Monday, April 24, 2017

Create What You Wish Existed, Embroidery Edition

Hello friends, I have been away from my sewing machine for a little bit. I have missed it, but I have been holding an embroidery hoop instead. I am sure you recall I designed some natural hair theme fabric for my daughter and myself. It was  my response to a negative comment about my daughter’s natural hair. A playmate with pin straight hair remarked that her curly ringlets when worn loose, looked “weird”. Her feelings were hurt that someone, a friend no less, would say a hurtful thing about a physical feature she loves and embraces.  

In that creative endeavor, I choose to remind her of how beautiful her/our hair is. As we continue to live, grow and craft she is expanding her skills and learning hand embroidery. While looking through my embroidery patterns she noted that none of the authors of the books illustrated people who look like her or me. She also noted that the designs I have made from these patterns do. I explained that I change the features, hair, and skin to look like I want because the designers didn't do it.

This lead to a discussion about whether people of color are excluded from designs on purpose, overlooked based on ignorance of the need, are not seen as a people who craft, or perceived as people unwilling to purchase designs. We had no definitive answers to these questions. (It is hard to explain issues of racism, institutional oppression, micro-aggression and cultural appropriation to an 8-year old without doing some emotional harm.) She did suggest I stop buying designs from people who don't think about us (smart girl!). She observed that the modifications are easy for me, so until now, I have not been troubled by it (not true, but I was rolling with it). "What about those who can't change the designs?" she asked, "What are they supposed to do?", "Will their embroidery never look like them?"

I have told you guys before that she thinks I can anything and encourages me to try. She suggested I make embroidery patterns that celebrates natural hair and sell them in my Etsy store! I had done much of the foundation work with the fabrics I printed, so we thought, why not?

My hopes with these designs are multiple:
  •        To create fun whimsical designs that celebrate the beauty of natural hair for women and girls who embrace or struggle to embrace, their hair texture.
  •   To provide racial diversity in available hand embroidery designs for all creative makers.
  •     To create a fun design that celebrates the beauty of natural hair for women and girls who appreciate natural hair, but do not wear it because it is not their natural hair texture.

    These designs are now available in my Etsy store as PDF digital downloads and printed linen fabric.

The downloads include a 7-page booklet that includes a stitch guide, pattern transfer methods and instructions for adding water color accents to your designs. 

The designs can be stitched by a beginner using one or two stitches. A more experienced stitcher can embellish the designs with more elaborate stitches. The patterns can also be used to try multiple stitches as a sampler.

The patterns are sold individually ($4), as a complete collection ($15), or pre-printed fabric ($8). 

Stitch a message to remind someone they are beautiful inside and out.

Glitter applique adds a fun, fresh and dramatic pop to the sunglasses.

This message comes in two fonts with both the Afro Diva and Afro Puff Diva.

 Mix things up with watercolor.

Or keep it plain with a pop of sparkle.

These were so fun to make. My daughter loves them all. Her favorite design is this one. She loves that it can be stitched on fabric to match anyone's skin tone.



   Her friend's
   Since sharing my daughter's story, I have gotten lots of feedback through email, Facebook, and Instagram.  Some of it has been encouragement and support, commiseration and consolation and news reports of people being ridiculed because of their hair and/or complexion. 

  There is a need for people to see positive representation of themselves in everyday life.  I feel it is important for girls and woman to see their natural selves shown with pride and fun. I made these for people with "weird" hair to remind them they are beautiful, always. I made these for those with pin straight hair, to remind them there is nothing "weird" about it. 
   The designs are now live in the Etsy shop and in my Craftsy Store! I hope you will buy and make them and have a blast doing it. I also hope you will share the link/image on social media. There is a someone who needs a reminder that they are beautiful, naturally.

   Happy Sewing,  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

More Me Made Printed Fabric using Simplicity 8295


A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon a $.99 sale. I wasn't looking or planning to buy patterns until I saw Simplicity 8295. I like tunics, mini dresses and that combined with the placket options drew me to this one. 


I am still having fun making my fabric (see previous post) and wanted one for this dress. For the base, I used  a white on white dot cotton from Joann Fabrics. I airbrush painted over it with a paint color that I blended myself. I accented the "Afro Stripe" design with woodblock stamps in double yellow and single black stars. I chose black linen fabric for the contrasts.

I like view A and B and couldn't decide which to make. A poll on Instagram had the results split, so I went with B with modifications.The pattern called for a contrast placket only, but I chose a contrast cuff too. The pattern also has exterior patch pockets, but I switched them out in favor of side seam pockets. 


The instructions for this are straight forward for an experienced sewist. A beginner would need to take it slow on the placket and sleeve details. The sleeve has a continuous lap on the pleated cuff, and a button tab. These elements on their own are not too much, but if you are a newbie, I suggest you take breaks to sew these elements with fresh eyes.


Once it was all said and done, I don't like the fit of the sleeve when pulled up by the tab. I have thin arms and it is tight to wear it pulled up. I am not sure if the linen and my interfacing made it inflexible or if the sizing there is off. It is not a deal breaker for me, but you should know. I think I will lower the button and get some more room.


I like that the back has a yoke pleat detail. It gives a bit of interest to balance the front.


This is a mini-dress. The length I am wearing is as is from the pattern. I thought it would be too short if I hemmed it at this length. I instead added black ribbon to the bottom and folded it back to hem it. When I make another, I will add an inch or two before cutting.


This one is a keeper. I will be making more for the warm Texas weather. I will be making more of this fabric as well.  I have added the other prints I have made to my Etsy store.  I will make this one only by special request in custom orders.

Whichever fabric you choose to make yours, I hope you like yours as I like mine.

Happy Sewing,

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Peace, Puff, Afro, Love" Fabric and the Urbanista Bag with Vegan Pleather

After making fabric to celebrate the beautiful hair embraced by my daughter, I decided to make some more. In fact, because of her excitement and the enthusiasm shared by my reader friends, I have been bubbling with inspiration. I want to design all the fabric and make all the things!

My most recent print is this "Peace, Puff, Afro, Love" design on 60-inch grey duck canvas. The base is airbrush painted and the accents are hand-stamped for added texture.

The canvas is a prefect weight for bag-making, I searched my stash for a candidate to showcase the print. The Urbanista Hobo by Cheryl Kuczek fit the bill because of its size and no distracting exterior pockets.

This choice also gave me an chance to use the Paradsio pleather kits that I got the same time I got the pattern. Aren't they yummy!

I met Cheryl at Quilt Market a few years ago. I was drawn to her fun patterns and she and I have developed a friendship since. Her patterns are written with a lot of explanation and detail for the novice. I prefer short bullet directions followed by an illustration to show me what to do. These text heavy steps are not a deterrent to making this great bag, but are different from commercial patterns. I find it best to read through them first and highlight the relevant sewing steps. Cheryl is a very approachable designer happy to answer email questions. She also provides online guidance on her blog  and includes tutorials on the following topics:
Many independent bag patterns give dimensions from which you make the pattern. I am so happy to not have to spend time on this step because the main pattern piece is included. I have made MANY bags by Noodlehead, Sew Demented and Amy Butler. They all have their high points and low points. I love the construction details unique to this bag. The body is stabilized with fleece and muslin instead of fusible fleece, or Shape flex and interfacing. I really like this time and cost-saving feature. With the other methods, no matter how I well fused, I have had these layers separate over time and use of the bags and it is very frustrating. With this method, the bag has structure, flexibility and weight that is not floppy or heavy.

Exterior fabric, lining, muslin and fleece 
There are six roomy contrast pockets inside the bag. I made mine without the contrast. The construction of the pockets gives added stability and support because they are secured in the side seams.

The bag is accented with pleather on the base, straps, binding and strap slots.  I sewed this bag completely on my home sewing machine with a regular needle and regular foot. There are suggestions for sewing pleather, but I didn't find I needed them. They are easy to work with.

Pleather base before attaching
Strap in process. Use clips and not pins which leave permanent marks.
The installation of the top binding is brilliant! I won't give it away here, but it is wonderful. I wish I had made this bag when I got the pattern in November. The binding would have saved me so much headache. I made three Noodlehead Maker totes last Fall. The hand-sewing of the binding was a beast! I wish I knew this method before starting. 

I applied three double cap rivets to each strap rather than add buttons and buttonholes. I would also suggest heavy-duty snaps or button studs to allow the strap to be swapped out with others.

When the bag was all made, I was worried that the pleather was too stiff and that the binding wouldn't droop like a hobo should. After wearing it for a day, it softened wonderfully and feels great. 

 I love the strap slot and riveted handle.


Considering the capacity of the bag, I am really pleased with how comfortable it is to wear. The pattern does not include a magnetic snap closure so I added one to the lining before attaching the exterior.

It is the perfect size for a busy mom as demonstrated here by my friend Lisa 

This pattern is available for purchase  in Cheryl's store.

My "Peace, Puff, Afro, Love" fabric is available in my Etsy Store in limited quantities and less than Spoonflower rates. I have also listed the "Puff Diva" fabric. All the fabric is hand painted by me and each is unique. Grab them while you can and make someone's day!

Happy Sewing,

Friday, February 17, 2017

Machine Sewn Reverse Applique Wrap using Terial Magic

I have discovered magic, Terial Magic that is.

At Quilt Market last Fall I was introduced to Terial Magic a liquid fabric stabilizer that makes knits behave like a woven. I was so excited to hear what this product could do that I participated in a live product demo. Seeing the potential for speedy reverse applique I shared my plan with Laurie, the demonstrator and brand manger. She asked if I would be interested in a collaboration to show how I would use the product.

Today, I am the guest blogger on the Terial Arts blog. Pop over there to see the steps I took to make this fast and easy reverse applique project.

What I love is, the treated fabric becomes stiff after the application of the Terial Magic allowing the wrap to be sewn on a home sewing machine. This drastically reduces the time and effort involved in completing a project like this without hand-sewing. 

To further test the possibilities of this stabilizer, I sewed the motifs using silver metallic thread. I loaded it as normal and took no precautions against twisting, breaking or bobbin tangles I have heard occurs with metallic thread. There were no issues at all with the treated fabric! 

I am so thrilled with the end result. This wrap stitched up quickly and could be done in a week of evenings with no stress.

 Be sure to visit the Terial Magic page to find out how you can make your own.

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Create What You Wish Existed In The World: Fabric Printing for Little Miss.

Update! This fabric is available in my Etsy store!

Over a year ago  a child at the YMCA told my darling child her free flowing curly locks were weird. Her feelings were hurt, she was saddened and confused. She wondered how someone could be so ill-mannered and cruel. After a conversation, reading her books, "Happy to Be Nappy" and "The Skin We Are In" and she let it go. It wasn't so easy for me to move on and I made a note to step up my "you are awesome" and "fearfully and wonderfully made" game.  

I looked around for fun fabrics with kids like my daughter represented. I found a few, but they included unicorns, princesses and fairies. I have bought them and think they are great, but feature fantasy and myth. I wanted a normal design based on real people; based on us. When I couldn't find what I was looking for I decided to make what I wanted.


Lately, I have been playing around with fabric printing. I have shared the prints I have previously experimented with on my Instagram. They have been small sample size and border prints, but never yardage enough for clothing. The process is imperfect and time-consuming so I was reluctant to print on a larger scale until now.

I made this Afro Puff Diva using design software and a die cutting machine. After careful consultation with the model, I hand-stamped the diva with black fabric paint and white flowers between. I love the texture the fabric paint gives. Some stamps are completely saturated and others have a weathered appearance. 

I chose to use New Look 6320 to make this dress and it was a fast and easy make.

                                   Image result for new look 6320
I love the collar on this dress. I wish I could take credit for perfect alignment of the diva on the collar when folded down. It was a happy coincidence that the hair and sunglasses matched up. I couldn't have planned for that had I tried.


I didn't want to hope on chance on the sleeve placement. I wanted the image centered, so I printed them directly on the cut sleeve piece.

I modified the dress to have side seam pockets and chose to add a regular zipper instead of the suggested exposed zipper.


I love this and want one for myself! I have made a stencil of this and other designs I am working on. I hope that airbrushing the fabric will be faster enabling me to make more in less time. It will result in a different texture but I think it will be good. 

Can you tell she loves her hair and her dress? The positive messages she receives far outweigh the random carelessness of a poorly raised kid. I love that since that incident she continues to completely embrace her identity, asserts herself when confronted and moves on respectfully. She is so great! I want to be her when I grow up!

Happy (confident) sewing,