Category: Shopping

Lizzy House+Knits=<3

My love for Lizzy House knows no bounds. In addition to being an amazingly talented artist, she’s also just an incredible human being. Smart, kind, warm. The kind of person to whom you’re just instinctively drawn.

Seeing her at Quilt Market in Minneapolis this past May was a complete surprise and filled me with such joy. It was wonderful to hug on her and catch up — including chats about her newest fabric.

Lizzy and I have chatted about knit fabrics in the past and her desire to find just the right fabric substrate for her designs. I have been stalking following along on her Instagram as she has worked with sample yardage, sewing it up into some of the cutest, most comfortable dresses imaginable.

So when Andover Fabrics asked me which print I’d be interested in working with, I replied so fast, auto correct couldn’t keep up! There may have been dancing, too. But look at these fabrics and tell me they don’t make you happy:


hitparadecollage

The line is called “The Hit Parade,” and features 12 prints on 95 percent cotton/5 percent spandex jersey. The fabric is 58″/60″ wide and has just the right amount of stretch for all kinds of knit garments: dresses, tops, skirts, leggings.

_MG_0007

I was only able to get 7/8 of a yard of these stinkin’ cute kitties and it took me a little while to figure out the perfect project — with Miss L’s input, of course.

She really wanted a skater-style tank dress but I didn’t have enough fabric to comply, so I instead drafted a simple tank dress. I went a little big — not enough fabric for sleeves, so I wanted something she could still wear in the spring — and skipped hemming it to allow for a little more freedom once the weather changes. The arm and neck are finished with narrow bands of the same fabric, although fold-over elastic would have been a nice touch.

_MG_0011

I used my serger to make this dress but just as easily could have sewn it on a sewing machine. It’s only two pieces plus the three bands for finishing the arms and neckline, so it probably only took me about 30 minutes to cut and sew it.

She layered it over her tee shirt and added her favorite boots and I can totally see adding leggings or tights as the temps drop. It’ll be perfect in the spring with sandals. As will the other dresses she’s already asking me to make with the other prints she loves.

The Things We Love

I bought my primary sewing machine — a Janome HT2008 — at a sewing expo in March 2008. I’d been sewing on an inexpensive, no-frills Brother machine I’d purchased at a big discount store. The extent of my research into the HT2008 was scanning the reviews on PatternReview.com (thumbs up) and a quick Google search to see if the expo price was much of a bargain (it was).

Fast forward to 2015, where the research leading to the purchase of my new sewing machine took about three years.

IMG_6593
My new Juki TL2010-Q.

Why the difference?

I’m often asked for sewing machine recommendations because of my job. Teaching and working at a quilt shop, plus writing sewing books puts me in contact with a lot of people who want to sew or already sew. My discussion about what machine to buy nearly always starts with the question: “What do you want to sew?”

In 2008, I had an inkling that I wanted to write a book and I knew I wanted a sewing machine that would allow me to continue to make bags and clothes. What I did not realize at the time was that the type of sewing I do would change, as would the amount of time I spent sewing.

I came to realize I needed a sewing machine that could handle the volume of work that I do, but also had some key features that weren’t available on my little Janome. The two big features I really wanted were an auto thread cutter and more harp space.

The thread cutter is just one of those things that seems so trivial but playing around with the feature on my friends’ machines made me realize how useful it really could be, especially for someone who tends to forget to trim her threads. Ahem.

Harp space — the room from the right of the needle to the body of the sewing machine — really makes a big difference when you sew oversized things. While I do make the occasional quilt, I’m just as likely to sew a historical costume with yards and yards of fabric. Both of these types of project would benefit from a much larger harp than that of my HT2008.

Initially, I looked at machines — specifically Janome — that had all the features of my existing machine as well as the ones I decided were a priority. And I quickly found that the cost of those machines was really a bit more than I was certain I wanted to pay.

I absolutely believe in investing in the best tools for the job you do and this is no exception. But many of the machines I found were really more machine than I needed. I don’t need a built-in alphabet: I have an embroidery machine. I don’t need 1,000 stitch varieties: I need the three I regularly use (straight, zig-zag, buttonhole).

The more I researched, the more information I found that led me to a simple conclusion: I needed two machines.

That might sound a little crazy but there’s a method to my madness. In a commercial clothing manufacturing facility, each piece of equipment does exactly one thing. My late mother worked for the Arrow shirt company as a band creaser. Her job was to crease the neck band of men’s shirts. That’s all she did and that’s all her equipment did. I have already applied this philosophy to other tools in my sewing room: I have a serger and a separate coverstitch, rather than a combo machine, plus an embroidery-only machine, as well.

And thus the decision was made to invest in a straight-stitch only machine with a separate garment-sewing machine for my other needs. I quickly narrowed down my search to two machines: the Janome 1600P-QC and the Juki TL2010-Q. Reviews led me to realize that either would work well for what I needed, so it really just came down to price.

That’s how I found myself sitting in front of a 2010 at the most recent sewing expo, putting it through its paces with a stack of fabric samples I’d brought from home. Soft n Stable sandwiched between fabric.Timtex sandwiched between fabric. Red satin coutil. I chatted with Karen Pharr, Juki’s sewing educator (really, Juki ambassador) about what I do and what I was looking for.

I came, I sewed, I bought.

It might be a love connection.

Crafty Fun

The ICE Atlanta Holiday Market was so much fun. I had awesome neighbors (Finkelstein’s Center and Microwave Girl/Preservation Society), saw some fave sewing pals (Hi, Colleen!) and met some cool folks, too. Also? I got to hang out with one of my favoritest friends, Sarah, who forced me to drive to Sublime Doughnuts, although she had nothing to do with my decision to buy a dozen donuts and then eat most of them during the course of the day on Saturday. (S’mores donut? ohmygoshsogoodiwantmore!)

Sadly, I didn’t get to do much shopping this year but I did bring home a really fun portable art set from The Long Thread to give Miss L for Christmas. Totally loved meeting Ellen! I was a little nervous about introducing myself to her (and dropped the name of our mutual friend when I did so I didn’t come off too stalkery) because she is so fabulous but she’s so sweet and friendly (and I am totally itching to get a copy of her book).

This was my first craft show and it was such a great experience on many levels. I came home with a few more things than I’d hoped, but that’s OK. It was just so incredibly rewarding to get my book and clothes out there and interact with the people who were buying them, and that just made it for me. Speaking of …


Personalize for


I’m now offering folks the chance to purchase an autographed copy of Little Girls, Big Style directly from me! Just click the Buy Now button above and you’ll be taken to a PayPal page to complete your purchase. If you want the book personalized with a name, please enter it in the text field above the Buy Now button (or you can put it in the Notes to Seller on the purchase page). The cost of the book is $25.95 plus $4.90 USPS Priority Mail shipping. Right now, I’m only able to ship within the United States but if you are an international reader, please email me and we’ll talk. 🙂

Handmade+Holidays

I’m so excited about the annual ICE Holiday Market this weekend not only because it’s a great chance to buy handmade gifts but because I’m going to be a vendor! Yes, my first craft show ever. I’m teaming up with Intown Quilters to bring copies of Little Girls, Big Style, kits so you can make projects from the book and some ready-to-wear items I’ve made. I’ve been sewing away, whipping up some cute skirts (and maybe a few more things!) to bring and plotting my booth space while I work. See you there!

Quilt Market, Part 3

I love so much about Quilt Market but one of my favorite things is checking out all the pretties. Fabric, patterns, notions, tools — you name it, I want to get a closer look. I do have to apologize ahead of time because, once again, I managed to get pitifully few photos on the floor. Kind of makes you wonder why I drag around my big camera for four days if I don’t actually use it. *sigh*

I’d heard lots of buzz about Don’t Look Now! from everyone who attended Spring Market, so I was really excited to check out the quilts in person. Sarah, Taffy and I probably were back in the booth at least twice every day. Love! I’m desperate to try my hand at one (or four) of these patterns, although both Taffy and Sarah have suggested I start with one of the pillows first since I’ve never done appliqué on this scale before. By the way, those are my Quilt Market-and-home besties/family with Kellie of Don’t Look Now. Don’t know what I’d do without them!

Ridiculously crazy in love with the brights of Gypsy Bandana by Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller. Sarah had let me come hover while the rep was at the shop, so I already had seen the fabric on headers and drooled a bit. OK, a lot. She loved it, too, so I’m looking forward to getting a bit of my own to play with in the very near future.

Oh, I wish my photo were better of these stunning Asian fabrics. I was particularly thrilled to see stripes. Utterly amazing. Glad I have some time to figure out what I’ll make with them because it would be a shame to let these just cure in my stash.

Totally enchanted by the display at The Quilted Fish. Between her new line, Sweet Divinity, for Riley Blake and all the fun patterns, I could have played all day. Oh wait …

Because, really, what’s Quilt Market without a picture of me being a dork?

I always have fun checking out the Alexander Henry booth and this Market was no different. Larkspur was everywhere and it’s going to be such fun to sew. Loved the variety of uses in the booth, from clothes to toys to tablecloths. It’s just got a great look that’s fun and whimsical without being too cutesy.

Even if Jenean Morrison had not had a vintage typewriter in her booth (swoon! can you tell I’m a writer?), I still would have loved it. She and her husband managed to create a space that was totally reflective of Jenean and her art. Serene and just so lovely — a lot like her!

This is far from all the things I fell in love with at Market, but pretty much all I managed to photograph while there. Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on me to see what you may have missed. Kim at True Up is totally rocking the fabric posts, so be sure to head over there to get an incredibly comprehensive look at what was on the floor. Be sure to check out her post on David Textiles (dying over the book print!) and what’s new with Anna Griffin (who I had the pleasure of interviewing years ago and she still totally remembers me). Also? I am totally wanting an AccuCut Go! Baby (with matching pink “diaper bag”) after seeing it in action at Market. Oh Santa …

Up next: Quilt Market, Part 4 — where Mary shamelessly shows off the outfits from her book that she made with other people’s fabric for Market.

Fit: An A-Ha! Moment

I’ve been trying to sew more for myself. It seems like such a shame to not truly reap the benefits of my favorite hobby (sewing), although I often find it a frustrating practice. Tracing patterns, checking measurements, making muslins. It’s infinitely easier to just crank out something for Miss L!

I run into the same problems sewing for myself that I do when I shop for ready-to-wear clothing: Poor fit. Pants fit in the hips but not the waist. Shirts are too short. Tops are snug in the chest and loose everywhere else.

It. Wears. Me. Out.

I am determined to overcome these challenges, however. I’ve been taking risks and actually trying to adjust patterns to compensate for my figure. Making muslins as I go to check for issues with fit. Tweak. Unsew. Try again. Of course, the biggest issue really has been one that caught me completely by surprise.

When I teach classes, I tell my students to ignore the size and just look at the measurements to choose which lines to follow on a pattern. I think I’m pretty good about doing that myself. Unfortunately, I have never really looked at my own measurements and considered what they mean.

Over the weekend, I went to a specialty shop to be fitted for a pretty vital foundation garment. I’ve been thinking about going for some time and finally did it because I could find nothing to fit me in the past year — and, really, it’s probably been more like five years. I was a little nervous because it involves a total stranger seeing me half nekkid. Plus I knew without setting foot in the door that these were going to be some pricey pieces of fabric, elastic and underwire and I’m really pretty cheap when it comes to spending money on me.

I could have saved myself a lot of money and frustration by making the trip years earlier! I was so far off in the size I’d been buying, it’s not funny. While I’m not about to tell you the size, I will say that I was two sizes two big in the band and two too small in the cup. (I did tell a couple of my friends, prefacing the size with the phrase, “I’m, like, Jessica Rabbit or something.”) Now, when you consider that the typical commercial sewing pattern is made for a B, it clarifies for me why any full bust adjustment I’ve ever done has failed: I wasn’t compensating nearly enough.

Armed with my new knowledge, I think I’m better prepared to sew for myself going forward. I have a lot to learn about FBAs for my “new” figure, but at least I know all the right numbers. Although it sure would be easier if sack dresses would come into fashion.

Hoppity Hop

It’s time again for the annual Greater Atlanta Quilt Shop Hop! The local quilt shops have organized some great events and giveaways for the four-day Shop Hop weekend (it started Thursday) and longer shopping hours for all you fabriholics. (You know, because I’m not one. Ha!)

This year’s theme is As American As … and there are 11 shops taking part in the event. You can see all the details at the official Shop Hop web site. I’ll be helping out over at Intown Quilters on Saturday, so come over and say “hi” if you stop by!

Houston Round-Up: Patterns

I intended to blog from Houston but technical difficulties prevented that. So I guess I’ll just try to muddle through and remember all the details from three jam-packed days of fabric, patterns and friends.

I’ve tried to do a chronological Market round-up the past two visits but I think I’m going to try a thematic approach this time. First up: Patterns!

Because I sew clothing, I’m always on the lookout for cool, new patterns to try and there were plenty to choose from at this fall’s International Quilt Market. If you follow Patty Young’s blog, you already know she’s got some new patterns on the way. I loved seeing them in person and have really enjoyed sewing her patterns, so the new ones definitely will be added to my collection.

Fellow Michael Miller fabric designers Paula Prass and Sandi Henderson also have new patterns on the way. I loved Paula’s new bag pattern but the jacket and dress patterns really caught my eye. Just a really great aesthetic, kind of an updated retro vibe. I’m pretty excited that Sandi’s adding some adult patterns to her repertoire. The wrap skirt looks so pretty and romantic and I think the ruffled pants for women will be well received, too (although I’m not sure I have what it takes to pull them off LOL). She’s also got a new pattern for boys with her own little guy modeling.

Chelsea of Pink Fig showed off her new patterns and I can already guess the Nie Nie Skirt is going to be huge. The story behind it is so touching and Chelsea’s donating a percentage of the pattern’s proceeds to the Nie Nie fund.

Her aunt Lucy debuted her new pattern line, Hot Scott, which should make those moms of boys happy. Yes — a line of patterns for boys! Lucy is such a sweetie and I’m so excited to see her Market debut. The patterns are cute and I saw a lot of traffic at her booth.

Speaking of new pattern line debuts … My beautiful friend Sheree had her first booth at Market for her new pattern line, Sheree’s Alchemy, which will be out in November. I have always loved her aesthetic and can’t wait until these patterns come out. The girls’ clothing ones are kind of “classic contemporary,” very refined and age appropriate. And her home sewing patterns are just as cool as she is. I totally understand why she had a steady stream of visitors to her booth!

Kay Whitt at Serendipity Studio never ceases to amaze me with her designs. This Market was no exception with six new patterns, including a sweet, modern tunic/dress pattern that I had to snatch up on the spot. Seriously. I’m planning to hit the shop this week to buy some fabric for it; I love it that much. The new bag and skirt patterns are also really cool and I’m sure they’ll end up in my collection before too long.

Is there anyone on the planet who is not aware of my love of all things Melly & Me? Melly and Rosie are just so incredibly sweet and talented, and it’s impossible for me not to love everything they do. Which probably explains why I walked away from their booth with a new Rosalie Quinlan Design’s quilt pattern, two new bag patterns and Melly’s first book, Kaleidoscope. I probably would have bought more except I already own most of it! LOL!

The talented Amy Butler has a couple of gorgeous new patterns coming out, including a shirt dress and a coat. I want them both but after seeing the dress on Amy, I’m not sure if it’s going to fit my curvier self. Of course, I’ll probably give it a try anyway! LOL!

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Indygo Junction patterns. The fit of the women’s clothing patterns is sometimes a little boxy but I keep buying and sewing them because I do like them. I think the new Bell Sleeve Blouse is going to change my opinion for the better. I checked out the samples and the darts and cut seem to be much more figure flattering. They didn’t have any available at Market or else I’d have grabbed one to try. However, I know Sarah ordered it so I’ll be buying it as soon as it’s in.