Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Things I Love - A well designed doll pattern

If you are like me, you appreciate good design in whatever form it takes. Being a doll maker, good doll designs make me happy. I've made my share of poorly designed patterns and welcome the change when a good one comes along. All the parts fit, directions are clear and concise, illustrations are well drawn, photos are good quality. There are many excellent designers out there...Judi Ward, Deanna Hogan, Jane Coughlin to name a few. And now, although she has been around for quite awhile, Colleen Babcock. A delightful person with full-blown chops behind her in the design arena.

Recently Colleen put out a challenge mystery doll pattern that participants got to buy at a greatly reduced price and the opportunity to join in the Yahoo group to follow along on the construction and have the help and guidance of Colleen. How could I resist? Although I own a couple of Colleen's patterns, I've never made one of them. You know, gotta get the pattern and then it languishes in a folder for days, months, years on end. My mojo had taken a hike lately and this was just the jumpstart I needed to get her back in the saddle again.

This is my doll created from Colleen's wonderful pattern. A doll perfect for use as a mannikin for making endless assortments of clothing for. The body is beautifully proportioned with the use of darts for shaping. Gotta love that! If you design with darts, you know what you are doing. Colleen does. A full wire armature for stability, exquisitely detailed face, and the costuming, to die for. The premise behind this doll was truly an original concept. The points of the skirt overlay are meant to have numbers applied to them and be able to fold up and attach to beads, thereby allowing the participant to reveal each Advent day as the calendar progresses. Brilliant!

I took a few shortcuts when making my doll...because I could. Years of doll making have given me many tools and techniques to use in getting to the end faster. I added beaded edging all around the overlay and gave her a silk shawl for the cold. I love the addition of the fan. What a great accessory!

This doll did for me what I needed her to do. She brought back my mojo. I've already started another doll from one of my own patterns and have another of Colleen's planned. Thanks Colleen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dear Craft Book Publishers

I am distressed. I love craft books. Really. The problem that arises is that at least 50 percent of them that have patterns included call for the patterns to be enlarged anywhere from 150-400 percent. What's up with that?! The patterns that are at 100 percent of usage are great, I can trace them off and use them right away. But the others, oh no, first I have to trace it off, then either scan it or take it to a copy shop to enlarge it.

This poses a problem not only for me, but for millions of other crafters I'd venture. Unable to use the pattern right away because I have to go through all this extra riggamarole, I will  lose interest in making the pattern at all. Then I have to drive somewhere to get it enlarged. At the price of gas these days who wants that extra expense. And the cost to enlarge it at a copy shop. More expense. So, wasted money for the craft book, and one pissed-off crafter.

Now, if you are listening you book publishers, make your craft books with ring binding, allowing me to open the book flat to make it easier to follow instructions. Include an envelope at the back with FULL SIZE patterns. We who craft will love you. Right now, not so much.

For the publishers of Anna Maria Horner's books...big sloppy kisses. Full size patterns, ring bound. Need I say more. I know there are other books out there like hers, I own a few of them also. If there is extra expense in producing these kind of books, believe me, I'll pay the extra when buying it just to save me all the expenses on the back end of using a craft book that is not ring bound or that has patterns that need to be enlarged.

I'll step down from the soapbox now.

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Uncle Carl

My Uncle Carl died this morning in his sleep. Peaceful, without pain. He was a veteran, a college man, a farmer. With hands of steel, large, enveloping, loving hands. To calm a newborn calf, to pat the heads of wayward nieces and nephews. Always ready with a story about the comings and goings of life in Crivitz, Wisconsin. I loved him very much. Rest well Unca Cayo.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things I Love - Beth Webber crochet designs

IMG_1858 by mysisterkate
IMG_1858, a photo by mysisterkate on Flickr.
This is a Bleuette doll I made from Beth Webber's crochet pattern. Beth is, as some of you know, the crochet sensei of the doll world. This is an especially wonderful doll because of the jointed arms and legs and movable head. Strung with elastic beading cord. Her dress was made for me by my BFF, Ellen Haytas. You can find Beth's patterns on her blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Today I'm listening to the scamper of little feet. No, not grandchildren...

This little fellow, above my head, in the ceiling, in the basement. I'm sure he has found the smallest spot available to get into the house. I have traps set in the ceiling to catch these critters but they are like rabbits. Multiplying.

I'm waiting for the mechanic to call me with the cost of fixing my stupid car. Yesterday, the car would not give up my key. Locked in place. So I abandoned it in the garage, key and all. Off this morning to the mechanic. Just when I thought I was going to get ahead a little and take a weekend off, this reared it's ugly head, snatching cash. (BIG sigh here.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Continuing efforts

I  have been slowly working on patterns I've had for ages. It's time they get made. Although just having them is comforting to me for some reason. This pattern by revoluzza is one I've had for awhile now. I first saw a picture of the fox on the web somewhere and hoped she would come out with a pattern. She did! Good things come to those who wait.

I used fabrics from Michael Miller's Red and Aqua line. They were perfect for her. She'll probably go into my future grandma box. One can never be prepared enough for future grandchildren. I want to cover all the bases. This little fox girl went to the little girl next door. They are new neighbors so I couldn't go empty handed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Things I Love - First Love

No, not THAT first love. I'm talking about my love of modern fabric designs. Although I have sewn and crafted most of my life, and collected fabric, I was totally unaware of the road being taken by new modern fabric designers and the fabric companies who contracted with them. I had always bought most of my fabric from local fabric stores, a few quilt shops; but mostly the big box fabric stores like JoAnn's and Hancock Fabrics.

While I was perusing eleanor peace bailey's store a few years ago I happened upon the fabric of Heather Bailey, who just happens to be eleanor's daughter-in-law. Well, I can tell you I was overwhelmed, flummoxed, discombobulated even. All these beautiful fabrics in bold, graphic prints, fresh color and exciting ways to use them. I was instantly smitten. When I work with Heather's fabrics it's almost like smelling spring. I love her use of color, the clear, the soft, the vibrant. For me, her work is like no other. I am an unabashed fan of the first order. I will have to credit the fabulous Heather with giving me what I always wanted, new, fresh, exciting, fun fabric to soothe my savage sewing beast. From there I continued to search out new designers to see what they had to offer, Tina Givens, Anna Maria Horner, Amy Butler, Tula Pink....the list goes on and on.

These are the charming pigs I made using Heather Bailey fabrics and her wonderful pattern. I also can't say enough about the pattern. A well-written, clearly illustrated pattern is a boon to any sewist. Trust me, I've made my share of badly written patterns and this one is leaps and bounds above them. All pieces go together perfectly, and the result, well you can plainly see. It worked.

So thank you Heather for bringing me into the modern fabric world. No kicking or screaming here, I went willingly. You will ALWAYS be my favorite fabric designer.

Monday, August 6, 2012

New client?

My mom is a seamstress extraordinaire. My sister and I can attest to that fact. Both of us have closets (yes plural) of clothes my mom has sewn for us. All we need is a whim or desire, and she is there to make wishes come true. She has sewn for me all my life, and I'm no spring chicken. I still remember the dress she sewed for my 2nd grade Hula Hoop Extravaganza. Every time that hula hoop would make the round past my back, I'd get a little prick. Come to find out, there was one small pin hiding within a seam that's sole purpose was to torture me. I also remember the golden yellow wool with the white portrait collar made for my confirmation. It was a beautiful dress. Still one of my all time favorites.

Now that my mom has gone to live with my sister in Virginia, she has new people to sew for. Tote bags for the Summer Sunday School, and her latest client, a bear. Seems my nephew, Jack, wanted some jammies and a robe for his bear. Enter Grandma the Invincible!

As you can see, he is decked out quite nicely. And that is my beautiful mom. Almost 85! Can you believe it? You rock Mom!

P.S. Don''t tell her I told you her age, she would be mortified. She only recently resigned herself to the fact that she is a grandmother!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jonesin' satisfied

I previously blogged about my extreme need for the new line of fabric by Heather Ross, Nursery Versery. Delivery of this line to American online fabric stores has been held up a couple of times so I went in search of someplace else to get it. Satisfaction knows no bounds with me when it comes to fabric. Luck was on my side and I FOUND IT! A lovely etsy store that is based in Japan. Miss Matatabi. Life is good. I have my fabric.

Not sure what it will become, but then I don't really care at this moment. I have it. Nuff said.

Things I Love

Occasionally I will post about things I love; whether they be blogs, food, patterns, etc. I love a lot of things. I've spent countless hours surfing blogs and websites each evening, no, I'm not web addicted. I limit myself to an hour of surfing each night. It helps me keep up with favorites, search new sites, look at new fabric and all that.

One of my favorite blogs is mmmcrafts. Larissa Holland has provided me with endless hours of fun on her blog along with publishing patterns that I LOVE! Because she is so special I wanted to do something for her. In lieu of something directly for Larissa, I made two dolls for her daughters, Thing 1 and Thing 2, as she affectionately calls them.

These dolls are made from a crochet pattern by Delicious Crochet, another fave of mine. I changed out the crocheted eyes to felt ones and made them fabric dresses and bloomers from my own pattern. Off they will go to the Holland home. Hope the girls will like them.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

One little, two little, three little geishas...

IMG_1840 by mysisterkate
IMG_1840, a photo by mysisterkate on Flickr.
four little, five little, six little geishas...
seven little, eight little, nine little geishas...
ten little geisha girls.
All made with the Sweetie Pie pattern by gingermelon. Off to Virginia for Chloe's birthday party. These were fun to sew and outfit, I made the kimono pattern and altered the shoe pattern to simulate tabi shoes. A few different hairstyles and they are ready for their party.

And so it begins

The wedding of my son, Jaime, to the love of his life, Lindsey, is complete. The wedding took place in Minneapolis at a wonderful warehouse venue, 514 Studios. Food was catered by one of Minneapolis' food trucks with a visit from the Ice Cream Man instead of cake. Lindsey and her mom made the wines that were available at the wedding. Delicious, especially the Pomegranate Zinfandel. I had a lovely time and only cried 3 times. My baby is so happy. I am happy.

Jaime and Lindsey Erbach, married, July 7, 2012.

Monday, June 4, 2012


This is part of a surprise for my son and his intended for their wedding on July 7th. No, I'm NOT going to tell you, wouldn't that ruin the surprise? Suffice it to say, I am hand making something for them as they have as part of their wedding theme, hand-made. So I will contribute.

I love you Jaime and Lindsey!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Perfectly Pink

Oh the gloriousness of peonies in the spring! Large and lush. Over on the right is Cousin It (the umbrella tree). So named because it reminds me of the character from the Addams Family with all the long hair. This tree's limbs will soon touch the ground and will need a trim. Hence, the name. The peonies will be gone in about a week as long as there is no hard rain, which has a tendency to batter the delicate flower heads and make them bend to the ground. They are supported by upside down tomato cages for now.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


If you are like me and have the SEVERE addiction to acquiring fabric, you spend your time looking at fabric sites to see what is new and special. The newest collection by Heather Ross Nursery Versery has me chomping at the bit. This collection emits all kinds of sighs, oohs and ahhs from me. The thought of holding it in my hands makes me drool. I envision all kinds of darling little kidlet things to make for my future grandchildren. No, none on the horizon as of yet, but a future grandma can dream can't she? The wait for this fabric to hit the online stores is almost to the point of unbearable for me. Wish I could be one of those lucky people who get samples sent to them to try out. Until that day happens, I'll be wiggling in my chair, mouse finger at the ready.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Drawing Winner

A while back I entered a drawing at, my favorite go-to place for fabric news, to be eligible to win a free Illustrator workshop with Laura Coyle. TA-DA! I won! Laura Coyle hosts Illustrator classes at, a lovely site from which to learn all kinds of things. Me, I could use the workshop to increase my skill set in Illustrator which at the present time is sorely lacking. So thank you to Kim at TrueUp, Ken and Renee Pearson and Laura Coyle for giving me the opportunity to sharpen up.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Big Day

WeddingDate2 by mysisterkate
WeddingDate2, a photo by mysisterkate on Flickr.

Almost upon us. My son's wedding. I made this graphic using numbers offered by a wonderful photographer, Leo Reynolds, on flickr. Had a Groupon coupon too for mounting and gallery wrapped canvas. SCORE!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Power Naps

WedgieSleeping by mysisterkate
WedgieSleeping, a photo by mysisterkate on Flickr.
No such thing in my world. Unlike my Wedgie kitty who seems to sleep 23 hours a day, the other hour is spent trying to get me up at 5:30a.m. by standing on my chest and Y-O-W-L-I-N-G in my face till I finally give up and rise like the dead to another day of sitting in front of my computer. Late afternoon usually brings about the big yawn and I try for the catnap, only to find I wake up 2 1/2 hours later. Apparently I don't sleep well at night, a bit of sleep apnea and (to listen to my friends and family) snoring that would scare off any monsters under the bed. Sleeping Beauty had it good!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Manga Crochet

IMG_1811 by mysisterkate
IMG_1811, a photo by mysisterkate on Flickr.
For those of you who aren't aware of Beth Webber, crochet sensei, this is one of her many free patterns available on her blog.
I have made many dolls by Beth, each one as cute as the next. This one will eventually get fabric clothing. I have some wonderful aqua and red prints to use.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

You say potato...I say Soup!

I am a lover of thick, creamy soups. Stick to your ribs kind of soups. Because of this I was hankerin' to make some potato soup one day. I didn't have a recipe handy so just made one up as I went along. Choosing what I had available and one secret ingredient.

For Kate's Potato Soup you will need:
1 qt. carton chicken broth
5-6 medium red potatoes, cubed with skins on
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
5 oz. assorted shredded cheeses, I used swiss and sharp cheddar
1 parmesan rind (secret ingredient)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t. nutmeg

In a large pot, fry the bacon till crisp, remove and set aside. Add onions and sauté till golden. Pour in chicken broth and add the potatoes and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat till potatoes are tender. Remove about 2 cups of the potato-broth mixture and place in a blender and blend till smooth. Using a potato masher, lightly mash the mixture in the pot till it is chunky. Add the blended mixture back into the pot along with the bacon, heavy cream, cheeses, parmesan rind and salt and pepper. Simmer till cheeses have blended into the soup, stirring occasionally. If you find your soup is too thick, just add a bit of milk to thin it out. Serve with crusty rolls.

This soup can also be made with additional veggies added into the mix like cauliflower or broccoli. It is a snap to make and DELICIOUS! I save my rinds from parmesan cheese in the freezer just for making soup. It adds a nice flavor and every now and then you get a spoonful of melty parmesan. Yum! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gone Fishin'

In my day job I do production and layout for magazines and event programs. One of the magazines I do is Badger Sportsman, whose owner is one of my favorite people EVER on this earth. Art is a kind, generous and truly caring individual. ALWAYS a smile on his face and hugs for whoever needs them. I need a lot as I am prone to cantankerous-ness. To thank Art for believing in me and not tossing me by the wayside, I decided to make him these.
Made from a pattern by the fabulous Mimi Kirchner. Since Art is a fishin' kind of guy I thought he would like them. They can decorate his couch, office or the back of the truck.
For you, Art, along with a cyber hug!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Controlled Chaos?

Let me preface this post by saying that I am usually a very organized person. Lately, the state of my sewing room has gotten under my skin. Because I horde fabric (yes, I AM one of THEM) the status of things being worked on or made fluctuates daily.

As you can see, there is stuff EVERYWHERE! And what do I do about this situation? I have decided to make the things I have had sitting around for years! Years and years. I'll start out with the Gail Wilson Design kits that have been up in the closet for 3 years. The first one done is of two sweet little bunnies from a pattern only I purchased from her website.

Charming little bunnies don't you think? I used wool felt instead of plain wool as I have a crapload of that stuff too. It always seems to be about the acquiring for me.

It takes all I have to keep my finger off the mouse and make myself click happy when I see new fabric. It is not about need, it is about want. Whether I  use it now or ten years from now, makes no difference. I WANT IT! Selfish, maybe. But I comfort myself in knowing that eventually all that acquiring will be made into things for me, my family and friends. Everybody benefits! Do you suffer from this? I think a vast portion of you do. Don't despair, give in!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ain't it Grand!

My son, Jaime and his lovely fianceé Lindsey will be married in July. Me? I'm happier than I could ever be about this occasion. Lindsey is the perfect match for him. She is my bubbling little teapot. I waited a long time for this to happen and Jaime stepped up to the plate and hit the proverbial home run.

The wedding has a theme of hand-made, dear to my heart. I am making Lindsey's wedding gown sash and the cake topper. More about those later...when they are done. The wedding is in Minneapolis, a happenin' town. Fab restaurants, great art and greater music.
Engagement photos by Tony Sou Photography of Minneapolis.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My first quilt

Riley-Quilt-012 by mysisterkate
Riley-Quilt-012, a photo by mysisterkate on Flickr.
My son, Jaime and his dog Riley, for whom the quilt was made. And look! They have the same hairstyle! Kisses to my sweeties.

It took almost a year to get it done as I am new at quilting. Luckily I have a friend who owns a quilt shop and she did the quilting part for me. I'm not that handy.

A closeup photo of the quilt tag on the back of the quilt. I used TAP transfer paper and a favorite photo of Riley.

And then just a photo of the quilt.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Zakka style

If you're looking to get the new Zakka style book for yourself, here it is!

Me! A Winner!

What can I say, how wonderful it is to win something, especially when it comes from one of my favorite blogs. The fabulous Larissa over at mmmcrafts. If you don't know of her, check out her blog and her pattern stores. She writes some of the most wonderfully clear and concise patterns. They are a joy to make.

She had a contest to win the new Zakka style book from Rashida Coleman-Hale. I have one of her other books so decided to test the waters and jump in to the contest. And TA-DA! Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Thank you Larissa for hosting this and thanks to the folks at CT Publishing for providing the book.

I'll dig out that linen now.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Into the soup!

Today I make my foray into the blogosphere. With a little trepidation, cold toes and a sincere effort to talk about things that interest me. I will try not to bore or anger but I am known for having opinions about things, some which have a tendency to piss people off. That is life, so be it. So bear with me, I'm new at this.