Hollywood Costume Exhibit

I’m a huge fan of costume/ fashion exhibits. And, my Baltimore location is a prime location for having seen several over the years including Ivy Style at the Museum at FIT, High Style at the Met / Brooklyn Museum of Art and a backstage look at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Over the last weekend, Trena and I went to see Hollywood Costumes at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.

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It was delightful. I’m terrible at describing clothes. But, I will just say I could have spent hours there. A total bonus was meeting up with two other sewing bloggers Meigan of Get My Stitch On and Tommie of Unseamly Girl. Meeting sewing bloggers is SUPER stressful! You just hope you come across as tall and skinny as you try and make yourself appear on your blog.

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Plus, you have to figure out what to wear! I went the comfy route considering the six hours of Saturday driving ahead of me and wore my La Mia Boutique sweatshirt dress. This is truly one of my favorite dresses. I want to make more! But, really have no idea what other color to make that evokes ‘sweatshirt’. Maybe navy blue? Too literal with a collegiate block “R” on it? Because, I totally wood.

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Meigan made her Jalie top and jeans. I am in love with her pink coat. Tommie wore the cutest denim skirt from Grainline and a slub knit top. I tried to make a slub knit dress in black and it was TERRIBLE. I could not control the seams. Her’s, perfect.

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These drinks are St. Germaine and something or the other. St. Germaine is my new favorite.  Also, a boring note on my hair. I’m slowly trying to vary my hairstyles. I’m bored with me. This is my hair pulled back with two flat twists. My friend Liz saw me and exclaimed I looked like Addy from American Girl. So, I might be trying something else soon -_-.


On Monday I saw Spike Jonze’s Her and American Hustle. I was so inspired by the purposeful costuming in both! Her made amazing use of the color orange on the set and dressing characters in opposite orange and blue. I couldn’t wait to go home and google the thoughts behind this. It’s easy to forget how purposeful costuming is when watching a movie.


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And, finally… remember the party Jordan and I planned to celebrate our marriage?  With less than week to go, we had to reschedule the December date  Really happy to say it’s back on for March. But, I’m not quite sure what to wear.

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Can I ask a honest question? Is wearing my wedding dress corny? I honestly don’t know. I planned on wearing a red China lace dress when it was near Christmas. Once rescheduled, I’ve had several people ask if I’m wearing my wedding dress (or why I’m not wearing my wedding dress) and at first I was totally surprised at the thought. I mean, the wedding will have been five months before and we had a ‘real’ wedding. And when I say ‘real’ wedding, I mean it didn’t feel rushed or elopement or destination. It was honestly the wedding I always wanted but didn’t think I could get away with given the size and proximity of our families. So, if you came to my wedding party five months after the fact, would you roll your eyes at me in my wedding dress?

Meet Us in Richmond!

It’s another Trena and Renee road trip. This time, to a museum.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has a super-sounding Hollywood Costume exhibit through February 17th.

Organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Hollywood Costume explores the central role costume design plays in cinematic storytelling. Bringing together the most iconic costumes from a century of cinema, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the clothes worn by unforgettable and beloved characters in films such as The Wizard of Oz, The Birds, My Fair Lady, Superman, Titanic, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and The Dark Knight Rises.

You should know that I’m obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. I DIE!

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We’re driving down this Saturday (the 18th) if you’re interested in meeting us there. We think we’ll be there around 1:00 p.m. (following lunch — hopefully at Bottom’s Up). If you’re interested, leave a comment here or email me at missceliespants at gmail dot com.

And, if you’re wondering, we hope to do another Fabric Mart trip and go see this Costumes of Downton Abby exhibition after it opens. Let’s hear it for the east coast and most things being withing a three hour drive!

Organizing Continues

So, the hardest thing about getting my sewing room organized is that my old basement sewing area was and continues to be in total and complete disarray. The great thing about this process is I’m finally seeing just what and how much I have. For instance:

I have seven automatic buttonholers.

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I am not really sure how this happened…. I think a combination of factors have led to this. Mostly, I had two already, some came with machines as I purchased them, and I have no inventory control. I honestly didn’t know I had this many. I thought I had, like three. Maybe four.  Maybe I’m a hoarder? No, I’m not. Peter seems to have the same ‘problem’.  How psyched am I that I can still put my hands on the eyelet template (umm, have never used it)?

Next? Still folding fabric. Remember, my original idea was fabric would go in all the drawers. But, I have too much for all that. But, I am trying out my harder to fold fabric there. Liz got the idea to put these knits away using archival foam core (thanks for the suggestion!). Here are some poly and silk jersey knits. I just want to run my fingers over these!!

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For now, I’ve also just dumped all my silks and slippery lining fabrics in the drawers.

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 Liz, more patient than I, also started sorting out my lace trims in bins. These are on the comic book magazine boards. Fits perfectly!

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These bins are now on the shelf. And, I need to track down one more.

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So, still sorting through my 20 years of sewing ‘stuff’. Slow going, but truly, worth it.

Remember that scene in Sex and the City when Carrie said she really was the Old Lady Who Lived in Her Shoe? I’m the Old Lady Who Lived in Her Sewing Room. Just 30 more years until retirement :-)

Evernote It Is!

Thank you for all the terrific feedback on pattern cataloging. I’ve decided to keep my patterns for now sorted by brand. I like the symmetry of it. But, i have switched to Evernote. I was an early adopter of Bento for Mac. But, they discontinued it. Evernote, based on your feedback, seemed to give me the best of it all. I can access the patterns and pictures on my computer and my smartphone. And, I can print them out if I want to create a folder. Also, I could use the same program for fabric stashing (which is how I used Bento).

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I also like that for current patterns, I can grab and paste a ton of info into this:

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I’ve done 28 so far. And, um, 200 more to go. I’m also going to hunt for these Australian zip lock bags that fit the Jalie patterns. Seriously, I got to get a niece over here to do some work for me :-)

Ideas on Pattern Organization Needed

Well, Jordan didn’t think folding fabric was fun. At all.  #whomp So, that’s on hold until I can talk Liz or Trena into coming and helping.

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So, he mixed champagne cocktails and I took a hard look at my pattern collection. As noted, my patterns reside in this IKEA cabinet. I do want to buy a metal filing cabinet this year and I will. But, I need to get an additional shelving unit for fabric storage first.

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What I did was pull all my cluttered patterns out (sorry, no before photo). And sort them by brand. By far, I have more Vogue Patterns between the regular envelopes and the designer patterns.Simplicity is second.

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I also have all my traced (mostly BWOF) patterns in a drawer. I’ve used two different envelope sizes over the last ten years. So, larger ones are vertical, smaller ones are horizontal.  Someday, I’ll go through and put pattern numbers in the appropriate corners of these traced envelopes.  Or, pay a niece to come over and do so.

New Look, Burda envelope and Kwik Sew are horizontal in the middle.

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Larger Vogue designer patterns, Jalie and Hot Patterns in one drawer going horizontal. With horizontal McCalls in the middle (you can see the numbers / names easier this way for these lines) and a few fragile vintage patterns vertical in front.  Oh, what are you storing your Jalie patterns in once you’ve opened them?

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Simplicity, Butterick, Vogue in another going vertical. Again, easier to see the numbers on them. I might get those in numerical order some day too…

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So, here’s my question. I’ve got all the patterns back in and neatly.  In some cases (ok, only in Vogue’s case) they are even numerical.

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I wasn’t surprised at the number of patterns I have (I actually think I don’t have *that* many). I was surprised that I didn’t know what patterns I have! I need a filing/ sorting system similar to my Burda program.

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There, I’ve photocopied the line drawings page, printed them out and have them in a binder. So easy to flip through and find a pattern.

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So, tell me, how do you organize your patterns? Spreadsheet? Databases? Photo flash cards? How do you find patterns you are looking for? Oh, and please share what you’re doing with your Jalie patterns once they come out of the cellophane.

2013: The Year In Which I Sewed the Least

For the first time in seven years of blogging, I have no year end recap. I haven’t sewn this little since I was in college. This year was an emotional roller coaster. From the Ravens winning the Superbowl, taking a new job, getting engaged then married within seven weeks to losing my mom within three months of her diagnosis and the Ravens not even making the playoffs for the first time in like five years.  I’m feeling kind of… battered to be honest.

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Over the weekend my friend Liz came over and we started folding fabric. And folded. And folded. While what is on the shelves represents about three bins of fabric, you can see I have many more to go (and two aren’t even pictured)! I’m going to need to buy a second shelf shelf about three feet wide from Costco/ Sam’s Club. And convince Jordan that folding is fun.

Oh, I was in NY for work yesterday and bought a some necktie material at Mood. Yes, I’m going to make neckties again :-)  But, I managed to leave $75 worth of fabric on the train!! After several frantic calls  (starting at 12:30 a.m.) to Amtrak’s lost and found in DC, Baltimore and New York, my bag turned up! Trena’s going to swing by Union Station in Washington and get it for me. I’m considering this my Christmas miracle.

Anywhoo. My dad is here visiting for the holidays and we’re off to the movies then drinks with friends and dinner with more friends. I can’t believe how much my life has changed from this time last year. And, who knows that 2014 has to offer? I’m hoping many more weekends at home with my sewing machine.

Happy New Year my friends.

Sewing Room Installed

In the midst of what is generally accepted to be the worst week of my life, my sewing room furniture was installed. I’d like to also thank each and every one of you who left a comment about my mom. Especially those who have lost a loved one or a mother. Your advice and words of comfort mean a great deal to me. I am incredibly touched that you care about her passing because you care about me (and/ or are not horrible people without a soul).

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I worked from home the last week so it made sense to have the furniture installed while I could be here.  It took two guys about six hours to get the job done. Do you hear angels singing? I do. I was so pleased with the installation, I just walk in the room and stare.  It looks like a little sewing shop!! Like a *real* studio!!

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I’m now able to have all my sewing machines out! Singer 301, blind hemmer, Babylock serger, Brother coverstitch.

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I’ve put the ‘finishing’ machines on the right (blind hemmer and coverstitch) since I won’t use them throughout construction. There’s a little space off the side  on the right for what I hope will be my sewing pattern cabinet or my dress form. I can also keep my folded cutting table along that wall too (or in the closet).

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All my sewing books are now in then bookshelf along with my Singer 221 / Featherweight. I’m going to try displaying it. But, I’m totally freaked out about it getting grimy, etc.

I would like to put a peg board up between the bookshelf and the countertop. I’m saving those empty spaces on the book shelf for plastic bins. I also need the electrician to come out and give me some more outlets. Possibly at countertop level too.

The drawers are empty. Liz and I are going to go out and buy foam core and do some serious fabric folding. The comic book backers won’t really work for the kinds of fabric I have. But, I’m keeping them to do elastics, interfacing, ribbons and other thinner items. It’s tempting to save the drawer space for patterns, but I would like to keep my fabric dust free if possible.

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On the wall below, I am debating a metal shelving station or another IKEA cabinet. I need someplace for my sewing pattern magazines (mostly Burda).

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That’s it! All I moved in were machines and books. There is so much work to be done. I have two old sewing cabinets down in the basement I need to Freecycle. Fabric that needs organizing. Notions that need sorting. It honestly may take a snowstorm for me to really get to this.

Oh, while I use an IKEA piece to hold my patterns currently, it’s gotten a bit wobbly. I did call  the company that makes pattern cabinets for Mcall, Vogue, Butterick (not Simplicity they said). They are so far out of my price range (think $600). That I’m going to start stalking Craigslist and store closings. I found a legal size filing cabinet on craigslist that could also work too. Anyone use a legal cabinet for filing patterns?

Oh, and of course I now realize this installation is going to make it real hard to refinish the floors in my house. Or paint. Doh.

“I Am At Peace”

There are many things I want to tell you about my mom. About how she bought me my first sewing machine. How she avidly read my blog and encouraged my writing. How I called her at least once a day. How she remembered information about my friends and would ask about them individually.  There’s the way she would call me from Korea in the middle of the night to ask me how to double space her documents in Word. Or, wake me up on church morning to do her makeup or curl her hair. There’s also that point in my life when she started seeking my advice — while continuing to give hers.

But, I am so very afraid of not being able to fully capture how remarkable she is and how very much I will miss her that I hesitate to say more than, she was my best friend.

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Thanksgiving, 2011

We lost her this week and my heart is literally broken. I’ve posted her obituary here. My mom, ever the planner, wrote the bulk of it herself.

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April 2011

This time last year, we were talking about her visiting this Christmas to go to the seasonal decorations at the White House. My mom always said, “Tomorrow isn’t promised to you.” She was right.

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New South Wales, Australia

When  she told me her diagnosis, I broke down in hysterical tears and told her how much I loved her. She told me she accepted what would come next and  said, “I am at peace.”

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My friends, time is a precious gift. I am so thankful I could say good bye.

Sewing Room Solution, Part I

Guys!! I was so inspired by your encouragement on the IKEA post I decided to stop by Baltimore’s Second Chance. Second Chance is a salvage warehouse that does workforce development and job training here in the City. When Liz and I went in, we were looking for kitchen cabinets that could be mounted. What I found, was this:

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Beautiful in all it’s formicaness, right? It was a custom desk that was there for $500. I’d mentally budgeted about three times that for my IKEA sewing room fantasy. This one has the wall cabinets I wanted (setting on the desk on the left), plenty of sewing space for my machines: sewing, coverstitch, blind hemmer, and serger. There’s also a ton of deep drawer space too. I was feeling REALLY good walking out of the warehouse!

I went home, measured my guest room. Liz helped my shove everything in to the ‘study’ including the twin bed. Yes, those are all my shoes in the left corner. They got kicked out of the second closet in my bedroom. My fabric that lived in the basement is in the bins.

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When they came to deliver, everything came in just fine. And, because of the orange of the walls and the tint of the floor, the formica isn’t nearly as offensive as I thought it might be!

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Except, for the L-shaped countertop. The countertop is nesting in my dining room for now.

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This 10 foot long long honker was not going up my steps.

The neighborhood handyman is coming out on Monday to mount the cabinets for me (they are setting on top of the desk on the left in the first photo). And, I’ll have him cut the countertop and reassemble it with glue and clamps upstairs.

The room will be a work in progress for a while.

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I *think* I will still put in an IKEA Expedit bookcase in this room for all my Burda magazines. Do you like how the one above used to hold all my sewing supplies and fabric back in 2008? HAHAHAHAHA! I’m happy to say I’ve easily sewn 85 percent of what was on the shelves. I actually only see three unsewn fabrics.

I now have about eight years worth of Burdas that fit perfectly in my Expedit storage system (the purple cubes) and don’t really want to give it up. I need to decide if I’ll move the one from the study (it’s also my desk) or get another one. Plus, I can use empty cubbies for all my sewing books that are in the study and basement.

The drawers pull out REALLY far, are super sturdy and very deep. I assumed I would not store fabric in there. But, after some suggestions on Facebook, I’ll be looking for cardboard that I can cut to width and store fabric upright — like files.

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I’ll need to store my cutting table somewhere too — probably the closet in the guest room. Right now it holds my formal dresses and vintage clothing. And, I might make one of the table tops an ironing station so I don’t have to pull out a separate ironing board. I’ll also want a peg board between the desk and the wall cabinets. So many things to think about! I’m really happy to make a real investment in my sewing space. Clearly, we’re not moving anytime soon! Stay tuned :-)

Sewing Room Ideas from IKEA

As I have blathered on about here, I am currently without a real sewing room. So far, everything is mushed in my guest room (at some point to be sewing room).

While going through IKEA yesterday, I was totally inspired by this set up from the Besta collection (that’s my 5 foot tall friend standing for reference)

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Doesn’t that look like it could totally work? I’d never really thought about hanging cabinets in my sewing room, but it would be a terrific use of space. This could be one side of the room and the other side would have sewing tables and my cutting table in the middle.

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Fantasies, all! But, it at least has me thinking about how I want the room to take shape. And, that my ‘solution’ doesn’t need to be as simple as tables from Costco and some shelves. I really like the idea of turning that room in to a real creative sewing space!