Five New Tool Aprons–One New Market

Just listed 5 new pieces in my Etsy shop. And here they are:

Blue Hankie and Pink Seersucker

Blue Hankie and Pink Seersucker

Best Hankie Find EVER!

Best Hankie Find EVER!

Flowerpot Apron Pocket meets Barkcloth and 60s Print

Flowerpot Apron Pocket meets Barkcloth and 60s Print

Old meets New with Veg in Pink

Old meets New with Veg in Pink

More Barkcloth with Vintage Plant Patches.

More Barkcloth with Vintage Plant Patches.

Blue, Brown, Gold, Orange with Appliqued leaves.

Blue, Brown, Gold, Orange with Appliqued leaves.

What to check these pieces out in person? Come to the newly revamped Apex Farmers Market next Saturday, July 23. It’s Christmas in July–so there should be several craft vendors, along with great fruits, veg, flowers, baked goods and cheeses.

This morning I bought okra, tomatoes, tiny little cukes, eggs and blue berries. Delicious, farm fresh and this up and coming market is right down the street from where I live. Check it out!

New Sewing Studio–Finally Taking Shape


Pinch me, because after decades of wishing for my own DEDICATED sewing space, the dream is finally coming true.

I’ve always thought garages were wasted on cars. My half is (quickly) becoming a studio.


My new sewing studio will have lots of natural light and storage on the back–a big laundry sink for fabric dyeing, too.

The elevated floor makes heating and cooling easier. Floor covering will be laminate–which means no more pins in carpets or thread clogged vacuum cleaners. If you sew every day, you need a floor you can sweep.


Yes, I know I’m incredibly lucky. Most of us carve out sewing spaces in bedrooms, guest rooms and kitchens. I’ve done this all my life.

But if I can think of one thing that made me an avid sewer–it was having the old Singer set up in my childhood bedroom. Bad day at Jr. High? Come home and zig-zag it away.

That’s why I always tell my beginning sewing student to find a place where they can leave their machines at ready. Don’t let setup drain your creative energy away.

So what’s your favorite sewing spot?

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!


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?

What’s on my Sewing Table–Vintage Polyester Project Update


I’m happy at the way my 70s clutch and Christmas stocking are coming together.


Doubly happy because there’s a lot of polyester double-knit around, and since I’m on a personal mission to give new life to old fabrics,  I want to find ways to use this (rather difficult) textile.


Besides, the prints are so very retro they’re hard for a fabric collector to resist.   I snagged these (and more) last week at the Scrap Exchange in Durham.


Note that in both projects, I underlined the poly with a woven.  I used rows of stitches to hold the two layers together, but fusible interfacing would work also.   The underlining gives both projects more body and stability–a good thing since both are meant to hold things.  (Yes, Santa, I’ve been very good.)

poly2_stockfin2I’m considering this retro trim for the cuff of my stocking.  What do you think?


Buy my Designs at the Western Wake Farmers Market this Weekend–Take My Class at the Scrap


Why is my dining room/sewing table in such a crazy state?

Because I’m getting ready for a super busy sewing weekend.

On Saturday (11/1)  I’m selling my Rewind Designs at my favorite local farmers market WWFM  in Cary, (NC), and on Sunday (11/2),  I’m teaching a Practical Sewing Workshop at the Scrap Exchange in Durham;

The craft market  a rain or shine event–looks like rain or at least cloudy and cool weather, but there are some bright spots:


I finished the 3 clutch purses in 40s and 50s fabrics that I was working on last week. I’m very  pleased with the results.


And I’m working on some favorite little pieces for the sale:  quilted pot holders and pet place mats.

Plus–I’ll have more than a dozen of my signature super-sturdy garden/craft tool aprons.   They are my top sellers.


The sewing pile for Sunday’s class is not nearly as creative, but just as important, maybe even more so since it’s promoting sustainability.


I have jeans to hem, shirts and pants to alter, and my favorite garden shorts to patch.  Note to self:  never put metal bolts in your pants pocket.  Use a super sturdy tool apron instead.



Sew Together–Adult/Child Sewing Class coming up at the Scrap Exchange in Durham

Miriam shows off her stuffed bunny in progress

Miriam shows off her stuffed bunny in progress

Thanks to friends Miriam , Klara, Alicia, and Megan for making new samples  for my upcoming Adult/Child Sewing Class at the Scrap Exchange in Durham.

Not only did the stuffed bunny, bird, and bear come together in the time allotted—the girls (ages 8 and 11) and the grown-ups had great fun working side by side to  make something uniquely their own—

Klara made a velvet cardinal--the state bird of NC

Klara made a velvet cardinal–the state bird of NC

Just look this wild bunch of wonderful beasts.

Note that Megan's bear has it's own little bear--Miriam's rabbit now has a stuffed carrot

Note that Megan’s bear has it’s own little bear–Miriam’s rabbit now has a stuffed carrot

Alicia's bear has a furry belly

Alicia’s bear has a furry belly

Sewing with others  is always great fun.  And sewing with kids is the best!

Miriam helps Megan with her applique.  You go girl!

Miriam helps Megan with her applique. You go girl!

I’ve never forgotten the generous women who taught me when I was a child.  What a gift!

That’s why I like teaching Adult/Child Sewing so much.

The class has two parts, beginning with sewing machine basics, moving on the class projects: bird, bunny, or bear.  All materials, sewing machines, and tools  are included, so imaginations can really run wild—

Just no running with scissors, OK.


Go to the Scrap Exchange web site for more information.  Space is very limited, since everyone comes in pairs.


Four Fabrics–One Awesome Slipcover

Slipcovers are big jobs.  They take lots of time, lots of fabric.


For this couch cover,  my client and neighbor Pam and I went to Loomcraft Textiles in Burlington (NC)

Yea, they’re the one with the big “Free Fabric” banner on 1-85. Loomcraft sells bolt ends, seconds, discontinued fabrics.  The selection is AWESOME and so are the prices for that kind of thing. Many bolts start at $8 per yard.  There’s also a 5 dollar room where I like to hang out.


But Pam fell in love with this vintage-look barkcloth.   Because of the huge pattern that needed to be matched , there was only enough fabric  for 3 pillow fronts.  We had just enough solid for those pillow backs and the bottom cushions. Getting enough out of Pam’s third fabric, the black and taupe stripe,  was a stretch, too.  I actually used a fourth (hidden) fabric for the sofa “deck” which is under the cushions.


Yea, big job.  But BIG payoff.  Especially if you have dog(s), or kid(s).  There’s nothing like pulling those covers a couple of times a year and throwing them in the wash–

And there’s nothing like a satisfied customer (below)



Here are a few slipcovers tips if you’d like to try this at home:

  • I taught myself the basics with a good (old) book.  Seek out Sunset’s  How to Make Slipcovers and Bedspreads, by Oxmore house. The pictures are pure 70s, but the instructions are unbeatable.  (Trust me, I have a lot of books)
  • Always hold back a little fabric.  I made 30 yards of covered welt for this project.  It wasn’t enough.  Thank goodness, I’d saved a little rectangle of the stripe to create more.  The Sunset book has great instructions for cutting bias strips en mass.  From my little rectangle, I cut 14 more yards.
  • If you have a serger, use it on the raw edges BEFORE you stitch the parts together.  Otherwise, you need to zig-zag over raw edges as a final step.  It’s going to go in the wash remember–
  • And speaking of wash, do prewash and dry all your fabrics before you start sewing.  We roughed out measurements, then cut and washed.  Make sure to serge the edged if you think the fabric might fray.
  • Finally for your first slipcover, start small, a chair or footstool even.  You’ll work up to couches before you know it.

Personally, I’m ready for a slipcover break.  Anyone else with large project fatigue???


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