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!

Sep 272013


Well, phew!  After several months of work, I’ve finally finished this piece.

I call it “Friends” and consider it a great success simply because it makes me smile. 🙂

(As usual, click on any of the pics to see a larger version.)


It all started back in May when I decided to take the Ways to Wow class over at Voila.


One of our earliest assignments was to collect a variety of images that appealed to us on an emotional level.  This would help decided what kind of emotion we wanted our pieces to convey.  Above is a screen shot of my Pinterest board of these images, you’ll find the whole board here.

After studying all the collected pics, I decided to go with joy/fancifulness/fantasy for my project.


Our next assignment was a deepening technique project.  I’d just replaced my old “thumb-breaker” extruder with one with a crank handle (approximately one-and-one-half million times easier to use!) and made several samples playing with my new toy tool.


Naturally, some of these are more successful than others, but as Christine (the teacher) said, it’s amazing how prolific one can be when just playing.


The next assignment was to choose pieces that best expressed our chosen emotion.


We then combined them with bits and pieces from a technique tray I’d assembled earlier.

The combination of techniques I found to express joy/fantasy were color blends, creating texture with extrusions and textured natural shapes such as leaves and flowers.


It was fascinating to see the results of pulling out items from my technique tray and noting how they work with the sample technique pieces I’d made.

Although I really like the dragon scale piece above in combination with the glass bits and think it could be something to come back to someday, the swirls, flowers, leaves and blends seemed to truly sing together.

Next we were told to go make something based on our chosen techniques.



I first tried to make a small bowl consisting of coils of extruded ribbons of clay. My initial design was weak, however and they fell apart.

I reformed the baked coils into a shallower bowl shape and added resin and a small goldfish to make a little pond. Colorful flowers around the edge completed the design. I got lots of compliments on the little fish, which was actually made with a lot less thought than any other element in the design.

Christine had some very helpful suggestions and thought I should run with this as my final project.


At first I was going to have a fairy sitting by the side of the pond, but my attempts came out just terrible.


Then there was that light bulb moment. Well duh, a dragon, they are my thing after all.

And finally, here we are, all done.


Don’t they look just like two pals, hanging out?

So there’s a little glimpse into the creative process for ya.  I certainly learned a lot and hope to use these lessons to keep on improving my work.  🙂

Although the Voila class is now done, you can read through and work through the steps on your own any time, if  you’re interested.

Happy creating!

Sep 262013


Tim Holtz’s September tag is all about using layers of stencils with a variety of media.  I don’t have any of his new stencils, but I’ve got plenty of the metal ones used for embossing.


This worked out well, as the first layer is done with embossing paste.  I repeated the trees a few times at different heights to get the start of a forest.


The next step was to pounce a stencil layer with Picket Fence Distress Stain.  I did the moon (and some stars which you don’t really see) and this ended up being my favorite part of the card.  I LOVE the way it peeks through the trees.

The ribbon is some white silk ribbon colored with Wild Honey Distress Stain and then aged with a bit of Vintage Photo Distress ink.

The charms were antiqued by squirting on a bit of black enamel accents, rubbing it into the crevices with my finger then rubbing off the excess.

Another layer was done with this Dreamweaver stencil, Bare Trees.  I didn’t really intend to make a Halloween card, but with the moon peeping out from behind those spooky trees, how could it be anything else?

christmas card glittery trees

Interestingly, these trees don’t have to be spooky.  Here’s a card I made a while back with the same stencil.  White embossing paste on blue cardstock sprinkled with glitter while the paste was still wet = winter wonderland, not spooky at all.

I love it when supplies are versatile!

Happy creating, all.  🙂

Sep 102013

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!  Since today’s desk is not very changed from last week, I thought I’d turn around and show the view behind me.


Technically this is not a workdesk, but my ironing board.  However, being the second largest flat space in the room (besides the floor!) it does tend to get piled with stuff.

On the left is a quilt to be repaired.  It’s all handwork, so it’s a nice job to do as cooler fall days approach.

In the center is fabric and piping for a couple upholstered cushions for a friend.


On the right is another top I made from a pattern I copied from a purchased garment.  This is version number five of this top, so you know I love it.  The yoke is made from linen, but seemed kinda plain, so I’m going to do some beading on it.


You saw these polymer clay beads in last week’s post.  I did decide to string them, and like how it came out, but don’t know when or where I’d ever wear it. The water lily beads are a project from Christi Friesen’s book, Flourish.

So that’s what’s on one of my workdesks today. If you’d like to see what other creative people are up to this week, go check out the party over at Julia’s.

Happy Woyww and happy creating!

Sep 032013

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday, all!  For your perusal I present today’s desk, full up with polymer clay.  Yeah, it’s kinda crowded. I seriously need a bigger desk.


This past week I’ve been working on my piece from the Voila polymer clay art class, Ways to Wow.


You can see here that I decided to go with a dragon, rather than a mermaid.  There are still many details to finish, but so far I think it’s really cute and happy.


The book in the upper right of my desk is Christi Friesen’s Flourish.  It was months ago that I bought it, but I’m finally working through all the different ideas she has in there.

The beads in the above photo are for a water lily necklace.  Dunno that I’ll ever make it, much less wear it, but going through Christi’s step-by-steps is always instructive. 🙂

So, that’s what’s in my workdesk this Wednesday.  If you have a little time and are in need of creative inspiration, be sure to check out lots of other desks over at Julia’s.

Happy creating!

Aug 272013


Since early May I’ve been participating in Ways to Wow, a polymer clay art class over at Voila.  This past week I’ve been working hard on prototyping my piece. In the upper middle left you see one of the color tools I was working on last week.


This little fish pond on the bottom right is my first prototype.


I experimented with a few different colors for the fish, trying to figure out which is most effective.


This was the second fairy I made and am not thrilled with the results.  The first fairy was so bad she ended up as a squished pile of scrap clay.  🙁  Next I’m gonna try a little dragon instead. I can picture him peering into the pond, might be kinda cute.



This is my second “pond” filled with resin – way too much resin I’m thinking.  It probably won’t cure until next week, lol. But that’s what prototyping is all about, eh?  Making mistakes and learning new things.  Hopefully in the end it will all come together well. 🙂

Whatever you are creating, may you enjoy the process.

Happy creating and Happy Woyww!

Aug 212013


Tim’s technique for this month was an interesting one. Rather than his usual style of lots & lots of layers of stuff, this involved using masks to make layers of stamping. It results in a nice flat card that has the look of dimension, but is easily mailed.

Naturally, I had to pick a stamp that was kinda tricky to make a mask from, Hero Art’s Silhouette Grass stamp. I only masked the solid parts of the grass, so the letters from my Old Letter Writing Stamp would show behind the thinner bits of the grass.


My stamped butterflies were kind of lost, so I outlined them with a Picket Fence Distress Marker. The trick with this white marker is patience.  When you first put marker to paper, it looks like you’ve accomplished nothing, but if you wait just a few seconds, the white will appear.

A little bit of Vintage Photo Distress Ink around the edges and some Baker’s Twine finished it up.

It’s not the fanciest card I’ve ever made, but it was quick, and it’ll do. 🙂

Happy creating!