Category Archives: Your Tip for Tuesday

Your Tip for Tuesday – Go To This Show!!

Just wanted to let all the Portland and surrounding area locals know about a great little show coming up. It’s called “one stitch forward, one stitch back”,  and is being held at Redux (811 east Burnside #110 Portland, OR) running from April 2 until May 2. Opening reception is on this Friday night 6pm-10pm.

Here’s the info that curator Pamela Davis sent me about the show –

The domestic arts have a long history of resourcefulness often salvaging and reclaiming materials, turning scraps into treasures for future generations. The 24 artists showcased here will take needlecraft back to those roots incorporating repurposed materials while adding a contemporary twist to the art.

And here’s a list of the participating artists –

Emily Rose BaierBerkley Illustration, Diem Chau, Pamela DavisJessica FridayKate GreinerRachel Hunnicutt,  Iron Pony, Tracy JagerEmily KatzCarla MadrigalAndrea MajotJohnny Murder, Beth Murphy, Penny Nickels, Lucy PetersonCathy PittersKristen RaskKristen RuppT.J. Sabatini, Charlotte Schwennsen, Cindy SteilerBecky Stern

I really hope to see you guys there. Heck! I really hope I can find the time/sitter so I can BE seen there. Ha!

Your Tip for Tuesday: Lee Merideth

I’m so excited to have Lee Merideth of do stuff! and leethal fame here to talk to us about which thrift store items she recommends upcycling into craft materials. She also drops a LOT of awesome project ideas and tutorials our way. Thanks so much, Lee!



I have a huge stash of assorted thrifted things in my craft studio, since I try to use recycled materials in my crafting whenever possible, and usually when inspiration strikes I want to get started right away! Having these piles of recycled fabrics and other materials right there not only means I rarely have to make a trip to the craft store when I want to start a new project, but it also tends to bring something special to the project – by limiting myself to using these thrifted items I have on hand, my creations often become something they never would have had I shopped for project-specific materials at the fabric store instead. Some things I like to stock up on at thrift stores:

-Sweaters! This is my number one category of craft stash – I unravel sweaters to recycle the yarn, I felt wool sweaters to use the felt, and I convert cotton (or otherwise non-felted) sweaters into new clothes or other projects. I choose my sweaters based on fiber content (essential when looking to felt, important for unraveling too, especially if planning to dye), color, feel, etc, depending on my plans for each one.


-T-shirts! My favorite material for sewing projects, t-shirt fabric is soft and versatile. I use tees in all kinds of projects, from huge t-shirt quilts (well I’ve only made one of those, but it’s awesome!), to clothes like skirts/shirts/dresses, to small projects like headbands and cuffs, or tee scraps as applique. I choose my thrift buys based on color, image, softness, and size (but often the color and image are great enough that size doesn’t matter, I’ll find something to use it for).

-Sheets! This includes both full size bed sheets and pillowcases – there are so many things you can use sheet fabric for, if you see a pattern or color that grabs your eye, get it! You can use full sheets and pillowcases both for big-ish projects like skirts, bags, etc (I even did a roundup of tons of different pillowcase projects) and I love to have them around for smaller uses, like patches, applique, or other embellishments. When choosing sheets to buy, just pick the fabrics you love!

-Clothes! Other clothes besides tees and sweaters can be great for fabric also, like sweatshirts, jeans, pants, skirts, tops, and shirts. I only buy these when the fabric is great, or if I have a specific project in mind and I know what I need. I like having several sweatshirts and jeans on hand though, as these can be great fabrics to work with.

-Ties! Neck ties are a fantastic craft supply, as you can see in the roundup of tie projects I did awhile back, so I always grab cheap ones in good patterns when I find them. Several can be combined into a big project, or if you find one you really love you can make it into something special – I love using leftover bits for little appliques!

-Books! I absolutely love the imagery in a lot of old science books from the 60’s and 70’s, as well as some old cookbooks, and of course there are the craft books! I’m sure to have some of these on hand for whenever I need some good imagery – I use them on cards, for CD sleeves, in decoupage projects… I’m not a big paper crafter, but it’s often useful to have my book stash!


-Jewelry! My favorite kind of beads are recycled beads, so I always take a peek at the jewelry section to see if there are any cool looking beads on bracelets or necklaces that I can take apart. I don’t do tons of beadwork, but I do make myself earrings for fun, and I make beaded stitch markers for knitting, so I love having a stash of recycled beads for when the mood hits me.

-Craft Supplies! Have to include this – not all thrift stores have a decent selection, but sometimes I’ll come across bags of buttons, yarn, thread… and if you’re into vintage sewing patterns, those are super common! So always take a look and grab what you think you’d want to use in future projects!


Need more Lee? Show your support and check out her handspun yarn, cuff patterns, and cuff kits before you run off to empty your local thrift shop and start crafting like crazy.

Your Tip for Tuesday: Diane Gilleland

In her upcoming book, Kanzashi in Bloom: 20 Simple Fold and Sew Projects to Wear and Give (available for pre-order now!), Diane Gilleland demystifies an ancient Japanese art form into projects even a beginning crafter can relate to. Through her blog CraftyPod and her numerous pod casts on everything from All About Glue to Crafting as Spirituality, Diane guides us in all things craft. She is a beacon to Portland crafters with her DIY Alerts website and her tutorials in Craft Magazine and Craftstylish have been aide and inspiration to the entire online crafting community. Today, lucky readers, Sister Diane has been kind enough to share her top sewing tips and advice with us.

– Sewing is full of little steps that may not seem to relate to the finished project: measuring out the straight of grain, pressing your seams, clipping the seam allowances at corners. But don’t skip them! All these tiny techniques make a huge difference in the quality of the finished project.

Start with small, simple projects, and work your way up to garments. When you make clothing, you’ll need to pay lots of attention to fit (see the next tip) – so it’s a good idea to be comfortable with the basics of sewing seams and pressing first. Tote bags are great beginner projects, as are pillows.
When you work your way up to garment sewing, try your project on frequently during the process. With most garment projects, you’ll need to make little adjustments in the fit – taking in a seam here, letting a seam out there. You want to find and make these adjustments as early in the process as possible. Nothing’s sadder than finishing a whole garment, trying it on, and THEN finding out that it doesn’t fit right!

Thank you so much for the advice, Diane! Those are tips everyone can use.

Your Tip for Tuesday

Over 450 of you commented on my May Giveaway Day Beginning Sewing post. You guys rock! It was great reading about your first sewing projects: the skirt sewn on backwards, the funky 80’s culottes, the crooked tote bags. A lot of you have only been sewing a short while, perhaps putting the knitting needles and hot glue guns down to try a new craft or simply wanting to sew clothes for your precious little ones. It started me wondering what advice I could share…Once I realized that my top 10 sewing tips really amounted to 1. The iron is your friend, I wised up and called in the big guns!

Fellow Portlander, Amy Karol is the author of Bend the Rules Sewing and the soon to be released Bend the Rules with Fabric. She is also the well-loved blogger of Angry Chicken. (Pretty much if you have a craft blog, Angry Chicken is on your blogroll and if you have a craft library, Bend the Rules Sewing is on your shelf. If its not it should be!) I introduced myself and The Handmade Experiment and asked for her help.

Amy was really encouraging and with some email “big hugs” she passed on this top sewing tip…

“My #1 advice is don’t make it up as you go. I think so many new sewers don’t want to fail, so they don’t use patterns because they are afraid they won’t do it right, so they avoid them. This can lead to so much frustration. Patterns and books are tools to help (of course I’m going to say this because I have written 2 sewing books) but learning enough to be comfortable is key. That’s when it’s fun, after you take the time to learn the basics. Sewing has been around for so long, there is no reason anyone should try to reinvent the wheel. All the answers are out there if you look and ask.”

Thanks Amy! Words to live by people. 🙂