Shopping, To Cure What Ails Ya…

For some reason I’m weirdly thrifty about thread. There are gadgets and patterns and buttons overflowing my drawers but when it comes to thread I always buy exactly the color I need and usually just one spool of it. Why I thought a half-spool was going to last me through my coat, who knows. And since driving twenty minutes to the store just for black thread in my semi-feverish state seemed so pointless, I figured I might as well poke around for a few toys.

This is how I end up with all kinds of odd sewing tools. Go for last-minute thread, walk out with gadgets. Every time I walk through Joann’s, past the fake flowers and reams of paper-craft aisles, I discover some new sticky tape or loop-turner that needs trying. This time it was the jean-a-ma-jig:

Have you tried this? I love it! You can see here how I already used it to sew over bulky seams on my leather. I’ll write more about that later…

And then, ooh, there was this cone-spool holder:

I’m sure I could’ve gotten this cheaper on Amazon but ah well. I have a couple of industrial-size spools of white thread (my one thread backstock) I bought last year that don’t fit on my machine. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I got them, but this kind of spool holder might inspire me to buy bigger cones of the basic colors I’ll always need.

And then of course there were patterns. It just so happened that they were having a sale on Vogues so I bought two. It’s been awhile since I’ve bought new Vogue designer patterns. Way back in the day before ebay and etsy, I used to stalk the pattern sales with my mom. And when the designer ones went on sale for $3.99, it was a pretty sweet deal. It still is.

I don’t wear many fitted dresses, but you never know. Plus I just wanted something to look at while laying in bed. Actually, I’d go for the draped top in the Donna Karan pattern… very Helmut Lang-ish and right up my alley. The Tracey Reese pattern has 21 pieces! And would need a serious muslin to get a proper fit with all the straps and bust shape, but can you imagine a 21-piece muslin?!

And last but not least, Amy’s enthusiasm for Craftsy courses inspired me to sign up for Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress course. I’ve been really curious about the class format, probably more than the dress. The whole presentation is so elegant–great videos, really nice graphic interface, well organized. A nice way to spend a sick day, browsing through videos!

I don’t find myself gravitating to the couture process much but I like picking up ideas from all kinds of processes. And I like her teaching personality–she’s very jolly and easy to follow. So if you are interested in couture-ing, paying $39 (thanks to Marina’s sweet offer!) for like eight hours of video instruction can’t be beat. If you’re interested in this particular course, Susan recommends several other patterns if you don’t like the course’s free pattern. The wide square neckline is my least favorite, so I’ve been hunting through my Burdas for a suitable alternative.

And thanks for the well wishes! I’m feeling much better today… (although I had to go back and make sure I didn’t post anything strange last night out of delirium.)


  1. Lizz says:

    Ack! Damn you! I signed up for Gretchen’s new course last week because I was offered it at $25 even though I don’t think I’ll be using it until fall – and now you’ve gone and shown me this great deal! Susan Khalje teaches a workshop at the school I attend that costs somewhere around a thousand dollars. That’s certainly out of my budget right now but $40 I could do.
    Feel better soon – there’s nothing worse than a fever in the heat!

    • Amy says:

      Hey Lizz – I’ve heard about your school in SF. I found it when I was researching patternmaking courses a couple of years ago. I’d love to hear about your experiences with it sometime! The nice thing about the Craftsy classes is that you can start them any time but I was surprised to see how much instruction is in there. DVDs are always more expensive for the amount of actual time.

  2. Lavender says:

    Glad to know you’re feeling better! My MIL bought me a little gadget similar to the jean-a-ma-jig, though it’s made by an acquaintance of hers in Maine. It definitely helps sewing over bulky bits by keeping the presser foot level (I used to wad up layers of fabric!), but my machine still hates denim belt carriers. 21-piece muslin? I’m probably crazy enough to try it, but I’m slowly getting wiser. Slowly.

    I almost signed up for Susan’s class, but opted for Kenneth King’s jeans class instead. I need pants in a bad way. Though I love couture techniques… sigh.

    • Amy says:

      The Jeans class sounds groovy, too! Before I had the jean-a-ma-jig I wadded up paper or fabric, too, and this definitely works a little better than that. And I totally confess I bought the pattern because it looked like a challenge. Sometimes I need those crazy things in front of me like a carrot if I ever get bored with what I’m making!

    • Lavender says:

      Turns out I AM crazy enough, as my spring jacket has a million pieces. Sigh. You’ve been awarded twice for the Liebster, dear! If you’d like, play along. If not, keep up the amazing, swoon-worthy work.

  3. Amy says:

    I’ve seen the Jean-a-ma-jig recommended elsewhere. I just finished a pair of jeans and had half a mind to try it out, but I ultimately passed it up. Is it really truly a worthwhile gadget?

    • Amy says:

      Hey Amy, I think so. I was surprised at how much easier it made going over the bulky parts. I was going over one seam that had about 7 layers of leather, and I tried hand-cranking at first but when I slipped the jig in it really helped. It’s just a little piece of plastic that could probably be imitated in all kinds of ways but for $2, I thought why not! 😉

  4. So funny! As I started reading this post, I was thinking of new gadgets I want to get. I’d just finished watching a few of the first lessons of Susan’s Craftsy course, and love that metal attachment she has on her ironing board to keep her cord out of the way. Then I see you’ve signed up for the class, too! I agree, I don’t love the pattern they chose, especially the weird neckline, but I’m enjoying learning her process and finding the entire thing so far really worth the money. Can’t wait to see what you make! Also, loving that Donna Karen top!

    • Amy says:

      Oh cool! It’s good to know there are others lurking in the class. I have something similar to that metal attachment and it’s pretty great. I’m lefthanded and for some reason me and iron cords never get along.

  5. Amy says:

    I got nominated for a Liebster blog award, and I wanted to pass it on to you. If you are into that kind of thing, then feel free to play along. Otherwise, just know I enjoy reading your blog.

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