Wednesday, January 14, 2015


It's been awhile since I've really put the time into thread painting like I used to do. Thread painting is using a sewing machine needle like a paintbrush or if I'm thread sketching, like a pencil. Either way my sewing machine needle acts as my tool for creating a design. Today I went a little crazy with squiggles and thread. It just felt so good to be in a rhythm again doing what I used to spend hours almost every day doing. While the needle did its thing my mind just slipped into a place that cradled my thoughts and nurtured ideas growing there. I. Let. It. Happen. There's no other way for me to say it. There were times I was totally unaware of being at the sewing machine, and the places I wandered off to cannot be named. They were vast and ever-expanding. I felt fluid and stretched while the hum of the machine could be heard in the distance. I don't know what happens to me while I'm in this space. I just know it feels so good that I don't want to come back, but a thread breaks or the bobbin runs empty, and I'm pushed back into my chair with my hands on fabric.

After hours of doing this today, here are some pictures of the almost finished product. I can honestly say that I don't know why the design looks the way it does, why the threads chosen are the colors picked, or why even the choices of fabrics. I just know I did one stitch after another until it turned out like this. I named it "Shine" because that's my intention for now -- to shine who I really am even (or especially) when it scares me. So, after a day of stitching here's to shining brightly!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dear Julia

Dear Julia,

I'm intrigued by your request, and I know how you asked me to respond. However, I've never been really great at following instructions, so instead I've chosen to answer you in this post. Your request for my naming 5-10 best restaurants worldwide got me to thinking what really does make the best restaurant in my opinion. You see, unbeknownst to you and many people who know me, I don't have a great sense of smell or taste. And, you've requested to promote my Healing Grace website, and as an author I wrote about tastes and smells. Very tricky way to live and work. I have now outed myself. A few years ago I worked in a kitchen at a local restaurant and was asked over and over to taste soups and sandwich mixtures to see what needed to be added. I got really, really good at faking it.

Here are a few restaurants that happen to be on the historic square of McKinney, Texas. They all have more than their location in common; they also have the nicest owners. I go back to these restaurants not only for the beautiful food, but because of how I'm treated. Each and every restaurant have personnel who treat customers as family. The chefs easily and kindly accommodate variations on the menus. I walk into each place and feel as if I'm home.

You also asked for pictures on Instagram, but since I don't use it I decided to do things my way -- stitch my pictures. First off, there's Rick Wells' restaurants, Rick's Chophouse and Harvest. Harvest is a farm to table restaurant where the chef made special vegan meals for three of us. Kudos to the chef!
I've lived in many states in the last few years, and no place spells love and nourishment like downtown McKinney restaurants. Karen Klassen owns Spoons Cafe and Spoons Garage celebrating the best of all comfort food like fried okra, meatloaf, and shepherd's pie. Again the owner and her staff are extremely friendly, helpful, and willing to accommodate. I used to have a studio above Spoons Garage, and what a joyful time to be able to sew, drink some downtown coffee, and take breaks in the Garage eating with friends.

There's also a sweet place that has had my heart since it opened over four years ago. I met the owners the night before they opened, and no matter how much they had to do still, they welcomed my friends and me and showed us around. Square Burger not only has a fabulous chef/owner, Craig, but also has around 30 beers on tap. Brandon, another owner, has gotten more compassionate and kinder through the years, and I didn't even know that was possible. The burgers here are gourmet and plated beautifully. I love the texture in each bite, and their sweet potato fries are truly beyond compare. I step inside and feel the love. That to me is the test of a great restaurant, and they pass with flying colors in my book. I know they've gotten all kinds of accolades for their food, but when you get fabulous food surrounded by loving people... well, it just doesn't get better than that.
I could go on and on about the restaurants on the square and their owners. Sandra and her crew have built an environment where I just want to go and sit, gathering in the warmth of everyone in the coolest place on the planet -- Snug on the Square. Thank you, Sandra.

And then there's Patina Green and their fabulous owners. What a treasure they are. You can pick up a few groceries, grab a snack, or indulge in a great meal. And you can shop in their beautiful surroundings.

Take a look at their websites to get a real idea at how spectacular they are and what they've added to the community.

Oh yeah, and before I go, you asked me to tell you how I got my website started. You actually wrote to me about my book, Healing Grace. Long story short -- I write and I stitch and sometimes I combine the two. I've been doing both since I was a kid. I studied creative writing at Harvard and at University of Colorado in Boulder. Lately, I've been doing most of my writing in my head while sewing all day long. I have a business making things for other people from chair cushions to curtains to tunics, tops, dresses, purses, pillows... and on and on. As soon as I figure out to do all that I really want to do, I'll add more writing into my schedule. My websites are Jill Luigs and The Selvage Edge. You can find my online shop here.

I hope this answers the questions you posed to me. If not, you know how to reach me.


P.S. And one more thing:

I couldn't stop stitching...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome to my life, 2015!

Thank you, sweet baby Jesus, 2014 is over! Oh yeah, there were spectacular moments during that year, incredible creative expansion, exploding business opportunities, extraordinary friends -- new ones and reconnections with others. Oh yeah, there were phenomenal times during that year, but they just took almost the first half of the year to get here. Last year at this time I was still in upstate New York. Need I say anymore? Really? To those of you who don't know... No, I can't even go there anymore. I'm out, and I'm thrilled beyond compare.

Creatively speaking, last year was the greatest experiment yet, but I can feel the juices really revving up for this year. I can not only feel it, but I know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is the year I've been waiting for. I feel the experiences, the home, the love coming to me faster than I can think of them all. I feel it in my bones. I close my eyes and swirl in the knowingness of everything that I've been waiting for come to fruition. Magic. Yep, welcome, 2015, and stay for a while, at least a year.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Ways to Show Up

It's a cosmic new year as of last Sunday, and I've been spending a bit of my moments self-reflecting and determining more accurately how I want to present myself/my business. I'm leaning towards just using my name as opposed to The Selvage Edge but then I feel I must decide who is that person and what is her business?

That question has led me to trolling the internet and finding some amazing female textile artists. That venture has made me realize that my excavation process has barely begun. Here's a link to the latest find that has me re-contemplating my next "business" move. India Flint is the artist's name. Check her out.

I discovered Natalie Channin a few days ago. Her business name is Alabama Channin, and her work leaves me breathless. I highly recommend seeing her videos to get a real grasp on the slow stitching process in her clothing.

And then there's Anny Schoo. I've fallen in love with the feel and drape of linen, and Ms. Schoo has been quite an inspiration. (I also recently discovered that she's a resident of my old stomping grounds.)

I look at their websites and online stores and become tongue-tied in awe. India Flint uses scant words to say so much. I feel drawn into her world with her sentiments. Natalie Channin's detailed hand stitching makes me slow down and contemplate how I want to sew. Anny Schoo shows me the beauty in simplicity. I love what these women have offered to the world. I'm mesmerized by how they're doing it. It's lovely having these examples to light a new way for me to ponder.

How do I take what I love about each one of them and wrap it into a parcel that fits me? Do I stick with Jill Luigs and adjust that site to fit me better? What would that look like?
There would have to be something about Maruca fabrics and what I do with them.

Then there's French General fabrics I love to sew.

I love having a zero waste design studio and use my scraps for pillow making.

I can't neglect the amazing zippered pocket travel scarves.

or the tunics made from friends' fabrics

aw... Shibori Indigo dyeing on linen

white linen tunics after their shibori indigo experience

I look at pictures of my earlier work and find that it no longer resonates with me at all. The above photos represent what I've done in the last few months, and as you can see it's diverse. I like different experiences and experiments. I admire those who can pick one thing and expound on it. My one thing is sewing fabric. Well, and then there's dyeing the fabric/garments... Maybe I'm trying to limit something that's not meant to be limited. I hear about branding your business. My business and me are inseparable, and I'm not sure I can be branded other than eclectic, whimsical, fun-loving, playful, and... Maybe I'm trying to limit the limitless. To be continued for sure.

Maruca Time

Years ago when I lived near Boulder, Colorado I went to this manufacturing plant there that made purses. These purses were made from designer fabrics that knocked my socks off. I had bins filled with these fabrics when I left Boulder County and moved to Steamboat Springs. By 2010 and living in McKinney, Texas, I used up my very last scrap.

This manufacturer where I bought their scraps made purses from the fabrics they designed. The business is called Maruca. I've bought several of their purses over the years, but have always lusted over their fabrics. And then I began accumulating the scraps from their designs. I filled bins with the remnants. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I would open the bins and sort the scraps. I was in love with the textures, the colors, and the designs. And then I used my last scrap, my very last Maruca particle was sewn into a yoga bag that I had made in the summer of 2010. My life with Maruca was over. Or so I thought until I landed back in Boulder last month with a friend who had bags of Maruca scraps. Oh. My. God. My breathing has yet to go back to normal. I have them spread out in piles on my floor.
I don't pick them up -- ever. I've been sewing with them for days now, doing very little else. I'm not sure how many bags I've made this week, but I've sold almost all my inventory and have had to restock. Here's a few pictures of the latest batches.

I haven't done too much else but sew. I've been watching Christmas movies on Netflix while combining fabrics on the floor, sewing them together, adding zippers, lining, and letting their magic shine through. I am still in love with the fabrics and how the bags have turned out. It's one of the first things I'll do in the morning is go back upstairs where the scraps are laid out, and begin again. I can feel another trip back to Boulder in my future.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It was a French General kind of day.

Today I sewed. I sat on the wooden floor and cut out flowers and leaves. I made journal covers and zipper bags out of several different fabrics, but mostly French General fabrics. They belong to the homeowner where I live. She grew up with the owner of French General. I got to meet her last August while taking her Shibori Indigo dyeing class.

Tunics I made and then Shibori Indigo dyed them. Check them out in my shop.
 Her name is Kaari Meng. She also wrote the book in the picture below.

Her fabrics are the striped cotton and solid colored linen. Those are covers for book journals that I've been working on for the last couple of days.
The flowered fabrics are not from French General, but I loved how well they worked together.

Then off I went to make the zipper bags. The main reason I made the zipper bags instead of cleaning up the space and starting on other orders was because I loved the look of the fabrics together splayed out on the floor. I had to keep working with them instead of folding them and piling them into bins. I just couldn't do it -- not yet. So, here are the zipper bags.

All French General fabrics. Perfect way to create my day.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What good am I willing to accept?

hm... where to start.

I could start with an experience I had back in September 2008 at a workshop I attended in Colorado. We had had five full days of intense Aikido exercises, meditations, magic of conflict resolutions, lots of laughter, and creating a space to speak of John Denver over and over and over. His presence was palpable. We listened to his music and heard many stories about him. There were many, many things that I took away from that experience, but surprisingly what has come up for me almost weekly, if not daily, is a question that the daughter of the facilitator asked me one night.

Does place make you happy? Or, can you be happy in any place?

What was fascinating to me when I returned home to Steamboat Springs I immediately made plans to move from there. I just didn't know where. I just knew that I was done with the massive quantities of snow and needed to move on. I stuck with that decision even after meeting and loving a man there. I still moved.

I've moved several times since then, and still ponder that question especially now when I have the opportunity to move again. Then yesterday there was a dialogue with a friend about how much good were we willing to accept. It came from a discussion we were having about being able to be happy with everything else in our lives but the where. We have been struggling with the where for years.

I would love to be able to say that the where doesn't matter to me, but when she posed the question to me last night about defining the good I'm willing to accept, I felt the struggle arise in my throat.

It was interesting that the first thing I thought of when it comes to defining the good that I'm willing to accept was place. My first vision was one of home, a house where I could grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables in the yard; drink coffee on a covered porch while rain pinged the roof above me; listen to the birds singing in the trees around me; and watch the waves crash against the shore. I saw myself sitting in a cottage surrounded by green vegetation, vines pregnant with blossoms, bees and butterflies creating their own video in front of me. I saw myself sitting peacefully, drinking in the moment one after the other without feeling the need to move. In the evening the same perch would serve me well to watch the sun drop into the ocean.

I need room to breathe, room to be alone with my own thoughts, visions, and ideas. I am willing to accept the good of this space to be filled with all that makes me smile: comfy furniture to put my feet upon while writing my creative flow on paper or reading someone else's. I am willing to accept the good of friendships being developed in  this peaceful, warm space where wine is poured and home-cooked meals are shared.

Music is played. Dancing is enjoyed. Dreams are exposed. Transparency is rewarded. All in this space where nature is nurtured, where creativity abounds, and where love fills the air. You feel it when you enter the front door. The door is purple. You have to walk through a canopy of wisteria to get to the porch where baskets hang from the ceiling dripping sweet potato vines. Antique troughs serve as homes for vining geraniums and white allyssum.

There's a porch swing swaying in the breeze, a quilt folded on the back of it. Friends move the pillows to the side to make room for themselves as they settle in with their wine glasses. They sing with the others leaning against the porch rail as another friend sits on the porch step playing a guitar. The waves pound the shore as the sun drops into the water. Candles are lit, more wine is poured, and the singing and laughing increase.

There's a studio with my name on it where even more magic is made. The flooring is hardwood. The windows are large with sun shining across the table of fabrics, glinting on the scissors. In the corner of the studio is a small love seat where guests/friends sit and chat while I pin, cut, and stitch. There's a small refrigerator filled with beer, cheese, and grapes. Works in progress are pinned to one of the walls to create a cacophony of eclectic ideas coming to life. A lacy collar, a painted cotton background for a wall hanging, stitched words on vintage handkerchiefs, strands of beads, picture cut outs of inspiration -- the ever-changing wall that creates a locomotive desire within me to keep breathing and keep dreaming.

While typing the above paragraph I kept thinking about my studio in Steamboat, and I don't want that one again. It was too "industrial" for me. I couldn't cozy it up no matter how hard I tried. I want a studio with warm tones -- wood, lace curtains, beaded lampshades, shelves with recycled fabrics, laces, beads, and buttons. It would be a place where people wanted to come and sit, imbibe and explore, a place where creative juices always flowed, a place that just thinking about it when I awake each morning would make me want to jump out of bed because I am ecstatic to be able to go there again. It would be a place where I had plenty of room to cut, sew, make a mess, and teach classes. It would be a place of community where people wanted to gather, where people felt welcomed and nurtured, where people came for respite. It would be a place where I could feel rejuvenated and relaxed, where every day would be a vacation.

I have just described what good I am willing to accept. This or something better, is what another friend of mine would always add. This is my place that I see when I think of whatever that thing is that I call home. This is my place wherever it may be.

And, maybe one day I'll be able to say that place doesn't matter for me to be happy, but right here right now, I long for a place that I just described, and I am willing to accept that good into my life.