Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wall Buckets - a one or two loop soul?

Everyone is 'organizing' this time of year. Maybe Wall Buckets can help. I photo-shopped my cover photo to show how TWO loops might look. So if you are making Wall Buckets, try adding a second loop; I think the bucket will be more stable on the wall.

Wall Buckets - P218. Are you a one or two loop soul?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What a real sewing studio (should) look like:

I see all these 'pretty' pictures online of sewers' studio space all neat and tidy and guess what, I don't believe it! A real sewing studio should be a mess. 

Guess what's coming.....

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

BEFORE and AFTER -- End Table

Here is another Before and After project. The most interesting part on this project is the fact that the 'Before' has a laminate top. I previously thought you could not spray over a laminate but in turns out that it works pretty well. The trick is to rough up the laminate surface with a coarse sand paper like an 80 grit on the laminate parts. Use a higher grit like 200 on the rest of the wooden parts.

Here's the sequence of steps I used:

1 - Use 80 grit sand paper on the laminate parts.
2 - Use 200 grit to sand the wooden parts. [Wrap the sand paper around the leg and clench with your hand and go round and forth to get the legs sanded.] I actually removed the legs on this item and worked on them separately.
3 - Clean the entire item. First dust off with a soft brush, then vacuum, then use rubbing alcohol on a clean rag to remove all remaining dust.
4 - Spray the entire item with spray paint primer (Zinssor makes some good ones). Allow to dry. Use steel wool to sand the entire item. Clean with Step 3 techniques again (always use Step 3 cleaning techniques between each spray coat).
5 - Spray a second coat of primer. Allow to dry. Sand with steel wool and clean again.
6 - Spray with desired color of spray paint -- a very, very light coat -- not even getting close to covering the item color underneath. Keep the spray paint can away about 10" and move around quickly but smoothly. Never allow the spray paint to focus in one spot. Allow to dry. Sand with steel wool and clean again.
7 - Continue to add coats of spray paint -- a very light coat each time -- allowing to dry, sanding with steel wool, and cleaning each time. This might take up to 5 or 6 coats.
8 - The final coat should complete the color coverage. After wards, with the finest of steel wool, lightly sand the project. Wipe with a clean cloth and You're Done!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

BEFORE and AFTERs - Repurposing with Purpose!

Any body that sews usually likes several other creative mediums as well. As I do. One of my favorites is re-purposing old furniture. This last spring I did a couple of projects and now finished, I finally get to share. First, the AFTER:

I usually try to re-purpose with hardly spending any money at all. This first project was a little more involved and costs more than I usually spend but I look at it as learning costs -- which is actually well spent money. I bought this cedar trunk from a neighbor for $25. I also spent about $50 in chemicals to refinish. And another $25 on the hardware. Guessing here - could even be more on the chemicals -- simply trying lots of different methods.
The learning aspect on this project is my efforts to cover up the oak grain. I tried many different techniques so the products needed for each technique added up. But I wanted to learn my favorite on a piece of furniture before I take on something like my kitchen cabinetry. Here is the 'BEFORE'. Wow! Big difference!

Here's the steps:
1 - Remove all hardware. I also removed the top and top frame but I sure could see the pad with some really funky fabric looking pretty good too. 
2 - De-gloss the varnish. You can try to use a varnish stripper, but with some of de-glossers on the market today, it is easier just to paint over a de-glossed varnish. (I used Jasco's Liquid Sander Paint Etcher - unfortunately, it may be discontinued).
3 - After following the instructions of your de-glosser, sand the heck out of the project with a 80 grit sandpaper.
4 - Clean. First, dust it off with a soft brush, then vacuum, then wipe any remaining dust with a clean cloth with alcohol on it.
5 - Paint with Zinssor's Cover Stain Primer (comes in a spray can but with a project this size, you would need a lot of cans -- kind of expensive). I used a good quality, soft paint brush. Allow to dry and clean as in step 4.
6 - Sand again with 150 grit sand paper.
7 - Clean again as in step 4.
8 - Keep repeating the Zinssor's Primer, sanding (drop to a 200 grit sand paper), and cleaning until you feel the grain is disappearing.
8.5 - If you have any spots where you feel you just can't make the grain dissappear, scrap into the grain some Dap Drydex spackling using Bondo Spreader tools. There are other good grain filler products but don't use a 2-part epoxy filler  -- way too much work and too hard. Dap Drydex is not a very hard filler, but it is easy to use and when you have lots of coats of primer and paint over it, it works great for projects that won't get wet (ie. don't use on kitchen cabinets).
9 - When you fill you are pretty close to covering the grain, you can paint your final coats of color paint, two or three coats. Sand with steel wool between coats, again, use the agressive cleaning techniques in step 4.
10 - After the final coat, lightly buff with steel wool and wipe with a clean cloth. 
11 - New hardware and You're Done! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

BEFORE and AFTER -- file cabinet!

I almost threw out this ugly little file cabinet but sure glad I didn't. It was an easy project and I think the AFTER looks adorable.

Here's the sequence of steps I used:
1 - Lightly rub the whole box with steel wool. Then brush off with a soft brush, then vacuum, then wipe completely with a clean rag with a bit of alcohol on it. [If there is any rust, you will have to sand a bit more aggressively before proceeding.]
2 -  Spray with desired color of spray paint -- a very, very light coat -- not even getting close to covering the item color underneath. Keep the spray paint can away about 10" and move around quickly but smoothly. Never allow the spray paint to focus in one spot. Allow to dry. Sand with steel wool and clean again.
3 -  Continue to add coats of spray paint -- a very light coat each time -- allowing to dry, sanding with steel wool, and cleaning each time. This might take up to 5 or 7 coats.
4 - The final coat should complete the color coverage. Allow to dry. After wards, with the finest of steel wool, lightly sand the project. Wipe with a clean cloth.
5 - When completely dry, tape off the handle part with frog tape. Slip a piece of card board in the file name slot place. Using a silver marker (or other metal color), paint the handle parts. Allow to dry, remove tape, and You're Done!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Pleasantly surprised at Quilt Market! Loved Demo Alley!

Wish you could have been there with us! We had a great time. Actually, I am pleasantly surprised that we enjoyed ourselves as much as we did. Many beautiful fabrics and delightful quilts to take in. Not just the same old stuff!
I went with my sister Ann from Olive Ann Designs for every session of the Thursday School house classes. We learned tons about products and techniques and was definitely worth the time. Then Friday and Saturday we walked the show, taking our time to really study and talk with most every booth. 
Not vending this show was a smart idea - at least for us. With releasing so few patterns this time, a booth just didn't make sense. But walking the show anyway, getting the freedom to really look at the Quilt Market atmosphere, that was very enlightening. I do think that vendors saw the show as a little slow. Maybe so 'cause rarely did we feel we were in the way of a shop customer when talking with a vendor. So it gave us a lot of opportunity to pick brains and network. Worked well for us.
The part I liked most was the new Demo Alley. So Demo Alley is -- about three or for times a day, for about 45 minutes each, a vendor would  demo their product in Demo Alley, which was an area set aside on the Market floor with about 10 different stations. You could roam around to each station and watch the demo and then move on to another one. You got to ask questions and see the projects up close as compared to School House. And really meet the designer more personally. I think it's brilliant. And if I go to Market next time, I would do Demo Alley. Those that did Demo Alley probably saw a direct boost in sales because of it. Wouldn't doubt that at all!
Actually, the part I liked most was seeing so many of my Quilt Market friends that I have had for years. So so so good to see and embrace all of you once again. Keep up the good work. 
Made a special market satchel!

A new friend from Spring Market 2018.
Violet Craft - a definite favorite.
Elizabeth Hartman - another definite favorite!
Cute quilts for sure!
So simple and yet so adorable.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

My friend in Offsides apron!

April is one of my dearest friends wearing Offsides apron (P167). It is one of my favorite apron designs though a little disappointed that it wasn't a bigger seller. I think it is so funky. I LOVE the fabrics she chose and it looks adorable on her. Her sewing skills show off here -- looks pretty much perfect. She changed the pocket slightly; I think a better option than my original. I just love how unique this pattern turned out so I am glad April made it.

Isn't she adorable?

Friday, April 20, 2018

New e-patterns listed today.

Posted new e-patterns today. Someday they will all get posted.

School Girl Apron vhE144

One-sie Conversion! vhE163

Poppy's Easy Dress vhE169

Friday, April 13, 2018

Checker Dist. Newsletter Headlines Vanilla House's New Patterns

Thankful that Checker is showing off my new patterns, I should post them all myself too! Sew all five in order:

 Tidbit. Do you know there was a six pattern (called Three Birds), written, quilted and looked great. But the background fabric made the photography look horrible. I will re-make it and it will come out later.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Releases for Vanilla House designs - yeah!

I get so excited when it is New Pattern Release Time. All my samples, information forms, and image transfers have been sent to distributors. Makes me so excited/nervous when I put things out, I make a million mistakes getting the information sent -- like using the same bar code number for all five patterns on a new product form - yikes! Or put 290 in the subject line for 229. Double yikes. What's my problem! -- I have done this some 35 times over the years -- but every time, I get all weirded out. Just need to slow down and breathe! But I do get excited about it all.

So here's a peak at a model that United Notions will be displaying at Quilt Market next month.

The model turned out great. Janet from JM Quilting did the quilt work and her pattern looks perfect for this project. Everything will be on the website  -- hopefully later today.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

So who is Elan and why haven't you heard of them before?

Wow, have I disappeared for a season. I have been there - just behind the scenes composing some new patterns. I did LOTS of raw edge applique and researched both fusible web and scissors for cutting applique. AND found the Elan's Sharp Point 5" Embroidery Scissors win in the scissors category. Yes, Elan wins again!
So who is Elan and why haven't you heard about them before?
Who -- Elan is a house brand of United Notions/Moda Fabrics.  
Why haven't you heard of them before? -- I can only guess. First of all, they don't sell direct - they are a house brand. And perhaps the competition is so strong in the scissors industry and perhaps United Notions concentrates on their other great products that 'pass through' easier than the scissors market. I am sure they have their loyal customers - like me - I buy them at my local retailer if possible or online.  I have bought four different Elan scissors, the 8" Dressmakers - I love, and the 5" Embroidery - I love.
They cut right to the point! 
 I have also bought the 4" Embroidery and the Hobby Scissors with Florine, both are worth their great price point. The final pair I really want is the 5" Applique Curve Blade. I am going to put them on my 'Wish List' after writing this post.
Elan 5" Embroidery Scissors

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Happy 4th of July!!!

This is how we celebrated the 4th of July! Hope everyone has a good and safe holiday!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Get your sewing Artsy on with this project!

You would love making the Artsy Purse. The construction process is intriguing being you embellish the panels with strip piecing, beautiful threads, or prairie points. I suppose there could be loads of things you could embellish the panels with before you construct the purse, making it a very artistic and customized purse that represents your style perfectly! Also, the binding also lines the pockets - clever!
I love seeing how a project makes up in different fabrics - each having a unique flavor!

Just embellishment stitching with metallic threads.

Strip piecing in greys!

Strip piecing with metallic threads and beading in browns! Put money into a single spendy button!

Added prairie points!

Basic pattern, Asian flair fabric!

Strip piecing with batik fabrics and metallic threads - cover photo!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Check list for what's trending!

So I created a check list that will quickly get my lungs filled with inspiration energy!

So this week, complete most of the list, and I am sure will I feel much better about where I am heading in my next design cycle.

Go check out home decor companies like -
ie. Wayfair
ie. Pottery Barn
ie. Crate and Barrel
even Target.
Especially go to the Mall (look deep into the displays - at the colors, the themes, the mood!).
Don't forget to go to Hallmark 
And any stationery store!
Check out TV show - look into the backgrounds of the sets.
What colors are they using ?
What themes?
What motifs?
Material used?
What popular words are being used?
Look at:
Fashion mags,
the gift industry,
and even jewelry.
What are the characters in movies and why?
Where do people vacation?
What do they name their children?
Check out all magazines, especially targeted at your demographic!
What are people talking about?
Check out Etsy,
And Pinterest.
Look at trend websites like
Ask yourself questions everywhere you go!
Remember, you are not looking for you want to see, but what everyone else is seeing!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Discovering Trends!

After being deep in the throws of designing, writing, and publishing in the last (and very lengthy) design cycle -- I really need to get a breath of 'fresh' again. So as I start a new design cycle, I like to look around at what is trending.  Today I found some interesting links to freshen things up. 
I first found a color trend setter at I really like their June color of Capim Santo. Got to use that color -- and yes, I think it very trendy! I joined their blog and it should be fun to follow along for awhile!
I also found another site on trends though not sure they apply to me but nevertheless, it is important to look at EVERYTHING when studying trends. The site is
Go look around the site and find the video of the top 20 trends for 2017! These are big overall trends for planet earth! Also look for more specific product releases -- some are very interesting -- though I'm really not sure about the men's lace boxers #2 trending today's IDEAS!!
Learn how to look inside pictures - look for the colors they are using, the style, the fonts, the names, the themes, etc. Learn to pick up on every nuance in a photo to find a trend!

Update! Apparently, the men's lace boxers trend didn't last more than yesterday! Sorry I don't have a link for them after all.  I