Monthly Archives: September 2014

Do I love sewing? It’s complicated…

Today I am so happy to welcome Heather Beckley, much better known as the KnittingNBee, to my series celebrating National Sewing Month. This awesome lady will make you LAUGH OUT LOUD every time you read her HI-larious Handmade by Heather B blog. And of course, meet Froggie. Just don’t be fooled by all her foolin’ around. This gal is a pro, and knows her stuff. Take it away, KnitNBee!

Celebrate National Sewing Month by Sew Maris

I’ve got a dirty little secret to admit……come closer, I don’t want Maris to hear……. I don’t love sewing. Gasp! Wait, wait, before you get out your stabbing scissors, let me go on. While I’m currently looking to hire a team of oompa loompas to do my pressing and seam ripping, there are plenty other things related to sewing that make me squeal with glee.

1. Buying fabric. Fabric, sweet fabric, you are the yin to my yang. Let’s hold each other and make wonderful plans for the future. You’re gonna be a coat, and you’re gonna be a fancy dress, and you luxurious silk will sit in my stash forever to be petted and cooed over. “Who’s mommy’s precious? You are!” I don’t even feel that guilty about the stuff that permanently sits in my stash. It’s part of a delicious treasure trove there to inspire me whenever I crack open the stash cave door. I’d probably buy fabric even if I didn’t sew, but that might lead to a few awkward explanations.

Fabric stash by KnitNBee for Sew Maris

2. Buying patterns. The planning companion to my fabric stash which also fills me with joy. I love hunting for them throughout the internet. Sometimes they are wily and hide in unknown web pages. Other times they jump into my blog feed yelling, “Take a look at me!” I carefully make my selections and then wait for them to arrive at my house, so I can stroke their envelopes and sniff their card stock. Mmmmm, tissue paper. PDF patterns are also wonderful purchases. I like to think of them as a giant puzzle of sewing awesomeness waiting to be unlocked. Bring me my glue and my iPod oompa loompas. Mama’s got some assembly to do.

By KnitNBee for Sew Maris

3. Figuring out fit problems….sometimes. Let’s forget about the times when fitting is an unsolvable puzzle and you want to burn it with fire. I’m talking about when I actually figure out a fit problem that has been confusing me for a day or two. All of a sudden an idea pops into my brain. “Eureka, that just might work!” Quickly the adjustment is tested out in a muslin and low and behold the problem is solved. YES! I throw my hands into the air feeling like the supreme badass of fitting! The sewing minions put on “Eye of the Tiger” and I pretend to run up the Art Museum steps. But not really cuz who has time for that crazy amount of cardio.

KnitNBee for Sew Maris

4. Talking to people about patterns, fabric, finished garments, etc. Hello, my name is Heather and I am a sewing junkie, now let’s talk garments! Are you getting to the point that you’d rather dispense with talking to people who know nothing about sewing? I am! Thanks to technology I can fill my day discussing patterns and garments with people all over the world similarly addicted to sewing. I can’t tell you the amount of housework I’ve blown off thanks to Twitter. I regret nothing. Sewing friendships also mean I can finally be a bad influence with my pattern/fabric pushing tendencies. Muhaaaa! I always wanted to be a bad girl, at last my dreams have been fulfilled. Now, pass me that pink ladies jacket cause I gotta go hang out with Frenchie.

By KnitNBee for Sew Maris

5. Slipping on a new garment. Is there anything better than putting on a shiny new garment? I submit that there is not. Admittedly, I’m a product seamstress rather than a process one, so wearing a newly sewn garment is the ultimate high. A high that needs to be duplicated on a regular basis. Better fire up the sewing machine cause I’m starting to get the withdraw shakes.

KnitNBee for Sew Maris

OK, maybe I don’t really dislike sewing after all. It’s greatly enriched my life in many ways, most importantly through friendships with lovely people. I also have a closet full of kick ass clothes that makes me feel pretty smug. Still looking for that seam ripping team of oompa loompas though. Call me, I have chocolate.

Oompa Loompas by KnitNBee for Sew Maris

Now Heather, what I REALLY want to know is where does the mother of a toddler actually WEAR all the beautiful dresses you make? I could never get out of jeans + Lands End cotton sweaters when my kids were small. I bow to you, oh supreme goddess of all the beautiful dresses in the universe! 🙂

Happy sewing!


Announcing: Grainline Archer Sew-Along!

It’s time for another Sew Maris Sew-Along, don’t you think? That’s right, I am hosting the official Sew Maris Archer Shirt Sew-Along this fall!

In case you don’t know this about me, I am a #shirtmakingninja. My dream is to get everyone in the universe excited about making better-than-RTW-looking shirts. Crisp cotton fabric + a great fitting pattern + perfectly executed details = shirt-making heaven! And because I am head-over-heels-in-love with Jen’s amazing Archer pattern, that will be the pattern-of-choice for my Sew-Along. Duh!


The Sew Maris Archer Shirt Sew-Along will start on October, 6th. That gives you time to buy and assemble the pattern, and maybe even make up a quick muslin if you are concerned about fit. In my opinion, the Archer runs quite true to size, but fit is personal. I never discourage anyone from making a muslin.

And please. Don’t start with the negative chatter about “I am not good enough to make a shirt”. I do not want to hear it. You.Have.Got.This. I have loads of little tips and tricks, in addition to Jen’s awesome directions, that will guarantee a great-looking shirt at the end of the sew-along. Truly. Besides, how do you expect to improve your sewing skills if you keep making the same simple things forever? Huh? You know I’m right, so just jump off the deep end and let’s do this together. I’ve got your back.

Now, how do you join the fun?

  1. Join the Sew Maris Archer Shirt Sew-Along FB group (and while you are at it, I would LOVE IT if you “Liked” my Sew Maris FB page!!)
  2. Buy your very own Grainline Archer pattern if you are not yet a lucky owner of said pattern
  3. Tweet about the fun you are having using the hashtag #SMArcherSA
  4. It didn’t happen if you don’t Instagram it using the hashtag #SMArcherSA

Blog buttons will be coming your way soon, so you can proudly announce you are IN!

Did I mention Jen has graciously offered to donate a free pattern to one lucky SMArcherSA participant who completes an Archer? Maybe her new Alder shirtdress pattern could be yours!! A chance to learn more about shirt-making, complete a great shirt, AND win a free pattern? JUMP IN!

Happy sewing!





Quick Tip Tuesday: Add a Little Color to Your Life

One of the annoying things (to me) about multi-sized patterns is the mash-up of notches on the pattern pieces. One thing that can help you quickly identify exactly which notch you are supposed to use is to mark over the one for your selected size with a colored pencil or pen. It will streamline your “cutting out” process a bit, especially if you are (like me) someone who frequently cuts garments later at night. Maybe even after a glass of wine. 😉

Quick Tip Colored Notch by Sew Maris

That’s it for today, friends. Hope you are making something AWESOME!

Happy sewing!



Sewing, Upcycling, and Sanity!

Today I am so happy to welcome Vicky Myers to my series celebrating National Sewing Month. This wonderful gal is the creative brains behind Vicky Myers Creations, and she is one passionate lady about recycling and protecting our environment. Vicky sews LOADS of different things, and her goal is always to create her designs from 100% recycled materials. I love that about you, Vicky!

Celebrate National Sewing Month by Sew Maris

What does sewing mean to me?? So MUCH:)! In short I feel it keeps me sane, as a mum to two young children, with a part time job, husband and a bit of voluntary work it is my space. A chance to be me and explore/feed my creativity. Without crafting I would not have the same equilibrium in life.. it is a little addictive though (just don’t look at the state of cleanliness in our home!). There are many people who fed this creativity through my childhood – in particular two excellent teachers at school. Learning to dress make and use a sewing machine competently is down to one teacher in particular. It saddens me that children no longer get the same opportunities at school.

For a few years I neglected my creativity, to my detriment. However I don’t think my husband really appreciated what he was starting when he bought me a book for Christmas, all about creating bags out of upcycled materials! I think he wanted to help me get back into creating things, and the book was a real inspiration. Since then I have fallen in love with my sewing machine, and upgraded it! I started to create many different upcycled bags, as I increased in confidence creating my own designs and refashions. I ventured into blogging in theory to raise the profile of my Etsy shop – however I love blogging for it’s own sake.

Vicky Myers Creations for Sew Maris

As a result of blogging I have learned so many new skills, and not just technology and social media. I love this because I make items I would not necessarily have the confidence to sew before. Many pattern testers have supportive Facebook groups so I can ask questions if I get stuck or am not sure of a technique. Facebook groups have led to me to try making garments, I’m not sure why I had a stumbling block about sewing clothes before but I did.

I am passionate about the idea of transforming a former item into a whole new creation, giving it a new lease of life. I am overwhelmed with climate change, with the end of natural resources in sight. Being able to use old fabric, and clothes is important to me. It’s a small effort on my part to reduce landfill. I love to share my love of upcycling and sewing by making gifts for friends and family (they sometimes get other things too!). It is important for me to share my original ideas and regularly sharing tutorials to encourage creativity in others.

Vicky Myers Creations for Sew Maris

I value my creative journey, and look forward to seeing where it leads me in future – will I stay purely with sewing or will I branch out and finally learn some upholstery and woodwork skills?!

Thanks Maris for giving me the opportunity to share my passion for sewing and creating.

Vicky, thank YOU for your wonderful, inspiring story about why you love to sew. I hope you keep on sewing for many years to come!

Happy sewing!

The Story Behind Why I Sew

Today I am so happy to welcome Beata Lenarciak, owner and designer of Red Point Tailor, to my series celebrating National Sewing Month.  Beata lives and creates in The Netherlands, and is truly a fantastic couture seamstress. In addition to her beautiful garments, she also makes amazing jewelry and fashion accessories. But let’s hear more about her sewing story!

Celebrate National Sewing Month by Sew Maris

Why I sew—it is so obvious for me however difficult to explain. Sewing was always around me; it was and still is part of my life. It is my passion (next to sailing)—my retreat.

Red Point Tailor on Why I Sew for Sew Maris

Let’s start from the beginning though …

My grandfather was a men’s tailor and thanks to him my mother and my aunt (older sister of my mother) were very creative as well. None of them sewed professionally though. My mother was more about knitting then sewing, so my sister and I always had very modern sweaters, gloves, caps, etc. After my mother bought her first sewing machine then my sister and I started to sew for good. My mother taught us small couture techniques she learned from her father, which I am still using. It was fabulous feeling and seeing the pieces of  fabric transformed into a wearable top or a skirt. We were so fashionable.

Having this experience I decided to gain more knowledge in this direction. Thus I studied sewing techniques for 5 years—my specialty was knitted fabrics, even though I did not proceed with my career in this direction (as mother as daughter). Still, I did not break with sewing—opposite—I kept making clothing for myself and my family.

Making my own garments—which fit and looked professional—helped me to get my first job. It was amazing! I kept making my own garments with special attention to fit and quality.

Red Point Tailor on Why I Sew for Sew Maris

When I moved to The Netherlands I stopped sewing for some time. However, as it was not so easy to buy properly fitting garments here—most of the Dutch women are much taller—I started sewing again. And I am very glad I did it. I realized how much I missed it.

Finding sewing community on the web was amazing. I love to share ideas and exchange experience and knowledge on my blog. I get inspired seeing creations of other bloggers. I am glad to see new generations striving to have unique, tailored garments of high quality.

Red Point Tailor on Why I Sew for Sew Maris

My next challenge is to share my knowledge and experience not only by giving sewing courses, but advising on style and dressing as well.

Coming back to the question of why I sew—being able to create a garment, seeing the final result, having a great feeling wearing it, knowing that it is unique—makes me feel proud. I think we all should stand still and think about these feelings more often.

PS. The story behind the name, Red Point Tailor? Friend of my husband had a friend, who had a white cat with the tail ending in red. So his name was Red Point Tailer. Our one of the first cats was grey with the tail ended in white. Our last cat was red and white… my grandfather was a tailor, so somehow we came up with … the Red Point Tailor. Just a little fun!

Thank you so much for sharing your sewing story, Beata! You should be proud of your beautiful clothes, and I hope we will see more of your lovely creations soon.

Happy sewing!


Quick Tip Tuesday: Free Up That Selvage

The selvage edge of fabric is what attaches to the loom during manufacturing; so it only stands to reason this portion of the fabric needs to be sturdy and firmly woven.

Sometimes the result is a selvage edge that “draws up” and won’t lie flat and smooth when you are trying to cut out a pattern. This tends to happen more with knit fabrics, but it can happen with wovens, too. Next time, rather than cutting the entire selvage off, try clipping into the selvages every few inches to release the tension. Hope that helps!

Happy sewing!


10 Darn Good Reasons Why I Sew

It’s September, and that means National Sewing Month! Today I am going to tell you a few of the reasons why I sew, and throughout the month you will also get the chance to hear from some of my favorite sewing pals. We are going to celebrate sewing in all forms around here!

Sew Maris and Berninas

I sew because…

1. …I.Must.Make.Things. I believe that all people have a creative drive within them. Some people make paintings. Some people write stories. Some people create beautiful buildings. I make beautiful, handmade, clothes.

2. …I love to pet fabrics. I am a very tactile person. My mom used to tell the story of me as a little girl, visiting a five and dime store (this term shows my age!), and literally being physically incapable of not touching everything I could reach. Much to my proper, rule-bound, mother’s chagrin.

3. …I love the idea of following a tradition that all the women of my family enjoyed. Some were more skilled than others, but my mom, both my grandmothers, and both my aunts were all darn handy with a needle. Tradition!

4. …I like my clothes to look unique. As my mother used to say, I never “meet myself coming and going” in a garment I have made.

5. …others who sew are my tribe. We speak the same language. We have an instant bond. The sewists I have met are among the nicest, most generous, interesting people on earth. I have made loads of friends through ASG, and others through the fantastic online sewing community.

6. …making beautiful things with my own hands makes me feel beautiful. And proud of my accomplishments.

7. … it is fun! Sometimes I giggle, or even chortle when I am sewing. At my craziness, or mistake-making. You just never know what sounds you might hear coming from my sewing studio.

8. … I think it is special to share my homemade-with-loads-of-love creations with my family and friends. Yes, I could buy pajama pants for my family for our annual Christmas Eve present. But purchased pants are not the made-by-Mom-or-Nana PJ pants.

9. …I know that in this one area I am not paying other human beings slave wages so I can buy cheap, disposable clothing. My actions alone are not going to turn the tide of our discount, throw-away fashion culture, but at least I am not furthering it.

10. …it is HARD. I tell my young students that stupid people can’t sew—it’s too hard for them. I am happy that sewing is difficult. I like problem-solving. Figuring things out. Making 2-dimensional patterns and fabrics into 3-dimensional forms. It stretches my brain in all kinds of great ways. If you have a growth-mindset, you know that working through challenging problems is good for you. At any age. So get on it, people. Find something that challenges you and start working it!

What about YOU? What about sewing lights you up?

Happy sewing!