Notebook Tool Pocket Tutorial


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A while back, I was invited to do a tutorial for National Sewing Month on Hart’s Fabric’s blog. Today it makes its debut. I made this Notebook Tool Pocket for my husband, who writes and draws a lot. After seeing a similar product online I thought, “I can make that.”


-lotus peach

this moment 9-20-2013

{this moment}

Instigated by Soulemama blog: “A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.”

this moment  9-20-2013




shadow painting


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(for best viewing click over to You Tube and view in full screen)

It feels incredible to be back creating art again. Ahhhh….

I always take photos when I am up at St. Dorothy’s Rest. I cannot help it!  However, particularly because I have taken hundreds of photos over the last eight years, I do not necessarily have a vision for what the photos might become until later. Throughout this Labor Day weekend’s Artists & Writers retreat, I took photos of the paintings I was creating. There is something about capturing them while the paint is still drying, in the environment where they were created, that I just love. Then, on the last morning of the weekend before coming home, my lens was caught on the dance of shadows across every surface — the dramatic and delicate patterns in the contrasts of light.

Today, this slide show “shadow painting” was born. I did not know until I started composing the images that the photos of my paintings and the photos of the shadows would dance together.

I was delightfully surprised by how the music added another kind of magic. After I have put the slide show basically together I have a feel for the mood of the music even though I do not have a specific piece in mind. Browsing through our music library, an album name caught my attention instantly, “Genius of Modern Music Volume One” by Thelonious Monk.

Now my husband is crazy for Monk and listens to it almost constantly of late. So I am pretty familiar with Monk’s music by proximity. But I did not know when I chose this song that “Epistrophy” was Monk’s signature piece; Nor did I know that this just over 3-minute version was the first time he recorded it, before it had become his signature. “Epistrophy” as explained by Monk means “return”. You hear Monk return to the same signature motifs throughout the piece with added layers and textures. Gorgeous. For me, it was Monk’s playful approach to playing his piano, the tinkling and trilling rolls on the piano and vibraphone, and that distinctly modern yet light tone that provided the impeccably perfect accompaniment to my photos.

I hope you enjoy it!

St. Dorothy’s Rest, Camp Meeker, California in September 2013. All photos and paintings in the slide show are my own. This is art for art’s sake and no money is being made from this work. Please enjoy and share but do not profit, copy or otherwise use without my permission. For more information on St. Dorothy’s Rest please visit

-lotus peach

Surprise Sewing: Sneak Peek


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As soon I saw these fabrics from Heather Ross’ new Briar Rose collection I had to make something from them. Please excuse these phone photos taken on a cloudy day. The colors are warmer and sweeter in person.

Surprise Sewing: Part I

When I saw the pink print with, what I am calling honey-bee-fairies, and the delicate strawberries print, I also knew exactly for whom I would sew something. Here is a sneak peek at the project in progress.

Surprise Sewing: Part I

A lot more has been done since these photos were taken but I want to keep the rest a surprise for both the eventual recipient and the event on June 30 where the finished product will be on display.

What is inspiring you these early summer days?

-lotus peach

walking through spring’s sunset


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As Spring has nearly warmed to Summer here, I do not want to miss out on remembering this lovely park walk from just before my last blog post.
walkingpark view
I have been so busy with a new work schedule this past month that I have not had the energy or space of mind to create anything new.
tree skyhill path
I have missed Creating for myself and Daring Greatly by sharing those creations here.
me and pupwildflowers
So as I head back into my work week I do it with a renewed focus to cultivate my creative energy in some way each and every day.
glow branchessetting sun
As Michelle Ward says, “just fifteen minutes a day!” It will probably take more time than that once I sit down to sew or draw or paint. But since I know the hardest part for me is simply getting going, I am putting the emphasis on the impetus.
shadow family
How do you approach coming back to something creative that you have been away from for any reason?

And isn’t our dog the cutest!
pet dog

a new day, a new possibility


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fog above beach - ALK 4-2013

fog above beach – ALK 4-2013

wildflowers - ALK 4-2013

wildflower path – ALK 4-2013

Be delighted at the prospect
of a new day, a new possibility,
and a new page of your life that is yet unwritten
and can be filled with anything
you wish to make happen.

-Robin Ryan

natural bridge - ALK 4-2013

natural bridge – ALK 4-2013

lighthouse - ALK 4-2013

lighthouse in fog – ALK 4-2013

crashing waves - ALK 4-2013

waves fade into beach – ALK 4-2013

seaweed - ALK 4-2013

textural seaweed – ALK 4-2013

dog prints - ALK 4-2013

dog prints – ALK 4-2013

sand nose - ALK 4-2013

sand nose – ALK 4-2013

Beyond today lie your
highest aspirations. You may not
reach them, but you can always
believe in them and try to follow
where they lead.

-Robin Ryan

beach walk - ALK 4-2013

beach walk – ALK 4-2013

natural sculpture - ALK 4-2013

natural sculpture – ALK 4-2013

Here is the fabric for my second Lisette Attache dress. I wanted to waste no time in making another one. I love how the lines in the pattern appear as though they were painted in watercolors.
Lisette Attache Dress 2 Fabric

What possibilities might you explore this weekend?

- lotus peach

Creating: Lisette Attache Dress


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As soon as I saw the new Attache Pattern from Lisette for Simplicity, I knew I wanted to try making this dress.  It is just the sort of summer style I can imagine in a myriad of different fabrics from basic and casual, like this first one in vintage chambray, to modern, printed, or silk.

Lisette Attache Dress - ALK 4-2013

Lisette Attache Dress Pattern, Simplicity 1666 – ALK 4-2013

With this design, I was drawn to the angled waist detail, slightly full skirt, and built-in cap sleeves — flattering and perfectly effortless for warm Northern California summers.  I made this first one as a “wearable muslin” to try out the pattern and play with the fit.  I say “wearable muslin” because I am not patient enough to make a real muslin; But I am willing to experiment with $3.00 vintage fabric.  I picked up this chambray at one of FabMo’s periodic yardage events.  The non-profit sells off donated fabric, from the industry as well as individuals like costumers, at $1.00 per yard. Yeah, a super great deal!

Lisette Attache Dress - ALK 4-2013

Attache Dress in progress – waist seam detail – ALK 4-2013.

I cut the bodice pieces a size larger in certain areas which I then had to take in because it was too big.  I also ended up slightly shortening the top from the shoulder seam (something I do only as a last resort). The original pattern did not seem to need shortening but when it came together the shoulder fit was just too big. Next time I would try shortening the bodice per the guidelines on the pattern, as I do with most dresses.  I widened the neckline to make it more flattering however it was too much, and the facings are not very pretty as a result. So I will revise those alterations for the next one.

Lisette Attache Dress - ALK 4-2013

Lisette Attache Dress – ALK 4-2013

I prefer the silhouette with a belt but come high summer weather I will be glad for the looser unbelted option.

Lisette Attache Dress - ALK 4-2013

Lisette Attache Dress – back view – ALK 4-2013

Overall this dress came together very quickly and easily and I am happy with the result.  This is the third Lisette pattern I have made. I like them all because they are cute, the fit is better than most from the major pattern companies, and Liesl’s instructions are stellar.  Last year I made the Continental blouse and skirt as well as the Market blouse.

Lisette Attache Dress - ALK 4-2013

Lisette Attache Dress – side view – ALK 4-2013

Gosh, the more I write about it the more I want to look through my stashed fabric and make another one immediately! It would give me the opportunity to remember my revisions and achieve a better fit as well as result in another fabulous spring/summer dress. I can’t lose! The Market blouse I mentioned above is definitely on my list to make again too.

Have you ever made a new pattern and liked it so much that you made another one right away?  Do you have any sewing pattern recommendations?

- lotus peach

Creating: Spring Color Meditations


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Happy Spring. Acrylic on Canvas. ALK 03-2013.

Happy Spring. Acrylic on Canvas. ALK 03-2013.

As the local fruit trees fill with delicate pink blossoms and bulbs burst out in yellow blooms, I breath in the bright fresh colors and sweet scents, ahhhh. In celebration of Spring renewal, I share these snippets of my creative energy from the past month.

pjs - ALK 04-2013

Pajamas – ALK 04-2013

As I discussed in my last Creating post, I find great enjoyment in choosing and putting together colors and fabrics. In these flannel pajamas I made for a young friend, the lack of enough of one fabric for both pieces resulted in an even cuter combination than I had originally planned. The graphic diamond and circle pattern of the pant brings a vintage aspect to the modern animals print. I love happy accidents!

"On Parade" Embroidery detail. ALK 03-2013.

“On Parade” Embroidery detail. ALK 03-2013.

In this delicate embroidery pattern by Sarah Jane Studios, I deliberately chose a bright palette including lime green, lilac, sunset orange, turquoise blue, peony pink. There is such youthful energy in these clear hues.  The slow repetitive hand-stitching process, watching a picture come to life, is like painting in thread. A creative meditation.

"On Parade" Embroidery. ALK 03-2013.

“On Parade” Embroidery. ALK 03-2013.

In my own twist on traditional embroidery I used a vintage damask tablecloth as the base cloth: I like to play with the layering of textures and patterns to add dimension to the complete picture. I mounted the finished piece on stretched canvas for a clean finished look while keeping the raised texture and organic variation in the lines and curves of the hand embroidery visible.

What are you being inspired to this Spring?

Creating: Handmade Bedroom Linens


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Bed Suite 1 - ALK 3-2013

I am pleased to finally share a project that I worked on for the first few months of the year. Even if you are not a sewer or interested in decorating, I encourage you to scan through the photos and read to the end of the post because this is about more than fabric and color.

My husband and I collaborated with my Aunt and Uncle on creating a new look for their master bedroom, including a suite of bedroom linens that I sewed. We gave color direction overall and helped my Aunt pick out the color palette, wall paint, and fabrics for the bed linens. I sewed the Cal-King sized duvet as well as the European pillow shams and the hand-embroidered decorative pillows. All fabrics were purchased at the fabulous independent fabric store, Hart’s Fabric in Santa Cruz.

I did not realize what a challenge the Cal-King duvet would be to cut, piece, and sew in my little sewing room; It took a while but I did it:
Bed Suite 2  - ALK 3-2013

To add a personal heirloom quality, I embroidered a monogram on the center decorative pillow:
Bed Suite 3  - ALK 3-2013

I adapted the decorative elements of the monogram design to create this floral and trailing vine motif:
Bed Suite 4  - ALK 3-2013

This photo showcases the dance between the wall hue and the linen colors. Can you see the same blue in the duvet as on the wall?
Bedroom Suite 6 - ALK 3-2013

While the sewing involved in this project was not difficult technically, the amount of fabric and the multiple pieces inflated the amount of work and time I imagined would be involved. I am not sure I would enjoy doing many projects this big; However, for myself and my family, I value the quality and personalization of the things I invest my own work in.

There is something so special about looking at and using goods that your own hand literally made. Whether it was myself, or a relative whose hand was involved, heirloom pieces evoke a deep appreciation for and connection to the materials used, the skills practiced, and the time spent in creative creation. Surely this speaks to the growing revival of the craft, DIY, handmade, and even homesteading movements.

A closer look at the gorgeous 100% linen duvet fabric that was the jumping off point for all of the fabrics in the suite:
Bed Suite 5  - ALK 3-2013

In our modern culture, an antidote for the disposable, transparent, emptiness of the every day is so necessary. Running my fingers over the soft, strong linen fibers of a duvet, tracing the imperfect embroidered curves with my eyes, and wrapping a warm knitted scarf around my neck on a cool spring morning are the things that ground, calm, and connect me to each moment, in real human time. The power of the hand-made is not only seen. It is felt.

Do you find that heirloom quality hand-made goods, whether bed linens, carpets, clothing or otherwise are worth more than simply their utility?

lotus peach


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