Vote for my Cat!

Zatoichi-FranzenI entered my cat Zatoichi (Ichi for short) for a spot in the calendar of Fort Collins Cat Rescue our wonderful local cat shelter where she came from. She’s now one of the 30 finalists and would dearly love to be a Miss September (or January…) and help the shelter. Please go to and vote for my cat before September 12th!


Back to sewing. Here is my version of the new Marcy Tilton top from Vogue 9193. My every day dressing consists of a pair of knit pants and a top. If I go out of the house I like to add a cool jacket/coat or poncho. Most pants are fairly neutral so that leaves the tops to carry the interesting details. This pattern has lots of promise for both dressy, and an everyday wear piece that has some style. The addition of a pocket makes it function even better than most patterns.


The sample photos are sewn with a single fabric, but the line drawings inspired me to try multiple fabrics. After cutting it out in three colors it just didn’t look balanced. The additional gold bands and neck seemed to pull the whole piece together. After sewing it all up I decided to add the stencil pattern to the front.


I’m already wearing this a lot, but I do think I will make another design change in the future. The top has a subtle angled bottom band, and sometimes it simply feels odd. The change could be to make the angle steeper and more obvious. However, if I continue with the Mondrian styled piecing it’s possible the top would look better being simpler and straight. Or should I leave it alone?


It’s a great top and I’ll try the pants some time and let you know how they fit. I’m at Diane Ericson’s Design Outside the Lines in Taos this week having a wonderful sewing adventure with my BSF. Don’t forget to vote for my cat Zatoichi!

Have Scissor will Travel

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This project started with a fail by me. For my BSF’s birthday, I made a holder for sewing tools that hung around the neck. Luckily I put a few nice tools in it because the holder was useless! A few weeks later Debra suggested that we design aprons that would hold our tools, and that sounded like a great idea (and helped me save face).

We got together with a pile of fabrics, some inspiration photos and started planning. She wanted one to tie, and I wanted one I could just slip on. We made some paper templates and were soon cutting into fabric. The good news is BSF-Debra actually came over with her finished apron so you get to see both!

This is her apron with the cool textured denim and accents of lime green including a fabulous piece of green leather. I used my machine to embroider her logo that her husband had designed for her.

_O0A1068 Debra-logo


It functions the best of the two aprons, and if you decide to make one, follow her lead in putting the tools center front so the apron hangs evenly. The other advantage is room for two pockets for hands. She found the badge reel that we are both using to hold a pair of small scissors. The front pocket holds large scissors, marking pen and pencil, measurement gauge, and a seam ripper. She has also tied on a 36” tape. Needle and thread can be pinned on the flap at the top.  Honestly, what more do you need?

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We are both constantly amazed that we can start out with the same idea and end up with completely different looks. I wanted to have some asymmetry to mine, but unfortunately at a slight loss of function. However, other than leaving my large scissor out of the pocket most of the time, mine is a pleasure to wear.

2016-07-03 11.47.06Since I like to embroider with my machine, I digitized a drawing of my tomato pincushion and placed the embroidery on my shoulder to hold pins. The dot fabric has some free-motion embroidery and I added some color to the black fabric with the help of some Diane Ericson stencils. The linen cat fabric came from Elfriede’s Fabrics and the crow is also from a Diane Ericson stencil.2016-07-03 11.44.37

Both of us love our aprons and it’s such a relief to not be constantly hunting for tools! Happy sewing!

Diane Ericson’s Ashland Vest

Ashland-Vest_1It’s always a treat to make a pattern designed by Diane Ericson, and the new Ashland Vest is no exception. Her patterns are just more than a typical pattern. More creativity, more ways of sewing up the project, and more detailed options to use on this pattern or others. Each pattern is a lesson in sewing and finding one’s own voice, and not just copying Diane’s work. She encourages fearless creativity, and with those thoughts in mind my BSF and I opened up the pattern last week.

After taking a good look at the pattern and dimensions we decided to make a medium, and I think that was the right choice for us. Another might want a roomier feel and make a large. We also chose to use the front piece with a dart. Thanks to Diane for providing this option! I went to my stash and found two wonderful woven Japanese cottons and then a lovely brick-red striped linen for the lining. The Japanese cottons are different but beautiful on both sides, so that made 4 coordinating fabrics! In addition I turned them 90° to emphasize the differences.Ashland-Vest_4

BTW, the cottons are a dark brown and the linen has a black stripe. They look great together! There’s no need to get out a magnifying glass to match colors.

The pocket is exactly from the pattern, and there are no alterations except in the lapel. One pattern option is a wavy edge fold-over lapel exposing the lining. When finished, my stripe produced an optical illusion and the wavy edge just looked crooked rather than wavy. I had trimmed, clipped and pressed, and eventually decided for more wave. The shoulders were now finished so I couldn’t easily go back in to sew stronger curves at the seam. I was almost out of the linen (a bias strip would have worked well), and no other fabric looked good. Ashland-Vest-DetailPlan B, I made several matching strips from the leftover linen (there are seams to make it long enough). Then I serged a rolled hem on each side and slightly gathered the strips.  I placed the desired curves on the lapel and stitched it down to the edge. Great…a tailored vest with a ruffled edge. Didn’t work for me. I then just stitched down the loose edge so there is more structure. I like it, and in fact now think the bit of pucker adds a strong edge to the lapel.Ashland-Vest

Heartfelt Vest

Heartfelt-Vest_16I bought this amazing fabric at Allyn’s Fabrics in Denver. This store has been there forever. To give you some idea, the current owners bought it almost 45 years ago. I’m pretty sure some of the fabric is old and priceless. You have to dig while praying that the bolts at the top touching the ceiling don’t come down on you. In some areas my BSF and I needed to use our cell phones as flashlights. The staff is very friendly and it is a must stop in Denver.

I bought two pattern repeats, and proceeded on the search for the perfect jacket/vest design to show off the green border. Finally, it dawned on me that this fabric speaks for itself. I need a versatile pattern with simple lines, allowing me to make decisions on the fly. Diane Ericson’s Heartfelt Coat to the rescue! This is the same pattern I used on my first ever blog post. That hand-pieced fabric had the same requirements of simplicity with options.

Heartfelt-Vest_4After making the basic shape I spent a day making sleeves and then taking them off and adding a simple band to finish the arm opening. Then I played around with a button/ large snap closure that was too heavy for the (mystery) textile. I removed the button and heavy snaps, and added lighter snaps.

Heartfelt-Vest_1Heartfelt-Vest_5Finally I explored collar options. This multi layered bias collar is also a Diane technique. I love having a good stash and the hand-dyed green organza was sitting on a shelf just waiting for the perfect project.


The fabric isn’t stable enough for the pockets I hoped for, so I still have a few scraps of fabric and the unused button. I plan on making a little matching purse in the next few weeks. I also have a lovely green knit slated for a pair of pants to coordinate with the vest.

Happy Valentines Day to all!

Ventana Vest by Diane Ericson

Diane-Ericson-Vest_2I promise this will be my last vest for at least the month of November, because you never know when the vest urge will hit!

This is an exciting vest that I have been waiting to blog about. When I went to the Design Outside the Lines retreat in September, Diane Ericson let us all test her upcoming Ventana Vest. It’s now out and available for purchase so I can show you both of our examples!

My BSF and I started right in cutting and sewing. This vest is very clever. The tucks give it shape and there is a clever folded in pocket. Typical of Diane’s patterns you can follow it exactly or make changes to make it your own. This is a photo of the vest made by my BSF Debra.


I left mine all funky and floppy. To add a little splash of color and pattern, I appliquéd a cotton woven with a stencil by Miles Frode combined with one of my own stencils.

Diane-Ericson-Vest_4Debra tailored her vest by closing the seam next to the pocket and taking in the sides. She also played around with the tucks in the back by elongating some of them. Ventana-Vest-Debra_1Her mother bought a new scarf that matches perfectly. I think Debra talked Honey into giving the scarf to her.


Here is photo of my back. You’ll notice that Debra also cut her collar a bit shorter to stand up at the neck. I love her changes and will incorporate some of then to my next version. You can see why I can’t promise no more vests!


Darts and Dots

Black-Grey-Shirt_4I bought so much cool fabric in Ashland last spring while attending Diane Ericson’s DOL. These two have been calling to me to make a tunic length shirt. I planned to make a shirt even before Ashland, but just couldn’t find the right pattern. I finally settled on McCall’s 6436 since it has the darts my shape needs. This fits fairly well now, but I will make just a few modifications next time to give a little more ease at the bust. With this shirt I ended up not overlapping the placket, but adding a back placket piece so I could use Chinese knot buttons. They are a lots work, but I do like the look.Black-Grey-Shirt_3

Speaking of the bust area, below is a progress shot of the shirt before I added the final details.

Black-Grey-Shirt-no-pocket I hadn’t planned on adding pockets until I saw the two big dots right where I don’t need two big dots. Even worse was one big dot and one wonky dot…I didn’t even realize the fabric had dots! Pockets to the rescue. I will never use the breast pocket, but it sure solved the problem.Black-Grey-Shirt_2

No inappropriate dots on the back…

Black-Grey-Shirt_1As this entry is sending, I’m on my way to another DOL! I know, I know…I’m a little obsessed, but I’m blaming this one on my BSF who wanted to go to Taos again. Who was I to say no? Taos last year was the event that got me so excited about creating, that I started this blog. My one year blogger anniversary is coming up!


I’m back!

Multiple trips and then family visiting has kept me away from my blog, but I’m back with new ideas and a few new skills and techniques to incorporate that I can’t wait to share.

But first I have to finish my show and tell of my trip to Ashland for the DOL retreat. The town on Ashland is a fantastic arts town with beautiful scenery, but the shopping is what caught my eye! The downtown has textile shops of yarn and fabric and a bead shop.Fabric-Purchase1web

As you can see I went a little crazy with the fabric, but they were so beautiful, and I don’t buy woven textiles often so this is a new start for me. Notice the little cat on the umbrella fabric…cute without being too cute. Several of these fabrics look different but great on both sides allowing for some interesting details.Fabric-Purchase-2web

Then there are fabulous clothing stores in all price ranges including a wonderful resale shop, and SHOES!!! My shoe enabler husband (is he a catch or what?) took me shoe shopping and I ended up with 4 pairs of new shoes. Ashland-Shoes-BrightwebImelda eat your heart out. Aren’t these cool and unusual?Ashland-Shoes1web

I have cleaned up my studio after returning from a small steel smithing class and promise that next week I will start to show more hand-made projects, including what I learned about working with steel. So exciting!

Silk Charmeuse Shirt Refashion

Silk-Charmeuse-Refashion-FSwebI have seen a number of wonderful refashion projects using shirts to make skirts. I owned a few silk charmeuse shirts that I never wear and then found another at a used clothing store. My fabulous mother-in-law gifted me the black one on the right.Shirts-before-cutting-SI-web First I washed and dried the shirts with the cotton setting on my washer. Yes, hot water and a hot drier! Silk is very strong and I wanted this outfit to be washable for everyday wear. The first photo is of the shirts after washing. Hardly any wrinkles, and if they did shrink then better now than after sewing.

I started by cutting off all of the elements and sorting. The collars in one area, sleeves, cuffs, and the main body parts are each placed in their own pile. The leopard shirt caught my eye and I decided to save the body of that shirt to make into a sleeveless shirt/vest. This photo shows the shirts placed to form bottom of the skirt.Shirts-in-progress-SIweb It’s fun to include some of the plackets with buttons. I decided to use the Taos Skirt pattern from Diane Ericson. It has a simple front and back and multiple ways to make the waistband so I could postpone that decision until later. In the end I decided (with the help of my BSF Debra) to make the waist out of the cuffs from the shirts.Skirt-Back-SBweb The shirt was simple with binding from one of the shirts and a doubled collar from another shirt. I think it will feel great when the warm weather finally hits!Silk-Charmeuse-Shirt-refashion-SOweb

First Shirt of Summer – Men’s Shirt Refashion #1

I am so pleased with this project I can hardly believe it!Shirt-Refashion-1-FHMy BSF Debra and I got together to refashion some men’s shirts. She is going on some warm vacations so needs some new spring clothes now while it is still cold. After looking through our stash of used men’s shirts, I chose a linen shirt. In addition I added a frayed pair of black linen pants and a pair of linen overalls that had never worked for me. While not an absolute necessity, both Debra and I like to include a touch of black in our projects whenever possible to go with our favorite black jeans or leggings. Including your favorite neutral makes wardrobe management so much easier.


I owned a white shirt that had a square poncho shape instead of sleeves. We both used it to get our basic idea for the refashion.Shirt-Refashion-1-BM I promise Debra is going to get me pictures of her projects soon. No one will believe how different our two projects ended up this day!

The men’s shirt is in the center with trim from my black pants and sleeve panels made from the legs of the overalls. Shirt-Refashion-1-FD2The bias tape decoration is made from the overall straps that I just left hanging instead of cutting. Shirt-Refashion-1-BDStill not done, I added some Diane Ericson stencils to one sleeve for balance.Shirt-Refashion-1-FD

While it ended up dressier than I had ever imagined, I am very happy with the end result. So much so that I have already made a second version that is not photographed yet. I usually hate summer clothes, but have high expectations for my warm weather wardrobe.

Log Cabin Heartfelt Coat

Log Cabin Heart Felt Coat- Front_wfLog Cabin Heart Felt Coat- Back_wf

My first blog entry!

I just finished a new fall coat using Diane Ericson’s Heartfelt Coat Pattern. I hot water machine washed the wool yardage to felt the fibers together. After that I worked with the fabric patterning in order to build yardage that would enhance with the coat pattern. The wool is butted together and held with a decorative stitch. I actually started this 5 years ago and put it in a basket because it was just too big of a project.

I wore it on Saturday night and it was a success!