learnings and goals!

Top 5 hits of 2013

My ambitions of photographing a few more projects before writing up my Top 5 hits went out the window when I got horribly sick last Wednesday. I’ve turned the corner, although I’m still only getting out of bed to to steam my face and refill my ginger tea. Now that I’m coherent and just starting to get antsy from all the bed rest, I thought I’d write up my 2013 favorites.

1. The Huge Quilt
What went right: used lots of scraps, highly useful, fit my original vision

crabandbee.com | scrap quilt

So much sick time in bed has really given me time to appreciate this quilt. Even though its creation involved a lot of repetition, it was worth it.

2. White Mathilde
What went right: second-hand fabric, lots of wear, good fit, fits within my wardrobe

crabandbee.com | Tilly & the Buttons Mathilde blouse

Adjusting the bust width and dart position as well as removing the back button placket made my second Mathilde even better than the first. I wore it constantly in the early fall, when it was a bit warmer, and look forward to wearing it again in warmer temps. I used  thicker but loosely-woven linen I got at the second-hand fabric store.

3. Pleated python pants
What went right: second-hand fabric, lots of wear, good fit

crabandbee.com | Burda 7250

After many muslins and a month-long hiatus, I finished my first pair of pants! I wear them constantly. Sure, they have issues – the fabric is fun to look at but kinda nasty, the waistband isn’t pretty on the inside, and I now know that lengthening the front inseam above the knee would make it easier to bend my knees. But the fit is great, I love the style and I freakin made pants.

4. Birthday blues shirt
What went right: lots of wear, good fit, fits within his wardrobe

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6044

This was the second super-successful man shirt I made this year. I think the Western-style yokes really make this shirt interesting but not flashy – just like my man. It gets worn a lot, even into the fall/winter.

5. Shibori Satsuki
What went right: textile experimentation, repurposed undesirable fabric

crabandbee.com | Victory Patterns Satsuki

I think this is one of the more beautiful things I’ve made this year, and it was my re-introduction into dyeing cloth. This is pretty much only a summer top, with the shoulder cutouts and wide sleeves, and I’m eager to wear it again.

Honorable Unmentionables: So, Zo scrunds
What went right: used lots of scraps, lots of wear, good fit

crabandbee.com

Sewing scrunds might have sounded a bit absurd to me a few years ago, but I completely see the practicality now:  they fit wonderfully, they guzzle up knit scraps and they sew up quickly. I think I’ve got enough scraps to make up some more!

So what have I learned from choosing my favorites from 2013? Unsurprisingly, I like projects that see a lot of use! I feel good when a project uses up scrap fabric or thrifted fabric (or transforms undesirable fabric). Good fit is imperative, as is good fabric choice. Four of my favorite projects this year (the quilt, pants, Satsuki, and scrunds) were outside of my comfort zone, and I was glad of the challenge once I was done.

Top 5 misses of 2013

The Top 5 lists are back!

11384379103_a621f96522

Head on over to Gillian’s blog to grab an icon and check out her suggested lists and thoughts on why looking back on our projects is a useful exercise. As a navel-gazing type, I needed no convincing to join in again.

I’ve still got some unblogged 2013 projects and hope to share them before I do the hits as some of them are contenders. I’m optimistically assuming I won’t sew up a spectacular failure in between now and New Year’s. So, in chronological order, here are the 5 projects that have not stood the test of time.

1. Sweater Renfrew
What went wrong: fit issues

crabandbee.com

This picture really says it all. I tried to wear it anyway for 6-7 months, but I now know that I needed to widen the shoulders as well as make them more square. I hated how it lifted off every time I moved my shoulders. It’s been sold to a thrift store, and I hope it’s found a good home with someone who is more slender- and sloped-shouldered than I. Shouldn’t be hard! I recently re-visited the pattern and was able to employ some of the fit knowledge I’ve gathered this year to make the necessary alterations.

2. Natural-blocking tunic
What went wrong:  low-quality fabric, sewing inexperience

DSC0034_72

I really, really like the concept of this tunic but I always ended up feeling a little sloppy when I wore it. The seam between the top (cut on the bias) and the bottom (on grain) looks a little wavy. The tan linen (yep, THAT tan linen) didn’t wear well throughout the day. I ended up cutting it to a shirt length, which helped, and it went into a dye vat this morning. We’ll see if it survives!

3. Basic black sweater
What went wrong: low-quality fabric

crabandbee.com

This sweater is still in my closet, but its days are numbered. I made it out of a rayon slub knit that I purchased at Pacific Fabrics when I couldn’t find a sturdier black sweater knit. It attracts lint and generates tons of its own. I wore it to the salon to get my hair cut, and the stylist looked like she didn’t want to touch it when she went to hang it up. I felt some shame, but continued to wear it because it worked so well with my tank tops.

I think this is the worst sort of fail, because I don’t think this garment will be desirable enough to donate or sell when I decide it’s too disgusting to wear. It feels very wasteful! I suppose I should looking for a textile recycle option. I’d really like to re-make it in a nice sweater or linen knit and will make every attempt to vet the quality of the fabric!

4. Wiksten tank hack
What went wrong:  hasty sewing, fit issues

crabandbee.com

I was still figuring out how low to make the neckline on my Wiksten tanks when I made this variation, and it’s just too low. I chalk this one up mostly to hasty sewing, because I think that’s why I overlooked the neckline. I’m pretty sure this tank has embarrassed me in public. I need to unpick the neck and arm bindings so I can fix it. By the time spring rolls around, I’m hoping to feel motivated as I really like the two-fabric design and the button placket.

5. Isabel-inspired PJ pants
What went wrong: hasty sewing, “meh” design

crabandbee.com

I think I was just too much in a rush to finish these pants for the Pajama sew-along to do them justice. I was adapting a pattern on the fly (and very quickly). I wish the slant pockets came in further. They’re a little big through the leg and the elastic cuffs hit at an awkward spot. I didn’t even want to wear them to lounge around the house. They were sold this weekend to a thrift store. Still, I’m glad I tried to improvise and I used thrifted fabric.

By my count, the culprit tally is fit issues (2), low-quality fabric (2), hasty sewing (2), sewing inexperience (1) and “meh” design (1). I’m not that concerned about the last two. I think it’s exciting to learn something new by making a mistake, or by dreaming up an idea only to realize it needs tweaking. Fit issues also get easier to tackle with experience. It’s the hasty sewing and bad fabric that I’d like to work on in 2014. I’ve been rushing through less projects this year and I’ve noticed a huge uptick in quality (and I tend to catch fit issues that come up.) The fabric issue isn’t completely in my hands, but I think a mixture of educating myself on the feel, look and structure of good fabric will go a long way – as will trusting my instincts. If I think back to when I purchased the black rayon jersey, I remember my desire to get it sooner drowning out the voices saying the fabric wasn’t quite right.

Taking a look back at last year’s misses, I had 4 instances of unsuitable fabric (too thick, too thin, no drape, etc.) and 2 instances of hasty sewing. I do feel like my fabric choices have improved immensely, so it’s nice to not have that problem pop up this year! And while I have the same number of hastily-sewn projects, I sewed a lot more projects this year – most of them, without rushing.

Are you reflecting on your year in sewing?

Family history in buttons

This Thanksgiving, my mom made the mistake of giving me my grandmother’s button collection before we ate. I was pretty much oblivious to food and family for the next five hours as I sorted and matched buttons.

crabandbee.com

The buttons were living in three handmade boxes.

crabandbee.com

My dad’s family is Japanese-American, and the boxes were made by my male relatives when they were put into internment camps during World War II. They used old milk crates and scrap wood to build everything from small things, like these boxes, to full-sized furniture.

crabandbee.com

The handiwork and attention to detail on the box amazes me.

crabandbee.com

My dad also told me more about how diligently my grandma (who was a professional seamstress) and great aunts saved every button from old garments. Hearing this made me want to sort and match her collection even more and do her proud! Also, I have a tendency that borders on compulsion to sort things by color and shape.

crabandbee.com

In addition to the time I spent on Thanksgiving, I probably sorted for another 10 hours this weekend and finished last night. The result?

crabandbee.com

I kept what I thought I could use, saved some for my mom’s mending and picked out some treats for you, lovely readers! I couldn’t think of anybody I’d rather share this bounty with. And because I couldn’t stop myself from doing more sorting, I divided them into themes.

Set 1: Pastels

crabandbee.com

Set 2: Blacks and browns

crabandbee.com

Set 3: Big vintage

crabandbee.com

Set 4: Creams and tans

crabandbee.com

Set 5: Party time

crabandbee.com

Set 6: Brights

crabandbee.com

Please leave a comment on this post saying which of the six sets you would like, your email and maybe tell me about a cool hand-me-down or heirloom you’ve received by next Wednesday 12/11 at noon PST. I’ll ship anywhere!

Just a little coat update – in my last post, I said I was getting back to my muslin. Weell, I’ve been finishing up a queen-sized quilt (!!!) on my normal-sized Bernina and didn’t anticipate how much I’d have to change my sewing area around to finish it… as soon as I finish cramming it through my machine and get my sewing table back, coat toile-ing is back on!