Sugar Stitching

Fall sewing is in full swing in the studio! To get my students warmed up, I decided we needed a quick project to incorporate machine and hand stitching as well as some embroidery and beading. We used some of that sweet Sugar Skull fabric left over from my tote, see previous post, and appliquéd it on a white, cotton long sleeve waffle tees. To do this,  first we fused Wonder Under onto the woven sugar skull fabric cut out.  Then ironed the sugar skull appliqué onto the knit shirt fabric. This fusing step stabilizes the knit fabric and makes all stitching and embellishing a breeze.  Using machine appliqué we stitched all around it a few times. Now, we were was ready to go to town with some hand embroidery and beading.  Below is my version..IMG_4763.JPGI used both DMC 6-stranded embroidery floss as well as size 8 Perle cotton for the hand embroidery. French knots. backstitch, statin stitch, couching and chain stitch were some of the stitches I used. Japanese glass seed beads in different sizes and some teeny tiny Delicas  added some pop and sparkle. When I finished all the hand work, I put the embellished shirt in a tea dye bath for about 45 minutes. The result was a warm, light tan color. Just the vintage look I was hoping for!

For the last year, I have enjoyed learning all about and trying some styles of “Slow Stitching”. I have worked Sashiko, Kantha and Boro stitching combinations on jeans, jackets and journal covers. Here’s a pair of boyfriend jeans that I recently distressed and stitched.



On knee areas, I used patches of cotton Ikat fabric under the denim to add interest and to stabilize the  area. Then I cut several lines across the knees, sand papered and carefully picked out rows of thread to get the distressed look I wanted.  I used white Sashiko thread and stitched neat little rows of running stitches through the denim and the Ikat patches underneath.

IMG_4784.jpgUp by the front left pocket, I continued with the same treatment of adding an Ikat patch of fabric, distressing the denim and then stitching tiny running stitches.

Today was a beautiful, quiet, Fall Sunday. Daughter T and I went up to Easton, CT to pick up apples, pumpkins, cider and cider doughnuts from one of the local orchards. Driving around we found some cool old red barns, sheds and lovely stone walls. T is to be credited with these fun and autumnal photos! Well done and thanks girl!


IMG_4798.jpgHave you seen these Sugar Skull Cookies at Starbucks…note they taste as good as they look! I couldn’t resist! Happy Fall ya’ll.

Just a little ruffle….


This fabulous piece of 4 way stretch reversible knit has been in the queue for summer sewing and I finally decided on just the perfect pattern to make it up. I have enjoyed working with McCalls M6559, view C before. It’s a pullover chemise with scoop neckline, sleeveless with a slight flare. My challenge with this project was which side of the fabric to use?  I went back and forth and finally let my family choose and well done them! The winning side was the allover indigo tie dye. Not to be denied, I created a sweet  1 1/2″ ruffle from the reverse, printed side, for the neckline…perfect! FYI, I used a 70/10 jersey needle, serger for seams and a multi motion stitch for the hem.


For my bday, this past weekend, family and friends surprised me with an jaunt up to Jones Farm for a wine tasting. We had a great time and this photo, by T, was taken by the tasting room and grapevine arbor/patio. It was a perfect September afternoon full of good company and wine and the dress fit the bill!




BoJaGi is a Korean needle art form where small pieces of cloth are finely stitched together to create a larger cloth that can be used to wrap something. This month in my Slow Stitching class at The City Quilter we tried out this very delicate stitching technique.

Our teacher gifted us with exquisite pieces of silk organza that she purchased from a store in the NYC Garment District,  NY Elegant Fabrics. She used spray starch to make the pieces nice and crisp; this really helps with this teeny, tiny stitching! I used regular all purpose sewing thread and basic embroidery needle, no hoop.


Here’s my first attempt at BoJaGi. When the stitching is done, all the seams are completely enclosed on both sides, no raw edges are exposed.


Now when I tell you that these are teeny, tiny stitches, I am not kidding…probably 1/32″.  My sewing gauge doesn’t go down that small! What an incredible labor of love to make someone a cloth using this ancient art of stitching!

IMG_4676.jpgA special shout out to my zinnia garden for their gorgeous, colorful contribution to this post!

For those sewists and quilters who don’t already know, The City Quilter, NYC is closing its doors in October. I will so miss going to my monthly stitching class! The instruction, camaraderie and atmosphere has been a constant and incredible source of inspiration for me! Thank you CQ for the many years of great sewing, stitching and quilting experiences you have shared with me!

For more information on BoJaGi, click here. 

Back To School: Sugar Skull Tote


Well it’s coming upon that time of the year and to ‘celebrate’ back to school (?!), I made this fun loving tote! I created this bag to use as a teaching sample for an adult summer sewing workshop that focused on making bags with pockets and zippers. Last week, I decided to finish it up in time for my own back to school experience, which starts today! As an assistant teacher at our beloved local nursery school, we will begin home visits this morning to introduce ourselves to our Terrific 2’s and their families and then at night I start the first of four college night courses for a state teaching certification. I am both teacher and student, something I love to be!

Now about this highly functional tote! To help determine the size of my tote, I had a paper shopping bag from Anthropologic that had just about the perfect dimensions and worked well as a guide. The Sugar Skull themed fabrics were purchased a couple years ago from The City Quilter, NYC. The golden yellow batik is from my stash. Even though the “Skull” fabrics were a fairly good weight for a quilting fabric, I did fuse a mid weight interfacing to every piece to give the bag more stability. Those batiks are quite finely woven but on the thin side, and the one I used definitely needed the extra interfacing support. In the pic above, you can see an nice roomy outside pocket, trimmed with vintage pom pom fringe, to hold my keys (which will now not fall to the bottom of my bag!)


On the other side of the bag, there’s a lined zippered pocket for my mobile phone.

IMG_4654.jpgInside there’s a lined side pocket and a centered, zippered compartment that can hold a textbook or laptop.

IMG_4659.jpg A sports utility zipper was a good choice as a closure: durable enough to take the constant opening and closing. There’s a 2″ gusset on the bottom. For over the shoulder straps, I used a sturdy, braided sand and navy striped trim purchased at a millinery clearance sale this summer in NYC.

Wishing all an exciting and enlightening Summer into Fall!

Photographed by Tessa Duke.


Back To School Clothes!


Up here in New England we have had one heat wave after another this summer. So this week, to beat the scorching heat and increasing humidity, I hunkered down in my studio and went on a bit of a sewing binge! My focus was to whip up a few things to wear for back to school, which is is only a couple weeks away! This fall I will be both teacher and student! I will continue teaching afternoons and weekends with private sewing lessons and group workshops in my home studio and offsite to kids of all ages. I am also so excited to return to my positions (assistant and support) mornings at beloved St Pauls Nursery School. And I will begin the first of four college courses in Early Childhood Development for state certification. With this packed schedule, I decided to make a few things to take me through those hot, sticky first days of school!.

Pictured above is a box pleated skirt made from an indigo cotton batik fabric with elastic casing at the waist and inseam pockets, Simplicity 1970. Easy and cool to wear all day into night!


I picked up this gorgeous printed, double knit fabric from Mood NYC to make a shift dress for our daughter’s college graduation. My layout for the dress left me a nice sized remnant, enough for this simple pull on skirt. I modified New Look 6384, by giving the shape a bit more of a flare and adding pockets.IMG_4587.jpgThis last look is a split skirt that I modified from New Look S0871 by eliminating the overskirt and tie and adding pockets. The fabric, from Joann’s, is a stretch knit. It features a high waist that will look and feel cool with a loose tee shirt type top.

This should round my back to school transition wardrobe. Next will be some pieces for cool, crisp days and nights of autumn!

Bags & Totes, Oh my!


Every few months I have the pleasure of teaching a full day sewing workshop to a great group of creatives in New York. “Bags & Totes” was the theme for our session yesterday. The gals were interested in learning how to make lined bags and totes with zippers and pockets. For this workshop, I prepared kits that included some necessary and fun notions as well as a plethora of notes and step by step directions as support materials for their at home use.


Cheryl worked on a raw edge demin tote that featured patches and pockets from her son’s childhood clothing, how on trend and yet personal …what a keepsake! She was thrilled with the finished piece!


Using her gorgeous hand printed fabrics, Brenna made two lined zipper pouches to hold her art supplies! Funky and functional, go Brenna!


Eileen used coordinating fabrics for the outside pocket for her lined zipped bag! She went right at it and finished it in a wink! Looking good!

IMG_4566.JPGYou would never know that this was our newbie’s first attempt at installing a zipper and lining a make up bag…well done!


And Cheryl’s beloved Bentley is always a charming host!

Great job ladies! I’m so proud of all your hard work and creative efforts!

Looking forward to our next workshop!



A Garland of Well Wishes


A very, very dear friend has been going through a rough time and when considering how I could best bring some cheer while she recovers from procedure and treatment I decided on making her a special garland.  My vision was to fashion a variety of lovely calming blue printed cotton fabric strips into a garland where she could attach some of the tons of well wishes she would receive. This is one very special woman, we are talking about, whose kindness and optimism knows no bounds. Her bounty of cards and messages could probably fill several garlands (don’t worry friend, I will be sending you more Blue clothespins!).

The process…First I enjoyed shopping through my huge stash of printed quilting weight cottons to assemble a group of calming blue prints (our girl loves the ocean!). Next I rotary cut several 3″ wide strips of varying lengths of each fabric and tied them onto a sturdy, nylon cording I picked up at Home Depot. I cord was about 10-11′ in length.


I found that lovely gold toned painted sea star at Michaels. Using an awl I pierced a hole in the top of said sea star and used lightweight gold wire to attach it to the cording.



On each end I tied on some natural raffia, a small shell and my own note of well wishes. Medium sized blue clothespins from Michaels will hold her cards in place. I am thrilled that she and her hubs hung the garland from their balcony…what a peaceful backdrop (thanks D for taking the photo!!). Enjoy and heal my friend!!

Shibori on the 4th!


There’s something pretty exciting about having free time to dye fabric! And that’s just what I did this July 4th weekend. What a treat! The weather was absolutely perfect: sunny, warm, dry with a constant sweet breeze. So I set up my work station outside.

The plan was to Shibori dye tablecloths for summer entertaining, although I also threw in a bunch of scarves and summer cotton tops! My love affair with all things navy and indigo continues, so all three dye baths were of that color. I used Procion MX Reactive Dyes from Prochemical.

Shown above is a cotton/linen cloth with handkerchief style hemming that is quite long, about 100+ inches, perfect for my farmable. Rectangular wood shapes were placed inside accordion folds and bound with hemp. Here is a detail shot..


Tablecloth #2 pictured below, also a rectangle and just a bit shorter in length, was also cotton but with a woven texture. I purchased it a while ago from Target. I accordion folded and then bound it crosswise with cotton cording.


If you look closely in the detail shot, you can see the crosshatching design, which is was not only pretty but also added a nice heft to the cloth.


This last tablecloth was actually gifted to me. Originally an midweight, ivory colored cotton canvas cloth, I bound it using the Japanese”Kumo” technique with cotton cording, thus creating a spiderweb design.


A close up…


I’m over the moon with the results from this dyeing session. Now I’m thinking that I need some cloth napkins to go with?!!

Me-Made-May 2016 Post #10


Well here we are with my last post for the global sewing challenge, Me-Made-May 2016! The photos from my last couple posts were taken during our daughter’s college commencement weekend up in Ithaca, NY. So many beautiful settings! The weather was less than ideal for most of the time but the sun did make a couple appearances and when it did…we were ready!  Graduation night we dined at a very special restaurant, John Thomas Steakhouse. Located right behind JTS is the La Tourelle Resort & Spa. There was this sweet little garden shed on the property with a vibrant floral mural, perfect for the shot. Wow!  While posing in front this joyous art I imagined there was a mini sewing/art studio inside!

This is the dress I had made to wear to the graduation ceremony that morning. (However due to the damp wet weather, I ended up wearing a different “me Made” midi length maxi knit dress.) This fabric is a printed, double knit from Mood NYC. Although bit heavier in weight and less stretchy than the knits I have been working with lately, it worked great with this pullover shift style dress. I used commercial pattern McCalls 6886 and was able to keep pretty true to the silhouette, except I changed the sleeveless sleeve to a cap sleeve.

Thanks everyone for following me through my first Me-Made-May challenge. Posting twice a week was definitely manageable. I so appreciate all your very kind comments! I hope you found inspiration to create some of your own “me-mades”! Thanks again to SoZo for creating and maintaining #MMM. There’s nothing like a good challenge to get the creative juices going and sewing machine revved up! I am thrilled to report I have acquired new followers and new-to-me bloggers to follow as a result of participating! Expanding my handmade world! Yay! See ya’ll next spring for #MMM17!


Me-Made-May 2106 Post #9


Hello again! It’s Post #9 for the #MMM16 challenge…coming down the home stretch! In my previous post, I featured a dress I had made for our daughter’s college commencement weekend recently. The weather was chilly with occasional rain showers…not what we were hoping. But we were determined not to let the threatening skies dampen our fun and plans. Up in the Ithaca, NY area there are two large lakes, Cayuga and Seneca. Both lakes are surrounded by many of NY State’s fine wineries. My daughter snapped this pic outside one of the tasting rooms, just before it started raining again!.

It’s that cute little black with white polka dot skirt that I want to tell you about. The moderate stretch knit fabric was a leftover piece from a large cut from Joann Fabrics.  The commercial pattern is Simplicity 1163. It was almost too easy to make! It has only two side seams and a wide elastic casing waistband. LOOOOVE it! And I do plan on making more of these in different weight knits for all year round! Last summer, I made a pullover shift dress using the same fabric for a trip out to LA. Can’t get enough of a good thing, right! The pattern is Tily and The Buttons, Coco!.

IMG_3642.JPGFor more on Me-Made-May 2016, check out SoZo.

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