The story behind … Penguin by Hand

An amazing collaboration between quilting and bookmaking.

Source: The story behind… Penguin by Hand.

RTW vs. me-made

Now I can raise my arms without exposing my belly!

Quick and easy peasant blouse

I recently finished a quick and easy peasant blouse out of cotton lawn, No. 2 on my summer top sewing list.

View C.

The pattern promises “easy,” and it really was. I made View C.

I made a muslin (from an old sheet) primarily so I’d know where the bust point was (important for fitting) and to check the overall length. The only changes I ended up making were a full-bust adjustment with the new French darts I tried on the last project (still love them), and to lengthen the bodice and the sleeves an inch each.

The whole project, from muslin to final, took only two weeks, with the sewing of the fashion fabric taking only two days!

(I had high hopes of sewing up the fashion fabric in one day, but alas, I’m just not built for that level of concentration.)

New Look 6179 Front

New Look 6179. It’s difficult to tell here, but the sleeves have quarter-inch elastic in the hems.

The neckline is quarter-inch elastic in a casing, with skinny ties attached to the end of the elastic. The elastic comes nearly all the way to the keyhole front and the fabric ties are plenty long enough, so I think I’ll cut the elastic 4 inches shorter than the guide for the next go around.

New Look 6197 detail

In this closeup of New Look 6197, you can see the keyhole detail and the ties.

This blouse is actually a direct replacement for a very similar knit top that I have. But that originally OK-fitting top has shrunk and shrunk and shrunk in the wash so much that now it’s a crop top!

A HUGE benefit of sewing is making clothes that fit my full bust (without excess fabric at the waist or the hemline rising up in the front) and is long enough.

I’m so pleased with how this classic style turned out, that next up I’ll be making another one from ivory eyelet, bought during the same trip to Fabric Outlet in San Francisco as the cotton lawn.

And since the pattern is already fitted, I can make another in about the same amount of time it would take to find a ready-to-wear version that kind of fits.

Maybe I’ll be sick of the pattern after that, but I’d really like a third version in chambray blue with three-quarter sleeves.

For you sewing enthusiasts, how many times in a row can you make a pattern before you’re tired of it and want to make something different?

Sewing and the State Fair

I love going to the California State Fair, that annual celebration of the Golden State with an emphasis on its agricultural industry. I’m not sure how many people outside our state realize that warm beaches are but a fraction of what we have to offer. Agriculture is an important part of our economy. In fact, if you live in the United States, you’ve probably eaten some produce from our state.

The California State Fair and Exposition.

The California Exposition & State Fair.

I live in Sacramento County, where we’re lucky enough to have the State Fair in our backyard. I go chiefly to see the award-winning sewing projects from people of all ages, but there’s plenty of other things to do as well.

While the fair has a wide variety of attractions (concerts, carnival rides, weird stuff for sale), I prefer the old-fashioned features, such as the Counties Exhibit, which provides each county the opportunity to show its best attributes.

The agricultural abundance of the state was a theme in the county exhibits.

The agricultural abundance of the state is on view throughout the Counties Exhibits area.

Sacramento County in particularly brands itself as the Farm to Fork Capital. It's a legitimate claim. So much good food is grown in our region that frankly it's a delicious place to live.

Sacramento County in particular brands itself as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. So much good food is grown in our region that frankly it’s a delicious place to live. We have a year-round farmer’s market in my town that has wonderful produce even in winter.

The Old West (in the form of a display showcasing Bodie, a ghost town in Mono County) is on display.

Mono County chose to focus its exhibit on Bodie State Historic Park. I’ve never been to this gold-mining ghost town, but this display makes me want to visit.

On the way to the sewing exhibits, I came across some unusual characters that are another slice of life in California.

Other aspects of California culture are on display at the fair as well.

Random Chinese dragon sighting.

I'm not sure who these folks are or where they were heading, but they saw my camera and stopped to pose.

I’m not sure where these stilt walkers were heading, but they know to strike a pose when they see a camera.

The California Crafts exhibit is my main interest. It showcases the sewing goodness that I came to see:

Fantastic quilt. The red quilt stitches really enhance this beautiful quilt.

Such as this gorgeous quilt. The red quilt stitches really enhance this project. (I couldn’t get close enough to read the quilter’s name. They need to make those signs bigger! If you know it, please share so I can credit the work.)

I believe this is Grandmas' Endless Love by Gina Heon. I have always been fascinated by double wedding ring quilts. The geometry of the pieces is crazy.

The geometry of double wedding ring quilts fascinates me. I believe this is “Grandma’s Endless Love” by Gina Heon.

There weren’t nearly as many garments on display as in years past, but this one caught my eye:

These are some very long ties!

This upcycle fashion project is “Neck Ties All Around,” by Mary Boyer.

And the next generation of sewing enthusiasts was well represented:

These impressive garments are by Dustin Gerringer (10-12 age group, three-piece Western outfit) and Ashley Olson (16-18 age group, Wool Coat and Dress).

These impressive garments are by Dustin Geringer (10-12 age group, three-piece Western outfit) and Ashley Olson (16-18 age group, Wool Coat and Dress).

As part of showcasing the agriculture of California, the fair includes a three-acre farm area that this year also features drought-tolerant decorative plants and information on saving water.

A visit to the farm area is at least good for some shade.

The farm area has some nice shady spots.

There's a small farm at Cal Expo, which is where the fair is held. California has a variety of grape growing regions.

California’s grape-growing industry is represented.

Apparently, kiwis are grown here as well. I didn't know that.

Apparently, kiwifruit are grown here as well. I had no idea.


But the "Old West" is not extinct. There's always a blacksmith at the fair, showing off his craft. Here are sample horseshoes. This, too, is California.

There’s always a booth at the farm where a blacksmith shows off his craft. Here are sample horseshoes. The Old West is not quite extinct.

Baby animals are always a big draw at the fair. There has been controversy about having pregnant animals give birth at the fair (in the middle of a crowd is not the most comfortable place to deliver), but the fair has worked to improve conditions.

It wouldn’t be a state fair without animals. There has been controversy about having pregnant animals give birth at the fair (in the middle of a crowd is not the most comfortable place to deliver), but the fair has addresses some of the concerns and improved conditions.

And you can’t go to the fair without eating fair food. And “fair food” really means fried food. There are healthful options, but really? You can eat a salad any day, but how often can you eat funnel cake?


I have to admit that as I head toward my 50s, my fried food game is not what it once was. I couldn’t eat even half of that funnel cake.

Maybe next year.


California State Fair

The California State Fair showcases much more of the state than can be shown here. There’s still time to attend. The 2015 fair runs through Sunday, July 26. More information is available at


%d bloggers like this: