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Important Announcement: This Blog Has MOVED!

March 9th, 2014 — 8:45pm

Announcement:  This blog has MOVED TO A NEW DOMAIN!  Whipstitch is now hosted over at on an all-new platform, with lots of new goodies and treats to discover.  You’ll find the blog, with sewing and home posts, plus some garden goodies hidden here and there; information on the monthly Atlanta Sewcials, free gatherings where you can meet other sewing folks for coffee and a friendly chat; links to patterns and tutorials, plus galleries of quilts and garments to inspire you; and plenty of little rabbit holes into which you can fall.

You’ll also find a link to the new Whipstitch online class site.  All my sewing e-courses have moved to their new home:  You’ll see classes you can take right now, and information about upcoming online sewing workshops that include weekly live chats, opportunities to submit your work for personal review, and plenty of community collaboration.  I’m unveiling THREE new classes this spring, and can’t wait to share them with you!

If you’re currently subscribed to Whipstitch via RSS, please move your feed over to the new site:

Whipstitch’s new location on Bloglovin

Whipstitch’s new location on Feedly

I’m excited to share a whole new look and feel with you, and have you as part of Whipstitch as it grows!  I’d hate to lose you because of the move–update your feed or bookmark the new site, and catch up with me!  Thanks a ton for being a reader–it means a lot to me, and I can’t wait to share what’s coming next.


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I’ve Got A Golden Ticket!

August 5th, 2013 — 1:16pm

Screen shot 2013-08-05 at 11.28.11 AM


I loved Lush when it came out five years ago.  It was one of the very first collections I ordered for the shop, back when it was all housed in my basement, and it was the paint-by-numbers prints that I thought were so brilliant and had to have.  I still adore them, and saved and saved teeeeeny little scraps of the whole collection all this time.  And now, it’s been re-released!  New colors and updated prints have been added to the line, listed as Lush Uptown.  My (perhaps unnecessarily enthusiastic) order arrived over the weekend, and I am suuuuper excited about running my hands through it and planning some garments for myself and the kids.  Woot!

BUT!  Also!  I got a Golden Ticket!  Time is ticking on this really awesome giveaway–if you love blenders at all, you’ll want to pop in on the Pink Castle blog and see all the details.  Win an entire year’s worth of rainbow blenders, and with every $50+ purchase get a gift certificate for $5-100 off your next purchase!  Am already cruising the site to see where I’ll blow my Golden Ticket–there are some really great collections coming out soon, so I don’t doubt I’ll have some tough choices ahead…

And from you all: what should I sew with this collection?  I have yardage of all the paint-by-numbers prints, plus two of the ikat and one of the lantern PLUS a fat quarter bundle of all the prints.  Leave a comment and let me know what I should make!

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Nothing Says “College” Like Harry Potter Pajamas

August 2nd, 2013 — 8:07am

HP pajamasMy oldest child is going off to college this month.  On the one hand, I have wrapped my brain around that and am excited for her–and for us, with all the changes that come along with launching a bird from the nest.  On the other, I’m terrified and want to hang on to her just a little bit longer, probably for the reassurance that we’ve done a good job and she’ll have a fulfilling life when we’re not there to take on the bogeyman for her and keep her safe.  It’s happy and it’s sad, on both sides.

HP pajamas action shotIn honor of the occasion, I finally got around to sewing the pajamas I promised I would make for her 10 years ago.  Yes, TEN.  Better late than never, right?

harry potter fabricI bought this sparkly Harry Potter quidditch fabric from Jo-Ann back when the fourth book was released.  I have a hard time believing it was really that long ago–but I checked the publication date on the book, and it’s 2001.  2001?!?  When did an entire decade fly by?  While my child was growing up, it would appear.

harry potter fabric selvageAnd just in case you suspect I might be exercising a little hyperbole for dramatic effect, I present to you: the selvage.  So, this has been sitting, pre-washed, in my stash for over a decade, waiting to be sewn into pajamas for my oldest, who first met Harry Potter when Book 1 was read aloud to her first grade class.  She has read every single volume multiple times (as have I), and when the final book came out, I hit the grocery store near our house just after midnight the day it was released and bought THREE copies: one for her, one for me, and one for my husband.  No one wanted to have to read it last.

HP pajamas front viewThe pattern is an ancient out-of-print Simplicity juniors pajama pattern, with three styles of top and two bottoms.  I didn’t have enough fabric to make her pants here–I thought I did, but then I remembered I purchased yardage to make a set with pants for a six-year-old, not an eighteen-year-old.  Wow.  So she got a sweet little top with elasticated neckline and a pair of “sleeping shorts.”

HP pajamas back viewThe neckline could have had a drawstring, but I thought the elastic was more practical.  The pattern also called for elastic at the sleeve hems, but I don’t like the way that style rides up on my shoulders when I sleep, and figured she’d be more comfortable in this.

HP pajama sleeveThe sleeves and neckline are all one, and the casing is just a super narrow channel for the elastic.  Thank goodness I happened to have some 1/4″ elastic on hand, too–it meant this was a crazy quick project.  Not including cutting out, which I had done a few days before, the top and bottom together took one afternoon while the younger children were having their naps.  It was super satisfying.  Only two hours!  Well, ten years and two hours.

HP pajamas jump for joyI think her facial expression really captures it here: total joy and total terror.  On both sides of the camera.  Look for me in a couple weeks–I’ll be the mom who starts out gleefully assisting in decorating her daughter’s dorm, and then cries the whole way home.  Transitions are hard, even the good ones–but at least with her super cool pajamas she’s sure to be the hippest girl on her floor and make instant best friends with everyone in her dorm.  Right??


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Lisette Passport Jacket

July 31st, 2013 — 8:25am

lisette passport jacket sleeve viewThis is the Lisette Passport jacket, one of the patterns put out by Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S for Simplicity.  It’s one of the four patterns featuered in the Fall Wardrobe e-course that starts next week, and I lurve it very much.  See how cute??  Three-quarter sleeves!  Overlapping front panels with ruffled collar!  Tiny little button detail on the front!  Welt pockets!  Hits at mid-hip and super flattering over a dress, with a skirt, or just tossed on with jeans on the weekend.  And in plaid?  Shut up, y’all, don’t even get me started.  Like buttah.

lisette passport jacket frontThis is an unlined jacket with enthusiastic facings, so it feels more like a partially-lined jacket.  I used some Ambience rayon lining on this, and with the plaid wool, it makes it feel so professional and store-bought.  I wanted us to have a pattern in the class that addressed princess seams, which this jacket includes.  Having the chance to talk about matching plaids AND make welt pockets was just a magical bonus.

lisette passport jacket side viewMatching the plaids went pretty smoothly here, and I spend a chunk of time in the e-course going over what to look for and how to get a good lining-up on this.  We also cover setting in the sleeve, which can scare folks off if they haven’t done it before, but once you’ve seen how, gets quicker and more direct with each garment you sew.  I really wanted every pattern included in the class to be a chance to drill down on skills that you’d use again and again and again, and Liesl Gibson writes such great patterns that this one demanded to be a teaching tool–she’s just dreamy, and I feel so privileged to have had the chance to spend time with her.  Very smart, very cool lady who knows her stuff and has the heart of a teacher, which comes through in every pattern she designs.

lisette passport jacket collarSpeaking of design, can we just talk about this collar for a second??  There are two collar options included in the pattern for this jacket; I chose to sew up the ruffled version for this plaid and for the class video lessons so that I could demonstrated the technique in lots of detail.  Plus: ruffled collar!!  Hellooo, Nurse.

lisette passport jacket buttonAnd of course, there’s the little button detail, with a self-fabric loop to hold it in place, which I love.  Just one of those little touches that makes a garment feel so professional and hand-made, rather than home-made.

passport jacketThis jacket is the perfect transitional weight for our climate–which means I can start wearing it after 9 pm in September, and it will be plenty heavy enough to keep out the cold all the way through mid-December.  Yes, it stays warm that long here.  Making this little jacket dreamy and giving me lots of opportunities to show it off–but even in cooler climates, this one would be fabulous from Labor Day on through Halloween.  Check out all the details on the Fall Wardrobe class page and come join us to learn the skills and techniques to put it together!  Just a few spots left open, with plenty of time to gather your supplies before we begin.  Hoping to “see” you there!


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Learning to Trace

July 30th, 2013 — 8:20am

pattern tracingI haven’t really been a pattern tracer, up until now.  And possibly I still wouldn’t be, except someone made a comment on a post (I think this one, about notches) saying that she was surprised I cut into my tissue pattern pages and didn’t trace them off.  I think she assumed I would trace them?  And I’m pretty sure I’m flattered by that.  But like a lot of things, when I watched my mother sew, she always cut into her pattern tissue; and when I took my Costume Lab in college, they didn’t seem to have a problem cutting into pattern tissue; and so I have always just cut into my pattern tissue.  Done and done.

pattern tracing 2I used to never use a rotary cutter, either.  And I might still not use one, except for another off-hand comment someone made to me.  I was manufacturing children’s clothing at the time, and I started to look for someone to help me with the sewing, another set of hands to take a bit of the workload and make it lighter for me.  I sent her some pieces so that I could look at her finished work up close; she was very experienced and had a long list of references, but I thought it would be a wise way to get to know one another before entering into a business arrangement.  After she’d received the cut pieces I sent to her, and before she started to sew, we had a phone conversation in which she said, “You don’t use a rotary cutter, do you?”  Be sure when you read that to hear a condescending downturn of vocal tone on the “do you,” because homie was for sure judging my cutting.  Which was done with shears.  I replied, “No, I don’t.”  To which she replied, “Yes, I can see that.”  Wow.

Next thing I did, I went out to Sandra’s boxes (and boxes and boxes) of notions and dug out the rotary cutter I’d seen there but thought I’d never need, “because rotary cutters are for quilters, and quilters are old ladies” (haha), and I got right to work learning more about it.  Maybe I am motivated more strongly than I’d like to admit by the opinions of others; more likely, I just don’t take close notice of unfamiliar tools or techniques until someone points it out in a way that makes me want to spend the time learning them.  (Having said that, home girl and I did not end up working together–I found a much nicer lady who was twice as fast for half the money and had the best attitude of anyone with whom I have ever had the good fortune to interact in a professional capacity.)

swedish tracing paperSo I’ve been experimenting.  I use plenty of Swedish tracing paper to draft my own patterns, and now I’m using it more and more to make copies of original printed patterns so that I can keep the originals pristine and uncut and save them for later.  A basic #2 pencil works great–bonus points if it’s Star Wars (no points deducted if that pencil features Hayden Christiansen, but you do whatever the rules of your house require; the rest of us understand).  Trace all the lines on the pattern in the relevant size, and make sure to transfer the text markings, notches, match points, and notations for later.

traced sewing patternI’m finding it extra helpful when working with PDF patterns, which I didn’t expect.  I went into it thinking that this was a great way to preserve sizes on patterns where I might want to refer back to them or make another version in a different size later, but I didn’t calculate how much less work it is to trace a PDF pattern and file away the original pages and just use the lighter, softer, traced pattern pieces later–I have to credit Rae with inspiring me on this one, and it’s pretty great.  I find I am much more likely to jump in and make more than one of a particular style when I have the pieces traced, because I know that it won’t be at all difficult to work with the pattern pieces, which has significantly affected my productivity, in the best way.  And anything that leads to more finished projects and fewer piles of fabric with patterns tucked into the folds for a decade-plus (not an exaggeration), the better.

sewing with a traced patternPlus, with a PDF pattern, worst case scenario is that you decide you DON’T like the shape or the style or the pattern and that you’ll never, ever, ever use it again–and you recycle the printed pages as scratch paper and toss the traced version.  You’ll feel lighter, and you’ll never run out of places to jot down your shopping list again.

What about y’all?  What’s the last time you jumped in a tried a new technique that you’d heard a lot about but just never got around to adding to your toolbelt?  I wonder if it feels as rejuvenating to you as it does to me–the small, simple act of trying something new and seeing if it floats your boat–man, that really gets my creative wheels turning and brings back the excitement.  And all with a simple skill that we learned when we did worksheets featuring letters made out of dotted lines…


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