“It Ain’t Christmas” -Autumn Hill

I’m writing this blog post with the song “It Ain’t Christmas” by Autumn Hill playing in the background.  I think I speak on behalf of my mom, my sister and I as to how we all feel about Christmas this year with the title of the blog post.

This time last year, I was gearing up for a handmade Christmas for all of my daughters relatives.  My daughter had given her family members handmade Christmas gifts, made by me.  Here is a collection of some of the gifts that I made this time last year.

 

McCalls 7407 and a crochet scarf – pattern from Fiber Flux.

 

  Salt dough paw plate and a blanket – pattern from Fiber Flux.

I’ll be honest, my heart just isn’t into crafting for Christmas this year.  This past year has been the most difficult year for my family and I.  With Christmas approaching, it’s only getting more difficult for me.  With such a difficult year, I was hoping that at Christmas we’d be able to celebrate something exciting to ease all of our pain, but as I’ve said before, life has other plans that I have no control over.

I’m really trying my best to get into the Christmas crafting spirit, but it’s hard.  I know that for my dad, I’ll do my best to make Christmas magical for my daughter as both of my parents made Christmas very magical for my sister and I.  It really breaks my heart that this will be my daughters 2nd Christmas, and my dad isn’t here to share it with her.  He knew just exactly how excited I was for Christmas last year.  God must have known how excited I was, so he let my dad stay around for Christmas and shortly after Christmas my dad got his angel wings and off he went.  Just like that.

That’s how quickly my world came crashing down.  I’ve cried more times than none.  It’s amazing how a holiday that used to be so magical for me, will now become a painful, sorrow filled day.  Christmas will always be a reminder of the number of years my dad has been gone.  I know that on the outside for my daughter, I need to do my best to make Christmas magical for her, but I know deep down inside I will feel deep grief and sadness.

I was driving the other day and listening to the Christmas radio station, and the song “It Ain’t Christmas” by Autumn Hill came on and these lyrics just struck me – “It ain’t Christmas without you.”  I’m pretty sure that is exactly how my mom and sister feel too.  Without my dad here, it just ain’t Christmas.

How do you get into the Christmas crafting spirit?

“It ain’t Christmas without you.” – Autumn Hill

 

The Journey Continues

The moment I had realized that I had found my true love and passion for sewing, I knew that I wanted and needed to do something a little bit more with my sewing rather than just sewing a garment, taking photos of it and sharing about it.  Trust me, it is an amazing feeling after all these years of searching for my true passion and now finally finding it.

I want and need something more than just sewing and posting about it.  I can talk about sewing and fabric all day long (my husband gets so annoyed with me!).  So what was I needing?

I have been on the crafting/sewing instagram for over 2 years now.  I started off sharing my crafting (sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking) on my private account.  It wasn’t until last year that I created a public instagram account to share strictly my sewing as I have put much more effort and time into my sewing.  I will still continue to crochet and scrapbook, but sewing is my true passion.

I had seen other people start an online fabric shop from scratch, so why couldn’t I?  I’m still no expert when it comes to fabric, but I have been learning a lot!  I didn’t know where to start for opening up an online shop.  Do you get the fabric first? What about a website?!

At this point in time, I was feeling overwhelmed and felt that I couldn’t do it, but how did these other people do it?  How?  I still had the mentality, if they could do it, then why couldn’t I?  I decided to straight up ask these small online fabric shop owners, how did they get started?  Did they get their business name first, did they get the fabric first?  (on a side note here, sourcing fabric isn’t as easy as you might think it is)  I was not surprised with the amount of responses that I got from these shops.  Why would someone tell me how they got started?  I believe I tried to contact 5 shop owners, outta the 5, everyone read my message but only 1 person replied.  Her name is Tammy, and she owns D&H Fabrics Co.  She was so kind and so sweet to me.  I was very thankful that she responded to me and gave me some tips and advice.  She too, has recently opened up her online fabric shop, she has some beautiful fabrics in her shop.  I was gifted some of her fabric from my friend for my birthday which I hope to sew up sometime soon!  Go check her out.

After talking to Tammy, I decided that I should take a break from the whole online fabric shop (due to the stress of shipping).  But I simply couldn’t.  I once heard that if something is on your mind 24/7, then you need to just do it.  This was it.  I decided that I would try to source my fabric first, as hard as it was and still is, I needed confirmation that I would find fabrics to sell in my shop.  I started off with explaining to the companies, that I do not have a business name just yet, but I wanted to get fabric samples to ensure this was the stuff that I wanted to sew with and to sell.

Once I had gotten a couple of fabric samples in the mail, I started to get really excited.  The next thing I needed, was a great name.  What’s in a name?  I needed a great name, a name with meaning and a name to grow with me in the future.  I discovered my love and passion for sewing through sewing as my grieving process of loosing my dad.  So naturally, my online fabric shop name needs to be something with my dad in there.  I tried using his name, initials, birthstone and butterflies.  Nothing stuck with me, nothing.  As hard as I tried to love one of the names, it just wasn’t right.  I decided to try to use an online business name generator, this was when I had seen the word Willow (I think it was Willow Creek or something like that).  I used to work with a lady named Willow as well, I always thought her name was beautiful.  How can I make the word Willow work?  I then thought of the Willow Tree.  Okay, well let’s look up the meaning behind the Willow Tree.

THAT WAS IT!

The website and the definition that I found for the Willow Tree could not have been more accurate with the way my life has changed over the last 11 months.  Here is the definition that I found:

“Another powerful symbolic meaning of the willow tree is its adaptability, the willow tree’s ability to not only survive but also thrive in some of the most challenging conditions. We can also look at how the willow tree encourages the expression of deep emotions, including grief and sadness through tears and teaching us the value and consequences of love and loss. One of the greatest symbolic meanings of the willow tree is that even through great loss we have the ability to grow and there is potential for something new.” 

This was found at the Willow Place for Women website, you can click here to read more.

“Through great loss we have the ability to grow and there is potential for something new.”  This is that something new, this is it! After I picked the name out, my family and I went for a walk to the swings and you wouldn’t believe it, but we had seen a willow tree on our walk.  Seeing this willow tree just a few blocks from my house gave me the confirmation that this was in fact the right name for my business.

After I had thought of the name, I just could not stop thinking about this adventure.  Something in life came up in the fall that I needed to put this idea on the back burner for the time being.  Sometimes the plans that we plan for our own lives do not always work out and that’s okay!  This is life’s way of telling me that I need to once again bring my focus back to Willow Tree Fabrics.

Now, with all this being said, I’m not quite ready to launch my shop just yet.  I’m hoping for early 2019.  But I wanted to share the process of this exciting journey.  With the Canada Post strike, it really has me thinking of using an alternate source for shipping, as over the last few months I’ve had such negative experiences sending and receiving parcels with Canada Post.

Over the next couple of months, I’m going to be working on my website, collecting inventory and I want to get to know YOU.  What kinds of fabrics would you love to see me carry, what kinds of fabrics do you love to sew with and wear?  Should I only be carrying apparel fabrics, or craft fabrics as well?!  These are some of the things that I want to learn about my sewing friends and followers.  I’ve set up my Instagram page – @willow.tree.fabrics – come and follow us!  Should I be starting a Facebook page or a group?  I’d love to start a blog on the Willow Tree Fabrics website once it launches.

If you have any questions, suggestions or advice, I’d love to hear from you. I’m beyond excited to be continuing my sewing journey.

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“Through great loss we have the ability to grow and there is potential for something new.” – Willow Place for Women website.

 

Fall Vibes for Fabricville + SBA Info

Hey Friends,

I’m back on the Fabricville Sewing Blog talking about McCalls 7800 in view C.  For more details and photos, you can follow this link here.  If you are on the hunt for a knit that is easy to work with, this is it.  Knits can be tricky to work with, but I found this fabric to be a dream to sew with.  I didn’t even use my walking foot for the hem.

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For this pattern, I completed a small bust adjustment using a series of videos from Aneka at Made To Sew.

Here are the videos that I had used:

First, I needed to find my bust apex measurement, I used her video right here.  In this video, she walks you through finding your own bust apex through a couple of measurements.  Next, she will walk you through taking those measurements and using them to find your bust apex on the pattern that your working on.  Depending on the pattern that you are working on, you will only utilize a couple of those measurements, as each pattern is different.  So be sure to record your own measurements and keep those measurements handy for future projects.

The next video I used was how to manipulate the pattern for a small bust adjustment, the link to that video is here.  This video will walk you through each of the steps involved in a small bust adjustment on a pattern with a side dart.

Aneka’s videos are very clear, concise and easy to follow.  She has a lot of videos from small bust adjustments, full bust adjustments, a sewing beginners series, a darts series and many many more.  I suggest you go check out her YouTube Channel and Instagram page.  Thank you Aneka for such great and helpful videos!

 

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Typically darts are not found on a knit pattern, but this pattern does call for wovens and knits.  This dress is made in the knit version, I’m excited to try this dress in a woven and compare the 2 versions.  Keep an eye for a blog post in the future comparing the 2 dresses.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my knit version McCalls 7800.

“Sadly missed along life’s way, quietly remembered every day… No longer in our life to share, but in our hearts, you’re always there.” — Author Unknown

Why I Sew

Last blog post, I explained to you why I started sewing.  I figured this was a great opportunity to share with you, why I continue to sew and why I have taken a different approach to my sewing as to when I started 2 years ago.

I like to consider that I started sewing 2 years ago – October 2016.  I had made myself a red tutu to dress up as Minnie Mouse for Halloween.  I ended up sewing 2 more tutus and a set of Minnie Mouse ears for my niece and friend.  After that was done, I started sewing small Christmas stockings as practice.  Then, I decided I wanted to sew my baby (that was on the way) a baby blanket.  It wasn’t until February 2017 when I started to dig a little deeper into sewing.  Enough with the crafts….let me try my hand at sewing garments.  To be exact, I wanted to sew baby clothes, but the lady at my local fabric store suggested that I start to sew clothes for myself first.  Well, that definitely got me hooked.

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First top I ever sewed.  I had no clue about stripes when I purchased the fabric, but check out that stripe matching.

Now that I was hooked, I would sew to learn, but to learn quickly.  I wanted to start and finish a project in 1 day.  I did not care how well I sewed the garment, all I cared about was sewing to learn and sewing fast.

Once I tackled my first couple of tops, I then shifted my sewing to sewing easy stuff.  What I mean when I say this is; I had quickly learned that I did not enjoy sewing neckbands, or that I was just doing it wrong.  So, instead of doing what the instructions told me to, I had watched a video online as to how to sew bias tape on.  I would then finish my necklines using bias tape on a knit top.  Yep, that was me, had absolutely no clue what I was doing.

At this point in time, I had been sewing garments for 3 months and I had absolutely no clue that there were specific needles for sewing certain types of fabric.  Who would have thought?  This did not occur to me until I asked a lady at the fabric store if sewing this fabric (a knit) with this fabric (a woven) would work out.  Well, the people at the fabric store were not sure either.  They had told me that the knit fabric needs a ball point needle and that the woven fabric would need a universal needle.  What?  Ball point needle?  Universal needle?  What the heck is going on here?  So my question about my 2 fabric choices brought up a conversation between the staff as to which sewing needle I should use.  They had warned me that it would take an intermediate to an advanced sewer to do want I wanted to do.  All I wanted, was a knit in the back, woven in the front top…that’s all.

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The top that taught me there are different types of sewing needles.

Now that I was aware of different sewing needle types, I kept sewing, keeping in mind to change my sewing needle with the different fabrics that I was sewing.

Next, my friend Michele had sewn a beautiful Burda 6829 velvet dress that I absolutely fell in love with.  We chatted about the dress and I had mentioned to her that I would love for my sewing abilities to get to that point where I could sew a dress like that.  My friend Michele has an influence on my sewing like no other.  She has been my main sewing friend for over a year now.  She’s my go-to-gal for any questions related to sewing, fabric and pattern alterations.  I have no idea how she did it, but she convinced me that I was able to sew this velvet dress.  The next thing I knew, I was on the phone with my local fabric store to have them hold this dress pattern for me.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Michele had to order her pattern online and was a bit nervous if it was going to arrive in time for the event she was making that dress for.  So that I had me thinking that this pattern was a rare find and could potentially be out of print.

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This dress really changed my sewing game.

Would you like to know what I learned next?  After making this dress, I was sewing a pair of pants that I really wanted to wear for Christmas.  I was working on a pair of red velvet pants.  For this project, I discovered 2 things.  That when you sew with knits, you need to use a zig zag stitch, and when you sew with wovens, you need to use a straight stitch.  Well, this velvet dress, yep, it’s all sewn with a straight stitch, except for the hem (which I used a zig zag stitch).  How did I learn this concept?  When I was trying on the red velvet pants for the first time, the waistband felt like the stitches were going to rip out.  I sent a photo to Michele and she noticed it was all straight stitched.  Then she asked me if the dress was sewn with a straight stitch, and I said yes. What a bummer!  I felt so proud of this dress.  My dad even told me that it looked like I bought the dress.  So on the outside, the dress looked gorgeous, but after finding out that the insides were all wrong, I felt a little discouraged.

With this event, I learned that:

  • I was not very good at ordering fabric online – bad experience,  Since then, I’ve been learning quite a bit about fabric.
  • The red velvet I was working with, only had 2 way stretch and not 4 way stretch – that’s why the waistband was not working out properly.
  • And, that you need to use different stitches depending on the fabric that you are working with.

My sewing journey now brings me to current time.  Now that I have learned my mistakes with the needles, stitches and fabric I was more determined than ever to sew better quality clothes.  The compliment my dad gave me about my dress had really stuck with me.  I had decided that after the Christmas rush, that I would then try to sew another velvet dress, but this time make it right.

Shortly after Christmas, my dad passed away.  Suddenly and completely unexpected.  No one saw it coming.  I was completely devastated, and I still am.  Some days I’m in shock and disbelief.  Other days I get so angry at him, at life and at everything.  Life and living seemed so dark.  The days were dark.  The hours were dark.  The nights, well, they were the darkest.  The nights were hard.  The thing about nights were, that’s when I would sew.  When my daughter went to bed, that was my sewing time.  Life and living was hard.  Would I even sew again?  Would life continue on without him?  I was chatting with my Uncle (my dad’s brother) and he reassured me that I would sew again.  I believe that same day I went and picked up navy blue velvet to sew that dress.  I decided to sew this dress first, as an honor or as a mourning of my dad – based on that compliment he gave me on that first one I sewed.  Well, that dress is still hanging in my sewing room unfinished – I’ll get to it again, some day.

That dress just wasn’t cutting it for me.  Life was still dark.  I had to think of a project to help make life not so dark.  I had thought, if life was so dark for me, then life would have been dark for my mother as well.  That is when the perfect project came to me.  Sewing was a comfort to me during the darkest days, and I needed to bring comfort to my mom.  That’s when I sewed her a second version of the top I sewed her for Christmas, McCalls 7407.  The one I made her for Christmas was a little too short for her liking, so I sewed this one longer for her.

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The top I made, to bring comfort to my mom.

This is when I had realized that my sewing has taken a drastic change, but for the best.  I was now sewing for comfort to ease my pain, I was sewing to make beautiful garments, I was now sewing slower and proper.  I was now sewing to find joy again, in such a dark place.  To this day, sewing continues to bring joy on the dark days.  Sewing is my medicine.

I had really regretted not being as adventurous with my sewing while my dad was here.  Thinking of sewing certain things brought on fear.  Jeans, lined jackets, fancy dresses, now that stuff is complicated.  That’s where the velvet dress taught me that I could sew anything that I put my mind to.  If only I discovered this ability sooner.

This brings us to my blog name.  I was now sewing for comfort and good quality clothing, but these are now the sewing projects that my dad would not see.  Now, that made me really sad, not only that, but the fact that my daughter will never remember him makes me ever sadder.  To think that my dad was really impressed with that velvet dress, what would he think about jeans, a lined jacket or a jumpsuit?  This is when SewNotes came to be.  I would love to dream that heaven has wifi, and that my dad is able to read the notes I write about my sewing and that he can see the amazing sewing projects that I’ve been crushing and accomplishing.  In fact, I started my blog thinking and hoping that my dad was still around to read it.  See, that’s the thing about grief, its a hard thing to accept and to move on from.  In my heart, I would try to convince my mind that my dad had just taken off, left.  I didn’t want to believe that he was gone, never mind gone forever.  That is the real reason why my blog exists today.  Call me crazy, but loosing my father has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

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Beautiful stitched waistband on my most recent make.

I now know that whatever happens in life, or how busy life can get, sewing will always remain.  Sewing continues to bring me joy each day.  Sewing has and will continue to help me grieve my father.  Sewing is my way of grieving.  Some people resort to things such as alcohol and other things to deal with their grief, I resorted to sewing.  Had I wished to tackle jeans, or a lined jacket over a year ago? Absolutely.  But I have come this far with my sewing, that I certainly do hope that my dad can see my sewing projects in heaven and see how far my sewing has come since that velvet dress.

I am thankful that I am able to share my love and passion of sewing with my mother.  I show her every project that I make and I even make some projects for her.  I believe that my sewing does bring joy to my mother as it does to me.

This blog post is dedicated to my dad who I miss and love ever so much on a daily basis.  Each day, I strive to make you proud.  I love and miss you forever dad.

“Dad, you will always be with me in my heart.” — Me