Monday, September 8, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

me and Swatch at Mood
Me and Swatch at Mood, during Pattern Review weekend 2012 in NYC.  I'm wearing NL 6071, my favorite knit dress of all time.

So today I am doing something I've never done before, which is to participate in a blog tour.   This one is called the Around the World Blog Hop.  I was invited by Kathy of Running with Rocket.  I first met Kathy online when she started frequently commenting on my blog.   She flies airplanes and sews amazing bags (check out her amazing VW bag), and shares her garden too.  She is one of my sewing cheerleaders, meaning she has commented on almost every post I have ever written, since she discovered my blog.  Thanks Kathy for cheering me on!

Here's a bit about myself and the answers to the 4 questions of this hop...

About myself.
I have a predominantly male first name, Kyle.  I get junk mail addressed to Mr. Kyle, I am questioned about my identity on a periodic basis ("You can't be Kyle" is the general sentiment) and often people decide my name is better off as Kylie.  But it's Kyle.  Really.  I'm not making it up.

I am a life-long Jersey Girl (except for college at Bryn Mawr, where I graduated with a BA in chemistry).  I worked for 8 years at Rutgers University for the RCSB Protein Data Bank, and when I left I was the Lead Biochemical Information Specialist.  I have been working at Princeton University for almost 8 years in the Office of Research and Project Administration, and am currently an ERA Manager (Electronic Research Administration, not Equal Rights Amendment, though that would be pretty cool too).  I  manage parts of a few software applications (COS Pivot for finding grant opportunities, Coeus for tracking grant proposals, and PeopleSoft Grants for tracking grant awards).  By "manage", I mean I test software improvements and upgrades, train users on how to use the software, write end-user documentation and run the help desk for my areas of responsibility.  It is challenging work and never, ever boring.

I also love taking group fitness classes at the Princeton Fitness and Wellness Center.

I practice Mindfulness Meditation, with a weekly group in Princeton and on my own.

And I love to sew, when it's not frustrating the hell out of me.

I am primarily a garment seamster, though sometimes I sew bags and the occasional zipper pouch or winter hat.
Vogue 1351 DONE!
My favorite woven dress, Vogue 1351, sewn summer 2013
New Look  view E: cat bag done!
New Look bag from summer 2013
McCall's 6256 view C done!
Zipper pouch from 2013

What am I currently working on?

I'm going to the American Sewing Expo (my 5th year in a row) and want to wear something new when I visit the Simplicity booth.  Somehow I fell out of making Simplicity / New Look garments (except my favorite skirt), but I want to get back into sewing them more--the New Looks generally fit me well and the Cynthia Rowley patterns are adorbs.  So today I started working on New Look 6071.  I've made this one once before in brown double knit and it became my favorite knit dress of all time (see first photo in this post!).  5 hours in, and here's where it currently stands on Izzy:

New Look 6071 in progress
I probably have 4 more hours to go but so far so good!

I'm also working on this pair of UW:

Who doesn't need yellow and white UW?
It just needs a bow front and center and it'll be done!  I started sewing my own UW using ATP's "sew your own undies" tutorial and have not looked back.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Wow, that sounds like a lofty question.  The best I can come up with is that since the end of 2012 I hand stitch my own tags or embroider my name directly into the garments I make.  It's like a painter signing her work.  Later I included the date too.
Here's an example.  I haven't blogged the above yet; just finished it Labor Day weekend.  Will most likely blog it next weekend.

J Stern Design jeans DONE!
Here's the first time I embroidered my name--on my very first pair of jeans, November 2012.
and here's what I embroidered into my favorite woven dress of all time:
V1351 done
Why do I create what I do?
I think creating is in my blood.  My maternal grandmother Eileen was a HUGE crafter.  She was a Boy Scouts Den Mother and came up with all the crafts the boys made--she received the Silver Fawn from the BSA.  When I was little she gave me all her craft supplies, and I think that got me into it.  Gluing popsicle sticks, glitter, beads, tassels, doll heads, all sorts of supplies.  She also did some hand sewing, making little pins and the like.

When I was ~12 my mom showed me how to use her Singer sewing machine.   She hated sewing but she knew how to use the machine.  I sewed on it every single summer from ~12 until 18, when I got my Baby Lock, which I then sewed on til 2012 (half my life with that machine!) and got my Brother Project Runway machine.  I also have a secondhand serger given to me by a former coworker.  

In my teens I was an avid cross-stitcher, and in 2002 I got a certificate of floral design.

I crafted and sewed on and off til 2006, when I really got back into sewing.  Project Runway became popular then, and it totally hooked me.

I sewed things without much regard to, um, quality, finishing or fit til 2011, when I attended my second Pattern Review weekend in Chicago.  My first PR weekend, I was a babe in the woods and just taking it all in.  But the second year, I was totally blown away by the amazing things people sewed.  I vowed then to up my game and became more particular about my sewing, more discriminating.  It has not been easy.  Sewing and fitting can be soooo frustrating!!!   I just want to sew, not press, not master my serger, not learn to fit myself, just sew, but the reality is that sewing is pressing, fitting and learning the machines.   Last year I thought about giving up sewing entirely, I was that frustrated with fitting.  But creating is in my blood....and I love sewing dresses that fit better than what I can buy in the store, when I can get the dress to fit!

How does my creative process work?
Ha ha ha, it goes something like this:
  • See garment on someone's blog/Pattern Review gallery.  Covet pattern/garment intensely.
  • Buy pattern immediately online or with next pattern sale.
  • Pattern sits in my pattern stash for months/years
  • Finally I make a muslin
  • I sew the real deal, maybe learning a new technique or two along the way.
  • Then I get frustrated with fitting--why is it not turning out like the muslin?  Or get frustrated with machinery--Why is my serger misbehaving?  Why why why?  
  • Spend way longer than I probably should futzing over various large and minor details.
  • Contemplate why I'm such a slow seamster.
  • I get over myself.
  • Photo shoot + blog it.
  • On to the next.

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour, and me giving away more personal information about myself than I ever given in the history of my blog.  :)

Next up on the blog tour
I'm passing the baton to two of my sweet sewing blog friends to keep the tour going, so look for them next Monday:

Vanessa of Sew Filled to the Brim.  I don't remember how I first met Vanessa online, but we've been reading each other's blogs for a long time.  She is currently participating in the Goodbye Valentino RTW clothing fast and is on a fitting journey of her own--making a shirt sloper.  She is also currently making her first pair of jeans!  We were able to meet in person in 2012 in Atlanta, which was pretty awesome.

Lynn of You Sew Girl!  I met Lynn in real life before I ever read her blog--she was manning the PR booth at the ASE in 2010 when I stopped by.  She recognized me from my blog or my PR reviews.  I've been reading her blog since then.  Lynn's idea of a sewing palate cleanser is to sew a pair of jeans (mine is to sew a pair of UW).  She sews amazing jackets too.  Lynn should write a blog called You Throw Girl! because she throws pottery when she's not sewing.

Be well!


  1. I went to Bryn Mawr too! I think I'm older than you, though. Anassa Kata! (speaking of sewing cheers!)

    1. Hey! Anassa Kata Kalo Kale! Do you know that, all these years later, whenever there is massive applause, I think of the BMC chant? I chant it in my head, of course!

  2. I am so glad I tagged you.
    A chance to know you better.
    I totally get the creative process outline.
    Covet, Grand aspirations, Reality, Work with what you got.
    It is very impressive that you make your own undies.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was really fun, thanks for passing the baton on to me.
      I only make the panties, not the bras.

  3. Very interesting. Maybe we can all have a meet-up at the Sewing Expo in a few weeks. Let me know.

    1. Yes! We will meet up! I'll get your email addy from Lynn, or you can email me at kdburkhardt at yahoo dot com.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this after knowing you for several years. It filled in the blanks. I have to giggle because I remember having the Kyle/Kylie conversation with Bonnie (Gelbean) at PRW Philly. We, too, decided it must be Kylie and you graciously let us call you that all weekend. :)

    1. Ha ha ha ha ha!
      I miss Bonnie, do you still keep in touch with her?

    2. I tried to reply on my phone but it didn't take. Bonnie now blogs at about DIY home projects and renovations.

  5. It was so nice to learn more about you. I have always loved your embroidered tags in your garments, they are fabulous.

    1. Awww, thanks Lori! By sewing the tags it makes me slow down and think about what I'm doing.

  6. I feel like we are twinsies. Your sewing process is pretty much exactly the same as mine except that I often peter-out when it comes to the blog post. Plus you don't seem to get as distracted as I do, ie: I only have so much patience for a project before some other project becomes my new sparkly. And ugh!! Fitting. I would have never guessed that you have such issues. Your finished makes always fit incredibly well.

    1. Thanks Trumbelina! I really really futz over fitting. A lot. I guess I don't convey that in the blog post. :)

  7. I love this post! Your embroidered tags are such a lovely touch, and I am so glad you didn't give up on sewing! Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to participate for next week.

    1. Yay, I'm glad I didn't give up on sewing either.
      I look forward to learning more about you.

  8. I enjoyed reading this post and getting to know you better. Your turquoise dress is coming along beautifully and I am sure you will look gorgeous in it! I love all of your creations so I am glad you did not stop sewing. I certainly understand frustration with fitting but having a garment that is custom made to your figure is worth it in the end. Love your adorable "labels."

    1. I'm glad too, Tomasa! Fitting is so difficult.

  9. How fun! I was asked to participate in this blog tour, googled it to see who else had posted, and found you. (I'm having the devil of a time finding someone to tag to follow me.) I never enjoyed garment making but found quilt making satisfied my need to sew. I only had to learn one machine, I can be creative, and there are next-to-no fit issues. ;- )

    1. Hi Magpie Sue and welcome! I sometimes think about becoming a quilter too just for the no fit issues!

  10. Another Bryn Mawr buddy! Who knew?! I loved learning more about you.

  11. Enjoyed the tour of you! Thanks for the insight and keep up the good work with the fitting. I returned to garment sewing after a long sabbatical and I am also finding that to be very challenging.

  12. How fun! I found out so much about you!

    1. Yay! I've never written so much non-sewing stuff in one post before. :)

  13. I absolutely enjoyed reading your post. You have an interesting life, and you are so smart. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Kyle, I almost missed this because it was posted the day after my "mishap." I'm glad I didn't. It is so nice to get to know you. I had so much fun trying to solve some of these fit issues with you yesterday. I have to say after seeing some of your beautiful creations, it is surprising to hear that you struggle. You are very creative in solving your fit issues and really improve the designs in the process!


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