22 January 2021


Above: One of my first attempts used as a birthday card for a friend made using 16 count Aida

In August, Susan Briscoe, published her book “The Ultimate Kogin Collection” and then, in November her “Book of Boro” was published. This is the same talented woman who gave me a perfect introduction to Sashiko when her book “The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook” was published in May 2005.

When I first began seeing examples of Kogin Sashiko (pronounced, I believe, as ‘Co-geen’. Please let me know if I am incorrect) on social media I admit that I was not terribly interested. I wasn’t looking for another needlework obsession and I did not find the effect all that interesting. When ‘The Ultimate Kogin Collection’ arrived in my mailbox I began to “feel” the possibilities, and in short order, I had decided to give it a try. I had some Aida cloth on hand and both sashiko thread as well as a lot of DMC 6-stranded embroidery thread. My early attempts were made with what I had. 

More of my first attempts stitched on Aida cloth.  The fun was just playing with color and learning stitches. I had no plans for these practice pieces although the pin cushion came out well.

Eventually, I decided that I enjoyed Kogin enough to invest in true “Kogin Cloth”. Imported from Japan,  Kogin cloth, is an 18 count 100% cotton. It has a richer, beefier, feel than Aida (which is also usually cotton). Additionally, I bought some smaller samples of linen even weave 18 count which I do like as well, but finding it in 18 count is a bit of a challenge. I have a lovely piece of 28 count aqua linen that I want to experiment with soon. Thus far, my preference is Kogin Cloth, which has also been occasionally hard to find in colors. In the USA I shop at Quilting Foxes, Shibori Dragon, and Stitched Modern. Stitched Modern is a needlework store, but they have has a nice selection of even weave linens worth trying. There are m a n y wonderful resources in Japan which you can easily find on ETSY. Canadians have an amazing resource in A Threaded Needle! This may be the place I order from when I have a larger order and can afford the shipping, because her selection is spectacular...for all things Kogin, Sashiko, Japanese and needlework related goods. 

Kogin thread is a bit thicker than Sashiko thread and is available at all of the shops I noted above. I have to admit that I have not invested heavily in this sort of thread yet. Partially because of cost, partially because of scarce availability and a less than optimal color range. For monochromatic work though it cannot be beat for great coverage! I find embroidery threads work well if handled properly and I happen to have a lot of it on hand. Also, embroidery threads are so much easier to find, are less expensive and available in soooo many colors. I do find that a laying tool helps a lot in maximizing the coverage of embroidery 6-stranded floss. A laying tool can be as simple as using your Kogin needle or buying a traditional, inexpensive, takaburi. Using this simple tool to keep your thread smooth is very helpful.

The book, “Modern Kogin” is another library addition that I like. The two books I have have provided me with a lot of options for stitching, but I know that an order of Japanese Kogin books will be in my future at some point...unless some enterprising company in the USA begins to import and market the books here. The language difference would be a minimal issue since reading the patterns does not require Japanese language skills...although how great a translation would be!

Above and Below: A selection of coasters that I made for another friend. Simple but effective.

Most recently I wanted to just experiment. I have a lot still to learn and will never be an expert, but I do find experimenting to be extremely useful. I had a scrap of this mustard Kogin cloth left and many orphan threads. My aim was to simply start stitching intuitively with no pattern used, no plan or eventual use in mind. One stitch to follow the next. Just a blank scrap of cloth and some otherwise possibly never used threads. One of things that I like about both Sashiko and Kogin in the symmetry. I find both to be very relaxing and grounding, but I also appreciate a bit of dis-symmetry, something that is, truly, wani-sabi.
This is what my rambling needle turned out. Thoroughly playful and, I thought, without a purpose. Now that it “has become” though I can and do envision it as a part of a shirt or jacket.

18 January 2021

Scrundle What?!

Some years ago I began to make my own garments after a very long hiatus (rather than just making quilts). If, at that time, someone had suggested that I make my own ‘unders’ I would have replied something along the lines ..”oh! heck no I won’t !”.  If life has taught me any lessons, one of them has been to “never say never”.

During a Zoom meeting a friend, Nancy, reported that had been making underwear. I was skeptical about the whole idea, but decided to have a look at the pattern she used. After buying the pattern (because why not?!) I was quite decided that it was very unlikely that I would like the design on myself since any sort of “boy short” had always been a very unflattering look. I have been buying the same design from a popular company for 30 years or more, and was quite convinced that no other design would be as comfortable. Anyway, why spend time buying knit fabrics and making your own underwear for heaven’s sake ?!

The pattern is called Scrundlewear 2.0 and it comes from Stitch Upon A Time. Once again, I proved myself wrong because, very surprisingly, they turned out to be the most comfortable “unders” that I have ever worn! What a revelation! Yes, I have made more and it is a kick to use fabrics that I love! This fabric is from Mimi G and is from her new line from “Melanated Fabrics”.

You do not need to use a serger to make these. Our sewing machines these days have several stitch choices that can be used successfully. I do have a Babylock Imagine serger though and that is what I use to make mine. The added bonus for me was that I had not used my serger much at all (just because of ignorance) and I had somehow convinced myself sewing knits was difficult. Eureka! Knits are not difficult to sew at all! So beyond finding the most comfy ‘unders’ of my life I have also overcome any lingering discomforts about using and loving both knit fabrics and my serger! 

If Nancy  had not started my on this sewing roll I doubt that I would ever have discovered this pattern and it would have taken my much longer to become fast friends with the sewing and knit fabrics! It was fortunate thing that I decided to give it a go on  whim. New sewing adventures, even small ones like these, are so liberating and fun!


24 March 2020

Mask Making Information Sheet

New Fashions

Our local hospital asked us to make masks for them. They supplied this autoclave wrap material for us to use. Mask making seems to be the fashion thing right now but there are so many variant designs, purposes, fabric facts and fallacies etc that is hard to know what is right.

The masks we are making here are designed to be worn OVER their N95 masks. We are using the basic pattern offered by Providence St.Joseph Medical Center....the link is attached below. Your dimensions, design etc, may vary in many ways. 

I wrote this “information sheet” because so many people in our group had questions. I tried to write a pattern, but the wordy directions made a very simple pattern seem very complicated. The video really IS THE BEST way to go.

Links that I personally found to be helpful are listed at the end. I could have added more...more sometimes the KISS principal really works better!

Please note the one of the links is for a pattern for a personal use mask that includes an extra “filter” layer. Designed by a Taiwanese physician.

Also, the last link is an interesting read about what fabrics do or don’t and can and cannot offer protection. Bottom line is that plain cotton fabric, especially single layer cotton fabric, does basically nothing..and I have read elsewhere that can allow 97% of virus’ through.

This information may help...or may not...I find it hard to find 100% reliable answers. I hope in small way this can help make things a tiny bit easier if you are ready to start a mask making adventure.

Our medical professionals, our friends and families will appreciate our help nd our commitment to staying home, staying well and keeping the sunny side ip during these very surreal times.


These video directions are provided by Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. It is the best instruction that I have found. The video directions are easy to follow here:


Note: there really is no “pattern”. It is just a rectangle of fabric. The fabric that the hospital is providing will be precut and ready to sew! When you sew, please remember to use your lock stitch or reverse sew at the beginning and end of each seam!

·      FabricIf you are using the fabric that was provided by Peace Island Peace Health it is ready to go
Ø   One (1)   piece cut to 7.5” X 15.00”

Ø   Four (4)  pieces cut to 1.00” X 17.00” 
·      Ruler
·      Fabric marker. 
·      Pins
·      Scissor and/or rotary cutter (cutting mat if using a rotary cutter)
·      Sewing machine
·      Thread for the machine. “Regular” 50wt (all purpose) cotton thread works). 
·      Machine needle; size 80/12. 

The image below is from Dave and Shauna Rand of The Sign Company.
The same great people who brought you pre-cut patterns!
Your precut fabric is already notched for you…no need to read further!
If you are cutting the fabric yourself, mark and number them as in the picture, then go for it!

Note the measurements (mm on left inches on the right). I did not have such a precise ruler and used half inch segments …which will work. Using the numbers in the image as an example: to pinch a tuck : pinch at numbers 6 and 4 matching the notches. Number 5 becomes the “peak” of the tuck.

Online resources and information:

The original video from Providence Saint Joseph with instructions:

The instruction sheet for face masks from Deaconess Health:

A instructive post with photographs for making a personal, more decorative, face mask

Designed by a Taiwanese physician…instructions for making a personal face mask that adds an extra “filter layer”.  

Here is an interesting article about what materials to use for making your own, personal, face masks.

03 September 2019

Kokka Lightweight Canvas Dress

I fell in love with this Kokka fabric which is a lightweight cotton canvas with a unique border print. I knew that I wanted to make a dress, but, because of the thickness in the french seams that I wanted to use (I prefer to use whenever possible) I knew that it would need to be a simple pattern. Of course simple patterns are really my preference all of the time anyway.  So it was an easy decision to use my all time favorite tunic pattern - 100 Acts of Sewing Dress No.2. It’s been one of two patterns that I constantly turn to...the other being Grainline Studios Farrow Dress.

This fabric is the kind that is soft to begin with; a lightweight all-cotton canvas that is not stiff and will, I think, soften luxuriously with time and washing...albeit with some fading in the future I imagine.

I am quite pleased with my new dress! Thanks to Anne Dawson for having this in her shop, The Quilters Studio on Lopez Island. I just could not resist! Now I have some leftover for other projects too! Maybe a new bag?

07 August 2019

Happy Box

Short ‘n’ sweet today. It is too hot and I am too tired to write much, 
but I did want to share some colorful news!

Yesterday I received a “happy box” from Marcia Derse. She’s one of my favorite fabric designers and I have been subscribed to her palette club. Her near solids are the stuff of my dream colors. Saturated and beautiful on a soft cotton substrate that is suitable for clothes, quilts, bags etc. This shipment consisted of the luscious colors in the photo above.

Above, a piece of her “palette stacks” fabric that was also included in my happy box. When I look at it I see a new a dress offset with solid colors sleeves, or  a happy quilt, or perhaps a happy bag. I need more of this one!

Marcias sister is a mixed media artist fro Phoenix, Arizona who also happens to hand dye the most wonderful thread! Her advice is that they work best used in things that won’t require a lot of washing. Hand dyed Peele cotton threads always seem to bleed...more or less.... so I had anticipated this advice. She sells these gems on her website Threadsee.com where she offers them in five yard hanks (as in the photos below) as well as in full balls. They coordinate with Marcia’s fabric perfectly! I just happen to have started a small embroidery !

Enjoy the colors! I will be back soon with more projects!

21 July 2019

Wiksten Shift Dress and Top

I finally finished my Wiksten Shift Dress and Top.  It is a simple, well-designed pattern that is beautifully presented and very well designed. It looks much better on the body than it does off....so keep that in mind when you look at the photos. I did not have anyone to take images of the dress on me, but had hoped the dress form would show it to advantage...but it didn’t really accomplish that! I used a lovely, lightweight, cotton ikat fabric that I bought from my favorite place for clothing fabrics....Stonemountain from Berkeley, California. They always seem to offer beautiful, unique fabrics that make me want to sew. The colors of the fabric are an unusual choice for me. While natural and brown colors tend to look just fine on me I seldom seem to buy or wear them. For some reason this design struck and chord and I just had to have some of it. 

The Wiksten Shift Dress and Top pattern features simple lines, patch pockets, a very nice, slightly gathered back yoke, neckline facings and cut-on sleeves. Cut-on sleeves are not generally a style that I like and with my, ahem, mature figure, they seldom do me favors. That being said, the design of these sleeves is actually quite nice and both versions of the sleeves, short and 3/4 length look quite good. I chose to make the 3/4 length. 

One of the things that I think is important with Wiksten patterns is to look closely at the finished size chart. It provides invaluable information and I wish that all pattern companies included it with their patterns. Wiksten also states that their sizing is generous because they like clothes to fit loosely. I do too! I made a muslin for this simple pattern based on using the sizing chart that most closely suited my measurements. Making a muslin was an example of me being cautious. I did not want to waste any of the fabric....and as it turned out I was very glad that I had made a muslin. I ended up going down two sizes! As made in my first muslin the dress equates to the look of a potato sack. Once I got the muslin adjusted I liked the dress a lot...and went ahead and cut out my ikat fabric.

I tried to match my pockets and shoulders with the fabrics design. It worked out fairly well.

I used French Seams throughout. I felt that it was especially necessary because of the weave of the fabric, and in general I love the finished look of French Seams anyway. It was a fun make that I am looking forward to wearing often. Wiksten does a lovely job with directions so I think that this pattern is very suitable for first time beginners. 

Next up? Not certain, but another Wiksten Haori in black is on my mind....

21 June 2019

Neck Friendly Reading Pillow

My friend, Janet, made one of these pillows and gave me a copy of the pattern...don’t worry, it is a free pattern from Sew4Home. I do a lot of reading in bed...and have neck issues and she thought this pattern would be a helpful thing. The linen blend Japanese fabric that I used had been in my collection for some time and seemed like a perfect choice.

You can see that you cut three patten pieces. It makes for a result that looks somewhat like a dog-bone and creates a perfect curved area for your head with great support on the sides to boot!

I just used a leftover selvedge edge of neutral linen for a handle and I also added a 7-inch zipper just because I like to be able to easily “unstuff” pillows so that I can wash them, or easily add or remove some stuffing. It isn’t called for in the pattern and really is not necessary.

I have to confess to making this pillow rather hastily..so my curves are not perfect.
It took less than an hour to make....a bit more than the predicted 30-minutes.

This image gives you an idea of how the three panels make for a comfortable shape.

My spouse, who almost never asks me to make anything for him, wants one of these pillows which I am very happy to do. Janet’s husband had the same reaction.

This is an excellent FREE pattern that makes a very useful, comfortable, item. I think that they would makes a great quick gift too. It makes a good “stitching” pillow too.

Thank you for suggesting this Janet ! ❤️

31 May 2019

Wiksten Haori Jacket

I have had this pattern for some time and I am probably the last person standing to finally get around to making it!

These are the fabrics that I chose to use. The left is a glorious, textural, Japanese, azumino momen fabric that I purchased from Fabric&Art on Etsy. The owner, Michelle, offers a varied selection of beautiful fabric finds from around the world. Thisfabric was just perfect for this jacket! The folks at Shibori Dragon, who offer fat quarters of azumino momen in many colors, explain just what this luscious fabric is:

”...Azumino-momen fabrics are piece-dyed in the Azumino district of Japan (momen means cotton) hence the name Azumino-momen.  Before the pieces are dyed, the fabrics go through a process which creates a natural textured finish that gives the fabric a distinctive feel even after washing.  This fabric is a little heavier that regular quilting cottons...”

The fabric on the right was purchased 2-3 years ago from Anne Dawson at The Quilters Studio on Lopez Island. It is a Yoko Saito design from Lecien Fabrics. I fell in love with it, but had no idea what I would do with it...but it was a perfect pairing! 

Both fabrics are beautifully textured and resulted in a jacket that will be especially perfect in Spring and Fall, as well as for our often cool summer mornings.

The pattern itself is beautifully produced, the step-by-step instruction booklet makes putting the jacket together a breeze. This is a pattern that could be made without a lining as a lighter weight summery jacket. The sizing is generous. I wanted a “cuddle factor” so  my result was perfect. If I make a single jacket next time I will probably size down. Wiksten offers finished dimensions for their patterns which I really appreciate.

The jacket is designed for three lengths; short, mid-length, and long. I chose the mid-length, but as I sewed I wondered if perhaps I should have chosen the longest version. Thankfully, I chose correctly. I am vertically challenged at 5’ 4” (and shrinking!) and the long version would have been much too long on my frame.

With the collar turned up...

Just a tiny bit of Sashiko on the pockets in a Superior Brands variegated Kim Tut thread...                                   ....and yes, I do still need to “erase” a few chalk marks!

I could almost wear it inside out! 

I am so pleased with this make. I am adding the new, simple, Wiksten Shift pattern to my “must make” list now. The sizing for Wiksten are inclusive and designed for “real” sizes. 

23 May 2019

New Marcia Derse Palette and An Excellent Book On Natural Dyes

Today’s mail brought my latest installment of Marcia Derse’s Palette. I love her solids....they are a bit dappled which makes them even better imho. I get a mailing quarterly...though I am not able to locate a link for you about it on her website. To see the full palette of her colors go here.

She also included a small preview of here new black and white line, Opposites, which will be available in June or July. I want to make a dress of these two fabrics already?

These fabrics are soft and perfect for clothes as well as quilts...or home dec or....you name it!

It was a good mail day!

I am a person who always wants to know the “how” and “why” of things. One of the first books that my father ever got for me was called “How Things Work”. It always helps me to know the reasons that some things work and others don’t. So....I want to mention a wonderful book that I have had since March, but recently decided that it might also be of interest here. 

This book by dynamic dyeing team Joy Boutrop and Catharine Ellis offers all of the what’s and wherefore I could ask for about using, mixing, mordanting, adjusting and printing with natural dyes. It is beautifully presented and contains SO much information! I really am enjoying it...so I expect experiments to begin soon. Here is the Amazon link. Of course it available through many other book stores as well as through Schieffer Publishing....they publish such wonderful books! Catharine Ellis has an excellent blog...full of unique, interesting and valuable dyeing information.

Sample pages from a few spots in the book!

Meanwhile, this weekend is giving me the perfect opportunity to begin working on my Wiksten Haori Jacket. The luscious blue solid is an amazing, textural Azumino Momen fabric Japan purchased from Fabric and Art’s Etsy shop. She is away for a few day but her selection of special, indulgent, fabrics is really worth a look! The lining fabric is also Japanese (from Lecien). I bought it several years ago from Anne Dawson at The Lopez Island Quilters Studio and, although I knew I loved it, I wasn’t sure what I would use it for until now...it is a perfect pairing! Anne is, incidentally, also our teacher for the 1876 quilt project that was featured in Houston this past year. I was a lucky participant in the two year project

So...I will get back to it! 

Are you spending the Memorial Day holiday with fri new and loved ones or cozying up at home with a project like I am? Whatever you are doing, travel safely and enjoy the moments!