Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Little Miracles in my Sewing Room | The Lark Clutch and Behind The Scenes

Yesterday, it was just another work day in my sewing room. I was winding down my work day, about to call it quits, and I was cleaning up. Then one of those fun sewing miracles happened. I move around some fabric, and then it hits me. When you're sewing, cleaning, rearranging scraps, and you don't choose the piece, the piece chooses you. These pieces of scraps of scraps came together and screamed at me from the cutting table "keep sewing, make me!" So I stayed in my workroom a few extra hours to make this beautiful little piece of art.

These three pieces were scraps of scraps, literally. It was like fate for them to all come together. From the blue and grey woven detail of vintage "Lark" luggage, a small scrap brown piece of vinyl from a vintage suit bag, and the front side of a handbag dress that I made and then deconstructed, this clutch is so wonderful and a true upcycle.
By the way, head scarves are my new thing. I think I'm obsessed with wearing them. 
The interior contains one small but wide pocket, also made from scraps, a collection of patchwork from women's scrubs, brown vinyl, bed sheets, a vintage shirt sleeve, and more. 
Such a beauty. I'm proud of this one. I love loving pieces I've made. Having true passion about a piece because I loved making it, not just because I need to make handbags because it's my job. That's when I can count my lucky stars I'm self-employed and an artist. I hope you can feel that joy in your job. Because it's awesome. 

Clutch available here. There's just one. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thank you!

Thank you so much to our customers over the years. We have sold to 43 of the 50 states and 19 countries! How surreal! I couldn't believe it when I input the data into this website and it came back with so many little dots. It really makes me happy and so proud of myself and my work over the years. Couldn't have done it without you guys! Here's hoping to doubling those countries and getting all 50 states by the end of the year.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Revisiting a skirt tutorial: How to shorten a cotton skirt

Wearing this skirt the other day during a photo shoot brought back memories of the tutorial. I can't believe it was three years ago! Seems like just yesterday I was living in my huge upstairs apartment in downtown Augusta, Georgia. And it's so funny seeing my baby bangs and dark hair. I can't wait until my hair grows out a little longer! And can you believe it's been a year since I shaved my head? Time is flying faster than I can document and work and blog. Gah! Work is nuts lately, but I'm happy to have some new listings in our shop. Check 'em out, and read the tutorial below.

Ohmigoodness, it's been too long! My internet has been down since last Saturday and I've been going crazy! It's finally back up and I can now show you this skirt I altered on Monday. My sister, Rachael, was in town and Monday was our craft day. She'd brought me this skirt and wanted to cut it up and make a purse out of it. No way Jose. I loved the floral print! I told her it was mine ha. I knew if I'd just shorten it, it would be just right, and it is now perfect!

Before: a great skirt, elastic waist, high waisted, and it even has pockets! Using my chalk hem marker with a little hand pump, you can copy this exact alteration at home without any help! 
Measuring the exact distance from the floor all the way around is tricky with only one set of hands. When you lean down to pin it, the fabric drops quite a few inches. Then you end up with a really short skirt. The solution: a chalk hem marker! I purchased mine at Joann's for about $20 with my coupon I get in the mail.

Make sure your skirt it the right height at your waist all the way around. Starting at one side, mark with the chalk every few inches. It creates a line about 1 1/2" long. This is important to do, versus taking the skirt up the same amount all the way around, because with a woman's curves. Sometimes you will end up with a skirt shorter in the back, if you have a big behind, and if it is a dress, shorter in the front if you have a big chest. Bottom line: this tool is best to use just to be safe and alter the garment correctly.


Cut about 1" below the chalk mark. This will leave you enough seam allowance.
Sewing not pictured, but sew a double rolled hem (or an invisible seam) and voila! You have a much more attractive skirt. Perfect for spring! And shorter to be more fashionable. 

Belt: Goodwill, $1. Watch: Walmart, $40. 
David Bowie tank top: $5. Shoes: Gap City Flats, $30

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One Spark photos by Jeff Davis

In case I forgot to tell you all, our One Spark project came in 39th place. Not too shabby for 650+ projects! We had the best time with Shelby and our sewing machines, explaining to people our passion about opening a sewing lounge and creative space in Jacksonville. 

While we would have loved our project to be funded completely, we're happy with the top 6% of the huge festival. We will recieve about $1,100 to fund our project, which should help us start the process of finding a retail space and looking at leases with realtors. 

We have a long road ahead of us, but it will happen. Our sewing lounge and retail space will be open before the end of 2014. And we can't wait to share the process with you all along the way.

Special thanks to my friend Jeff Davis of the Times-Union for snapping these photos.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sale time

Burgundy Hobo Handbag // 50% off TODAY ONLY for more listings, new pieces coming soon!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How To Make A Headband

This one is for the beginners. For all those out there that think sewing is too difficult to attempt. Do it. TRY! It's SO EASY! Go to your machine. Thread it, and grab two things: a piece of ribbon and a hair tie. How do you know how big to cut the ribbon? 22" should work for most adult women. The trick I find to work. Measure your head and add two inches. This will allow for the seam allowance and stretch of the hair tie. 


1. Pick out trim or ribbon and a hair tie. For the average adult head, cut 22" piece of ribbon. If it has a little bit of stretch, take off one inch. Grab a hair tie. Insert one end of trim through the hair tie, bad side of the trim facing up.
2. Fold trim over once.
3. Fold trim over a second time to create a double fold, with the hair tie at the second fold.
4. Place under presser foot at the back side of the folded trim. Turn hand wheel of the machine towards you, inserting needle into the trim. Lower the presser foot lever.
5. Press down on pedal, sewing along the edge of the trim.
6. Back stitch and continue to sew until the front edge of the trim. Backstitch again. Cut thread from headband. (Be sure to leave a few inches of thread from needle of machine so you don’t have to rethread the machine)
7. With trim bad side facing up, insert the other end of the trim through the hair tie.
8. Fold over twice, as in step 3, with the hair tie at the second fold.
9. Repeat steps 4-6 on the other side of the trim.
10. Trim excess thread. Wear with confidence, and when you get a compliment, reply with, "Thanks! I made it!"

Monday, April 14, 2014

One Spark Recap

Oh man. One Spark is over. Finally. Five days downtown, 12 hours or more on all of those days. What a long, long, but amazing, week it was. We were there to present our new business idea, "Sally Ann's Sewing Lounge", that will be opening in downtown Jacksonville sometime in 2014. Hoping for $20k in crowd funding to help us get off the ground, we competed with over 600 other creators, all vying for a piece of the $310k pie. 

Festival goers came and visited each booth, listening to our pitch, and then voted on the ideas they loved and wanted to bring to reality. The power was in their hands. Vote for what you believe in, and for what you want to succeed. The final count from headquarters was about 240,000 people attending the festival. Pretty awesome for our little big city, eh?

While we didn't place in the festival, we're okay with that. Out of 650+ creators, chances were slim. I'm hoping when the results come out, we find that it was a close race. So many people told me they came out just to see our booth, and that felt so great to hear! Or hearing people say, "I heard your story on NPR!" , "I saw you in the paper!", "I read about you on the site, and came just to meet you!" It's nice to know people are as passionate about bringing a sewing lounge to the city as I am. This city is really supportive of small business. I couldn't be happier and more appreciative of what I learned and accomplished last week!

We met some amazing local people, traded business cards, and info with so many potential collaborators, colleagues, and business people in our community. Handing out 4,000 business cards and flyers for our project, the marketing for the whole event was priceless! With the help of my sister, Rachael (above), a new friend, Kelly, other creators and friends, and our friends from Denverspeax, we were able to maximize our exposure. We loved getting our idea and business out there. Inevitably, it was a brilliant move forward for us. And people are so excited about sewing in Jacksonville! When we open, people will say, "Oh, I saw them at One Spark!"

Meet my best friend in the whole wide world, Kirsten. She was visiting from Denver with her boyfriend, Steve. Last time you readers saw them, they were visiting Matt and I in Augusta, Georgia, for our spring 2012 lingerie fashion show. Kirsten and I have been BFFs since the third grade, and with each other through thick and thin. This last month was murder for us both, personally and professionally, and it was great to have her here. She and Steven were also presenting as a creator at One Spark, for her blogging platform, CitySpeax, a city blogosphere comprised of JaxSpeax, NOLAspeax, and Denverspeax. A low down of what's good in your city, highlighting only the good. Keep an eye out for what they have coming soon, and be sure to bookmark their sites! Even if you don't live in those cities, it's great to read about for a possible vacation in the future.
So you've probably been asking yourself, well what is a sewing lounge, and why is it coming to Jacksonville? It is a place for people to sew, at any skill level. Take one-on-one lessons, take a class, or just sew at your own pace. A place where you can learn how to become more sustainable by tailoring your clothes, or just come in once a month when you have a few little projects planned. Maintaining a sewing space in your home, when it's just a hobby can be cumbersome, with little thread bits infiltrating all the corners of your home, taking up your dining room table. At our shop, you just show up, and we have all the machines, notions, tools, everything you need for sewing.

Never again will Jacksonville people get rid of a dress or pair of slacks because they are ill-fitting. We want people to understand garment construction and apply it to their everyday life. We want people to sew and express themselves creatively. We want people to make a throw pillow instead of buying it at the store. We want people to shop and support local, and minimize their impact on the eco-system.

The lounge will also serve as my office, workspace, and retail storefront for Sally Ann. We're also looking forward to showcasing other artists work, textiles, clothing, accessories, art, stationary, beauty products, and turning the walls into a gallery, for our friends and colleagues. It will be a local hub for all things handmade. Aren't you so excited to visit? If only you could step inside my brain and see the layout. It's going to be magical.

Our friend, Johnny Vines, chef for Fresh Jax. Locally owned and operated, Fresh Jax brings Jacksonville healthy fresh food. We're set up next to them at the Riverside Arts Market every Saturday, and they were also creators at One Spark, launching a new line of hot sauces. Johnny was having a blast as a pepper at One Spark. Check out Fresh Jax's Kickstarter, they have the most delicious hot sauces ever, and all so healthy and fresh!

Now a day of rest. Then back at it tomorrow, sewing with my 'new' thrifted faux leather. I have some awesome handbags planned. And of course, a special thanks to my favorite person and business partner, Matt. It was a crazy week, and we survived! More soon, friends. I'm spending the day at the beach. Woo hoo!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

One Spark!


Day four is starting this morning and whoa, I am exhausted/excited/anxious/happy and just so grateful to be in a city where I can showcase my dreams and career ambitions and get support and love from my city. Jacksonville is the best city!

We're showcasing our Sewing Lounge, a one-stop shop for all your sewing needs. Don't sew? Just bring you. We'll have machines, notions, tools, fabric, you name it. We'll get you on a machine through a one-on-one lesson or group class, getting you going on a machine. We'll teach you how to be sustainable and tailor clothes instead of tossing them to the Goodwill pile because the hem is a little long or waistband too big.

Find out more info on our One Spark page, and visit us at Main Street Park!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

One Spark Is TOMORROW!

We are so excited to showcase our sewing lounge project at One Spark tomorrow. Time is flying, I can't believe the festival is finally here. You can check out my One Spark profile here and read about our project. We are trying to open a drop-in sewing lounge right here in Jacksonville, Florida. A one-stop shop for all things sewing, as well as a retail space for my work and other local artists. The festival distributes over $300,000 to small business ideas and projects. It's pretty amazing.

So a sewing lounge. What is that you ask? Well, it's a place where one can go for anything sewing related. Rent a machine by the hour, buy a monthly sewing membership and sew all day a few times a week, read about sewing, buy all the things you need for sewing, and even purchase my handmade goods, as well as other locally made goods.

Every week at Riverside Arts Market, I meet people that want to learn how to sew. And while I give private lessons, it's so difficult to host a class when I currently work out of a home office. The alternative and only thing really offered is classes at the big chain stores. I mean, who really takes sewing lessons at Joanns? Everyone I talk to that doesn't sew, wishes that they knew how, and that there was a place to go, a cool, hip place, to take lessons and feel inspired. Our space would be just that!

We are hoping to get the start-up funds to open our shop. So much to do before tomorrow, so I must keep it short. Head on over to and bookmark our project. Vote if you are in the Jacksonville area by attending the festival, we'll be located at the Jesse B. Smith Memorial Park, across from the Florida Theatre.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thrifting and Sally Ann going vegan

More thrift store scores as my sister and I are rounding out our week in Michigan. We're been here since Sunday, and while we've only been able to squeeze in a little bit of thrifting, all the trips have proved extremely successful. I found, not one, but two vintage American Tourister suitbags to strip down to use for handbags. My favorite new source for faux leather: vintage suitbags. I can usually find them for $5 or less, and they're so big.

So I'm going to put it out there and make myself stick with it: Sally Ann is going vegan! In sewing that is. I'm so excited for the challenge.

After much consideration and countless hours sewing both leather and faux leather, we will be switching completely to faux leather. Why you ask? Well, most importantly, it is easier to sew, which leaves my machines in better condition. Plus, it's so much easier to find as a second hand material in luggage, and it is much more economical. I'm so sick of thrifting and shopping the coat section, only to find a leather coat, in horrible condition still priced at $19 and more. Yesterday, I found an ugly blue leather coat, $39 at a thrift shop. What?! $39?!! It was a gorgeous leather, but had I bought it, I could have maybe used it for four purses. 

Since coats are sewn with smaller pieces of leather, it's not nearly as good as a large suitbag with flat pieces of pleather, as I need larger pieces for purse bottoms and to maximize my materials. Plus, the prices for leather at thrift shops is becoming comical; it's like it's a nationwide trend. I see it everywhere! I'd like to know what goes through the manager's mind when they price items at a thrift shop. 

I don't know how many times I've taken a ripped skirt or coat to the register to purchase, and not only is it a horrible cut that can never ever be worn by a sane individual, but it's dirty, buttons missing, you name it, and it's still over $10 and up to $50, only because it is leather

But I will concede, I will be using up the leather that currently exists in my stash of material, and from then on, only use animal free materials. So there will be leather used if it's still in my possession, since I can't with good conscience throw anything useful away, that's for certain. I'm still a recycler before anything else. Everything will remain to be recycled materials.

Myself personally, I'm 50/40/10 vegan/pescatarian/carnivore. I was a good little vegan for a few months until Matt was craving chicken wings like a mad man, and we went out to a local gastropub. We eat as vegan as possible at home, but it's super hard to stick with it since his job requires a new restaurant review once a week, and only so many places in our city offer completely vegan dishes.

Cutting up the bags is super fun too! Using a strong pair of scissors, I remove the front and back of the suitbag, cutting two large pieces. Then, using a straight razor, I remove the piping off the side pieces, with the only waste being the frame of the bag itself and the super thing piping that holds the front, back, and sides together. If you all remember my last suitbag collection (video here), one brown American Tourister suitbag made a fifty piece collection of accessories. I can't wait to count how many these will make. The baby blue and deep dark green/black faux leather are going to make beautiful, beautiful pieces. The wheels in my brain are 'a turnin'! 

The best thing I thrifted this week though, sewing stuff aside, was a $3 second kids tambourine, that I purchased for my niece, Annabelle. She is 7 months old, and I met her for the first time coming home on this trip. I'm totally going to be the aunt that buys noise making toys, and ones that requires brain power and creativity. Plus, Annabelle loved it! Within minutes, she was banging away and giggling and loving the sounds it made. Next trip home, I'm going to be rocking and proficient on my ukulele and we'll have a mini jam session. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Somber Trip To Valueland

It's been a rough week. Maybe you're wondering where I've been. Well, generally, I'd just post something sewing related and avoid sharing, but I can't not share this with you all. Last week, my grandmother passed away. She was the most amazing woman, not an ill willed bone in her body, super talented and creative, funny, generous, and just so good. 

It's been hard. Probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with, right there with losing my stepfather. And I try to steer clear of super personal issues on my blog like grieving, because for me it's always such a private matter. But today was her funeral. After the luncheon with family, my sister and I came back to Muskegon and had some errands to run. We randomly stopped by our favorite thrift shop, one we've been shopping at since we were kids, and it made me think of my grandmother and it was so appropriate. 

Still dressed from the funeral, we thought about grandma as we picked up some awesome thrifted goods. She was the best thrifter. Ever. A very frugal woman that grew up in the great depression, she knew the value of a dollar, and always found the best deals. Thrifting and garage sale-ing with Grandma were some of my fondest memories of childhood spent with her.

This past Saturday at the market, I had plans to fly out the next day, but I knew I could brave the day and get through it. She'd passed away a few days prior, and the funeral wouldn't be until early this week. I was strong, and held my composure, until I spoke to a few young girls. I always strike up sewing conversations with young girls, asking them about their sewing. One girl said to me, upon my asking if she sews, was, "my grandma taught me how to sew." And I just lost it. I politely smiled and nodded, stepped out of Shelby, and secretly bawled outside the camper. My grandmother taught me how to sew as well, and that simile just killed me. I'm still having a hard time grasping with the reality of her leaving this life, but the only thing I can know for sure, is that she will live on in those that loved her, and I am going to do everything in me to make her proud.

 The worst book cover ever, above. Right?!

Matt was in our thoughts as well, as he didn't make the trip with me. But I did find him the perfect Michigan souvenir, a rocks glass that says "SCOTCH" for half off the white tag ticket price, 40 cents. We're missing him, but at the same time, loving that he's not here to tell me the usual "don't buy junk". Hehe. Really though, I wish he could have made it. 

With grandma still on our mind, Rachael and I had a fun time perusing the goods in Valueland. She would have appreciated our shopping trip, and would have loved to hear about our finds. Rachael found a beautiful scarf, a book on gardening, and a cute mug. I found some new hair ties for my One Spark sewing booth, the glass, above, for Matt, sewing books for the sewing lounge I'll be opening soon, and a scarf with zebras all over it. 

Life is short, friends. Tell your loved ones how you feel, go out of your way to tell them you love them, and don't waste the precious time you have with them. My grandmother, Dorothy, was so amazing, and we're missing her so much right now. 

More soon. ♥
xoxo, Sally

P.S. We're on Jacksonville's NPR 89.9FM WJCT tomorrow, listen at 6:04 and 8:04 am for our segment on our One Spark project. Or click here to listen live.