November 2009 Archives

Zen and the Art of Not Throwing Your Sewing Machine Across The Room

November 30, 2009

I made the mistake of ending my lovely, long Thanksgiving weekend by sewing.  Well, at least I thought it was a mistake.  I started the day off with a small stack of Silk Velvet Burnouts - the same ones we used as a wrap when we played dress-up with the cowl-neck top - and the goal of making as many different styles of scarves I could.  Attempt number one was a success, and you will see the results in a post in the next couple days.  Attempt number two, on the other hand, brought my creativity to a screeching halt and my patience to a severe low.  Despite everything, it gave me a chance to learn a lot about sewing, perseverance and the joy of failure.

Frustration.JPGThe offending project was a double-layered burnout scarf with beaded trim on the edges.  Immediately, the trim proved to be much more than my poor little amateur sewing skills could handle.  I wanted to just toss the fabric aside and move onto the next project, but I pressed on.  To my surprise, it started to look kind of, sort of okay in a way.  So I kept going.  Just as I finished turning the scarf right-side-out, I heard the pitter-patter of dozens of tiny beads hitting my floor.  Alas, I failed to make sure the ends of the trim were secured, and now I had lost too many strands to even fake it.  It was basically 3 hours of work right down the drain, and all I had to show for my efforts was a muddle of beautiful silk and pretty beads. 

My blood pressure started to ascend and so did the urge to push my machine off the table in an overly-dramatic fashion.  Before I could cause too much damage, I remembered that I'm supposedly a big girl now and should probably act as such (I know - where's the fun in that?).  I took a moment to calm down and realized that, really, I didn't feel that upset.  Yes, it's certainly frustrating to spend all day working on a project that doesn't pan out; we can all agree on that.  However, this was different because I at least did everything I could to ensure that the project was doomed before I gave up.  I wanted to quit after sewing in the trim, but by continuing on I was able to see that there was some hope, yet.  There's something weirdly comforting knowing that a project really is a flop and not just because I was too lazy to work it out.  I'm so positive about the whole experience, I might actually pick it apart in the the coming days and try something different with the silk instead of just throwing it in a box somewhere to collect wrinkles. 

I guess the point to this long rant is that sewing, like other arts, is a creative outlet from which we can learn so much about ourselves.  For me, my sewing has always been a reflection of where I am in life.  When I was younger I was impatient, overly-confident and sloppy.  I would start projects, get to the half-way point, and toss the mangled mess into a box with plans of one day fixing them.  Now as I sew, I see glimpses at my progress towards being a semi-sane adult.  I can now finish a project, although the urge to throw in the towel halfway still haunts me.  I take my time, read the instructions, pin everything and try to do things by the book.  I still mess up (a lot) and have tons left to learn, but I think I recognize that more now than I ever did when I was younger.  Most importantly, while I always liked to sew, I don't think I ever truly loved it until now.  The literal act of sewing was fun, but all of the implications of creating and learning and growing truly make it an enriching experience.  I get that now.

So as you tackle your holiday sewing list, unless you are the Wonder Woman of sewing (or Martha), chances are you are probably going to mess up at some point.  If you are like me, you going to mess up a great deal and will ask yourself if making things is worth it when you can just run down to the store and buy the same thing (or something better, which is often my case).  I invite you to stop and take a deep breath - and slowly back away from the sewing machine, lest you do some real harm - and remember that it's more than just stitching pretty things together.  It's about relaxing and learning and enjoying what you do.  It's about growing with every stitch and putting a little bit of yourself in every finished piece.  This time of year I find myself more and more likely to throw in the towel on my projects, but this year I'm resolving to stick it out, see it through to the end, and see what I can learn. 

Plus, in my case, it's a lot cheaper than therapy. 

Happy stitching and happy holidays!

Turkey Tetrazzini - great casserole for those turkey leftovers

I took the Fabric Maverick's advice about thoroughly cleaning my house including shampooing the carpet. Now It will need only a light dusting between parties. I hope that Thanksgiving was satisfying for all. I always plan to have a little turkey left over so I can make my favorite casserole- Turkey Tetrazzini.


1-2 cups of chopped turkey

2 cups whole grain angel hair pasta

1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms

1 Tb flour

1 Tb butter

1 cup milk

Parmesan cheese to taste

1 clove minced garlic


1. Melt butter in pan. Saute mushrooms and garlic until done. Add 1 TB flour. If mixture appears too thick, add a little more butter.

2. Add milk and stir until sauce thickens slightly.

3. Add turkey and stir.

4. Prepare pasta according to package instructions and drain.

5. Arrange pasta in two quart casserole dish which has been sprayed with cooking spray.

6. Pour turkey mixture over pasta reserving 1/2 c of sauce. Mix thoroughly and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

7. Cook at 350 degrees until bubbly. If top appears dry add remaining sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can adjust the ingredients to your taste.

Serve with crisp green salad and French bread for a great meal at little cost.

Speaking of small cost, we at have been cooking up some deals for you. Check out our 12 days of Christmas deals starting tomorrow. I have my eye on filling my Christmas stocking with some of these deals.





The Fabric Maverick says--- This is a frugal way to create a holiday mood!

November 18, 2009

The star of Thanksgiving is the food! . If you have a large family and group of friends, everyone will bring a dish. You are already ahead. You are halfway to being successful!

The # 1 tip is to eliminate all clutter. This will give you a clean palette to work with. Thoroughly dust everywhere and give the bathrooms a guest fresh look. This is all free!

Consider using white dishes to set the table. It does not have to be expensive China. White dishes with the right accessories can be used for almost every holiday! For Thanksgiving, combine white with autumnal colors- pumpkin orange, amber, gold, maple reds. Go through your fabric stash for autumn fabrics. If you do not have time to sew a table runner, layer the fabrics one over the other hiding the raw edges and tie ends with jute or twine tucking raw edges under. Go to the backyard and pick up pinecones, acorns and berries. Scatter them across your runner.You get the idea!  For Christmas, combine white dishes with red and green accessories. For a different Christmas look- combine aqua, teal and natural elements. For New Year's- white, blue and silver. See how easy this is!

Lighting- to create a holiday mood turn down the lights and bring out the candles. For Thanksgiving, gold/brass colored candlesticks are perfect. Don't have anything but white candles? Do not despair. Wrap them with cinnamon sticks and pretty ribbons.

For holidays smells, let your cooking speak for you. Nothing smells better than a roast turkey and pumpkin pie.

I bet when you figure the cost for decorating, you will find you have spent almost nothing!

I've Got a Brand New Bag!

November 12, 2009

Jennybag1.JPG Last week I showed you the various looks of the Cool, Calm and Cowl-Neck top, a free pattern from the fabulous folks at Hot Patterns.  This week I tackled the Nomad Hobo Bag.  While I can't show you 3 different looks to dress this bag up or down, I can tell you that it is fantastically stylish and fantastically easy to make.  I already have at least 5 people who have either laid claim to it or have hinted that it would match their new pair of shoes...Bag.JPG

This pattern wasn't quite as simple as the cowl-neck top, but it was still a breeze.  From print to final stitch, it took me about 4 hours, but I included the optional pockets and did some extras that I wanted for myself (an extra pocket and some top-stitching).  Now that I have the pattern printed and cut and know how the bag is assembled, I could probably make it in 3 hours or less.



CK-891.jpgFor the outside of the back I used the Premium Faux Suede in Merlot for the outside and Alexander Henry's Nicoles Prints No Guts, No Glory Grey.  When I pick bag lining, I like to use cotton prints that are wild and fun but not something I would use everyday. 






If you are considering making this pattern but aren't quite sure what fabrics to use, I have a couple suggestions to get you started.  Don't forget, we've also created a section in Creativity Headquarters witheven more fabric suggestions for the outside of bag.  Please note, the first fabric pictured in the pair is the suggested outside, and the second is the lining.  The linings are all cotton prints.

UF-847L.JPG CK-300L.JPG 


























Lastly, I would go so far as to suggest that this pattern would be perfect for gifts.  The Nomad Hobo Bag is stylish and easily customized for each recipient but won't take you ages to make.  As I mentioned earlier, many people have hinted that they would like the one I made, and my mom seems to think she's getting it for Christmas.  Looks like I have some sewing to do...

Thanks to Jenny in Merchandising for modeling for me!

2010 Hoffman Challenge

November 10, 2009

If you have ever attended one of the travelling Sewing Expo's, you have had the opportunity to see that years Hoffman Challenge competition.

Started in 1988, the Hoffman Challenge has grown to be a premiere traveling quilt, clothing, and doll collection. The quality of entries and a growing number of exhibit requests have led Hoffman to establish additional traveling collections. Currently, twelve collections travel coast-to-coast within the USA and to several Canadian locations.

This year the Hoffman Challenge is celebrating its 23rd Anniversary. In 1987 the Challenge started with 94 enthusiastic quilters, and some years the number of entries has grown to more than 700. In addition to the three quilt categories (pieced, appliqué and mixed technique), new categories include clothing (wearable art), accessories, and dolls. While the majority of the entries come from the United States a wide variety of international entries are received. Each year, the top entries are grouped into traveling collections and visit quilt and fiber shows, seminars, quilt shops and quilt- and doll-makers guilds nationwide and in Canada.

This year Sulky is a co-sponsor of the Hoffman Challenge. In addition to the other prizes, Sulky is offering a $1000.00 prize for the "Best Use of Sulky".

The competition is open to quilters, apparel makers and doll makers. This is a wonderful opportunity to show your style and creative ability. For more information and an application, click on Hoffman Challenge.

Fabric. com is excited that we have an opportunity to offer our customers the Hoffman Challenge collection: Treasures of the East. This is a beautiful collection of oriental fabrics in cool, tranquil colors of blue, turquoise and green accented throughout with gold metallic accents. wishes you "Good Luck" in your pursuit of sewing excellence! Maybe we will see your creative entry in the next travelling show.

Fabric Maverick's Tip of the Day for the Holidays

November 9, 2009

Now is when many grocery stores have great sales on holiday products such as cream cheese, butter, pumpkin, etc. It would be wise to stock up on items you will be using over the next 7 weeks. If you are baking a lot, you will need flour, sugar and butter for sure. Chocolate was on sale this weekend at my local store. I go through a lot of chocolate during the holidays,

If you are making gifts, look for sales on the fabrics you will need. is having a great sale on minky which ends today.  If you are making blankets, robes  and stuffed anumals, minky is perfect.So soft and cuddly. The sale also includes the wonderfully soft Minkee from Benartex that just came in last week. Minky/Minkee is also a wonderful backing for baby quilts.

I don't know about you but I use a lot of 3M Command hanging strips during the holdiay. 3M is advertising a $2.00 off coupon for their Command products. Clink on 3M for the coupon. This is one coupon I know I will use. Thank you, 3M.

If you plan on doing some internet shopping during the holidays, pick those websites that offer free shipping. After all, this leaves a little extra money to pamper yourself. Don't you deserve it?

The Many Looks of the Cool, Calm and Cowl-Neck Top

November 5, 2009

During a recent fabric-related meeting (why yes, we sometimes have meetings where we discuss nothing but fabric) the topic of holiday fashion came up.  This led to a conversation about the free Cool, Calm and Cowl-Necked Top pattern the by lovely folks at Hot Patterns.  This top is perfect for you holiday and every day wardrobe for a number of reason, the first being that it is extremely versatile.  The second reason I happen to love this pattern is that it's very easy to make.  Also, did I mention it's free?  To prove that the above reasons are true, I made the shirt and asked Crystal in marketing to play dress-up.

First, let me reiterate that this pattern is very easy to make.  From the time I hit the print button to the last snip of the scissors, it only took me roughly 40 minutes to put the pattern together, which isn't significantly more than what it takes me to comprehend, cut out and press pieces from one of the "big three" pattern companies.  From there, I was able to cut my fabric and sew the shirt together in one evening in less than two hours after putting my toddler to bed, and I still managed to get a full night's sleep. 

jacket.jpgThe fabrics I used are our Bamboo/Cotton Jersey Knit and the Bamboo Cotton Baby Rib Knit in lovely Lavender.  I chose this fabric because it's super soft and can be used in both a casual and dressy styles.  Plus, the various bamboo cotton knits are all coordinates which took the guess work out of picking a fabric for the waist band.  It's light enough to wear in Spring or Summer, but can also be easily layered to wear in cooler climates.

The first look we went for was business casual.  Crystal wore the top with a nice pair of black slacks and a black suit jacket.  We added some simple jewelry, and her look was complete.  We all noted that the shirt is a lot more comfy than some of the fussier dress shirts you see in stores.
Next, we took the look from day to "night out with the girls" by switching the black suit jacket for a fitted denim dacket, replacing the necklace with scarf and swapping her black pumps for ankle boots.  Easy and fab.

shawl.jpgLastly, while playing dress-up, we remembered that just got in a shipment of some absolutely gorgeous Silk Velvet Burnouts that would be perfect for a shawl.  After some hunting, I was able to borrow two pieces from Jennifer in customer care (Thank you again!) that coordinated wonderfully with the purple top.  We used the burnout velvet as a shawl and paired it with a long skirt, nice jewelry and nice shoes to give Crystal a dressier look.  Not only did our last-minute creativity work out, I think I might have to divert some of my own fabric funds for enough fabric for a couple shawls...

To summarize, this pattern really is easy, fantastic and versatile.  Plus, it's free.  As usual, I would strongly advise you to make a muslin prior to chopping into your nicer fabric.  We found that the top part wasn't as full as we thought it would be, which was fine, but you may want to play with various levels of room in the top and fit in the band.  Also, if the jersey isn't dressy enough for what you need, this pattern could easily be made with another knit with a bit of shimmer to it.  Either way, have fun with it and get the pattern soon - it's only available until November 12!

The Fabric Maverick says ... Now is the time to start planning for the holidays!

November 3, 2009

I hate to break this to you but I did the math this morning. It is only 8 weeks until Christmas! We are now in the official holiday preseason! Don't panic!

First of all, think about what you want to do this season. Check your craft supplies and fill in the gaps. Make sure your sewing machine is in perfect order. There is nothing worse than your machine breaking down in the middle of a project.

Start making lists:

1 Dinner menu lists for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

2. Gift lists- set a budget -stick to it

3. If you are having any special parties such as a cookie swap party now is the time to send out invitations before all the days are taken. Here is a website to get you started: C & H Sugar.

4. Now would be a good time to think about projects you might be doing with the children.

5. Are you making decorations, gifts or table linen?. Now is the time to prepare a timeline so you will have time to complete the projects and still enjoy the holidays.

Whatever you do, do not stress out. This is probably not the time to start a Christmas quilt but you still have time to do pajamas for cousin Joe. Be realistic about your time and money. No one can do everything.

Stay tuned over the next 8 weeks, we will be doing projects and giving tips to make this a fun holiday season.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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