Category Archives: General

A Peek Into My World

Earlier this fall our friend Luke came to take some pictures of us – our work, workroom, machines, and family.  The purpose was to get some good shots for my new website (coming soon- stay tuned!), but there are so many good shots I can’t possibly use all of them on my website, so I decided to share some here and give you a little view into my sewing world.  Plus I want to give Luke some good press – he’s great at what he does and I want more people to know!  Check out his work here – http://lukebugenske.tumblr.com/

So here you go – a tour of my world:

The Pfaff

My “new” machine, this one is from the 1950s.  We’ve been together about 6 years, and I love it.  There are no computers to mess up and it’s not fussy, yet it is a workhorse and does all kinds of fun things.  This machine gets almost daily use.

The Blindhemmer

I’m not sure how old this machine is, but it’s old.  I’ve only had it for a few months, and we’re still working out the kinks in our relationship.  When it works it is one of my favorite machines ever.  When it doesn’t, lets just say no one really wants to be around me!  I’m hoping we can work things out soon so I can enjoy it’s speed and beauty more frequently.

The Singer

This is my oldest machine, and the thing I would rescue in a fire (after my children of course, who are obviously much more important, and also not things!).  My great-grandmother’s machine, it was made in the 1930s and still sews like a dream.  It is absolutely my favorite machine to sew on.  We’ve been together for over 20 years, and I am still as thankful for it as I was long ago when I first learned to sew on it.  Some things are so beautiful they don’t need bells and whistles, and this machine definitely falls into that category.

The Stash

Every seamstress has a stash of fabric, right?  I once made the comment to a friend that one day I was just going to start collecting fabric I liked; she looked at me incredulously and said “you already do!”  She was right of course, I just hadn’t thought about it that way, because in my mind everything I bought had a specific purpose.  The only problem is sometimes I forget what the purpose is by the time I finally get around to working with a specific fabric.  Or I change my mind.  Or it’s not enough fabric.  Or something else.  So now I have a lot of fabric, just waiting for a purpose.

The Audience

Too little to do much of anything but get into trouble, this guy is a good audience, jumping happily for about 10 minutes.  Needless to say, most work is done when he’s sleeping.  But isn’t he cute?!

The Work

Spreading, measuring, cutting, sewing are all in a day’s work around here.  These days hardly a day goes by that I’m not working on something – either for myself or someone else.  That’s the way I like it – creating and bringing beauty to the world is part of my life’s work.

The Product

Just one of many things we make, bowties are fun and cheerful, and easy to piece together from left-over fabric.  Somehow this was the only finished product here to be documented, but let me assure you, if pictures were taken today I would have pillows, curtains, dresses, and more.  It’s busy around here!

The Assistant

Our sweet girl always wants to help.  She can “thread up” my machine for me perfectly, and she loves playing with fabric, yarn, and rick rack.  She’s a budding designer, already choosing fabric for her own clothes and projects, as well as offering opinions about other people’s projects.  I love her, and most of the time enjoy her company in my sewing room (when my blindhemmer isn’t working properly is a notable exception).

The Man

I saved the best for last: the man who has spent 12 years supporting me in my creative ventures.    He doesn’t complain about my stash of unused fabric (you already saw that), my collection of machines, nor my insistence on giving over one whole room of our house to sewing.  He installed a new floor in my sewing room several years ago so I could actually clean it, and he even cleans it for me when the strings start to cover the whole thing.  He doesn’t complain about how much time I spend sewing, or even that I’m always roping him into helping somehow.  This summer he helped without being asked as he took ownership of this business too and helped it grow.  I couldn’t have done all I’ve done all these years without him, and patchwork21 wouldn’t  be what it is today without his input – of time, energy, creativity, skill, and vision. Now that he is otherwise employed – doing what he loves and is passionate about (yay!), I’m back to sewing and running this business mostly by myself, but still not without his continued influence.

Thanks to you, Nick!  I’m a better woman, seamstress, designer, and business owner because of you (not to mention wife, mother, friend, pianist…).

Hope you enjoyed!  It’s probably obvious I love vintage things and the people in my world.  Sometimes things are crazy around here and I never want to see a sewing machine again, but usually we hum along just fine, taking fabric and turning it into something beautiful and fun.  And I, for one, and glad to be doing my work at home, with my assistant, my audience, and my man;  I’m glad we’re in this life together!

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Welcome Geoffrey!

It’s been really quiet here on my blog for 7 months or so, all because of a sweet little guy named Geoffrey who came to us right before Christmas last year.  He is such a gift, and we’ve all been enjoying him and his fun little baby personality.  But it has certainly made things like blogging fall way down on the priority list!

I have been doing more sewing lately, and hope to have some posts and pictures up soon of what I’ve been doing.  But my favorite thing I’ve done since I last posted is Geoffrey’s nursery.  You may notice I was inspired by my sister’s nursery – I changed the fabrics and animals, but did basically the same thing for Geoffrey’s room that I did for my nephew’s a few months earlier.  I’m so happy with how both of them turned out, and Geoffrey’s continues to bring a smile to my face everytime I walk in – even 7 months later!

This might be my favorite thing in his room – the name pennant.  I love how it frames the crib, and just how bright and cheerful it is!

I am also pleased with how the window treatments turned out:

These pillows are in the running for my other favorite thing about Geoffrey’s room.  We kept the double bed for our occasional guests, and I covered it in pillows so most of the time we can use it as a fun place to play and read stories.  The throw pillows really liven up the solid brown comforter, and add to the playful spirit of the room.

A close-up of the appliques:

And the banner:

And the happy little man himself:

I’m pretty sure he likes his nursery!  🙂

Sydney

I was honored today to be a part of the worship team for the funeral of my friend Sydney Gaylord.  It was a powerful worship service, and one of only 2 funerals I’ve been a part of that had a celebratory atmosphere  – the other being my grandmother’s.  Sydney loved Jesus, and trusted him, and it was fitting today to say goodbye to such a vibrant woman with joy, hope, and thankfulness shining through our sadness.

Many of you will already know Sydney’s story, but for those who don’t, it’s worth knowing.  Sydney was 35 – born in 1976 the same as me.  She was a wife and mother, vibrant, energetic, creative, loyal, and supremely relational.  She was beautiful, inside and out, and possessed that wonderful ability to make you feel at home and valued, whether you’d known her for years or for minutes.  She had an air of peace and contentment, and was full of warmth and joy.  She was one of those people who was good to be around.

In late December, 2008, Sydney was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  When I heard the news I was stunned.  Her 3rd child had been born on December 1st, my first on December 18th.  We had bonded over being pregnant together, and had all kinds of fun plans of what we would do with our little ones once they were born and we were able to be out and about again.  We never really got to do those things, though Sydney was blessed with good health for about 18 months after her diagnosis, and our friendship continued to grow through being in a community group together.

I’m writing about Sydney today, on my sewing blog, in part just to honor her, b/c I value her that much.  But also, my friendship with Sydney is, in part, why this blog even exists, and why I am embracing, owning, and publicly expressing the creative, artsy, slightly hippie side I have always had, but kept pretty well under wraps.  I remember confessing, quietly and somewhat sheepishly, one night at a community group meeting, that I would really like to play the piano in worship at church.  Sydney heartily encouraged me to try, and not give up that dream just because I was scared.  And now, 18 months later, I do play the piano in worship – regularly, and really enjoy it.  Many many people have encouraged me along the way, and helped me along as I’ve tried to figure out how to do it well, but I don’t know if I would have tried, or how long it would have taken me to try, without Sydney’s enthusiastic encouragement.

Her main impact on me, however, is much more subtle, though more profound and life-changing.  I’m not a wordsmith, and I don’t know how well I can articulate it, but somehow just knowing and spending time with Sydney opened first a window, and then a door, in me to begin to live and move and breathe in this creative side of myself that had been hidden, and somewhat dormant, for years.  As I saw Sydney live creatively it awakened in me a desire to do the same thing – to live out of the part of me that sees and loves beauty, art, music, nature, and loves creating things.  There’s been a slow and very subtle shift in my life and perspective – away from what I have felt like is expected of me, and more toward a life of creativity and freedom and rest.  Certainly there have been many people who have encouraged this shift, and many who have inspired me by their lives, but Sydney has always come out at or near the top of that list.  She had so many qualities to which I aspire – the ability to make people instantly feel important and loved, the ability to pull off vintage outfits in crazy colors, the way she embraced her artsy side – it wasn’t just a part of her, it was her.  Spending time with her made me want to embrace that part of me, and to fearlessly live in it publicly.

So here I am – nowhere near where I want to be and yet having firmly stepped into the art and creativity that is, and has always been, me.  Other creative friends, and people who see beauty in what I do, have overtly encouraged me more than Sydney ever did – pushing me to start this blog, to let people see the creative side of me, to talk about what I do and love, yet in my mind she has always been my inspiration.  It has been her example of fearless loving, bold living, unbridled enthusiasm,  and outward creative expression, coupled with her’s and my grandmother’s emphasis on people and relationships, that has pushed me out of the boundaries of my comfort and my invisible life.  Sydney made me want to become visible – to give myself to others rather than hiding and cloaking the real me.  So then, in part, this blog exists because of my sweet friend Sydney.  This blog, and my line of little girl dresses, my public piano playing, a couple of brightly colored dresses I made for myself last fall, and most of all, the smile I wear now when I talk about who and what I love.

Sweet Sydney, your absence just these past few days feels like a gaping hole in my life and our community.  Your beauty, vibrancy, and love will be sorely missed.  And yet, I rejoice that you are complete, full, and well, and look forward to the day we will meet again and worship our gracious Savior together.

21 Things I Like To Sew

Lately I’ve been asked a lot about what the 21 in patchwork21 means.  The patchwork part makes a bit more sense – it’s a sewing term, and it’s particularly fitting for my sewing because I do so many different things.  My sewing is genuinely a patchwork in itself.  But the 21 makes a little less sense.  Hence the questions.

The name patchwork21 didn’t really have an exciting origin.  Years ago I wanted a name for my fledgling sewing business; to me patchwork21 fit and made sense.  I like the name, big reason behind it or not.  So it’s stuck.  But as the question has come more often I decided to give the name more meaning with a list of 21 things I like to sew.  It really wasn’t hard; it took me all of about 5 minutes.  🙂  And since I made it I’ve realized a few things I’ve left off, but with my name being patchwork21 I can’t have a list of 25 things I like to sew!

So here’s the list.  Enjoy!

21 Things I Like To Sew (in no particular order)

  1. little girl dresses
  2. ladies’ dresses
  3. skirts
  4. curtains
  5. throw pillows
  6. baby burp cloths
  7. bibs
  8. jackets (men’s, women’s, kids’)
  9. tote bags
  10. belts
  11. baby bedding
  12. anything with appliqués
  13. ladies’ tops
  14. table skirts
  15. napkins
  16. valances
  17. quilts (by hand over the course of many years)
  18. seat cushions
  19. crib skirts
  20. baby wipes
  21. book jackets