Category Archives: sewing

Sewn: After-School Pants

after-school pants at

I usually sew my daughter leggings, but occasionally she wants to wear a shirt and pants without a skirt, so I picked up the Oliver + S After-School Pants pattern. I thought a lightweight corduroy would work nicely, and G picked out the fabric, which is very her. What I like most about this pattern is the details. (It’s designed to have some contrast fabric, but while G likes contrast within her fabric choices and her outfits, she doesn’t seem to like it within the items themselves, so we skipped that.)

after-school pants at

This is a close-up of the back pocket and the back ruffle. Because of course you can add ruffles to this pattern. That back pocket–it’s just too cute.

after-school pants at

The front pocket has a ruffle too. If you were using contrast fabric, it would peek out from the front pockets too.

after-school pants at

I love the detail on the back. It looks like a pair of jeans.

after-school pants at

I sewed a size 7 for my almost-eight-year-old daughter and still had lots of length in the legs. I didn’t want to cut any off, so I folded it this way and that and made a cuff on the outside of the leg. It adds some weight to the bottom and hopefully I can let it down later if necessary. Plus it just looks cute.

I don’t have a photo of her actually wearing them because it’s getting into the 70s today. She wept. I told her to wear them anyway, but my girl who wears shorts when it’s 60 knew in her bones she’d be hot if she did, so she had to buck up and wear something else I’ve sewn for her (a dress and shorts) rather than the latest thing I’ve sewn for her. Oh, the challenges.

Art Quiltlet: 41/52

Pieces art quiltlet at


When I trim my quiltlets I accumulate a pile of skinny sandwich pieces. I often use them to test my free-motion settings before starting to stitch. When they get too full of test stitches, I get rid of them. Last week was a bit full, so on Friday I looked around my art table and gathered up the scraps I had (not many, actually), and zig-zag stitched them together to make a quiltlet. As I worked I thought I might layer something on top when I was done, but I liked it just as it was, so I left it. Some weeks you need something low key.

Art Quiltlet: 40/52


“Standing Tall”

The early part of this week was overloaded (October is beginning as it means to go on, apparently), so Thursday I stood at my art table wondering when and what to do for this week. I decided to use what was right in front of me–often an excellent way to get started–which happened to be some scraps of linen that were left over from trimming pocket panels. I started arranging them on the table in various ways, tried out a few different background colors, and settled on this arrangement against hand-dyed fabric that reminds me of a sky with clouds. I stitched in some grounding lines as well and decided this one is called “Standing Tall.”

I know. Last week’s was called “Fraying.” This is the sort of thing my subconscious does, okay?

Since we’ve hit another multiple of ten this week (only 12 more weeks to go in this year; hopefully it ends without ushering in the apocalypse and/or fall of democracy), it’s time to line up the last ten all together.

art quiltlets at

Weeks 31 through 40

Do I have a style? I don’t even know. The only unifying characteristic I set myself for this project was size (and medium, of course). Other than that, I’ve been all over the place. Which was kind of the point. But I wonder if there is something in my artwork that fingerprints it as mine, or not. Just a thing I ponder as I continue exploring my own work, and other people’s.

Art Quiltlet: 39/52

"Fraying," art quiltlet at


This is not at all subtle. I used part of an old pair of jeans with a hole in the knee, a scrap of Japanese cotton, and some running stitch. This one is inspired purely by how I feel.

I don’t like where I live. Not the house itself, which is old. I don’t care about cosmetics, although it should have gotten a deep cleaning before being rented out, and it didn’t. I do care about the ancient plumbing that hasn’t had to deal with more than two elderly people in decades. It’s one thing after another. I don’t like where I live geographically either. It’s been well over a year so I don’t think that’s going to change. It is what it is.

I’m tired all the time. That’s the schedule; it is what it is, too. I’m looking at October with a whole lot of hell no. My 12yo needs his wisdom teeth out under general anesthesia because one of them is tangled with a molar, which can’t erupt. He’s never had surgery before. He’s anxious. I’m anxious because I’m missing the pediatrician who actually knew us versus the factory version we’re stuck with down here. It’s a crapshoot whether I get the correct information when I call, and my kids have never seen the same doctor twice, and they don’t know us at all. A week after the surgery, my husband goes away for a week. He keeps texting me dates from work as he schedules more travel. I hate those texts. My daughter would like to have a birthday party with friends. I would like that too, especially since her father will be away for her birthday. But this house is way too small, with dodgy plumbing. She was in tears. It’s just one more thing.

I swear I can feel my molars, especially on the left side, getting shorter as I clench my jaw so hard it practically spasms. I could use a dentist, but very few take our insurance and I haven’t found one yet. Heck, I could use a therapist too I suppose, but who has the energy to try to find one? Every attempt has ended badly, and very few of them take insurance, too. It is what it is. I’d hoped things would be easier here after this long, and I guess in some ways they are. I don’t get lost going to the grocery store. I’m involved in some activities, some local, some father away. My kids are settled in. I have the best next door neighbor ever (until we find a house we can afford to buy that doesn’t have dodgy plumbing, and we move). But in other essential ways it’s still so hard, hard in ways that just exhaust me.

Fraying. Not torn, not irreparable, but definitely fraying.

Sewn: Musette Bags

musette bags at

These have been completed for a while, but I needed someone to help me with pictures and I kept forgetting to ask. I had the idea to make a musette bag while watching the Tour de France, of course, in July. Musette bags are the lightweight bags handed to the riders, containing their food. They’re not intended to hold anything terribly heavy, yet I wanted one anyway, because why not? As I am wont to do, I added a layer of complication by deciding that I needed to draw and carve a lino block bicycle so I could print it on the bags. So that took some time.

bicycle linoprint at

Close-up of the bicycle linoprint. I used my husband’s bike as the model.

These are made out of utility cotton I found at Joann’s. It’s sturdy. The straps are twill tape, and I bought snaps and a snap setter from I highly recommend them; installation was so much easier and smoother than trying to use the plier-type tool sold at craft stores.

musette bag at

In the above picture I have an 8×10″ sketchbook and a pencil pouch in the bag; it’s sturdy enough for art supplies, which is probably what I’d use it for. It’s designed to cross the body.

musette bag at

(Don’t judge the hair; it’s still so humid here and I was having an I-don’t-care sort of day.)

I love these bags. I have no use for more than one and am happy to sell or make one with a different color print or with a different print altogether. These have French seams, so no raw edges. They’re simple, as I said, with no interior pockets and a snap closure. I think their simplicity makes me love them more. That, plus it’s always satisfying to go, “I need to make X,” and then do it, and have it come out the way you wanted.

Introducing Gallery

I’ve added a Gallery tab up top there, which takes you to photos of finished work, all of which are available (unless it says otherwise). Here’s the latest addition

"Squid," 8"x8" plus hanging loops. Neocolor and hand-dyed cottons, machine and hand stitching.

“Squid,” 8″x8″ plus hanging loops. Neocolor and hand-dyed cottons, machine and hand stitching.

I had the urge to stitch a squid–things like that happen–so I did. This is a layered reverse appliqué (stitch & slash style, except I used scissors), with the blue layer free-motioned stitched first. The blue is created with Neocolor water-soluble pastels, and the red and purple are hand-dyed. The squid’s patterning is also free-motion stitching, with hand stitching to create the eye.

I’ll continue to add pieces to the Gallery page as I finish them.

Art Quiltlet: 37/52

oh hell no art quiltlet at

Simple and to the point. This has been my reaction to so much lately: my alarm going off at 5:30 every weekday; the new assistant principal using insulting sarcasm with my kid; every single thing that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth (or that of one of his supporters); anybody who says Colin Kaepernick is protesting in the wrong way, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, or for the wrong thing; white authors who cry that calls for diversity are unfair to them; I could go on. From big to small, from local to worldwide, so much is just Oh Hell No.

My middle child, by the way, saw this and said, “You should just put that right on a tee shirt and wear it around.” Maybe I should.

Back-to-School Sewing

Sewing for my daughter is a joy. I have improved my skills so much thanks to the patterns we’ve chosen. Most of her back-to-school clothes were sewn by me, with a few more things (leggings and pants) not started yet because it’s still so warm here. So here we go:


Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

I actually bought this pattern last summer and never got to it. It’s awfully cute. The fabric was bought locally on sale.

Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

It’s such a cute pattern, she wanted two. She picked this fabric out online.

Seashore Sundress, pattern by Oliver + S

Seashore Sundress, pattern by Oliver + S

Again, since it’s still so warm, a sundress is perfect back-to-school wear. She picked this Lizzy House fabric out online too. This photo only shows the back, but the straps button in the front. I can now do buttonholes like nobody’s business and I wonder why they ever stressed me out so much.

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

She saw this fabric (Butterfly Box by Lizzy House) online and asked for a skirt. We settled on the A-line skirt pattern in the Great British Sewing Bee book From Stitch to Style.  This one has a faux button band down the front and an adjustable waist with buttonhole elastic (and two more buttonhole slits in the waistband–no problem!). It looks like a big-girl skirt. So I made another.

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

I won this fabric from Ellen Baker in an Instagram giveaway and G asked for it. It’s double gauze and so, so soft. I left out the faux button band on this one.

A few things I made, I only have Instagram photos for, because I deleted some pictures when I switched phones. My son asked for a new, bigger pencil case. My daughter needed a placemat for school, so I made one with utensil slots that rolled up neatly. And I made her some reusable snack bags with food-grade laminate.

It’s so much fun to sew a bespoke wardrobe for an almost-eight-year-old!

Art Quiltlet: 36/52

I swear I have other stuff going on besides these quiltlets, which I have such good intentions of posting about, and then the week goes by in a whooosh! of driving kids to schools and bus stops and picking them up again and cooking and packing lunches and cleaning and eking out some time to actually sew or read before falling asleep drooling at a ridiculously early hour most nights. But! I’m keeping up on quiltlets. Sometimes I finish one and immediately think, This one has to go bigger, too. Like, for instance, when I finished this week’s.

Symbols art quiltlet at

I took photos as I went with this one, because I knew it was going to be a multi-step process. First I added color to white fabric using Neocolor II water-soluble pastels; they went on dry, then I wet with a brush.

painted fabric

While that dried, I made a foam printing plate. But scratch foam printing results in a block of paint with the scratched-out part allowing the paper (or fabric, in this case) to show through. I decided I wanted more of the fabric visible, so I decided to cut a stencil out of freezer paper. I drew this free-hand, not terribly worried about getting everything exactly even or all the shapes the same size. Here’s the stencil ironed onto the fabric.

freezer paper stencil

Then I painted it black, let it dry, and heat-set the ink. After peeling off the stencil, I had this:

freezer paper stencil

Finally, I added the white geometric stitching, cropped, and finished. As I was stitching, my husband walked by and said, “I like that fabric.”

“I made it!” I said. And how cool is that? I really need to finish gathering the dyeing and batik supplies. That’s one of my goals for September–to have everything I need by the end of the month. Another is to freshen up this site a bit. And post a little more. Goals are good, hmm?

Art Quiltlet: 35/52

Playing with Curves art quiltlet at

All three kids are in school as of this week, which you’d think would free up lots of time, but it’s not feeling that way. It’s a three-and-a-half hour stretch in the morning between wake up (to make sure my oldest is moving) and dropping off the final child. Five-and-a-half hours later, I start picking them up again. It’s about the same amount of time I had last year, except I’m much more tired and needing to go to bed much earlier, so I’m useless at accomplishing anything in the evenings. So, it’s net much less productive time.

Anyway, all that to say that even with my supposedly free days, I didn’t get to this week’s quiltlet until Thursday, finishing on Friday. My inspiration came from The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood. I decided to try “template-free layered curve patchwork.” It was tricky at times and the curves don’t show up a whole lot at this scale, but I enjoyed arranging them and adding free-motion stitching. Here’s what it looked like before I cropped it.

art quiltlet before cropping at

The book, which Amazon thought I’d like (so I borrowed it from the library to see) has some interesting ideas for piecing that I want to try, but I’m skimming a lot because I’m not interested in the life advice part (the subtitle is A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously). I think I’m content to get my quilting inspiration and my life guidelines in different places when it comes right down to it.

The year is winding down. Thirty-five weeks gone. There’s nothing like a weekly project to keep you mindful of the passing of time, geez.