Author Archives: teresa

Making the Mighty Columbia

I’ve been slowly adding to my  collection of pillows on PDX Pillows at Etsy, a project I’ve wanted to take on for a long time. It started when I was in SoCal and missing Portland. Now that I’m back I’m so grateful for all the things that make Portland and the Pacific Northwest my home, I want to share it all.

PDX PillowI started with the PDX Pillow, an idea that just popped into my head one day when I was working on another reverse appliqué project. I love it! The plaid, the denim, the PDX cut out– it makes me happy.

So the brain has been ticking away coming up with more ideas on pillows that could be made, so when my friend Jen at BettyCrockerAss offered up these castoffs from Columbia Sportswear I was all over it. There had to be something I could do with them. Repurposing a local company’s product seems like a perfect fit. But what to do?

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I’ve been intrigued by all that is possible with HST (half square triangles) lately and decided I’d give that a shot. So I cut up 100 2.5″ squares of the plaids and started sewing them together somewhat randomly.

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After sewing the squares, I cut them into triangles and arranged then rearranged until I came up with this diamond that I liked well enough. Add a little quilting, a backing and an invisible zipper and -bam!- another pillow cover to add to the shop. The longer it sits here, the more I think I need to make another. Maybe mixing up fabrics a bit more next time. Or integrating some of the vintage linens I was recently gifted.  I’m not sure which I’ll try out next. Let me know what you think–could I mix the plaids with linens? Stick with one or the other? How about Pendleton wool? I think I’d like to try that, too!

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The Mighty Columbia Pillow Cover, as well as a half dozen other styles, is available now on Etsy.

Why and How-to: French Seams

I’ll be honest with you… french seams are my favorite seam finish ever. There are several ways to deal with inside seams, including just leaving them be, but for me, a French seam is a nice, tidy and classic finish for the inside of nearly any garment with exposed seams.

The one tricky thing about doing French seam is that you start with your pieces in what seems to be the wrong position–wrong sides together. With the right sides exposed, align the edges and stitch a heavy 1/4″ seam.

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Press with a steam iron to set the seam and then trim the entire seam allowance down to 1/8″.

Trimming it keeps any threads from poking out of your seam and binds the edges to keep them from fraying.

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Press the seam open, then press again, this time with right sides together as you’d normally expect to do.

Pin to keep the seam perfectly aligned align the edge.

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On this example, it’s butting up to the zipper area and you’ll notice that I left that open.

Stitch at 1/4″, backstitching at the start and end of the seam. Press well, then open seam and press from the right side, pushing the seam allowance toward to the back of the garment.

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For bulky fabrics like this denim, you can use a brayer to break down the fibers slightly and give it a flatter finish.

 

Hello September!

Tryon Creek State Park

End of summer hike at Tryon Creek State Park near Lake Oswego, Oregon

Can you believe it’s September already?! This summer has just flown by but I’m super happy to report that the sun is still shining here in Portland. We had one cloudy day last week, but it’s back to blue skies, sunshine and supposedly  into the 90s  again this weekend!

I may be one of the few Portlanders who actually love the forecast of continued heat. Blame a year in California with sunshine every.single.day.

September means things start changing and the daughter goes back to school. We’ll get back to a routine of work/school days with homework and weekends for fun. I’ll be teaching again and I’m thrilled. Plus I have a few consulting gigs starting this month and the pincushions and pillows are coming right along.

 

Then there are all these projects on this month’s to-do list:

  • Kell’s quilt
  • Laura’s quilt
  • Natalie’s quilt
  • Luke‘s quilt
  • Negroni shirt for class prep
  • Rae skirt for class prep
  • Sail repair for Eric
  • Plaid cape for myself
  • Wool coat for my son

I’ve got Kell’s quilt started and Luke’s is cut out. So are both the garments for class. At least there is a bit of a jumpstart, but this could very well take all of September if I’m not careful with my time.  So I’m up early again today, did some yoga and now it’s down to the studio to get cracking on that list. Welcome to September.

Making lemonade

If you’ve been reading this blog for long at all, you know that while I loved working for Robert Kaufman Fabrics in Los Angeles, the actual living down there sort of sucked. I’ve had a few people ask me if the decision to move back had anything to do with the company and, in fact, the opposite was true. If anything could have kept me there, it was them. Absolutely marvelous company with the nicest managers one could imagine working for. But the air was killing me and the cost of living required me to work another part-time editor job and take on extra sewing work with a variety of designers and magazines.

There’s only so much one can take of being sick and feeling miserable  and overworked all the time, so when the chance came and our lease was up, I decided it was time to bail on Los Angeles. I’d given it my best shot, but it just wasn’t working. I knew I could take the editor work and sewing north with me to Portland and that would be enough for me to squeak by while I found other commissioned work, submitted quilt designs to magazines and worked on some dreams I’ve had percolating for a while. I would be sharing rent and utility costs with my son/housemate to keep costs down and get to spend some weekends camping with my best friend.  I had it all planned out.

Then reality happened.IMG_9015

The publisher at the magazine I’d been working for went incommunicado and I’ve had nothing but a few commissioned pieces for income. My son found a studio apartment and moved out two weeks after we moved in. My bestie fell in love with someone else while I was gone. Best laid plans went belly up within a matter of weeks.

I’d wanted it to be a fresh start and hit the ground running once we were settled back in Portland, but it seems like the dust is still settling two months later. I’m still putting feelers out for part-time work with local shops, designers and students. I’m still cleaning and organizing and trying to make the house feel more like a home.

It’s slow going, this process of change and fluctuation. The unexpected chaos that happens when other people change their minds. But I’m plodding along, one day at time. A new social media consultant job here. A custom-made quilt there. Another quilt design and some editing work. It’s piecemeal, but at least it is something.

School starts for my daughter on Tuesday, the start of her junior year of high school.  We’re both a bit nervous, but I want to believe we are on a better path here. New and exciting, anxiety-provoking and scary.  Change isn’t easy and we both know it, but we’re hoping for the best and doing what we can to make some lemonade out of all this.

 

Prepping pincushions


IMG_9438Slowly but surely, the Etsy shop is filling up with pincushions. I keep playing with different combos, different designs for the tops. Some solid pieces, some pieced.  I’d love to hear what you think about them. I’m just one opinion and I always prefer more voices in the mix.

The focus of my shop is to provide the supportive accoutrements that sewists and quilters need,  so I’m working on some needle books and sewing kits, as well. What other sewing supplies would you love to see? Tools? Notions?