Category Archives: General sewing

Throw down the resolution gauntlet for 2014

Do you make sewing resolutions? It seems like just one more thing to keep track of, and in my case, feel bad about because I can never even find my list live up to them. And right now I am particularly not in the mood for a bunch of lofty goals.


But one thing that has really intrigued me this year is the crazy sewing bloggers who have photographic evidence of their sewn creations from 2013. Really! How in the Sam hell do people keep track of every flippin’ item they sew for an entire friggin’ year?!?!? I bet you guys are making half of it up. I can barely remember what I sewed yesterday, never mind a year ago. I don’t blog about everything I make, so my posts are not a complete record. If you have ever seen my sewing desk you know any project list started in January would be long-buried by March. Seriously, how do YOU do it? Spreadsheet? Journal? Sticky notes? Inquiring minds want to know!

Happy sewing in 2014!




Goodbye and good riddance 2013


Torg, toasting his son and new daughter-in-law at their wedding

This year ended on such a sad note for our family, and I am more than ready to turn the page on a new year and a new beginning. My only sibling, Torger Kristian Olsen, died on December 18th. He had been quite ill for some time with pulmonary fibrosis, but his sudden decline and death caught us all by surprise. He met death head-on, which for all of you who knew him, that was definitely how he lived his life, too.

I hope that 2014 brings only good things to you and your loved ones. I want to hug everyone that is dear to me every day in 2014, and hold fast only to their love, peace, and goodness.

This coming year will hold new sewing students, and new sewing projects. And very soon, I will be blogging again about all the goings on in the Sew Maris studio.

Blessings to you and yours in 2014!


Wallet pattern obsession

You know what I’m talking about, because you do it too.

You start sewing something new, a type of garment or fabric or project that you have never tried before. Maybe the pattern instructions are not as clear as they could be. Or maybe the pattern doesn’t fit together perfectly. Or the finished product is OK, but if you only added a {insert feature of your choice} it would be AWESOME!

See, you get obsessed, too. That’s what happened when I tried to sew my first wallet pattern. One of my darling students was working on a wallet/mini-purse, and I thought her project looked so adorable I wanted to join in the fun. Me, the crazy-I-only-sew-garments lady, wanted to make a wallet. Well, I felt a little like the ACA; the V1 rollout kinda stunk.

First wallet front

See what I mean? The flap has a flip, and not at all in a good way.

First wallet inside flat

The inside sections are sort of OK. At least I like the credit card section in the middle. But the accordion pocket and the zippered pocket at the bottom make the lower edge too bulky.

First wallet back

And those D-rings I added to the original pattern for the wristlet strap make the wallet look like it is trying to fly away little bird! Or possibly mimic Ross Perot’s bat-ears. Major badness! And I don’t believe I mentioned the feel of the wallet was rather, ummm, chintzy. Cheap. Definitely not what I was going for.

I actually had used more and heavier interfacing than the original pattern called for. Soooo, either my fabric was too lightweight (quilting cotton) or I needed more oomph under the covers. I had some fusible batting in my stash, so I cut out a new wallet and fused the batting to the outside back. Yes, I even quilted it a little. In a swirly, not-genuine-quilting kind of way that would embarrass my real quilting friends. But still—I stitched thread thru batting and cloth so in my book it counts. Hey, what about the strip of fabric across the entire back holding the D-rings? Kind of Baggallini-esque, eh?

Second wallet back in-process

Progress, right?

More to come. I stayed up till 1:00 a.m. the other night obsessing over V2 of my wallet. I don’t think bags/wallets are going to overtake garments for me, but something is pushing my geeky-problem-solving mind to perfect this item.

Happy sewing!



Sqeeeel! It’s finally here – a totally new look for Sew Maris!


Heather, I am blown away by your awesome graphic design work, THANK YOU! And Erin, I SOOOOOOOO appreciate all the hours you put into building out the new site functionality. You amazing ladies totally rocked it, and definitely over-delivered. THANK YOU!

Dear readers,I hope you like the new visuals, the logo, the online payment option for Kids Sew Camps, and basically everything about the new site. Check things out, send me your feedback, and I really, really hope you love it *almost* as much as I do.



Ready for a new week

Last week was a bust, and I totally didn’t see it coming. My calendar looked pretty open, and I was definitely on a high after returning from Sewing Summit in Salt Lake City. I was expecting to have plenty of time to trace, cut-out, and start sewing the long list of projects on my to-make list.

But the universe had other plans for me. Boo.

  • A family emergency caused Monday and half of Tuesday to be spent on trauma cleanup.
  • We received some bad health news from another family member.
  • A third family member suffered an unexpected job loss.

And never mind that the refrigerator was empty, the bathrooms unhygienic, and the laundry room was not navigable. But do you know what got me through last week? Besides my DH and kisses from my DGD, it was my sewing students. My two favorite fifth-graders who come for sewing lessons every other Thursday. Listening to their chatter about school, friends, and growing up put a smile in  my heart. My student who comes after work every week is smart, funny, and compassionate, and an all-round great gal. Did I mention she is trying to make all of her clothes? Literally, everything she wears. So to these three, and others, thank you. You helped get me back on track and to achieve a bit more equilibrium.

Over the weekend I was able to find some time and mental energy to actually sew. I traced the Santa Monica T by Textile Studios, and even managed to cut one out of a soft sweater knit – white with navy stripes. I cleaned out and “stacked” projects/fabrics/patterns into piles-that-make-sense-only-to-me. I also cut out and stitched up a pair of Claudia pants by Style Arc, and boy-oh-boy are those lovely pants. I do miss the lack of pockets, but I think they would interfere with the clean lines of the pant. We’ll see if they make me cranky-pants.

This coming week? I’m headed to Spokane for a swearing ceremony. No, no, a swearing-in ceremony. Law-school-graduate/bar-exam-passer will be taking the attorney oath and signing some important stuff, and I think I should head east and shed a few tears of motherly pride. This is the kid I thought wouldn’t graduate from high school, after all. And then I will drive back for my 4-day ASG sewing retreat, where friends, fabric, and NO COOKING OR CLEANING will definitely put all things right with the world.

Happy sewing!


What is your sewing handicap?

You know you have one; the one pesky task that causes you to dally with a good book instead of diving into your unfinished sewing projects pile.

It is your sewing handicap. Mine is interfacing. Or specifically, fusing interfacing. If a genie granted me 3 wishes, I would surely ask for some insanely smart techno-textile geek to develop interfacing that fuses itself to the fabric. I am pretty sure I would be willing to lay the interfacing piece onto the correct garment piece. Maybe even center it slightly. But that’s it for me. For gawd’s sake, we put a man on the moon! Why haven’t we developed a better, more efficient method to adhere a layer of stabilizer to fabric by now?

Project pile for jumper & jacket
Project pile for corduroy jumper and jacket for DGD Oona

Well, despite my handicap, I need to get this corduroy jumper and jacket done that I started for my DGD. Kids have a way of growing out of clothes if you don’t get them finished up pretty quickly. This corduroy fabric is such a sweet print, and it holds a sweet memory for me since I bought it on my first trip to France 10 years ago. It has been aging for just the right project for the perfect little girl!

Sage and lavender corduroy jumper

In-process corduroy jumper

I love how quickly the jumper sewed up – no buttons, zipper, and NO INTERFACING. The pattern is OOP McCalls 5836. It just needs a hem and a bit’o trim treatment.But not too fancy  since this will be a “go to daycare or wherever” outfit, not a Sunday best. And this little girl knows how to get herself good and dirty during the day. The sign of a happy child, right?

Wish me luck overcoming my handicap on this jacket! What is your sewing nemesis?

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



Summer sewing challenges

Do you have more trouble sewing in the summer than other times during the year? I often feel pulled in many different directions during the summer months. The garden always beckons, reading a good book looks inviting, grilling something yummy for dinner, walking in the nearby Botanical Garden, having coffee with a friend at an outdoor cafe – they all compete for my precious sewing minutes from June through September! Lazy, hazy days of summer? Bah! I am running pretty much from dawn till dusk these days.

While I was away in NYC last weekend, it seems the weeds had a growing party. My yard needed some serious attention, and the cupboard was pretty bare too. I have spent the past few days trying to catch up on laundry, gardening, cooking, and even a little housework. I did manage to fix the coverstitching on the sleeve hems of a knit top…but I think that may have been the extent of my sewing accomplishments last week. Maybe I need to challenge myself to get something fun sewn this week.

How about you? Are you getting much sewing done? Inspire me!

Happy sewing!


Spring finally arrived in Seattle

No sewing got done this weekend, it was all about gardening, sunshine, and ibuprofen for me. We have had such a nasty, miserable spring this year that I simply could not stay inside the house. The sun was out, the garden was calling me, and by Saturday night so was the bottle of painkillers. But the snap peas are in the ground, and lots of weeds are gone from sight.  

I know, I know – the christening is coming up fast and the dress isn’t done. Luckily I work well under pressure. 😉 Tomorrow the real Maris will be back – sewing like crazy.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen