Wisteria Lesson Photo Transfer



This little piece is one of my favorite projects.  Embellishing any worthy image is incredibly rewarding but with today’s technology, it could be done so much more easily.  When I stitched Wisteria Lesson, each of the embroidery designs was positioned one at time with a printed  template then stitched one at a time.

Now with my Brother Quattro I can scan the image and then position all the designs on the computer.  By using the sort feature,  most of the design using the same color, such as the dark purple, would be stitched at the same time.  This would eliminate a huge number of thread changes.

With this advance in technology, I could more quickly and easily embellish a photo of my grandchildren romping through a field of bright pink phlox and black eyed susans and one of my garden and one of the treehouse with the azaleas blooming nearby.  And as soon as I finish sewing Vivian Rose’s 2nd birthday dress, mending my daughter-in-law’s couch pillows, resizing my daughter’s tablecloths, making new pillowcases to match Alastair’s new bedding, and….and….

Well, there are a few other must-do’s but I definitely plan take on one of these photo transfer projects as soon as possible.  Read all about it in this earlier post.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This project surely must warm the heart of anyone who has shared the joy of needlework with a child. When the 1913 edition Embroidery Lessons with Colored Studies was added to my library of vintage and antique needlework books, I was enchanted with the cover illustration.

The goal of the teacher to inspire and instruct, the challenge of the eager young student to succeed, the scent of the wisteria, sweet and heavy….I experienced all of this as the intimate vignette drew me in.  Under that idyllic arbor, I dreamed of teaching my fantasy granddaughter to sew.  (Hurrah!  I have TWO and 10 year old Laurel is already an accomplished little sewists!  Vivian Rose’s turn comes up in a few years.) I went so far as to plant a wisteria vine right then and there, though I had planned to do so for some time.



Wisteria Lesson, my title for this charming scene, has been transferred from the booklet cover to a sheet of specially treated silk which was bonded to paper and run through my inkjet  printer.  The silk image was layered with thin cotton batting and a backing and machine quilted.  It is embellished with machine embroidery and a few hand embroidery stitches.  This really fun project was made possible by the very talented and creative Sue Lord.

The first time I met Sue Lord was at a workshop.  She showed samples and offered detailed instructions on photo transfer to fabric at a workshop. In her musical Georgia (pronounced “Gaw-ja”) accent, Sue drawled so much new information and so many creative ideas that I returned for the repeat session in  the afternoon.

Coming back would have been worth it just to hear her talk again, regardless of what she said,  but Sue seems incapable of simply repeating a class.   She added new material and even more inspiration to the re-run! Or maybe I was just getting the hang of the drawl.  Whatever.  At any rate, my head was spinning when her lecture/demo was over.  Raring to go, I left with enough handouts and confidence to tackle a photo transfer project.   I knew Wisteria Lesson would be that project.

Continue reading

Just one more reason…

Lately, my thoughts have turned to a little unicorn girl, though you probably wonder why.  It’s all about what we do for love, specifically, sewing.

We’ve been very busy with family activities and demands and are so grateful to live near our children so we can be closely involved in their lives.   Spending time with them is such a blessing.  So I’m not complaining.

But as I strive to find time to sew a little of this and that, to begin Vivian Rose’s 2nd birthday dress, and to tackle some long overdue home dec projects, I have given considerable thought to why I feel such a drive to sew these projects.  It reminded me of this post from almost two years ago and think it bears repeating.  I often find myself wondering just how that sweet little unicorn is. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So here is just one more reason…..

to sew.  Not that we need another one, but a recent event really gave me pause to think about sewing and why we do it.  It has taken me some time to digest and organize my thoughts, to say what I want to say, so please bear with me.


Laurel,3 days old in "gender neutral daygown," made especially for her.

Laurel,3 days old in “gender neutral daygown,” made especially for her.


Like mothers and grandmothers before me, I was sewing for Laurel long before she was born.  The daygown shown above was made before we knew the gender of our first grandchild, but I couldn’t wait to start sewing for our long-awaited bundle of joy.  Announcement of a new baby will chase even the least productive needleworker to the sewing room.  The ambitious hopes and heartfelt dreams we have for baby’s future are in our thoughts with every stitch.

Last week  I had one of those gut-checks that make you stop and think.  This gut-check (or reality check) was initiated indirectly by Laurel, our first grandchild, just turned 9.    As we watched her portrayal of Lucy in a little production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe last week, I was overcome with gratitude for this loving, gifted, hearty, and hale child. I couldn’t help but think back to the day she was born.


Laurel, on the left with characters Susan and Peter

Laurel, on the left with characters Susan and Peter


Of course, we were so pleased with her acting and clear, audible speaking. And we enjoyed the entire production.  But that’s not the point.

The playbill, as usual, featured ads placed by parents, congratulating and encouraging their children.  One caught my eye–a photo of a pretty little girl whose parents declared their pride in her dramatic participation now that she can hear, and looking forward to her future accomplishments.

Yes, this child, who appeared to be about Laurel’s age, apparently had been deaf her entire life until some recent surgical or technological breakthrough.  Though she had only  two or three short lines, one can only imagine her parents’ pride in their daughter. Continue reading


I hope you all had wonderful Christmas and New Year  celebrations.  After the church Christmas Gala 10 y0 granddaughter Laurel was so happy that she literally danced along the path to the parking lot.  Her delight ended when she twirled and fell, breaking her wrist.   Thank heavens for the Children’s Urgent Care Center!  She’s on the mend now and other than that unfortunate incident, it has been a joyous holiday.

We enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner, gift exchange and church with our son and his family then drove across the state to spend Christmas Day with our daughter and hers.

This is her  2 yo carnivore,  Vivian Rose, enjoying her Christmas goose drumstick, collard greens, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding and mashed potatoes.  She loves to eat!




Vivi drumstick 1


She is wearing her Christmas dress and ate so carefully that nary a drop nor food stain left a blemish on the Swiss flannel.  A few days later the grandchildren and their parents gathered at our house for a few days of post-Christmas family fun and a big New Year’s Eve celebration.  My ears are still ringing from son-in-law Harvey’s pyrotechnic displays.  Good news!  A few days ago the dogs and cats emerged from their hidey-holes and stopped shaking!

But it has been a lonnnnnng time since my last blog post.  Because it actually was possible for me to have put up something in these past two weeks, I should probably be listed as AWOL.  Then again, there was a whirlwind of activity so I think I’ll plead Missing in Action.  That seems more honorable than AWOL.

As soon as everyone left yesterday morning, I got right on the first item on my must-do list, 12 aprons for my sorority alumnae group.  (Second on the list is this post!)  These will be worn when the group cooks at the Ronald McDonald House this month.


aprons for my sorority alumnae group

aprons for my sorority alumnae group


The design is the same but the colors have been varied somewhat, though each embroidery includes lavender and maroon, the sorority colors.



Designs are from Thread Artist Designs Wild Violets collection. The company must be discontinued as I cannot find them on the internet.


Now I’m moving on to Vivian Rose’s birthday dress.  That should be fun.

Now that the holiday rush is over, what wonderful sewing projects have you planned?  As Mary Engelbreit, one of my favorite philosophers, has said, “Welcome the New Year with things that have never been.”  I bet your 2015 “never been” creations will be deee-vine.

new year

Christmas Outfits Past Part 2

I hope you have all finished your Christmas sewing.  I’ve moved on to baking and gift wrapping and hope to finish up in time for our big family celebrations.

Here are a few more Christmas outfits from the past.  These gingerbread outfits for my  two older grandchildren were favorites of mine.   A few years later, new grandson Alastair wore Robert’s suit.



Ready-to-smock gingerbread outfits were paired up with a Creative Needle smocking plate.


One year I planned to make matching Thanksgiving outfits for the children.  The Viyella brown plaid garments were made but before I began the bibs, plans changed and the older two would not be with us that day. So I decided to use the garments for Christmas.  But that was a stretch—brown plaid for Christmas.  I made it work.



Alastair’s Christmas outfit, Children’s Corner Glenn with linen bib embroidery from OESD’s Current Critters Continued.


Laurel’s basic yoke dress was trimmed with tatting, as was her linen bib.




Laurel also had a tie-on bib with a Current Critters Continued design.


These Current Critters embroidery designs are so charming.




The next year, because they would be attending the traditional holiday Nutcracker Ballet,  the children had Nutcracker themed Christmas clothes.  Laurel, of course, was the Sugarplum Fairy.



Laurel’s black velveteen dress, CC Hope, and heirloom bib with embroidered Sugarplum Fairy.


She loved the graceful Sugarplum Fairy from A Bit of Stitch.


Christmas Dress bib fairy


But she especially loved the matching dress for her first American Girl doll, Molly.




Robert’s shirt featured the Nutcracker himself.  It was paired with black pants.



The crooked embroidery drove (and drives) me crazy. But it was too late to redo the shirt.


Little Alastair was appropriately decked out as the Mouse King.  I was especially pleased with his outfit.  Those pants from Martha Pullen’s  Heirloom Sewing for Jack and Jill  are so classic.




The embroidery was perfect.





This is more than enough looking back and it’s too late for any of these to offer inspiration for your Christmas sewing.  But I do hope you have enjoyed these posts from the past and that you have enjoyed making wonderful holiday clothes for your own children, grandchildren, and other beloved children.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Christmas Outfits from the Past


Hand embroidered Sarah Howard Stone collar and velveteen dress for my daughter, 1983. It was worn a few years ago by my older granddaughter, Laurel.


They say time flies when you are having fun and, let me tell you, I have had a good bit of fun making holiday outfits for my children and grandchildren.  Like many of you, Christmas and Easter clothes are my favorite and most memorable projects.



This collar reminds me just how hard I  tried to get the stitches just right as we drove to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving.   It was a two hour drive along bumpy back roads and I poked my fingers more than once.  But I couldn’t waste the time. As the family sat and visited after the pumpkin pie, I continued to embroider.

Who knew that 15 years later it could be done on an embroidery machine?  Who knew there would be home embroidery machines? Certainly not me.


R L Stetson puffing

Robert and Laurel all ready for the Stetson Christmas concert. She is wearing recycled heirloom from her Aunt Rebecca’s closet.


A few years after the shadow work collar was made, my daughter wore a burgundy velveteen dress (just like this one) with this very puffing collar.  Then Laurel wore the collar on a new burgundy velveteen dress..


puffing collar L

The puffing collar is another hand-me-down.


Not all Laurel’s Christmas dresses were hand-me-downs.  Two of my favorites were brother-sister outfits.

One set was red baby cord embroidered with Santas and worn over white shirts.


This was their candy cane Christmas. I love those candy hoops with Santa.  Buttons were pending.


The hoops rolled all around the little suit.


candy cane back

That center back seam didn’t match up as I had hoped. But at Robert’s standard break-neck speed, no one else noticed.


Laurel loved the twirl factor of her jumper.






Don’t you just love all the holiday activities and festivities?  This stroll down Christmas Memory Lane is probably long enough for one post.  I’ll continue next time.

Do you have a favorite Christmas outfit to share with us?  Just shoot me an e-mail at NCcabin@aol.com with a photo and some information.

Meanwhile, sew on!  There are still  4  days to Christmas!

Christmas Apron How-to


Don’t you love my vintage painted sifter and the kiddie sized rolling pin?

It’s time to bake everyone’s favorite Christmas cookies.  Children love to “help” though even with youthful assistance, really delicious holiday treats CAN be made.

We all know that if you start too early, the goodies are all eaten up before Dec. 25.  (Be sure to read the cookie storage tip at the end of this post.)  “Helpers” often love to be “tasters,” and require great quantities of cookies to be certain they are fit to serve.

A special child’s apron, whether plain or gussied up with embroidery, will make the experience even more fun.  Plain, personalized or embellished with embroidery–whatever–a child will love it.

Here’s how this one was made. Continue reading

Christmas Pillow–not ME

no embroidery machine needed!

no embroidery machine needed!


It’s not too late to whip up a holiday pillow.  Brother asked me to design a simple Christmas project that did not require an embroidery machine and this is what was created.    A dishtowel with a decorative hem is  teamed up with a bevy of buttons to create a whimsical Christmas tree pillow. It’s a quick and easy way to add a fresh look to your holiday décor and have fun doing it.

The template is at the end of this post, but you could just as easily draw your own.  If you download the .jpg and print it, you can resize as needed.

I really enjoyed making this.  I hope you get a chance to stitch one for your home.
Materials and Supplies
• Dish towel 18”x27” with 1-2” contrasting border–this one is from All About Blanks
• Pillow insert 16” x 12”
• Thread- variegated green for tree, brown for trunk, white for construction,
gold metallic for tree top bow
• Buttons-30-50 tiny round (no shank), 5-8 medium, 5 large round, 1 gold star button or charm
• Notions: 1 sheet white tissue paper, spray adhesive, washaway marker


1. Iron a crease at towel’s vertical center.

2. Trace tree template at center and just above decorative hem border. Reduce machine tension.

3. Fill in tree trunk with straight stitches in brown thread, following curve of trunk.

4. Select feather stitch,  adjust to W 5.0~ L 5.0. Another decorative stitch would also work.

5. Apply spray adhesive to tissue paper. Adhere paper to back of towel, covering area of tree outline.

6. Sew feather stitching with green variegated thread beginning at lower left corner of tree. Sew over the bottom line then pivot and sew side to side. Do not cut threads. Follow the curve of the previous row. TIP: Because right side of tree is shorter than left, it helps to start rows which begin on the left a little higher than on right.

7. Remove tissue paper, wash out marker lines and iron when dry. Return machine tension to normal.

8. Sew buttons to tree and metallic thread bow to top. TIP: With towel on flat surface, place buttons in a pleasing arrangement. Take a picture and refer to that as you stitch the buttons.

tree top
9. Hand stitch bow and gold charm in place. Sew large buttons along contrasting hem.

10. Sew ends together with 2” seam allowance. Overlap plain end with decorative hem by 3”.

11. Trim seam allowance to ½” and finish raw edge with zig zag. Turn right side out and insert pillow form.

12. Yeah! You have a 2014 Christmas pillow.


Christmas Finery for Sister and Brother

2 outfits

Hurrah!  Christmas clothes for our two younger grandchildren were finished, shipped and received late last week.  Toddler Vivian Rose’s white Swiss flannel bishop has the neck and sleeve bound with in red gingham pima cotton.  Heirloom lace is hand whipped to the bias binding.


smock close


The smocking design is just a simple diamond pattern that I made up as I stitched. Continue reading

Stetson Mansion Christmas Tour



My–Oh–My!!!  How I wish you all lived close enough that together we could all visit the breathtaking Stetson Mansion in my hometown DeLand, Florida.  The historic (1886) Victorian home of John B. Stetson is  gloriously decorated for Christmas.

dining room


Even I,  whose Indian name surely would be “Woman of Many Words,” cannot begin to describe it.  Make Room for Quilts by Nancy Martin features one style entitled “Too Much is Seldom Enough.”  That’s as close as anyone could come to accurately describing the look.  In a 10,000 square foot home, how could too much be enough?

The 1-hour Christmas tour with my PlayGroup Mamas was so spectacular that I am returning for another visit with my older grandchildren and other family members this weekend.

Tour guests waited on the veranda until the tour began.



The Frozen-themed reception parlor was so realistic that it gave us Florida gals a chill. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Fun v.’14

3 towels ed

Brown gingham checks (not black, as it appears) border the towels, embroidered by 10 yo granddaughter, Laurel. The towels are from All About Blanks, my favorite on-line source for blanks.


Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and I hope it was your best one yet.  We all have so much for which to be thankful.  No matter what our circumstances, we all can look around our town, our country and around the world to see others so much less fortunate.  So we Americans celebrate our many blessings with family and friends, around  a table heavy laden with favorite holiday food.



Norman Rockwell captured the spirit of the day in this 1946 picture.



Some celebrate in the traditional manner, as shown above.  Others dine in a more contemporary style, as shown below.



Someone else captured another way to celebrate Thanksgiving.


Either way, most of us celebrate our good fortune. Continue reading