Doll Making with the Girls–A Refresher Course in Why I SEW


Some days my love of sewing is a bit overwhelming–all those tangled threads, dropped pins and unfinished projects seem to be going nowhere.   That’s when I call some friends and set up a date for doll making.

Doll making reminds me of how my sewing began (Barbie clothes) and why it continues at such a fever pace.  Think of the adult coloring book craze transferred to fabric.  Sewing is essentially PLAY.

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So here’s to a houseful of girls (ages 10 and up), two sturdy sewing machines,  a well used pattern and a bin of old doll clothes.   What a great way to start a new year of creating with fabric.

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13-year-old Klara made this doll in an afternoon.  Klara’s lady is wearing a very chic ensemble from 1930s doll wardrobe I stumbled on in an antique store.  Fortunately, there were hats in wardrobe.  We didn’t have time to make embroidery floss hair in our first meeting.

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Doll maker Miriam also shopped the 1930s wardrobe.  We used fabric pens to make the doll faces, but embroidery is another option if you have the time.    (Note: Pal Megan took her doll home to hand-stitch the face.  That’s too much sewing for one day, and why she missed the photo shoot.)

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Our pattern came from a tried and true (out for print) book from my collection.  You can find other books and patterns, but I wouldn’t recommend working on a smaller scale.  Smaller patterns would be too hard to turn to the right side–which is time-consuming at best.

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Another thing I like about this book–instructions have you  sew around the doll shape before cutting it out.  I find that much easier than the other way around

Be sure to have chopsticks, dowels and other tools for turning small arms and legs.     And we used floral wire in the necks so heads didn’t flop .  A white pipe cleaner would work here too.

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Here’s my doll, Jessica, made from the same pattern over several days,  several years ago.  Note the embroidered face and stitched yarn hair.

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And speaking of creative play–Klara made this dog pincushion for me in the style of Picasso.    Eat your heart out Pablo.

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What about you?  What sparks your creativity when you need a reboot?

 

 

 

Celebrate your State! Two Vintage Fabric Gifts that Remind of Home


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Don’t you love it when a special textile finally gets a good home–

I’d held on to a vintage map of Virginia tea towel for years, because my sister raised her children there.   Finally this Christmas I decided it needed to become a stocking for my grown niece who lives in DC.

Since the map was laid out horizontally and a stocking is vertical, I decided to cut and quilt my towel.  The red and gray plaid from my stash added a festive tough, but the end result was too fragmented to read.  (Can you say “busy” ) I fixed that by appliquéing a large piece of the towel across the center of the stocking to give the eye a place to read and rest.

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Everything is stitched to heavy canvas using one of my favorite techniques–channel quilting.  I serged the stocking seams, then straight stitched the bottom seam several times–stockings need to be strong.  Be sure to leave extra canvas at the top to form a nice wide cuff.

Oh yea, the big red button is hot-glued.

My other grown niece is setting up housekeeping far from her Mississippi roots, so I decided to send her a favorite Southern cookbook, along with this custom potholder.  2states_2

The fabric was an Etsy find, part of a vintage “Our States Quilt Kit” that was never finished.  I use old towels for padding in the center of the hot pad.  Stripes on the back make great seam lines.  These potholders are fun  and quick to make!

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One more tip:  covering curved edges with bias binding is a lot easier than working with a square.

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What about you?  What special gifts did you make this holiday season?  Please share.

Save the Best for Last–St. Thomas More Holiday Shoppe in Chapel Hill this Weekend.


This is my favorite craft show.  My work usually sells really well here–AND I can turn that money around on the spot and do a lot of my own holiday shopping.   So it’s a twofer.

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House, man and dog are currently covered with threads since I’m sewing  right up until the last minute on new pot holders, purses, and tool aprons to sell.

3 Potholders, a purse and a tool apron in progress--no wonder the house is covered in strings.

3 Potholders, a purse and a tool apron in progress–no wonder the house is covered in strings.

And while I wish I had more garden/craft tool aprons (my top seller and signature item), I’ve been working on a new item–table toppers (runners).

A 50s tablecloth, a drapery sample and an abstract quilt fragment transformed in one of kind table toppers.

A 50s tablecloth, a drapery sample and an abstract quilt fragment transformed in one of kind table toppers.

These ideas have been floating around my head for a log time.  Nice to finally see them all stitched up.   One of the big perks of crafting is you can follow your heart.

Sort of hope I'll end up bringing this one home--

Sort of hope I’ll end up bringing this one home–

If you live locally and like to buy unique, handmade gifts, check out the show Saturday.  And no matter where you live, do seek out gifts made by people who LOVE what they do.  It keeps the good karma going.

 

 

 

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


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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,

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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?

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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!)

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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:

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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–)

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

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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.

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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.

Done!

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


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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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


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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.

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  • 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.

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

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  • 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.

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

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

 

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