Review: Organic Cotton Twill from Organic Cotton Plus

15 February 2014 | by Jen in Sewing

Product image from

I normally eschew doing product reviews on my blog because I like to keep this space reserved for personal musings and shop updates.  But when Organic Cotton Plus asked me to review some of their fabric (my pick) I thought why not, I’m always on the look out for good fabric resources and who can say no to free fabric?  (Or flowers by the way, gotta love free flowers!)  So I picked out this 90″ organic cotton twill. The color is natural which I assume means unbleached as there are tiny little flecks of brown like you might see in unbleached muslin (or French vanilla ice cream).

Overall, I have mostly good things to say about this fabric!  It’s very soft and the natural color is pretty especially in the subtle pattern the twill weave creates.  It’s not a heavy twill, but somewhat thin, which would be nice for a relaxed pair of pants, a tailored dress or button up shirt.  It wasn’t overly wrinkly when I pulled it out of the dryer (a  plus with 100% cotton).  Pressing was a breeze and the few wrinkles it had came right out.

My only complaint is that the fabric pilled after just one wash.

After washing but before pressing.You can see a couple of pills on the folded edge of the fabric.

I washed the piece like I would if it were a finished garment made of the same material: on permanent press, warm wash/cold rinse, and tumbled dried on low.  (I try to go easy on my clothes and rarely use hot water, high heat, or a ‘normal’ cycle.)  Cotton twill is normally a tightly constructed and durable fabric so I was surprised to see the pilling.  But, I as I mentioned above, it’s quite soft.  Very soft wool yarns are known to pill more than rougher ones so this issue might be related.  And perhaps organic cotton is a shorter fiber than non-organic and that contributed to the pilling as well.

Freshly pressed.

After I pressed the cotton the pilling wasn’t very noticeable but didn’t get rid of it.

A pros/cons list to sum up…

PROS: Organic, soft, nice drape, color.

CONS: Probably not suitable for clothing where durability is super important (I.e. pants for an active child, an everyday tote bag); pilling is a concern, especially over long term use.  I would definitely recommend washing this on delicate, using cold water, and line dry.

As far as this yardage goes I probably will use it for something though I’m not sure what that will be.  Originally I planned to make a skirt, and I still might do that.  Perhaps I should make something, wash and dry it again, and report back.

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Happy New Year 2014!

02 January 2014 | by Jen in Whatnot

Happy New Year, everyone!  2013 was a year of tremendous change and of healing too.

Of quiet moments and beauty.

Of hard work and bounty.

I’m looking forward to this new year, its gifts and its lessons too.  Thank you for being here (even when my postings are sporadic at best!) and I hope you 2014 is wonderful.

(Photos via Instagram.)

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Illustrated Gift Tags for You

03 December 2013 | by Jen in le Shop

I love the cold weather around these parts–holiday weather!  I drew up some gift tags to get into the festive spirit.  Some Christmas-y ones and floral wintery ones.

These tags are printable PDFs: all you need is a decent printer, some card stock and a pair of scissors.  (Oh, and a hole punch and string if you don’t want to use tape.)  As a special gift to you the Happy Holiday gift tags (in multiple sizes) are downloadable for free!

> Meowy Christmas gift tags

> Happy Holidays gift tags [FREE]

> Happy Holidays small size gift tags [FREE]

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Mermaid Shawlette is Nearly Done, Or, I Can Start a New Project Guilt-Free

28 October 2013 | by Jen in Knit & Crochet

I started this project over a year ago!   I recently finished up the knitting part (with the sore wrists to prove it) and all I need to do is block it.  I’ve read several comments on Ravelry where knitters have had to “aggressively” block it.  I’m pretty sure I know what that means but cannot help but imagine an out of control shawl that needs to be man-handled and subdued and stuck with a million pins to get it to calm down.  Hopefully it won’t be quite that dramatic.  (I’ve never done any “real” blocking before and find myself a little bit at a loss.  I don’t think I have the supplies needed.)

As far as I’m concerned though I’m done and free to move on to another knitted project.  I told myself I could not start another until this shawl was off my needles.  See, I do finish stuff (sort of).  I’ve got some things queued up though I have not settled on the order yet.  I really want a cardigan to wear that I’m happy with and that I can wear all the time.

Anyone knitting/crocheting something right now?  Or have projects in the queue?

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The Sleepy Hollow Quilt {Triangles}, Or I’m Actually Making Progress

10 October 2013 | by Jen in Sewing

It’s been so long since my last post I nearly forgot how to edit this blog, ha!  And it feels strange to type words in my real voice as opposed to my “work self” — and in complete sentences!  (No text-y shorthand here.)

So, it’s time for my annual Sleepy Hollow Quilt post where I talk about the quilt I’ve dying to make but never get around to doing…until now.   This is my 4th post about this quilt (here’s the first, second, and third) and I’ve made real progress!  As in triangles have been cut out as you can plainly see.

Some of the original prints I selected have been switched out for ones I like better.  That’s one of the things I really love about quilts: you get the opportunity to sample from a vast selection of beautiful and harmonious prints.   Many of the patterns I’ve picked out are 18th and 19th C reproduction which was such a glorious time for fabric design.

Not to throw a wrench in the blanket-making progress but I’m considering testing out the piecing by constructing something small like a tea cozy.  I never thought I’d need one but my pot of tea cools off way too fast!

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Happy Midsummer!

22 June 2013 | by Jen in Whatnot

Hello, how are you?!  It’s been a while.  It’s been nearly 6 months since my last post and I decided last night that if I don’t post something now I never will.

The last several months have been eventful to say the least.  Some really terrible things have happened but some good things too.  All the while I was working…a lot.  Basically life in general has been one of the reasons why I’ve had to step back from blogging.  I was complaining to a friend recently, I felt like I was framing everything within the context of my blog.  Meaning, it was like anything could be a potential blog post–or Flickr upload, etc.–and, to be perfectly blunt, I was sick of it.   Being a pretty introverted person trying to keep up the blog and such became very draining.  So…I had to step back, make some changes and cultivate a more balanced existence again.

There is a point here!  I would like to continue blogging but I need to be a bit more focused. Specifically, project focused.  And the two projects that I love most are sewing projects and drawing/painting projects!

I’m currently without a scanner so I won’t be able to share drawings in great detail anytime soon but I do have some sewing projects in the queue.  I’m testing out my 1920s handcrank sewing machine because my regular electric one (Grandma’s 1980s no-nonsense Singer) needs to be repaired and right now I’m too cheap to take it in.

Some items I’d like to work on are: a 1960s-does-the-1920s sailor blouse, and a simple Laurel dress.  (In the latter I’m pretty sure I can get away with leaving out the zipper and making it pullover style.  One of the benefits of not being a curvy girl!)  Hopefully these are things I can manage sewing one handed since the other will be working the crank!  We’ll see.

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A New Year and a Budding New Attitude Towards Stuff (Clothing, Specifically)

03 January 2013 | by Jen in Whatnot

Strawberries & Violets Blouse

Actually, the attitude is not completely new.  For the past couple of years I’ve been having this, I don’t know, almost suffocating feeling towards my stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my stuff.  Although I feel nostalgic about the days when everything I owned fit into the back of a pick-up, I enjoy my comfortable home and part of that comfort comes from the stuff.  (OMG, I’ve eaten so much chocolate today, WHY?!)

(Oh, and hi by the way!  Happy New Year!  Long time no blog!)

This post is a response to a comment on the Colette Patterns blog.  A comment, that Sarai mentioned in a tweet, wondering what is a reasonable amount of clothes.  I was going to respond on her blog but then decided it was rude to leave such a long(-winded) comment, or mini-blog post if you will, and figured I should just post my thoughts here (and then some) for everyone’s reading enjoyment.*  (By the way, if you ever want to leave a relevant and super nice but super long comment on this blog, feel free.)

Okay, what am I talking about?  Oh, stuff…I mean clothing.  Last year I purged my closet twice.  The last time I did it I was pretty merciless.    Meaning, I got rid of stuff I thought I’d never get rid of.  You know, that stuff you keep out of emotional attachment, mainly guilt.  Let me tell you, telling an expensive and unflattering clothing item that you wore that one time “f— you for making me feel guilty and/or fat” and shoving it into the Goodwill bag is extremely satisfying.  With such an attitude I managed to pare down my wardrobe to mostly items that I love and feel good in, or absolutely need.  (I have to admit I still have a few things in my wardrobe that I don’t wear, primarily beautiful vintage things.)

Instead of trying to fill my closet back up, I’ve spent some time trying to figure out what I actually need (if anything at all).  I’ve realized that I’m not really outfitted for cold weather.   Since I’ve been living in L.A. for most of the last 12 years I’ve been fine overall though I continually find myself “freezing” in 50 degree weather.    As I write this post I cannot feel my toes.  (I’m in my office wearing socks AND slippers.)  I generally don’t spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter because of this which sucks because I do love the cold weather, I just don’t like being cold.   So I’ve been saving up and slowly picking out a couple of things that will keep my comfortable when it’s chilly.

But before I started buying up new clothes to fill my closet to then angrily purge later I did some research (fun research!):

  • STYLE and MATERIALISM (weird category but I’ll explain): I’ve read blog posts and articles on effortless/Frenchy/signature style, AND posts about simplifying your life.  Because although I want to have a wardrobe that really suits me and makes me feel and look good, I don’t want to have too much stuff.  And I don’t want to expend energy on my appearance that could be better spent on more important things like my relationships with people, creating, and so forth.  What I love about the idea of effortlessly chic or signature style is that at some point, I think, it really does become effortless.  Putting on variations of your “uniform” probably takes a lot less energy than trying to follow trends or figure out a whole new look each time you get dressed.  And I’m not talking about your hoodie + yoga pants.   Actually, wait.  Yes, you can wear yoga pants out and about BUT you could also throw on a trench coat and a pretty scarf, and be just as comfortable but not look like you’ve completely given up.  Just saying.
  • FIT: I’ve read info about fit and body types.  I was already aware of some things like that I’m petite (duh) but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that some styles I love don’t suit me as well as other styles.  Sadly, ’50s dresses with lots of gathers and very full skirts = thicker waist and stumpification on me.  No thank you.

  • STYLE, GENERAL: Purely for fun I read “Tim Gunn : A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style” on my Kindle.  It’s a easy and quick read, high-level stuff that may help answer any questions about your body (fit), signature style, wardrobe staples, etc.  I don’t use it as a bible though.  Mr. Gunn would be horrified at my fave pair of patched “hobo” jeans.  And he does not like saddle shoes so you’ve got to take what he says with a grain of salt.  But still, helpful and fun.  (I was bummed out when I reached the end so there you have it.)

  • COLOR: Don’t laugh but do you remember Color Me Beautiful from the ’80′s?  I remember my mom getting her “colors done”  like all the other moms in the neighborhood.  (Okay, laugh.  It’s fine.)  I stumbled upon this concept somewhat recently and as dorky as it might sound it has helped me so much in terms of understanding why some things look good on me while others don’t: color!  This has helped me avoid purchasing clothes in colors I like but are completely wrong for me.  As it turns out many of my favorite colors are ones that are appropriate for me.   (You would think as a former art student I would understand this whole concept already but the siren song of a beautiful but entirely unflattering color is sometimes hard to resist.)

Another thing that has helped with wardrobe-filling decisions is being able to recognize my needs versus manufactured (aka B.S.) needs.  I think one of the reasons why people fill up their closets and homes with crap is because, at the time, they thought they needed said crappy item.  Or super clever marketing made them “love” said item.  I have been guilty of this but I’ve gotten a LOT better and as a result have wasted less money on stuff I don’t need or truly love.  The first step is awareness, really.   And awareness is empowering.

How do you feel about stuff?  Or your stuff, specifically?  Are you trying to be more conscientious about buying things while still cultivating personal style?

*In case you were wondering, my original comment was not going to be this long.

(Top photo is of a blouse I made from vintage strawberry fabric that I had been hoarding.  I love it.)

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Recently Finished Things

22 August 2012 | by Jen in Whatnot

Macrame Silk Cord Bracelet by The Fabled Needle

Bracelet tutorial here: DIY Macrame Bracelet.

Hobo Jeans by The Fabled Needle

A new patch on my hobo jeans.

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Taking a Step Back. Way Back. (Plus Koigu! Koigu!)

26 July 2012 | by Jen in Whatnot

Two months since my last post, wow.  I have to say it’s rather liberating to remove an “obligation” from my to-do list (even if it’s only temporary).   I actually find it difficult to write more than a short blast like I’ve been doing on occasion on the FB page.  I do miss being part of the blog community and keeping in touch with all of you.  (Casey and I had a discussion about this and it’s nice to know others share similar feelings about this topic.)

Instead of writing a post about my feelings about blogging (generally), my blog (specifically), or the internets (both generally and specifically) I’m just going to list a few things to sum up where I’m at right now:

1. Koigu yarn is awesome!  And The Beekeeper’s Quilt pattern allows me to a.) Sample some really pretty yarn that I probably would not wear or otherwise use, b.) Inspires me to MAKE something since I’ve been so incredibly listless and uninspired lately, and c.) Create something that does not require fitting because fitting makes me feel crabby and leads to not doing anything (see b).

2. I’ve purged my closet of many, many things.  Things that I’ve grown out of mentally and emotionally.  My style has become more simple and modern.  Maybe even grown-up.  And while I still adore vintage and will forever incorporate old things into my decorating and clothing style, I feel like I’ve stretched and strengthened and moved forward, further into adulthood…a good thing.  In other words, there IS some clothes sewing in my future. :)

3. I don’t know where my blogging stands right now.  I do need to continue to step back from it.  Look at it from a distant through a telescope.  The virtual world has gotten so…I don’t know…too much.  I don’t even have the patience to take in-focus photos anymore (as you can see above) or the energy to comment very much.  But I DO see myself continuing to share in places such as Raverly, Flickr (since I pay for it!), and Facebook…if anyone is interested!

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Memorial Day Vintage Sale & Shop Update

24 May 2012 | by Jen in le Shop

I’m selling some of my all time favorite vintage dresses and they’re  in the shop!  Use coupon code DRESS2012 for 15% off now through Monday night.

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