Gnome Love

Have you ever bought a fabric knowing you needed to do something really cool with it, something a little beyond the routine sewing? This was my feeling about Gnomeville by Michael Miller. I can’t tell you how many times I fondled that bolt of fabric in the shop, trying to picture what it wanted to be. I eventually succumbed and bought 1 1/3 yards of it, thinking I’d make the On the Border skirt from my book.

A year later, I finally got around to making that skirt — and possibly one of the cutest outfits I’ve ever made.

Gnome outfit

It’s a Little Girls, Big Style/Sewing ModKid Style outfit mashup. The skirt is a modified version of the No-Hem Skirt, cut wider, longer and with a hem. I had to change plans on the fly because I didn’t have enough width for the lower portion of the skirt. I made the skirt a little longer than I normally would to ensure Miss L gets extra wearability out of it.

The tee and leggings are both from Patty’s book. I changed things up a little from my previous takes on these pieces. I used some stretch lace from Riley Blake on the sleeves and cuffs (Sarah ordered some for the shop and I can already tell I need more). I have no idea where I bought the red-and-white stripe legging fabric but it has so little stretch that L could barely pull up the pants. Seriously. I’m going to have to find a different fabric and make another pair because these just don’t work. But they sure are cute for the picture. 🙂

I am so utterly tickled with how the tee turned out. It was one of those “in my head this seems cool” kind of things but you just never know until it all comes together. The neck ruffle is a 1 1/2″ bias cut strip of woven fabric (Michael Miller’s Mini Mikes). I gathered the top edge then basted it to the neckline. I then followed the directions for sewing, capturing the short end of the ruffle in the shoulder seams. FOE wraps around the neckline and I used a contrasting thread to stitch it down (perhaps because I was too lazy to walk across the room too look for red thread).

tee detail
The embroidery design is from SWAK Embroidery and I thought it was a good match for the whimsical feel of the skirt. I really need to wash the shirt to get the rest of the stabilizer out but I was too eager to have L try it on. I am happy with the results but the design did not stitch out like the breakdown that came with the embroidery file so some of the colors are not where I’d originally planned. I finished it off with a reverse coverstitch hem, using red thread in the looper to add a pop of color and design. It’s only taken four years but I think I’m finally getting the hang of that machine.

Ever since I helped Mer with her costume, I’ve really been trying to make a concerted effort to use the plethora of tools at my disposal. I’m not in the habit of using either my coverstitch nor embroidery machine when I sew and it’s a shame because they both can really add something to the creations I make. I’ve definitely been happy with the results thus far and that really encourages me to keep it up.

What’s Old is New

I had the brilliant idea last summer to actually put a table and chairs in our kitchen breakfast nook. It seems like everyone I know has eschewed the dining room for the kitchen but we actually eat at our dining room table.

In the nearly nine years we’ve owned our home, our “breakfast nook” has housed a computer and desk more than anything else. When our oldest headed off to college 2.5 years ago, we moved the computer into his old bedroom and put Miss L’s art table in the kitchen.

For some reason, I had this idea that Honey and I could turn the space into a cozy breakfast nook for two. As in the two of us. He suggested finding a counter-height table and bar stools, so I began scouring the online for sale postings in search of just the right pieces. And struck out. Everything was too big, too expensive or too 1980s.

I finally asked my folks if they had anything that might work and soon we were the proud owners of two chairs. They weren’t exactly what I had in mind but spray paint and elbow grease turned them into the perfect additions to our kitchen.



The fabric is a laminated cotton by Amanda Herring of The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake. Our kitchen is aqua with white cabinets and counters and splashes of pink and red, so I wanted something that would work with those colors. I also did not want a linear fabric since my reupholstery skills leave something to be desired and there’s nothing like a striped fabric to show that off. Spray paint is a miracle of modern science and provided a needed freshening for the chairs.

The table is an Ikea desk. I actually swiped the legs from my sewing table (they take up too much leg room) and bought a new top, then raised it to the appropriate height. All told, I think the re-do cost me $20 in paint and primer, $12 in fabric and $20 for the tabletop. Not too shabby, eh?

ModKid Sew-a-thon

There’s nothing like having your child go to her grandparents’ house to inspire you to sew. And, boy, did I take advantage of the free time. I’m still having a blast cranking out pieces from Patty’s new book, Sewing ModKid Style:

A bouquet of Bloom dressesA bouquet of Bloom dresses, some with coordinating leggings

Yoga shorts/pantsStretchy and fab Yoga Pants and Shorts

A few years ago I went on a knit-buying binge — and then never did anything with the fabric. Man, is it fun to “shop” in my own stash! I wish I could share info about all these fabrics. I believe the bird print and matching orange solid came from Joann. And I think the pink/white/green stripe is Chez Ami. The rest? Not a clue.
Bloom dresses

I’ve made the Bloom dress several different ways now: With self-binding neck and sleeves, stitched hem, lettuce hem and sleeves, fold-over elastic binding. Miss L is a big fan of the “ruffles” aka lettuce hem and will request it if I ask her opinion. I’m really digging the FOE and am thisclose to trying some stretch lace trims now that they are in stock at my LQS.

For reference, L is 44.4 pounds and 3’11.75″ tall and I’m making her the size 4 in width and size 6 length for both the dress and the leggings.

The yoga pants look like the perfect item to throw on over gymnastics leotards, so I had to make some of them, too. The aqua is a cotton/Lycra blend from and I had plenty of fabric to make both the pants and shorts from it. For my first attempt, I cut the size 4 with the size 6 length. They are supposed to be snug but I think it’s a little too snug for my taste. I used my coverstitch (Janome CoverPro 900CP) for the hems.


The third pair I made with a lighter weight knit that obviously has some spandex in it, although I’m not sure of the blend (I picked it up at a local fabric warehouse for $2/yd). These are a size 6 in width and a 10 in length and I think the sizing is spot on.

This one got some embroidery, a sweet lotus and butterfly design from, part of my commitment to using all the things in my arsenal. I also used the coverstitch on the hem of these but stitched it so the chain would be on the outside. Oh my! Love!

Suffice it to say, I’m loving the book and can’t wait to make more from it. I’ve already picked up some swimwear fabric and keep eyeing the rest of my knit stash, trying to decide what to use next.


It’s 7:40 p.m. on a Monday and I’m alone in my house except for the animals.

This morning, my father took us out to brunch and then drove off with my tiny sunshine. Spring break is this week and my folks invited her to visit them in South Carolina since they missed out on hosting her last summer.

I am accustomed to being home alone during the day, while she is at school. But from the time my “Miss L alarm” goes off on my phone at 3 p.m., my afternoons are filled with chattering and homework and cuddles missed since the bus pulled away at 7:35 a.m.

Grandparents were not a part of my growing up years so it’s always been important to me that the kids have these trips and stays. But even after 21 years’ worth, I still find that my arms and ears are a little empty while they are gone.

Tulip Time

This bag-making stuff might be getting out of hand. But it’s kind of my go-to project when I want to make something, don’t have much time and/or fabric or just want to make something useful.

I got my hands on some of Patty Young’s revamped Andalucia and could not wait to play. I’d been planning to make the Tulip Tote from Sew Serendipity Bags and it seemed like the perfect match.

Tulip Tote

Even with the quilting, the bag came together pretty quickly. Unfortunately, my chalk lines are not coming off as easily as they went on, so I’m afraid I’ll have orange diagonal lines on this tote forever.

The picture in the book makes this bag look bigger than it is, although the dimensions are the same as the finished size accompanying the pattern. It’s a good size, not too big or too small. I like the addition of a firmer bottom. I swapped out the magnetic snap closure for the last of my flat magnetic (hidden) closures. Man, I love those things. (Note to self: go order more.)

I totally lucked out with the curtain grommets. They were on clearance at Joann and a total steal at…$3 for a pack of eight!

Author Kay Whitt included this bag in the “more challenging” section but I think it’s worth a look for an advanced beginner looking for something new to try.

ModKid Style

I love me some Patty Young. Not only is she talented, but she’s super sweet. And doesn’t hate me even after I wake her up at some ridiculously early hour by sending her text messages. (Still not too good with the time zone thing.)

I have been on pins and needles awaiting the release of her book, Sewing ModKid Style, and could not wait to crack it open and get sewing. It’s chock full of great information about sewing with knits and I devoured every word, then got to sewing.

Sewing ModKid Style

I’ve amassed quite a stash of knits so I pulled out some I knew Miss L would love and traced off the Leggings and Not-so-Plain Tee patterns. My little tiny is such a pea;I opted for a 5 in the tee, even though the size chart dictated a smaller size. The length was perfect but the width a bit roomy (should have stuck with the sizing guide!). I made the leggings in a 4 with the length of a 6, which yielded a perfect fit. This is pretty typical of my experience sewing for L (I use a 4 with the length of a 6 in my own patterns) so why I deviated on the shirt is beyond me.

I used my serger to add a lettuce hem to the sleeves, leggings and shirt bottom. The Wooly Nylon is a nice touch. On the neckline, I opted to use fold-over elastic (commonly referred to as FOE) because I’ve been itching to try it and have a bit in my stash. My friend Myrinda passed along some helpful tips and I only had to rip out the elastic once.

I’m eager to sew even more from the book and hope to knock out the Bloom Dress and another pair of leggings after dinner tonight. And I’m seriously thinking a cute ModKid swimsuit is in our future. Patty just makes it look so easy!

Camera Cuteness

There have been a few instances when I’ve seen a fabric that led me to beg Sarah to order it for her shop. Honest-to-goodness begging. Which led directly to making this:

IJ suitcase-style purse

Funky, retro cameras? If ever there were a fabric that screamed “buy me NOW!” it is this fabric. It’s such a cool print that I didn’t want to chop it up so I scoured the shop for a pattern that would really show it off. The Indygo Junction In-Style Suitcase Bag seemed to fill the order, so off I went homeward with fabric, pattern and some cool Echino strapping in hand.

The pattern calls for polyester foam, which I do not have. I didn’t want to hunt it down (and kind of wanted to use what I had on hand) so I substituted double-sided fusible Peltex.

This was an excruciatingly bad idea. The next time I make this bag (and I guarantee I will), I will either hunt down the appropriate foam or use multiple layers of fusible fleece with Decor Bond fused to the lining.

Other than that little misguided notion, the bag came together fairly well. It may have come together a bit easier had I read the instructions, but who reads that stuff anyway? (Tip from me: Read the instructions. Seriously.) I love how the style shows off the swoon-worthy fabric and the bag is roomy enough for everything I own and tote on a daily basis.

Now to figure out what else I can make with that camera fabric…

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. 🙂