Selfish Sewing

It’s called selfish sewing. I prefer to call it “Grounding Sewing” or “Therapeutic Sewing”. You know the feeling. You get so busy with every day activities or the daily grind. You see sewing inspiration all around you. You can hear your sewing machine humming along in your sleep. But, things just keep popping up and keep you from doing what you really love.

As of lately my world has been involved in lots of sewing. Yes. Lots of teaching others to sew. It’s a good thing. I love to inspire others to sew. To create. It gives me a huge thrill to help others make projects. It requires me to hunt down new projects and techniques. I love prowling around the internet for ideas. I sew up test samples. At the same time I am looking and planning all kinds of things that I want to make for myself. It’s so hard to find the time right now to sew for me.

So today I made the time. I grabbed The Tee pattern from Sewing Cake Patterns which I had downloaded ages ago from the Craftsy website. I’ve made several before and I really need a new tee and I had a really nice dark olive green french terry jersey knit. I just had to do it.


I don’t remember where I got this fabric. I really need to be better about tracking my stash. Maybe if my stash were more manageable it would be easier. (Note to self….) But, I love the color and the weight of it. I’m hoping this Tee will transition into Spring temperatures as I made my Tee a modified version with a 3/4 sleeve.


It sewed up like a dream. And did I mention that dark olive green color? Love it!!


Not the best picture…we have had a very rainy weekend and the lighting was not great. But, it was a quick and easy sew and very, very satisfying. A wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Oh, I was looking forward to trying the bias knit binding technique from Melly Sews. When I saw her bias method for cutting the knit neck band I was so excited. It makes so much better sense than anything I’ve seen or was instructed before. And it worked like a dream as you can see from the featured photo. This will be my go-to method and the technique that I will be sharing in my classes from now on. Thanks so much Melissa!

Here’s to Selfish, Grounding and Therapeutic Sewing! There, now don’t you feel better? I sure do.

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On Sewing and Sewing On

Last week I completed the BurdaStyle Teacher Certification course. It is an online course where you watch videos on their core techniques to use when teaching others using the Burda patterns. There were 4 assignments to complete using these core techniques and I was required to take pictures of each project to upload for grading. Each project had various photos to show the skills and techniques used. The course began in September and closed in January. That’s plenty of time to complete — right in the middle of the holidays and my temporary/part time job and the classes and private lessons that I already teach. Absolutely! I’ve got this.

I was determined to complete this. It was a bit of a crunch for me. But, I really wanted that piece of paper and the recognition that I am certified to instruct others in the BurdaStyle way. Many of these techniques I have used before and many I have learned some ways to be a bit sloppy with to get by. So, it was good to take the course and work through all the projects. I did learn quite a few valuable skills.

The projects were specific. A pair of bermuda shorts, inserting in seam pockets, a zipper placket and waist band.  A sweatshirt using knit fabric and inserting front pocket and a style feature of gusset-like panels on the side and adding the neck band. The dress had a side seam invisible zipper, bust darts and skirt darts and a peter pan-style collar. And finally the short jacket had set-in sleeves and a lining. Hand stitch was used in each project for hemming. The sizes for the projects were not within my size range with the exception of the sweatshirt. I made the largest size in each project. There were plus size patterns included in the course to use for practice and I plan to sew some of them up soon.

Here are the shorts. I am please with how they turned out.


BurdaStyle Teacher’s Certification short

Here is the sweatshirt. This one was made from a sweatshirt material.


BurdaStyle Teacher’s Certification Sweatshirt.

I enjoyed it so much I made a second using a sweater knit and french terry. Both garments are very warm and cozy. Perfect for our weather here this year as it’s been a bit cold during December and part of January. You can see some of the angles of the side gussets in the contrast version.


Loved this so much I had to make another.

I really like the style of the dress. I wish I could wear it. It would be fun to wear. Now I guess I need to practice my resizing skills….


BurdaStyle Dress Assignment

The jacket was made using a wool blend and a poly lining that I found in my stash. Yay for stash busting. I love the way the lining looks.


BurdaStyle Jacket Assignment and final project.


BurdaStyle Jacket Assignment. Check out the lining.


I am still running my kids neighborhood group through The American Sewing Guild. We call it Kids Sew Too. We had our monthly meeting yesterday and these are two of the gals in attendance showing off their Emoji Pillows that we worked on. This project involved hand and machine sewing. They each had a choice of which “expression” to create. Most picked the “heart eyes”.  Maybe because they love sewing as much as I do!


The ASG Kids Sew Too Emoji Pillows



I’m so “in love” with these kids

I am looking forward to getting back to sewing up some more of the Burda patterns once things with my part time job settle down a bit. My sewing classes and private lessons of teaching others is continuing to grow and I am loving every minute of that.

I’m also loving reading all the other sewing blogs on the ‘net and following how all of you are getting along. There is so (sew) much sewing fun all around.

Cheers and Happy Sewing/Creating New Year!

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Super Hero’s Capes

Hi there! Remember me? Well, if not, let me introduce myself. I am the busy, over ambitious mother to 8 and grandmother to 5 woman fast approaching old age who is feeling the need to cram just as much as she can into life as she knows it. Oh! And we are finally empty nesters….holding my breath still on that one….No, really! It’s all good. But, there have definitely been some changes in our household and our life styles in the past few months and that is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

So….how about all this super hero stuff anyway? A few months ago (okay, maybe a year ago) I was asked to copy a super hero cape for one of the sewing families that I was giving lessons to a couple of years ago. Mom had borrowed a cape made by another mom and was needing to return said cape but, her son loved it so much she wanted one made that would be his own.

The mascot for the University of Virginia is the Cavalier or sometimes referred to as the Cav Man. I love this cape style because it doesn’t involve anything being tied around a “little one’s” neck. It is a harness style with a velcro belt — if you will.


The mom took pictures of the cape with a tape measurement laid out next to it and I just re-created it.


While I was working on it, I started thinking of all the other super hero capes that I could make.


And then this one….


And there are still more….Wonder Woman. And even all the Disney characters with capes. Whew!!!! I need to get busy again.

Anyway, here is a pic shared with me of the little boy with his prized Cav Man cape and his super hero.


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Lesson Learned the Hard Way…over and over

I was asked by a friend of the artist that I make the pillows for to make some pillows for her. We arranged to meet at the beginning of November to discuss what she wanted me to make. By the time I had gotten to our meeting the accent pillows had become a request to make a window seat cushion. And maybe some drapes?

As we were measuring the window seat, I was explaining that altho I have made drapes and roman shades before my sewing space really isn’t large enough to adequately handle such projects. The window seat measured 130 inches by 20 inches. I explained too that with the holidays coming up that I really wasn’t going to be able to begin making the project until after the new year. She was fine with that. So, I worked up a quote. She accepted it and I began lining things up to be ready to tackle this and get it done at the beginning of the year.

I found a place that has some reasonable cost for the foam and they could glue it together so it was the proper length. The customer ordered her fabric and had it shipped to me. I purchased the cording for the piping and the batting and the white muslin for the lining….Yes, she requested it be lined.

I made yards and yards of bias binding and made just as many yards of piping. I think it was 20 yards.


And I stitched the piping to the top and bottom. I tried to baste the lining to the top but, the piece was too long and I was afraid of it creating a wrinkled mess. So I made a separate cover of the muslin for the lining. I managed not to take a picture of that but, the lining fit like a glove.

I sewed the side panel all the way around starting a one long side across the short end and up the other long side leaving the other short end opened and un sewn to be able to slide the finished cover onto the cushion. I attached the bottom and as I was nearing the end of the last long side I was 4 inches shy of matching up with the top. Ugh!!!! Agitated, I put the cover in time out and slept on my next plan of attack. Where had I gone wrong?

When I went back to it I ripped out a seam and tried again.  Still. It would not line up. More thinking and more ripping. Re-sew. Still won’t line up. Really?


Here I had it laid out on the back of the futon and a chair in the middle and a folding table to support it. While I scratched my head and it went right into the doorway of this room.

More time out. More ripping out. Completely ripping it all apart. And stitching it all back up. This went on for weeks. I did some sort of ripping out 8 times! Ugh!!!!

This thing was waking me up at night. I was denying myself enjoying anything else as I felt that I needed to be finishing this project. Even to the point that I was just spot cleaning the house as I really needed to spend my time working this thing out. I canceled a weekend trip to Baltimore to attend the American Craft Show. Sigh.

I finally decided that this cushion was going to have piping along the top and not the bottom. Made sense to me as that is where everything seemed to go wrong. Well, wouldn’t you know, that did the trick! It finally worked!!!

And it slid on really easily with the lining cover on it already. Boy, I was one very happy gal and was finally able to get a good night’s sleep. Yay!! I hand sewed up the opened short end and it was done.

Then, after looking at this in my small rooms, taking up so much space, I began to worry that it was going to be too long for the window seat. What if it didn’t fit? What if?????

Well, my husband helped me deliver it today and……


It’s perfect!!! Phew! (Looks smaller in her house, doesn’t it!)

Lesson learned? Next time someone asks me to do something that requires yards and yards of piping, or yards and yards of fabric? Will I say, “I’m sorry, I’m just not set up to do that big of a project.” Ummm…..I sure hope I can remember to take a breathe and think before I answer. But, I probably will say, “Sure!” It’s so hard for me to say no.

Now it’s time for some selfish sewing…..I have a pair of Ginger Jeans and Ebony Top and an Explorer Tote and….and….and…waiting for me to sew.

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Sewing Decorative Pillows

I have made a lot of decorative pillows. They are fun. Most everyone loves to add that personal touch to their own decor with a pillow. I have taught classes on how to make these pillows. I will recap my process for you here.


To make a pillow like one of these you will need a pillow form. Pick a pillow form that is any size that you want to add to the decor of any room in your house. Big, small, rectangle, square. Which ever your heart desires.

This helps to decide how much fabric you will need and what size zipper you will need. Generally, I suggest an 18″ X 18″. For this pillow you will need at least an 18″ all purpose nylon zipper that matches the fabric that you will use for your pillow front and back. The fabric for your pillow can be pretty much any type of woven fabric. Solid, print, denim, quilter’s cotton, you can pick. 3/4 yard is the amount that you’ll need. Then you will need 1/2 yard of a coordinating fabric to use for the piping. If you are trying this for the first time, try to pick a fabric that is not too heavy. Even a light weight denim will work. These pillows that I make for my client are backed and piped with a linen blend. You’ll also need 2 1/2 yards of 1/4″, 6/32″ or 1/2″ cotton cording.

Now let’s get to work…..

For this project I create a continuous bias tape. It took me some time to learn this technique (as I had to keep the directions handy for reference) but, now I just go with it. I find it so much easier than cutting bias strips and sewing them together. And one fat quarter of fabric can yield up to 8 yards of bias tape (depending on how wide the strips are cut). I generally get around 7 yards for the pillows when I am using linen and 6/32″ cording. I learned this method from this tutorial….Continuos Bias Tape from Melly Sews website. (Note: check out her wonderful Blake Slate Patterns while you are at her web site. They are super awesome and really fun! There is something for the whole family.)


Once I have made my mound of bias tape, I put the zipper foot onto my machine and wrap the bias tape around the cording, keeping the cord centered in the middle of the tape and the raw edges lined up, stitch close to the cord on the outside. This typically will leave about a 1/2 an inch seam allowance on my piping/welt.



Now that I have my pile of piping/welt, it’s time to prepare the pillow fronts and backs.

I cut front and back pieces the same size as my pillow form. This creates a nice, plump pillow.

The next step is to attach the piping/welt to the front of the pillow fabric. To do this I line up the raw edge of the piping to the raw edge of the pillow fabric at the side of the pillow. By starting somewhere in the center of the side it will allow me to create a nice finished look for the finished project. I begin stitching with the needle moved slightly towards the cording.


Once the piping is attached it is time to begin prepping for the zipper. Easy now…it’s not that bad. I stitch the back of the pillow to the front (right sides facing) just about two inches on each side of the bottom. In other words, I stitch the back to the front from the right hand corner two inches towards the center and again at the left hand corner leaving the center opened for the zipper. (see photo below)


With my zipper opened and facing down I lay the right hand side of the zipper so the teeth are against the piping and the top tabs are within the seam allowance that I just created on the right hand bottom edge (the pillow back is pulled gently back towards the center of the pillow, keeping it out of the way for now). Carefully stitch close to the teeth all the way to the bottom tabs…which should fall into the seam allowance at the other corner.


Then I close the zipper and flip the pillow over so I am able to line up the opposite zipper tape with the edge of the pillow back. I sew close to the zipper teeth about 2/3rd or 3/4 of the way down. Then I stop with the needle in the down position and slide the zipper past and behind the needle. Now I can easily finish sewing the rest of the zipper tape attaching it to the back. I then test my zipper to make sure it opens and closes freely.

Whew! I am almost done!!! I make sure that I leave the zipper opened about 4 – 5 inches. I have only forgotten this important step only once. I will be turning the pillow right side out through this opening. Now, with the back facing up, I line up all the remaining 3 sides of the pillow. Then I can begin sewing just at the bottom edge on the left side of the pillow. I am sewing close to the piping above the bottom of the zipper tape. I stitch around the corner and continue all the way around the pillow staying close to the piping, until I turn around the bottom right corner of the pillow…again, I am stitching just above the zipper tape at the top of the zipper. This gives the bottom corner a nice, neat finish.


That’s it! I am done! I trim any excess seam allowance to about 1/2 inch and turn my pillow right side out. I stuff my pillow form in and zip it closed. I usually give my pillows a good shake from each side to evenly distribute the pillow form.

The instructions sound rather complicated but, I assure you it is really quite easy to make these pillows. I enjoy it so much that I have made around 100 of them. And these techniques used are one of my best sought after classes. I love making the continuous bias strips for my piping and I love how simple it is to put this zipper in. Please share your pictures with me of your pillows. I would love to see them. And as always message me with any questions.

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Summer Has Flown By


How does that even happen? Summer is almost gone. Although the temperature here are still very much like summer. Schools in our area starts next week. Both the local public schools and the university. I have now graduated to college level schedules as the last of my children is on that schedule.

All of my schedules are changing. My private and small group sewing students are preparing for their new school year to begin and I am in a bit of a lull waiting to begin my Fall sewing classes. It’s nice to have some time for planning and to have time to finish up projects and begin some new.


I do already have some classes that are already scheduled and registration has begun through the Charlottesville City Parks & Recreation Program. (Click the for the link.) I will be offering 7 classes this Fall. Classes begin September 6 and some fill up very quickly so don’t delay.

Here is a brief rundown of the classes I will be offering:

Monday:  Beginner Kids Sewing – ages 8 -12 AND Beginner 2 Kids Sewing – ages 8 -12

Tuesday: Beginner Adult Sewing AND Mend It Sewing

Wednesday: Beginner Teen Sewing – ages 13 -17 AND Basic Quilting AND Adult Advanced Sewing

Thursday: 60+ Classes – Senior Sewing

Our monthly American Sewing Guild Neighborhood Group for Kids Sew Too will resume the week. We meet the third Saturday of the month from August thru December. Membership is open to the public. Come join this great bunch of kids as I guide them through a different project every month that builds skill and confidence.

I am very excited about these offerings and if you have any questions please leave me a comment. And tell all your friends.

Happy end of Summer!


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Sunday Sevens

It has been a week. And a week it has been. Here is my collection of seven (or so) photos from my week. Natalie at Threads and Bobbins created this link up to share what we have been doing with the rest of our time during the week. Anyone can join in at any time. For more details go here.


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This was taken last Saturday when I dropped my youngest fledging off at the catering job she was doing and I had to stop to take a photo of the spectacular view. This is on Brown Mountain looking towards Charlottesville. The white building that you see on the next hill is Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. Tomorrow, July 4, is the United States celebration of this country’s independence. Every year there is a Naturalization ceremony at Monticello. If you which to learn more check it out here.

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I am experimenting with stamping with fabric paint. I will tell more of this later.

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I received this very pretty orchid in the mail. Can you imagine? But, it is healthy and happy. Oh, I was given it because…..


It was my birthday week! I have reached the magical age of “6” with a zero behind it! I got the cupcake for picking up my cake that my wonderful husband ordered. The bakery gives anyone who stops in on their birthday a free cupcake of their choice. Yes, that is bacon on the cupcake. It was dark chocolate with mocha frosting and bacon. Yum! The big cake was carrot. It was fabulous!

5. IMG_2879

There was a brief thunderstorm in the evening but it cleared out and we were able to go eat dinner in the downtown area. It was lovely to sit outdoors.

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The week was spent brining these sour pickles. They are now ready for us to enjoy and my husband is thinking up all kinds of meals to pair with them.

7. IMG_2893

I was asked by the swim team committee at the pool to make this shirt for the coach’s one year old son. I usually monogram the swim team bags and I used to have a cute dolphin embroidery. Unfortunately, with computer system upgrades and such I am unable to retrieve that stitch out so I just created an appliqué to add to the shirt when I was making it. It is done in the team colors. I used the Field Trip Raglan t-shirt pattern from Oliver & S. It was a quick and easy project (except for the mishap with one of the threads on my serger that broke not once but, twice on the final seam. Gotta love it, right?

Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead. Stay safe and happy and productive. I know that’s my goal.


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