About Nicki

Why The Ruffled Purse®

Around 2006 I purchased a purse pattern by Renay Martin called The Trixie Bag. The ruffles in the picture drew my eye. Sadly, I had the pattern for a few years before I actually made the purse, even though it was frequently on my mind.

The first ruffled purse I made was in spring colors because winter was almost over. After the purse was completed it became my favorite and I carried it everywhere. It was the only purse I used, and I was constantly getting compliments on it. When I told people I made it, they were amazed.

Spring moved into summer and then slowly into fall. I told my mother (who lived in Michigan at the time) how much I loved the purse and wished I had one in fall colors. A new school year had already begun and I didn’t have the time or energy to make another.

She told me to send her the pattern and she would make me a fall-colored purse. The purse Mom made was in shades of rust, browns, and creams. I loved and used it just as much as the spring colored one I had made.

Over time (and because of constant use) the fabric handles of both purses became worn and frayed. Eventually, I made another Trixie Bag out of blues and reds. Yep. It was the only purse I used. The handle on this one wore out, too, but I was able to pull the purse apart and replace the handle with a new one.

These ruffled purses are such a favorite of mine, that I adapted parts of the pattern to make a larger bag to cart my school stuff around.

Photo of ruffled purse school bag on shoulder

In the long season of my life when I didn’t have a lot of time to sew, my ruffled purses brought me a lot of happiness. And it wasn’t just the finished project and all the fun ruffles that made me happy. Happiness came during all parts of the sewing process from fabric selection, to preparing the fabric, to sewing and construction, and celebration of the finished purse.

Happiness is a natural side effect of sewing. So, when I was deciding on a new name for my blog, it only made sense to name it The Ruffled Purse®.

When I’m not making time to sew, my ruffled purses are a connection to sewing and provide subtle reminders of the joy sewing can bring into life.

Learning by Doing

I recognized sewing was a source of happiness and knew there were other people who were thinking about sewing but, for whatever reason, weren’t doing it.

The purpose of my blog became more clear and I knew a big part of it was going to be sewing inspiration and education.

As a result, self-reflection of my own sewing abilities was necessary. This is what I determined:

  • I’m very comfortable with what I already know how to do when I’m sewing by hand or machine.
  • Most of the projects I have completed up to this point only required basic sewing skills.
  • Some project ideas rolling around in my head and in books and patterns I have purchased require more sewing knowledge and skills than I currently have.
  • There is a lot I don’t know about sewing…yet.
  • I don’t want my sewing abilities to keep me from creating and I’m eager to learn more.

We learn by doing. That means we need to be sewing.

Each time we sew and dive into a new project, more than likely there will be a roller coaster of emotions as we go through the process. There will be things we know and other things we need to learn.

Sewing is immensely satisfying but there will be moans of frustration along with cheers of celebration. Regardless, every time we try something new and don’t give up that is a success.

Learning is more fun when doing it with others. Sewing is too.

The journey of learning (and sewing) is enhanced when there are people you can count on to provide insight and answer questions as well as encourage you when things get tough and celebrate with when you’ve had success.

My goal is to provide sewing education and inspiration related to what I already know and what I learn so you can discover the joy of sewing and together we can have wildly successful sewing experiences.

As I learn new sewing skills and knowledge, I’m constantly examining my methods of instruction and how it impacts learning. I want to provide you with support and celebration in sewing when you need it and inspire you to sew things for yourself, your home, and others.

If sewing has been on your mind and you have limited to no sewing experience, this website is for you. Sewing brings joy and I want you to discover the joy of sewing, too.

More About Me

An unintentional collector of sewing projects, an avid reader of romance books, and drinker of coffee and mini-margaritas…that’s me!

Reading and relaxing
Notice the pitcher on the table? That is a fun piece of glassware I found at an antique mall. It is the perfect size to hold mixed margaritas!

9 Facts About Me and My Unintentional Collection

  • I thoroughly enjoy estate sales, garage sales, and junky antique shops.
  • Vintage and unique pieces from past eras speak to my soul through their history, shape, color, or other attributes. If I see a piece and it whispers my name, I feel a pull to bring it home. Most of these items, while usable when I acquire them, need a makeover of some sort.
  • Footstools, chairs, and sofas are weaknesses of mine. We have so many chairs, my husband told me I have to get rid of one before I get another!
These are some of my furniture finds that need a little love, care, and updating!

Note: January of 2020 I realized my furniture collection was getting out of hand. I was honest and admitted to myself, the chances of me reupholstering the large pieces of furniture was nonexistent. This revelation enabled me to let go emotionally and sell them. The large green chair, sectional sofa, and the large gold sofa sold within 24 hours after advertising them online. I still have all the stools and small green chair to indulge in my upholstery interests.

  • I am drawn to colors and patterns of material as well as the textures and colors of yarn. As a result, I have a stash of fabric and yarn that is waiting to be used.
  • Tablecloths, napkins, and lady’s handkerchiefs (circa 1940’s-1960’s) intrigue me. I own several sets of vintage linens from family members as well as a decent amount from shopping excursions.
  • In addition to furniture and textiles, I have collections of Anchor Hocking Early American Prescut glassware, vintage Pyrex baking dishes, and any other vintage glassware that speaks to me and makes my heart sing. (I have a set of flowered jelly glasses that are perfect for my mini-margaritas!)
Vintage tablecloth from my grandmother and a delicious mini-margarita in a flowered jelly glass.
  • My bookshelf is stuffed with patterns and books related to upholstery, quilting, knitting, crocheting, needlework, apparel, dolls, and other sewing related topics.
  • I can run a sewing machine and follow patterns for just about anything that isn’t too complicated. And when I see something I like or want to make as a gift and don’t have a pattern, I figure out a way to construct it.
  • Ideas constantly flow through my head. As a result, my home is full of sewing projects that are almost done, halfway done, or not even started.

Why I Started Blogging

Family and Career

Right out of college I became an elementary school teacher. Dedicated to doing the best job I could for my students, as well as being a wife and mother, my life fell into a routine of using nights and weekends for family and school-related responsibilities. There was very little time (and often I had very little energy) to start, much less complete, any of the sewing projects I had been collecting.

For years I told myself I would do the home projects such as reupholster, make slipcovers, hem curtains, and make pillows. In addition, there were a variety of other small projects I wanted to do including quilting, needlework, purses, pajamas, and the list goes on.

Again, dedication to being the best mom, wife, and teacher left little time and energy for anything else.

The School Year Challenge

It took 20+ years in education and my son graduating from college before I admitted to myself the elusive someday I had been waiting for to do my projects would never happen unless I made it happen.

In the fall of 2017, I decided to stop thinking about all the projects I wanted to do and actually start doing them.

This thought process led to the creation of the School Year Challenge. During the 2017-2018 school year, I committed to completing some projects each month that I had been thinking about for years.

To hold myself accountable, I decided to blog about the process, the projects, budget, and reflect on my progress.

My Blog was Born!

My blog was originally called Iccomplishments™. It’s a word I made-up combining the pronoun I + accomplishments. Saying the word evoked a feeling of success and motivated me to get things done.

In the 9 months of the 2017-2018 School Year Challenge, I completed 23 projects and developed a variety of new knowledge and skills.

I learned a lot about myself, the projects I liked, and more importantly, the ones I didn’t.

See the School Year Challenge Posts

Do you want to know more about my 2017-2018 School Year Challenge and the 23 projects I completed over 9 months?

  • To read the posts in order, start with The Beginning. At the bottom of each post in the School Year Challenge, there is a link to the next post and/or the previous post.
  • Type “School Year Challenge” in the search box. There will be 5 pages of results but you can easily scroll through and read what catches your interest.

What I Learned

It’s necessary to have a creative outlet and spend time doing it.

Taking time to work on monthly projects during the nights and weekends instead of school work actually made me a better teacher. Instead of fighting burnout during the school year, I found myself rejuvenated and much more productive during school hours.

Making time for the monthly projects required planning, making changes to my evening and weekend routines, and committing to taking action. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it.

During the process, I realized there are some types of projects I really enjoyed and others I’d be happy never doing again.

My life is so much better and I’m much happier because I’ve stopped thinking and started doing the projects that have been on my mind for years.

It’s up to me to put myself first sometimes and work on something because I enjoy it.

When I take action and do something for myself, I’m a better educator and wife. (I’m sure I would be a better mother, too, if my son still lived at home.)

My husband is wonderful.

I knew this already but the demand of my career caused me to lose sight of this and take him for granted.

When I started the School Year Challenge, my husband, Douglas, fully supported me.

He had some knowledge and skills I didn’t and taught me what I needed to know on certain projects. He helped me when I asked, offered insight when I needed a second opinion, and listened when I vented over frustrations and challenges.

I love sewing.

These 3 simple words summarize my unintentional collection of furniture, vintage linens, fabric, patterns, books, etc. and the types of projects I enjoyed most during the School Year Challenge.

In addition, I realized many of the completed projects (and those I still want to accomplish) require sewing and will provide solutions for things I want to change or improve for myself, my home, and others.

While planning and working on projects during the School Year Challenge, patterns, colors, and textures of fabric and other textiles evoked feelings of excitement, opportunity, and a sense of urgency to complete. While projects involving painting and refinishing furniture were not my favorite.

The value sewing could bring into my life didn’t become apparent until I reflected and saw the commonality of items in my unintentional collection and the projects I most enjoyed during the School Year Challenge.

The happiness my ruffled purses brought me, as well as the realization sewing offered solutions to many things I want to create, change, or enhance in life, was further evidence I needed to be sewing more.

Changing My Blog Focus

Whenever I talked with friends and acquaintances about Iccomplishments™ and the School Year Challenge as it was happening, I usually mentioned how I really loved the sewing projects. Frequently, others would share with me that they had an interest in sewing, too.

Some people would tell me they always wanted to learn how to sew. Others would say they know the basics of sewing but haven’t gotten their sewing machine out in a while. Still, others told me they’re accomplished at sewing but career and family demands have consumed their time and it had been years since they’d sewn anything.

Sewing provides a creative outlet I didn’t realize I’d been missing in my life. It provides an opportunity for me to do a different type of thinking.

Sewing forces me to turn my attention to something else besides my career and the routine of life. At the same time, sewing provides solutions to issues, problems, and challenges I encounter in day-to-day life.

When I’m sewing, my focus becomes making and creating something with my own two hands and everything else fades to the background.

The teacher in me couldn’t help but want to educate and inspire others who want to sew, too.

So, Iccomplishments™ began to evolve from a personal accountability blog into The Ruffled Purse®, a website with a focus on sewing inspiration and education.

Where Do You Go From Here

Are you new to sewing?

If you’ve been thinking about sewing but never touched a sewing machine or have limited sewing experience, check out my Starting to Sew! series.

This series of 12 lessons begin with guidance to help you through the process of finding a sewing machine. After that, you gain a foundational understanding of how your sewing machine works, sewing basics, and what you need to do to take care of your machine. The Starting to Sew series wraps up with helpful tips to create a sewing space.

Do you know how to sew?

If you already have some sewing knowledge and skills, check out the Sewing Projects section of the blog. Each project is embedded with links to Sewing Knowledge and Skills that were designed for “when-you-need-it” support as you complete the projects.

Let’s Connect

My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.

Need help or have questions about sewing? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

Make sure you sign up for Snappy Scissors, my FREE newsletter sent directly to your inbox for ongoing sewing inspiration and education.

Also, like or follow The Ruffled Purse® on Facebook. This is another way to stay up-to-date on the fun things going on at The Ruffled Purse!

You can even follow me on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.