Laughter

Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life.  Anon.

I just came across this old post and thought it bears repeating.  My life is great, rich and full of joy, and I hope yours is as well.  But laughter is good for everyone.  I hope this gives you a good chuckle.

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This post has only the most tenuous link to sewing.  But some days tenuous is all I’ve got.

There has been a lot of illness among my elderly relatives.   Sadly, since this was first posted, we have lost both Aunt Aileen and Uncle Richard.  But life goes on.   We accept as God’s blessing the merciful  death of one and  peaceful death of the other.

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When my Uncle Richard, 92,  healthy and fit, stopped by my home after visiting his hospitalized sister, my sweet Aunt Aileen, his sadness and depression were palpable.  I steered the conversation to the past, leading him to talk about his career as a restaurateur.   He and his long-departed wife spent many years as owners, managers and sometimes cooks for this restaurant.

Ahhhhhhh, I thought. A true, funny restaurant story should give him some distraction and a good laugh.

So I told Uncle Richard……..

After teaching for seven full days at Martha Pullen’s school in Huntsville, Alabama, I was tired and eager to get home to Florida.  I’m like a long distance trucker on these road trips.  With 650 miles to travel alone, I make every infrequent stop count–1) gas, 2) bathroom and 3) food —then back on the road.

Somewhere near the Florida state line, I stopped at one of those huge truck stops that could pass as a mini-mall.  On one side was a sub shop and a sit down restaurant.  A turkey sub sounded good to me.

Directly inside the door was a sub sandwich counter and a few small tables.  To the left was the large dining room of the restaurant.  I waited at the unattended sub counter for a few minutes then went into the restaurant to see if I could get some help.   Two or three tables were occupied with diners, but no wait staff or attendants were visible.

Tick tock tick tock…….I don’t wait well.  But I called up all my patience and gave it a little longer, a total of 6 minutes from my arrival.  I had my gas and bathroom break but no lunch.  I needed to get on the road!

So stepped behind the counter, washed my hands, put on a pair of plastic gloves and started on my sandwich.  I had the roll sliced, the condiments slathered on and had just plopped the meat, cheese and veggies on the bread when a lady came out of the restaurant shrieking, “What do you think you are doing?!?!?!”

Very calmly, I replied, “I’m making a sandwich, of course.  Since no one was here to do it for me,  I assumed this was a self-service shop.”

“Well, it is not!!!!!”  She wrapped up my sandwich, I paid her and then sat down at a table by the entrance. The Shrieker disappeared into the sit-down restaurant’s dining room and through a pair of double doors at the back, practically in the next zip code.

Just a few minutes later, two HUGE biker guys came in–you know, with doo rags on their heads, sleeveless tee shirts, bulging arms, big ring of keys on their Levis belt loops, heavy boots.  They waited just a minute then asked me if anyone was there.

Then I thought, you just have to get your laughs when and where you can.

I said, “This place is self service.  I made my own sandwich.  Just leave your money by the cash register.”

As they clumped back behind the counter and picked out their bread, I picked up my sandwich and walked quickly to my car.  But I was laughing then and chuckled as I drove for the next 200 miles, picturing a continuation of the scenario I had left behind.  I’d love to have stayed to watch The Shrieker take on those tough guys and give them what-for.  But as they say, “Discretion is the greater part of valor,” though I’m not sure valor is what I was going for.   Clearly, in this situation, discretion was the wiser choice.

Hearing this story, Uncle Richard laughed, too.  As he guffawed and chortled some more, I could tell it had been a very long time since he had had anything to laugh about.  But that day, for a little while, he did.

This YouTube video of a baby will make you laugh…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPtuekvJdhs

Meanwhile, happy sewing.

Vivi’s Cruise Dress

Almost 7 yo Vivian Rose is tiny. A size 5 Children’s Corner Louise would have fit her ever so much better. She poses in Central Park on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas cruise ship.

Life has been a whirlwind for us these past few weeks.  Of course, Hurricane Dorian was expected for a very long time and preparations were non-stop.  With 3 acres of patio furniture, potted plants, a standing basketball hoop, pool, and other miscellany, it seems there is always more you can do to prepare for a Cat 5 hurricane.

Bob up on first story roof to put up storm shutters on second story windows. Already the skies were gray.

 

Additionally, I spent more hours in front of  the television than I have in the past year.  The weather and each of Dorian’s tiny turns to the east and then the west were monitored vigilantly.  The weather  had never seemed so important.

But living 30 miles inland from the coast, we were spared. Our damage amounted to two downed palm fronds and a few clumps of Spanish moss.  But days were spent waiting and watching Dorian’s painfully slow progress as it viciously battered the Bahamas and inched up the Florida coast.  We thanked God for His mercy, prayed for the poor Bahamians who were suffering bitterly, and prayed for those still in the storms path.

We had a cruise to the Bahamas scheduled for Sept. 2 and that was cancelled, of course.  By the time the storm passed, we were rebooked on a cruise which departed from Port Canaveral Sept. 5, just 30 hours after we received confirmation.

The purpose and highlight of the cruise was spending time with our two younger grandchildren, 10 yo Alastair, 6 yo Vivian Rose, and their parents.  We had a fabulous time.

The “cruise” dress I made in such a rush for Vivian Rose was done well before the hurricane was due to make landfall.  Inspired by a gorgeous dress made by famous smocking plate designer Terry Collins, I ordered the fabric the very day she posted her dress on-line.  The pattern is Children’s Corner Louise.

 

This is a terrific pattern, a blank canvas for a variety of embellishments.  Or it is lovely as shown as a jumper or sundress.  The bodice is fully lined.

While making this, I faced many of the problems familiar to those of you whose grandchildren do not live nearby.  Though Vivi soon will be 7, she is very tiny. Yet her mother declared that she wears a size 6 and that’s what I should make.  So I did.

Obviously it it too large in every respect except the length.  You can see  the gaping armholes in the first picture.

 

 

There was also an 8″ discrepancy between the length her mother recommended, based on her measurement of a dress Vivi liked.   With the border print requiring a faced hem, an accurate length was important as there was no option for a generous hem.   With the 1/8″ stripe, I felt certain I could not make growth tucks that would look good.  So instead of  the 21″ length recommended by my daughter and the 29″ length recommended by the pattern, I went with 26″.  It’s a good thing Vivi likes her dresses short for easy maneuverability because this may soon require leggings.  I wish I had made it longer.

On this dress I was especially grateful to have learned a great technique in Maggie Bunch’s Ode to Joy great on-line class.  The border print runs along the selvage so there is just one seam.  The fullness of the skirt depends on the repeat of the border pattern.  By precisely matching the pattern where the single seam meets makes the seam almost invisible.  I wish I had taken a picture of that, but I had Dorian on my mind.  It really is a great technique, best taught in greater detail by Maggie.

It seemed that for a cruise, an embroidered sailboat on the bodice would be just right. After a lengthy search,  I found the perfect sailboat at AnnTheGran’s site.The embroidery on the bodice was edited considerably in my Brother Dream Machine 2 in order to mimic the sailboat in the border scene.

The original design is sized at 2.13″ x 1.97″.  On my Brother Dream 2 machine, it has been enlarged to  6.92″ x 4.97″, mirror imaged, colors changed, background sky eliminated.  A ball has been added to the top of the mast and three coral dots embellish the side of the boat, just as shown on the original.  I wish I had scanned the border with the sailboat showing.  As it is, if you look closely you can see it in the skirt fold near the bottom.

 

 

Because the ribbon is so wide, the embroidery had to be moved up toward the neck. It could not be centered on the bodice. Again I was reminded why it is so important to gather all supplies before beginning a project.

I wanted a ribbon sash to tie in the back, thinking that could take up any excess width at the waist.  In all of central Florida, the only ribbon in the perfect color was this 2.5″ wide grosgrain.  But I could not tie a decent bow with that wide ribbon! And I knew for certain my daughter would not be able to tie one with wiggly, impatient, eager-to-get-on-with-her-busy-little-life Vivian.

So I stitched soft velcro to the ribbon and to the dress on either side of the center back opening at the waist.  Of course, that covered the button at the waist but the velcro made it accessible.   A bow (not tied) was stitched to the ribbon.  It was not a perfect solution, but by  then a “working” solution was good enough for me.

 

The wide sash and stitched on bow made a less than perfect solution, but it worked. The waist  is very loose,leaving plenty of growing room.

 

She and Alastair both tried to scale the 4 story climbing wall, though she gave up about half way when her little hands were just too tired.  Alastair made it further but not to the top.  Sadly, we only have video of the climb and I can’t figure out how to extract a single frame.  You can see she is an active, adventurous little girl.

Wearing her climbing wall harness.

Saturday she dressed for Gator game day as she and Alastair played miniature golf on the ship.  He is wearing a “matchy matchy” cruise shirt just like his grandfather’s.  The size is a man’s small he’s just a little boy, but that was the smallest size it came in. He wanted to match the one he chose for his grandfather’s birthday, which we celebrated at sea.

 

 

A family cruise is so much fun. I had some quiet smocking time on the balcony of our stateroom and an excuse for another sewing project for Vivian Rose.  Then there was all that quality time with our family.  Sooooo wonderful.

What are you up to?  What are you sewing?  We’d all love to hear about it.

Disclaimer:  I’ve got to say it:  I am a paid Brother Ambassador. And I love it! (I’m not required to say that.)

 

 

 

 

 

Free Happy Face Pencil Toppers

My turn to present the Children’s Message at church came this week just in time for back-t0-school.

The children range in age from 4-10 so the message needed to be catchy to get their attention and brief enough to keep that attention.  Additionally, there must be a meaningful message.

 

This bag and fabric was a gift to me from the Ghana mission team in thanks for the garments our sewing group made. The bright colors certainly caught the children’s attention.

 

With a large, colorful  tote bag next to me,  I mentioned that they had all begun a new school year.  Then I asked what they learn at school.  The answers were just as expected–math, reading, manners and to be kind (that was nice to hear).

They were curious about the bag but I said they would see what was in it later.  It was a surprise.  Darling tow-headed Reid, 4 yo,  had snuggled up to me before the service began and sneaked a look in the bag.  He shouted smugly, “I know what the surprise is!!!!” Continue reading

Summer Fun Bug Bag

You can’t beat bug hunting for kids’ summer fun.  Make this bag with or without embroidery and they will be kept busy prowling the bushes and grass. Whether the prey be creepy crawlies or fireflies, the adventure is a child’s version of an African jungle safari.

But where to put the catch? This fiberglass screen wire teepee bag (the name is suggested by its shape) is a perfect accessory and holding pen.  Use insect designs from iBroidery.com and your personal design library to embellish the outside.

Most machines handle the screen wire effortlessly.  The stand-alone butterfly swaying inside the bag will intrigue the children and send them racing out the door away from  their screens and  into nature.  Without embroidery, print a butterfly on cardstock and dangle it with monofilament, just like the embroidered one.  You could even include a few plastic bugs in the bag, as shown in the photo, to get the children in the mood.

This was my latest project featured on Brother’s blog at Stitching Sewcial.  It includes detailed instructions for the basic bag as well as a downloadable template.  This template shows the sections and sides of the bag, making embroidery placement easy.

The basic bag is my standard, favorite teepee bag, used dozens of times.  But the zipper insertion varies and frankly is easier with less opportunity for error.

See that the zipper is simply placed on top of the screenwire  and held in place with a decorative stitch that mimics grass.  The embroidered ladybugs could easily be replaced with ladybug buttons.

There is still plenty of summer left.  Why not give the children a last adventure before the start of school with this fun bag and activity?  Check out the Stitching Sewcial blog post for particulars. Enjoy these last lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer with your kids.

Catching Critters! A Fun DIY Bug Bag

Baby Bea’s Bumblebee Set

NOTE: I apologize for all the wrinkles.  It was one of those aftenoons with on and off showers.  As I began walked the yard for a site to take photos, the rain came up suddenly.  I clutched the outfit and ran inside. Momentarily, it cleared and I did not have time to press it again.  I was in and out of the rain multiple times.

Baby Beatrice, my youngest delight, is most often called “Bea.”  Of course, all things “bee” are suitable for her. Her adoption story is long and complicated  with many twists and turns.  It is clear that the hand of God has chosen her to be Kyle and Joanne’s baby girl.

Like so many adoptions, the first 9 months of her life were very stressful for her parents.  But now with the joy of new parents, they are about to celebrate her first birthday.  Of course, as her officially appointed Nana, I was eager to make a new outfit to mark this important milestone in her life.

The bumblebee pique and the yellow polka dot fabric were purchased shortly after her birth, along with several other “bee” prints especially for her.  One of those fabrics was sewn into a little sundress when she was 4 weeks old, for a  party following her arrival home.

For this bumblebee garment, the pattern used won my heart the first time I saw it.

 

I love the curved lines of the back.

 

Back of Bea’s bumblebee set. I don’t know why didn’t I notice that the top was not centered on the hanger.  Must have been the thunder that distracted me.

 

A special button treatment was used, with a tiny yellow button stacked on a larger black one, echoing the bee color.  I enjoy adding little touches like that.

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Family Cruising

How’s this for a Cozumel tropical paradise?

It’s been way too long since a new blog has been posted but I’m  trying to catch up.  To say we have been busy is a gross understatement.  But let me tell you one of the many events that have kept us running– our wonderful Royal Caribbean cruise with our daughter and family.  There are some sewing projects to see but lots of fun to report.

I had packed a bag of smocking projects which I expected to complete while enjoying the view and sea breeze from our balcony.  Some smocking was done but I packed way too many projects with way too many great expectations.

My good friend Carol, our daughter’s fabulous mother-in-law, was with us and had the same idea.  She knitted and I smocked.  So we sat and stitched, but only for short periods of time.

 

 

There were so many activities.  Vivian Rose wore “Nana clothes” every day.  Here she is leaving an activity wearing a bishop Easter dress from a few years ago.

 

 

The dress was generously sized for her two years ago and desperately needed a tuck under the arm.  It still needs the tuck and the only other fitting problem its short length.   Regardless, she loves the dress.  I really need to make those tucks. Why she is wearing her backpack under the dress is a mystery to me. She wore this dress to dinner one night.

 

 

For dinner each night she was dressed in smocking. This dress was made for her mother 30 years ago and was worn by cousin Laurel before Vivi for a few years. Now it’s another one of Vivian’s favorites.  It’s still in perfect condition, another hurrah for Spechler-Vogel’s Imperial batiste Continue reading

Summer Yo-Yo Frock

This is my latest creation for Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial.  I must say, this is one with which I am almost completely satisfied.  That rarely happens!

 

Isn’t that back cute?

I do regret not noticing  that Farmhouse Fabrics has gingham buttons.  I would like to have used those instead of the MOP pink ones as shown. But then again, maybe not.  I’d have to have them on hand to compare.

These are the bloomers.

The little garment, size 24 months, was inspired by Kari Mecca’s Yo-Yo and Buttonholes Bubble pattern https://karimeccasblog.typepad.com/my_weblog/yoyo-buttonholes-bubble-pattern.html which appeared on the cover of Sew Beautiful magazine summer, 2009. Continue reading

How-to: Garments for Ghana

Required disclosure:  I am a paid Brother Ambassador.  Not required:  I absolutely love Brother Machines.

Several readers have written asking if they may participate in the Garments for Ghana project.   Others asked how our project operated so they might do a similar event in their own community.  When I mentioned in response to a comment on this topic that I might write this post, at least one promised that she (sweet Sandee) would not find these details boring.  I hope she is not the only one because I am going ahead with this.

Before I began, I was given some direction from the mission team leaders.  The request was for bright colors, since the landscape there is pretty bleak.  We did that. Check.

Second, there must be no buttons or closures  that might break or need replacement. Such replacement is not an option for mothers in these areas.  Check.  Elastic at the neckline was the only closure notion.  I know elastic gives out after a couple of years, but I expect these garments will be worn out long  before the elastic is.

Third, in many African nations and apparently in Ghana, bare shoulders for girls and perhaps adult females, is taboo.  So we needed some sort of sleeve.  Check.  I did notice early on that many photos of pillowcase dresses for Little Dresses for Africa showed the girls wearing a  tee shirt under their dresses.  Now I see that the site offers a free pattern that has a sleeve, much like the pattern I used.

Fourth, each garment must be marked with its size.  I had a bag of labels for sizes 1-5 and for the others I embroidered sizes on grosgrain ribbon in the hoop.  Ladies who worked from home used a sharpie to write on ribbon, which like the others,  was tucked into the elastic casing at the back. Continue reading

Garments for Ghana

This is the first of 7 clotheslines that hung from the walls in fellowship hall.

Required disclaimer: I am a paid Brother Ambassador.  Not required:  I genuinely LOVE Brother machines.

UPDATE:  The first picture is in from Ghana!  Though this little girl is not needy, I think she is the daughter of Ghanese pastor who hosts the mission team.  Gayle had said this child would be given first choice.  She certainly looks pleased. Her father reported that she didn’t want to take off  the dress and slept in it!

 

What an exciting, satisfying project this has been!  Since the end of Feb. a group of ladies and 4 children of River City Church, EPC, have gathered every Thursday to sew for the needy children of Ghana. Our goal was to make 100 garments. We finished the last week in May with 76 dresses and 44 pairs of shorts!

Getting started with basic instructions.

 

Starting a pair of cargo shorts.

Our efforts were in support of this summer’s second medical mission trip to Ghana, led by a church member Dr. Lyle Wadsworth and his nurse wife Gayle.

NOTE:  Please excuse the wrinkled dresses.  The garments were pressed before being hung on the clothesline. But after being packed for shipment to Ghana, many were unpacked to be photographed.  It was just too time consuming to iron all of them.

Overturned yo-yo’s created puffy balloons. The teepee bag covers a runaway balloon.

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What has been keeping me busy!

My goodness but life has a way of keeping me busy and away from writing blog posts!  But I have been sewing.  Here us a sampling of some of my projects.

I found this heart headband slider as a freebie (for a short time only) for Valentine’s Day at Tattered Stitch.  It makes up quickly and was a big hit with my granddaughter 6 yo Vivian Rose.  She wore it to the family’s special Valentine breakfast and then to school.

Vivian Rose at the family’s special Valentine breakfast.

 

It was so quick and easy to make that I made 18 for the little girls at church.  They were delighted.  This is just the first batch I made.

 

 

Then Aunt Rheeta made her annual pilgrimage to Florida to escape Indiana’s bitter cold winter weather.  She sewed and sewed, making 10 mug rugs.  Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of all of 12, but she made a set of 4 hunting themed mug  rugs for each of two of her sons, one more feminine design for her daughter and one for her house/dog sitter.

Then she made these two for Joanne and Kyle, parents of precious baby Bea.  She said she has been praying for them since March so they almost feel like family.  She went to our Bible study group at their home and was so pleased to meet this lovely couple and spend time with darling Beatrice.  Kyle loves to hunt so one is for him and the fall print seemed to go well with Joanne’s home decor.

 

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