Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feather Fairy!

Here is a close-up of the feather fairy design. There is a circle of tulle for the dress, feathers (of course,) a 16mm wooden bead for the head and silver tinsel for the hair. The arms are wire and she holds a wreath fashioned from green tinsel.

Please give it a try - it's easy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ornament Wreath Do-Over

2010 Vintage Ornament Wreath

Last year I attempted my first vintage ornament wreath and while it was very pretty, I knew that it could be better. First of all, the ornaments were merely stung onto a wire hanger base and therefore a lot of them were facing the wall! Also, because the wreath wasn't flat on the back, it didn't quite hang right.

2009 Vintage Ornament Wreath

So a couple of weeks ago, I carefully disassembled the wreath and started fresh.

I saw some ornament wreaths at Pier 1 and I noted that there was a tinsel garland peeking out from between the ornaments:

Pier 1 Wreath

After collecting MANY more ornaments this year, I started over with a straw wreath form. I wrapped it with green tinsel garland. Also, I took the top off of each ornament and filled the necks with construction adhesive. I made sure that each metal top and wire loop was securely affixed to the inside of the ornament. It takes about 24 hours for the adhesive to dry. Then I used greening pins to attach each ornament to the wreath form. It took forever. There are over a hundred ornaments!

I love the way it turned out. Until next Christmas...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Where's Laura K?

Our Christmas Program was called "Winter Wonder" this year and it was a lot of fun. Can you find Yours Truly in the cast photo? (Click twice on image to enlarge.) Click here for last year's cast.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fairy Feather Fest 2010

It's a Fairy Feather Fest. You're invited, be my guest.
We will get our fairies dressed, in their feathered best.

These adorable girls came over on Saturday for the SECOND ANNUAL FAIRY FEATHER FEST (Now with theme song...)

Here's Lindsey,


and Ryan (with her Pittsburgh Steeler-themed Feather Fairy - GO STEELERS!)

Festive Fun was had by all! Click here for FFF2009!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

I first made these matchbox mice about 25 years ago. Maybe longer. Every year, as we decorate the tree, the kids love to locate the mice.

I was pretty sure that I had saved a package of the boxes and sure enough I located them as I was cleaning out some supplies.

These are at least 25 years old, I have no idea where to find them any more, but there are lots of matchboxes out there that would be equally as cute.

Here is a little photo tutorial. There's not much to it!

Just a little bit of felt, a scrap of fabric, a little embroidery, glue and blush the cheeks. There is a ribbon hanger. That's about it!

Sinple, cute and classic. I mean, who doesn't love a mouse in a matchbox?

I also did a variation with a pair of mice in a Crayola box. The idea was from an old Hallmark Christmas card. That was really cute too!

Anyone else remember these?

Happy December and Happy Crafting to all!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Will, Matt, Mandy Harper, James, Kaitlin, and Dan.

We loaded up the minivan on Wednesday and drove 12 hours to San Francisco to visit Matt for Thanksgiving. This photo was taken in our hotel, The Sir Francis Drake. On Wednesday night we took a cable car to Fisherman's Wharf, had chowder in sourdough bowls, bought some salt water taffy and some goofy hats.

On Thursday morning we did the Turkey Trot Trail run at Golden Gate Park for charity. We had a delicious Thanksgiving meal at Campton Place. Then we took afternoon naps and went to the movies. It's always a challenge to select a movie that everyone wants to see, but we agreed on Red - and it was great!

On Black Friday we had pancakes at Sears Fine Food and then headed to Muir Woods and enjoyed the cool redwoods. Ahhhh.... Then we went to Berkeley, had lunch and shopped a little. I went to Castle in the Air. We did a little tour of Cal Berkeley - which is GORGEOUS - and stopped at a bike store. Most of the Kluvos just LOVE bike stores.... I waited in the car.

We returned to San Francisco had an early dinner at the hotel and headed out to the tree-lighting at Union Square. Couldn't resist stopping in Borders. Later Mandy Harper stopped by our hotel with two huge boxes of her famous vegan treats. We left at 5:00 on Saturday morning. Arrived safe and sound on Saturday evening. Everyone alive and mostly undamaged. We did have a couple of close calls though, especially during the car ride home... Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

My neighbor, Sarah G models one of my "spooky" ruffled skirts. Thank you Sarah!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Will at The Grand Canyon

Ken and Will made a road trip over fall break. They drove to Flagstaff for pizza, then to The Grand Canyon for the night and hiking the next morning. Then they drove to Las Vegas to see Cirque du Soleil and of course the famous "Pawn Stars" pawn shop the next day. Finally over the Hoover Dam and back home.

Best Dad Ever!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sew Much Fun!

Several months ago I was invited to judge the "Love to Sew Runway Challenge" at my local Bernina store, Sew From the Heart.

Now you know that I HEART my Berninas (I own FIVE - two are sergers - and still have the first one I purchased in 1983!) and I am always ready to encourage anyone to sew. I was flattered to be asked.

The contest was on September 24 - 26. On Friday night, the four contestants each selected a mystery bag. Inside was an assortment of fabrics. They checked out the fabrics, the yardage, etc. and went home in the evening (without the fabric) to design their garments and draft their patterns.

The next morning they arrived at the store to begin sewing. They sewed all day and the staff provided everything they needed. They had tables, machines, sergers, dress forms, pressing tools, and even their own "Tim Gunn" (actually the very talented Carrie Morgan) to guide and encourage them.

I couldn't resist stopping by on Saturday afternoon to meet the contestants and to check on their progress.

Lovely Amanda McMurdy received a pale green wool plaid fabric. She is making a coat - note the minkee lining!

Tara Brooksby is making a gray plaid dress with a solid gray center front panel. She also has a coordinating silky orange fabric, but at this point I am not sure how she plans to use it.

Terry Young is making a lined bustier top with a sweetheart neckline. She also has some giraffe-print minkee...

Armita Rolf Von Den Baumen has a fabulous solid red wool. This is a great color and I am sure that her design will have real impact. At this point, I think that she has an advantage. The luck of the draw has given her, in my opinion, the "best" selection of fabrics.

It's hard to tell how things will go - the designers will work into the evening and also have the option to return to work on Sunday until 2:00.

On Sunday I returned to Sew From The Heart to conference with the other judges and to determine our judging and scoring criteria. We decided to award points based on Creativity, Execution, Fit, Overall Appeal and Technique. There were ten possible points in each category.

Each designer presented her garment to the judges. First, Amanda,

then Tara,

then Terry,

and Armita. Each described her inspiration and intention for her design.
Aren't they all wonderful?

Then everyone left the workroom as we examined and scored the garments. When we sat down to compare notes we discovered that although our points were different, we all agreed on the winner and also in the order of finish.

(The order was not important because we were only choosing a winner, but still it was kind of amazing that we each determined the same ranking.)

By now a small crowd had gathered in the store and every chair was filled. The audience was enjoying some lovely snacks provided by the Sew From The Heart.

The dressmaker forms were pulled out of the workroom and into the shop so that everyone could admire the designs. They are all fabulous! Don't you agree?

After a brief presentation we awarded first place to Tara Brooksby. Honestly, her skills are AMAZING. Everything from her piping, to her rolled collar, to her precisely matched plaid was perfectly executed. Then to top it off, she created a messenger bag to complete the ensemble.

Congratulations Tara!

The prizes were WONDERFUL. Each contestant received a huge box of thread, another huge assortment of fat quarters, a Bernina tote bag full of notions and accessories. The winner received a gorgeous red dressmaker's form. Click here to see more photos. The staff at Sew From the Heart is extremely professional, warm and welcoming. I'd especially like to thank Linda Lieberman for coordinating the event.

I was kind of nervous about being a judge. Frankly, I don't have nearly the sewing education or design skills to do what any of these contestants did. I didn't feel like I was very "qualified," but I do love the store and there's no way I would turn down the opportunity.

I found that I really enjoyed it. The other two judges, Nancy and Barbara were a blast, and sort of filled in where I was lacking. They were more hesitant to stand up and present our decision, whereas, you can imagine - I was perfectly willing to do so!

Thank you Sew From The Heart and to all of the talented designers and new friends. This was SEW MUCH FUN!!!!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Attention Phoenix-Area Fashion Designers:

"Sew From The Heart" is sponsoring a fashion design competition September 24 - 26 called "Love to Sew Runway Challenge."

There are a few spots left for designers. The prizes are great, but I think it is more about the fun and the experience. What a great way to prepare you for Project Runway! Click here for more information.

See you on the runway!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Vintage Inspiration - Crazy-Quilt Blocks

It's hard for me to resist picking up examples of vintage handwork in the antique stores. I wonder, "What was she going to make with this?" and "Why didn't she finish?" These two rather large crazy-quilt squares (Can you see that there are two squares? They are overlapping in the photo.) were asking to be made up into this bag.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marigold Madness

These are for a precious daughter and her newly-decorated room. Hope she likes them!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Aqua Assemblage

I confess that I have enough "vintage aqua" stuff to create about a dozen of these! SO MUCH FUN.

However, it sure is difficult to get a good photo of an item framed behind glass. There is always a reflection. These shadowbox frames have the glass permanently installed. Any tips?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Art Unraveled 2010

Here are a couple of the projects that I made at "Art Unraveled."

The first is a shadowbox assemblage which was taught by Annie Lockhart.

The second is a silver wire pin. I know that my jewelry-designing friends will be proud of me for completing this!

The best thing about the event was seeing my precious friend, Darlene, who lives in Florida. We have been friends for a l-o-n-g time.

We also took classes from Traci Bautista, but they were more "process" than "product" and I didn't finish anything. However, I did learn a few things about markers...

The retreat was fun because I tried some new things. I have a new appreciation for collage art and jewelry-making.

And it was great to catch up with Darlene!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stanton's Birthday Dinner at Woodfire Grill

William and I traveled to Atlanta to visit my sister's family and to celebrate Stanton's 5th birthday.

We are all big fans of Top Chef and I had the opportunity to interview season 6 chef (and fan favorite) Kevin Gillespie for All Top Chef.

I mentioned that I would be visiting my sister over the summer and that we would definitely visit Woodfire Grill while we were there - and so we did!

It was a genuine treat to meet Kevin and we had a delicious meal.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to Make a Necktie Skirt

Check out a new article about sewing with neckties here. Yours Truly is one of the featured designers!

Here is a basic tutorial for my version of the necktie skirt:

For about a 30-inch waist you will need 14 ties. (This example features wide ties from the 70's so I only needed twelve.) Measuring down the side of the tie (and NOT to the center tip) cut a 16-inch length from the wide end of each tie.

You may think that you would like your skirt shorter or longer, but please bear with me and try this length first. A shorter skirt requires fewer ties and a longer skirt requires more. A longer skirt also has a tendency to skew. This can be very frustrating on your first project. Trust me.

Arrange your ties however you would like, laying them flat so that you can see the colors.

Each tie will have a single thread that is used to stitch up the back center. Locate this thread and draw it up a little. If the thread breaks, you will have to hand-baste this seam or select another tie. This is a very important step so please do not skip it or you will be sorry....

Stitch all of your ties together straight across the top raw edges about 1/4-inch from the raw edge of each cut tie. Secure each basting thread as you go.

Cut the two end ties off and set them aside for now. We'll be inserting a zipper between them a little later.

Stitch your ties together side by side using a triple zigzag stitch. (This is the #7 stitch on my Bernina Artista 165. I love it and I use it for all of my necktie projects.) Begin stitching at the bottom with a nice wide bartack. Match the edges side by side (no overlapping, no right sides together, just feed them side by side through the machine and the zigzag stitch will join them without any bulk.) Add another bartack at the top of the seam. (Click to enlarge any of the photos to see more detail. Sorry about the blurriness.)

Please understand that I have made hundreds of these skirts. Some of the steps are just automatic to me and I apologize if I am not clear. Here is a little tip: Remember that ties are cut on the bias so at this point you are sewing bias to bias. Avoid pulling. Let your machine do the work for you.

Also, different quality ties have different quality linings. If one tie feel flimsier than the others, I suggest avoiding it. Select another tie. I also recommend using similar fabrics and weights in your skirt. Cotton ties and linen ties are cute, but they don't really mix well with silk and silk-blend ties when you are making a skirt.

Troubleshooting: Your ties are not lining up at the top of the seam? One is longer than the other? There could be several reasons for this. First, you might not have cut them the same length. Remember to measure from the SIDE of the tie and not to the tip. Second, your ties could be different weights or fibers and have different stretch or different ways of feeding through the machine. Third, you may be inadvertently pulling to help the ties through. You can guide them, but don't pull. If you look carefully at my photos you'll see that my ties don't line up perfectly, but they are pretty close. We will trim this up later. No worries. Just do your best.

After all of your ties are sewn together, you should have something like this:

Now it's time to insert your zipper! YAY!!

Because I am certain that you followed my instructions and cut your ties exactly 16 inches long, a 9-inch zipper will be perfect for this skirt.

If you hold up your skirt and wrap it around your waist you will realize that in order for the last two ties to remain in the same position in the color placement, you will have to switch them before you put in the zipper. So you'll see that in my example, the yellow tie starts out on the right end, but I will switch the position of the final two ties and place the yellow tie on the left. Please trust me.

Put your zipper foot on and line up the top edge of the zipper tape with the top raw edge of your tie. Top stitch down each side and across the bottom of the zipper. If you have never sewn a zipper before I recommend basting in place before you sew, then remove the basting.

Switch back to your regular foot (I like the #3 foot with the wide opening.) Finish stitching the ties below the zipper - again with a bartack below the zipper stop, the zigzag stitch and then another bartack.

Hint: Be very careful at the start. You don't want your presser foot to get stuck on the zipper stop. Set the presser foot down so that it rests on top of the zipper stop but not behind it. Then begin to stitch slowly. If is doesn't seem like it is moving forward, then lift the presser foot and advance the stitching manually until you clear the zipper stop.

Does this sound complicated? It is not! I have taught dozens of beginning sewers to make this project. For most of them, this was their very first sewing project. Girls as young as eight have been able to do this and so can you! I'm just adding lots of details so you won't have to call me in the middle of the night.

Sew the back zipper section to the rest of the skirt. The last seam can be tricky but aren't you glad you didn't sew the entire skirt together and THEN have to put the zipper in??? Click to enlarge photo.

Now we are going to clean up the top raw edge, just as I promised.

Open up the zipper and stitch around the top edge of the skirt, about 1/4-inch from the top raw edge. You should already have a line of stitching there. This will reinforce and make it very secure. Now trim the top edge nice and even.

Time for the waistband!

Select a skinny tie. This can be a child's tie or just a skinny style. Pin and baste the tie around the top edge. The thin end will be shorter. In this example the thin end hangs down about seven inches. Then I pin and hand baste the waistband all the way around. The wide end hangs down loose. In this example, my basting is white.

This is important: The center seam of the waistband tie should be even with the raw edge of the skirt. You will fold it down to the inside and stitch it down later.

Topstitch the edge of the waistband. Remove the basting.

Then fold the loose edge of the tie down to the inside of the skirt, pin and slipstitch. Be patient. This is the most time-consuming step.

You'll need a very long, very strong thread for this step. I use a carpet thread.

This skirt is designed to be worn with the zipper at the center back. Tie a mock windsor knot to finish. (This is why you need the fat end to be longer than the skinny end of the waistband.)

To finish I use a home dry-cleaning product called Dryel.

So cute! Don't you love your new skirt? OXOX Ruby