Jul 162013

Hey all!  Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  My dad passed away last month and after a difficult two weeks I just arrived back home to Mass from New Mexico last Friday night.  After decompressing a bit over the weekend, I finally got in some crafting.


The free tutorial for this bracelet was posted over the Art Jewelry Elements blog a while back.


Here’s my desk after working on it.  Not too much of a mess.  Just wait until I get back into polymer clay. haha

Why am I posting a photo of my worktable?  Well, it’s What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday. You can read all about it over at Julia’s.


This was  fun, self-indulgent kind of project.  I made it just cuz I liked it and I wanted to, so there.  ===grin=== The focal bead is way too big for practical wear, but I am kind of happy with how it looks.

So, here’s to craft therapy, guaranteed to always make one feel better.

Happy creating!

Jul 032013

Finally, after many, many years of sewing, I’ve managed to figure out a most important thing that helps me get a good fit (most of the time) in my garments.

That thing is ease: the difference between your actual body  measurements and the finished measurement of the garment.


So, for example, this tunic has a LOT of ease around the bust and waist.  Those garment measurements are quite a bit more than the model’s.


This top has very little ease, it measures just a little bit more than the model.

My very first lesson in ease came when I was 17 and decided to make an outfit for my mom’s second wedding.  I had picked out a very pretty burgundy jacquard for a skirt and some white silky stuff for a top.  After carefully taking my measurements I designed and drafted my own patterns for both pieces.  I was so proud of myself that I’d even remembered to include seam allowances on the patterns.  🙂

So you can imagine my surprise when I tried to try on these two articles of clothing only to find that they were skin tight!  It wasn’t until much later that I figured out what the problem was… no wearing ease.

(Sadly, I was accused of trying to look like a hussy at my mom’s wedding and was promptly sent to the local mall to buy a more appropriate garment.  I didn’t sew for years after that.)

Anyhow, you need to know about two types of ease, wearing ease and design ease.  Wearing ease is what makes it possible for us to wear non-stretch woven fabrics and be able to move & breath in them.  You have to have a little room to breathe, twist and bend in order to be comfortable in your garments.

Here are some general guidelines for wearing ease:

Misses’ Ease Allowances
  Bust Area Hip Area
Silhouette Dresses, Blouses, Skirts, Tops, Vests Jackets Coats Shirts, Pants, Shorts
Lined or Unlined
Close Fitting 0 -2 7/8″ not applicable 0 – 1 7/8″
Fitted 3 – 4″ 3 3/4 – 4 1/4″ 5 1/4 – 6 3/4″ 2 – 3″
Semi-Fitted 4 1/8 – 5″ 4 3/8 – 5 3/4″ 6 7/8 – 8″ 3 1/8 – 4″
Loose Fitting 5 1/8 – 8″ 5 7/8 – 10″ 8 1/8 – 12″ 4 1/8 – 6″
Very Loose Fitting over 8″ over 10″ over 12″ over 6″

Everybody has different preferences, so to best determine how much wearing ease suits you, find a close-fitting garment that you like the fit of.  Measure yourself and the garment both at the key fitting areas (bust, waist, hips.)  The difference between the two measurements in each area is the amount of wearing ease you prefer.  It’s not a bad idea to write down this info, by the way.

If your garment has sleeves you may also want to measure around the widest part of the bicep to determine the wearing ease needed there.

The other kind of ease is design ease.  The above tunic’s style is largely due to how much bigger it is than the model.


The skirt of this dress is a lot bigger around than the model , but that’s what gives it its style.  She obviously doesn’t need all that extra room to move.  🙂


This skirt’s style is very interesting, but it doesn’t involve adding extra width around the body. So it only has wearing ease, not design ease.

So, here’s how you figure it:

body measurement + wearing ease + design ease = finished garment measurement

Now, the next time you look at a pattern envelope, just ignore the size chart.  Instead look for a chart of finished garment sizes.


On this pattern back you find the finished garment measurements at the bottom, below the yardage charts.  This pattern even kindly tells you that they include design and wearing ease.

Sometimes you’ll find finished garment measurements on the pattern envelope flap or printed on the tissue pattern.  Occasionally I’ve found them on the pattern maker’s web site.   And, sometimes, you’ll just have to measure the flat pattern (don’t forget to subtract the seam allowances.)

So now, instead of being frustrated, not knowing which is the right size to sew, just pick the size with measurements that match your body measurements plus preferred wearing and design ease.  Simple, eh?

Here’s to happy sewing AND getting a good fit!

P.S.  To my regular readers, sorry for having been so long between posts.  My father passed away and life has gotten quite complicated.  Like, as in, I might have to write a book about it someday complicated.  Seriously, it’s quite a mess. So, please pardon me if posts are a bit sporadic for a while.

Jun 252013

You all have heard me brag on Craftsy quite a bit lately, but it’s only because I think they’re wonderful.  I love their system of classes that you can take any time at your convenience.

What really sells me, though, is that you can take your classes over and over again… forever.  No worries about time frames or things expiring. That’s kinda awesome.

Craftsy Fine Art

Anyhow, I thought you might like to know that Craftsy now has a new category of classes: Fine Art.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to paint in watercolor or acrylics, or learn to draw, they have classes for you.  Here’s what they have to say:

 With the launch of six art classes, Craftsy is proud to announce a new category – Fine Art! Let our world-class art instructors teach you professional techniques to elevate your art, regardless of your skill level or preferred media. From landscape drawing to portraiture, watercolors to acrylics, these classes allow you to learn on your own time, at your convenience from talented instructors. Check out the new art classes from Craftsy:

So, whatever your medium, fabric, clay, ink or paint, Happy creating!

Jun 242013

I posted a few weeks ago that I had made a pattern from a purchased top I loved.


This is the original.  I loved it and wanted it in different colors.  I followed the tips in these videos to make a pattern (without taking the garment apart, too!)



If you can access old episodes of Sewing with Nancy, the series is called Copy Cat Patterns.


First I made this one.  It’s a little on the short side, but looks good with jeans or crop pants.


Then I made this one in brown.  It’s the same length as the original and is just perfect, imo.


Here’s a close up the the embellishment.  It’s an iron-on patch from Joann’s.  You’d think they’d use glass seed beads on an iron-on patch, but no, theirs were plastic and melted, even while using a press cloth. Grrr. I had to sew on new beads to the flower centers. (And buy a new press cloth)

So the moral of the story is to use a very thick press cloth.  Also, be sure to iron from the back side to really secure your patch.


Then I made this one full of bling.  (Nearly 300 crystals, actually.) I wash it in a lingerie bag so I don’t lose any of my Swarovskis in the wash.  I thought I’d try a few inches shorter this time, but really prefer the original length.

So there you have it, one pattern, four variations.  What favorite garment do you have that you can make copies of?

Happy creating!

Jun 182013

Those of  you who are new to my blog may not yet have come across my free Topsy Turvy Doll Pattern and Directions. It’s a really cute and fun project, especially if you have little people to sew for. 🙂

topsy turvy doll awake

One of my favorite things about teaching (and that includes this blog) is seeing how people interpret designs for themselves.  I love to get your pics!

Yesterday, Alyssa emailed me photos of her completed dolly.


Isn’t’ she sweet? Nice job, Alyssa!

You can see another creative version of the Topsy Turvy doll  here.

Speaking of free patterns, did you know that in addition to free online classes, Craftsy also has free knitting, sewing, embroidery and quilting patterns?

You can find them all at these links:

So, there you have it.  With so many free patterns available, there’s no excuse for not being creative!

Happy creating, ya’ll.  🙂

Jun 172013

It was quite a few years ago that Bethany Reynolds came to our quilt guild and showed us the cool techniques in her book Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts.  Of course I had to give it a try; I’m a sucker for any cool new technique. 🙂

This quilt top was the result: (click to embiggen)


I only had so much of the main fabric, so had to fill in three blocks with baskets, which I think keeps it interesting.

The squares in the corners are the fabrics that all the stars were made from.


You can tell it was a while ago cuz this Debbie Mumm fabric was new at the time.


This block is made from the above section of fabric.  Can you find the portion?  It’s kinda like playing Eye Spy. 🙂


This quilt had been just a top for TOO long.  It was one of my favorites, but I never got around to finishing it.  The daughter of a dear friend was getting married, and this top was the largest in my stash so, as much as I hated to give it up, it got finished for her.  I hope the newlyweds enjoy it and know that much love went into every stitch. 🙂

So, whether you’re making something brand new, and finishing up an old UFO, Happy Creating!

Jun 132013

While the guys were watching hockey last night, I did something a little more interesting. I took a crafting class… and it was free!

Did you know that Craftsy has a whole bunch of super high quality online classes for you to try out?


This class is FREE for the taking, just click. 🙂

Even though I’m not doing much quilting these days, I decided to check out Creative Quilt Backs just to hear what she had to say.

Since I’ve been a quilter for many years, there wasn’t much in the course that was new to me, but Elizabeth did give some great ideas for making the back of our quilts more interesting.


Add a strip of leftover quilt blocks to the back of your quilt.

Her teaching is excellent and she very clearly explains concepts which can be difficult, like how to line up the repeat on a large scale print. (Love her glue stick trick!) She also does a wonderful job explaining the math involved, and says it enough times that by the end of the course you should hopefully have it down.


Add a single block to the back of your quilt.

A few ways you’ll learn to make your quilt back more creative:

  • use a large scale print (and piece it together for a large quilt so the look is seamless)
  • insert a row of pieced blocks (often leftovers from making the quilt) into an otherwise solid back
  • insert a single pieced block into an otherwise solid back
  • piece together the entire back (using fabric leftovers and scraps)

Add a pieced strip, framed with contrasting fabric strips to the back.

I have to admit that I only get creative with quilt backs when I don’t have enough of my chosen backing fabric and don’t want to buy more. 😀 But this class has given me ideas that I might just use the next time I finish a quilt.

Happy creating!

Jun 122013

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday, ya’ll!  This is the day some of us take to virtually travel the world via the workdesks of creative people from all over.  The desks may be neat, messy and sometimes piled high, but there’s always something interesting and inspirational to see.  Check it out over at Julia’s.


As I mentioned last week, I’ve been working through the exercises in Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio’s book Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.  Those papers you see are color collages from magazine clippings.  Now you know all my favorite colors. 🙂

The next project is to make  collages from that disliked pile of paper bits over on the right.  Should be interesting. Hmmmm…..

That mahoosive pile of clay blocks in the center found its way home cuz they were only $1 each this week over at Michaels.  Woot!  (Yes, I grabbed one each of every color.)  🙂


This past weekend I also spent a little time reorganizing my polymer clay supplies.  This tray has all my finishing stuff.  Patinas, paints, metallics, Varathane and the like are now all in one place.  Makes sense, right?


This tray has all the tools I used the most while creating in clay.  This includes these little color mixing sample tiles, also an exercise from Polymer Clay Color Inspirations. Again, it seemed logical to put ’em all together.


This tray has all the components for a product idea that has gotten put on the back burner.  I think it’s a neat idea (a wearable scrapbook album) but hit so many roadblocks in R&D that I set it aside for a while.


This string of beads was another project from the color book.  They have the look of African trade beads… in my favorite colors, though!


Whatever you do this week, may you have time for something creative.

Jun 072013

Finished up this one in time to wear to church this past week:


Please don’t mind the messy hair, it was too stinkin’ humid to bother.


I’ve been eyeballin’ this sequined linen blend at Joann’s for months now (isn’t it yummy?) and finally found a pattern that didn’t use too much, as it was $17/yd.

It was extremely easy to sew, but even after several vacuumings I’m still finding bits of sequins everywhere.


The skirt is a pattern I’ve made before, Simplicity 2058. It was so nice to have all the fitting already done. Just cut and sew!


Last time I did the longer length.  I’m definitely thinking the shorter one is better; cuter & less dowdy.  Opinions?

You can find my post with a review of the pattern here.

Jun 052013

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!  This is the day we take a peek at the goings on of creative desks from all around the world.  It’s fun, interesting and often inspiring.  To check out this weekly worldwide blog hop go on over to Julia’s.

My desk on this Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning: (click for a closer view)


I’ve been working my way through Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio’s book Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.  The exercises are interesting, although I already have quite a bit of color theory down from years as a quilter.  However, this book is specific to polymer clay and I’m sure there’s plenty more to learn. 🙂

The Varathane on the left was purchase with much hope that it will solve my problems with finishes on my clay pieces.  More than one sculpture has been ruined by the Sculpey Satin glaze going all glossy on me.  Grrrrr……  (Hubby tells me that if I don’t like it he has uses for it, so that’s good!)

I finally picked up some Distress Markers.  But didja know that Michaels is selling packs of five for $18 when A.C. Moore has them singly for $3 each?  Boo, hiss, Michael’s.  (Although, it is easier to use a 50% coupon on the five-pack, rather than running through the register five times, which I have been known to do, ha!)

Now that I’m used to it I’m really liking the brighter green mat, probably because it’s, well, brighter.  😀 (It’s also clean, unstained and not warped.)

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful and happy Workdesk Wednesday.