How does one know when a quilt is beyond mending? For me it is when both sides are not repairable. I made this quilt before my younger son was born, before I graduated from college, nearly 18 years ago. At the time I was short on money so I chose a polyester blend for the back. This has worn so well that it has no holes at all.


The front, however, is not so well-preserved. I made several samples with indigo in college using Japanese style stitched resists. These were made with new muslin. After that, I made took two of my skirts over and dipped them in the indigo. I knew it would be a long time before I had access to a vat of indigo. These skirts were already worn, one I had since high school and the other was a cheap cotton chambray. In any case, these have worn away.

I have two strategies for mending this quilt, the addition of the fish. These worked pretty well until it became clear that soon I would no longer have fish, but a red border. Then I took some pieces from another indigo piece I had and sewed them on in the style of slow cloth. This has been an interesting study for the front of the quilt.


But I was looking at this quilt today from the back and it is even more interesting. The white on blue works well in the context of this Japanese-influence quilt referencing back to sashiko stitching.

It is definitely one of those times when serendipity happens.

Published in: on June 7, 2015 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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So those of you who know me and those of you have followed this blog over the last (gasp) seven years know that I am the mother of two young men- one is still technically a teenager so he is on the cusp of childhood/manhood, but the other, graduated from college two weeks ago.

This was a pivotal moment for our family.  Although we will always support him, this is a marker of true independence and adulthood. Twenty two years ago this June we moved into this house.  I was pregnant with him.  The new house, the new baby, our life was full of potential.  Now, I see all of this potential in him as he graduated, the broad open space of his life full of opportunities. Yes, it made me literally weep- many times in the past few weeks- from joy, the overwhelming blessing that he did it and a thousand other emotions.

The beginning for him, while I rejoice and can’t help feel considerable pride, is the end of an era for our little family. Our little house- bursting at the seams last summer, is now much quieter since he has his own place.  Now he comes as a visitor, a very special comfortable one, but still a special occurrence.  The odd random walk, the nearly daily check ins at dinner where we were blessed by the daily details of his life, and unexpected late night talks are now more scheduled and infrequent. I can’t help but miss him. I don’t know what I will do in a few years when his brother leaves.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want him to live here forever or be a child forever.  I loved the changing progression of childhood.  Usually, I am the impatient one to want to move along the path of life.  This one, however, took me off guard. Like all parenting, every step is full of mixed emotions- when the child learns to walk, it is one of the last days he will crawl.  The moment he learns to read, is the entry to the path to last day I will read him a bedtime story.  And when I ran behind him holding his bike- steadying him- it was the first last day until he rode away to Oregon on his own. When he went to school for first day of kindergarten, it is just a first step along the long path until he graduated.  It is true that I can be utterly completely proud and happy- the cup runeth over- but yet a little sad runs through.

So to I will try to bring my messy emotions into one blog of a reasonable length. I can describe what I feel in only one word: verklempt.   Verklempt means choked with emotions: I love how verklempt doesn’t judge those emotions, they are not good or bad, not what I what I supposed to feel or not. Verklempt specifies that they are emotions, not emotion singular.  I envision a river of my emotions- a torrent of joy, pride, and just a few underlying cold currents of sadness.  The dam that I usually can depend on to keep these emotions in check in order to create normal person façade certainly burst at graduation.

In any case, this weekend will be a weekend of contemplation- covered with a layer of everyday chores and of course, sewing. I promise next week to be more like the semi rational person I usually am, that if you only speak to for a few minutes can pull off a fairly average facsimile of a normal 46 year old woman. And next week, I will return to this blog with something new to share- very possibly even relating to sewing.

Published in: on May 30, 2015 at 8:58 am  Comments (4)  


I missed a week here- we have been terribly busy cleaning and painting our house. It is part of our two year graduation plan. We have had a graduation every two years for the past 4 years and the next one is in two years. My son, Eliott, will be graduating next Sunday from the University. I am so happy and proud of his achievement! It is a great year to be a mother.

I have packed up my sewing room to create an illusion that I normally have a semi-organized house when people come over next week. I have taken all the unsightly parts down in the basement and left all the beautiful parts. I decided to reevaluate the space after the party and possibly reorganize it.

Meanwhile I have been focusing on this project:


Yes, a very long row of buttons.

Published in: on May 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

two new garments finished

I finished this skirt a while ago. I do like it, but if I make another garment with this surface treatment, I will make sure the stripes go completely from top to bottom without a break. The over dying was successful in toning down the very bright colors without losing the striking back ground.


This second piece is a bolero, I haven’t really documented it before. The sleeves are pieced with dramatic iconic symbols. The top and the bolero are from Alabama Stitch books, and they really do work well together and become very flattering. I have a hard time integrating them into the rest of my wardrobe.


I have a dress under construction that will be coming up soon.

There are several things I love about these patterns.  One, they fit beautifully.  Second, they work well with recycled fabrics.  Third, they are soft and very comfortable to wear.  Fourth, when working on them, I really am in the process.  I am hand sewing all these garments.  It still takes a surprisingly short time to complete them.  These two above took longer because of the piecing, but the dress is coming together quite quickly.

Published in: on April 26, 2015 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Holy Holey

I have started to follow Sew Slowly.  She just posted about some holes she is putting in her top.  This is very intriguing to me.  I love the way that quilts wear, so I love the idea of holes in a quilt top.  She has pretty clear photos of what she is doing.  She is hand working her quilt.  I decided to use her technique but by machine.



Here is a nice four patch that did not line up the way I would like. I prepared a square quite a bit larger than my intended hole with my stitch line already marked.


Then, I stitched around the circle and cut out the center. I then heavily clipped the seam allowance.


Then turn to the back.


Here is the finished front:


Now to decide what should go in the hole.

Published in: on April 5, 2015 at 12:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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skirt nearly complete


I almost have finished a skirt. This project has come in under the radar. It is one of my after dinner trying to diet not eat projects. Back in September, I made a bolero jacket with striped pieced sleeves.

That was pattern is from Alabama Chanin, and it was Natalie Chanin’s influence that gave me the idea to work the sleeves with the pieced stripes. When Steve saw it, he suggested I make a skirt with this striped technique, making the stripes vertical. A long time ago I saw one of the designers on Project Runway do a technique where they had taken strips of silk chiffon and sewed them down, leaving the edges free, then sewed across the strips at right angles one way then the other to create a wavy sort of pattern. I used this technique on the skirt instead of the pieced stripes that I used on the bolero.

This is the same pattern as this plaid skirt I made several years ago, New Look 0119. I traced the pattern and made it without pleats because I was afraid of bulk. I thought I may have to put a zipper in because the horizontal lines might make the skirt not stretchy enough to get into without breaking the sewing. However, it did have enough ease since I left the pleats out. I added a green binding and inserted 3/8 inch elastic. It is very comfortable. All and all, I am happy about the structure of this skirt. I don’t know if I would do this surface treatment again because it took a long time- I have been working on this garment since September.

When I finished the entire skirt and tried it on, Steve felt there was too much contrast between the lighter colored strips and the darker ones. I wish I would have only used three colors, the dark green, mid tone and the gray-green turquoise. I considered removing the light ones and the red/brown ones but the seam ripping was just too much with both the vertical and horizontal seams. Instead I decided to over dye the whole garment. It is in the dye bath right now. I chose a color about the same color as the background fabric. I will let you know next week whether it is successful.

blue quilt

I am starting another new quilt- this one blue. I already have quite a bit cut. I am using my new 10.5 ruler as the guide. The finished blocks will all be this size. I cut squares that will add up to a finished size of 10.5. I am excited to see how this one comes together.


Published in: on March 22, 2015 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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shoebox full of possibility


Here is my newest quilt – a shoebox full of various sized red and pink squares. 

It leans a little too much toward primary red. I intend to put green frames around the blocks, but not Christmas, so I need to add some more pink. I have an idea of wonky pieced squares floating in green with a wonky bright pink square and then green again.

In any case, more to come…

Hawaiian quilt update

Daylight savings and a beautiful spring day really took me off guard so I am posting late today. Between the cold weather and taking over the living room to sew (thank you, patient husband), I have been making a lot of progress. There are two projects that are too new to show and then this one, that is half done, the other half that is left a frame and quilting.


Published in: on March 8, 2015 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Angel quilt finished

Yes- finished. DSC05144

Published in: on March 1, 2015 at 10:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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