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To Multi-task or not

2017 January 9
by elizabeth_admin

Don’t get too excited!  I know, I know.  I’m writing another post within one month of the last one.  It’s a Festivus Miracle in these parts.  But I’ve been thinking…  Now that I have two teenagers in the house in addition to the little boy (who’s no longer so little), I have noticed the curious habit of teenagers of listening to music and/or watching tv while doing other things, like homework or hobbies.  Now I know that this kind of multi-tasking is common place and has been for decades if not millennia, but I have never been able to do it.  Never.  Really!  Not even when I was a teenager.  If I was reading a book, or studying, or anything that required my brain, I had to have uninterrupted silence and give my complete attention to the task.  I couldn’t even talk to anyone.  To this day, I still can’t multi-task.  Now before you go all sarcastic on me… Yes, I can listen to music while cooking or cleaning.  Anyone can do that.  I just can’t listen to music or watch tv while working on a new sewing pattern, or knitting a complicated sock pattern, or while painting.  When I teach sewing, I have a strict no humming or singing policy in class.  I can’t think if someone is humming or singing.  I can’t think at all.  Sometimes if I’m working on something I’ve made many times, I can listen to an audio book or have a tv show I’ve watched many times on in the background.  Although if I get to a tricky part, I will have to pause whatever I’m listening to or watching while I get through that section.

So, I am curious to know if any other sewers out there have this same problem.  Or if I’m just a mutant.


In other creative news, I finished a pussy hat, one sock, and am one-third through the second sock of the pair since the new year has come.  So, I’m off to a great start with my new year’s resolution of staying off social media and creating more.  I hope I stay strong and this trend continues for the rest of the year!

Who knows?  Maybe I will even return to full-time blogging?  But let’s not get too crazy yet.

Don’t forget to let me know if you share my abhorrence of multi-tasking or if I’m just a mutant.  😉

Jammiepalooza 2016 and Thoughts on 2017

2017 January 4
by elizabeth_admin

Thank goodness we are seeing the backside of 2016.  What a shitty year that was.  Truly.

Obviously there were some great moments.  Like the Cubs winning the World Series of course.  And the fact that my family won the holiday card competition this year.  What?  You didn’t know there was a competition for family holiday cards?  Well, we won it.  See below…


See what I mean?  😉

And of course, Jammiepalooza 2016, while stressful in the making, was a huge success again this year.  A total of 14 PJ’s made (3 adult sized pants, 2 teen sized pants, 5 kid nightgowns, and 4 kid sized pants).  I don’t have pics of everybody, but I think you get the picture…


As I have mentioned in earlier posts, the past two years have been pretty busy what with getting married and having a much larger family to coordinate, teaching sewing classes, co-running the art program at Jack’s school, and getting a certificate degree in art.  I haven’t had much time for sewing for myself and I miss it.  I am not much of New Years Resolutions kind of a person, but this year, I might be.  I have thought about how I spend my time every day, and I’m embarrassed to admit that a lot of it is on social media.  Back in ancient times, the internet was my way into sewing.  I needed those social connections to help me learn how to sew and read blog after blog after blog every day.  I spent hours reading blogs and commenting on other blogs.  I wrote my own blog.  After I moved to San Diego and the need to reinvent myself arose, I stopped reading blogs, and pretty nearly stopped blogging myself.  I had tons of time to volunteer at Jack’s school, to sew, to research a new career.  Giving up blog reading gave me a ton of time.  But then Facebook and Instagram, and stupid game apps started taking up my time.  I want to be productive again.  I want to sew for myself again.  So my New Years Resolution this year is to reduce my distractions.  I am going to limit my social media consumption and participation to once a day for a short time, instead of checking in every time I think of it.  I want to have more time to create in-between all my other obligations as a mom, a wife, a teacher, a student, and as a volunteer.  If I can do that every day, create or make something, then I will be happier.  I will feel like I’m accomplishing something for myself.  A gift to myself.  Something meaningful to myself.  If I am happier, then I will be better at the mom job, the wife job, and so on.  I realized that I was not feeding myself, and that in fact, I was robbing myself of something very precious, Time.  I was wasting too much of my time on things that didn’t provide me with real tangible products.  When I spend my time painting, I have a painting at the end of it.  When I spend my time liking things on Facebook, what do I have?  Nothing.  Nothing but wasted time.

So 2017, I am really looking forward to you.  I can’t wait to see what what we make together!

Stopping by to say hello!

2016 November 22
by elizabeth_admin

Hi to everyone who is left!

This poor little blog is so neglected.  With sewing classes, getting a post graduate degree, running the art program at Jack’s school, and my new large family, I am just so busy these days.  Too busy to sew for myself.

I’ve been sewing up a ton of samples for my sewing classes though.  I’m on my second sewing class this year already.  The first had a Halloween theme.



The current class has a stuffed animal theme.  Super cute!



The next class in January has a Valentine’s/Winter theme, but I haven’t sewn those samples yet.

My family and I are having our family portrait taken for our holiday pictures this coming weekend, so I had to whip something up real quick before I start my Thanksgiving meal preparations.  I wanted something red and pick up a roll end from Joann’s last week.  It was enough for a dress body, but not enough for the arms.  So I had to come up with another fabric from the stash.  I used New Look 6298 again; it has raglan sleeves making a contrast look easy.



I had some tan double knit in the stash, so voilá!



The only flaw of this dress is the red knit shows every bump and lump, so the back view is not all that flattering.  Also, I must confess that, because I can’t help being critical of myself, I kind of botched the neckline using the coverstitch machine to sew the seam allowance down.  I should have just used my sewing machine.  Ugh.  Oh well, at least I have long hair to cover it up.  Hopefully no one looks at it too closely, or maybe they’ll be too distracted by my lumpy body they won’t even notice the neckline!  Hah!

Next up is the Jammiepalooza 2016 sewing frenzy.  I already bought the fabrics and pre-washed them.  I just have to make two or three a week from now until Xmas.  Unfortunately, I won’t be seeing most of my family who receives the pj’s this Christmas.  Oh well.  Will have to finish theirs first so I can get them in the mail.  I do have one problem though with this year’s Jammiepalooza.  I never write down which sizes I make for everyone.  And I have to go through measurements and sizing and figuring it out every time.  What a PITA!  This year, I am going to record everything in a notebook to make sure I have it ready for next year.  It’s only taken me 5 years to figure that out.  Sheesh!

I hope to have pictures of Jammiepalooza 2016 for the next post.

Thanks for sticking with me through my blog’s neglect.  I appreciate it!


2016 May 26
by elizabeth_admin

Whoa.  Am I rusty. Really rusty.  I mean really really rusty.

Besides those couple of knit raglan dresses a few months ago, I haven’t really sewn for myself in almost a year.  Maybe more than that.   I don’t know and I don’t want to know.  My wardrobe looks sorry and bedraggled, but I’m too cheap to go buy anything when I know I can sew.    I can sew still, right?  So it was high time I added some more clothes to the rotation.

Unfortunately, in the past year I have, ahem, rounded out a bit.  So I knew I would have to make larger clothes.  Slightly larger, but larger nonetheless.  Also, I wanted a lot of bang for my buck.  I wanted a top that was on the dressier side and in a fabric that had some drape.  I had drafted a top a year or so ago based on my Cal Patch knit t-shirt draft.  It has cut on cap sleeves, and an elasticized waist.  In order to get the blouson effect I was going for, I had to pivot out the armhole from the shoulder seam about at inch at the bust and then straighten out the side seam down to the hem.  That added the ease for a woven fabric and enough blousy-ness for the blouson look.  BUT….

But I had completely forgotten how I had made that top over a year ago.  I had vague recollections, but nothing concrete.  I couldn’t remember any of the drafting or altering techniques I have learned over the years.  [Insert whiny violins here]  So what did I do?  Why I called on Sherril and all my sewing friends for help, of course.

In the course of making this new top, I had a cutting error for which I had to adjust.  I forgot to add the cut on sleeves, so I had to add sleeves.  This had the unfortunate side effect of removing some of the ease I had added, and the sleeves are a bit snug.  But let’s just call that a design feature, shall we?

Next, I needed new linen pants.  My old ones were, putting it delicately, a bit obscene in their tightness.  And these are wide leg pants my friends.  Wide leg pants.  Needless to say, I needed to add some “ease” at the side seams.  But not only can I pull my pants on now, but I can also walk in public without people pointing and staring.  I consider that a plus!  Oh, forgot to mention the pattern is Vogue 8584.  I first made these in 2011 and I still love this pattern.  It’s super fast and easy to make if you leave off the pockets and cords, which I always do.  Of course I know want to make view C in a silk fabric now.  Hmmmm….



And so, without further ado, my new outfit…



The sheer top fabric is from the National City Swap Meet in San Diego.  Can’t remember when I bought it though.  The black linen is a linen/rayon blend from Joann’s.  I didn’t have any black linen in the stash and I really wanted black linen pants, so I went out and bought some.  Now that I’m in a new neighborhood, Joann’s is the closest store to me.  Sigh.  But actually, the Joann’s in Poway is pretty good and, since I buy most of the sewing class supplies and fabrics there, all the gals there know me.  Oh the linen was on sale for $6/yard.  So not bad.  $15 pants people.  $15!

Anyhoo, what am I going to make next?  No clue.  I’ve filled an immediate gap.  That might satisfy right now.  Maybe another tank dress, maybe another linen pant.  We’ll see.  I do have a lot planning for my sewing camp in June to do.  I have to come up with at least four new projects.  Especially if the same kids show up for every class.  How many tote bags can one person need???


A long rambly post about creating and failing

2016 March 28
by elizabeth_admin

Hi to whomever is left!

I know I’ve been a bad blogger.  Leaving you for months at a time.  I have realized I won’t be a full time blogger ever again really.  I’m ok with that.  And if you’re reading this, maybe you’re ok with it too.

The last thing I sewed for myself were a couple of dresses that I made for my NYC vacation earlier this year.  I picked up the New Look 6298 pattern for a winter knit dress and made two in quick succession after getting fitting help from my LA sewing friends.  This dress was a winner after fitting.  I am not going to write a full on review here.  No time for that.  But I will mention that the sleeves are ginormous and needed a lot of alterations.  I probably could have solved a lot of the fit problems by making the sleeve pattern a two piece sleeve pattern, but I loved the dart detail at the top of the sleeve and wanted to keep it.  Now that all the hard work is done, I can just make this dress over and over.  I also kept the back seam in as it really helped with shaping.  I added more shaping as well at the side seams. Here are some pics…



At a sewing meet up in the Garment District

At a sewing meet up in the Garment District


I was so happy to get to see Carolyn, Karen, Claudine and Janice while I was in town.  So fun.  Of course I saw Kashi as well.

But other than those dresses, it’s strictly been sample sewing for my adult and kid sewing classes, sewing-wise.

In non-sewing news, I was accepted into the Art Certificate program at UCSD and just finished my first paper (for Art History) in almost 20 years.  I’m enjoying the classes immensely, especially the painting classes.

And this now brings me to the subject of this post, creating and failing.  This is my third degree program.  I’ve been around the block a few times now.  I’ve had many different careers.  As I’ve mentioned before, you have to have a pretty thick skin to be a musician, auditioning all the time and getting rejections or constructive feedback all the time. But you can rationalize a lot of that negativity.  One does have to be brave though, facing that negative possibility every time.  When I was a kid, searching for what would become my instrument, I chose something I excelled at without trying hard, singing.  Guitar was too hard.  Clarinet was too hard.  Piano was too hard.  But singing?  Oh I was already good at that.  So I chose voice as my instrument.  Little did I know how challenging it would be to excel at it, but that’s another story.

One of the most memorable voice lessons I ever had was when I was at University of Michigan.  My teacher asked me to dance around her studio as I sang.  But not just dance, but dance ridiculously.  I couldn’t make myself do it.  I couldn’t let myself act ridiculous in front of her or my accompanist.  It was not something I would risk.  Eventually I did it, but it took a lot for me to overcome my fear of looking ridiculous.  I realized she wanted me to loosen up, have my body concentrate on doing something else so I could free up my voice.  I knew it would help me, but I couldn’t let go.

Years later, I would have my own singing students do silly dancing while they sang.  And I demonstrated it to them not fearing being ridiculous at all.  It takes maturity, and overcoming fear to do something silly in front of other people.  It also takes practice.  What if I had practiced silliness earlier in life?

That fear, I think, is the fear of failure.  Maybe all fear is fear of failure.  Anyway, it’s coming up a lot for me right now and, in thinking about it, I realize that it’s always been there.  It was there when I started learning to sew and every time I would sew up a new pattern.  And it was there, way back when, every time I went to art class in grade school.  I told myself I wasn’t an artist from the very beginning.  If I didn’t draw a perfectly round circle, if I couldn’t mold the clay just like I saw it in my mind, I wasn’t perfect.  Ergo, I wasn’t an artist.  Because an artist would be able to draw it or mold it correctly on the first try.

Remember when I wrote about being an artist?  That post generated a lot of discussion.  I can’t believe it is almost two years ago now since I wrote that post.  So much has happened and it still feels fresh to me.  Now I am fully embracing my inner artist.  I am taking class after class completely devoted to art.  I adore painting.  Maybe as much as I love making mosaics.  Am I good at it?  No, not yet.  I have some good days.

Painting class homework

Painting class homework

painted while watching a youtube tutorial

painted while watching a youtube tutorial

painted while watching another youtube tutorial by the same teacher, Will Kemp.

painted while watching another youtube tutorial by the same teacher, Will Kemp.


But I have some pretty laughable days too.

unsuccessful landscape #1

unsuccessful landscape #1

Unsuccessful landscape #2

Unsuccessful landscape #2


Why am I showing my “failures”?  Well, I have always shown my sewing flops, so why not the art flops too?  I feel the need to keep it real.  I’m not perfect.  I suck at a lot of things as most of my family would love to tell you, schadenfreude being one of our shared loves.  But most importantly, if you are too afraid to fail, in public or private, two things happen: You never try and you never learn.  I won’t learn how to paint abstractly if I don’t attempt to paint abstractly.  I won’t ever make art if I never attempt to make art.  I can’t let failure or fear of it stop me.  I have to be ok with looking ridiculous.  Maybe I am ridiculous.  I’m ok with that.

I am always wary of people who say they like to learn from other people’s mistakes.  You see, I don’t think you can.  Seriously.  Not the real mistakes.  The living life kind of mistakes.  Yes, you can learn from someone else burning themselves on the hot stove.  But can you learn how to love without actually loving?

Did you know that Van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27?  Did you know that he died at the age of 37?  He painted only for 10 years.  That’s it.  Just 10 years.  I’m rambling now, but that really inspires me.  It’s never too late.  Don’t be afraid of failure.  It’s a teacher.

Speaking of teaching, I teach my son’s 3rd grade class art twice a month.  California schools don’t have art classes with certified art teachers.  They have parent volunteers, most with no art background whatsoever, come in to teach some old art program that the school district purchased years ago that they recycle every year.  This is all the art instruction these kids get.  Just twice a month, sometimes only once a month depending on break/holiday schedules.  And they don’t even get it from a real art teacher or with an education degree.  That is depressing to me.  And then I hear these kids say at the ripe old age of 8 that they’re not artists.  How sad is that?  Every time I’m in that classroom I tell them they are artists.  I tell each of them something I like about the piece they are creating that day.  I tell them there are no mistakes, only design features.  I tell them about Van Gogh.  They’re probably sick of hearing about Van Gogh by now, but I don’t care.  I want them to experience trying, and failing, and I want them to realize they can learn and that they are artists too.

Don’t worry, I’m going to wrap this up soon.  I just want to leave you with one thought.  I don’t expect to become famous.  I don’t think I’m especially talented or like Van Gogh.  I don’t even expect to make money being an artist, whatever kind of artist I am (mosaics, sewing, painting, drawing, etc).  What would please me though is that when people think of me, they think of me as someone who creates and who isn’t afraid to fail.

If you need me, I’ll be dancing ridiculously in my studio.

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