I run, I craft, I write, and I make your favorite clothes.

I've never met anything I couldn't sew. Sewing makes me happy. I specialize in heirloom-quality garments and modern but timeless design. I love the challenge of creating garments specific to your needs, whether a tutu for a sensitive little ballerina, an extra tough pair of pants that is soft on the inside for that rough and tumble kid, your every day favorite clothes, or an elaborate formal gown. When it comes to sewing, I make things happen!

It’s Super-excellent SewFab time Next Week!

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Coming next week…



For one week only, twenty-six pattern designers will be joining together to combine their best PDF sewing patterns (valued together at over $200.00) and selling them to you for the incredible price of $29.95! That’s over 80% off of the combined retail value!

Grab the bundle when it goes on sale next week and you’ll be all set to sew for school and the coming holiday season! You’ll have to wait until next week to see which patterns are included in this fall’s bundle, but I can tell you right now that you won’t be disappointed!

See you bright and early on Monday morning!



I’m teaching a class at Pink Castle Fabrics in October and I’d love for you to join me! If you live in the Ann Arbor area, head on over to the Pink Castle web site now and reserve your spot!

About the Class:
If you’re a quilter who would like to expand into the world of garment sewing, this is the class for you. In this class, we’ll take the mystery out of garment sewing by making my pattern, the Lila Lounge Pant, which is a gentle step into apparel sewing.  I’ll guide you through the process of choosing the appropriate size, preparing a pattern, cutting the fabric, finishing seams, and hemming the dress to the length you want. (Think of all the beautiful scraps you’ll have left over for your next patchwork project!)

Here’s a picture of these awesome and comfy pants from the pattern:

Lila Lounge Pants Coverblog

If you’re not sure if this class is for you, check out what Karrie had to say in the comments for a post I wrote about teaching:

You are such an awesome teacher! I learned so much last Thursday and have been in a great mood ever since! I’m glad that I got to experience garment making for the first time with you. I’ve been in a funk lately haven’t felt like sewing. Only staring at my fabric, and now I’m excited to pick up my 5 WIPs that I have going…ok ,more than five!!! I am so glad that I met you, and I’ll always be grateful that you are my Sewing Teacher <3


Supplies You’ll Need:

In order to take this class, you’ll need to bring the following:

1. fabric, yardage shown by size below [contrast fabric yardage is in the brackets]:

XS-2 [+5/8]
S-  2 [+5/8]
M- 2 [+5/8]
L-   2 1/4 [+5/8]
XL- 2 1/4 [+3/4]

2. tracing paper: Pellon Pattern Ease or Swedish tracing paper

3. basic sewing and marking supplies

4. 1 yard of 1″ wide elastic

5. the pattern itself is required and will be available for purchase at the shop on the night of the class


Class Details:

The class takes place on Thursday, October 17, 2013 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm at Pink Castle Fabrics in Ann Arbor (find directions here). The cost of the class is $65. The only prerequisite for this course is that you are comfortable sewing a straight stitch on your sewing machine. It’s as easy as that!

Click below to book your spot:

book now

I hope to see you at the class!



Clover Sunshine Winner!

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Kirsten from Life and the New Normal is the winner!

Now you just have to pick, and send me an email with your answer – Turquoise or Chartreuse??


Kirsten September 21, 2013, 8:35 pm

I’m a feathers fan, in chartreuse or turquoise…always chartreuse or turquoise.


If you didn’t win this time, don’t despair!  Alison still has a huge giveaway going on over on her blog and you can still enter.

Or you can do like I do, and buy your Alison Glass fabrics from Pink Castle in Ann Arbor, MI or your local quilt shop.


When I saw Alison Glass carrying around her newest swatches at Spring Quilt Market in Portland, I was tempted to make off with her Circle Print from Clover Sunshine while she wasn’t looking. Since I know the lovely Alison personally, I simply asked for a little fabric to help her show the world her newest line. It’s so cheerful and beautiful, I knew I needed to make my little niece a Bonnie Dress (coming from me in Spring 2014).
Chelsea sparkles with enthusiasm, so a whimsical print with simple lines is perfect for her. I love the tiny details, and Alison’s line offers a multitude of options to mix it up.  (Her line Sun Print coordinates beautifully as well.)
I usually use a ribbon to cinch these princess sleeves, but the Kite Tail print is begging to be a bit of a star so I made my own “ribbon” trim with a tiny bias strip and bow on each little arm. I also made a wide bias hem for a peek of rainbow at the bottom of the skirt. The under collar is my favorite spot for a surprise. I used Corsage.
If you, too, would like the opportunity to get your hands on one of Alison’s prints for your upcoming projects, you can enter a giveaway right here on my blog.  Leave a comment telling me which print you would like to win.  Alison will send you 2 1/2 yards of  the print you choose.  If you follow me on Instagram, you can earn a second entry. Just post that in your comment as well.  The giveaway here closes on Monday, September 22, when I return from Disney World with my Ella and her cousins.
In addition,  Alison is very generously offering up a fat quarter of each and every one of her recent and upcoming fabrics! Hop on over to her blog for a chance to win (and make sure to follow her @alisonglass on Instagram to see all her pretty fabric previews!)
biggiveawayimagefinal-01 (1)
Group 1 – Feathers, Text, Party Streamer
8.21.13 - One Shabby Chick
8.26.13 - Threadbias
8.28.13 - KD Quilts
8.30.13 - April Rhodes
Group 2 – Feathers Quilt Pattern
Group 3 – Clover Sunshine
9.16.13 - Crafty Fox
9.18.13 - One Girl Circus
9.20.13 - Sew Sweetness
9.23.13 - There and Back
9.25.13 - J.M.B.
9.27.13 - Modern Maven
Group 4 – Corsage, Bike Path, X & +
9.30.13 - Gen X Quilters
10.7.13 - Jacey Craft
10.9.13 - Bijou Lovely 
10.11.13 - Fresh Lemons Quilts


LiningPinItToday’s tutorial was inspired by a question I get regularly: how can I stitch a partial lining to enclose all the seams?

In grown-up sized clothing it’s a little tricky to explain, but really easy to do once you know how.  In fact, Rae put together a little video series for her Washi Dress pattern last summer. (start at 3:00 for the sleeve portion).  While it’s possible to use this technique with the larger sizes of little girl clothing, the process becomes trickier as the sizes get smaller.

In order to accommodate the small-to-tiny size range, it’s really fast (and satisfying) to hand-stitch the lining to the sleeve and bodice seam allowances.  Enclosing the seam allowances not only makes the garment more comfortable by protecting sensitive skin from seam allowances, it increases the durability of the garment, because the seams are also protected to stay strong through hundreds of wash and dry cycles.  It’s how I keep my hard work from literally unraveling.

The dress used in the photos is the Sally Dress from Shannon Cook, which I made in yarn-dyed Essex Linen in Leather and the Rani print from Monaluna’s Raaga collection, which I L.O.V.E.

1.Stitch a 1/2″ seam allowance on the armhole edge of the lining, using a machine basting stitch in a contrasting color. (as you can see, I trimmed the main fabric sleeve seam allowance with  pinking shears)

2.Clip into the lining seam allowance right up to the basting stitch.

3.Fold the clipped seam allowances to the wrong side of the lining, using the stitching line as a guide.  Pin in place to enclose the sleeve seam allowances.


4. Thread a needle with a single length of thread and tie a knot.  Begin your stitching by hiding the knotted end underneath the underarm sleeve seam allowances.

5. Slipstitch right on the seam line, connecting the fold of the lining with the seam allowance of the sleeve/bodice seam (but do not stitch through the sleeve itself)

6. When you have sewn all around the armhole and you arrive back at the underarm seam, slide the needle underneath the seam allowance.

7. Then tie a knot, no, make it three knots.  One on top of the other, then trim the tail (to stay hidden and protected in the wash, and to stay off of that sweet kid’s skin!)


8. Snip the basting thread (see why I used a contrast basting thread?) and pull it out.

9. Voila! Press the seam and admire your work.  Repeat for the remaining arm opening.


I know a lot of sewists shun hand-stitching these days, but this tiny bit of stitching takes me less time to complete than it takes to walk downstairs and turn on my sewing machine.  There’s also something about hand-stitching that connects me to the things I make; physically and sentimentally.  Try this a couple times (the first time always seems more difficult – call it practice) and see if you don’t secretly enjoy it just a little.


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Back to School in DIY Style: The Goodship Dress post image

It’s time to get ready to go Back to School – can you believe it?!? (I guess many of you are already back to school, but it’s never to late to sew up another outfit. If you’re looking for just the right outfit for your little lady to rock on her first day in a new class, check out my Goodship Dress pattern. It’s sized from 2T to 13/14 and is a perfect piece for the still-warm weather of early Autumn, or for layering with a cardigan or long-sleeved tee when the weather cools off again.

Out in the Blogland, several mamas have given this pattern a whirl. Here are some of the amazing results they have achieved:

Jessica of Me Sew Crazy used a combination of grey wool (so classy) with Sarah Jane Out to Sea (narwhals!) to make this adorable version that’s perfect for Fall:

Image by Jessica at Me Sew Crazy

Jessica added that this dress is so worth the price, you will use it over and over again! Jessica’s little girl is obviously a big fan of the pockets, too!

Vaida of World of My Dreams loved the pattern so much, she made it twice! I love her use of  the button band instead of the bow – her girls look lovely in their blue and yellow Goodship Dresses (which apparently they love wearing with rollerskates!):


Images courtesy of Vaida from World of My Dreams

Millie from Needles and Haystacks was one of the testers for this pattern. She very sweetly commented, Karen has an amazing knack for designing a garment, that just sort of appears before your eyes, like magic, as you sew up the last seam! Millie was a great tester – just look at the classic and cute purple gingham Goodship dress she made:

Image from Millie at Needles and Haystacks

This pattern truly works for girls of all ages – just look at these dresses below. On the left, Kristy from Hopeful Threads made an adorable pink version for her young daughter, while on the right you’ll see how great the Goodship Dress looks on Kelly Hogaboom‘s older daughter.


Images from Hopeful Threads and Kelly Hogaboom

RaeAnna of Sewing Mama really played up the sailor-dress features of the Goodship with this adorable version using “Out to Sea” fabric from Sarah Jane:

Image from SewingMamaReaAnna.blogspot.com

And of course, we can’t forget the adorable “foxy” dresses that Karen made herself using fabric from Made by Rae:

Karen LePage’s foxy Goodship trio


For those of you who like to put your own personal spin on the items you sew, I’ve also found a couple of modified versions that are sure to please. Michelle from Handmade Martini modified the pattern to fit a girl who is smaller than a 2T and gave the details about it on her blog. Here is the adorable result of that experiment:

Image courtesy of Handmade Martini

Finally, we have a gorgeous version – complete with a tutorial for adding sleeves! – from Once Upon a Sewing Machine. Just look how this dress easily transitions to the cooler months with a simple addition like that!

Image courtesy of Once Upon a Sewing Machine

If you’re ready to add a new wardrobe staple to your child’s closet, grab yourself a copy of the Goodship Dress and jump right in! For help along the way, visit these tutorials for sewing a blind hem, turning a crisp corner, and adding a sweet cap sleeve to any dress.  Happy stitching!



Exploring inside: I was always a teacher

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Isn’t it so easy to dismiss potential joys and fulfillment by caving to fear?  It’s scary to look inside.  It’s terrifying to imagine that I might not be who I though I was (or having never really thought about who I am in the first place).  I have self-identified as so many personas; I believed these surface level labels I chose for myself to be all there is to me.


All of these and more make up the “me” I see in the mirror, but I have ignored most of all that I am a teacher.  Until fairly recently (for close to 30 years now – since I started wondering who I am in the first place),  not only did I ignore that I am a teacher, but I actively rallied against it internally; all the while helping, guiding, and supporting friends and strangers… you know – teaching!

In high school I was an exchange student.  I went to West Germany for a year (back in the olden days, before the wall came down) having only studied German for a year (why Germany and not somewhere else is another story altogether!) and when I returned , I was a fluent German Speaker.  In fact, my very first J.O.B. other than restaurant work was teaching German to executives from the auto industry whose families were being relocated for work.  I was 18 years old, teaching professional, degreed engineers and managers of divisions and their families to prepare for a new life that I, barely an adult myself, had lived and succeeded in doing already.  When I think back on that, I am pretty impressed with myself.  At the time I was riding high on accomplishment, and knew I had something to offer the world.  Even then, though, that little sh*tty voice in my head would tell me “You don’t know enough of anything to teach other people” or “Why would they listen to you? You’re just a kid.”  I went away to College (made a poor choice at that) and promptly ran out of courses that interested me.  There was ONE German course I hadn’t tested out of placement, and after that, I would basically have had a 4-year Independent Study if I wanted to continue at that school.  I changed to a French Major, studying economics as well.  I was there on a music scholarship (did you even know I’m a singer?) and so continued those lessons.  When I ran out of French courses to take, I switched to Japanese. Aced it. Boring. 

Eventually, somewhere deep inside, I realized I could teach many of the courses I was taking, considering all the tutoring I did to help pay my tuition. When working two jobs ever school break and full-time during the school year still couldn’t cover my expenses – even with student loans and financial aid, I figured it wasn’t worth my effort to finish College and quit school.  I moved to California to become a singer in a rock band.  (Again, an entire story in itself.)  But, because I had quit school, I was now a “quitter” a loser, a slacker….pick your epithet….and those beliefs took over.  When I ended up living in my car, and couldn’t survive L.A. emotionally, I came crawling back home under the condition that I was to finish school.  After a few false starts at community college, I ended up at a local University – Wayne State in Detroit – and found my academic dream job after just a couple German classes. I was asked to become a research assistant for a Distinguished Professor of German in the German and Slavic Languages Department.  Making 5 dollars an hour, I prepared course packs (again – literal cutting and pasting paper to other paper to photocopy) according to syllabi for the Professor’s classes, wrote footnotes for his research papers, led discussion in my language and literature courses, even sat in on Graduate Courses, and as a side job, helped his History Teacher wife grade her high school class papers. I loved every last bit of it.

Naturally, I was encouraged by my colleagues to consider becoming a professor myself.  I was thrilled with the research, the academic life, the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, and the application of that new knowledge to traditional topics and cross disciplinary studies.

Why didn’t I pursue that course?  Why did I leave school – again – to take on an administrative and marketing job for an architectural firm?  Tears well up in my eyes every time I think about this, and right now is no exception: FEAR.  I was terrified stiff of standing in front of a class.  It didn’t matter that I had expertise in any of a number of topics.  It didn’t matter that I cared deeply for my chosen course of study, or that I was passionate about sharing it with other people who exhibited even a mild interest; I was petrified of being The Teacher. 


I scared myself out of a fulfilling life, because no one ever told me (or perhaps I refused to notice?) that being a teacher isn’t all encompassed in knowing everything, preparing long lectures, or being “tough.” Being a teacher means lighting a spark of interest on fire in someone else.  It is part leading by example and part erasing fear from the learning process.  Being a teacher means it’s okay to not have all the answers, but to lead students in discovering answers for themselves. 

Becoming the Art Teacher for my daughter’s “school” while we functioned as a homeschool co-op (during the time we worked at becoming a charter school) taught me even more about what it means to be a teacher.  Especially with something as personal as art, students need the teacher to help them feel good about what they create. 

I learned that I have a gift in all of my failures and fear. I can comfortably fall right down (literally or figuratively) in front of my students, whether they are younger or older than I am, and show them that it’s okay to not be perfect; that life itself is a journey of discovery and there are many paths to explore. I teach them that it’s better to not be “perfect” because where’s the fun in that?  In my art classes, I always bring extra supplies so starting over isn’t painful. In my sewing classes, I offer “unsewing service.” (Hand me your seam ripper and let’s keep going) I do this because I know that moving forward is more fun than going backward.  There’s no “punishment” for making mistakes, only understanding to be gained.

All my life, I have been a teacher without knowing it.  It took years of exploration to figure that out.


What have you learned about yourself?  There’s so much to discover with a little introspection!  Join the Exploration Party this week, read about all the amazing explorers and share the joy!


tumble tour!

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Rachel Gander has a new tee pattern available that is just perfect for beginners, and begging for personalization. I was invited to participate in her tumble tour to help launch her sweet pattern. I can definitely see us making a lot of these around here. With just two pieces (three or four if you choose the colorblocking options) Ella will be making her very own as her first “sewing with knits” project. I made this last Friday and she has already worn it 4 times (yes, that’s every. single. day.)

My sweetheart was oh so happy to have a new knit dress, and more thrilled when she saw what I had planned…Briar Rose Strawberries (I got them from Pink Castle Fabrics)

I modified the pattern by cutting the front piece on the fold instead of in two pieces, and then I added collar and sleeve bands for a little contrast. Details can be found in my little graphic:


Ella wasn’t feeling very model-y, but she did want to go for a little hike, so sport setting, engaged, I captured her in spurts of action)


Please be sure to check out my fellow tumble tour reviewers!

8.5 Sew Sweetness & The Crafty Kitty

8.6 One Girl Circus & luvinthemommyhood

8.7 Sew Delicious & Living with Punks

8.8 girl like the sea & Suburbia Soup

8.9 Buzzmills & Miss Matatabi

8.12 Alida Makes & Max California

8.13 Crafterhours & Kitschy Coo

8.14 La Inglesita & sew chibi

8.15 EmmylouBeeDoo & LBG Studio

8.16 Petit a Petit and Family & girl. Inspired


I’m a Lady Skater.

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lady skater pattern tour button

Well, actually I’m not. Skateboarding is the one sport-on-wheels I’ve never really been able to figure out, but when I saw Amanda’s Grown-up version of The Skater Dress, I knew I had to have it.  Every tester photo I saw was super-flattering, so I held high hopes for my first foray into sewing someone else’s knit pattern for myself. I was not disappointed; in fact, this is my new Favorite Dress.


I was so optimistic, that I chose a super-bold and crazy fabric I have been saving for the *perfect* project for nearly seven years:


Aside: You may have noticed that I haven’t been sewing for myself lately.  It’s been a result of too-busy-mama and massive avoidance. I have mysteriously gained 50 lbs since December, and I haven’t wanted to shop or even measure myself for anything new.  In light of that, it was a bit of a risk for me to offer to post pictures of myself in a whole garment, and not just a close-up of my latest hair color. I didn’t want this post to slide the slippery slope of body image, but since the Lady Skater is something I feel great wearing – how about an endorsement for positive body image and a little boldness?

On with the review!

Amanda includes a full-on pictorial tutorial in the pattern and thorough measuring instructions.  I always read an entire pattern first, and I wanted to give you a balanced review so I read in detail instead of skimming (for once).  WOW.   The Lady Skater is a veritable primer on sewing with knits, or sewing for yourself, or both.  The instructions are thorough, full of details and fully illustrated in step-by-step annotated photos, which makes it an excellent beginner pattern.  That doesn’t mean it’s just for beginners, though. The Lady Skater has some nice construction details and a beautiful fit.  Also, it came together like a dream.

Based on my high bust measurement, I decided to cut a straight #5 with 3/4 sleeves.  The pattern is easy to put together and easy to follow along your size if you print in color (I did).  I even took a chance and used the sleeve cuff and neckband pattern pieces.  Usually I cut those after – just to make sure – but it felt good to follow the pattern and have everything work out without any tweaks.  I did make a single change, and that was to lengthen the skirt by 4 inches, in order to still reach my knees after skimming around my ample (let’s go with that benign term, ‘mkay?) hips. Again, I simply followed the instructions included in the pattern. Do I know how to do this already?  Yes!  But what kind of review would I post if I simply used my own tricks and didn’t actually follow the pattern instructions?

One more little detail I added was a scalloped edge on the hem and neck and cuffs.  (You can find out how by visiting RaeAnna’s tutorial and scrolling down for the specific settings to achieve this effect.)


I can’t recommend the Lady Skater highly enough. Not only does it come together perfectly, and I mean Perfectly, but Amanda also has some awesome Bonus Content  on her blog.

I’m going to make another one today, because as much as I love this print, I think folks might notice if I were to wear it multiple days in a row, don’t you think?




We're all in here


The Goodship Dress a sleeveless pattern, but it’s so easy to include a cap sleeve I thought I’d share the technique with you.  We’ll draft a pattern for the little sleeve from measurements of your partially finished garment. Once you’ve followed along once, it will be really simple for you to add your own sweet cap sleeve on this and any sleeveless pattern you have in your library. My version of a cap sleeve finishes the arm opening, so you’ll end up with a super-comfy, washing-machine-friendly garment that will last.


Here’s a photo of a mod cap-sleeved version of the Goodship:


I made a similar version for the Monaluna booth at Fall Quilt Market to show off Jennifer’s beautiful line Modern Home.  We’ll use that one as our example, since I took photos along the way to share my technique with you, but remember that you can use this method on any sleeveless blouse or dress pattern.

sleeveless_sleeve (39)

1.  Sew your garment up until the step where you finish off the arm opening.

2. Decide where you would like your sleeve to start and end on the armhole.  Mark with pins.sleeveless_sleeve (3)

3.  Measure the distance from pin to pin, over the shoulder, and write down the measurement to use for your pattern piece.

sleeveless_sleeve (6)

4. Draft your pattern piece onto a piece of paper.  (I keep misprinted sheets from my home printer on hand for precisely this purpose!)

- Measure along a straight edge of the paper and mark the length you measured in step 3.

- Fold the paper in half along that edge, and add 1/2” seam allowance to your original measurement.

sleeveless_sleeve (11)

- Determine the amount you’d like your sleeve to extend from the finished shoulder. I like 1 1/2”  Measure down this amount, then, add 1/4” seam allowance along the folded edge of your pattern paper as follows:

sleeveless_sleeve (13)

- use a French Curve ruler (or the edge of a plate, or freehand it) to connect the sleeve depth mark  including 1/4” seam allowance to the mark you made in step X:

sleeveless_sleeve (14)

Here’s what the pattern piece will look like, once you unfold it and mark your “Place on Fold” line along the straight edge:

sleeveless_sleeve (17)

- Cut two of these on a fold to get two sleeves:

sleeveless_sleeve (18)

- Baste the raw edges of each sleeve to the raw edge of each armhole, matching the  center of the sleeve to the shoulder seam on each side.

- Measure the entire armhole, then add 1/2”.  Cut two 2” wide bias strips the length you determined for each armhole.  Sew each strips into a circle, using a 1/4” seam allowance.  Press that seam open, then press the entire strip in half, hiding the seam allowances.

- Pin the folded bias circles to the basted armhole and sleeve raw edges, matching the seam in the circle to the underarm seam of each dress armhole.  note: In some areas you will be pinning through 5 layers (2 layers of bias, 2 layers of sleeve and 1 layer of dress) and in some areas, you will be pinning through 3 layers (just the 2 layers of the folded bias and the dress).

sleeveless_sleeve (21)

- Sew it together, using 1/4” seam allowance.

- Clip up to, but not through, the seam you just made.

sleeveless_sleeve (28)sleeveless_sleeve (30)

- Once you’ve clipped all the curvy bits, press the bias away from the rest of the sleeve, using a pressing ham if you have one.  (I call mine a Tofurkey…no hams in this house.)

- Understitch the bias facing to the seam allowances, so they will fold neatly inside. Press the bias all the way around to the inside of the dress.

sleeveless_sleeve (32)

- Press the sleeve away from the dress (it’s so cute, already!)

sleeveless_sleeve (34)

- Edgestitch (right next to the folded edge) in place to enclose all those seam allowances.

sleeveless_sleeve (35)

- Here’s what it looks like before you trim away those threads!  (If you want the double-topstitched look pictured below, you can topstitch right next to the arm opening.  sleeveless_sleeve (36)

- All done!

sleeveless_sleeve (39)

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