Monday, March 2, 2015

Staff Projects: Casey

My mother is Annie, so you can imagine that I have been around sewing machines since birth. As a toddler, I remember being literally terrified of going into her sewing room because I was afraid to step on a needle. Later, as a teenager, I recall being mortified when I snapped a needle off in the machine. Still, despite being so close to sewing for the first thirty years of my life, my projects we limited to hemming pants and patching holes.

All that changed in 2014 when I joined Annie and began working full-time with Within six months after joining I bought my first machine and, not any machine, I bought a Consew 226-R with table and motor (all for $600). It is a work-horse industrial walking-foot sewing machine. It can move heavy thread, punch through thick material and work well with nylons and other slippery items. I wanted these characteristics because I wanted to sew heavier-duty bags for outdoor sports.

After much testing and learning, I finally got the tension right and the machine sewing like a champ. My next step was to put the machine to use on a bag. I had seen them made and played small roles in various bag-making projects, but I had never designed or made one all-by-myself.

Being the proud owner of my new machine, I decided to dive right in and develop a bag myself. The results are below. Without pattern, sample, guide, template or for an expert help I designed this little gym bag with mesh on one side for ventilation. It went okay and it will work, but boy is it riddled with mistakes. The mesh is too stiff to turn under the way I did, causing it to flex strangely and have rough edges inside. The zipper doesn't align. And worst of all, when I sewed on the red side panel I did it to the wrong side out, causing the raw seams to be outside not inside! In desperation I turned the seam over on itself, making for a very bulky seam and chunky look to the bag. (I later learned this is called French seam and is actually a standard application when you plan for it).

All and all, while the bag was not the shining success I'd envisioned, the experience was great. I learned to use my machine better, I learned to sew better, and I gained a greater respect for the great value of having a detailed pattern before starting a project. We'll see what is next!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Staff Projects: Gloria's first

One of my first sewing projects was a chalkboard mat for my nieces. I made it was last year when Annie gave me my first sew machine. At first, the only thing I knew about the sewing machines was how turn on and turn off, but Annie taught me some of the basics and soon I was making things alone.

When I finished the chalkboard mat, I was very happy because I did the whole project myself. From design to sewing, I did it all without any help. Sure, I had some problems. For example, when I started sewing, I realized that one piece of fabric was longer than another. I had to cut all the sides to make a proper rectangle. Later, I had a perfect dream for wide & accessible pockets, but when I went to attach them to the mat I didn´t have good access to sew them. It was a challenge, but well worth it.

Once I was done I gave it to my nieces and I was especially proud to see how much they loved the mat! They played with it all day and they wanted to bring it everywhere. For two weeks we played with it constantly. And perhaps best of all, for them it was perfect! They couldn't identify the mistakes. All they could do is have fun and be creative with my creation.

This mat was one of our first steps toward developing our artist's portfolio, the Fetch Your Sketch.  If you want to make your own with the help of a pattern, you can find it here:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Machine Applique and Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

We always look forward to February and Valentine's Day so that we can display two of Annie’s favorite little quilts: You Stole My Heart and Loves Me!
These two quilts are special to us, not only because of their cute appearance, but also because they involve two very fun products Fusible Thread and Water Soluble Applique Foundation. These two resources that may not be known to all home crafters, sewists, quilters and applique lovers, but can change their world and open up new doors for creativity and success on projects.

You Stole My Heart

For You Stole My Heart I wanted to have cute small hearts appliqued onto the wall hanging without having any stiffness in those embellishments. To do so, I used my favorite fusible thread, Superior’s Charlotte's Fusible Web. Charlotte’s Fusible Web is a wonderful product which you sew onto the design, before cutting it out, and then, once cut out, allows you to fuse your embellishment into place quickly and securely with no stiffness.
Check out these useful videos that Annie did with Superior Threads to explain how to use Fusible Threads in more detail.
Fusible Web Video #1 - Fusible Thread Part 1
Fusible Web Video #2 - Fusible Thread Part 2: Finishing The Edge
Fusible Web Video #3 - Fusible Thread Samples Part 1
Fusible Web Video #4 - Fusible Thread Samples Part 2
Fusible Web Video #5 - Texture Magic and Fusible Thread Part 1
Fusible Web Video #6 - Texture Magic & Fusible Thread Part 2
Fusible Web Video #7 - Winding Fusible Thread on a Bobbin

Loves Me!

For Loves Me! I used my favorite method of machine applique, Water Soluble Applique Foundation. The foundation is a special product that produces the look of hand-done needle-turn applique using the sewing machine!

Here are the easy steps to use Water Soluble Applique Foundation:
  1. Trace the appliqué design onto the Water Soluble Appliqué Foundation material and cut out. (Make it really fast by stapling several pieces of foundation material together and cutting out all at once!)
  2. Glue the foundation shape onto the back of the applique fabric using a water-soluble school glue stick.
  3. Cut out the fabric, leaving a seam allowance around the stabilizer shape.
  4. Apply glue to edges of fabric and turn fabric edges under. A wooden nail stick makes it so easy!
  5. Glue the prepared applique pieces in place on quilt background.
  6. Stitch in place using invisible thread and a blanket or zigzag stitch. The Water Soluble Appliqué Foundation material keeps your pieces sturdy yet still easy to quilt over.
  7. After quilting, wash the quilt and the foundation material dissolves, leaving a bit of fiber to fill out the applique shapes. Your applique pieces will become very soft and have the appearance of needle-turned hand applique.
The Water Soluble Appliqué Foundation material also makes a great stabilizer when thread painting, satin stitching, or embroidering by hand or machine. It will easily tear away if desired and any remnants will dissolve when the object is washed.
Also, because the Water Soluble Appliqué Foundation material is stiff enough to run through the computer, trapunto or quilting designs can be printed onto the foundation material. This can be great for more complex designs. Once printed, glue the design to the back of the quilt, stitch along the lines, and wash the foundation away when you are finished!
For these and more tutorial’s please visit and Tutorials from on our website.

Friday, January 30, 2015


There are few things more captivating than flowing water. 

Casey’s story: Pizzarro and hundreds of other explorers scoured the Americas in search of the

fountain of youth.  They never found it, because the fountain of youth is not to be found, but

instead built.

The greatest civilizations of the world created great public works and spread disruptive new inventions that contributed to the prposerity of their populace, vast improvements to standards of living, and massive reductions in infant mortality rates. The Romans built towering aqueducts to ensure water supply, the Incas dug massive terraced gardens to maximize productivity, the Egyptians developed basin irrigation to improve farm yields, the Greeks organized great central spaces to meet and debate, the Chinese practiced paper and printing to distribute knowledge, and the Babylonians created one law to rule that land.

Today's great achievements include the internet, wind-farms, flight, combustion engines hydro-electric dams, vaccines, and blood donation, just to list a few. These have created the most dramatic improvements in population sustainability and increases in average life expectancy known to man (note that the increase in life expectancy is not necessarily increasing total years lived by the populace, but instead reducing the number of people that die young - watch the math).

The photo above is of a massive canal project and reservoir in the central northern region of Peru, called the Tinajones Reservoir. The canal distributes life giving water across a large desrt live region, transforming dry grasslands into fertile rice, corn, potato, and tobacco field (tobacco is slowing being phased out). Small and large farms stretch out across the river valleys, safe from flooding, and with sufficient water to grow their crops. Of course, we can't all play a part in creating massive public works, but we can educate ourselves on their importance, dream big, and help spread new disruptive technologies that will create a better world.
On that note, I am excited about Fetch Your Sketch. A hand-made portfolio, great for artists of all ages. Check out this video we made!

Friday, January 23, 2015


Who wouldn't want to have a lazy morning brunch or late afternoon dinner with this scene?

Casey's Story: A romantic finds beauty in the small moments in life and converts them into precious memories.

This photo for me has always served as a definition of romantic. One table, two chairs, a simple room, and a beautiful view. I took the photo on an early morning walk. IT was shot through the window of what appeared to be an abandoned building in the hills of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.

Was the building abandoned, leaving the memories of an older couple never to breakfast together again? Was it where two lovers met clandestinely? Was it occupied by a homeless couple with a sense of beauty? Who knows.

Wolfgang Puck says, "I don't expect to have a really amazing meal each time I dine out. Having a good meal with your loved ones - that's what makes the experience."