E-Books on Sale


Greetings as 2017 comes to an end and we anticipate 2018!

To encourage needle artists in their creativity the “Needle Arts with Vision Loss” e-books are 50% off at Smashwords. To access the sale click the links below:

Needle Arts with Vision Loss: How To Enjoy Making Braided Rugs Without Sight: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/415873
Needle Arts with Vision Loss: How to Enjoy Needle Felting Without Sight: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/415878
Needle Arts with Vision Loss: How to Enjoy Machine Sewing Without Sight: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/530511
May you be inspired to continue in needle arts with your creativity regardless of the status of your vision. Keep on stitching!

Discovery: Lumenaris for Needle Felting Projects

It is always fun to discover a new resource to help with a Needle Arts project!

At a sewing and craft show I discovered Lumenaris, http://www.lumenaris.com, with their vast array of colors, shapes and sizes of pre-cut wool felt pieces. Useful, if folk don’t want to cut wool felt shapes for needle felting. Check out my book on Needle Felting book for non-visual adaptive techniques, “Needle Arts with Vision Loss: How to Enjoy Needle Felting Without Sight”. Free audio is at the Book Series menu tab or ebook format at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/415878 . Also for hand sewers, sew the shapes together using the blanket stitch with pearl cotton thread for embellishing garments to toys. See the Appendix of my Machine Sewing book for non-visual hand sewing tips, Needle Arts with Vision Loss: How to Enjoy Machine Sewing Without Sight: ebook https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/530511   or  print hard copy https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Needle-Arts-With-Vision-Loss-How-to-Enjoy-Machine-Sewing-Without-Sight-POD.

With a good working knowledge of adaptive blind techniques, a visually impaired person can create needle felted pieces competently and safely, resulting in beautiful projects!

Marlene's felted runner

A brown felt table runner with red, golden yellow and white roving circles. Along with pre-cut autumn leaves of lime green, olive green, evergreen, and turquoise. Thank you to a former student, Maureen, for allowing me to share a picture of her Needle Felting project using supplies found at a different source.

Below are Coaster instructions for an experienced Needle Felter.

Keep on enjoying needle felting safely without sight!

Needle Felting Coasters

Fiber-to-Fabric (roving or pre-cut wool felt shapes to felt fabric)  Tools & Materials List

  • Felting Needles in 2 sizes: 36-gauge for coarse wool or basting work, 38-gauge for all-purpose needling and appliqué.
  • The Felting Punch Tool is a multi-needle tool with a built-in plastic finger guard.
  • Natural Fit Leather Thimble or Latex finger protectors.
  • Clover Felting Punch Mat or dense foam 2 inches thick.
  • Roving or carded wool, felt, yarns and threads.
  • Foundation fabrics of wool felt cut into coaster shape/size.
  • Cookie cutters for shaping design, if using roving
  • Large tray for containing/organizing project

Adaptive Techniques and Tips for Dry Felting Process

  1. Designing-

Place cookie cutter shape or roving or pre-cut felt pieces or yarns on fabric for design placement.

  1. Setting up foundation on the punch mat-

Lay the coaster foundation fabric on the punch mat; then lay wool roving inside cookie cutter. And place felt pieces or yarns in position.

  1. Needle punching-

Start needle punching to anchor or “baste” at center and around the design edges. Then continue needle punching systematically using a grid pattern (think of a window screen pattern) motion over the entire shape. In addition, keep fingers not holding the punch covered with latex tips or leather finger guards and clear of the active working space. Needle Safety is important.

  1. Affirming felted shape –

Periodically lift the foundation fabric to check if the shape is coming through with fuzzy edges. Keep punching till the design can be felt with your fingers on the underside.

Problem Solving Questions: Why is the fiber not entering through the fabric? Patiently keep punching. Or test a new needle or change needle size for the materials being used.

Q & A: Adapting Strip Quilting

Questions: Where does a Visually Impaired person start when it comes to quilting or is quilting possible?

Yes, quilting is possible to do non-visually.

I have found the strip quilting method is not complicated non-visually. This technique is conducive to team sewing, along with being very systematic and organized without many tiny pieces. There are numerous books in the market that give detailed instructions on strip quilting for patterns such as Trip Around the World or Log Cabin.

Inspiration to share some adaptive quilting techniques I have taught, came after seeing the San Francisco Quilt Guild’s show last weekend. Besides beautiful quilts, I found a vendor who restores Featherweights and other vintage sewing machines. www.Twiceniceshoppe.com

Venture out for inspiration and keep on enjoying needle arts without sight.

Useful Non-visual Adaptive techniques 

Organizationa and labeling– As a non-visual quilter, be very methodical and keep very organized with each pattern piece/fabric. For organization and labeling, “match makers” are great for marking the wrong side of the pieces and keeping the different colors separated. Also lock plastic bags of various sizes keep the different colors/sections together. Have a master label chart for each project showing the system of labeling. Besides assisting as a reminder for oneself, a chart also helps when a sighted person is needed to give accurate double checking feed back. It’s important to label pieces while going through each step systematically. Check the Appendix of my books for more pointers on organization and labeling ideas.

Cutting StripsFor making strips, I prefer tearing strips of fabric on the cross-grain when possible. Paper patterns of strips can be pinned and cut out with scissors. Other ways use a rotary cutter with a retractable guard and a thick cutting guide of wood. To use the retractable guard rotary cutter along with a thick rotary cutter guide is the safest way I have found for someone visually impaired to use the rotary cutter. See Resources below for instructions on constructing the rotary cutter guide, if you know someone with woodshop skills. This guide is designed to keep the hand up and away from the blade edge more than a ruler would give.


Hand position on top of board. Fingers away from the cut out guide edge.

I recommend practicing with the blade protection locked on the rotary cutter to be sure one is safe with the technique before cutting out strips of fabric. IMG_3012

SeamsQuarter inch seams are used in quilting. I recommend a permanent tactile guide tape on the machine. The advantage to a stable 1/2-inch guide tape is that there is no need to re-adjust and re-measure a guide for the different seam widths each time a different size seam is sewn. The needle positioned to the far left will provide 1/4-inch seam when the fabric is following the left edge of a tactile guide tape. Or use a 4.0 mm twin needle. Cut off the right needle leaving the left needle. This gives a needle off-centered to the left for a 1/4-inch seam allowance when following the left edge of the 1/2-inch guide tape. Details are in the Resources below for adding 1/2-inch tactile guide tape to the sewing machine. Another way, if you don’t use the guide tape, is to use the needle positions mentioned with Creative Feet’s Satinedge foot for 1/4-inch seams.


Creative Feet, www.creativefeet.com for the Satinedge foot.

Constructing a WOOD BOARD ROTARY CUTTER GUIDE – Needed materials: 3/4-inch thick wood board of 24 inches or desired length, table saw, measuring tools and sand paper.

  1. Decide on width of strips for project including seam allowances. For example, for a finished 3-inch piece in quilting, the board will need to be 3 1/2 -inches wide (allowing for the 1/4-inch seam allowances on either side). The board also needs to be 3/4-inch thick.
  2. For the first cut, set table saw blade at 9/16-inch width from fence with a 5/8-inch blade height, then tip the blade to a 22 1/2 degree angle.
  3. First cut is for the angle, with the board width face down.
  4. After the first cut, change the saw blade to a 90 degree angle and shorten the blade to 1/2-inch height with the fence 3/16 -inch from the blade.
  5. Place board with back against fence to remove wood from the angle just cut to reveal a ledge that allows the rotary cutter screw space to pass along the edge. A relaxed “L” shaped edge results.
  6. Sand edges with one or two swipes to remove any splinters. Use sand paper wrapped around a wood block. Then finish the wood as desired so fabric will not get stained.
View of board's end

View of board’s end

GUIDE TAPE Instructions– Needed materials: 1/2-inch straight edge medical tape or adhesive labeling tape

Lay the tape so the right edge of the tape is 5/8-inch to the right of the centered needle. Use at least four layers of tape. Except for alongside the feed dog, use one to two layers of tape. Cut the tape narrower alongside the feed dog so the tape does not cover the teeth.


Half-inch tactile guide tape placed on sewing machine & table. Note cut out around feed dog.

The right edge of the guide tape is 5/8-inch away from the centered needle. The left edge of the guide tape is 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch from the centered needle. If the machine model has adjustable needle positions, more variations of seam allowances are possible. The needle positioned to the far left will provide 1/4-inch seam when the fabric is following the left edge of the guide tape. Or the needle positioned to the far right and following the right edge of the guide tape will provide 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Star Tech, 1601 Fulton Ave., Sacramento, CA 95825, Phone 916-488-3480, www.STARTECH-INTL.COM. For: “Match Makers” a tactual identification and marking system (great for marking pieces for quilting). Some quilt stores also carry them.

2017 Spring/Summer Fashion

Spring gardens are definitely reflected in this season’s fashion prints, colors and textiles. There is something to be found for whatever style desired; especially in classic, bohemian, retro 1950’s to 1980’s and Asian Indian influences. Any needle artist who can do embroidery and other embellishments will have many inspirations to make their wardrobe or “Upcycle or reworked” garments to rival the manufactured or couture houses pieces. “Streetwear or style”, “athletic-leisure” and “Capsule” or small core wardrobe themes continue to be seen especially from the couture houses doing more ready-to-wear garments. “Street Style” or “Street Fashion” is using ones own clothes to show your personality along with being trendy. Or fashion inspired by the contemporary grassroots cultural movement/youth culture folk mainly seen in urban centers. And within the street fashion there are distinctive styles influenced by the athletic-leisure, California surf and skate culture, hip-hop, Japanese street fashion and modern haute couture. The street fashion appears to be influencing the haute couture fashion more these days than the other way around. Some wonder if street style is no longer a person living their original style and instead are putting on a street style just for the style of show.“Capsule wardrobe” is focusing  on minimalizm as folk are living in smaller places or wanting to simplify their lives. Keeping to the basics or essential items of clothing that stay in fashion. Classic pieces such as trousers, skirts, blouses or shirts, a little dress for dressing any occasion. These pieces can be accented with accessories or other clothing pieces for different occasions and seasons.

This season the garments for men and women have similar colors, prints and textiles minus the embroidery and ruffles for men. Use the following info as a springboard to help communicate with others what you want for your personal style as you shop. Check the resources in my books for describing colors and prints to assist the visually impaired. Colors: The dominant colors found in clothing for women and men this season are the Pantone color picks for spring/summer 2017. The following first eight colors are found in the bright to pastel range although they are more bright than pastel.

“Pink Yarrow” I would described as a bright pink bougainvillea flower.

“Flame” a bright orange red like a geranium flower.

“Primrose Yellow” that is going toward the orange yellow primroses or orange melon.

“Greenery”, imagine the inside of a lime or a garden lawn.

“Kale”, imagine the outside of a dark lime.

“Island Paradise”, imagine a light blue turquoise stone.

“Niagara”, imagine a dark blue turquoise stone.

“Lapis Blue” just as the Lapis stone.

“Pale dogwood” my description is pale skin tone pink/peach or rose gold without the metallic. In my opinion, a color not everyone can wear well; so go for a deeper tone such as Tea Rose or Apricot.

“Hazelnut” not the color of hazelnuts but more like light pink tan sand.

Besides the Pantone list: “Cornflower blue” Plus a range of light to dark blues; contrast denim.  Khaki or army green and tan leather.

Color combinations: Think of the colors combined in flowers of a garden or the ocean beach; the above mentioned colors go together in any combination; contrasting such as black or navy with white; all white; dark or light turquoise stripe with white.

Prints: Florals, small to giant in size; insects to fish and animals; stripes; plaids; polka dots; color blocking.

Fabrics: Fluid to taut in light to medium weights of cotton, linen, silk, blends of these natural fibers, leather and mixed with man-made fibers, such as rayon, bamboo or polyester. These fabrics are in knits, tulle or fine netting and weaves. Weaves of handkerchief weights such as gauge, voile, lawn, organza and organdy to medium weights of linen and materials such as kid leather. Sheer fabrics and netting are mixed with heavier fabrics. Much texture is seen with mixing fabrics or adding applique, embroidery, burn-out fibers, lace, eyelet, knit, crochet, macramé and summer tweeds.

Details: Artistic texture is shown in the embellishments or mix of diverse fabrics. Less hardware from last year and more embellishments of embroidery, smocking, trim, lace, beading, fabric manipulation, and applique cover the garments, handbags and shoes. Embroidery is on all weights and types of fabric or materials; including tulle and leather. Button and loop closures; ruffles, bows or ties, bobbles and tassels; or poet sleeves; frayed hems; frayed stepped hem at ankle of jeans; torn jean legs.

For Women

Silhouettes/style: clean, layering of pieces, relaxed, sheer fabric over-lays, romantic, bohemian, retro, artistic.

Garment Pieces: corsets as belts over dresses; short thigh high to long maxi dresses; a short underskirt overlaid with a sheer skirt; mixing the heavy fabric with the sheer in strategic areas of the body. Or sheer fabric with embellishments on the fabric to cover certain areas of the body; and for such dresses I would recommend a silk slip dress underneath to avoid wrong attention. Dress styles of T-shirt, column, drop-waist or A-line; full, straight or tulip skirts. Shells and tanks with asymmetrical, round, V or boat necklines; bralettes or Sari tops worn with skirts or slim jeans or shorts. Shirts in tunic to long dress length; Henley tunics or dresses. white blouse or shirt; a blue stripe shirt or blouse with the stripes going in different directions to emphasize the lines of the garment; 3/4 -length bell shaped sleeves; a shirt or blouse embellished with texture such as embroidery or cut out shoulders. Exaggerated styling in shirts with oversized cuffs and trousers have extra-wide legs with gathered cinched waist with long belt strap hanging like a tassel. Skinny to wide ankle grazing trousers; jeans and trousers with high waists (helpful for folk needing a high-rise); jumpsuits.

Outer Wear: Jackets- Suit jackets are below hip length, loose fit over the fuller trouser; or short leather jackets worn with dresses and skirts; lightweight anoraks or lightweight classic trench coats; dusters or maxi cardigans.

Accessories: Hats- Fisherman, beanie, Panama, fedora, or straw. Is a great way to add to your style and protect your face from the sunrays and glare.

Scarves- neck scarves in square or narrow long shapes.

Jewelry- statement earrings with simple sculpture or long or large earrings as in Bobbles or chandeliers. Chunky ankle bracelets; layers of thick or thin wrist bracelets; layers of delicate neck chains or worn individually; flowers and chunky statement pieces.

Sunglasses- large and heavy frames with or without wire portions in the frame with shapes of aviator, cat eye, round or square.

Belts- leather or textile; tie on belt with tassels; corsets

Footwear- leather or fabric with embroidery, bling, braid, floral details or clean smooth lines. Sandals with ties or ankle straps; gladiator sandals. Slides, in athletic or sandal style depending on the materials used. Mules; flat and mule in one shoe by folding down the back of the shoe to be a mule. Ballet flats, point-toe flats, loafers, espadrilles, chunky heels or platform shoes, athletic inspired shoes with bling or prints; slip-on sneakers.

Handbags- Styles in saddlebag, bucket or pouch and clutches in small to mini-sized; small can still make a statement and save your back. You will find top-handles of metal or leather along with shoulder or cross-body straps; and totes. Looks will be clean smooth lines with minimum metals or covered with embroidery or have a few metal accents.

Have fun layering or try using your needle arts skills. For starters, embellish with trim or lace or silk ribbon embroidery for texture and color on your jeans, tops and accessories.



Q & A: How does one non-visually trim a hem allowance evenly?

Templates are the key. First someone has to measure the hem length up from the floor and pin the hem in place.

Decide what width of hem is needed, then cut a template out of lightweight cardboard. I use cardboard from the back of note pads or packaging. Use a paper cutter to cut the templates.

Having multiple sizes is useful to have around for reuse. In sizes such as 1/2-inch, 1 inch, 1-1/4inch, 2 inch, 2-1/4inch with each labeled in a non-visual method of your choice.

I like to use office clips to hold the cardboard even with the bottom fold of the hem. If office clips aren’t available then use large paper clips.


Next cut the excess fabric away. To do this, place the fabric to be cut between the scissor blades. Line the bottom scissor blade which is under the fabric against the top edge of the cardboard. Do this by feeling the fabric fold over the blade. Be careful not to catch the fabric under the bottom blade you don’t want to cut. Then cut.


I will often use appliqué scissors or pelican blade scissors to make it easier to not clip the fabric on the underside of the bottom scissor blade.

Once the excess is trimmed away the next step is to sew the hem. This is described in my Machine Sewing book.

Sample or purchase Needle Arts with Vision Loss: How to Enjoy Machine Sewing Without Sight: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/530511   or  https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Needle-Arts-With-Vision-Loss-How-to-Enjoy-Machine-Sewing-Without-Sight-POD

Enjoy trimming your hems without unintended cuts.



Knitting Project Update #6~ Sweater Construction and Blocking

Working with mohair yarn

I prefer the variegated color of mohair yarn for the mystery of how the colors will show in the pattern and so the eye gets distracted from the inconsistency of stitch tension. Working with mohair can be a challenge, so I don’t recommend it for beginners. The challenges come with the light airy fibers tangling with each other and the thinness of the yarn. Thus, missing or adding stitches in numerous ways. One tip to prevent the yarn from slipping off the needle, as I knit a stitch I hold the stitches following the stitch being knitted with my second finger. To keep track of key rows or decreases, I use many small safety pins.

Blocking and finishing construction

Once the sleeves were finished, blocking the sweater came next with a gentle wash, squeezing and rolling in a towel. Then laying the sweater out on a layer of two towels, I stretched the sweater into shape measuring to make sure the sides and sleeves were even to each other and my original desired measurements.

Blocking sweater

Blocking sweater

Once the sweater was dry and after trying on the sweater I decided I wanted less fullness in the bodice. To do this without taking the sweater apart, I created a back inverted pleat. At the center back of the sweater I marked the center with a running stitch of satin cording that I removed after the pleat was completed.

marking completed

A running stitch of satin cording to mark the center back of sweater.

measuring & pinning pleat

Measuring and pinning the inverted pleat

Adding the button at the top of sewn pleat

Adding the button with mohair yarn at the top of marked pleat

The pleat is held with hidden mohair yarn stitching on the inner and outer pleat folds, 1/4-inch from the folded edges.

stitching inner fold of pleat

stitching the inner pleat fold

stitching outer fold of pleat

stitching the outer pleat fold

The color-coordinating decorative glass antique 1-inch button from my stash tops the pleat. With the yarn ends woven into the sweater my sweater is finished!

Back of Finished sweater!

View of the sweater back. The sweater is finished!

Thank you to my friend Vanessa for cheering me on in numerous ways so the sweater would get done in time for my trip. And thank you to those of you who followed my journey through the making of this sweater.

In the near future I will be showing you what I will be wearing with the sweater and let you get glimpses of my winter trip :)

In the meantime those of you celebrating Thanksgiving, may you focus on the family, friends and things in your life that you can be grateful for and be the example for others to be grateful for the small and big things of life.

Keep on being creative with Needle Arts~



Sweater project~ Adding Sleeves

With my narrow shoulders, I decided to double check the length and use a safety pin marker for my shoulder length. The safety pins on the shoulder seam mark the placement for where to place the sleeves at the end of the shoulders. I chose to knit the sleeves from the armhole down to the cuff. For the sleeve stitching, I started at the armhole underarm by inserting the crochet hook into each stitch  around the armhole. Creating stitches and slipping the stitches onto the knitting needle, while at the same time adjusting for my shoulder length. Since I was already diverting from the original pattern and I desired tighter sleeves, I took detailed notes of my changes for both sleeves to turn out the same. This involved counting/math and a few rip outs to get the desired shape and size I wanted.

using crochet hook to create stitches for sleeves

using crochet hook to create stitches for sleeves

sleeve stitches added, beginning of round at armpit marked with a safety pin

sleeve stitches added, beginning of round at armpit is marked with a safety pin

round 2 of the sleeve beginning, using yarn row marker

round 2 of the sleeve beginning, using yarn row marker

The yarn row marker is made up of a large yarn loop with knots spaced apart the size of the needle. Each loop between the knots is a row. I will add a safety pin at the end for each time I am doubling the number of loops to keep track of the rows.

ready to switch to smaller needles at cuff

ready to switch to smaller needles at cuff

smaller size needle and double point to continue knitting in the round to the end

smaller size needle and double points to continue knitting in the round to the end

Sleeve is completed!

Sleeve is completed!

Ready to knit and complete the second sleeve. Almost done :)

Keep on with your project~