Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fellowship of the Literary skirt.

Today I'm bringing you a post that I had up on my own personal blog. Because it was sewing related and I think we can all relate to sharing the craft we love so much with others. But first, some housekeeping. Row by Row starts tomorrow we're selling kits with the pattern for $10, if you don't want the kit the pattern is free. The first person to come into the shop with a finished quilt will receive a Color Me Happy Fat quarter Bundle!

We've started a rewards program. After you spend $250 you'll receive a $20 gift certificate. Lastly, we'll be closed on the 4th of July.

I sew a little. More then I did whe
n I started and, haltingly, made pajama pants for my sisters and in-law siblings. I am definitely more proficient then the first time I made a dress that was so ill fitting it’s makes me shudder. I wore it anyway because the fabric cost money and it was hard to make! There are photos and not only am I wearing a poorly made dress I’m wearing it very post baby. Come to think of it, that dress is packed away. I should take it out and make the boys Hawaiian shirts or something out of it. I am NO expert and, I don’t really know why I like it but I do. Fabric is so pretty and full of possibilities. It’s nice to use my hands to create something that won’t get weedy and die, or be eaten.

12 years ago my husband and I were shopping for our first washer and dryer at one of those stand-alone appliance Sears and I walked past this little blue sewing machine. It felt like a breeze blew over my heart. My spirit stirred and I just felt like I needed to take that machine home. It felt so frivolous, that’s quite an investment into something you don’t know if you’ll like. Yet, there was something inside me that knew…

All these years later and I am wearing a dress I made as a write this, a dress I rather like. Yesterday I wore a skirt and blouse I made and I think they look cute and vintage and not necessarily home made and there are pieces to a birthday dress on the floor in my studio. Last week, I gave a sewing lesson to one of my best friends. We share a lot in common, she is a writer, mother and all around sweet person. I wasn’t holding my breath that she would like to sew. After all, how could we have so many things in common? At any rate I know that there is a pretty big learning curve to this craft and a lot of people just can’t get past that.

The first of the literary skirts. Delicate and beautiful just like Jen’s main character.

Not only did she like it but She came away with the prettiest skirt. I am not kidding when I tell you that it looks like something from Anthropolgie! She wore it to writer’s group and the rest of that sacred club have decided that we all need skirts. Skirts that sort of match that we can wear as a sort of uniform to our next conference! No one has ever been this wonderfully cheesy with me before and I am over the moon about it! We’re using the same base fabrics and then accents that speak to each of our individual books we’re working on. Isn’t that just the best thing you can think of?!!! The Fellowship of the literary skirt, that’s what this project is all about, and I LOVE it. Some of them already sew, some don’t. We’ll work on them together and hopefully after July I will post a wonderful, sweet, cheesy pic of our skirts filled with our hopes and dreams of our literary future.

The tree of life for our memoire, maps for our Scottish warrior who's a catagrapher, music for me and words for us all.

It is a blessing to share small things with people you love. Silly things that pull us together and make us laugh. I’m glad me and my needle and thread get to be part of that.

If you like this skirt we have a tutorial on this blog for free click HERE and if your interested in this post maybe you'd like to check out my personal blog. Click Here to peruse.

Happy Sewing,

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Row By Row

Summer is here! And with it comes the Michigan Row by Row. We're very excited to be part of the shop hop this year. The hop starts June 21 and goes through September 28. Each store had to design their own row and the pattern for each one is free. We'll also be selling kits for ours. We hope you'll come in and we can't wait to see what the finished products look like.
Here's a sneak peak of ours. 

Just a glimpse of what's to come.
We've also been getting in new fabrics. New Kaffe's, Moda's and I can't believe I'm writing this, new Christmas fabric. I suppose those of you who are really organized will be starting that kind of thing soon, but as for me I've got to do some gardening and swimming first. 
To see this and more of the Gardenvale Collection click HERE.
New Kaffe 

If you are one of those organized people who loves to get a jump on the holidays
check this beautiful collection out. HERE.
Hope your summer is going well.
Happy Sewing,
Jessie and Sue

Thursday, May 21, 2015


New colors from the Wooly lady and we'll new be carrying valdani thread to go with it!
I was at Market last weekend scouting and buying fabric for this next year! Oh how exciting it is to walk among the creators and designers of all the companies we love best. Moda, Cotton + Steel, Art Gallery... Believe me it's difficult to keep it together and come back with a curated order for the shop. I thought it would be fun to share some pictures we snapped while there (top secret of course).
Valerie Well's new line "In the Bloom" will be in our shop sometime in June!

This Quilt is from V and Company's new line due out in September.
The colors are bold and striking.

This pillow is a sneak peak at Kaffe's new fabrics.

In the fall we'll begin this new Halloween machine appliqué project. How fun!
The Ladies who stayed behind to man the shop are getting along better and better with the new checkout system. We appreciate your patience with us so much as we get a handle on all the details.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Point of Sale System

We are finally ready to roll out our new point of sale system. So, what does that mean to you?

First, it means that everything is computerized. From our cash drawer to our inventory. Everything should have a barcode and will be scanned into the system. We're hopeful that this will make your entire shopping process more streamlined and seamless. Though, as we get going, there are sure to be kinks so please be patient as we work out the bugs.

Second, it means that there is more product on our website then ever before. It also means that it will automatically be updated. So if your shopping online and you buy a fabric or notion or tool we're sure to have it in stock. This is great for our customers that live far and away or just can't make it into the shop. Click HERE to see all we have to offer in our online shop.

Third, it means that we now have a great rewards program, what a joy to be able to give back to our faithful customers. We'll also be able to keep track of what you've bought in the store, so if you need some more of that one-kind-of-I-think-it-was-freespirit-fabric but you aren't sure, we can look it up for you and find out.

The store's been rearranged so that the cutting board and cash register are all in one place. Plus from a clerk point of view using the scanner is really fun.

It really is exciting being part of this new chapter in the shop's life and I hope you'll find it as enjoyable as we hope it is. Thank you so much for your continued support of this little sewing store, and thank you for your patience as we learn to use and fully integrate this new system.

Happy Sewing,
Jessie Heninger

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Stitches of Our Lives

My own scrappy quilt made by my great-grandmother

This week I (Jessie) had the privilege of visiting with a woman from my church who is also one of the founding members of our quilt guild. She was the original guild historian and is a beautiful and kind lady.

About a year ago the apartment building she lived in had a fire and she lost a lot of her history. As we visited today she talked wistfully of baby pictures, knick knacks and lost quilts. Like most quilters she had been in the middle of many different projects and had had an impressive collection of quilts both made and given to her. It was heartbreaking to imagine those things gone forever.

But she still had several and those she pulled from their protective pillow cases, almost lovingly, to show me. With great warmth she unfolded a small wall quilt with sweet appliquéd tea pots in tiny floral prints. Of course I was smitten, anything tea related goes straight to my vintage loving heart. There was a crazy quilt filled with tiny pieces of faded silk, a huge star quilt that boggled my mind with how intricate it was. Lastly, we unwrapped a very old quilt that her daughter had found at an estate sale. It was lovely, and signed with ink. When held to the light you could see cotton seeds from the fabric.

And, all the while we looked at these quilts she told me about what her life had been like when she'd made, or received each one. The teapot quilt had been made by a friend when she'd been hospitalized. The star quilt had come from an antique shop in the town where her husband had been born. The crazy quilt was neat but nowhere so lovely as the story it reminded her of about how her future son-in-law had left college because he couldn't stand to be away from her daughter (over thirty years of marriage later and this story makes me want to cry).

What struck me even more was that as she remembered the quilts she had lost she told me even more of her history. She described each quilt to me and then told me those stories. The quilt she had been making for her youngest granddaughter. How there was nearly a riot the first time a machine quilted quilt won best-of-show. The time she'd rescued a quilt from a barn floor, how she'd been working on a friendship quilt and what all the pieces her friends had made. It was as if her history is literally stitched into all of these blankets.

As I face my own grandmother's alzheimers I see how beautiful, sacred almost, it is to have these physical links to our pasts. Certainly, quilting is important to American history but it's more then that, it's as if the very stitches are pathways to our own lives. All my friend had to do was imagine her quilts and her stories flowed like water. What I wouldn't give to have something like that with my own Grandma, even for a moment, to hear her speak of who she was. I see now that quilts are beautiful timelines. Timelines of our country, timelines of our own lives and of those around us. A quilt can be the stitches that hold our life stories together.

I redecorated my sewing room. If your interested in a tour click HERE

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sew a Skirt Tutorial

Here at Sew Unique we love sharing our love of sewing. One of the things I (Jessie) enjoy is a quick garment pattern. Following is a free pattern and tutorial for a skirt. This is a great beginners project and it’s also very quick. Please keep in mind that we are not professional pattern developers or writers. If you have any questions feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to help you out.

What you will need for an average adult woman: 1 Yard of Fabric
1 Package of 2’’ wide elastic
Spool of coordinating thread
Sewing machine

1. Measure the amount of elastic you will need by wrapping it around your waist (or the waist you are sewing for) and cut.
2. Cut your fabric down the center being careful to do it so that the pattern on the fabric is going the right direction (I’ve cut the fabric for one skirt the long ways and one skirt the short way, both work one will simply have more gathers.

3.  Now we are going to sew the two pieces together so that we have one long strip of fabric. We will do this by making a french seam. To make a french seam:

    1. On one side pin the short sides of the fabric together wrong sides facing.

    2. Sew 1/4’’ seam.
    3. Trim the seam
    4. Fold the fabric over so that the right sides are now facing. Press (iron).
    5. Sew a 3/8’’ seam. (Your raw edge will now be encased inside the french

4. On the long edge of the skirt that will end up being the top of the skirt fold over a 1/4’’ and press. Fold it over 1/4’’ again and press. Sew down the length of the fold. The top of your skirt now has no raw edges.
5. On your sewing machine select a wide basting stitch (probably a three or four). Just below the folded top of your skirt sew across your skirt. Leave a long thread tail at the beginning and end of your row of stitches.

6. Just below the first row of basting stitches sew another row leaving long thread tails. You’ll now have two rows of basting stitches to use to gather your skirt.
7. Now it’s time to gather your skirt. Find the middle of your waist band by folding
the elastic in half. Mark the middle with a pin. Lay the elastic on a flat surface.
8. Lay the fabric below the waistband, with the middle of the fabric lined up with
the middle of the waist band.

9. Starting on one side of the skirt take your threads and begin gathering your skirt by pulling on the threads. Take your time and be careful to spread the gathers evenly. Gather until one half of of your fabric is the same width as that half of the waistband.
10. Repeat step 9 by gathering the other half of your fabric.

11. Pin the gathered fabric to the waistband with right side of the fabric against the wrong side of the waist band. Pin the fabric about half way (or one inch) up on the waistband. Sew along the waistband keeping your presser foot along the bottom edge of the waistband.

12. We are now going to sew up the the side of the skirt. Repeat step three to make a french seam on the side of your fabric sewing from the bottom of the skirt to the top of the waistband.
13. To hem your skirt fold the bottom up 1/4’’ and press then fold it up again 1/4’’ (your can make the fold bigger if you’d like your skirt to be shorter) and
press. Sew along the fold keeping your presser first along the bottom of the skirt. Sew a second line of stitches keeping your presser foot along the first row of stitches.
14. Remove the basting stitches at the waistband.
15. Wear and enjoy!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

New Moda!

There's new Moda in the shop! New Fig Tree and all kinds of delightful things!

Fellow Sewists, my bed spread is disgusting. As in, my-giant-dog-sleeps-on-the-bed and no-amount-of-washing-is-going-to-get-that-dinginess-out plus there are two giant holes in it! I keep putting off getting a new one because somewhere in dream world I keep thinking I'll make myself a quilt. Well, maybe this new line will finally inspire me. It's called Whitewashed Cottage and if that doesn't perfectly describe the look I love, I don't know what does. Click HERE for more details.

We also got in Fig Tree's new collection Aloha Girl. It came in today and is fresh, fun, and very summery. Ahhhh, remember summer... This is kind of a new look for Fig Tree but I like it. We've got yardage and precuts. It came in today so it's super new!! Come into the shop or click HERE for a better look.

I know I'm definitely craving something new and fresh. What about you, what are you all working on for spring? We'd love to hear from you leave a comment below.

Happy Sewing,
Jessie and Sue.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tula Pink

Fresh off the presses is the new Tula Pink line: Elizabeth. It's so new in the shop it's not even on the website yet.

I'm assuming the following fabric is Elizabeth herself, but you know what I really love about it? She has freckles! it's so cool and unique and just really speaks to the princess and castle side of me.

 I made another Little Wallet from the Valori Wells pattern (available HERE). I actually like this one even better then the first one I made (you can see that one HERE). I used scraps of my beloved Cotton & Steel to create my take on a "matchbook" It's for a friend for her business cards. I love how fast this project is, start to finish I think it took an hour and I used all scraps. It's a great way to use every ounce of that fabric you just love.

Here's a sneak peak at this coming wool club Enchanted Garden Quilt block by Gretchen Gibbons. The last one was so fun to do and they are all so sweet looking. It's got such a great combination of patterns and textures. We're putting the kits together now. Wool club meets the third Thursday of the month at 2pm.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hello sewing friends. I've heard rumors that it will be in the forties next week!! SQUEAL!!!!! The forties is so very close to the fifties and that is planting weather. Oh we're getting closer to sun and dirt and iced tea and green leaves...

If you can't wait for nature to do her work then join our machine embroidery class. We'll be working on a design from "lunchbox" designs. If interested contact the store at 269-317-3022 and we'll schedule the class based on everyone's availability. It's birds and flowers galore just what we need this time of year.
A peak at this months Sue Spargo block.

I thought it might be interesting to highlight some of our more unusual shop finds.
We carry a wide range of these wonderful local candles. The aroma from them lasts way after you blow them out. My favorite is the Hazelnut.

Help keep your sewing space organized with these scissor blocks. They are really fantastic.

We carry an entire rainbow of zippers!

I can not get a good photo of this silver jewelry because it's so shiny, but believe me when I say it's lovely. I have one and I wear it with my Pandora flower ring. All of them are designed by a local woman.

You can never have too many funky thread snips.

We have so many beautiful and unique buttons. I particularly love these wooden ones and am waiting for the right project to use them.

We carry several kinds of lotions, because sewing can be hard on your hands. The photo above shows our really cool moisture bar.

I hope that your surviving the end of this long and cold winter. Fabric, thread and stitches definitely helps. Come in and check out our classes and clubs, you can find more information HERE.

Happy Sewing,
Jessie and Sue.

Friday, February 20, 2015


It seems a large portion of the United States is under a deep freeze and it's no exception here. I'm blogging from home (Jessie) because my kids are enjoying their second day off of school because it's too cold for little ears and noses to wait at the bus stops or walk to school. I'm not sure if I'm enjoying it... I grew up in the Upper Peninsula and I distinctly remember walking to school all winter in temperatures like this with wet hair! Kids these days... lol.

Luckily the temperatures didn't seem to keep are lovely customers away from the Valentine's sale. It went really well and we are so pleased. The store is so organized now, even the left over sale fabric has a place. I worked part of the sale and was scheduled to leave at five. I brought my computer in case things were slow. When i finally got it out I thought it was probably 2:30 or so and it was 4:45!! I was having so much fun and cutting so much fabric the time flew.

The winner of our giveaway was Jane Cleveland! She received this lovely Fat quarter bundle.

If your as bored of winter as much as we are it's a perfect time to find a new project. Maybe one filled with floral fabrics. If we can't have real gardens why not have fabric ones? Check out our Spring Inspired Pinterest Board HERE, for lots of creative and inspiring ideas.