Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Look look look! I made these:

You, too, can buy the PDF pattern here and here from I Think Sew patterns. The designer has a handful of really adorable adult and baby-sized slippers. I bought this one because it looked simpler than the others. Online patterns can also be dicey, so I went for the less expensive option first.

I was really happy with the instructions, though. You get about 28 pages of instructions and pattern pieces. I've read some lukewarm-to-bad reviews of I Think Sew patterns because it's apparent that the designer/writer isn't a native English-speaker. The pattern was so well-written and specific, though, that the occasional curious phrasing didn't matter. It seemed like she was aware of this and made an extra effort to spell things out. So don't believe the hype! I Think Sew patterns are great, and I can't wait to try more of them!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The beginning

This illustration is by my cousin's 9-year-old son, Niklaus.

The description on the back reads: "There is a missle being shot at the Dragon and a guy that has a sheild That is blocking fire. And He has a sord."

Note missile trajectory!

I am a little sad that the ink is bleeding through from the back, and fading at the same time.

I think for Nik's birthday I am going to put together a little art kit. When I was his age, the most exciting gifts I received were art supplies. They always seemed so expensive, and I guarded them fiercely from my little brother. My best friend, Anne, and I were always so competitive about our crayons and the like. If one of us got the new set of scented crayons or color-changing markers, it was a tragedy for the other. At the time, it meant the girl with the newer art supplies had better, more loving parents. Usually, it was Anne's parents who won. She and I would always share with one another, however, but seldom with our classmates. They didn't understand why it was a crime to break crayons, and that they must peel back the paper evenly, and take care not to get the light-colored markers all muddy from coloring over the darker inks. It was a matter of respecting our treasures, and few could be trusted.

(Left: myself, Anne and Bev at Cool Cottons in Portland.)

I was so lucky to have parents who nurtured my creative side. Anne's mother, Bev, was also instrumental: she held crafting parties for Anne's birthday, and taught our 3rd grade class to sew. My family moved from Portland to Nashville the summer after 3rd grade, and Anne and I kept in touch by mail. A couple years later, my family visited Portland and Bev signed Anne and I up for sewing lessons. We made some really ridiculous drawstring bags, and elastic-waist shorts, and probably a scrunchie or two. Bev took us to her father's beach house in Seaside, Oregon (which for a long time had an autographed picture of Huey Lewis & the News in the bathroom), and we sewed all weekend. I think that's when I got hooked.

When I was 18, I moved back to Portland for a little while. Bev had been a quilter for as long as I remembered, so naturally it was her guidance I sought when I decided to learn to quilt. I don't know why I wanted to--it just struck me, suddenly, as wonderful. I made my first quilt (below) and the love of sewing was new again.

My mom had always sewn a little, and when I moved back to Nashville I taught her how to quilt. Really, I pestered her until she caved and accompanied me to buy fabric... my mom can be stubborn! Her first quilt (below) was gorgeous, and she too fell in love with the process.

And this brings me back to the original subject: encouraging creativity in youngsters. If someone hadn't taught me to sew, would I have arrived here on my own? Maybe. I sure went through a lot of different mediums before I settled on textiles--nothing else felt quite right. I hope Nik holds onto his creative voice, and I hope I can help him find the right tools to make it heard.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Days off

I'm back from Illinois! The below photograph was taken in standstill traffic just south of Gary, IN. That's Indiana corn, baby! Apparently, it's a big deal.

The week of product training was exhausting. Most days were around 10 hours long. I found the Whole Foods the first night I was in Naperville, and stocked up on jugs of water and vegetarian goods that wouldn't immediately spoil. I kept maybe-perishables in a bucket of ice and made dehydrated soup by running water through the coffee maker. Steven said it sounded like I was living out of a van.

I met some really nice ladies who just opened a quilt shop called Stash in Walla Walla, Washington. They will be selling fabric online soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I am keeping up with them on their blog.

Friday I drove home after class, and by Monday I had recharged and was ready to start sewing for fun again! This:

turned into these:

Rattles from Simple Sewing for Baby! (I sewed a bell into the head for a little noise.) These are incredibly fast and easy, which is all I've had the patience for lately. Also recently sewn: bibs, bloomers, and a little bird.

I started on a bag from the Spring 2009 issue of Stitch magazine, and then my sewing machine began acting up. According to our mechanic, I either have a motor problem, or something has gone awry with my foot control. Either way, I am without a sewing machine which feels unnatural. I should have a diagnosis by Saturday, and I hope it can be fixed. I love my little old Bernina!