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Art, Fashion

Chihuly in stitches


When my artist friend Irma (a colorful person) asked me to cover her jean jacket in roses, of course my mind went straight to Dale Chihuly!

CIMG1346The glass artist’s work speaks for itself – glowing glass sculptures that seem alive with color and motion.

About a dozen years ago when we lived in an old farmhouse we had a rose garden. I was determined to plant only traditional roses (no knockouts!), and found some amazing plants. Heirloom roses, like the delicate pink climber New Day. A newer show stopper was the Julia Child in vibrant yellow. I loved the miniature climbers and a couple of grafted tree roses too.

But my favorite had to be the Chihuly rose. Like the work of its namesake, it blends bold contrasting colors that seem to flow and change before your eyes.

IMG_1547That garden and that rose in particular were my inspirations for this brilliant artist’s jacket. For the flowers I combined four shades of yellow-gold with three red-oranges, along with two pinks and two corals for highlights. I nestled them in vines of chartreuse, olive and sage green.

IMG_1541This one took a while. I didn’t choose the entire color palette before I started, but imagined myself as an artist, mixing as I went.

img_16701.jpgI won’t ever make another just like it, but I did fill the pockets with my business cards before I shipped it! My next LA project just arrived: the plain jacket will soon feature a lion, hiding in a tangle of wildflowers.

Ready to send me yours? Click here!


Flowers for the teacher

While I was embroidering on this jacket, I kept thinking — my middle school teachers never dressed this fun! Meet Aubree. She teaches math to seventh graders in western Indiana.


I met her when she was visiting Nashville. I noticed her style – fun casual dresses, often topped off with a stylish denim jacket. She left it with me, wanting something in purples and teals.

Asked why she chose teaching as a career, she said “I love getting to interact with the kids… they come from all walks of life. I love getting to be a light for them and helping them on their walk.”


I covered the back of the jacket, up over one shoulder and down one sleeve with twining vines of glowing roses.

The pleats on the front limited my stitching area, so I added lace to the collar and at the waist.


The front still looked plain to me, so I stitched up a couple more roses on organza (a thin but stable and strong fabric), and cut them out.


I placed them over the pleats on the left front (first opening up the pocket so she’d still be able to use it) and overlapping the pocket flap on the right front.


Then I stitched them on, using a free motion foot and clear thread. To finish it off, I closed up and serged the sleeve and pocket. Like new, only more colorful.


Aubree is a busy twenty-something. During here college years she sang in a campus ministry team and lead a traveling team called Jesus Bohemia. She’s still at it, “I sing in my church’s worship band, in the car and especially in the shower!”


I don’t know where she finds the time, but she recently played the role of 72-year-old Madge in a community theater production of Booklight: a new musical. It’s a story of tragedy, faith and survival. Keep shining your light Aubree! You inspire our youth to lead full and colorful lives.

Want your own statement piece? Click here.

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Patch art


Distressed jeans… They’re so in style, but sometimes after a few wearings and washings, you end up with more holes than jeans! Ever put your foot right through the knee? Or find a hole in a strategic area getting a bit too big?

Now as a rule I don’t repair or alter people’s clothes. It’s just not my idea of a fun time. But while I’m doing custom embroidery, I have a perfect opportunity to patch things up for you in a variety of ways.

IMG_0621To do embroidery on jeans, I remove the stitches on the inside seam. This allows me to lay the material flat and decide what to stitch where. If there’s a hole where we want a design to go, I have to stabilize it with fabric. No basic iron on patches – I’m talking creativity, from the inside out!


Sometimes I use a contrasting denim, sometimes matching. Or even a cotton print for extra boho. And rather than try for subtlety (after all shabby is chic!) I’ll often set it off with a contrasting zig zag.


Art, Fashion

Wearable art for the artist

Designing a jacket for an artist? No pressure!

Meet Irma, Los Angeles painter, known for her striking abstracts, landscapes, portraits¬†and still life oils. She sent me two jackets. On one she wanted dragons and the other roses. When I tried to pin her down on colors and styles she gave me no specifics, “just make them vibrant!”


I’ve known Irma for a dozen years now. As far as I know, she’s always painted. I asked her how she got started. “I had an artist friend. I loved to watch her paint. One day she handed me a canvas and a brush… I jumped right in and loved it!”

When she paints, she uses rich colors and bold strokes that often come from the shoulder, not the wrist. The results are compelling. I keep several in my workshop as inspiration, including this one above my sewing table.


Irma is passionate about her art — and she’s a very stylish dresser — so I really wanted to get this right. I began on the dragon jacket, since that was a new idea to me. Researching, I came across a lovely¬†legend. It tells of four playful and kind hearted dragons who brought desperately needed rain to the people of China, and explains the origin of China’s four great rivers.

I positioned the long dragon, the yellow dragon, the pearl dragon and the black dragon swooping and diving across the back, down one sleeve and peeking over the shoulder. I did not stick to the traditional colors because this is art (or trying to be!). And I further muddied up the folk story by adding in a few extra dragons. What can I say? It’s a long jacket!


IMG_1231I surrounded these mythical creatures with flowering vines also Asian in inspiration. To make sure it would be vivid enough for Irma, I used contrasting colors which I chose by referring to the color wheel.

The most striking combinations are found opposite each other – blue and orange, red and green, yellow and violet, etc.

This color mix isn’t easy on the eye. It’s challenging, arresting, and not for everyone. I was a bit nervous when I shipped it, but happily, it was just what Irma wanted. She plans to wear it to her niece’s graduation from law school, over a flowing silk dress.

I’ll save Irma’s rose jacket for another time. It’s not your average rose jacket!

What will you wear today?


Sewing up the soap market

Meet Kim,¬†proprietor of South Street Soapworks of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. She’s a talented and creative lady, developing sumptuous fragrances for her creamy soaps and nourishing lotions. Yes, I’m a fan!

31052191_10214108785547811_4271106523582693376_oThis busy entrepreneur wanted to promote her business. Being stylish, she chose Rare Threads Studio. She described what she liked — all things French in warm Tuscan colors like butter yellow, sage green, toasty browns and rich pomodoro reds. Sounds delicious, right? Just wait till you try her bath salts!


Working with her jean jacket, I converted her logo – a proud and distinctly French rooster weathervane – into stitches, and surrounded him with flowers painted in her favorite colors. Note the sage, butter, toast and tomatoes…

IMG_1305My personal favorite is the Fig, Rosemary and Thyme. Oh my. And the Clary Sage and Mint. C’est magnifque!

Another jacket scored a facelift with some francophile adornments, and just a hint of the soap you might delight in.

Au revoir, my friends! Life is tres bon, n’est-ce pas?!