house tour!

by Nicole on August 11, 2014

Welcome to our new house!wpid-20140802_135954.jpgBack in June, we moved just a few miles away from our old house into one of our favorite neighborhoods in Austin–Crestview!

We are already completely in love with our new place. Not only is the house much more our style, but we have fallen even harder for this neighborhood. We have an awesome park half a mile away, and we’re already spent a lot of time there swimming, playing basketball, playing tennis, and throwing a frisbee. One of our favorite casual restaurants (Little Deli) is literally just down the street (.2 miles away!). Several other favorite places are in walking distance too. Moving to this neighborhood has made it much easier for us to live an active lifestyle, since we can walk and bike to so many awesome places.

Also, the people just feel more like US, ya know? We’re both introverts, so we’re not really interested in MEETING any of those people, but it’s cool to feel the solidarity I guess? When you go outside, you actually see people out and enjoying the world instead of never seeing a living soul like in our old neighborhood. There are “free little libraries” scattered throughout the neighborhood. People give away food from their front-yard gardens, and furniture they no longer need. It’s the kind of neighborhood where you just get the feeling that everyone is listening to the same NPR station as you, LOL. So yeah, I guess this is what it means to become a yuppie, but I DON’T CARE.

MOVING ON TO THE HOUSE TOUR!

wpid-20140802_140001.jpgOur front yard has two GIANT agave plants…like 4+ feet tall. It’s always easy to spot our house!

wpid-20140802_140101.jpgWe’ve also got two rose bushes. They are called Belinda’s Dream and they smell incredible.

wpid-20140802_140048.jpgAnd according to our landlord, these are called Wandering Jews…I love the tiny purple-pink flowers, even though they seem to spread like crazy.

So that’s the front yard! If you walk around the house to the left, you see the side-yard. This is where our trash, recycling, and compost bins live. (Yes, COMPOST! This neighborhood is a pilot for the City of Austin’s composting program!)

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Keep walking past that, and you get to the backyard. It is a great backyard, although truthfully we haven’t spent as much time back there yet as we thought we would.

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wpid-20140802_140420.jpgI definitely expect that we’ll eat more meals in the backyard once the temperatures get cooler in fall.

wpid-20140802_140403.jpgThe planter box you see above will be filled with all kinds of herbs soon!

wpid-20140802_140433.jpgAnd even more yard! We plan on putting in a little badminton court over here.

And now for the inside of the house!

wpid-20140802_143207.jpgWe LOVE our kitchen (ignore the mess, please…pictures taken in the middle of Sunday meal-prep). There is a ton of storage, and since there’s so much space, Darius and I no longer bump into each other constantly like we did in our old kitchen.

Not too crazy about that yellow paint job, but we do love the bamboo floors.

wpid-20140802_140548.jpgMy favorite part of the kitchen–the space above our kitchen sink, complete with Adventure Time figurines, cool beer bottles that are now candle holders, an owl stained-glass I bought for $1 at a yard sale, and my miniatures collection.

kitchenThe dining room is on the opposite side of the kitchen (it’s all one giant room). You can see we still had a few straggler boxes when I took these photos. We’ll move the table in here at some point, but for now, it’s pretty much just my cookbook collection, our booze collection, and a freezer.

wpid-20140802_140651.jpgI love the cool wooden ceiling in the dining room! I’d like to replace that chandelier with something more modern, but that’s probably a long-term project because ugh, dealing with electrical stuff.

wpid-20140802_140735.jpgAs you exit the kitchen, you get to the living room, complete with video-game-playing-husband.

Original hardwood floors! And a colorful door! And colorful posters! Most of our walls are painted the beigey-brown color you see above, so we are definitely trying to add as much color as we can throughout the house.

wpid-20140802_140750.jpgWe still need to find some awesome art for above the fireplace. We are considering putting several pieces from Nothing But a Pigeon, but that would get pretty pricey. We want something that will be a definite focal point, but it needs to be whimsical or weird, and colorful to fit our style. We’ll figure it out in time!

wpid-20140802_140918.jpgThis window seat is the back-left corner of the living room. Hasn’t been sat on much by anyone other than our cat, Lentil, but I still like it. I’d love to sew some nice pillows for this space at some point, but let’s face it, that’s pretty low-priority since sewing pillows is boooooooring.

wpid-20140802_140934.jpgThis picture isn’t to show off my foam rollers, but to show the cool tiles on the fireplace! They are really neat-looking, but unfortunately they’re being blocked by our couch at the moment since that position was really the only way we could get the couch to fit nicely. Oh well, maybe we’ll rearrange in the colder months.

Exit the living room and you reach the hallway.

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The first door on the right is what we’re currently calling cat room/storage. It’s intended to be a bedroom, but it’s tiiiiiny. Like, could only fit a twin-size mattress tiny. So, our cat gets her own room instead!

wpid-20140802_141049.jpgCat things.

wpid-20140802_141106.jpgGames and shoes and sports and more.

wpid-20140802_141154.jpgArt supplies and DVD’s and books and video games.

Yep, not much to see in that room yet. Still need to hang several posters/paintings too.

Anyway, on to the bathroom!

wpid-20140802_141004.jpgWe get lots of natural light in here because of the awesome window over the shower. And we bought an awesome bird feeder with a double-sided mirror so that we can watch the birds, but they can’t see us. We’ve mostly seen finches, blue-jays, and doves. It’s a seriously cool feeling to be showering right next to a bird!

wpid-20140802_141018.jpgOther side of the bathroom, complete with “poop” art. Because a house isn’t a house without some toilet humor?

Next room…the bedroom!

wpid-20140802_141425.jpgAs you can tell, this room can get A LOT of light. Pretty awesome during the day, but a little annoying at night.

We keep our bedroom pretty simple and tranquil. All the better to SLEEP in, my favorite thing ever. (And yes, the bed is not made. I don’t believe in making beds. It makes no sense to me.)

wpid-20140802_141403.jpgOh, and when we moved in, we finally upgraded from the full-size bed we’ve had since 2008 to a KING. PURE LUXURY. And we purchased linen sheets from Restoration Hardware, and they are AMAZING. They are perfect for Texas summers–so breathable, drapey, and soft.

wpid-20140802_141840.jpgMy favorite space in the bedroom is the memory jar on our dresser. All year long, we add memories. On New Year’s Eve, we open the jar and relive everything from the past year!

Last stop on the tour… my sewing room! Guest rooms don’t make any sense to me unless you have people over like every weekend, so for us, a spare room equals a hobby room. Luckily, Darius’s hobbies are mostly digital, so his area is the living room (we have our computer hooked up to our TV, so he can do everything from the couch). Which means the spare room is MINE!

wpid-20140802_141526.jpgI’ve got my cutting table on one wall…

wpid-20140802_141658.jpgMy pressing station near the cutting table…

wpid-20140802_141625.jpgAnd my sewing desk/fabric bins on the other wall.

wpid-20140802_141541.jpgThere’s also a closet, where I have a shelf for patterns, books, and my notions stash (in the fabric bags). There’s also storage room for stuff like my knitting and things I plan to refashion at some point.

I had a sewing room in our old house too, and I’d say they are pretty much a “must” for any sewist lucky enough to have a spare room. My sewing didn’t really pick up until I had an official place for it, since it’s so much work to haul everything out and then put it away again when you are sewing in a shared space.

Anyway, that’s the house! We are hoping to live here for the next 3-5ish years, provided the landlords don’t want the house back at any point (they are renting out the house until they can retire here). We really love Austin, but it kinds of feels like once we’re done with this house, we might be ready to explore other cities. I mean, we don’t plan on buying a house (we like the renting lifestyle because we like the freedom of moving often to experience new things), and once you’ve lived in your favorite neighborhood, is there really anywhere else you can explore? Also, we’ve both lived in Austin since 2006, and lived in Texas for most of our lives (all, for Darius), so it seems like it could be nice to have a complete change. Eh, who knows…for now, we’ll just enjoy living in this awesome house!

polka dot tap shorts from katy & laney

by Nicole on July 28, 2014

OH MY GOSH, I LOVE THESE SHORTS.

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It’s Katy & Laney’s newish Tap Shorts pattern, and I want to make a million pairs. Like a lot of other curvy girls, shorts have never been my thing. I love to wear them, but it is practically impossible to buy RTW ones that fit me well. RTW shorts usually give me a wedgie (back and front, ew!), the legs are too tight, the rise is too low, and the waistband has to be super loose to actually fit my butt and hips.

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But I think these shorts are really cute, and I like how they fit. Sure, they might emphasize the roundness of my belly somewhat, but truthfully, I feel pretty cute in them, especially styled like this.

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Oh, and I really like the back view!

The pattern itself was great. I have never made shorts or pants before, so I was pretty nervous at first. But the instructions and diagrams were super through and clear, so there was no reason to be worried. It was really fun to see the construction come together, and I was especially impressed with how neatly everything came together around the waistband.

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I made a size 16 with no changes except for hacking off about 2.25 inches before hemming. The original length looked a little frumpy and unbalanced, but I found that shortening them made them look much more balanced and cute. I could possibly stand to take in the side seams slightly towards the bottom, but I like the more exaggerated A-line, so I don’t think I’d make any changes to future pairs (unless you peeps seeing any fitting issues I don’t…and if you do, feel free to point them out). After wearing them all day, I will say that the booty gets a bit saggy, but I think that’s just because my massive butt expands a lot when I sit, which creates the sag. Not sure I could even really get around that, but it doesn’t bother me much anyway.

The fabric is this Moda polka dot cotton-linen blend in putty that I bought at Walker Hall Designs a few months ago. I actually bought it with a Chardon in mind, but changed my mind when I realized I’d like it better as shorts.

Wanna see my super non-invisible, invisible zipper?

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Yikes, huh? Like I’ve said before, I don’t really like invisible zippers, and usually do “normal” hand-picked zips. I actually haven’t done an invisible zip in like two years, so that explains why it looks so bad. But really…I don’t think I care enough to redo it. I’ll probably leave it until I inevitably lose more weight and have to alter them. Weight loss segue–we’ve been playing a lot of tennis lately! And I’ve been swimming laps at the local pool. Diet-wise, I’m just trying to eat more nutritiously–less meat, more veggies, less sugar/refined carbs, less alcohol. So really, I’m not purposely trying to lose weight, but more just focusing on making my body healthier by eating better and being more active.

wpid-20140727_085633.jpgOh, and once again…I didn’t even think to pattern match, and there was definitely an OH SHIT moment when I realized the polka dots don’t really line up along the front. But really, IDGAF and think they look cute anyway.

Pretty sure my next pair will be made with this fabric.

deviled egg emery dress

by Nicole on July 14, 2014

Oh, hi! I made a summer party dress! I have received more compliments on this dress than any other thing I’ve made. The first day I wore it, a girl did a double-take in the bathroom at work and told me, “That is super cool.” The second day I wore it, I got stopped by a group of girls at a coffee shop who wanted to know where I got it, and when I told them I made it, they begged me to sell them (not gonna happen, selfish sewist over here). When I wore it grocery shopping, a male Central Market employee told me it was incredible. And I pretty much agree with all of them, because I LOVE this dress.

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Let’s talk about the obvious part first….THE FABRIC! Eggs are my favorite food, so much so that I have seriously considered an egg tattoo for the past, like, FIVE years but cannot settle on a design or placement. So as soon as I saw this deviled egg fabric, I had to have it. I bought it online from Hart’s Fabric and it was awesome to sew with. The cotton feels great, isn’t too stiff or heavy, and has a tiny bit of stretch which makes it really comfortable to wear. (I also bought onion slices! and machine gun babes! at the same time, but I haven’t sew them up yet because I can’t decide on patterns.)

This dress was my first crack at the Emery dress pattern, which I modified to make sleeveless, with a lower front and a much lower back. Also, I live in Austin, Texas, and it’s summer, and since I also take the do-not-line-summer-dresses-in-Texas approach, I nixed the lining and opted for bias tape instead.

Want to see the back? Of course you do!

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In the summer, I seriously haaaaate sleeves and fabric touching my upper-back. And I’ve loved seeing everyone’s Netties lately, so I decided to see if I could make Emery lower in the back. And it worked pretty well, if I say so myself. I used my French curve to draw the new neckline (backline? whatever, you know what I’m talking about), and then added in two darts at my shoulder blades to bring the fit in. The left side is slightly loosier/gapier because my left shoulder is slightly lower and so I really should have taken that shoulder seam in a little more, but oh well.

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Let’s talk fitting, yeah? Before my first muslin, I did a 2.5″ FBA to the size 14, redrew the neckline/backline, and raised the armhole slightly since the dress was drafted for sleeves. For my second muslin, I added the darts in back, took out some excess fabric above the bust, and decided to sew the side seams at 3/8″ instead of 5/8″ since my first muslin was a little snug. After the second muslin, I decided I was good to go, but before I made up the real thing, I added an inch of length to the front and back bodice since I felt the waistline was maybe a tad high.

AND NOW I KIND OF HAVE NO IDEA IF I SHOULD HAVE MADE SOME OF THOSE CHANGES. First, I can’t tell if the waistline is now too low, and so I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t have added that extra inch. Or is the waistline too high?!?! Seriously, I can’t figure it out on this one. Also, maybe I should have stuck with 5/8″ on the side seams, because now the dress feels a little too loose after I wear it for a few hours.
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But also…I think I need to suck it up and learn the real way to address my fitting issues. Any fitting I’ve done in the past has basically been: make a muslin, pinch out gapey areas until it looks good, transfer changes to flat pattern, make another muslin. So I really don’t know what my fitting issues are, but I’m starting to suspect the following: swayback, since my waistline always seems to sit lower in the back than in the front; hollow chest, since there’s always a bunch of extra fabric above my bustline; uneven shoulders, because one side always looks great, while the other side always has wrinkles; perhaps a little forward shoulder/rounded upper back, because something weird is always going on in that area, especially when I make things with sleeves, and I haven’t quite figured it out yet. So maybe one of these days I should make a sloper so I can really try to understand my fitting issues, but let’s face it…I HAVE TOO MANY PATTERNS I NEED TO SEW FIRST. So my haphazard adjustments will have to do for now.

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Anyway, let’s talk more about why I love this dress. POCKETS, of course. I really liked how they were secured in the waistline of the dress. Every other time I’ve made something with pockets, they’ve just been these flappy bags that I’m afraid to put more than a chapstick in for fear of stuff falling out. These don’t feel floppy at all, although I kinda wish they were a little deeper because my cell phone peeks out and I still kinda worry about it falling out.wpid-20140713_124848.jpg

I also love the versatility of the pattern. It can be made up in a crazy fabric like this for a really cute casual dress, or it could be made up in something much nicer to wear to board meetings at work.

And I love what a simple, well-drafted pattern it is. It can easily be customized a ton of ways. I know a lot of sewists have basically started using this as their sloper, and that might be something I explore in the future, as I definitely plan on making more in the future. wpid-20140713_124930.jpg
All in all, I love this dress. It’s cute, it’s comfortable, and it’s great for summer frolicking.

If you’re wondering what summer frolicking looks like, apparently it looks like this:

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(Actually, that’s what it looks like when I ninja-kick around the yard because I can’t think of any more poses.)

A bit of housekeeping…Let’s be real. A conclusion post about my May creative challenges is probably not gonna happen. So now that I’ve got that off my back, hopefully I’ll just do a better job of updating this space with fun things, instead of feeling obligated to post about stuff I don’t really feel like posting about.