Serger time-out and thrift store haul

This is my Spring Break, and I had hoped to do a lot of sewing, but the sewing gods had other plans for me.  My beautiful Babylock Serger, which I've had for 20 years, with absolutely not a hiccup, finally needs new blades.  One of my sewing students let a pin sneak through, and I got a nick in the blade.   I've ordered a replacement, and hope that it will arrive soon.  And rather than sew without my baby, I decided to do some much needed organizing.  I mean- I really, really, really needed to do this.  I am not an organized person, and I would rather do just about anything else.  Usually I wait until I just can't find something before I organize.  I'd rather live with chaos than wait to start a new project!

Part of that organizing meant boxing up all of the scraps from prior projects and taking them to the IDEA store- this is a reuse/recycle thrift store that is absolutely my candy store.  All the proceeds from this store benefit the local school foundation, which gives grants to teachers for special projects that they wouldn't be able to do otherwise.  I was surprised at how many scraps I accumulated in the last year- three full boxes!!! It seems that I almost always have at least 1/2 yard of so extra at the end of a project that I think I'll use somewhere else but never do.  So, I hope that someone more creative than me can see some potential in these scraps and make them into something beautiful. Here's one of their displays, all organized by color.  They sell fabric for $4/pound.

Black and White Topper Butterick 6466

I wanted to make something to wear over my black and white mini-wardrobe, and had purchased this interesting cotton jacquard when Fabric Mart had it for it's Deal of the Day at $2.99/yd last month.  The photo above is with the Closet Case Ebony t-shirt.  This fabric has an interesting texture in addition to the print. Here's a close-up:

It was BOLD with a capital B, and I wasn't quite how to use it.  My original need was for a jacket, but I thought that with that large of a print, it would be better as something longer, like a dress. So, it was between either a dress or a jacket, and I waffled one way and then the other for about a week, and then it hit me- how about a longer jacket that kind of looks like a dress?

Black and White Spring Mini-Wardrobe

Last Spring, I made my daughter a black and white mini-wardrobe (here), and as I was making it, I was thinking all along, I would really like a lot of these for me too!  I typically don't wear black and white, so this is a bit of a style evolution for me.  Who can say what causes our tastes to change?  So, fast forward one year, and I put together a few things in black and white for me!  I think it might have been precipitated by the fact that my hair was gray, and black and white seemed to compliment that.  But, in the middle of sewing these items, I decided I was done with gray hair, and colored it.  LOL!  So, I hope that there is another reason for my taste change! 

Thinking Big: Community Art through Sewing

Amanda Browder (left) and moi

Have you ever looked at your fabric stash and thought, "Gee, I wonder what would happen if I sewed all of these fabrics together and then draped them out of my apartment window."  Yeah, the thought never crossed my mind either, but it did for artist Amanda Browder!  She did it, and people loved it, and she's gone on to create art all over the country, building on that original concept.

Amanda Browder is a Brooklyn based artist.  You can see some of her other work at her website: . Last October, Amanda came to my city and as luck would have it, to one of my elementary schools, to work with our community to create "Chromotopia"- her vision for the front of the school.  This was a collaboration between our elementary school, the university, our community and Amanda.  Amanda would end up coming several times for community sewing days, and yesterday, the culmination of months of work was installed for a week long display.

First, requests went out to the community for fabric donations, and they came rolling in.  At our first community sewing day, we had volunteers from the community, staff, and students working together to sort the donations into different color piles.  After sorting, came the task of piecing all of these piles together into extra long strips using sewing machines.

We had several community sewing days over several months, and in addition to that, some of our students in the school would work on this project regularly during the school day as well.  I'd never participated in a community art project before, and I can tell you that it was really exciting being part of something so big!

As you get closer to the display, you can see each individual piece, and know that there is a story behind each fabric.  Like this little elephant.  You know that was probably some toddler's favorite blankie!

Or this quilt top next to a sequinned sari fabric.  Where did these come from?  You imagination can come up with so many possibilities!

Can you imagine being a child just 3 or 4 feet tall, and walking into your school all dressed up in a giant quilt?  It's got to be a pretty fantastic feeling.

The display is covering a few windows, and this is what it looks like from the inside- almost like stained glass.  Very pretty!

Here is the back of a wall where you can see that it's being held down by sandbags.  There is a combination of sandbags, cables and PVC pipe that holds everything in place, through wind, rain or whatever nature may throw at us.

Here's a shot from a drone showing all of the design.  And the one below with all of the students and staff enjoying the accomplishment.

We'll be able to enjoy it just for the weekend!  I guess part of what makes this special is the fleeting nature of it.  It was such a great experience to take sewing outside and involve so many people to make art together.  And Amanda was so kind, generous, and inspiring to us all throughout this process. So, take it from Amanda- let your imagination run wild and think big!

Happy Sewing!

Updated Amazing Ottobre Woman and Family Index 2006-2018

If you are a long time Ottobre Woman subscriber, or a new Ottobre Family subscriber, you probably know the feeling of going through all of your old issues to find just the right style to suit you at a particular moment.  Maybe you weren't in the mood for cropped pants when the magazine first came out, but now you are, and what year did you see it?  It can be a little confusing, flipping back and forth, comparing one thing to another. 

Alice Hall from Abilene, TX  has come up with a solution!  She has taken the time to compile all of the Ottobre line drawings from 2006-2018 by specific garment type.  It's fantastic!  Now I can just thumb through this, instead of going through 12 years of magazines!  The page above is just one of the pages- all of the sleeveless woven tops in the magazine's history.  There are 53 pages now in the index.

She's organized it by garment type, fabric type and even by sleeve type!  Alice has given me permission to share her work with you.  She would like for everyone who is interested to have access to the index so they can see how great Ottobre patterns are!  Here are the links for you- one to a PDF file, and another to a Powerpoint file, so that you can edit to fit the issues that you own.

Ottobre Woman and Family Index PDF

Ottobre Woman and Family Powerpoint

Thank you, Alice, for all of your diligent work in keeping this index updated and sharing with other Ottobre fans!  I certainly have enjoyed using this index, and I bet that many, many more share my enthusiasm for it.

Kind regards,

Ann for SewBaby