Envision Your Sewing Goals

Envision Your Sewing Goals

For the first time this year, I made a vision board. If you’re not familiar with the concept, let me explain. A vision board captures the things you want and desire for the upcoming year. They can be serious, silly, fun or anything at all so long as they’re important to you. Making them is fun too! You cut pictures and words from magazines and paste them on your chosen background. You then place the completed vision board somewhere that you can see it daily.

Doing this helps you stay focused on your needs and wants and helps propel your forward.

They Really Work

Here’s a quick story from a friend who put a silly item on her vision board. She loves country music, particularly Keith Urban. While she’s had many cool Urban experiences, including a chance to meet him, she didn’t have his signature. So, one year she decided to put something with his signature on her vision board in hopes that somehow she’d get it in the coming year. She found a picture of a black guitar with his signature online and printed it out.

Later that year, she went to see Keith Urban in concert. As she was entering the venue, she sang for a stranger to enter a contest and win his signature. As a shy person, she’d normally not sing in public. Of the 30,000 people in attendance, my friend won! And it turns out, she won the very guitar she’d put on her vision board – and it was signed to her!

Making a Sewing Vision Board

Since it seems vision boards do help manifest goals, even silly ones, I thought it might be fun to make a vision board for sewing goals, wants and needs. Whether it’s a fancy new sewing machine, a certain fabric, completing a particular project or moving your love of sewing from a hobby into a career a vision board may help you get there.

To start, think of all the things you desire with your sewing. Grab your latest sewing related magazines or go buy some and a pair of paper scissors. Find words or pictures that connect with your desires. Even if you’re not sure of the connection, but simply like the way the picture makes you feel, cut that out too. It could be connecting to a subconscious desire.

When you’ve got loads of clippings, have fun dry placing them on your vision board. When you like the layout, glue everything down. Feel free to add to it throughout the year if you come across other items as you peruse new issues of your sewing magazines. Place the completed vision board somewhere you can see it daily. You don’t need to study it in depth, just glance at it and let your subconscious do the rest.

At the end of the year, take a look at your vision board. How many of the items of on it have become reality?

Basting Your Quilt: Sprays and Pins

Basting Your Quilt: Sprays and Pins

Last week’s post was on batting, but as I freely admitted within that post, there’s more to finishing up a quilt than deciding on that detail. As the time approaches to dive into those final stages for this quilt, I’d say it’s a logical decision to explore those other topics.

Basting Your Quilt: Sprays and Pins

This week’s subject of interest: basting.

Coming off of the holidays, it might be easy to think of basting a turkey, but baking isn’t the only realm that has a form of basting! For quilting, this is the stage where you’re preparing to sew your quilt sandwich together. All of the layers are ready to be connected, and basting allows you to make sure those layers are level and even for sewing. You smooth them out, line them up, and do something to make sure they stay in line as you join the layers together through whatever method you choose.

It’s a simple idea, but there’s more than one way to keep those layers in line. For this particular post, two of those possibilities are the focus as I weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which option to use for my quilt. Those possibilities are straight pins and spray basting.

Straight pins:

I would think that straight pins would be the more recognizable and common of the two approaches. In fact, according to one source, straights pins (in some form) date all the way back to Ancient Egypt.

Straight pins are the more recognizable & common of the two approaches.

Straight pins are the more recognizable & common of the two approaches.

The benefits:

1) They’re financially friendly! You can pick up a pack of these for a small amount of money, which is wonderful for me since I am, like I’ve mentioned before, cheap.

2) They’re reusable! Unless you damage or lose the straight pin, you can pull it from the fabric when you no longer need it for a project, then you use it again and again for endeavors to come. So long as it’s in good shape, it doesn’t need to be replaced.

3) They’re common! Because of this trait, they’re easy to find at a store, meaning you might not have to go too far out of your way to pick up a set.

4) They’re easy to store! They’re small, after all, so you can keep them comfortably in your sewing kit.


1) They’re easy to lose! I don’t know how many times I’ve spotted straight pins that have fallen around my sewing area when I’m finished working on a project for the day. Not only is this bad because losing them can lead to replacing them, but these pins are sharp! Losing them could equal pain if you accidentally find one in a not-good way!

2) They’re sharp! Yes, I stated this in the last detail, but it’s worth noting as its own issue. Just like your needle can cause pain if you let it slip, straight pins can do some finger-damage. Using a thimble might help, but I guess I’m a rebel since I don’t usually use one!

3) Quality varies! This is something I learned from my own experience. I have two different sizes of straight pins, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the tiny ones are lacking in comparison to the others. They potentially fall out more easily than the larger ones, which could leave extra spaces of fabric that are unpinned and straight pins that are lost in my workspace. Neither of those things are necessarily good!

My two different sizes of straight pins.

My two different sizes of straight pins.

Spray Basting:

This is a method I haven’t tried, but I’ve done some research on it. I first became aware of it through a Craftsy.com class, and it intrigues/puzzles me. A spray that holds your quilt together? For some reason, that seems bizarre to me! Still, there are supporters for the spray basting method, so who am I to toss the possibility aside without considering it?

A spray that holds your quilt together.

A spray that holds your quilt together.


1) You won’t poke yourself with a straight pin! With how many times I’ve accidentally stabbed myself with a pin or needle, this is promising to me!

2) It’s less time consuming! You don’t have to go through the entire quilt to place pins all over it. You just have to even it out, spray sections at a time and smooth it back out. How easy is that?

3) The effect doesn’t seem to be permanent! Instead, it apparently washes out of your quilt, so its effects are temporary.

You just have to even it out, spray sections at a time and smooth it back out.

You just have to even it out, spray sections at a time and smooth it back out.


1) It’s more expensive! A can of basting spray can cost more than a pack of straight pins. Remember how I’m cheap? Yeah…

2) It’s not reusable! Unlike pins, you can only use this product once. Sure, you might be able to space it out to use for more than one project, but once your can is empty, you have to replenish your supply (if you want to keep using this method).

3) It’s messy! As with any spray product, there’s no guarantee that you’ll never get said product on things surrounding what you intended to spray. For this reason, you might have to do some cleaning once you finish your basting.

4) It’s dangerous to your lungs! The fumes can be hazardous, so it’s recommended that you only use this method in a well-ventilated space — like outside.

For me, I’m torn between wanting to dive into the ease of spray basting, but I can’t see myself being okay with hauling my quilt outside to spray it down. Sure, I might be able to find a suitable place indoors. I might even decide that working outside isn’t a big deal. For now though, I think the fume concern is significant enough to keep me unintentionally jabbing myself with straight pins! That’s not to say the day won’t come when I leap into the world of spray basting. It’s just a current decision to keep things a bit more tried, true, and non-toxic!

How to See in the Dark

How to See in the Dark

During the course of my career, I’ve had the good fortune to work on quite a few large film productions with some highly recognizable actors and actresses. Film-making is exciting and tedious all at once, both exhilarating and debilitating. It’s not a life choice to venture into lightly – at least not if you require a steady, dependable job and paycheck.

You’ll never work again…

In movie making, and even more so in television, nothing is ever a sure thing. Shows get cancelled or pushed (postponed), people get let go for various, and sometimes odd, political (company) and personal reasons. I, personally, never believe a gig is going to happen until I’m actually there on the first day, filling out the inevitable novel of start paperwork you must complete at the commencement of every single job.

I’ve worked like this for twenty-five years now and I can say only two things for sure. One, explaining to people not in the business, be it your family, friends, or the bank you want a mortgage from, what you do and how you are hired, is never an easy thing. And two, that weird space you enter when you’re between jobs and the phone isn’t ringing and the little voice inside your head whispers you’ll never work again, never gets easier, not really. It doesn’t matter that history has always proven that you will indeed work again; you simply believe, irrationally, that this time is different.

At least that’s how it usually is for me. Yet, at the same time, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can’t fathom going to the same office every day for thirty years or more and doing the same thing over and over. It’s just not how I’m made. So I take the uncertainty and the freelance roller coaster ride in exchange for getting to do something that, most days, I love.

If you’re thinking of a freelance career in film, television and the theatre, you need to be really honest about whether or not you’re able to live with a heightened amount of insecurity.

I fought, bit, screamed, clawed and scratched my way in. There was no way I was giving up.

Here are a few of the things that I’ve found invaluable and helpful in surviving the freelance life.

1. Tenacity

Be determined. Wholly and truly give it your all. Remain persistent. Things don’t necessarily come easily. I remember a conversation I had long ago with a friend and colleague. We were talking about ‘breaking in’ to the movie business and how we landed our first job on a major film.

“I fought, bit, screamed, clawed and scratched my way in,” my friend said, “There was no way I was giving up.”

2. Resilience

It’s easy to believe in yourself and your talents when other people do. The true feat, though, is to believe in yourself and your abilities when no one else seems to. There will be failures and missteps and things that you wished had turned out differently. That’s all part of the whole thing.

There will, of course, always be that odd, seemingly infinitely lucky individual, who coasts, completely upright, into a successful freelance career with out skinning even one knee. But that’s the exception.

Most of us arrive a bit battered and disheveled with grass stains on our knees and twigs in our hair.

3. Vision

As the extremely successful celebrity stylist (and all around nice guy), Derek Roche has said, Build your own dreams or someone will hire you to build theirs.

 4. Learn how to see in the dark

When the darkness comes (and it will) you have to be able to navigate your way out and through it…

Some of my first theatre jobs were as a backstage dresser during live performances. This involved laundry and maintaining the costumes, as well as, helping the actors get dressed if needed (period things like corsets and garments with multiple back closures) and doing quick changes backstage in the dark.

Many backstage dressers use small bite lights to help them see while performing fast costume changes. I never really did. If you spend enough time in the wings in the dark, you eventually are able to see. I have no idea if this is a scientific fact; I only know that it was true for me. I have no problem finding zipper ends, or a slew of hooks or snaps in the dark.

Darkness, of course, can come in different forms – it can be literal like working backstage or it can be figurative like not being certain what your next move should be or being unable to see the path in front of you. When the darkness comes (and it will) you have to be able to navigate your way out and through it, you have to reach for that zipper and be able to insert one end into the other by feel.

Seeing in the dark is a tricky thing to master. It involves taking all your tenacity, resilience and vision at once and stepping forward, all the while trusting that the ground is indeed beneath your feet – just as it should be.

Sewing Circles for Charity

Sewing Circles for Charity

Many people have items related to charitable donations on their new year’s resolutions list. If you’re one of them, you can use your sewing skills to spend more time with other sewers and achieve your charitable donation goals for the year by having a charity-focused sewing circle. Here’s how to get started.

Get out in your community and find a cause to support.

Pick a charity

Sewing Circles for Charity

Are there local organizations that would appreciate handmade items? Perhaps a shelter would appreciate clothing items or hospital would appreciate baby hats? Animal rescues may appreciate blankets or pet shirts. Get out in your community and find a cause to support! Ask to speak to the director or someone in charge of community relations. Tell them you want to contribute handmade items on a regular basis and see what they can use. Once you find a charitable organization in your community and understand their needs, you can get started planning and promoting your group.

Find a pattern

Once you know what the charity needs, find an easy to make pattern. It should be simple enough for a beginner to make while interesting enough to engage more experienced sewers. Make sure you have numerous copies and bring them with you to each sewing circle so newcomers or anyone who forgot theirs can get a copy without hassle.

Pick a date, time, location

Will this group be in your home? Do you have space for several sewing machines to run simultaneously? If not, you’ll need to find somewhere more suitable. Local libraries, churches or community centers may be able to host your sewing circle. Make a few calls, send a few emails. Most people and organizations rally around good causes so it shouldn’t take long to find a suitable place.

Working with their availability and yours, pick a recurring date for the sewing circle. Once a month is a good frequency. It’s often enough to keep people interested and excited, but not so often as to feel like a burden. Decide what time of day you’d like to meet and get that room booked with your site.

Invite and promote your sewing circle

Facebook and other social media outlets can be a great way to promote your sewing circle. Create a public event and include all the details about the charity as well as meeting time, location, etc. Invite your friends who sew and encourage them to invite others. See if the location hosting your charity sewing circle is willing to promote the event too. Ask the charitable organization if they’re willing to promote it to their members and donors.

Post fliers (with permission) in community centers, craft stores, fabric stores, senior centers, etc. Include an appealing photo or graphic along with the text information to entice people to look at it.

No matter how you promote it, make sure people understand what they need to bring (fabric, sewing machine, etc.) Also, be sure to include contact information as well in case people have questions.

Collect finished projects

As the charity sewing circle meets over the course of several weeks or months, projects will be completed. Collect them and deliver them to the designated charitable organization. Be sure they understand about your sewing circle – they may promote it to their members and donors now that they’ve seen results. Keep doing this on a regular basis and provide any feedback from the charity to group members. This will keep them engaged and motivated to continue donating.

Sewing Bucket List

Sewing Bucket List

Have you made your sewing bucket list yet?

A sewing bucket list is a fun list to make for the New Year, or anytime. I only set one resolution for each New Year, but I invest my list-making enthusiasm into creating a new bucket list of exciting possibilities and things to do each year instead. Here’s my sewing bucket list for this year. Use my categories for your list or just use these to get you thinking of what you want to include on your own sewing bucket list.

52 Project Challenge

This first item could fill a sewing bucket list, as well as help ensure every other item on the list gets checked off. The challenge is to complete a project every week for the year. I have completed this fun challenge several years, but I decided not to do it last year. I missed it, and so I’ll be doing it again this year. Now I recommend you accept this challenge, too; just think how many things we will collectively make if lots of us join in!

Finish UFOs

Are unfinished objects piling up in your project room? I have three quilt tops that need quilting, one of which is an inherited UFO that my husband’s grandmother died before quilting herself. I also have more inherited UFO projects to complete. Hopefully I won’t die anytime soon, but whenever I do, I really do not want to leave any UFOs behind. So I try to stay on top of these, but just now I do have quite a pile to finish before I start too many new projects. What UFOs do you need to complete before another year gets away?

I have quite a pile of UFOs.

I have quite a pile of UFOs.

Use up the Fabric Stash

I decided a couple of years ago to let the fabric live at the store, but I still have too much fabric, including scraps, stashed. I’d really like to use it all up to free up some space and not store so much stash. If I can, I’ll like to complete all my projects using stash fabric and not spend money on fabric when I can avoid it this year. This means I can have fun making scrap quilts and patchwork items. Can you use up or at least halve your fabric stash this year?

Sew wardrobe pieces

Thank you, I made it myself.

Thank you, I made it myself.

Thank you, I made it myself.

For my wardrobe this year, I will like to design several new tops, especially for Spring and Summer, from my husband’s large button downs, which I’ll make over to be more feminine. I’d also like to make a colorful new patchwork maxi skirt for the warm seasons. And I need yoga pants; I’ll like to refashion these from my husband’s large T-shirts. What is your closet lacking? If you haven’t started sewing garments yet, make this the year you do. It makes you feel great to be complimented on your clothes and be able to say, “Thank you, I made it myself.”

Add skills

This goes with the previous bullet point, for me. I’ll like to both increase my pattern-making skills, and work with more patterns. I have collected many more patterns than I have found time to make yet. It is time for me to increase my confidence and skills by tackling more challenging patterns with greater design details. I also want to learn machine embroidery and digitizing. What new skills will most help you? Do you need to learn to make buttonholes or want to learn quilting? Learning these new skills might be the most important entries to add to your sewing bucket list.

Make more quilts

Among the quilt blocks I inherited from my great-great grandmother was one odd square that I want to replicate and build on to create a design I have never seen before. I’ll call it Grandmother’s Garden. I’m also very anxious to start on my first landscape quilt design, which I’ve been thinking about and sketching for a while now. I could make a whole separate sewing bucket list just for quilts I want to make. There are a few traditional patterns that I want to play with as well. But first, I want to make a toddler sized I-Spy quilt for my youngest, to match the twin sized version I designed for his brother. I bet your list of quilts to make is long, too.

A toddler sized I-Spy quilt I want to make for my youngest.

A toddler sized I-Spy quilt I want to make for my youngest.

Christmas in July

Don’t you hate feeling rushed in your Holiday sewing? This year, I want to get a great head start by focusing on Christmas in July. If we do this during both June and July, then we could do craft shows and sell some of our handmade gifts. At the very least, I want to sew quite a few gifts for my giving list, so that I can devote the holidays themselves to festivities and family, rather than risk having any last minute sewing from not being prepared. I’ll like to plan gifts I can handcraft in small batches, and get a Santa’s factory vibe going in my sewing room this Summer, how about you?

Plenty of purses and bags

Santa brought me a beautiful yard of printed duck that I want to turn into a fabulous new tote. I also have been saving a yard of embossed, vegan faux leather for a pretty purse for me. And I need to make myself a new laptop sleeve and a travel case for my ukulele. Purses and bags will be my projects for the 52 project challenge on several different weeks, I bet. I will love to make a new patchwork purse design this year, too. Couldn’t you use a new handbag or two, too?

Purses and bags are my favorite projects to sew, I'll make a few this year.

Purses and bags are my favorite projects to sew, I’ll make a few this year.

Home projects

I need to make new un-paper towels. I won’t buy disposable paper towels or products for my busy kitchen, so we heavily use a lot of kitchen cloth. The unpaper towels that I made have been in use for several years now and are starting to look dingy and worn; replacing these will be one of my first projects for this year. How about sewing for your home, do you need new curtains? FYI, pretty pillowcases are a perfect project for both reducing your fabric stash and also super easy winners for the 52 project challenge on otherwise busy weeks.

New machines

I am perfectly happy with my favorite sewing machine and my mechanical model back-up machine, as well as my serger. But I will sure love to expand my capabilities by adding two new machines. First I want to add a Janome Coverpro coverstitch, and then an embroidery machine, to my lineup. I didn’t think these would be in my budget this year, but Sewing Machines Plus‘ offer of financing and monthly payments has me wondering if I can swing these sooner rather than later. I bet you could do cool stuff with a new machine or two, too; which sweet new baby will you most like to add to your collection?

That’s my sewing bucket list; writing it has me excited about all the fun projects I will make this year. What do you want to sew this year? Will you do the 52 project challenge? Have you made a sewing bucket list of your own yet? If not, I encourage you to start one now.