Archive for sewing

Simple Modern Sewing

Simple Modern Sewing

I stumbled  across this beautiful book (“Simple Modern Sewing: 8 Basic Patterns to Create 25 Favorite Garments”) at the bookstore recently and took a photo of it, because I wanted to remember it. I have only basic (very basic) sewing skills, but if I were to take lessons, like my daughters do, I’d want to learn by using these 8 patterns.

If you want to see some of the inside pages, take a look at Sister Diane’s very glowing review of this book here. The book is published by Interweave Press.

On a totally unrelated note, Catherine from Nordic Design posted a link to these live webcams of Iceland, and I am mesmerized by them – especially since  I first looked at them when the sun was rising and the views were stunning (although not all of the cameras seem to work, unfortunately). I would love to go back to Iceland sometime soon.


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Easter Totes From Molly’s Sketchbook

Easter totes by Purl SoHo

Rick rack Easter totes by Purl SoHo

Would you believe me if I said that I am, in fact, the incredibly talented Molly from Molly’s Sketchbook over at Purl SoHo, and that I just whipped up these fun Easter tote bags the other day when I had some free time?



Images: Molly’s Sketchbook/Purl SoHo

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Embroidery Made Easy

Carina Envoldsen-Harris, whose colorful and creative embroidery I admire, has a new ebook, “Stitching Borders and Beyond.” The book is easy to read, easy to understand and absolutely beautiful to look out. I especially love her color combinations.

This is Carina’s second book. Her first book, “Small Stitches” is also available in her shop.

I asked my mom, who is the sewing expert in the family, to take a look at the book too and tell me what she thought. In a word, she raved about it.

She told me:

30 years ago I had a wonderful time learning and playing with embroidery stitches. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to improvise, to visualize where the thread is going to go and what kind of pattern you can make.

About 5 years ago I found an adorable book of embroidery stitches and thought it would be fun to give it a try again – surely I could pick up where I left off 25 years ago.

Alas, I couldn’t. I absolutely could not figure out where to put the needle in and where to bring it up. Even with a Needlework for Dummies, I struggled.

What she liked about Carina’s book, she said, is that the instructions are crystal clear:

“Pull the needle up at A and down at B”—why had nobody been so careful about saying just this? After studying her instructions for about 3 minutes, and then giving it a try, I was right back where I was 30 years ago.  And her array of stitches to learn is delightful!

My mom is a lefty, and when I told her that Carina also offers a left-handed version of her ebook, her response was, “Her instructions are so clear, I don’t even need left-handed instructions. Truly, they are the best set of instructions I’ve ever run across.”

Need I say more? Yes, actually. Carina has generously offered a free copy of “Stitching Borders and Beyond” to one of you. So if you’re feeling inspired by her beautiful patterns, or you’ve been meaning to learn how (or re-learn how!) to embroider, this is the book you want.

To be eligible to win, please leave a comment below letting Carina know which is your favorite pattern in her ArtFire or her Etsy shop by 5pm on Friday (July 2), and I will announce the winner next Tuesday.

Carina will be offering her book at a special introductory price until July 15, so if you don’t win, be sure to order your copy before the 15th for the best price!

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The Big Reveal

How fabulous is this skirt that Elena made all by herself? This is her best work yet. Somebody get Tim Gunn on the phone.

Amy Butler’s “Memento/Midnight” fabric from her Love line + minty colored bias tape + an orange zipper.

“Mom, want to know why I love this skirt? Watch this.”

Wishing you all a happy and carefree weekend.


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[Family Friday] Heirlooms

I’m going to share something with you today that’s special to me – something that people who like to sew will probably like.

It’s one of the few possessions I have that I would consider an heirloom, or…maybe I’d just call it a little treasure. I’ve been thinking about it because Mother’s Day is on Sunday.

My mom handstitched all of our names (I am the youngest of 5), birth dates and the cities where we were born, along with some embellishments, onto this blue chambray fabric which she intended as a quilt border. She never actually attached it to a quilt (she says the quilt she made disappeared and she never knew what happened to it), so the rolled up border sat in her sewing bucket forever. I remember always wanting to unroll it and look at it,  much the same way Elena and Rosa always want to take out their baby books and pore over the pages.

I also remember what a pain in the neck it was to roll it back up (and was reminded again when I took it out for these photos!).

Want to see it? You’re going to learn something about me today that I am pretty sure most of you don’t know. Keep reading:

Christopher Shaw Wheeler, born August 13, 1962 in New York, NY

How hilarious is it that she forgot the “h”? And added it in?

My brother Chris is the oldest.

My brother Landy (Landrum – it’s a family name) is the second oldest:

Landrum (“Landy”) Wheeler – no middle name – born October 21, 1966 in Milwaukee, WI

My sister Gillian (Gilly) is the middle child and oldest girl:

Gillian Graves (“Gilly”) Wheeler, born November 19, 1967 in New Rochelle, NY. Graves is also a family name.

I’m suspicious of the “genius” stitched next to her name. I kinda maybe think Gilly sewed that on there herself.

My sister Liza (formal name “Elise” after my maternal grandmother) is the fourth child:

Elise Scott (“Liza”) Wheeler, born March 1, 1969 in New Rochelle, NY

And now me. Here’s the part you didn’t know:

My real name is Mary (named after my mom). Lawrence was my paternal grandfather, who died about 3 hours before I was born. Everyone has always called me Molly, except the teacher on the first day of school and the cashier at department store who says, “Thank you for shopping here, Mary” as she hands me back my credit card.

I was destined to love rick rack.

Mary Lawrence (“Molly”) Wheeler, born August 9, 1972 in Shelbyville, IN.

I trust you have now noted my birthday on all of your calendars. Also, I think I should have a huge birthday bash this year because my birthday (August 9, 2010)  is 8/9/10. You are all invited.

Here are a few of the decorative touches around the rest of the border and some close-ups:

(the butterfly is not an applique)

Five kids in ten years from New York City to Milwaukee, back to New York, and then to Indiana. Whew!

Today,  by the way, happens to be my mom’s birthday, so happy birthday to her.

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there – much love to you all.

Mary Lawrence

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[Favorites] Family Portrait Coasters

I absolutely love these family portrait coasters by Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!

(via Craft Gossip)

Also love this apron she made for her niece.

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[Surprise Tuesday] Polka and Bloom Embroidery

I really like the colorful embroidery by Carina Envoldsen-Harris of Polka and Bloom.  If you do too, and you enjoy needlework, she sells these patterns in her Etsy and Artfire shops for a very reasonable price.


“Tree of Life”

“Filigree Posy”

“Rococo Sunset”

If you like these, be sure to check out her shops – she sells many more beautiful patterns, and (lucky you!) she also offers some patterns free for you to download. I especially like these two:

“Fruity Sections”

“Parterre du Feu”

In addition to her embroidery patterns, she also sells paintings, softies, and colorful gadget cases. I love how everything she creates is colorful and cheerful (not to mention intricate and beautiful!).

All images courtesy Carina Envoldsen-Harris (Thank you, Carina!).

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[Crafty Monday] Spool + Fun Sewing Projects

This weekend, Karin took me to a small but really beautiful fabric store in Philadelphia called Spool, where the staff was so helpful and enthusiastic, and the selection of carefully chosen fabrics was incredible.

Elena and I picked out these gorgeous fabrics  for her upcoming projects in her sewing class; the floral is for a full skirt and the orange (which is just the prettiest color and the fabric is so soft) is for a sleep shirt.

Spool offers classes in the back of its store, and it’s such an inviting place that I can’t wait to go back there with Karin and take a class learning how to make Amy Butler’s Barcelona skirt. I really only have basic sewing skills, so I think it’s time to take some classes. I have spent a lot of time (too much time) wishing that I could sew like a pro but not making the effort to learn. Visiting Spool inspired me.

In the meantime, I’ve started a small file of fun sewing projects that I’ve bookmarked, like turning your widowed socks into a new, colorful pair of gloves and scarf by Ruffles and Stuff:

And these baby kimono shirts and a pretty leaf table runner by Martha:

Denyse Schmidt offers this free pattern for this Scottie Dog (I like the idea of making my own version, to go with the one my mom made many years ago). And don’t you think this petite pack by Sew to Speak is really sweet? I would love to make a version of it for the girls.

There are so many great sewing resources out there. I like poking around the CRAFT blog for sewing ideas. Of course, One Pretty Thing is a good source too as well as The Long Thread. Also, I continue to marvel time and again at the sewing projects on the ikat bag blog. They are so fun and creative (the Owie Doll is one of my all time favorites).

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