the question of sideburns and road sewing projects

It’s a pre-memorial day weekend tradition for me to organize sewing projects so they are ready to go on summer trips. This year there is:  ever present mending, foundation quilt blocks, a new KZ Steven’s top and my stitch book sections – more about those in minute..

linen blue and black check hand sewn top in progress

This is my 4th KZ top. The blue linen is maybe? a tiny bit heavier than ideal for the pattern but the color was irresistible. The hand stitching is my favorite part. The top is cut and assembled on the machine super quickly and then comes with me for the hand finished seams. Hopefully it will be done before July, it’s a perfect travel wardrobe item. I’m headed to France with French General to teach and shop for textile treasures for the October workshops in LA.

20 stitch book pages- fabric collages- arranged in pairs for assembly

stitch book pages arranged for assembly

find the full book assembly instructions here

Also in the hand finishing department – assembling the stitch book. Just like last year I’m leaving my edges raw. It’s slower and more work but it’s the same kind of pleasant and meditative hand stitching as the KZ top – lots of little careful (ideally even) stitches visible on both sides. If you also prefer raw edges the only difference in the directions for making the book is that in step 11 you place the fabric wrong sides together.

There were two big decisions to make before assembling my finished pages- page order and finishing stitch color. If you’re doing visible stitches the thread color has to work with all the very different pages. Last year I chose a medium gray, (super sensible) and that was my plan this year too. The brown was an accident- it just spilled out of a bag while I was working on page order. It’s perfect, a magic color surprise, just right on every page and I love it on the binding too.

So far I’ve got two sections done and the third in progress.

Foundation blocks are also easy to take with a pleasure to pick up and stitch. They don’t require as much attention as all those tiny straight stitches. The foundation blocks are going to cross the quilt finish line this year. Really.

Something else that is definitely going to cross the finish line? Captain Charmly. I have been tormented by his sideburns. It’s an extra-ish step. Tiny pattern pieces. They were in the first draft, came out in the second, went back in in the third- you get the idea…

two rag doll heads- one with sideburns and one without

I think really carefully about what I ask you to do in a pattern. Weigh the effort against what you get – does the detail deliver extra dastardly, extra birdness, extra socksness? Is it essential?

So the question is: are the sideburns worth it? Do they deliver extra Captain-ness? What do you think?

patchwork pouch sewing pattern cover image

Have you got some road sewing planned? This is the perfect time to make your travel sewing kit- get the pattern now at 25% off  (just $6.19!) for the remainder of May.

Are you finishing your stitch book pages? Have you got a favorite travel sewing project? Are you in our out on sideburns?! Let us know in the comments.


  1. Susan Lehner

    Will you be making the circus animal patterns available? Please? I’d certainly sign up for all 3 of your workshops in Los Angeles if that was possible. (I live in’s a bit far). Your site is my favorite on the web. Thanks for all you do and make available.

  2. I think I prefer him without the sideburns. They don’t read to me as sideburns, but part of his hair. If you put them in though and show both ways, stitchers would have a choice.

    I’m going to check out the blouse you are making. I’ve been on a search for a boxy top pattern that I love. I’m beginning to think that maybe I like the idea of a boxy top more than actually wearing them.

    • annwood

      Both is a great idea Dawn – ideally I will but space is tight on this one with the reversible jacket and all.

  3. Heather Smith

    If he’s going to have that mustache, he has to have those sideburns! Not a lot of travel planned for Summer but Spring has been full of weekend trips so I’ve been packing mending mostly and my stitch book which just needs some seams closed up. Jude Hill has inspired a sampler (many thanks for sharing here many months ago, so inspiring). And this weekend’s trip should result in completion of the Seed prompt for May.

  4. Christina Shaw

    Must have sideburns or he could be any old chap

  5. Definitely with the sideburns…reminds me ofTerrence Stamp in Far from the Madding Crowd xxx

  6. Michelle Milne

    Sideburns. Especially if his hair is pulled back in a ponytail. Can they be embroidered?

    • Cindi L.

      In thinking of my husband’s 1970s honkin’ sideburns, rendering them in a whole slew of French knots would be perfect! Great idea!

  7. Marilina

    Captain Charmly will look great in both versions with or without sideburns. I personally prefer the version with sideburns. You can include both options in the pattern. The choice will be up to those who make one. I can’t wait to have Captain Charmly on my work table!

  8. Jeanne Eells

    I would love to purchase the circus animal and people patterns.


    I was picturing more Muttonchop sideburns; I guess I see the Cap’n as being of a later era. But sideburns would define a seafaring man, IMO.

  10. Jennifer F.

    Oh I have waited so long for Captian Charmly ! I don’t care if he is bald! My poor Isabella has waited by the window for his return since she laid eyes on him. He is dastardly for making her wait without word of his safety, (or let’s face it, fidelity)! Forward Captian all your Charms! Hurry home to the sea facing, lavender gardened, rose covered chateau! (*note to Ann) begin work on pattern for baby girl…..

  11. Stacia Schwartz

    If you want to establish at a glance that the Captain Charmly doll is male, you need sideburns. Embroidering them on is definitely an option, and would be less finicky work to add.

  12. Roxanne Derheim

    Definitely sideburns for the captain! Totally makes him Captain-ey! People could omit it, if they wanted, right?

  13. If sideburns, then also ears. Or sideburns could be embroidered – you know – wiskers.

Comments are closed.