Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fabric tassels

A couple of people have asked me about fraying on the fabric tassels, so I thought it would be good to show you here.  I have used my tassel daily, attached to my car key - shoving it in my pocket and hiking probably about 100 miles over the Summer and Fall with it. It gets fuzzy and curly but does not fray. I need to wash it now and see what happens, or I might need to move on the a new one. This is what it looks like now. They are fun to make. Maybe some last minute gifts to whip up with scraps? Here is the pattern: http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/sewing/other/fabric-tassels-how-to/147594

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sewing Bee round 4

This is my rough draft made from polo shirts left behind by my ex. A lot of the sewing gals got a kick out of my "revenge shirt."
This is the one I entered in the contest. Made from thrift store polos because I could not find cool knitted fabrics by the yard.
I just realized I never wrapped up the Sewing Bee here on the blog. I didn't win, but I am happy with what I made. The final challenge was to make something for the Olympics. I made a golf uniform, since golf will be a new sport this year and yoga is not an Olympic sport. Yoga clothes are what I would have most used. It was super fun to sew challenges along with so many talented women from all over the world. I want to do more with Pattern Review this coming year. See the winner, who made a spectacular ensemble, here. The shirt is on my list of patterns I want to write up and release for you. It is a monumental task to grade that many pattern pieces and get it all into PDF format though...

How to make 5 yards of bias binding from 18" of fabric

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

And the winner is

Rozy Rosly from my email newsletter list is the winner of the free Craftsy Upholstery class! Thank you to all of you who emailed me and messaged me to put your name in the hat. I think you will all love Cynthia's class. Here is my affiliate link again to the upholstery class.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Learn How to Upholster Win a Free Craftsy Class

Learn how to use the tools and materials that you need to professionally cover your own furniture.

See all the information you need in the best video format ever devised for learning. Access whenever you want, forever. Take notes and ask questions while you watch.

It is like being inside an expert's workshop and getting hands on with them. 
Cynthia Bleskachek
is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher. Click on her name to read her bio. I think you will fall in love with her as I have. She has a real heart for her work and true talent. I can't think of anyone better to learn from. I won't lie, doing upholstery is hard work. But there is something so satisfying about being able to restore a well built piece of furniture to it's former glory and maybe even make it better than ever with fabric you love. To win her wonderful class, just post a comment here or email me. I will pick a winner on Wednesday the 21st and put you in touch with Cynthia to collect your free class. If you want to purchase her class, this is my affiliate link.  I think you'll also enjoy keeping up with her Facebook page, she posts lots of photos of the great furniture she is working on.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pattern Review Sewing Bee Round 3

My entry to the sewing bee, round 3. This is my pattern review entry. The Moto jacket that Janet Pray teaches in her Craftsy class: Sew Better Sew Faster - Smart Construction. (affiliate link) I am really enthusiastic about the class. Sewing along with it was just like going to a live class and having the designer walk you through their pattern. There were just a couple of times where I didn't understand exactly what she said, but when I looked  at the pattern guide that came with it, I was back on track. I hadn't sewn a lined jacket since high school. Does anyone remember me going to school Junior year in my pastel yellow suit? I love my new jacket. It is perfectly cozy for the chill we are starting to feel about now. My version is a little different from the pattern that comes with the class. If you want to make my version, you can download my collar pattern and the lapel change at Google Drive. My jacket is a size medium, so keep that in mind as you work with the pattern changes, you may have to tweak it a little as you go.

This is the inside view of the jacket, lined in silk. Since the outside is a gorgeous italian wool, I wanted the inside to be equally luxurious.

Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Have a Yoga Body Part 5

This is Padangustasana, toe stand. I love it because it is all about having balance through focus

Drishti is a Sanskrit word that comes from yoga. The practice of Drishti is a gazing technique that develops concentration and teaches you to see the world as it really is. In yoga, drishti is a point of focus where the gaze rests during a posture and meditation practice--gazing outward while bringing awareness inward.

How to have a yoga body? Practice, practice, practice.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Customizing My Dressform

Me today with bigger (July) me
Did I mention I have recently lost 30 pounds? Makes me glad I never made my padded dressform permanent. I had been feeling like I was wearing a quilt on my body. I opted for an easy way to make my dressform conform to my measurements when I was big. I added batting to it and popped over a tank top to keep it in place.  Getting ready for the sewing bee challenge number 3, a lined jacket, I needed to update my dressform to match my updated body.
I am holding all of the batting that came off. Yay!
With fresh measurements and updated dressform, I am ready for the next challenge.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pattern Review Sewing Bee Entry Number 2

I am proud of my self restraint not going crazy all over the fabric like I did with my colorful jacket in the Spring. I hope it is enough to make it through to the next round. You can get an idea of my process in the next couple of photos. I love my new dress. Check out the other entries. The deadline is mid-week I think, so there could be up to 50 entries by then.  There are already some show stopping pieces posted.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pattern Review Sewing Bee Challenge number 2

Last year I didn't get this far because I am not always good at following directions - maybe that is why I write them? Round 1 was making a fitted blouse, you can see my pattern review here. 

 For round 2, we were asked to embellish some fabric and make a garment out of the new textile we create. These are the techniques I have ruled out.
 #1 hand embroidery - I can't even show you a photo of how bad I am at this, but I did poke around at it on Sunday night. 10 days is not enough for me to get good at this, so not going there.  Sorry Natalie Chanin, I love your work and the class of yours I took, but I will have to continue to admire your craft from afar for now.

#2 texturizing:  I have a polka dot fabric that will eventually be used as a muslin. The dots were much bigger than I realized when I chose the fabric online. I could not wear this fabric as it is, so I thought to shrink down the dots by hand stitching around them and gathering. It is a really cool effect, but it would shrink my 2 yards down to 1/2 a yard. It could be a really fun scarf, but I can't enter an accessory in the challenge. It has to be a garment.

#3 ticker tape quilting
I love it, especially the bright sample on the left. Lord knows I have fabric scraps for it. If it were Spring, I would make a skirt out of this for my entry.  So I looked at it in more seasonal colors, but this one one the right is not really photogenic.
I need something graphic for this online competition.

If you are not already following the Pattern Review Sewing Bee, I invite you to check it out and see the wonderful items being made. Pattern review is a great place to learn more about sewing and about specific patterns too.
I think I have decided on my project. I will show it off when I am finished.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A tour of my private island

Here I am enjoying my very own island. Getting ready to cut into some 54" wide fabric with room to spare. Loving my new studio and the organization that Cindy at reclaimed spaces helped me achieve. Here are the details for those of you who might want to duplicate this set-up. The cutting mat is 4 feet by 6 feet, I bought it online here. It is about 3/8 of an inch thick and just transparent enough to see the grid I had printed at Office Depot underneath. It sits atop a sheet of particle board - I may have to replace it with plywood at some point. The edges of the board are finished with white molding that is positioned to be 3/8 of an inch above the surface of the wood to create the hole that the cutting mat sets in.  The end of the island on the right is a dresser I found on Craigslist. It was already purple. It matches my slip covered wingback, so I decided to go with it. The other end of the island is held up by 2 bookcases which I had painted to match the dresser. The dresser now houses all of my works in progress. No more piling up projects! Everything is on casters to get it all up to 36" high.
View of the island from the sewing station. This bookcase holds all of my thread, piping, and bias tape. I spin around and everything is at my fingertips. The black and white fabric basket holds pattern making materials.
View of the island from the other side. This bookcase organizes the zippers that I sell to go with my bags.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tee Shirt Hack

If you are like me, you have a few things in your closet that you don't like enough to wear and you don't hate enough to give away.  I have a few tee shirts that I love the color or the print or something about them, but they are too short. I think you will agree that the sagging levi's and the cropping up top are not a good look.
I simply paired the Dr Who tee with a shapeless navy tee I picked up at WalMart for $4.97. Why would I ever purchase something so awful? Was I having an identity crisis?
The blue tee fabric I cut off the bottom became the perfect trim for the pink one. Adding a little length to the sleeve wasn't necessary but I think it balances out the stripe at the bottom. It would be nice to add a little touch of blue at the neckline too, but I am not going to go crazy for one tee shirt. Honestly, I have a dresser drawer full of paired up tee shirts to do this. Next time I will post more how-to details in case you need that visual. The hem of the finished shirt is the original hem from the blue which is sewn underneath at the original pink hemline, secured by top-stitching over the original pink stitches. The arm trim is some 3" strips of the navy shirt fabric sewn into the right size loop to match the sleeve, then folded in half. The hem is the fold and the raw edges are stitched to the original pink hem on the inside of the shirt. If you like upcycling and want to see more ideas, check out this blog put together by Goodwill.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

5 tips from a professional organizer

I spent a day recently working in my studio along side a professional organizer. It was great to have some fresh eyes in my space. Her ideas about arranging the rooms were fabulous. I laughingly argued with her on a couple of points. Our minds work so differently.  Here are 5 of the tips I took away from that day. It has actually been fun to implement them. I am very close to a full reveal of the new space. Meanwhile this gives you a peek and some helpful tips.

#1 Avoid stashing stuff where you can't see it.

 Say goodbye to the table skirts that allowed me to pile up all kinds of fabric scraps and items I wanted to maybe do something with someday. I could fill a basket or a box with stuff and then set it under the skirt and forget about it. Obviously, that is a bad habit. I am finally ready to be done with that one. I bought the book about life changing magic of tidying up, but I haven't cracked it open. I think the life changing art of making a decision is what is important for me.

Our goal is to know what we have so we can use it, right?

I got a little more ruthless about what I was going to use and what needed to get tossed or donated. Cindy, my organizer, was kind enough to drop off my donations on her way home. That way, they were gone for good. It's nice to have a built-in way to keep me from changing my mind.  I am sure I will have more purging to do before I feel like I am done.

#2  Organize by task.

Pattern making, cutting, sewing, ironing, shipping, writing, photography, I have a lot to keep straight everyday.  I was a little mixed up and random before, but I am starting to see the wisdom of this directive. I will show you photos in the final reveal. My studio has zones now which really work.

#3  Use the shallowest container possible. 

I think the photo illustrates it well. Cute Jar vs. Drawers - Which container makes more sense for ease of use?  I love having the single layer drawers of thread within reach as I am sewing. No more digging around for the right color.  My zippers are separated and labeled now too. No more digging through one large bin to find the right color zipper and the pulls that go with it. Now I just pull out the one box I need. So simple. The drawers are from target. This one looks great too.  The mini photo boxes for zippers are from Michael's. I bought them all.

#4 Keep frequently used items handy but contained. 

That means scissors are not left (and lost) on the table tops. I found this silverware organizer at Ross for $5.99. Now my cutting implements are easy to locate and grab, and blade refills are in one of the pockets too. (Notice how this is organized by task?)

#5 Keep working surfaces clear.

That is the goal. Yearly, I work myself into a standstill by having too many projects going at once, all taking up space on my tables. We have planned a place for all of those projects now, and I can't wait to show you.

What is working for you in your creative space? Checkout my pinterest board for more organization ideas.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

How to Have a Yoga Body Part 4

How to have a yoga body: take the body you have to the yoga studio, and do yoga with it.
Beth Galis captured this cool angle on my savasana. In the Bikram style of Hatha yoga that we do at Yarrow, there are many opportunities to practise this pose. I like to think of it as letting go. During the standing half of the class, we do very short - probably 5 second - savasanas between each pose. It is the chance to let go of the previous pose and move into the next pose empty of judgement (if I felt weak in the last pose) and empty of pride (if I felt strong in it.) The goal is to be present for each pose. I often find that thinking too much, dwelling on the past or even the future, keeps me from being present. Savasana to the rescue. Time to simply be. Honestly, when we get to the floor, I sometimes think that the studio must be built on top of a lava flow. The floor feels hotter than the air. I have a trick that I use when I am having thoughts of the heat, or anything really that is other than the simple joy of being in the room. I imagine that I am lying on a bridge - like the suspension bridge at Bowl and Pitcher - there is a cool river flowing below me and the space between the boards allows air and sometimes water to cool me. I imagine my thoughts flowing out of me and being carried away by the river, so I can remain as empty and present as possible. Sometimes, I imagine I have a tail that reaches into the river to play in the cool water. We get 20 seconds between each floor pose to lie in savasana. It is here that we soak up all of the benefits of the class. I will gather my thoughts and write more about letting go at some point. It has been transformative for me this Spring and Summer. Thank you to Beth and all of the instructors at Yarrow for teaching me how to benefit from savasana. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Working at Home

Here I am in my work at home pajamas. I don't often wear pj's all day but I could. I was keeping these a secret until after my sister's birthday because I made her a silky rayon set with shorts. Next time I work with delicate easily frayed fabrics, I must remember to add extra seam allowance to make french seams or Hong Kong finish. When I do release this it will be the set, pants, shorts and top. I may have to include a tee shirt as an option since the shirt is so bare.
That puts my patterns in process count at 12, I think.  I did get an intern to learn the Cameo digital pattern making software. Unfortunately she is having as hard a time as I did with it. That means my patterns may be hand drawn for a while yet. I would love to find someone who has a real passion for starting a sewing pattern digitizing business and help them get started. Let me know if you know of someone. My intern is still in high school and I could do other things with her. She is not as motivated as I need for the pattern digitizing.
As you can imagine, the process of working up a dozen different patterns has worked me into a standstill in my studio. I just have never been organized enough spatially to keep up will all of the work I can actually juggle. When my cutting table is covered, it is time to stop and regroup.
This Summer has been all about taking time to regroup. My divorce was final on July 2nd. Before you say "I'm sorry," don't. I am happy. It is something I needed and have wanted for a very long time.
I had a great appointment with a professional organizer, and we have a plan. I am looking forward to showing you my newly organized space. The goal is to make it worthy of the cover of Where Women Create. Hopefully, the work we do here getting me organized will inspire you to tweak your space if you need it. I will post progress on Facebook for sure and maybe here too. Friend me over there and like my page so you don't miss anything.
 Meanwhile, my students at Craftsy continue to impress me with their professional looking slipcovers. If you have furniture to cover, I invite you to join us in my online classes and dazzle me. This link is half off my Wingback slipcover class and this one is half off my chairs class that has dining chairs and arm chairs.
One of the many successful student projects from my Craftsy classes

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The fresh air of happiness

Each year, as we get close to Independence Day, there is a phrase that follows me in my thoughts. It comes in whispers, the earnest last words of men and women long dead, urging me to consider. If the words are true, then I have something in me that is inalienable, something I cannot give up, nor can it be taken from me.  The phrase turns into questions. How am I caring for my life and liberty? Where am I in my pursuit of happiness?  Honestly, for a very long time, I lost the path. At this time of year, when I could be reveling in summer and the long hours of light, the questions seemed heavy.  I felt like a failure, like the alienable American.  The pursuit of happiness did not seem like a viable venture to me, so I searched for things I could pursue other than happiness. I would catch my face resting in a frown and feel deeply unhappy. I may have wanted to be happy, but I didn’t know how I could do happy.  Then, quite by accident, I discovered that in my body, I have a passage that I can access through which happiness can come in. Does that sound strange?
Everyone knows that the eyes are the window to the soul, and, I hear Pete Townshend when he sings, “let my love open the door… to your heart.” Why not have a hatch we can open and let in the fresh air of happiness? I want to say:

A smile is that passage through which happiness can enter the soul.

For several years, Beth Galis has been telling those of us who attend her hot yoga studio that a smile will bring ease to the practice. After taking more than a year off of yoga to recover from a back injury, I decided to come back to the practice and to enjoy it. I am there because I choose to be there. I know it is good for me. There is no place else I want to be in those moments, those hours. I breathe, I smile, I listen, and I do.  Smiling is what I do to inform my face that I am there to enjoy my body and soak up all of the goodness I can from the practice. I started smiling because Beth said it would make the practice easier. Who doesn’t want easier?  It works. The more I smile, the more I enjoy the class and the easier it is to do it. Then I had a private healing session with Beth in which we were able to identify and release some negative emotional baggage. Soon afterwards, I found myself driving down the road and smiling for no reason and not willfully. It just welled up from inside, and I recognized it as actual happiness. What a gift.  I smile a lot these days. My happiness is independent of any other person or circumstance. No one and no thing made me happy. 

Happiness surrounds me, and when I smile it comes inside.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Work in Progress

I am calling this a Handkerchief Babydoll. I have a 20 year old friend who wants one, so I am starting with fitting myself. I overestimated the amount of ease needed. Since this photo I have taken this red linen one in at the centers and the sides. It fits nicely now and I can hardly wait for it to come out of the wash so I can wear it some more. My daughter said I look like a beautiful butterfly in it. I will look forward to showing Shae in hers too.  This week I am finishing up a package for Simplicity. I am also scheduled to get together with a friend who designed a really clever dress, and the 2 of us are going to put it out in pattern form. Then, I will be right back to this. If you would like to be a tester for this pattern, find the info on my facebook page. I am looking at last week in June to have all of the sizes ready to test.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

How to have a yoga body part 2

How to have a yoga body: take the body you have to the yoga studio and do yoga with it.
Another one of my favorite things about practising at Yarrow is the visualizations given to me by the instructors along the way. Going into standing bow pulling pose, I imagine roots growing down through my feet, spreading out to cover the room and beyond to wrap around the whole world. Those roots hold me in place while I envision a pulley attached to my kicking foot, pulling straight up. I picture myself suspended and attached at the same time. My eyes have a soft focus on my forward hand in the mirror, as I dance between Earth and sky. 
I am hoping to make this a weekly thing, posting the photos and comments. I would love to share my yoga journey with you. I hope it encourages some of you who spend a lot of time behind a sewing machine or at a desk to get out on your mat and work up a sweat.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dare to be adorable

I have a new PDF out. How to make fabric tassels. Since 2008, I have been part of Etsy and watched the trends. When I was new, the trends informed much of what I made and sold there. For the past few years, I have been too busy with deadlines to act on some of the impulses to go with that flow. Luckily, right now, time and space (and a room full of fabric) conspired to carve out this little project and write and photograph it. If you sell on Etsy, (or maybe Amazon soon,) you will find that June will always be huge for tassel themed graduation gifts. This year tassels are especially big and we see them featured everywhere. Get in on the tassel rush, make your own and use up some of those scraps you've been hoarding.  Tassel Tutorial at Etsy, or if you prefer Craftsy, Tassels PDF at Craftsy. I am using one of my handmade tassels on my keys, and it makes me think of my new motto all of the time "Dare to be adorable." I changed my logo to include the new motto.
I meant to bring that up when I announced the Babydoll pattern the other day. It's a saying that really motivates me to be creative. I think it reflects who I am. More on the Babydoll: I wanted to simplify sizing. I have been sewing forever, and I always hated that my sewing pattern size was 2 sizes larger than my ready to wear size. I think it's about time we get real and talk about the key measurement for the pattern and call it that. This top, is made for knit fabrics, the key measurement is your full bust measurement. The finished top will have a full bust measurement equal to the number on the pattern. Your knit provides the wearing and style ease.  The size 38 has a 38" bust, simple. The Babydoll starts at size 32 and goes to 48. Another pet peeve of mine is finding the right line to cut on a multi size pattern - I will say that is useful when you are in between sizes. With this PDF pattern, you will only need to print 6 sheets of paper to make your single sized pattern. For advanced sewists, there is also a quick "order of sewing" list that will print as part of the pattern itself. You will literally only need the 6 pages. Of course, there are fully illustrated instructions for those who need them.  The arms and neck finish with a facing or you can make it reversible. This is so much quicker than having arm and neck bands or bindings. I had a dozen testers make this pattern before the release and every one of them said they will be making more. It is fast to sew and fun to wear. Will you dare to be adorable in a babydoll this Summer?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My new pattern: Babydoll

If you follow me other places, you may have seen this pattern launch a few days ago. Here are some of my testers in their fun babydolls. Thank you ladies for the lovely photos! Babydoll pattern

Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to have a yoga body, part one

How to have a yoga body: take the body you have to the yoga studio and do yoga with it. 

After 14 months off, I am back. I gained a lot of weight in the year plus that I did not exercise, but I can't let that be an excuse to not get myself to the studio. My chosen practice is hot Hatha yoga. We have a great studio in Spokane, Yarrow Yoga and Wellness. I have always been athletic and never thought yoga was for me, but when I found this place and this style, I fell in love. I practised pretty hard for 2.5 years, about 900 hours. I was always stronger than I was flexible and that caught up with me when I gave myself a major back injury. Thus, the long hiatus.  Some thoughts on my practice:
One of the things I love about this style of yoga is that all I have to do is show up, listen, and do. When it comes to a posture like rabbit pose where my back injury prevents me from fully realizing the posture, I can still listen, and follow the cues until I reach my limit. After that, I listen and picture myself in the full expression of the posture. There is no disappointment or lack of benefit. In my mind, I am a perfect rabbit. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Listen to Your Mother Reading for 2015

On Mothers Day evening, a band of women joined together on stage at the Bing Crosby theater in Spokane to read our stories of motherhood. The videos will get posted over the Summer and I will put up the link then. Meanwhile, I wanted to share mine here in written form. To see the other women who were in the show and to find out if there is a LTYM near you, visit the website. The title of my story is My Secret Identity.
As he slips below the water, I kick off my shoes.  Tucking my socks inside them, I think, “Saving him will be the easy part.” Fully clothed, no towels, I don’t want to get wet. I did not want Caleb to go swimming, but here I am at the end of a stranger’s dock on Long Lake in the middle of April about to dive in after him.
“Come on honey” I plead with Caleb one more time, hoping to stay dry. “You know how to swim. Come to me.”
Sputtering for breath, he manages, “I can’t swim, Mom, my shorts are too heavy.” Perplexed, I watch him slip below again, fighting just to keep his lips above water. Suddenly, I am terrified.
Later I would feel ashamed to remember emptying my pockets. The car keys, a folded tissue, a tampon and a couple of chicklets land safely inside my shoe. My plan is simple: get in, retrieve my 7 year old, and get out.
Rory told Caleb it was okay to swim, but he did not stay around to supervise. In this horrific moment, I am angry at the man who saw a vacant house on the lake, trespassed with his wife and kids, said “yes” to swimming and walked away.  I should have protested. I should have stopped him. But I didn’t. I ordered the oldest to watch the youngest on the beach and make sure she didn’t go in past her knees. I delighted in my middle child’s enthusiasm as he tore off his sandals and then ran the length of the dock, pulling off his shirt on the fly. I see his face lit up, joyful. I see him hop up to the diving board and leap toward the water wildly, arms and legs churning in the air.
Now I am watching him drown. Shoes off, pockets empty, it’s time to be the hero.
Confident that a rush of adrenaline will fuel me, I dive in and feel the weight of the nearly frozen lake breaking over my head.  A raw chill encases my body. There is no adrenaline, no palpable heartbeat, only numbness and a kind of deep shrinking.  My rubber fingers clutch my son’s rubber shoulders. He feels strangely relaxed, completely trusting me. I hold his immobile body close, yet feel tangibly separated, incapacitated by the cold.
I think, “We are both going to die. They will find us, fetal, mother wrapped around son, frozen at the bottom of the lake.”
Where was the super-human strength I was supposed to have to save my son? Why am I so human? So… regular-human, so… not-super-human, so… weak-human?
Emptied of breath,  a desperate voice escapes my clenched teeth “kick.”
Caleb says, “I am.” He is not moving. He is still trusting, relying on me.
The 8 feet back to the dock looks like a mile.  Beyond the dock, some movement catches my eye. It is my husband running down the hill to our rescue.  Moments earlier I would have been glad to welcome my man and watch him work while I stayed dry, but now an angry resolve strengthens me. I kick with force enough to drag our bodies through the heavy water myself.
Caleb is taken to the hot tub to melt away his misadventure. I need to thaw more slowly. I am in shock. Who is this cape-less, shoe-less, belt-less, power-less “hero?” I see myself as from above, lying alone on the dock, translucent and more fragile than I ever imagined. The warm wooden dock holds my shaken frame. Through closed eyes, I see the sun. Tears leak out and run toward my ears. In that moment, I reluctantly accept my secret identity. I am (pause) only human.
 I am only human, and today, that is enough.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fun Quotes Decor to Make Yourself

It is easy to turn garage sale art into fun quote decor. Start with a print or a painting. Use vinyl letters to spell out the saying you want on it. They should be repositionable vinyl. I used acrylic paint and a sponge to dab the paint on the way you do for stencils. Pull up the letters while the paint is still wet. If you let it dry at all, the paint may want to peel away with the letters. When I got to the point you see in the second photo, I should pull off the first line of lettering. I have a whole uplifting wall going in the living room. As you can see there are 2 garage sale pieces waiting for treatment. My daughter wants to pick the quotes for those. The space next to "you are my sunshine" is for a sunburst mirror. I am on the look out for a deal on one of those. I would love to see yours if you do one. Post it on Facebook and show me there. The larger longer printed pieces were purchased as digital files on Etsy and printed at my local Office Depot as posters on foam board. The yellow one was also from Etsy and printed and framed by Office depot on canvas. The smaller one above the landscape is from Hobby Lobby.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 minute maxi ugly toga party challenge

The story: Some of us hate some of the fabrics we get in our Knit Fix. Some of us challenged ourselves to use it rather than trade it. When I saw this fabric, I hated it so much I thought I needed to make something ugly with it on purpose. My ideas included a scary stuffed animal monster, or 10. The puberty helper from SNL, which would be like this dress only the arms and head would be worn on the inside. The only other viable option I could think of was garbage bags, like disposable bags. Then I thought of the ugly toga. People celebrate the holidays with ugly Christmas sweater parties. To celebrate Summer, we should be having ugly toga parties. That is how the 5 minute maxi was born. I love my dress. It is literally so comfortable that I don't care about the fabric. I think I will make another one out of fabric I actually like.
The challenge: Use the free 5 minute maxi tutorial to make your own version of the dress and photograph yourself in it. Post your photo on facebook and tag it with #5minutemaxi. I will check out the photos and announce random winners - up to 10 winners will be chosen from entries. I will run the challenge through the Summer to give you a chance to actually have an ugly toga party. The prizes will be surprises. A great prize pack of fabric, patterns, Craftsy class, and something handmade by me to anyone who hosts an ugly toga party.
The reward:  I actually found that making something ugly on purpose was fun and freeing. Check out my friend Kim Werker's book for more about how and why that works. As a bonus, the first person to host an ugly toga party and post photos of the party on facebook with the hashtag #uglytogaparty will win a signed copy of Kim's book, Mighty Ugly.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Redrafted to be something I would do and wear

The only pattern piece from Simplicity 1463 that made the final cut is the front. It did get bisected by the zipper. Next time I will change the shoulder as well, so there will not be anything left of the original pattern. I don't know why, but it is hard for me to use anyone else's patterns. I have always been that way. When I sewed for myself in High School, I always added my own touch. I took Natalie Chanin's class on Craftsy last week. I think I may be only one of thousands of people who love her hand embellished knits and think "I will never take the time to do that." BUT... if I could do it by machine, then yes, I can see myself making it happen. I highly recommend the class. Natalie's teaching is fabulous. Her work is inspirational. She makes stencils by hand, uses them to paint the fabric, and then hand sews around the stencils. I drew my designs on with a green sharpie and used my machine back stitch. What I did on my machine in a few hours would have been weeks or months in the making by hand. The result would be more valuable and elegant, but I just wanted the fun of stitching and cutting. I think the back is a little overkill, so next time I will be a little more subtle in my design. Is this a technique you would like to try? If you have done any reverse applique, I would love to see it. Show me over on facebook. Friend me, Cherie Killilea.

Simplicity 1463 My own private What Not to Wear Episode

This is my muslin. It is always good to have extra fabric if for nothing more than trying out a new pattern. You can see from my notes why I am not modeling this one. I chose Simplicity 1463 because it was listed as one of the top 10 patterns of 2014 by Pattern Review. It appealed to me because it looked cool and comfortable. I am a sucker for raglan sleeves and V-necks are good for me. I also wanted something with at least one part on which I could practice my Alabama Chanin techniques.  I was skeptical about the "V" shaped hem in front and back, but that was easy to cut off. I did try it on with the original hem and it made my thighs appear 3 times larger than actual. In the back, the upward curve of the yoke makes it look like I must be hauling something heavy in front - wearing a baby, maybe. Then I turn around and the front is pretty billowy too, so you think, yes, she is hauling a baby but it's on the inside. Just what every woman wants. I thought I could salvage the pattern with a few design changes. Listed in order of difficulty.
#1 Raise and straighten the hem
#2 Add a zipper in front to open up the front and wear as a layer over a tank top, automatically slimming.
#3 Change the back yoke to point down in center back.
#4 Draft a new lower back to allow some fullness but without the gathers.
#5 Draft elbow length normal sleeves instead of the butterflies.
In the end, the only pattern piece I actually used was the front, and that was changed because I added the center front zipper.
In my next post, I will show you the final version, talk more about the class with Natalie Chanin, and officially review Simplicity 1463.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Easiest Peach Cobbler Recipe

Starting from a Betty Crocker recipe, I made some changes and turned out this quick and easy cobbler with minimal clean up. It made a great breakfast. This recipe will serve 2 or 3 for breakfast. If you are serving it for dessert, plan on this much for 4 people. If you want to double the recipe, use 2 bread pans and make them individually.
Into an ungreased breadpan,
add 1/2 cup biscuit mix
and 1/2 cup milk
and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Mix them together in the pan.
Drain a 15 ounce can of sliced peaches, and add them to the pan, distributing evenly.
Sprinkle 1.5 Tablespoons chopped pecans over the peaches.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup packed brown sugar over everything.
Pour 1/4 cup melted butter over all.
Bake for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
Serve warm in bowls.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reading and Writing

I like to read what my high school aged kids are reading in school. Some of it is revisiting classics I read at their age, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Brave New World. Then there are those that I missed or weren't classics yet maybe, like The Power of One: A Novel and The Things They Carried. I love that my kids are reading and talking about important things like racism, individuality, and war.  I love my Kindle Fire for the instant gratification of buying a book from home.
Reading is one of the things that fuels me for the creative work that I do. I recently finished a great book by a local author The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac. The author, Sharma Shields, said she wrote 3 drafts to get to the final book. That encourages me. It makes me think of one of the games we used to play at Comedy Sportz. You improvise a scene and when the whistle blows, you have to change the last line you said. We usually find that the 3rd time is the charm. Shields takes her novel in some crazy directions that I imagine came from that kind of improvization. I look forward to trying it in my next creative writing session.  I am not good at book reviews because I do not want to give anything away, but if you do not read The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, you will soon find yourself in a room with well read people all giddy about the book and you will feel like an alien. Another great read that none of your friends will have read, so you can be a trail blazer, is the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. It won the Tony for the best play of 2013, so maybe some of your Tony-er friends saw it.
I do write more than sewing patterns. I will be in the cast of a little show in Spokane called Listen to Your Mother. We read things we have written about motherhood. It is on Mother's Day. You can read about the show and see the other cities here: LTYM . If you have a city near you, I highly recommend making Listen to Your Mother a yearly tradition. The website has videos of past talks. This was my reading in 2011. This year, my topic is serious. I will post the story here after the show and before the video is available.
Disclaimer: When I post links to things that I like they are sometimes affiliate links which pay me a small commission on purchases. I never pretend to like something in order to promote it. I just think it makes sense to collect 20 cents here and there when I am posting a link for your convenience anyway. If you have a blog, you should look at this book Amazon Associates: 7 Steps to Earning $2,000 per Month through the Amazon Affiliate Program in Less than 20 Hours a Week! (Amazon Associates - Amazon Associates ... for Beginners - Niche Website - Amazon). To be clear, I have not read that one, but I probably should. I earned a whopping $27 last year in the program, LOL.