A Few Tips for Novice Garment Sewing

Wow! I have lots to share with you today!

It was so fun reading all the wonderful reader’s comments left on last Tuesday’s post, My Urban Tunic in Crossroads Denim. It became obvious to me that I am not alone in being apprehensive to make the jump from quilting to garment construction. Since I had such a successful run with my first project, I thought I would share a few tips I gathered from experienced sewists as I began my project.2015-03-16 09.32

1. Read through the direction thoroughly, until you totally understand the cutting and construction.

2. Prewash and press your fabric.

3. Transfer your tissue paper pattern onto a more permanent and manageable material such as Pellon. I used Red Dot Tracing Material and it worked great..

4. Make a muslin sample first. Ok, in reality, I made two, in two different sizes. Then combined the smaller top and larger bottom for my own personal, pear shaped pattern.

5. Find someone that understands garment construction to help tweak your sample for a perfect fit while you are wearing it. I was fortunate enough to have the incredibly talented Margaret Linderman pin and tweak, then cheer me on to the next step. Thank you Margaret!

6. You know the saying, measure twice, cut once? Well, here’s a new one for you – Gather the correct pattern pieces. Make sure you are following the correct cutting layout for the view or option you have chosen. Check it twice, then cut it once.

7. Take your time sewing. Read and follow directions carefully. Pin, yes pin, even if you think you don’t need to.

8. Take your time to press each seam neatly. Use steam or a pressing cloth when needed.

9. Practice any required topstitching on a scrap fabric first, before stitching onto your garment. You want it pretty and perfect the first time.

I am sure these tips would be obvious to someone that does a lot of garment sewing, but for me, it was definitely a learning process, so I needed all the help I could get!. Perhaps my list will save someone else a few steps on their first project!

Giveaway-GoldNow, as to our winner of the giveaway for the Urban Tunic Pattern by Indigo Junction. Congratulations to Jacqueline! You will be receiving your pattern in the mail soon!

Thank you to everyone else for all the wonderful comments. I wish I could send a pattern to each and every one of you.

If you live in the Northern California area, be sure to check out the East Bay Modern Quilters annual show, Stitch Modern 2015. Opening night is tonight, but there will be lectures, events and gallery hours throughout the month of April. Be sure to check out the calendar of events on their website: Stitch Modern 2015.

Shapes by Linda Hungerford. Check out her blog at Flourishing Palms.

Need a boost of inspiration? Hungry for some eye candy? – be sure to follow the links to Carol Van Zandt’s blog posts with more quilt photographs from Quiltcon 2015. They are spectacular!

Minimalist Design Quilts

Bias Tape Challenge

Handwork Category Quilts




I think that’s it for now! Have a wonderful weekend.


Kim Andersson – Part 1: A Journey to Quilts

I would like to introduce you to Kim Andersson of  I. ADORE. PATTERN! Kim and I belong to the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild. She is talented, fun, and she bubbles over with creativity. We have asked Kim to be a guest writer for us this week, so be sure to visit again on Friday to learn even more about her.




Thank you Pati, for such a lovely welcome! I’m so excited to be a guest on “See How We Sew” and share with you my sewing journey. Six years ago my family and I moved to San Francisco from Sydney, Australia, and I was in awe of all the fabulous fabric and pattern books available here at very enticing prices! Blessed with a new baby that slept (my first didn’t), I bought a sewing machine and started to sew again! It was through wonderful quilting fabrics that my passion for sewing was sparked.

I was sewing mostly clothes and toys for my two boys. On a trip to NYC I came across the store, Purl Soho. In the window was an amazing quilt in fabulous prints. That gorgeous quilt turned out to be Single Girl by Denyse Schmidt in her fabric collection Katie Jumps Rope.

So started my love of quilting.

Soon I was reading books and searching online for various piecing and quilting techniques, taking classes at my local quilt shops, and discovering everything from hand quilting to improv piecing. I learned something new every time I turned on my sewing machine.

This search led me to join the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild 4 years ago, I really enjoy the learning and camaraderie of being a part of this group. I’ve gone from making baby-sized quilts to King-sized quilts with the wonderful support of my guild! It truly is amazing when you find friends that are as obsessed as you are :). Together we’ve created an annual quilt show, Stitch Modern, for the past 3 years. It’s been a wonderful show with some great events! If you live locally, pencil it in your diary for next year, it just get’s better and better.

“Diamond Life” Front and Back views. Stitch Modern 2013.

At the start of a new project I love image searching and researching for my quilt designs. This has led to a Pinterest addiction. My Quilt board is filled with gorgeous colors and shapes! The list of quilt designs that I’d like to sew is out of control!


I love working with a variety of fabrics, both pattern and solids in my quilts. I’ve used Quilting Cotton, Voile, Cotton Lawn, Linen, Denim…the list goes on.

Linen/Liberty Double Disappearing Nine Patch in process.

I recently finished the top of a Double Disappearing Nine Patch quilt that used lovely linen texture and tones mixed with some gorgeous Liberty of London fabric. Oh how I love Liberty and linen!!

My Linen/Liberty quilt top on s how at Stitch Modern 2014.
My Liberty Hexys are a work in progress… mostly worked on at the kid’s soccer practice.

Looking at all the gorgeous fabrics in my stash, I find I have fabrics of many different styles. I see that I can be drawn to fabrics that have a more defined graphic style or a lovely loose painterly style. The element that unites them all is their wonderful palettes. A fabulous color palette gets me every time.

Yes, my fabric stash is under control…well…sort of….

This love of fabric has also led me in a new career direction. I’ve been a graphic designer for many, many years and all this play with fabric has rekindled my passion for pattern.


My studio and my King size Half-Square Triangle quilttop on the wall. You can see more on my studio and design process here.

Last year I competed in a fabric design competition on “The Printed Bolt” called REpeated. Run by two fabulous quilt girls, these challenges were close to heart as we were making fabric designs for quilt fabrics! They had some very talented judges and the response from readers was fabulous!

Here are the links for my REpeated challenge designs and the stories behind them:

Challenge One: Folkloric Stitches

Challenge Two: Up In the Air

Challenge Three: Spring Dot

Challenge Four: Grandparents Garden

Final Challenge: Tidal Lace

So last October, with my collections in hand, I traveled to Houston Quilt Market (an amazing experience!). I met with some lovely and supportive fabric companies and quilty people and I’m pleased to say that my very first fabric collection will be released later this year! I’ll be sharing more with you soon and in the meantime you can see some of my design work at www.iadorepattern.com.

Kim-Andersson-studio 2

I hope that you enjoyed reading a bit about me and my journey to quilts. Next post, I’ll show you some other sewing that I like to do, with a mix of clothes, toys and gifts…and maybe a bit more about quilts.

Let the stitchy fun begin!


Kim Andersson

If you want to see more I have sewing and quilting images over on Instagram. Another addiction?




Hari-Kuyo – The Ceremony of Broken Needles

In Japan, the Hari-Kuyo ceremony is held throughout Japan annually on the 8th of February. This 400-year-old tradition is held at Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples as a celebration of the small tools used by seamstresses, embroiderers, and housewives over the previous year.

It is believed that these inanimate objects have souls and by using them, some of their pain is released. Broken or worn needles, pins, and some small scissors are brought to the ceremony and thanked for their good service in creating sashiko, kimonos, or even for daily mending. Then they are gently laid to rest in a soft tofu cake.


Tofu is symbolic in this instance for rest and tenderness; a peaceful place for the tools retirement. In observance of the ceremony, no sewing is to take place on this day, as this gives time for  reflection and time to pray that sewing skills improve the following year. Audrey Yang tells of the ceremony in a beautiful online booklet- Hari-Kuyo: Festival of the Broken Needle.

Stitch Modern Ceremony

East Bay Modern Quilt Guild held a version of this meaningful ceremony last Saturday, February 8th, as part of a series of events connected with Stitch Modern 2014, their annual show.

Photo by Pati Fried

I found paying my respects and praying to console my broken needles a wonderful opportunity to share in a time honored tradition . I spend so much of my day with needle and scissors in hand. It was a moment to reflect on my year as a quilter and to be thankful of the accomplishments made with these tiny tools. I have always tossed them away without regard to their importance to my craft. This was an opportunity to change my thinking.

Photo by Pati Fried

The ceremony was thoughtful and welcoming. Birgit Hottenrott, the driving force to celebrate Hari-Kuyo at Stitch Modern, shared the history and lore that has evolved with this special day. While she spoke, many brought their broken needles to rest in the peaceful bed of tofu. Birgit ended the ceremony with the lovely poem by Emily Dickinson, Don’t put up my Thread and Needle.

Photo by Pati Fried

Thank you Birgit, for bringing this lovely tradition to our attention. As this year proceeds, I fully intend to keep a special place for retiring my used needles until February 8, 2015, when I will again, pay them the respect they deserve and celebrate Hari-Kuyo.

Photo by Pati Fried

ではまた。Dewa mata, (See you later).

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Embracing Creativity

I was at a planning meeting this week for one of my favorite quilt events of the year – Stitch Modern. I wanted to share with you some of the interesting events that they are sponsoring this year, but first, let’s talk a bit about embracing your creativity.???????????

One of the things I am most excited about lately, is looking outside my normal routine to find inspiration around me. I find that choosing  a different door to open (or color, or fabric, or technique) leads to opportunities I never imagined. Wednesday morning was no exception. Gather nine people around a table with some coffee and pastries and you never know where the brainstorming will lead! So many great ideas! Okay, okay, I know this happens everywhere, everyday. But, isn’t this how many of our quilt guilds, meetups, shows and events start out? Embracing a creative idea usually makes our  community stronger – and definitely more exciting.  It also leads us down paths not normally taken. Hmmmm. Thinking outside of that ever-looming box is most always a good thing!

So, the next time you nix an unusual idea because it isn’t the way its always been done, remind yourself that the most unique and creative aspects of our world would not exist if there wasn’t once a crazy idea that was embraced.  And with that, I share with you examples of upcoming events that started with simple creative ideas. Be sure to follow the links to read about all the inspiring events they have planned!

Stitch Modern 2014 


The East Bay Modern Quilt Guild’s 3rd annual quilt show.  As a group, East Bay Modern focuses on modern design and personal expression through quilting. As a non-juried show, there are no hard rules – this is quilting our own way, whether it’s with the latest fabrics and traditional patterns, or free piecing with no pattern at all!     Jan 31 – Feb 23rd at Piedmont Center of the Arts , 801 Magnolia Ave, Piedmont, CA.  Gallery Hours: 12pm-3pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Jan 31: 6pm-9pm – Opening Reception 

Feb 8: 12:30pm-2:30pm –

Needle Ceremony                                                                                                                     12:30pm-1:00pm                                                                                                                 An informal memorial service for our spent sewing needles and pins based on the Japanese Hari kuyou ceremony which happens on February 8th. Bring your spent machine, hand sewing, and pins and join us in celebrating our tools and their service.

Beyond the Bed: Exploring Quilts in the Public Eye
In a panel moderated by Kim Andersson of i adore pattern, we will be discussing how quilters go about getting their work “seen” and talking to professionals in the world of fiber art including publishers, curators, and artists.

Feb 9: 12:00pm-2:30pm – Family and Community Activity Day                                        There will be quilting demos, quilt-relatated activities for children and an opportunity to create blocks to be used in children’s charity quilts.

Feb 13: 7pm-8:30pm –  Lecture: Ben Venom & Roderick Kiracofe 

Feb 16: 12pm-3pm – Sew Day with the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild  

Feb 23: 9:30am-4pm –Workshop: Round Robin Improv with Sherri Lynn Wood

WWII Home Front Quilt Challengecropped-Banner-070913-c1

A collaboration of San Francisco Bay Area quilt enthusiasts, arts organizations, museums and historical associations, The Rosie the Riveter Trust, and National Park Service staff and volunteers. The WWII Home Front theme was chosen to promote interest in the new NPS Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, located in Richmond, California. The Park Visitor Education Center is located next to the Craneway Pavilion and the historic Ford Building, which played a significant role in WWII. Voices in Cloth 2014 is the Bay Area’s premier quilt show, produced biennially by the East Bay Heritage Quilters.Up to 80 quilts will be chosen by jury for exhibition in an online gallery beginning in March 2014, and at Voices in Cloth in Craneway Pavilion on March 22 & 23, 2014. 

New Indie Modern Group Forming

And if you live in the Danville, CA area –Come to the 1st meeting of a new group that promises to embrace all crazy, creative ideas with enthusiasm!


All for now! Happy Friday!

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Guest Post: “(Aspiring) To Be a Modern Quilter” by Pati Fried

From Laura: Our special guest contributor today is Pati Fried. Pati and I belong to the same mini quilting group, and I have enjoyed seeing the range of her talents through her quilts. Not only is she an accomplished quiltmaker, but a passionate gardener as well. Welcome, Pati!

Pati Fried_editQuilting has been my passion for a long time. There are oodles of trends that pass through our beautiful, quilty world. Some trends have created such an impact that they become a new style of quilting. Modern Quilting has definitely made that impact and has found a permanent home in the quilt world, alongside its friends: Traditional, Contemporary, and Art Quilting.

What is this fresh, new energy that is rocking our quilt world?  I was curious. My Pinterest Board started filling up. I found myself hovering over the solids, linens, and shot cottons in my favorite quilt shops. I started following Modern Quilt blogs and the first inspirational resource, Fresh Modern Quilts.

The Modern Quilt Guild writes:

Modern Quilting is inspired by modern design. It has many different characteristics, but often uses bold or solid colors and prints, with high contrast and graphics. It may include improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work.  Modern Traditionalism, or the updating of classic quilt design, is also seen as modern quilting.

That’s a pretty broad description. But ya kinda know it when you see it, right?

romance_1_red on chair_edit

My work never looked quite as traditional as I intended it to. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE traditional quilting, reproduction fabrics, and the rich history that makes quilting what it is today. It is classic and beautiful. A Baltimore Album quilt or tiny pieced HSTs (half-square triangles) will always make my heart skip a beat. To be able to balance that with what I was feeling from the Modern Quilts seemed like an answer to finding my own voice.

I joined the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild (EBMQG) about a year ago. It was right before their annual event, Stitch Modern, a month-long extravaganza of all things Modern Quilting. I am so glad I did. What I found was friendship, support, and a whole lot of inspiration – young quilters, new quilters, and a few seasoned quilters like me, all looking for a new perspective. I love this guild. It pushes me out of my quilted box. It encourages me to simplify. It reminds me to focus on what I really want to create and minimalize the rest.


So that’s the big question: What do I want to create? Hmmm . . .

quilt detail_editWith traditional quilting, my answer was simple – if I like something, I make it. I joke that it’s my “speak, dance, and sing” process. A fabric or a new technique will speak to me.  Then I do a little dance experimenting with them. The result is to create a quilt that–you got it–sings.

How would I simplify or minimize that? I don’t necessarily want to spend time on a quilt with a limited color palette or fabric selection. I live for prints, design, and color. That’s what drew me to quilting in the first place, that mixing and matching, making the fabric speak to me. I want to enjoy the dance as much as the finished product. I still want my quilt to sing – just in a fresher and simpler voice.Montage_editThe green medallion in the montage above was a Round Robin project in progress. The center block was created by Judy Miller, and I worked on the border. The Four Baskets medallion was also a Round Robin project in progress. I created the center block, and Nancy Paterson designed the border. The other examples are some of my first attempts at Modern Quilting.

This is the challenge I have given myself: to embrace what I have learned in twenty years of traditional quilting while continuing to push my skills by enjoying an eclectic mix of patterns, color, and texture. Oh, and did I mention that I want it to be a finished product that will reside in my home comfortably? Yeah, that too.

romance_stacked quilts_3_edit

Quilting is all about the journey for me.  Maybe I fit into the Modern Traditionalist group, and maybe not. To be honest, I am not sure I care what the label is, as long as I am enjoying the dance.

~Pati Fried

We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the “quilting journey” of this talented Bay Area quilter.  To learn more about Pati, and to see a gallery of her quilts, visit her website here. For a generous sampling of the Modern Quilts on display at QuiltCon 2013, the first international conference and show presented by The Modern Quilt Guild, check out Darra’s two-part eyewitness post here and here.

‘Til next time, happy stitching!