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0 In Printables/ Sewing

My first mini-catalog is ready!

mustard and grey 3 fabric image for social

Mainsail Studio mustard and gray unicorn mini catalog Check out my new catalog with interactive links to all of the fabrics in my Mustard and Gray Unicorn surface design collection.

Mustard and Gray Unicorn collection catalog

Free printable samples of the Mustard and Gray Unicorn Collection.  You may print at home for personal use.  Please no reposting, distributing or using on for sale items.

Printable Unicorn 8.5 x 11 poster

Printable Unicorn Mini Bunting Banner

0 In Sewing

Design and Make Your Own Wings with Mainsail Studio and Sprout Patterns

The Vanessa Butterfly Wing size large. Shown here with Cherry Blossom fabric by Mainsail Studio. 

Pretty amazing right? This was how you made custom fabric wings in 1981. These were designed, quilted and painted by Kathy Garvey.

I am so proud to announce that my Vanessa Butterfly Wings patterns are now available from Sprout Patterns.   If you aren’t yet familiar with Sprout Patterns, you are in for a big treat!  Sprout Patterns eliminates the need for a paper pattern which means you get to the fun part – sewing – faster.   In 1981 when my mother first started making her giant butterfly costumes she spent days working on each pair.  Each set required intricate applique or painting to represent the different sections of a butterfly wing.  I love the artistry in my mother’s wings but when Sprout Patterns was created in 2015, I knew there was finally a way to share my mother’s wing-making legacy with others.  The joy of creating these beautiful wings is now achievable for people with limited time and are new to sewing.   Sprout Patterns technology allows you to choose three different fabric designs from the tens of thousands of designs in the Spoonflower fabric library for your wings, without any fancy applique, painting or other complicated techniques.  The design interface is easy enough for kids to use – try it – it’s free to test your ideas and save your butterfly designs to purchase later or just for fun.

design interface

The Vanessa Butterfly Wing design interface at Sprout Patterns.

You can even share online designs with members of the Sprout Community.   My daughter loves designing wings and clothes on Sprout Patterns.  She says it’s like a fashion design game only better – “because you can really make the stuff if you want to.”  Sprout Patterns has created a wonderful video explaining the design process – seen here:  How to Sprout


mainsail studio mail

Grace loves designing clothes with Sprout Patterns. She runs to the mailbox when her fabric arrives. Shown here – Brindille and Twig leggings with Mainsail Studio peacock fabric.

If you purchase a set of wings, Sprout Patterns will mail you a printed fabric panel, exactly the way you designed them.  While you wait for your fabric to arrive in the mail you can download and read the fully illustrated instructions and purchase your other supplies (interfacing, thread and elastic).  When the fabric arrives you will be ready to just cut and start sewing.   The instructions were written for an experienced beginner.  I’ve included all of my tips and tricks for making wings sewing fast and easy!  This includes a wonderful technique for easy sewing with plush minky fabric.  (Minky wings are so soft and snuggly!)  Within an hour or two you will have sewn your very own set of wings.

Since I am a “brand new” pattern designer, I’ve included here on my blog a sample of the Vanessa Butterfly Wing sewing pattern.  It includes just a few pages so that you will get a glimpse of the quality of my instructions. Vanessa Butterfly Wing instruction preview.

The Vanessa Wing is a double-sided butterfly wing with an optional layer of fleece interfacing. The wings are worn “backpack style” with elastic shoulder and wrist straps. The Vanessa Wing is perfect for active kids who love imaginary play and creative adults who are young at heart.

These wings look adorable with a pair of jeans and casual tee or fancy them up with a tutu and accessories. They are perfect for tossing in the dress up box, the imaginary play center or for use as a Halloween costume. They also look adorable paired with flower girl dresses at your garden wedding.

Flower Fairy Costumes

Brindille and Twig t-shirt dresses and leggings with the Annabel Fairy Wing (fairy wings are coming soon) .

Sharing these patterns with the sewing community has been a dream of mine that started when I was teaching art and realized that hearing the excitement of kids saying “I made this!” was even more rewarding than selling my work and saying “I made this.”   Finding a way to share my patterns and techniques with people who may not have the graphic design skills to create their own custom wing fabrics became my mission.    From 2013-2015 I had to take a break from teaching and making to have a little fight with ovarian cancer (I’m fine now).  I had a lot of time to dream and plan for “someday” when these wings would be possible.  I even shopped around for an app-developer to create some technology for me.   It was one of the best days when I learned Sprout Patterns was “born” last October.   Their technology was exactly what I needed to make the dream happen.  I’m so proud to be a part of the Sprout Patterns collective.  I hope you enjoy your Vanessa Butterfly Wings.  My dragon wings and tails and fairy wings are coming soon.  Be sure to explore the patterns from the amazing Sprout Patterns Partners.  Using their clothing patterns you can create full-body costumes to coordinate with your wings.  Everything from dresses and skirts to hoodies and leggings.   One of my favorite combinations is the Brindille and Twig Tee Shirt Dress with the Brindille and Twig Leggings .
The See Kate Sew Viewfinder Tee with a handmade tutu would also be just precious for a little girl who loves a bit of dress-up glamour.

0 In Sewing

Mainsail Studio Sewing Patterns

Mainsail Studio Blog

After years of protecting my patterns I’ve realized sharing and teaching are far more rewarding.  This Spring (2016) I’m humbly entering into the world of indie-sewing pattern designers.  While I wait for testing of my final versions of butterfly, fairy and dragon wing patterns to be completed, I’d like to share my story with you.  It started when I was seven years old…..


The wings story…


My mothers larger-than-life reverse applique wings. October 1981.


My sisters with a set of satin applique wings and a set of hand-painted watercolor wings. October 1981

In 1981 my mother designed butterfly wings for my sisters and I to wear at Halloween.  The memory of these wings stand out as a highlight of my childhood.  I remember standing still with my arms spread as she held the brown paper against my back to make sure her self drafted pattern would work.  As she was sewing, I watched and wondered how a yellow layer of fabric sandwiched between two black layers would turn into a butterfly.  Seeing the yellow reappear as she snipped away sections of black fabric was amazing to me.  I learned about reverse appliqué by watching her.  It was such intricate work.  The wings were a work of art. When she was finished I put on the wings and I was transformed.  I could twirl, I could soar, I felt like I was floating out of my Buster Brown shoes, I was flying.   I was a butterfly.

Growing up in a creative home had a big impact on me.   I learned that if there was ever anything I needed to make or anything I needed to do, I could. All that was required was imagination, patience and creativity.

2010 Mainsail Studio wing prototype

My early prototypes were self-standing.  2010  

Fast forward to today – now I’m a mother with four children ages 21-5.  When my daughter was 4 she had this pair of wire and nylon fairy wings that she loved, but they were constantly bending and snagging.  They were a mess.  I reflected on the beautiful wings my mother had made when I was little girl and set out to recreate that magic, in my own style, for my daughter.  By merging my sewing and graphic design skills  and the new availability of print on demand fabric – I was able to create boldly colored wings that did not need complicated construction methods like reverse applique.



black dragon wings cape

This is a 2015 prototype of the “Aaron Dragon Wing”. These wings are definitely “flappable”. When it comes to imaginary play – this feature is very very important!

I’ve spent the past five years simplifying and perfecting my patterns and selling the finished butterfly, fairy and dragon wings.  This past October I was so busy, I struggled to keep up with the demand.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  I looked into manufacturing, but that took away the special handmade quality of the wings.

After spending a year teaching art to children, I realized that I got more joy hearing a little one proudly say “I made this!” than I did in selling MY own creations.  This realization was my AHA! moment.  The natural next step was to start sharing my wing patterns with others.  I’m so proud to start this journey.  By merging my wing patterns with some amazing technology, you can soon create your own amazing fabric wings without the trouble of intricate quilting, painting or applique.   My patterns come with fully illustrated instructions and are designed for use by an experienced beginner.  To be among the first to learn when the patterns are released, please subscribe to this blog or follow me on Instagram.

0 In Sewing

How Potty Humor and Spoonflower Took Over My Winter

The contest guru at Spoonflower doesn’t know this yet, but she/he created a softie maniac. It started with their “Mythological Creature” plushie contest. The challenge was to design a cut and sew pattern for a plush toy based on a mythological creature (as the title suggests).

Inspired by my young children who think it’s hilarious to debate if unicorns fart rainbows – I thought wouldn’t it be fun (for my children) if my unicorn had a secret pocket near it’s bottom that would hold a little rainbow. I fantasized about winning and getting to say “It took me four years and a farting unicorn to win a Spoonflower contest.” (yes, I’ve been entering the weekly Spoonflower contest regularly for the past 4 years and never broke into the top 10) Knowing me, I came up with this idea at around 2am. When I’m exhausted, every idea is awesome. It was going to be fantastic. My kids would think it was funny and I’d be cool for about 5 minutes, for sure. That’s a guaranteed win, right?

Well, to make a very long story less long, here is what happened:

I did it! I created a cut and sew pattern for a unicorn with a rainbow fart tucked into a little pocket. Here was my very amateur first attempt at a cut-and-sew softie pattern:


However, since I’m on a budget, I did not purchase a yard of the printed design to test, instead I recreated the design using what I had on hand – at first it was a horribly awful Crayola Marker drawing on muslin.

How Potty Humor and Spoonflower Took Over My Winter_html_m28cf398d

Then I used the muslin to create another with some white “Soft N’ Fluffy” fabric, felt, black stretch knit, turquoise feather trim, and some plastic eyeballs. How Potty Humor and Spoonflower Took Over My Winter_html_2cd6f150

The result? Huge hit. My kids loved it. My youngest Adam enjoyed carrying it around and would ask family members “Are you having a bad day?? Well, farting unicorn is here to save the day! Pull her finger!” Then my little boy would take the rainbow out of the unicorn’s pocket and hand it to the person in need of cheering up. His intentions were so sweet and the unicorns “magic” worked! Everybody he asked to pull the unicorns “finger” had a good laugh.

What I learned was through this process was –

  1. I’m not too old for potty humor
  2. The unicorn was a hit
  3. I love making softies
  4. Most important – my unicorn would have lost her character as a cut-and-sew pattern printed on fabric. The heart of the unicorn, the character and her special connection were achieved through the handwork, the textures, the embroidery, the hours spent on the details….

I never entered the Spoonflower contest with the cut-and-sew pattern. Instead I began a softie-making craze that has brought me so much joy over the past couple of months.

Here are some photos and notes from my softie-making journey:

How Potty Humor and Spoonflower Took Over My Winter_html_mdbe40c1

2 In Sewing

The Gassy Unicorn who Became an Angelic Pegasus.


I’m a wee bit embarrassed that my first blog post ever involves potty humor, but it’s relevant to understand just how far I’ve come in softie making in the past several weeks. I’ve written in detail about my farting unicorn adventure here, which I hope you will read, but since this post is about my Pegasus and the SewMamaSew contest, I’ll move on to that story instead.

To say that my first unicorn stirred up a new-found obsession with soft toy making would be an understatement. So I was incredibly thrilled when the SewMamaSew Blog announced their handmade softies contest. While the prizes were totally awesome (really, totally) I was mostly interested in following the posts over the next six weeks so that I could get a crash course in softie making! I didn’t know ANYTHING about how to do it “right”. But after watching my first creature come to life with fabric and thread I knew I was hooked! I wanted to learn everything.

And so, I began. Prototype after prototype. Sewing until the wee hours of the morning, picking seams, redrawing, recutting, restitching. Over and over and over again. I was sewing in the car lines, sewing in waiting rooms, I even sat through talks at the Virginia Homeschoolers Conference while trying to perfect my unicorn. Every time I thought I had it just perfect, I learned a new technique (thanks to the SewMamaSew Blog) and just had to try it out.


Thirteen prototypes, hundreds of hours and five pounds of polyfil later….I think I’ve done it. My first softie pattern is finished and I am tired but proud and ready to share her/him with others.


My Pegasus is 22″. He is made with white ribbed Minky, hand embroidered chest hair, sculpted and embroidered face, embroidered “feathers” and the wings are soft and cuddly, inspired by techniques to make trapunto quilts. His flower corsage is made with hand rolled felt roses, floss dandelions and faux suede fussy cut daisies. His booties are handmade with faux suede and grey fleece and embroidery floss. A gallery with more photos can be found here:


Here is the whole lot of prototypes all together:


In the process of creating this Pegasus, I think I’ve come up with a few of my own techniques that I’m especially excited to share on this blog in the coming weeks. One is how to make fleece manes into tight kinky curls that stay in place, without extra sewing!

I’ve actually drafted a pattern for the horse base that I used as my Pegasus! It’s getting tested now, once I make sure it’s just perfect I’ll have that in my Etsy shop. I’ve also got extensions coming to turn him into a dragon, unicorn and Pegasus. I really have to thank Abby Glassenberg for her wonderful e-book about pattern making and the great advice she shares on her WhileSheNaps Blog. while researching everything from the CPSIA rules to selling on Etsy, I always found Google directing me to her blog.

If you are interested in my pattern, feel free to drop me a note and I’ll let you know after it’s been thoroughly tested and ready to go. Here is a sneak peak: