This has been a wonderful, surprising 6 months for me/my business. The commissions began really rolling in this summer—to the point that I had to turn down commissions for Christmas beginning in August!!! 

The quilts I’ve been creating the last few months have run the gamut from baby clothes quilts to very creative, client-driven projects.

This quilt was created with dresses—-my client’s, her daughter’s, and her granddaughter’s! Included were all kinds of textiles including beaded dresses, velvet, knit and vintage. Lots of great memories sewn up in this one!

Crazy pieced memory quilt

















Here’s another quilt, and a very different one. This is a block-style quilt from men’s shirts. This man was a horse-shoer and see the sashing strips? Horseshoe fabric! The whole back is this fabric, also.

quilt from shirts

This batch of shirts included a number of solid shirts. The western pocket shirts had interest, the stripes looked interesting, but I thought the solid blocks needed a little something “extra”.

free-motion quilting


I did free-motion quilting on these blocks—each unique. I think this quilt is different and interesting–not too busy but not just boring blank squares, either!



free motion quiltingquilting

shirt quilt






See the heart quilted on the red block? Representing the love between these 2 folks.

Easy NO-SEW Chair Re-Upholstery


We are remodeling and staging our previous home for sale, in the hopes that literal “sweat equity” will get it sold quickly, once we put it on the market. The staging part is the process I’m enjoying and will share some of my ideas here.

I found a woman who is Certified in Home Staging and Design. Tracy Evans was willing to do a consultation by mail to help me with some stumbling blocks. Her advice eased our anxiety about some of our choices and was SO reasonably priced—-we’re watching every penny and this was definitely well-worth it!

So—on to one of my first projects!

Chair Re-Upholstery With A Glue Gun

By “with a glue gun” I mean “with ONLY a glue gun” and scissors!

I’ve re-upholstered chairs this way before and they turned out lovely. And they were perfectly fine to use—-though I might not use this method on heavily used furniture.

The Chair:

I found a great vintage chair at an estate sale (the “before” picture) and I bought 1 1/2 yards of printed burlap at the fabric store. I also bought a can of semi-gloss black spray paint. Before working on upholstery, I sprayed the rattan and wood arms and sides of the chair. I didn’t mask anything off, as it would all be covered by new fabric. I also spray painted the lower front section of the chair. Yes, I spray painted the fabric. It’s OK. Really.




Glue Gun Upholstery

(NOTE: Be sure to use high-temp hot glue, not the easy-on-your-fingers low-temp stuff. It’s not strong enough to hold the fabric)

With my fabric spread across the back of the chair, I pressed the fabric down into the sides tightly. Pressing the fabric in made a crease I could use as a marker, but you can also stick a pencil down in the crease to mark the fabric. I cut a rectangle as marked,  ADDING a couple of inches on each side, top and bottom.

I started by gluing the upper edge of my fabric to the back side of the chair, making sure I had the piece centered. (The back will be covered with another piece of fabric (black) and where the edges meet, I will glue black upholstery trim.)



I pressed the fabric deeply into the sides, alternating sides, as I worked my way down to be sure I had the fabric smooth and straight. Then I went back and, working a section at a time, pulled the fabric out, spread open the area where the chair meets the cushion and laid in a stripe of hot glue, then quickly replaced the fabric, pressing it in deeply.

A butter knife or other smooth, rounded object can be used to press in the fabric if your fingers are tender. I’ve got tough “old lady in the kitchen” fingers so I generally just use my hands.





Since the back cushion is visible through the sides, I double-checked as I went to make sure I was tucking my fabric in deep enough.

It’s amazing how well the hot glue holds!





Getting the fabric around the wooden edges was a little trickier, as I couldn’t leave any raw edges. I carefully pushed the fabric down in where I could,



then snipped a bit at a time til I could fold under the edge where it met the wood. I applied the glue to the chair, then carefully folded my fabric under and pressed it into the glued edge.


I got excited with my progress and neglected to take many photos of the seat cushion upholstery, but here’s what I did:

First I cut a strip that went all the way around the side of the cushion, with about 4″ extra on each side, and a couple of inches to fold under on one end. Starting at the back, I glued this strip along the edges to the seat cushion, gluing just under the piping and again above the piping on the seat edges. When I got back around to my starting point, I carefully folded under the end and glued it in place.

For the top of the seat, I rough-cut a square to more-than-cover the seat. Starting at the center front, I began folding under a couple of inches and gluing it to the seat. I made fine lines of glue, very close to where my folded edge would be so as to hold the edge close. I worked a bit on one side and the the other so I wouldn’t pull the fabric too far to one side as I worked. I also trimmed the excess fabric as I went so I only folded under a couple of inches—that way it wouldn’t be too bulky.

NO SEW vintage chair

Being as how this is quick and (relatively) easy, I did not cover the bottom of the seat cushion. The side edges are glued down well under the edge—no one will ever know (well, except for you, of course!)

FINISHING: I covered the back of the chair with some black fabric. I added a burlap ribbon trim around the upper seam on the seat as well as across the upper back edge and down the sides. A little trim hides a multitude of sins!


I used this technique on 2 wing-back chairs some years ago. I used bright red trim and I thought the chairs were really cute. (I used a staple gun on these chairs, but the glue gun worked fine for my current project.)

1-Timber Ridge House016

 I’m pleased to announce that I will now be selling my original patterns and design tutorials! 

 The debut of this aspect of my business features this purse pattern:

Dale” is a medium sized purse pattern with 2 inside pockets and designed to feature a belt, scarf or tie.

Order the PDF Pattern HERE!



The "Dale" Handbag
The “Dale” Handbag

“Dale” is an original  purse pattern with pockets and belt from Amy Cavaness Designs. This medium sized purse is fully lined and has 2 inside pockets: a patch pocket and a zippered pocket. The straps form belt loops on the bag, through which you may run a belt, a scarf, or some other fabric tie.

I designed the purse straps to be the perfect length so the bag “tucks in” at my waist and the straps don’t fall off my shoulders.

This pattern originated with my drawer full of pretty belts that fit before, well, 4 babies and many years changed my waistline! I thought how fun it would be to have a bag that could wear my belts for me. A 25″ belt fits perfectly as-is, but I alter other belts to fit.

My original bag was made in a cute “Roy Rogers & Dale Evans” fabric (with red faux-tooled-leather straps) thus the name, “Dale”

Vintage Barkcloth Bag in Belle Armoire


This purse can be made in 2 styles: 

Rounded bottom
(right)Squared bottom (seen above)   

Both styles are included in the pattern and directions.




Clear, step-by-step instructions are fully illustrated with photographs from the construction of the brown & orange purse shown above.


This pattern has a couple of great features, useful for ANY purse you might make:

an inside zippered pocket and a reinforced bottom panel. 

Inside zippered pocket

I have bought many patterns for handbags, none of which tell how to make an inside zippered pocket. I don’t know why not–if you can sew a rectangle, you can make this pocket! Once I learned how to do this, I put a zippered pocket inside ALL my bags, and will probably put them in jackets, too. (And exposed zippers are all the rage in everything from clothing to accessories right now!)


The “Dale” handbag pattern is a PDF download which will be sent to your email address after purchase.

To purchase this pattern, go HERE to my Artfire Shop where you can pay via Paypal or Amazon. The pattern and instructions print out on 8 1/2″ X 11″ paper.

My love-affair with vintage barkloth and this style bag has been going on for many years, as evidenced by these variations of Dale.

IMG_0777-001 Barkcloth Belted Purse






Peacock Feather Bag






Halloween Purse

Vintage Barkloth bag



This is an option for a future handbag. This is my favorite type of print–a rural/scenic design featuring farmland, which is what I’m surrounded by here in central Illinois.


This red suede belt is one I’ve been hoping to use with this pattern. I think it really makes the red barns pop! I think this will be cute for spring with a pale gray lining.




I LOVE this belt! I LOVE tooled leather (even faux tooled leather!)

This combination is going to make a great purse (as the belt isn’t going around my waist anytime soon!) I might make the lining from some old blue jeans….

And speaking of old jeans–I hope to make a Dale out of upcycled denim and use some of my old scarves on it. 


Ruffled Zipper Bag/Clutch

 Up next: my “Cute ‘n Sassy” ruffled zipper bag!

(HINT: It’s already available in my Artfire shop HERE!!!!)

Sewing with vintage table linens is such fun! Unique prints and materials. Lace, embroidery, crochet trim, fun prints—-so many options!

Tops and jackets are just about my favorites to sew from tablecloths. I created a 50’s-style jacket from  a funky vintage (1940’s?) tablecloth that featured dozing Mexicans, donkeys with flowered hats, etc–a popular theme from that era. I laid out the jacket front on the corners and had the border design continue around the back. I used a complementary apple green for the sleeves and collar. A couple of scraps from the edge trim design looked pretty cute on the sleeves and tied everything together. I stacked black and white vintage buttons for a bold closure,




Another fun top I designed was made with 2 different tablecloths. One was a big floral in pinks and reds, the other was an embroidered tablecloth with a cross-stitched center section. I created the blouse  from the floral cloth and used the cross-stitched circle to create a flowing collar. In lieu of a facing, I bound the top edge with a strip of linen, which I then crimped and pleated for a unique look. I covered big buttons with floral scraps for the front closure.


I’ve created a few tops from an Indygo Junction pattern that is an easy shape and calls for big blocks of mixed textiles. Vintage barkcloth and tablecloths have been favorite materials for these tops. The front tab always looks great with big, funky vintage buttons. I inherited some table linens with beautiful cutwork embroidery and crocheted lace. I’ve experimented with dying some of these and this first top used sections of tablecloth that I tea-dyed. The upper sections are from vintage barkcloth curtains.




The next top is a mix of vintage textiles and the top is large Jacquard napkins I dyed a soft blue-green. Again, the balance of the top is from vintage barkcloth and other similar textiles. See the cute stacked buttons on the sleeve?



This vest also uses sections of Mom’s table linens which I dyed a soft pinkish-brown. The other side of the vest is, again, vintage barkcloth. The back makes this a trifecta of recycling! It’s cut from a brown denim dress I bought at Goodwill, originally just for the buttons. The flat-felled seams appear like princess seams, though the piece is actually cut in one piece on the fold.



Aprons have been a fun and easy way to recycle vintage tablecloths. Jeans and denim overalls make great foundations for sturdy, useful aprons.

Here I used some overalls to create a bib apron, adding a ruffle along the bottom from a tablecloth. This is a great way to make use of a tablecloth that has a few stains in the center “eating area”. The borders of the tablecloths hung, for the most part, off the edge of the table, so they didn’t get as soiled as the center areas.




This next bib-style apron was fashioned entirely from a single tablecloth and some solid pink fabric I had in my stash.








And here’s another darling apron made from a tablecloth printed with big red geraniums and Kelly green leaves. My neighbor dances around her kitchen in this beauty!

Next is a photo of Yours Truly wearing my dress made from a large floral tablecloth. I needed something cool to wear for the hot outdoor summer markets and this dress really fit the bill. I created a matching apron from a pair of red jeans and the dress sash went right through the belt loops!

And how cute is this little girl’s dress??? One of my favorite creations! The little button-on apron is the inspiration for this whole piece. It’s actually a napkin from a 1950’s table linens set. (My first thought was “Eeww! Who wants to eat on linens that color?!”  But that brown and yellow-green are hot colors once again these days and I had the brown fabric in my stash of cotton prints. The brown and white plaid is a bit of fabric I had left from high school!! (We’re talking 1970’s—peasant top!) I’ve had many moves since those days, but some things just don’t get tossed for another move—like FABRIC!!! (See, boys and girls, this is how you end up with “vintage” textiles!)




Last spring I participated in an inspiration card deck swap coordinated by Jessica Brogan. All the participants (over 100, I believe) took a pack of playing cards and created 52 unique art cards with inspirational sayings on them. These were mailed off to Jess, who threw them all in a big pile (wink, wink) and created decks of 52 different cards to send back to the participants. So what we received were great decks of art and inspiration, with a new card for each week.

It’s been such fun to see the variety of styles of art. As fart as I know, I was the only person to make mine with fabric (hey–I’m a fabric artist! What else am I gonna use???) Jess has asked me to create a tutorial for how I made mine and I must admit I did quite a bit of research before I began and couldn’t find much on how to do this project with fabric. There are tutorials on creating postcard sized ATC’s, but that’s not really what we’re doing here. My process is easy and fun and a great way to use scraps and play with fabrics and trims. I especially enjoyed the small scale, which allowed me the opportunity to experiment without a big investment in time, materials or mental commitment. So, this is PLAY time!


Instructions for Creating Fabric-Covered

Inspiration Cards

    • Playing Cards  This is a good way to use up incomplete decks of cards (yes, now there’s ANOTHER thing to hang on to because you might need it!)
    • Heat ‘n Bond  You can get a package of this stuff at craft stores, fabric stores, Walmart, etc. I bought the “Lite” kind, but you can get the regular stuff in the red package as well. (“Lite” is something you can sew through, but we’re not sewing, so it just doesn’t matter.)
    • Fabrics, trims…..whatever you want to play with. I’ve used some of my fabric-painting experiments on these cards. Keep in mind with the trims that these cards should be quite flat, so don’t use bulky buttons or 3 dimensional objects.
    • Paints, inks, etc. The accenting and embellishing is creative fun–have at it! Some suggestions are included later.
    • Inspirational phrases printed on paper, cut out
    • Glue. I use a standard craft glue which I water down a bit because it spreads easier. I pour a little in a dish or lid and paint it on with a paint brush. For this project even Elmer’s is fine. I don’t recommend glue sticks because I’m gluing laces and trims that I think the liquid stuff will work better with.
    • Scissors….nice sharp scissors for cutting fabric neatly. Do not, however, use your good fabric scissors because you will be cutting through paper which dulls scissors. I’ve got some little pointy Fiscars that I love. If you fabric frays when you cut it, your scissors are too dull.
    • Iron. The Heat ‘n Bond says to set the iron to Medium, no steam. 


    • You’ll notice the Heat ‘n Bond has a shiny side and a paper side. Lay out a set of 8-10 cards on the H’nB and mark the borders, then cut out that piece.
    • Lay the cards on the shiny side of the H’nB and cover with a piece of paper or parchment to keep from getting glue on your iron.
    • Press firmly, then let cool. 
    • Now you can cut a piece a piece of H’nB to apply fusible
      to the other side of the card, depending on what you plan to do with the back.



  • If you fold the cooled bonded cards, you can easily cut them apart. After you cut them, remove the backing paper. If the thin layer of bonding material starts to peel off, you can start peeling from a different place. If you have trouble with larger areas, the glue hasn’t bonded properly and you need to give it another bit of heat from the iron.


Now your cards are read to add fabrics, embellishments and Inspiration!



Card Fronts

For my first card, I traced the shape on the back of my fabric and cut it out on the lines.


Then back to the iron—lay the card with the bonded side up. Position the fabric piece on top of the card, then cover with pressing sheet. Press firmly for 5-10 seconds. Again, let this cool before handling (it’s hot!)


If you want to “test” a piece of fabric to see how it looks, just fold the fabric around the card to see where you prefer to position it.

As an alternative to the “trace and cut” instructions, position your card with the glue side against the wrong side of your fabric, right where you want it, and iron first, then cut out around the card.


Here are 3 of my cards, covered. Time for words of inspiration!



With the paint brush, spread a thin layer of glue on the back of your cut-out phrase. Position on the fabric-covered card and smooth out. I use an old credit card to smooth out any bumps or bubbles.

At this point you can add whatever embellishments seem appropriate. Here I added some trim I’d previously painted green with ink. I painted the back side with my craft glue, then placed in position to dry.



On my other card, I placed a piece of painted trim. Next I dug out my shimmery ink and added a few dabs and swirls.



Something I liked on my first deck was coloring the text strips. The bright white paper sometimes seems too bright, so I tried lightly coloring it to blend in better. On some I just lightly colored with a colored pencil. Keep in mind that markers, being wet, may smear the printer ink on your phrases.

Here I used a brown ink pad and a little dauber to “age” the paper. I think it blends nicely with the vintage-looking fabric and lace.


Card Backs

You can cover the backs of your card with fabric using the same instructions as before. Then you can glue a piece of paper with your info or, as I did here, just write on the fabric with a permanent pen or marker.

Another option is to glue a business card to the back. It’s nice that a standard business card fits almost perfectly on the back. Here I fused fabric first, then used craft glue to attach my business card to the back. In the future, I may just glue my business card, then fill the little gap with some ribbon or marker.


If you have any questions, please email me and I will do my best to clarify. I hope you have fun with this project! I’m thinking these would make great little stocking stuffers or a gift for a special friend.



I haven’t posted recipes here on my blog before, but I’ve gotten a few requests for this one. I make this for just about every party we have and it’s ALWAYS a hit! And it’s got a kick to it, so the host may not want to do too much “sampling” before the festivities get underway (trust me on this!).

  • Mix 2 750 ml bottles of Chablis (that’s 2 regular bottles, or 1 big “jug”…..I buy cheap wine for this, since we’re doctoring it up anyway) with
  • 1 1/2C  sugar 
  • 1 C brandy
  • Slice thinly: 2 lemons, 2 limes, 2 apples, 1 orange

(I usually mix mine in a big stock pot and store in our second refrigerator.)

Let this marinate for several hours or overnight.

  • Dilute with club soda, if desired
  • Very nice served in a punch bowl with an ice ring containing some of the fruit slices OR
  • Serve from a pitcher

I have struggled with my artistic individuality for years. It’s not that I’m not unique, it’s that my work IS unique….unlike what I see elsewhere. When I create my clothing lines, they are fun and funky and different, but I always keep an eye to trends and what other artists are selling. That seems to be where my inner conflict or discomfort originates.

Being influenced is different than trying to influence yourself. The first is about an unconscious absorption of what one sees and experiences that becomes evident as one expresses oneself creatively. The latter is not so natural, it can be artificial, superficial, and feel uncomfortable. Creating something “to sell” is being a crafter. Of course, there is nothing wrong with crafting, but owning that I’m an artist implies creating one-of-a-kind, original, unique pieces. Trying to be authentic, true to myself and trying to somehow fit in with trends is a conflict for me.


I was walking recently and listening to a song in my I-pod. There are some things about this one pop song that I really love.  The whole sound is sort of scratchy-old time sounding. The intro chord progressions are not traditional “rock/pop” sounding.There are vocal runs that sound improvised. There are some growls and tone changes that just get me jazzed. At one point you can hear the vocalist giggle. And once she cusses under her breath. I was boogieing  along (it’s a rural area—no one was watching!), thinking about all the things I love about this song, why I keep listening to it, and then I had an epiphany.

The aspects of this song that I love are what make it really unique. The singer has obvious incredible vocal skills, but that’s not what keeps me coming back. It’s the stuff that is different, not traditional sounding for the genre that I love. It’s the parts of the song that sound like maybe they aren’t supposed to be there that I love. It’s the sound of free-wheeling improvisation (it may have been planned, but it doesn’t sound that way.)

And then I realized maybe these are the same aspects of art, of my quilt art, that other people may be drawn to. And these are the very aspects that make me comfortable with my art not looking like everyone else’s. I feel confident that I have the skills to do what I do. It’s the fear of being different that undermines my confidence. If my work doesn’t look like some others’ work that sells or gets acclaim, is that OK? Will someone want my work?

The answer, I believe, is yes. I guess sounding like popular music gives you a better chance of selling more records. Or just being forgotten for sounding like everyone else. Adopting techniques and materials that are currently popular could help me sell more work. And it increases the chances of my work not being noticed because it looks like everyone else’s. And, most importantly, it doesn’t really make me feel good.

So many artists are struggling to express themselves creatively but at the same time make something they can sell. Artists. Crafters. Trying to be “unique” and at the same time adopting popular trends to help them sell more.

Creating works of art from textiles that are genuine, not adopted from popular trends is not the easy way to go. It is risky, just like aspects of that song I like. That song sold a lot of copies. I’m not the only one who liked that funky, unplanned, raw sounding song. And if my art is funky, appears to have an aspect of being improvised, and a little “raw” rather than perfect, then that’s fine. It’s more than fine. It’s Amy. Other people like a little boogie with their art, too!

I have a Master’s Degree from Northwestern University. In Piano Performance and Pedagogy. And I don’t own a piano. Haven’t for most of 30 years. Isn’t that sad? Not really.

I started piano lessons at age 5. I don’t remember the lessons, or the joy of playing my first melodies. I remember the minute minder sitting there perched on the side of the piano, ticking..ticking..waiting for the *ding* that said my 15 minutes of practicing were up.

I had begun ballet lessons when I was 5, also. I loved ballet. I loved the stretches, the exercises. I remember doing 90 kicks with each leg…front, side, back, 10 at a time….it was exhausting and exhilarating, finishing and knowing I could do it. I can still envision the studio with all the mirrors and the bars mounted on them. I don’t remember the performances.  I had terrible anxiety, even at that young age and was probably too nervous to let the joy of performing dance sink in, but I do remember loving my costumes.

When I was turning 9 we moved to a new city. My mother made me choose which lessons to continue—ballet or piano. I wanted to study dance, but I knew very clearly what my mother wanted me to study, so I chose piano. And that was my choice, and my reason, at every turn throughout the rest of my childhood, college and grad school.

And that is my biggest regret in life.

I still have such a passion for dancing. Nothing makes me feel better. Sometimes when I see people dance they look SO serious, even sad sometimes. I wonder why in the world they are out there. I cannot stop smiling when I’m dancing. I think I exude joy and fun and sexy and every good thing I can feel. Sometimes I go to a dance not feeling the best, not really in the mood. But I go anyway. By the end of the first song everything has changed. The “high” I get from a night of dancing lasts me through the next day.

I suspect this what all performers feel when they are happy—passionate– in their art. There is the natural high from adrenaline but there is more. There is an exchange with the audience that is palpable. There is a shared emotional adventure that is greater than can be felt without an audience.

I could deeply appreciate the emotional journey I took playing a piece of music. But sharing that with an audience brought me such fear it overshadowed/completely dimmed the light and joy I could/should have felt.

Fear of hitting the wrong note. Fear of forgetting where I was. Fear of stopping and not being able to

start again. Fear of being judged.

I never feel that when I dance. And I never feel that when I create art with fabric.

I can’t “hit the wrong note” because I’m making up my own piece. I improvise. I create rules and boundaries where I need them, leave them out where I don’t. And I don’t have to play where someone will judge me before they hear or see the story I’m telling. My passions take me to that zone of sheer joy that puts me out of reach of hurt from criticism. The stories, the steps, are so obviously from my heart that the passion can be felt by others.

When I’m doing what I love to do, I believe my spirit shines through and touches others. They can turn away, they can not like it. But I don’t care because sharing my spirit cannot be wrong.