SEWING DILEMNA? Ask Londa's FREE advice!!! a sewing educator for over 35 years, designer, and author with experience as a sewing machine dealer/fabric shop owner, custom dressmaker and more...I'm most happy to answer ANY and all questions to the best of my ability. Just contact me HERE with your question.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Jacket Pattern Design Process

It occurred to me while in the mess you see to the left, that it might be interesting to 'sewing crazy ladies' like myself, to follow along in the creative process. My 'system' is not real pretty - but the 'trip' is sure fun. Sew..... follow along with me. I hope doing so will encourage your own creative sewing for 2008!
  • The first photo at the left ... well, it was MORE of a mess before I snapped this picture. YES, it is the floor - in my basement. What you see is my 'piles' of a sweatshirt, with coordinating trims, my favorite "Crone Art" button/embellishments (thoseon the white cards), etc. As I 'piled' goodies, I also envisioned what design they might best become.
    This 2nd photo is really the 'pattern reject' pile - at least for now. These will likely become KITS - this great idea that my friend, Bev - who accompanied me to the Houston Quilt Festival - talked me into. My 'mantra' has been 'ONE-OF-A-KIND' jackets - so how can I hold fast to that and still do 'kits'??? Well - I have drawers and drawers and boxes and boxes of fabrics and goodies, so my current 'plan' for kits is to just start grouping them together and come up with 'skeleton' design guidelines. I'll sketch on a sweatshirt 'blank' for the front of the 'Kit', suggest one of my basic (growing collection) of my Creative Sweatshirt Jacket patterns. Price according to the 'goodies' included. Number the kit, take a picture for my files. Da da - a "Kit". Bev tells me that quilters LOVE kits. OK - so these will be my kits. With my files, it will be easy for me to 'consult' with the Kit owner as she designs - because I'll be able to refer to the specific 'Kit' she has purchased and is working with. If all goes well, I'll premier these 'Kits' at the Puyallup Show at the end of Feb.
    What you see here in the 3rd photo are 'baskets' of projects. I have approximately 4 baskets for each of the 4 new patterns I'm working on. The yellow sheet in each basket gives my beginning ideas for designing with the goodies in that basket. It was both fun and challenging to 'envision' a stack of goodies into just one of my pattern concepts. Right now those pattern concepts are:
  • UNITY - a design where you slash the sweatshirt through the middle horizontally - like an Empire line - below the bust, in the midriff. Below then can be any other fabric, sweater, jeans, even the same sweatshirting fabric, but embellished, fitted, etc. An example is the maroon jacket with floral trim around the neck on the front of my Vol II. The 'line' to which I am referring is at the bottom-most button.
  • REFINED - a design that actually guides you in removing the sleeve, cutting a 'cap' to the sleeve (as much as possible), creating an 'armscye' by cutting and fitting the remaining 'jacket' in that area, and re-inserting the new sleeve. This will even further 'refine' the fit of the 'sweatshirt being used as fabric and matching ribbing'. Other 'fitting' techniques will also be included - darts, seaming, etc. to further 'refine' the sweatshirt into a great jacket!
  • PATHWAYS - is the angled design, where a strong diagonal crosses the body. I'm 'real excited' about this one. I've done several of these over the past 2 years, and they always cause great comments - and "HOW did you DO that?" questions. Many of the 'piles' you see above just 'said' this design to me.
  • FRUITFUL - is another pattern. It is probably the first of many like this - in which I pack embellishment ideas.
To the left, you see the 'organization' of my ideas. I've set up a folder for each of the patterns, plus future pattern ideas. Scibbled on the front are some of my favorite ideas. Above, are the color charts for my 'blanks' - my 'fabric + matching ribbing' - better known as sweatshirts. I'm especially excited by the numerous great colors in the USA Comfort Color line of sweatshirts. Though I love the Authentic Pigment Brand, the quality and supply seems to remain increasingly 'iffy'. Give me 'MADE in the USA' any day!

Over at the right, you can see 'inside' ond of my files. This is inside the Fruitful file. You can see notes from my skimming through favorite books like "Options" from Lois Ericson - one of my all time favorites, magazine and catalog tear-outs.... see on the lower left a home dec bed with pillows? That one grey pillow there has a brilliant use for these wonderful dyed wool strips of selvage I've found! Ooooooo - can't wait to get started.
Time to 'publish' this, write a newsletter, and get started.

By the way - I'm looking for about 5 more of you willing to be 'TESTERS & REVIEWERS'. I need people who will both test my directions, give me suggestions for increased clarity, and also review my end products and post about them on sewing boards, blogs, etc. I'm looking for a good variety of sewing expertise 'levels'. If you're interested, please let me know with a quick email to me at

I invite your comments on this creative process blog. Thanks for reading...

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Static Guard

I FINALLY found spray Static Guard at my local grocery store - in the laundry detergent section. Here in cold, DRY central Illinois it is a MUST HAVE when wearing anything but natural fibers. Whenever I wear my Slinky pants or any skirt - I spray it like mad on my legs to eliminate static cling.
By the Way - I NEVER use fabric softener. I have a drier that dings when clothes are dry - and the tech guy said using softener sheets would coat it and make it not work.

Oh - and the lint trap in your drier - you need to test it occassionally. If you put it under water - water should go right through. IF not - IT is coated, and not working properly. Wash it til water can go through. Also can get coated from fabric softeners...

Give me my Static Guard!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sewing Patterns - What's happening?

Pattern Sales - What has happened??? What I'm writing here is just MY OPINION - and I invite your comments on this post!

I've been selling independent designers' patterns retail since 1990 when I first opened my retail store. (In fact, I also produced patterns for women in the heirloom sewing style/industry in the late 8o's and early 90's.)

I believe the designers seek to offer something different, and more 'interesting' than the 'Big' pattern companies. For myself, I also sought to 'teach' through my patterns with wonderful, COMPLETE directions. The main companies then included Vogue, Butterick, McCall's and Simplicity. Burda, Neue Mode, & Kwik Sew have now added to those major players in a significant way.

Price? Well - we all know that even though the Big companies have generous pricing, that they are ALWAYS on sale - everywhere from $.99 to 75% off the top Vogue pricing - and almost everyday. When they're not - well another SALE is just around the corner, and us prudent sewers await! Independent pattern pricing ranges everywhere from $8 (rare) to $20 and more. Sales from the designers are rare (with the exception of expo show specials).

Instructions? Well... of all of them, I can only personally 'brag' on two to three lines for better than normal instructions. In general, I see - and hear of problems with everything from pattern pieces that don't align, to lack of any uniform sizing, etc. In fact, these 'problems' led to my decision to add value and help insure success with this investment by adding my "Londa's 2 Cents Worth" - writing a review, and adding to the directions, clarifying, teaching, etc. to include with the patterns sold at my sites that I'd personally stitched up. This became the backbone of my Londa's Fashion Club.

Marketing? Regrettably, even as a 'seller' for the designers, usually I find out about a new pattern issue in a magazine ad. Hardly any support or merchandising exists on the part of the designers. But then - they like to sew and design, not market. I understand that. Regardless, a little help would be great. Only a handful do this at all! Makes it kinda hard as a retailer...
Also - with slow pattern sales, it is very, very hard to keep patterns that might be ordered in stock, as all have minimum orders that have to be placed - so where does that leave me if I get an order for a pattern I don't have - but really only need that ordered pattern, as I have the others in that designers' line well stocked??? Very few work with distributors - and the few that do, even their lines are not fully represented, so that is not a solution either. I'm sure you can see the problem that puts retailers like myself in...

Design? In general, the designs offered at what are really high priced patterns really aren't anything different from what can be found in the 'big' companies. If I'm going to spend some extra bucks on a pattern, it needs to be something DIFFERENT! IN fact, some of the better designers (Connie Crawford, Marcy Tilton, etc. are with one of the BIG companies now anyway.

I'm bored to tears with simple T-shirts, tops, simple skirts and endless 'perfect' pant patterns. Hey - for me, I BUY those boring garments! AND, I do so at prices that I can't afford to take my time sewing them instead. Just Dec. 24 I the "After Christmas" Sale at Chico's caught my eye. I dashed my hubby off to the coffee shop, and In I went. Half off of already reduced pricing........I left with a pair of velvet knit pull-ons for $19, black and grey poly/rayon fine, wonderful gabardine trousers with back tailored pocket, invisible zipper (nicely inserted, and stabilized, even with a ribbon around the bottom of it inside), and a great facing treatment ('interfaced' with slightly stretched firm elastic!) - LONG enough too! AND - golly gee - I'm a Size 2! (Would have been a 1.5 if they'd had them - but hey, I sew so I can take them in a bit! ) What did I pay for these $88 regularly priced (and worth that in my book!) trousers? $19 each!

Confessions: Over the last year, I've also become a big fan of 2nd hand ReSale Shops. Here in town, Karen's is just great. I've gotten like new pants, jeans, etc. for - sinfully LOW investment! It's great!!!!

Time is my issue! Running business and this Grandma Duty thing leaves me painfully little time to what time I do have must be spent to nourish my soul - and that is my own designing of FUN, CREATIVE JACKET sewing...whether it be my sweatshirt jacket variety, or other jackets. I must add, that I also took many of the Chico jackets into the dressing room - only to be pitifully disappointed! Lack of interfacing, pulled linings, etc.... VERY disappointing!
The truth is, I don't NEED many clothes - my lifestyle just doesn't support that. Hey- I work from home! My game plan 3-4 years ago was to stitch away on great garments, testing patterns, and making great samples - then to sell them at my online website devoted to that, and at fine art fairs around. That worked for awhile - but comparatively, the sewing expos are far more monetarily successful than these types of shows! Also - business has grown to the extent that it is often 3 or 4 pm before I'm done with business and would have time to sew anyway!

Just me? I really don't think so. I see fewer and fewer of the designers around at the expos - at least the ones I've attended. I know the expenses of doing these shows, and I can easily see that selling patterns alone in a booth would be a hard way to go to have a 'successful' show. The successful ones are selling great fabrics, or something else as well. I load up a cargo van to the hilt with a variety of different products to attract and keep buyers in my booth. I've lugged boxes of these patterns to the shows, only to lug most of them back home again.
I note some are not advertising in the print magazines any longer - understandable - you wouldn't believe the prices of those small ads!

Reviews? Rarely do I see the independent patterns reviewed at Pattern these days. Hummmmm....... I see more reviews for 'self drafted patterns' - the pattern-making software is definitely making inroads, and hurting these pattern sales - at least it appears so to me.

New Sewers? Yep - there's lots of them - and HOW EXCITING! Take a peak at They are re-cycling, sewing by hand or on very inexpensive, basic machines, re-fashioning, and doing their own thing! I can't see this crowd spending $16 for a simple pant pattern - no way! 99 Cents - yea...

My Business Reaction/Decision is to sell out all in-stock patterns EXCEPT what I consider to be valuable, creative JACKET and VEST patterns.

All in stock pants, skirts, and dress patterns are at 40% SAVINGS - and this went into effect December 24, 2007 -
Have Fun Shopping!
Your comments are most welcome. I'm anxious to know your feelings/experiences, etc. Women can always change their minds! In the end, good business practice rules where I invest my inventory dollars.

Christmas Vest for Grandson

This is the Christmas Vest I made for my 2+ year old #1 Best in the WORLD Grandson! We bought him the little plaid shirt (no reason int he world to make that - at the price we bought it for! - Also bought navy pants...). Then, took him shopping for red fabric. What a chore/delight that was! He pulled down every bolt he could get his little hand on while riding in the cart! Gotta teach that child fabric shop manners... Anyway, we selected plain red Polar Fleece. I self-drafted the pattern from taking measurements of him, and using a little plain top. Worked fine, EXCEPT I kick myself for doing a high round neck on the vest rather than a V - which would have laid so much better with the shirt collar. Cole had a real fun time picking out the buttons - opting for the Dump Truck Buttons over snowmen! "Hammer" is our THING. Our best times together are going off in Nana's Car to construction sites. Especially the earth-moving portion of construction. He loves it all - and even if the "Man not in it" on the trucks - meaning we're there at a time the 'Bobs' aren't working - that is no problem. Cole just loves to even LOOK at the piles of dirt and all the big trucks, etc. Cheap - Fun - and, really, much like sewing! I'm more and more and more intrigued with how it all goes together in a building, how everyone knows what to do, etc. etc.
Anyway - back to the vest. I 'finished' the edges by cutting facings and a hem binding, and putting them on the OUTSIDE of the vest - topstitching with rows of straight stitching and zigzagging in Navy thread - kinda looking like 'tire tracks' in my mind! I did the stitching - THEN cut close with the rotary cutter on the outer edges. Quick vest - maybe 1.5 hours altogether. Oh - under the buttonholes - I inserted a strip of woven interfacing to stabilize. The buttonholes were then just straight stitched rectangles, carefully cut through the centers. Worked great.
I was even a 'cool' Granny - letting him wear his shirt tail OUT, sticking out below the vest... Now, when MY son was small - that tail definitely would have been tucked in, belt on, etc! Still a hard look for me to 'like'! :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Clothespin Tree Ornaments/Package Toppers

Last Christmas Season, when packing up the ornaments, I kept out these 3 promising myself to share them with my customers the next season. They are SO cute - and made by my son in Scouts YEARS ago (since he's now 28!). Using clothepins, some felt, sequins, yarn, paint, pom poms and glue... these would be great fun to create with children. Cookies get eaten and are gone forever, so consider having some fun with these treasures.

I call this one the donkey. He takes 2 wooden clothespins. Each leg is obviously a full clothespin, with black painted on each tip for hooves. Underneath the green felt 'saddle, is the center section of the 2nd clothespin. Metallic ric rac and sequins are glued onto the saddle. The top 1.5" turned upside down is the head. See - his 'nose' is the round, top of the clothespin. Red yarn is tied around his 'nose' - the indentation. Eyes and nostrils are dabs of black paint. "Mane" is red and green yarn tufts, tied, and glued to the top. The 'neck' between the had and the legs is just one side of the 2nd clothespin - 2.125" long. Yarn tail is more tufts of red and green yarn, larkshead knotted around the top - like a tassel, and glued to his rear end. Just TOO cute as he strides a branch of your tree.

Above, find the Reindeer. Another view is below. This one takes 3 clothepins. Two are glued right side by side, with a brown pom pom for a tail. The 3rd is glued upside down and sticking up, the pin part of the clothespin for the antlers. Shakey eyes and a pom pom for the nose, and 2 holly shaped green felt pieces at the top of the head. My guy has had a nose-ectomy - he seems to be without his nose right now. Red yarn is tied aroudn his 'neck' for a tree top hanger.

Below, Little Drummer Boy appears to take the most 'stuff' and work. Just one wooden clothespin to do him though. Face painted on the top part - apears to be done with a fine Sharpie Pen. Red pom pom for the hat. Legs painted red. Shirt painted white. A teeny hole was drilled through the chothespin for a pipecleaner to be inserted for arms. A little circle of wood is painted white, and a braid glued around it for the drum. Black middy braid goes crix cross in the front, around the neck, and then around his waist and down each leg. He can just sit right on a branch, like the donkey.

Have Fun! Make a memory - spend TIME with those kids. My collection will be kept OUT again this year - praying that next year my little grandson, Cole and I will have lots of fun making them together. I think my plan will be to at least get everything gathered and ready to do it BEFORE Thanksgiving. We'll see...............

Grateful for all the blessings God has bestowed on my family this year...AND for you as great customers!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Woven Tencel Skirt with zip and Angled Hem from Christine Jonson #1219

Though certainly not a 'model' pose - at this time, this is a quick shot my sis took of the hem of this skirt the day I was dressing for wearing this ensemble (my Burgundy 'Worthy' Creative Sweatshirt jacket) plus this skirt at the Houston Quilt Festival.

FYI: I write what I call my "Londa's 2 Cents Worth" on every pattern after I stitch it up. It is my effort to share from my years of sewing, and to add value to a pattern. I do these on patterns that I sell at my website: They are delivered FREE with purchase of the pattern via an attachment to an email. ALSO, they are sent to my Londa's Fashion Club members 4-6 times a year, as I write them.

This is an addition to my 'Londa's 2 Cents Worth' document that is available online FREE at:

I created this skirt to wear with my 'Worthy' Creative Sweatshirt Jacket. Since that jacket pattern features an asymmetric, angled hemline, I wanted to repeat that on the hemline of this skirt. I used the Christine Jonson #1219 A-Line Skirt pattern - which is just 2 pieces: Front/Back and Side Panels.

It was simple to do:

First - since it was a woven, not a knit - I added a center back seam in the Back Skirt Piece when i cut it out. This actually enabled me to get this skirt from one length of the 64' wide Tencel fabric. This link is for current (10-27-07) availability of this great fabric. In the picture below, you see the fold of the fabric at the top edge - that is the front pattern piece folded in half to get the skirt Front. Next, is the side panel piece. Then, the Back cut on the selvage, since I needed a back seam for a zipper since this is for a woven fabric, not stretch - thus it wouldn't stretch enough to get over my hips unless I cut it much larger at the top - then it would have been too gathered at the waist. You can see I flipped the pattern pieces top to bottom to get it to fit - but this worked fine with my no nap fabric.

In the top of the 2 pictures above, you can see I just cut an angled piece. You can see the size from my cutting mat. It is about 3.5" high at the side.

In the lower picture then, you can see that I used that piece as a template, laid it on the bottom of another skirt piece, and cut along it to get the same angle. Repeat this on each skirt piece, always placing the template on the outside of the skirt.

Next, I fused HTC Bias Fusible Tape in the hem allowance of each piece, serged, and pressed up and topstitched the hem each panel of the skirt.

Then, I stitched the seams of the skirt - leaving the center back opening about 2" longer than needed for the invisible zipper.

Above, you can see that I then added STRAIGHT HTC Fusible Tape to the extended portions of those seams to stabilize them. THEN, those seams got pressed back, and topstitched. The Straight Fusible tape really make a difference in how they hang.

Skip over to the full Londa's 2 Cents Worth to read about how I hem first, THEN establish the top edge of the skirt being sure that the hem is level with the floor.

THEN, as you see in the picture above, I lay the Ban-Rol Control Stabilizer on the wrong side of the skirt, about 1/4" down from the cut edge.

Above picture shows how it looks when then I serge off that excess, taking great care (Banroll side up at the serger) NOT to cut into the Banrol!!!

Then, I inserted the invisible zipper. See how I extended it all the way to the top of the fabric, and then I anchor stitched the ends of the Banroll down to the skirt.

Honestly, when I do this again, I will END the zipper at the top of the skirt as it is turned down, instead of extending it to the top of the fabric!

At the top of an invisible zipper, you need to be sure to roll the fabric to cover the zipper. See the pictures below.

You can see below the inside of the zipper/waistband area. It would itch me to death!!!

The solution is to just make a tab of fabric to cover it on the inside. I still need to put a buttonhole in the tab, and stitch a button to the inside of the waistband...

Here is how it looks then on the inside...

And on the outside...

1.5 hour great knit skirt

Of COURSE, as I have been preparing for the Houston Internation Quilt Festival (teaching and vending) Nov. 1-4, I decided I needed a new long black when I wear black, it makes it EZ to keep changing my Creative Sweatshirt Jackets to show them off in my booth. :)

Sew...wanting a quick and ez pattern, the Christine Jonson No. 1219 "Bell Sleeve Wrap and A-Line Skirt" jumped out at me. This is a 4 gore skirt with a center front, center back, and side panels. I cut it out in 15' (and got a little shell type top out of the excess from 2 lengths). I easily stitched it up in 1 hour. It is pretty nice. Not quite as full as the pattern illustration though, I don't feel. I did have to take it in at the top (yea!) quite a bit - even after selecting my proper size. That's fine - no gripe there. I think if you don't want to fit as you sew, you shouldn't try to sew clothing! I just sew pants and skirts in my undies most the time!!!
I also used a great new elastic I carry - comes 2" wide, and you can cut it down to whatever width you desire. That worked great.
I twin needled the hem and around the bottom of the elastic at the top. Used a 4.0/75 Twin STRETCH needle. Fused in BIAS HTC Fusible Tape first. GREAT results.
Read more about that technique here.
One thing I always do though is to never LAP elastic. Instead, I grab a lightweight scrap of fabric, and butt the ends of the elastic on top of it, and zig zag it lots to hold it all together. Then, cut the excess scrap fabric away. Lots less bulky!
I'll be writing my Londa's 2 Cents on this pattern - and including it in my next newsletter as a sample of one of the main benefits of my Londa's Fashion Club at

Link to this pattern is above, and here

I haven't made the top yet - but I do like the bell shape of the sleeves. It can be sewn of 2 fabrics and made reversible - for the sleeveless version. With all the inside-out stuff in RTW, I see no reason why one couldn't just serge the armscye seam of the sleeved version very neatly, and have it be reversible too.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Keepin up and thoughts on National Health Care

SorryI haven't been more regular in posts -
Sewing shows have kept me busy...
Now working diligently on 2 more patterns for my Creative Sweatshirt Jackets:
1. Genesis - a good beginner project - featuring 4 jackets
2. Celebration - the flare-back fancy one that everyone loves

Got this email as copied below regarding National Health Care. With a hubby with heart history, and currently in the hospital with an infection, it 'speaks' to me. Nothing comes free - much less good health care. I can't imagine the scenario painted below...

Sew - read and consider this carefully as you consider your political persuasions ...

Friends,>> This was forwarded to me by a friend who is a physcian. This is very real > and very scary! At one point serveral years ago, The city of Memphis had 9 > MR magnets. The country of Canada had 2. Something to think about!>> --Tyler>>>

I saw on the news up here in Canada where Hillary Clinton introduced her > new health care plan. Something similar to what we have in Canada. I > also heard that Michael Moore was raving about the health care up here in > Canada in his latest movie. As your friend and someone who lives with the > Canada health care plan I thought I would give you some facts about this > great medical plan that we have in Canada.>>

First of all:>>

1) The health care plan in Canada is not free. We pay a premium every > month of $96 for Shirley and I to be covered. Sounds great eh? What they > don't tell you is how much we pay in taxes to keep the health care system > afloat. I am personally in the 55% tax bracket. Yes 55% of my earnings > go to taxes. A large portion of that and I am not sure of the exact > amount goes directly to health care, our #1 expense.>>

2) I would not classify what we have as health care plan, it is more like > a health diagnosis system. You can get into to see a doctor quick enough > so he can tell you "yes indeed you are sick or you need an operation" but > now the challenge becomes getting treated or operated on. We have waiting > lists out the ying yang some as much as 2 years down the road.>>

3) Rather than fix what is wrong with you the usual tactic in Canada is > to prescribe drugs. Have a pain here is a drug to take- not what is > causing the pain and why. No time for checking you out because it is more > important to move as many patients thru as possible each hour for > Government re-imbursement>>

4) Many Canadians do not have a family Doctor.>>

5) Don't require emergency treatment as you may wait for hours in the > emergency room waiting for treatment.>>

6) Shirley's dad cut his hand on a power saw a few weeks back and it > required that his hand be put in a splint - to our surprise we had to pay > $125 for a splint because it is not covered under health care plus we have > to pay $60 for each visit for him to check it out each week.>>

7) Shirley's cousin was diagnosed with a heart blockage. Put on a > waiting list . Died before he could get treatment.>>

8) Government allots so many operations per year. When that is done no > more operations, unless you go to your local newspaper and plead your case > and embarrass the government then money suddenly appears.>>

9)The Government takes great pride in telling us how much more they are > increasing the funding for health care but waiting lists never get > shorter. Government just keeps throwing money at the problem but it never > goes away. But they are good at finding new ways to tax us, but they > don't call it a tax anymore it is now a user fee.>>

10) A friend needs an operation for a blockage in her leg but because she > is a smoker they will not do it. Despite paying into the health care > system all these years. My friend is 65 years old. Now there is talk > that maybe we should not treat people who are overweight either because > they are a drain on the health care system. Let me see now, what we want > in Canada is a health care system for healthy people only. That should > reduce our health care costs.>>

11) Forget getting a second opinion, what you see is what you get.>>

12) I can spend what money I have left after taxes on booze, cigarettes, > junk food and anything else that could kill me but I am not allowed by law > to spend my money on getting an operation I need because that would be > jumping the queue. I must wait my turn except if I am a hockey player or > athlete then I can get looked at right away. Go figger. Where else in > the world can you spend money to kill yourself but not allowed to spend > money to get healthy.>>

13) Oh did I mention that immigrants are covered automatically at tax > payer expense having never contributed a dollar to the system and pay no > premiums.>>

14) Oh yeh we now give free needles to drug users to try and keep them > healthy. Wouldn't want a sickly druggie breaking into your house and > stealing your things. But people with diabetes who pay into the health > care system have to pay for their needles because it is not covered but > the health care system.>>

I send this out not looking for sympathy but as the election looms in the > states you will be hearing more and more about universal health care down > there and the advocates will be pointing to Canada.

I just want to make > sure that you hear the truth about health care up here and have some food > for thought and informed questions to ask when broached with this subject.>> Step wisely and don't make the same mistakes we have.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

'WORTHY' - my first Sweatshirt Jacket Pattern released

YEA!!!!! My first actual 'pattern' for a Creative Sweatshirt Jacket is now available. I'm busy tonight emailing it out to everyone who ordered it via electronic PDF delivery. I expect to be able to ship the printed version October 2, if not before.

This asymmetric, hip-grazing design leaves LOTS of room for your own interpretation - digging into YOUR stash. The PDF version is 25 pages printed out, and has links to webpages of 166 photos of my creative process on these jackets.

For right now, you are invited to post pictures of YOUR jacket(s) created from "Worthy" here as Comments at this post.

10% of the sales of this pattern will be sent to the Israeli Sewing Project. Read more about it here. PDF delivery of this pattern is just $12. Printed version is $15. Have Fun!

Friday, September 07, 2007

FREE Needle Felting Video for you...

Adding videos to your Blog is a new thing - so I'll try it here posting a video clip from my new books: Volume II and the Ultimate Edition of my Creative Sweatshirt Jackets. All needle felting supplies - including the wonderful SILK Roving are available at

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What Londa's been up to...

August 20 - 27 found my hubby and I in Nashville, TN at the AQS Quilt Show. We had our customary corner booth to 'sell our wares', and I got to teach - 3 times! The most exciting was a SOLD OUT class to 200 for my "Creative Sweatshirt Jackets - Londa's Way". That was really a great experience for me - actually my first 'big' teaching on the sewing circuit 'gig'. In fact, I've proudly kept my name badge with "Instructor" Ribbon. It was fun to meet more customers 'in person', and even ran into Ann Henderson, Editor of Creative Needle Magazine. I'd written an articles for that magazine back in the early 90's, and hope to do the same again. Another 'keeper' is the current monthly sales bulletin from Brewer Sewing Supplies advertising to other stores my 3 books in CD and DVD about my Creative Sweatshirt Jackets.

Proud also to report my first book: Creative Sweatshirt Jackets will be in the Nancy's Notions catalog again soon, and all 3 of my books in her catalog out in February or so.

I'm hard at work on my first 'pattern'. Due to lots of requests for specific jacket 'patterns', I've decided that when I come up with a design that can be executed in many different ways depending on the accent fabric, etc., that I will do a pattern. My current goal for the release of the first one is the upcoming Round Bobbin Show in St. Charles, MO. Sept. 22-24. Five 'piles' crowd my design table as I write!!!!!!!!!! Goodie, goodie - LOTS of creative sewing to do.....

I'm all ready to teach my very newest class: Design Principles for Creative Sewing at that show!

For a sneek peek, see the shadowed jacket behind my new website:

I have all kinds of ideas for this new website - including a 'club' where you get points towards receiving a free or reduced price on a pattern when you reach a certain level, AND a charity item on which I will donate a portion of every sale. Even my patterns and books delivered via the internet as 'e-books'. My elected 'charity' is the Israel Sewing Network of Dr. Deborah which you can read about HERE. All these developments will take some technical learning (or pulling out of my web-smart son!), but they WILL happen - so stay posted!

Once home from the Round Bobbin Show, I won't even unload the cargo van - but check in some new inventory and then off to the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI. I'm looking forward to teaching my 3 hour class there - which combines my Creative Sweatshirt Jacket presentation with the Design Principles for Creative Sewing AND students trying on my collection of jackets for design and flattery evaluation. Read about that class here. It will be good to get that 'under my belt' before I offer it at the Houston Quilt Show.

I'm actively asking for testimonials regarding my products and service, for use on my websites. If you are a satisfied customer, and would be so kind as to write a recommendation on my products, classes (if you've taken from me at a show), etc., I'd really appreciate receiving that via email to me at: I will give only your first name and state in the testimonial -

Saturday, August 18, 2007

ramblings on BIG

Can't help but BIG has seemed to become so all-important in our culture:
BIG cars, BIG meals, BIG drinks, BIG stores...and BIG houses!
Attended a local showcase of homes here in central illinois...and the BIG homes just amazed me. I did get some great ideas regarding flooring that my 'normal sized' home desparately needs.
But, I couldn't help but be saddened by what it seems we have come to think we 'need'???
Heated floors in our bathrooms? Wood-finished closet organizers-true theatre seating in our 'family' rooms? Ceilings so high that 'normal' furniture looks dwarfed - therefore BIG furniture. Rooms for gambling? Granite countertops everywhere? 2 kitchens (one on one floor and almost an entire other one in the 'basement'?) Flat screen huge TV as the 'centerpiece' above a mantel? 1/2 a million $ may not seem like much to those of you on the coasts for housing, but around here it is - well, excessive to most of us. BIG house and tax payments, that's for sure. At well over 50, I'm happy that attending such a display doesn't create 'need' in my heart. However...I wonder/worry about younger people though? Do they think this is 'normal'? Is this what it takes to feel 'successful?" How important do we think we are, anyway? What good could be done with all that money? Just my opinion...
The crowning touch on the evening was, when exiting the last home, a fireball bright coral-orange sun setting in the west with subtle streaks across it. BIG - FREE - a blessing and message from God reminding me that the best things in life - HE gives, and they are free! I'm glad I know him through his son, Jesus. I hope you do too...

Friday, August 17, 2007

New Black Simple skirt with Ruffle using selvage

Sew... I decided I needed a slim black skirt to wear with black tops and a neat belt as one of my 'uniforms' when I do the consumer sewing shows and am trying on/modeling my Creative Sweatshirt Jackets all the time...

Had limited yardage of this full-bodied black cot/rayon/lycra knit...

And it had a great - somewhat floopy selvage on it...which said "ruffle" to me.

So - I eeked out the front and back - gently curving the back hemline down some, and the front up a bit to center front.

Cut a 5" strip along the selvage and then gathered it on - I think it was about 1.75 times the width ofthe lower circumference of the skirt.

Gathered it a bit - serged.

For the Waist band - I have this really wide - I think it is 2" wide black elastic, I stitched on with a 1/4" seam to the right side of the top (having cut it 5" less long than my body measurement). Then, flipped it to the inside - that wraps the top edge of it with the fabric. Stitched in the ditch at the sides and center back.

Wa.... La.... a great new skirt! See photos. Note I did NOTHING to the lower edge of the ruffle - the selvage edge.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

10 GREAT Fashion Websites - shared with permission

I love to snoop ready-to-wear for what's 'new' and 'in' (whether I'd ever wear, much less buy it is another thing!), just for ideas, and the internet has made that SEW MUCH FUN!

My favorite fashion newsletter (free) is that by former model, Diane Pemberton-Sikes called Fashion For Real Women.

Here is a link to her GREAT website where you can read about her amazing fashion e-books...which I can personally attest to are absolutely WONDERFUL!
click HERE .

Diane is a wardrobe and image consultant and author or WARDROBE MAGIC, an ebook that teaches women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online here.

She gave me permission to share her last free newsletter with you, so read it below. It is chuck full of wonderful fashion websites for your enjoyment! After reading it, I'm sure you'll get the idea why I enjoy Diane's newsletters so much, and subscribe yourself! >>

The images didn't show up as I copied this, so you could also read it online at:
The Clothing Chronicles

10 Great Fashion Websites

Where can you go to learn about the latest trends? The history of fashion? Clothing care and maintenance?
Online, of course! There are lots of great sites out there that you can get lost in, reading about everything from celebrity fashion to haute couture.
Here are a few of my favorites:
The home of W and Vogue on the web, has made many of my fashion magazines subscriptions obsolete. You can learn about trends, runway reports, fashion icons, fashion designers and more just by perusing this site. Take a look.

First View
Wish you could have a front row seat to all the best fashion shows in the world? Well, here's the next best thing. Look at the current and past collections from famous designers from all over the world, and see the "who, what, where, when" of upcoming fashion shows.
Mode à Paris
Want to "dive right in" to the world of French fashion to learn about fashion history, designers, and upcoming shows? Then this site is for you! Find out which fashion houses meet the rigorous standards of the Chambre Syndical de la Haute Couture, and learn where you can study for a career in French fashion.
The Sartorialist
Scott Schuman is a former fashion marketer and retail store owner who combined his love of great tailoring with fashion photography to create "The Sartorialist" blog. Sartorial, which is a term used to describe tailoring and the tailoring trade, is the main focus of Scott's quest as he seeks to photograph well-dressed people on the street. What began as a fun way to share his photos just two years ago has turned into a fast-paced fashion career that sends him all over the globe as a reporter for and as a speaker to fashion and tailoring groups.
MSN Beauty and Fashion
MSN has lots of in-depth channels, like finance, food, gardening, and health. Their fashion channel is excellent, offering behind-the-scenes videos, interviews, and articles that you don't see anywhere else.
If you like snarky celebrity fashion reviews, then MSN entertainment writer/fashion critic Kat Giantis will have you laughing out loud. Her reports are not kind, but they do show how celebrities can still stumble fashion-wise even when they have an army of stylists at their disposal. Check out her "Undressed" reports here:
Sienna Miller and Claudia Schiffer are "Undressed" by Kat Giantis
INSTYLE Magazine's website has come a long way from the days when you could just go there to subscribe to their magazine. You can still do that, but you can also look at trends, get ideas for entertaining, vote on you favorite celebrity looks, and even learn where to copy those looks for less. It's a fun site, especially if you're into celebrity fashion.
Ralph Lauren
One of the things I like about the Ralph Lauren site is that it understands what people are looking for online. While many other designer sites take a long to time to load, are bloated with graphics, and don't sell directly from their site, loads relatively quickly and is easy to navigate. You can buy clothes, subscribe to the ezine, and get TONS of styling ideas from the gorgeous pictures. They also have a style section to show you how to put things together. Awesome! Would that other designers would take some notes from Ralph . . .
Get great fashion styling ideas at
Fashion Era
Love fashion history? Want to see which trend-setters have influenced fashion over the centuries? Need to do research on what people wore in 1800? 1900? 2000? Then this is THE place to find out. This comprehensive site is one of the most popular on the web, with good reason: it has TONS of information!
Fabric Link
Want to learn more about different types of fabrics? Need to know how to maintain the fabrics you have? Fabric Link can help. Take a good look around their "Fabric University," and you'll learn everything you need to know about taking care of most fabrics.
Biz Rate
Looking for something in particular, like a black cocktail dress or sweet deals on Christian Louboutin shoes? Just go to, type in your item, and it will find places on the web that are selling what you seek. It also lists price and costumer reviews. What a time saver!
So there you have it. Take some time to click around to these sites when you have some time, and either bookmark them or keep this list handy for future reference. You never know when these sites will come in handy.
Until next time,

Diana Pemberton-Sikes
Published by:
Top Drawer Publications, LLC 256 S. College Ave. Newark, DE 19711 USA
Copyright © 2007 by Diana Pemberton-Sikes All rights reserved
Diane's Newsletter shared here with her permission

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mary Ellen's Best Press

Just finished some ironing of my hubby's shirts with :
Mary Ellen’s Best Press - The Clear Starch Alternative
I have the Lavender Fields scent - hummm - sew much nicer than spray starch!!!!
It is in a non-aresol spray bottle - 16.9 fl oz. .
Descrived as "Clear Fragrant Miracle Starch with Soil Guard and Wrinkle Resister", this 'stuff' makes ironing easier, smell delightful, and it doesn't flake, even on dark fabrics. Since it is in spray bottle, gone are my days of throwing away a can of spray starch just because the nozzle is clogged!
It really does seem to relaxes stubborn wrinkles, gives clothes a crisp, new finish and it says it even makes clothes soil-resistant.
My sister - an active quilter - had actually told me it was getting raves on lists she was on - then I saw that I could get it from my supplier - so I got some in to test.
It comes in 2 other scents - so I'm ordering those in tomorrow.
Just $6.95 - which is more than spray starch, but worth it in my book!!!

Try it - y ou'll like it, I really think you will! \
To order - click on the blue name of the product at the top of this post - Mary Ellen's Best Press - that will take you right to my website where you can purchase it. Order 2 bottles - you'll save on shipping in the long run!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chardonnay Skirt - Londa's 2 Cents Worth

I'm sharing today about this recent outfit I created. The skirt is the Chardonnay Skirt from LJ Designs. For it, I wrote one of my 'Londa's 2 Cents Worth", which is $30 for 6 months, $50 for 1 year - just ONE of the benefits is receipt of my Londa's 2 Cents Worth - at least 6 per year... This is a 'taste' - the last one I just wrote. I also 'deliver' a pdf of these 'helps' whenever one orders one of the patterns from me for which I've tested and written one of my 2 Cents Worth (designated with a *** by the pattern name on my websites).

I thought the 'history' and end result of this skirt made quite a I'm sharing it here. It reveals 'real life' sewing...which should never prevent us from stitching on!

The Top is a variation of Christine Jonsons's #426. Read about it at the end.

Londa’s 2 Cents Worth
Chardonnay Skirt

A’ La Mode Collection
LJ Designs

I love most of Lyla’s patterns – and she does a GREAT job of directions. This skirt pattern was the one of the A’ La Mode Collection that most caught my eye – though not as much as the Fajita Skirt. In general, I think this skirt is just OK. I made it of a cotton/lycra jersey knit – and toyed with making it a double layer skirt from the beginning – to help ‘conceal’ body bumps.
Alas – while stitching with my serger around the top – darned if I didn’t catch a fold underneath – and promptly cut a triangle cut right in the center back! At that point, I HAD decided to not ‘eat up additional yardage with making it double layer, but once I’d had my ‘boo-boo’ – I had no option but to put a second layer of the knit on the top.

Here is a picture of me in my (altered) Christine Jonson Princess Wrap top with this Chardonnay (altered)

Pretty perfect green shoes to match, eh? Made out of the knit – I quickly (well not quickly enough) realized that that the zipper down the center front that I had just labored to put in – was NOT necessary – as it easily slid over my hips without undoing the zipper – so out it came. You can’t see the fabric edges, but I opted to go the simple ‘designer’ route and just 3 thread serged the edge – not rolled or anything – just serged and left as is! Seems kinda crude to me – but the designers do it and get top $$$ - so why should I labor further is what I figured…

Even with the double layer fabric, I invested in some of those SPANX to wear under this garment – and felt quite good, actually, that no ‘panty lines’ were revealed! $20 for the SPANX is pretty darned high though!

In general, I found these directions to be the least understandable of any of Lyla’s I’ve encountered so far. I would not recommend this pattern to someone who didn’t have a good grasp of sewing. If you do know how to sew though, it is a neat concept in a skirt.

Fabric Selection: You can use this pattern for wovens as well as knits. With a woven, you would obviously have to insert that zipper. There are no side or center back seams, so the front where the zipper is instructed to go is really the only place for it.

Beware: the wrong side of the fabric shows where the center front drape flops around!
That is not made clear on the pattern envelope at all. If the wrong side of the fabric is not attractive (ie a print), you will have to line this skirt to the edge.

Warning: Be SURE to adequately mark all markings on the pattern onto your fabric! If I were to make this skirt again, I would actually thread trace mark the center front angled stitching line – the zipper placement lines.

The directions start right off with ones for a “Lined Skirt” and there is no reference to lining at all on the pattern envelope back.

Elastic Application

In the Lined Skirt – Lyla calls for 2” less than ‘waist edge measurement of skirt’. I found that very nebulous, and finally decided it would be the measurement of the skirt, with darts sewn out, from zipper placement line to zipper placement line. That is what I did – and the skirt barely hung on my hips. I really need to take it out and make the elastic – maybe 3” even less long than it already is – so my guess would be you could easily make the elastic 5” less than the waist measurement. I don’t see yet why she is asking for you to go by the waist measurement of the skirt, and not your body – I’d do it 5” less than my body waist measurement – or my measurement wherever I would want the top of the skirt to ‘rest’ on my body.

Weird: but in the Unlined skirt – she says nothing about cutting the elastic any shorter at all – I guess she assumed that – but the ‘cutting shorter length’ is under the “Lined Skirt” directions – I found that all very confusing.
If I were to make this skirt again – I would opt for 1” wide elastic and just adjust the hemming then on the front cascade portion of the skirt to be 1” deep.

Zipper Application:
It is confusing, but it the directions for the zipper insertion DO work – you jut need to really follow the pictures, and stitch VERY closely to the zipper coil. Stitching far away at all will reveal the zipper tape. Although – it does seem quite covered up by the cascade portion of that front effect.

I have an additional concern about this design and zipper placement – and that is that this ‘line’ that the zipper is inserted on is NOT straight grain, but at an angle, therefore the fabric is bound to stretch there. Be VERY careful! Again, the cascade will cover it, but…………

Balance of Directions – look A-OK.

Notes about my Double Layer Skirt:
The cascading portion on the front of my skirt ‘belongs’ to the longest skirt – the ‘underskirt’. The ‘overskirt’ is hemmed shorter – I just ‘eyed’ that in with it on my body, pinned, marked, etc…. AND it is cut at the center front just 1” beyond that center front zipper insertion line, and turned and hemmed, stitched down on either side of that front stitched line. Also – I wanted to eliminate all bulk possible under my top that I knew I would wear on the outside of the skirt – so I really narrowed down – shaped that front uppermost edge of the cascade.

Shirred top and Princess Wrap
#426-Christine Jonson
Sleeveless, non-shirred Variation
by Londa

I loved this crossover Princess top from Christine – so when I wanted to make a sleeveless top of that nature to go with my LJ Chardonnay skirt – it came to the top of the list of ‘patterns to consider’.

However, design-wise, I didn’t feel the ‘gathered’ effect of the top’s right side(as worn) into that left princess seam ‘went with design-wise’ the flatter, more angular fold feature of the Chardonnay skirt.

I just cut 2 of the Princess Top Left front and proceeded – obviously leaving out the sleeves.

I found when I tried it on, however, that it pulled funny under the bust on my right side where the left front was attached at that princess seam…
So I ‘stabilized’ it with a piece of elastic stitched from that princess seam to the side seam. It worked just fine.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Divide into thirds - MAGIC rule for designing

A chatter with Louise Cutting lately on The Creative Machine - a great group you can join in with at (espeically good if you're into garment sewing), reminded me again of the importance of dividing sections into thirds (NOT halves!) as you dress, sew, design, etc.
This goes back to the Golden Mean Rule (gotta look that up on google)...
Which just really says that a combo of something divided 1/3 and 2/3 or 2/3 and 1/3 is just more pleasing to the eye than dividing anything in half.
I teach - or preach this all the time in my Creative Sweatshirt Jacket creation - especially in regards to not selecting a sweatshirt or jacket length long enough to just cover your butt - as you're usually then dividing yourself in half...not good.

Louise even applied it to length of a shorter (3/4 length) sleeve: divide that space between your elbow and wrist bone into thirds, and then hem a sleeve at one of those points...NOT at the 1/2 mark.

Same applies to Capri length pants says Louise - and I agree. That distance of your calf between your knee and ground (WITH shoes to wear with garment on) again should dictate your pant length at third points, NOT half the distance if you don't want to look frumpy!

Test it - you'll see Louise and I and the ancient Greeks are right on!


Bio on Londa in local paper

In case you might be interested, here are some links to a recent article on what I'm 'up to' from our local paper.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Londa learning.changing things on this blog

I just had no option but to delete a post with some creative sweatshirt jacket directions and 'story' because of SPAM comments on that post. Thanks to a Blog member for bringing that to my attention!!! I'm SEW grateful.

All comments are now moderated by myself - meaning I can review them and delete any non-appropriate comments.

Also - I have changed this Blog from being one where only invited members can Comment, to one where any "Registered User" can comment. Since I will be monitoring the Comments, I am hopeful that this will not only work, but invite more 'chat' among creative sewers.

I'm really looking forward to making this more of a 'Forum' for creative sewing - though I'm also looking into software to start a Forum of my own on the topic. If any of you have a way - software to suggest - for doing a Forum, please comment.

Here's to Creative Sewing Blogging...with Londa

Friday, July 06, 2007

Londa's New Books

Sorry I've ignored my Blog...I've been publishing my new books on DVD, and going to sewing shows around the country with my hubby of now 35 years!!!

I published Creative Sweatshirt Jackets on CD back in 2006 (or was it 2005?) which included jackets I'd created from sweatshirts - 65 of them....

I've kept this creative sewing 'engine' churning...and now photo'd and filmed up through Jacket #127! I KNOW I've made over 200 great one-of-a-kind jackets since I started this right before my shop closed 4 years ago now.

Anyway - I now have:
VOLUME II - Creative Sweatshirt Jackets: Continuing the Journey
which is a sequel to the first book, on DVD. Jackets #66 - #127 are included in its Gallery - with lots of pictures and chatting about each, in addition to the BOOK portion of how-to's.
It does NOT repeat all the basic techniques, rather builds on them. It does, however, include video clips which do teach techniques. If you know how to sew, you could certainly just get this new book. $24.95

Ultimate Edition - Creative Sweatshirt Jackets
This is a combination of Book I and Volume II - PLUS a Bonus Gallery from book I that is expanded with more and larger pictures and more chatting about each of those first 65 jackets. At the sewing shows (where I now have a Power Point presentation for my class!), this book on DVD has been the very most popular. $38.95

Both books are DVD format - which means, in your TV DVD player you can see the 15 video clips, but in your computer DVD-ROM, you can see the video clips alone, or at the appropriate time within the 'text' of the book.
I could NOT have done all this without the guidance and help of my wonderful #1 son, Jeff Rohlfing!!!

All 3 of my books are on 'special' Introductory Pricing through July 9, 2007.
Book I on CD - $18.00
Book II on DVD - $22.95
Ultimate Edition on DVD - $35.83

I have made a fresh new committment to this Blog - so watch for more posts - share about it with your friends, and email me for an invitation to join. Monitoring members is the way to keep this Blog relevant and friendly to creative sewing - ONLY!
Next week will find me SEWING again - YEA!!! I'm excited to have been invited to create a jacket with directions for Sew Savvy Magazine - March issue. I had a great time at the PCM Show in Cincinnati gathering up fabrics to go with a bright yellow/gold/green Crone Art button (new art clay embellishments just added at I've been dreaming nightly about the design for this jacket! I also have to create a new jacket for display at the AQS Nashville show - coming up August 20-24.
Watch for pictures....
I look forward to your comments and sharing.