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Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween!  It’s Morgan here sharing the cutest photos of Nicole and her daughter Lena!  They dropped by my house this Halloween morning while I was busily typing away in reply to the gazillion emails and comments we received after the launch of our Jutland Pants yesterday.  Thanks for your enthusiastic response!

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Needless to say, my Halloween wasn’t feeling especially festive in the traditional ghost and pumpkin sort of sense (though launching a pattern is always super festive :P).  But when Nicole and Lena came by, that very quickly changed!DSC03804

Lena and her parents have gone all out this year with their hand made costumes.  Nicole and I spent our Friday night sewing sessions making Lena a Dorothy costume.  Nicole has been reading the Wizard of Oz series to Lena over the last couple months (I never knew there was a series and have only ever seen abridged editions of the story!).  Needless to say, a Wizard of Oz theme was of top priority this Halloween.DSC03805

When Nicole went to buy the fabric for Lena’s costume, one of Nicole and my favorite employees at our local fabric store eagerly mentioned that she had once sewn a winged monkey costume for herself (the Halloween costume tradition at the Courtenay Fabricland is REALLY epic).  She kindly lent the whole beautifully sewn costume to Nicole so she could look the part with her daughter!  Scott (Lena’s dad) is dressing up as the Scarecrow :).DSC03799

Nicole thought of so many perfect details for the costume!  She hand sewed Toto and made the most perfect ruby slippers:
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We decided to make all the garment pieces separate so that they could be worn as every day clothing as well as a costume.  The shirt will be perfect for summer.  Nicole did a lovely job binding the neckline and sleeves.DSC03795We made the skirt very long and quite large for Lena so it will be worn for many years to come!  Nicole sewed the ‘apron’ piece that fits over the skirt and shirt as the only piece of the outfit that is truly just for costume use.  It is kind of like a vest with a cummerbund that wraps over the skirt and does up using a zipper at the side.  The straps cross over at the back and the ruffle from the skirt peeks out over the top – super cute!

DSC03794This is Lena’s first big Halloween where she is excited about haunted houses and trick or treating (she’s 4).  I think she’ll look back on this costume and her family’s enthusiastic dressing up with very fond memories!
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What home-sewn costume memories do you have?  Did you sew an epic costume this year?  Happy Halloween!


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New Pattern: Meet the Jutland Pants!

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I’ve been dropping many hints but haven’t given you a specific date – well the day is here!  We have a new pattern to show you!

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Meet the Jutland Pants.  These pants are the alter-ego of our Jedediah Pants.  They are relaxed, straight legged pants with curved front pockets and back darts.  They include all sorts of beautiful, high end finishing techniques, just like the techniques you’ve learned when sewing the Jedediah Pants!

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These pants feature flat fell seams, french seamed front pockets, a bound waistband, and a practical front fly.

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They are designed to be extremely rugged pants that can be made to suit all sorts of demanding uses – be it climbing mountains or working on a construction site.

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This pattern includes two variations with all sorts of mix and matching possibilities.

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Variation 1 features single welt back pockets (complete with extremely thorough illustrated instructions and a photographed tutorial that is up on our website!).  This variation would look great as every-day trousers.

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The welt pockets make them a touch dressy, while the curved front pockets are similar to those of familiar jeans.

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Variation 2 includes easy patch pockets, reinforced knees, reinforced hems, and slim cargo pockets.

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These design details, paired with purpose driven material choices (think heavy cotton canvas for construction pants or waterproof ripstop for hiking pants) could be used to create a wardrobe full of pants catered towards your lifestyle.  Just pick the pocket and reinforcement elements that are suited to your needs to create all manner of pant styles!

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A separate PDF file includes lining pieces that can be used for either variation.  Line these pants with cozy flannel or breathable mesh depending on your intended pants use.  If you don’t want to line your pants, don’t print the Lining file and trees will be saved!  We’ve also split the Variation design elements into separate files so you can print these pants using as little paper as possible (thanks for the great suggestion test sewers!).

For those of you just about to head into summer, these pants are REALLY easy to make into shorts.  Because they aren’t very tapered, just slice the pattern at your desired hem length – wherever that may be along the straight leg (note that our instructions don’t include this as a variation…but trust me, it’s easy!  Here are some Jutland Shorts that I made for Matt last summer:

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As with our recent Finlayson Sweater pattern, the Jutland Pants are available as a PDF pattern right now which includes a Print at Home file as well as a Print Shop file.  We’ll be offering this as a tissue pattern in the future but plan to release several of our upcoming patterns as PDFs first before sending them to the printer all at once.  If you plan to buy the tissue pattern in the future but can’t wait to get started on the Jutland Pants, no problem!  When we release the tissue pattern in the future, you will have one week to email us (info@threadtheory.ca) with your PDF order number and will will give you a special discount code for the tissue pattern so that you will end up receiving the PDF for free!

Ready to get sewing pants?  Head on over to our online shop to receive the Jutland Pattern 15% off until Nov. 5th!


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In the Wild: Cool Weather (Nicole’s Post)

In the wild banner - smallYou won’t believe me after seeing this picture, but it has been wet, wet, wet and cold here for the last… three weeks? Let’s just say the weather is really challenging my car-free plans and that I frequently have to remind myself “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothes.”. I’d love to show proof of the sideways rain I biked in today, but I didn’t think to stop and take a picture 🙂

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Last Sunday, however, was gorgeous- a last chance to get to the Pumpkin Fest (Hay Rides! Popcorn! Hay Bale Maze! All the Classics!), mow the lawn (nope), plant bulbs (nope) and otherwise spend time soaking up Vitamin D. I am firmly under the impression that after this one gorgeous day, I won’t see the sun for six months. Someone please disabuse me of this notion.

Fortunately, I actually like inclement weather, especially wet because it means I can pull out my wooly sweaters, my multitude of Newcastle Cardigans, and all my fuzzy head and hand cozies. It looks like there are some readers out there who feel the same way!

First up is a classic Goldstream Peacoat, apparently made for a top secret spy-man (look at those shifty eyes peering over the collar!

collage goldstreamThis was made by Annie Laure who was kind enough to send some images. She used the french instruction, donc c’est bien special! Maybe I should do a whole post in french to celebrate- but though I am a fluent speaker of french, my french writing comes across like a four year old. Far too awkward to expose myself like that on a public forum.

We’ve had a couple lighter weight sweaters shared as well, like this great grey Newcastle by Emma. I love this fabric it looks so luxurious yet casual:

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Next is Matt’s Mom! She has a lovely new Finlayson to cozy up in during the storms we’re having. It looks almost like the fabric I used for mine!

matts momAnd speaking of women wearing patterns designed for men (glad to know I’m not the only one who’s used Thread Theory patterns as much for myself as for a man), here is a fantastic adaptation of a Strathcona Tee by Roni Arbel of Wardrobe Histology:

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I love the cuff bands, and the fact that it looks like it was photographed in a castle! I have an idea! What if you all sent pictures of Thread Theory projects in exotic locales? Then this would truly be: In. The. Wild!


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Sewaholic Minoru: Wet Weather Sewing Project

IMGP2124Matt and I have been heading outdoors after work a few times a week of late to take long walks in various rain forests in the Comox Valley.  Over the summer, we became enamored with the concept of foraging, and now that mushroom season is upon us, I am itching to get out mushroom hunting every evening!

We just had our first foraged mushroom meal on Wednesday (a Lobster Mushroom Pizza!), and now that we’ve been able to successfully identify one species of mushroom, I have another page marked in my mushroom identification book so that we can head out there to expand our repetoir (next is Chanterelles). With all that being said, I have discovered that Matt and I both need some better waterproof or at least water resistant rain gear!  Be both have a lot of wool outerwear, hats, scarves and gloves because I made a lot of our outerwear when we lived in Halifax.  It was much drier and colder there and so I allowed my love of wool to dictate my fabric choice when sewing our winter clothes.  My wool jacket turned out beautifully but I haven’t had much occasion to wear it since we moved back to B.C. because it is simply so wet and warm here!  When wearing wool coats, I run the risk of smelling like a wet dog all day :P.

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To solve this lack of west-coast style rain gear, I’m working on a Minoru for myself right now in a lovely waterproof, fleece-backed material that I bought during the New Years Fabricland sale last winter.  I think it will result in a coat that is light, wind resistant, water resistant, and easy to move around in – perfect for mushroom hunting!IMGP2121

I’ll write another post about my jacket once it is finished and I have tested it out!  For now though, I am really pleased with this Sewaholic Pattern (as per usual) and have been noticing Matt’s envious glances into my sewing room (I guess I know what I’ll be sewing for him soon…).

 


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In the Studio: Final Preparations for our New Pattern!

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This week Matt and I have been fully immersed in the final preparations for the launch of our next pattern!  I’m sewing the final sample at the moment, our graphic designer, Sonia, has been busy altering our instructions based on the thorough and ever-so-helpful feedback provided by our test-sewers, and Matt has been revising the actual pattern pieces to suit the test-sewer’s suggestions.

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We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on!  I won’t be long now!


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Comox Valley Makers/ Charity Sewing Edition

Nicole HeadshotSomething that is very important to me as an extrovert (and as a member of the human race) is to have close friendships as well as varied friendships. When Morgan and I met, we discussed the idea of forming a casual group of like-minded individuals to meet regularly with sewing as the excuse. Whether we actually sewed in the gatherings was irrelevant, but sewing could be the thread that binds the group together (pun totally intended), much like a book club where you don’t have to read the book.

 

At the end of September we got a few people together to eat homemade treats (Salsa! Banana Bread! Wine!) and talk about making. We talked about sewing, knitting, and veered off onto the topics of homeschooling, kids, the Valley and oh gosh who knows what else! Unfortunately we were too busy having fun to take any pictures, but I am sure you can imagine the cozy little scene. 🙂 We had a brief show and tell of recent projects and we worked together to cut some fabric for some charity sewing.

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I’d heard of Craft Hope‘s Project 25 for We Are Kenya through Facebook somewhere and wanted to help out. I wasn’t up to making a whole quilt in time, and knew there were many quilters who would jump to send one along, but I was pretty affected by the request for cloth sanitary pads. The idea that young women would have to leave school for a week every month for lack of pads was heartbreaking. Morgan found this tutorial at Little House Living and we spent our group evening cutting out flannelette and terry cloth. Morgan and I have been puttering away at them over the last couple of weeks and just last night we finished them up!

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Okay, we could have found some more adult fabric than cartoon fishies, but we used what we had and I’m hoping that young women, newly menstruating, will appreciate something a little silly.

The deadline is November 15th to send some pads, or stuffies, or scarves and hats and mittens to We Are Kenya so if you’d like to get involved, we definitely encourage you. Because sewing is basically a super power and as you know: “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility”


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Life Without Internet (sort of…)

EditedHello!  I hope you liked Nicole’s post yesterday :).  Matt and I are thrilled to have her as part of the Thread Theory team!

It was great to know Nicole was working away on a blog post this week as I didn’t have the ability to…I had no internet this week!

Last Friday, once we had finished staining our new stand up desk, Matt began to perform some cable management magic by installing all of the mysterious (to me) boxes associated with having internet to the underside of the desk.  It was all going swimmingly until he accidentally broke our fibre-optic cable! Little did we realize, this would mean going for a week without internet until the internet company could schedule us in for an appointment!

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At many points in my life, a week without internet would have seemed perfectly normal to me – my whole childhood was for the most part internet-less, I’ve gone months without much internet on summer vacations, and even in university, I used to come home from school and not head back on to the computer until the next day of classes!  This last week has made me realize how VERY different the last few years of my life have been in comparison to my past fairly internet-free existence.

For the first two days internet free, Matt and I were habitually opening our Thread Theory email program and pressing the ever-so-addictive “Send and Receive Mail” button to refresh the screen before even beginning to catch ourselves.

We were constantly stopping mid-conversation to say, “Let me Google that!” We would then look towards the sad little unused computer and sigh…

I was, without thinking, pausing mid work day when I needed a break from focusing to do a quick scroll through Pinterest…only to stop myself as my mouse hovered over the internet icon.

BUT, before you send Matt and I to rehab for internet addiction, I am proud to say that things drastically improved after the first two days.  All of sudden I found my mind feeling freer and the cadence of my thoughts completely changed.

I’ve now come to realize that my ‘internet dependent’  thinking is characterized by short, abrupt thoughts which I tend to equate with the pace of asking a question, Googling it, and having the question resolved within 30 seconds.  My internet influenced thoughts seem to flit from one subject to the next after something on a screen has encouraged my thoughts into a new direction.  For instance, if I am thinking about the next pattern we are developing while working on the instructions on my computer, my thoughts can be quickly and completely diverted when I hear the chime that a new email has come into our inbox.

Edited-4 My thinking changed drastically by the end of the week – my thoughts became longer and more organic.  They flowed, unhampered from one subject to the next related subject.    My internet free thoughts allowed me to focus on the pattern instructions for as long as my own mind and body allowed – there were no outside influences to artificially shorten my attention span.

Without internet, I felt that my own opinion and problem solving skills gained strength.  If I was unsure on how to proceed with something (for instance, if I couldn’t think of a word to include in a sentence that I wrote), I had to rely on my own mind to come up with a solution rather than expecting the internet to provide the answer for me.

Without internet, I also felt that I had more time.  Matt and I were travelling to my parent’s house each day to use their internet to answer pressing Thread Theory emails (so we weren’t completely internet free!).  Having this separation from the internet forced me to answer emails efficiently clear the inbox all at one time rather than biting off chunks of it throughout the day.  That way we could return home to proceed with the non-internet based portion of the work day.  Working like this for a week made me realize how skewed my work day had become.  When we had internet in our home, the internet based portion of the work day had been constantly increasing until my time in the sewing room had shrunken to the bare minimum.  This last week, with only a couple hours to provide online customer support, I suddenly had the majority of the work day to step away from maintaining our company and instead focus on expanding it!

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Obviously, this last week was a bit of an anomaly – ideally I would prefer more time to devote to connecting with our customers and the online sewing community through social media and email as I feel quite distant from it all after my week “away”.  But, I certainly learned that I prefer the way I think and feel without being so internet dependent.  I also am thrilled with how much I can get done when I am not allowing the internet to dictate the length of my attention span!

Hopefully, having Nicole active on the blog as our resident Thread Theory extrovert, will help maintain a better balance so that I can feel connected with you guys but still have enough time to focus on non-internet based Thread Theory work.  I’m excited for this change in routine!

Have you ever analyzed how internet has changed your life?  Have I just revealed to you that I am creepily dependent on internet or is this dependency just the reality of modern daily life?


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A New Voice, A New Face

Just under a year ago, I heard about a fantastic new pattern company that had started up, right in our beautiful little valley. As I was about to leave the valley to spend the winter in Toronto, I wasn’t able to meet the designer until our return, but I made contact after enthusiastically buying up all their patterns to date. I found even online the personalities of Morgan and Matt warm, intelligent and interesting and I quickly let them know that we would be friends upon my return. That’s the kind of thing I do- send emails to people and while trying to seem as non-creepy as possible, try to strike up friendships. Let’s call it an extroverts approach to the internet.

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Well, since my return to the valley this summer, we’ve become fast friends. They’ve spoiled me with their fantastic cooking, we’ve spent Fridays sewing late into the night (and deep into the red wine) and we’ve even found an occasional enthusiastic babysitter in Morgan. My four year old daughter immediately warmed to her and jumps for joy when I say she gets to spend time with Morgan. All this to say we have bonded and formed what I hope will be a very long and strong friendship, but also a great opportunity to work with some people I admire tremendously.

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In our evenings of sewing, we talked about the idea of my contributing to the Thread Theory blog on a regular basis. In part to add to the voice of Thread Theory but also to free up some of Morgan’s time to do more designing of fantastic patterns- YAY! So not only will you all get to enjoy my take on all things Thread Theory and sewing on a weekly basis, but it will ultimately mean more Thread Theory fun, more Thread Theory patterns and more projects for YOU!

But who is this crazy chick, just suddenly blogging it up at Thread Theory, you may ask? Well, you can get a pretty good idea of who I am at here, which you may already be familiar with since Morgan’s been linking to me regularly (perhaps she’s been secretly planning this for a while and wanted her dear readers to be familiar with me!). I am an enthusiastic and driven intermediate sewist who teaches in a home studio one full day per week, and sews almost every night. I also teach yoga three times a week in Courtenay, work four days a week at an office, and spend a lot of time with my four year old. it adds up to a pretty full, varied and fantastic (if harried) life.  I love sewing for myself and my family; and I love adapting Thread Theory patterns to fit a four year old or myself (of course in the case of the four year old it’s more a matter of adapting the style using another pattern).I’ve made, and blogged about, a few of Thread Theory’s patterns, and look forward to making many more. I also love to sew other indie patterns, from Sewaholic, Grainline, Shwin Designs and more. When students ask for suggestions I try to always steer them to indie patterns- not only to support the “little guy” but because I genuinely believe in the quality, design and instructions of the indie patterns.

So you can look forward to my weekly posts about my sewing, Thread Theory, teaching, and gathering together what you’ve sewn too!


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A standing desk for the Thread Theory Studio

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Matt and I have been re-configuring our studio a little bit of late. As we get busier and busier (yay!) we have been finding ourselves sitting at our dining room table in front of the lap top answering customer service queries and packing orders for increasingly larger amounts of time each day.  Our dining room table was never intended to be our “office desk”.  In fact, up until recently, we had quite an unreasonable amount of desks to choose from crowding up our studio (read: our entire house :P).  We had a big corner desk complete with a hutch, all in laminated ‘wood’ set up in one room which rarely got used because I find corner desks and hutches to both be pretty clausterphobic and dark.  I like to work on big, open surfaces with lots of daylight.  Our next desk option was the corner desk’s matching table which we had moved into my sewing area resulting in it’s surface area being too crowded with sewing machines to use as an office desk.  Lastly, we had a big old government desk (solid wood with a really large and useful table top) in Matt’s little workshop area which we used to hold absolutely everything despite Matt’s desire to use it as the perfect shop bench.

And yet, despite all these desk options, we were sitting hunched over our dining room table because it is the one surface in our studio/house that is bathed in natural light and big enough to spread computers, papers and partially packed orders all over it’s nice open surface.  Unfortunately, the chair and table height really don’t work well for computing.  Our lower backs have been getting more and more sore and we have been noticing that, in order to use the keyboard, our shoulders have to hunch up awkwardly for long periods of time.

So…in classic Matt and Morgan fashion, we put a bunch of our furniture up on Craigslist and decided to start again (this is a very ingrained habit for us)!  We sold the corner desk (we’ve never been a fan of fake wood anyways), the table from my studio, and, while we were at it, we sold our coffee table too.  We went from having an excess of not very useful tables and desks to having only the dining room and Matt’s government desk to work with!

That was a good thing though: It left us with the space in our house/studio to start imagining the perfect studio set up – which, we decided, was to switch to a standing desk.

When we started up a sewing pattern company, I perhaps naively imagined myself blissfully sewing all day.  Of course, within almost no time at all, we realized that the reality of an online business is far different than this – we are probably at our computers just as much as if we had conventional office jobs as our careers.  Since I don’t see this really changing any time in the future, we hope a standing desk will at least improve the situation.  We’ve been reading some articles on the benefits of standing for the majority of the day and it really sounds desirable to me!  (See this article in the Smithsonian magazine for example.)  I’ve always been proud of my straight posture but, over the last two years I have been noticing I’m no longer so naturally inclined to sit or stand with a really straight back.  Eeek!  I don’t want to developed a rounded ‘computer back’!standing-desk ergonomics

Standing desks are pretty expensive and they seem to usually be a little too narrow for my liking.  I didn’t want to compromise on my desire for a big flat work surface!  So Matt decided to build us a desk so we wouldn’t have to purchase one that didn’t suit all of our criteria.  He’s new to woodworking but whipped this up in no time!  He’s constructed a coffee table and a desk in the last two weeks!  He used this tutorial for the standing desk with a number of revisions.  We decided to tilt the desk on a slight angle like a drafting table and we used 2X6 boards to create a table top rather than purchasing a thinner one.  Matt also added an angle to one side since we are pretty limited for space in our office area and we wanted to still be able to walk through the door to our kitchen!

What do you think?

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We’re mid way through sanding it and then we have to settle on a stain/oil color.  These are the two main candidates at the moment:

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And then we’ll need to figure out some solutions for office organization.  We’re part way through sorting this out since we just bought a filing cabinet!!! (It’s probably a little odd that I love filing cabinets so much…I, along with my mom and my sister, am a bit of an office furniture and stationary geek…we used to look forward to shopping for school supplies even more than we looked forward to back to school clothes shopping!).

The filing cabinet we had before was part of the laminate corner desk unit so we had to sell it when we sold the desk.  It was nice and big and we didn’t have too many complaints about it, but, since we had the opportunity to pick a new cabinet, I decided I preferred a tall and skinny cabinet to a short and wide one since this will give us more wall space to add more office furniture! The filing cabinet we found is a bit battered and well loved, but I’m calling this a ‘vintage patina’ lol.

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I actually kind of like the chipped paint!  What truly won me over though, were the brass handles.  They’re perfect!IMGP1956

Now that we have a standing office desk I have been curious about standing sewing set ups.  Recently, when Oona posted her sewing area tour, she showed us that she sews at a standing height desk.  I tried this out by placing my little Kenmore on my ironing table once my laminate sewing table was sold but I don’t think I’m won over to standing sewing.  It was pretty awkward because all my weight was on my left leg while my right foot stayed raised over the foot pedal.  I tried to force myself to keep my heel on the ground so I could distribute my weight more evenly but my heel simply wouldn’t co-operate.

I hope I’ll have more success with standing computing!  I’ll let you know how it turns out when we’ve finished the desk and I’ve had a chance to try it out for a few weeks.

 


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In the Studio: I presented a seminar at my kitchen table!

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In the studio is a weekly feature where I show you a little sneak peek at what I’ve been up to this week.  Here’s this week’s edition!
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I think I’m going to sound a little cliche and maybe a little old fashioned when I say, “Isn’t technology mind boggling?”  This morning, I presented a seminar sitting in my coziest sweater, which a cup of honey lemon water in my very own kitchen!  No need for business attire, long expensive trips across the country or the nerves associated with presenting to a lecture hall of upturned faces full of anticipation!  Usually, if you explained this scenario to me I would sigh a little and exclaim about the sad loss of personal connection in this technology filled world…but I must admit, as I sat nervously in my own dining room this morning, I was REALLY glad I could instruct the BurdaStyle Web Seminar from home!

Have you ever worked with seminar hosting technology?  Does technology effect your experiences with sewing?  What role does it play in your careers?  I’d love to hear what you think!