Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kyle's 2016 Sewing Year in Review Extravaganza

It's my usual New Year's Eve rush to write my sewing year in review!

First, let's start with what I've sewn/done during my winter vacation but have not blogged as shown above:

  • Finished a Jalie fleece started the weekend before my vacation
  • McCall's Echino Kokka French Terry sweatshirt
  • Creatively cut apart a large man's cotton thrift shop sweater and used Simplicity 1283 to make it fit me.
  • Used S1283 to make this lace sleeved shirt.  Fabric was sent to me by goodmombadmom
  • Used a hack of S1283 and the remnants from the long sleeved shirt to make a tank
  • Made 16 pussyhats (8 in this beetroot tie dye and 8 that aren't pictured in hot pink).  I have a crazy goal of making at least 48 of them before the end of next weekend.
  • Handstitched this Christmas cactus ornament and hung it on my Christmas cactus
  • Went to NYC to buy some supplies and visited Swatch at Mood Fabrics.  He was totally conked out.
  • Cut out these crazy floral pants.  Yes, that's right, me, the solids and texture woman.  Yes, me, I am going to make Crazy. Floral. Pants.

Here are my favorites:

Favorite item all year: the StyleArc Stacie Jean Jacket
Close up view
professional photo
Favorite tank, which I wore, with one of my favorite shrugs from last year, for our professional photo day at work (I received permission from the photographer to use this photo across social media)
Favorite sweatshirt

Or maybe this is my favorite sweatshirt
Favorite backpack
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag:  Front angled
Contest winning bag
Favorite leather bag

What I've machine sewn this year
  • 7 tops (includes tanks, tops, shells, sweaters)
  • 2 shrugs
  • 2 jackets
  • 1 fleece
  • 3 sweatshirts
  • 1 sweatshirt dress
  • 4 dresses
  • 2 pants
  • 2 skirts
  • 8 bags
  • 1 pillow
  • 16 fleece hats
  • some keychains and business card holders
I didn't blog everything.  I know of at least one dress and one bag that were not blogged, in addition to everything in the first photo.  But, my entire creative life is on Instagram, all of it!.

What I've hand sewn or hand stitched this year
  • Sublime Stitching
    • Octopus
    • Folk Foxes pillow
  • Heidi Boyd
    • Softies
      • Half of the squirrel softies kit
      • One bird softie
    • Felt Hoops
      • fox
      • blueberry bears
    • Embroidery kits
      • 2 chicks
      • squirrels
    • The 7 ornaments in the Woodland Animals Ornament kit
  • Paulson
    • Red coat ornament
  • Betz White
    • Sewing machine ornament
    • Christmas cactus ornament
  • Mollie Makes
    • Love heart hoop
    • 2 foxes in a hoop
Dabbling with Quilting.  
I'm not a quilter but I tried it a little...
  • Mollie Makes potholder and coasters
  • Fancy Fox II, just the top of the pillow size.
  • I've never been able to draw realistically, but I did enjoy the Creativebug draw a day challenges in January, March and July.  They got me to see that drawing is not just about drawing realistically, that there are other styles of drawing too, ones that I can do.  Thanks, Craft Space Continuum, for getting me into the drawing!
New sewing skills
  • lined skirt with a kickpleat  (not that I'd remember how to do that now--I'd have to go back to my blog post)
  • leather bag and keychain techniques, including making a tassel keychain (so easy!)
  • how to install rivets, purse feet, and bag bling
Contest wins  
After entering 10 contests total in my sewing career, I won:
  • 2nd place PR accessories contest at PR weekend
  • 1st place PR handbag contest.  Definitely a highlight of my sewing career!  I've wanted to win a contest for a while now.
Sewing meetups
  • MPB Winter Frolic, NYC, March
  • PR weekend, Chicago, May
  • MPB Day, NYC, August
  • Lisa from As I Said, Philly, August
  • Antoinette, NYC, September
  • James from Craft Space Continuum, and Tomasa from Sew Much Fashion, NYC, November
  • Antoinette, Austin, December
  • Leslie from The Seasoned Homemaker, Austin, December
  • I went to NYC 7 times in total, for meetups or on my own
  • I put together a calendar of 12 of the bags I made, which was a total hoot for me for the most part, but was also a total and utter bomb at the office white elephant party, ugh.
Store closures
  • Paron, NYC, Sept--I will miss your curated collection, how every bolt was labeled with origin, fiber content, price, the mirrors in your store so I could hold the fabric up to me to see how it looked on me, your amazing collection of sweater knits....
  • City Quilter, NYC, Oct (but they are still selling online)--you always felt like a place of inspiration even though I'm not a quilter.   The CQ was where I originally discovered the Heidi Boyd kits
  • Stitch Lab, Austin, potentially Feb 2017--another place of inspiration, love that little Craftsman style house full of goodness.  I said goodbye in Dec but they recently posted on IG that there is hope that it will survive--fingers crossed!
Goals last year/this year
  • Last year, and the year before, and the year before that, I said I should make a denim jean jacket, and this year, after 3 years of thinking about it, I finally made it!
  • I also said last year that I should make some underwear.  I didn't make any UW after all, but I did organize all my lingerie elastic during my sewing room reorg in the summer
  • For next year, I'd like to make some more pants, maybe jeans, and another jacket.  And sometime I'd like to learn more about fabrics--like being able to identify the different types on sight.
General sewing navel gazing
  • I feel like I reached a new level with my sewing this year, especially with the use of leather and the amount of topstitching in my jean jacket.  What am I now?  Advanced intermediate?  
  • I am starting to see the benefits of experience (or just flat out getting older, however you want to spin it)--and also appreciate those benefits.  I am a better sewist than I was when I was 12, 25 or 35.  I am more perfectionistic than ever, but I'm also more patient and I have way better tools than I did at any of those ages (cue that line from Fried Green Tomatoes: "I'm older and I have more insurance").  10 years ago, my sewing success rate was around 50% or less, and now it's more like 75-80%.  It looks way more professional IMHO too.
  • Hand stitching continues to be a way for me to feel creative each day without the effort involved in garment or bag making, and if I mess it up, it's easy to fix or start over because the scale is smaller.
  • I still wish I had the time to do the same project several times in a row--like making 5 lined skirts with kickpleats, one after the other, to really get the technique down, but with a full time job and so many things I want to make, that's not going to happen
  • I am utterly and thoroughly addicted to Instagram.  I have met so many seamsters that way!
Post-election navel gazing
  • The election did not go as I expected it to go (massive understatement there), but I'm getting involved in ways I haven't before.  
    • At the gym there is PB and J sandwich making event every Nov.  In past years, I donated supplies but this year was the first year I actually made the sandwiches.  We made 510 sandwiches and packaged them with snacks and juice into bags for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.  My job was slapping peanut butter on bread for 2 hours, and it felt good to actually do something.  
    • This week I started making pussyhats for the Pussyhat Project, to be worn at the Women's March on Washington.  So far I've sewn 16 hats and have a goal of at least 48 hats before the end of next weekend.  Thank you to those who commented that you're also going to make hats too!  Hurrah!  Spread the word!!
    • I realize, my contributions above are really, really small, but it is a start.
  • I really loved all your comments on my post about Devastation and Doris.  I should update the post to note, that while my father originally told me Doris passed the day after I saw her, she actually died the day I saw her, so I saw her in the last 8 or so hours of her life.  She was 99.  I attended her funeral, and it was amazing.  Doris outlived her husband and both of her children, so her grandchildren talked about her life.  They talked about her positivity, and how she liked to give the "thumbs up".  She was a nurse for 40 years, and she took care of soldiers returning home from WWII.   Apparently she made amazing cookies too, and I love it when women are remembered for things like that.
  • I highly recommend subscribing to and reading ATP's blog.  She has an almost-daily post with tips and recommendations on what to do now going forward post-election.  Not all of her articles are on the blog though; for the early ones, you'll need to read the archive (highly recommend).
So, congratulations if you made it this far!  Hope to see you in 2017, maybe at PR weekend in mid-May in NYC?  Maybe at Sew Expo in Puyallup in March?  (I'm seriously considering that one).   Maybe on Instagram or on your blog?  

Go forth, dear sewing ones, go forth.  My best self honors your best self.  

And of course, be well!  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hats for the Women's March on Washington


I don't knit or crochet so I was excited to see the instructions for sewing hats, called pussyhats, for the Women's March on Washington, DC by @craftivistchi


I tweaked it a bit and made the rectangle 19" long so the hat covers my ears with a 1" hem. Make sure the direction with the stretch goes around your head otherwise it won't work (so you'll need to buy at least a half yard of fleece, or a little more if you want it to cover your ears like mine). I didn't tack the cat ears because they seem to form naturally like the knitted versions. 

My fleece is wide enough to get 4 hats out of 5/8 of a yard (or if you want to make your hats shorter, then you can get 4 hats out of a half yard.)

This fleece is from Joann's and is called "Anti Pill Fleece Fabric-Beetroot Tonal Tie Dye" on their website.


I sewed 8 hats last night out of 1.125 yards of this fleece in about 75 minutes assembly line style and that's with legit seam finishes on the serger, tucking serger thread tails, serging the raw edges and twin needle stitching the hem. Going to stitch up another 8 in hot pink, maybe more! 

Go to for details about the march, why pink cat hats, and why this is important.  I plan on mailing mine to the address on the website--they are due by Jan 14.  They will have a pickup point for marchers who don't have a hat to obtain a hat.   @joymacdonell has a video on how to hand knit the hat if you prefer.  


The styrofoam head is smaller than a human head, or at least it is smaller than mine!

Anyway, this is a really easy way for seamsters to get involved, highly recommend!

Be well!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

VTL Calendar Giveaway Winners


Thank for all your kind and funny comments to make me smile and laugh! 

Congratulations to the following blog commenting winners! I picked my 5 favorite comments and a bonus winner:

MaryEllen, Faye Lewis, AngelatheCreativeDiva, Regina C Dee, jsews, and Pencil Girl.  

Please send me your mailing address by 7am Dec 30 at kdburkhardt at and I'll ship 'em out, otherwise another winner will be selected. The IG winners are already posted on IG. 

Thanks for playing!

Be well!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Woodland Animals Ornament kit by Heidi Boyd Crafts

Merry Christmas! I bought the Woodland Animals Ornament kit by Heidi Boyd Crafts just for the fox, but I wound up stitching them all....all the animals and the fungus (the mushroom) too.  :)  If you follow me on Instagram, you saw I started the fox right before Thanksgiving and finished the last ornament this week.

The kit came with the felt, twine, beads, pins, a needle, floss, and pre-cut flowers and 2 circles for the owl's eyes (you have to cut out the rest of the felt pieces yourself, using a separate PDF pattern).  I did wind up switching up some of the background colors for felt I bought at Stitch Lab in Austin earlier this month.   And there's not enough felt with the kit if you want to cut a second background layer to hide your stitching--which the perfectionist in me totally wants.

I got into a rhythm with them--cut out the pieces, arrange and stitch.  By the fourth ornament, I decided to stitch directly onto a rough cut piece of felt, and then cut around it, instead of cutting the background out before stitching.  That way if my animal shifted, I could cut it to still have a nice border around the animal.

stitch onto rough cut felt
Cut around it with pinking shears (I hadn't used pinking shears in forever!)
Layer it on a second layer of felt.
I used tape to temporarily join the two layers so they wouldn't shift too much as I cut the second layer, trying to get the pinking to be in exactly the same location as the front.
Then I removed the tape and used the running stitch to stitch the two layers together along the perimeter, stitching the twine hanger to the ornament at the appropriate position. This second layer hides the stitching on the first layer (except for the running stitches of course!)
Close-up pic of the 7 ornaments in the kit, but the sewing machine is from a Betz White PDF (stitched/glued this year), a handstitched Mollie Makes "deer head on bauble" from last year, and an A. Paulson red coat ornament, also handstitched this year.
The full effect, after I opened presents this morning...should have taken this long range view before opening presents!
The Betz White Christmas cactus ornament, stitched/glued this weekend, hanging from my Christmas cactus. My note to self is that craft glue only dries clear in the places where it wasn't overly used. If I used a lot of it, it dried white and then I spent a lot of time trying to peel it off, ultimately taking part of the felt with it.
Red berries
Merry Christmas y'all!
And a reminder, if you'd like to win a Vacuuming the Lawn 2017 bag calendar, enter here.  You have until Tuesday morning at 7am EST to enter.

Be well!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Vacuuming the Lawn Calendar Giveaway!

Introducing the Vacuuming the Lawn 2017 Bag Calendar

Would you like to win this 5" x 10" desk calendar?  Every month features a different bag that I've stitched.
Miss February
Miss March

The quality of my photos degrades as the year goes on, but it's still fun!

Mr. December

So if you want to win this calendar, please leave a comment on this post by 7am EST on 12/27/16 that:
  • Makes me laugh
  • -or- makes me smile
  • -or- describes why you need this calendar in your life 
Sometime after 7am EST on 12/27/16, I will select 5 winners from the comments on this blog post and 5 different winners from the comments on the related post on Instagram.  I will announce the winners here on my blog and on IG by 11:59pm EST that day.  If you win on the blog, you'll have til 7am EST on 12/30/16 to email me your mailing address, otherwise another winner will be selected.  Calendars will be shipped by USPS First Class mail.  This giveaway is open world-wide, though please note the weeks on these calendars start on Sunday, not Monday.

Thank you for all of your support and kind comments over the years!!

Good luck and be well!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Jalie 3461 Eleonores in stretch velveteen


I made the Jalie 3461 Eleonores (stretch pull on jeans with faux front pockets and faux fly) back in May, in red.  Now that the temps have dropped, I wanted to make a pair in stretch velveteen.  I went into the stash last weekend, and emerged with this dark midnight blue fabric.  Purchased during that brief period of time when I actually labeled my fabric, it's 3 yards from Chic Fabrics, circa Nov 2013, for $3 a yard.  This fabric was more on the order of 45" wide, so unlike my Jalies in May, 1.5 yards would not be enough.   3 yards was plenty.  I had 3 other velveteen pieces in stash, but two pieces were not stretch and the other piece that was stretch was not long enough to make pants.

I wrote extensively about making the red Jalies in May.  All the gory details are in this post.  If you are a pear shape and want to make these pants, I highly recommend reading that post  (I have a 10" difference between my waist and hips).  If you are a rectangle, don't bother.  The pants will most likely fit you right out of the envelope with little tweaking.

This shot makes me laugh but there you go--functional back pockets!

Since I already had the curved yoke that I made last time, I forged right ahead.  I had to make the waistband 3x to get it just right.  My advice to myself for next time is when I try on the pants before putting the waistband on, make sure the fabric of the top of the pants is against my body, all the way around my body...ultimately I did take out a 3/4" pinch from the top at the CB seam grading to nothing where the yoke meets the rest of the pants.  When I tried pinching out some of the excess at the side seam, it created a really ugly lumpy effect.

I really should fix the pattern to add more width to the fabric below the knee on the front and subtract an equal amt from the back...but I didn't!

It is really hard to photograph dark fabric.  Some of these photos have a filter applied, and some do not.

This fabric does relax a bit during wearing, but it's not overly relaxed.
Back pockets during construction
Faux front pocket during construction.

Above I'm wearing them with my "Muppets" shirt--a Sewaholic Renfrew from a few years back.

So, they were comfy enough that I wore them twice this week and I will enjoy wearing them all winter.  It is really nice to wear "complete" me-made outfits and by making pants I have expanded my winter options.    I still have a hankering to make the Eleonores in stretch floral, but that is kind of a tall order, especially when I am really picky about florals--I want a small scale floral.  (ETA: I want to make them in teal stretch velveteen with excellent recovery too--if I can ever find it).

I really wanted to get a picture of me and my Eleonores in front of this holly bush on campus but I didn't have my tripod and there was no one around to take pix...
The full moon after the gym on Tuesday night.
This was on Thursday.  After last winter's freezy bits, I decided to buy a "real" cold weather coat for when it's under 40F, and this totally fit the bill.  I look like I'm wearing a comforter, but it is warm and has features that make a difference, like cuffs inside the sleeves to keep the cold air from creeping in and a ginormous hood.
Last night there was snow and ice...which formed these mini-icicles outside.
I brought my hibiscus in a few months back to see if I can coax it to live through the winter.  It is dropping its leaves pretty fast, but decided to bloom today, awesome!

One more week til I'm on vacation for 11 days--I can't wait!

I'm going to have a special giveaway starting on Tuesday--please check back then!
Be well!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Red patent leather tote

Thank you for your comments and support on my last post--I really enjoyed reading them, and how we support each other.    Thank you!
Front, no tassel


Dad and I didn't celebrate Thanksgiving until today, which meant that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday were total play days for me!   And of course "play" means "sewing"!

I bought this red patent pig leather from Fishman's Fabrics during PR weekend in Chicago this year.  When I bought the leather, I had not sewn with leather before except for a hands-on workshop I took with Kenneth King at the ASE in 2014.  I found those notes this summer, and did some more research into working with leather, which resulted in the aqua lamb leather bag I made at the end of July--copious details are in this blog post.  I have used that bag a lot, but I had not interfaced the handles and they have stretched significantly.  So when I made the Blue Calla Boronia bag for the PR contest, I fused interfacing to the handles.  Those handles did stretch just slightly, like 1/8", but you know I notice those things!  So this time I interfaced the handles with buckram, that I bought at Kashi's.  I'm thinking they are not going to stretch at all but I will report back.

My main leather advice (after making 2 full-leather bags and one partial leather) is:
  1. Use a new rotary blade and made as continuous a cut as you can (quilting rulers really help)
  2. Use a fresh leather needle (size 18 for this project) for the main bag sewing and yet another fresh leather needle when it's time to stitch the topstitching
  3. Use a teflon foot and put tissue paper that matches the leather between the leather and the machine bed to stop the leather from sticking to the machine.

Planning it out

Planning out the rough positioning of the front /back of bag, the upper interior lining and the straps....ballpark idea here which wasn't the final positioning as I wound up initially cutting the handles extra long)

Everything cut out and lining interfaced. At this point I wasn't sure if i was going to use the 9" white zipper for the interior zipper pocket or cut down the 30" red one....

The exterior
I wound up using a cutting mat as my template--which was 18.5" long x 14.75" tall.  I used a 1/2" seam allowance.  This time I boxed the corners so that the result is a 4" box.

The lining

The lining is a Liberty of London Xante Sunbeam cotton voile that I bought from Mood specifically to coordinate with this leather.  I interfaced it with interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply to beef it up a bit.  I only had the light proweft in stash but would have preferred to use the medium.

Patch pocket

I cut the pocket 8" long by 6" high, then folded over the top 1" and stitched down.
Then I applied Wonder Tape around the three edges, peeled it off and centered it on the lining.
I used this silver pen (purchased at SIL Thread in NYC) that writes on this leather to draw the stitching line and mark the pivots for the corners.  This pen happens to wipe off the patent leather with a wet cloth, so it is easy to remove the markings afterward--but always test first!

I stitched a triangle at the upper right and left corners for security.

The zipper pocket


And I added an interior zipper pocket using my favorite tutorial.

I had a double-pull "girl with the ponytail" 30" zipper custom made at Botani, because I was thinking I was going to use this leather to make a Boronia Bag.  But after making the Boronia bag, I doubted that the patent pig leather would survive the "bag birthing" process.  So, I shortened the zipper down to 9" in the most wacky way possible, sigh.  It is not pretty but it's all hidden by the lining and is functional.  And now I have ~19" of the other side of the zipper to use for another project.

Bag Bling and Peltex
I applied the bag bling (here you can see what it looks like from the inside--it's like a big clasp) and cut a piece of peltex to fit in the bottom of the bag.
bag bling

Attaching the lining to the exterior
I used wonder tape to hold the interior to the exterior....along with a lot of wonder clips

I topstitched along the top of the bag, and used my 1/4" foot with tape on the bottom to prevent it from sticking to the leather, and with red tissue paper underneath to keep the leather from sticking to the bed of the sewing machine.  This was at 3.5, 3.5, 4.8.  Honestly I didn't like my first attempt and cut it off then tried again.

The handles

Above is how I made the handles, clockwise from upper left:
1)  applied three rows of Wonder Tape (WT)
2)  removed the adhesive backing and layered on the buckram
3) applied three rows of WT
4) removed the adhesive backing and layered on the other strap

In between each step I used the brayer (that rubber roller thing ) to flatten out the WT and help it adhere.  It also gets any "bubbles" out.

You can see the thread tails on the left side of the pic....and where I *carefully* unpicked the stitching to shorten them down. You can also see on the right side of the pic how holes made in leather always stay!!!

The handles were originally 34" long--i made them extra long with the idea that they would extend way down onto the bag yet still have 27" of clearance.  I wound up shortening them down to 30" by carefully removing the stitching I had already stitched, moving them out of the way, then used my machine, starting and ending with long thread tails and with the needle in the previously made hole, stitched across (to make it look like I had stitched, pivoted, stitched across, pivoted, stitched back up) using long thread tails on each end and stitching across with the machine, pulling the tails to the back and knotting .    They were topstitched using my 1/4" foot at 3.5, 4.0, 6.0.  I really had to crank up the tension to get the stitching to look good on the front and back--but somehow they looked the best fro the back!.    The thread is regular Coats and Clark thread, color #2250.

Making a sample (at the top--used red tissue paper between the handle and the machine bed because the patent leather was sticking to the machine bed otherwise) and the two final handles....

I know I said that last time (with the aqua bag) I wouldn't make the handles as wide, but I did!  I cut them 1.5" long and after stitching them, I cut them down so that the stitching is only 1/8" away from the edge.  this gets them down to about 1.25" but really I should start with 1.25 and then cut them down to 1".

The  rivets
Instead of sewing the handles into the bag like I did with the aqua bag, I decided to use rivets.
Used my silver pen to initially mark the position--too bad i didn't take another pic, I really had a lot of lines to mark the locations!

I attached the handles to the bag using the small sized double capped rivets from  Since they are double capped, they are pretty on the inside, too.  The "handmade (with a bird)" bag  bling is also from Emmaline Bags.

Boom! Rivets!

The tassel
I made a tassel using the instructions from Laura Bennett's Handmade Chic book, but made cut the original rectangle 14" x 4" to result in a longer, wider tassel.  However, I'm not sure the bag really needs the tassel, as the tassel obscures the rivets when the bag is upright.


The completed bag!


So I kind of want to make a leather backpack!  Not now, but early next  year. Well, probably not now.   Stay tuned!!

Be well!