Atelier, Bridal Wear, Couture, Dresses, Evening Gown

It’s National Sewing Month – Enjoy a Free Evening Gown Sewing Lesson at Hancock Fabrics !


It’s that time of year again when I start thinking ahead towards the holidays that are just a couple weeks away. The store is already bustling with busy shoppers gathering up goodies for holiday gifts and purchasing fabric for holiday dresses. My assignment this weekend is to create a beautiful evening gown ensemble using the the corset pattern from Kwik Sew. I’ll create the corselette first and then drape the gown to make the finished product. The fabrics that I have selected are all BFF from Hancock Fabrics. The gown construction will be part of a free sewing lesson this Saturday at Hancock Fabrics, Carmel, Indiana. To reserve a seat please call the store at 317-571-9594.

To make the evening gown  I have selected beaded galloon lace and stretch satin for the corselette and underlining the skirt. The cape will be made from shirred panne velvet using a technique I found in The Best of Threads: Embellishments magazine this summer. The quilted lining, shown above, will help ward off the winter chills.

Finally to complete the ensemble display, I plan to add this black, beaded handle, evening clutch that I made at an in-store lesson for Mother’s Day:

Holiday Beaded Handle Clutch Purse
Holiday Beaded Handle Clutch Purse

Photos of the finished gown and cape will be posted next week!

Happy Sewing!

Atelier, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Paris Couture, Quilting Room, Sewing Room Makeover

Sewing Room Makeover Continued – Project and DIY Ironing Board Cart

Yes, it’s true. My PCP (Pfaff Creative Performance) has a name, Prince Pfyodor. The pretentious, over-the-top name suits him to a tee. Compared to the other machines in the studio he’s pretty spoiled and, since he is much to heavy to move around, I decided to put together a press and project cart for him so I can keep his table clear and the iron close by. I adapted the cart from an Ikea Bygel cart which you can check out here:


The ironing surface is made of a piece of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) that is covered in one layer of reflective heat proof lining and 1 layer of muslin, attached with a staple gun. I tried, as mentioned in a previous post, to spruce it up a bit with pink buckets for project notions etc and a floral gift bag. But to my eyes, it was still lacking so off I went to JoAnn for some sticky hook and loop tape so I could make a skirt to cover up some of the clutter. Here’s how it looks now.

Paris Rose Cart Ironing Setup Paris Rose Project Cart

TADA! Lol! That looks so much better! And the cute fabric goes with the Paris Couture theme. I added a rose pattern button to cover the space between the two edges of the skirt.The messy stuff is still inside but at least I don’t have to look at it now. Equally important is that I already had the cart so I stayed within my budget. Yay!

When I looked at this cart, it made me reflect on the tiny apartments I have lived in. I keep thinking that it would be the perfect sewing cart. Just add your machine to the second shelf, reorganize it and presto! Instant sewing space. It slips away into a closet or, if covered in a home decor fabric, it could blend in nicely just tucked into a corner. I set the cart up with sewing needs just to try it out.


Just an idea for anyone who is living in a small space, or has limited sewing space. I empathize.

Next post…the pressing station for the commercial iron and the cart.

Happy Sewing!


Atelier, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Quilting Room, Sewing Room Makeover

To the wall or not





I am, truthfully in a bit of a quandary. The front section of the room is coming along nicely. I figure I am about 70% done. All that remains is the design wall/embroidery station with shelving. It is the most difficult project to assemble but once it’s done the front section will be too. But it has to wait for sales, time and a pair of helping hands. So for today, now that the walls are looking a little nicer, I am trying to figure out whether to put two sewing machines front to back so Mom and I can see each other or push the Pfaff against the wall, move the serger table over and create a second, independent quilting station for MDM.

The pictures above are just a mock up. I will not be using these tables for the Pfaff at all. The sergers actually go on one of the desks and the second one is for another machine. I am planning to build a special table for the Pfaff that will allow me to sew on a flat surface, needle to the nose as I was taught. I took the pictures with the drawers open so I could be sure that they can open with me sitting in front of the machine. What do you think? One quilting station or two?

Atelier, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Quilting Room, Sewing and Embroidery, Sewing Room Makeover

Adding a touch of spring to a wintery view






I have moved some pictures around and added little pink buckets to my press/project cart to keep project notions sorted. I am adding little dashes of pink here and there to help my wintery cool space feel a little more like spring. At the bottom of the cart, I reused a gift bag to hold my next sewing project which is all cut out and ready to sew. The binder, beside the bag, is a sample workbook so I can remember how to do the multitude of stitches one learns over time and which attachments to use (there are so many!) I loved the fabric on the binder and actually tracked it down at Hancock’s. Now if it would just go on sale!!!! My task today was moving the desks and setting up the front (north) facing wall and getting some of the wall decor done. Nearly there.

It’s nice to be inside on a snowy, cold day. Just thinking about spring is making it better and the forecast next week is for weather in the fifties. Yay!

Happy Sewing! Natalie

Atelier, Cutting Table, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Paris Couture, Quilting Room, Sewing Patterns, Sewing Room Makeover

Sewing Room Makeover – Paris Couture Dream Theme


I found these cute boxes at Hancock’s Fabrics. I love them for a lot of reasons, partly the color scheme, but mostly the Paris Couture theme. When I was a girl I dreamed of becoming a great Haute Couturier in Paris, with a shop on the Champs-Élysées. I sewed and dreamed. I worked and dreamed. I studied and dreamed. I took Fashion Arts at High School. Worked for fabric stores, and studied the Singer Sewing Reference Library until the books fell apart. I went to college and studied Fashion Design. Won competitions and really believed that I could make it. But the cold, harsh reality was that my dream world was dying. With the advent of the fax machine (yes I am that old) design specs could be sent to off shore factories in minutes and a sample could arrive in days. The internet made that timeline even shorter. And we could not compete. The cost of living in North America meant higher wages and higher wages mean higher costs of production.

So I am creating my own “Paris”, right here at home. A beautiful place of perpetual spring where I can design and create and teach and learn and grow and laugh and maybe even cry. Where the customer is always right, because the customer is always me. It may not be geographically correct, by my tiny atelier is a dream coming true for me. My sewing room is more than just a hobby space. It is a dream world preserved and well worth every penny I spend and every moment I have in here. After all, what price can we put on a dream?

Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Quilting Room, Sewing Room Makeover

Sewing Room Makeover

Just before Christmas I began working on converting our living room and dining room area into a sewing studio. Our nest is empty and we just don’t need a formal sitting area. Our friends come by and we all hang out in the great room/kitchen area anyways so it makes sense to use the space for something practical. I had used it as an office before and the study was my sewing room but I don’t need that much space for using my computer, editing video etc. and am really keen to have a proper set up for my home based pattern making and sewing school business. The problem with the old space is that is was cramped and I could only have 1-2 students at a time. This space will allow me to comfortably hold classes of 6-8 participants, which is the maximum number I can give personalized attention to.

My biggest challenge is to get all this done on a pretty tight budget. I have just $1200 to spend on the whole room, and that isn’t much considering the size of the space. Wherever possible, I am up-cycling, reusing, and building/assembling the various furnishings and decor for the room. I want it to be pretty, comfortable, bright and welcoming but most of all, functional!

Here is how the room looks so far. I was pretty desperate to get on a flat surface with the Singer! That cardboard/painters tape job has got to go!






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The room measures about 28' x 12'. Here are my first diagrams for the living room area makeover.



I made a list of all the functional spaces that I will need including storage and work areas. Because I do quilting, pattern making, embroidery, digitizing and sewing, most of the spaces will have to be multi-purpose. This is what I have identified so far! :))

Storage for:
Threads: embroidery, quilting and all purpose
Tools and Rulers
Paper and supplies
Pressing equipment
Quilt Frame storage

Work Areas to include:
Pattern drafting
Cutting table with mat
Embroidery machine station
Free Motion quilting table for use with frame
Sewing tables
Pressing station
Serger and blind hem station
Computer/printer/drawing desk
Men’s and women’s fitting areas
Waste and recycling
Quilting design wall

I have finished setting up the glass cases with my sewing and quilting fabrics, shown in photo 4. I plan to put a full length mirror behind the dress form for fitting. Still lots of planning, building, buying and work to be done!! The cutting table does yeoman service as pattern storage, pattern drafting, storage for tools etc.





I still need to do some work but I managed to put together the whole thing by using cabinets that I had purchased before for other things. It is made of an old 60″ bathroom vanity, two 24″ deep base cabinets and a couple of garage style cabinets that are 16″ deep by 24″ wide. I managed to pick those up at my local home improvement store for just $15 each on clearance. The total cost for the cutting table, including the mat and pressing surface, would be around $250 if I had to buy all the parts again so I am thrilled to have saved that much from my budget!

Here’s a shopping list to go by if you are interested.

Bathroom vanity – available from your local Restore or buy a damaged on from your local home improvement center. I paid $25 at Lowes for mine when we were thinking to redo the basement. We never wound up using it for that as it quickly became my sewing storage unit. The best $25 I have ever spent!

Garage cabinets. I bought these brand new at Lowes for $15 each. I used 2

1 sheet of MDF board cut to 37″ x 96″. I paid under $20

Instead of painting the board, I covered it with a piece of white muslin that I had lying around but a pint sized tin of white paint is under $10

The cutting mat is from Joann. I used my coupon off sale items (it took some patience and waiting for this) and paid under $30 for the Sew Essentials cutting mat. I don’t use the measurements on it, I use a ruler. On a mat this size, accurate grids are unlikely so I have never bothered to try.

The two 24″ cabinets were purchased new at our previous home and I forget how much we paid back then but we’ve hauled them around and they are still going. Check your local Restore for used ones. A can of paint can do wonders!

Lots of work still to be done!

Happy Sewing! Natalie

Hobby Spaces, Pattern Drafting, Sewing Patterns, Sewing Room Makeover

Getting my sewing patterns organized with Pinterest


As I have admitted to my shame – I do own a stash of paper sewing patterns. I keep them organized in clear totes with handles that work like drawers inside my cabinets so they are hidden away neatly when not in use. The problem was that as I looked for patterns I had to pull out the whole box – not knowing what I had or did not have. So I checked online for solutions and found some interesting ideas. I liked one about putting pattern envelopes or the entire pattern in sheet protectors and then loaded them into binders because it keeps everything visible. This is a great idea and there are many blogs about it. But it doesn’t work well for me because what I was really looking for was a solution that would allow me to have all the pattern information on hand when shopping for fabric or just figuring out what next to sew. And and truthfully I am just to lazy to pull it off.

What I decided to do was keep my patterns in the totes, organized by garment type and then create a Pinterest file here:

Creating the Pinterest file was very easy – I just went to the manufacturer website, entered my pattern number and clicked “pin it”.


Now when I am out shopping for fabrics or merely surfing the net all my pattern information is at hand. Using Pinterest allows me to click on the design and be taken to the manufacturers for all the cutting and yardage information

Then, as shown above I organized all the patterns by garment type – I had to use the floor since I ran out of room on the desk.


Kwik Sew patterns were one of my favorites before the new format – I stocked up when I discovered that they were discontinuing the heavy paper and many of the older – but classic designs.

Finally, I loaded everything back into the clear totes


with labels written in bright green so I can see exactly what pattern category I need. Now, whenever it is time to sew I can laze about on the couch and flip through my patterns either with my phone or iPad then, when I have made a choice – finding it is dead easy and what I really love it the portability.

Now that I am organized maybe I can finally get back to sewing and blogging before the contest ends! :))