I’m Baaaack

It has been a wild ride in the time I’ve been out of the loop. After 5 days of Hurricane Matthew preparation, hunkering down with no internet, tv, cell or landline service and then clean up, we headed to Mayo Clinic.  My husband underwent a minor cardiac procedure, as if ANY cardiac procedure can be minor.  He’s just fine, we’re back home and now I’m back to blogging and sewing.




First, I want to share this cute, quick and easy Halloween faux-pieced wallhanging that I really enjoyed making just before Matthew made his unwelcome visit.  A complete photo tutorial is posted here at Brother’s new blog, Stitching Sewcial.  The designs are from the new Disney Halloween Collection at ibroidery.com

There is still time to whip up this kid-pleaser for the increasingly popular Halloween season. Unlike corn stalks or hay bales, this decoration can be packed away for next year and more years to come.

Children love this, especially when they see Goofy’s skeleton glow in the dark.


Goofy by day


Goofy by night

Goofy by night


I especially like the yo-yo pumpkins that dangle from each side.

The quick and easy technique was developed when dear Mildred Turner and I taught an AG doll dressing school on Cape Cod, many years ago.  When asked if I could teach a night class for a doll quilt, I jumped at the chance.  Then I got the news that 1. none of the students had ever quilted, 2. the class was just 3 hours long, and 3. please make sure the quilt could be completed in that time!  Whew!  Now that was a challenge!  That was the motivation for developing this technique. And it worked! But it has so many variations on the application.

So please take a look at this post at Stitching Sewcial and leave a comment if you are so inclined.  I would really appreciate it.


Autumn in Florida is usually glorious.  I was reminded of last year’s lovely fall when came across this photo.  It shows then 2 yo Vivian Rose wearing a CC Mindy that her mother wore 35 years ago.  It still looks pretty good!


2 yo Vivian Rose wearing CC Mindy, a hand-me-down from her mother

2 yo Vivian Rose wearing CC Mindy, a hand-me-down from her mother.  Sweet memories.


Now that some sewing has been covered, let me share a little about the hurricane.  We are so thankful that we were spared the full impact of what was expected to be a totally devastating direct hit to Daytona Beach.  That’s just 30 miles from our home.  We remain prayerful for those who suffered terrible losses as Matthew worked its way up the coast.

Expecting the worst, and prepared to evacuate if the order came, we spent a full day tucking away all the potted plants, lawn furniture and anything that could become airborn.  Bob fueled and fired up the generator to see that it was ready for service.  I prayed while surveying my yard and house, thinking this may be the last day we have in our home of 44 years.

Unlike many of our friends, we were too busy to take pictures of the house and garden.   But I did snap a quick shot of my white mandevilla climbing over the wrought iron arch.  I love this and expected it would be blown away in the next 12-24 hours.


12 hours before Matthew was due to hit

24 hours before Matthew was due to hit.  The little arbor gates are open as we were passing through often.


Instead, 36 hours after this photo was snapped, as tropical storm force winds howled, this ancient oak near the road toppled.   Mercifully it missed the gate. It damaged only a few rails on the fence and crushed several azaleas.  But they are tough and will bounce back.


good bye live oak

Good bye live oak.


After all the wind stopped, there stood my white mandevilla absolutely intact, with every single blossom in place!  The leaves looked bruised, but not a blossom had fallen!  How does that happen? Those flowers had to have held on for dear life!  I could take another picture but the only difference would be Florida’s signature sunshine blazing instead of the pre-hurricane gloom.

We are thankful beyond words.  We continue to pray for those who were not so fortunate.

Fun Halloween Projects and Lessons Learned


Check the UPDATE below. The ghost and skull glow in the dark.  Happy Halloween towel V.2 below is a great improvement.


NEWS FLASH–Urban Threads is running a sale on their designs especially designed for glow-in-the-dark threads–$1.29 each with a neat bonus set that comes with a purchase of $10 or more.  That’s just 8 designs.  I finished these towels just about an hour before I found out about this sale.  I had spent a lot of time searching my design library for files that would be suitable for glow-in-the-dark. Oh well.  Children are crazy about this stuff.  I  look forward to stitching my new designs for the older grands.

A package of fun Halloween items will go out in tomorrow’s mail to my two younger grandchildren.  A fingertip towel for each child should make them smile.  When the children were here a few weeks ago, they were so pleased to have embroidered personalized towels for their bathrooms.

Three year old Vivian Rose is infatuated with cats so the cat and hat towel is for her.  Seven year old Alastair was equally infatuated with glow-in-the-dark threads when he discovered them during that same visit.  So that is the fun factor on his towel.

It looks pretty ho-hum until the lights are out.



Be sure to check the UPDATE below if you haven’t already.


LESSON LEARNED:  When dealing with glow-in-the-dark, areas outside the glow are best stitched in regular colored thread.  The ghost mouth and nose were stitched with orange thread. That looks good.  I mistakenly thought that having the ghost and skull eyes glow in a different color would give a great effect.  Wrong.  It would have been so much nicer with the lights on or off if I had used black or orange thread for those features.  Live and learn.

UPDATE: After this post was written,  I couldn’t live with the Happy Halloween towel.  I knew the fix would be easy.  So the towel was rehooped and the scan feature on my Dream Machine was engaged.  After the embroidered towel was scanned, the original design was opened.  As it appeared on the screen, I dragged it over the existing design with the stylus.

After scrolling through the first few colors, I came to the skull eyes and then the ghost nose.  They were re-embroidered with black thread.




The fix took less than 3 minutes and towel looks much better in daylight— even better in the dark.




Restitching those elements of the design in black was a huge improvement.

Even more was learned on the next project, a pumpkin door hanger.


Fun project! Pumpkin Door Hanger from Hang To Dry. The applique' font and the text were from Brother's PE-NEXT editing program.

What a fun project! Pumpkin Door Hanger from Hang To Dry. The applique’ font and the text were from Brother’s PE-NEXT editing program.

Continue reading

Cat Dress Modeled

Apparently Vivian Rose likes her Too many Cats dress..

Apparently Vivian Rose likes her Too many Cats dress.

That is one happy little girl wearing one ugly dress.

I was very disappointed in the finished Too Many Cats dress.    But I appreciate all of you dear readers who encouraged me with assurances that my 3 yo granddaughter, Vivian Rose, would love it.  You were right.

My darling, thoughtful daughter sent these pictures today, after the package arrived.  Since I had promised Vivi a “kitty cat” dress, she was expecting nothing less when she opened her package.



Her first view of herself showed the kind of exuberant response for which she is well-known.


“I’m beautiful!” Nice molars, Vivi.

As you can see, it is a little wide and low at the waist and longer than I like.  I’m going to ask Oma, her other grandmother, to move the buttons up a bit and perhaps raise the hem.

Next time I’ll alter the pattern for a better fit.  But I doubt I’ll get a happier little girl.

P.S.  Amy Harris Johnson, can we say “Oh, my!”?

A Small Token of Love


This is Icolin wearing her new apron.


This is my sweet Jamaican friend, Icolin.  We share our burdens, few though they are, and joys, of which there are many.  Her strong faith and cheerful attitude bring sunshine into my already sunny home.



Icolin considers this her office. She prefers to eat lunch and take breaks in the potting shed. My sewing room is my favorite spot, but this is the place I like to be when I’m not sewing. 

In an earlier post, I sang her praises, though not loudly enough, and featured an apron I had embroidered for her.   For the longest time, she just left it hanging, declaring it too pretty to wear for cleaning–ppsshaw!, I said, teaching her an uncommon English word.

Finally, that apron was worn for her first day at another cleaning job.  I thought it was time for her to have another–another apron and another very small token of my appreciation.  Aside from that, I was ready for something more satisfying  than the Too Many Cats dress.



This is a design from Loralie’s Colorful Ladies III.  I replaced the design’s paintbrush with a feather duster. Icolin keeps her’s handy as she works her way through the house.


The apron is from All About Blanks, my go-to site for a variety of ready-to-embroider items.

We are all so lucky to be able to sew or embroider small gifts like this.  Nothing says “You’re special,” like a handmade gift.  Except, of course, a new sewing machine!

Have you made any little tokens of appreciation lately?


Too Many Cats



When grandchildren are babies, or at least fairly young, we can make pretty things that please us and, hopefully,  their mothers.  Then, after some time, our target audience becomes opinionated little ones.  That’s what happened with this special request from 3 yo Vivian Rose.

“Please make me a kitty cat dress, Nana,” she implored on her last visit.  Having put The Incident  behind us, making her a new dress seemed just the right gesture for assurance of forgiveness.

This child is fixated on cats.  Their family pet is a 17 year old feline who went to college with Vivi’s father and has been with him ever since.  So Vivi has daily interaction with a cat, elderly though she is.

When I spotted this fabric at my favorite fabric haunt, The Sewing Studio in Maitland, FL,  I knew Vivian would love it.   Not only that, the black background would make her mother happy, who declares this active child’s clothes have a chance of surviving the school year if they are black denim.




Even so, the fabric seemed a little too feline for my taste, but I wasn’t buying for me.  Don’t get me wrong–I love cats, but mostly in smaller numbers.

Challenges arose as soon as I began to cut it out.  Those rows of cats are not printed precisely on grain.  I dealt with a similar problem many years ago, but wisdom learned then was forgotten in my haste to make this for my precious little cat girl.  So a choice had to be made between going with the weave of the fabric or with the print.  I went with the print. Continue reading

Remorse, Fish, Family, and Fun



This is one of our three formerly feral cats. They were a daily source of delight for 3 yo Vivian Rose and 7 yo Alastair.


Before the summer was over, our two younger grandchildren came  across the state for a week of Nana (and Granddad) camp.  As all grandparents know, it was a fabulous, memorable time for all, not the least of whom were their folks who were relieved of parental responsibilities for a week. How well I remember that special joy in years gone by.

In an effort to give this some sewing references, I must tell you that Vivian Rose’s suitcase was packed with nothing but Nana-made clothes.  I love my daughter for that–and a million other reasons.  Vivian wore her firefly outfit, the ever popular parade dress, her ABC shorts set, the CC Jane tricycle set and others.  More pictures should have been taken, but I was too wrapped up in the children to shoot more.



With a goofy grin and a little chocolate cake still lingering on her mouth, Vivi wears a well-worn Children’s Corner Katina, made fir her mother 35 years ago. There is something to be said for polycotton. The dress and bloomers are in near perfect condition.



A highlight of  the week was a visit to our friends’ garden and koi ponds.  The day before our outing,  Alastair and Vivian Rose collaborated on a pair of koi dishtowels for their hosts.  Alastair actually did most of the embroidery, with Vivi pushing the needle threader, presser foot lever and start button occasionally.  They chose the threads and were quite proud of the results.

the children did the embroidery at my Dream Machine.  Alastair is fascinated by the technology and Vivi loves to push the buttons--any buttons.

the children did the embroidery at my Dream Machine. Alastair is fascinated by the technology and Vivi loves to push the buttons–any buttons.


John and Susanna are the grandparents of Baby Shrek who surely found a world of delight at their home when he visited in September.




Susanna led the trail through her jungle paradise.

Susanna led the trail past the koi pond and through her breathtaking garden.


After a short time, Vivian left the fish.  They were pretty, they swam, she moved on.  In her explorations, she discovered a quiet hideaway where Susanna likes to sit and read, though she seldom sits.  She and her husband John are always on the go, what with keeping up with the garden and ponds, doing church work, and being friends to all.



Vivi was awed by the wind chimes and a singing bird in a secluded nook in the garden.

Continue reading

Finished Christening Gown for Baby Shrek!

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted what I asked of Him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

After earlier disappointments, people around the world prayed for this baby during the difficult pregnancy.  God hears all prayers and answered with the safe delivery of this precious baby into the arms of his loving family.

So here are the details of the renewed heirloom gown Baby Shrek wore for his baptism. ~~~~~~

Photo taken between rain and wind gusts from tropical storm Hermine.

photo taken between rain and wind gusts from tropical storm Hermine.


It’s been so long since my last post that faithful readers probably think I have dropped off the face of the earth.  A more accurate explanation of my absence is that I’ve been buried deep in my sewing room.  Sooooo much has been going on, the highlight being the completion of this gown for Baby Shrek and spending some time with him.  Details of a weekend with 4 rabid embroidery enthusiasts, ages 3.5-9, nearly a week of sewing with our two older grandchildren before they moved to New Jersey, and more will be posted later.


Little Shrek on my dining room table

Little Shrek on my dining room table. His adoring grandmother is captured in the mirror wearing a white blouse.


First let me answer a the question many have asked about why he is called Baby Shrek.  His parents very graciously gave me permission to use any photos of him, but asked that I not use his name.  So the hasty endearment from his maternal grandmother, “beautiful Baby Shrek,” is used in place of his very lengthy, good Christian name.

These pictures are not great, but he had passed up his noon nursing due to the distraction of my two dogs and his watchful, attentive fan club.  Then when he was dressed for the photos, he was good-natured, but very actively squirmed and flapped his little arms as he pleaded for his dinner.




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ABC Preschool Shorts Set

Children's Corner Charlotte pattern

Children’s Corner Charlotte pattern


This swing top and shorts set was made for 3 yo Vivian Rose’s back to school wardrobe.  The pattern is Children’s Corner Charlotte and I love it!

CC charlotte


It is such a versatile pattern.  A cute print could carry the day or a solid fabric with machine embroidery would be just as sweet.

The crayon/ ABC print is a luxurious cotton twill lined with yellow gingham.  That same gingham  is also used on the shoulder ruffles and spaghetti bias on  the shorts.  Piping was added around the armscyes.



The crayon embroidery design can be found at Embroidery Library.


The shorts are embroidered with crayons from Embroidery Library.  Spaghetti bias is stitched over the machine hem.  The bow is held in place by a small square red button, which seems to have flopped down.

It was such a pleasure to make this outfit.  But I was so disappointed when Vivi’s mother reported that her opinionated little miss refused to wear it.  As things stand now, her fashion statement requires “kitty cats,” rainbows and or hearts for all garments.  Nothing else will do.

My daughter prevailed at last and Vivian Rose wore the dress on Friday.   This shot of her in the school parking lot shows a happy little preschooler  climbing out of her car seat.  She was too eager to get to her classroom to  complain about the outfit or stop for better picture. But maybe she really does like Charlotte.   Sure.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.


Vivi in car


I guess I’d better look through my fabric and design library for kitty, rainbow and heart designs.  If only Vivi could be persuaded to wear the garments I had planned, and for which I have yards and yards and yards of fabric with no-kitty cats, no rainbows and no hearts.  I guess there is no Liberty in this year’s wardrobe.  Oh, well.  She is so darn cute that I will get more fabric.  What a hardship ;-).

Coming up next—Little Shrek’s christening gown remake.  I will see him next week!!!!! Now I’m doing the happy dance!


Finding Dory~Another Fun Disney Dress

image 1 close finished p

My step-by-step tutorial for this dress is posted at Brother’s Stitching Sewcial blog. Please take a look and leave a comment . I’d really appreciate your feedback.


It seems like forever since there has been a new post here, but My! Oh! My! have I been busy!  Highlights include time in NC with family, a week at home with 2 younger grands, including hurricane Vivian Rose (good news,  we have finally recovered. Whew!), several days of sewing with the two older grands and so much more.   It’s been a wonderful summer.

But I’m back in the saddle now and have a really fun little project to share with you.  I do believe this sweet child’s dress would qualify for the “Modern Projects for Old Fashioned Nanas” category.  Don’t you?

It started with this cute pattern


and the Finding Dory machine embroidery designs at iBroidery.com.  The fabrics are a solid soft aqua Swiss cotton pique’ and a blue Disney Finding Dory quilting cotton. Continue reading

Alice Tea Linens Tutorial

image 1 panned set all shadowed

This child sized tea linen set features Alice in Wonderland characters.  With the heavenly scented Confederate Jasmine in full bloom on my front porch, a sweet tea party could be held, if only I had a few grandchildren in house.


Making this linen tea set was such a pleasure.  The project and accompanying tutorial were just posted on Brother’s Stitching Sewcial  blog.    This is especially timely with the recent release of Disney’s new movie, Alice through the Looking Glass. A whole new generation of children will meet the characters through this movie.

The tutorial includes .pdf downloads for the corner templates (a smaller one for the napkins and a larger one for the tablecloth).  It also includes a link to download the zig zag feather stitch which I created in My Custom Stitch,  available on many Brother machines.  I find this stitch useful for many projects–baby bonnets,   baby shawls,   blankets and more.

If your machine has this feature, you might want to download the zig zag feather even if you are not planning to whip up an Alice tea linen set.  Instructions for getting this stitch from the download to a memory stick to your machine are included in the tutorial.

When I began this project, my biggest challenge was to select the designs from  the 13 designs available at iBroidery.com.   Somehow, they would be have to be color coordinated with sweet Alice’s dress because the Madeira tablecloth corners just had to be blue.



Alice napkin close


Finally, I decided that the napkin corners would have to coordinate with its many colored embroidered characters. Continue reading