Teaching lessons

I would love to teach sewing and design classes. One summer I decided to start by seeing if I could offer a sewing class to a well-known youth organization. The person I set this up with was very enthusiastic but the actual person I had to work with was…well, she tolerated me. I had a whole curriculum planned that I ran by the administrator, bought second hand sewing machines and had them refurbished and enthusiastically arrived for my first class.

Let me just sum up this whole story up by saying it was a dismal failure on so many levels. Part of the problem was that the first day I was put in a room with absolutely NO furniture. My curriculum was totally wrong for the venue – I thought the kids would actually sign up for the class – you know, like you do at the parks and rec center – so I made it that each class built on the next. WRONG! Kids were allowed to come and go as they please. I think both I and the organization can take blame. I should have asked more specific questions about how things worked and the organization should have been upfront with me that my plan wouldn’t work based on how they operated. I was too naive and committed to my curriculum and they were trying not to hurt my feelings because I was a volunteer. Towards the end of the summer I finally got a clue and just let the kids sew whatever they wanted and practice on the machines.

I say it was a failure but truthfully, it was a huge learning experience –

  1. Ask questions and then ask more questions.
  2. Let go of expectations
  3. Remain flexible and open
  4. Have fun
  5. You’re not just a teacher, you’re also a student, facilitator, mentor and cheerleader

I’m sure there is so much more to learn but I think I learned a lot for my next class.



Eight Gore Skirt

eight gore skirt with scarf overlayAs I said in a previous post, I have challenged myself to make a new outfit each week to go dancing in. This week I drafted and made an eight gore skirt with an overlay made from scarves I found at the thrift store. The scarves were actually a pain to work with as I had to do French seams (and with eight gores that’s a lot of French seams!) and some of the scarves were rather shifty – literally. They shifted around and in the end my hem is a little wonky in spots because of their shiftiness. I thought I might want to work more with scarves but this project taught me to be more particular about what kind of scarves I get.

Dancing Design Challenge

silly dancing

As I’ve mentioned before, I have been learning how to dance. Nothing fancy – yet. I have always loved dancing and decided that I wasn’t going to embarrass myself on the dance floor anymore (OK, as a beginner you have to accept that there is going to be a certain amount of awkwardness…the beauty is that there are many patient partners out there who are willing to, shall we say – overlook my two left feet. Attitude is everything!)

My enthusiasm for dancing goes way back and I tried several times to take lessons but cat dancesince I’ve moved to Austin I’ve found a couple of great places to go that are free and my Wednesday and Friday night adventures have inspired me to make some dance clothes. So I decided that I’m going to make something new every week because:

  1. It will challenge my design skills
  2. I like wearing pretty, feminine and flirty things
  3. I might as well look good while I’m tripping over my partner’s feet…

The possibilities are endless and you can check out my Pinterest board to see some of my inspiration. I already have this and next week’s garments designed so stay tuned…

Patriotic Stuff on the internet

In honor of 4th of July, I present patriotic food and stuff:

1.Red, White and Booze Ice Pops – They had me at booze…

2. For the young ones – 4th of July Star Cupcakes.

3. And while we’re on the subject of booze…Strawberry Punch (I like sweet drinks)

4. Ring made from a quarter at Lucky Liberty’s etsy shop

Ring made from a quarter from Lucky Liberty (via etsy)

5. When it comes to patriotic clothing, I had to look through a lot of ugly shit like this:

This just scratches the surface of the tackiness that is out there…

but if you’re going the route of being literal for the holiday, I like this one:

Lady Liberty deserves some bling!

Seriously everyone – have a safe and happy 4th of July. And don’t forget that freedom isn’t free and be sure to thank the men and women that have served our country.

Creativity Break – 5 links to help overcome blocks


We are all creative – we get to chose the medium in which to express our creativity.

I’m always looking for new ideas and here are some of the places I go to help rev up my creative juices:

1. How to grow your creativity – quit worry about mistakes or looking foolish – go play and have some fun.

2. 75 Creativity Quotes – because chances are there is someone who said something that will resonate with you.

3. The six cornerstones of creativity – we are all creative.

4. The Medium Chill – not so much about creativity as it is about getting out of the rat race but I feel decisions like this make creativity all the more important (and enjoyable).

5. And of course, there’s always that big time suck – Pinterest!

Pattern Play – Designing Outfits

Skirt and top

One of the promises I made to myself when I became an empty nester was that I was going to actually DO some of the things that I really wanted to do. Dancing is one of them. I’m not very good and I’ve stepped on a lot of toes and have given myself numerous blisters by wearing the wrong shoes (but damn, I did look good in those shoes…) but you have to start somewhere. I suck but when you’re at rock bottom you have nowhere to go but up!

Dancing in the summer in Texas means skirts or dresses. You need to be able to move comfortably but you want to stay cool. This got me thinking about dancing clothes so I dug into my pile of fabric and found some that I have loved forever but never knew what to do with it. In the same bin as this fabric happened to be some yarn which was the exact color of one of the accent colors in my fabric.

An idea was born – I was going to make a skirt and top.

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Pocket in a Pocket Sewing Tutorial

I’m a big fan of pockets in my tote bags. There’s always that small something, whether it be your phone, keys, or knitting paraphernalia that you don’t want to have to dig through your bag EVERY single time to find.

I’ve already shown you how to do a zippered pocket, I’d like to show you a pocket in a pocket.

The finished pocket in a pocket attached to the outside of a tote bag

The finished pocket in a pocket attached to the outside of a tote bag

The finished pocket is a patch pocket that has a zippered pocket. Pretty cool, huh? And it’s very easy to do.

I use a 7″ zipper and a 1/2″ seam allowance. Cut your pocket width 8″ wide by however long you want it. For the pocket shown, the finished pocket measures 7.5″ x 6.75″ so I cut my fabric about 16″ x 8″.

pocket tutorial

Fold down the shorter ends 1/2 inch and iron.


Using your zipper foot, align the folded down edge of the  pocket so that there is 1/2″ of zipper hanging out at each end (usually you can just put the edge of your fabric to the edge of zipper by the zipper stop) and sew. You’ll need to stop at some point, needle down and move the zipper out of your way. Press.


Now do the same thing for the other folded down edge. It’s going to be tricky – you want to create a tube so make sure you get the fabric out of your way while sewing so you are only sewing the edge to the zipper tape.


Turn your fabric inside out (right sides together) and sew down one side. Repeat on other side but open your zipper a little so it doesn’t interfere with sewing and also to make turning your pocket easier. Serge the edges for a clean finish or finish off seams your preferred method if you don’t have a serger.

finished pocket in a pocket

Turn your pocket right side out and press. Now it is ready to be topstitched leaving the top open. Now you’ll have an open patch pocket with a zipper pocket.

Have fun!

Sewing Patterns, the art of John Westmark and Feminism

My friend Patty recently took a trip to Charleston and brought me back a souvenir.

Acrylic and paper sewing patterns on canvas by John Westmark

Acrylic and paper sewing patterns on canvas by John Westmark

This postcard is a reproduction of a painting by John Westmark. The women’s clothing is made from paper sewing patterns. According to his website, this painting is from his “Double Bind” series which questions how a woman navigates gender bias and the Feminist movement seeking recognition and equality.

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