Girl Scout Fun All Over Again–What to do with Your Vintage Patches


Talk about Girl Power!

I remember working hard to earn these badges, then proudly hand-sewing them to the green sash so I could wear it to school.

And it felt good all over again when I pulled my vintage scout patches out of storage and started creating new designs with them a few weeks ago,


Here are my “Good Scout Wristlets”.  They combine vintage Pendleton Wool (a lucky find in just the right color), reclaimed zippers, brown bark cloth and  scout badges, of course.

A few construction notes:

Yes, I washed the wool.  It was musty  smelling so I threw it in my front loader and dryer.  It didn’t felt.  Not enough water for that.


I’m using interfacing to give the bag body.  Apply it before the zipper.  I like to hold the interfacing in place with my quilters spray, then catch the interfacing in the seam.  I use applique scissors to trim the excess right down to the stitching.


And these bags are fully lined.  I apply the lining pieces to the zipper seam before stitching the sides and bottom.  The rest of the process it pretty intuitive.  Just leave an opening  to turn the bag to the right side.   Hand stitch it closed to finish.

No more hiding those childhood accomplishments in the attic!   Old scout patches are COOL and should be used.  How are you using yours?badges4

PS. These Good Scout Wristlets aren’t in my Etsy shop yet.  But I plan to have a few for sale at the Western Wake Farmers Market with this Saturday morning (10/17).  Stop by my tent and check them out.


Two Upcycled Sewing Projects Inspire

I get the best ideas at the Scrap Exchange in Durham. Our monthly community meet-ups, 2nd Sunday Sewing, draw  a variety of people with the most interesting projects.


Here’s an applique coverlet for a little girl’s room.  I love the bright colors, the multiple circles and the way mom is using raw edges in her appliques.


What a good way to upcycle nursery linens when the child moves to a larger bed. What a great “Just Do It!” style.


And here’s pal Karen, a Sewing Sunday regular and a very talented mixed media artist, with her altered fabric flag.   Can you tell she volunteers at the Scrap Exchange sorting TRIMS?


Karen lined  her wall hanging but the back is open in case the mood strikes her to add more embellishments.  (I bet it will.Trim is so tempting and the Scrap has tons!)


Great use of mixed vintage buttons, too,  don’t you think?

If you’d like to attend 2nd Sunday Sewing, the next meet up is September 13 (2015)  in the Scrap Exchange Design Center from 2-6.   Space is limited, so get there early.   And come prepared to be inspired.  I always am–

New Tool Aprons Online–Finally!

Ok, I could make them faster.  I could hire someone to help with the sewing or use fewer fabrics, fewer rows of stitching.

But then it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to make my super-sturdy, vintage fabric tool aprons.

I love that each one is little fabric puzzle that takes time to solve.   The only downside is I run out of inventory sometimes.

But I’ve just listed 4 new tool aprons on my ETSY site.   And here they are:


1940s barkcloth with an old apron fragment and blue tulip skirt.   I love blue and brown! (Note: This apron sold within hours of posting.  See what I mean about inventory–)


NYC designer “Vera” silkscreened textiles that were the all the rage in the 60s and 70s.  And who can resist watermelons in July?


I love this floral fabric from my best friend’s  great grandma’s very best chair.  The white and yellow pop art daisies are also a nice blast from the past.


And finally, an old bed cover meets a men’s pink denim shirt.  ( I do love  a man in pink!)

Got a favorite?  I do.  But two more aprons are on the sewing table now.  I always love the one I’m working on at the moment the most!


A Family Heirloom Evolves–My Pet Quilt is FINALLY Done!

Woof/Meow Quilt about to be wrapped and shipped!!

Woof/Meow Quilt about to be wrapped and shipped!!

First let me say that I am in NO WAY a traditional quilter.  I don’t have the temperament for precise cutting and piecing.  Big projects (like quilts) aren’t my forte either.

So when my sister said she wanted a family pet quilt, I tackled the project intuitively.

Since I  like to work small, I began with pet portrait squares.  These individual portraits became my sister’s birthday and Christmas gifts over several years.

When I’d completed 3-4 squares, I stitched them to backing fabric.  My sis hung the quilt on her wall and pinned on new squares until all the slots were filled.

Lucy, in the upper center,  was the first square I created.

Lucy, in the upper center, was the first square I created.

Then for her recent birthday, I appliqued all the squares down, added  batting, backing and stitched all the layers together.


A few tips if you want to tackle your own pet portrait “quilt”:

I’m hooked on Dritz temporary quilt adhesive.  It held the portrait parts in place while I stitched and  anchors all the layers for finishing.

I prefer to start small and work out. You can always turn your parts into pillows or smaller wall pieces if you run out of steam.    You can always scale up if imagination takes flight.  In other words, it’s ok to make a beginning if you don’t know how the project will end.

Also, too much in history doesn’t have a name on it.  Always sign and date your work to give it more meaning for the people who will inherit.

Finally, what ever you create, make it yours.  The important thing is not HOW you do it, but THAT you do it.

Happy sewing.

Click here for more info on making portraits with fabric.


What’s on my Sewing Table–How to Work with Old Cloth Sacks


Vintage advertising like this old Purina feed sack is hotter than ever.

But I have always loved using old cloth bags and their random words and phrases in my sewing.    In fact, one of my first hippie stitching projects back in the 70s was turning a cotton bank sack into a purse.

I’m still doing much of the same–only this time round, I’m stitiching my cloth sacks into sturdy garden/craft tool aprons.  They’re my signature design at Kiki’s Rewind Designs.


Bags like these wonderful sugar sacks from the 1940s were made of thin, inexpensive cotton at a time when resources were scarce.  Stabilizing the fragile fabric is critical.  I use a technique called channel quilting, anchoring the old cloth to sturdy canvas with rows of  parallel stitching.  My presser foot is the seam guide.


Below is another sack used in a tool apron that I just listed on my Etsy site.    The Crusader grass seed bag costs a scant $2 at the Scrap Exchange in Durham (NC).   That’s another good thing about old fabric sacks–they’re a lot of cool ones around!


Spring Starts Sunday–at least for Crafters like me

Threads and pins are strewn everywhere since I’m sewing  like a mad woman for the first spring craft show of the season.    And it’s one that’s  close to my heart–

Displaying Raulston Blooms  for Facebook.jpg

As  a long time volunteer at the prestigious JC Raulston Arboretum, I am so flattered they recruited me to sell my garden/craft aprons (and other upcycled fabric creations) at their spring festival of flowers and birds, Raulston Bloms!


The Arboretum is a hidden gem and a renowned teaching garden near the heart of Raleigh.   This Saturday’s event is a great chance to stroll the gardens, buy plants, garden-themed arts and crafts; and learn about the out of doors.

Next, I’ll be at the Cary Spring Daze in nearby Bond Park on April 25th.   Per usual, I’ll be sharing a tent with my fellow fiber artist, hip knitter Gail Kennedy of GG’s knits.  Her work is so popular!


And on May 2nd, GG and I will be at PEAKFEST in my home base of APEX.

Come out and see us at one of these spring festivals! Your support feeds our crafting habits–


Remake Dated Counted Cross Stitch with Reverse Applique


Back in the 80s, “country” style counted cross stitch on linen was all the rage.

I completed 5 projects before tiring of counting  threads.  (Can you say “tedious”?)

Before long,  I had also tried of those limited pallet  “country” looking pieces.  Most ended up in a box under the bed.

Here’s how I decided to remake a pair of them, by literally  breaking out of the frame.


  • Pin needlework face down on an interesting piece of fabric.  Working from the back, sew around the piece.
  • Carefully separate the two layers, cut the top layer and trim (I use applique scissors) to the stitching.


  • Working from the front, zig-zag around the raw edge TWICE.


  • Next, the fun starts.  Embellish your fabric “frame” to your heart’s content.  First, I sewed rows around the needle work, using my presser foot as a guide.  Then I  cut it out.   I appliqued and channel quilted my piece onto a second fabric–cool tulips.  Next, I added vintage rick-rack and 70 trim.  Words are ok, too.  I like to use stencils and fabric pins.  (The jury is still out on adding words to this piece.)
  •  I bound the piece with bias strips of vintage mattress ticking.   It still looked a little too 80s country, so I zig-zaged some torn strips of metallic drapery material around the edge.
  • Finally,  I went crazy with plain old jute twine, zig-zaging it around the needlework and looping it at the top for my stick hanger.


And here’s the final result, reclaimed cross stitch hung on our living room wall–


This technique would also work for any old unfinished or damaged embroidery or needle point.  Any other ideas for  reframing with reverse applique?


On my Sewing Table Today–Vintage Fabric Hats

The February weather outside IS frightful.

No snow! That's sleet and ice in my back garden.

No snow! That’s sleet and ice in my back garden.

But inside, it’s full-blown spring and summer since my latest sewing project is spread all over the house.

Spring green homespun checks and a vintage floral Irish tablecloth

Spring green homespun checks and a vintage floral Irish tablecloth

I love making these little unlined fabric hats.  They’re light, washable,  simple to sew and a good home for  lots of old tablecloth (and other) cottons from my stash.

Plus my dermatologist is always telling me to cover that big cow lick on the back of my head.

My pattern came from an old hat that belonged to my dear friend Megan’s mom.  Sorry, there are no “before” photos since we had to take the original hat apart apart to figure it out.

Most hats are super simple--this one has only 5 pieces

Most hats are super simple–this one has only 5 pieces

There was no interfacing in the original and I’m putting none in my hats.  Instead, I’m adding rows of stitching to give  the brim body.

Note the rows of stitching.  It's a technique that I use in most of my Rewind Designs.

Note the rows of stitching. It’s a technique that I use in most of my Rewind Designs.

The lack of interfacing also makes the hat more breathable–which will be a big asset when the weather FINALLY warms up.   (It is supposed to be warm here in NC!)

Still trying to pick a favorite–with more on the cutting table.  What do you think?

the first hat went to pal Megan, who donated the original.  Thanks girl!

the first hat went to pal Megan, who donated the original. Thanks girl!

This vintage floral and denim will probably end up in my Esty shop.

This vintage floral and denim will probably end up in my Esty shop.

Blue flowers for the garden. Hurry spring!

Blue flowers for the garden. Hurry spring!


How (and why) to Make your own Chenille

I love combining and altering fabrics–and turning them into chenille is one of the techniques I use.

Let’s take this large monochromatic cotton floral print in the upper part of the photo below.   It was just a little to perfect for me, so I decided to distress it by making chenille.

Chenille Irises "Before".  I used the reverse side of the second fabric for my under layer so the wavy blue threads  would show through.

Chenille Irises “Before”. I used the reverse side of the second fabric for my under layer so the wavy blue threads would show through.

First I sandwiched  the print to a backing fabric that I wanted to show through.  I used  parallel rows of stitching with my presser foot as a guide.  (This is a great way to practice straight sewing.)

Chenille Irises in progress.  Washing will fray them (and create strings to clip)

Chenille Irises in progress. Washing will fray them (and create strings to clip)

Next, (carefully) cut down the middle of each row.  Small scissors work fine for me, but if you plan to use this technique a lot, you may want to invest in a  chenille cutter.  Here’s a link for info about this speedy little tool.

After I wash and dry my piece, it has a nice fluffy texture and depth.  Cool, don’t you think?


Here’s a closer look.  Can you see the wavy blue underneath?



And here’s another recent chenille project.


I needed a yellow-orange “fur” for this appliqued cat portrait.  Instead of shopping all over town or the web, I went to the thrift store.  A silky orange print blouse, stitched over a yellow sweater and chenilled fit the bill perfectly.  The fraying gives my portrait depth and interest, too.

I can see this technique used to create fabric  oceans, waves of grass, even clouds.

Any other ideas?  How would you use homemade chenille?


New Year Reflections–Why I Sew




I certainly DON’T do it for the money.  No one ever got rich making one-of-a-kind items from vintage fabrics or teaching others to sew.  So why did  I spend so much time in 2014 sewing, teaching, blogging, attending  community meet-ups and crafts shows?

It all comes down to the 3 Thank Yous.  I start every sewing class with them:

1) The earth thanks you for sewing.  Every time you reuse materials that have already been produced–a cotton tee shirt, let’s say– you are saving fertilizer, water, energy, and farm land that could be put to better use.  A tee may be inexpensive (even free at times) but the environmental cost of all those tees is very high.

2) The people of the earth thank you for sewing. As a child,  the sewing machine was one of my favorite places to play and experiment.  That makes it seem doubly WRONG that  children in third world sweat shops are making so many of our clothes.  I don’t want that shame on my back, or my conscience.

3) Thank yourself for sewing.  It’s actually good for your brain.  Yes, they have done scientific studies showing  that when  the mid-brain is engaged in crafting, it’s harder to stress or worry.  My loving husband says he already knew that  a long time ago.  He can tell that sewing makes me happy. And despite all the dropped pins and wayward threads, that makes him happy, too.  (Thanks, Bill!)

One more thing as I look back on 2014 and the busy holidays:  Who needs another gift from Macy’s or Target?  When you make things for other people, you’re not only giving them something unique, you’re  also giving them a part of yourself.



So yes,  I am  looking forward to more sewing, teaching, blogging, attending community meet-ups and craft shows  in the New Year.

My first community meet-up is this Sunday at the Scrap Exchange.

The first Basic Sewing Workshop of 2015 is later this month.

In between those events, I’m going to finally find time to finish my sister’s pet quilt, while furiously making hats for two very special people taking chemo.  (You go Girls!)


What about you?  What’s on your sewing list for 2015?


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