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Now that I’ve got it, what to do with it?

I’ve been ogling Carolyn Friedlander‘s work since I saw her at Fall Quilt Market in 2011. It’s been a while. First the amazing paper-pieced patterns, then her architecture-inspired fabric with Robert Kaufman Fabrics called, appropriately, Architextures.  I fell in love with it months ago. 20130305-212130.jpg

Carolyn was nice enough to send me a little candy pack of the fabrics from Fall Quilt Market 2012 and I’ve lovingly petted them since.  (I’m not the only one who fondles fabric, right?!)

I was at Modern Domestic tonight picking up a pattern and some fabric from Lizzy House’s new Constellation line (from Andover Fabrics) and just couldn’t resist the fat quarter stack of Architexture. I swear it was actually calling my name.

So now I have it and I love it and I have absolutely no idea what I’ll do with it besides pet it occasionally. -shrug-

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Coming up

A few weeks ago, I was on Facebook and saw this awesome pattern from Liesl + Co. I’m kinda of a sucker for capes and anything with a vintage feel and immediately fell for this one.

I bought it within a few minutes (it’s a downloadable!), but it has taken a while for me to get the fabric. I thought I had some that would work until I went and dug through the stash. Come to find out I had lots of small bit and nothing more than a yard long. -sigh-


When there was a big sale at FabricMart, I decided to give them a try and bought this wool/polyester blend to give the cape a try. The fabric is certainly not the best quality, but I’m really just using it to try out the pattern. If I like it as much as I think I will, I’ll buy some better quality fabric and make it again. I’ve learned the hard way not to try out a pattern with spendy fabric!

I’m thinking about drafting a collar or hood to go along with it, but we’ll see. I’m hoping to get back into the studio this weekend and get some actual sewing done (rather than talking and dreaming about it) .

Have you used Liesl + Co. patterns before? They also make patterns under the Oliver + S, Lisette and Straight Stitch Society monikers and so far, I love them all. She has a real knack for clear pattern instructions and I learn something new every time.



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Mail Sack Mayhem

Thanks to some encouragement from Shelly and Crissy and the willingness of the folks at Modern Domestic, I finally got to cross “Start teaching others to sew again” off my massive to-do list.

Mail Sack bags on display at Modern Domestic
Mail Sack bags on display at Modern Domestic

With the help of Lupine and Crissy, I decided on pattern to use–The Mail Sack from Pink Chalk Studios.

I made up two samples way back in October with some lovely Dear Stella fabrics for one and leftover twill and Washi for the other. Oh and a little fussy-cut Suzy Ultman print. It turned out SO cute! I’m really a sucker for those uber-adorable designs of hers.

After Lupine and I hashed out the nitty-gritty details, it went onto the calendar for January 8 and 15. I could hardly wait, seriously.

Then it finally happened!

The first night we concentrated on tracing our patterns and cutting out the fabric and interfacing. I was more than a bit surprised when it took the entire two hours!

A week later, we met again and had a maniac sewing session. We did both the zipper and patch pockets, worked on top-stitching and clipping corners. You should have heard the oohs and aahs as I showed them the pocket. Such a nifty bit of engineering!

By 9:30, an hour and a half after class was technically over, all three left with their (mostly) finished bags slung over their shoulders, happy as little larks. [J managed to finish hers, but K. and S. had the last bit of top-stitching to do.]


K. picked this fantastic Alexander Henry print for her bag base and combined it with the way over-sized polka dots. It turned out so awesome and fit her perfectly with a little adjustment we’d made to the strap length.

S. had made plenty of tote bags, so she worked on making a bag with a bit more structure. I love how she used the same fabric for yoke and base, just twisting it to go in different directions.

J. totally knew what she was doing and zipped along with only a little bit of guidance. I taught her how to do the zipper and she taught me about Bernina feet.  A real win-win.

While showing them some of the techniques, I’d been putting together my own Mail Sack, so when everyone left, I stayed a little longer to finish it up.

I kinda love it just for the sheer silliness of the fabric. Look, Ma! I finally found my knight in shining armor!

All in all, teaching the class was the most fun I’ve had in a while and I can’t wait to get back in there again. Thanks to Shelly, Crissy, Lupine, Meredith and the ladies who came to class for making that one little dream come true.

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WIP: Camera Bag

I told her months ago, I’d make her a camera bag for her birthday. We’re down to six days left and I’ve been thwarted by mechanical issues. But I pulled out my old machine, the one who’s never let me down and got a bunch done last night.


The exterior is nearly finished and I’ve cut out all the rest of the pieces, so it should be a pretty straightforward assembly from here on out.

The peacoat, on the other hand? Well, I still can’t find that pattern. And I already have two copies of it. How does that happen?


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Breaking points

If you read the last post, you know I love my sewing machine. But as much as I love it, I hate when it (or any other machine) isn’t working quite right. I find it sooooo frustrating. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to just sit at the machine sewing my own things which means that when I do, I want it to just work.

So you can imagine, this wasn’t making me real happy:


That’s only seven of the eleven needles that snapped on Saturday afternoon. I reloaded the bobbin, dropped and lifted the feed dogs, reloaded the bobbin again, trying to figure out just what was making it happen over and over and over again. It was nearly every time I hit the backstitch and sometimes, even when I was just going through a bunch of layers. I couldn’t figure it out and was  getting more irate with the stupidity of wasting so much time on changing needles. Finally I ran out of needles and just gave up.

Sunday afternoon, the fellow I bought the machine from came over to see what the problem could be. Come to find out, the 1/4″ foot I bought from him didn’t have a long enough space for the needle and when I was back stitching, it was moving the needle just enough to come down and slam into the foot.

He took a little Dremel and drilled that slit back a little further and -bam- it worked just fine. (Who knew you could do that?!)

I also had him fix the presser foot; it was just to low to effectively shove 8 layers of fabric under. Yeah, that camera bag has some serious layering going on. ;)

xo, t!

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Know Thy Machine

Thanks to Shruti for putting on this little blog tour of sewing machines. It’s been quite fun following along to see all the variety of machines and, especially for me, what makes them special for the owner. Thanks to Shruti for inviting me and thank YOU for coming along!

Now to the questions…

What machine(s) do you have? Brand and Model.
I sew on a lovely old machine: a 1954 Pfaff 130. I have one at home and one in the sewing studio. I also own one of the little IKEA machines and I dream of having a new Bernina like the ones I have used at Modern Domestic.

20121109-103349.jpgWhen and where did you buy it? 

I bought the first Pfaff 130 about 10 years ago at a Montavilla Sewing Center. Or rather my mom bought it for me to help me with the little apron business I had. The fellow at the shop said it would outlast me and he may be right. I’ve sewn for hundreds of hours and haven’t yet had to make any repairs.

What was its approximate cost?
It was $700. I bought another for $400 and spend $70 on the IKEA machine.

What do you like about your machine?
I love that it’s a little speed demon and never breaks down. It’s a semi-industrial, so there are no bells or whistles. Just straight and zig-zag stitching. I don’t mind because I can sew a straight seam faster than anyone I know on that machine. :)

Have you named it?
I don’t name things. I’m terrible at coming up with nicknames and machines never really “look like a <name>” to me.

Have you made a cover for it?
I didn’t make a cover for my home machine, but Kate at SewPo made a cute hexie cover using Kate Spain fabrics (who just happens to be one of my faves!)

Does your machine give you any problems? Could you tell us a few?
Besides the fact that buttonholes are a real pain in the arse with it? Nope, not a single problem.

What do you sew on it mainly?
I sew a little bit of everything–coats, quilts, bags, dresses, pillows and potholders. If if can be sewn, I’ll do it.

How much time do you spend sewing on it?
Not enough! With a full-time job and a teenage daughter, I don’t have nearly the time I’d like to sit in front of my machine. It makes me happy in my core to sew, so I really do wish I could do it more. But I fit it in when I can.

What are the features of the machine that help you improve your work?
Speed! Otherwise, it’s really the feet that I adore. I finally got a walking foot, which I love! I also use 1/4″ foot, walking foot, rolled hem foot and zipper foot a lot and they make a lot of tasks easier.

What advice would you give others when deciding about which machine to buy?
Really consider what you’ll be sewing on your machine. I like sewing bags and coats that require a bit more oomph in the machine to get through all those layers and I don’t care if I can make fancy stitches, so my machine is great for me. But if you’re going to be doing a lot of little girl dresses, you might want those fancy stitches. If you’re new to sewing, buy the best machine you can afford. A lousy machine that jams or breaks threads or whatever makes it difficult to enjoy the act of sewing. Nothing will end your foray into sewing and quilting like a frustrating machine.

Will you share with us a special memory associated with your machine?
There’s nothing in particular, but that machine is near and dear to my heart. It’s been through a dozen moves with me and hundreds of projects and just keeps on going.

If you had unlimited resources in the world, which machine would you choose to buy and why?
I would love to get one of the Bernina machines because I’ve sewn on them and liked some of the features (the up/down needle thing, the exact stitch length, all those feet!), but I haven’t yet got into looking too closely at which model. When I win the lottery, I’ll put some time into researching which one is best for me!

Until then you can find me seated at one of my machines, stitching the weekend away.

xo! t



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Threadbias pincushion swap

I’m a big fan of Threadbias, even though I don’t seem to get over there as often as I’d like. It’s a great site for sewists and quilters to share their projects and be inspired by the amazing work of others. One of the best things about it, honestly, are the people there. Everyone is so supportive of each other. It’s the perfect place to go when you need to have someone say ooh and aah over what you just made.

Recently I signed up for my first swap through them, a pincushion swap with Gena from Ontario, Canada. I made her this one using scraps of fabric from Art Gallery’s Alhambra II collection, with a little slice o’ selvage. I’m in love with the colors and their fabrics have a nice hand–soft, but not limp.


I made a double layer for the bottom and stuffed it with lentils to give it a little weight. I like added oomph that the lentils give it. I’ve also used rice to weight pincushions and that works just as well.

And Gina sent me this… a little mouse pincushion (complete with braided tail and whiskers!) and some little bits and baubles. She included a pack of pins, a bodkin (something I always thought of buying, but never have) and some chocolates that I ate faster than I could snap a photo. Oops.


It’s super cute and sitting on my desk at work, reminding me to enjoy the creative process and the thrill of handmade. Thanks so much, Gina!


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Product Review: Clover Clamshell

I got the Clover Clam Shell Accessories Case months ago and its just hung out in my sewing box, waiting for the perfect time.

I’d thought the perfect time was a week or so ago when I started sewing together hexies in the new “Simply Color” fabric by Vanessa Christenson. Well, despite all that work, they weren’t quite large enough to cover the plastic inserts, so I chucked that idea and started over with scraps of fabric.  I used the leftovers from the coasters I made a while back.

The Clam Shell pattern comes with instructions and the plastic inserts. There are 9 pieces for the large pattern (6 for the small and medium). You’ll need scraps of fabric, batting and lots of thread. 20121013-203140.jpg

You cut out each piece a half inch larger than the plastic insert, baste around the edges, then draw up the threads, so that it fits tightly against the plastic. To keep it in place, you have to stitch back and forth across the back. This takes a lot of thread. It also works pretty darn well.  Make sure to tack down the ends really well and as smoothly as possible.


You’ll end up with three of these inside pieces, ready to go.


You’ll do the same thing with outside pieces, except with a piece of batting behind the fabric. I basted then together with a long running stitch. They suggest glueing it to the plastic. I didn’t because 1) I didn’t know where any glue was and 2) I was too anxious to get sewing to stop and hunt it down. In retrospect, I’d recommend it, too. My method worked fine for two of them, but on one, the batting shifted a bit and caused some bumping issues on one end.


Then stick them together, insides to outside. I used bulldog clips to hold them together, but you can use Wonder Clips or Getta Grip clips if you prefer.


Then you are gonna hand-stitch that sucker down, all the way around. I used a small ladder stitch to keep it held tightly and hide the stitches.  [Please forgive the nails; I clearly need to spend more time polishing my nails and less time worried about tight stitching.]


Sew, sew , sew and sooner or later, you’ll end up with this! It’s a cute little box that pops open (with my tag inside–squee!).



Overall, the kit is easy enough to put together, just takes time and some precision stitching. In the end, it’s an adorable little pouch-thing that you could put all sorts of things in. My daughter wants me to make some tiny ones that will look like dumplings. I think I might just have to try.

P.S. I think these would be super cute to put a small gift in. You know those odd-shaped gifts that are super hard to wrap? It’s the perfect holder for it. Then it’s two gifts in one!