Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Even more.

I promise this will be my last post on Skirting Couture! Here are a few blurry snapshots from the weekend workshop.


All of us worked at our own pace, and on our choice of 3 different skirt patterns. I was lucky to get the room with an extravagant amount of table-space per seamstress. Aaaaah, the luxury!  Look at all those pretty skirts in process.

a new Friend

I shared my table with Timshel. Couldn't believe all we had in common!  She made her skirt in the gorgeous Azalea Small Gathering from Good Folks.

my skirt in "small gathering"

Isn't it lovely?  Timshel was making one of the harder skirt styles, which required much more cutting.  It's going to be beautiful.


Oh, and look what I found in Timshel's photostream! See, it's Anna's zipper coil drawing. Fabulous, right (wink, wink)? It was very helpful in understanding the invisible zipper.

But for all the learning and sewing, there was an equal share of socializing.  A room full of ladies sharing this passion.  New friends and new blogs.  I'm sure that was half the fun!


And shopping. At the last minute, when our class time was truly over but no one wanted to leave, the ladies hovered around the table full of Anna Maria Horner goodness and bought up fabrics like they were going out of style (and many are going out of print, after all).


The Skirting Couture weekend workshop was an amazing treat that could only have been improved by you all being there too.  I wish you were!  Next time....

Monday, August 30, 2010

More on Skirting Couture

Thank-you, thank-you for your comments and advice on Decisions, decisions.  The first morning of Anna Maria Horner's  Skirting Couture workshop, I still didn't know which fabric I would use!  So, completely unlike me.  But, after setting up my sewing machine I just knew that I would reach for the Natura by Alexander Henry.


I think my inner "Type A" drive to use up a fabric that I had no other inspiration for won out over other factors.  But, your advice to use the cheaper or less-loved fabric in class and the Anna Maria Horner Little Folks fabric for a second go at the pattern was wise, very wise.   The trouble is I can't imagine when I'll be making a second skirt.  Between Christmas sewing and do. Good Stitches, I feel I've a very busy season ahead.  If only my father-in-law would enjoy a handmade skirt!  Ok, scratch that.

Ms. Alexia

Back to the class. Please say hello to Ms. Alexia. She's Anna's assistant and a wonderful teacher (in fact she teaches bunches of classes in Nashville). Alexia's also the beauty that graces some of Anna's pattern covers, so perhaps you will recognize her! And, yes, this photo is blurry. Unfortunately many of them are as I'm still learning the basics of using my husband's fancy camera. Sorry! See that phone in the back? It's in focus :).


As I was saying. Here is Alexia demonstrating the mysterious invisible zipper installation. Turns out it is rather easy. As easy as she and Anna promised, really. I won't try to explain it here, because there are real tutorials out there. But, Alexia gave us a live demo while Anna drew diagrams with a fading blue dry erase marker. I wonder if anyone else was thinking as Anna drew pictures of zipper coils, "Wow, and she really draws her fabrics out too, just like that. Just as easy." Yes, I know, I'm hopeless.


Here is the zipper halfway sewn in. See how it pulls back the fabric and "hides"?

Gladly, I was able to try my hand at installing my invisible zipper while still in class.  Every so often it was "Alexia, am I doing this right?"  My goodness, she is p-a-t-i-e-n-t.  But other than having a bobbin problem that required rethreading mid-way through...


I was able to get the zipper in without a hitch! Credit the good instructions, friends. And speaking of friends, I shared my looooong table with the sweetest mama-to-be. Thanks for the pictures, Timshel!

Zipper success

With the zipper finished, my skirt outer is complete. It looks skirt-like and even fits! Wow, who would have thought?

My skirt

Now I can definitely say that I'm glad I went with the Alexander Henry. This skirt is totally "me". I'm considering adding a peak-a-boo lining with either a solid or small black/white print showing to add that extra handmade zing. What do you think? I'm also considering going lining-free, because I'm lazy (and perhaps not so modest? Were I grew up, in California, you just wear nude panties). And now, here is my invisible zipper.

So invisible

Are you really still here? I can't believe how long this post is! And, I still have more pictures to share from class. Let's save those for tomorrow. Shall we?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

the dish: Anna, Sewing Class & Innocent Crush

I could tell you that our vacation is off to a wonderful start.  That we're all having fun.  About the children's first horseback ride ever or the amazing art experience at the Frist.  But, I know you really just want the dish on Anna Maria Horner, on the class, on her fabric (yes, Innocent Crush!!!).

lovely little temptations

on Anna

If you read her blog you can't be surprised to hear that Anna Maria Horner is friendly, approachable and completely charming.  I'll say even more friendly in person, if that's possible.  I was truly nervous about the whole thing.  Not just about meeting Anna, but about the whole class experience.  But, just as it is here in crafty blogland, the ladies at the Skirting Couture class were beyond nice.  I'm far from a social butterfly, but I already feel among friends.

Ok, back to Anna.  She's quite genuine.  Her love for fabric, for fun and for her family pour out all at once.  Like a true southern lady, she made everyone feel welcome and comfortable.  And that's why I don't think anyone could feel very star-struck once they've met her.  She's all too nice for all that.

Proper Attire in Progress

On class

For class, we're creating with one of Anna Maria Horner's soon-to-release skirt patterns, Proper Attire Skirt.

Anna began the class by sharing her story - how she journeyed from college years studying drawing to her gig as a fabric designer (among other talents).  She was actually designing other products like stationary and gift wrap when Freespirit fabrics approached her with an offer for fabric design.

After an opportunity for all students to introduce themselves and confess to fear of the invisible zipper, Anna treated us to a mini-lecture on the basics of fashion draping.  She demonstrated draping, pining and cutting fabric to create a pattern template on a dress form, and made sure we all understood the difference between body measurements and finished measurements, allowing for ease.

Information is good.

After lunch we were all eager to get started.  And then came the hard part - which style of skirt and which fabric?

beautiful bolts

on Innocent Crush

Oh, the fabrics!  Anna brought a gorgeous selection of Good Folks and Little Folks.  She also brought a sample of each skirt style made in Innocent Crush, her new collection to release this fall.  Remember that pretty patchwork she posted to her blog yesterday as Afloat in Patchwork? She had turned that work of art into a pretty gathered skirt.  And the waistband is a scrumptious velveteen.

Innocent Crush Velveteen

I didn't know what to think when I heard that Innocent Crush would include velveteens.  Velveteens?  Just touching it convinced me.  Soft, but not solid velvet.  Not too heavy, not too much.  And if anyone else wondered at velveteen, I suppose we should all know better than to doubt Anna Maria Horner's instinct for substrates after those crazy-fabulous Little Folks voiles.  So velveteens... for slippers? a robe?  a cuddly plushie?  a baby quilt?  ahhhh, I SEE!

A few more peaks at Innocent Crush!

Anna's Proper Attire Skirt

Innocent Crush

Innocent Crush is scheduled to hit stores this November.  It'll include cotton voiles, a bunch of quilting cottons and velveteens too!

More class tomorrow.  And, yes, I feel completely blessed to be here!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Decisions, decisions.

Today we are off to Nashville!  It's a much-anticipated family vacation and my opportunity to take class with the fabulous Anna Maria Horner.  After doing some wishing and praying (and begging), I was granted a late entry into Anna's "Skirting Couture" workshop.  Yes, we're making skirts, and I still haven't chosen a fabric.

To begin with, I'm just intimidated.  My attempts at sewing clothing before have been frustrating, to say the least.  And, this isn't just a skirt - it's to be lined and have an invisible zipper!  On the one hand, the weekend workshop is a wonderful opportunity for me to learn some new skills with a real-live teacher to help.  That'll be a first!  On the other hand, I'm afraid I'll destroy my supplies, be the dork of the class and not even like what I make (entirely my fault, of course).  And then there's the thought, what if I annoy Anna Maria and she doesn't like me at all?  (Wait, is this still high school?).  Ahem.  And there's all my cards.

So, chin up, I'm going to Nashville.  I'm bringing along two fabric options because I really couldn't decide.  Hoping you could help me with that!  The skirt I'm making is a fairly common style with gathers that fall all around from under a wide drop yoke/waistband.  I think it's to look something like this one made by my friend Amanda of Little Cumulus, but with not quite as long of a drop yoke.

Anyhoo, here are my fabric options.

Option 1

Option 1:  familiar quilting cotton.  a fabric I have no other use for.  would have to make drop yoke/waistband out of the ash gray as shown, because do not have enough of print.  the birds are great, and I like this kind of over-sized, open print for a skirt.  a little too rainbow bright for a grown woman, perhaps?  still, I think I would wear it.  my husband says I will (yes, I am surprised he has an opinion on that).

Option 2

Option 2:  silky cotton voile (by Anna Maria, no less).  a fabric I purchased for this project and it was pricey.  afraid it will slip when I sew.  afraid I will destroy it (I could save it for something else).  the colors in the print are more "me" for clothes.  the print is a little small and may make me look bigger?  Aria thinks this fabric is dreamy.  she is right.

Please help me decide!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eggplant Purple!

I have this thing for purple.  It started when I was very little.  My mom decided (I think it was mostly her) that purple was my color and pink was my sister's.  I always said purple was my favorite color until I hit the teen years.  Then, in wild rebelliousness, I claimed green.  Now, I can't name a single color.  I just ADORE them all!  But... at the same time, I seem to land on purple again and again.

Like way back when I chose the colors for my online maternity store.

Or, when I chose a color scheme for the living room:  brick red, burnt orange, eggplant purple and green... ok, and black and brown too).

Our livingroom

Or, when I chose a wall color for my laundry room.  (I can't show you a picture of that because I chose the WRONG paint color.  It's rather embarrassing.  I should never be allowed to choose the actual paint chip for a room.  The idea, yes, the actual shade, no).

So, when my husband asked me what color he should paint the new furniture he's made for our living room, I immediately thought, "Eggplant Purple!"  It was a hard sell, but he agreed to a dark eggplant for the media storage table if we went with black for the TV stand.  Fair.

And, here it is... my first piece of colored furniture ever!

Eggplant media cabinet

I think we chose a nice shade, even though the red brick behind it makes it look pretty darn purple.  What do you think?  At first we finished it with round pull-knobs, but those looked ridiculous with the boxy design (we're IKEA fans).  The new nobs still look small, but they blend I think.

And, yes, I am totally blessed to have a man who makes us furniture!  Over the years he's made us countless pieces and right now he's actually making a new front door.  ( I didn't know you could do that!)  Before you get too jealous, let me tell you a dirty secret:  he's a quilt-hater.  Can't get him to like 'em, no matter what.  I keep showing him new, cool/modern designs but he won't budge, persistently refusing to let me make a quilt for our bed.  Miraculously, I still love him.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Do you Like?

Here's how your sewing machine cover looks so far...

Sewing Machine Cover WIP

Do you like how it's coming, partner?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lyla's Banner

A very special little girl is turning two the day before my birthday. I so enjoyed making this name banner for her bedroom!

Lyla's banner

The letters were cut from an unwanted felted wool sweater and machine appliqued. I wonder if her mother will be able to place that sweater from our high school days.

with felted wool letters

The flowers at each end are adapted from Sandi Henderson’s Sewing Bits and Pieces.  Although she used them for sachets, I knew immediately that I wanted to use them for a name banner.  As per Sandi's directions, the petals are cut from wool felt and fused on the linen.  From there the embroidery was pure play.

Lyla's daisy

Don't you love Sandi's generous use of french knots? And, here's the other one.  I added the little dragonfly since Lyla's room has a girly bug theme.

Lyla's wildflower

Happy Birthday, Lyla!  A package is on its way to you this week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Life is good when your embroidery floss is tidily stored on thread bobbins.  Life is even better when your bobbins smile back at you.

Cute. Thread Bobbins

Cute.  AND useful!  Download your printable here.

I've set to work winding my loose embroidery floss.  The geek in me loves that these little thread bobbins are color coded so that you can match their color to your floss.  Yah, it's the little things.

a world of possibilities

This is my stash of tidy embroidery floss.  Now, don't think I've been winding for weeks!  My mom picked up this handy organizer mostly filled with floss on bobbins from a yard sale.  Score!  I've been filling it in with hand-me-down embroidery floss once wound on my new bobbin friends.  So between winding and embroidering, I've been whiling away the time with Alias a few times a week.  We're almost to the last season on DVD.  I think we'll finish just before season premiers!

Hope you can use the cute printable :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Christmas Spice Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Christmas Spice by Michael Miller! It was so much fun to hear all of your great ideas for Christmas sewing. Several of you mentioned that you'd make Christmas bunting. I'm going to have to make bunting with the scraps from my spiderweb Christmas tree skirt. I have like a million linen triangles from the trimming process just begging to be used!

And the random winner is.... Val Miller! She said, "Ohhh ... so totally would love to make a spiderweb x-mas tree skirt!! Love that idea!! Love the fabric too!!" Congratulations, Val!

Thanks again to Sew Love Christmas for this generous giveaway!!!

WANTED: Quilters to do. Good

Wanted - a few good quilters.  By "good" I mean, good-hearted, generous and passionate about helping others.  Ok, it helps if you've made a few quilts too (I've only made 3 myself).  This one will be my 4th...

Red & Aqua blocks

That's the collaborate effort of the Love circle, which is the first virtual charity sewing bee that formed at do. Good Stitches.  We're doing a red and aqua sampler quilt and only about 1/2 of the blocks are represented above.  I'll be piecing and quilting this beauty next month, after all the blocks arrive!

So, back to you.  Are you interested in stitching for children in need?  Two new circles are forming right now.  The Hope circle benefits Piecing Hope, which is funneling quilts to an African orphanage for aids victims.  The Faith circle benefits the local needy through our local Christian churches.  Both of these groups are in need of quilters.  Quilters are those members that plan, assemble and quilt each month's project.  They are not responsible for providing materials for the quilt top, as each member pieces blocks from their own stash.  You need to be an active Flickr member to participate.  And, quilters, do need to be located in the US.  If you're interested, please visit do. Good Stitches to request an invite or just comment here.

At this point, I am {sadly} having to turn down those sweet souls that are requesting membership as a stitcher for these groups.  If you cannot commit to quilting, but do want to participate, you can join now as a "member" and be on the waiting list for a future charity circle.  I anticipate that another will open before the end of the year!

Come quilt with us!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Is there anyone looking over your shoulder?  This post is top secret... my project for the {Urban) Home Goods swap.  Of course, I can't name my fab secret partner, because it could be YOU, so let's just call her Mrs. X.

Mrs. X included a list of sewing ideas for me, her blind swap partner.  She implied that she'd be happy with anything, but I know what she really wants - a sewing machine cover!  How do I know this?  Because that's what I really want!!! Oh, and she did include it on her list and in her inspiration mosaic...

Mrs. X has a style that's light, upbeat and eclectic.  Fortunately, I had on hand these lovelies that I think we'll suit her very well:

Secret project for {Urban} Home Goods Swap

At first I thought I might make a sewing machine cover like this one, but in the end I decided to mix it up.  I'll do the same cover style, which allows for a margin of error in the fit, but a different patchwork pattern.  What do you think of this?

Work in Progress

Completely fabulous, right!?!  It's a quilt made by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts.  If you don't know and love her already, I dare you to click.  Her work is so precise!  She also has a light and upbeat style, so I thought of Red Pepper Quilts when I imagined what Mrs. X would like.  This Hour Glass quilt has been one of my Flickr favorites for a while now.  What a perfect opportunity to give it a go.  And, quite happily, on a small scale.  I'll be using Rita's  Hour Glass Block Tutorial.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Meditation in Stitches

The magic of needle and thread...

My breathing slows.

My focus centers, and yet discovers freedom to roam - to daydream, chat, smile at my children.

I emerge rested, alive.

And surprised.  How is it that simple stitches produce something so beautiful?

Meditation in Stitches

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fabric Giveaway! from Sew Love Christmas

First, I am so glad you have been enjoying my "Stitch Your Life" posts.  I've heard from many who are taking the plunge into first sewing projects!  Hurray!  There's a new tab up top so that you can easily reference the whole series.  If you have any requests for future posts, I'd love to hear them.

Now on to the goodies!  My sweet sponsor Ruth of Sew Love Fabrics & Sew Love Christmas, is giving one of my readers this complete 1/2 yard set of Christmas Spice by Michael Miller!

Christmas Spice Fabric Giveaway!

Isn't it fun!  That's a total of 4 lovely yards and more than enough to get you off to a running start on Christmas sewing this year!  This is the same line I'm using to make my spiderweb Christmas tree skirt.  I love that it includes red and green, but in less traditional tones.  And the addition of pink and teal just makes me smile!

Enter to Win!

For your chance to win, comment here telling us what you would make with Christmas Spice!

For a second entry, blog about this giveaway and make a second comment to record your entry.

Enter now through noon (EST) Thursday, August 19th.  Winner will be announced Thursday afternoon!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stitch Your Life: Sewing Book Roundup

I'm a book junkie.  I've always loved reading and have a week spot for the smell of a brand new book.  I'm inordinately proud of my bookshelves.  Um, there's even a pile of sewing books I leave out for decoration.

The thing is sewing books really are all that.  The inspiration is endless.  The directions are there.  And, when you borrow them from the library, it's all free!  There's little need for buying patterns, when books like these abound!

Learning to Sew

Stitch by Stitch: Learning to Sew, One Project at a Time
by Deborah Moebes.   This is the #1 book I'd recommend to you, if you're learning to sew.   Deborah's book is designed for the beginner sewer with projects that teach skills in a practical sequence.  Following her book, you'll complete projects that build upon one another so that you can be encouraged by beautiful finished projects along the way.

Bend-the-Rules Sewing
by Amy Karol.  This is the book that got me started actually sewing.  Very clear directions with Amy's frank and casual vibe.  From sewing a seam to sewing a buttonhole.  Easy projects for the beginner.  Happy pictures.  Slight vintage flare.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

The Modern Quilt Workshop
by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  My favorite overall learn-to-quilt book that was available at the library.  Discussions of technique were very straightforward with lots of "this is why we suggest you do it this way."  I learned a lot!


Sew Liberated
by Meg McElwee.  All the ins and outs of how to applique.  Meg covers many different methods with precision and helpful tips.  Projects are adorable, yet modern and range from beginner to complex.  Popular projects:  soft baby book, art smock, children's animal bag, camera bag, apron.  I made curtains and the Woodland Clock.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Alabama Stitch Book & Alabama Studio Style
by Natalie Chanin.  It's all by hand, but don't let that stop you - you'll love it!  Natalie's unique, earthy style lends itself to gorgeously embellished clothing, tablecloths, bags and book covers.  I refashioned this skirt.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.


I Love Patchwork
by Rashida Coleman-Hale.  Rashida has an amazing sense of style and color.  This book is total eye-candy!  Lots of linen with modern prints.  Projects range from simple to complex.  Nice, clear directions.  Popular projects (um, all of them!):  calendar, travel sewing book, coasters, sewing machine cover.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Patchwork Style
by Suzuko Koseki.  Drool.  This book is not for beginners, as it features minimal directions and projects with lots of small piecing.  However,the projects are amazing!  Modern, Japanese style.  Popular projects:  patchwork rug, pot holders, log cabin blocks/quilts.  I made the patchwork rug. See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design, and Inspiration
by Malka Dubrawsky.   Malka is innovative.  That's the truth. This is not your average sewing book.  If you love color or modern shapes, I think you will really enjoy it.  Her work challenges me to embrace color more passionately, to get more gutsy with freemotion quilting and to allow myself to work with more freedom at times.


Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts
by Joelle Hoverson.  Simply gorgeous.  My favorite collection of quilts with clear directions easy enough for the beginner.  Popular projects - quilted coasters, rainbow pencil roll, Color wheel quilt, Peanut the wee elephant, pin cushion.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.

The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking
by Jane Brocket.  Jane shares her quilting process from inspiration to completion in detail, from color selection to borders to binding, on many beautiful quilts.  Her English cottage style is not my own, but I feel I learned a lot about color and scale.  See this review by The Sometimes Crafter.

Block Party--The Modern Quilting Bee
by Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejnieks.   The book chronicles all 12 months of the Block Party quilting bee, sharing inspiration, fabric and color choices behind each quilt's design, specific directions for making each quilt and mini interviews with each bee member.  There's a very comprehensive 30-page section on quilt-making basics.  See my short review with photos!

Quilt Essential:  A Visual Directory of Contemporary Patterns, Fabrics, and Colors
by Erin Burke Harris.  An excellent reference and crash course on quiltmaking for today's emerging quilter.  Covers fabrics, color, design and assembling with a wealth of images.  The Assembling section has practical how-to advice that illustrates multiple options.  See my review with photos!


Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
by Natalie Chanin.  An extremely detailed how-to for creating a wardrobe a la Alabama Chanin.  Gorgious photography of finished items and so many amazing fabric surfaces.  Here's my introduction.

The Colette Sewing Handbook
by Sarai Mitnick.  My favorite general resource for sewing clothes from a highly-respected pattern designer who doesn't assume you already know the basics.  Includes excellent base patterns to jump start your wardrobe.  Here's how it helped me.


The New Crewel
by Katherine Shaughnessy.  I have yet to find an embroidery book to love.  Crewel is much like embroidery, but more "chunky".  This modern interpretation is packed with amazing designs.  Very easy to learn and the perfect way to get inspired for handwork.  I made this pillow and this one too.

Misc. Favorites

Handmade Home
by Amanda Blake Soule.  A warm, eco-friendly book with a wide variety of practical and memory-keeping projects.  Not all sewing.  Directions are light, but the projects are easy enough for someone still new to sewing.  Definitely favors an earthy, homemaking type like myself.  My review here.  I made the word banner.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Seams to Me
by Anna Maria Horner.  Lovely projects in Anna's glowing fabrics.  A good intro-to-sewing section.  Popular projects - caddy pin cushion, hexagon patchwork baby ball, purses and aprons.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby
by Anna Maria Horner.   This is my go-to book for baby gifts.  My pregnant friends have each found something to love in the pages!  I've made the Sixth Times the Charm baby quilt and the Hide & Seek Spectrum baby quilt.  Right now I'm working on some wall art from the book too!  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Note:  This list represents my honest opinions and recommendations.   But, for full disclosure you should know that this page is set up with affiliate links to Amazon.  If you purchase books from these links, I do earn cash which I'll use to enlarge my crafty library.  So, thanks for that!
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