Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

October 31, 2014

We are expecting low overnight temps, so I got busy with some yard clean up.

The last of the Zinnias. I will miss the brilliant mass of color in my front bed.


photo 1
And the remaining tomatoes.

photo 2

The plants all came back inside.

photo 3

Now I think I’ll sew a little.


Mua ha ha ha!  Happy Halloween!


What I Did All Summer

October 8, 2013

Obviously not much blogging, but I did have a very stitchy summer!

Several folks at Sew Memphis took extended vacations so I spent my days hanging out with the bolts.


I made a tuffet to show off some new home dec fabric.


I also taught two purse classes,

Summer teaching at Sew Memphis

Summer teaching at Sew Memphis

A beginning sewing class,

Summer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew Memphis

and worked with lots of new sewists who came to walk-in open instruction.

Summer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew Memphis

These days, I am teaching a 6-session series of sewing classes to homeschooled students. At our last meeting, we did some indigo tie dyeing.

Tie dye class

The results were fantastic and we will make purses (with zippers!) from this fabric tomorrow. In future classes we will refashion t-shirts, learn to applique and make an a-line skirt. I am pretty sure I am having more fun than the students are!

Spring Shows

June 9, 2013

Good sales at holiday markets over the past two years led me to consider doing some spring shows. When I was offered a free tent early in the season, I took that as a sign from the universe and started signing myself up.

In April I did the V & E Artwalk, a festival in a older but funky neighborhood with a strong neighborhood association. That show went pretty well, so I added “Cathedral Day”, a festival at our local Episcopal Cathedral. That show went even better, so I committed to setting up at the first annual Overton Park Day of Merrymaking last weekend. My expectations were low, but sales were high! Sometimes it’s good to be wrong.

Here are some pics from the V & E. I had aprons, bibs, black & white soft baby books and recycled yarn (added to the baskets after the pics were taken) as usual. But the knit hats and Christmas ornaments that sold so well at the holiday show wouldn’t work for spring. To beef up inventory, I added some patchwork headbands, patchwork lanyards and made more birdseed hang-ups in the shapes of flowers instead of stars.

My booth at the V&E Artwalk

A & E Artwalk

Patchwork headbands

bird seed hang-ups

black and white baby books

My favorite part of the day was a surprise visit from my friend Jethro. I babysit for him when his people go out of town. He was interested in the recycled yarn.

My friend Jethro came to check out the yarn

There are no plans for any further shows this summer because I’ll be busy preparing for fall and winter. I was very fortunate to be accepted to a one-day September show that is reportedly hard to get into, but very well attended. I’m hoping to add another one-day show in early December and will do the Memphis Arts Collective holiday show that runs from Black Friday to Christmas Eve as usual. Needless to say, I will have to crank out a lot of merchandise between now and then!

Playing Catch Up

February 12, 2013

Now that Valentine’s Day is approaching, maybe I should get around to posting pics of my booth at the 2012 holiday show.   The show ran from Nov 30 – Dec 24th in an empty store front in Midtown Memphis and participants took turns staffing it.  I had many more sales this year because I had a better variety of products and price points.   I also set up shop with other women makers at a Memphis Cash Mob event in the lobby of our local literacy agency.  It only lasted a few hours one rainy afternoon, but lots of people came and everyone did well.

Here is the whole setup.  It looks a little awkward and there is too much empty wall space, but I will remedy that next year.  We never know where our booths will be until the last minute so it is hard to plan ahead.  This year  I bought some fancy gridwall to better display the bibs.


I went ahead and made aprons even though everyone is making aprons.  I used large-scale prints with coordinating fabrics for backs so that they are reversible.  The best seller was the Buddha apron which is second from the back in the pic below.  I bought a lot more of that fabric for next year.


These birdseed ornaments sold as fast as I could make them!  I made the boxes out of recycled cereal boxes and nestled the ornaments in shredded tissue from last year’s gift boxes.


My sister made these adorable house ornaments.  There was only one left at the end of the show.


This was the big surprise of season.  I made about 30 decoupage ornaments using pages from fabric catalogs.  I was just sure that most of them  would be coming home with me after the show closed.  But I sold every single one of them and many of the people who purchased them bought two!  These take a long time to make and I even took the supplies on vacation with me.  Many were assembled while we anxiously watched last year’s presidential election returns in front of a fire in a cozy condo in North Carolina.


Other merchandise included hand knit caps, black and white fabric books for infants and recycled yarn.  I only sell one or two lots of yarn every year, but I will keep putting it out because people think that recycling yarn is cool and the pretty colors draw them into my booth.

Things went so well in 2012 that I’m looking to do more shows next season.  And I am starting on the stitching now to avoid the last-minute making frenzy that happens to procrastinators like me!

Glad To Be Back!

November 19, 2012

I took a long break.  Nobody told me that the second year of grief is often worse than the first.  It was.

But I finally feel like blogging again, my sister has been nagging me mercilessly and there have been some exciting new stitchy developments that have necessitated my return to this space.

You see, I have business cards with this address on them.   I ordered them from and used Flickr photos of various projects from the past.  They turned out so well that I ordered some mini cards to use as price tags in a show I’m doing next month.

Yes, a show!  I did my first show last year and it was successful.  So I decided to do it again this year.  I’ll show you some of the merchandise in future posts.

AND because I am teaching!  A friend opened a small but fabulous fabric shop in May and invited me to work there occasionally and to teach anything I wanted.  (Check it out at Sew  So far I have taught purses and pillows for beginners, fabric jewelry for girls, tooth fairy pillows for kids, t-shirt upcycling, pajama pants and half of a two-part Christmas tree skirt class. In December I‘ll be teaching aprons, sock monkeys and drawstring gelt bags for Hanukkah.

Here I am in action.  Can you tell how much I love what I am doing?  (Please note that since this photo was taken I have lost 20 pounds!)


I have also made several custom pillows for clients of an interior designer friend of mine.  Here is the most recent.  The client wanted a pillow to match a quilt for a baby boy’s room.  She scanned and enlarged this horse from the quilt  The designer purchased the white and tan fabrics, gave me some direction and cut me loose.  Here is the result.  I fused and zigzagged the fabrics and embroidered the horse’s facial features and the birds’ legs.   I was worried about zigzagging around all of those curves, but setting my machine to the slowest speed setting made it manageable.


And so, as sands through the hour glass, the stitching (and seam ripping) continues………

Get Lazy with Sarah

June 27, 2011

Hey, I just remembered that I have a blog!  That hasn’t been updated since February!   Not sure why- maybe I lost my stitching mojo. Chasing an adorable toddler all day leaves little energy for much else. And although it’s been 19 months, it’s still not easy living without Gwen.

But I did manage to squeeze in a few projects. First, a mini quilt for DQS 10.  Disappearing nine patch with batiks.

Mini quilt for DSQ 10

And my first Dresden Plate for the Lovely Linen Bee.  I was plenty nervous about attempting this block, but it turned out nicely!

May block for lovely linen bee

This block for the Linen Bee was the most improvisational thing I have ever done.  At first it seemed I was just making a big ol’ mess.  But, again, the end product looked much better than expected.

April block for Lovely Linen Bee

Yesterday I made these bibs with my very best fabrics for a baby shower.  This was a really fun shower because there were many beautiful handmade gifts.

Bibs for a baby shower

In non-sewing news, we had a clematis explosion,

Clematis explosion

then a lily explosion.  We are still waiting for the tomato and green bean explosions.

Lily explosion

And after 10 years, I got a new car!  This comely machine is a 2011 Subaru Outback and I am in love with it.

New wheels!

The purchase of this vehicle was most exciting, yet somewhat bittersweet.  As part of the deal, I traded in the handicap van I had used to ferry Gwen around town for so many years.  I couldn’t help but feel that I was losing another little piece of the remnants of her life. Yeah, the van is just a “thing”. And  I will never lose my love for my daughter or the wonderful memories of our time with her.  But still….

November Stitching

November 14, 2010

After some intense work on the parking garage quilt, I took a break from the sewing room. My loser sewing machine started acting up again after I had just spent a lot of money on it, so I had to switch back to the old Elna. Yeah, the one with no thread cutter, no needle up and down button, and (eek) no walking foot. But it gets the job done and I am feeling guilty about all the times I called it names and wished for something “better”.

I remembered yesterday that the kids at church needed something to auction at their fundraiser tonight, so I made this cool scarf from a thrifted batik wrap skirt. I will be handing this over with some regret, but there is plenty of fabric around here for other scarves.

Scarf from thrifted skirt

The quilt has also seen some progress. I had to make 21 more blocks than originally planned to get the thing to the size I wanted! I joined the blocks into nine larger blocks and quilted each of them to a piece of batting. The quilting is simple due to the lack of a walking foot.

Parking garage quilt progress

Now I am sewing the large blocks together and thinking that this quilt-as-you-go method is the best thing since sliced bread. The plan is to have a finished product to show you by the end of the week.

The Cherry Baby Quilt is Finished!

August 21, 2010

All done, and pretty darn cute if I say so myself.

Cherry baby quilt finished

Turns out I DID have some fabric for the backing on hand. This red gingham had languished deep in the stash. Probably because I have had it since the 80’s.

backing and binding

I quilted it lightly with Warm and White batting so it wouldn’t be too stiff. It measures a generous 40″ x 40″. All fabrics were pre-washed so there are no worries about fading or bleeding colors. The cherry prints are from thrifted clothing, the backing is a cotton blend and the other fabrics are quilting cottons.

Cherry baby quilt block.

Currently I am enduring a crazy annoying case of poison ivy on my both my forearms. But I will persevere and continue working on a mini quilt for DSQ9. Then I hope to continue the destash by whipping up a few fall handbags. And, it’s time to get cracking on some holiday projects, as there are only 125 days left until Christmas. Yikes!

Have y’all started on Christmas gifts yet? What are you making?

Cherry Baby Quilt

August 1, 2010

My collection of thrifted clothes is out of hand. There are too many pants, skirts and dresses lying around waiting to be cut up and made into even more spectacular creations.

Thrifted clothes for refashioning

I had plans to refashion some of them for Gwen. But don’t you agree that she is probably doing just fine with a white robe, a set of wings, a harp and a halo?

I made a nice dent in the pile(s) of clothing by sending 19 pieces out for the summer block swap. Next, I pulled out a small stack of items with cherry prints, added some red Kona Cotton and a few other scraps and started a baby quilt.

Square from cherry baby quilt

I pieced some log cabin blocks improvisationally (actual improvisation!) and added a border of solid red to each one. Then I trimmed all blocks to 14 inches square and sewed them together. Not rocket science to be sure, but I did it all without a seam ripper!

This is comparable to walking a tightrope without a net. All of my seam rippers were AWOL so I had to make do with scissors to snip thread and a pin pull out the stitches. It went pretty well until the end. I made three columns of three blocks each. After joining the first two columns, I sewed the last one to the wrong side of the quilt and had to undo a 40″ seam with a pin! Fortunately, seam rippers will be 50% off at Hancock Fabrics in two weeks.

Square from cherry baby quilt

Believe it or not, (my sister doesn’t) there is nothing in my fabric collection suitable for a backing. The green polka dot print won’t do because it looks terrible when placed next to the binding fabric. The binding fabric looks fantastic from the front of the quilt so it has to stay. The red check is nice, but I bought it quite a while ago and probably can’t get any more.

Stay tuned to see how this dilemma is resolved. In the meantime, here is the finished top.

Finished top

Summer Stash Enhancement

July 23, 2010

“Enhancement” might be an understatement.

Purveyors of fabric, both online and in brick-and-mortar establishments, have been staging fabulous summer sales. In addition, I ran amok with a debit card through several fabric shops while vacationing in North Carolina. But then a textile overdose never killed anyone, did it?

I know you want to see, so get ready for some serious cotton eye candy.

From Hancock Fabrics. Three quilting weight, three home dec.

From Hancock Fabrics

From Klassy Katz in Memphis. They rarely have sales, so when the email announcement hits your inbox you had better get down there.

From Klassy Katz

From Delta Patchworks in Collierville (a Memphis suburb).

From Delta Patchwork

Lovely batiks from Hancocks of Paducah for only $6/yd.

Lovely batiks

From equilter. Some large scale prints drastically marked down.

Large scale prints

On vacation, I had a wonderful time at the Asheville Cotton Company and at Marti’s Patchwork Cottage in Black Mountain. I bought a few cute prints, but really splurged on batiks. *sigh* aren’t they beautiful?

Random prints

The motherlode!

I also visited Waechter’s Fine Fabrics in Asheville for the first time. This place is a treasure trove of quilting cottons, apparel fabrics and home dec designs. They also have an extensive selection of unique buttons. After much debate, I came away with these

From Waechter's Fine Fabrics

and this hilarious “religious” print. The Holy Trinity cracks me up. I have no idea what I will do with it, but my minister friend thought it would make a great skirt.

"holy" fabric

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Last week I checked out the new digs of Broom Corn Fabrics, a 100-year-old Memphis home decorating store still owned by the same family. Back in the day, I used to go there with my mother when the shop was located downtown. Although the store name suggests burlap and homespun, the inventory is a colorful mix of traditional and modern fabrics. I love the prints by Westminster and Free Spirit designers such as Amy Butler, Ana Maria Hornor, Joel Dewberry and the Kaffe Collective. I picked up a yard of this wild thing just for fun.

Crazy home dec fabric

Now I am home and my bank account is depleted. But I just heard that Delta Patchworks is having a major warehouse clearance blowout on Saturday with prices as low as $5/yd AND lots of new stuff ordered at spring market. Then Ruth linked me to an insane sale at with Westminster prints for as little as $2.50/yd.

I suppose I had better learn to sew faster.

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