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  • Grainline Lakeside Pajamas

    1 Grainline Lakeside Pajamas made in Art Gallery Voile in Sunday Clippings. All photos by Bess Bird Photography.

    The very first piece of clothing I made once I started sewing in earnest was a Grainline Scout Tee. It's become an indispensable staple, along with its knit sister, the Lark Tee. I appreciate the simplicity of the designs (everyday wear, hurray!) and the well-written instructions.

    Last month, I decided to make Grainline's Lakeside Pajamas for our hot Montana summers. I. Love. Them. They have enough design to make them interesting, but are simple enough for a novice like me to sew up with no problem. This has been one of the few patterns I've cut and sewn straight from the box - no alterations needed. There is something so satisfying about having a pattern that just fits, right off the bat.

    Overlapping back detail. Overlapping back detail.

    When making a shirt or a dress, I usually I have to make the top one size and then grade out a size or two below the waist. With the Lakeside PJs, I was able to make the top in a size 6 and the bottoms in a size 10. (Try doing that with ready-to-wear!) I double-checked all of my measurements and then followed the sizing guidelines, and ta-da, they fit like a dream. As tempting as it was to make the entire set in a size 6 (oh hi, vanity!), I'm relieved that I actually made the size that was recommended for me; believe me, carefully sized and drafted patterns are not to be taken for granted!

    Miles and miles of binding.. but so worth it! Miles and miles of binding... but so worth it!

    The shorts required a leap of faith. You have to attach most of the bias binding to the edges of each piece before you sew up any major seams, which makes it really difficult to make adjustments once you're underway. (Of course you could baste or pin the shorts together without the binding before you get started for a rough idea of fit, but did I think to do that? Of course not!) The method for sewing on the binding and then assembling the shorts seems confusing at first glance. But I dutifully followed the instructions step by step, and, as promised, it all worked out beautifully.

    I made these PJs with Art Gallery's Sunday Clippings Voile. Because it is so silky and lightweight, the Art Gallery Voile was a little slippery, but I used a new needle and took my time, and I was able to handle the fabric with very few problems. If you haven't sewn with Art Gallery fabrics yet, you are in for a treat. The quilting cottons are finer and softer than most quilting cottons, and the voiles are even finer than Liberty of London (in my opinion).  AND, Art Gallery voiles make great blouses. Our customer, Debrah Fosket wore her lovely Vogue blouse to the shop the other day and graciously agreed to be photographed.

    _B9B1559 A well-made blouse in a pretty fabric. Nice work, Debrah!


    I highly recommend these jammies -- and of course I'm partial to the super-soft voile. They're comfortable, cute, and a fairly quick sew (especially if you use pre-made bias binding like this). Plus, either the shorts or the tank top can stand alone in the right fabric. No one needs to know that they're a pajama pattern! I'm already planning a light summer tank top with this pretty rayon and some casual shorts with this sweet tencel.

  • Getting Ready to Open!

    I'm making progress toward opening a brick-and-mortar store! My new plan is to be open by September 1, which is much closer than you may think! I am finishing up negotiations on a location, and I'm buying fabric and notions. I spent Monday and Tuesday this week in Las Vegas at a textile expo. I bought lots of fabric for the shop, met two of my idols -- Janet Pray and Kathleen Cheetham -- and peppered my fellow shop owners with questions. Here is some eye candy from Telio in Toronto and Seven Islands Japanese Fabrics, all of which will be available in Missoula and online soon:

    Gorgeous stretch denim from Telio. Gorgeous stretch denim from Telio.

    Double-sided scuba knits from Telio. Double-sided scuba knits from Telio.

    Bottom-weight linens! Bottom-weight linens!

    Affordable poly birds. Must make blouse(s)! Affordable poly birds. Must make blouse(s)!

    Japanese double-gauze. Japanese double-gauze.

    Japanese double gauze knit. So soft! Japanese double gauze knit. So soft!

    More double-gauze.... More double-gauze....

    Double-gauze with funny bunnies screaming to become a blanky! Double-gauze with funny bunnies screaming to become a blanky!

    Japanese canvas -- Deer with glasses Hahaha! Japanese canvas -- Deer with glasses Hahaha!

    Buying fabric to sell to others is scarier than I though it would be. What will people buy? How much are they willing to pay? If you were to open a fabric shop, what would you make sure to carry?

  • Thunk, Thunk

    For the past six weeks, I have had the honor of working at a fabric shop — The amazing Sewing Palace in Helena, Montana. Every time I unfurl a bolt of fabric and hear the thunk, thunk of the bolt hitting the cutting table, I am carried back to my childhood.

    I first heard the thunking of a bolt of fabric standing next to my mom at the McCaulou’s department store in my hometown of Lafayette, California. Like most department stores, McCaulou’s had a fabric department until I was in my late twenties. 

    When I was young, my mom and I would walk past the children’s department, and the juniors’ department, to the back of the store — the fabric department. We would leaf through the giant glossy pattern books to choose the perfect thing for my mom to make for me, using tiny pencils to write the pattern numbers on scraps of paper. The lady behind the counter would pull the pattern from one of her giant drawers.

    Then I would have the pleasure of selecting my fabric and notions. Sometimes, McCaulou’s would have the actual fabric used in the pattern photo! When we got home, I would not-so-patiently wait for my mom to turn the cloth into special clothes for me. 

    By the time I was 12, I was the one sewing the clothes. Although I sewed too hastily, and my makes were always clearly homemade, the possibility that I might make a beautiful garment out of the beautiful cloth was magical.

    Growing up, I thought of the children’s department as the “land of no.” My mom always said no to ready-made clothes, except for the one shopping trip in August when we would buy school clothes. The fabric department was the “land of yes.” My mom was always happy to sew me something when I was small, and she was always happy to buy me the fabric to make myself something as I grew older. 

    As I take steps to open my own fabric shop and online store, I am buoyed by the hopefulness and empowerment I always felt when I heard the fabric bolt thunk on the cutting table. What does buying fabric remind you of?

    I would have loved this outfit in elementary school. Image from I would have loved this outfit in elementary school. Image from



    I'm sure I made this dress. Image from I'm sure I made this dress. Image from

    I made so many dresses like this! Image from I made so many dresses like this! Image from

    And wrap-around pants! Loved them! Image from And wrap-around pants! Loved them! Image from

  • Houston Quilt Market!

    Those of you who quilt likely know the biggest quilt festival in the world occurs in Houston at the end of October every year. You might have also noticed I wrote Houston Quilt Market, instead of Quilt Festival. Quilt Market is for fabric-shop owners to connect with wholesale suppliers. I was able to attend the Market because in six months, I am opening a fabric shop in Missoula, Montana. I'm so excited! My basement is filling up with fabric!

    A quilt/dress made of Free Spirit solids. A quilt/dress made of Free Spirit solids.

    I will primarily carry garment fabrics, with only a few quilting cottons. Thank goodness, because if I were getting ready to open a quilt shop, I would have been completely overwhelmed!  There were so many beautiful quilting cottons to choose from. And, many of the companies that traditionally carried only quilting cotton, have now branched out into voiles, double gauzes, knits and canvas. The uber-cool Cotton + Steel gals were the Big Women on Campus (by "big," I mean popular, not actually large). Their new fabrics are to die for. But, Art Gallery has super fine voiles, Monaluna, Cloud 9 and Birch have some great hipster organics, and Amy Butler has knits and canvas in her great designs. Here is some eye candy for you:

    Birch Fabrics double gauze dress.  Birch Fabrics double gauze dress. 

    Art Gallery knit dress.  Art Gallery knit dress. 

    Art Gallery voile dress. Can you tell how fine the voile is? Art Gallery voile dress. Can you tell how fine the voile is?

    Cloud 9 canvas coat and bags. Cloud 9 canvas coat and bags.

    Riley Blake home-dec weight coat. Yes please! Riley Blake home-dec weight coat. Yes please!

    I did not buy much fabric during the market because company representatives are going to visit me in Missoula with samples, but I could have ordered a few thousand bolts and still not purchased everything I liked! What is your newest favorite fabric?

  • Hellllo!

    A classic book newly discovered by moi. A classic book newly discovered by moi.

    Hi Everyone! I apologize for being gone so long! I am in the midst of making plans that will help this website explode into awesomeness. Please move to the edges of your seats in anticipation of exciting announcements during the next few weeks.

    Meanwhile, I have been sewing less than usual. I have, however, discovered a wonderful resource for getting in touch with my creative self.

    I first heard of The Artist's Way from Ally at Wardrobe Oxygen. In January of this year, she posted about each week of the book on her blog. Thinking the book was about drawing, I was mildly intrigued, but didn't take action.

    Then, in June, my college friends and I spent a long weekend on the coast of Maine to celebrate our 50th birthdays. Judy, the most artistic of the four of us, was a little late to breakfast every morning because she was writing her "morning pages," which she has done every single morning for the past ten years! I was impressed and intrigued. What are morning pages? When I learned "morning pages" are an exercise from The Artist's Way, I decided to download the book to my Kindle (yes, we 50-year-olds are that cool).

    I have just finished Week 4 of the book, which was intensely wonderful. The assignment for Week 4 is, "no reading." The way I interpreted the assignment was, "no reading for pleasure." I read work emails, but I did not read any sewing blogs(!), news blogs, or novels. I did not check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. I did not watch TV. My only entertainment was NPR. I either sat and thought, or I did something.

    Guess what's more fun than just sitting? A LOT! I got so much done! Surprisingly, I didn't do much sewing (a bit of a mystery to me). But, cleaning out my daughter's room was more fun than just sitting. Walking my dogs at 6:00 am was more fun than just sitting. So was washing the sliding glass doors and vacuuming pet hair off the couch. 

    My new plan is no sewing blogs, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest until after 8:30 at night, when I am winding down anyway. I was surprised to discover how much time I waste flitting around on the internet. The first few days were really really hard. I kept grabbing my phone and hovering my thumb over the Instagram icon. But, today, the day I was allowed to check the internet any time, I kinda forgot to do it.

    I feel relieved to start getting more done. Instead of feeling as though I will never catch up with everything on my To Do list, I have begun to check things off.

    If you are feeling stuck in any aspect of your life, I suggest checking out The Artist's Way. :)

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