Terrariums with MakeTribe


So Baltimore is experiencing a revival of new creative happenings, I like to think of this one as a rural hipster movement. Besides the CSA/farm/locavore thing, which has been going on for a long while, there is a take charge of the lovelier things in life/hands-on artistic community budding in the best way. A large part of that is due to the beautifully orchestrated efforts of MakeTribe. Two lovely ladies are responsible for curating themed workshop events ranging from making mozzarella cheese to valentines to the terrariums we made last night with b.willow. Besides these imaginative happenings, MakeTribe organizes twice-monthly knitting events, K1P1, at Artifact Coffee (incidentally, Artifact served the be all/end all of hot beverages, the Earl Grey Tea Latte. If you’ve tried it elsewhere you have simply been mislead. Theirs is hands down – the best).

my terrarium, instagrammed up.

Part of the reason these fêtes are so beautiful is that the event is produced with a seasonal theme incorporating the experts, mixologists, chefs and even burgeoning artisan popsicle makers to become a multi-sensory experience.  Loved it! Thanks to my sister Kristin for telling me all about this business and my friend Heather for coming all the way from Philly to take part. XOXO.

I let the iphone capture the magic:

popsicles by pop cycle

thimble soups from woodberry kitchen

greens from b. willow (more…)

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Strawberry Season


four of us strawberry pickin'

I took my niece and daughters strawberry picking after school let up for summer at the amazing Gorman Farm, located about 5 seconds from my house. We somehow managed to haul away 15 pounds of berries in about an hour. That seemed like a lot – considering each of us pretty much went down the same row. My niece went home with at least a third and we have the rest. What have I managed to make with my 9-10 pounds?IMG_3218

  • just berries, three or five times
  • berries on cheerios
  • berries soaked in vodka with rhubarb
  • yummy salad similar to this one
  • rhubarb and strawberry syrup (modified from this one and perfect with sparkling water)
  • rhubarb and strawberry crisp mixture
  • strawberry jam with vanilla (10 jars)

I’d have loved strawberries with Meyer lemon creme and shortcakes but we ran out!

In other news, I discovered the books Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint and it’s all over now. I’ve canned three recipes and discovered that I can’t live without rhubarb in my life.

Now tell me, what are you making with your summer harvest?

strawberries and rhubarb strawberry and lettuce salad with almonds, feta and champagne vinagrette strawberry rhubarb vodka infusion, made as shown amazing strawberry rhubarb syrup

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Improv Weekend with Denyse Schmidt


If you’re reading, you and I both know I have barely been writing here since last year. I find sometimes, I am motivated to do only a slim combination of the following things, all of which I love to dominate when possible (there is little crossover with exercise and making stuff for whatever reason):

  • make stuff (sew, paper flowers, or general fostering any new creative obsession)
  • cook like crazy for about two weeks then be so disorganized that we have to get carryout for six weeks before the cycle begins anew
  • exercise regularly
  • read a burst of good books in a short period of time
  • “garden”
  • plan a birthday party

Well I’ve been busy with all of those things and behind the scenes I’ve had a very inspiring year! I’ve gone to a couple of crafty lady events at Annabel’s Little Pincushion Studio and I just got back from a weekend of Pure Improv patchwork with Denyse Schmidt at her studio in Bridgeport, CT. Immediately below are the results of my first day.

Improv Patchwork with Denyse

Anyway… the weekend was great! It was a nicely sized group of about 10 likeminded women there to shake it up a bit (including my dear friend Leanne who flew in all the way from Calgary and drove up with me from Baltimore). Though some protested cutting without a ruler – everyone let things happen pretty organically after we learned a basic block and set out to shift those shapes into something new as we reviewed each person’s work as a group.

After sewing for most of Saturday afternoon we met up at a beach cottage owned by a friend of Denyse and Richard’s (available to rent on airbnb). Denyse booked the marvelous Shannon to treat us to her special cocktails and amazing food. A guided walk along the beach was provided (though Leanne and I were about 100 feet behind at all times hobbling along the shells on our bare tender feet). It was just a splendid evening perfect for getting to know our new friends a little better!

The Cottage

The next day we skipped the flea market opportunity to sleep a little later and breakfast on our way to early sewing. This is what was happening in the next room – pretty amazing palette here!



We finished as many blocks as we could and had our final class critique before packing up. I used two of Denyse’s new solids in mine, Tropical and Flamingo. I was feeling like it needed to be orangey but I just can’t get away from bright magenta pinks lately. I have pretty much decided that it needs a citron-type color for binding and I couldn’t be more excited about making some time to finish it soon.


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Figgy’s Seraphic Raglan and Celestial Skirt


I am so pleased to be a part of the Figgy’s blog tour for Shelly’s most recent pattern collection. If you aren’t familiar with Shelly Figueroa you should be! In addition to her talents as a pattern designer she runs a sewing school for kids in Portland, OR.  The patterns using knits, especially, are very satisfying and quick to finish making them favorites with adults and kids alike. A person could easily sew a favorite wardrobe with these patterns by making tiny modifications to keep each piece unique. And even though I would have liked to have done more – I made two pieces for the tour, the Celestial Maxi skirt as a mini for my daughter and the Seraphic Raglan in a larger size for myself.

Figgy's Celestial Skirt (more…)

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A Simple Slip Case: Revamped


Simple Kindle Slip Cases for the New Year by Charm Stitch

Since we published the tutorial for the Simple Kindle Slip Case in 2012, Amazon’s Kindles have taken a new shape. I’ve updated the free tutorial to accommodate those shiny new tablets. Additionally, a worksheet and instructional PDF will be available soon to help you resize the slip case to fit any other flat electronic device that you carry (including slim laptops!).

charm stitch slip case revamped

Two of the covers shown today were made for kids. One was more than a little inspired (very obviously, I’m sorry for that but I loved it so much) by this whimsical cushion from Donna Wilson. To recreate it’s look I cut felt freehand and machine embroidered it with a tight and narrow zig zag stitch to the thin turquoise cashmere pocket flap that was left over from a 2010 coat project. Using a cat drawing that my youngest illustrated, the larger iPad case is composed with felt and machine embroidery. I considered adding clothes to both animals, I still think that would be a great embelishment if you’re doing this at home. (more…)

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KCW Winter 2014: first finish


Between school runs, dance class, play dates and work it can be tricky to squeeze in just an hour of sewing but I did manage that on day 1 of Kids Clothes Week this Monday.

The jersey border print is from Girl Charlee & the pattern is the Celestial Maxi by Figgy’s.  I used knit for this one though woven is recommended. Everything turned out great – I was finished in under an hour including printing, cutting and taping the pattern. I left the hem un-sewn.

I have to say that I miss viewing KCW on Flickr, it’s a shame that Flickr has become so unrecognizable and dare I say, uninspiring. But instagram #kidsclothesweek has really filled the void and is a great community for checking out everyone’s most recent progress and finished projects. Change is good!

As for the rest of my week – I’ve been tired as can be at night so my other progress has been taping patterns together while the kids are doing homework. Hoping to make some magic happen this weekend.

Hope you’ve been making something lovely! Feel free to share a link in the comments.


figgys celestial skirt

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early January



Hello & welcome back. Haven’t posted in forever but wanted to brag about a very fun experience that my sister and I put together for my mother’s big birthday this year. I first met Annabel of Little Pincushion Studios at a sewing workshop and we’ve made some mutual friends in the traveling sewing community that keep us in touch. Annabel just moved the children’s sewing studio downstairs to a bright and inspired storefront location in Warrenton, VA – it is adorable. The studio was a great meeting point for my cousins and aunts as well as a splendid way to spend time as a group doing something we don’t usually do – making stuff together.

Idea Gallery

Annabel sourced leather and felt for our products and provided a number of ideas for us to get inspired. Several sewing machines were ready for stitching felt linings.


This is my project being sewn on a very reliable Pfaff machine.IMG_1908

And here we are with our finished projects! I’d say there’s a good chance that everyone in my family is creative. My mother especially has been very inspired and prolific with sewing lately – this felt like the right way to honor that creativity.IMG_1927

In addition to offering group and private lessons to kids, Annabel has published a book and already has another one on the way. Check out her studio here and order a copy of the book here.


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Superstar Number 204? Who could that be?



cut out and keep sewing superstar 204

Please be a dear and stop over to check out a few of my projects featured in the latest Sewing Superstar profile at Cut Out & Keep. (more…)

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The Etsy Shop is Back


Our Etsy shop is back up and running through the end of the year or whenever we run out of stock. Expect to find rare prints from Nani Iro, Echino, Heather Ross and a few other American designers. We’ve re-listed many items with new, clearance prices.

Come on over to the Mira and Westie shop and tell us what you think!


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La Bonne Vie Pinafores: KCW, day 2-3


La Bonne Vie Pinafore by Charm Stitch

I began quietly working on these pinafore-style aprons on Sunday night after I finished up the Zephyr.  A few loose rectangular cuts and guessed measurements later I had a perfect fit on the three year old by Monday night. Then on Tuesday I pieced the remnants to make a second pinafore for the six year old. About an hour later everything had been stenciled, constructed and zigzag stitched using the principals of a halter dress I designed for my contribution to an upcoming book. The apron was a wish list necessity for our littlest one, she loves her sister’s cafe apron but really wanted her own for all of the cooking she loves to help with. And if you’re making one – why not make two?

La Bonne Vie Pinafore by Charm Stitch

  • Main Fabric: Lecian Whitewash Cotton/Linen from Leanne (thank you, lady!)
  • Straps: Moda Fleur de Lis by Tula Pink for the straps
  • Stenciling: Martha Stewart adhesive letters with her new craft paint and brushes

La Bonne Vie Pinafore by Charm Stitch La Bonne Vie Pinafore by Charm Stitch

I tucked the outer edges of each strap just above the bodice to give shape to an otherwise very rectangular shaping.

ELM_8157  ELM_8167 ELM_8189

Do you see that tiny white printed detail under “vie”? It also appears along the bottom hem of each skirt panel. Lovely! As the project progressed I really liked the concept of a rough-hewn finish, for example, piecing Mira’s bodice above with a frayed edge and finishing the topstitching with zig zags.

ELM_8186 ELM_8183 ELM_8160


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Briar Rose Summertime Pillowcases


Briar Rose Summertime Pillowcases by Charm Stitch

Last year I sewed Marimekko pillowcases. I can’t tell you how happy I am when I bring them out of the linen closet at the start of summer. A few weeks ago I went up for Heather Ross’s Briar Rose launch party at Purl Soho and procured a fine selection of the new prints which are just perfect for the girls’ summer pillowcases. 2.5 yards of the strawberry print was enough for two, and Heather gifted me about a yard and a half of the clover/grasshopper print – enough to make one. A few shorter cuts of accompanying prints worked out exceedingly well for the side edges of the cases.

The orange polka dots are Lecian (purchased at Purl) and the green strip with yellow dots is leftover from the Marimekko cases.

briar rose pillowcases

Once again, I used the Film in the Fridge tutorial to make these. This fabric is directional, so you wind up using a panel 42″ height x 26″ wide, so you will need about 1.25 yards (at least 42 inches, but I managed 40 inches of Marimekko last year and made two since it is wider, overall) to make one. It’s a lot, I know. But after it’s done, these cases are an absolute treasure – and there are plenty of scraps leftover to make something else. I worked on these last week as I tried to get my sewing spirits back up. It was just the project to get me excited about the KCW challenge this week.

Briar Rose Clover Pillowcase

I’m thinking about ordering a single fitted sheet from Garnet Hill for each bed. For whatever reason the kids don’t like the flat sheets.

And if you’re still reading I have a few photos to share from my quick trip to NYC (more on our facebook page) where my room was so big I even managed to do two quick Ballet Beautiful workouts. (more…)

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a Zephyr in Liberty and Silk, KCW day 1


Day 1 of the Summer Kid’s Clothes Week.

zephyr dress in liberty and silk by charmstitch


Pattern: Figgy’s Zephyr, Sundress
Size: 2/3
Fabrics: Liberty Lawn bodice and Ivory Silk body

I began my first project on Friday afternoon, quickly cutting liberty to make the braided straps and button loops.

Sunday afternoon I began constructing the bodice. The pattern is a very simple construction but I had one hiccup that you might want to look out for – the button loop placement was fairly simple, but I found the loops were generally too long and had to go back to trim and reposition them once I had already cut the bodice center. Ultimately no big deal but it could cause frustration late at night. To avoid an issue I recommend basting the loops in, verifying button size securing more stably and then trimming the loose ends of the button loops so they don’t get sewn into the other side of the bodice… I wish I had a picture to show you but when you prepare to make the stitches in the bodice cut you may as well draw the stitching line with chalk or water soluble marker. If you do that, you can easily see where the button loop ends might get caught in the other side of the bodice so you would be better prepared to cut the loose ends before sewing that bodice “V,” or slash. Also, I forgot to flip ahead for the sundress version and inadvertently sewed in a third button loop which I removed later. Shown here (also before I trimmed the button loops to size):

zephyr bodice with button loops


One more tip that I wish I had heeded myself, it’s worth hand basting the inside bodice before topstitching to make sure that you don’t have to do any last minute seam picking which is what I finished up this morning.

I’m very happy with the way the project came out. The silk is a bit sheer which makes it ideal for a nightgown. It was the perfect use of a half yard of ivory silk that my friend Leanne shared with me at a Weekend Sewing event.




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