Monthly Archives: January 2013

Parent Map Camp Fair!

Eeeck! I am a vendor at the Parent Map camp Fair this year. It seemed like I ought to advertise my Kids Sewing Camps a little better this year since I love doing them so much, so I am going to give it a go and see what happens.  There will be lots of vendors there promoting camps for a wide range of interests and ages, so if you want some fresh ideas on how best to get the kids out of your hair enrich your children’s learning this summer, stop by and say HI. (And BTW – St. Thomas is located at 8300 NE 12th St in Medina. Be there!)


(Emerald) Green is the color for spring 2013

It’s happening. I am starting to obsess about all things gardening.

Every year about this time I start itching to get out in the garden. The ground is much too hard and much too wet, but still I start thinking about how to expand my vegetable beds, and where an apple tree might thrive, and if an olive tree would actually bear fruit in the Pacific Northwest.

I signed up for a “Start Your Garden Indoors” and “Smart Garden Planning” at Seattle Tilth. My DH is considering taking the “City Chickens 101” class.

I ordered another one of these handy little planting calculators from Irish Eyes. I had one from a few years back, but it got left out in the rain and was no longer usable.

Garden Planner

I treated myself to a new garden tote, too. Well, actually, the handles were rotting off my old one, so I guess it could be classified as an essential expenditure instead of a treat, right? This one is supposed to be water repellant, so we’ll see how long it lasts. Probably it would help if I don’t leave it out in the rain, too. 😉



I ordered a few little gadgets I think might be helpful, and at a minimum, will be another excuse to fiddle around in the dirt more frequently. I’ve always wanted to test my soil temp, and know I will be able to!



The advice about testing your soil PH/balance is mixed. Some believe that our Pacific NW soil is uniformly slightly acidic and one should just add a little dolomite lime, and others think you should always test. I am feeling geeky, so this little soil PH/fertility gadget seems like fun.

What are the chances this seed starter will help me from dropping too many seeds into the ground? I’ll report back on after early spring planting. Which I reckon is going to start about mid-March. Squeal!


Happy sewinggardening!

Maris Olsen

Warm and stylish dolls

Kids Sew Camp time again! It has been really cold lately in our beautiful Pacific Northwest, and some little dollies have been shivering and complaining of exposure.

The little fake fur jackets should help keep them toasty! Dang, those coats were so stinkin’ cute I wanted to sit down and whip one up for myself. And the earmuffs made the outfit.


This little gal was all business all day long. I am pretty sure the studio could have fallen down around her and she would have sewn on. And Monday was <almost> her first experience using a sewing machine.


I guess my instructions on sewing up the black stretch velvet leggings were just not that enthralling. Hey girls, look back at the TEACHER–I might actually be telling you something IMPORTANT! 😉


Okay, that’s a little better. Maybe I need to practice my delivery a little. Add a few jokes? 😉


Working with fake fur was definitely challenging, and there were a few moments when minor “course correction” had to be applied to either the garment or a machine.



Proud sewists, and happy dollies!



Officially of course, the theme of the day was American Girl doll clothes. What actually transpired was much more significant than a few small garments. Girls learning to master a power tool. Creating something with their own hands. Designing something of their own imagination. Love helping facilitate all that awesomeness!

Happy Sewing!

Maris Olsen

Making the cut

Slicing open completed buttonholes with a seam ripper is a little akin to pruning a rose bush with a chain saw; not the optimal tool for the job.

But both you and I have been cutting open buttonholes with a seam ripper for years, mostly without mishap, right? Well, sometimes we do slice thru the bar tack stitching. Occasionally we even nick a few threads in one of the two parallel rows of zig-zag stitches. Not exactly a disaster, but buttonholes are not generally improved by adding even MORE stitching to repair cut threads.

Back in the day my mom used to have a set of black buttonhole cutters with several different blade lengths, and in my infinite wisdom I threw them out many years ago. Did I somehow get the mistaken notion that the seam ripper was superior? Maybe I wasn’t making many buttonholes at that time and another specialty tool seemed superfluous (WAH-aaat? I LOVE tools!) Criminy, now that I make dress shirts for my DH, I am constantly making batches of buttonholes, which, of course, just increases the opportunities for mishaps.

Enter the Japanese buttonhole cutters. I coveted them. I tested them. I fell in love.

Buttonhole tools

A block of wood, a hammer, and a stinkin’ sharp Japanese steel blade will make buttonhole slicing a joy. Just position the blade (yep, the stinkin’ sharp one) right between the 2 parallel rows of zig-zag stitches. Do NOT get your fingers under that blade!

Positioning the blade

Give a gentle tap on the handle end, and DONE!

Making the cut!

I love these blades so much I added them to my Etsy store.  C’mon, I dare you to try them and NOT find them vastly superior to a seam ripper.


Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen





No Smoothie Panties for me in 2013

I won’t be learning how to make “Smoothie Panties” this year at Sew Expo. Damn. Maybe I will get lucky next year. 😉

Have you ever attempted to grock the SewExpo website (or printed brochure) and plan a day+ of workshops at what is billed as the biggest sewing exposition in America? If so, I bow to you. Processing that grid of classes and descriptions requires an advanced degree in computational and mathematical engineering.

After agonizing for 3+ hours mapping out classes, fashion shows, and potty breaks over the 4-day schedule, I ended up being able to register for:

1.  The Ultimate in Under-Things
2.  Industry Insider Techniques Garment SEWING
3.  Stabilizers – The Backbone Behind the Stitching
4.  No Pins, No Basting, No Kidding!
5.  Perfecting The Pull-On Pant
6.  Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob
7.  Bag A Jacket Lining By Machine
8.  Make Your Fabric Work for You
9.  Cover Hem Workshop

Sadly, I will not be able to learn how to create Designer Finishes with your Serger, Designer Serger Techniques, and Smoothies Panties. But I do plan to have the most ultimate under-things on my block.

How about you-are you attending Sew Expo? Are you planning on taking any classes? Do share!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen



Holiday Spirit Sewing Camp 2012

Chartiy sewing prep

It all started with a pile of fabric.

A very generous pile of fabric it was too; much of it donated by Pam Fricke of Bug Fabric in Redmond. Cut into pillowcases and sundresses, the pretty cloth from Pam was ready to be stitched up. Next, the girls arrived and sewing machines were set up, threaded, and stitch quality was checked. And then those eager little hands and big hearts started using their creative gifts to give back to children in need.

I love your concentration A – this looks like serious business!


R seamed a sundress for Dress a Girl Around the World, and is hemming the dress below. Nice job, eh?


M is carefully adding shiny gold binding to the armholes for the cute tie straps.

MW_Binding a Dress

Look at these big-hearted girls!  Pillowcases and sundresses, some embroidered with  pretty stitches; all for other kids. These three chatted, ate, giggled, and had plenty o’fun throughout the day.

Pillowcases and sundresses

The obligatory goofy pix!

Silly sewing girls

It was a great kids sew camp. I got to spend the day sewing with three really special kids, and we all made some cute items that other kids will appreciate. Thanks for all you did, M, R, and A – you rocked it!!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Ix-nay to the resolution habit

Even before reading Jen’s post on Everyday Bright about how huge piles of goals can affect us over-achiever-types, I was just not up to the resolution-making task this year. Last year was fantastic in many ways, and as it came to a close, I realized that I had frequently felt stretched a bit thin. Over-stressed.

I would like 2013 to be different. For me I think that means focusing on fewer things at one time. It also means making more time and space for creative play. I deliberately have not planned out the entire year. To start, in 2013 I would like to:

  1. Spend more time sewing for pleasure. I’ve been rolling an idea ’round that involves some vintage Japanese kimono fabric. I’d like to make some prototypes and see where this idea can go.
  2. Enjoy being with my granddaughter. Oona turned 1 in December, and she is pretty much a giggle-a-minute right now. These precious early years go by in a blink, and I want to spend as much time with her as I can.

So there you have it. My 2013 is not going to start with a laundry list of SMART goals and unrealistic action items (tho “Make a pie every Sunday” just may get on the list).

How about you? Did you make a long list or opt-out of the resolution-pressure-cooker this year?

Happy 2013 AND happy sewing, everyone!

Maris Olsen