Friday, July 29, 2011

what I want

dearest Fabric Fairy....


Is this too much to ask?

xo,  Rachel

P.S.  Heirloom by Joel Dewberry currently shipping from Fresh Squeezed Fabric, Hawthorne Threads, &  Sew Love Fabrics.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


According to reliable reports, scraps are overthrowing sewing rooms everywhere ;).  Baskets are filled to the brim, scrap management systems are slipping into anarchy and some have confessed, "I just don't know how I should sort them and what pieces are actually useful, and for what."

Don't despair!  I totally understand that "slipping" feeling.  It puts me on edge.  I guess I decided to give my scraps the royal treatment as a way of reminding myself how useful they are and how much I want to be using them!  I kind of think that scraps are just about as useful as yardage.  It's all in your frame of mind.  You can piece them together (try to avoid getting blue in the face) to make fabric that can be used for blank, blank and blank.  So, given that, I save even the tiny pieces (down to about 2" square).  Those little itty bitty things are best for applique, where you don't loose fabric to seam allowances. But, I only save it if I like it.  I have my throwing-out moods as well, especially with small neutral scraps or very multi-colored ones.  The more colors, the harder it will be for me to find the scrap a real home in some random, already-planned project.

But, moving on to today's finishes!  After sorting those scraps, I was inspired to help them evolve into some wild, come-what-may improv patchwork.  So I set about thinking...  No, not a quilt.  Something smaller, something a little more useful?  Hey, maybe something to give!

Enter $3 graph-paper composition books and Jennifer Paganelli's covered journal tutorial

scrappy journals in progress!

Each book cover is such a small project, which allows me to play around with random piecing styles and color schemes. And, quite a lot of fabric goes into the front/back inside flaps, so the entire work doesn't have to be stunningly fabulous.




I'll be making 10 in all. And I'm trying my best to make them suited to the very special individuals I have in mind. Problem is, I'm already starting to think I should have ordered more than 10 composition books. Not only could I double my list of gift-recipients, I'm having a ball making them!

thanks to Jennifer!

I'm really happy with how they fit the books too. Thanks, Jennifer, for an easy, well-designed tutorial! My only change was shrinking the 2" seam allowance to 1" in order to save fabric. Yep, still can't bare to waste scraps...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sorting Scraps

My dining room is my sewing room, and slowly but surely it looks more and more like one.  A new makeover is underway, largely in part because of these drawers:

very humble beginnings

Eight humble drawers (white frames from Ikea, drawer fronts by my husband). Oh, but the plans I have for them! I mean for the outside. With some Mod Podge and braided cloth handles I intend to make them very especially ME!

The insides have already been put to good use!  The top drawers house large, flat items like my trusty Kona color card, sewing machine manual, misc. rulers, notions galore.  The bottom four drawers, which are deep, are home to my scrap collection.  It was the scraps that sent me drawer-hunting, really.  I've been sewing now for 2 years.  Scrap progression:

1.  Throw them away.  What could I possible make with scraps?
2.  Save every tiny bit.  Bottle those rainbows in canning jars.  Pull them out on rare occassions.  Make cards.
3.  Admit that I need a plan.  Start dividing scraps by warm/cool and big/little.
4. Bins overflow.  Create Bottled Rainbows.  Decide scraps must be dividided by actual color (ROYBG, etc.) and by 4 distinct sizes.

into wardobe draw sorters from Ikea

Enter drawers.  And, these nifty fabric bins (Kubb) designed by Ikea for wardrobe drawers. 

sorting scraps

When I was weak and whiney from the flu, I did the sorting from the couch or table. It was astonishing how much effort it took to lift my hand over and over again.

sorting scraps

The smallest cube is for my tiny scraps, ranging about 1-3". One long bin stores string scraps, while the other houses medium-sized chunks, ranging about 4-6". And, the largest scraps folded nicely in the large, square bin at the back of the drawer.  Drawers are red/pink, orange/yellow, blue/green and purple/neutrals.

oh happy scrappy day!

Happy, scrappy day! I fully realize that this is rather over-the-top. I mean, drawers solely dedicated to scraps!?! But, hey, I don't have a sewing room. And I probably never will. This is my "investment" into organization and effeciency. And, since the sorting took place, I have most certainly made better use of my scraps. Being able to find the needed color/shape so easily makes a HUGE difference!

Confession:  I fear letting my scraps outgrow this solution.  May it not be!

not a quilt.

The most troublesome scraps are those that are pieced - ie. cut-offs or cast-offs from some other project.  And then there are the multi-colored scraps, which are quite pesky too.  To keep things under control (ahem), I have designed a new project series specifically working from scraps in an improvisational manner.

something pretty

I should have some finishes tomorrow!

lucky ducky

Well, we certainly are a busy bunch!  Reading through your comments on the Pearl Cotton giveaway creates an impressive list of projects, plans and people who inspire us.  Thank-you!  You mentioned a ton of new-to-me names, but here are a few blogs that I was especially pleased to find:

Molly Flanders who seems to work quite a bit with pearl cotton for hand quilting and embroidery.

Alicia Paulson of Posie Gets Cozy whose Daisychain ABC Sampler is in so many hands!

Wild Olive who has dozens of adorable patterns and online embroidery classes too.

And now for our winner...  Mims is the lucky ducky who penned comment 418.  Congratulations, Mims!  I'll be in touch for your address.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

do. Good Stitches goes International

do. Good Stitches {a Charity Bee}
This August marks a full year of collaboration at do. Good Stitches {a Charity Bee}.  We have been adding about 1 new quilting circle per month, to a total of 118 members to date!  When I need a little encouragement, I like to visit do. Good Stitches - Finished Quilts to see some of the quilts that have been made to bless children and families in need.  What a priviledge it's been to work alongside you generous people!!!

Until now, do. Good Stitches has been a virtual sewing bee that welcomes members located any which where, but donates to various US-based charities.  I am so glad to announce that as of August two of our circles are going international!!  A new Australian-based circle will benefit Needy Stitches, which distributes quilts and afghans to hospitals, elderly, poor and disadvantaged throughout Australia.  And another circle that includes both US and Canadian members will be donating some quilts to Victoria's Quilts in Canada.  As our bee grows, I'd love to see circles pop up in the UK and the Netherlands, where we already have a few members. Until then, thank-you ladies for faithfully mailing your blocks across the seas!

But here's the thing, I only have 9 out of 10 members required to form the Australian circle.  So, naturally, I thought of you!  If you live in Australia, this is your moment.  I'm looking for a quilter who enjoys working with a modern style of quilting and is active on Flickr.  To raise your hand, please contact me on Flickr or fill out the new members form.
Hexagon bee blocks - Love circle.
do. Good Stitches Love Circle blocks, for June
But wherever you live, if you would like to get involved with our bee, please don't hesitate to say so.  The best way to register is to fill out the new members form and from there you'll be added to the wait list.  Here's a few details about how this quilting bee works:

do. Good Stitches is designed to minimize shipping and fabric costs by working from our own fabric stashes. Each circle makes ONE quilt per month.  There are two levels of membership:  quilters and stitchers.  Each circle needs 5 quilters and 5 stitchers, and we always need quilters most!  A quilter is responsible to plan and assemble a quilt approximately every 5 months (or only as long as you'd like to be involved).  I love doing this work and totally look forward to my turn to quilt.  And, you don't need to be an expert to be a quilter.  So long as you've finished a quilt or two, you do have the skills!  Everyone in the circle, both quilters and stitchers, makes approximately 2 blocks each month for the collaborative quilt.  Directions for what blocks to make are posted each month to the Flickr group discussions, which is why active Flickr membership is important.  For more details, see the The Rules.

I hadn't had a chance to show you the hexagon blocks above I made in June for the Love circle of do. Good Stitches.  This block is designed by Lee of Freshly Pieced.  As it happens, she just posted about the finished quilt top.  Take a look!

Love Circle June Hexy Top
Photo by Lee of Freshly Pieced.

What a fun layout!  I'm also about to mail blocks to Melissa of the Faith circle.  These 4 blocks are destined to become part of 4 different quilts.  The quilts are for siblings that recently suffered a tragic loss.  I love that Melissa knew what characters/themes would appeal to each child, so that these quilts are thoughtfully personalized.

DGS July blocks for Faith circle

Thank-you, once again, to all the good folks who have joined hands with us in the past year.  Your commitment has been a blessing to so many!  Let's keep up the good work!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pearl Cotton Giveaway!

something for you from Anna & I...

for you, from Anna & I

Really!  It's the complete 2-box set of Anna Maria Horner's new pearl cottons produced by Anchor and Westminster - both Geranium Wall and Reflecting Pool!

Imagine what you could do with this bowl full of yum.

bowl full of yum

The colors are inspired by Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi collection, but these glowing hues and stunning neutrals are sure to make themselves at home in fabrics everywhere.  I know that the Loulouthi Tiles quilt is only the beginning of my hand quilting indulgences with these lovelies!  If you're following along with my free Loulouthi Tiles pattern, what could be more perfect than a complimentary set of pearl cotton?

Loulouthi tiles stashed away

Enter to win!  To put your name in for this giveaway, please leave a comment sharing what needlecraft you're enjoying most or dying to try this summer.  Is it embroidery, hand quilting, crewel, cross stitch or something more exotic?  I'm just curious!  I'd also love to know if there is a particular blogger who inspires you along these lines so that I can make a visit.  But that second bit is just optional.  Giveaway ends Wednesday the 27th at noon, EST.  Good luck!

Pearl Cotton giveaway!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

nothing so simple

my Summer Sampler

I have been following along this week at the Summer Sampler quilt along.  After choosing an easier path to be happier on Monday, I dove right into paper piecing on Wednesday.  I'll give credit to Faith's excellent tutorial for making the technique so approachable.  So much so that I was glad Friday involved even more paper piecing.  Who wouldn't fall in love with the sharp, tidy angles it creates!

first paper-pieced!

My family was playing "war" in cards when I finished this block and paraded around the room like a mama with a newly hatched chick.  They were slightly puzzled, but admitted that it did look "different" than the kind of sewing I typically do.

I won't lie, I think it's spectacular!  I adore the double-bladed star points and the small square frame before the Kona cerise background.  Come on, you want to make this block, don't you?  It's not fussy, really!  But, you will gain a pile of scraps...

Which is, I suppose, the only thing I can say against paper piecing.  And yet, I'm not tempted to try to paper piece with smaller pieces.  Instead, I'll just have to brainstorm more scraptastic ideas, yes?

week 2 blocks.

Kelli made a comment on the "happier" post that gave me such inner clarity.  I realized that there is a need to balance the drive to challenge myself with the need to know myself.  On Monday, choosing to simplify the block was a moment of knowing myself - what I really want from sewing and where I'm going.  On Wednesday I challenged myself with a new, mysterious technique.  On Friday I challenged myself in color.

Because you know I love color.  But, after reviewing my Summer Sampler blocks, I decided I wanted one with more black.  After toying around with making a block with a black background, I landed on using this black pinstripe.  It reads fairly black, but adds movement and texture.  Though I wasn't sure how those lines would read, angling around the diamonds.


Do you like it?  Oh my gosh, I do!  I did not anticipate how much I would appreciate those lines and the mini-patterns they create.  What a pleasant surprise.  Hurray for taking on a challenge!

stretching myself, colorwise

In the end the block strikes me as sharp and dangerous.  Kind of like a block you wouldn't want to cross.  One that knows where to draw lines and isn't about to blur the edges.  Ok, so maybe a little too dark and dangerous, but coupled with these other more cheerful blocks

Summer Sampler weeks 1 & 2

I'd say the overall quilt has a personality I can be proud of.  And, I guess that's life.  Nothing is as simple as black and white.  There's a whole lot of color out there to be celebrated.  And, hopefully, in the end every block can be appreciated for what she uniquely brings to the table.  That's what we aim for anyways - for our quilts, our blogs, our community and ourselves to be an always-evolving work of art that's much more than a sum of its parts.  Knowing ourselves, yes, but challenging ourselves to grow, always.  Thank-you for taking this journey with me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kona Winner!

I hope you are enjoying your Saturday!  I've stopped by to draw a winner for the Kona cotton giveaway, generously gifted by Whipstitch.  From 301 entries, the winner is...

Comment 246, which is Jacqui of the delightful blog, Hazelnuts.  Now, I know you are tempted to be a wee bit jealous of miss Jacqui, but did you know she stitched up her first bathingsuit this year? 

Bathing suit

Ok, it's for her daughter, not for herself, but I'm sure you'll agree that anyone who goes there really deserves some Kona cotton!  So go ahead, Jacqui, and choose your favorite 5 colors at Whipstitch.  I'll be in touch soon!

And now, I'm off to cut some Kona myself.  I'm revisiting the rainbow today!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Where to find Pearl Cotton!

As luck would have it, Anna Maria Horner announced today via her newsletter that her needlework collection is now available in her shop

Here's a screen shot right from Anna's needlworks page.  Each set of pearl cotton contains 9 balls, which works out to about $4.75 each.  I pay $5 each at my local yarn shop, so that sounds about right to me.

A few readers also shared online sources for pearl cotton sold single.  One reader has already done some shopping at Yarn Bazaar, who sells an impressive selection of Finca pearl cotton, size 8.  Sometimes they have a color card available, but they seem to be out of stock now. 

Another reader recommended the website of her local quilt shop, Nordic Needle.  They have a large array of DMC pearl cotton.

Hope that helps!

Loulouthi Tiles {Hand Quilting Tutorial}

Loulouthi Tiles button Loulouthi Tiles is a quilt pattern designed to showcase large-scale prints.  There are several sizes available for you from baby to queen.  I'm using Anna Maria Horner's new Loulouthi collection, but you can use any fabrics!

Here's what has been posted so far:
1.  Versions & Design
2.  Fabric (with links for Loulouthi Tiles Bundles)
3.  Cutting
4.  Piecing

Today:  Hand Quilting!

Now that you're armed with basic hand quilting supplies let's make some stitches, shall we?  I designed Loulouthi Tiles to have 3 rows of hand quilting around each large picture frame tile.  To get started, you'll want to choose three colors of pearl cotton for each picture frame tile.  Take your time, try a few options and enjoy this part!  Here's what I chose:

pearl cottons for Summer Totem in Tart
pearl cottons for Summer Totem in Tart

pearl cottons for Clippings
pearl cottons for Clippings

pearl cottons for Summer Totem in Streudel
pearl cotton for Summer Totem in Streudel

All of these pearl cottons (except the yellow) are pulled from Anna Maria Horner's boxed sets of threads, which are due to be available in quilt shops any day now.  They're running late!  We thought that the threads would be available by the time I started hand quilting.  So sorry about that!  In the meantime, you might try finding pearl cotton sold separately at your local quilt shop, yarn shop or needleworks shop.  If you know of a great online source for Anchor or DMC pearl cotton size 8, please let us know.  So far, the websites I've found have had poor presentation that doesn't inspire my business.

Before walking you through how to hand quilt, let's talk about where.  Make your first, outermost line of quilting (shown in brown stitches below) along the seam that joins the picture frame tile sashing to the thinner, continuous sashing that runs throughout the quilt.  If you quilt exactly in the seam, your stitches will sink into the ditch.  I quilted just beside the seam, on the side closer to the picture frame tile.  No need to draw a guideline for this!

marking quilting lines

The next 2 rows of quilting are spaced evenly between the outermost line and the picture frame tile. Mark quilting lines at 1/2" intervals. Here I'm using my quilting ruler and water soluble pencil.

In addition, I plan to quilt through all the sashing paths in this quilt.  I tentatively plan to do some in hand quilting and some in machine quilting, but we'll see!  My intention is to thoroughly enjoy this project without rushing, which may lead to hand-quilting it all.  Oh, and I also realize that more quilting is needed to really secure this project.  I may add quilting inside the picture frame tiles in geometric grids or following Anna Maria's motifs.  Not sure yet!  I like to let quilting evolve as I go, in part to leave room for new ideas.

By the by, my quilt is basted with 505 basting spray.  Works like a dream and no pesky pins.  Love that!

{Hand Quilting Tutorial}

Step 1:  Thread, Knot & Insert Needle

loulouthi quilting 1

Cut a pretty long length of pearl cotton and thread your needle.  Knot the long end as usual.  Now, insert the needle through the quilt top only about 1 inch from where the needle will come up.  Make the needle come up precisely on your quilting line.  Remember, you're only going through the quilt top at this time.

This next part feels scary.  Be brave.

Step 2:  Tug Knot Through

loulouthi quilting 2

Pull the thread through until the knot catches at the insertion point.  Now grasp the thread near where it exits the quilt top and tug HARD until that knot pops through to the underside of the quilt top.  Pearl cotton is strong, as is your fabric.  I've only had my thread break once (my knot was huge, oops).  Broken thread is no deterrent.  You will win.

loulouthi quilting 3

To protect my fabric, I like to pinch the fabric near the knot and hold it up like so.  It seems to give way to the knot more easily when I do.

Once the knot is under, pull gently so that it catches at the thread exit point along your quilting line.  Now you are ready to hand quilt.

Step 3:  Insert Needle Vertically

loulouthi quilting 4

To begin quilting, insert the needle vertically through all layers of your quilt sandwhich.  Decide now how you will space your stitches for an even stitch pattern.  I like to aim to make my stitch length on the quilt top the same length as the space between stitches, just because it's easy on my brain.

Step 4:  Bring Needle Up

loulouthi quilting 5

Once the needle pokes through to the quilt back, angle it sharply to come up again to the quilt top.  Your quilt should not be held rigidly taut by your quilting frame.  A little give is necessary so that you can bend the fabric a bit as you bring the needle up.  Bending the fabric allows you to maintain the length of the under stitch.  Your goal is for the needle to enter the quilt back somewhat vertically.  That's pretty hard to do, but practice, practice.  Most of us (raising hand here) have shorter stitches on the back of our quilt than the front.  I say, don't sweat it.  Let's just keep quilting!

Step 5:  Load Another Stitch

loulouthi quilting 6

After you've gotten the hang of things, try loading another stitch on your needle at this point before proceeding to the next step.  My needle is short, so I can only do 2.  You'll repeat steps 3 & 4 to load another stitch.

Step 6:  Pull Through

loulouthi quilting 7

When you're ready, pull the needle out of the quilt sandwhich on the top side of the quilt.  To see your stitches, pull the thread all the way through as shown.  However, to save your arm and to save time, it's smart to make a few sets of stitches (each set is steps 3-5) before pulling the thread all the way through.  Continue in this way until you run out of thread or finish your quilting line.

Step 7:  Finishing

To stop hand quilting, you'll repeat steps 1 & 2 with a few modifications.  First pull your thread all the way through, so that only smooth stitches lie in your wake and the thread exits on the quilt top.  Now, make a knot a distance from your quilt top that is equal to the length of your stitches.  For example, if my stitches are 1/4" long, I'll make a knot only 1/4" from my quilt top.

I know, this is weird.

Next, insert your  needle to make the next stitch as usual, only this time only poke through the quilt top.  Make your needle exit the quilt top about 1" from your last stitch.  Now tug until your knot pops through to the underside of the quilt.  See!  Just trim off the thread very close to the quilt top where it exits.  The thread tail will drop to the underside of the quilt.  Hurray!

Questions?  I'm here for you.  Let me have them!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

in the Cloth with Whipstitch

in the Cloth

Please welcome, Deborah Moebes of Whipstich, my first guest for a new monthly feature. Because we HEART fabric.

When a new collection of fabric ships to the shop in Atlanta, I have a tendency to check over and over and over again to see when it arrives. I have been known to make a special trip over to the store the minute it comes in to make sure that I grab a little bit for myself. Not every fabric, obviously, but the ones that I've really been craving, the ones that I've seen in advance and have been dreaming of running my hands over. The two most recent of those are sitting on my windowsill right now, waiting for me to find a minute to play with them.

I super love 1001 Peeps, the new line from Lizzy House--not only because the designs are awesome, but also because I love that Lizzy always THINKS about her collections. This one is intended to flesh out the colors of Castle Peeps and broaden the spectrum so that the two collections work together, which I really love. I love that the prints all revolve around the tales of Scheherezade, and that Lizzy has spent so much time incorporating the feel and time of the stories into the prints. I love that she's written an entire book based on these fabrics full of amazing patterns and ideas so that you can work with them right away to make something beautiful (naturally, we're carrying the book in the shop, too, so you can grab one as you're browsing the fabrics--I know I have a copy, and I luuuurve it).

The other stack I've been really eyeing and anticipating is Children at Play from Sarah Jane. I get an email from the manufacturer alerting me when a shipment is headed my way, and when I got the UPS notification this time, I just knew it was Children at Play. I was actually counting days until this was in the shop--and it's been flying out the door so fast I was a little concerned I wouldn't get any for my very own! Seriously: the web shop has been blowing up with orders for this line, and I hear that it's already being reprinted by the manufacturer for those shops who ordered late and didn't get their shipment the first go-round.

Easy to see why: the prints are individually charming and collectively cohesive and delightful, with no filler or throw-away prints to be found. Each one is really strong, and I can imagine using every single one to make some treasured toy or garment for my own kids. My biggest struggle was choosing a single print to get in yardage for a dress for my girls--naturally, that means I got a half-yard bundle of everything so I could "audition" each print. Because that's reasonable.

I'm holding off making quilts or larger projects from either of these collections until I choose just exactly the right Kona solids to go with them:

I think I might have mentioned my love affair with Kona solids before. Have I mentioned it? Because I love them. Love them, love them. So as I'm working with these newest collections, I'm digging through my Kona stacks to choose just the right Konas to complement the other prints. I like to make sure there's some negative space, some restful place for the eye, in each of my larger projects, and I find the saturation and richness of Konas always does the right trick. I would be ashamed of how many colors I've collected--if I wasn't so busy congratulating myself over them. Woot!


In honor of my Kona passion, Whipstitch is giving away a bundle of FIVE half yards of Kona in your choice of colors from the Whipstitch shop to Stitched in Color readers!

Just leave a comment here telling me how you decide what colors to use in your projects--do you use an online tool?  your eye ball?  always natural lighting?   your mom's advice?  What makes you certain that a particular shade is the right color for your project?  I jump around and use so many different techniques, and I'd love to hear from you how you make your decisions!

Giveaway is open through noon (EST), Saturday the 23rd. and ships anywhere in the world.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


32 miniature half square triangles!?!?  Oh, dear.

So far I'm very much enjoying the Summer Sampler Series quilt-along.   It's quite fun to discover the challenge for the day, and lose myself in the simple task of completing one block.  On Monday, the block for the Summer Sampler Series was Flower Path, which is made up of 32 half square triangles, each measuring just 2.5" before finishing.  Here is Kate's layout of the pieces, to give you a visual of this 12" finished block:

Once pieced, the block looks like this:

As you can see, Kate's lovely block has a large white center, narrow blue "path" and corners filled with small square and triangle "flowers".  Quite the accomplishment, for sure!

On my way home from work to tackle this block (and dinner and putting children to bed, you know the drill), my reluctance to sew with tiny pieces rose up anew.  Certainly, there's skill to be gained in the process, but what if it's skill I never mean to use?  I actually laughed out loud at the thought of my choosing to work with 2.5" half square triangles in some future pet project.  And that's when I knew that doing the block correctly would be too much like more work for my day. 

So, I gave myself permission to have fun.  To cut corners.  To be happier.


This block came to be in the spirit of happiness with a nod to the real block. The inner square is nap sack by Joel Dewberry, flanked by a path of herringbone also by Joel Dewberry.  Add a border of measuring tape and outer corners in various yellow scraps, and... Tada!

(Note:  I did consider an alternate method of creating flower path, but in the end decided that simple triangle corners were just my style).  

If you should like to make this block, dubbed "happier" here are my cutting notes: inner square 6", diamond path (2) 2" x 10" and (2) 2" x 6". After adding diamond path to inner square, trim work-in-progress to 9" square. Cut (4) 2" x 9.5" borders and add to all sides. Cut (2) 5" squares in corner prints. Divide squares into half square triangles and sew to the center of each corner (remember to orient inner square on point). Square up finished block to 12.5".

Now, I don't intend to cut corners on all of the more difficult blocks, but it's likely to happen at least one more time.  Lots of brave souls have made the assigned block, so you can see actual flower path creations at the Summer Sampler flickr pool.  Well done, people!

Paper Piecing!  thanks, Faith.

In the meantime, today's block is paper-piecing! I have never properly paper-pieced before. Faith's tutorial was so excellent that I found the process neither confusing nor tedious. Here's my first completed quarter-block! I'm so glad to have learned the basics because I'd like to experiment with my own designs someday!

P.S.  Along the lines of choosing "happier", I also decided yesterday to set aside my darty dress project for now (don't worry, I have dutifully saved and bookmarked all your resources!).  I'm just not in the frame of mind to enjoy that challenge right now, and I'll admit that the project may not be the most sane route to sewing my first adult dress.  More reasonable options include:

* sewing a dress from a pattern.  Yeah, as soon as I find one I like.
* sewing a dress with stretchy fabric and just copying a favorite in my closet.  See Noodlehead's Sewing With Knits Mondays to get over the fear. 
* learning how to drape darts from a real person.  I'll be taking some apparel sewing classes at The Sewing Summit this October.  I may bring my bodice mockup and see if anyone wants to help me there! 

If you're also stumped, but interested in apparel sewing, consider Deborah's online Fall Wardrobe class, which is really a "sewing with patterns" class dressed up in fall clothes.  Deborah says it starts with the basics of how to choose a clothing pattern and select your size, then works through cutting it out, putting it together, and finishing--with notes in between about when to follow the instructions (and how) and when you can go off-road and do it your own way. If you've seen Deborah's book, you know she's an awesome teacher.  You can read more about how the course will work right here

Be happy!
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