Mom Made Movie Theater Quilt Block

Every year, one woman on Vashon (the Island my mom lives on) assembles a completely hand-sewn community quilt that is raffled off to support Vashon Allied Arts. It’s been going for over 20 years. This year the theme is Downtown Vashon and Beyond. My mom was asked to sew a block for the quilt! She was given the Vashon Movie Theater. Her challenge was to capture the theater in a 14 inch square, entirely hand sewn, making sure to include specific fabrics. I think she did an amazing job! She makes the theater look mid-century modern and not outdated, the block is bright and fun while still being quite realistic.

Mom Made Household Dec

Welcome to my mom’s house! This is just a tiny glimpse of some of the lovely handmade touches she has added to her house to make it a home. Here is a shelf in her TV room. The folded quilt is all made of fall fabrics and is displayed seasonally. The red white and blue quilt and begonia applique (design by Primitive Gatherings by Lisa Bongean), while designed to be overtly Fourth of July, become more subtle and year-round when part of a broader decorating scheme that includes other colors (yellow) and lots of pattern. Guests stay upstairs in a little cabin that mom built next to her house. Taking decorating inspiration from a quilter’s aesthetic, she combines lots of patterns into visually pleasing arrangements by keeping them within a set color palette. The pineapple embroidery (another pattern by Wooden Spool) reads ” Our Guestroom. We’re glad to have you as …

Mom Made Quilted Baby Blanket

My mom made a blanket for her cousin Amilia’s baby. (Same cousin for whom I designed the Baby’s First Fair Isle sweater). The construction was simple. It is made from 3 – 1 1/2 inch strips sewn together dark-light-dark in what’s called a strip-set. Then the strips are cut into 3 1/2 inch squares. Mom rotated alternate blocks and then sewed them together. This makes a quilt where the finished blocks are each 3 inches square. Placing 10 blocks by 12 blocks makes a final quilt size of 30 x 36 inches – the perfect size for a baby.

Mom Made Birthday Presents

In honor of my birthday last week, and my visit to my mom’s house over the weekend, this week of posts is going to be todo sobre mi madre. In short, my mom is amazingly creative and talented and inspiring. She’s a phenomenal quilter, applique-er, and stitcher, amongst so many other talents and I’m so excited to show off some of her amazing work! Now, the birthday presents my mom gave me! My mom stitched this lovely pillow based on a pattern by Wooden Spool Designs called Sewing Mends the Soul. We met the owner/designer Debbie at Sew Expo and had a great time meeting such a sweet and creative woman. My mom has made several of her designs including Fresh Fruit and O Christmas Tree. Mom sewed the rick-rack and ribbons on the pillow using zig-zag topstitch with a clear thread. She’s done a bunch of experimenting with different …

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Denim Baby Shoes

I’ve been thinking for a while of sewing baby shoes for friends that are expecting for when I don’t have enough time/stash to do a large sewing project or knit project.

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Meg the Grand on Sewing and Style

I’m intrigued by individual style, how someone defines her style, how she finds that style. I’m particularly intrigued by how a sewer’s ability to create her own clothes influences that style. To explore this, I’m going to be posting a series of guest posts from different bloggers who sew, each exploring their individual connection between sewing and style. First up, the wonderful Meg of Meg the Grand. I can’t thank her enough for her insightful and thorough exploration! Hello all!  I’m Meg from Meg the Grand.  I am an intermediate sewer and beginning knitter, and I love the feeling of making something with my hands … especially if it’s something geeky in nature. Many thanks to the delightful Erin for asking me to guest blog with you lovelies today!!  Erin is a true blue kindred spirit who spreads sunshine in her blog posts.  I, for one, am a huge fan and so honored to …

Welcome to my New Blog!

Hi Friends! Welcome to my new blog! I’m so excited to have you here! No, I didn’t make the dress in this photo. It’s a Betsy Johnson dress that I bought for myself for New Years last year. I am wearing it today for my birthday. Which is pretty amusing because I wore it into lab and not a single person commented on the fact that I am wearing a party dress to work. I guess they’ve noted my other daily fashion choices and don’t really see this as too far out of the norm :) My old blog will be up for a while longer while I finish migrating some content. But eventually it will go offline, so if there’s anything you want to be sure to find again, make sure you find it on my new blog instead! Please let me know if you find any broken links. …

Tricks, Tips, and Tools: Ripping a Seam

If you’re like me, you end up ripping a lot of seams. Sometimes it’s from dumb mistakes, sometimes it’s just part of a quest for perfection. This is the fastest, safest way that I’ve found to rip out a straight single stitch seam. On one side, rip out every 5th stitch or so. Then take the thread from the other side and pull. Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am. Fewer worries about snagging the fabric with your ripper. Easier to fully remove the bits of thread that are left.

East West Knit Purse

Oh man. Well, I finished it under three years. Another WIP to cross off the list! I thought this purse was beautiful when I saw it in the KnitPicks catalog. My mom purchased it for me for my birthday shortly after, and the rest is history, albeit a rather boring history.

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Salvage Bra Parts

I’ve been thinking about bras a lot recently. I haven’t bought a new bra in a few years which means that my old bras have worn out. As in “OMG these are falling apart and underwires are poking out and into me and is it really possible that my cup size has gone up well I guess I have put on weight in the last few years and these straps are so stretched out they won’t stay on my shoulder ugh!” So, I bought a couple of new bras and threw all of my old ones out. And then I immediately reached into the garbage and pulled them all out. Thinking of recent posts by Aicha, Carolyn, Madalynne, and Steph about sewing bras, I figured that I would salvage the findings. This meant removing the underwire, the hook and eye sets, and the little metal things that go on the straps (I’m sure they have …

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Skinny High Waist Jeans

I made a pair of jeans! I don’t know why, but it finally struck me that I could sew a pair of jeans. While I never fear to tackle sewing just about anything, it just never crossed my mind that I could actually sew jeans. Apparently, after seeing the beautiful creations of Loran, Carolyn, Lauren, SallieOh, and Tanit-Isis it finally sank into my head that I could do the same! I found an old McCalls jeans pattern at the thrift store that I thought I would use for my pattern. However, half of the pieces were missing so ended up using the waistband and fly pieces and drafting my own for the rest of the jeans. I’ve been on a kick of making high waisted items and loving the skirts and trousers that I made. However, I’m not sure that these are particularly flattering when worn with the waist visible. I think that, given I have hips, things that fit …

Bottom Layers Hair Dye

It’s no secret that I get antsy when I haven’t done anything to my hair in a while. “A while” can range from weeks to months. While I am a big proponent of experimenting with one’s hair, this can be a bit challenging if (like me right now) you’re trying to grow out your hair and don’t want to damage it or cut off length. Also, I hate having to deal with roots and I’m too broke to get anything done professionally. So, what I decided to do is to get a bottle of red hair dye, and dye the bottom half of my hair. What that gives me is a tiny peek of red from the side. No change from the front. And a pretty red that blends out of the bottom of my hair as seen from the back. The perfect solution for a bit of fun with …

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Woven T-Shirts

I whipped up a couple of woven tees last Saturday afternoon. I used my bodice block and simply took out the darts. I started with a drapey purple fabric (likely rayon) that I had recently pulled out to make my Chevrons, Colorblock, and Derp Skirt. I added a little pocket to the chest to give it some interest. The second shirt I made a bit longer with a V neck. I’m afraid that with the blue color and the V-neck it looks a scrub top. I added pink piping to the neckline to spice it up. Here’s where the ends join. The third shirt I lengthened the sleeves to show off the stripe in the fabric. I widened the back a bit and added darts. I cut the back out of a different fabric because I didn’t quite have enough of the main fabric to fit it all. I played …

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1940’s Blouse

This blouse is the 1940’s reproduction from Simplicity 3688 that goes with my khaki trousers. I was reasonably satisfied with the blouse and thought that it made a nice professional looking top. My biggest complaint is that it is very loose in the waist, and must be so to fit without a closure. I’ll probably make it again, but I’ll cut the waist in and add larger darts and a hidden side zipper so I don’t have to wear a belt. I closed the neck with a creme satin covered button. And I did a lovely job of hand sewing the neckband, if I do say so myself. My problem with this blouse was the fabric I chose. I bought some cheap fabric from Joann because I had a coupon and it seemed like a good idea at the time. The first time that I wore the blouse was to …

1940’s Khaki Trousers

Here’s another derp story about a sewing project. I put these on to wear to work last week and laughed at myself, thinking “Man, I must be tired this morning because I just put my pants on backward.” Then I shook my head, pondered a little bit, and laughed out loud. Because I discovered that I didn’t put my pants on backward that morning. In fact, I had been wearing my pants backward for two weeks! These are Simplicity 3688, the 1940’s reproduction pattern that’s swept the sewing blogosphere. I’ve been planning on sewing these for quite a while, but the fact that they are Debi’s tried and true pattern and Lladybird looks so cute in hers too encouraged me to get them done.  I sewed these pretty much as-is, but added an inch and a half to the rise. I probably didn’t need to add quite that much, but …

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Chevrons and Colorblock and Derp Skirt

This skirt represents one series of sewing disasters after another. Amazingly enough, I really like how it turned out in the end, but with the series of misadventures that got me here, I never would have thought that would be the case. Hold onto your seat, because what follows is an emotional rollercoaster of sewing mishaps! I started this skirt by taking my waist and hip measurements, dividing each by 8, connecting a line from waist to hip and following it through to ankle. So I ended up with 8 triangular panels to sew together to form an A-line skirt. I wanted to make the skirt a series of chevrons, so I chalked out 8 triangles on a 45 degree angle across my striped fabric. I got it all chalked and ready to cut, when I realized that I had forgotten to pre-wash the fabric. So, I tossed it into …

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Guatemalan Cowgirl Blouse

I’ve had all sorts of time to sew because Adam has been gone for a couple of weeks for work. So, this means I get to share a whole series of finished sewing projects!  It starts with this Guatemalan cowgirl blouse. The Guatemalan fabric was part of a recent gift of fabulous fabric from a friend. I immediately thought that it would be lovely as the yoke and pockets of the blouse, so I followed through on my inspiration. There’s still quite a bit left, so more Guatemalan fabric projects await! I sewed it from McCalls 3688. The first time I sewed this pattern was 10 years ago when I bought the pattern. I didn’t fit it at all and used a stiff fabric and heavy interfacing. It was beautiful on the hanger, but unfortunately never got worn. I used the pattern to sew a pink gingham cowgirl dress a …

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Sewing Organizers Made by Mom

My mom is super crafty. I’ve mentioned before that she’s an amazing quilter. But she’s also pretty amazing at anything she does with her hands. She just texted me some photos of a project that she made this week – little booklets to organize hand sewing materials. The fabric choices are so fun, and very much my mother. You can see her experienced eye as a quilter in joining disparate patterned fabrics to make a beautiful ensemble. My mom loves detail and buttons as much as I do, so here she’s got a button closure and a button on the end of the strap. (Sorry about the fuzziness of the photo. She texted me cell phone photos, so this is what I had to work with!). The pattern she used is from Quilts and More Magazine, Winter 2011.

Not Your Typical Duffel Bag

I’ve had a gigantic green duffel bag for years now. I bought it before I spent a semester in East Africa in college so that I could stuff it into the bottom of my backpack and fill it up with souvenirs as I went. I got it from a surplus store and it smelled a little funky but I figured I could wash it out. Well, many years and many washes later, it still smells funky. So, I put it in the donate pile and made a new one. I stuck with green, but I had to spice it up a little. I had a bunch of this cotton upholstery fabric that I bought on a gigantic sale at some point and had sitting in my stash. I was worried that it wouldn’t be quite sturdy enough on its own, so I fully lined the bag with the same fabric. …

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My Hexagon Quilt is Finished!

I’m so excited to be able to say that I’ve finished my hexagon quilt! The first step was piecing the top. Then I sent it to my mom to quilt it. Then I had to sew all the binding along the edges. Mr. T decided to “help”, which made the process cuddlier, but not any faster. It took several movies worth (how I measure units of time for hand-sewing) to make my way all along the edge to hand sew the binding down. It was helped by being sick a while ago which left me bored, stuck on the couch, and needed something mindless to do with my hands. Here you see the backing fabric and an external point. I’m proud of these as they (almost) all came out sharp and looking quite good, if I do say so myself. The pattern included instructions on how to turn the corners …

Stuff Sack for Inflatable Mattress

I’m lucky enough to live in a 2 bedroom apartment, but because I live in San Francisco, the 2nd bedroom is tiny and has to serve as my sewing room, Adam’s office, and our guest room. To make this possible, we bought a really nice inflatable mattress that is comfortable enough that even our parents can sleep on it. Unfortunately, after we took it out of its nylon stuff sack for the first time, we have never been able to fold it back small enough to fit again. Because it hasn’t fit in a sack, it’s been shoved awkwardly from one closet to another, never staying together, and in constant risk of puncture. I decided to sew a stuff sack for the inflatable mattress out of some gifted upholstery fabric in my stash. Not much exciting to share on the construction end – It’s a big rectangle. I serged the …

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Last week I was sent to the east coast to visit collaborators for work.  I decided I would fly out a day early so that I could visit friends in New York. While there, I spent hours wandering through the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens with a friend. The Japanese garden was lovely and tranquil. I enjoyed watching the turtles and koi in the murky green water. I was taken by this bright red flower. So bold, so bright, so cheery. I believe it was from the onion/garlic family, which I found surprising as I think of those blossoms as being puff balls, not striking individual petals like this one. Inside of the building hosting the different world climates, there was an atrium that had flower sculptures hanging from each of the roof windows. I loved this one, not just because it was bright pink, but because of how bold it was …

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Gold and White Striped Long Sleeve Tee

There is a dearth of long sleeved tees in my wardrobe. Which is silly, because SF weather is perfect for long sleeve tees the majority of the year. So, this shirt is one step toward remedying the situation. I’ve had these two gold and white striped fabrics sitting on my shelf for a long time. I think I got them on the $1/yd table at the discount fabric store. This shirt is a first draft for making my ultimate-favorite-t-shirt-pattern. I cut the shirt weeks ago but finally got around to sewing it up yesterday. I did the majority of the sewing on my serger, which is atypical for me. I usually sew everything on my normal sewing machine and then finish the seams with the serger. I like the shirt well enough to wear, but there are some changes to make for the next go-round. I put too much ease …

My Mild Miso All-Purpose Salad Dressing

I love me some salad and I really love me some salad full of random toppings. I like to keep a couple of salad dressings in the fridge that have mild yet interesting flavors to complement whatever I throw into the salad bowl. This is my recipe for a miso salad dressing that has a mild asian flavor. Surprisingly, the flavor is delicate enough that it also pairs nicely with non-asian flavors. This is a spinach salad with avocado, cranberries, yellow carrots, and feta onto which I put this dressing. And it was quite tasty. Seriously! Mild Miso Salad Dressing 3 Tbs    Mirin (Japanese rice wine) 3 Tbs    Olive oil 1/4 C    Rice vinegar 1Tbs     Brown sugar 1/4 C    Water 2 Tbs    Soy Sauce 1 Tbs    Honey 1 Tbs    Miso 1 tsp     Salt 1 tsp     Ginger paste Gather all of your ingredients. Pre-crushed ginger is convenient, but you can …

Off My Needles

Last month I tried to shame myself into finishing up some knitting projects that have been accumulating mostly-done in my drawer. Well, my self-shame and a week sick on the couch combined to be just what I needed to get-er-done! Here’s a quick peak at what I’ve recently finished. Click the links to Ravelry if you want more details about the projects. I finished the second colorway of my Baby’s First Fair Isle Sweater! I love how it turned out. It’s really satisfying to knit up my own pattern and to be so proud of the result. I finished my Sophia sweater (another French Girl Knits, my fourth sweater from this book). Man this project was a nightmare. I ripped the collar off and re-grafted in onto the body 3 times before it was done. But, it’s done and it will be good to have in my wardrobe. I finished …

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More Fabric Stash Additions

Many more thanks to my fabulous mentor and friend. She already sent me a box of fabulous fabric. When I got home from Alaska, I found another box waiting for me. Hooray! I was so proud of myself for recently getting my fabric all organized and nicely folded and fit into a single bookshelf. Well, with these two new boxes of fabric, it doesn’t all fit in on bookshelf any more, but I’m certainly not complaining! I opened the box to find these beautiful fabrics. I’m guessing South American? There’s not a lot of yardage, but they would be gorgeous as the yoke and pockets on a blouse, maybe with a matching purse. I love the colors. This is a blouse weight fabric with a lot of yardage. My first thought is 50’s shirtdress, but that’s my first thought when I encounter any light to mid-weight fabric in yardage. I …

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Handmade Alaska Souvenirs

While in Homer, Alaska, last week, I bought myself a couple of souvenirs handmade by local artists. The bracelet is carved from birch. It was made by artist George Overpeck. He spends his summers commercial fishing in Bristol Bay and kitesurfing on Kachemak Bay. His winters are occupied with woodturning in Homer. Most of his work is done with the Betula kenaica, a variety of white birch that is unique to the Kenai peninsula. The bracelet is amazingly light and I love how clear the patterning in the wood is. The necklace is scrimshawed by artist Brian Burns on a piece of ancient mammoth tusk. Scrimshaw is a type of etching in a which a line is scratched onto the piece then filled by pigment. Brian Burns practices his art and works on boats in Homer, Alaska. He is an avid hiker and explorer and collects many of the materials …

A Trip to Alaska

I spent last week in Alaska on family vacation. My brother has lived in Anchorage for 7 years and this is the first time I’ve been up here to visit. I’m sorry that it has taken me so long because it’s absolutely beautiful, even though the weather has been pretty darn crummy. We went for a float down the Kenai river to go fishing (my brother’s most favorite activity in the entire world). Unfortunately, it was very cold and raining so, instead of camping and continuing the float for a second day, we had to cut it to a single day. The banks of the Kenai river were lined with dead fish. The salmon come up the streams to spawn and after spawning, they die. We stopped by my brother’s work to drop off some of the gear he borrowed for our float trip and ended up playing on the …

Relating the Colors Worn to the Pigmentation of the Hair and Eyes (1931)

The latest in a series of excerpts from “A Correct Costume Enhances the Wearer: Color and Line in Dress” by Laurine Hempstead, copyright 1931 – a delightful book on dressing to complement your figure with vintage tips that hold true today. Chapter VI: Relating the Colors Worn to the Pigmentation of the Hair and Eyes The effect of colors upon the hair and eyes should be carefully considered, even though these points should be subordinated to that of selecting colors becoming to the skin. The person with a slender and well-proportioned figure, who need not fear increasing her size or emphasizing her silhouette and who has a clear, healthy complexion, can wear almost any beautiful color. She may consider her eyes and hair first, emphasizing whichever is the more attractive feature. Occasionally persons with unusually beautiful hair or eyes can afford to wear colors enhancing their most distinctive feature, even at …

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Fabric Stash Additions

I just got a box of fabric from a colleague/mentor/friend! A couple of years ago, she spent a semester sabbatical in my lab where we got to know each other and shared many discussions about knitting, sewing, and making things. I saw her again at a conference last month. She commented that she was ready to clean out some boxes of fabric from the attic/basement and asked if I was interested. Of course I am!!! The package started with these three pieces of linen. The colors look so nice together that I feel compelled to use them in the same project – a colorblock summer dress perhaps? Although each would individually make a very nice blouse. Two pieces of interesting prints. The brown and blue is definitely synthetic (probably rayon?) and is the perfect weight and strength for lining purses and bags (and I love having pretty fabrics greet me …