Katy & Laney

Liebster Award

Nicoline of The Reckless Needle has nominated us for the Liebster Award! We’re so excited about making a new sewing friend across the pond. Thank you, Nicoline.

Liebster Award Photo 2

Without further ado, here are our answers to Nicoline’s questions:

1. How long have you been stitching?

Katy: My love affair with sewing began in high school when I wanted a new purse. I found some of my mom’s fabric stashed in the basement and decided to make a tote. How hard could it be to make a tote, just a combination of squares right (I was truly cavalier in my sewing back then)? I don’t remember much about that project, but I must have been pleased with the result because I found myself at Joann’s a couple weeks later looking for more fabric. When I stumbled upon the pattern section and realized they had step by step instructions on how to sew clothes it was all over, I haven’t stopped sewing since.

Laney: I have been sewing for over 15 years now. I began sewing in middle school when I was inspired to alter some of my grandmother’s vintage clothing to fit and make new things from some of her funky vintage fabrics.

2. Where did you learn to sew?

Katy: I’m basically self-taught. You can learn a surprising amount from pattern instructions especially if you aren’t afraid to use a seam ripper. I have taken a couple of classes along the way many of which were at G street fabrics (I miss you G street!) while I was living in DC.

Laney: I am primarily self-taught as well. It was a process of trial and error (there was a lot of error at the start). I started with altering items so I got an idea of how they were put together, and then I started drafting very basic patterns and did some on-body self-draping at times. I learned to sew ‘properly’ while working as a seamstress for a costume shop while in college – I learned the formal names for the stitches and techniques and how to do a wide variety of couture-type finishes and embellishments.

3. Why do you sew?

Katy: I guess I sew simply because I love everything about it; self-expression, creativity, making something with your hands, the list goes on and on for me.

Laney: I sew for many of the same reasons Katy does – to design and create unique items; to challenge myself to learn and perfect new techniques; and to recycle/re-invent vintage items.

4. Which blogger has had the biggest impact on you?

Katy: The Man Repeller, I love Leandra’s philosophy on dressing which she captures perfectly in her definition of a man repeller,

“man·re·pell·er1 [mahn-ree-peller]


outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include but are not limited to harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls (see: human repelling), shoulder pads, full length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs.

–verb (used without object),-pell·ing, -pell·ed.

to commit the act of repelling men:

Girl 1: What are you wearing tonight?

Girl 2: My sweet lime green drop crotch utility pants, of course.

Girl 1: Oh, so we’re man repelling tonight?”

Laney: Rhiannon of Liebemarlene. I came across her blog while in law school and I saw so much of my personal style in her outfit posts. It was great to see how someone else mixed vintage items into their wardrobe to look modern and not costume-y.

5. What is the thing you have made you are most proud of?

Katy: A while back before I started blogging I made lace from a floral cotton, well I better just show you.

floral lace yoke

This dress is made from a very simple pattern, McCalls 5586 , but I am proud of the lace yoke. I cut each flower out individually from a quilting cotton and sewed them back together.  Unfortunately, these pictures don’t capture the negative space between the flowers well since I am wearing a slip. I can’t remember what inspired this fabric manipulation, but I’m guessing the idea came to me in the shower (my personal think tank). It seems to be a talent of mine to take something simple and make it EXTREMELY complicated.

Laney: A floral maxi dress made of cotton lawn. It wasn’t a terribly complicated design, but I included piping and I am really pleased with the fit.


6. How do you balance the rest of your life with sewing?

Katy: Balance? Who said anything about balance? Dirty little secret, I was up until 3am on Friday finishing my striped Charlotte skirt. Actually I had to wake up at 8am the following Saturday to finish the hem just in time to make my coffee/glamour shot date with Laney. I hope there is such a thing as balance, but I’ve yet to run into it.

Laney: I have the great fortune of working part-time at a fabric shop so when I am not teaching lessons or completing shop-related tasks I am free to sew my own projects. I also try to attend Wednesday night sewing club at the shop as often as I can – it tends to be more wine sipping and socializing than sewing, but is still very important to keep motivated and inspired by what others are doing. Don’t get me wrong, I do have late-night frantic sewing sessions when I have something I want to finish for a particular occasion, and have even finished hand-sewing hems while wearing a garment on the way to an event. I am trying to be better about planning ahead and estimating the amount of time finishing work takes, like sewing on buttons or hand-tacking hems.

7.  What piece of advice would you give to a novice stitcher?

Katy: God gave us the gift of seam rippers so jump in and start sewing! Experience is the best teacher.

Laney: Work with a pattern or fabric you really love so you will stay motivated to see the project through to completion. Yes, this may mean reaching for an intermediate pattern or cutting into a more expensive fabric! It’s too easy to get stuck part-way through, lose interest, and walk away. But, if you can really see yourself loving the final product then you will want to push yourself to work through the tricky bits.

8. What sewing skill eludes you that you would like to perfect?

Katy: I would love to learn more about jacket tailoring. I’ve tried my hand at a couple, but I really don’t know anything about shoulder pads and underlinings.

Laney: Narrow rolled hems in delicate fabrics.

9.  Why do you blog?

Katy: Laney and I hoped that blogging would help us to meet more people who love to sew. It also has the added bonus of encouraging me to finish projects that I might get frustrated with and throw to the side. The blog has also helped me to set deadlines for my projects , although these are really just goals.

Laney: As Katy mentioned, we started so we could share our sewing experiences with more people, and join the online discussions about trying new patterns, materials, and techniques. Now that we started, I love it – It helps me stay focused on one or two projects at a time, set goals for myself, and have fun styling and modeling the finished garments.

10. Where do you look for inspiration?

Katy: Style.com, other blogs, my sisters’ closets, people in the elevator (I think I may come off as a little creepy in everyday life since I am always staring at the seams and hems of strangers’ clothing).

Laney: I am usually inspired by a fabric first and then build a design around that, but I also look at vintage garments on Etsy and modern styling on street style sites like The Sartorialist.

11.Tell me something about yourself that people would be surprised to know!

Katy: I used to be a cowgirl. In high school I owned a palomino horse named Simba which I showed all over the west coast. The other competitors use to call me Barbie since I had long blonde hair at the time and Simba bore an eerie resemblance to Barbie’s horse tawny.

Laney: I used to work in a shipyard. I was interning as an environmental engineer so I wasn’t welding or anything, but I did have to don a hard-hat, protective goggles, and steel toed boots on occasion.

Now it’s our turn to nominate bwa ha ha!

Laney and I would like to nominate three blogs by fabulous sewists in the boston area: Grey’s Fabric and Notions, 15 Strawberry lane, and Sew Wrong.

Ladies, here are our questions for you:

1. When did you start sewing?

2. Why do you sew?

3. Which blogger has had the greatest impact on you?

4. If you were a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character, which one would you be?

5. What is the item you’ve made that you are most proud of?

6. Why do you blog?

7. Where do you look for inspiration?

8. What is your favorite sewing pattern?

9. Who is your favorite designer / which celebrity would you most want to dress like?

10. Have you ever had an embarrassing moment resulting from a sewing project wardrobe malfunction?

We couldn’t resist answering this one for ourselves…

Katy: Back when I was a junior in high school I constructed the most wicked hot pink capri pants this world has ever know. I was so pleased with myself for constructing pants that I forgot to tie off my needle after hand stitching the waist band. The next day bored in pre-calculus I looked down at my lap to realized I had a needle and thread hanging from my hip. I don’t know if I would be quite as mortified now, but everything is the end of the world in high school, especially when the senior class heart throb is seated next to you. I spent the entire period trying to subtly rip the off the thread and needle without attracting attention. Why I though removing a thread and needle would be incident that would attract attention while wearing HOT pink pants we’ll never know. Thank goodness I didn’t get impaled down there, that would have been literally scarring. 

Laney: In high school I was wearing a wrap skirt I had made which had snap closures at the waist, and when I got up from the table in the cafeteria during lunch the snaps gave and my skirt fell down! Fortunately, if anyone did notice, they didn’t say anything, saving me from further humiliation. 

11.Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to know!