Monthly Archives: August 2012

Kids Sew Camp – August 2012

Last week wrapped up the final sewing camp for kids for 2012. Boo! Six enthusiastic kids, 1 slightly frazzled teacher, and 1 indispensable assistant got together for four days of sewing fun. The focus for this camp was creating clothes and accessories for dolls, but we also spent a day working on other projects. The output tally was:

  1. 6 flannel doll pillows
  2. 6 quilted doll sleeping bags
  3. 6 poodle skirts for dolls
  4. 5 doll cardigan sweaters
  5. 2 “pillowcase” sundresses for 2 students
  6. a zippered bag made for a mommy
  7. 2 wrap doll jumpers
  8. a myriad of little self-designed doll bags and food items

Such creativity and cooperation we shared last week! New friendships were formed, and email and phone numbers exchanged in addition to all the sewing that was accomplished. I hope I get to see some of those faces in my studio again, because now they are a little bit “my” kids. Yeah, you know who you are! ๐Ÿ™‚

You can get a little taste of our experience here.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen



How (NOT!) to sew pajama pants

PJPantsPatternScan (2)

Pajama pants are one of my go-to projects for beginning sewists because they:

  1. consist of only 1 or 2 pattern pieces
  2. usually can be completed in 1 or 2 lessons
  3. provide stitching practice on a garment that is not generally worn in public, so not matter how awful the stitching is they can still be considered “wearable” ๐Ÿ˜‰

At a recent Kids Sew Camp, I handed the pattern instruction sheet shown above to two students working on their PJs. Since they were the oldest two students, I was encouraging their “independent sewing” mindset by asking them to construct their pants mostly by reading the pattern instructions.

Sheesh. Imagine my surprise when I took a second look. Can you see what is missing? Hint: the pictures are correct, but the written instructions are missing a step.

Happy sewing!


Making a Memory quilt

A very dear woman contacted me last winter, and asked me to make a quilt from her late grandson’s clothing. I invited her to come to my house so we could talk about the project and design she had in mind. From the moment I met her, I was hooked. Not because I know much about quilting. Not because I know anything specifically about making a memory quilt. But because I am a mom, and she and her family had endured the greatest loss of all. The loss of a child.

The quilt is done, and I will be giving it to her tomorrow. It was an honor to make it for her family, and I hope it brings them a small amount of peace and healing.

Memory quilt

RIP dear James, you are very loved.


Maris Olsen

Meet your Online Sewing Coach

Some of you know that in a former life I was a techie geek before I became a full time sewing geek. So unlike some of my sewing pals, I am totally comfortable using a computer and software. Last week I used a technology I have been using for a long while in a new way. I taught a sewing lesson to a student in Santa Barbara using Skype! How cool is that? I use Skype all the time to chat with my DD and DGD in NYC, but had never tried it for teaching. Both student Molly and I thought our online lesson was a grand success! She was a little stuck on completing her husband’s pajama pants, and I was able to help her get “unstuck” enough so she could complete the project. The bonus was I got to see her pretty, smiling face again.

Since our test Skype session was a definite win-win, I would like to announce a new Sew Maris service (drum roll please!!). From the comfort of your own home, you can have a mini-sewing lesson. Collect all your questions and conundrums, and schedule a 30 minute coaching session with me for a measly $25.ย  You will need a laptop computer with a web camera and a Skype account to use this service, and you will also need to contact me prior to arrange a mutually convenient lesson time. Pajamas are optional, but definitely encouraged for coaching sessions. I am excitedโ€”I love finding new uses for technology!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Two summer dresses for Oona

Sewing for little ones is so rewarding. Generally projects can be made fairly quickly (OK, unless they are smocked!), they don’t take a lot of fabric, and there are so many cute ways to embellish them. My DGD is now getting old enough (8 months today!) that the sewing opportunities and pleasure will only increase.

I am not one for making PJs and onesies for babies. Not enough enjoyment factor to spend my sewing time this way. But a little onesie with an attached skirt to make it all girly and cute is a totally different story. I had some sweet yellow cotton knit that has been aging in my stash for just such an opportunity. Love this dress!

Yellow cotton knit dress

Sorry for the weird angle on the above shot, but the dress is already on its way to NYC so no chance for a re-shoot. Check out the convenient little attached onesie part. Cool, huh? I think the dress will stay “put” on a wiggly baby who is not yet walking.

Onesie under skirt

Of course the pink dress took more time, but I just love smocked dresses on little girls, especially bishop-style. Oona is going to have a smocked dress in every size at every age – I really hope she likes dresses!

Full view pink cotton bishop

My smocking is not that perfect these days, as I am definitely out of practice. I see that changing soon, though, as Oona is getting into a “prime dress wearing age”. You have to take advantage of this time, since she might hate dresses once she starts school. Hope she and her momma like this one!

Pink smocking detail

LOL! These bloomers are huge! Well, I have enough fabric to make another pair, since I am pretty sure her momma could wear these.ย  Need this baby to live closer so I don’t have fitting issues. That’s a good reason, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pink granny panties

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen



Vogue Fall 2012 pattern collection review

Wow. Double WOW. I have not been this impressed by a pattern collection in a l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g while. First off, LOVE the styling of the sample garments. Finally, models for sewing are projecting a hip, modern, urban vibe. Thank you.

Now, the patterns. I am a sucker for pretty dresses, and sheath dresses are my favorites. Love this look from Rebecca Taylor, but with all the contrast pieces sewing precision will be critical, or it will look Becky Home-Ec-y, IMHO.


More sheath love from Donna Karan, and with an exposed zipper to step it up even a little more. Totally wearable, and totally stylish.


Ruching does wonders for disguising a few lumps and bumps, and I can see this simple dress from Tracy Reese in a bold graphic print, or even as a LBD. I would shorten the sleeves to 3/4 tho – I think a little wrist and arm showing would be much more flattering.


This might be my favorite dress of all. LOVE.


And this Issey Miyake coat? Swoon! Not that I ever actually make coats. I just collect coat patterns. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Elegant blouse and very interesting skirt patten by Donna Karan. I don’t know if my short-waisted body can wear this combo, but it is calling me, for sure.


A classic pant suit, with some interesting shaping on the jacket, and a feminine, pretty blouse. This would be a great addition to my wardrobe.


Cute, trendy hi-lo top that would be a nice knit top addition.


Thee are plenty more great patterns in this grouping, but I included a few of my favorites here. How about you? What else appeals to you in this collection? Are you in the mood to sew for fall yet, or still enjoying summer sewing?

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen