A New Perspective

The last few weeks in my sewing room have been a bit all over the place.  I have great intentions at the beginning of the day and then...well...I'm not sure what happens?  I start out in one direction and end up careening off into the first 'shiny' thing that crosses my path.  I was feeling like I hadn't really accomplished much and had nothing to share, and then I attended a talk last evening at our local arts center and got a whole new perspective on my week!

The talk was entitled "Hodgepodge."  Such a great word...and an even better concept!

Nancy Crow, 'rockstar' quilter from Ohio, shared a series of random stories about her work, her travels, her amazing barn studio, her relationship with her husband...when she started I wasn't sure what might happen, but as I left I felt I had spent an intimate evening with an incredible woman.  Had she simply shared thoughts about the 'Circular Abstractions' exhibit (currently residing in the Kalamazoo Institute for the Arts) it would have been lovely and I would have left feeling satisfied, but the peak into her world, the things that matter to her, the people and places that inspire her, the pictures of her lovely farm in Ohio...such a rich glimpse into the artist, so much more than I had imagined when I walked into the auditorium.

The exhibit: "Circular Abstractions" was curated from work that Nancy's students have done.  She invited students whom she felt were developing their own 'voice.'  They had progressed beyond 'following the instructions' and were creating work from their artists' hearts.  One of the requirements was that the pieces be at least 80 inches square!  Seeing them all together was very impressive and inspiring, even for a non-quilter!

Although not quite as exotic or worldly as Nancy's, the hodgepodge that is my life seemed to make sense and feel connected in ways that had been eluding me lately.  Thank you Nancy!

So...here are a few of the random bits of hodgepodge that have been going on in my world...

I can't seem to get enough of the amazing colors that are happening in my Hydrangeas!!  Every few days they add another color to the palette.  Thank goodness I have a bunch of them, 'cuz I keep snipping them off to bring into the house.  I keep thinking that THIS must be the final coloration, but they just keep going.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to make something to wear with a favorite sweater vest...I collected up a fabric that I thought would work, I scrounged around in the old pattern box and found a pattern that I could hack, I .... got distracted by Halloween and my Anniversary (November 1)...

I had made a Pippi Longstockings costume several years ago to wear for a party that we had at work.  All I could find was the crazy yarn pigtails that I had fashioned onto a red knit hat.  So the wig is old, but the rest of my outfit I literally whipped up in the afternoon so I could join my son at our local pub for their Halloween party. (and the gloves?...my other son crocheted those for me a few years ago as a Christmas gift!  Such clever boys!)

OK, whew...back to the shirt...

One of the patterns that I have been making and liking is the Tabula Rasa jacket by Fit For Art patterns.  The kicker for me is the sleeve.  It is a square set in sleeve which gives great room for movement, but doesn't look 'dolman-like' under the arm.  For my broad shoulders it is extremely comfortable.  I found an OLD pattern, can't even begin to remember when I got it, that has the same sleeve configuration.

 View B was the starting point for my shirt.  I did make several changes...
-I did tighten up the underarm volume a bit, so I could fit it under jackets or the sweater that it is intended to go with!!!
-I made the front opening only halfway down and put a few gathers in the center front
- I did a high/low shirttail hem
-I added a yoke to the back (I didn't have enough fabric to cut the full back, 😁 .  So I added some gathers there as well, why not?

As I was cutting the very swishy, very plaid fabric I decided that I needed to stabilize the shoulders to carry the weight of the garment.  Turning up nothing in my stash I headed to the local quilting establishment to find a nice stable quilting cotton....oh, shiny...

I have recently returned from a sewing retreat so was very aware of the equipment hauling stuff that I have been using...for years!  I have a placemat, yes, a placemat that my sister in law reworked into a carryall of sorts.  It has been way too long ago for me to remember, but the sage green color of the placemat makes me think of 1990something...

 It simply has Ziplock bags stitched into the middle so you can load it up with all sorts of sewing notions (in my case!).  I have tried other, newer, organizing options, but seem to always reach for this one...so when I saw the Beatle Bag pattern at the quilt shop, oh, yeah!

My one half yard yoke fabric turned into a two hour troll through the store to find just the right combination for my Beatle Bag, after all if it is around as long as my placemat I better like it!!

The Beatle Bag Pattern by Abbey Lane Quilts  comes with several very hefty zipper type bags that insert into the finished contraption.  Not being particularly good with directions, I thought about all the ways I could 'improve' the pattern...but in the end I did exactly what the pattern said...except...(I just had to make it my own!) I don't use a pincushion so I substituted a glasses pocket instead.  

The tab goes through the ring and fastens under the bag to the back.  The Velcro makes it adjustable so it can really get loaded up with stuff!  The padded pockets on the inside are just great for scissors.  Several of the bags in my placemat version have holes from the scissors poking through...oops!

Ok...back at the cutting table...

Having matched, as much as possible and found the perfect yoke lining, the shirt started coming together.  It really felt like I had been working on it forever...

It's made with a rayon plaid flannel.  It is very, VERY swishy and almost impossible to keep lined up, but I'm pretty satisfied with the plaids.  There were just some places that defied matching!

The rayon feels quite luxurious for a flannel shirt and I like the shirt vest combo...however, this is maybe the third try, so I will reserve judgement until I wear it!

I have been collecting old cards of buttons forever.  It's fun to find them at antiques places.  These were just waiting for this shirt!

So there you have it...my hodgepodge.  ...and somehow, somewhere it all makes sense!


  1. Hey, I'm scattered all over the place myself. This morning, intended to cut out a butterick dress pattern I wanted to make last year and never got around to, BUT my dog was very "demanding" of my time and I got flustered............so I eventually pulled out a dress pattern my guild uses for a plus size ladies dress for part of our community service sewing (no fitting required--mindless sewing I call it) and have almost finished it. But, before the butterick dress, I had INTENDED to be sewing an pant pattern I have recently fitted............go figure.........

  2. The Hydrangeas are beautiful and in the perfect vase. They really are amazing flowers and if picked at just the right time seem to last perfectly forever. I hope yours do.
    The lecture with Nancy sounds very enlivening. I could do with something like that right now even though I am not a quilter.
    I love your happy-looking Jack-o-lantern. And you as Pippi.
    Your new shirt is lovely – rayon is my fave so I can only imagine how delicious that's going to feel when you're wearing it. It looks so good with your knitted vest. Really wonderful.
    And your deluxe "tool-kit". Looks pretty skookum as we say over here in the West.
    For a distracted lady you sure got a lot done! Brava!

    1. I was really surprised too that I actually got some stuff done...it sure didn't feel like it in the middle of the week!

  3. Well, you have inspired me! But then, you always do ;) I need one of those travel bags. You should see the hodgepodge of bags I carry when I travel. Absolutely shameful!

    1. It's pretty 'sewing geeky' but I'm excited for a chance to try it out...I need another workshop or retreat or something!!!