Archive of ‘class’ category

handmade print exhibit

hand-printing exhibit

Yesterday was a mostly grey, dreary day but so super exciting for me, personally.  That is because yesterday (drumroll) I along with three of my students hung our very own handmade prints up for display!

The exhibit was a result of the hand-printing class I taught at the end of last year.  We covered stenciling, hand-carving stamps and screen printing.  It was obvious that what we were making deserved to be showcased.  hand-printing class

The lovely folks at the Main Street building I use to for my classes, agreed to let us display in their big front window facing the town’s main street.  Whoever was available gathered yesterday to hang them up.  We are gangbusters, aren’t we? I am just a wee bit proud of this endeavor.  By that I mean, I’m hugely proud.

prepping for the exhibit

We started by putting all of the prints in embroidery hoops and glueing them in place (I illustrate at the end of this tutorial). Then someone had the great idea to tape two back-to-back making them reversible…with different prints visible from inside the building and outside the building.  Genius, right?

the prints from hand-print exhibit

Look at all those amazing prints!  Really, it was such a pleasure to be involved in such a creative and energetic making process.  Many of the prints are very subtle and soft and I think reflect the quiet, everyday, imaginative moments for many of us.  In the window they hang pretty quietly as well…but so beautifully.

exhibit collage

I am not going to lie, I’m craning my neck every time I go by and smiling every time. And, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one finding reasons to admire the window.  Sometimes we are just moms making it happen and then sometimes we are rockstar screen printers displaying our hearts out! Remember how I’m looking for courage?  I think I got this one.

Wrap up and reflection on 2013

2013 has been a great year. My goals going into the year included staying organized; using what I have; and following the joy.  Not to get overly emotional here but I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at how each one of these pushed me in new and unexpected directions.

When I started to organize, I ended up moving my sewing stuff into a beautiful new space and my sewing classes to a new location.  In the attempt to “use what I have”, I started the up-cyling project.  All of those lovely developments will carry on into 2014.

It was following my joy, though, that one was really a whopper.   My search for greater joy in my work (read: less listening to my head and more listening to my gut) led me to take some wonderful risks.  I went for it when I 1) re-jiggered and re-designed the website, 2) created a promo video that makes me beam with pride, 3)  taught myself (and others through my classes) how to screen-print, and 4) started teaching sewing at my favorite fabric boutique of all time, Rock Paper Scissors.   Between the classes at Rock Paper Scissors and the ones I taught locally I taught for a total of 73 hours in fourteen classes.

classes collage

Those things happened as a direct result of listening to the voice asking, “what makes you joyful?” and ignoring the other peskier ones.  I contributed six guest posts this year with six lovely new friends and eight new tutorials on the blog.  I’m honored to have been a part of the covert robin team and now a contributor at Sew Mama Sew. I was proud to co-host the lovely Backyard Art Camp that brought together a dozen talented mamas to create original art projects for kids.  Of things I’ve made there are three new quilts in the world, my wardrobe is fourteen items larger and the boys acquired an amazing 21 mama-made items, most of them made with used clothing.

made in 2013

More than all of that, however, are the connections I made.  It was a year of wing-spreading for me and through that process I met more new friends and crafty mamas than ever before.  Nothing beats having those additional voices of encouragement and inspiration in my corner.  There were certainly disappointments and stresses in 2013.  Many, in fact.  Things I had to let go of including rejections from craft fairs and conference teaching gigs I didn’t get.  Things I worked on unbelievably hard that just didn’t go anywhere.  That is where the joy was so important.  A rejection is a lot less bitter tasting when I know the long-term goal is to keep sweet joy in my mind’s eye.

Did you have goals for the past year?  How is that rear-view mirror looking right now? Ready for 2014?

A Butterfly Staple Dress

staple dress in AMH

One of the classes I am teaching soon (here) is The Staple Dress and so, of course, I had to make myself another one to display at the shop.  This time I used an Anna Maria Horner print and lined it up so the print runs beautifully right down the front of the dress.   staple dress with hemThe important details:  I sized this XS and I am by no means an XS girl, I just ain’t.  The dress is just so blousy and oversized that an XS fits me best so keep that in mind if you make this dress.  The fabric is stunning and soft and so beautiful, it’s a linen-cotton blend and it needed 8 lines of elastic shirring at the waist to properly gather.  I think the pattern recommends 3 to 4.  I finally made it with a hi-lo hem and I love it!  I’m not one to go for big drama with my clothing but this hem is really nice and adds just a bit more interest and dimension to the dress.

I still have mixed feelings about this pattern, overall.  I like this version the best of all of the times I’ve made the dress but it still feels like I’m working pretty hard to ensure I don’t end up with a sack.  This version is wearable and the dress comes together easily, which is very nice, but I’m still not nuts about it. On the other hand, with this nice print and it’s easy going style, I think I will wear it often enough.

Can you tell I’m not crazy about pictures of myself?  It’s just that some days I don’t really wanna shower or smile is all.  Ever been there?

messenger bag in perfectly perfect kokka fabric

messenger bag from a happy stitchI made another messenger bag.   I made it as a sample for my upcoming messenger bag class at rock paper scissors which is really exciting because the fabric was given to me.  It also means I don’t actually have it in my hot little fingers just yet because it’s busy showing itself off in the shop.  I’m so happy to be teaching at rock paper scissors, it’s such a warm & happy place.  And, what amazing fabric I get to play with.  Isn’t that that most beautiful fabric?  It’s part of the Folk Modern line designed by Ellen Luckett Baker of The Long Thread for Kokka the Japanese fabric company.  I loved her first fabric line, Stamped, and this set of fabrics is just as beautiful.  It’s a thicker weight fabric but not heavy duty thick and the colors are wonderfully bright but playfully sophisticated.  I love it.

messenger in kokkaThe pattern is one I created a while ago because so many people were requesting a messenger bag class and I couldn’t find a bag pattern that I liked enough to ask people to buy it.  It’s one thing to buy a pattern and have it turn out to be a dud but another thing altogether to knowingly ask people to buy a dud pattern.   In the end, I’m so glad I ended up making the pattern because I really love it.  It’s the right size for a slightly girly messenger bag.

Inside the Messenger Bag from a happy stitch

If there is anything annoying about making this bag is the amount of time spent ironing interfacing.  There is a lot of interfacing in this humble bag.  It uses a magical combination of heavyweight Heat N Bond as well as mediumweight and lightweight Pellon interfacing to give it shape without being stiff.  I love when I find the right combination of interfacing to give a bag structure without any weird creasing that screams “This bag has interfacing in it!”.

My plan is to write up a messenger bag pattern to add to the shop this winter.  Of course, I have lots of plans and I never really know which one is going to bubble up to the top.  One of the things holding me back is I have to figure out how to make pdf pattern pieces that are larger than one page.  Anyone have experience with that?  I’d love your assistance if you do.


fall and winter classes

that’s right! it’s time for a whole new batch of fantastic sewing classes!  I really am excited about these classes and hope that if you live in the Central New Jersey area and have been eager to sew, you join in the fun with me.

classes winter fall 2013

this fall I will be teaching fold-over knit skirt class,  a brand-new, deliciously exciting hand printing series, beginner quilting, beginner sewing and some fantastic sewing salons (including a one-night memory quilt workshop). Oh, we are going to have so much fun.  the full schedule is here.

p.s. classes often fill up quickly so don’t hesitate, register quick.

I am also happy to be able to tell you that I will be teaching in North Jersey for the first time!  a few years ago I walked into the most amazing, spacious, beautiful, creative and wonderful fabric boutique I had come across,  a place called Rock Paper Scissors in Montclair, NJ.  since that time I have become close with Beth, the shop owner and her amazing, warm and dedicated staff.  every once in a while Beth would ask me about teaching at her shop but it never seemed to work for me.   that is why I’m so positively  grateful that it has worked out this fall.  I feel like I have found another home!

so, be sure to join me at Rock Paper Scissors if you are in North Jersey.  I’m teaching the following daytime and evening classes, so look for them on the calendar in October and November: fold-over knit skirt, the staple dress, memory quilt workshop, and messenger bag class.

phew! it’s going to be a exciting fall.


the skirts I plan to live in. possibly forever.

for all of my fussing and putz-ing with regular cotton clothing, the honest truth is when it comes to what I actually wear on a daily basis, it’s knits.  they are just so…easy.   black knit skirt

that is why I’m so thrilled about these three new additions to my wardrobe.  three fold-over knit skirts!  the plain black skirt up there, possibly the most boring thing to grace this here little blog, has been washed and worn at least once a week this summer.  there is nothing more functional than that skirt.  boring or not, I love that skirt like an old friend.

the pattern is from Meg McElwee’s Craftsy class, of which I am a huge fan.  the sizing was a little funky but once I got that figured out, the whole thing came together pretty simply.  there is not much stitching involved in a basic skirt especially one made of forgiving knit fabric.

the regular meg

the striped skirt is my attempt to replicate a skirt I saw on rare trip to J.Crew.  it looked too easy to make myself; I couldn’t justify buying it.  thankfully, it was relatively easy to make and I had just enough striped knit on hand already.  I used the pattern in Meg’s book Sew Liberated…she is, after all, the master of sewing with knits.  the pattern was a little odd, however.  I don’t know everything there is to know about pattern drafting, but thanks to a class I took with  Cal Patch I could tell this pattern was not standard.  sure enough, the hem length at the sides of the skirt, where the seams meet, is longer than the front and back hem.  it’s not a big deal and the skirt is still wonderful for everyday wear.  it’s only a slight harumph.  it’s a little perplexing since Meg’s Craftsy class is so exacting and careful and then the book pattern is kind of wonky?  who knows why. checked knit

I was able to correct for this (and made a handful of other small tweaks) to make this third skirt.  I ended up completely drafting my own pattern.  a process that is really pretty simple, again thanks to everything I have learned from Cal and it helps that when you work with knit fabrics you don’t have to worry about seam allowances in the same way.

I guess looking at them now, in pictures, none of these skirts are all that fascinating or award-winning.  the real test, however, for me is that I wear them all the time!  they are comfortable and definitely kid-proof and, at the end of the day, that is a skirt that fits my life.  maybe I need to make four more, one for every day of the week.  like a mom uniform!

p.s. I might just be teaching how to make this skirt in an upcoming class.  its not yet posted but you might want to watch for that.  especially if you have an interest in learning some basic pattern drafting and like stretchy, comfy fabrics! (who doesn’t?)




the story of the messenger bag

I get most of my ideas for the sewing classes from the community of people that take them, people otherwise known as my friends.  it’s a great feedback loop because then I get to see more of them!

often there is a suggestion for a class that is a super great idea but something I have never made.  that’s when I head to the drawing board and hunt around for the right book/ existing pattern or draft my own pattern.  a process that involves lots and lots of making and tweaking.  it was exactly this road I went down for the messenger bag class.

messenger bag

it’s a pretty fun process, actually.  a bit of a puzzle.  but it can be a balancing act.  I want to keep the cost of class supplies at a minimum so I have to be aware of the cost of a book and pattern but I want it to be simple and high-quality at the same time.  I also don’t want to bust my own budget purchasing too many new books and patterns attempting failed trial runs and, consequently, use up too much fabric with the process of making prototypes.  In this case, I ended up drafting a pattern that I’m really excited about.  but that is not where the story begins.    little messenger bag

it starts with this child’s messenger bag from the meg mcelwee book growing up sew liberated.  I made it with some fabric salvaged from an old shower curtain and while it turned out cute I worried that it look too much like a purse.  [as an aside, I am totally in love with meg.  I’m taking her craftsy class and she is so funny and warm and she doesn’t know it but I secretly think of her as one of my best friends.  it’s not creepy-like, I don’t think.]

anyway, on to the next! carry me messenger

this time I switched gears to adult messenger bags.  I tried out the messenger bag from the book carry me (which is filled with wonderful, inspiring bags but be forewarned, the instructional language is pretty slim and tough to follow as a result of being translated from japanese, I guess).  I liked the look of this bag but it was really time consuming to make and way too floppy.  so, I went to the other extreme.
the cute onethis somewhat lovely looking bag was a serious wrestling match…and the bag won.  I lined it with thick heavyweight interfacing which ended up making it nearly impossible to maneuver while sewing.   it actually slammed me in the face once.  the stitches came out uneven in parts because of all the wrestling (you can tell by looking at the bottom of the bag) and the final product was a stupidly stiff bag.  don’t ask me why I took the time to hand-stencil the front of a bag that I don’t really like, sometimes I just can’t say no when inspiration strikes…[meg understands].

finally, I took what I learned from every other attempt and drafted my own bag pattern and came up with this:


it uses a mix of light, medium and heavyweight interfacing and a straightforward method of construction.  It has a gusseted pocket on the inside because bags need pockets and I added a more subtle embellishment to the front of the bag.

view of detail on m.bag

I used some of the fantastic wool that I got from my grandmother and inside is linen from Ikea.

inside m.bagas always, there remain additional things I will change when I make this bag again such as  simplifying the strap, using thicker webbing and canvas fabric.   but, those lingering ideas and tweaks are what keep things interesting.  for the most part, another puzzle is solved!

spring sewing classes

…are now open for registration and I really can’t wait to share the new space with you.  let’s usher in springtime with some fantastic sewing!  I hope I see you soon!

sewing superstaras always, please email me ahappystitch{at}gmail{dot}com with any questions or to notify me of any quirks with sign up!

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