Category Archives: nature

Fancy Pants


  • For the TMS February challenge, I decided to take a Craftsy Lesson: “Jean-ius” on making pants from a pair of RTW pants that fit me well.
  • I  used a  thrifted cotton print that is soft to the touch and doesn’t seem to wrinkle much.
  • It was a challenge to copy the pants! I didn’t do it exactly like Kenneth D King instructed, but I did use silk organza to trace all the seams from RTW pants and found the technique to be really easy. I used chalk to follow the seam lines that I could see through the organza, and skipped sewing a colorful basting stitch along all the seams so that you can see them better. Then I transferred the markings to pattern paper. I made a quick muslin of just the waist, crotch, and hip area and discovered that it was a little tight through the hips. My muslin was a non-stretch fabric and the RTW pants are denim with stretch. I’m guessing this is why the fit was different. I redrew the pattern using my body measurements, to make sure the next muslin would fit. I included extra seam allowance so that I could adjust them where needed.


  • I proceeded to sew up the second “wearable muslin”. I paid attention to every detail of the RTW pants. I did a great topstitching job on the seams and pockets. I used two threads together, threaded through one needle to create a thick topstitch. Real topstitch thread is 20 miles away. I learned this trick from Kenneth! I also learned how to make a curved waistband, by cutting a straight waistband across the grain of fabric and then steaming and stretching out the side to be sewn to the edge of the pants. It really works! I reinforced the waistband with petersham grosgrain ribbon. I machine basted it to the inside of the waistband, close to the folded edge.


  • I am pleased with the outcome. The fit through the hips is great, but the waist could have been tighter. I know that I will have to take in the sides of the pants above the hips to make the waistband fit me properly on the next pair.  These pants will be great on hot summer days, when you don’t want anymore sun on your legs. They are wide enough to roll up and walk in and out of the waves on the beach too.




  • Thanks for visiting my blog today.  I also have lots of tutorials and other sewing related blog posts that you might enjoy.


Filed under DIY, nature, Sewing, Upcycle

The Elisabeth Dress

I finished my cotton dress for the Fall for Cotton sewing challenge hosted by Roshelle and Tasha.


I used the Elisabeth 1950′s dress pattern from the book BurdaStyle VIntage Modern.

vintage-cover_homeI really love this book, which I borrowed from the library. I could tell that I was the first person to actually use the inclosed patterns to trace off two of the vintage looks that I planned to make. The sizing of the patterns fit me wonderfully with out any alterations. I love when that happens. I did make bodice muslins first thought, just to be sure.


Besides the 1950′s dress, I also traced off the 1920′s pattern and made it up in a muslin. It’s adorable! It has a drop waist and 3 bias cut ruffles that hang beautifully. I can’t wait to make that one up in a pretty apparel fabric.


The fabric that I used for this dress is a thrifted blue, pink, and white checked seersucker. I lined the bodice top with the same fabric. I have a new sewing machine that does fancy stitching, so I went around the neckline with a row of little blue flowers. I put a short pink metal zipper in the side, and finished the skirt with a narrow machine-stitched hem. It is so cute! I can’t wait to make another one.


Everything is wonderful about this dress but there was an unfortunate event. After I made the dress, I noticed that on the back of the skirt near the bottom, there was a big faded area, probably from the sun or bleach. Oh dear, what to do! I decided to bleach the whole dress in an attempt to match the spot. It worked fairly well. I don’t think any one would notice except for the judges on Project Runway! I learned a good lesson: check thrifted fabric before sewing it up.


Thank  you, ladies, for hosting such a fun challenge. Vintage and cotton are a few of my favorite things!


Filed under DIY, nature, Sewing, Upcycle, vintage

Pretty Pattern Weights


I love to gather stones along the shores of rivers. Lately, I’ve narrowed my collection to heart shapes. These are much harder to find, so the result is that I lug fewer rocks home. It’s a fun and free treasure hunt, but also allows me to slow down and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. This time, I had the pleasure of walking along the Eel River during my stay at Emandal at their first ever art retreat. Aside from hunting hearts among the stones, this time I looked for flat round stones to make into pattern weights. They all had to be about 3 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch in thickness.


Once I got them home, I cut pieces of fabric about 3 times as big as the stones using pinking sheers. I gathered them about 1 inch from the edge and placed the stone in the middle. I pulled the gathers and then secured it with a thin ribbon which I doubled knotted and double knotted a bow (like you do when you tie children’s shoes).


Pretty Pattern Weights for free! They are easy to pick up, and slide around, plus they are a synch to make using scraps of fabric and a bit of creative energy.  It has made my pattern copying so much easier.



Pattern weights can cost a pretty penny and alternatives such as big nuts (that go with bolts) are also an extra expense. I hope this inspires you to think about stones  and how they can be repurposed!


Happy Sewing!


Filed under crafting, DIY, nature, Sewing, Upcycle

Emandal Art Retreat 2013

Emandal Barn

Emandal Barn

Before the end of summer, I was invited to attend an art retreat at the amazing Emandal Farm. You need to make a side trip to this link, so you can understand the complete awesomeness of this location. It’s a working farm that hosts family camps throughout the summer and other fun events throughout the year. Even though it is located only 16 miles from my hometown, I had never had the opportunity to visit or stay there until the art retreat. There were four different classes that were taught over the 3 day/4 night stay: quilt collage, photography, watercolor field journaling, writing, and an ongoing mosaic project reflecting Emandal and all its glory.

My cabin where I slept peacefully.

My cabin where I slept peacefully.

My class was taught by the gifted and talented Laura Fogg (Fogwoman), who taught us how to make the fabric collage, step by step. She also created a beautiful interpretation of the Emandal garden while there.

Laura Fogg, our instructor

Laura Fogg, our instructor

Emandal Garden

Emandal Garden

After a scrumptious breakfast, the six of us set up our sewing machines in the dining room, pulled out all of our fabrics and scraps, planned our designs, and began artistically laying out the different fabrics on top of a backing layered with batting. Later, we would pin a fine tulle over all of the artfully placed fabric pieces and then machine quilt the whole thing together. That was the most laborious part, and my old Pfaff gave up the ghost in the middle of the process. Luckily, a classmate lent me her machine while she wasn’t using it.


A moose in Alaska


Two Collage Quilts


Happily Sewing!

Besides quilting, we had time to enjoy  each other’s company, peace and tranquility, the garden, and the pristine Eel River.



Being at Emandal, is like going back in time, there are no cars or traffic, and the night sky is bright with stars. Each camper has their very own cabin with flushing toilets and hot showers near by. Emandal treats their guests with garden fresh meals, including homemade ice cream made with their own dairy milk and fresh eggs. Folks from the nearby cities have been enjoying the family camp program  year after year.


This was the first art retreat, and it was a great success. I encourage you to try it sometime.

So what did I make? I was inspired by the clothesline filled with the the little cloth napkins.

This was my inspiration

This was my inspiration

They were so unique and colorful and contrasted nicely against the leafy trees. I managed to complete most of it while there, and finished it upon returning home.


Laying out the fabric pieces

Adding snippets of fabric for leaves

Adding snippets of fabric for leaves

Adding more leaves

Adding more leaves and securing the tulle over it with pins

After free motion quilting for hours, I  played around with the placement of the rest of the elements. I added the clothesline, napkins and the basket filled with the rest of the laundry. I like to imagine that the person hanging out the laundry, left in the middle of the chore to go cool off in the nearby river.

Emandal Napkins

Emandal Napkins


Join us next year, won’t you?


Filed under nature, poetry, quilting, Sewing

A little sewing, a little crafting, a little cheering!

I took a break from sewing up all those Hawthorn’s after perfecting the muslins, and did a little crafting. I had a lot of fun decoupaging two different vintage suitcases. Too bad I didn’t remember to take before pictures, but you can tell that these were great foundations for decoupage. I made the larger one into a “sewing suitcase”.


Presently it stands next to my dress form and holds all of my interfacing. I used a vintage sewing book and some vintage famous designer photos to cover it. It was really easy. I used a mixture of half white glue and water and a small sponge brush to wet the suit case, and then coat the pictures. After it dried, I used the real decoupage stuff and painted on several layers. I let it dry in between. When that was dry, I used a finishing spray made by Modpoge.


The smaller makeup case, was a bargain at $2.oo from the local thrift. The little bag inside was mildewy and stinky, so I made a new one for it. Of course, I think it’s even better than the original. For this case, I used scrap book paper from Michael’s. All in one theme; a beige, vintage, travel theme.


For the inside, I matched the color of the original blue suitcase with a blue florals and geometric prints. It turned out so lovely.



New bag with zipper for inside

I gave it to my daughter for her 30th birthday. On her birthday, we cheered for her as she crossed the finish line after running a half marathon in Healdsburg.

Kimberly Runs a Half Marathon on her 30th!

 Then we went out for a celebratory breakfast at Costeaux’s French Bakery.  In the afternoon, we joined up with some of my youngest daughter’s friends and went zip-lining at Sonoma Canopy Tours in Occidental. It was an awesome day!

So now, I’m back to sewing! I’m starting up my own local business of alterations and custom sewing and I have added a new page to the top of my blog about it. I’ve also ordered some business cards to pass out. I’ll share that with you when it comes. I just finished an alteration on a bridesmaid dress, and I have two more to work on after the ladies buy their shoes. I’m not sure how busy I may get, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Oh, one more cute item. Have you ever wondered what you could do with all those empty chicken feed bags? What about making a sturdy shopping bag?


I DIYed one to see how it would turn out. All I did was cut off the top, bind that edge with some wide bias tape, folded it over for strength, added a handle to both sides, squared the bottom and reinfocred that seam by adding bias tape  to it.  The letters and graphics are upside down…heheheh, but the chickens think it’s great! What do you think?


Filed under Art, crafting, DIY, Family, nature, Sewing, Upcycle, vintage

Sewing with the Girls

Last week I had the great pleasure of spending some time with my youngest granddaughter. We went on a camping trip to Richardson’s Grove State Park with my sister and her daughter. We spent three fun filled days together, swimming, hiking, playing cards, and eating yummy food. Of course, we roasted marshmallows and made the traditional smores. My sister really knows how to pack for camping. She brought tons of food, an extra grill, and a cast iron skillet that was at least 20 inches across. I think it was made for a wagon train or a cattle drive or something. It was big enough to make all the pan cakes for the four of us at once.



After we returned home, my youngest daughter arrived for a short visit. We were all invited to a birthday the next day so we started making the birthday gifts for the three year old. We love to give homemade gifts that are unique and have so much love and effort put into them.


My 12 year old granddaughter did most of the work on the blue dress with the denim yoke. She pinned and cut and sewed practically all the seams. My daughter did the same with the striped dress. It was fun for me to guide them along. Maybe they’ll take up sewing one of these days. It’s good to know who makes your clothes.



Bodice Made from Jean Pant Leg


I did some quick upcycling for both girls. At the thrift we found a pair of jeans that fit my granddaughter and a denim dress from the 80′s for my daughter. We made shorts out of the jeans and added some lace to the back pockets and shortened the dress for a more modern fit.







Filed under Family, nature, Sewing, Upcycle

The Hawthorn Dress Renamed!


I had the pleasure of reading Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel “Flight Behavior”. It’s about a woman from a small town who is not sure about where life is taking her, but finally figures it out through a series of events having to do with global warming, interesting people, and the Monarch Butterflies that curiously migrate to the forest behind her house. If you want a good summer read, with great characters, that involves the seriousness of global warming, then go check it out. It’s very entertaining, as well as thought provoking. The main character is Dellarobia, a young mother of two, who lives on a sheep ranch with her husband and in-laws. The story is based around the mysterious migration of the Monarch Butterflies to the hill behind her house.


Dellarobia’s mother was a seamstress, and Dellarobia knows how to sew! While those details are only minor, they were appreciated. Just before finishing the book, I started on Colette’s Hawthorn Dress -view 3 for myself. I don’t know if it was because of the story or just a correlation, but I chose the butterfly fabric. “Cause and correlation” both come up in the story.


Having already stitched up the Hawthorn blouse, the bodice and facings, were easy to lay out, but the lay out for the skirt was tricky. I had 3 yards of 60 in wide fabric, which I thought would be plenty. But the instructions for the layout are to cut each front and back sides separately and not in the same direction. Beware if you have a print that only goes one-way. I fiddled around a bit and found that I could cut both fronts together, if I made a separate facing for the skirt. So with my fabric doubled, I cut the back on the fold, and the fronts (minus the the part that is intended to fold-over for  the facing) and then cut two separate pieces for the skirt-front facings. I actually sewed these two strips to the bodice facings and then sewed the whole facing to the dress at once.

I did not have to cut any pieces in the the reverse direction. I highly recommend that you purchase 60 inch wide fabric for this pattern. Otherwise you may have to buy more than what the pattern requires if you need to cut the pieces going in one direction.

Some things I’ve learned about the Hawthorn on my own and from other bloggers:

  1. Sew the left and right sides of the collar 1/4 inch so that it will match up with the dot on the bodice. Many sewers have commented that it doesn’t quite reach that point.
  2. Buy 60 inch fabric and cut the back on the fold and the fronts without the fold-over facing. Cut the facing separately. This will work up to the size 10-12.
  3. Beware of one-directional print patterns, you may not have enough fabric to do it right!

This is my Dellarobia dress! I love it! I’ve worn it three times since making it last week. That’s a record. I think Dellarobia would love this dress too. It would have a lot of sentimental value in remembering her mother’s talent for sewing, the changes that came along with the Monarch Butterflies, and her own metamorphous.


Filed under Books, DIY, Mexico, nature, Politics, Sewing, Weather

The last day of 2012


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To Kill a Mockingbird …..or just enjoy it.

I thought my daughter was exaggerating when she said a song bird was keeping her up at night. Last night I came for a visit and also was awakened by the everlasting serenade of a song bird. This morning we did some research and discovered that our nocturnal singer is the bachelor mockingbird trying to attract a female. The mockingbird mimics dozens to hundreds of other song birds as well as everyday noises like doorbells, frogs, insects, etc. He sings each song sequence six to twelve times  and usually doesn’t repeat a sequence until he has sung every song he knows. Tonight I will pay more attention to this delightful songster, who needs sleep anyway.


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An Old Oak Tree Bites the Dust

A majestic old oak tree, looked OK on the outside, but on the inside it was hollow and filled with rain water. A possible danger to folks as they stroll through the Howard Memorial Garden, it was felled last weekend. We didn’t make it in time to see the old tree go down, but we arrived just after to take a few photos. The acreage across from the new hospital site is being landscaped with fruit trees and berry bushes. I understand that there will be walking trails and benches for the community someday in the future.

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