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sailboats : a new sewing pattern and a sample sale

The Sailboat pattern is here! Charming boats to sew. They twirl in the breeze and cast lovely shadows. The boats are a great way to use fabrics that are special to you – make a little memory vessel – there is lots of opportunity to personalize and embellish and create an heirloom. I also love to make them from old quilt tops that I pick up at fleamarkets and sometimes on Ebay. The pattern is in the shop now as well as a sample sale of some of the boats I made along the way and some french hens.

I hope you make sailboats!

sailboat sewing pattern

handmade sailboat and pirate

patchwork sailboat



on March 29, 2016 0

a lovely old quilt and freestyle piecing

lovely old quilt

Quilt is a generous description – it was really more of a duvet and it has come all undone. I made it 20 years ago – the year I moved to Brooklyn. I love quilts and live with lots of them in various states of disrepair. This one has been at the bottom of a trunk for the last ten years.  I’m not sure what made me think of it – I’ve been looking at quilts a lot lately – I have some collected on Pinterest and I’ve been making boats with some pieces of old quilt tops.  The boat below is made from a tattered top with hundreds of different little pieces – it’s like a library of fabulous depression era small prints.

patchwork boatMy old quilt top is missing huge sections so I’m going to take it apart and rearrange everything in a new way and add some sections of pieced scraps. I did some tests and found  the freestyle piecing to be way more difficult than I had imagined. I do love the idea though of turning my giant supply of beloved little scraps into something I use everyday. The little and more subdued sample on the right is the beginning of something that might make it into my  repair. The kookier experiment on the left might become a doll.  It will be a slow summer project  and maybe by next winter I’ll be ready to turn it into an official quilt.

freestyle patchwork

fabric sail boats

In other news – the boat pattern is ready to go and will be in the shop on Tuesday (3/29)  and there will be a sample sale too – of boats I made  during the epic effort of getting the pattern together, a few french hens and maybe a couple surprises.  If you’d like an email notification you can sign up here.

on March 24, 2016 7

french hens

handmade blue hen

Suddenly a chicken appeared! Or more specifically  a hen, a french hen. It occurred to me that maybe the merry wobbler sewing pattern could be modified to make a hen – and it can!  Of course they need nesting boxes too and I created a little template and tutorial on how to make the box and modify the wobbler. Both are super simple – find the template and instructions below after lots of hen pictures –  I couldn’t help it  - I love them.

handmade hens

handmade french hens

hen house

blue and white hen

french hen posteriors

You can download the template for the nest box and hen parts here.  

And you will also need the merry wobbler sewing pattern  ( you can use discount code spring2016 for 25% off until the end of March) or if you like, come up with your own bird to chickenize.

Other supplies are:  felt for hen parts and the nest, a glue stick, cardboard  and embroidery thread- I’m using dmc 8.

nest box 1

Beginning with the nest box – cut out 2 of the felt shapes for the nest and one cardboard bottom – cereal box weight cardboard.  Continue Reading →

on March 17, 2016 10

harnessing the power of your curiosity to get unstuck

overwhelmThere are so many reasons not to start, to feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed, afraid and stuck. Maybe something feels too big, the hill too steep to climb, or you’re afraid of failing  or being disappointed or disappointing.  Maybe your momentum gets hijacked  by some bit of drudgery – some unpleasant, boring but necessary task that has parked itself between you and everything you’d like to be doing.

Whatever the reason stuck is stuck. When you are stuck you lose your clarity, focus and drive. It is a place of frustration and a spinning anxiety and inertia that develops a momentum of it’s own- feeding and compounding and perpetuating the stuckness. It is not a creative place and certainly not a happy place.

Curiosity can break that cycle. Curiosity is an energetic place and you can apply your curiosity to stuckness with a very simple exercise: make a list of questions – at least ten.   To get started the questions can be small or absurd or silly – in fact absurdity can be good for waking up curiosity. And I have found the more questions I can come up with the better they get but the exercise is less about finding solutions ( although they may occur) and more about tapping into the energy of a massively powerful part of your mind.

Even in the case of drudgery, when the objection is  that a task is boring or unpleasant I might ask myself questions like – How could I make this better?  Is there ANYTHING fun or interesting about this? What if there had to be? How could I segment  or order this differently? Could I ask someone for help?  What part of this is not essential? What could I take away? What happens if I don’t do it?  What if I only had 15 minutes?  How could I apply a system here?

There is an element of novelty and perhaps a refreshing of perspective at work here too but it’s curiosity that gets you there. If you can spark your curiosity – even just a little – you can get yourself moving.

on March 10, 2016 6

progress on the little fabric boat pattern : removing the nuts

little boat work One of the many unexpected benefits of designing craft and sewing patterns is that I end up questioning why I do things the way I do and pushing for better, clearer, simpler and cleaner solutions. The exercise of explaining a process to someone else, breaking it down into steps, highlights all sorts of imperfections, inefficiencies and details that complicate and don’t enhance significantly.

merry wobbler

The little fabric boats had a detail like that – a detail I was very attached to, a detail that was difficult and time consuming to execute with consistency. I love these little boats and I’ve made tons of them over the years – it was nutty of me to put up with that sticky point for as long as I did.

fabric boat detail

The boats originally had a curve in the back – you can see it on the green boat above.  I experimented with a bunch of adjustments to try to make it easier but nothing worked. As much as I liked that curve the difficulty did seem unreasonable. These boats are so sweet and fun, perfect unexpected presents and lovely as a group so I am determined that they be easy to make. And now they are. In the end I tried a simpler piece for the back you can see on the brown boat – no bend or curve. I ended up liking the simple shape better – much better. The more complicated back was nice and clever but didn’t REALLY add any charm to the design after all – I was just attached to it.

pirate wobbler

Look for the pattern in about a week – just in time for a spring regatta. And there will be a sample sale too – I’ve made a bunch of these little boats while working it all out. If you’d like to be notified by email when the pattern and boats are in the shop you can sign up here.

on March 3, 2016 1

cloth, a podcast interview and spheres – a free template to experiment with

I love cloth.
I always have – as a child it was something I had in abundance and I learned to think well in stitches. I especially love old cloth. Lovely old cloth. I love it for it’s simplicity, it’s commonness, it’s possibilities and meaning.
sri threads :old cloth

I spend happy hours considering and choosing – today I’m gathering bits of indigo for an owl. I love the textures and patinas that comes from decades or centuries of life and use and I make things that celebrate it as I find it – all it’s scars and mending apparent. And I add my own patches and mends and visible stitching – I love the sewness, the make believe. The fragility and other unexpected qualities of very old cloth send me in new directions, new ways of doing things. I used some of my most treasured scraps from Sri Threads to make these toadstools.

sri toadstools

indgo sri toadstool

I love the little guy. You can find all three in the shop today.

As I was working on them I was thinking about constructing shapes in cloth and what a fascinating process that is. If you’re experimenting with that kind of sewing, especially if you’re just beginning to play with three dimensional sewing – spheres are a great place to start. When I teach a workshop I almost always give away a pattern for three and four part spheres. You can download that pattern here if you like.

And speaking of patterns – more are coming soon – fabric boats, tiny dolls and the flamingo kit. I’ve hit a lot of snags and complications putting that together, it’s been a bigger mountain to climb than I expected but it’s almost there.

And in other news:

A new podcast interview! My second ever. Find my conversation with my good friend Elizabeth Duvivier (founder and director of Squam Art Retreats) here. I loved our chat – Elizabeth is a smart cookie, a truly curious person and I love her new podacast. Two of my favorite episodes are with Suzan Mischer and Kerry Lemon. I hope you check it out.

on February 25, 2016 7
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