Monday, July 18, 2011

farewell to blogging

“She came tonight as I sat alone, the girl I used to be…
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye and questioned reproachfully;
Have you forgotten the many plans and hopes that I had for you?
The career, the splendid fame, and all the wonderful things to do?
Where is the mansion of stately height with all of its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you and the jewels in your hair?
And as she spoke, I was very sad for I wanted her pleased with me…
This slender girl from the shadowy past, the girl that I used to be.
So gently rising, I took her hand, and guided her up the stair.
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay innocent, sweet, and fair.
And I told her that these are my only gems, and precious they are to me;
That silken robe is my motherhood of costly simplicity.
And my mansion of stately height is love, and the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls for the dear ones who come and go.
And as I spoke to my shadowy guest, she smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw that the woman that I am now, pleased the girl I used to be.
- Author Unknown

Sunday, June 5, 2011


A few weeks ago I was asked to do a comission project: a mobile for a nursery. A friend of a friend wanted one and... long story short now I'm making her one. I'd never made any owls before, only birds from the Spool pattern. But I found some super cute illustrations of owls for inspiration and made my own pattern and came up with this! Here is my test bird and I think she turned out so cute.

I just did an outline of the body with an elliptical shape on the bottom so it can sit. The wings are quilted and then hot glued onto the body, as are the felt eyes and beak. It's a great way to mix and match fabrics.

The mobile is for a boy and I was sent fabrics they had picked out. Just a word of advice, if you ever do a comission piece, always have the person pick out their fabric. There is no chance you will ever agree on colors, patterns, anything. Trust me.

I had never balanced sticks in a tier pattern before. That was an interesting learning curve. I finally realized that each stick needed a tripod of fishing line to balance, at least the way I did it.

I made 3 extra owls for a diaper cake they wanted to decorate. And then a flat version for a bib decoration.

I really am satisfied with how they came out.

Now I know what you're thinking... You should sell these! Sorry, I've had enough owl sewing to last at least a year. But let me encourage you to make your own stuffed creatures--it's really a lot easier than it looks!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Smocked Dresses

I decided to try using elastic thread to make a smocked/shirred dress for my daughter to wear this summer. I followed Dana's instructions from her blog MADE. Both versions I made were from tank tops that don't fit me very well. This blue one was too big for me, and is consequently too big around for my daughter. The yellow tanktop is too small for me, and the dress came out too small for her too!

Using a tank top instead of starting from scratch made the project take less than 45 minutes to make. I am not kidding, start to finish was under 45 minutes--and that was the first time I'd ever used elastic thread in my machine!

Just cut off the straps, turn down the top edge, do your shirring, make a big hem, then sew the straps back on only much shorter. Super easy! And super cute! Can you believe I haven't taken a picture of her in it yet?

I ended up giving the yellow one to a friend whose daughter is smaller than mine. And the blue one looks fine, she just has some room to grow.

I'm really contemplating making a shirred dress for myself, but I'm trying to figure out how to prevent it from looking too juvenile. Any ideas on an adult version?

Monday, April 18, 2011


I was teaching Gustav Klimt's portrait art to my junior high class last fall and was inspired to paint a family portrait just for fun. When I was teaching my students, I really stressed Klimt's style of blending the person with the background. So I had a little fun with this one. Can you tell I was lazy and didn't want to paint the rest of the table?

I looked up some old fashioned family portraits for inspiration, this was one of my favorites. I staged a photo session to use for reference. I wanted us to look like an old-fashioned family, but not from a specific time period. Just sometime in the 1800's. I wore my wedding dress and put a huge comforter underneath to poof it out. I might try another family portrait in a couple of years in another artist's style. Maybe N.C. Wyeth...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Color Workshop

Our guild hosted another workshop on the most popular topic in the weaving world: color! Our instructor was Ruby Leslie and her topic was how weave structure effects visual color blending. We all brought our own loom set up with a specific weave structure (all different ones) and then had a round robin weave-a-thon so that everyone got to weave each of the different structures.

Ruby did an excellent job explaining the different structures and their effects on color. The possibilities really are endless since you can change your vertical (warp) stripes and your horizontal (weft) color. She has done an incredible amount of sampling and research and was highly qualified to teach on this subject. I learned so much!

We were able to take home all of the samples we wove. Here are the two versions of plaid that I just loved. I would never think of putting these colors together, but they really are a beautiful combination. As much as I hate hot pink, that one stripe really brings it together!

This sample was really fun to weave. It is an 8-shaft advancing twill pattern--something I can't do on my 4-shaft loom.

This is the weave structure from my loom, called "bumberet". I had never seen anything like it before. It forms a sort of chain in rows and looks really nice with lots of warp stripes. My weft in this was just the medium green.

If you ever have the chance to take a weaving workshop, don't pass it up! You get so much knowledge and extra tips. In addition to all the workshop information, I learned how to tie a weaver's knot (very helpful for my next project). And I learned how to stop weaving in the middle of a project to cut off what you've woven and then be able to start right back up again. Those two tips were worth the price of the class!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sewing with Handwoven Fabric

Here are a few highlights of my process. The main problems with handwoven fabric come from its loose and unstable state compared to store-bought fabric. First of all, the edges ravel almost immediately after cutting and so they must be secured as soon as possible. I have used a serger before on handwoven, but those were all rather straight edges. I cut out a test piece, one part of the sleeve, and serged it. As you can see in the photo above, compared to the pattern, it has been skewed out of shape by the serging. I was actually able to stretch it back into the right size and use it, but it was a good indicator that serging was out for this project.

I would highly recommend using as large of a table for cutting as possible. I used to just lay fabric out on the floor to cut, but that is a huge pain--mostly for your back!

I ended up doing two things to stabilize and secure the edges. After cutting out all of the pieces, I fused very thin interfacing strips along every cut edge. This worked wonderfully to prevent the fabric from becoming pulled out of shape, and it kept the fraying to a minimum while I was working with it.

Here you can see how different the fabric looks after pressing, compared to unpressed. It was extremely shiny after pressing. Because of that, I did as little pressing of the finished garment that I could.

The other finishing technique I used was to cover all the raw edges inside with bias tape. This makes the inside look very clean and neat, and it prevents any sort of fraying. The only drawback is that the already somewhat bulky seams are now bulkier. Surprisingly, it's not visibly noticeable, only when you're wearing it do you notice.

My other tip for the day is: follow directions and stay-stitch the neckline! I don't know about you, but I always skipped stay-stitching. It seems like such a worthless step if you're going to sew it anyway, right? Well, remember my stretched out/wonky neckline on the brown version of this? I did not change the pattern at all, I just stay-stiched it and my neckline came out perfect. Live and learn!

Do you have a sewing tip that's either a short cut or something you've learned cannot be skipped? Share it with us!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Inheritance Dress

It's finished and my entry form is submitted! Whew!

I'll post details about making it soon. Below is my artist's statement.

I feel the need to make clothing that tells a story. When I wear a garment, I imagine places I could travel to and adventures I could have in it. In my Inheritance dress, I can picture myself climbing ancient trees somewhere in Europe, maybe I’m sailing the Mediterranean… Although I might imagine incredible adventures about this garment, I will still wear it in my normal, everyday life. Clothing that is made to wear in everyday life, yet has a unique and extraordinary quality is what excites me. I could make an evening gown, but I couldn’t wear it whenever I felt like taking a walk down the street. I find myself embracing Anita Mayer’s idea of wearing something magical and unique every day.

There is something magical about the word inheritance. It conjures up thoughts of finding a hidden treasure; like a gift of something ancient. At first glance the fabric seems plain, but it has a surprising subtlety of iridescence that gives rich depth to the cloth. Like it could have been from a royal robe unearthed after centuries. For me this ancient gift takes the form of a new life through faith in Jesus Christ. I have recently been studying with my church Paul’s letter to the Colossians and this passage had an impression on me: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Being so immersed in making clothing, I am always intrigued by the role of clothing in the Bible. During our discussion, we talked about the ancient custom of putting on a new garment when receiving an inheritance. Believers in Christ have been made God’s children and thus receive His inheritance, so we put on the new clothing of serving Him with joy. When I wear this garment, I want to be encouraged to show compassion and kindness, no matter what adventures life brings. I want to be reminded of the hidden beauty of God’s kingdom and my identity in Him. That is the real story being told every day.