Lori Van Maanen – Girls in the Garden

Lori with Girls - and boys - in the Garden.

Lori with Girls – and boys – in the Garden.

(Originally posted September 6, 2015)


In the summer of 2006, Lori  Van Maanen stumbled upon a few sewing and decorating blogs, which led to many hours at the computer.   She was hooked on the format, and she thought blogging would be a great way to keep track of her sewing projects.  She could look back on her posts and use the information to improve her next garment.

Lori lives and works on her Missouri family farm, and is very involved in the family’s agricultural business.  She works full time at their livestock market — so time to sew can be an issue.  And she had to think long and hard about making the commitment to writing her own blog.

She knew her area of blogging would be mainly sewing, but didn’t want to limit herself by putting sewing in the title.  One day, while weeding her flower garden with her daughters, she looked at them and the name of her blog came to her:  Girls In the Garden.  As the mother to four girls, it was perfect — close to her heart.

Although Lori does all kinds of sewing  — her passion has always been fashion sewing.  With so many girls in the house, there is always an occasion or event requiring a new outfit.  Lori is inspired by fashion magazines, fashion blogs and Pinterest.  Once she gets an idea for a garment, she likes to search Pinterest for variations and details to make it her own.

aMood_Sewing_Network_LogoLori is fortunate to have a dedicated sewing space — but it’s in an unfinished basement, tucked under the plumbing pipes and behind the furnace.  She doesn’t really have a “stash” of fabric (maybe 10 yards on hand at any one time).  When she is inspired to make a garment,  she goes online to buy the fabric.  The Mood Fabrics website is her favorite place for fashion fabric — so it was a huge honor to be invited to become a part of the Mood Sewing Network in January, 2013.

When asked about her favorite sewing inspiration, Lori said,  “When the twins were babies, I took a smocking class.  My favorite magazine was Australian Smocking and Embroidery and each month I would find at least one dress to make.  One issue had these smocked black corduroy coats with leopard faux fur — and I was hooked on those coats.  It is a wonder I didn’t wear out my magazine just looking at them.  AS&E offered kits with everything but the pattern, so I checked the kit price and the exchange rate.  With four young girls, money was tight and it  took me a week of debating if I should buy not one but two kits.  In the end, I did order the coats and never regretted the purchase.  I made the coats a bit bigger and since the shape was flared, the girls were able to get three winters’ wear.

Leopard Trench Coat

Leopard Trench Coat

The most recent thing I was inspired to sew was my leopard trench coat.  I saw several leopard trench coats on Pinterest.  I found the perfect fabric at Mood and had the perfect Vogue pattern.  I have worn this coat many times, it just goes with everything and it is one of those ‘feel good’ garments.” 

Your best sewing advice?

Whenever I am having a problem, the first thing I do is rethread my sewing machine and change the needle.  That solves the problem 90% of the time.  And don’t forget to change the needles in your serger, too!  My go-to sewing book is Sandra Betzina’s  Fabric Savvy.  It is an excellent reference book and I often refer to it.  I only use SCHMETZ needles, and I ALWAYS have a good supply on hand.”

What does sewing bring to your life?   

I cannot draw or paint but I can take a piece of fabric and turn it into a garment.  Sewing is my creative outlet and it gives me such fulfillment and joy with each garment I make.  Sewing has also brought many friendships with women both near and far.”

Lori’s blog:  www.girlsinthegarden.blogspot.com/

Mood Sewing Network:  www.moodsewingnetwork.com

Needle & Fabric Recommendations

We know how tough it is to remember what needle to use with a particular fabric. If you’re fortunate, you have access to some reference books or the internet to help you figure it out. If you have a smartphone, you can download the SCHMETZ App (links below). If not, you’re stuck guessing. We’d like to help you out a little bit this week. Our “Cheat Sheet” below lists Fabric/Needle combinations. You can also find this guide in the SCHMETZ ABC Pocket Guide. This is by no means a complete list. Sandra Betzina has written two fantastic reference books that describe a myriad of fabrics and recommendations for what needle (or needles) to use along with other sewing tips germane to a particular fabric. We’re not ashamed to admit it . . . there are times when we are stumped and look to these two books for needle advice. Both books are referenced at the bottom of this post.

Needle & Fabric Recommendations

Artificial Leather – Microtex or Leather 70/10-100/16

Bamboo – Microtex 70/10-90/14
Batiste – Universal 60/8, 70/10
Bed-Linen, Jersey – Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Bed-Linen, Woven – Universal 70/10-100/16
Bouclé – Jersey 70/10-90/14
Brocade – Universal or Microtex 60/8-90/14

Cambric – Universal 60/8, 70/10
Canvas – Jeans 90/14-110/18
Chambray – Universal 80/12, 90/14
Chenille – Universal 90/14
Chiffon – Universal or Microtex 60/8, 70/10
Coated Material – Microtex 70/10-110/18
Cork – Microtex 70/10-90/14
Corduroy – Universal 80/12-100/16
Cotton, Knit – Jersey 70/10-90/14 or Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Cotton, Woven – Universal 70/10-90/14
Crepe – Universal or Microtex 60/8-80/12
Crepe-de-Chine – Universal or Microtex 60/8-80/12
Crinkle – Universal or Microtex 60/8-80/12

Denim – Jeans 70/10-110/18
Double-Face Woven – Universal 70/10-110/18

Elastic – Stretch 65/9-90/14

Felt – Universal 80/12-100/16
Flannel – Universal 80/12-110/18
Fleece – Universal 70/10-90/14 or Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Foils – Microtex 60/8-110/18
Fun Fur – Universal 70/10-100/16 or Jersey 70/11-90/14

Gabardine – Universal 70/10-100/16
Gauze – Jersey 70/10, 80/12
Georgette – Universal or Microtex 60/8-80/12

Jeans – Jeans 70/10-110/18 or Jeans Twin 4.0/100
Jersey – Jersey 60/8-80/12
Jersey with Elastic – Stretch 65/9-90/14

Knits – Jersey 70/10-100/16
Knits with Elastic – Jersey 70/10-100/16 or Stretch 65/9, 75/11, 90/14

Lace – Select by Fabric Type 70/10-90/14
Lamé – Microtex 60/8-90/14
Leather, Thick & Artificial Leather – Leather 100/16-120/19
Leather, Thin – Leather or Universal 70/10-90/14
Lingerie – Stretch 65/9, 75/11, 90/14 or Jersey 70/10-90/14
Linen & Half-Linen – Universal 70/10-90/14
Lycra – Stretch 65/9-90/14 or Jersey 70/10-90/14

Microfiber – Microtex 60-8-90/14

Nylon – Universal or Microtex 60/8-90/14

Oil Cloth – Microtex 80/12-100/16
Organdy – Universal or Microtex 60/8, 70/10
Organza – Universal or Microtex 60/8, 70/10

Polyester – Universal or Microtex 60/8-100/16
Poplin – Microtex or Universal 60/8-80/12

Quilt – Quilting 75/11, 90/14 or Jeans 70/10-110/18

Rayon – Universal 70/10, 80/12

Seersucker – Universal 70/10-90/14
Sequined Fabric – Microtex 70/10-90/14 or Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Silk – Microtex 60/8-90/14
Silk Jersey – Stretch 65/9, 75/11
Sweatshirt – Jersey 70/10-90/14

Taffeta – Microtex or Universal 60/8, 70/10
Terry Cloth – Universal 80/12, 90/14
Thermovelour Fleece – Universal 70/10-90/14 or Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Tulle – Universal or Jersey 70/10, 80/12
Twill – Jeans 70/10-110/18

Velour – Universal 70/10-100/16
Velour Jersey – Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Velvet – Stretch 75/11, 90/14 or Universal 70/10-90/14
Velvet Burn-Out – Stretch 65/9-90/14
Velvet Panne – Stretch 75/11 or Universal 70/10-80/12
Vinyl – Microtex 60/8-90/14
Voile – Universal 60/8-80/12

Waxed Cloth – Microtex 80/12-100/16
Wool & Wool Blends – Universal 70/10-100/16


More Fabric Savvy, Sandra Betzina, The Taunton Press, 2004.
All New Fabric Savvy, Sandra Betzina, The Taunton Press, 2017.

iOs (Apple)https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/schmetz/id643064376?ls=1&mt=8