I Am in Love! More Art2Love Sewing!


This weekend, Art2Love had their launch party in Austin, TX. Again, Karen, Austin’s very own superhero, let me in on the sewing action! I invited my friend Rachel Moon over for a bit of the fun!





This dragon was my favorite!




So much fun! Big Thanks again to Karen for sharing the fun with Rachel and I!

Learn more about Art2Love!

Check out Rachel Moon‘s new blog!

I Think I’m in Love… with Art2Love!


I think I’m in love.

With Art2Love!

This amazing woman (Karen), has started this wonderful project, turning dreams into reality! Big THANKS to her for letting me be a part of this!

She works with kids who are terminally ill, or who have some such equally bad luck in life, and turns them into superheroes of their own design! They design their own capes with awesome imagination, and we humble stitchers get to make their designs into something tangible. SO Exciting!

This was my first design, I got to do just the emblem this time.


Check out my pile of prep… I love Wonder Under!


I got some directions to follow, a Princess with a Purple Pearl Necklace, and a Magic Black Bean. I just happened to have some purple beads and some sparkly black felt the fit the bill perfectly! This superhero also requested a large diamond ring on her cape as well, and I complied.



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I had so much fun with this, that I’ve organized a superhero crafting night with my fellow stitchers here! Look for more details and pictures soon!

Check out the details of Art2Love for yourself!

Breaking the Rules: Dragging My Sister Down With Me!


I said I was making one for my sister. Here it is. Another wearable muslin! I added the alterations I made to my striped pukey cute shirt to the actual paper pattern for this version. The last time, the neckline and collar was much too large for my tiny neck, so I took it in from the opening, making my front top angle in towards the shoulders. This made my stripes look not so straight. Of course since I don’t button it up all the way, it is nearly invisible, but it would make a difference in the outcome of the next shirt. Because I was piecing together the striped fabric to eek out a shirt, I added separate plackets to the front, but this is not what the original pattern called for. Staying true the pattern for this shirt (because I had enough fabric), I made sure to add the changes to the paper pattern. I found some info here about taking in necklines.

I basically extended the shoulder line (neck side) by one inch on each side, and shortened the shoulder seam from the shoulder side. I had to then redraw the neckline and the arm hole so they looked alright.

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I think I did alright, because this shirt fit much better in the neckline than the last one.

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A shell for Michelle. Hopefully she will post a picture for all of us to see!

See the Pukey Cute version!


Breaking the Rules: A Wearable Muslin


I’m a rule breaker. I just can’t help it. I know you’re supposed to make a muslin mockup, but most of the time I can’t even bring myself to make one, I just don’t have the patience! In fact, this project might mark the third time in all my years of sewing that I even considered making a mockup. Notice I omitted the word “muslin” from in front of mockup. I know I’m probably making a lot of traditionalist stitchers really angry right now, and I could pretend I’m sorry about that, but I’m not. Like I said, I’m a rule breaker!

The first bridesmaids dress I ever made, I made A muslin mockup before making the dress, one, uno; a single mockup, before making the actual dress. I made the changes to the pattern and cut out the new dress.

I’m just not a patient person! At least I usually make a tracing of the pattern so that I can make changes and read them easily. Most of the time. Mockups usually come into play in my world with special fabric. Extremely special fabric. The kind of fabric that you hold onto for years before you find the perfect garment for it, or that someone else paid a lot of money for.

The second time I made a mockup was for my wedding dress. Guess what turned into the actual wedding dress? Yup, the mockup. Not the fabric I traveled to L.A. to buy special, no, the free hand-me-down fabric I dyed as an experiment. I couldn’t help it, it was perfect just the way it was. It helped that I mostly copied another dress for the pattern, one that fit me amazingly. That dress was just meant to be.

This current project isn’t for a wedding, but however, the end product will eventually be a silk shirt for my sister as a belated birthday present. Luckily, my sister and I are relatively the same size. So… I started with a pattern. A unisex pattern. Which is probably why I decided to do a mockup; I definitely want this shirt to be feminine, so I’ve had to make a lot of changes to the original pattern. I traced my pattern, and followed the pattern’s given directions for making a dart in the front. However, you may have noticed how small I am, so I tried to take out some length and width out of the upper part of the shirt by folding along the grain lines. Any changes I made to the front, I made to the back and yoke as well.


After feeling satisfied with the pinned fit, I started thinking about my mockup.


Since I didn’t actually have any actual muslin fabric, I had to come up with another solution. My lack of patience plays a part in this, as well as my budget. I have lots of fabric, but not a stitch of muslin. So I decided to make a cute mock up; I had to search for the fabric, it was at the bottom of one of my big bins. I had a shirt design brewing in my head, but as soon as I saw the fabric, I could see it clearly. So I started cutting it out!

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I had to get creative with the small amount of fabric I had, but stripes are wonderful for that aren’t they!? While I was getting creative with the stripes, I had another wonderfully creative vision for this “mockup”. It needs a cutout in the back! Doing this was actually a lot like the reverse appliqué tutorial I posted this spring, here.


Pin your traced design to your two layers of fabric. In this case, I chose to put the cutout on the yoke, so I pinned it like this. Then stitch around your design.


Tear away your stabilizer, and cut the shape out inside of the stitches, leaving a seam allowance to turn it.


Don’t forget to notch and clip where needed on curves and corners.


Then flip one side through the hole and bring it to the other side. Use your point turner or other similar tool to poke out your corners perfectly.


Iron flat and admire your awesome new cutout design!

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Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can finish this “mockup”. (Yeah right, huh!?)

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Don’t forget about anchoring your patch pockets!

After getting it to a point where I can try it on, I realized that the neck was too big! I hadn’t thought about that because I am imagining the silk shirt to not have a collar, but fit is still important. Being a master at alterations, this was not a big deal for me. I just took in the top center of both sides, and shortened the collar from both ends.

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Much better! Now buttons and button holes, and the hem.

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This is the second rule I am breaking, although it’s more of a personal rule. I am not a big fan of ruffles, I have NEVER put a ruffle on one of my own personal garments. Until now. As I said, I saw the shirt in my mind’s eye before I even cut it out. It had to have a ruffle. There was no fighting it, there was nothing I could do. At least I’m not uprooting the traditional nature of couture sewing with this hem, just my own nature. At least it was a very tight little satisfying ruffle.


Alas, not fighting the design worked well for the shirt, and for myself. I think this shirt is so cute I might just puke!

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Breaking the rules of sewing with my pukey cute shirt! Awesome!


Cushion Therapy


This week has been tough, the year anniversary of my friend’s death took a toll on me. Making new useful things always gives me a good boost, so this week I finally made a proper cushion for my homemade pallet couch! Inspired by the hemp table cloths I made last month, I ordered some more hemp canvas for my couch.

I had a smorgasbord of scrap foam pieces, that I was able to stack together for a single large “mattress” cushion for my couch.


I made the simplest cushion cover I could, basically I cut one large rectangle. This piece was large enough to wrap around all sides; I used a simple algebra equation to figure my measurements. Mom, you were right, I do use math as an adult!

Length from back to front=a, width from side to side=b, and depth=c.

Cut one large piece: [2(a) + 2( c) +1″ seam allowance] x [b + c + 1″ seam allowance]. Basically the piece must be twice the length plus twice the width plus seam allowances to wrap all the way around the piece, and it must be wide enough to extend halfway down each deep side, plus seam allowance on each side.

Fold this large piece together in half lengthwise right sides together, and stitch down the two sides. The third side, opposite the folded side, is where the zipper goes. After inserting the zipper, square all your corners by folding as a triangle and stitching across the seams/center. The length you stitch across from edge to edge will be your depth, so find the point that depth.

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This gives the flat piece some dimension. This is much easier than sewing two pieces for the top and bottom together with a long gusset piece around the depth. Making cushions in this manner, you have to cut two main pieces, one long front/side gusset, and two skinny long back gusset pieces to put the zipper between. If you would like to add piping, this is the way to assemble a cushion. If your cushion is of a shape anything other than a square or rectangle, you must make the cushion with these four main pieces.

piped cushion

Like I said, I made mine the easy way!

No matter which way you decide to make your cushion, stuffing it is always the hardest part!


Looking back, it may have been worth it to wrap the foam in batting to make it easier to stuff. I made this other cushion after making my own, and it was loads easier!


Ultimately it is worth the effort, because look how satisfying it is to see a completed cushion!

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And even more satisfying to see my finished project!


Paul Withdrawal


Paul Withdrawal. A Man, a Presence, an Experience. I met my friend in the fall of 1997, I was 16, he was 15; we met through a group of mutual friends. He was a musician, a poet, a thinker, and a friend. I can’t describe in words what his friendship meant to me, but when I found out he was in hospice, waiting to die from his second round of brain cancer, I knew I had to make something that would be a fitting tribute to such a great person. A year ago today, he received my gift.

I learned through making this memorial quilt just how lucky my timing was in finding out about his condition before he died. A friend (the best kind of friend: thanks, Mandy) called me to see if I knew about Paul. “What about Paul?” It was 6 days before my wedding. I felt very torn between the excitement and suspense of the event marking the beginning of my new life, and the knowledge that my dear friend would soon be departing this old world. I was able to exchange a few words directly with him before the wedding, and I was lucky to get those few. I had the picture quilt idea immediately; I sent a social media request out to our mutual friends, asking for pictures, and continued through my event with a happy heart.

After my wedding, I set right into making the quilt. All I knew is that I wanted to put pictures on it, all the other details would emerge as I worked. As it turned out, finding the pictures wasn’t as easy as I thought. You see, I live 2000 miles away. I felt very strongly about making this tribute, all his other friends were there still, near him. Somehow nobody else had my urgency, the feeling was odd, I felt rushed, I had talked to his brother (twin brother) and knew how serious his condition was. The time was coming. So I raided Facebook accounts and stole pictures, and some friends helped out; I’m sure glad I did because my timing ended up being more perfect than I ever could have planned.

As I said, I didn’t have a clear picture of the quilt as I began it, as the month drew by, the quilt found it’s form quite definitively. I just started printing out pictures. I found out there are a few ways to put pictures onto fabric. The easiest way (and most expensive) was to purchase treated, stabilized, fabric to run through your ink jet printer. This also turned out to be the best way. I tried to mimic this with stabilized fabric, but that’s when I learned about the dye treatment: basically you have to treat the fabric or the ink, so that the printer ink won’t just wash off.

quilt pictures

This was my first layout. It was not the right one. This fabric layout eventually became the back side.

first thoughts

So I tried again with more pictures. Still not right.

2nd thoughts

Then it hit me as if Paul told me himself. I need to make it punk rock. It needs a giant skull. So here, finally  the visual of the quilt appeared to me, and so, here also, began my obsession with reverse appliqué.

collaging the pics

So I drew out my skull, and cut it out of my black fabric, and purposefully and thoughtfully arranged the pictures so that no face would be covered by the skull details. I also did my best to surround the pictures of Paul with the pictures of his friends.


The quilt was emerging as it’s true self. From here it was easy, I sewed on  a wide border of white fabric and stippled the black skull background to quilt the layers. The idea was to have a group go visit him when it arrived and sign it with him. It didn’t quite work out that way.




I sent off the quilt; his brother called and said, now’s the time, send it now.

It arrived less than 12 hours after he died. At first this disappointed me, but as the days passed and the funeral approached, the quilt became much more important for me. It became my tribute to him, it was able to represent my love, and grief, for my wonderful friend. I didn’t get to make it to the funeral, living so far away, traveling wasn’t an option for me at the time. Timing again was lucky for me in the big picture, in this day of social media, I was able to grieve with my friends over the internet.


The quilt, this embodiment of my affection for my friend, ended up being a positive entity at the funeral. Paul’s family was able to get the quilt filled with signatures; they framed it and hung it, and will keep it forever. My small, perfect tribute to Paul. I am so thankful to his brother Shane for keeping me updated about his progress, I realize how lucky I was in knowing the timing. I am thankful for all the friends that were able to send me pictures to add. I am thankful to the world and to Paul for giving me the strength to make this quilt. I am thankful to all who did attend his funeral and signed his quilt, and finished this memorial for his family.

And I am thankful for having the opportunity to know Paul.

A.D.S.D. Attention Deficit Sewing Disorder


I realize I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks now. It’s not because I didn’t want to, actually it’s the opposite. I have been very busy working on a couple of very important and time consuming projects for customers, and a couple of smaller projects for myself as well. Basically, I’ve barely finished anything since I got back from vacation.

Now, while I said I haven’t finished anything, like I’ve already said, I do have a lot going on. So much in fact, that I am beginning to feel like I have A.D.D., but more like A.D.S.D.: Attention Deficit Sewing Disorder. Prototype mountain biking jackets from secret fabric, a full crystal selling booth of giant table skirts, bandana curtains, treadle sewing machines (ok just one), embroidery, alterations, sewing classes, cushions, and gear repair. These are the many things that have made up my last few weeks. Because of the two larger projects, the other projects (especially the personal ones) get put on hold, and I can only do my best to squeeze in teaching classes, alterations, and gear repair.

So while I did say I haven’t finished anything, I may have been exaggerating just a bit. I did finish one prototype jacket made of secret fabric. But I can’t show it to you. Bummer, I know! Yes, it’s a secret sewing project, anybody who has ever done product development before can understand where I am coming from. However, even though I can’t show you THE jacket, I can show you this pretty cool development profile I made for it.

Front Jacket SDMiller jpg sdmiller jacket diagram back jpg

I’ve also been trying to learn how to use my treadle machine, a Minnesota Model C. I’ve managed to get a belt on it, and I’m thinking about oiling it, so I can start to practice my treadle motion!

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Here are the bandana curtains I am working on. I love them so far, but they are not dark enough, and now I need to find a suitable dark lining. I’d like to say I have sewn them on the treadle machine, but I would be lying if I did. I sewed them with electricity.

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I also just finished some awesome table coverings for an awesome customer, Tronic Rocks! Although I didn’t get any good pictures of them, he did promise me some full set up photos soon. I commissioned a geometric flower drawing from one of my tattoo buddies, and had it embroidered on the front of the table coverings. They turned out really well, I promise I will upload pictures soon.

I also just scored a (new to me) Columbia industrial 4 thread serger that works like a dream! I was able to sew all those super heavy table coverings without skipping a single stitch! The sewing gods must be smiling on me!


So… like I said, I’ve got a lot going on right now! I am gearing up for some more fun stuff soon, so keep checking in!

My One Year Wedding (Dress) Anniversary

Wedding Day!

This time last year, I was preparing for my wedding. Organizing, delegating, entertaining; I was exhausted well before the actual wedding happened! Luckily, or rather, with proper planning, I finished my dress with more than two weeks to spare, giving me plenty of breathing room.

This being a special dress (duh), I took my time doing everything just right. I copied the pattern from a vintage wrap dress I found at a resale store. The fabric was a gift from a friend (thanks Dharm), it was natural raw silk that she had already started cutting pieces for a dress out of, with some extra yardage. I was able to use the skirt pieces almost as is, and had more than enough left to cut my bodice out. So of course, I pre washed the natural fabric (my usual fatal flaw in garment making is forgetting to do this), and then dyed the silk the most wonderful, irrisistible shade of blue that I’ve ever seen.

I have always loved the original dress, except for the sleeves on it. I sweat through anything that is too tight around my arms, and the original dress had these weird cap sleeves, that rubbed in all the wrong ways. Luckily the dress had a natural halter style to it with a clasp at the back of the neck. Everything else was perfect about the dress, the length, the way it wrapped around to the front, tiny pleats in the front and gathers on the upper side instead of darts…. love it!

Base dress for the new pattern.

Inspiration dress for the new pattern.

The first thing I did was start to pin up the bodice into a halter, I cut all the same pieces except for the sleeves. I cut a long bias strip for the halter top instead of the sleeves, and didn’t have to change the bodice all that much to bring my vision to life.

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After this it came together pretty quickly, but I had another friend come over and help fit it to me once it was to this stage, because my adjustable model wasn’t actually my size (thanks Michal). I got some advice from another sewing instructor here in Flagstaff (thanks Mary), and lined the bodice with a light blue cotton batiste, but left the skirt unlined since it was a wrap. I brought the dress outside for pictures to test the skirt’s opacity to be sure though!


I tailored the halter strap to fit my neck perfectly with a bias seam, I didn’t want to have ties hanging down my back. My wedding tattoo (yes we got sleeve tattoos instead of wedding rings: thanks Soup at Birch Ave!) goes across my left shoulder blade so I did not want to chance covering it!



Wedding Day!

Wedding Day!

My beautiful sister.

My beautiful sister.

The Smiths

Mr. and Mrs. S.

Thanks to CarolAnna’s Camera for these awesome photos!

Make a new tank top from an old shirt!


This was the second project I brought with me while I was on vacation: I brought one of my husband’s old shirts that he did not wear anymore, some scrap fabric (in this case some pieced squares), and a design idea for embellishment (yes, more reverse applique!).


I really liked the feel of this shirt’s fabric, but it was stretched out pretty oddly and unwearable as is, so I decided to make a tank top from the shirt. I chose a racer back tank top that I had with me to “copy”. Separate the front from the back (either by cutting or folding) and fold the front in half vertically down the center. Lay your well fitting tank top (also with the front folded in half the same way) over the large shirt, and cut around the shape, giving yourself some extra seam allowances all the way around. Do the same with the back, but be very careful not to cut extra layers or your already well fitting tank top.




Now that the two main pieces are cut, this is a great time to embellish the shirt. It is much easier doing any decorative stitching, especially reverse appliqué, on a flat piece than in a tube. Learn reverse appliqué here!


After your embellishment is finished, then you can begin to assemble your new shirt. Tank tops are easy, side seams and strap seams need to be sewn, then finish the neckline and armholes, and then the hem.

For this shirt, I finished the neckline and armholes by binding with bias cut strips, which happens during assembly. The best way to bind tank tops is to scatter the binding overlaps in the seams, to achieve this properly there is a specific order of operations for seaming and binding. This specific order prevents extra bulky seams at binding overlap points.

This is the proper order of seaming/binding:

1. Stitch one shoulder seam.

2. Bind the open neckline through the seam you just created on one shoulder.

3. Stitch the second shoulder seam.

4. Bind both armholes, through the seamed shoulders.

5. Then seam both main sides, finishing all raw edges of binding.

If you are like me, and cannot bring yourself to follow the rules, and decide to seam your sides first, you will have to remove the top two inches of stitching on each side, to finish the bound edges.






After finishing the seams and the neckline/armholes, the last step is to hem the shirt. I did not finish the hem for this shirt because it is a double knit fabric that will not fray or roll; I only made sure the bottom of both side seams were finished securely and evenly.


Learn reverse applique here!

Check out some of my other reverse applique projects: barstools, custom tattoo table, hairdressing shears and spaceships, and a raccoon skirt.