Category: Confession

The Handmade Wardrobe

After more than two years of working on back-to-back books, I’ve been a little burned out on sewing because I have to. Nothing takes the enjoyment out of something for me quite like the feeling that it’s work.

And, while I do have some things to sew for Hack That Tote!, I am pretty giddy about having little sewing-by-obligation on my plate for the near future. It’s rather liberating, but also a little intimidating. I am far more productive when I have a deadline and a plan. Too many options will often send me into a tailspin of indecisiveness.

For several years, I’ve wanted to sew more of my wardrobe and I realized that putting that into motion would meet two needs — plus I’d end up with (hopefully!) cute clothes! I’ve even made it Pinterest official and created a board for organizing my wardrobe planning.

One of the things that’s held me back from doing this in the past (besides a timing issue) is that I couldn’t find a wardrobe sewing plan that really met my needs. I know a capsule wardrobe works for many folks but I like more variety than that. I like mixing it up! Once I sort of gave myself permission to sew the clothes I want, it all started falling into place.

 

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Right now, I’m planning to add a few more pairs of leggings, jeans (oh, how I’d love to make jeans that actually fit me!), cute tops to wear with leggings, a fall/spring jacket, a cooler weather coat, and even … a bra. Crazy, right?

This is a long-term project, a conscious shift toward sewing for myself and away from buying ready-to-wear that is ultimately disposable. I’m excited to get back to sewing for myself and really pushing myself to make beautiful, well-fitting items that I’ll love.

 

The Secrets We Keep

A year ago, I was eagerly awaiting the release of my second book, Modern Style for Girls.

A year ago, I was wrapping up my third book, Hack that Tote!

Only a handful of people knew I was writing another book, each of them sworn to secrecy. I wanted my second book to have time to build an audience, without the distraction that comes with another book.

So here I am, less than a month until my third book launches into the world, finally spilling the beans.

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Hack that Tote! is 104 pages, filled with some of my favorite projects and a wealth of information about fabrics, interfacings, hardware and so much more. At times, I felt like writing this book was a bit of a brain dump! The base project, the Basic Tote Bag, is one I’ve taught for years in my Sewing Basics class at Intown Quilters. Each of the hacks — the modified patterns for the additional 11 projects — shows you simple ways to transform the Basic Tote.

But it doesn’t end there. I’ve included information about the process behind the hacks, with key information to help you further modify the patterns to really put your own twist on things. There’s tons of photos and illustrations to help, too.

Hack that Tote! will be out in September. Ask your local quilt shop or book store to order it! I also have a limited number of autographed copies available for purchase in the U.S. (just click the Buy It Now button):


The Wind Beneath My Wings

The Wind Beneath My Wings

There’s a reason this blog is called “Confessions of a Craft Addict.” Yes, I’m quite the crafty babe but I’m also the first person to confess my less-than-stellar moments. Like this one:

I typically use my weekday off from work to catch up on household chores and errands. Today, that meant a trip to Home Depot (among other locations) to pick up a rain spout extension. Exciting stuff, right? On my way to the store, I decided I’d pick up a sheet of insulation board so I can make a design wall for my studio. I’m sure you’ve heard of this hack: Cover insulation board with flannel to make a lightweight, portable design wall on the cheap. I’ve been using my floor forever and it’s really not a great system, given that I have pets who think anything on the floor is the only place to sleep.

This is how I found myself walking out of Home Depot with a rain spout extension tucked under my arm and a 4’x8′ sheet of insulation board in my hands. And this is where things went off the rails, thanks to a little thing called “wind.”

Wind isn’t really something I think about most of the time. Sure, I notice it but it’s more of a passing observation than anything else. Wind, however, really gets your attention when your hands are filled with 4′ x 8′ of lightweight foam board, which immediately turns into a sail.

There’s really no easy way to carry 32 square feet of foam board in the wind. It’s either pushing you or dragging you. And maybe six feet out of the door, all I could do was laugh. Until I got to the car.

You see, I drive a Honda Odyssey — a rather stylin’ swagger wagon — that should easily be able to accommodate a piece of foam board this size — if I’d actually cleaned out my car and prepared in some way. But, really, who does that? I’m living on the edge! Flying by the seat of my pants (almost literally)! Why on earth would I have gotten three bags of outgrown clothing out of the car (since I’m clearly never going to donate them), or random pieces of MDF or my toolbox? It’s so much more fun to try to move that stuff and collapse seats when I have to grip a 4’x8′ piece of foam in my hands so it doesn’t take off across the Home Depot parking lot.

Somehow, some way, I managed to shove the foam board into the car, although it meant driving with about 4″ off it on top of my head, and off I went to run the remainder of my errands. I may have given myself a pat on the back for my excellent problem solving skills. I am woman, see me show foam board who’s the boss!

Ha!

I may have left out another rather critical detail with my last-minute burst of inspiration. It wasn’t until I hauled the board into the house and attempted to prop it against a wall that I learned a valuable lesson:

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Yeah, that was a great idea.

Me+EPP

I had no intention of doing handwork. Heck, I had no intention of ever quilting but you can see where that’s led.

Handwork, though. That’s another animal entirely. It’s slow. It seems crazily meticulous. It’s slow. These are not things most would associate with me. And yet …

It’s a little different for me, working in a quilt shop. Being immersed in a world of fabric and sewing and quilting and a variety of techniques that lead to these beautiful things. It’s hard not to be surrounded by all of this and not think, “Maybe. Maybe I can do this.”

I took a class, with the delightful Jen Kingwell, and did my first hand-sewn quilt block (or at least part of a block). I’ve begun collecting things. Books. Patterns. Tools.

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“La Paz,” as many fans of the cover quilt refer to it, is what started my descent into English Paper Piecing madness. I’ve seen so many beautiful rosettes on social media and fell in love. Doesn’t matter that I’d never paper pieced before. It’s around 2,600 pieces, some of them about the size of a dime. Go big or go home, right?

the new hexagon

 

I’m endlessly amazed at how this book can make one shape — a hexagon — look so incredibly different. We’re doing the Glorious Hexagons variation as a block-of-the-month club at the shop this year and it’s taking all I have to not join.

all points patchwork

I’m so glad I added this book to my personal library. It’s not a project book, which might dissuade some folks from buying it. But the techniques and foundations of EPP within its pages are just what I needed. It’s a great resource and I find myself referring to it again and again.

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One of the things I’m loving about EPP is its portability. I can baste pieces any time I have a few minutes to just sit. So much better than staring at my phone! The Sew It Goes Tote is perfect for taking projects on the road. Kristin designed something that’s as functional as it is beautiful. Pretty sure I’ll be making a few of these as gifts for Christmas this year!

I’ve surprised myself with the enjoyment of it. I’m certainly not going to forego machine sewing but the handwork is nice for those times when I can’t or don’t want to be in front of my sewing machine.

 

One Word

Last year, I chose a word for the year: evolve. I used it throughout the year to remind myself to be more, try new things, stretch myself.

In many ways, I think I did. I took part in a handful of online mini quilt swaps, took some classes and learned new skills (free motion and hand quilting, English paper piecing and hand piecing). I used tools I have in new ways. And I initiated a couple of business related things that may turn out to be really awesome things in 2016 and beyond.

I have spent some time reflecting on 2015 and evaluating what I need to do to go even further in the new year and the years to come. What do I want? How do I make it happen? And one single word kept sneaking into the picture.

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Like many others, I struggle with ” imposter syndrome.” I question my skills, my talent, my ideas. I spend an inordinate amount of time talking myself out of following through because I doubt myself.

In 2016, I believe that I can do what I dream. I believe that I can contribute and make a difference. I believe that my work and my ideas are worth sharing. I believe that happiness is contagious. I believe that I can inspire and encourage others to accomplish their goals.

It’s happening this year. Believe me.

 

I

 

 

 

Inked

 

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I have been planning a sewing tattoo for a very, very long time. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to inspiration. But this one, this is completely me. I sent the artist a sketch of what I wanted and she tweaked it a little and I asked for a little tweaking and re-sizing — and this is the result. It’s small and simple, on the inside of my left forearm, and I love it.

It’s Fall, y’all

There’s a gentle breeze coming in from the windows at my house. I can see the leaves dancing in the afternoon light as I sit at my dining room table with Miss L, helping her with today’s homework.

Fall might be my favorite time of year. I love the crisply cool mornings, the leaves changing colors, football games. For me, summer is about going with the flow but fall is projects and new beginnings.

I’m in the midst of preparations for Quilt Market and spending more time at the sewing machine (or computer) than planning or playing. At my doctor’s appointment yesterday, Dr. A gently suggested that I scale back on my commitments. I have a tendency to view downtime as a bad thing (my husband jokes about my inability to relax, even on vacation) but I’m seeing this fall as an opportunity to learn how to better balance things.


 

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Introducing Modern Style for Girls

In April 2014, I was finishing up a book proposal I’d started maybe 18 months prior. By the end of that month, it was in the hands of C&T Publishing’s acquisitions editor and less than two weeks* later received the exciting news that my proposal was officially going to be my second book:

Modern Style for Girls: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe, October 2015, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing
Modern Style for Girls: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe, October 2015, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing

Modern Style for Girls: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe
Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing
October 2015

Give your favorite girls the gift of endless wardrobe options!

Best-selling author Mary Abreu is back with a book that will shut down the dreaded words, “I have nothing to wear!” from young girls. Starting with three basic pieces—a top/dress, skirt, and pants—you’ll learn how to modify simple patterns and rectangles to make twelve classic garments: four tops/dresses, four shorts/pants, and four skirts. Technique instructions teach you how to gather, create waistband casings, and insert zippers. Advice on choosing fabrics and adding embellishments is also included. With this handy guide, you can help your girls develop a style all their own.

• Add collars, change armholes, and add ruffles to basic garments to create updated takes on existing pieces
• Clear techniques will guide you on how to finish seam allowances, insert zippers, hem, and add unique embellishments
• Help your girls create an entirely new wardrobe of classic pieces to mix and match in any way they want.

 

 

*This was unusually fast. Not that I’m complaining. 🙂