Birthday Tea at Sea and Free Designs

I’m sorry it has been sooo long since a new blog has been posted.  Hip replacement, shingles and husband’s shoulder surgery has kept me too busy.  Now, at last, I can share this bit of Nana fun with you.~~~~

Grandchildren are just sooo much fun!  Fun is what we had recently on a cruise to Cozumel with our daughter and her family, including 10 yo Alastair and  Vivian Rose.  The occasion was to celebrate Vivi’s 7th birthday.

There, on board and overlooking the aqua blue Caribbean, she was the guest of honor at a genuine Fancy Nancy afternoon tea. It was pure delight!

Vivian Rose, wearing her smocked Ode to Joy dress (Maggie B pattern) and flaunting a purple boa, looks on the tea table set for the celebration. Note the lollipop centerpiece.

The birthday tea was a huge success.  Refreshments included pastries and dessert treats from the ship’s buffet accompanied with  Fancy Nancy Tea.  Feather boas and a chest of costume jewelry added to the elegance of the fete.

We had a fine time, or,  as was often said so many years ago in the Glenwood News column of our tiny local newspaper, “a good time was had by all.”  Several other ship passengers as well as servers stopped by to ask about the gala affair and offer Vivi birthday congratulations.

The tea also offered several opportunities to teach proper, ladylike behavior.

Vivian delicately wipes her mouth with her napkin–with no reminder!

She learned  that it is  impolite to discuss politics, religion or her health at a tea party or in any “polite” company.

“What’s politics?” she asked.   “Don’t worry about that now.  Just don’t talk about it when you find out.”    “Okay,” she obediently replied. What a good girl!

She listened attentively as her mother read Vivi’s new Fancy Nancy’s Tea Party book.  Little did we know she was already planning to soon host her own little tea party.

As her mother read, Vivian listened raptly to her new Fancy Nancy Tea Party book.

The idea for this event came about during her latest visit to our home.   We had been rummaging through boxes of my treasures in the garage when she came across a  few doll size tea sets. She was enchanted and asked if she could keep one.  We promptly had an impromptu tea party with her mother’s old Cabbage Patch doll (wearing a smocked dress) and a teddy.  Of course, she went home with the doll set, but I had this another in mind for her.

Having put aside this little porcelain set for her years ago, I presented it to her for her birthday at sea.   At the tea party she saw it for the first time. To me it has a distinctive Mary Engelbreit look.

Several years ago, Cousin Laurel was presented with the identical set and put it to use for several tea parties. At her Second Annual Tea Party,  guests were invited to bring their dolls.  It added a whole new dimension to the festivities.

To accompany Vivian’s service for 6, I made coordinating tea linens with monogrammed napkins.  The centerpiece is a painted flower pot loaded with jelly beans and lollipops.  Card stock leaves were added to the sticks to create a sugar illusion of a pot of sugary flowers..

Even before I was blessed with the grandchildren of my dreams, this tea set was the inspiration for a class I taught many times around the country.  Detailed instructions and the recipe for the Kindergarten Tea (now renamedFancy Nancy Tea) are included in this post http://www.janicefergusonsews.com/blog/2009/08/30/tea-party-time/ 

The perfect machine applique’d bow design was ever so kindly digitized by Mary Alice Smith of Alabama.   The hand-look embroidered napkin corners are part of a set digitized by my dear friend, Suzanne Sawko.  If you would like the free tea linen designs (available only in .pes), please leave your request as a comment below.

Just hours after returning home from the port, Vivian insisted on hosting an impromptu tea party in her yard under the Florida sunshine.  I asked my daughter if she had reminded Vivi about forbidden conversation topics.

She replied, “I didn’t have to.  Vivi firmly instructed her guests what not to talk about.”  Her previously informed too cool brother, attending only for the Oreos and banana slices, just rolled his eyes.

 

 

Autumn Burlap Pillow

Get a detailed tutorial for this pillow at http://blog.brothersews.com/home-decor/harvest-time-pillow

This fall pillow gives you all the colors of autumn, even if you live in Florida, as I do.  The fabric selection for this season is just remarkable! A trip down  the aisles of my favorite sewing store reminds me of our drives down the Blue Ridge Parkway in October. I can almost smell piles of leaves burning.

You can make this pillow in a very short time.  Working with burlap is a drastic  change in gears from heirloom and the burlap rose was fun. Every burlap flower I researched online required hot glue and I did not want that.  So this is my version of a no-glue posy.  Detailed instructions are in the post at Brother’s Stitching Sewcial blog.

This sturdy pillow can bring fall colors to the outdoors as shown above or it can enrich the colors in your home.  By changing the print fabric on the sash, you could make this a Halloween pillow.  Then swap the sash to fall fabric after Oct. 31.

It  reminds me of Halloweens past with my children’s and grandchildren’s goofy costumes, of huge Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends, of fall festivals at church,  of tailgating Gator football games, and fall festivals.   So many memories of this season….. Required disclosure:  I am a paid Brother Ambassador/sewing expert.  Not required:  I love my Brother Dream Machine 2!

Check out the tutorial here and leave a comment if you like it. I would really appreciate it.

Autumn Inspired Harvest Time Pillow

 

 

 

 

 

Fast and Fun Halloween Projects

These darling pencil toppers were just mailed off to my younger grands to share with their classmates. Did you know that Halloween is the most popular secular holiday in the USA?  Just ask my grandchildren.  They are crazy for this time of year.  Last month, 6 yo Vivian Rose told me she was counting the days until Oct. 1 so she could start wearing her Halloween clothes.

This is a bit of a joke, as she is required to wear a uniform to school.  So hairbows, headbands and pencil toppers are her only Halloween expressions for the school day.  Her Halloween “clothes” will only be weekend and after school attire.

These pencil toppers from GG Designs  are just a joy to stitch out.  They come as a single design or “sorted” with four pumpkins or ghosts or bats in a single 4×4 hoop. I combined 2 sorted sets of pumpkins into a larger hoop, did another color sort and stitched 8 pencil toppers in just a few minutes.  This was repeated with the ghosts and then with the bats.  It takes longer to cut out the felt designs than it did the stitch them. Now the set is on sale for only $4.13.

What a sweet little gift this would be to a favorite elementary teacher to share with her students.  There are so many who would be happy to receive these slightly spooky pencil toppers.

GG Designs Embroidery was the inspiration for another Halloween favorite which was sent to my grandchildren last Halloween.  This was digitized and also stitched for the children at church, making me one of  the more popular church Nanas!

As a paid Brother Ambassador (required disclosure), the project was posted at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial and includes a step-by-step photo tutorial., as well as a FREE download of the file for the pumpkin.

There is still plenty of time to whip up these cuties.  For your children, grands, neighbors, church children or for nursing home patients, these pumpkin treat bags are sure to bring a smile.

 

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.” Continue reading

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.

My fabulous husband, 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.

 

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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.

Continue reading

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