Gathering inspiration, ideas, materials, tools, information; Gathering together with friends, new and old; and Making things beautiful, delicious, healthy, sustainable, and useful ~ Gather & Make.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Photo by Lara

Art-filled August ~

Where to begin? It has been a whirlwind month, filled with Art, travel, teaching, and friends (new and dear).

Ignite the Heart (even more arty goodness if you follow the link) with Lara and Elida and a jolly group of lovely ladies in Sunriver was a wonderful, fantastic, super fun intro to photography, collage, and my first attempt at plein air painting (well, really, painting in general) at Smith Rock! These two women make a powerhouse team, filled with good-vibe energy, serious teaching ability, and they're just too adorable for words! I'm very happy I was able to join in on this amazing retreat.

Among other being tutored in Photoshop by the amazing Allison and creating artwork for my new Poppy stencil (yes! I was able to successfully use an electronic device..... more on this later); meeting with the members of the Women's Artist Group of Bend to discuss web design (you'll see improvements right here on Gather & Make from the tips I received in this meeting in the coming months); meeting up with fellow stitchers for our monthly sit-n-sew.......I was very excited to teach a two-day hand stitching class in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Kathie, Holiday, and myself at Gig Harbor.

If you are looking for a warm, welcoming, fun, energetic art tribe that travels; is taught to create in all sorts of art mediums; and is lead by a wonderful, caring, knowledgeable, easygoing leader who takes care of ALL the details seamlessly, look no further than Kathie Vezzani with Bellissima Art Escapes.

Oh, my goodness does she make you feel well cared for, even pampered! Her food is fresh, healthy, and delicious. She thinks of everything and has it at the ready, even before the thought starts to form in your mind. Feeling a little thirsty? She already has the lemon water ready: Need extra supplies? They're at hand on the work bench. Have a question? She has her Ipad out and is Googling for the answer. A little peckish? Gorgeous lunch is being served.

A whole new world has opened up for me. Have a look at her website, and it will certainly whet your appetite for art, travel, food, and camaraderie.

I had the most delightful time teaching my two-day hand stitching class at Kathie's home in Gig Harbor. All the ladies eagerly jumped right in with cutting, painting, and stitching their projects. Some are already more than half way through to completion! I hope to see all these splendid women again someday, either with more stitching endeavors or possibly even an art adventure of a totally different kind.

Last, but not least....because the month of August is not yet complete....was a very relaxing and most enjoyable trip to Hawaii. What better way to be retrieved from the airport than by a dear friend, in a vintage VW Vanagon, bestowing a fragrant Hawaiian lei? There is none!

We did a lot of beaching......

hunting seaglass........

chasing rainbows.........


but mostly, just r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Long necklaces ~

Many years ago I purchased a stunning strand of gorgeous turquoise. I saved it, waiting for the perfect project to present itself. While putting together my outfit for my 50th birthday, I knew exactly what I needed ~ a necklace and pair of earrings made with this most beautiful turquoise.

You may also wear the necklace like this.

That was three years ago. I can't believe how time flies! I really do love this set, but most of the time I opt for something a little more subtle and less chunky. So today I decided to put together just that.

It's a long necklace, about 70" with a 2 1/2" pendant, and hits just above my belly button. It's simple leather. I used spacer beads, and threaded brass chain (about 3 1/2" per side or 14 links) onto the leather, another spacer bead, then finished with a fold over cord end. The luscious turquoise is the focal point, and a tiny PMC charm dangles below.

Here's a detailed shot.

While I had my supplies out, I made a second long necklace with really pretty chrysoprase. Don't you love that color?

For this necklace I used copper wire to attach the chrysoprase onto links I had made eons ago in Stephanie Lee's class at Art & Soul. They're brass wire and solder! I've used these links over the years in many jewelry designs, and I still love them today.

The links bunch together like this while you're wearing it. You could knot the leather around the links if you wanted them to stay separate, but I like the way they cluster.

These necklaces came together in less than a couple hours with supplies I had on hand. You could make your own version of a leather long necklace with supplies from your local craft store and perhaps a few special pieces you might have from old broken necklaces or keepsakes. I hope you give it a go.

Happy making!

Friday, July 8, 2016


My Little Grandma always wore a sunhat, gloves, and long sleeves when she was out gardening ~ the original sun protection before sunscreen was the norm. Her lightweight, red plaid, peter pan collared blouse hung in her alcove closet. This unusual closet had a large picture window. I vividly remember her standing there, backlit in the sunlight, slipping her gardening shirt over her day clothes. This was the signal for me we were going out to the garden to gather some roses, or do some pruning, or mowing, or just putter around. Her hat and gloves were on the porch next to the pruners, on the way out the back door.

Lillian Beatrice Overmyer (my Little Grandma) had the most beautiful skin. People would often comment about it. She took care of it, washing it every night and religiously applying cold cream or some other "magic potion", and of course always, always insisting on her sun protection by donning her hat, gloves and shirt. Smart lady.

I find myself these days in need of a sunhat or two, and so I decided to try out some patterns and embellish in the Alabama Chanin mode. The brim needs extra stability by adding interfacing, thus the normal reverse applique or negative reverse applique won't do. You would see the interfacing when you cut the layers, so I decided to go with the inked and quilted method or just leaving the fabric unembellished. You can find the inked and quilted method in Alabama Studio Style, by Natalie Chanin. 

I downloaded the reversible sunhat pattern from the Martha Stewart website. It was not the easiest pattern download to figure out, but I finally puzzled it together. Since I wasn't doing a reversible sunhat, I didn't follow their directions exactly. I tried a few different modifications to the pattern, and decided that cutting the brim down by 1" suited the cotton jersey fabric weight best for me. I also cut the pattern down for a 1/4" seam allowance instead of their 1/2" seam allowance.

I made a few different versions using scrap fabric and old t-shirts.  I found that some type of interfacing is absolutely necessary, unless you want the brim to fall onto the face, thus making the wearer resemble Cousin It. I sampled four different interfacings. At first I tried pennant felt. It was way too heavy and stiff. The second was a double-sided, fusible, midweight interfacing by fast 2 fuse. It was very convenient, would work in a pinch, but a little too stiff for what I wanted. I may eventually try the lightweight version. Then I tried two single-sided fusible interfacings by pellon, Craft-Fuse style #808 and 809 Decor Bond. I liked them both, with a slight preference for the first, #808. It has the body I want, but is a smidge less stiff. Follow the directions on whichever interfacing you choose. I suggest ironing the interfacing onto a non-painted layer (the under layer) of the brim, or else protecting your iron and/or ironing board as some paints may come off during the ironing/fusing process.

The hat pattern is large and generous. It's very flattering on, but if there's any wind, it may sail off your head and bound on down the road. I stitched a casing around the crown, and made a pull to create a drawstring. It can be cinched down on a breezy day or left loose for more airflow and comfort on a still day. It's a functional feature, and it looks pretty cute! The casing is 1 1/4" wide, cut across the grain.

I wanted to leave the edges raw, but noticed that the interfacing is visible between the two layers of the brim, even if the interfacing is cut a little smaller (about 1/4") than the actual brim. I whipstitched the edges on the blue embellished hat, and that worked just fine. I'm going to experiment a little more and try cutting the interfacing even smaller (about 1/3") and see if that helps, as I like the look of the raw edges.

Once you get a working pattern, the hat works up very quickly. I hope you can stitch up a new summer sunhat for yourself or a friend this summer. If she were still with us, I know my Little Grandma would approve.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summery Tee ~

I've been saving a yard of this gorgeous, hand-dyed madder fabric for just the right project. When I put together this combination, I knew I had found it. This is also a great example of something you can make at my two-day hand stitching workshop in Gig Harbor, Washington with Bellissima Art Escapes in August. We'll be going over everything ~ cutting, stenciling, and stitching ~ step by step, so really, you REALLY can make it!

This is the fitted t-shirt pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book, by Natalie Chanin. I like to make this shirt a size larger than normal, because I don't like things too clingy. The top layer of fabric is natural and the bottom layer is a hand-dyed madder. Coral or persimmon might be good substitutes if the madder isn't available.

I used DMC variegated floss #4130, Chilean sunset, to backstitch around the new leaves stenciled areas; and Coats & Clarks button craft thread in dogwood for the construction. If this project is one of your first projects, I might suggest using the running stitch instead of the backstitch. The backstitch takes three times as long as the running stitch. This shirt is worked in the negative reverse applique technique, so most of the top layer is cut away.

This is a panel before I cut away most of the top layer.

Here are a couple before and after shots of cutting the top layer away.

I wanted a little more cream in the overall design, so I stitched some Alabama eyelets and French knots into the madder background. I snipped around the added embroidered "flowers".

I experimented and appliqued a few small cut circles of natural colored fabric. I knew the cut edges would curl up when I washed it. I'm on the fence about the results. What do you think? Here's a close up after washing.

Here's a few ways I'll wear my new tee in summer and into autumn. 

Here I've paired the shirt with a single layered, unembellished fitted tank dress.

The dress is among the first garments I had made and is one of my go-to pieces. It's so comfortable and cool in the summertime.

What will you be doing to keep cool this summer?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Makers' Mercantile~

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always sent up little "prayers" of gratitude, every night as I would go to bed and randomly throughout the day. Here is my rather lengthy, not-so-little prayer of gratitude. I do apologize for its rambling nature, as I had a six hour drive home, and plenty of time to reflect with gratitude!

"Hello, thank you for the most amazing weekend.* Rhonda and I have been emailing, texting, and chatting on the phone, planning for our Alabama Chanin class up in Kent, Washington at Makers' Mercantile. She has been a breeze and a delight to work with,* so I should have known everything would go well, but all was beyond what I had even hoped for.*
From the moment I stepped into Makers' Mercantile, I could feel the warm, welcoming, artistic vibe.* Big open spaces, cozy nooks and crannies filled with inviting clusters of sofas and chairs, long and short tables for larger and more intimate gatherings of creatives. My eyes wandered around, resting on gorgeous yarns, fine samples swatched-up.* Immediately I was drawn to touch them.

I was greeted by Kim. What an engaging smile!* She went off to find Rhonda as I wandered the store.* Clean, thoughtfully arranged, uncluttered, yet an abundance of beautiful materials*. Just as I was about to fall down the rabbit hole of yarny goodness, color and texture, Rhonda rounded the corner with open arms and the most gracious welcome.* We immediately clicked.* She and all the crew are energetic, enthusiastic, authentic.*

Rhonda beamed as she showed me around the store; her passion for her products bubbling over.* From the most scrumptious yarns, lovely fabrics, including Alabama Chanin 100% organic cotton jersey, to the tiny, wooden, hand-carved woodland creature buttons, every item in the store is carefully curated, chosen for its high quality, beauty, uniqueness, usefulness.* Yes, this is my kind of store.*

We swiftly unpacked my car and set up the class rooms.* We had a sold out crowd, and I wanted everything to be perfect. Rhonda seemed to know what I needed even before I knew I needed it ~ Extra hands unloading?* Refreshing Italian pomegranate soda without the cream after a long drive?* More tables?* Name tags?* Garment rack?* She thought of everything, ironing out a myriad of details, smoothing the way for me*.

Meeting the witty Rachael and Katie was a hoot. Rachael works at Skacel Headquarters, and Katie is their web guru. She designed a sweater that could be worn on every "woman" for their Magalog, a magazine-catalog. Its fresh format, beautiful photography, and assortment of projects make it a must read.*

I'm always rather nervous the night before a class, but Rhonda's calm demeanor and capable manner was so reassuring, I even slept some that night!*

Rhonda mentioned she had the best customers in the world. As the students arrived, fellow Alabama Chanin enthusiasts, fiber artists, botanical dying artist, corporate smarty pants, knitters, sewers, true beginners, I could see she was correct.* All were overflowing with excitement, eager to learn, beaming with smiles.* There was convivial chatter, a peppering of pertinent questions, quiet processing, an abundance of "ah-ha" moments, and thoughtful sharing throughout the day.*

The class was flying by, yet we needed to stop for lunch. I quickly organized for the second half of the day, and went to get a bite to eat. Rylie Cakes shares a bright and gleaming corner space in Makers' Mercantile, part French bistro, part friendly neighborhood hang-out cafe.* Her wonderfully artistic wedding cakes are on display, as well as daily delights, such as macaroons, cookies, short breads, tiny cakes, pastries, salads, savories, galettes and quiches. I chose the quiche, and I can say it is the best quiche I have ever eaten in my life, so tasty, filled with fresh veggies, and the crust.... oh, that crust was divine!* Rylie has a gift indeed.* You wouldn't know it for tasting it, but every single item is gluten free...Yes, gluten free.*

The second half of the day was speeding by even faster than the first. I would have liked to have stayed all evening, but we needed to finish up. Tired but satisfied eyes looked back at me, as there were hand shakes and hugs, cards and emails exchanged as new friendships were formed around the room.* I feel confident everyone went away with a deeper understanding and all the tools necessary to successfully begin their own journeys in hand stitching in the Alabama Chanin Way.*

Rhonda, operations manager Betsey, and I went out to a very yummy Indian dinner.* Our visions, suggestions from students, requests from customers, ideas were bouncing around like ping pong balls. I feel we are kindred spirits, having been brought together.* We have plans to make, and I know I'll soon be returning to their lovely establishment.*

Sunday was a drop-in sewing meet-up, where those who liked could bring any questions, a sewing project, or just browse the many samples and hand stitched items I had on display. It was a great way to tie up any loose ends and spend a little one-on-one time with those who wanted more information.* I was so pleased to see one of my previous students walk through the door!* She was wearing her own wonderful hand embellished t-shirt.*

All too soon it was time to pack up. Again, Rhonda was there to assist.* I had to visit Rylie for one last sampling ~ savory cherry tomato and goat cheese gallette, sea salt butterscotch cookie, and a hand-sized fruit pie for later (um...I confess, it didn't make it home). All was beyond delicious.*

Long, yet easy drive home; lots of time to reflect and be thankful. Each *asterisks represents a heartfelt thank you.

Until next time....*"

Thursday, May 19, 2016

High Fiber Arts Symposium and  Hand Stitching class ~

Scalehouse, a non-profit in Bend, put on a sensational event this past weekend, the High Fiber Arts Symposium. What a wonderful gathering of pioneers and general enthusiasts of the fiber type.

Jeanne Carver was the keynote speaker, kicking off the whole affair. Boy, is she an inspiration. This stunning, cowboy boot wearing, flowing blonde maned beauty is hard working, forward thinking, a steward of the land and the environment. Jeanne and her husband Dan own the Imperial Stock Ranch. Her mantra was "food, clothing, shelter". She spoke about basic needs and elevating them higher with an artistic viewpoint. The feats she accomplished, including bringing salmon back to her farm, starting over from ground zero after NAFTA, utilizing castoff pelts, just to name a few, are mind boggling. If you ever have a chance to meet her or hear her speak or read her story, I would highly recommend doing so. Pivotal to say the least.

She is committed to her animals, the land she works, and the craftsmen she collaborates with. Those makers include everything from the local artisan women to Ralph Lauren and Ethan Allen, private labels, and others. Her "Farm to Fashion"wool products are breath-taking.  Slow fashion at its finest.

Jeanne was just the tip of the iceberg. After she finished up, there was a round table discussion and a number of artist/maker vendors. Saturday included about a dozen hands-on fiber and art classes. One of those classes was taught by yours truly. We hand stitched tea towels, using the reverse applique technique. Elizabeth over at Gossamer was so kind, hosting our class at her beautiful shop. It was very exciting being in a room filled with so many local fiber enthusiasts. We all learned, and laughed, and stitched our way through the morning.

Saturday afternoon I was fortunate enough to take a class with Marie Bay, photographer extraordinaire. I came away with a number of hints and ideas about photography and the internet and branding. I'm sure you'll see evidence of some of them in the coming months on my blog.

Saturday evening was a reception, then the fabulous runway fashion show finale. I felt honored to share a couple outfits I had made in the show.

I do not commit lightly. I cherish my untetherdness, but I will become involved. Bringing makers together, in a sustainable, conscientious way is what I've been all about, what I'm passionate about, hence ....Gather and Make.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

New two-day workshop ~

I am thrilled to announce I'll be teaching a two-day workshop in Gig Harbor, Washington August 13th and 14th with Kathie Vezzani. Kathie, Bellissima Art Escapes, hosts classes and workshops all around the world, and has been doing so for many years. Kathie creates a wonderful atmosphere, serves up fresh, delicious food, and knows how to bring everything together just right to provide a truly memorable experience for all.

Have you ever wanted to create your own beautiful, flattering, comfortable clothing?

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

Join me in this exciting two-day workshop as you cut, stencil and hand stitch your very own Alabama Chanin inspired garment from scratch. Using your Alabama Chanin master pattern and Pellon, you will make your sized pattern, then cut your garment from Alabama Chanin’s most wonderful organic cotton jersey fabric.

Next we’ll have fun with spray paint as you stencil your garment and a small sewing sampler with fabric paint.

The second day you’ll practice hand stitches and techniques on your sewing sampler, then progress to stitching your garment.

During this two-day workshop we’ll talk about tips and hints for a smooth sewing experience. You’ll learn about cutting fabric, stenciling, stitches, techniques, and construction. You will not have a completed project at the end of the workshop, but you will have gained key hands-on experience to complete this and other beautiful, heirloom hand stitched projects.

You may choose from these projects:

From the Alabama Stitch Book - corset, shawl, swing skirt
From  Alabama Studio Style - camisole top, tank top
From Alabama Studio Sewing and Design - T-shirt top (sleeveless, cap, short sleeved), bolero,fitted top, fitted tunic, short fitted skirt, mid-length fitted skirt

All books are by Natalie Chanin, and available at  or

Once you are registered with Kathie, contact me by July 25th with your project and color choices. I’m here to help you with any and all questions you may have. Please email me

The only thing you need to bring with you to class is your Alabama Chanin paper pattern with corresponding book and fabric scissors. I will have a couple pair of fabric scissors to share if you happen to be flying in and cannot bring them on the airplane. I will supply everything else, including Pellon (2 yards), Alabama Chanin organic mid-weight fabric (2 yards), foldover elastic (if applicable), 4 spools of thread, fabric for your sewing sampler. During class you will also have the use of:  Clover chalk, spray fabric paint, assorted stencils, spray adhesive, paper, rags, pins, healing mats, rotary cutters, rulers, assorted scissors, needles, etc.

Kathie will be working her magic in the kitchen and cooking up tantalizing meals for us, two lunches and a dinner, during our workshop.

Please contact Kathie Vessani at Bellissima Art Escapes for complete details.

I hope you can join us for this inspiring, technique-packed two-day workshop where you'll meet new friends, enjoy scrumptious food, all while learning how to create your own beautiful Alabama Chanin styled clothing.