Mindfully mending with patches

A friend asked if I could mend a tear in his most beloved white buttoned down shirt. The 6″ rip, was not on a seam rather in a somewhat tricky spot. I decided to give it a go as it posed a interesting challenge in modern day garment mending!


Step 1 was to remove all the machine stitches in the area needing repair. The industrial machine stitch length used to make this lovely Egyptian Cotton men’s ready-to-wear shirt was quite tiny and imbedded due to wear and laundering. I had to be very careful while ripping out so as not to make the tear worse!


Since the tear was located dangerously(!) near both the overlap and underlap sleeve plackets, I decided to delicately open up the whole area and fuse a strip of lightweight fusible interfacing on the underside to stabilize, using a muslin press cloth. Here’s the brand and type of fusible interfacing.



My plan was to create a long slender hemmed patch and to sandwich it between the overlap and underlap plackets. From my wondrous fabric stash I chose a piece of white-on-white Dotted Swiss cotton, perfect in fabric weight and design scale for this patch. Recently I read an article, “Essential Techniques” in Threads Magazine, December 2019/January 2020 issue on page 77, that offered an excellent technique for making small hems. Using a permanent Micron marker, I drew a 1/4″ line on a small piece of card stock. I folded the patch fabric over the card stock, lined it up with my ruled line and pressed into place without burning my fingers! Sewists, you will want to check out this article as it has so many other brilliant tips and techniques!


Once the patch was hemmed on all four sides, I fused piece of Wonder Under Light, slightly smaller in size, onto the wrong side of the patch. I removed the paper liner side of the WU and fused the patch to the sleeve’s right side positioned evenly over the tear. This may seem like a lot of extra steps employed and products used but by stabilizing the area (fusible interfacing on wrong side) then adding the double sided fusible to the wrong side of the patch (Heat n Bond), the area was well prepped making the final stitching a piece of cake.


But wait there’s more! Since the owner/wearer of this shirt, a music critic, gave me artistic freedom with this repair, I added a lil’ decorative patch on top of the functional Dotted Swiss one. This small inchie-sized cotton fabric patch (using the same process as the first patch: the card stock for measuring the bitty 1/4″hems and Heat n Bond for fusing into place) has a musical theme.


So now I was ready to machine appliqué all these elements into place. I installed a new 80/12 Universal sewing machine needle and selected a 2mm stitch length. First I sewed all around the long slender patch, then a couple rows centered over the area of the tear, then stitched the smaller patch into place and finally stitched and reinforced the overlap placket and its peaked “roof.”


Here’s hoping the repair holds well. I felt I gave it the best support possible with the stabilizing agents. This sewing experience combined function and fun. It also felt very mindful and sustainable as I was slowly and thoughtfully working to repair a garment for reuse.

Last Post #MMM-Me Made May 2017! Slow Stitching…


Wow this month of making sure did fly by! I thought I’d end my participation in the annual, global Me-Made-May sewing challenge with a post on a hand stitching project. Last month hubs and I took a road trip down to Philadelphia. Whenever we have extended drives, I love to have a lap-sized sewing project to work on. I had purchased this cotton/linen blend poets style night shirt and have been looking for just the right motif to do a little appliqué stitching on it. My inspiration came from the well known book, Alabama Stitch Book written by Natalie Chanin. Included in this beautiful book, is a lovely leafy stencil that I slightly modified and used for the appliqué pieces. From my stash, I used a white-on-white subtly, patterned cotton quilt weight fabric. Since I wanted to use both sides of the white fabric, I made a sandwich of the two different sides of the fabric with Heat N Bond Lite in between and fused them together. For the layout, I used both the patterned and plain sides of the fabric interchangeably. I placed the leaves down in somewhat of a symmetrical design around the front buttoned placket, over the shoulder and around the back neckline and then heat set them into place.



Then the fun began! I hand “slow stitched” all around each leaf with perle cotton. This was a perfect traveling project that didn’t really require any deep concentration:  as hubs drove, we chatted, listened to music, and I stitched! The drive down was some three hours, give or take. The project was completed on the return trip.


I love the clean simplicity of this design and embellishment! This shirt will be great to wear with jeans, leggings, a cami underneath or a sweater thrown over it on a cool summer night!

It’s always a challenge for me to participate in challenges while school is in session, but I’m always glad I do in the end! It’s that little extra nudge I need to work on something new or a long overdue project that’s been waiting in the queue.

For more on #MMM17, click here!


#MMM17-Me-Made-May 2017 Jumper


Just a couple posts left for Me-Made-May 2017! Many, many years ago I made a sweet pullover loose-fitting jumper that was truly one of my favorite spring into summer dresses. Sadly the pattern was beyond repair and and also out of print. So, when I came across McCalls M6739 which is very similar in design, I had to take a crack at it!


Using a suiting weight black Irish linen from my stash, this jumper came out great! I chose View B, with just a couple pattern modifications:  lowering the neckline in both the front and back, and lining the deep side front/back pockets with a contrast black and gray polka dot cotton fabric for fun!


It’s such a comfortable jumper for the warm weather as I can wear a t-shirt under it or not. It’s unlined, all seams were serged on the inside and I topstitched all seams on the outside. As we all know, linen wrinkles very easily, and for some that is a no-no. I’m totally ok with the wrinkles. I know that the more this dress is washed the softer the hand and drape will become.


Thanks to both my willing and patient adult children for taking these photos!

For more on Me-Made-May 2017, click here.

Me-Made-May 2017 Handmade Journals


In today’s Me-Made-May 2017 post, I’m switching things up a bit. Let’s talk about handmade journals. I think of journals as an essential accessory. I carry one wherever I go. It’s part of my ensemble, if you will. Nothing like knowing that it is at my beck and call.  It is tucked safely inside my tote,  along with an assortment of pens, pencils and other fun and necessary journalling tools, like washi tape, glue stick and double-sided tape.

This Spring into Summer has seen a great deal of journal making. I am gifting most of them as workshop treats for my students, end of the school year/welcome summer gifts of gratitude to my fellow educators and to new friends and cabin mates at an upcoming art retreat. For my paper-covered types, I painted with acrylic paint, sponges and bubble wrap onto 140 lb weight Canson watercolor paper. My color story was based on Spring in the City. I mixed colors to look like urban concrete neutrals with touches of warm sunny yellows and earthy browns. The assortment of papers inside come from my collection of new and vintage pages as well as from my handpainted paper stash. I machine stitch the signature using a Jeans needle 90/14, a heavier weight cotton thread and a long straight stitch.

Roll call!img_5454-e1495997625987.jpg



These cloth covered journals are a classic fave of mine. They are sewn like a book cover, so that the writer may replace the journal when necessary. I used both 7oz and 12oz unprimed canvas from Jerry’s Artarama. The serger is my friend for this style. I love the look of the overlocker’s exposed chain stitch of ivory beige thread against the canvas. Covers are hand stamped with Jacquard Textile Paint. I have a wonderful selection of bias tape and it is often a mainstay in my journals, whether tying around the machine stitched binding , as above in the paper journals or threaded through the spiral bound notebook inside these cloth journals.



I wish all my creative friends many days full of opportunities to sit, muse, write and create in these “me-made” journals.

For more on Me-Made-May 2017, click here.





#MMM17- Jersey Tunic Top


Hi sewists, for this Me-Made-May 2017 post, here’s a sweet little tunic top I recently made based on New Look’s pattern S0172.


When I decided that this would be a sleeveless version, I made some changes using View B as my base pattern. First in the armscye, I dropped the bottom of the armhole about 5/8″, moved the shoulder seam in and then opened up the overall shape of the armhole curve in the front and back creating a less constricting opening. I also lowered the neckline about 3/4″ in both the front and back.


For the top half of the back of the tunic, I carried over the same fabric from the front and for the bottom section, I used a remnant piece of gray and royal blue striped jersey knit, from my stash. Btw the main fabric is a lightweight, 2-way printed jersey knit from Mood Fabrics NYC. I loved the colors and design that mixed florals and cool lettering graphics. This easy tunic paired well with a light sweater, jean leggings and booties on this cool, overcast Spring day at the Jones Family Farm Winery,


For more information on Me-Made-May17, click here.


Me-Made-May 2017, Neoprene Take 2


Since May has been a month of temperature extremes, I’m going for one more #MMMay17 post about using Neoprene also called Scuba Knit.


Love this pattern, McCalls 7122. A perfect choice for this heavy knit. Neoprene, as I mentioned in a previous post, works best in a garment with less seaming. This little pullover dress has a modified, sweet “fit and flare” type silhouette: fitted a bit more through the bodice and flaring out like a skater dress. I used dress view B with the long sleeves from view A. The shoulder seams remind me of a baseball practice jersey! I made the neckband using a bias strip of Ponte knit.


Neoprene is so cozy! I scored this fabric from Mood NYC. I enjoyed wearing yesterday when I spent the day shopping with my Mom and daughter. We have a tradition of “Malling” the day before Mother’s Day. A perfect day to be inside as the weather was awful:  a rainy and windy spring Nor’easter!

Since today is Mother’s Day, I’m wishing all a very happy day!

For more info on #MMM17, click here.

Photo credit to Tess

#MMM17 Still Jumper Weather!


Hi there sewists! Time for another #MMM, Me Made May 2017, post.  According to the calendar it’s Spring but when the temps dipped into the mid 40’s, making it quite nippy this morning, I was all about wearing this jumper to school!

I have had this mid weight, cotton linen blend in my stash for quite a while. It’s olive drab in color with horizontal lines and threads slubs in other earth tone colors. I made it up based on McCalls pattern M7120, view D. It’s a pullover style jumper that is semi fitted.  It can also definitely be belted. And of course it has “must have” on-seam pockets, large enough to hold my cell.



The jumper has a shaped high-low hemline.


The armhole are low enough so that I can wear a top underneath or not!

Love this versatile transition dress!

Photos courtesy of JJ

#MMM17 Begins!

Hi there sewing enthusiasts! It’s that time of the year for Me-Made-May.

For those of you familiar with New England/Northeast weather, you will totally appreciate this garment, as my first post for #MMM17!

I’ve been hankering to work with Neoprene and this jacket was a great choice. Neoprene or suba knit has a pretty hefty hand and so creating a garment without a lot of seams made sense. I used McCalls MP285 as a starting point. It is described as a “very loose fitting hooded jacket with sleeve, pocket and length variations.” And change it up I did! I opted out of the 3/4 length sleeve for a longer one, added overall length and enlarged and lined the pockets. Another lil detail was to create a bias tape to encase the seam where the hood meets the jacket. I used that same snazzy printed knit to line the pockets.

Neoprene is water resistant and makes a nice toasty layer for those damp spring days.

These photos were taken in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia by my patient hubs! If you visit Phily, make a pitstop to Pizza Brain in Fishtown for some the most delicious pizza ever!

For more info on #MMM17, click here, http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.com

Day 24 of My 25 Days of Make & Give: Scarves, scarves and scarves!


Those of you who know me well know about my daily afternoon Starbucks coffee ritual. On the way home from teaching at the nursery school, I pick up my customized Mocha beverage. This truly helps me to power on through sewing lessons with private students in my home studio.

I have often thought of purchasing a beautiful expresso making machine for the time and money it could save me but to be honest I do enjoy seeing and chatting it up with my friendly baristas.  They are such fun and interesting young people!


So every year I gift each and every barista in the 3 different Starbuck locations in my area with a fringed fleece scarf.

Now that’s a lot of scarves…this year it was somewhere over 45! But they are always so excited to see me walk through their doors with my big bundle of goodies!

Look at those happy faces!


Merry Christmas and a big caffeinated thank you to my Starbucks family!!



Day 23 of My 25 Days of Make & Give: Queen of the Silver Lining


I’m very excited to tell you about today’s recipient of Day 23 Make & Give. This lady is without a doubt one of the most resilient, positive people I know. She is truly the Queen of Silver Linings. In past years she has weathered the most difficult storms imaginable.  And despite how rough things got, and they had to be unbearable, she navigated through with the utmost style and grace. This gal is the definition of inner strength.

So for my dear friend, I am gifting one of my handmade journals, as she is a most gifted (and published) writer, a copy of one of my favorite holiday CDs and some jingle antlers because she loves to be festive!

Write on and jingle all the way, dear girl!

Is there someone who inspires you…remember them today and always….


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