Thursday, July 31, 2008

Alphabet Adventures - "Y is for YOU!"

Today's Alphabet Adventure is brought by the Letter Y and YOU! That's right, YOU! It's your turn to sew. And maybe win a prize for your efforts. Here are a list of online sewing contests I've searched out for you, as well as some suggestions for finding contests locally. If you decide to enter any of these and win, be sure to let me know!

Make It With Wool - I have been fascinated with this contest ever since my Jr. High Home Economics buddy, Mari Moser, won 3rd place in the National Contest. She was a school celebrity for weeks. :) While the 2008 contest has already closed, keep an eye on the website for 2009! This is a great contest with really good-looking entries.

Pattern Review Contests - The Pattern Review website has quite a few ongoing contests on a variety of subjects from Lined Jacket to Stash-busting to Charity sewing. Prizes are usually donated sewing-related items from the websites various sponsors. I won an ironing board cover there as 2nd runner up in a charity sewing contest! :)

Love to Sew/Fashion Design Contest
This is a "fashion forward" contest for designers of all ages. Lots of age categories. Prizes supplied by Crafts of Chadds Ford.

Love to Sew Quilt Contest
- Also sponsored by the Love to Sew website. This has several quilt categories in various age and skill categories. Winning quilts to be displayed on the website.

American Sewing Guild Contest
- If you're a member of the American Sewing Guild, they have a yearly contest. The 2008 season is already closed, but it's not too early to start thinking about 2009. I've been thinking about joining the guild for some time. Are any of you readers members?

World of Waverly Decorating Contest - This is a national sweepstake with some pretty tempting prizes. A trip to New York. The services of a top decorator. You simply write an essay on how Waverly fabrics changed your family's life or some such thing. :) I'm sure you could spin this if you just thought long enough!

U-Handblog Amy Butler Bags Monthly Contest
- A monthly contest sponsored by teh U-Handblog site. If you haven't been there before you need to get over there and check out her cool bags. Some great tutorials as well. Her monthly contest features bags made from the Amy Butler bag patterns.

Indie Fixx, a crafting blog, has frequent giveaways and contests. Check out the current going-ons HERE.

While not currently running a contest, the Sew Mama Sew blog frequently offers contests and giveaways. Their most recent Tutorial contest was fantastic! Pop in to see what they offer next. maintains a listing of currently running contests. Bookmark this one!

American Quilters Society - This national quilting organization features five different quilt expos around the nation in 2008. Each expo includes a quilt competition. Check out the website to see which are still open for 2008 and to download a registration guide.

Sew News is having a "Design a Falling Leaf Applique" contest. Winners will be featured in the December 2008 Sew News as well as online. The deadline is August 15th, so get a move on!

Here's your chance to win a Bernina Artista. Enter the "Festival of Machine Embroidered Quilts" contest. The deadline is coming soon, so visit HERE!

State and County Fairs - Fall is coming and with it state and county fairs from coast to coast. These local fairs are usually great opportunities to showcase your talent and earn (admittedly modest) cash prizes.

Local Quilt and Sewing Shops - Check the bulletin boards of your local sewing and quilt shops for national and local contest announcements. I have often seen local quilt guilds sponsor a variety of themed contests. If you're nervous about entering a national competition, get your feet wet these way!

Sewing Magazines - When you have nothing better to do in a grocery store, rifle through the sewing and craft magazines. Most magazines sponsor several contests a year on very specific subjects. it's up to YOU! Get out there and strut your stuff. Who knows? You may carry home a blue ribbon!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yet More Skirts....

I think by December and the end of The Hundred Skirts Project, I am going to be thoroughly sick of skirts! LOL! As of the 2009 New Year this blog will be declared a Skirt-Free Zone.

This skirt set is another one for the families my Dad will be visiting in Guatemala separate from his visit to the orphanage where the 100 Skirts will be sent. I have completed the 6 yo, 8 yo and now a 13yo's skirts. I have one more 13 yo to sew for and I'm done with skirts for a few weeks. I won't do anymore until after I return from my trip. This last skirt is almost completed. It is the same as the one below. The tee's applique will be slightly different. But I will spare you the final skirt's pic. Just imagine the same as this one only with a baby blue applique. Okay?

Why Buckeye Sue Gets Her Own Post

Sue left me more comments in the Fabric Mecca Beckons post than I could deal with in a comments box. I had to bring it out here in the light of the day so I could handle all her questions. :) Plus...Sue came up with a way for me to rationalize any new fabric purchases. For that she deserves her own post.

Sue asked....

How do you inventory your fabrics?

I know some people keep really intricate inventories. I like to have my fabrics out where I can see them. So I don't feel a need to inventory samples into a notebook or anything. I sort my fabrics into open white plastic baskets by color only. I don't separate out knits from velvets from silks. When I design, I do so almost entirely based on color inspiration. The exception is extra bulky fabrics that would take up an entire basket themselves. They go in larger Rubbermaid containers, but there are few enough that I know what's in the bins. The other exception are fabrics on the bolt. They are stacked on the shelf where I can see them. And then quilting fabrics are the final exception. They are sorted by color into drawer units. I can see everything at a glance on my shelves.'s easier to show you.

I was asking about the fabrics shown in this post, "Fabric Mecca Beckons." Are those all from your stash?

No. Those are pics from the websites of the stores we will visit. :) The first one is from my inspiration files. I don't even remember where I got it.

And yes, you're right. I started with about 700 yards fabric. However, that includes all kinds, quilting, apparel for me, apparel for children, special occasion, home decorating, vintage collection, coatings, men's, knits, sleepwear, etc. When you spread it around to that many categories, it means that I don't always have a teen girl-appropriate bottom-weight fabric when I need it. I know, I know. Ungrateful brat.


Fabric Mecca Beckons

I am leaving August 6th for an on-a-whim trip. Craig and Casey were flying out to pick up our motor home and drive it back up the Al-Can Highway before winter sets in. Kind of a last Father and Son Hurrah before school starts. At the last minute I decided to go with them on the flight down and spend a few days with my MIL and nieces.

Every few years my MIL and I attend the Puyallup Sewing Expo together and have started adding in a trip to Portland, Oregon to fabric shop. There is limited shopping here in Alaska. A JoAnn's and a Wal-Mart. There is a good selection of quilt shops, but nothing that offers quality garment apparel. Since I haven't been able to make the Expo in some time, I'm overdue for a fabric stock-up!

I sew ALOT. This year alone I have sewed up almost 150 yards and it's only July. I do a great deal of service-oriented sewing, make a lot of gifts, as well as some of my own clothes. So I move through my stash at a pretty quick clip.

Portland is becoming a bit of a West Coast Fabric Mecca. My MIL and I like to visit the Pendleton factory, the Mill End Outlet, Josephine's Dry Goods (gorgeous stuff, but the snootiest saleswomen ever!), the Button Emporium and Ribbonry, Fabric Depot (largest fabric store in the nation) and others. We used to drop in at the Daisy Kingdom store in downtown Portland, but sadly it has been closed. We have not yet made it to Rose City Textiles, but perhaps we will this time.

So it's time to make my shopping list. Any suggestions as to what I should buy? Stores that didn't make my list? Where we should eat (HEALTHY FOOD!)? :)


Alphabet Adventures - "X is for Xylitol"

Hah! Bet you thought I'd get stumped on this one. :) Today's Alphabet Adventures is brought to you by the Letter X and the word "Xylitol."

Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in plants, fruits, and vegetables and is even produced in the human body by normal metabolism. Xylitol has no known toxicity or carcinogenicity. It is listed by the US Food and Drug Administration as an ingredient that is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). It has a long history of use in food dating back to the 1960's and is included in such products as chewing gum, syrup, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and pharmaceuticals.

Why am I talking about Xylitol on a blog dedicated to the domestic creative arts? Well...because Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute and can be used in baking. It does not have the glycemic concerns that sugar does nor the toxicity issues of other sugar substitutes. It's also easier to bake with than sugar substitutes with a more realistic texture and taste. And as a bonus, it's a one-for-one equivalent so there's none of those mathematical gymnastics required in using a sugar substitute when baking.

I have been trying to move our family towards healthier eating, but have been uninspired by sugar substitutes to date. However, I have a friend who swears by Xylitol and uses it regularly. So....Xylitol is my Great Last Hope. Here are some recipes and websites I've found recently. I'll let you know how it goes as I begin my baking experimentations.

Sweeten Your Life the Xylitol Way (A cookbook I'm considering) - Website contains some sample recipes.

Sweet Savvy - One woman's experimentation with Xylitol. Contains numerous recipes

Xylitol Recipes with Photos

General Xylitol Information


Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Canine Cutie..

This is another skirt headed to Guatemala. Not an official Hundred Skirt Project skirt, but for another family that my parents befriended there. This is for an 8 year old girl. I will probably buy a red tee to go with this one as well.

This is the out of print pattern I used for this skirt. I have used this several times. I love the way it turns out. It has that preppy "Catholic School Girl" look to it. I loved that whole "Jumping Bean" line that McCalls produced during the 1990s.

Alphabet Adventures - "W is for Wag The Dog"

Today is brought to you by the Letter W with this little skirt I've titled "Wag the Dog". I am in the middle of making four skirts today. They need to be mailed asap to my father who is making a trip to Guatemala to work in The Shadow Of His Wing Orphanage, the same one where we will be sending The Hundred Skirts Project. While there he will also be visiting two families that he and my mother befriended. There are four daughters between these two families and the skirt sets are gifts for these girls, ages 6, 8, 13 and 13.

This skirt set is a Size 6. It was made from Daisy Kingdom fabric. I ran short and had to use a secondary fabric for the double-tunneled waistband. I will be covering some buttons from that prints to add to the center of the doggies' bows. Hopefully, that will keep it from looking too ad lib. The tee shirt will most likely cover it anyway!

Three more to go today! I've got to get scooting!

New Baby

Ya'll are invited to come see my new baby, "Her Own Devices," a gadget blog for the June Cleaver wannabe. You won't find any pink laptops or rhinestone crusted flashdrives there. But if you love to nest and putter around the house, if the thought of a new dust mop makes your heart pound, if you love to hang out in the sewing notions aisle at your local JoAnn's, then you will feel right at home.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scads of Skirts!

Today at church I was showered with skirts for The Hundred Skirts Project. Six more sets came in. Some with the cutest extras! Then on checking my mail at home, I found that a skirt had arrived from Annika as well. So you're in for another Hundred Skirts Fashion Show. Here goes...

This velvet bubble skirt is from Annika. Stop over to her blog, Annika's Atelier, to thank her for her participation. The fabric on her offering is so deliciously soft and features sweet embroidered rosebuds. I know some little girl is going to adore this.

This next skirt is from Sarah, one of my sewing lessons buddies. She calls her design "Salsa. The skirt is made from a soft brushed cotton in a vibrant paisley print. She beaded the top for a little extra sparkle and made two hair scrunchies to boot! Thank you, Sarah!

This next skirt is Emily, also one of my sewing lesson buddies. Emily calls her skirt set "Flutterby". It is a sweet butterfly print with a ruffle and pink rickrack trim. Emily also trimmed the tee to match. I believe this is a Size 6. Some wee one will love her flutterbies!

This next skirt set comes from my dearest friend, Pamela. Pam is Sarah and Emily's mother. She is also the gal who cared for me, never leaving my side, for days while I was so ill. Pam made this adorable Crayola print skirt with a red band and rick rack trim. Pamela recently lost her mother after caring for her while she was ill (you seeing a pattern here?). This skirt is even more special because it is made from her mother's fabric stash. Isn't it sweet of Pam to share these precious memories with us!

Another by Pamela. This is a really nice weight cotton sheeting with a red rickrack trim at the hem.

This cute set is from a young girl in our church named Cora. She is a beginning seamstress. I think she did a great job with this calico skirt with double ruffle and double yo-yo flower ornament. She bought two tees to coordinate with her skirt so that the lucky recipient will have two outfits to wear. She also included a cute little change purse.

The last skirt is from Yetta, Cora's sister. She is also a beginning teen seamstress from my church. She sewed a lovely skirt from a soft embroidered moleskin. She also included two shirts for two complete outfits. And she made an adorable little purse and included a beautiful glass bead necklace. Some little girl is going to be thrilled with this very generous gift.

Our total skirts received now stands at 61 skirts with 42 yet to come in. The new deadline is December 1st. Thank you so much to all who have participated so far. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it and what a blessing these will be to the orphanage. If you are interested in participating, it's not too late. Contact me at or


Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Hundred Skirt Projects - An Update

I have had quite a few skirts arrive lately, but it's been raining so miserably that I've been hard-pressed to get photos taken. Today I decided they were going up, rain or no rain. So these pics probably won't do these skirts justice. They are even cuter in person.

From Alison (three skirts in a Girls Size 14). You can visit Alison's blog to leave her a thank you note and see her other wonderful projects!

A vibrant floral print in a sweet pique fabric. What happy colors! And the tee is a perfect match.

A cute periwinkle plaid. This cotton has the smoothest, sateen like feel to it! Fun bias cut flounce.

A lovely linen skirt with a flirty flounce. This is a nice weight for the hard wear these skirts will most likely receive.

Next up are some adorable sets from Andrea. I'm out taking pictures now! Andrea is the proprietor of Needle Nose Apparel. She makes adorable clothing for dogs, particularly greyhounds. Stop by and let her know you appreciate her generous donation to The Hundred Skirts Project.

A turquoise set in a Size 8. Look how perfectly the pocket detail matches the tee. :) She calls this one "A Pocket Full of Posies:

And this one's called, "How Does Your Garden Grow?", It's a Size 8 as well.

"Purple Prose", a size 8. Look at the cute felted flower detailing! :)

"Hibiscus Dreams", also a size 8. Made from a wonderfully soft pique. Very Lily Pulitzer.

This brings out total count of skirts actually received to 54 with 49 more promised to come in! The new deadline is December 1st! So mark your calendars!


Alphabet Adventures - "V is for Vintage"

If you've followed my blog at all, then you probably already guessed that today would be brought to you by the Letter V and "Vintage." However, I haven't decided what yet. There's so much vintage around here to choose from. Patterns? Fabric? Collectibles? Trims? Sigh...I'm still surveying and making up my mind. Undecided seems to be my chosen mode lately. I'll be back with something vintage. I promise.

UPDATE: I decided to share some vintage children's printed quilt blocks that I found in my thrift store wanderings. I have seen these on Ebay on rare occasions, but never been able to get information about the maker or the date. I'm thinking they are 40s era.

I found six of these little teddy bear blocks. Two became pillows that I sold on Ebay (see below). I have four left. I'm thinking they will probably become a baby blanket by adding in wide piano key sashing.

I have 12 of these Wizard the Oz blocks. Two of each of the design shown below. This will become a larger children's quilt using the fabrics shown in the bottom picture. I haven't yet decided on the block style. I'm thinking perhaps some Log Cabin framing around each of the blocks? The quilt will then most likely be sold on Etsy. I'll post a pic when its done. It will be awhile as I'm going to start on Christmas gifts soon. They will get priority. But I may reopen my Etsy shop in early 2009.

While searching for the pillow photo in Photobucket, I came across this previous creation and thought I'd share it with you as well. This was made by scanning a 1960s-era giant greeting card onto transfer paper and then ironing it on to muslin. It was then framed with a 1930s repro fabric and some scotty dog fabric.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Alphabet Adventures - "U is for Undecided"

The Letter U is going to involve a little audience participation, so find the comment box and get your trigger finger ready....

I am long overdue for a hairstyle change. I have always worn my hair long, full, layered with wave or curl. My husband likes it this way so I can't go to short. My face is rather full so too straight and flat on top doesn't look good on me either. I need a little volume on top and around the eyes. Okay...with those parameters in place, what do you think?

This is me now. My hair is up so you can't really see what it normally looks like. And I had curled it with those crimping irons. It's not normally kinky like that.

And here are the candidates. Please keep in mind that I look NOTHING like any of these gorgeous women and that no hair cut on earth is going to transform me to model material. I've accepted that and am prepared to deal.

Hair Style #1 - I love this, but think it's probably too close to what I have now and won't give me the change I'm looking for. DH, however, loves this look and he has to look at me more than I do...

BTW, that's not her before picture there in the corner. If I thought this haircut had this kind of transforming power, this post would be non-existent.

Hair Style #2 - I like the versatility on this one. The straight or curly. I also like the fun bangs. My concern is that it's too flat on top. And dh's input???..."It looks like she's wearing a helmet." Sigh.

Hairstyle #3 - Now I LOVE this one. If I had a lot of courage, this is what I'd go for. I know my hair type would work well with this one. And it's just so darn "free and easy" looking. However, I'm a little afraid of that much change. I haven't had my hair above my shoulders in about 20 years! And I know DH won't be crazy about it.

Hairstyle #4 - This one is probably the most reasonable choice. It's still a little long, but it still offers a big change from what I have now. My husband doesn't mind it. It has the volume that I need around the eyes and on top. So what's the problem? For some reason it screams "Joan Collins" to me. Maybe it's the pearls. Maybe it's the lipstick. But it scares me a little. Will I look like a 60 year old woman who has never outgrown her (debatable) glory days? It just looks a little "mature" for me. On the other hand...I AM 48yo and way past the Morgan Fairchild haircut days.

Help me, ladies. There's no better way to make such a personal and important decision than to relegate it to people who have never met you and whom you barely know....

Leave a comment, please. I need to make up my mind by next Wednesday.


Tutorials Update

Please bear with me while I do a little housekeeping. The amount of tutorials I have available on my blog has grown to the point where the listing in the sidebar is rather cumbersome. I will be shifting from a list with pics to a link list only. Links to tutorials may be missing for a short while, but don't worry! They will make it back in the sidebar, but in a more streamlined presentation.


Alphabet Adventures - "T is for Twisted Tucks"

Continuing on with some alphabetic is brought to you by the Letter T with a tutorial on Twisted Tucks. This is a technique I learned from a wonderful book called Manipulating Fabric. About 8 years ago, I made a vest of an ethnic ikat fabric using this technique on the vest front. It closed with toggle loops and bone buttons. It really turned out neat. I hope to make another similar to it this fall.

Twisted Tucks Tutorial

Step 1 - Create a series of narrow tucks evenly spaced across your width of fabric. The tucks take up a great deal of room so you will need a much larger piece of yardage than the pattern piece actually requires. Different sizes of tucks provide different results. As do the amount of spacing between them. You may want to experiment until you get the effect desired. For the purposes of this tutorial, I used 1/4 inch tucks spaced 3/8 inch apart. A good way to learn this technique is to use a plaid with a regular repeat as I did here. The plaid's horizontal and vertical lines make a wonderful stitching guide and eliminate the need for pre-marking. Twisted Tucks on plaid also give a neat secondary effect.

Step One - Sew narrow tucks the full width of your fabric

Step Two - Press the tucks in one direction.

Step Three - Sew across the tucks in vertical seams. Alternate the direction each row so that the tucks create their definitive "twist." If your tucks are closely spaced together, you will need to pull each tuck up from under the presser foot so that it does not inadvertantly get sewn down the wrong direction.

Step Three - Stitch across tucks vertically.

Step Four - With tip of iron or a mini-iron, press the tucks in the direction they've been sewn.

Step Five - Cut pattern piece from the yardage you've created. Assemble garment.

You can vary the width and spacing of the tucks as well as the directional seams to get a wide variety of looks. Here are some examples from Manipulating Fabric.


For The Hard-to-Shop-For Man in Your Life

It's about time...

Manly Man Candle Company has solved your Christmas Shopping Dilemma. You can now buy candles for the rugged he-man on your list. Comes in scents such as Grandma's Cooking, Leather, Hunting Lodge and Yardwork. Particularly delightful are the descriptions of each candle. Check out this clip from the product description for the "Clean Laundry" candle...Doing laundry is horrible. First off, it's boring, secondly, it's too hard, and lastly, your clothes just get dirty again in the next couple of days.

I have a few more suggestions for the product line. How about After Rugby, Dirty Socks and Fish On! ?


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Alphabet Adventures - "S is for Sharks Teeth"

Today is brought to you by the Letter S and "Sharks Teeth." Confused as to where I'm heading with this? Sharks Teeth is a sewing technique that involves creating blind tucks in fabric, then snipping the tucks in intervals before folding in the raw edges created and sewing them in place. Hmmmmm....maybe it will just be easier to show you. Photos coming in the next couple of hours. I'm sewing now. :) :)

Sharks Teeth Tutorial

Step 1 - Create a series of blind tucks 3/4 inches wide. Each row should just meet the next row. How many tucks to do depends upon your design. For this skirt, I decided to do three rows.

Step 2 - Slash the tucks at intervals 1.5 inches apart, cutting up to, but not past the seamline. Alternate the slashes so that the cuts on one row meet the middle of the "tooth" on the next. It should resemble the way bricks are laid.

Step 3 - Turn the cut edges to the back of the "tooth" so that the raw edges meet in the middle, folding at a 45 degree angle. Press neatly. Repeat for all teeth.

Step 4 - To catch and hold the folds in place, restitch the horizontal tuck seam in a wide zigzag being sure to catch the raw edges underneath the tooth. I used a decorative tulip stitch on this skirt. It is headed to Guatemala as part of The Hundred Skirt Project. I was concerned that the shark teeth be durable to hold up to the more aggressive laundering they will receive at the orphanage (the girls sometimes do their own laundry using concrete washboards!).

Step 5 - Press teeth and assemble garment.

You can see an example of a child's dress with a Sharks Teeth bodice here.