Top Ten Reasons to Write Another Book

10. My husband has completely forgotten how unavailable I was while writing my previous book.

9. Daughter’s nine hours of gymnastics each week equals prime writing time.

8. I finally cleaned my sewing room. Why should it stay that way?

7. The rest of my house needs to be cleaned.

6. My 30th high school reunion is creeping up and I need something to talk about.

5. Sleep is overrated.

4. Nothing motivates me quite like a deadline.

3. So. Many. Ideas!

2. Writing a book should make a dent in all this fabric, thus keeping me off Hoarders just a little bit longer.

And the No. 1 reason to write another book…

Stash Books/C&T Publishing accepted my proposal! Coming Fall 2015!

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(More details to come next year, like the title. And the subject. But yay! Another book!)

 


Lessons Learned at Summer Camp

Another June and another session of Fashionista Sewing Camp is done. This year I had six girls, aged 10-17, for six hours a day. I’m not going to lie: It wears me out. But it’s also incredibly fun and rewarding to work with these kids, who inevitably teach me something, as well.

Most years, my campers don’t know each other. Occasionally, I’ll have a pair who are friends sign up to take camp together but usually Monday morning is the first time any of them are meeting each other. One of the first things I do is randomly assign partners to complete an activity together. This year, they had to interview their partner and then design an outfit for that person to wear. Each person then shared the design and explained the reasoning behind it. As I listened to the descriptions, it was clear how seriously they each took the assignment and the depth of questions they’d asked each other. Lesson: Engage the people you meet, ask questions and really listen to what they have to say.

After sharing their designs, I set up all the drawings on a table and asked each person to write down what they liked about the piece. Comments like “I like the colors you used” or “The design on the shirt is really interesting” may not seem like much but I think it’s important to encourage positive talk among kids that age. As the week wore on, I listened as they would compliment each other’s fabric choices or congratulate someone on finishing a project. Or commiserate on having to “un-sew” something. Lesson: Be supportive of others.

One of my sneaky ways of reinforcing a skill or technique is to have my students help each other. Even though they all work on the same projects during the week, they don’t work at the same speed. Having someone who has already sewn the rise of a pair of pajama pants explain to someone else how to handle that curve helps both of them. It doesn’t take long before they volunteer to help each other instead of waiting for me to suggest it. Lesson: Help when you can because sometimes you’ll be the one who needs help.

As the week wears on and the kids warm up to each other, they inevitably find out they have friends in common. It happens every year and it’s always fun to hear the kids discover the connections. This year two of my campers found out they are going to be together at another camp this summer. “I’m so glad I now know someone there!” I heard one say as they departed today. Lesson: It’s a small world — so be nice to others.

My expectations regarding their work depends on how much sewing experience they have. This year, I had two campers who have been sewing for a while, one who’d just completed my Sewing Basics class, one with a little bit of experience, and two who’d never sewn. My experienced two had a much higher bar to meet than the others, so I’d send them to rip and re-sew or press again if needed. The others? Well, I’m generally a bit more relaxed: if it’s workable, we can live with it. Otherwise, it gets redone. Regardless of who it was or how many times I sent her to fix something, not a single person complained. And when someone else made the same mistake, they’d happily share about what they did and how they fixed it. Lesson: Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not a big deal.

 


It’s Progress

I’ve had to take a close look at my costume plans for this year’s Dragoncon and do some scaling back. I’ve got a massive deadline that basically coincides with the convention (yay!) but it means the majority of my non-work time this summer will be spent working instead on that project.

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On the upside, it’s forcing me to not procrastinate when it comes to the two costumes I decided to make. I’m already in the thick of it with the most labor-intensive of the two I’m planning to make: the neo-Victorian Snow Queen. I’m using my existing Truly Victorian corset (which I need to rebind) and bustle underneath and revisiting the TV Vested Basque and Trained Skirt Ensembles for remainder. These are the same patterns I used for last year’s Night Circus costume, which makes things a bit easier on me: no drafting or working with new patterns. I am making a couple of modifications, mostly to the skirt, to accommodate trim and also to make sure I actually have a skirt that’s long enough to wear with shoes. Unlike the Night Circus costume…

Of course I have to amp up the difficulty level a bit and am making a Victorian riding hat from a pattern by Lynn McMasters. I’ve had the supplies and pattern for years but just couldn’t get started. It’s amazing what a little incentive and vision can do to get you moving!

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Did I mention how much of this hat involves handsewing?

I more or less raided my stash for the fabrics I’m using for this project. I picked up a nice chunk of aqua no-wale (featherwale) corduroy at JA five or six years ago. It’s a lovely, lightweight but plush cotton cord that looks a bit like velveteen. I did not have enough fabric for the skirt in my stash (it’s about 5 yards) so grabbed some stretch sateen in white at JA (surprise!). I know a lot of costumers look down on fabric from the chain but I’m on a budget and wanted to be able to get more easily if something messed up.

For the vest part of the basque, I grabbed some of the Timeless Treasures Pearle in white. It’s got a bit of a frosty look to it, which I think will be a great detail to play against the aqua.

The finishing touch for the outfit will be the white faux fur I’m using for trim on the hem of the skirt and the cuff and collars of the jacket. Yes, this is for a convention on Labor Day weekend in Atlanta where the average daily temperature hovers around 90 degrees. Yes, I am going to sweat to death. Yes, I am crazy.

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I was inspired by another Victorian gown (OK, actually several) I ran across on Pinterest and decided to embroider snowflakes on both the skirt and jacket. There are a dozen on the center front panel of the skirt and another 20 arcing up on the rear train of the skirt. I chose two colors for the skirt snowflakes — aqua and silver — which I thought would play nicely against the white. Because it is a HUGE expanse of white. I could host a circus under that skirt! And since I can’t do anything the easy way…I’m hand beading to accentuate each snowflake. All 32.

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Sewn Hats Giveaway

As cool as it is to have a book of my own, I have to admit that I probably squealed even louder when my contributor copy of Sewn Hats arrived on my doorstep. There’s just something incredibly fun about seeing your name alongside those of some of your favorite sewing friends. It’s kind of like those old Mickey Rooney movies when all the kids got together to put on a show.

Carla Crim aka The Scientific Seamstress may just be the Kevin Bacon of the sewing world. Flip through the contributor list and I think you’ll be inclined to agree: Alexia Abegg, Bari J., Melissa Averinos, Lisa Carroccio, Joanna Figueroa, Shelly Figueroa, Linda & Scott Hansen, Karen LePage, Kathy Mack, Kaari Meng, Heather Niziolek, Jennifer Paganelli, Betz White,  Patty Young and many more.

But what’s really impressive are the hats.

A little closer look at p. 100:

My own Miss L was clearly the inspiration for this darling cloche, but I also have to tip my hat to the amazing Diva, my friend Lisa, who was the impetus for this project. (Those gorgeous spiderweb roses on the samples in the book are her creations — and the book includes instructions for making them yourself.)

Want a copy of your own? Just comment on this post and you’re entered to win! I’ll close comments and use Random.org to choose a winner on Thursday, Oct. 4. In the meantime, be sure to check out the other stops (and more chances to win a copy of the book) on the Sewn Hats blog tour:

9/4 –  Scientific Seamstress

9/5 –  ModKid Boutique

9/6 – French General

9/10 – Pink Chalk Studio

9/11 -  Lulu Bliss

9/12 – The Domestic Diva’s Disasters

9/13 – Green Bee Patterns

9/14 – Goosie Girl Boutique

9/17 – Melissa Lilac Lane

9/19 – One Girl Circus

9/20 – Tie Dyed Diva Designs

9/21 – Figgy’s Patterns

9/25 – Craftiness is not Optional

9/26 – Bari J.

9/27 – Confessions of a Craft Addict

9/28 – Sis Boom

10/1 – Sew Mama Sew

10/2 – Aesthetic Nest

10/3 – Blue Nickel Studios

10/4 – Betz White

10/8 – Yummy Goods

10/10-  Wiley Craft


Inside the Field Guide

I recently made some time to sit down with Kim Kight’s A Field Guide to Fabric Design. I’ve enjoyed reading Kim’s blog, True Up, and love getting the chance to hang out with her at Quilt Market. But I wasn’t sure her book was really for me. After all, I’m definitely more of a writer than an artist.

Let me tell you something: I was wrong.

Kim’s definitely written a book for anyone who aspires to design fabric, whether for a manufacturer or just themselves (either screenprinting or digitally through a service like Spoonflower). Even if that’s not your goal, however, there is gold in those pages for anyone who loves fabric, sewing, embroidery or designing.

At the point that I curled up with the Field Guide, I was in the midst of helping my friend Meredith with her World Cosplay Summit costume. It’s an amazing outfit with tons of embroidery and embellishments. When my embroidery machine decided to go on strike, Meredith decided to change gears on one piece of her costume and opted to embellish the dozen or so tabbards with some screenprinting.

Now, while I have owned a Yudu screenprinting unit for some time, I don’t use it that often and certainly not for anything as elaborate as Mer had in mind. I’d been trying to work through it in my head when, lo and behold, I found exactly the tips I needed in the Field Guide. Kim’s tips on repeats and creating them while screenprinting made our work infinitely easier. It’s easy to see how I can apply the same concepts to other things like embroidering designs along a hem or creating backgrounds for mixed-media pieces. I’m definitely glad I gave it a chance.

Disclosure: A Field Guide to Fabric Design is published by Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing, which also published my book. The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own. I paid retail price for this book. :)


Quilt Market Recap

Another trip to Quilt Market is under my belt. This is my sixth Quilt Market (I’ve only missed one since my first Fall market in ’08) and I feel like I’ve finally gotten settled into a routine of sorts. It’s kind of a grueling routine (some days we are on the go from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.) but it’s a heck of a lot less overwhelming than that first show three years ago.

My POV as a Market attendee is really from the retailer side more than the vendor side since I’m there with my friend Sarah to order for her store. We don’t have much downtime and what little we have is spent recapping what we’ve seen, planning what we still want to see and discussing the merits of different products and whether or not they fit into the shop. It’s not easy and there are times when I absolutely love something but have to concede that my tastes run counter to what most customers will like.

There are plenty of places that do a much better job than I ever could of covering what’s at Market, especially when it comes to fabric, so I’m just going to focus on a few of the patterns I saw (and loved) in Houston. (I queried the folks on the blog’s Facebook page and that was the direction that seems to be of interest.)

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My Favorite Things has two new duffel coat patterns out, one for women and one for kids, and the timing couldn’t be better. I snapped a quick photo of a sample at the Checker booth but it really doesn’t do the coat justice.

Such Designs won me over with the look of their patterns. Ellen of The Long Thread asked if I saw them when I ran into her at the Moda booth (be sure to check out her fab new fabric, if you haven’t) and I completely agree with her take on them.

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Embroidery patterns are on the rise and I’m going to have to get my hands on the ones from Penguin & Fish (so glad Sarah plans to get them and also ordered the ones from Sarah Jane). Oh and Lecien was showing off the coolest linen cross stitch/embroidery “tape” that I can see so much potential for.

In the world of quilt patterns, I’ve previously expressed my love for Jaybird and Lizzy House and that’s not going to change anytime soon. I’m also completely, utterly blown away by Thomas Knauer’s new patterns. Like, total awe. I “met” Thomas on Twitter and have been so thrilled to follow his journey to fabric designer (Andover! Pear Tree! Won a fat quarter bundle in his Schoolhouse!) and his patterns do not disappoint.

You can see all my Market photos on Flickr.


Sew Fun Birthday

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Is anyone else addicted to Pinterest? I swear, I go back and forth between cursing and praising that site. On one hand, it’s such a time suck. On the other…well, I’ve definitely been inspired.

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Pinterest played a key part in Miss L’s seventh birthday party, which started with this blog post. I instantly fell in love and just knew my bunny would love to celebrate her 7th with a sewing party.

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I did a little appliqué and embroidery on linen for the party invites, scanned them in and added the rest of the details in Photoshop.

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On Saturday, our guests were met at the door with a fun “wreath” made for the occasion.

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We started out with some fun crafts with each girl making a little embroidered piece to take home and a funky felt floral headband.
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A lunch of heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches, baby carrots with ranch dip, caramel drizzled apple slices, yogurt with fresh berries and sewing themed sugar cookies was served.

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A cute-as-a-button cake and raspberry lemonade completed the meal.
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We played a laugh-filled game of “put the spool on the sewing machine” and trotted out the props in a photo booth session.
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The day ended with a piñata, also themed for the occasion (a giant spool of thread)!

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Our birthday girl thanked each guest for coming with a handmade goodie bag and chocolate button lollipop.
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The little miss deemed it “the best birthday ever,” which made it worth all the work.

Resources

Candy button molds, sewing cookie cutters, polka dot paper straws: Bake It Pretty

Flower Frill Clover template, party hats and crown pattern by The Quilted Fish, Michael Miller fabrics (polka dots from Children at Play, ginghams from Mini Mikes): Intown Quilters

Fabric pinwheels: tutorial by Sandi Henderson (modified)

Ruffled chair garlands: tutorial by Hank + Hunt

Cake: me and Publix (story to come)

Sugar cookies: Recipe from Cake Central, royal icing by CK from Cake Art Party Store, decorating tutorial (my first time decorating cookies like this!) by Sweetopia.

Drink bottles: Starbucks single-serving Frappuccino, saved for me by my son’s super sweet girlfriend (thanks again, Laura!)

Birthday banner: tutorial coming!

Spool piñata: tutorial coming!

Goodie bags: tutorial coming!

Tip Junkie handmade projects


To Market, to Market

I may officially be the last person to blog about Quilt Market. Seriously, I’ve been home more than two weeks and still haven’t finished scanning in my pics. Instead of waiting for the planets to align and that to happen, I’m going to just dive in with a few pics and my thoughts on some things I saw there.

Above is the view from our hotel room in SLC as the sun rose our last morning there. The weather was all kinds of perfect and Salt Lake City has to be one of the nicest cities I’ve ever visited.

It’s always fun to go to Market but exhausting, too. This trip was no different, with Sarah and I up and at ‘em early every morning, on the go all day, attending social/networking events in the evening, then winding down in time to grab some (not nearly enough) sleep. Even with all that time on the floor, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and miss so much of what’s there. After comparing notes, Sarah and I noticed a few trends:

  • Solids are big and definitely getting attention from a lot of quadrants. Manufacturers, pattern designers and authors are all tapping into this one. I love me some Kona but I’m also grooving on the FreeSpirit Designer Solids (touch them and see if you don’t agree that the hand is just amazing).

  • Stitchery — embroidery and cross stitch — is being shown lots of love, too. Sarah Jane and Anna Maria Horner both come to mind but they’re far from the only ones (the awesome Rashida Coleman-Hale even gave out a free cross stitch pattern that goes with her new fabric line). The new aida cloth from Westminster is some of the nicest I’ve touched and may even seduce me into trying some more cross stitching.

  • Modern quilting styles meet more challenging techniques. Personally, I’m loving this! I am so enamored of the “modern” aesthetic but I’m ready to challenge myself every now and then with some more complex piecing — but nothing so overwhelming that I can’t finish it in a weekend (Mariner’s Compass, you’re just going to have to wait your turn).