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!

26 April 2019

My Enduring Love Of Linen

Yesterdays mail brought me some beautiful linen fabric from Fabrics-Store.com
Above: their IL019 (softened) in Oasis on the left & IL019 Mixed Natural on the right.

Linen. Oh how much I love it! I was late learning about the pleasures of linen. Growing up in the NorthEast I knew it as fine handkerchief linen...usually from Ireland. I had a flax spinning wheel at the time and spun some flax...it was frustratingly slow work! I did see the occasional lightweight, white linen summer shirt or pants, but the women in my families did not use linen much in their wardrobes. As I read more about linen apparel I realize that this might not have been that unusual.  One article states that in the 1970’s only 5% of the worlds linen production was used for apparel, but by the 1990’s that percentage had risen to a whopping 70%!

Linen is, of course, derived from the pretty, but tough, flax plant. 

The image above is from 

Above....from an excellent article on linen at 

I was in my early 40’s when a friend (Ingrid) gave me several pairs of linen pants that she had well loved. They were from Flax Designs linen pants and had been designed from Jeanne Englehart (who is no longer with the company). There was no turning back...I fell in love with the fabric and the simple designs that she made famous.

Linen is an ancient fabric, that has stood the tests of time. It is cool, versatile, softens with age and is simply one of nature’s best designs. An excellent article from “ clothing history” tells us that “...The Phoenicians, who had their merchant fleet, brought flax growing and the making of linen into Ireland”....who knew?! That same article relates “The longest possible fibers are got when the flax is either hand-harvested by pulling up the entire plant or when stalks are cut very close to the root. Seeds are then removed from the plant and fibers are loosened from the stalk. Woody portion of the stalks are removed by crushing between two metal rollers which separates fibers. They are then separated between themselves - longer from shorter. Longer, softer ones are then spun into yarns and then woven or knit into linen textiles...”.

Ancient Origin, a wonderful history website, states the obvious “...There is no question as to why so many cultures adopted linen as their main cloth for clothing: wearing linen is an absolute pleasure. Linen cloth is known for how it relaxes next to the skin, how it drapes and wrinkles, and how it softens and ages over time. Linen is easy to wash, absorbs water without shrinking or warping, and is beautiful even when left undyed. The weave of the fabric gives it a luscious texture that looks great next to wool, silk, and other natural fibers. It is probably most revered for its breathability and ability to wick sweat and moisture away from skin, as well as it’s resistance to rot and insects...”

Linen is available in so many forms; linen gauze, linen voile,  handkerchief, mid weight, heavyweight, canvas. There is a linen for every need. I think that Irish linen is perhaps the best known. They produce the finest quality linens and have been doing so for eons. Recently I have also discovered a wealth of linens from Lithuania...they are varied, beautiful and of relatively modest price. I have ordered them Croman ETSY purveyor, Dace Reihmane. She has an excellent command of English...I wish I could speak Lithuanian as well as she speaks English! Her site is www.etsy.com/shop/textilesupplies 

Perhaps the largest online, linens only (with a few cotton/linen blends too),  source is ...as noted above...fabrics-store.com. Maureen sells all manner and weights of linen on her site and she offers daily sales and frequent bulk yardage specials. That is where my new linens came from. I have bought her standard mid weight (IL019) before but had no idea how much softer the “softened” linen versions were until I ordered this beautiful green...called, fittingly, Oasis. It is soft from the get-go. The other fabric, a “mixed natural”, beautifully slubby, mid-weight, softened up beautifully after a hot water scrub wash and a session in the dryer. Luscious fabrics that have already been washed, lightly ironed and are now ready to cut and sew now. My cart is full again and ready for my next purchases.

This is “in my cart” for next time....did I mention that samples are available for $1.50? Of course samples used to be free from almost everywhere, now “free” is the delightful exception rather than the rule.  I just ordered some samples of fabric from Mood Fabrics today and they too were $1.50 each.

My line is slated to become new summer pants...made with a Cutting Line Designs One Seam Pants pattern (pattern number 13171) that I think will be close to the Flax Designs original that I fell in love with so many years ago. Sewing pants is something that I have shied away from and it is time to conquer my hesitation and fear.

  • What are your summer sewing plans? 
  • Quilts?
  • Clothes?
  • What fabrics delight you?

05 April 2019

Blame On Bonnie Hunter! The Scrap Bag I Mean!

Blame it Bonnie K. Hunter...this massive scrap pile I mean. 

The image does not do justice to this leaning tower of scraps. It is much larger this it appears. It is sum total of years of scraps that had been filling what was supposed to become 2 large gob beds for the animal shelter. The bag is about three feet long, 3 feet high and 2 feet wide...so this is a very large ‘pile-o-scraps’. 

I have had the luxury of a vacation. Being away was lovely...seeing new places, learning new things and meeting other wonderful, creative people during a workshop with Maria Shell was wonderful. It has been equally wonderful, and more relaxing, to have days at home too. I have baked crackers, cookies and cinnamon buns, cut out and started sewing what be a great rendition of a favorite pattern...the Farrow dress. What more could I want?

Many of Bonnie K. Hunters quilts make my eyes dance, but I have had one quilt on my radar for some time. The “Garden Party” quilt from her book “Addicted To Scraps”. I cannot image any quilter not knowing about this powerhouse of a woman. She has more energy than anyone has a right to...she goes everywhere and writes daily about the power of scraps. She does amazing things with them. As I settled in to read about what I need to make my slightly toned down version of her exuberant Garden Party quilt I read about how she cuts, sifts, sorts and stores her scraps. It made some sense to me, and, feeling a tad less time constrained than usual, I set about sorting my own scraps...figuring that if I did

 a bit each day I could clear a bit of my scrap-clutter.

Fabric prices have been going up...as if any  of us who are fabric addled collectors, have not noticed this fact. While I cannot see myself foregoing the pleasures of color and textures and going on a fabric buying hiatus any time soon...it does make me think that making better use of what I already have is a prudent thing to consider.

After a couple of evenings spent trimming..I can only do it it an hour or two at a time after all... I decided that I wanted to cull the useable scraps in that mountain of a scrap bag, and promptly dumped it on the floor...causing an allergic dust attack! I mean that is some years of fabric in there! I sorted out any scraps from which I could cut at least one 1.5” X 1.5” square. The rest was returned to “cat/dog bed pile”. I now had a pared down, useable, bag and a “definitely-pieces-are-too-small-to-use” bag. Progress!

The photo below shows what I culled to use. It was interesting activity really, aside from dust allergy, because I got to see bits from quilts made long ago, scraps from dresses that I wear and still really like. I found pieces of some fabrics that I ad bought far too little of and I was happy to find that I still had a few precious bits left. I even do und some reject blocks from the making of my version of the Dear Jane quilt. These reject blocks we’re quite awful and they reminded me of what a real amateur I was when I made that quilt almost 15 years ago. I decided to keep a few just remind myself that we can never stop learning and growing and that quilt making still thrills me even after, gulp, 43 years...well, I was in hiatus for some of those years!

The result: this is the “useable” pile...scraps that will give me at least one 1.5” square

Now I can get back to trimming the scraps, making the dress and enjoying the last of my vacation days. There is never enough time is there? I have savored this break ... I will be writing about Maria Shell’s great workshop soon.

  • Do you think using scraps to make quilts is a good way to recycle them or are they better off being tossed?
  • Do you use your scraps or are you happy to be done with them?
  • Do you have a “process” for cutting them? 
  • For storing them?
  • Does it even matter to use scraps or are you happiest making quilts from “quilt-specific” fabrics and then discard the left-overs.

#bonniehunter #quiltville #scrapquilts #addictedtoscrap