Thursday, December 9, 2010

The new website is up!

Thanks to the tireless work of Rhion Magee and Marina Perrone, the new Threads of Change website has landed. And it's beautiful! Check it out:

Don't forget to place your Christmas orders soon...!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

iPad Sleeve to featured by Rachel Bilson in "In Style" Magazine!

Rachel Bilson loves our iPad sleeve!  Check out the candid (paparazzi) photos of her last week, while she was out and about in Beverly Hills.  That's my protoype she's carrying........
Rachel is a contributor to "In Style" magazine and she's going to feature it in the January edition!!  The iPad sleeve can be ordered now on our online Etsy shop for $55...Click here:  Threads of Change on Etsy

This iPad sleeve was designed by Rhion Magee and Laura Pursell (yours truly) for the Threads of Change Ghana project.  How exciting!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Awning for a Garden Swing

Just in time for the end of summer...! Last week, I sewed this custom burgundy awning for my sister's outdoor swing. Her old awning was ripped and weather-beaten, and she wanted a new one to match the new cushions. This waterproof outdoor woven fabric was purchased at Joann Fabrics (with a 40%-off coupon, of course). I finished all the outer edges with a 4-thread satin stitch on the serger, using matching burgundy thread. Inner corner pockets hold the awning to the metal frame.

I have to give credit to my brother-in-law, however, who did a fantastic job of measuring and cutting! I'll have to recruit him for my next project....

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Threads of Change" - new Etsy store

All the bags, purses, belts and other products I've made for Project Okurase (out of African fabrics) are now on ETSY, an interntational online shop dedicated to handmade items.  We have named the shop "Threads of Change".  Check it out and mark your favorite item!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mudcloth Messenger Bag

For the past couple of weekends, I've been working on this prototype of a messenger bag made out of the mudcloth. The inside is lined with gold and black handpainted African fabric, with four interior pockets. The adjustable straps are actually made out of seatbelt webbing (how cool is that?) and for closures on the flap, I used the twist-lock closures I used for the cuff bracelets and the clutches.  Do you like it? Do you think it's unisex, or more appealing to the guys?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

World's Oldest Leather Shoe

This is so fascinating...the oldest leather shoe yet discovered was kept in pristine condition by a thick layer of sheep dung in a cave in Armenia for 5,500 years, according an international team of archaeologists.  Check out the shoe laces and the eyelets!  They say it probably belonged to a woman (it's the equivalent of a size 5) but could easily be a man's shoe if the man was small in stature.  This shoe pre-dates the Egyptian pyramids! Since its discovery however, exposure to the elements has hardened the leather; when it was found, the leather was soft and now it's hard as a rock.  I'm really surprised at how modern this shoe looks, and it's proof that people have been lacing up their shoes for at least 5500 years.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our first distributor!

It's official! Several of our Ghanian products for Project Okurase are now being sold at The Mindful Nest in Burbank! The store focuses on "contemporary crafts with a conscience". When you go in, you'll find some of our cuff bracelets, clutches and keychains...all made out of African mudcloth and beatiful batik fabric from Ghana. Check it out!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Unique Los Angeles Spring Show, April 24-25

Unique LA was once again, loads of fun, tons of work, and the impetus for a slew of new products. All the proceeds from product sales are going to the sewing center in the village of Okurase in Ghana. (See for details.) Enjoy the images!

Laura and Rhion before the show on Saturday morning

Bags and clutches

Our booth

Flour sacks made in Ghana

Cade and Powerful, a native of Ghana - the drumming was amazing!!

Rhion and her son Cade, who sacrificed his entire weekend to help us

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sewing as a Contact Sport

I think I have the sewer’s equivalent of tennis elbow. Getting ready for the Unique LA Trade Show, I have pricked my finger tips with hundreds of needles, I have a callous on my index finger from cutting with large shears, and my right arm is actually sore, stiff and slow! (Since I’m left-handed, I think my right hand doesn’t get as much of a workout as it’s been getting. And believe me, pushing huge needles through thick African mudcloth is a workout!) In addition, my neck is sore, my back hurts and my fingers are stiff.

As if that weren’t enough, I broke (or seriously jammed) one of my toes when, rushing around the sewing table, I ran into a metal base chair. From now on, I’ll be wearing shoes in the house.

Who knew…? I never ached this much when I was dancing Bob Fosse three times a week!

Just for the heck of it, I google’d “sewing injuries” and found a great article on sewing safety: Safety in the Sewing Room

Rule #1 is worth re-printing:

"Rule Number One: Only cut or sew when you are awake, aware and able to focus. If you are tired, distracted, anxious, upset, rushed or tipsy, you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk of injury. If you insist on being in the sewing room anyway, restrict yourself to tasks that do not involve cutting, sewing or ironing."

I might add another rule: SLOW DOWN
(after the trade show, anyway)….

Monday, April 5, 2010

Preview of products

Here's a quick look at some of the products we'll be selling at Unique LA, to benefit the village of Okurase in Ghana. I'm sewing non-stop until April 24 (when I'm not singing)!

My friend Jaime modeling the travel bag. This bag is made from African mudcloth from Ghana, and the large rings attached to the straps are actually 19th century brass curtain rings!
I made clutches in various sizes out of the mudcloth, with metal twist-lock clasps (which were special-ordered and not easy to find, believe it or not).
The new and improved cuff bracelet! I think we've finally perfected this one. There is a stiff plastic, bendable insert sandwiched and glued inside between the fabric layers, and the metal twist-lock clasps make this bracelet very sturdy and durable.

Check out the inside of the clutch. I added a pocket. This interior fabric is actually from Rwanda and purchased in Ghana. I've been told this is the fancy fabric that the village leaders wear. It's a sheen weave with gold filagree on one side. I hated cutting into it...!

Here's the inside of the large travel bag, with that fabulous interior fabric. There are two large dividers inside the bag, and since this photo was taken, I've added two magnetic snaps to keep the two interior panels together. There's a ton of room in here for clothes, socks, papers, books, etc.
And here's a full view of the travel bag.

It's really been exciting to work with such unique fabric, and there's so much more we have planned. I just received a box of amazing batiked fabric in a myriad of vibrant colors. Stay tuned...!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Unique Los Angeles Design Show - We're in again!

I'll be in the United Link booth again, for the Unique LA Spring Show, April 24-25, in downtown LA. We'll be selling unique products designed and made from African mudcloth and beautiful dyed cotton fabrics - all from Ghana. Proceeds go back to the village of Okurase. The November show was very successful, and this time, we expect sales to go through the roof. In addition to our belts, cuffs and coasters, we have now added keychain fobs, overnight bags, purses, totes, clutches, cuff bracelets with hardward (for the men)...and more. Here are the details:

When: April 24th & 25th, 11am – 6pm both days
Where: California Market Center’s Penthouse (110 East 9th Street – Map It)
Cost: $10 at the door or in advance (kids 12 and under are free).

Your admission includes:
• Free drinks & a hosted bar (IZZE, Honest Tea, water, beer, UNIQUE cocktails)
• Unlimited re-entry for both days
• Your very own collectible tote bag, exclusive to each show… The Spring tote is designed by LA graphic designer Keith Scharwath! Sweet.
• Free eco workshops and cool handmade activities all weekend, brought to you by Your Daily Thread and Quayside Publishing
• Family/Kids creativity zone and seating area
• Access to giveaways and door prizes all weekend long
• Souvenir copy of the Vendor Directory + Mini Magazine

Friday, February 19, 2010

Red chiffon for Valentine's

Here I am singing last weekend wearing the very first top I made for was Valentine's weekend, so I thought the red was just the right shade. I made this out of a (expensive) chiffon or georgette fabric I bought at F&S Fabrics, using different pieces from different patterns, and then I added the burgundy beaded straps. I also designed the little red flower (with beads in the center) and attached it at the flounce seam. I was really proud of this at the time, but last Saturday was my first time wearing it (I had begun to think it resembled a figure skating costume)!

As you can see, I actually made a matching skirt from McCall's Pattern #5055 (which is now out-of-print), and I have yet to wear the two pieces together! Last weekend, I just wanted to rock the top a little bit, so I wore it with fishnets and a short black pencil skirt.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rehab-ing old clothes

Here's an idea...rather than getting rid of those old T-shirts and vests, try embelling them and give them a new life!

Check out this inexpensive vest, which originally had buttons on the front, with no trim. (Boooooooo-ring....)I removed the buttons, added a frog closure, and trimmed the edges with lace. Now it has rock-n-roll vibe, and how cute is it with just a simple white T?

Next, we have a worn, simple peach-colored long T-shirt. I found two matching (sewn by hand) vintage lace pieces from a vintage textile trade show. These pieces look like they may have been cut away from a table cloth or a garment. I basted one piece on the back of the shirt (right unnderneath the neck) and another one on the bottom side. I then sewed them in place and then very carefully cut away the T-shirt fabric behind the lace. The result is a strategically-placed see-through applique.

So, before getting rid of my old clothes, I'm going to view them again with a fresh eye toward embellishing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

19th Century-Inspired Doll Quilt

In the summer of '09, Mom and I popped into a textile store in the preserved mining town of Columbia, CA, where we saw hundreds of reproduction fabrics from the 1800's.  It was so amazing to see all these beautiful calico, paisley and other vibrant prints which were exact duplicates of fabrics used to make clothes over 100 years ago.  I had to have some. I had no idea what I was going to DO with it, but I knew I had to take some of these wonderful fabrics home.

We then saw a book called "Prairie Children and Their Quilts", by Kathleen Tracy. 

Inspired by actual children’s diaries from the American frontier, this book explores the origins of doll quilts made during the era. It also had instructions for making doll-size, antique-style quilts.  Mom told me that she has a wooden doll bed up in the attic, which was never used.  It has always been a dream to put it together with her prized Madame Alexander doll from the 1940's - so we decided we would buy packages of reproduction quilting squares, and the book, and I would make (my first) quilt.


(Click to enlarge)

This was the most rewarding project. All of the squares are made from 1800's-era reproduction fabrics, and the background and border fabric was made from vintage fabric I picked up at an estate sale.

I can't wait to give this to Mom on her birthday!