My Designer “Original”

As I was looking at the latest catalog that arrived in the mail, I came across a blouse from Garnet Hill.  I keep an idea file of pictures from catalogs, websites, etc. of things I like.  It might be a garment, a cool embellishment or surface technique.  So when I’m lacking in the creative department I get out my notebook and look for some inspiration. 

That is how this blouse came about.  The blouse is basically pretty simple.  Button up the front, mandarin collar with asymmetrical raw edge ruffles.  Simple right?  So why does it cost $98?????  I set about making my blouse and this is the result.  Mine cost less than $20.  I started with McCall’s pattern 5433 view D.  I took out the darts and moved the fullness to the top by adding a yoke.  To get the mandarin collar I just put on half of the two part collar. I bought some wonderful cotton lawn fabric from and used some old buttons from my mom’s sewing room that had 59 cents marked on them.  How cool is that?

Pillows, oh what fun!

Happy June!  The weather is still a little strange here in NE Ohio, but it’s “officially” summer.  The porch furniture is out and glasses of wine have been poured.  We live on our porch in the summer and that made me start thinking about redoing my cushions. 

I’ve been on a pillow kick lately trying a few new things.  The first one is called Chopped Vegetables.  It’s a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  She offers 4 different versions to the pattern.  She also gives you great directions for putting in a zipper. I’ve seen the pillow done in tradition fabrics to batiks to novelties and they all looked different depending on your taste.  A really fun project.

Next up is one that was a web bonus from McCall’s Quilting Magazine called Up Town Stripes.  You use striped fabric and cut 4 blocks on the bias.  Then you sew the 4 blocks together to make the optical illusion of the diamond pattern.  You need to be careful cutting and matching up the strips, but very cute.

Lastly, is a ruffled pillow done on the serger from Husqvarna Viking.  I used 2 fabrics, wrong sides sewn together and left it raw edged.  Then use the serger to gather the fabric before sewing it to the base fabric. I also put in a contrasting zipper using the same insertion directions as given for the Chopped Vegetables pattern.  It gives it a trendy shabby chic look, don’t you think?

 So take some time to sew up some new pillows and give your summer sitting area a fresh new look!

Dream Coat

Last month I attended the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo here in Cleveland.  Each time I go I swear it gets smaller, but supposedly this was their biggest one yet.  Anyway… of the booths that I always stop in to is Barb Originals by Barb Callahan.  This year she had her latest creation called Dream Coats.  She took various sweaters, t-shirts and other fabrics, then serged them all together to make a fun and unique jacket.  I fell in love with the one she had on, just my colors.  Luckily, she had some kits made up to sell along with her DVD called Dream Coats.

I first watched her DVD on how to cut and assemble the project.  Next was a stop at my friend Mae’s house for serger thread.  She has a ton of it in a million colors, so it is like shopping in a candy store.  That is one reason she is so amply named the “Serger Queen”.  So last Monday, which it was a very rainy day, I set out to make my dream coat.  Luckily, all the pieces had been pre-cut and labeled in my kit, so I was ready to go.  Wow!  How Fun!  How Easy!  I had it done in now time! 


My dream coat really is a dream!  Thanks Barb!  What new things will you have next year?

The “Scrap Bag” Project

The winter continues and I’m about to go crazy!  It’s 60 degrees on St. Patrick’s Day and a week later there is a foot of snow outside!  But alas, I carry on with my fabric diet and using things in my stash.  I’ve actually been doing pretty good.  I have completed over a dozen bags and another dozen little zippy bags.  Check out the purse page for the “Orange Collection”.

The good thing is after finishing a quilt project I did a smart thing….I put all the pieces and parts with coordinating fabric all in a Ziplock bag.  The bad part is I found the drawer that they have all been hiding in.  Thus started the “scrap bag project”  OMG!  One thing led to another.  One scrap led to another scrap and another.  I’m happy to say I killed all the orange scraps, but must confess that I did buy a small piece of fabric to make the handle.  There was nothing left to make it without it really looking like I sewed scraps together.  Here’s a few samples from the ” the scrap bag project”.

The Long Winter

Here in NE Ohio it has been a veryyyyyy long winter.  Record snow falls, crazy storms and cabin fever.  The long winter has taken a toll on my creativity, thus the lack of work on the website.  New Year’s came and went and so did the annual resolutions and things I’m going to do without a budge.  February came and with that no change in the weather and an injury that kept me sidelined for 3 weeks from my workout routine.  Thank God that has finally resolved itself, but again trying to get in a routine.  It is now March.

Summer shows are begining to kick off with application deadlines looming, that in itself is process and takes a whole day to work through.  Taking pictures of my latest work, printing the pictures, filling out the applications (which no 2 are the same), mailing the checks and then waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted.  Your summer is penciled in till you hear and other applications are in the “maybe” pile to send in if you don’t get in to another show.

I also have put myself on a “fabric diet”.  After doing my end of year summary I realized how much fabric I bought last year and went ouch!  So as I started last year – to use it up is going to continue to be my motto.  There are a few rules:

1.  You can only buy fabric to finish/complete a project that I already started with from my current stash. 

2.  Tools and equipment (sewing machine/serger feet, iron, software,) are exempt from the diet.

My husband says it sounds like there are a lot of rules to the diet and that they change as needed.  Oh well, you should never deprive yourself totally on any diet as my good friend Karen reminded me as I was shopping for lining fabric to finish a project and she “allowed” me to but another piece I liked too.  She was my “fabric supervisor” the other day as I shopped at a vendors event.  Also when you find 6 new pillow forms on Craig’s list for $25 you can’t pass that up.

I know I said this before and it’s been more than 6 months…….I WILL be better at doing this site.  So YOU be better and send me some comments!

Yes, I’m still here

I know it has been awhile since I posted anything, but the last 6 weeks have been crazy.  It’s show season and I have had shows every 2 weeks for the last 6 weeks.  It’s been more about production and less about creativity.  I shouldn’t complain because given the current economy my shows have been good this season.

I did manage to attend two “creative” things last week.  The first was a day with Sue Hausmann over at Janie’s Sewing Corner.  I’ve know Sue from her many years from her association with Husqvarna Viking.  Sue is all about quick, fast sewing tips and  tricks.  She showed a great technique on ways to use piping to finish the edge of your garment.  You can either use it in the seam to make a reversible garment or use it as a facing in a techniques she calls “French Piping”.  Piping really isn’t as hard as it looks once you see Sue do it. 

The second and really fun event I attended, with my friend Heidi from Stitch Cleveland and my husband (yes, my hubby went), was a Project Runway Watch Party for Valerie Mayen who is a local Cleveland designer on this season’s show.  The show finished taping in July and now Valerie is meeting with her fans to watch the episode and give her comments.  Each week it is at a different bar/restaurant, so you get a tour of Cleveland too.  Follow her on Facebook and see where the next party will be.  So much more fun then watching at home alone in your PJ’s.  We’ll have to keep watching to see if she wins.  I’m voting for her. How about you?

Quilting by Improvisation

Last weekend I headed to a class in Smithville, OH.  Where’s Smithville you ask?  It’s a little town near Wooster and not too far from Orville, OH, home of Smuckers jelly.  It’s not too exciting of a town, but I have gotten to know a woman who used to own the quilt shop there and get her emails.

Anyway, the class was taught by Vikki Piggnatelli, another Ohio artist who hails from Reynoldsburg, down by Columbus.  I was not aware of Vikki’s work before taking the class, but the announcement about the class really got my attention.  Her work is very artistic and spectular to look at the detail.

The first day we learned her technique for exploring curves using a pattern.  The process is very simple and once you have all the pieces cut and in place, then it is sewn.  Vikki kept telling us there are “NO RULES” to the process. Using scraps from our stash and a simple pattern drawn on freezer paper we created a dancing star.

The second day we reinforced her technique and created our own free form piece.  It was a little intimidating at first, but once you felt the freedom to create it became easier as you shaped, cut and moved the pieces of fabric around till it was in just the right position.

She also taught us a great way to make irregular edges, borders and facings to our quilts that fit more with the design of our finished project.  No more 1/4″ seams or trying to get a perfect mittered corner on a binding.

I really felt that this is the direction my quilting is going.  I just can’t get into jelly rolls, honey buns and all those other “bakery items”  the quilt stores are sell lately.  I also have a new prespective on fabric values and will be looking for more saturated colors to get drama to my projects.

My free form project is still developing, but it will have to wait since I’m off on vacation next week.  We will be heading to our friend’s house on Lake Gaston in N. Carolina.  It’s a long drive, but I get to stop at Batiks Etc, in Wythville, VA for some of their yummy batiks.  YEAH!

Threads Magazine

Check out the current issue (#150) of Threads Magazine I have a tip in there for making “fake” buttonholes.  I had gotten some fabric at a flea market, which luckily did not fall apart when I washed it. I designed and made a jacket with 15 button holes.  Yes, 15 buttonholes.  They all were not functional buttonholes, but the buttons are what made the jacket.

Anyway, after much frustration of not getting good ends on my buttonholes due to the seam being bulky because of  the fabric and the fact that I put piping in the seam too. I had a crazy idea session with my friends Heidi and Megan at Stitch Cleveland and out of that we came up with a solution.  I stitched my decorative buttonholes on 2 layers of tulle netting, then I trimmed them close to the stitched, fused them on with Steam-A-Seam 2 and then sewed my button on top.  They look real and no one would know except if they looked at the underside and saw no stitching.

Here’s the completed jacket.  What do you think?


NQA Review

Last week I attend the annual NQA conference in Columbus, OH.  This three day event hosted lectures, classes, vendors and a spectacular display of quilts.  I had the pleasure of going on a bus from my local quilt shop, Quilts and Sew Forth, along with 35 other quilters.  I had never done a bus trip before, but it’s a great way to go without driving it yourself.

The thing that impressed me the most was the winning quilts. OMG!  I don’t understand how someone could have that much foresight to create such unbelievable creations!  There was one that I especially liked with big beautiful poppies (I think that’s the right flower) on it done in shades of orange and red.  The border looked like it also had some hand painting done on it to enhance the flowers.

Then there is of course the intricate quilting, so exact, so close together.  You wonder if it was hand or machine?  How long did it take them to stitch that tiny?  Is that trapunto too or puffy because of the tight quilting?  Even under close examination, without touching, it was hard to tell.

This event is held in June of each year and I encourage you to take a trip either on a shop bus or a stop on your summer vacation to check it out.  There’s lots of shopping at the event, but Columbus also hosts quite a few quilts stores as well.  With all of that to check out you might need a few days!

Silk Screened t-shirts

Sorry, it’s been awhile since the last post.  I got a new camera and have been trying to figure it out.  Still working on the technical settings, even though it is suppose to be “easy”.  Yeah right!

Anyway, I cut out some the t-shirt fabric I got at Vogue Fabrics in April and used some of my Marcy Tilton silk screens to embellish them before I sewed them up.  It’s amazing how more expensive fabric feels and how it works with your project.  These peach t-shirts were the lesser expensive fabrics that I did first.  Not a lot of stretch to it and kind of slight of hand to the touch.

I used a random square design along the curved front and inserted a mesh/netting strip under the overlapping seam to stick out just a bit.  I repeated the block design on the hems of the sleeves to tie it all together.  This is Marcy’s Vogue Pattern #8497

This next t-shirt I had made originally in the fall with long sleeves and LOVED IT!  It fit great, so I decided to make it again only sleeveless for the summer.  Well, I still love the style, but this peach fabric isn’t as nice as the fabric I made my first one out of and fits me totally different. 

On this t-shirt I silk screened just the neck and arm facings.  I used a broken line design and when you twist the facings you just see them now and then.  This is Marcy’s Vogue Pattern # 8582. 

I’ve got two more t-shirts screened and ready to go.  One is made and the other is cut out, so will hopefully have those up later this week.  Hopefully, I will also have a better grasp of the new camera.  I ordered some new screens about a week ago, so when they come I can keep going on my t-shirt making adventure!