Montlake testing FOR THE WIN

DISCLAIMER: I actually used my real camera for these pictures; yet they are the worst pictures I’ve posted on this blog yet. I waited until Kenny got home from work, and it turns out that it was too dark and cloudy then, but this is just my real life. And isn’t that one of the things I swore I would do with this blog? Be real? Not just give you the pretty version of everything? Well, here it is: my real grainy photos. Please have patience with me. ūüôā

Since I was a little girl, I would get ideas in my head and need things to be that way. It sounds all great, like, “wow, Holly, you’re so decisive.” Except that no one else lives in my head, so making these things a reality is not so easy. Mostly this applies to clothing, shoes, and textiles issues. You should have seen my search for the perfect fabric to recover the seats of my dining chairs. I spent a good five years searching for the perfect riding boots (I think I just liked this idea a little too early because now you can’t walk into a store without tripping over like five pairs of awesome riding boots).

But this is one of the reasons I love sewing: the creating of something unique. I have the ability to dream up something awesome and crazy, and then MAKE IT HAPPEN!

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Last weekend I had the incredible privilege to be a tester for the new Montlake Tee pattern from Straight Stitch Designs. I don’t sew just to make my own clothes. Y’all, I sew to customize my own clothes … to make them reflect who I am. And this pattern is the perfect base for this.

The Montlake tee is truly simple fashion.

It’s simple because there aren’t any unnecessary bells and whistles. It’s not gimmicky; there are no funky parts to it. It’s basic and simple in the most complimentary senses of those words.

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But with just a little creativity, it can be turned into fashion. Add a contrast fabric. Change the sleeve length. Make it in a color that POPS. Create something beautiful.

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It was a pleasure to get to work with Kimberly on the final tweaks of this pattern. Her attention to detail to make sure this was a perfect product was incredible. I am so grateful for talented people like her who make it possible for me to create.

At its base, the Montlake Tee is a scoop-neck t-shirt with four potential arm lengths and a swing hem. Swing hems are my favorite because, well, I’ve had two babies already. I made pattern alterations for mine to fit over my baby bump as it grows. I will do a more detailed tutorial on how I did this soon.

Outfit Details (If you’re interested in that kind of thing)

Outfit #1:¬†Top – pattern: Montlake Tee by Straight Stitch Designs; fabric bought on clearance at Hobby Lobby / Pants¬†–¬†J Brand Mama J maternity jeans bought on ebay; similar cut here … less expensive¬†here / Shoes – bought off Zulily; similar here¬†or here / Necklace – Stella+Dot Engraveable Bar in Gold / Earrings – Stella+Dot Mondrian Ear Jacket

Outfit #2: Top Рpattern: Montlake Tee by Straight Stitch Designs; fabric bought at Chic Fabrics in NYC / Pants РHue jeggings  / Boots РAriat Heritage Western X Toe / Necklace РStella+Dot Essential Fringe in Silver / Necklace РStella+Dot Wanderer Necklace in Silver / Earrings РStella+Dot Deja Vu Stone Studs in Howlite

 

All links to Straight Stitch Designs and Stella+Dot are affiliate links. The rest are just to make your shopping easier if you like that kind of thing. You’re welcome.

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CREATE.

I’ve never been much of a New Year’s Resolution kind of gal. I’m not anti-change … I just never quite have grasped the idea of making all the change happen at the beginning of a year. In general, if I feel the urgent need for change, then I just try to make that change.

Years ago, a friend told me that she would give a word to each year. It was an awesome idea, but a little daunting to me for some reason. One of those, “Wow … that’s cool. Too bad I can’t do that” kind of ideas. Mostly because the idea of pinning down one word seemed a little overwhelming. What if my year took a different turn? What if I decided in June I hated the word? I don’t know who I thought was holding me to this ridiculous standard of a word, but I shied away nonetheless.

But this year, 2016, I’ve done it. It’s official. I came up with a word. Or, maybe, the word jumped out at me. Because I can’t stop thinking about it.

CREATE.

I love to create. I love to create all kinds of things.

It’s thrilling to take a blank expanse of fabric and make it into clothes … or sometimes even into fashion. (Yes, I have been watching Project Runway again. How could you tell?) This weekend I got to be a part of pattern testing for a talented pattern designer. I’ll blog more about this later, but it was exciting … to get to help someone else create something incredible while I created a few beautiful things myself.

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How about this adorable tee? It’s truly a great pattern … and the fabric was warm and cozy (that part was my own doing). Sewists … keep your eyes peeled for the Montlake Tee coming from Straight Stitch Designs.

It’s an adventure to step into the kitchen and turn a bunch of ingredients into a meal. Whether it’s fancy or just simple soup and sandwiches, it’s nourishing, and it’s a privilege.

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Yes, I know I just blogged this picture. But y’all … it was so good. The soup recipe is a Pioneer Woman recipe, and I highly recommend it.

It’s an honor that I get to be a small part of a life being created inside of me right now. I’m not arrogant enough to believe the I actually am the One who created this sweet life … but I do get to take part in it. That’s incredible.

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22 weeks! Woo-hoo!

It’s exciting … and sometimes taxing … to figure out new ways to create fun and excitement for my children. And then I remember that they need little more than some attention and a piece of cardboard, and they’re having fun.

My sister-in-law is a talented and passionate creator. She posted this lovely thought from Joss Whedon on her instagram last week:

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And then, I knew I could deny it no longer.

In 2016, I will CREATE. I’m excited, guys.

Southerners in the Snow

***Warning: non-sewing post ahead.***

Like the true Southerner I am, I get absolutely GIDDY about the snow. It’s just so beautiful and Narnia-like … I love love love it. Now, I recognize that if I were to ever live somewhere like Boston or Maine or Minnesota (please, Lord, don’t make me go to one of those places), I would feel very differently about the snow.

But y’all … I got to move to Oklahoma. Where we still don’t have, like, permanently white winters. BUT¬†there is almost always some sort of snow at some point in the winter. Did you non-Southerners know that there are stretches of years that can go by without Southerners seeing snow? It’s so sad. (Unless you’re my friend Katie who hates the cold. She grew up in Florida, which explains everything. {I love you, Katie!})

So last weekend when we woke up to a beautiful blanket of snow with more coming down, I immediately snapped a picture out of our bedroom window to send to my friends in the South.

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And after breakfast? We bundled those kiddos right up to go play!

Now, I will admit that we ended up having to borrow our neighbor’s yard for our snow fun. It wasn’t actually all that much snow, and the huge live oak in our front yard meant that we only had about 1/3 of our yard covered in snow … and that part was still mostly leaves. (Ahem … we’re not so into raking.)

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BUT … we did it! We laughed and giggled (and whined a little) and built our very own Olaf. Because when you have two daughters ages 4 and 2, every snowman is Olaf.

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Then we came inside and ate soup and grilled cheese. Evidently I’ve been conditioned by the marketing geniuses at Campbell’s that this is what you eat when it snows. I’m okay with that.

 

The whole morning was cozy, dreamy, fun, and downright delightful. Y’all … I love snow.

Let’s Go Exploring

I apologize for accidentally becoming one of those girls who started a blog then quickly abandoned it. That was not my intention. But between Christmas sewing (couldn’t be blogged before it was given) and a three-plus week sickness that swept our family, the blog took a necessary backseat. But I’m back!

I adore gifts. I love giving them. I love making them. I love dreaming them up. I also seriously love receiving them. I’ve fully embraced this aspect of me. It’s real … it’s how I show and receive love. It’s part of what makes me ME, and I’m good with that. Gives that make me feel loved don’t have to be extravagant … just thoughtful. Gives I give often are not extravagant … but I do my best to put lots of thought into them.

Because of that, giving at Christmas is PURE JOY for me. And since I love to create, I always start the Christmas season with a plan to create gifts for everyone on my list. This year, that got whittled down to a very small number.¬†Like I made two gifts. And threw in a (tiny) handmade portion in two others. My mom’s gift is actually still in process. Luckily she’s patient with me. (And I picked up some other fun “filler” gifts until I could get hers done.)

Our sweet niece is two-and-a-half, and she loves to explore. She’s a completely¬†delightful kiddo who loves bugs and sticks and leaves and rocks and nature. She also loves dancing and twirling. I adore how multi-faceted little girls are. I decided sometime this summer that the perfect gift for her would be the Explorer Vest from Little Things to Sew.

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Like every Oliver + S pattern I’ve ever sewn with, this pattern was clearly written, highly instructive, and a pleasure to use. It resulted in this beautiful little vest for our beautiful little gal.

The finished product has FIVE POCKETS, all ready to fill up with treasures. And, because it was a gift for our sweet one who loves all things pink, I made it in this adorable pink canvas, lined in pink + yellow ikat (all from Hobby Lobby).

The vest itself is adorable, and the girl is even cuter. But my favorite part is the beautiful Moroccan buttons that were a gift from my dear friend Amy. She gave them to me as a sweet thank you gift not knowing they were exactly what I needed to finish this vest!

Merry Christmas, sweet girl. And Happy Exploring!