Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 review

Where to even being? Oh yes, there is the "where have you been?" "why I've haven't blogged this month..." blah blah blah!  But lets just dive into the accomplishments of the year! Here are all the clothing items I made in 2014 in order (and click on the thumbnail if you want to learn more about each item!):


Not too bad for a year that also started my new line of hand-printed and sewn housewares,,, where I started back to school and working again at the university, and a summer mostly filled with personal loss. Some of my favorite makes this year are my not-a-Christmas-party dress, my ikat Taylor shorts, and the Marie jacket, which my sister wears all the time. While I intentionally made the feather-print, jersey maxi-dress for her (and another really lovely, teal, modal jersey version for my sister-in-law), the Marie jacket was supposed to be for me. She also ended up with my black-and-white graphic-print Elle top, and the black polar-fleece jacket fit my mother-in-law perfectly. Damn tall people.... 

I can't look back at 2014 without looking at the launch of my new line hand-designed, hand-printed, and hand-sewn table linens and other items for the home. I'm really proud of myself, and looking forward to what 2015 will bring for Filbert & Maggie Handmade.

Posted one year ago, here were my 5 goals for 2014:

#1 - Pants - Success!

While the khakis haven't quite made it into regular wardrobe rotation, my black, Elle pants were a big success and worn often when I was filling-in for a a few months as an Activities Director as an assisted living facility. 


#2 - Swimsuit -

I had a good start on it before my personal life put sewing to the back-seat this summer. 

#3 - Underwear - Made.... but not really worn.

I have on a couple of occasions worn my high-waist Ohhh Lulu undies, but I could definitely improve in the home-made underwear department. I think if I could nail down a  everyday-wear pattern, making undies could be a great, simple project for me in-between all my other commitments right now!  

#4 - Coat/Jacket - two lightweight jackets made, but I kept neither. They both came out really great, if only they fit me better. They are getting a lot of use from my sister and mother-in-law.

#5 - Teaching...

Yeah, not so much. I have been helping many of my studio-mates at Running with Scissors with screenprinting, but not yet teaching for pay. 

As for goals for 2015... I'm going to keep it simple this year: see where Filbert and Maggie takes me, and find the time and inspiration to sew garments for me again. And on that note, have a very happy New Year and see you in 2015!

Friday, October 24, 2014

what's rachel been sewing lately?

Hello sewing blog friends! I know it's been a while, but now I can show you what I've been up to and why you haven't seen me on sew rachel! Today I launched my online shop of hand-printed, hand-sewn table linens:! The shop opens today with 7 designs of cotton cloth napkins (there were 8 designs, but one already sold out!). New items will be added in the next few weeks, including tote-bags, zipper pouches, place mats, and a new fabric design currently in the works! I want to thank Katie Wilber for the product photography and I look forward doing more work with her in the future. I hope you can check it out, and know I will be back to regularly-programmed sewing soon!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

and the bunnies go to....

Thank you, Mr. Sew Rachel, for drawing a name before you scoot off to work! Sarah, I will be in touch shortly!

Friday, August 1, 2014

filbert & maggie giveaway!

Here is anther peek at my new project launching this fall, Filbert & Maggie Handmade, and a chance to own one of the first sets of 2 hand-printed and hand-sewn Maggie May napkins! Just leave a comment below by August 4th at 8AM (EST) if you are interested in the goldenrod Maggie May-print napkins seen here to be entered, and in return I just ask for you to use ‘em, wash ‘em, and let me know how they do. Open worldwide, so thank you in advance and good luck!

Fork not included :)

Note: Giveaway is also open at, but there will only be ONE winner. The names from both sites will be entered into one drawing, but commenting on both sites WILL count as two entries!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

fun summer shorts!

I actually made these a few weeks ago and have just gotten around to photographing them. Aren't they cute?! Inspired by Oonapalooza I decided to work on the things in my "to-sew" queue that involved a fun, bright print, and so it bumped these fun shorts up to the top of the list! You know how sometimes you have so many sewing projects swirling around in your head that you can't pick and none of them get made? A project like Oonapalozza is great for those times as it gives you some criteria to help you get over that what-to-sew-next hump! I'm so glad, too, because they are really comfortable to wear, and just plan fun.

I used a PDF pattern by GreenStyle Creations called the Taylor Shorts, and some fun, bottom-weight fabric from the Joann's clearance rack with just a tiny bit of stretch. The pattern was purchased through a Bundle Up Sale hosted by Pattern Revolution. It was very easy to print and tape together, and the whole thing took an afternoon to make from pattern-printing to wearing!

I made a size 4 with the 2" inseam with no pattern alterations.... and they fit! Even in the butt! The only thing I would change next time is to take out probably an inch and a half from the front rise, but for this pair it's no big deal.

I ALMOST had the pattern matched perfectly!

The fly instructions seemed very clear... until I realized I had sewn everything only to one side of the opening... so they wouldn't close. I started to wing it at that point and ended up sewing the whole thing to both sides... so then it couldn't open! Third time I got it, and overall with very little unpicking. I used a couple of flap trouser hooks-and-eyes and a recycled zipper taken from the ankle opening of a pair of pants I shortened.

Overall, a great pattern that I would totally recommend to anyone wanting shorts! It comes in three inseams with nice pockets, and the instructions are great! (as I suspect if I had paid more attention the fly instructions would have worked out perfectly the first time...)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

best. sister. ever.

That's me.... BEST SISTER EVER... in case you didn't know. Why? Because I made my little sister this for her 26th birthday:

A cotton jersey, peacock feather, maxi-dress! With a racer-back!

The fabric is from This was my first experience with them. Their fabric is very affordable and the service is excellent. You can get up to four swatches free, just ask. The pattern is McCalls 6744. What's great about sewing for my sister is that I usually don't have to make any pattern adjustments. She is a perfectly proportioned for the most Big-4 patterns, and even the design height at 5'7". Despite out different heights and body shapes, we have about the same bust-waist-hip measurements, so I can make her dress right out of the envelope, try it on me and know what I'll need to adjust when I make a version for myself (navy with polka-dots maybe?). 

This dress is very easy, and you can get a maxi-dress out of just 2 yards of 60-wide fabric. The whole dress took me 3 hours, including cutting out the 4 pieces. The neck and arm holes are finished with a simple narrow hem; a breeze on stable, cotton jersey. I didn't measure, press or pin before stitching, just eye-balled it as I sewed and it came out pretty good!

My serger needs a new cutting blade, otherwise I totally would have done the side seams on it. Instead I did two lines of narrow zig-zag stitching then clipped my seam allowance close. 

I'm quite pleased and hope she is too! I suspect a cool cotton jersey maxidress will get a lot of wear when the days get hot in Philadelphia. And given the timing... would Oona approve of this make?

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Hey sewing/blogging friends! It's been a while! I wanted to let you all know that I haven't forgotten you, and to let you know what I've been up to in the last three weeks. Part of my blogging absence has been due to some sadness. Mr. Sew Rachel and I lost our very special pet Filbert to a difficult illness. He was such a little fighter! He will be very, very missed but I'm glad he doesn't have to fight it anymore. At the same time my grandfather took very ill, and the hardest part with that is the lack of answers regarding what the future holds. We are very close, so it's been tough stuff...

Filbert (grey) with his best buddy Parfait (tan) about 6 weeks ago when we first started fighting what started as a small ear infection. That wooden hidey-house in the background was his favorite hangout. 
It's been really nice to be able to sew during this time. I made my sister a neon, coral top out of the same rayon fabric I used for my 2nd Ella Tank. I used my McCalls 6751 pattern, adding about 4 inches of length to front by copying the shape from the Ella Tank hemline. Of course, it looks great on her! I also sent her some undies made from the Ohhh Lulu Grace Pattern and some awesome feather-print fabric.

She also sent me this picture the other day, rocking my first Ella Tank and the fold-over tote I made for her for Christmas! And the Grace Hipsters that you can't see :)

I have been working on a bombshell-inspired tankini, which originally I was altering a dress pattern to create. So I was pretty excited when Simplicity came out with pretty much the exact look I was trying to achieve!

I measure at size 14, which according the pattern showed the negative ease you want from a stretchy fabric, but when I stitched up the bust it was GINORMOUS! I took out about 4 inches all together from the side seams, and it's still too big. I sewed in some bust cups that I had cut out from an old bra... and still too big!

So I tried on the test garment I had started last year for modifying  Kwik Sew 3761, and found that this had more bust support without cups than the Simplicity pattern had with cups! Plus, the Kwik Sew pattern has separate bust lining pattern  (vs. just a second layer of ruched fabric the same as the main fabric) pieces which not only supply more support on their own, but are the perfect shape for sewing in swimwear cups. So I'm ditching S1374 and continuing with my original plan.

I've also been working some more on my project combining my fine-art practice and my sewing practice. I won't be fully revealing the project until early fall, but until then here's a sneak peak!



A hand-painted screen for printing, not yet dry!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

something a little different...

As some may know, I am also a working artist and print-maker, but have been hesitant to share much from that part of my life on this blog, keeping my personal creating separate from my professional creating. But today I have something I'd like to share that crosses both realms, and I would love to get some feedback from my sewing-blogging friends!

This is my first test-run of hand-printed fabric! I drew by hand the kale drawing onto a clear Mylar sheet, then transferred that image to a photo-sensitive silkscreen (using the sun!), and then screen-printed it on to 3 yards of green, cotton fabric (cut into 1/2 pieces to be easier to handle).

detail of the drawing on Mylar

my silkscreen after the sun-exposure, drying at the studio
My screen didn't expose as perfectly as I'd like, and you can see some areas that didn't print as well because of that, but I that's the beauty of a handmade item; it's not supposed to be machine-perfect. I'm thinking about sewing the printed fabrics into table linens, or even packaging them up as fat-quarters for others to create with. What would you make or like to see made from this fabric? What kind or images would you like to see screen-printed on fabric?