Fashion Lives On!

This is precious! I hope it inspires every woman, young and old, to embrace the art of dressing.

Happy Sewing!


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I made the local news!

As Heidi says on Project Runway, “I’m sorry, you’re out.” After making it to the simi-finals on the Super Online Sewing Match hosted by Sew Mama Sew, I received that same disappointing news. But I dare not dwell on it. Other more exciting and rewarding things are sure to happen. Why look at this nice article that appeared in our small town newspaper, The Willits Weekly! That certainly cheered me up.

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Here are the 4 items I made for rounds 1 through 4. To see the related posts, just click!IMG_1143IMG_1257IMG_1256

Version 2

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Classic and Casual Carolyn Pajamas

Update: I was eliminated in round four. :( One of these talented ladies: Leah, Shannon, or Teresa, will win the grand prize during round 5.

SOSMII2 Here’s my entry for Round Four of the Super Online Sewing Match II: The Carolyn Pajamas by Heather Lou of Closet Case Files. Thank you, Heather, for designing a pattern for sewing these classic pajamas. IMG_1501 Do you know what makes this particular style of pajamas “classic”? My research suggests that it’s the contrasting piping around the notched collar and on the chest pocket. I also found out that women started borrowing men’s pajamas early in the 1900’s and then women’s pajamas came out in the 1920’s, thanks to designers like Coco Chanel. She invented the lounging pajamas and beachwear versions. Suddenly, pajamas became a stylish alternative to the nightgown. The piping is a signature detail of the “classic” pajamas. IMG_1529This is the first pair of pajamas that I’ve ever made for myself, so I’m glad they are classic and have so much history behind them. IMG_1519IMG_1527I traveled up the coast to Eureka, CA with my daughter for an overnight stay earlier in the week and while she worked, I shopped at Joann’s and Eureka Fabrics. Choosing the material was hard. At Joanns, I browsed and touched fabric for over two hours until I spotted just what I wanted. It was love at first sight! My fabric is a 100% white cotton with turquoise machine embroidery all over it. I also bought turquoise quilting cotton to make the coordinating piping. At Eureka fabrics, I spotted these handmade mother-of-pearl  buttons that were just the right shade of blue to match the pajama fabric. IMG_1427Back home, it was time to make the piping according to Heather’s excellent tutorial. IMG_1417Then I cut and sewed the pajamas. I bought extra fabric so that I could also make the Carolyn shorts for a hot weather variation. I made the stylish short-sleeve top to go with the long pants and the shorts. IMG_1484IMG_1479 It was exciting to see how perfect the piping turned out, thanks to Heather’s advise to make it so that it lines up with your 5/8″ seam allowance. I’m glad I had a generic piping foot for the sewing machine, because my piping turned out neat and even, without any stitches showing. I sewed it to one layer by moving the needle over to the right 5.1 and then when I sandwiched  layers, I moved the needle to the left 3.1. It was a hassle to unscrew my regular foot then screw on the piping foot, but the results were worth it. IMG_1419The Carolyn Pajama directions were easy to follow with great illustrations. I had a couple of questions about a few of the procedures, so I emailed Heather. I really appreciate her prompt, helpful response. After that, the pajamas went together like a dream and the fit was perfect! I didn’t bother with a muslin for fit corrections, but just went by the sizes on the pattern. I made a size 12 top and size 14 bottoms. IMG_1472Here is a peek at the inside of my pajamas. You can double click on it for closer examination, if you want.Carolyn finishingsI used woven fusible interfacing to interface the lapels. I sewed it, right sides together, to the inside edge of the lapel, turned it wrong sides together, then fused it for a neat clean edge.InterfacingWith the leftover fabric, I made a casual tank top to go with the Carolyn Pajamas. I used the Ella Top by Leila Patterns. I faced the neckline and armholes with the leftover bias strips not used for piping, and made the back yoke from the pajama fabric. Now, I have options for hot or cold weather and for dressing casual or classic! Shortswtank3Even though I’ve been sewing since the age of 12, there’s always something new to learn like making piping and then sewing it in, choosing the right fabric for the right pattern, and learning about the history of the classic pajamas. It’s all a very enjoyable and rewarding experience for me! Version 2Also, sewing along side Leah, Shannon, and Teresa (three accomplished and talented sewists) is fun and exciting. I can’t wait to see their versions of the Carolyn Pajamas! IMG_1498 Many thanks to Sew Mama Sew for organizing the competition and to Sew Modern for the generous gift certificate. I’ve already ordered Cotton and Steel fabric to make several Caravan Totes to give to my girls for Christmas! ….oh no! I’ve ruined the surprise ;)

Happy Sewing!


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The Best Thing I’ve Ever Sewn

I’m competing in the Super Online Sewing Match II hosted by Sew Mama Sew and I have made it to Round Four. In between each round the contestants are asked to answer a sewing related question. For Round Four, the question is, “What is the best thing You’ve ever sewn?” Without any hesitation I’m going to say that the dress I made to meet Tim Gunn is definitely the “BEST”!

IMG_0336I attended a discussion and book signing of the well-know television personality and author, Tim Gunn at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

IMG_0329You can imagine that I was more than excited to meet Tim and listen to him speak so personally about his life, his experiences on Project Runway, and about his new book, “Tim Gunn: the Natty Professor”.

IMG_1928.JPG Tim Gunn, is the mentor and advisor to the designers on Project Runway. These designers go through grueling fashion design challenges each week.  The outcome of the show is to see who will go to Fashion Week and who will earn some very awesome prizes to help them jump-start their career. Tim explained that it isn’t easy to complete the challenges in the time frame of the show. The judges can be pretty hard on any puckers, bad stitching, and finishes. He says that his roll is to listen very clearly to the designers, then advise and motivate them to “Make it Work!”


My daughter, Kimberly, presents Tim Gunn

I had to make a new dress for this special event, so I chose Gertie’s vintage inspired Butterick 6094. It has a close fitting lined bodice and contrasting facings. Version A has a full circle skirt cut on the bias, and a petticoat.

IMG_0322IMG_0328It has the cutest back detail, with the contrasting fabric opened out above the zipper and decorated with buttons. I made a muslin of the bodice first, tweaked the pattern to fit me, and then cut and sewed it together. I wasn’t going to add the petticoat, but at the last minute I decided that I should just go for it and make the dress as directed. I drove to the nearest fabric store, 40 miles round trip, and bought 3 yards of lining and 3 yards of crisp veil-like fabric for the ruffle. I sewed French seams on the petticoat and machine gathered the 8 inch ruffle that attaches to it. I was able to roll hem the ruffle, the petticoat, and the skirt bottom on my serger. I used wooly nylon on the upper looper and it worked like a dream! I covered two buttons with the dress fabric, and inserted an invisible zipper. The  lining was turned and hand-sewn inside the bodice and along the zipper tape.


At the reception, my daughter who works for the Commonwealth Club introduced me to Tim and we posed for pictures.

IMG_0334I told Tim that I had made my dress. He was very impressed! I wore my RTW faster pin proudly and was delighted to explain that all of us fasters had pledged not to buy ready-to-wear clothing. Our goal is to make everything. You can see by his studious look that he was intrigued.


This is definitely my best and favorite dress of all time. It is so lovely that I have planned  to make another one to wear to my daughter’s wedding in October. It will be made of silk chiffon and taffeta. It might be the next best thing I make!

IMG_0337Enough talk already! Here are some more pictures!



Thank you, Hannah, for snapping some cute pics of this darling dress!

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I made it ! Round 4 of SOSM!


I’m super excited and thrilled to have made it to the semifinals with my Cuna Tote and Pouch entry in the Super Online Sewing Match II hosted by Sew Mama Sew. The challenge for round four requires the remaining four contestants to make the Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files. I’ve selected my fabric and I’m ready to cut and sew all the way to the finish line! The competition is fierce because the sewists are all top notch. You can read about the four of us here. Stay tuned for the latest updates on Sew Mama Sew!

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Cuna Caravan Tote and Pouch

SOSMII2 Here’s my entry for Round Three of the Super Online Sewing Match II: The Caravan Tote and Pouch. Kudos to Sew Mama Sew for coming up with another project that allows us to give it our personal touch. I’m thoroughly enjoying competing with such imaginative and talented sewists and I’m anxious to see their interpretation of the Caravan Tote and Pouch. Good luck ladies!


Front View of Caravan Tote and Pouch

Back View of Caravan Tote and Pouch

All six of the remaining contestants were sent the Caravan Tote and Pouch Pattern by Anna Graham of Noodlehead  and a gift certificate to spend at Kimberly’s Fat Quarter Shop where I spent hours adding treasures to my wishlist. Then I pared it down to several Clementine Charm Packs and matching yardage by Heather Bailey for Free Spirit. Plus, I  bought a great tool for pressing and measuring hems called the Clover Hot Hemmer. Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop! I can see a Clementine Knitting Tote and Pouch being made in the near future.


Two Way Purse Zipper

For my Caravan tote, I decided to incorporate five small Cuna Indian Molas and Cuna traditional fabric that I’ve had for almost 20 years. I bought them in Panama while visiting my daughter and her husband who were living there at the time. I’m so pleased that I will be able to display and enjoy them after all this time.IMG_1250IMG_1265 One of my passions when I travel, is to admire the different textiles, traditional clothing, and handicrafts made by native peoples. The Cuna Indians have a fascinating dress, from  hand-stitched molas they use to adorn their traditional blouses, their brightly colored skirts and scarves, to their unique beaded adornments on their legs and arms. IMG_0447 IMG_0451Cuna molas

are intricately stitched using reverse appliqué and tiny embroidery designs. They are colorful, bold, and reflective of the Cuna’s tropical surroundings. Inspired by the color scheme of the molas and fabric from Panama, I chose the predominate colors of burgundy and dark blue denim for the outside of the tote and pouch, contrasting yellow/orange fabric for the inside pockets, and the traditional fabric for the main lining. IMG_1375I spent a day just brainstorming and planning how I would incorporate the molas on the tote and pouch. I trimmed all of the bird molas the same size and then sewed larger squares of the traditional fabric right sides together or “RST” as Anna says in her directions. Then I made slits in the backs so that I could turn them out. Finally, I strategically topstitched them on the “front” of my tote. I’m calling the side with the zipper the “back”. I trimmed the Kitty mola so that it would fit the front of the pouch. IMG_1212 I continued to work carefully through all of the directions step by step, switching between a heavy duty needle and a microtex needle as needed. I used clothespins instead of straight pins to hold the thick back and the front together while I sewed it with heavy duty thread. My roll of Heat and Bond hem tape came in handy for tacking down the zipper and the stiff side seams of the tote.

IMG_1309The Caravan tote and pouch were not difficult to put together, it just took time to do it right. Anna’s supply list and the step-by-step instructions with illustrations made it easy to make. It was a rewarding experience resulting in a beautiful and usable tote and pouch. It’s going to be my go-to beach bag because it’s just the perfect size.


Work and Wine

Often I  need to rely on my experience and patience when it comes to a problem that needs to be resolved.  For example, the snaps were a bit challenging, because I didn’t have exactly the right tools, but I practiced with the tools I had until I could attach them successfully before I installed them on the tote and pouch. Also, I had to piece together the the bottom of the pocket bag using a different but coordinating fabric so that it would be the right size. As Tim Gunn says on Project Runway, “Make it work!”

IMG_1221Making the tote and pouch took me several enjoyable afternoons. I was super focused on being meticulous about every direction, needle change, thread type and color. I even added decorative stitching here and there to give it a personal touch. I seriously considered leather for the straps after seeing so many beautiful Caravan Totes made with them, but I chose to make them out of denim. I used Bosal double-sided fusible foam stabilizer so that the straps would be super comfy on the shoulders.

IMG_1373For the photoshoot, my husband, puppy, and I drove to the nearby town of Fort Bragg to stroll along Glass Beach. We were hoping for fog, which is great lighting for pictures. The day was perfect! There was fog in the morning and warm sun in the afternoon. Everything we needed for a day at the beach fit into the tote and pouch.
IMG_1310The color scheme of the tote is not too feminine so even my husband didn’t mind carrying it. IMG_1344 My puppy likes it too! IMG_1237 Here’s a short video that I made featuring my project and a special guest!

Happy Sewing and Good Luck to all of the contestants! IMG_1328 I couldn’t be happier with my new beach tote and matching pouch. It will always remind me of special people and places in my life. I love it when that happens! Signature

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A Tour of my Sewing Studio

IMG_1214I have a great little sewing room, with just enough room to turn around. It used to be my youngest daughter’s bedroom before she went off to college. Now it’s my dedicated work and storage space.

I’ve been a busy bee, sewing up my Caravan Tote for Round Three of The Super Online Sewing Match so everything is all over the place and I’m too exhausted to straighten it up for any detailed pictures. But, when my sewing room is clean, it looks pretty nice.


I have three sewing machines set up and ready to go, a Pfaff regular/decorative machine, a Viking serger, and a Janome coverstitch machine. I also have an ironing board, and a small table for students to set up their machines.  This room also serves as a guest bedroom, so there is a bed, pushed up against the wall with big pillows, a basket of finished customer work, and an assortment of handmade dolls. It’s also a catch-all for anything and everything I’m working on.

Luckily, not too long ago, I made a little movie of my room just after I cleaned it. You are kindly invited to come visit. :)

You can check out the other 5  Super Online Sewing Match contestants’ sewing rooms here!

If you are one of the more than 460 followers of this blog, thank you for the validation. Knowing that there are others who enjoy sewing, quilting, crafting, and blogging is very inspiring and motivating.

I’ll be showing off my new Caravan Tote in my next post,
Happy Sewing!


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