Monthly Archives: October 2011

Serging fun for a birthday celebration

Busy birthday girl

Sunday was my youngest DD’s 22nd birthday. (How can I be that old, for heaven’s sake??) I blazed my way north to hang out with her and her two college roomies for a day of sewing fun. The girls wanted some new leggings and tube skirts, so me and my serger were happy to oblige. Especially since they were thrilled with the color selection I had in my stash – some of which had been aging for at least 5 or 6 years and had traveled all the way from the Shangahai silk market! Sweet!

They use their garage for crafting space, which worked out pretty well despite the lack of natural light. Katie is rockin’ her new sewing machine, and I am making my serger hum. Can’t those things go any faster?

Sewing and serging in the garage

Madison’s job was professional thread holder. Nice work, Maddie!

Human thread holder

Complex calculations. And this was BEFORE the wine!

Head scratching calculations

Here you can see we used only the finest tools for our tasks…

Teeny sewing scissors

Well, we neglected to get a picture of our completed handiwork since we were in a hurry to go out for dinner, but the final tally was 2 pairs of leggings and 4 banded tube skirts completed in one afternoon. Not bad for a day’s work, but the best part was getting to spend part of the birthday celebration with my youngest. Time goes by much too fast…..

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Little girls helping other little girls ’round the world

Completed pillowcase dresses:-

This is a smile of accomplishment, as well as the good feeling that comes from helping someone else.  Don’t you love the enthusiasm on Megan’s face?

Earlier this year my ASG neighborhood group worked on a charity sewing project making sundresses for the “Dress a Girl Around the World” program, which is sponsored by Hope 4 Women International. Since we received a GI-normous supply of donated fabric, I still have quite a supply in my studio leftover from our workday. I also have 3 young students right now who have an abundance of sewing energy. Sounds like an opportunity, doesn’t it? 😉

After Megan and I worked a bit last weekend on her Halloween accessory, I pulled out some partially completed dresses and asked her if she wanted to help some girls who don’t own even a single dress. It didn’t take Megan but a second – she was all in – and obviously excited to be working on a project that had an impact beyond herself. I pinned and prepped, and Megan sewed. Elastic was added for ruffling, binding made pretty shoulder ties, and a pocket for a small treasure was added. Meagan sewed a bit of herself into these dresses, and I think some little girls far from Bellevue just might feel her caring. Thanks Megan, I had a wonderful time sewing with you.


Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen


Sewing Camp for grown-ups

I really double-♥ my local ASG chapter, the Greater Seattle ASG, that is. What a collection of smart, creative, and rip-roaring fun ladies we have! One of the most fun events we sponsor each year are our sewing retreats -one in the fall and another in the spring. Three days of sewing! No cooking! No cleaning toilets! Just sewing! Oh, and a little wine-drinking. 🙂 And LOTS of laughing.  As usual, we were at Camp Huston in Gold Bar for our annual fall sewing fun last weekend. Barrels of fun, can you tell?

Carol is making (another) sweater. I kinda tease her about all her little cardigans, but she makes such cute ones I guess she really should keep it up.


Eveleyn is making a totally trendy houndstooth coat. AND using fabric out of her stash. Almost unheard of!  


Tami is just looking gorgeous here, but secretly she is working on clothes for her darling twins.  Lucky kids to have her for a momma!


Gaylen totally makes me mad. How can she get so many things finished in 3 days? This skirt and top was only the tip of her completed garment iceberg.


Suzy spent a lot of time at the iron. I bet you didn’t know Suzy and I went to junior high and high school together. Yup, North Kitsap Vikings we are.


It’s my conference roomie – Helen! She is giggling so I guess the hole-in-her-heart has healed. 😉


We managed to keep our energy level up with snacks round-the-clock. Just barely, tho. 😉 


Molly is another sewing hot-shot. And I had to sit behind her so I could be reminded constantly of how little I was getting done. I won’t make that mistake again! I am pretty sure Shelley is imparting some wisdom. To someone.


Lorraine was trying to tame an apron with a sub-par pattern. Ugh. But just look at the adorable coat she made!


Busy ladies trying to pretend there is no camera in their faces. 😉


Look at Mary’s darling skirt. From gifted fabric!


You should have seen the darling bags Fran was making. You could have if I had been smart enough to get them in the shot. Next time!


Paula made 2 capes, and is planning on teaching the techniques when she gets to her winter domicile in Arizona. Pass it on, Paula!


If you ever get the chance to go on a sewing retreat, jump on it! You will be hooked, and happy to leave the daily duties behind for a few days of fun with your sewing sisters.

Happy sewing!


Time-saving tool?

Y’all know how much I love good tools.  Almost as much as I love high quality fabric. And conversely, there is almost nothing I hate more than a crappy tool. And that is just what I was asked to evaluate last week. A big waste of $10.

Color me surprised when I listened to my voicemail last week, and heard, “Hello, this is Jesse Jones from KING-5 TV, and I would like you to help me evaluate a sewing tool for one of my  “Let Jesse Buy It” segments.” WA-HAAAT? Jesse Jones wants to interview me and get MY opinion about a sewing product? Who the heck am I to be doing such a thing, I ask you?

It sounded like a barrel of fun to me, and indeed it was. They came. They filmed. They filmed some more. Took more than 2 hours for a few seconds of usable footage, but both Jesse and Brad, his camerman, made it all enjoyable. The final analysis? Don’t waste your money. I think the packaging cost more to produce than the package contents. If you want to see my short-lived TV career, check out the video below. And no, this was not my TV debut. I was on JP Patches when I was in the first grade. 🙂

Sale alert: Kai scissors

Kai scissors are on sale now thru October 16th!  They are the best scissors I have ever used, and I totally recommend them to all my students. You know how I love good quality tools, and these babies are supreme. Here are the ones I own:

  1. N7250 – 10 inch professional shears
  2. N7240AS – 10 inch serrated edge professional shears
  3. N5135C – 5 1/2 inch curved blade scissors

Go ahead, treat yourself to some new scissors. It’s easy enough to order from the Kai website, and be sure to use the promo code SALE. You will receive 20% off now thru October 16th. Sweet deal!


Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Advancing sewing as an art and life skill….

…is what the American Sewing Guild (ASG) is all about. I completely double-♥ this wonderful organization, and am so glad to be associated with it. I think I have been a member for at least 10 years, but my memory is not super reliable with those kind of details. Too many children – destroyed some of those brain cells, you know. 😉

There are so many great benefits to belonging to ASG. I have met some of my favorite people thru this organization, taken classes sponsored by my chapter and others nearby, improved my sewing skills by quantum leaps, and enjoyed endless camraderie and laughter with my sewing sisters. And there is some goodness-mojo too. Every year a new charitable project is selected by the national organization, and members spend many hours each year sewing for good causes. In addition, individual chapters, neighborhood groups, or individuals can (and do!) contribute their time and creativity to any needy organizations that they have a heart for. Anyone who loves to sew is welcome as an ASG member, and if you haven’t joined yet, I hope you will soon.

Ooops! I better sign off. I need to finish packing for my annual fall retreat with my sewing sisters. Wish you were coming along!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

A sewing circle “seams” like fun times


Last Sunday’s “sewing circle” was flat-out a barrel of fun. A couple of my younger students and one adult student gathered at my studio for a few hours in the afternoon, and the idea was for each person to work on their own sewing projects independently. Of course, I was available for a little backup help if necessary. 😉


Well, help I did. And so did they!  Jenny helped thread one of the machines that had become unthreaded. Juliette helped Malia work on her coin purse, since she had already used the same pattern and “knew the ropes.”  Malia demo’d how to do a cool decorative stitch on her coin purse project.


There was lotsa cooperation going on. Plenty of creativity. More than a little pride of workmanship. Some pumpkin cake got eaten. Pictures of horses and ponies were shown, and oohed and ahhed over appropriately. Twirly skirts were made.  The zipper went in the hoodie. Trim was pinned to a pillow sham. A coin purse was finished. A dog was petted.

I hope your Sunday was as enjoyable as mine. 🙂

Happy sewing!


Maris Olsen

Vogue Winter/Holiday Pattern review

The Vogue Winter/Holiday collection is just out, and I think there are some real gems in this collection. Here are some of my favorites from this offering… 

Oh, I wish I was 20 years younger (who I am kidding? more like 30!!) so I could rock this gorgeous Badgley Mischka dress at my husband’s office holiday party. This dress is pretty AND sexy, and beautifully styled to boot. Emerald green satin – smashing!


Kaye Unger is known for her feminine dresses, and this one is adorable. I think it would make the perfect LBD, or I’d love it in any holiday jewel tone, too. The front tucks and the pleats on the sleeves add distinctive detailing to this basic sheath shape, while still retaining the clean lines Kaye is known for.  


I know Belville Sasson had a wedding dress years ago with a very similar shoulder treatment, but this dress is pretty and very wearable. I love the back V-neckline, too.  


I love the element of surprise in my clothes –  take a look at the back of this Pamela Rolland dress. Don’t you love that swingy back skirt attached to the slim sheath front?


Koos Van Den Akker is a bit of a one-trick pony, but I do like both the scale and shape of this reversible coat.


I double-heart this Guy Laroche wrap dress. I’m not sure I can wear something quite this boxy on the top, but on the right figure shape this would be dynamite.


Here is a new jeans pattern for non-stretch denim; possibly even with a rise that is high enough for those older than 14 to wear.


If you are into the vintage vibe, I think dress and jacket suit is as sweet as can be!


Marcy Tilton has a lovely collection of new bags, and any one of them would make a beautiful gift.


IMHO these are some real goodies that will add a bit of spice to your wardrobe this holiday season. Of course, personally I am attracted to all the lovely holiday dresses. Too bad I have only one or 2 events a year where I could wear such pretties! How about you? Does anything tickle your fancy in this collection? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, so sign in and add a comment!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen