Little White House Updates

Hello blog readers! It has been a few months. I don’t have any sewing updates to share, but I’ve been slowly trying to do some tiny home renovations on our 1920’s Indianapolis bungalow.

I’ll begin by giving a small house tour.

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The house is simple and small – exactly how I like it! Scott (and his parents) purchased this house right after the market crisis of 2008, so it was incredibly affordable, and has turned out to be a wise investment on their part. The photo above is from last summer when we first installed all our rain barrels and were growing corn in the side yard.

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From the outside this house looks like just a rectangle, but inside you see a ton of great original features like the built-in shelving around the fireplace in our living room. This room is easily my favorite of the house.

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The living room opens straight to the dining area by way of a large arched opening. The dining table was salvaged by S from an old art school downtown, it is covered in paint and marks from students of years ago.

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The kitchen is another bright, open room. Unfortunately the previous tenants really liked forrest green….

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However it redeems itself with these amazing built-ins! The wood is a little warped and drawers and cabinets don’t close perfectly, but otherwise they are in great shape.

There’s nothing too exciting about the bedrooms. A’s room with all the space-themed paraphernalia…

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And ours…

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Where Lily and her baby tiger are a permanent fixture. The bedrooms are both pretty small, I doubt we’d comfortably fit a queen sized bed in there. We currently have a full with two very narrow nightstands.

Which brings me to my latest project. The bathroom!! Pretty much all of these small houses in our neighborhood were built before WWII and have just the one bathroom. And ours is TINY.

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Recently S removed the original door (which opened INTO the bathroom, taking up even more space) with a sliding door he refinished. So far we are happy with the extra space!

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And here’s the inside. I’m not even stepping a foot inside the bathroom for the above photo. And I’m guessing the first homeowners were big Indy 500 fans considering the amount of checkerboard in here. I recently had the tub reglazed, which really brightened it up and just a few weeks ago we had the window completely replaced. If you recall, I tried to refinish it myself, but as this was a wooden window inside of a shower – the wood just wasn’t holding up to the moisture. So we had it completely replaced with a PVC window in the same style as the previous one.

Now without the sill, there are some holes in the tile. They could just be replaced but maybe this is an opportunity to replace all the tile! My next project is going to be the floor. The linoleum is so dingy and tacky! I’m thinking I can DIY that considering the surface area is so small and it’s just straight edges. But scheduling renovations for the only bathroom is tricky. Oh and you know, money.

In the meantime I’ll be wistfully saving my dream rooms on pinterest.

The Scout Tee

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I’ve finally finished another project! It has been ages. I actually started this one months ago, and didn’t finish it until today. Perhaps it was because I was intimidated by attempting set-in sleeves for the first time or that the basement was too cold (where my sewing machine lives). But really sewing got pushed to the wayside between work and class and volunteering and life in general.

Since pretty much everyone (in the sewing world at least) has raved about the Scout Tee I figured this would be a good introduction to sleeves. The pattern is simple and classic, and I can definitely see myself making this again in the future.

For fabric I chose a printed linen – which is really lovely, but not exactly the best texture for a tee. I sewed up the body of the shirt months ago but didn’t finish the sleeves until today. And it actually wasn’t that hard! I made one minor error…

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I was so excited after inserting the first sleeve that I rushed to finish the second and then I realized I put it in inside-out! D’oh. I’d already removed the basting stitches to gather the sleeve and didn’t really feel like redoing them, so I did with out. (Bold move for someone who has just sewed her first sleeve). But it turned out great! No pintucks!

I’ve recently been interested in altering and mending clothes – since I like to thrift clothes I can’t be picky about the size or quality. Repairing an item of clothing is very satisfying. But hopefully there won’t be as big a gap between my next projects, I’m not exactly sure what is up next but now that sleeves are no longer a barrier – the sky’s the limit!

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(I didn’t get my photographer/boyfriend to snap pics before he left for work so these will have to do)!

A quick alteration

I bought this shirt from Madewell quite impulsively; it was on sale and in a simple pattern I really loved. I didn’t pay to much attention to the fit or style of the shirt until it arrived and realized it was a ‘boyfriend’ fit. Aka, oversized (it even reads that on the tag) and baggy. With the exception of the models on the website – I doubt there is really anyone that is flattered by a loose fit.

So I figured this was an excellent time for me to try out my alteration skills.

You can see here there is a lot of room in the torso and the shirt tail is longer in the back.

I found a button down that I know fits me well, and laid it on top of the Madewell shirt as flat and straight as I could. I marked where my new seam line would go and then basted along those lines.

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After checking the fit I used my serger to trim off the excess and finish the new edges. I also gave the back hem a lift so now it matches the front.

And tada! A shirt that fits! I’m thrilled. The sleeves could probably be taken in as well, but I usually roll my sleeves up anyways so I didn’t bother.

I have plenty more sewing projects on the horizon so hopefully I will be posting more soon.

(photos via Madewell)

Ann Noblitt of the Rolling Toaster

Today I have something different to share. I have met so many interesting and amazing people through Scott; and today that brings us to Ann. I first met Ann at our local wilderness academy after being told she was a weapons expert. I have since followed her on social media as she has pursued various mobile living accommodations. One attempt ended after the van’s console caught fire while driving I believe. So clearly Ann is a renaissance woman, and recently she has set up camp in a box truck endearingly referred to as the “Rolling Toaster”. Ann and her partner have renovated the truck with all sorts of DIY touches, and she has since moved on to refashioning vintage fabrics into fantastic tunic dresses.

She kindly let me ask her a few questions about herself, and sewing. Enjoy!

Tell me a bit about yourself, what you do, and where you are currently living?

I’m originally from Indiana. I moved out to Denver almost a year ago now. I have a house in Sunnyside, but we travel and work from the Toaster quite a bit. I’m an Occupational Therapist by trade and was working in hospitals up until the point when I sold everything I owned and came out West. It’s still pretty surreal to me.

I notice many of your endeavors focus on the ability to travel and be in nature, being resourceful, upcycling, and self-sufficiency. Do you have a personal philosophy you are guided by?

My boyfriend and I both believe less is more. Due to the changes in healthcare (which I desperately agree need to happen) I took a 60% pay cut and was forced into a personal bankruptcy as I could no longer afford my mortgage/loans/lifestyle. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’ve always loved and preferred the outdoors and dreamt of downshifting into a lifestyle that afforded more opportunities for travel and just enjoying life on life’s terms and not the almighty dollars’. I love learning and being able to do things for myself , not only out of necessity, but I get more satisfaction from the experience. I don’t feel as disconnected as I did before. I have more respect and appreciation for all things.

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What is your background in sewing; how did you learn and how long have you been sewing for?

I have almost no background in sewing save for my 6th grade home ec. experience. I started sewing in a DIY effort for the Toaster to make custom blackout curtains for the bubble windows above the loft and it just stuck. It’s kind of an obsession now. I used to get into the same flow when I drew as a kid. I went to the library for some how-to books to help with seam work and ended up with one that had several patterns in the back and gave it a whirl. I outgrew my beginner sewing machine in 3 days! I got a more advanced one with better attachments to make clothing with. Everything I’ve done so far is self-taught. If I get really stuck on something I turn to You-Tube, but that’s it. It’s not as daunting as some people might think. I only started sewing earlier this summer. It’s a labor of love. I do it everyday.

Where do you find your fabric for those fantastic tunics? What have been your best finds?

It’s all previously owned and largely repurposed. I use a lot of sheets and tablecloths. I think of it as a flour sack sewing revival. Fabric is expensive and there’s already so much out there not being used. Plus, I’ve always leaned towards vintage looks that just can’t be recreated. I go to antique shops, thrift stores, and second hand places all the time. It’s a treasure hunt. It’s just as fun to shop for them as it is to make them.

Are your garment patterns self-drafted?

I always start with a pattern to get my bearings and then add or subtract based on the fabric design. I made my own tunic patterns out of 16 gauge vinyl that I can see through so I can line up each unique fabric design to suit the cut of the dress. I use rotary sheers to be more exacting. Each dress pattern ends up a bit different based on how much of the design I want on the fabric.

How is life in the Rolling Toaster coming along? What are your future plans?

We’re currently adding a roll out kitchen, covered porch, outdoor shower, and solar panels to the Rolling Toaster to increase efficiency and be able to travel more for work and play. We’ve got great big plans to put together enough savings to buy a few acres in the mountains and start our own hobby farm. My boyfriend’s mother did the exact same thing and bought land and built a house from the ground up while raising three boys. She’s an inspiration for both of us.

Thanks Ann!

You can follow along with Ann’s adventures in the Rolling Toaster here, and snatch up an original creation in her shop.

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(photos courtesy of Ann!)

Light layers

 

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I’ve taken advantage of this holiday weekend to sew up a simple kimono in a light woven fabric I’ve had for some time. A kimono made by Morgan of Crab&Bee served as my inspiration for this piece. I think I could even say she served as my inspiration to begin sewing! Her modern creations are worth checking out.

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This piece is a pretty simple construction of rectangles and requires little to no fitting. Perfect for my current skill set! I might eventually adjust the shoulder seams which turned out wonky, but since this has so much drape you really can hardly tell.

This cardigan is the perfect weight for the summer temperatures that have struck the midwest this week. I was able to practice various finishing techniques here including french seams, bias binding (that I didn’t cut on the bias) and zig-zag stitches for some raw edges. This also was my first experience with a set-in sleeve and it was a fairly simple one at that. I’m not sure yet if I’m up to the task of real sleeves.

Now I’m wearing this around the house and fluttering my arms like a swan while Scott toils away weeding our corn field. We’re living up to the midwestern stereotype.

Spring Linen

This weekend I finally carved some time out for sewing. Weeks ago I bought all that nice fabric but admittedly I’m too nervous to use it. I know I want to make a Linden Sweatshirt with that super pricey jacquard , but I want to do it right – meaning with a serger – so that project is on hold until I come to own an overlock machine.

I’ve also been thinking critically about what I want to achieve with sewing. The last shirt I made was really a bust. It offered me a chance to practice some skills, but its not something I’ll ever wear. The fabric was cheap and my handiwork was sloppy – which is exactly what I am trying to avoid by learning to sew; disposable garments! Making some crap items is of course unavoidable as I learn new techniques and improve my skills – but I want to be a little more deliberate as I go forward.

With that said, I’ve spent a lot of time gathering photo inspiration of wardrobe staples I want to have a hand at. This photo below really jumped out at me. A simple linen shirt that looks great with work pants. I figured it was simple enough that I could try something similar.

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I used the Akira pattern from Seamwork Magazine, and a medium weight linen. The pattern is only one piece. One Piece!! It sewed up very quickly (for me anyways). I finished the side seams with french seams and the neckline with bias tape (that I made myself!). This is hands-down the best thing I have made to date: construction-wise. No raw edges, clean hems, darts, and bias tape?! There are a few imperfections but none that will stop me from wearing this to work tomorrow.

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This has really given me a lot of confidence in my skills. I just need to remember to take my time – it makes me such a more accurate sewist. And the proper final touches really save this from being just a potato sack!

Sharks!

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I found this fleecy print at JoAnns and immediately brought it to the cutting table. The sales person smiled at my fabric and remarked that “this must be for a little boy”. I quickly corrected her. Who wouldn’t want this fabric?!

I chose to make the Margot pajama pants from Tilly and the Buttons‘ book Love at First Stitch. I hadn’t made anything from the book yet since all the patterns were printed double sided and hadn’t yet figured out the best way to copy the patterns. An Instagram friend generously gifted me Swedish tracing paper (along with a book and wonder tape!) and solved my problem.

No special techniques here; I finished the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch and made a drawstring from left over shark fabric. I still have plenty of scraps left that I want to put to good use; this fabric is too silly to go to waste.

Currently we’re having a bit of a snow storm here in Indy so these pants have already been put to use. I’m sure they’ll get a lot more use this winter. Now what to do with the left over sharks….

New Look 6217 – again!

Last weekend I completed a shirt from the New Look 6217 pattern. I completed the skirt and the cardigan in my intro to garments class last fall, so I decided to try out the top with some really cheap fabric I got on sale.

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As you can see no set in sleeves or anything tricky. I don’t even know what to call the fabric I used; it was definitely a woven, with a lot of drape and a little stretch. Probably some synthetic in there. I found it on sale at a big-box fabric store and bought it thinking I could practice with out wasting pricy fabric (more on that later).

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And the finished product! Very serious face here. No close ups because then you could see all the flaws, ha! I had never done a bias neckline before so that was a great learning experience. I made my bias tape really quickly and then totally forgot how to apply it so who knows how it is attached. The best part of this is the bottom hem; I used a trick I learned from my class to help a curved hem turn up. Basically you just stitch the curve before you fold up the hem and that helps the fabric ease into place. It worked wonders!

Today I went to my local fabric store (where I take my classes) and spent WAY too much on fabric. I bought a stretch jacquard that was $38 a yard!! Eep! They were having a sale at least, but it was just so darn pretty. I couldn’t leave without it. I also snagged some $2 patterns and a bias tape maker.

In non-sewing related news I’m trying to spruce up our teeny tiny bathroom. Last weekend I used a million different cleaning methods to scrub the bathtub before settling on baking soda and vinegar. And this weekend I decided to tackle the window that sits in our shower. This window needs some serious TLC. The paint is very chipped and wood might be starting to rot – we couldn’t even open it until last summer. It really just needs a new coat of mildew resistant paint. But first….

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I’ve been stripping the paint of this all afternoon – I had to take a break before my arms fell off or the fumes got to me. Hopefully I’ll have this finished up tomorrow! DIY or die!

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This past week I’ve been at a work conference, learning all about the newest advances in the treatment and study of breast cancer. The dress code there is definitely ‘professional’ so it gives me an excuse to wear grown-up outfits and try to blend in among the MDs.

I tried to get a picture daily but it is real hard to get a good picture on your own it turns out! So sorry for the grainy iPhone quality… but here are my attempts to dress like a professional without a frumpy pant suit.

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Day one: plane outfit. Ankle length black pants with wedges (no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get a full length shot)

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Day two: Pencil skit and checkered shirt. Wedges again.

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Day three: This outfit is entirely thrifted if you can believe it. Yay recycling! Shoes were taupe flats.

I didn’t get a picture on the last day but I wore the black pencil skit again with a white and black polka dotted top with the matching blazer. I carried my Matt & Nat vegan purse each day. I’m so glad I finally have a professional looking bag, last year I only had my Timbuktu messenger bag (with a bright pink accent) that clashed awfully with my outfits.

Nothing sewn by me yet – I’m not quite at that level where what I makes is presentable. I want to alter that camel skirt some before I wear it to work… until then I am enjoying trying to incorporate thrifted pieces into many of my outfits.

Oh, and what is with this weather? It was 77F the day I left the conference (it is in San Antonio…) but sheesh try and feel a little christmas-y why don’t ya?!

A simple clutch

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Today I whipped up something quick. I bough a PDF pattern for a fold-over clutch from LBG Studio recently and figured this would be an easy thing to make for gifts.

Serendipitously, I visited my aunt and uncle, who are both interior designers/fabric aficionados/artistically minded people, two days ago. They had amassed a vast amount of high end upholstery samples that my aunt had been turning into pillows, but I left with a stash myself. Various textures, fabrics, patterns…. all nice heavy cuts that would look great on a clutch. I even got some beautiful toile designed by my aunt herself – I am such a sucker for toile. I need to have a special plan for those.

It was my first time installing a zipper on my own machine – turns out I have a lot of presser feet I didn’t know I had! It went surprisingly well and I am really pleased with my handiwork.

The bag itself is a fold-over rectangle with a lining. I used some quilting cotton I had laying around for the interior and fusible interfacing too.

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I have heaps and heaps more fabric now to turn into clutches. Christmas shopping is basically done!