Oct 282013

So, a few weeks ago as the days were cooling off I got to thinking that I don’t have many clothes for the transition time between the hot and cold weather here in New England.

In the summer I wear tank tops, shorts or skorts.  In the winter I wear those same tank tops layered under jackets, open tops or sweaters with jeans.

So I went looking at Joann’s for a pattern for a long sleeved, but not too heavy top that would be good for spring or fall. It also had to have some interesting details and not be boring.

vogue 8691-knit-top-w-ruffles

This Vogue top fit the bill.  Actually, Vogue was the only pattern company with tops that weren’t boring, imo.


I made it up with fabrics from my stash.  The body is the last of the navy blue knit that I used for this Donna Karan Vogue dress.

The sleeves, neck trim and ruffles use a grey sweater knit that I have no idea why I bought, promised a while back I’d never, ever wear, but went into a panic about when I thought perhaps I’d gotten rid of it.

This one’s rather somber and plain for me, I tend to prefer more color, but it’s a great excuse to layer up the long sparkly necklaces. :-)

Oh, and I just realized WHY I don’t have many transition clothes, the in between period around here is too stinkin’ short.  This top was finished a couple weeks ago and it’s already time to bring on the layers.  Ah, well.

Review of Vogue 8691 view D:

Pattern Description: Long sleeve semi-fitted top with neckband, princess seams, shaped hemline flounce, topstitching and raw-edge hem finish.

Pattern Sizing: I’ve learned to chose a pattern size based on finished garment measurements rather than the measurements given on the pattern. (See my article All About Ease – Getting A Perfect Fit for more info.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that the measurements on the flap of Vogue 8691 were correct, at least for my size. Three inches of ease around the bust was just right for this style.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, exactly.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t have any problems with the directions. I know a few other reviewers mentioned some confusion with sewing on the bottom flounce. Reading through the pattern before starting and visualizing all the steps is very helpful here.

Be sure the follow the directions to mark the bottom of the shirt and the top of the flounce. They suggest machine basting, but I just used a chalk wheel to mark the seamline on the wrong side of the shirt and the right side of the flounce. They you can easily match those lines together.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the flattering lines of the princess seams and the interest created by the contrast fabrics and the ruffle at the bottom.

I also like the interest of the raw edge finish on the flounce. Be sure to choose your fabric with that in mind.

Fabric Used: I used a cotton/lycra knit for the body and a lightweight sweater knit for the sleeves, neckband and flounce.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Several other reviewers mentioned that the neckband as designed would not lie flat. One reviewer suggested cutting the neckband on the bias. This doesn’t make much difference in the amount of stretch in a knit, but I decided to do that to take advantage of the subtle plaid design in my grey sweater knit.

I cut the front and back bands as one piece, folded it in half lengthwise right sides out and stitched the raw edges to the wrong side of the neckline with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, stretching slightly as I went. I then pressed the seamline to the neckline edge and top-stitched down the fold. This gave a nice smooth neckline finish.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I definitely plan to make this again. These were fabrics from my stash and a test to see how I liked it. I’d also like to try view A or B, the shorter length with a zipper front.

Conclusion: A fun, flattering and comfortable top to wear over jeans or leggings. The raw edge application is interesting and saves time. This top only took me about four hours from start to finish.

Oct 222013

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!


Today’s desk shows me working on another project from  Wire-Wrapped Stones Crystals and Clusters, a Craftsy class I bought a while back.

There’s the latest issue of Polymer Cafe.  I’m not really into Santa, and I think this one is especially creepy, but she does show a fantastic method for making polymer clay eyes that look like glass.  It’s on my list of things to try.

Those flower dies having been hanging around for a while, I’m sure I’ll get to using them at some point.

bead cluster earrings

These are the earrings, all done.

If you decide to take this class and make these earrings, here’s  a tip for you.  Each earring contains 63 small stones that are strung onto a wire before being wrapped on the hoop.  Aga (the instructor) suggests you lay out your two rows of stones on a bead mat so the pattern will be the same on both earrings.

This is an excellent suggestion if you are NOT an uncoordinated person.  If you can be certain your fingers will NOT catch the bead mat (TWICE!) and send all your neatly arranged beads flying, then, by all means, do it this way.

If, however, you’d like to avoid that sort of pain, aggravation (and near cussing) I’d suggest you do it a different way.  Instead, just string both your wires at the same time.  Have all your beads in a pile, pull out a few matching pairs at a time and string them so each wire has the same pattern.

After finishing these though, I had to wonder, does it really matter if they match?  Maybe if you were doing fewer, larger beads, yes, but not with these teeny tiny ones.

bead cluster earrings

Anyhow,  they’re done and I LOVE the colors.  There’s only one more project in this class I need to do.  Then I guess I’ll just have to take another one.  :-)

Btw, Craftsy just let me know they are having a flash sale this Friday, October 25th, so if there was a class you were thinking about taking, that would be a good time to sign up.


Don’t forget that they always have lots of free classes as well.  I’ve taken several and enjoyed them all.

So, that’s what’s on my desk this Wednesday.  Interested in what other creative people are up to?  Check out the link party over at Julia’s. It’s always fun and inspiring.

Happy creating!

Oct 172013

With Christmas coming and folks looking for gifts ideas (or just us crafters, looking for something new for US, hehe) here is a list of my favorite quilting books for your consideration.

Put them on your own wish list or pick up a couple for a fellow crafter.

1. Favorite quilting book for learning about color:

Color from the Heart: Seven Great Ways to Make Quilts with Colors You Love

Difficulty level: beginner on up

I learned some of the most important lessons about color (in quilts and in any art form) from Gai Perry’s Color From the Heart.  The book consists of seven small quilting projects.  As you work through each one you apply the principles she is explaining.

It’s great fun and the best way to learn, in my opinion.

Two of my favorite little quilt projects ever were from this book (because of the colors, naturally.) :-)

2. Favorite quilting book for learning about machine quilting

Guide To Machine Quilting

Difficulty level: Intermediate to Advanced

Diane Gaudynski’s Guide To Machine Quilting is incredibly helpful.  She has a whole system worked out which includes needle and thread sizes, how to bundle the quilt, starching the backing to make it slide easier, even propping up your left foot to the same height as the right!  Each of these steps makes the process just a bit easier, so if you implement all her suggestions you’ll have an excellent chance of success.

If you like you can check out the queen size quilt I machine quilted using this information. If you want to learn how to or just improve your machine quilting I highly recommend this book.

3. Favorite quilting book for memory projects

Hanky-Panky Crazy Quilts

Difficulty level: advanced beginner on up

This book walks you through the steps of making a wonderful little keepsake quilt using handkerchiefs.  I made one from my grandma’s hankies and while back and love it.  It was a fun way to use some special items and preserve memories.

4. Favorite quilting book for baby quilts & quick gifts

Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts

Difficulty Level: Beginner on up

This book delivers what it promises in the title, every quilt in there is both sweet and simple.  It is my go to book for any special occasion quilt (usually for babies.)

This Beatrix Potter baby quilt was from SASBQ, as is this Topsy Turvy Sailboats quilt. (These patterns are probably the most complicated in the book.) This Pink Lemonade quilt is one of the simpler, and yet still utterly adorable.

If you are regularly looking for interesting, but quick quilting projects to make, I think you’ll enjoy Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts.

These next three books are for those quilters in need of a challenge.  They are definitely NOT simple, but they are lots of fun!

5. Favorite quilting book for a challenge

Optical Illusions for Quilters

I took a workshop with Karen Coombs a while back and loved it.  It felt like I was back in art school, which, yes, was a wonderful feeling. :-)

The experience was so inspiring that I bought her book and her diamond templates, plus stopped at the fabric store on my way home for a pile of batiks.  Then I proceeded to make this:


Never did finish it, but ain’t it cool?

Looking to stretch your skills, or for something new, different and interesting?  Try making an optical illusion quilt.

6. Favorite quilting book for making miniature quilts

Easy Paper-Pieced Miniatures

Ok, I have to warn you that paper piecing is not for everybody.  I have very experienced quilty friends who cheerfully hate it with a passion, lol. However, if you like working with small, complex designs, want utter precision and have a fair amount of patience, you may enjoy the process.

I made the cover quilt with the houses… twice.  Thought I’d lose my mind, but it was a great accomplishment. :-)

That being said, I consider this method the only way sane people make miniature quilts.  Just sayin’.

7. Favorite quilting book for a cool technique

Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts

It’s been mentioned before, but I’m a sucker for a cool technique.  The general idea of this book is that you layer identical repeats of a fabric, then rotary cut them into stacks of identical diamonds.  When you put each stack of diamonds together, you get kaleidoscope stars, like this.


and this….


And here’s the whole quilt:


All those stars were made from eight repeats of the four corner blocks.  Cool, eh?

It’ll definitely make you look at your larger scale fabrics in a whole new way.

So, there you have it, my top favorite quilting books.  Some are simpler, some more challenging, but all are worth a try.

Happy creating!

Oct 152013

Last Wednesday one of you lovely ladies mentioned you were watching a video on how to make a glue gun holder.  I was intrigued and checked it out here. I also checked out Jen’s blog and found directions for a Distress Ink Storage Unit on her sidebar.


And just like that, here’s my version. It’ll go on a lazy susan and be wonderful.  :-)

I made a few modifications to Jen’s design.  Mine will hold all 48 current colors and also holds my little ink applicators.

Also, I changed around a few of the process steps, making construction more streamlined.


My first thought was that scoring 48 individual pieces sounded painfully tedious.  Since each of my boxes was a 3″x12″ strip, I first scored the entire 12″x12″ sheet.


After scoring, you fold and then glue 1″ strips of cardstock over the gap.


Make your crease…


… and now cut this into 3″ segments.  Much faster than doing all 48 singly.


Then follow the rest of Jen’s steps as she shows them, first gluing the boxes together into stacks.


Here it is, with the spinner.  I had to do some rearranging to make space, but this will be great for now.

Have you noticed these shelves are getting extremely full?  I did put in an order with my custom cabinet builder husband for bookshelves for my sewing room, but you know how that kind of thing goes.  :-)

By the way, you can find that handy-dandy Distress Ink chart here. It’s nice to have a visual reference of what the colors look like, especially compared to each other.  I need to make two, one for my purse, so I don’t buy duplicates, and one to keep for reference.

So, that’s what’s on my workdesk today.  If you’re wondering why I’d think anyone cares, actually lots of folks care.  Just go check out What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday over at Julia’s and you’ll see.  You might even get hooked, too!

Happy creating.

Oct 142013

This fun little project makes use of a boring old pair of hoop earrings.


With a little bit of wire work and just a few beads you can dress them up with your own custom dangles.


And, you can make as many of these dangles as you want, in any colors you want.


How about lots of colors? Can’t you just see these each with several leaves in different fall shades?


Then you can swap ‘em around any way you want.

I kinda like all the dangles together at once. I’m wild & crazy like that. :-)

Watch the video on YouTube: Swappable Earring Dangles


  • 1 pair hoop earrings, any size you like (it’s preferable if they can be locked closed so you don’t risk losing your dangles)
  • 1 or more pairs of beads for each set of dangles
  • 2 head pins (for each pair center drilled beads)
  • 6-8 inches 22 or 24 gauge wire (for each pair top drilled beads)
  • round nose pliers
  • 2 pair chain nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  • crimping pliers, if needed


Find the location on your round nose pliers that is a little larger around than your hoop earrings.  Mark this point with a sharpie.

For each dangle with a center drilled bead:

  1. Slide bead(s) onto a head pin. Use chain nose pliers to grasp wire just at point where it exits last bead.  Bend wire at 90° angle.  Grasp bend at marked point on round nose pliers and wrap wire around pliers as far as possible to start to make a loop.  Reposition pliers to finish loop.
  2. Grasp loop with one pair chain nose pliers and use second pair chain nose pliers to wrap remaining wire around wire below 90° bend. Use wire cutters to trim, if necessary. Use chain nose pliers  or crimping pliers to tuck in end.
  3. Slide loop back onto chain nose pliers as far as it will go.  Press loop tightly onto pliers and wiggle slightly.  This will make your loop bigger and more round and will also tighten up your wire wraps.

For each dangle with a top drilled bead:

  1. Slide a 3 to 4 inch piece of wire into hole of bead, leaving 3/4 to 1 inch sticking out on one side. Bend both wire ends up at 90-degree angle to hole of bead. Bend wires over top of bead, making a triangle shape. Bend remaining ends of wire up, perpendicular to bead hole. Trim shorter wire to 1/8 inch from bend.
  2. Grasp wires just at the top of the triangle bend with chain nose pliers. Bend longer remaining wire at 90° angle. Grasp bend at marked point on round nose pliers and wrap wire around pliers as far as possible to start to make a loop.  Reposition pliers to finish loop.
  3. Repeat steps 2 & 3 under “For each dangle with a center drilled bead” to complete.

Make lots & lots then mix and match with abandon!

Happy creating :-)

Oct 082013

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday all!  If you’re wondering why I’ve posted a photo of my work-space, then you need to go check out the weekly blog hop over at Julia’s.  It’s fun to peek at what other creative people around the world are working on.


Today’s desk shows I’ve gotten back to working on jewelry from a Craftsy class, Wire-Wrapped Stones Crystals and Clusters. I bought this class way back in April, didn’t get around to watching it until July and am just now working on my second project.


That’s one thing I love about Craftsy classes, once you buy it, it’s always yours.  There are no deadlines and no rush.  Aga does a great job of teaching this class, btw, and the video work and class materials are of excellent quality.  I highly recommend it.


I made the Chandelier Earrings, where with just six inches of 20 gauge wire we make our own chandelier findings.


This was also my first try at making my own ear wires.  Dunno why I waited so long, it’s super easy!


And, for a change, I didn’t use craft wire, but went for it and used sterling silver filled wire and Swarovski crystals.

I hope whatever you’re doing today that you find some time to do something creative. :-)

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!

Oct 072013

Well, I’ve done it.

I’ve gone and bought the first Christmas gift, and now it starts.

Every year I say I won’t start until September, and I usually don’t, which is good because I usually don’t stop until mid December.  I love figuring out gifts for my guys and enjoy the challenge. (And it IS a challenge buying for three grown guys, let me tell you.)

The most painful part of Christmas gifts for me is that hubby does NOT think that way.

Nope, not one little bit.

Sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving I start dropping hints at least twice weekly.  You know, we’re out shopping and I say something like, “Ooooo, I LOVE the color of that sweater.” [holding up up to self'] “Hmmmm, I think a medium would fit me, don’t you? ” [Admiring in the mirror.] “Oh and look, it’s on sale until Saturday.”

Hubby [looking away bored] “Uh-huh.”

Or we’re watching an ad on TV and I say, “Hey wow, that’s an interesting product.  I’ll bet I could use that.  A red one would go really well in our kitchen, doncha think?” [Writing down name and model number on notepad.]

Hubby [clicking remote to find the football game] “Uh-huh.”


Hubby [strolling though my craft room] “Watcha doin’?”

Me – “I’m working with these great markers (inks, paints, stamps, whatever.) Aren’t they cool?” [Waving one, label side UP, at him.]  ” I like them but I only have them in two colors.  It’s a shame I don’t have them in MORE colors.  PURPLE would be good, for example.”

Hubby [blank stare into space] “Uh-huh.”

Fast forward to December 23rd.

Hubby – “What do you want for Christmas?”

Me- “What?”

Hubby – “You haven’t told me anything you want for Christmas.”

Me – “I don’t want to have to tell you.  I like surprises.”

Hubby  - “Well, I don’t have any idea.”

Me – “Whaddya mean, you don’t have any idea?  I’ve been dropping hints for months!”

Hubby – “No, you haven’t. I haven’t heard any hints.”

Me – “Well, then, what’s this?” [Waving notepad with name, model and  1-800 number.]

Hubby – “Oh. How was I supposed to know you wanted that?”

Me – [sighing] “Weren’t you listening at all?”

Hubby – “I still don’t know what to get you.”

Me – “Nothing.  I don’t need anything.”

Hubby – “Ok fine.” [Meaning it.]  “I won’t get you anything.”

Me – [sigh] “I’ll make a list.”

So, in the interest of saving someone else this aggravation here is a list of the most helpful sewing books I know of to add to your library.  Or ask someone else to add to your library. :-)

Favorite Sewing Book #1

Vogue Sewing, Revised and Updated

This book is an amazing reference of information and techniques, some basic, some more complicated.

What I love most about this book is that they explain WHY you should do something a certain way and when to use one variation over another.  For example, under bound buttonholes there are six different types, with an explanation of why and when you’d use each one.

In the fitting sections they explain  not only how a good fit should look in each garment piece, but what corrections to make to achieve good results.

Every technique has clear and well-drawn illustrations. I’ve yet to look up something in this book and not find it.

I highly recommend it for every sewer, from the beginner on up to the advanced.

Favorite Sewing Book #2

Power Sewing Step-By-Step

Sandra’s book walks you through the ins and outs of using patterns. How to change them, how to improve fit and fixing common problems, like “Armhole Gaposis Fix,” or “A Better Pattern Lining.” These tweaks make a huge difference in to final appearance of your garments. She understands how fabric flows over a body and how to use that knowledge to get the best results.

Favorite Sewing Book #3

Fabric Savvy: The Essential Guide for Every Sewer

Even if you’re already familiar with the different types of fabrics and their properties, you will find this book useful.

Under each fabric type Sandra lists important information like how to mark, cut and interface it, what kinds of seam finishes to use, as well as which sewing machine needles, presser feet and threads will work best.

Fabric Savvy is full of tips and tricks that will make your fabric handling much more successful.

Favorite Sewing Book #4

The Busy Woman’s Fitting Book

Nancy’s Zeiman’s pivot-and-slide fitting technique is quick & easy, but certainly not the only way to make fitting adjustments.  However, like I said, it’s quick and easy.  If you are new to making pattern adjustments, it’s a good place to start.

This little book is full of clear illustrations that will help you to make the changes to your patterns so you have a better fit.

Favorite Sewing Book #5

More polarfleece pizzazz

This book is chock full of great polar fleece projects. Ruthann knows how to make the best use of polar fleece’s properties (like the fact that it doesn’t fray, no fancy seam finishes here!) and gives great ideas for variations and embellishments.

Looking through the table of contents, I’d say I’ve made at least half the patterns in there.  A family favorite are the One Piece Polarsox, which can be whipped up in under 30 minutes.  One Christmas all my nieces and nephews got the funky hats (like the Mohawk and the Goat Roper hats) and they absolutely loved ‘em.

If you have lots of gifts to make, or just need warm cozy items to wear, you’ll have fun sewing up the projects in this book.

Quilting, Polymer Clay and Jewelry Making Favorites Coming Soon

So there are my top five favorite sewing books. Feel free to send friends and loved ones to this post if they are in need of gift ideas.

If your crafty interests lie elsewhere stay tuned, as I’ll be sharing my favorite quilting, polymer claying and jewelry making books in upcoming posts.

Happy creating!

Oct 032013

A friend came to me with a quilt her mother had made.  Her mom has since passed and the quilt is precious.  She’d like to display it in her home.

Sadly, though, the quilt is full of rips and tears like this one.


And this.


The quilt was hand quilted, so of course I did not want to remove her mother’s hand stitching. This is a very different kind of repair from the one I did here, where I took the whole thing apart to do the repairs.

The only way to do these repairs is to applique new patches over the torn and ripped sections. It would have been ideal if my friend had had matching fabric scraps from her mom’s stash, but she didn’t.  Even if she had, they may not have matched so well after all these years of wear and fading.  A little careful bleaching to fade them may have been necessary.


Instead I went shopping for fabrics that had the same look and feel as the patches to be replaced.  (You may not think they match well from the photo, but you’ll be surprised at the finished result.)  When shopping, don’t forget to check the backs of fabrics for a better match.  The one on the left is the back of a Waverly print.


The next step was to cut squares to the same size as the patchwork, making sure to add in seam allowances.  I was then able to machine piece together sections that matched ones needing replacement.


Once the sections are sewn together, press under the seam allowances and pin in place.


By the way, if you have sections with inside corners, you’ll need to not stitch the seam allowance in those corners.  Stop right where the s.a. begins and then backstitch. This will leave the seam allowance free to be pressed neatly.


Now it’s time to hand stitch these patches into place.  My favorite applique thread is 100 Weight Silk Thread. The 100 weight means it’s very fine, and the silk just melts into the fabric leaving your stitches invisible.


Here you can see just one of the diamonds has been repaired.  It takes a bit of looking to find which one, eh?

By the way, this is NOT a quick fix.  To date I’ve repaired all nine of the diamonds and a few of the stars. I’m coming close to 40 hours invested.  It’s a good cool weather, work-on-while-sorta-watching-a-football-game kind of project.

If you have old quilts in need of repair, feel free to send me detailed pics and I’ll be happy to advise you on how to proceed.  :-)

Happy creating!

Oct 012013

This tag was made a year ago based on Tim Holtz’s October Tag of 2012.

(The above link will bring you to details of how the tag was made and a video on how to make the little spider. Per usual, you can click on any of the photos for a larger view.)


Instead of leaving it all lonely and ignored on my sewing room wall, I decided to add it to a 6″ x 8″ Burlap Panel to make more of a home dec item.


You might recognize the tree stencil from the Halloween card I created last week. This time I used metallic gold embossing paste, kinda smudging & smearing the edges to soften and blend them in.  Once the paste was dry I darkened the trees a bit by  rubbing  some black enamel accents into the crevices and wiping the excess off the gold paste with a damp rag.


Here’s my workdesk in the midst of the process.


After adding the papers, including some Sketchbook Tissue Tape, I smeared on Distress inks, including Dusty ConcordSpiced Marmalade and Wild Honey.  The whole canvas was then sealed with Matte Multi Medium to keep the inks from running if it gets damp while in storage.


So that’s what’s in my desk this week.  If you’d like to see what other creative folks are up to, be sure to check out What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday over at Julia’s.  You’ll find yourself inspired!

Happy creating. :-)

Sep 302013


A few weeks ago I mentioned yet another top I made from a pattern I copied from a purchased garment.  This is version number five of this top, there’s something about the way it hangs and fits; it’s just perfect.


Here’s the before pic. The yoke is made from linen, but seemed kinda plain, hence the beading.


I took my design cue from the print fabric and did circles.  It was simply a matter of finding round things to trace and then filling in with beads.

Doubled silk thread should be plenty strong.  I hope. My only concern is that the sharp edges of the bugle beads will eventually cut through the threads.  Maybe I’ll do the first few washes in a lingerie bag, just in case.  (Do you hear me saying I’ll wash it by hand?  No way, lol.)  Any suggestions?


This didn’t take very long, about an hour to do all five circles, and would be a great way to dress up any garment, handmade or purchased, that needs a little something extra. :-)

Happy creating!