Friday chatter: Do you fear ruining fabric?


Every year at this time I face a conundrum in my garden.

You see, I have a little condition known around our house as tulip mania. We’ve even given it a theme song (sung to the tune of The Damned song Psychomania, fyi).

So when the tulips begin popping up in April, I get dorkily excited. But then the heartbreaking decision: do I cut them?

On the one hand, I get to see them and enjoy them more when they’re on my dining room table then, say, getting trampled by kids and dogs in our parking strip. But I know the moment I cut them they begin to die, and unlike a flowering bush or tree, bulbs are sort of a one-time-use flower. Once you cut the bloom, it’s gone.

I thought of this internal struggle again as I cleaned out my fabric stash a little this week.

Sure, I know I should use all the gorgeous fabrics I already own. I have boxes of them! But something about the thought of using them makes them feel less permanent.

When a fabric is just a fabric it has so much creative potential. You can imagine finding the perfect use for it.

Once you cut into it and make a garment, it starts to be used and in a way, starts to decay. All things move toward their end, as they say.

I don’t consciously think of all this when I choose not to sew from my stash, of course. But in the back of my mind, perhaps there is a fear of ruining something I love in itself.

How do you push past the fear of destroying what you have by using it?

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Weekend reading: Inside fast fashion, invisible zippers, and working out with Marilyn


I hope you all have had a good week! As I mentioned before, my folks were in town, and my dad and I ran a 10k, our first ever race together! The photo above is one I took during the race as we crossed the broadway bridge.

Enjoy your weekend, and check out these wonderful links:


How to Build a Creative Brand, a new series from Creativebug


Learning from the best

When I started my business, I knew absolutely nothing about creating a brand.

As I’ve mentioned many times, my background is in product design and usability. That means I’ve always been focused on the person who winds up with a product in her hands, and how I could make things a little better for them.

What I didn’t have much experience in was the whole idea of marketing or creating an actual brand. That wasn’t about design, it was about communication. And I’d never done it before.

So I gobbled up any and all insight I could get from creative women out there who were doing it right. Without a doubt, learning the tips, perspectives, and challenges that other small businesses and creatives face every day has been the most valuable information in building my own company. In fact, it still is.

So I was really interested when the folks over at Creativebug told me about this series they’re starting next week called the Creative Brand Series.

I got a sneak peek at some of the materials and wanted to share it with you. If any of you are considering starting a creative business, this is an excellent place to begin.

How it works

The thing that really struck me about this series is the caliber of women involved. You have artists, designers, and business owners such as Lisa Congdon, Christine Schmidt from Yellow Owl Workshop, Heather Ross, Liesl Gibson, Melanie Falick and more.

The idea is that it’s a sort of creative conference that you can do on your own time. Their aim is to bring real, straight talk about running a creative business for those who are just starting out on this path.

Every week, there will be new videos and live chats from these incredible women, on topics including identifying your brand, business nuts and bolts, licensing, publishing, and work-life balance. There’s also a 100-page PDF included with additional materials, like tips, interviews, and worksheets.

The whole series is 5 weeks long and starts April 14th.

You can save on the course by becoming a subscriber, which is $9.95 a month. You then can get the class for $99 instead of the $175 regular price, which seems like a great deal considering all the cool classes they offer.


The Wardrobe Architect Week 12: Adding accessories


I’m a big believer in accessories.

This wasn’t always the case. When I was young, I’d wear a single pair of sneakers with every outfit I owned. I had one bag. I rarely changed jewelry.

But since my own style has become more simple and streamlined, I’ve found that accessories really bring an otherwise plain outfit to life.

And it doesn’t take a great quantity, either. I find that a few things that are really beautiful, personal, or attention getting can do the trick just fine.

I’ve also found that there seem to be two types of accessories I have to address. The first is functional accessories, things that really need to work with my life and circumstances in order to be well-loved. The second category is purely decorative accessories. This may include jewelry, decorative scarves, or anything else I wear purely to adorn myself.

Functional accessories

Functional accessories can be decorative too of course, but there is some element of usefulness to them. They might include shoes, bags, hats, belts, warm scarves, gloves, sunglasses, and legwear. These are all things you need to work for you in one way or another. You might not need all of these things, depending on your climate, and some might become purely decorative for you.

Start by making your own list of these accessories, and write down what your requirements are for each. Here’s mine:

  • Shoes: Comfortable, able to withstand some mud and dampness. Includes both comfortable heels and flats.
  • Bags: One purse with long shoulder strap and plenty of pockets, and one larger tote type bag for work, to carry my laptop, lunch, etc.
  • Hats: Warm wool hats (both felt and knit) in Winter, big hats with brims to keep the sun off in Summer
  • Belts: Very simple, thin, leather. Some for wearing with pants, some for wearing at the natural waist with dresses.
  • Scarves (for warmth): Very big, very warm
  • Gloves: For Winter, they should preferably be knit (merino or cashmere) and be long enough to cover my wrists.
  • Sunglasses: Dark and classic, black or tortoise frames.
  • Legwear: Warm fleece-lined tights in Fall/Winter.

Decorative accessories

Decorative accessories, like jewelry or pretty scarves, don’t really need to have all of these functional requirements. You can also include some things from the functional list that you wear purely for the sake of style. For example, if you don’t really need to wear a hat in the summer but like the way hats look on you, you can add them to this list.

Here’s my short list.

  • Jewelry: Simple, warm tones. Whether vintage or modern, I like jewelry with an heirloom quality. Nothing too cheap-looking (most of the time)
  • Scarves: Silk scarves in pretty colors for tying up my hair in the summer or wearing around my neck in the Fall/Winter.

How many?

With these lists in mind, let’s turn back to our Spring wardrobes.

The first question to ask yourself is how many of each item to include. This really depends on your own preferences, lifestyle, and also on how much you already own or want to buy/make.

I’d already added a few pairs of shoes to my wardrobe for Spring. Now I’ve also added three bags (purse, work tote, plus a canvas tote for the market), hats, belts, spring scarves, and jewelry. Most of this I already own, so it’s easy.


[images shown: see my polyvore set for details]

I now have pretty much everything I need to create a huge variety of outfits. All that’s left is the sewing!


  1. Make a list of requirements for your accessories. List what you consider to be functional accessories and decorative accessories, and what your requirements are for each.
  2. Decide how many of each to include for the coming season. How many of each do you need for your current capsule wardrobe?
  3. Add accessories to your capsule wardrobe. Be sure to look towards what you already own before window shopping!


Are you an accessories lover like me? And what kinds of accessories are you most drawn to? For me, shoes are my biggest weakness.


Tutorial: Sewing hems on knits with a twin needle


Today, we’re bringing you another excerpt from the forthcoming book, The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits. We’re learning how to sew a hem using your standard sewing machine and a twin needle.

In the world of ready-to-wear, a coverstitch machine is usually used for creating neat hems with stretch. But you can still create that same look and functionality without a coverstitch, and even without a serger!

All you need is a twin needle, a type of forked sewing machine needle that lets you sew two rows of stitching at once. Twin needles come in multiple widths. The wide width (1/4″) will closely mimic the look of a coverstitch.


1. To start, finish the raw edge of your hem. You can use a serger to overlock the edge, or use your sewing machine’s mock overlock stitch or a zigzag stitch to finish. While this step is not 100% necessary, it helps to create a cleaner and more durable edge.


2. Turn the finished hem under and press into place. If possible, stabilize your hem with a product such as Wonder Tape (see note below). Lower the bobbin tension to prevent the rows of stitches from forming a raised channel.


3. Insert the twin needle and follow your sewing machine’s manual for threading it with two spools of thread. Stitch the hem in place with a straight stitch, catching and securing the raw edge beneath, just like a coverstitch. See The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, pp.82-83 for tips on maintaining an even hem. The underside of the stitch will have a zigzag, allowing the stitches to stretch.

Stabilizing hems


Sometimes hems on knits can get a little wavy when they’re sewn using the twin needle technique. This is usually because the fabric is being stretched a bit as it’s sewn. To help get a crisp hem, try using a wash-away stabilizing tape, such as Wonder Tape. Wonder Tape is adhesive on both sides, so it even holds your hem in place while you sew!

Apply the tape to the wrong side of the fabric near the raw edge. Remove the backing, turn the hem up, and use the tape to adhere it in place. The tape will keep your hem in place while you sew, minimizing stretch, but will wash away later. Another option is a fusible interfacing tape, such as Stitch Witchery.

Have you ever sewn a knit hem this way? What problems or challenges did you have? Any additional tips to share?

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