Pattern Makers Fashion Show

IPCA Fashion

IPCA Fashion

IPCA Fashion Show

IPCA Fashion Show

Last Saturday I had a unique experiencee. I grabbed my friend Carol, who is a sewing newbie, and headed for the Rio Hotel for the first ever ICPA Fashion Show. Who is the ICPA ? I didn’t know either, but soon found out.

About ten years ago they started surfacing, they wanted to design by their own inner voice, express a style that was not always for the masses, and they weren’t interested in the approval of the big four, McCalls , Vogue, Butterick and Simplicity. They were the independent pattern designers. 

With easy access  to the internet, getting the word out was much more obtainable and cost effective than ever before. So these creative mavericks produced unique sewing patterns for all to enjoy.  There was just one problem… customers didn’t always get what they expected and designers weren’t always sure what they expected so-

The Independent Pattern Company Alliance was formed. Being a member meant your patterns are:

  • Professionally drafted
  • Professionally graded for multiple sizes
  • Have comprehensive, illustrated instructions

In other words they created a standard for the independent designer. Some of brands that had interesting point of views were Saf-T- Pockets , a line for the traveler, most pieces having hidden pockets to stash your cash. Another was Islander, with a great assortment of mens clothes. Have you looked for a men’s pattern in the big four lately?,very scarce, and there’s more men sewing now too!

The fashion show was lots of fun, especially when they had a competitive segment with a  shipwrecked theme.

Shipwrecked 1 IPCA

Shipwrecked from IPCA Facebook page

My Favorite Toy Stuffing Tool

My giant box of stuffing

My giant box of stuffing

What to do with a 10 pound box of stuffing? Stuff a lot of toys.

It got tiring, running  to the store, every time I came up one fistful of stuffing short. I decided to get the biggest box of stuffing available. I’ve already stuffed 12 dolls from this box and it keeps on growing, kind of like bread dough.

You’re probably familiar with the lowly tool that comes in every bag of stuffing, see below -

Free stuffing tool

Free stuffing tool

A cross between a knitting needle and a chop stick, and yes sometimes it’s bent even before you use it. The problem with this tool is there isn’t enough purchase between the stuffing and tool for it to really grab onto the stuffing in order to push it into the crevices of your toy,  see below -

Free tool poking through stuffing

Free tool poking through stuffing

I used a plastic bag with stuffing in order to see what really happens when this tool is pushing the stuffing. And if you’re having a really bad day you might just poke a hole in the project!

One day I began shuffling through drawers thinking, there must be something better. Than I saw it, a paint brush left over from my old paint supplies, one I must have used a lot because it was worn to a virtual nub.

My favorite stuffing tool

My favorite stuffing tool

This is a Robert Simmons brush. It’s made of badger hair but hog bristol would also work well. The important thing is that the hair is somewhat stiff. You could buy a stippling brush or make your own by “trimming” an old brush you already have. A  smooth handle works well because it slides through fabric without catching or snagging.

My favorite stuffing tool at work

My favorite stuffing tool at work

The photo above illustrates the pushing power of  this tool.  All you can see is the handle, it forces the stuffing right up to the edge, and it can’t poke a hole through your fabric. Find an old brush and give it a try.

Especially good for stuffing cowgirl hats!my favorite stuffing tool used on these dolls

Zumanity Backstage Tour

backstage pass to Zumanity

Zumanity at New York NY HotelWhat an informative and inspirational afternoon I had last Thursday, thanks to the Las Vegas branch of the American Sewing Guild and the Zumanity show at the New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas.

Zumanity, from the creators of Cirque du Soleil, is an adult oriented production show with wild and wonderful sets and costumes. Getting a chance to see some of these up close and personal was a fabulous treat.

Barb at Zumanity

Barb Nolen

This is Barb Nolan, our guide and Wardrobe Dresser extraordinaire. She is explaining how these plastic boned corsets will cinch up the waist of an already svelte performer 4″ to 6″. Barb has been working with the show ten years, and we really appreciated her spending nearly three hours with us on her day off.

The small space behind Barb is actually about one-third of the space where 24 wardrobe specialist ply their craft, giving togetherness a whole new meaning.

Lesley, Zumanity

Lesley Barrett

To the left is Assistant Head of Wardrobe, Lesley Barrett. Lesley has a degree in Fine Arts and Costume Design. We found her among a jumble of beads and rhinestones attached to a black mesh body suit, meticulously inspecting it for any imperfections to repair.


I never realized how much went on in the wardrobe area of a production show:

  • 45 minutes of hand washing special costumes, every night -
  • Someone needs to do the glamorous job of picking lint and feathers off of the hair costumes every night, also finding stray beads onstage and returning them to their origin -
  • Carrying around costumes that weight 25 lbs. and more, yes, sewing isn’t for sissies -

Me, among the notions and novelties

Exiting through the opulent Zumanity lobby I had a realization that a strong work ethic and dedication are what make this show run like a fine tuned ( and sequined), machine.

a sign backstage in the dressing room

I loved this sign in the dressing room

Sewing Gloves for a Rag Doll

glovesEver began sewing a  rag doll and thought you’d like to do something different?

How about sewing gloves on her or him? Sewn on gloves makes a lot of sense since they won’t fall off.

The gloves could be mittens made from thrift store sweaters or socks. Maybe garden gloves for a “nature girl” rag doll or how about evening gloves for a more sophisticated rag doll.

My current project, showgirl rag dolls, made me start thinking about the possibility of elbow length gloves. These are the steps I used to create this look.

1. First I took my pattern pieces for the rag doll arms and photocopied them, you could also trace them if you don’t have access to a machine. Draw a line across the arm where you’d like the gloves to stop. Cut at this line, you now have the pattern pieces for your gloves.

2. I chose a stretch velvet and sparkle dance wear fabric. These are great because they don’t unravel when cut so no need to hem. If your fabric does ravel, be sure to add 1/4″ fabric past the line for turning under.

glove image 2

The fabric appears different when turned upside down

Note: when working with velvet remember that there is a nap to the fabric, cut all your pieces the in same direction, see the picture.

3. Cut out fabric pieces for gloves and place on arm fabric of rag doll, right side of doll arm to wrong side of glove fabric. Put a small dot of fabric glue at the

IMG_1132tip of arm and press arm to glove, this helps to keep things from shifting.


Walking foot

4. Use a walking foot, sew across the top of the glove, joining gloves to arms. If you added a seam allowance because your fabric unravels, turn it under before sewing.

5. Right sides together put one arm front with one arm back, pin in place. Sew from center of lower edge up to top, turn over and sew the other side from lower center up.

gloves turn

Partial turn

Note: If the fabric is very thick you might want to do a partial turn, which is to stop sewing about 2″ up the second side, turn the tip of gloved hand inside out, than continue up the second side, (this gives you a good start when turning right side out).

6. Trim seam, clip curves and turn right side out!


Done and stuffed!