Monday, April 17, 2017


I have always loved Jackets. When McCalls sponsored a Bomber Jacket Sew Along last fall, I decided it might be fun to sew along and try out their patterns using materials from my stash. 

First I made a sample jacket from Butterick 6181. I added black piping around the sleeve seams, stripes on the bands for interest, and a lining. It was easy to make and turned out well, but I did not care for the shape. 

I was afraid  McCalls 7100 would fit too much like a sweatshirt, but gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. I loved the fit. I used brown faux leather for the front and back, and a very soft, lightweight brown denim for the sides and arms. 

I embellished the front with the Painted Roses design, #4079, from Urban Threads. The jacket pattern has no lining, but as I love lined jackets I added one in a blue and brown stripe.

I liked the fit and style of this jacket so much I made a second one. This time I used a soft black faux leather for the body, and a heavy wool-like polyester for the sleeves and sides and I lined it with black brocade. Cuffs, collars, and zippers were purchased from WAWAK. This jacket is very warm. I embroidered Urban Threads #1454 Koi and Lilies on the back, and one single lily on the front.

I added a cell-phone-sized welt pocket to the front of the lining and embellished it with a tiny dragon applique created using Urban Threads #13803, Passport to China-Dragon.

The challenge is long over, but I wanted to make a spring jacket. I spent a lot of time distressing and fatiguing my army green cotton duck yardage to soften it and give it some character. I used the washer, dryer, and clothesline, along with a variety of laundry products for this. Butterick 5927, view D was my starting point. This basic double breasted pattern is very simple and lends itself to achieving the military look I was after. 

I made the sleeves the focal point of the jacket. I carefully combined the upper sleeve of B5927 and the lower sleeve of V1036, eliminating the bell shape at the bottom. I love the seaming detail on the Vogue sleeve. 

I embroidered Urban Threads #6403 Elven Court Knot Cascade as a monocolor design on the top half of the sleeve prior to assembly. I also added plackets to the shoulders using a shortened version of the back placket pattern. The jacket has a dark green peach skin lining and military style buttons. It is extremely comfortable to wear. 

Jacket season is almost over until fall- or is it? If I have time in the busyness of summer, I just might make myself a sheer bomber jacket.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Game of Thrones Inspired Messenger Style Bag

I love the costumes from Game of Thrones, embellished elaborately with detailed hand embroidery, 3D embroidery and bead work. Michelle Carragher is a true artist. I have arthritis, so I do most of my embroidery by machine these days. The good news is that you don't always need an embroidery machine for this. You can do a lot with the basic and embroidery stitches on regular sewing machines, as I have here. I made my version of Cersei Lannister's red dress a while back. This time I decided to try something different. I love this dress worn by Sansa Stark, especially the neckline.  I thought something similar might look good on a bag.

I started by creating embroidered fabric, using the straight and leaf stitches on my Bernina and several different thread colors.  This took several hours, as the fabric is thick and dense, and some of the stitches just sank in to the nap. I embellished the pieces for the sides and the flap in this manner.

 The bag construction was fairly easy. I added a zippered pocket and an open, divided pocket to the lining as well as a cellphone pocket and magnetic snap under the flap.

 Once I had constructed the bag and inserted the lining, I added rolled roses, rosebuds, and leaves to the flap.

 I learned to make rolled roses years ago from the works of  Elly Sienkiewicz, who has written many books on Baltimore Album Quilts and dimensional applique. My roses were made using two different fabrics, both to reduce bulk(the bag fabric is very heavy) and to create depth. 

I made raw edged leaves by sewing two velvety leaf pieces together, right sides facing outwards. Stitched leaf veins add texture.

I am pleased with the finished bag. It is big enough to hold my stuff and my iPad if necessary, and small enough for a person (like me) who prefers small purses.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Baby Crazy Quilt

I used to do a lot of quilting. It kept me sane when my kids were young and I was constantly changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking, etc. At a time when almost all the work I did was temporal, I loved quilting because I was creating something that lasted. As the kids grew up, I started doing alterations and custom wedding gowns. I also worked as a Costumer for nearly 15 years. I sewed all the time, and the quilt fabrics got pushed to the back of the stash. 

Things have finally slowed down a little. Close friends were expecting a child in December. The urge to make a baby quilt was strong- and I had time! I have always loved crazy quilts and their rich variety of colors, textures, and design elements. Our friends have a life that is a lot like a crazy quilt- highly variable, and full of the unexpected. I decided to make them an all cotton crazy quilt of predominantly antique colors.

I started by going through my embroidery designs, choosing those that fit them or us or both. 

Once I had stitched out a dozen or so, I cut four 20" square blocks out of tightly woven cotton sheeting. Each piece would eventually be a large crazy quilt block. I dug out fabrics and lace from the back of the stash and purchased a couple special pieces. The first block was the hardest to make. It is more difficult to create scraps out of whole cloth than you might think. Once I got into the swing of it the process became easier.

I quickly learned that I needed a lot more embroidered pieces. I made them all on my embroidery machine.

After arranging the pieces and pinning them in place, I used the buttonhole and feather stitches on my Bernina to hold everything together decoratively.

After sewing the four blocks together, I added a few three dimensional elements.

The quilt is filled with cotton batting and tied. The backing fabric was folded over to the front for simple self binding. 

I enjoyed making it, looking at it, and gifting it.