Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Another for the pot….

Flowing with momentum that began with the Maggie Dress inspiration,

I decided to tackle Alabama Channin's A-Line Dress.

This pattern is found on a CD included with Natalie's latest book, 

Learning from my last endeavor with the Maggie Dress, I found it fairly easy to have my local printing shop upload the CD and print off the simple pattern.

I have to note that since the print shop had never done this before, it did take them a few tries to execute the large scale pattern.

They were as happy to persist as I was prepared to be patient.

I chose to use an inexpensive
 PFD (prepared for dye) cotton jersey from  Dharma Trading Company for the short dress version.

I've sewn more than a few pieces from the A/C collection and found I needed to alter all of them in one way or another.

Making a sample is the best way to figure this out, especially if you plan to embellish with layers and appliqué.

I made a slight change to this pattern….

Although it looks VERY nice in this photo, the v-neck was a little too severe for me…

so I chose to round it out a bit….

This fabric from Dharma is very white with a sort of blueish tinge and has less drape than the buttery Alabama Chanin Organic Cotton Jersey, but it is forgivable at $4.58 USD per yard.

I also think it is still a little too full in the skirt, which might disappear when made with the softer drape of the A/C cotton jersey. 

 This one has pockets, which I LOVE, and was VERY easy and quick to stitch together.

I plan to pop this into the dye pot along with the Maggie Tunic and a long skirt I made.

I'm thinking Indigo.

Still aways off.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Just when I was thinking about how difficult a climate we have for growing…

on my walk today I couldn't miss the 

welcome sight of water and the greening of this ditch….

And as I turned the corner to my lane

I also have to report 


flourish here.

As do


go figure.

OK….so when 'figuring',

I realize they resemble rose hips and roses (and all sorts of prickly plants) also flourish here. 

(Don't worry, they're headed for the dye pot too.)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Perky Sue….

There is no question….

Albuquerque, New Mexico has an extremely harsh environment for growing plants.

I once sat at the feet of local well known landscape designer and garden writer,

 Judith Phillips.

Judith specializes in arid-adapted and native plants,

and she confirmed it….

We get to complain about how difficult it is to garden here for good reason.

The drought conditions, range of temperature, low humidity and our high elevation make it very hard to cultivate most species.

But up comes Hymenoxys scaposa, AKA 'Perky Sue'. 

She bloomed here all last summer 

and seems happiest

between a Rock and a Hard Spot…

You Go Girl you Perky Sue.

She makes me smile every day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

the Maggie Dress….

In January, Alabama Channin launched their 'Build a Wardrobe' program with a release of their much anticipated
 Maggie Dress pattern.

This simple dress mimics an apron, closes with a snap in the back, ties in the front and
can be made in three lengths…
a top, a tunic, or a dress
(with or without a seam in the front and back for ease of embellishment)

As I was one of those who swooned over this seemingly simple to sew frock, 
I jumped at the chance to buy the pattern.

I ordered the pattern on line, printed it off on my Epson,
then set about piecing it together…

My thought was to save the time (and cost) of running to the nearest commercial printer…..HA!

this was not the simplest task…
and very time consuming, however a tranquil and meditative exercise..

I chose the 'tunic' length and
 made a sample using inexpensive knit fabric before I cut into A/C's yummy organic cotton, which I had on hand in the 'natural' color.

Before I cut into the A/C cotton jersey,
after selecting the size Large (even though I'm normally a medium),

I added an inch to the back side of the pattern (which wraps to the front with ties)….
actually 1/2" to each side 

(I still made mistakes even after making the 'muslin'…ugh…like forgetting to add the inch to the part that wraps to the back, but that didn't seem to make a difference)

and there seemed to be miles of edging strips to cut…

(432 inches to be exact)

and iron in half.

Of course

I under estimated how much fabric I needed for the strips and ended up needing to order more….

And after I sewed these strips to all the edges of the tunic,

using the 'Cretan' stitch for it's stretch and design…

I ended up with this version…

 I think it was worth the effort.

(of course as I'm rarely happy with my first try,  I wish I had a version that is about 6 inches shorter…)

My plan is to make a few more frocks from the A/C selections and toss them in a dye pot this summer…

to be continued... 

Saturday, April 2, 2016


One delightful by-product of living in New Mexico are the many friends who come to visit…

And before the snow fell in Santa Fe yesterday,
(much to the dismay of my friends visiting from Michigan)
 I was able to meet them on Canyon Road for a walk and a talk and some tea.

As I peruse the photos I took that day,
 I notice I was drawn more to 
the atmosphere and charm 
of Canyon Road's historic homes 
turned into galleries and shops 
than the art the lane is so famous for...

kitchen of the Nüart Gallery 

stylish shop selling, pretty much,

painting on the wall at the entrance of the Dark Bird Studio

Jun Kaneko sculpture that caught my eye...

and the divine Teahouse with it's yummy food, mimosas and of course tea.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

another day, another road trip…..

last month found me in Phoenix for what seems to be our annual Springly road trip….

the highlight?

Puffy Shirts……

Monday, March 14, 2016

Measure twice…..

Many years ago, while living in Canada, I was fortunate to be introduced to the 
(CBBAG - lovingly pronounced Cabbage)

I'm reminded as I work today of the many courses I took there during the five years
I called Toronto home.

I recall at the core, CBBAG was a very serious group. I often sat with librarians, who were there to learn book structure, not really the craft. Sometimes I found it tedious to sit through the lessons, which were detailed and academic.  At the time there were a prescribed set of courses a student had to take in order to advance through the levels.  At the outset of my instruction, I remember that all I really ever wanted to do was learn to make a 'box', best covered in leather.  If I remember correctly, back then, a student had to advance to level 3 before they could enroll in the 'box' class. What I learned by eventually taking the class, was that it was really was a book 'enclosure' class. I learned a lot as I progressed. I'm not sure how much I retained about book structure, but the discipline, patience and appreciation for precision I gained in those courses has stayed with me.

What I learned about the tools and process used in bookbinding has been invaluable. I duplicated the provided tool kit and developed expertise using them over the years.  I found the principles that were taught, not only apply to bookbinding, but to many other creative disciplines. 

Today I was thinking of one final class I took with Betsy Palmer Eldridge, in the basement of her grand old home in downtown Toronto.  I had finally accrued enough credit to enroll in her Leather Bindings course just before I moved back to Michigan.  Betsy is an esteemed Master Bookbinder, in the German Tradition, and VERY serious about teaching her craft.
 I felt, once again, over my head, as I was just there to learn a few things about working with leather…….
and was more than a bit intimidated by her VERY thorough and academic approach to tooling leather for bookbinding.   

But the one thing I learned from Betsy that I recall today as I set about hand stitching the second of two drapery panels for my front window…….

…..that I hold as a cheerful nugget of wisdom….

And I paraphrase……

"50% is about making it perfect 
50% is learning how to fix your mistakes"

What a relief!

to know that

(even) she made mistakes, 

(therefore mine were OK)

and that

(in fact)

 mistakes are part of the process