The calendar reads Spring, but the weather shouts sweatshirt!

I am busy preparing for my Fall and Holiday Craft shows. Yes, I know it is only April, but the year passes quickly and there are some new items that I want to present this year.

Let’s talk Sweatshirts: easy to wear, but one can easily slip into a sloppy scenario.  Let’s take the humble sweatshirt to a new height in fashion.  One of the most important thing to remember is buy a quality sweatshirt.  Hanes are cheap and easy to find at WalMart, but they shrink, and are narrow in the arms.  Worst of all when the ribbing is remove the shirt can be so uneven that several inches must be removed to make an even edge.  My advice is hit a thrift store or buy Jerzees(a step above Hanes and not too expensive).

kimono sweatshirtkimono sweatshir2tkimono sweatshir3tkimono sweatshirt

The following directions will create a kimono style jacket from a humble sweatshirt in 8 easy steps.   Since we are adding additional fabric width of 6 inches to the front edge of the sweatshirt, you want to purchase a smaller size than you normally wear.

Supplies: pre laundried  sweatshirt, fabric less than 1/2 yard, thread, scissors, ruler, washable crayola marker, light weight fusible  interfacing 1/4 yard, iron, sewing machine

1.  Before removing the ribbing launder in hot water and dry in the dryer.  The shirt may shrink a little, but better now than after it becomes a jacket.

2.  Remove the ribbing from the sweatshirt:  neck, cuff, bottom.  Cut it off with scissors or use a seam ripper. Another option is to leave the ribbing on the cuff.

3.  Lay the sweatshirt out and determine the center front by folding the shirt in half lengthwise.  Using a washable crayola marker draw a straight line down the center front.   Using scissors cut the center front open, be sure you are not cutting the back at the same time.

4.  With a 12 inch ruler draw a diagonal line from the  neck edge(place the ruler tip approximately two and half inches from the neck edge diagonally down the front) draw a line and cut with scissors.  Do the same on  the other front edge.

5.  Turn up the raw edge of the sweatshirt sleeves and bottom, stitch.  I like to use a zigzag stitch; it gives the edge more stability.  Leave the front and neck edge unstitched.

6.  Cut a piece of cotton fabric 6 inches wide by 74 inches long(the measurement is the length of the 2 fronts+the neckline area).  The fabric piece will be seamed to make it long enough.   My measurement is based on an XL sweatshirt.  Cut interfacing 3 inches wide by length of the fabric piece. This can also be pieced.  Iron the interfacing to the pieced fabric. Fold the fabric piece in half lengthwise and press. Press one of the lengthwise edges under a quarter inch.

7.  Stitch the unfolded raw edge o the inside edge of sweatshirt front and neckline.  The folded lengthwise edge will be stitched to the sweatshirt front and neck edge.

8.  Go back to the ironing board, repress the folded fabric piece which has now become the collar.  Trim the bottom edge of the collar to 1/2 inch from sweatshirt edge.  Turn this edge up, press.  This edge is now even with the hemmed sweatshirt edge.  Fold the collar’s 1/4 inch folded edge to the front of the sweatshirt, press and pin.  Stitch the edge to the sweatshirt.  Remember to stitch across the bottom edge of the collar.

You have successfully created a kimono jacket from a sweatshirt.   Wear it with pride.

kimono sweatshir1tkimono sweatshir5tkimono sweatshir4t

Posted in craft shows, fabric stash, fiber art, jacket, trunkshow, upcycled sweatshirts, wearable art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One jacket, two jacket, three jacket, four

One additional comment about the bernina 107 machine. The single stitch plate is a necessity when using the straight stitch. Without the plate, the beginning of the seam is easily sucked into the feed dogs. Using the straight stitch plate insures a straight and accurate seam.

I am a member of the Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA.  Each 4-6 weeks we install a new show.  I love making wearable art for the shows.  Over the several years that I have been a member, I have made traditional line jackets and vests using hand dyed fabrics and/or hand stitched textiles.  My success in selling these garments is mixed.

I started to search for simple patterns.  I found that PINTEREST is a valuable source for ideas and thoughts concerning just about anything one can imagine and lots of things that one would never think about.  So I have spent the last 8 weeks testing ideas for jackets and vests. My Pinterest is where my 137 boards of ideas are located.  Check them out—lots of interesting ideas.


IMG_2115 IMG_2117 IMG_2119

The design is so simple yet elegant.  The pictures are jackets of 3 different lengths.  Each begins with a 45 inch wide fabric rectangle hemmed on all four sides.  The sizes are 45″ x 42″ , 45″ x36″, 45″x 54″. To create the front opening of the jacket:  1. Fold the fabric so the 45 inch edges are on each side 2. Determine the center of this rectangle.  3. Cut the center front.  4. Hem the center front up to the split edge. 5. stitch side seams leaving a 10″ opening for the sleeves.  6.  Press the seams open.  7.  Add a securing horizontal stitches at the end of each seam (top and bottom)


I have also used two small rectangles 22″ x 46″ hemmed on all sides to create a jacket.  This one is slightly narrower on the shoulders.

The result is a kimono style jacket made from hand dyed silks.  I use silk twill, raw silk, silk charmeuse, rayon, bamboo, china silk.   The fabric must be a soft, flowing variety.  Since the result is a one size fits all; it is a great product.


Posted in hand dyed,, jacket, Potomac fiber art gallery, Potomac Fiber Gallery, Torpedo factory Alexandria VA, wearable art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sewing machine roulette—the saga of promises denied.

In the past 3 years I have owned and sold or gave away several machines. Not because I like sewing machine roulette, but because they had issues.  Bernina was my machine of choice.  I had upgraded several times and loved every machine, so I bought the next machine upgrade; it did not live up to my expectations.     I purchased this one on a whim at a quilt show–I did not do my usual research on this machine.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             I am a fiber artist and sew every day. My sewing machine is the most important utensil I own. It needs to sew correctly. I need to be able to sit down at the machine and sew without adjusting anything on the machine. I want to hit the on switch and go.
I am not technically ignorant about electronics or the use of the bells and whistles on the new machines. With that thought in mind, why did I have so much trouble with the machines?

I purchased a Bernina 830.  It promised me everything I wanted in a sewing machine.  It failed the test:  tension issues, lint issues, thread issues and more.  Every time I used the machine, there was a problem.  I sold it to a quilter in the  dry climate of Arizona. Eventually the machine did not like the East Coast, lower floor studio where it lived.  The buyer has not had any problems.  But the 830 (the new one not the older version) is notorious for problems…it had lots of quirks.

Disgusted with Bernina for putting a machine on the market that was not their usual solid machine, I purchased an Elna- top of the line.  The salesman said it was a workhorse.  If it was a workhorse, this horse slept on the job.  I owned the machine two weeks when I managed to pierce the bobbin case with the needle and destroyed the timing.  Several months at the store for service and a $160 service bill because this was not covered by warranty the machine came home.  The tension was never right and the top loading bobbin continued to give me trouble.  That one went to a fellow quilter who is still struggling with problems.

I had a Bernina 220 machine that I used for months.  It did not not have any bells or whistles, but it sewed a straight stitch without tension issues.  I started serious research for another machine.  I liked the comments about the Bernina 630 and the Bernina 710.  Ebay beckoned.  I had purchased a solid older Bernina for my grand daughter on the site.  I watched the prices and had lots of research in hand.

I purchased a 710 Bernina.  Love this machine.  It stitches a straight seam beautifully.  But, it has quirks.  One day I could not get the shuttle case and bobbin to come out of the machine.  I struggled with it, finally resorting to the use of a long pair of tweezers to extract it along with the shuttle.  The bobbin case was stuck in the shuttle.  Finally after several hours of trouble shooting I got the bobbin and case out of the shuttle.

Ok, there was a lot of lint in the machine, so I vacuumed it clean; read and re-read the guide book; checked the internet for trouble shooting.  Not a lot of information about my problem.  Solution:  The bobbin case has a spring and that spring needs to be oiled regularly as does the shuttle.  Without the oiling the bobbin case sticks in the shuttle.  The problem reminded me of the swelling of raw wood when water is applied.  Once the case and shuttle is oiled and allowed to sit for awhile, it works.  No more problems.

Even with this quirk of the bobbin case, I love this machine.  It has a wide throat plate, cuts and knots my threads, lowered the foot when I begin to sew.  great lighting, lots of bells and whistles.  It is a solid machine; and it is a workhorse every day.IMG_2100 IMG_2101 IMG_2103

Lesson learned: 1. Research;  2.Never buy the first series of a new machine that has lots of changes from the tried and true machnes of the past;  3. Trouble shoot a problem with all your resources;  4. Don’t trust what a salesman says—he does not use the product as much as I do.  5. Things seem to be disposable in this day and age  6. Not all warranties live up to my expectations.  7. No more upgrading of machines, I have my favorite the Bernina 710.

I also own a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.  Love this machine.  I have not had a problem with the machine and it quilts queen size quilts easily.  IMG_2098 IMG_2097


Posted in Bernina, Elna, Handi quilter Sweet Sixteen, Sewing machines | Leave a comment

It is a new year…. and my “mocking” muse is visiting.

Many people talk about their “muse”. Until recently I did not think I had a muse or she was incognito. But this year is different. She is here, but not always with me. She is not easily amused by my efforts.

Occasionally, I start a creation and everything flows like a river, suddenly the day is over and the creation is finished. When this happens, I sit and stare at what is on my design wall in amazement. I fondly remember these moments.

But usually it is a difficult exercise, like pulling a heavy stone up hill. I start, stop, sputter, rip, cut, throw away and start again. Even the finished item will mock me. That is when i know my “mocking” muse has arrived. She is inside the creation. if it is a garment, she wears it in disgust. She smirks and says: “Really this is what you made?”

Since the first of the year, the “mocking” muse has been my constant companion. I know she will eventually go away, if I keep creating and pushing the envelope. The pile of failures may lay on the floor for days before I can touch them. I am not adverse to filing them in the trashcan. A failure is a failure and why would I want to touch it again. For me, the trash is the only solution. There is always more fabric, thread somewhere. Believe me when I say that I have more than will last a lifetime.

She also appears when I am hand dyeing. The process is either very successful or dull. By dull, I mean the colors “laugh” at me. They ask”Why would you combine those colors of dyes? Have you never worked with a color wheel?”

I know that I must dye a lot of “dogs” before i find the right one. I love creating my own fabric, but it is not always a success. Usually I overdye several times before putting it in the reject pile. I have a lot of dye in my stockpile. I am not afraid of trying new combinations. But, I realize not everything turns out to be wonderful.

Here’s hoping the “mocking” muse goes away soon. I know she is just like me a “Gemini” in nature. Sometimes she and I are one and sometimes we are strangers.

Posted in exploration, inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

TAP Transfer Artist Paper

I have not used this product before, but was asked by C&T to try the product and make something using it.  The finished item is on my Pinterest page  Priscilla Stultz along with thousands of other things that I have pinned in the past years.  Pinterest for those who do not use it has a wealth of information about crafts, diy projects, diy fixes for the home, children ideas, recipes to mention just a few.  If I go to the site, I can spend hours and not realize that the time is passing so quickly.

harley purse

This is the purse that I created using TAP.  The photo of the Maltese is my dog Harley. The product is easy to use.  Using an inkjet print your photo, letter, drawing or whatever on the white side of the product.  Cut out the image without leaving a white edge around it. Place the photo side down on the fabric or garment and iron with a hot dry iron for several seconds.  The paper peels off easily while the paper is hot leaving the photo.  If the fabric is heat sensitive use parchment paper to protect it from the iron.

The fabric becomes softer with each machine wash.   The image is crock-resistance on fabric.  The garment must be line dryed since it was heat set.  Images may be layered for a collage look.    Markers, pencils, crayons and pastels may be used directly on the sheet. Alcohol or water based markers may destroy the surface, use these with caution.

The product was created by Leslie Riley, a mixed media artist known internationally.  She also has a book Create with Transfer Artist Paper available with lots of information to use TAP for the maximum creative effect.

Posted in accessories, handbags | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The quilt repair that took far too long!

dresden plate quilt whole be4 repairdresdenplate be 4 repair 2014dresden plate quilt be4 repair detail

The Dresden Plate quilt had many problems.  Not only did it have holes and splits that can be seen in the photos, the overall fabric was weak and shredding.  In order to correct the visible holes and splits, entire sections of the white background had to be replaced.  Many of the splits spread over more than one square, so multiple sections needed to be removed and replaced to correct one area of damage.  Sections of the plates were ripped and rotten.  The fabric was so delicate that it was almost impossible to lift the entire plate or even sections of the plate without destroying most of it.  There was one row of 5 blocks that had been reworked by someone and were very stable, so these were left as they were.  Also the border was stable and strong.  So I had to replace all the other blocks and most of the fan blades.

So the adventure began in September, I was hoping to finish it by October.  Life got in the way.  I carried the plates everywhere with me, using spare moments to work on the sections.  I began by sewing the squares on the machine, but I had little time to sew, so the plates became hand work.  Then once the plates were finished and the quilt sections replaced; the top was finally completed.

The customer wanted it quilted using invisible thread and the machine quilting stitch that looked like hand work.  If you have not tried this stitch on the machine, you would be surprised how wonderful it looks, much better than my hand quilting.  I encountered a problem since the quilting design used in the quilt was circular.  It is impossible and frustrating to try to use this stitch without free motion quilting.  But, the stitch does not look like hand quilting.  Instead it looks like free motion quilting with invisible thread.  I decided the only way to do the quilting was by hand.  Lots of hours in this one.

However I was able to use the machine hand quilting stitch in the center of the plates.  It looks very nice and I would definitely use this technique on a quilt that had straight stitching lines for the quilting.  Finally the quilt was finished.  This is the 20th quilt, I have restored and saved from the trash over a 2 and a half year period.

The finished quilt and details of the machine hand quilting stitch.


Dresden plate finished 20 2015 dresden detail 2015 dresden 2detail 2015hand quilting machine stitch 2015

Posted in, quilt repair, quilting, recycled, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Zipper pins

IMG_0457IMG_0453fleted heart zipper pinThese pins are made from zippers and felt.  The cloth is cut away from the zipper teeth, leaving the exposed teeth. 

Metal zippers are the best to use, since the plastic zipper will unwind when the cloth is cut away.  I find the metal zippers on Ebay sold in lots.  The teeth are brass or silver tone metal.

A pattern is made from the chosen image.  Felt pieces are cut and glued to a felt background.  The zipper teeth are sewn into place by hand.  I use Beading thread, sewing thread can be frayed as it rubs against the metal zipper teeth.

Hand beading is used for embellishment.  I like to use glass crystals to add sparkle.  The possibilities are endless.  Any image that can be thought and drawn can become a pin.  I glue a piece of felt to the back of the pin to cover the stitches.  Once the glue is dry, I add a jewelry finding pin.  The creation is finished and ready for wearing or selling.

Posted in accessories, beading, fiber art,, jewelry, Potomac fiber art gallery, Potomac Fiber Gallery, Torpedo factory Alexandria VA, wearable art, zipper pins | Leave a comment

June has arrived with sun and perfect weather

butterfly hanging potomac daisy hanging landscape wall hangings leaf bird and heart felt pins potomac kimono jacket may 2014 Some of my work displayed in the Potomac Fiber Artist Gallery in Alexandria at the Torpedo Factory.  The jacket made from over dyed  kimono pieces and several of my zipper pins sold.  Every month is an adventure regarding what will sell.  The butterfly is thread painted, the landscape is raw edge applique,  the flower are a personal photo printed on fabric, stitched and embellished with paint.

preparing for gelli print Gelli prints using the gelli plate set up, lots of paint bottles, marking tools, paper towels and of course the gelli plate.  This process makes monoprints and usually a ghost print from each paint addition.

group pencil earser gelli print drawing with a pencil earser gelli print group of gelli prints group of gelli prints2 group of gelli prints1Mark making on the gelli plate using a pencil eraser, wrapping paper tube, and a rubber stamp before a print is pulled from the plate.

gelli print on fabric3 gelli print on fabric2 gelli print9 gelliprint11 These prints were made using a brayer and small dabs of paint.  Each print has as many as 5 pulls from the plate, some are ghost images.  Thee will used as backgrounds.  All the prints are on 140 pound cold press watercolor paper.

gelli print postcard swap The print is on white fabric and embellished with pigma pin.  It was a postcard in an exchange.  I want to do more fabric prints.  A small amount of textile medium or Golden GAC 900 needs to be added to the acrylic paint before doing a pull on fabric.  It does change the had of the fabric and needs to be heat set with an iron after the paint dries to make it permanent on fabric.

bluelines2_edited-1 doodles square grid doodle6x6 mozack doodle6x6The black and white doodles for this month printed on fabric.

blue green circle doodle6x6 blue red doodle6x6 butterfly and dots doodle 6x6 colored flower doodles6x6The color doodles for this month printed on fabric.

Posted in fiber art, gelli prints, jacket, jewelry, landscape, photos printed on fabric, Potomac fiber art gallery, Potomac Fiber Gallery, surface design, surface embellishment, Torpedo factory Alexandria VA, Uncategorized, wearable art | Leave a comment

April was a month of spring and winter, but things are looking up!

The doodles for April:  4 in color and 4 black and white:

animal shape doodle6x6 black and blue doodle6x6 blue and green doodle6x6 blue and purple doodle6x6roof shingles cut out_edited-1purple eye doodle6x6curved line drawing3 flowers doodle6x6doodles 1may 2014 doodles may 2014The blocks

Before repair

lone star cross for repair hole1 holes

After repair

area fixed area repair quilt repaired lone star

The lone star quilt repair was to replace all the calico black printed diamonds.  They were either badly ripped or completely gone.  The muslin ones needed a little repair.  The binding will be replaced later.

bird zipper pin zipper abstract zipper flowers

These are some of my zipper felted pins and zipper flowers that are for sale at the Potomac Fiber Gallery at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA.

yukata jacket 1 yukata jacket 1back yukata jacket 2 yukata jacket1 back

Fronts and backs of the two jackets made from vintage cotton kimono cloth are also for sale at the gallery.  The gallery contains work of 60 artists all using some type of fiber in their creations.

patina 2014 full patina detail 2014Patina will be part of an exhibit curated by SAQA for the this regional area that will open in early May at Visarts in Rockville, MD.  The quilt is made from discharged black fabrics and overlaid with black silk tulle to calm some of the bright orange from discharging some of the fabrics.  Various ways of discharging were used: bleach, soft scrub with bleach, dishwasher detergent with beach and mildew remover.  Some of the fabric was folded, sprayed, wrapped on a PVC pipe and painted. It is heavily machine quilted.  The exhibit is called “Tarnish”.









Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment