Sew Red is here!

One of the great benefits of working at Jimmy Beans Wool is that I am constantly being offered challenges. For me, this is a good thing. After years of not feeling challenged enough in my daily work life, this is a breath of fresh air, and each new challenge is viewed as a welcomed opportunity. Designing something for Sew Red (the follow up to Knit Red which I also had a design in) was exactly that for me. Cover

My mother is a phenomenal seamstress. She knows garment fit like the back of her hand and can take any paper bag shaped mess and make it look good on you. She's been sewing since she was little and hasn't stopped since. She actually used to participate in beauty pageants and she would make all of her own dresses by hand. I used to covet this beautiful white gown that sits in her closet untouched for years. It is made up of three different sewing patterns. She couldn't just find one to suit so she took elements from each one and cobbled together her own masterpiece. That gown paid for almost an entire year of her college education.

She also used to sew many of my brother's and my clothes growing up, including our halloween costumes. I've worn many elaborate costumes in my day, Snow White, Pocahontas, but the most impressive was the year I was Rainbow Bright. My mom tells me that costume about ended her sewing career. It had something like 108 pattern pieces to it, at least seven or eight different colors of fabric, and plenty of polyfil stuffing all over the thing. My brother was a Ninja Turtle a few years later which was something like 115 pieces. My mom was fearless. She would take on each new request and rise to the occasion. We were definitely the best dressed trick o' treaters on the block for sure. The year I wanted to be a ghost crushed her a little bit I think....




Even now she still sews almost daily (and she's not even retired yet!) She has coordinated a group of quilters make quilts for children who get picked up by highway patrolman in their area. Each CHP officer in their county carries three of these blankets in their cars at all times in case they need to give one out. The also donate a good number of quilts to the Ronald McDonald house and other charities that need them. Her group sews a huge number of these each year. In fact, here is an article that her local newspaper wrote about her efforts. She is definitely a force of nature.


So, you can imagine that when I was asked to be in Sew Red, I was a bit nervous. I've sewn since I was young under the tutelage of my mother, but straight lines are about the extent of my experience. I understand a lot of advanced techniques and have watched many of them being executed, but have not one most of them myself. I have pretty severe cutting anxiety when it comes to cutting out patterns. I think it comes from my reverence to fiber of all types which began with knitting. But knitting is easier to rip out or reverse. Once you cut a beautiful piece of fabric, that's it.

Knitting has always been my thing. It's like second nature to me now. Sewing is something I do when I have to hem pants, sew on a patch, or need some curtains. I still have so much to learn. Could I really design a sewing pattern? I decided to start simple and design something I would want to wear. That is the philosophy behind each of my knitwear patterns, why not translate it over to sewing as well?

The resulting Mobuis Cowl Wrap is something that I can say I am proud to have contributed to the book. It is by no means the most complicated or polished design of the bunch, but I think a lot of beginning sewists will love the simplicity of it combined with the versatility of how it can be worn. I used Valori Well's Wrenly Collection in a light and airy cotton voile. It helped to create a garment that has wonderful drape and softness.

Kristen Ashbaugh Helmreich Mobius Cowl_CREDIT ROSE CALLAHAN_Compressed

It was also a HUGE honor to have my first sewing pattern published in a book alongside Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Linda Lee, Nancy Zieman, Kay Whitt, Valori Wells, Tula Pink, Denyse Schmidt, and so many more wonderful designers.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of Sew Red. Ultimately, it's for a cause that is so near and dear to our hearts. Literally.

Happy sewing,


PS. A shameless plug, but if you order yours from Jimmy Beans Wool, my boss, the author, Laura Zander is signing all of the copies. I'll sign it too if you ask me. :)