DIY Calendar and FREE 2014 Monthly Calendar Printables

August 26, 2014

**UPDATE December 2014: My new 2015 monthly calendar is available (and it's still free to print and download) !!

Just a quick little post today! I mentioned last week that I was starting school full time this week... Well yesterday I got all of my syllabuses (syllabi?) and these next 16 weeks are going to be BUSY. I realized I don't have a planner, and after browsing around Target realized that most of the ones on the market are either out of my budget or not exactly what I am looking for. So of course I decided to DIY one! 

I created some printable monthly calendars so I can keep track of the big things at a glance. 
Then I printed off some of these free weekly pages from Passion Planner. I probably would have just purchased one of these planners, but they are sold out (sad face). Don't worry, I totally plan (pun intended) on buying a 2015 one! Until then, the free pages will do just fine for breaking down each day and organizing my to-do list on a weekly basis. 
To keep all these loose pages free, I just punch some holes in them and stuck them in a 3-ring binder. Not the fanciest planner, but it was essentially free and has everything I was looking for. 
The best part of all of this is YOU can make one, too! Below are links to download my printable monthly calendars for FREE. Right now I have them through then end of 2014, but stay tuned for 2015! 

Just click on the images to download that month's calendar. The calendars are in PDF format, so you will need Adobe Reader to view and print them. 
Please note that the monthly calendars are free for personal use only. Please contact me in regards to using the calendars in items for sale.

What are your tips for keeping your to-do list organized? Do you have any tip for making sure all those things actually get done? I can pretty much use all the help I can get right now!

Back-to-School Senna Tote + A Life Update

August 20, 2014

I'm kinda a sucker for a canvas tote; they are classic and practical, perfect for the beach or school and everywhere in between. So when I came across the Senna Tote pattern by LBG Studios with its fun, fold-over design twist, I knew I would have to have one, and now I do!
Senna Tote by Hey, It's SJ
I actually really enjoying sewing bags. They are usually just made up of a bunch of rectangles and you don't have to worry about anything fitting onto a body, which for me is absolutely the hardest part of sewing clothes. But if you have never sewn a bag before, here's what you need to know: 1. They might only be made up of rectangles, but there are usually A LOT of them, and 2. The materials can get pretty expensive pretty quickly. Both of these facts come from one thing: interfacing. Now, interfacing and I have a love/hate relationship. I hate buying it because it's expensive, it usually only comes in 20 inch widths so I need ridiculous amounts of it, I have to cut all of the pieces out AGAIN as if just cutting all the fabric and lining pieces wasn't bad enough, and then I have to sit there and fuse all of the interfacing to the aforementioned fabric and lining pieces. Ugh. But it is an absolute necessity when making any type of bag, and I do love the structure and weight it gives to the fabric. Once you get past the whole cutting and interfacing process, the sewing part of the bag making process is so much fun, it totally makes it worth it. Plus you end up with a brand new bag you can sport around town everyday (unlike a self-made top or bottom that people might look at you funny for wearing to work 5 days in a row).
Senna Tote by Hey, It's SJ
But anyway, let's talk specifically about this AMAZING pattern. I was super impressed by the thoroughness of the pattern in general. The instructions were well thought out and easy to follow, the cutting layouts were spot on in minimizing waste, and the construction was exactly in the order of how I would have done it sans-pattern. One of the only major things it was missing for me was lining for the outside pockets. If you follow the pattern instructions, the inside of the exterior pockets would have just been the canvas interlining. Maybe it was designed that way to reduce some of the bulk in the seams, but to me that is too unfinished of a look, especially on the back outside pocket where you would see the stitching from the handles. Unfortunately I didn't realize this until I had already purchased my fabric, and and I didn't have nearly enough of the lining which is what I would have preferred to use. Instead, I used the main fabric to line the front pocket, and I pieced together some of the lining and main fabric for the back pocket. For next time, I know to get a little bit more lining fabric than the pattern calls for.
Senna Tote inside back pocket by Hey, It's SJ
Speaking of next time, I will definitely keep the lining on the back pocket free when sewing on the handles. I kind of hate that I didn't think about this until after I had already sewn on both handles, but you live and you learn. I am probably one of the few people who will actually see the inside of that pocket, still annoys me, though.
Senna Tote by Hey, It's SJ Senna Tote close up zipper closed by Hey, It's SJ
For me the most challenging part of making this bag was sewing through the multiple layers of thick fabric. Each exterior piece is fabric, interfacing, and canvas interlining, as well as the pockets and handles. Needless to say the seam where the bottom meets the main piece, as well as the side seams, were more than a little tricky to get through. I had a whole new sewing machine debacle that started in the middle of sewing the handles on that I don't even want to get into because it makes me so upset (sad face), but my little Brother machine ended up saving the day and I somehow managed to get all the pieces together without breaking a needle (I used a size 16 jeans needle that helped tremendously). Some of the topstitching isn't anything to write home about, but I'm still proud of my machine nonetheless.
Senna Tote by Hey, It's SJ
The only change I made to the pattern was adding the lining to the exterior pockets. I also used a bottomweight cotton twill for the bottom and handles rather than a quilting cotton. These are the parts of the bag that will get the most wear, so I figured something more heavy duty than a quilting cotton, even with interfacing, would hold up better. Because of this, I omitted the extra interfacing the pattern says to add to the canvas interlining for the bag bottom. For the interlining throughout the entire bag I used duck cloth canvas from Joann's, the same stuff used to make cornhole bags. I think it is a little thicker than the weight that the pattern recommends, but I had about a yard of the white on hand so I used that up. It definitely adds some great structure to the bag, but it probably made everything a little harder to sew through and next time I will probably try something a little lighter weight. Other than that I did everything as directed.
Senna Tote by Hey, It's SJ
Speaking of fabrics, the main fabric is a print by Alison Glass for Andover Fabrics from her Sun Print collection. I used the Feathers print in charcoal, purchased from Quilting Adventures. The bottom is a navy bottomweight cotton twill that I got from Joann's, and the lining is a Country Classic solid also from Joann's, I believe the color is called spray green.
Senna Tote zipper close up open by Hey, It's SJ
I finished the zipper pull with a split ring and some suede leather lace from Michael's (yay for finally using up some birthday/Christmas gift cards!).
Senna Tote and Miss Kitty by Hey, It's SJ
That's my mom's cat, Miss Kitty, and I think she likes this tote, too! I have to give a little shout out to my lovely and talented mother for snapping these pictures for me with her fancy-pants camera. I know you're reading, so thanks, Momma!

So, you might have noticed that I dubbed this my "back-to-school" Senna tote, and that's because I'm going back to school!!! Actually I've been in school part-time for about a year now, and I finished my Certificate in Accounting (34 credit hours) at the local community college in May. I was studying accounting when I was in Asheville, so I figured I might as well have something to show for it, and I only had to take 4 more classes. But this fall (actually next week, eek!) I will be taking a full course load while working part-time and sewing and blogging. I will be working on my Associates in Information Systems Technology, again from the local community college. I still haven't decided if I want to concentrate in Programming or Web Design, so I'm gonna take some different classes before I decide, and who knows, maybe I will end up doing both!

Now as if all that wasn't enough to keep me busy, I have also joined the local Junior League! If you are not familiar with the Junior League, you can check out the Richmond chapter's website here. Basically it is an organization of women committed to volunteerism and service in the local community. The year hasn't officially started yet, but all of the women I've met so far have been amazing and I can't wait to start really getting involved in the upcoming months.

So lots of new and exciting things going around here. Now that the summer is getting closer and closer to turning into fall, do you have anything new or exciting happening? Have you started making plans for your fall/winter sewing? I'm in denial that summer is ever going to end so I've been putting mine off!

A Simple Shirt Refashion + A New Mantra

August 17, 2014

Hmm... another refashion? I'm sensing a theme, but more on that later. Let's talk about this shirt. When I found this little number on the Target clearance rack, I immediately fell in love. The cold shoulder sleeves (love that term), the high-low hem, and the sheer fabric made me immediately say, I have to have this (OK, so the price didn't hurt either). The only problem, though, was the smallest size they had was a large. There are definitely cases where I have to size up in tops to accommodate my bust, but for loose, flowy shirts like this one I tend to size down because otherwise they swallow me, which is exactly what this shirt did (and then some).
Simple Shirt Refashion before
See how it is super boxy and there is all that extra fabric hanging on the sides? Yeah, not flattering. But I justified the purchase by telling myself I would just wear it belted, and I did. But no belt loops and all that extra fabric meant I was constantly adjusting and readjusting throughout the day, so this shirt has just been hanging in my closet pretty much unworn for the 3(!!) years I've owned it.

I wrote a couple weeks ago about cleaning out my closet, and this is one of the pieces that fell into category 3 along with the other clothes I like but never wear because they need a little attention. Once I realized just wearing it with a belt wasn't going to get this shirt into regular rotation, it hung around while I pondered how to take it in. Because of how it is constructed, simply slimming it at the sides would cause issues with the armholes, so that wasn't an option. There is already a seam down the back, so that would be the next logical place to ease out the fullness, but I really like the shape of the hem and worried that doing so would distort it. So it hung there for a little while longer until it hit me.
Simple Shirt Refashion after
You know when you go into those little boutiques and the clothes on the mannequins always fit them so well? Well trust me, they don't come off the hanger that way. The secret? Usually just a clothes pin that holds all the extra fabric in the back. What I needed to make this shirt wearable was a permanent clothes pin! All I did was pinch a bit of fabric about 4 inches to the left and right of the center back seam along the waistline. Then I brought the two pinches to the center and tacked them together by hand. So simple, and even with the measuring, pinning, trying on, and hand sewing it only took me 15 minutes!
Simple Shirt Refashion back
It's not a very dramatic change from the front, but I love the fullness it created in the back and I am 100% more comfortable wearing it now. For such an easy alteration, it really is shameful that it took me three years to get it done. But now that it is, this shirt has quickly become one of my favorites.
Simple Shirt Refashion front
In that same post about cleaning out my closet, I mentioned that I purchased Elizabeth Cline's book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Well, once it finally arrived I finished it in about two days; it was an interesting but quick read and really gives a perspective on retail clothing that we as a society simply don't think about. One of my favorite takeaways from the book and my new sewing/fashion/life mantra is her chapter title "Make. Mend. Alter." Such a simple concept that has become pretty much extinct in our "quick, easy, disposable" society. I could go on and on about this topic but I will leave it at this: I want to make clothes that fit, alter the ones I already own that don't, and mend the ones that need it to get as much life out of them as possible. By doing so I hope to reduce the amount of clothes that end up in landfills and the secondhand clothing industry (read chapter 5 "The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes" if you want to know more about what really happens to those donations that you write off every year), and also of course to have a wardrobe I love and am proud of and that lasts. Obviously there will still be occasions where donating a garment is the best option, and my latest big purge has resulted in a laundry basket full of clothes that are headed to Goodwill. Hopefully this mindset will prevent me from ever having to do a big purge like that again, and instead I can focus on "working with what I've got" and creating clothes that I love to wear. So in short, expect to see some more refashions and alterations of clothes I already have in my wardrobe along with all my new makes!
Has anyone else read Overdressed and want to gush about it? I'm not usually one to fall for hyped-up, sensationalized media but the numbers and facts presented in the book seem to tell the story pretty clearly. What are your thoughts?

Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts

August 7, 2014

Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 1
According to Instagram, I finished these shorts 8(!!!) weeks ago. First of all, AHH where has this summer gone?! I can't believe it is already August. Second of all, why in the world has it taken me so long to blog about them? Well, because for the past 8 weeks, if I haven't been wearing these shorts, they have been hanging out with the rest of my dirty clothes waiting for laundry day. As soon as they are clean again, I wear them to go do this or that or the other and they are right back in the hamper. It's been a vicious cycle that hasn't exactly lent itself to good photo opportunities, but the cycle has finally been broken and I officially have some non-iPhone pictures. Yayyy!
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 5 Speaking of pictures, I want to say a little bit about these. Usually I take my pictures in the morning when everyone else is at work. This typically works better with my schedule, and to be honest when I get home from work I'm not usually in the mood to get dolled up and smile for the camera. Because everyone else is at work, it's just me, my tripod, and the self timer. The whole process takes a while and I end up with a lot of super pose-y pictures. This session was a little different because I did wait until later in the evening and my sister was around to snap them. We had a blast and she saved me so much time! Some of them are kinda crazy and of course LuLu joined in on the fun. Oh and that barn I'm standing in front of and that field I'm standing in? My front yard! Good photo backgrounds at your doorstep are one of the perks of living out in the country on a farm.
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 9
But about these shorts... I freaking love them. You might recognize them as the Prefontaine Shorts for Women by Made with Moxie, otherwise known as one of my favorite patterns of all time. These were actually the first pair I made; the second I made for my sister and are unblogged (but you can check them out on Instagram), the third were this festive pair I made for the Fourth of July, and I might actually have a fourth pair cut and waiting to be sewn up. "Hi, my name is Sarah Jean, and I'm a Prefontaine Shorts-aholic." Seriously, I can not say enough good things about this pattern. But let's talk about this pair in particular.
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 2 When I saw these pants at J.Crew, I had one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments. To me, seersucker and neon are the perfect mix of classic and fun, and I just knew I was going to have to use this combination somewhere for something. Then the Prefontaine Shorts pattern was released as part of Perfect Pattern Parcel #3, and its like the sewing gods were telling me I had to have a pair of seersucker and neon Prefontaines. I got this black and white seersucker from Joann's. It is a little thin and the weave is a little loose, but it is light and airy, perfect for a hot and humid Virginia summer. The bias binding trim is handmade using a lime colored quilting cotton from Hancock Fabrics. It's not exactly neon, more of a lime green, but I think it works, and neon colored fabric that isn't nylon is really hard to find.
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 3
This was actually my first experience making my own bias binding, and I think it went ok. I used this tutorial from Prudent Baby. While in the end everything turned out fine, I still have some fine-tuning to do with the process, mostly with getting all the lines to line up right after sewing the two sides together. Anyone have any tips for making your own bias tape? I actually didn't fold and press the tape before sewing. Instead, I followed the pattern directions as if I were using the t-shirt bias tape. This saved me a lot of time and hassle and it worked perfectly.
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 4
As far as sizing goes, I made a size 2 with the short inseam. One of the things I love about this pattern is that it fits in the hips and the waist on me. I have, like, zero hips, but a normal sized waist, so most shorts/pants that fit in the hips are too small in the waist and if they fit in the waist then they are too big in the hips. Definitely not one of the worst problems to have, but the elastic waistband really helps these shorts fit me in both places without any alterations. Like I said I chose the short inseam, and I would say it is probably pretty short for most people. I like my shorts short so it works just fine for me, and it's perfect for pajamas or a swimsuit coverup.
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 6 Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 7
I kept the front pockets on this pair, and went with the welt pocket on the back. Instead of using the neon for the back pocket trim, I just used the seersucker but cut it on the crossgrain so the stripes ran horizontally instead of vertically. I also took the time to match up the stripes on the front pieces and the pocket. I know it probably would have barely been noticeable if I didn't, but having control over little things like that is one of the reasons I really enjoy making my own clothes so I think it's worth the extra effort.
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 close up side Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 close up back Per usual I used French seams wherever I could (still serger-less over here). For the pocket edges and the sides that didn't get binding I just used a simple zig-zag stitch. For the waistband I used the exposed sport waistband method from the pattern. This was also my first experience with such a waistband, and I wish I had more to say about it but I just followed the directions in the pattern and it turned out great.
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 close up waistband Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 close up pocket
I could seriously wear these shorts all day, everyday. They are super comfy without looking frumpy and they sew up so quick and easy, I really just can't get enough of them! So far I have worn them out around town, I've worn them to work (love our dress code), I wore them for a 4 hour car trip to the beach back in June, I sleep in them all the time, and I wear them around the house on a regular basis. They easily win the award for most versatile item of clothing in my wardrobe. I just wish I had the time and fabric budget to sew them up in all of the fabric and color combinations I've imagined. For now, I guess I'll just give the ones I already have cut out some attention :)
Seersucker + Neon Prefontaine Shorts 700 8
I'm entering this project as part of the Summer 2014 Shorts on the Line Sewalong. Be sure to vote for my project, and all of your favorites, on Kollabora! Just click the little heart icon on the right hand side of the page to vote.