Clothing for the Body & Soul

Crimson Forest

Completed the blocks for the front.

ready to be attached to the foundation

Posted by rachel on Wed, September 13 2017 » Garments, Uncategorized » No Comments

Moving along with Crimson Forest


I got side tracked for a while. I couldn’t decide which pattern I wanted to use for Crimson Forest. I was torn between two pattern styles. My preference was the swing coat, but I realize that I wanted to wear my coat this year.
I am accepting that while I love coats our winters have been rather mild. I can toss on a shorter coat and not feel conspicuous, but with the longer ones, it is a different story.  I finally settled on using my A-line coat pattern. I modified it to add a little more fullness and I decided to shorten it as well.The muslin has been cut out, fitted and marked up.
The strips have been cut to create strata for the background blocks. I have divided them into groups.

Strips-cut from all of the fabrics

Stripe fabrics, one dot and one check

Strips cut to mimic strips

Strips- solids

I am ready to begin building strata to create the blocks for the coat.

Muslin-marked up. The front of the coat


Posted by rachel on Mon, September 11 2017 » Garments » No Comments

Crimson Forest

After my interview with Sandi of Crafty Planner, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed the process of planning and working out the details of a garment so I thought that it would be fun to document from the beginning to the end of making a garment using this space.

I have this blog and I was not regularly posting on it. I spend a lot of time posting on Facebook, about a lot of different stuff, but not necessarily in any kind of order of how and/or why I am making a garment. So for now, I am going to use the blog to post about the work and Facebook for all my other meanderings.

Sometimes when I begin a new garment, it doesn’t have a name. I can spend lots of time trying to come up with a name. With this latest garment, the name was right there, Crimson Forest.

My friend, Marguerite Snow sent me a bunch of red, pink, orange and purple batiks. Altogether in that box, they were so hot and luscious, as soon as I laid eyes on them I knew I wanted to use them in a coat. I hauled them all the way to Alaska, thinking I would work on them there, I didn’t, but I did add a few more fabrics to the collection.

fabric collection

Now that I had this collection, I had to decide how I am going to approach getting the fabrics into a coat. I decided to go with a scrappy look. I remembered that I had purchased a pattern Carnaval Quilt from Maryline Collioud-Robert Now, would be a good time to take a look at it to see if it would work for this project.

After reading through the pattern, I decided that I could adapt it for Crimson Forrest. In the past, I have used a similar technique for some of my garments; I appreciated how she had a recipe for cutting. I changed some of the numbers for cutting the strips, I didn’t want some of my strips as large for a coat and I replaced her smaller blocks with my tree blocks. She used stripe fabrics; I only had a couple, not enough for my project.  So, I built some stripe fabrics by sewing strips together to use the same way she used the stripe fabrics.

31 tree patterns

Trees fabrics

the trees are all done

stripe fabric

Now that I finished building my forest, I will cut my strips to make my blocks.



Posted by rachel on Mon, September 4 2017 » Garments » No Comments

The shouting is over and Boho Jive is done

It all started with me finding a piece of fabric on my shelf, as I was tidying and folding fabric. I am not sure how long ago it was that Kris Nardello and I acquired some Afghani fabrics. It was such beautiful fabric and I had used some of it in a dress years ago.
As I began to put it away, I thought I should make something with this. Over the next month or so I pulled together a collection of fabrics. The collection includes Afghani, African, French, Japanese and Swiss fabric, Indonesian Batik and a variety of calico or quilter’s cotton. The majority of it was off the shelf. Only a couple of fabrics were purchased specifically for this garment.

I knew the look I wanted. I was inspired by those bohemian/eastern European colors. I wanted it to have a lively colorful look and feel. For the coat, I chose Butterick 5966 pattern. Later, I was to wonder why as I ended up doing lots of alterations. I realized that I didn’t want to have such a fitted look. Hindsight, I should have used my Flare Coat pattern and added more flare in the back. Lesson learned.
I begin working on the coat July 29th while hanging out in Gayle and Corlis’ studio in Fairbanks. I seem to be making a habit of beginning a coat while I am up there for the Music and Arts Festival.

I had loads of fun making this coat. The parts seemed to be coming together without much angst.

Then for a while, I lost my way. I knew it was missing something. I consulted with a couple of people, no help there. There are just times when you have to go with your gut. Even though I hadn’t planned to, I decided to add the black and white stripe.  Yeah! I was back on track.

There is so much going on with the color and fabrics; I chose not to do a lot of embellishing. I machine stitched on each section with red thread. I added a few buttons and beads on the center back section and the sleeves.

It is lined with a cotton print and polyester fabric. Instead of a hem, I bound off the coat.
I finished it August 19th.
Now on to the next garment.

As I am late posting, the next garment is Crimson Forrest. I will share its tale as I am working on it.

Posted by rachel on Fri, September 1 2017 » Garments, Uncategorized » No Comments

Whatnot Wallet

I promised several people that I would share how I made the Whatnot Wallet.

I do not have a pattern for sale. I am just sharing here. Should you find gross errors in the writing or have a question, shoot me an email or a message.

This is usually taught as a quick class. People usually get their wallet done in a couple of hours.  I recommend that you make a paper pattern, now I know some of you will want to jump right in and that is ok,  but I am the person who will make a paper pattern to make a handkerchief. I also recommend that you read thought all of my chatter before beginning. I am posting the paper pattern directions that I have created. Use these directions to create your pattern before cutting your fabric. Have fun and post your Whatnot wallet.

creating the exterior pattern

creating the exterior pattern

lining pattern

lining pattern

completed pattern

completed pattern

What Not Wallet

Material needed:

2 coordinating fat quarters

Exterior fabric


Fusible medium weigh interfacing

Sew on Velcro (opt)

Button (opt)


Making the wallet

Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of the exterior fabric and the lining.


Laying the exterior fabric right side up on your worktable, working from the lower edge, turn under 3 inches; finger press, bring the folded edge up 3 inches to form a pocket. Press and pin in place.

Set aside.


Laying the lining fabric right side up on your worktable, working from the lower edge, turn under 5½ inches; finger press, bring the folded edge up 5½ inches to form a pocket. Press. Turn the folded edge down 1 to 1¼ inches, press and pin in place


Place exterior and lining pieces, right sides together. Pin or Wonder clips together.

TIP: The top of the exterior pocket should nest just under the lip of the lining fold.

Sew down each side and across the top. At this point you may want to shape the corners by rounding them or removing a small triangle.

For this operation, I draw my line, stitch and trim.

Turn the wallet inside out; press. Flip the exterior pocket over to the lining side covering the open edge forming the second pocket just below the lining pocket.

Press well.

Opt.  Add Velcro or a button for closure.

You now have your Whatnot wallet.

Note: The directions that  I posted is for the larger sizes of the Whatnot wallet. If you want to make the smaller size these are the numbers.

Exterior 12×6 — the turn under/turn up is 2 1/2 inches

Lining 17×6 — the turn under/turn up is 5 inches and the fold down is the same.

four different sizes

four different sizes

Posted by rachel on Thu, November 17 2016 » Miscellaneous » No Comments

A detour – Upcycling

One of the highlights of PIQF 2016, was having Corlis and Gayle come and hang out for a couple of days. We had fun doing the fashion show, seeing the quilts and checking out the vendors. One of the many vendors we visited was Paganoonoo. Michelle Paganini, is the owner dedicated to creating refashioned / upcycled fashion designs.

I will go on record as to not being as excited as Corlis and Gayle about this look, but when your buds wants to do a fun project together you get on board.

Corlis left on Sunday, heading back to Alaska. On Monday, Gayle and I hit Goodwill looking for shirts. My enthusiasm still hadn’t kick in, but I did have fun gathering up a series of shirt I could use to make at least one. We came home that evening loaded down with our pickings and proceeded to make our shirts. We had a great time sorting out what shirts went with what. I know now that you shouldn’t leave the store without having at least 2 of them work together.

I was happy with my first shirt. (no photo)  I was beginning to get a little more excited about the possibilities. My next one was the white shirt. I used three shirts to redesign the basic white shirt. By now, I was beginning to find my voice. The back has a pleat, less fullness and I added 2 more pockets to the front, using the cuff from one of the other shirt to make a pocket. I know you can’t tell but I added a different fabric to make the sleeves roll up cuffs.

The white shirt

The white shirt

Today, I completed my third one.  I would like to make a couple of more for gifts, then I will get back to doing my own thing.  Every once in a while it is good  for me to take a detour and explore another artist technique. It  gives me a fresh perspective on my work. I love Michelle’s philosophy behind what she does and I am glad that I played with redesigning these shirts. It has open me to the possibility of reworking a shirt, a blouse or jacket that I love the fabrics, but for whatever reason it is not working.


In redesigning this shirt I replaced the buttons with vintage mother of pearl buttons, used a fabric to face the sleeve for a roll up cuff. I liked the simplicity of the front. No pockets added.  On the back, I did the cut, added part of another shirt. Repeated the fabric for the band connecting the upper and lower back instead of  using the button band from another shirt. I added a mother of pearl buckle for accent.

back of grey shirt

back of grey shirt

Posted by rachel on Sat, November 12 2016 » Garments, Miscellaneous » No Comments



One of the challenges of writing about how I do what I do is where to start. As I was pondering my next blog entry, I got a call from a friend asking how I pull my fabrics together for my coats. So, I thought I would start by answering that question in parts. When I am preparing to do a garment, I approach each garment on its own terms. I don’t have a set place that I always begin. Sometimes it’s the fabrics, the buttons or an occasion like a wedding or a new pair of shoes. 👠👠

I often think or ask myself, what’s the story I want to tell?  Some of my coats tell a personal story. In the late 1970’s I began making and wearing watermelon garments on the 4th of July, poking fun at politically correct ideas about being a black women owning a love of watermelon. Over the years, these watermelon opportunities have run rampant, as watermelon vines can do. Now, I have at least a dozen watermelon ensembles. In 1993, I made a watermelon topper and called it Just Another Colored Girl Having Fun.

Just Another Colored Girl Having Fun

Just Another Colored Girl Having Fun

I had always wanted to revisit and adapt that design theme into a larger canvas. Having collected a variety of red and green melon print fabrics, augmented with hand dyed solids, I strip pieced a loose fitting swing coat with a chin collar for the watermelon stem. I then hand appliquéd watermelon slices over the surface of the coat and embellished it with black watermelon seed shaped beads. This became Just Another Colored Girl Having 2 Much Fun.

Front of coat

Front of coat

Just Another Colored Girl Having Too Much Fun

Back of coat


Leslie having fun

Leslie having fun

Leslie having more fun

Leslie having more fun

I may want to work in the same color group as in A Study in Beige,A Study in Beige

or the same pattern, which I used in Lotsa Dots The Polka Dot Coat,

Lotsa DotsBack of Lotsa Dot

or I might read my dominant or feature fabric to pull in other fabrics to add more color, pattern and texture to my project as I did in the Gray Poppies coat.

The Poppies CoatThe Poppies Coat

Also a collection of fabrics can inspire me to use as many of them as I can, like I did with Alaskan Fall

Alaskan Fall

Alaskan Fall

or French Strings.

French Strings

Other times I consider a theme as I did with Gazpacho,Gazpacho using many of the vegetable fabrics that I was collecting for a major vegetable coat project. That’s a story for another day. Then, because I consider myself a quilter, I like to use quilt blocks as I did with Orts. OrtsOrtsThese are just a few of the ways I answer this question: “How do you pull fabrics for a project?” In upcoming posts I hope to explore each of these themes in more depth.



Posted by rachel on Thu, November 3 2016 » Garments » No Comments

Gone missing and moving on

As promised I have begun my blog again.

I thought a lot about what I wanted to begin with. Well, I am going to begin by sharing a challenge that Karen Boutte and I are doing.

As some of you know, several of my coats stolen this summer. I took a moment to mourn the lost, but at the end of the day, they are just stuff. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am incensed that someone took 14 of my coats, particularly since they decimated the “Out of the Crayon Box” series. Only the brown crayon (coat) was left. I could have curled up into a ball, wailed and spent months lamenting my lost, instead I am choosing to do something creative to move on. I have since done 3 coats that I am pleased with. I will share more about these coats at a later date.

Meanwhile, whilst talking to Karen about whether or not to spend next year rebuilding the crayon box, she suggested why not invite others to make a bigger box. This conversation led to us creating the CRAYON COLOR BOX CHALLENGE 2017.

After the fashion show at PIQF 2016, we tossed out the challenge. We got 36 sign ups at the show. We expect to get more. These garments will be shown in the PIQF 2017 fashion show.

We are using Crayola 64 box of crayon colors as inspiration. For this Challenge 90% of the fabric used in the garment should read the color of the crayon selected, 10% can be an accent, highlight, wow, Pop color or use100% in selected color.

I am excited about this project. However, I am still on the fence as to whether or not I will rebuild my crayon box. Creating them was part of a 15-year dream. It’s hard to let that go. If I decide to do them I know that I won’t remake them as they were. I only had one “But it’s my Favorite Color” (created using 500 3 inch 9-patches) and “Purple Mountain Majesty” (mountain in the name quilt blocks drafted in a curve) in me. I just have to wait and see.

I find that I enjoy working in a series and I still have a bunch of coats I want do on my bucket list.

Posted by rachel on Tue, October 25 2016 » Uncategorized » No Comments

I am back!

I have been away for longer than I thought. I have decide to return to posting.

I will begin with posting some photos tomorrow. But here is one from PIQF.


Me and Corlis at PIQF. Stalin’ in our Marcia Derse fabric creations.

Posted by rachel on Tue, October 25 2016 » Uncategorized » No Comments

Playing with Buttons

This is so uncanny,  three years ago this month, I wrote  in my blog that I was looking for a hobby. At that time, I was considering beading. Since then, I have been exploring different ways of playing with beads. At some point during the search, I realized that I could combine  buttons with the beads. It has been lots of fun and very satisfactory creating button necklaces and bracelets. As I was working on the “Out of the Crayon Box” series, I thought it would be fun to add necklaces and bracelets to the mix- using the same concept of working in the same color family as well as theme pieces.

Blue Button Necklace

Blue Button Necklace

blue button bracelet

blue button bracelet

Yellow button Necklace

Yellow button Necklace

Yellow Necklace

Yellow Necklace

Theme Necklaces

Christmas Necklace

Christmas Necklace

Red and Yellow button necklace

Red and Yellow button necklace

Watermelon Necklace

Watermelon Necklace

Carnival Necklace

Carnival Necklace






Posted by rachel on Tue, September 17 2013 » Uncategorized » 1 Comment

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