Saturday, December 11, 2010

Need a Last Minute Christmas Gift? I have one for you!

Right now my Shop is filled to the brim with bags. Bags of every shape and size, perfect for someone on your list that you haven't got anything for yet.  So go ahead and check them out and if you buy before December 20th I will make sure it gets to you before Christmas.

Here is a few of them. See them all at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Word Eat is in Meat

Once a week my sister and I play a "game" that we call the grocery game. Some might not call it a game but they have not tasted the sweet victory of coming up under budget and being able to put the extra money in the "eating out jar".  Long story short we have a budget and we use an app on my Ipod to add up our grocery prices as we shop. If we are over budget we have to put something back.  We have become very savvy shoppers and sometimes go to three different stores to get the best prices.

We do allow ourselves one luxury: sliced deli meat from the meat counter. This may not sound like a very price conscience decision but once you have a sandwich with fresh sliced meat, it is hard to go back.  We have had several very memorable experiences at the meat counter. Recently, most of them have surrounded the grocery store employees trying to coerce us to buy items from the bakery. There are two reasons why trying to entice us with stories of cinnamon rolls on sale really is a futile attempt. First, as I said before we have a very tight budget and cannot be distracted by cinnamon rolls unless we are willing to give up something necessary like milk or shampoo. And second, my sister is gluten and lactose intolerant and cannot have wheat or dairy.  A simple sneaky cinnamon roll could mean a three day cycle of exhaustion and severe indigestion for the poor girl.  And yet every week as we walk away from the meat counter those carefully instructed grocery employees inform us that pastries are two for one or something like that.  A few weeks ago we thought we had gotten away when the girl behind the meat counter actually shouted at us in a desperate final attempt, " RED VELVET CAKE IS ON SALE!"

Our favorite meat counter experience happened this week though.  We go to the same grocery stores on the same day every week, so we see a lot of the same employees and they have gotten to know us.  One week a few months ago my sister and I were approaching the meat counter when she so obligingly noticed that something was on my face that had once been in my nose. As retribution I brought up another time when her bodily functions had been humorous and we dissolved into semi-hysterical laughter. This did not stop as I ordered our thin sliced Pesto Parmesan ham. The male employee behind the counter also got tickled at our laughter and he began to laugh himself. All in all it was a pretty jolly trip. That brings me to this week. We were once again getting our meat thinly sliced for sandwiches by our jovial friend from a few months ago. It did not seem like he remembered us and my sister and I were very thankful that he hadn't tried to get us to by some gluten saturated treat. But as we walked away he yelled out " I will never forget you guys!" Neither will we, Meat Guy, neither will we.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

7 years..Doesn't it go by in a blink?

Seven years ago today I had brain surgery to fix a malformation of my brain called an Arnold Chiari.

Longs story short my brain is positioned in such a way that there isn't enough room for it in my head. So my brain is shoved down the hole in my spinal collumn where your spinal fluid is supposed to drain.

Seven years ago today some very talented doctors fixed that for me. And I will be grateful for them for the rest of my life.

I am also grateful because God used this opportunity (and the months of bed rest following) to change the direction my life was going in. He used this opportunity to show me His love in a way I had never experienced it. And people were brought into my life that I can't imagine the last seven years without.

So here I stand seven years later, in awe of what has happened and excited about what lies ahead...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Family Afair

I get asked a lot where I learned to sew and the answer to that question is : Theresa Clarke. My amazing mother taught all of her girls to sew at an early age. I remember sitting on the floor of her work room, pinning together doll clothes or pillows while she worked on something else. She would come to a stopping point with her work and help me with mine. I will be forever grateful that my mom passed on this useful and fullfilling skill to me.

The good news is that my mama just opened her own Etsy store!!! Her Etsy store, At Last Wedding Designs, showcases her elegant and unqiue wedding garters. They are all made fomr vintage lace and hand-beaded. If you are soon to be married or know some one who is, these garters are a must have. They would make a perfect gift and will be something a bride can treasure forever. Check out her store at And while you are at it check out the other Clarke girls' stores : and

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I just have to say my sister, Emily Clarke, is an amazing artist (and yes this is a shameless plug). If you haven't ever checked out her website and blog you really should. Although I have known her my entire life and I am a little bias, Emily is really talented at taking a treasured family photograph and turning it into a priceless piece of art. Emily also loves painting timeless images from the 1940s and 50's. One of Emily's paintings would make a really special Christmas present or feel free to contact her about getting her to paint one of your favorite photos. Below are a few of my favorites of people I love. You may recognize some of them. And don't forget to visit

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The one where it has been a while.

I think all bloggers have the inevitable "it has been a while" post.
Well here is mine. August and September have been very eventful months for me.

Two of my very best friends had beautiful weddings. I was honored to be bridesmaids and to be asked to make wedding crafts. First it was Lacie and Daniel's wedding in Birmingham, Alabama and next Kyle and Katrina'
s nuptials in Bend, Oregon (below is the Chuppah/Quilt I made for
Katrina's Wedding. I didn't get a good picture of the flag I made for Lacie's Wedding). After I got back from Oregon, My sister in I had a great time with our booth in the west Greenville Art fair. And then I turned 27 this weekend! So all in all it has been busy busy busy.

Now is the time to get your custom orders in for Christmas though. If you would like a bag or a cuff made for a friend or family member for
Christmas send me and e-mail or conversation on Etsy. All I need to know is the colors you would like for me to use and if there is a patterned that person likes a lot ( example: florals or animal print). I already have a few orders in line for Christmas so let me know if you are interested. I can ship anywhere in the United States and my bags and cuff come gift wrapped.

Thanks! And be sure to check out my shop over the next few days and weeks. I have a lot of new items to post and you may find some of your Christmas gifts there!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

No one likes a Drunk Debutante

My summer camp has been open for 60 years, so we had a reunion! Honestly, as I drove up the mountain in my car this past weekend, I was a little nervous about the experience that was about to ensue. I haven't been the best at keeping up with my camp friends while I was living in Texas.
I was a little worried we wouldn't have anything to talk about and sometimes I have a knack for saying awkward things and killing conversations (if you would like to hear some examples of this, just ask).

The weird thing was that when I got together with those girls, after a few catching up conversations, it felt like we had never been apart. There were some other camp things that were harder to get used to, like singing songs all the time and having wet shoes, but it felt completely normal to be in that place with those girls.

Camp brings together lots of different types of people. Take for example one of my good camp friends, Lizzie. Lizzie wears pearls with every outfit.
This weekend I found out that she buys pearl earrings in bulk so that she will always have a pair, in the event that she loses them.
Lizzie is about to join the Junior League. Lizzie was a debutante, I actually went to her ball (this was my first and maybe my last ball). At her ball Lizzie's mom told her one of my favorite deep south words of wisdom " No one likes a drunk Debutante" (isn't that the truth?!?!) I, on the other hand, wear clothes that, more often than not, don't match. One day I want to have honey bees in my yard. I wear weird things in my hair and around my neck (ex: quail feathers and huge butterfly wings). And the older I get them more home-grown I become ( why buy something when you can make it yourself?).

If Lizzie and I had met anywhere but camp I think we might have not given each other a chance. However, within the first few days of meeting each other, back in the day, Lizzie and I discovered we both love birthday cake ice cream, our middle names rhyme and our belly buttons are the same height (discovered while playing limbo). This was enough to encourage a beautiful and lasting friendship.

Oh camp! I don't know how you do it but you cause friendship to spring up in unlikely places. I wish there was something in my grown up life that was like camp. Or I wish there was a reunion every year. I would even face the humiliation of the Reds losing at tug-a-war to the Blues, twice in a row, for another weekend with my camp friends.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Healthy Competition

All my life I have been pretty competitive. If something has a clear winner, something rises up in me and I have to win. If you know me pretty well you have probably witnessed this. Especially if you ever went to summer camp with me. There are certain things that I am aware I will not win but if there is chance, I have a hard time giving up.

I am a proud member of Team South Carolina on etsy. TeamSC is in place to promote South Carolinian crafters through community and other promotional materials. Right now we are having a contest. The Challenge was put in place to make something that reminded us of South Carolina. I would love for you to go on the blog and vote for which entry you like best. Mine is the "Palmetto Handkerchief Cuff", but I want you to vote for the one that you like the best. If I win I will get a feature on the blog, which really could help get some more traffic to my etsy store. Here is the link:

And Just for the record, never challenge me to a chugging competition. You will lose.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh How I love Being an Aunt!

Today is my youngest nephew's first birthday. I cannot believe it has been a whole year since we welcomed Mateo Luis into the world. And Oh what a better world it is with him in it! He has already learned to walk, make a mess of things and get anything he could possibly want from his Aunt Julia. Mateo, your Aunt Julia loves you so so much and can't wait to see what is in store for you on your next trip around the sun.

I really think being an aunt is the best and I have very solid reasons for my beliefs. First, I don't have to be a disciplinarian. One of my favorite memories of my older nephew, Diego, illustrates this point. One day at breakfast I was sitting with my nephew, his mom (my sister, Anna) and his Aunt Emily (my other sister). Diego was probably two at the time and was beginning to have some awareness of right and wrong. And he was wearing those little footie pajamas, that are so cute it should be a crime. As we were sitting there enjoying our breakfast, we would occasionally see a little adorable foot creep up and place itself on the table. Anna would look at Diego and say very sternly (but kindly, my sister is a great mom!) "No Feet on the table Diego", while Aunt Emily and Aunt Julia would erupt in pearls of laughter. A few minutes later, very slyly, someone would once again sneak their foot up on the table resulting in a fairly similar, if not heightened response from his beloved aunts. Thus, young Diego found himself at a crossroads. Did he try to please his mother and take the less fun route? Or did he continue to disobey his mama and as a result earn the attention of his mischievous aunts? Of course he chose the second of the two and of course we continued to encourage it. Oh what fun!

Since becoming an aunt 5 years ago, I have learned to play silly games like "plop down on the inflatable mattress and put your feet in the air" (who knows why that was fun but we played it for a really long time).
I have saved messages on my phone for years because I know that this is the only way I will be able to hear certain little ones (who now are very grown up and can say "Aunt Julia") call me "Ju-wa". I have increased my knowledge of Hot Wheel Cars extensively. I have gotten up early on Christmas morning (even though I thought at some point I would be old enough to sleep in). I have sung silly songs, danced silly dances and answered unending questions. And I have wondered what I talked about, laughed at, and filled my life with before my two nephews filled a very special place in my heart. So Mateo, even though we have only just gotten to know each other, we have a lot of living to do together Bud! And you can always count on your Aunt Julia to think you are funny, to never get you in trouble and to love you with her whole heart!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A dyeing story

My dear friend Katrina is getting married in September. In honor of her nuptials I am creating quite the sewing masterpiece. I don't want to say much about what I am making right now but I can't wait to share it with you when I am finished. I needed some dark purple/plum colored fabric for this creation and in all the yardage I have in huge Rubbermaid bins in my house, none of it was the right color purple. So I decided to dye some of my lighter color fabric.
Dyeing and I have a long tumultuous history. I do not claim to be an expert in dyeing fabric but through years of trial and error I have figured out how to (for the most part) dye successfully. I wasn't a 100% sure what all
these fabrics were (cotton takes color the best, but also shrinks ) and some of them I just wanted to see what would happen.

I added two boxes of purple dye and a bottle of wine colored dye to a washer of hot salt water (adding about 1/2 a cup of salt helps the color take). I like dyeing things in the washer because it drains the water and rinses the fabric. I realized after I put in the dye that it was too pink so ran back to the craft store to buy more purple. The woman who checked me out for the second time must have thought my purple tinted fingertips and purple speckled hands were pretty amusing.

And 30 minutes later I had purple fabric! And, because of a piece of woven cotton that decided to unravel in the dye bath, a lot of purple fuzz all over my apartment. You can tell that some of the fabric doesn't take the dye as well as others, thus the varying shades. But all in all it was a success. Isn't dyeing fun?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Taste and see

Today, my sister and I had an adventure that took us to many colorful places. The first was to a lace shop in Fletcher, North Carolina called Corns Fabric Outlet. Oh what a Treasure! Corn's has rows and rows of lace in every color and trims that I could just pitch a fit over. Sadly Corn's is closing soon, so this land of milk and honey will not be open for much longer. If you are in the area it is definitely worth seeking this place out.

After we stopped at a few antique stores and drove through historic Flat Rock, North Carolina (which took us about 8 seconds) we decided that we needed ice cream to successfully conclude the adventure. And thus I had my first experience at Luna Rose, a gelato Cafe in downtown Greenville....I am going to try and limit how much I say about how amazing the gelato was there because my place of business also serves gelato....But I have a new conclusion that heaven may taste something like gelato.

I was standing in front of this massive case of gelato and I wanted to try all the flavors just to make sure I wouldn't have any regrets later. I was slightly embarrassed to ask the guy working behind the counter for that many samples though and I know what it is like to be on the other side of counter. So I asked him which one he liked best. He said a few flavors but then he said "It doesn't matter so much what I want, it matters what you want." I think indirectly he was saying " I am surrounded by this stuff all day and none of it looks appetizing anymore" but it hit a strange chord with me. Go with me a second: Lets say You are standing in front of a huge gelato case and God is on the other side. And God has all the flavors of gelato in the world (symbolically this gelato could represent blessings). And I am standing there wide-eyed and God asks me " Which one do you want Julia? Pick any of them that you want". (Because God wants to give us good gifts!) I want to be able to say back "Its doesn't matter so much what I want, it matters what You want." And very soon I would realize that what He has for me is even sweeter that anything I could pick for myself.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The one with all the ties

I have a strange love of neckties and I use them for the handles of my bags. About 2 years ago I bought 86 off of an older man I met at an antique show. Those ties have served me well for quite sometime but as I have been making a lot of bags recently, my supply has been dwindling. So I went on eBay and won an auction for 350+ ties. I only paid total of about $24 for them ( $1.25 for the actual ties and the rest was for shipping).

Yesterday there was a loud knock on my apartment door. When I opened it I found a very tired UPS man standing there. He told me he was sure I wasn't going to be home because of how heavy the box was and he would have to carry it back down if I wasn't. Prior to the box arriving at our apartment I was cleaning. All cleaning stopped once that treasure chest of neckties arrived.

The picture to the left is about 170 of them laid out by color on my floor. I don't know who this guy was but he sure did take some fashion risks, as a good portion of these ties are magenta, orange or purple. There are only about 12 that I can't use at all, (this group includes one with dolphins on it and one with Santa Claus and the Rockettes). The rest (I have counted about 370 in total) all have destinies as handles on my bags (especially now that I have so many new color options) or they may be made into the seat of a chair if I get back into making those. Pretty much I am so thankful for my abundance of ties! What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sew much Sewing

I have been quiet on the blog and on etsy for a few days because I have been very very busy sewing. A store on Main Street in Greenville, Liz Daly's Designs, is going to carry my bags and cuffs!! So take a look at what I dropped off there yesterday. If you are from the Greenville area or can make it up here I would love for you to stop by Liz's shop. If not and you are interested in a bag or cuff similar to the ones pictured below let me know and I will see if I can recreated it or something like it (click on the picture to see a bigger image, if you still want to see a bag or cuff more close up let me know and I will email you one). Thanks so much for supporting my sewing endeavors and for reading my blog!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer of My Dreams

Two years ago, I set out on a quest with a few of my friends (I call them "My Shays"-its a long story) to have the "summer of our dreams". This summer would involve all of us staying in Athens, GA ( where we went to college). We worked some (some more than others) but when we weren't working we did all sorts of memorable things we couldn't do during the school year. We made a list of movies we had always wanted to see. We went to restaurants we had never been to. We learned countless dances from "So You Think You Can Dance." We spent hours at the pool and had sewing parties. We had photo shoots and took road trips. And even though things came up, (tonsillectomies and job interviews come to mind) I had so much fun living life with those shays that summer.

It is funny to see how in the reflection of the "Summer of My dreams", this summer will be drastically different. This summer I will spend more hours making coffee than I will watching movies and dancing. I will sew, like before, but will have far less companions. And while I have to make it to the pool, so that I will look nice in two bridesmaids dresses, I will probably not model walk while I am there. Some of us have gotten married, and some of us are about to be. Some of us are about to leave and some of us have just come home. Oh how much can change in so little time! We are not who we used be and yet some how when I think of summer-I think of you shay. So even though this summer will different, the things that it has in store for us are so priceless maybe it will be one we will talk about (even dream about) in years to come.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I have just finished 8 new bags!! (to see them more closely go to All that sewing, combined with working the last two days at the coffee shop has left me a very tired girl! It sounds funny but crafting all day is hard work. I am really loving being able to dive into sewing head on right now though. I am also loving living in Greenville and meeting all sorts of new people in the coffee shop. It is interesting the paths that we go down in our lives (I believe that God leads us down them, if we will follow). And at least for right now I enjoy that my life can look very different from one day to the next. What excites you about your life right now?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Preserving Memories

It has been a while since I have finished a quilt. I say finished because at this moment I have about 4 quilt tops that just need backs. Honestly, I still love making quilts but it seems like my customers like bags better. And lets face it bags do take less time. I just finished this tee shirt quilt for a very dear friend back in Texas. It is made from his concert tee shirts from the last 30 or so years. I think it probably one of my favorite tee shirt quilts I have ever made. It was hard to photograph though so this is the best I could do. If you are interested in having me make a tee shirt quilt (and you are not in a hurry to get it done) let me know and we can discuss size and prices.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Introducing a new product for Sew Sew Lovely!

When I am shopping flea markets, antique stores and estate sales, I have a very hard time not buying vintage handkerchiefs. If you could see the pile of them that I have, you would realize that I am not very good at resisting them. I have tried unsuccessfully to make carrying handkerchiefs come back in fashion but yesterday I came up with a great idea for what to do with them. And so here is a new product you are going to be seeing more of in my store, "The Vintage Handkerchief Cuff Bracelet". To buy this one visit my Etsy store at :

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Meanwhile back at the Ranch...

What A day! I started a new job at a coffee shop called "Liquid Highway" on Monday. Today I learned how to make espresso based drinks (and other beverages). I wouldn't say I have "mastered" this yet but hopefully I will get the hang of it soon. I may never get the coffee grounds out from under my fingernails, however.

I also listed four bags on my etsy store today AND had my very first sale. So here is what you missed if you didn't get a chance to check out my etsy store before this amazing bag sold. And just so you know I do have more of this vintage table cloth (that the front and back panels are made out of). I do not have any more of the floral but if you like the look of this bag send me a convo on etsy or email me ( and I can make you a custom bag, modeled after this one.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

And I'm Back!!

So I know I have been MIA for a while and that is about to change! For the last 19 months I have been living in Texas at a Residential Counseling Center for Troubled Teens called Heartlight. I could go on and on about my life there and my experiences but I will save that for another time. What I am really excited about is getting back to crafting. Very very soon I am going to be opening my etsy store, I am going to start off just selling bags (that I have made out of old tee-shirts, table cloths and ties) but I have some different treasures in store for the future. I am moving to Greenville, SC in the next few weeks which is also exciting! Lots of Changes and Lots of New Beginnings! I will keep you posted on things as they unfold!