Halloween Dreaming


My grandchildren love holiday pillowcases.  This set was made for 4 yo Vivian Rose, who loves cats.  I knew she would appreciate the addition of the witch cat to the Happy Halloween design.   Both designs are from the delightful ADP 89 Patrick Lose Happy Halloween collection.

Though her family pet is an 18 yo Ragdoll cat who does little but sleep the day away, this child has an unusual and firm fixation on felines.  Last year at Thanksgiving, as always, each family member at the table offered thanks for those things for which they were most grateful.  Three year old Vivian said, “Kittens.”  When asked was there anything else, she said, “Cats.”  pressed further, her 3rd and last reply was, “Big cats. More more turkey please.”

Along with the pillowcases, I included a sweet birthday card with three adorable kittens.  The card was modified to read “Happy Birthday Halloween.”

She loved her new pillowcases but I think the cat card pleased her more.

Here she is wearing her signature bedtime fashion, nestled in the pillows and holding her cat card.

The sleepwear is from her future Vivian’s Secret fashion line. And yet I continue to smock and sew heirloom clothes for her, hoping for a change in her personal style choices.


There is so much puckering in the embroidery!  Every time I embroider on polycotton, regardless of how much starch and stabilizer I use, it puckers.  Do you have any suggestions?



Cars 3 Fun for Guys and Gals

See detailed instructions for this less bulky tutu skirt here http://blog.brothersews.com/embroidery/cruz-ramirez-tutu-skirt-tee/


As Disney/Pixar’s wholesome movie Cars 3 roared through theaters across the nation this summer, iBroidery.com offered a dozen beautifully digitized racing designs.  With so many macho characters associated with the Cars movies, Cruz Ramirex is truly the rising star of gender equality in the racing world.

This skirt features Cruz colors and embroidery. Fabric tutus similar to the one shown above are all the rage with younger girls.  I’ve heard of birthday parties at which each guest makes her own hula-type tutu.  One kindergarten class made these for an end of the year project.

Most of the quick, easy, and fun skirts are simply strips of fabric knotted over a circle of elastic.  Cruz’s skirt is tutu Version 2.0, with less bulk at the waist.  It includes a casing waistband which captures folded strips rather than knotted.  It also features her personal embroidered crest at the center front.  The skirt is paired with a simple white tee embroidered with the equivalent of Cruz’s business card.



Detailed instructions for this less bulky skirt and more photos are posted here at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial.

For the boys a shirt and shorts were embroidered with favorite Cars 3 characters.


The brown buttons were replaced with black 40 hole to show off white. The pockets were removed and embroidered with car numbers.Again, the use of the same flag fabric throughout connected the set.


The shirt back featured another intricate design.


Embroidery on the shorts tied continued the saga of these characters.


but the pictures are hidden somewhere on my newly restored PC.  I’ll post when I locate them.  A brother and sister would attract a lot of attention attending the movie together.

For a little guy’s bedroom this pillowcase, sheet and fleece blanket set were made.


The set includes a pillowcase, top sheet and fleece blanket.



The set includes a pillowcase with a turn tube hem, top sheet and fleece blanket.

For the bath, two fingertip towels featured the charming characters of TowMater and best friends Guido and Luigi. A band of the flag fabric was attached near the towels’ hem.



If there is a young Cars 3 fan in your life, whip up one or more of these fun projects.  I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you will be rewarded with a big smile.

Though you need a Disney Brother machine to use these designs, the skirt could be made with any theme–or with any kid friendly fabrics.  The bedding, too,  could be duplicated with animals, sports or other themes. I can imagine this with a dance theme, given the twirl factor of the skirt.

Sewing for children is such a satisfying outlet for your skills and time.  Get yourself off to your sewing room and make something for a kid. You’ll both be glad you did.



Hurricanes and Sewing

This is the view from my San Juan classroom several years ago.  I’m sure it looks very different now.

UPDATE:  Luis and his family were safe in Orlando when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.  He was trying to get a flight home but I have not heard from him as to his location.  Now I see that there is a dam breach near Isabella, the site of his home and one of his stores.  They have evacuated  70,000 people from the area.  Lord have mercy on the people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean!

Since I last posted some three weeks ago, so much has happened–lots of sewing and lots more blowing.

As you all know, hurricane Maria  has devastated Puerto Rico and other  Caribbean islands.  The loss of life and property is gargantuan.   The conditions are horrific.

My two teaching trips in San Juan caused me to fall in love with this tropical paradise and its delightful people.  Now I am heartsick with worry about my gracious host and hostess, their family, and the talented students who embraced me with a warm welcome, helpful classroom translations and sincere invitations to visit their homes.

The ladies were all accomplished needleworkers.  Just look at some of their beautifully stitched projects here.   They all loved sewing and they loved their Brother sewing/embroidery machines.  Now, I fear, they may have lost it all.

I was able to send a facebook message to Luis Medina, my host for both events.    It is my fervent prayer that my Puerto Rican sewing friends as well as Luis and his family are safe.   I desperately hope to hear from him that this is the case.  Still, 4-6 months with no electricity is unimaginable.

A week before Maria, hurricane Irma  hit Florida.  We prepared as best we could, boarding up the house, testing the generator and making sure we had ample fuel and food.



After Irma blew through, many Floridians were left with floods and major damage.  The hardship for our neighbors was significant, particularly one whose generator failed as it was turned on.  She is almost bedridden and totally debilitated with cerebral palsy, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.  The heat, lack of running water and electricity was almost more than she could bear.   The 94 degree weather put her epileptic son at risk for more seizures.   Floridians suffered so much hardship. But neighbors helped neighbors.

A huge fallen oak tree blocked her driveway.  My dear ladder climbing husband removed most of that before his chainsaw broke and another neighbor finished up the job.

We are so grateful to have had no structural damage and were left with just yard debris–3 acres of yard debris like this.


8 month old Samson and Delilah were puzzled by the mess in the yard.


It doesn’t show here, but there seemed to be enough Spanish moss to cover most of Spain.

We were without power, internet, cell service or our house phone  for 7 full days. Generator power kept everything working normally except my beloved  the stove.  I could not cook–oh darn!

Instead of cooking, I spent time stitching.  Another kitty cat dress is nearly finished for 4 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose.   MaggieB’s smocked Ode to Joy smocked is a wonderful pattern. Another project, started before Irma barged into our lives was new embroidered pulpit vestments of loden green silk dupioni for our church.    With hurricane preparations and now clean up, I haven’t yet taken photos, but will post them soon.

Before Irma, this Disney/Pixar Cars 3 boy bedding project was finished for Brother.


The set includes a pillowcase, top sheet and fleece blanket.


The pillowcase features racing stripes with embroidered characters Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez.  Different designs of the same characters embellish the sheet while yet another design is centered at the top of the gray fleece blanket.

The designs are so beautifully digitized.  Available from ibroidery.com for Brother Disney machines,  they would make any boy happy to go to bed.  Well, maybe not, but boys would enjoy these designs on anything.

There are more sewing projects for upcoming posts.  But the hurricanes have been heavy on my mind and heart.   Please keep Puerto Rico, the Caribbean islands and  struggling Floridians in your prayers.



Antique Featherstitch Extravaganza

“Needlework is a way to capture Love, Beauty, Peace & Time.” unknown

antique woolen petticoat, heavily embellished with surface embroidery, feather stitching and moth holes


Antique needlework has always intrigued me.  So when I spotted this petticoat in an antique shop many years ago, the owner was surprised when I smiled and purchased this moth-eaten slip.  Her eyes said “Why would you want that?”  but her mouth said, “THANK YOU!”

First, I’ve always wondered who made this and who wore it?  Whoever kept warm in this petticoat was either a beloved child or a tiny young lady.  The satin waist band measures a scant 22,”  has a lovely hand stitched buttonhole and a pearl button.  The length is 24″.  My first thought was just who would go to all this trouble for a child’s under garment?  Then, as a mother and grandmother who has spent countless hours on a single garment for a precious little one,  I laughed at that absurd thought.  And I know many of you are laughing, too!  At any rate, I’ll never know for whom this was stitched, but it’s obvious she was well loved.

Needlework is a way to capture Love, Beauty, Peace & Time.” unknown

Well, clearly there is little to be done with this moth-meal leftover other than study it.  And it certainly is worthy of careful scrutiny, with the exception of the moth holes.  Just look at the features.

The hemline design is just spectacular.  Worked with a heavy silk or rayon cord, the embroidery is heavy and elaborate.  Can you see where the hemline is faced? The wool is very lightweight, embroidered only through the top layer.  But the cutwork edge is stitched through both layers.



The tucks are deep and secured with feather stitching.  This decorative stitching is applied throughout the garment.



Three 1″ tucks are held in place with feather stitching, which also covers the seam of the hem to the skirt.

Feather stitches were applied along the center back placket to hold it in place.


Note the fullness of the skirt is drawn up with pleats instead of gathers.


There is only one seam, along the side, which I would have expected to be at the center back.  The seam allowance been pressed open and secured with even more feather stitches.



Moth holes and all, I find this to be a lovely garment.  I might just try to duplicate the wide. open feather stitch with the My Custom Stitch feature on my Brother Dream Machine.   It is also on Brother top-of-the-line machines from the original 8500 (not the 8500D), the ULT 2002, 2002D, 2003D, Duetta 4000D, Duetta 4500D, Quattro 6000D  and  likely more.  Other machine brands may also have a design-your-own-stitch feature.  I’d love to have that stitch.

That’s all I know about this petticoat which was made with so much love.  I have really enjoyed gazing at it through the years and fantasizing about the adoring grandmother with a gray bun and a white apron who made it.  Of course, she was sitting in a rocker in front of the fireplace drinking a cup of tea, humming hymns, and adding love to each stitch.  What a pretty picture.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Smocking Destash and Restash

Dear Friends,

If you’ve read my blog once  or twice you probably know that I moan and groan about the out-of-control quantity of my sewing supplies.

But I have found a wonderful facebook group, Smocking Destash.  And you can join too!  It’s basically an on-line garage sale for sewing supplies!  You can buy and sell without charges like those on eBay.  The prices and ever-changing items being offered are just fabulous.

The need for room to move around causes me to offer bargains.


There are two more bookcases full of fabric, much of it needing a new home.


I vacillate between shame and motivation to reduce the amount to a manageable size.



Aside from the bargains, often an unused pattern or piece of fabric is sold and others decide they MUST have it.  So they rush to their sewing store to purchase it.  I’ve done that a lot!  Everyone wins.

I sold about 50 yds. of my beloved Liberty of London tana lawn for $15 py,  laces, tatting and patterns for bargain prices.  The flip side is  that I have purchased about 100 yds. of  to-die for fabrics, gorgeous laces, ready-to-smock garments and patterns from Children’s Corner to Kari Mecca to Wendy Schoen, many of which are no longer in print.



At least one shop owner is closing her retail store and selling 60″ wide cotton gingham (retailed for $14 py)for as little as $3! Spechler-Vogel featherwale corduroy for $5 py in a rainbow of colors, piping, and more!  Patterns and books that have long since been out of print have been sold and continue to show up for sale periodically.

If you would like to join this group, just drop me a note at NCcabin@aol.com or leave a comment at the end of this post stating that you would like to be included.  I’ll get back to you.  FYI, there is no charge to join the group but you must have a facebook account.


So come join the fun.  Get  rid of the fabric and patterns you know you will never use and find some new treasures.





Beaded Bag

If you happened to stop by these past  two weeks, you must have thought I have dropped off the face of the earth.  Though very busy, I have managed to stitch a few things that I would like to share with you.


monogrammed for a bridesmaid


Today I’m showing a feminine drawstring bag.  This is a bride’s gift to her bridesmaid, stuffed with a few precious momentos, reminders of the young ladies’ time together and a matching monogrammed handkerchief.  After the wedding, the bag can hold more handkerchiefs or whatever pretties that need a container.

The fabric is a lovely organza from fabric.com.  The fabric was cut 10″ x 16″.   With a width of 118″ 7  bags can be cut from 1/3 yd. with plenty of room to straighten the fabric edge.

In order to show off the ribbon, ivory French lace beading was used instead of a casing.

The beaded trim was originally  joined to a dark brown twill base.  After it was stitched in place, the taupe colored satin ribbon stitched on top of it.

The same ribbon was used for the drawstring ties.  Thread for the monogram was chosen to match the ribbon.

I love a quick project every now and again.  This same bag could be purposed for so many other uses–bridal showers, birthdays or any gift occasion.  It’s nice to have a simple project to make up in a hurry when the need arises.  Then try stitching a pretty bag like this.





Too Big, Too Precious

8 yo loving her too large, unhemmed smocked dress


This dress and this little girl make my heart sing.  Our summer has been so full,  so busy, and absolutely fabulous, but this dress is one of the highlights for me.  All this busy-ness is why  it’s been so long since I have posted.

Our pilot son flew the family down from their new home in New Jersey.  11 yo Robert and 13 yo Laurel spent the week visiting with old friends and spending time with their cousin Vivi.  What a wonderful family time that was!  Cousins, pool, golf cart rides, puppies to play with–it was plenty to make them happy.


Robert and Vivian Rose


Robert stayed with us when the rest of the family went home.  The next day we drove to the North Carolina mountains where we stayed at a fabulous cabin.


Now this is a great place to enjoy smocking!


At wonderful Bear Ridge Cabin in Brevard, our daughter Rebecca and Vivian Rose joined us while 8 yo Alastair was spending his last week at Camp Watitoh in Massachussets.   Our mutual friend Zahra and her two children also joined us while the daddies stayed at home working.

The children were just delightful, a special treat for this Nana and Granddad.


After s’mores, the children were all jammied up and ready for bed.

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Clergy Stole


What a joy it was  to make this stole for our young, exceptional pastor! He has   the wisdom, powerful teaching and Biblical understanding of a much older, more experienced pastor.  Our church is growing in leaps and bounds with his leadership.

Sunday in  the pulpit he wears a suit and tie. A traditional black robe hangs in his closet, but he said he doesn’t wear it because without a stole he looks like a judge.  Hmmmm…I thought, I could make one!   How hard could it be?  How long could it take?

Well, let me tell you this one was not hard but it did take a very long time.   Operator error again.  I made so many mistakes!

Whenever I take on a project unlike any I have made, I like to research the subject to get a comprehensive view of just what is involved.  Google took me to a lot of blogs and sites for free patterns.  Pinterest took me on that same route. Both have numerous free patterns, mostly labeled quick and easy.  I didn’t want quick an easy.  I wanted good.  So I looked further.



Again and again, the name Elizabeth Morgan came up,  listing her patterns and  book, Sewing Church Linens.  Aha!  I had purchased that book in anticipation of working with my dear Aunt Rheeta to make a communion cloth for her church.   But the book did not address stole making.



At her web site, www.churchlinens.com,  there were so many inspiration photos.  I read about her stole teaching kit and called to order it. What a charming lady she is!  She feels strongly that, for so many reasons, church vestments should be sewn by the congregation.  It is a blessing for both the sewists and the church to use their talents for the glory of God.

During our lovely and lengthy chat, I learned that Elizabeth is 82 years old and  has been making clergy stoles and church vestments for 30 years.  She is the stole guru I had been seeking!  She is without question the guru with decades of experience and one who teaches seminars around the country on the subject of church sewing.  Elizabeth Morgan is one who is willing to hold my hand and mentor me as I began this new sewing adventure.

In our chat, Elizabeth dircted me to Deb Schneider at Windstar Embroidery Designs.  Deb has digitized classic and vintage liturgical embroidery designs from an 1850 book of hand embroidery liturgical designs. Windstar also offers a huge variety of other designs, but my focus was on the religious category.

Wow!  This site was had me planning a baptism stole, a communion stole, stoles for weddings, advent, Easter, Pentecost and more!  (Can you see how I get a little carried away?)  I ordered this design (along with several 2  yard cuts of dupioni in white, green, red and gold).  And now I’m thinking about making pulpit drapes and more from the scraps.


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“..land that I love!”


our 4 yo grandson ready for the fireworks


Every day I am grateful to be living here in the USA, truly the “home of the brave, land of the free…”

We’re all eager to celebrate our nation’s birthday.   But it is important to pass our love and appreciation for the liberty we enjoy on to our children and grandchildren.

Special children’s clothing for the July 4th holiday shows them that this is an important celebration.  Since my grands are all far away this Independence Day, I’ve looked back at a few earlier celebrations with and for them.

This was granddaughter Vivian Rose’s first July 4th.



Our two older grands wore these outfits one summer.



Of course, the holiday specific food is also important—and enjoyed.


18 month old granddaughter Vivian Rose loves her corn on the cob!

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Children and Puppies=Inevitable Damage

Children and puppies–I do love and enjoy them.  Damages are to be expected and the children who are the light of my life  never fail to deliver in their younger days.



Recently, Vivian Rose, 4 yo, was here for a week of Nana Camp.  She is a scamp so I rarely let her out of my sight.  But one  day she slipped away while I was on the phone.  She was wearing her back-to-school Children’s Corner Jane.


At the top of her head is what Vivi calls her “fountain.” This was her signature look for a few weeks at the beginning of the last school year. She loved it.


As I turned away from  the kitchen sink, Vivi stood behind me, looking quite artificially serene.  Her outfit was streaked with what looked like peach sidewalk chalk marks.


Vivi’s back to school Jane.  After laundering the stain remains


“What’s on your shirt, Vivi?”

Smiling sweetly, “Dirt.  Umm hmm.  Brown dirt.”

“It doesn’t look like brown dirt.”

Big blue eyes widen as she replies, “Well, the red polish was vewwy vewwy high u—uh, I mean…. it’s brown dirt.” She smiled and walked away.  End of subject.  What she lacks in honesty, she makes up for in creative explanations. Continue reading